Respect for the Human Body

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Monday June 2, 2008 at 12:00 am

Jen Catelli
Web Projects Manager

There is a lot of discussion revolving around the "art" exhibit of plastinated human bodies. Much of the discussion focuses on the source of the bodies – it turns out that the bodies were obtained in China and it is not possible to verify that the bodies were not those of victims of torture and execution.

While the human body is one of God's greatest works, its beauty should be experienced in natural settings, not mutilated and put on display like it is merely paint squeezed from a tube. The purpose of this type of exhibit is only to stimulate conversation and evince emotion, and it does not actually achieve anything. The bodies are not treated with respect.

Now, what I find somewhat ironic is that there is such an uproar over where the bodies came from, as though it matters whether or not the family of the individual on display authorized the disrespect or not. It is as though there is some level of recognition that the human body must always be respected, even when life has left it. If this is true, it should not be possible for anyone to sign away that respect, just as it is not OK for someone to mutilate their bodies while living.

The Catholic Church takes this same stand – Bishop Smith of Edmonton stated that this type of exhibit undermines the dignity of the human person. Note that he does not say that this dignity can be signed away or ignored with permission, but that it exists at all times.

1 comment:

  1. AnonymousJune 05, 2008

    Thank you for your thoughtful post. These exhibits have disturbed me for some time. And the latest creativity from the originator of the process might give us glimpses of where this slippery slope leads.