Ethicist tells Catholic journalists in Toronto to be ‘word warriors’

CNS | Deborah Gyapong | May. 29, 2008

Ethicist Margaret Somerville, one of Canada’s leading intellectuals, challenged members of Catholic media to become “word warriors” and ethics agents to give people “the words they need to protect human dignity.”

“Words matter” because human dignity is under “unprecedented threat,” the founding director of McGill University’s Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law told a gathering of about 400 Catholic journalists and communications professionals at the Catholic Media Convention in Toronto May 28. “A few words can turn the tide.”

Somerville gave an example from a recent conference in Turkey, dealing with the ethics of selling human organs. Most participants shared a horror of organ trafficking and “organ tourism,” but some were willing to consider the sale of organs because the organs are so scarce. Somerville said that at that conference she called the sale of human organs “the 21st century form of slavery.” People used to sell the whole body, now they will sell bits and pieces of it, she said. Those words prompted spontaneous applause, she added.

People need to be given the words so they can express what they believe ethically, she said, adding, “Give them the words to speak their truth.”

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