Friday, April 27, 2012
Well, the ends justify the means....therefore it is a moral act. This line of thinking has invaded the church on many levels.Last evening there was a story on NBC's Nightly News that brought this line of thinking to the fore. A young woman is suing the diocese of Ft Wayne, IN because she was fired for receiving fertility treatments that involved IVF. This is something the Catholic church opposes. She is citing "mental duress" because the Msgr and bishop (my seminary rector) called IVF a "gravely evil act." Without going into all the particulars of the case it may be helpful to people to know why the Church uses such language. Veritatis Splendor was a seminal work of Pope John Paul II. Here is a passage that may shed some light on the various issues involved: " Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature incapable of being ordered to God' because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church's moral tradition, have been termed 'intrinsically evil': they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ultrerior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that 'there exist acts which are per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object." The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: ' Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat laborers as mere instruments of profit, and nor as free responsible persons: all theseand the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect the human race they contaminate those who inflict them more than those eho suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator.'" With regard to intrinsically evil acts, and in reference to contraceptive practices whereby the conjugal act is intentionally rendered infertile, Pope Paul VI teaches: 'Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater e il or in order to promote a greater good, it is never lawful, even for the gravest readons, to do evil that good nay come of it- in other words to intend directly something which of its very nature of ontradi ts the moral order, and which must terefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family, and of society in general.'" This is the context in which Bishop Rhodes and the Msgr. were speaking. The church views certain actions as "intrinsically evil." Although IVF does end in the good of children, there are a number of intrinsically evil acts that have to first take place. One, how is the sperm to be obtained? Two, the dignity of the conjugal act and human relations is rendered negative when what should take place in the intimacy of the marriage bed now takes place in a laboratory. Three, and this is the most serious evil, many already fertilized eggs must also be discarded. Once discarded, these living beings could be put on ice (frozen embryos) or genetically manipulated or worse, part of a genetically selective process where you can now truly get your "designer baby." Is the pain of infertility hearwrenching? absolutely. I have had to walk the infertile walk to Calvary with many couples. I also know many children who have been born through IVF and they are truly "gifts of God." When the Church speaks about intrinsic evil it is speaking about although the other embryos that were created in the process and are now "selectively aborted." For NBC news to make this one of the lead stories on their headline news is just one more attack on the Catholic Church. The supreme court just ruled that religious organizations have the ability to fire/hire employees based on religious beliefs. NBC news knows this. They disagree with the Church teaching and it is one more attempt to further isolate the Catholic Church from discussion of public policy. The problem is: the Catholic Church will not go away. She communicates eternal truth: the wisdom of Jesus Christ and she is the bearer of Jesus' promise to Peter: " Peter, you are Rock, and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it." In every age Peter's boat seems to be sinking, but Jesus also walks to her on the water and says: "It is I, do not be afraid."