From John Muthig in Washington Everyone today is manipulated somehow and is in danur of losing freedom due to false promises of instant happiness, according to Redemptorist Fr Bernard Haering, the German moral theologian.
Concluding a seminar of research into manipulation at the Kennedy Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction and Bioethics here, he said elements of manipulation could be seen in the neighbourhood school, in the American medical profession and in the local media as well as in the world's great ideologies.
He called the Watergate affair "the great case" of manipulation in an in-bred group where, to be "in," the White House staff had to accept a "false concept of authority and allegiance."
By Channelling its power to work toward the wholeness and freedom of all men, the Church would be a prototype of nonmanipulative use of authority in the style of Christ, Fr Haering said.
Evangelisation, the theme of the world Synod of Bishops in Rome in September, must be a dialogue in which the evangeliser is "as much a learner as a teacher" and in which "everyone brings something — his own person and his own precious heritage," Fr Haering said.
If the Church tried to manipulate Africans and Asians to adopt Western life styles, it could not possibly succeed in spreading the Gospel,
The Church would also lose youth, in nations where children were "colonised" and forced to accept certain values. "All good education of children is oriented toward the growth of a critical mind," toward dialogue and toward co-responsibility.
' Americans should be 'extremely critical of school systems which educate children to be part of the technological society rather than to be persons." He called Catholic schools "part of society's antimanipulation hopes" and urged pluralism in education.
"When the state has a monopoly on education, the manipulative power is enormous."
The priest, author of a book on medical ethics and a veteran of the German medical corps during World War II, criticised doctors for manipulating patients rather than making them partners in medical decision-making.
He estimated that 30 to 50 per cent more surgery is performed in North America than elsewhere and charged that an ideology of manipulation, sparked partly by the profit motive, leads some doctors to perform operations which may not be necessary.
According to Fr Haering, doctors themselves , were manipulated by the F6,000 million drug industry which persuaded American physicians to write out "about 250 million prescriptions a year for psychoactive drugs."