Cologne, (Germany) -- A debate on human dignity

“How much am I worth? For how much can I be sold?” With these questions, Dr. Barbara Dohr began the Frühjahrsseminar [spring seminar] at the Müngersdorf International Residence, held in Cologne from May 7 to 9.

Dr. Dohr, a physician and specialist in Logotherapy, a school of psychiatry, provided food for reflection on the value of each person on the existential level. The forty students listening to her, from all parts of Germany, took an active part in the discussion following the presentation.

Professor Albert Zimmermann, a philosopher and honorary member of the Müngersdorf Board, guided those present to a more rational and consistent basis for theoretical discussions on the dignity of the person.

Doctor Ana Otte, a physician and professor at the John Paul II Institute in Valencia, and author of various publications on questions of ethics and human sexuality, focused on the context of human relations.

Death is also an aspect of a dignified life, said Dr. Ingeborg Jonen-Theilemann in her presentation, which she illustrated with slides. Dr. Jonen-Thielemann is the founder of the first Palliative Care Unit at the University Hospital of Cologne. The unit is now located in the Mildred-Scheel Haus.

The image of the person in advertising was the object of a critical analysis carried out by the students in a work session under the direction of journalist Maria Lozano. The reflections on the dignity of the person emphasized that divine filiation is its ultimate basis.

The roundtable ending the seminar included presentations by a number of students. Annika described her experiences in a rural development project in Peru. Julia spoke about helping out in a home for the aged in the former East Germany. Christine related her experiences as an English teacher for immigrants in Westerwald.

The motto of the seminar, “It’s up to you too,” made it clear that human dignity is not only a principle that has to be defended, but also a goal that demands of each person a true personal involvement.

Romana, n. 38, January-June 2004, p. 89-90.

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