Friday, July 21, 2006

Italy Scientist Wants Excommunication Over Embryonic Stem Cell Research

This article provides a good catechetical moment. My comments at the conclusion of the article.

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 30, 2006

Rome Italy ( -- An Italian cloning scientist wants to be the first excommunicated from the Catholic Church for engaging in embryonic stem cell research. A leading Vatican official said earlier this week that the church would begin excommunicating members who facilitated the research because it involves the destruction of human life.

Professor Cesare Galli of the Laboratory of Reproductive Technologies in Cremona, the first scientist to clone a horse, condemned the Catholic Church's position. He likened the church to the Taliban in Afghanistan.

"I can bear excommunication. I was raised as a Catholic, I share Catholic values, but I am able to make my own judgment on some issues and I do not need to be told by the church what to do or to think," Galli told the London Telegraph newspaper.

"I will be, together with Elena Cattaneo [a scientist working in the University of Milan] the first to be affected by the excommunication," Professor Galli said.

Earlier, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, told the Famiglia Christiana, an official Vatican publication, "Destroying human embryos is equivalent to an abortion. It is the same thing."

"Excommunication will be applied to the women, doctors and researchers who eliminate embryos [and to the] politicians that approve the law," the cardinal said in an interview.

Galli and his team created the first cloned horse, a European breed called Halflinger. Scientists in Idaho were the first to clone a mule.

Scientists at Italy's Laboratory of Reproductive Technology created the horse using a standard cloning procedure where DNA is removed from an egg, and the DNA from the animal to be cloned is inserted. The egg is then coaxed to start growing and then inserted into a surrogate mother.

This kind of attitude reminds me of the not so holy Angels, who judged for themselves what was "good". Only God is capable of judging what is good and right. If everyone could judge good and evil, what is good to me, could be evil to you and vice versa. Hence, it's up to us to follow that judgment using the resources the Almighty has given us. How about a little catechesis from Fr. John Corapi....taken from an article written by him, appearing in the March-April, 2002 issue of “Michael”. (By all means, read the entire article in the link, but I will extract this much).


Our business is to obey, not to disobey. Who was the original dissident? Lucifer was the original dissenter. Look it up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The Fall of the Angels” (n.391). God gave the angels a test. Some of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church say that He presented to them the reality of the Incarnation and Redemption.

Now Lucifer — the word means “morning star” or “light of the morning”, once again a name is important — a very bright angel, brightness is analogous to intelligence; a very intelligent angel, blinded by his own light, chose darkness. When he heard the plan, he said, “Oh no! I don't like that idea of God.
Non serviam. I will not serve! I will not accept Your plan. If You are going to assume a created nature, it will be mine, not that human dust. I am higher, I am better, I am more intelligent!”

Jesus said, “I watched Satan fall from Heaven like a lightning.” And a third of the angels with him. That was the first sin, the fall of the angels: arrogance, disobedience, death, that then played out in the Garden of Eden. At the instigation of the serpent, what happened? Arrogance: I can be like God! Disobedience: taking the forbidden fruit. The result: death, as God said it would be. How does it play out today? How is it relevant for us?

The truth is not something we make up as we go along. The truth is something we have received from God. It is a pearl of great price. The truth is a gift beyond the wildest dreams, for truth in its essence is God Himself. The teaching of the Church is the teaching of the Lord. It is in fact the Lord Himself.
And, from the Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, penned by Pope John Paul II:

It follows that the authority of the Church, when she pronounces on moral questions, in no way undermines the freedom of conscience of Christians. This is so not only because freedom of conscience is never freedom "from" the truth but always and only freedom "in" the truth, but also because the Magisterium does not bring to the Christian conscience truths which are extraneous to it; rather it brings to light the truths which it ought already to possess, developing them from the starting point of the primordial act of faith. The Church puts herself always and only at the service of conscience, helping it to avoid being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine proposed by human deceit (cf. Eph 4:14), and helping it not to swerve from the truth about the good of man, but rather, especially in more difficult questions, to attain the truth with certainty and to abide in it.

Now we understand, in part, why Pope John Paul wrote this encyclical. A few too many disoriented theologians needed a roadmap on morality and His Holiness provided the map, and the directions. This is why I believe we are seeing so many young priests and seminarians who have their heads on straight. Some seminaries can keep it off the library bookshelf and curriculum, but they can't keep it off the internet.

As Dr. George DePillo explained in the class he held two Sundays monthly, for several months on Veritatis Splendor (Splendor of Truth), the encyclical itself had a target audience of moral theologians. Therefore, if you have no background in introductory and moral theology, it can be easily misunderstood. He also pointed out that it helps to have philosophy, as well. So, for those of us without this background, we have this book by Fr. John Hardon. There's no image with it, but you can click the link and follow through to read about it. Fr. Hardon dissects Veritatis Splendor in his usual Q & A fashion, and its an easy read. It's a must for anyone seriously studying the faith and is a good compliment to a copy of the actual encyclical itself. The second book used by Dr. DePillo was written by Shamon.

And, the encyclical itself, along with the book Catholic Matters, which includes discussion around Veritatis Splendor by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, of First Things Magazine.