Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 22, 1960 when ground was broken for St. Philip Church, East Windsor.
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The brave new world of reproductive technology continues to widen. And as it does, it makes the wisdom of the 1987 Vatican document “Donum Vitae” (“Gift of Life”) look more and more impressive.

Consider the following scenario reported from London. A 35-year-old health worker by the name of Jayne Mugglestone has been artificially inseminated with the sperm of a homosexual friend. She and her lesbian partner plan to share parental duties with the child’s biological father and his homosexual boyfriend. The foursome see themselves as “co-parents,” all involved in raising the child, in Ms. Mugglestone’s words, “just like other parents are.”

Most people will not see this four-cornered arrangement of homosexual co-parenting as even remotely comparable to the traditional arrangement of one father who is married to one mother, let alone “just like” it. Does the child have any rights in the manner of his or her upbringing?

Underlying this scenario is the assumption that an individual has a “right” to have a child. Therefore, if this assumption is granted, then marriage, a partnership of two, or even a relationship (loving or otherwise) between a man and a woman is expendable. If the individual has a “right” to have a child precisely as an individual, that same individual has the right to determine what kind of arrangement will be used to raise the child. The child, on the other hand, would have no rights, but merely be the passive object of his or her progenitors’ rights.

The essential flaw in thinking that an individual has a “right” to a child lies in the simple fact that no human being has a “right” to another human being. Such a presumed right implies slavery, ownership, possession. All of these implications contradict the dignity of a human being, who has a right not to be treated as a thing, a commodity or a possession that is the object of another’s right.

In this regard, having a child is, in one very fundamental way, like getting married. A man may very much want to marry a particular woman. But he has no right to demand that she be his wife as if she were merely the object of his choosing. He must propose marriage, not demand it. Therefore, in respecting her dignity, he must wait upon her freedom. She may say yes or she may say no. But her dignity and freedom must be fully respected.

Likewise, when a married couple desires to have a child, the partners cannot take the matter into their own hands and synthesize one in a Petri dish, for example, by mixing together egg and sperm. Rather, they engage in intercourse, to which, as married partners, they have a right; and then, out of respect to the Creator, they wait upon God’s freedom. They invoke new life; they do not demand it. God may say no or he may bless their union with the “gift of life.” As “Donum Vitae” stresses, life must always be preceded by love. But, it should be remembered, love is always respectful of both dignity and freedom.

The Mugglestone scenario illustrates the bizarre extremes that can result when a child is looked upon as the object of an individual’s rights. Jayne Mugglestone views her peculiar arrangement more as an experiment than as an expression of love. In her own words, “I’d like more children but I’ll wait and see what this birth is like first.”

The “first” thing we should be concerned about with regard to bringing a human being into the world is that his or her conception is preceded by love and set in the protective framework of loving married partners who are joined to each other as husband and wife. Having a child as a test case and then evaluating the procedure after the fact must be regarded as an extreme form of child abuse.

Family agencies in England have criticized Mugglestone’s approach to child rearing (involving as it does, four homosexual co-parents) as an attempt to make a political point. This represents an additional strike against the child’s dignity, using him or her as a tool to gain political advantage.

The full title of “Gift of Life” is a bit lengthy, but it does bear repeating since it focuses on the ethical essence of the matter: “Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation: Replies to Certain Questions of the Day.”

 


Dr. Donald DeMarco is an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell.

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.