Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

7/12/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Modern man has spurned the teachings of the Church, has spurned the natural moral law

Were we to go to such cryopreservation facilities where the frozen human embryos are preserved, we would be confronted with a veritable man-made limbo.  Thousands upon thousands of human embryos--live human souls trapped in their tiny frozen "body"--whose natural development has been suspended.  One count has these poor frozen souls numbered at almost 400,000 in the United States alone.  We confront a moral quandary before these tiny frozen humans: we do not clearly know what we can do with them.

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/12/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: in vitro fertilization, frozen embryos, limbo, IVF, Gospel of life, dignity of life, embryonic persons, Andrew Greenwell


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - St. Thomas Aquinas taught that no innocent person would ever be placed in a position where he has to select between two wrongs so as to be forced to choose between evils.  In other words, the innocent agent would never be perplexed by a moral dilemma.  Any moral dilemmas confronted by an innocent could be shown to be only apparent.  God would not place the innocent in such a situation.
 
However, this was not St. Thomas's view when it came to a wrongdoer.  St. Thomas believed that a wrongdoer was not necessarily assured that he would not find himself in a moral dilemma.  While in most cases a wrongdoer could escape those moral dilemmas caused by his prior wrongful acts, it was possible that, in a certain case, like a careless painter he could paint himself into a moral corner by his own prior acts. 

If the wrongdoer faced such a moral dilemma, however he acted he would be condemned to sin. He would confront a Hobson's choice where neither option was good.  He would therefore find himself morally perplexed.  If he wanted to do good, he could not act.  But not acting would not resolve the problem.

Modern man has put himself in what may be an irresolvable dilemma, one which even perplexes the Church.

With his technical prowess through his hubris morally unchecked, modern man has sinned against human life and the moral law that governs the procreative process.  Instead of a "great 'yes' to human life," he has expressed a great 'no' to human life.  He has murdered hundreds millions perhaps even a billions of his kind through direct abortion and the "contraceptive" techniques that are in fact abortions

Modern man rejects the notion: "The Lord puts to death and gives life."  (1 Sam. 2:6).  For him it is man who puts to death when and how he wills.  His instruments of killing have gotten small indeed, so that they reach the tiniest humans, violating them or poisoning them or their natural environment.  Our mother's wombs have become killing fields.

Additionally, in engaging in all sorts of artificial conception techniques, specifically, those associated with in vitro fertilization, man has also dabbled in the black technical arts of "illegitimate spawning" to borrow words from Seamus Heaney's poem "Limbo." 

Again, modern man rejects the notion: "The Lord puts to death and gives life."  (1 Sam. 2:6).  For him it is also man who gives life.

It is these latter sins that may have put modern man in an irresolvable moral dilemma.  He may have painted himself into a moral corner.  And in so doing he may have manufactured an artificial limbo where he has condemned hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of his kind.

The ordinary in vitro fertilization techniques require the production of a number of human embryos; many more embryos are produced than will eventually be born.  Some of these embryos are frozen in liquid nitrogen--placed in cryopreservation--for future use in the event those embryos that are used do not successful result in the birth of a child.

The Church addresses the moral problems associated with in vitro fertilization in the instruction Dignitatis personae For a variety of reasons, these techniques are found wanting because they violate the union between procreation and the conjugal act.  Moreover, they offend against the dignity of the embryo.

The Church teaches that the "human embryo has . . . the dignity proper to a person."  DP, 6.  As a consequence, such cryopreservation "is incompatible with the respect owed to human embryos."  DP, 18.  Moreover, it is foreseeable that many of these embryos do not survive the process of initial freezing or the process of thawing once frozen.

Some, however, do survive  the thawing process.  And these are used in the medical procedures which, if effective, lead to the birth of a child.  Once the couple's desires have been satisfied, however, there are often a great number of these embryos that remain in suspended animation while they are in cryopreservation.  Like the fishermen at Ballyshannon in Seamus Heany's poem "Limbo," our moral nets have captured an "illegitimate spawning," small ones "thrown back to the waters," frozen waters to be sure.

The Church observes: "The majority of embryos that are not used remain 'orphans.'  Their parents do not ask for them and at times all trace of the parents is lost.  That is why there are thousands upon thousands of frozen embryos in almost all countries where in vitro fertilization takes place."  DP, 18. 

Like the mother intent on infanticide in Seamus Heany's poem, those scientists and physicians as well as patients who participate in this mockery of procreation stand in moral shallows, ducking the issue.  Their souls, like the wrists of the murderess in Heaney's poem, are "dead as the gravel."  Their consciences have been torn open, rendered raw, as if a "minnow with hooks"--a fishing lure full of hooks--had been forcibly yanked out of  the tender flesh of a woman's birth canal.

Were we to go to such cryopreservation facilities, we would be confronted with a veritable man-made limbo.  Thousands upon thousands of human embryos--live human souls trapped in their tiny frozen "body" in strange-looking vats--whose natural development has been suspended.  One count has these poor frozen souls numbered at 396,526 in the United States alone.  

Modern man is not only acting as though he is the lord of life and death.  Modern man has now claimed the space between life and death.  He has said: "Now limbo will be a cold glitter of souls," packed in liquid nitrogen.

What can be done with the "cold glitter of souls"?  The question presents a moral quandary.

Modern man finds himself in this quandary because he has done this even while "under the sign of the cross."  Modern man has spurned the teachings of the Church, has spurned the natural moral law.  His technological prowess will not be limited by the "inconvenience" of ethics.  And it may be that, as a result of his hubris, modern man has painted himself into a moral corner. 

The Church herself has asked the question: "With regard to the large number of frozen embryos already in existence the question becomes: what to do with them?  Some of those who pose this question do not grasp its ethical nature, motivated as they are by laws in some countries that require cryopreservation centers to empty their storage tanks periodically.  Others, however, are aware that a grave injustice has been perpetrated and wonder how best to respond to the duty of resolving it."  DP, 19.

Due the respect due to persons, these embryos cannot be allowed to die.  They cannot be used for research.  They cannot be used as a treatment for infertility.  These are all clearly immoral options.  Some have suggested a form of "prenatal adoption" as the means out of the moral dilemma.  While this last proposal is "praiseworthy with regard to the intention of respecting and defending human life," it still suffers from moral problems that plague the clearly immoral options, though here, the Church's condemnation seems a little softer perhaps in the hope of arriving at some future answer. DP, 19.

But at this time, the Church is perplexed.  "All things considered, it needs to be recognized that the thousands of abandoned embryos represent a situation of injustice which in fact cannot be resolved."  DP, 19.

The Church cannot give guidance to modern man who has irresponsibly placed himself in a moral quandary.  Her theologians are working on it, but so far no clear solution has been found.

With respect to the thousands and thousands of frozen embryos, the Church seems as yet to have found no way out of modern mankind for its sins.  By its prior sins, modern mankind has put itself in a moral dilemma.  It is wrong to keep these embryos a permanent cryogenic state.  It is appears wrong in any manner to dispose of them. 

We have put some of our own kind in limbo.  A man-made limbo.  And with reckless disregard of the rights and dignity of the embryo, we keep condemning more of our kind in the frozen chambers, frozen chambers like a sort of Dantean hell where--can it be so?--

Even Christ's palms, unhealed,
Smart and cannot fish there.


-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More U.S.

Pope Francis asks American teenager to sing for him Watch

Image of Valerie Herrera sings

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

17-year-old Valerie Herrera, a senior at Cristo Bey Jesuit High School, was asked by Pope Francis to sing a song. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Americans were invited to a virtual meeting with Pope Francis via satellite, which was moderated from inside the ... continue reading


Making the punishment fit the crime - Ohio judge doles out unusual sentences Watch

Image of Judge Michael Cicconetti's type of justice seems to be working, as only 10 percent of those who complete the judge's unusual sentences wind up in court a second time.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Making the punishment fit the crime seems to be the method behind Judge Michael Cicconetti's madness. The Ohio judge metes out unusual sentences in lieu of hefty fines and jail time. It must be working, as those sentenced to perform the unlikely, court-mandated ... continue reading


Pope Francis holds virtual audience with Americans prior to U.S. visit Watch

Image of Pope Francis participated in a virtual audience hosted by ABC News. Moderated inside the Vatican by ABC News'

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Speaking to Americans nationwide, Pope Francis participated in a virtual audience hosted by ABC News. Moderated inside the Vatican by ABC News' "World News Tonight," the segment will air this Friday, September 4, on ABC's "20/20" news program. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


'It just fell out': Latest Planned Parenthood hidden-camera footage reveals a sickening lack of human values (WARNING: Graphic Video) Watch

Image of Procurement Manager, Perrin Larton

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Planned Parenthood is exposed once again in another undercover video from the Center for Medical Progress. A conversation with Dr. Katharine Sheehan, long-time medical director of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest until 2013, Perrin Larton, the Procurement ... continue reading


MASSIVE MANHUNT for three suspects on the loose after killing an Illinois officer Watch

Image of The FBI, U.S. marshals, SWAT, ATF, K9 units and Chicago police all search for the three suspects.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

UPDATE: One of the suspects has been taken into custody Tuesday afternoon following the deadly shooting of Charles Gliniewicz.A police officer on a routine patrol was shot and killed around 8am Tuesday morning in Fox Lake, Illinois. Law enforcement officers flood the ... continue reading


Standing with God: Thousands stand up for a traditional marriage and pro-life America Watch

Image of Thousands come to the Stand with God rally outside the South Carolina statehouse lawn.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

People flocked to the South Carolina statehouse lawn to advocate the defunding of Planned Parenthood and reversal of the legalization of same-sex marriages. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The pro-traditional family and pro-life demonstration in South ... continue reading


Supreme Court abandons Kim Davis, her martyrdom should come quickly Watch

Image of Until quite recently, the notion of putting a public servant into position to choose between their faith and their work has been inconceivable. Faith has always been protected but not anymore.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Rowan County Clerk, Kim Davis had her day in court and it went badly. However, she still has her job, and she is still conducting herself with dignity despite the media circus surrounding her office. Ms. Davis still refuses to issue marriage licenses to same sex ... continue reading


Mount McKinley will now be officially recognized by its original name - Denali Watch

Image of The tallest spot in the continental United States, Mount McKinley, will now be known by its original name given it by native Alaskans: Denali.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The tallest spot in the continental United States, Mount McKinley, will now be known by its original name given it by native Alaskans: Denali. The Obama administration took charge to end a lengthy disagreement by the states of Ohio and Alaska. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Undocumented immigrants denied U.S. birth certificates for children born in Texas Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An amicus brief was filed Monday evening by the Mexican government over the denial of U.S. birth certificates of illegal immigrant children born in Texas. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - According to Fox News, denials of birth certificates were due to the ... continue reading


Are mass shootings the result of American exceptionalism? Watch

Image of Aurora theater shooting aftermath.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A new study shows America has the highest rate of mass shootings in the world due to the "dark side of exceptionalism." MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - Adam Lankford, a criminologist at University of Alabama discovered The United States has experienced five ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Colossians 1:1-8
1 From Paul, by the will of God an apostle of Christ ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:38-44
38 Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon's house. ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 2nd, 2015 Image

St. Ingrid of Sweden
September 2: Born in Sknninge, Sweden, in the 13th century, St. Ingrid lived ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter