I just finished giving a retreat to our cloistered Carmelite nuns here in Uganda. On my drive back to Jinja, I passed through several outdoor markets, which are ubiquitous in Uganda. While passing through one of them, there was a big traffic slowdown. As I sat idling in my car, I noticed how many women were walking through the market with babes in their arms. And every single one of those babies was the cutest baby you’ve ever seen! Perfectly round, little faces, smooth skin, and the most innocent and curious looks!
There they go, just along for the ride wrapped in their mamas' arms while they do some shopping. Or you’ll see a baby wrapped in a sheet, pressed close behind mama’s back. It’s truly endearing! And for this American, I just don’t see that many babies back in the U.S. It’s really beautiful to see all that innocent and precious life! And here in Uganda, babies are taken everywhere and are right in the middle of all the adult action. An accurate bumper sticker here would be: “Have baby, will travel.”
As I was speaking to one of our Carmelite nuns this week, she told me that her aunt made a comment about this nun coming from a family of only seven! Only seven?! Can you believe that? It gives you a whole new perspective. Here in Uganda, they expect large families of 10 or more. Contrary to western prejudices, families of that size are not merely a series of unplanned accidents caused by ignorance and negligence. A true culture of life is not only open to having more than 2.1 babies, but is also intending and PLANNING to have many, many more. Children are beautiful blessings from God. And contrary to the philosophy of many western relief organizations, children are not obstacles to economic growth in a developing country. They’re the solution!
If someone were to ask me what Uganda’s greatest commodity or natural resource is, I would have to say babies. Uganda has the fifth highest birth rate in the world, which makes them one of the youngest countries in the world. That is a reason for hope and rejoicing! The U.S. might have the chain of stores, but Uganda is truly a nation where BabiesRus!
The Problematic Question of Embryo "Adoption"
By Fr. Peter Vecellio, O.C.D.
I just received an email from a friend in the States whose friend is in a moral dilemma. This friend of hers has a grown son and daughter-in-law who recently had a “successful” in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure, and there are still three remaining frozen embryos left from that process. For those who are unfamiliar with IVF, it is commonplace that many eggs are fertilized in order to have multiple embryos (i.e., human fetuses) with which to attempt implantation, because the success rate is very low. This means that many fetuses die in the process. Even worse, when an implantation is successful, any remaining embryos are typically destroyed. Now one can see why the Catholic Church is categorically against IVF.
So my friend asked me what advice she could offer to her son. This is my advice for all who seek greater clarification on this issue. First, begin with the Church teaching on IVF, clearly stated in paragraph 2377 from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
“Techniques involving only the married couple (homologous artificial insemination and fertilization) are perhaps less reprehensible, yet remain morally unacceptable. They dissociate the sexual act from the procreative act. The act which brings the child into existence is no longer an act by which two persons give themselves to one another, but one that entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children. Under the moral aspect, procreation is deprived of its proper perfection when it is not willed as the fruit of the conjugal act, that is to say, of the specific act of the spouses’ union . . . Only respect for the link between the meanings of the conjugal act and respect for the unity of the human being make possible procreation in conformity with the dignity of the person.”
The second issue has to do with the morally responsible treatment of the remaining human fetuses from the IVF process. Because the Church has not released an official teaching on this topic, several respectable Catholic moralists have offered varied opinions that range from embryo adoption to keeping these human beings frozen indefinitely. A thorough article on this can be found here: https://cruxnow.com/life/2015/12/03/a-catholic-dilemma-should-ivf-embryos-be-adopted.
Although some non-Catholic, pro-life Christians have seen embryo adoption as a way of saving lives, the question remains: Do the ends justify the means? More specifically, does saving lives justify the immoral practice of IVF in order to do it? There are no easy answers in this very problematic climate of “mad science” being practiced in our world today. But we, as pro-lifers, must become involved in this discussion because human lives are at stake!
A Blessed Holy Week and Paschal Triduum to you all!