Monday, August 01, 2005

Gomez Goes Hard

In a major muscle-flex, San Antonio's archbishop has begun reflecting the Denver school which will make his episcopacy a constructive one -- even though he's spatting with one of my colleagues.

On 23 July, the San Antonio Express-News published a piece by the excellent Kevin Eckstrom of Religion News Service called "Galileo's Ghost Haunts Catholics in Stem-Cell Debate." You can probably guess where it was headed... Just in case:

The bottom line for the church hierarchy is that, generally speaking, most Americans and most Catholics tend to support embryonic research that bishops oppose. But church leaders are quick to point out that what is popular is not necessarily what is right.

Why the disconnect? The Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, a neuroscientist at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, said the church has been "out-gunned" by high-wattage celebrities like actor Michael J. Fox and former First Lady Nancy Reagan who advocate for the research.

"(The church's) message has not gotten the kind of primetime coverage that it should, and we're playing, in a sense, catch up," said Pacholczyk, who frequently speaks about the church position.

Gomez really got riled up, so he did what a media-savvy bishop would do and wrote an op-ed in response.... Now as the words "media-savvy" and "bishop" don't usually end up in the same sentence (I haven't seen such a wonder many times in my own life), just remember that this is a rare bird. If only there were more, my life would be easier:

To constantly bring back Galileo's "ghost" and judge the Catholic Church by a 17th-century event is like judging the veracity of the medical community because in the past it used bleeding and leeches. Not even Galileo's telescope would look that far back.

Pope John Paul II made it clear why the Catholic Church has taken the position it has. In his encyclical "The Gospel of Life," he stated, "It is immoral to produce human embryos destined to be exploited as disposable 'biological material.'"

The church is not asking people to make a choice between embryonic life and the lives of those struggling with disease. It is asking us to consider the absurdity of creating human life only to destroy it.

C.S. Lewis wrote in his essay "The Abolition of Man," "If man chooses to treat himself as raw material, raw material he will be."

The Catholic Church will not and cannot base its teaching on opinion polls that merely reflect what "people prefer." We prefer and pray that those who are suffering be healed, but we must never let the end justify the means.

The church cannot change its commitment to protect all life, from conception to natural death, just to win the public opinion polls.

Nice comeback, G.

I really respect and admire both Gomez and Eckstrom, and someone might want to make this a round-table evening of dialogue on this. It'd be a real opportunity to bring together participants on all sides of the debate.

Any takers?



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