October 5, 2007

Be Our Guest / Dr. Hans Geisler

Attacks on human life and marriage are prevalent in secular society

The decline in sexual mores among lay Roman Catholics began with the vociferous and bitter backlash engendered by the publication of Pope Paul VI’s encyclical “Humanae Vitae” in 1968. This decline has been abetted by the reluctance of many to point out the evils of contraception and the anti-life practices, such as abortion, which follow from its use.

Professor Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, eloquently expressed the problem in an article published on the weblog of First Things on Aug. 6, 2007. In his blog entry, he stressed that “far more than the teaching on contraception was at stake. The whole of Catholic teaching on the nature of the human person, of the one-flesh communion of spouses in marriage, and the meaning of human embodiment in relation to questions of homosexual conduct and relationships, monogamy, and marital fidelity and indissolubility was on the line.”

The present American landscape filled with agitation for same-sex marriage, widespread use of the Internet to access pornographic material and other signs of the loosening of time-honored sexual restraints provide ample proof that the traditional way of looking at marriage and human sexuality has been severely undermined.

Inevitably, a cheapening of the Catholic understanding of human life from conception to death has occurred.

Some Catholic politicians from both major parties have endorsed pro-choice positions in regard to abortion for several decades. Their pro-choice— really pro-death—position leads these politicians to state that, while they don’t countenance abortion themselves, they cannot impose their beliefs on others. In other words, they decline to fulfill their obligations as Roman Catholics to try and convert their opponents to the view that abortion is intrinsically, morally wrong because it involves the taking of a human life, one made in the image and likeness of God.

These same pro-choice Catholics have distanced themselves so far from any reverence for life that they are in the forefront of pushing legislation to allow government funding of embryonic stem cell research (ESCR) even though they are cognizant that ESCR necessarily involves the death of a human person, the human embryo.

In their haste to jump on that currently popular bandwagon, they conveniently overlook the fact that adult stem cell research has been increasingly successful in treating many different human diseases and injuries while its embryonic counterpart has not had one single success to which it can point. Moreover, in the few humans in which it has been tried, the use of embryonic stem cells has resulted in the growth of tumors, benign and malignant, convulsions and even, in a few instances, the death of the individual being treated.

Many of these same pro-choice politicians are now, in increasing numbers, joining the ranks of those in the “right to die” movement who advocate the destruction of human life when it is no longer “of value.”

This involves “mercifully” killing those who they consider unable to make a positive contribution to their vision of a better society. Experience garnered from the profligate practice of euthanasia in the Netherlands proves that sentiments such as these lead to the killing of the severely disabled, those with incurable diseases and, indeed, to the euthanasia of anyone not perceived to be doing their share in bringing about a totally secular, utopian paradise.

Should those who publicly call themselves Roman Catholics, while harboring and advocating such beliefs, be held to account?

These are matters of conscience which each of us must decide within the deep recesses of our own hearts. Our decisions must be made knowing that, if we do not fight the pro-death mentality, already an intrinsic part of our secular culture, with all the tools we have available, we will most certainly have to answer for our lack of moral fiber when we are asked, at the moment of our death, to give an accounting of our role in the ever-escalating battle being fought against the culture of death.

(Dr. Hans E. Geisler is a member of St. Luke Parish in Indianapolis. He is a retired oncologist and gynecologist who recently completed advanced studies as an ethicist. He is also a member of the Archdiocesan Pro-Life Advisory Committee and serves on that committee’s speaker’s bureau. He may be contacted by e-mail at Geisler_gynonc@msn.com.) †

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