Catholic Teaching

Speaking the Truth of Same Sex Marriage

Assisted Reproductive Technologies: A Moral Analysis

"You will be like God."Genesis 3:4


          In the May 2012 issue of Defenders of the Faith, Patricia Johnson ably sets forth many facts about assisted reproductive technologies (ART), most notably In Vitro Fertilization (IVF), and Catholic teaching. This article will expand upon the topic.


          As noted by Mrs. Johnson, the Catechism of the Catholic Church ("CCC")(1997), paragraphs 2375 through 2378, condemns the use of artificial insemination and fertilization, whether heterologous (i.e., involving a third person's sperm, ovum, or uterus), or homologous (i.e., involving only one man and one woman, even if a married couple). This condemnation is because such procedures separate the procreative and unitive meanings of the conjugal union.


          The Church has addressed this topic in other authoritative documents. Thus, in 1987, Donum Vitae, "The Gift of Life," Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation: Replies to Certain Questions of the Day, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, then Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, stated in Section 5 that " even in a situation in which every precaution were taken to avoid the death of human embryos, homologous IVF and ET [embryo transfer] dissociates from the conjugal act the actions which are directed to human fertilization."


          More recently in 2008, William Cardinal Levada, current Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, addressed these procedures in Dignitatis Personae, "On the Dignity of a Person: Instruction on Bioethics."


          But, even if someone does not understand or accept the Catholic Church's teaching about the meaning and moral parameters of conjugal love, there are other cogent arguments for the immorality of many of these techniques.


          First of all, nobody denies that there is a very great loss of human life in its embryonic stages. For example, according to a British study reported by the Daily Telegraph and LifeNews.com on August 19, 2013, out of 3.8 million embryos produced by IVF (presumably only in the United Kingdom), only about 122,000 live births occurred. That represents a "success rate" of only 3.21%. In other words, about 96% of the embryos died.


          Second, many of the procedures require that a man masturbate to collect sperm. The Church teaches at CCC, Paragraph 2352, that masturbation is "an intrinsically and gravely disordered action."


          Third, research seems to indicate that persons conceived through ART are more likely to have health problems. As reported by LifeSiteNews.com on May 8, 2012, the overall risk of birth defects when using ART was 8.3%, compared to 5.8% in naturally conceived children.


          Fourth, there are psychological ramifications for donor-conceived persons. A donor-conceived person can feel as if his or her "humanity has been deconstructed and she is a product to please adults, a thing to service others and be consumed. She does not have a father like other people, nor [in the case of egg donation, and to some extent, surrogacy] a mother. She only has donors and 'intended parents.'" Newman, Alana S., www.ruthblog.org/2013/08/17.


          Fifth, there is real concern for the exploitation of poor women. This takes place first in the context of egg donors. Women who are paid for their eggs often suffer physical as well as psychological damage. [1] Regarding women who are paid to be surrogates, the American Medical Association said in December 1983, updated June 1994, in its Opinion 2.18 as follows:


          "Surrogate motherhood may commodify children and women's reproductive capacities, exploit poor women whose decision to participate may not be wholly voluntary, and improperly discourage or interfere with the formation of a natural maternal-child bond. Psychological impairment may occur in a woman who deliberately conceives with the intention of bearing a child which she will give up. In addition, the woman who has contracted to bear the child may decide to have an abortion or to refuse to relinquish her parental rights. Alternatively, if there is a subsequent birth of a disabled child, prospective parents and the birth mother may not want to or will be unable to assume the responsibilities of parenthood."


     Sixth, ART represents an indirect attack on the dignity of disabled persons. When using IVF, oftentimes the embryos are tested for genetic defects. Those found "defective", e.g., having Down's Syndrome, are frequently discarded. The societal message here is, only non-disabled humans are wanted, welcome, and will be given a chance to live.


     Seventh, ART further enables parenting by homosexual couples. True, homosexual couples more and more are able to adopt children, but sometimes they resort to ART in order to have a child that is related genetically to at least one of the partners. A recent study by University of Texas sociology professor Mark Regnerus found that children raised in same-sex parent households are more likely to have negative outcomes in 40 tested categories, as opposed to children raised in married, mother-father families.[2] Very recently, a large-scale study by a Canadian researcher found that children in same-sex households were only 65 percent as likely to graduate from high school as those living in traditional opposite-sex marriage families.[3]


     Finally, new technologies now are able to make "three-parent" babies. Without going into all the scientific steps this involves, be it known that it DOES involve the destruction of at least two embryos to "create" the third embryo that has genetic contributions from a father, a mother, and yet another mother. Perhaps the idea of a child with three parents creates disquiet, shock, or even repugnance?[4] As stated by Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley, California, even "many secular and actively pro-choice scientists, bioethicists and women's-health advocates have voiced grave and detailed concerns about the safety and utility of [the new technology], and about authorizing the intentional genetic modification of children and their descendants."[5]


     Regarding modern science, C.S. Lewis said in The Abolition of Man: "Its triumphs may have been too rapid and purchased at too high a price: reconsideration, and something like repentance, may be required." Let us hope that scientists, doctors, and all men of Good Will repent of the madness that seems to have overtaken them: playing God with human life.


"I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation."


Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, Chapter III

Mary Tillman

(Mary Tillman and her husband Mike live on a small sheep farm in Harrison County WV. They are homeschooling parents of six. Mary is the choir director for a monthly traditional Latin Mass, and Mike is a hospital administrator.)



[1] Selling Her Body, a Few Eggs at a Time: The Commodification of Motherhood, by Michael Poore; The Humanitas Project: A Center for Bioethics Education.

[2] Wetzstein, Cheryl, The Washington Times, "Study Suggests Risks From Same-Sex Parenting", Sunday, June10, 2012.

[3] www.lifesitenews.com/home/print_article/news/42109/

[4] Foht, Brendan P., "And Baby Makes Four," New Atlantis: A Journal of Technology and Society, Sept. 2013.

[5] Saunders, Peter, LifeSiteNews.com, "UK Decision to Trial Three Parent Embryos for Mitochondrial Disease Premature and Ill-Conceived," Sept. 9, 2013.



Speaking the truth of "Same Sex Marriage"

 

Abstract: The Church teaches that all people should be treated with love, respect and dignity in that they are made in the image and likeness of God. This includes our brothers and sisters with same sex attraction. It also teaches that marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman. This covenant is a lifelong commitment focused on procreation and family and is perfectly ordered with natural law. Individuals who have same sex attraction are called to a life of chastity and celibacy as are all those called to a single life.

 

1.          What is Marriage?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) has many chapters on the purpose and sanctity of marriage. Marriage is cited thoughout the Bible from the Old Testament to the preaching of Jesus. Marriage helps to overcome self-absorption, egotism and pursuit of one's own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and self-giving.

          On the threshold of His public life, Jesus performed His first sign during a wedding feast at Cana. We see in this the goodness of marriage, the proclamation that marriage is an efficacious sign of Christ's presence.

Our civil society recognizes the purpose and advantage of marriage and has instituted the legal union of man and woman for the procreation, protection and education of children for the benefit of society. Marriage has long been recognized by every culture, society, and religion, each within its own sphere of interest or knowledge. In law, marriage creates the civil institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers.

Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual and supernatural life that parentshand onto their children by education (CCC1652, 1653).

 

2.          Same Sex Marriage.

Those who advocate for Same Sex Marriage (SSM) or Homosexual Unions, do so for a number of reasons. Most reasons pertain to obtaining the same benefits of a true marriage; however, none of these reasons are justified. There is no societal advantage of Same Sex Marriage as there are no offspring from such a union.

Objections of those who claim to be victims of discrimination state that:

(1) homosexuality is in nature so it's natural; (2) homosexual parenting should be allowed in the name of love; and (3) homosexual marriage is needed to protect the partner. All these arguments do not stand up under scrutiny.

Their argument that homosexuals, like heterosexuals, must have the right to have children is the most egregious. The right to adopt a child does not exist. The desire to have a child in no way establishes the right to have a child, neither for heterosexuals nor for homosexuals.

The wishes of an infertile heterosexual couple to adopt may not be honored if conditions are not optimal. For example, a judge will decide that a young and healthy couple is better suited to have a child than an older couple in fragile health.

          A child is a person. The child's rights come first. All children want a mother and a father. The child's right comes before the rights of those who want to adopt a child.

          A homosexual adoption aggravates the trauma of the abandoned child. Do we have the right to ask a child who has already been wounded to adapt to the affective situation of his parents, a situation that is very different from the great majority of other children and from that which the normal child would desire?

Adoption exists to provide the child a family. It does not exist to provide couples a child. Adoption is intended to address the child's hardship: Is the child to be adopted for the benefit of the child, or to satisfy the couple's need? Does the couple want to remedy the child's hardship, or does it seek to remedy its own pain in not being able to have a child?

If a right to a child for homosexual couples were recognized, then all heterosexual couples denied children would feel themselves victims of discrimination in one way or another and would have grounds for claiming the same right.

 

3.          Persons Experiencing Same-Sex Attraction (SSA). Maintaining Virtue and Carrying a Cross (CCC2359)

Many people are reluctant to share with others their feelings of same-gender sexual attraction. This may lead to isolation and a slide into depression. Scripture and the Church remind us that we are each parts of the Body of Christ, and as such, must provide support to other Christians.

Understanding the erroneous assumptions, held by many in our culture, sets the stage for seeking help:

The Society of Catholic Social Scientists has (in 1/95) alerted our American Bishops about a trend among some ministries to homosexual Catholics that contradict authentic Catholic teachings on homosexuality and are founded upon erroneous scientific assumptions.

         False statements are being made about homosexuality being biologically determined.

         Catholic homosexuals are being told wrongly that sexual orientation change is never possible.

         A separate "gay spirituality" regrettably is being encouraged, and gay ministries tell us that a person who suffers from the homosexual disorder has special "gay gifts" for the Church.

         The term "gay" is being used wrongly to describe people of a homosexual orientation who do not identify with the gay socio-political position.

         Catholics are being informed wrongly that the homosexual condition is not disordered.

An organization named "Courage" is a good resource providing confidential help. This is an apostolate of the Catholic Church which educates online and in-person about same-sex attraction and chastity. They can be found at www.couragerc.net. The heart of Courage spirituality is that sanctity is possible in everyday life. It provides support to embrace a life of chastity.

Courage employs The Five Goals coming from St. Francis de Sales and Twelve Steps of Courage similar to the Twelve Steps from AA.

The goals of Courage are:

         To live a chaste life in accordance with the Roman Catholic Church's teaching on homosexuality. (CCC 2359).

         To dedicate our entire lives to Christ through service to others, spiritual reading, prayer, meditation, individual spiritual direction, frequent attendance at Mass, and the frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist.

         To foster a spirit of fellowship in which we may share with one another our thoughts and experiences and so ensure that none of us have to face the problems of homosexuality alone.

         To be mindful of the truth that chaste friendships are not only possible but necessary in celibate Christian life, and to encourage one another in forming and sustaining them.

         To live lives that may serve as good examples to others with homosexual difficulties.

 

4. Treat all with dignity. Support them. (CCC2358).

Family and friends may feel at a loss as to how to relate to loved ones who are living with same-sex attraction. All people, regardless of sexual orientation, should be treated with both dignity and respect. At the same time, loved ones are to make clear that the choice to be actively living a same-sex relationship is not a moral choice.

EnCourage is an affiliate support group of Courage. It helps loved ones determine how to give this respect in practical terms and supports those with that goal.

EnCourage works and prays to develop a Catholic outreach to men and women who struggle with these feelings, and has chapters in many locations. Contact: www.couragerc.net.

 

5.          Church Teaching:

All Christians are called to chastity. Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily spiritual b eing. It is different for the different vocations. For the vocation of marriage, it is seen in conjugal love expressed between one man and one woman in a life-long covenant. That chastity is demonstrated by complete fidelity to their spouse. (CCC:2365) Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery. As spiritual beings, we do not act on every biological urge. In the vocation to a single life, one does not engage in sexual activity. Our human dignity is enhanced by refusing to be a slave to our passions. Homosexual persons and heterosexual persons are called to celibacy in their single vocation. (CCC: 2357-2359)

A marriage is a sacrament between a man and a woman. Using their natural complementarity, they join for the purpose of producing, protecting and educating children and for the good of the spouses. The family they form is the basic unit of a civilized society. (CCC: 2360-2379)

Homosexual attraction does not follow this principle of Natural Law. The decision to remain celibate carries with it the graces to live one's life in this way. Two same sex persons cannot meet the definition of marriage and therefore cannot be married. (CCC: 2357-2359)

 

6.          True Happiness

"True Happiness" is marketed in the world as "things", "feelings" and living for the moment. Marketing slogans, movies and magazines market happiness as something we find when we buy this or that product, when we are thin enough or when we are in harmony with images we see in the media. Men and women are being told that happiness will come when you have sex with the right one, smoke the right substance or do what everyone else is doing. These messages sell products.They promote agendas of radical groups but they do not provide happiness. True happiness and peace are the fruits of living a life of virtue, in tune with the God of the Universe and having your actions in sync with Natural Law. The world's view of happiness results in a life of constant searching, loneliness, disease and death. A life of living values in tune with God brings joy and peace. This is why God created us. (CCC: 1721)

 

7.          Conclusions

          The CCC restates the doctrines expressed in many previous documents. It clearly teaches that homosexuality is contrary to nature and under no circumstances can homosexual acts be approved. It states the homosexual inclination is "objectively disordered", (i.e., inconsistent with natural law) but those affected by it "must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity". Accepting homosexual marriage is a disservice to the homosexuals themselves, encouraging a lifestyle harmful to themselves as well as others. It is also a tremendous disservice to the children adopted into a homosexual marriage.

          A clear teaching to all of us, and especially our bishops, isthe approval or legalization of homosexuality is something far different from the toleration of homosexuality. Even where homosexual unions have been legalized, clear and emphatic opposition is a duty.

Sanctity of Life Group, St. Vincent DePaul Church, Berkeley Springs WV

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