Kathleen Gilbert

, ,

Trouble in Vatican: Pontifical Academy members upset with ethics deficit at infertility conference

Kathleen Gilbert
Kathleen Gilbert
Image
Image

VATICAN CITY, February 27, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - A gathering of the Vatican’s own academy for promoting respect for life was met with palpable discontent from its own members and other registrants after presenters on the topic of infertility alluded to in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and other artificial reproduction technologies as “natural” and legitimate for treating patients, despite their conflict with Catholic moral teaching.

In addition, one prominent Catholic doctor who noted the link between the birth control pill and breast cancer was told by the moderator that his claim was false.

The Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) on Friday took up the topic of managing infertility at its 18th General Assembly

A press packet included an interview with PAV President Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula emphasizing the Assembly would not be “dealing with ethical considerations of artificial fertilization” because “that’s a different subject”. The bishop, who in 2010 publicly criticized the awarding of a Nobel prize to a pioneer of in vitro fertilization, said that the February 24 Vatican workshop’s concern was to utilize a “rigorously medical and scientific” approach to divulge insufficiently known methods of fertility treatment to couples.

While some attendees said much of the conference offered helpful insights into the causes of infertility, such as delaying pregnancy and environmental factors, and presented some excellent new research on treating infertility causes,  the majority of speakers also discussed such procedures as IVF and intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) as viable alternatives for couples having difficulty conceiving. The speakers were selected by the PAV leadership.

At least three of the four morning speakers, according to witnesses, referred to IVF as an appropriate option for some female sufferers of infertility. And although witnesses say moderators distanced the PAV’s views from the presenters’, the assurance fell short for audience members who gave vent to frustration during the day.

During the lunch break, one prominent member told LifeSiteNews that the morning sessions were “the best case you get for amoral science.” Another called the conference “a disaster” and another “a tragedy”.

In the afternoon session, Eberhard Nieschlag of the Center for Reproductive Medicine and Andrology at the University of Münster noted that artificial insemination “can be tried if there are not enough sperm” and, after showing a video of a needle forcing a sperm into a human egg, described the process as “not really artificial.”

Pressed on the point by an audience member during a later Q&A (see audio file below), Nieschlag defended the remark by saying that “the actual fertilization process is completely natural.” “The way to bring the sperm and the egg together [is artificial] but the fertilization is not artificial,” he said. “That’s what I mean. But I think it’s mainly a semantic problem.”

Listen to brief audio of notable excerpts from Q & A session at the end of the conference:

The audience responded to the last remark with a growing clamor, including some rapping on their chairs in protest.

“I think from the audience’s reaction it’s clearly not,” chairperson Prof. Angelique Goverde interjected, adding that she would not enter “a theoretical or philosophical or religious debate” but the audience response indicated “we have a different point of view in this concern.”

The teaching authority of the Catholic Church has stated that artificial reproduction is morally objectionable, not only because techniques such as IVF regularly dispose of human embryos and “reduce” multiple pregnancies with abortions, but because children have a right to be conceived naturally in the marital act and not as a consumer product.

On its website, the PAV describes itself as existing “for the promotion and defense of human life, especially regarding bioethics as it regards Christian morality.”

Another conflict arose after several audience members challenged the morning speakers for emphasizing beneficial effects of the hormonal birth control pill on women’s health, to the exclusion of its detriments. Thomas Hilgers, Director of the National Center for Women’s Health at the Pope Paul VI Institute for the Study of Human Reproduction, took to the microphone to point out that this tack fell in line with “a major marketing component of the oral contraceptive for the last ten years.”

“They’ll raise things like, once raised this morning, that you can cut the ovarian cancer rate in half [by taking oral contraceptives]. Well that’s good, but what if you increase the breast cancer rate in the process, or the cervical cancer rate?” he said. “It’s given as a health benefit without looking at the health implications, and that’s an unbalanced view, but it’s being sold that way, and it’s on purpose.”

Chairperson Goverde interjected asserting to the contrary that oral contraceptives did not increase the breast cancer risk but did agree that it increased the cervical cancer risk. Hilgers interjected to refer Goverde to a 2006 meta-analysis by the Mayo clinic showing the pill’s clear link to breast cancer. Hilgers later pointed to Ortho Tri-Cyclen’s own documentation showing the breast cancer link.


IVF industry eclipses real science: expert

Hilgers’ half-hour talk outlined the significant success of NaPro technology, a cost-effective method for discovering and treating underlying causes of infertility, and one that is not “built on a foundation of destroying life.” However, he said, these gains have been largely eclipsed by the IVF industry, particularly in the United States: had it not been for the race to create children artificially, said Hilgers, “we probably would have had a cure for infertility by now.”

The NaPro expert’s presentation that was fully in line with Catholic moral ethics was met with sustained applause far exceeding that given for any of the other speakers of the day.

In later remarks to LSN, the doctor expressed concern that the crowding-out of real infertility treatment by the IVF mindset was reflected at the conference itself.

Hilgers, a member of the PAV since 1994 and an international leader in his field, said the science of the day’s speakers “wasn’t good at all” and named several experts who could have offered insights into authentic fertility treatment, but said the conference didn’t approach him for suggested names. According to the PAV website, topics and speakers are chosen from a pool of submitted professional papers by a Governing Council currently composed of four lay experts and four clerics who include the President and Chancellor or the PAV.

Not all PAV conferences have been so controversial: Hilgers pointed out that last year’s conference on the psychological effects of abortion featured “really good” experts and information. However, he said, like a similar fertility conference by the academy over a decade ago, Friday’s was problematic for featuring “one IVF person after another.”

“[This year’s conference was] a huge disservice to Catholics everywhere for the Pontifical Academy for Life, which is the major Catholic pro-life organization you could say, to come into formal cooperation with a group of people who are diametrically opposed to the Church’s teaching,” he said.

Others told LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) that at a follow-up meeting Saturday morning for official members, several members expressed their discontent regarding the selection of speakers and the lack of ethical context throughout most of the day. One PAV member called it a “pile-on”. It was said that more wanted to express similar comments but were not recognized by the PAV leadership.


‘The arrogance of taking the place of the Creator’

The following morning, the speakers, PAV members, and others at the conference attended a special PAV audience with Pope Benedict XVI in the Apostolic Palace.

In contrast to the conference’s avoidance of Catholic ethical concerns, a notably subdued pontiff emphasized the moral roots of reproduction in the conjugal act and warned against the fertility industry’s lure of “easy income, or even worse, the arrogance of taking the place of the Creator,” quoting his own words from 2008. “The human and Christian dignity of procreation, in fact, doesn’t consist in a ‘product’, but in its link to the conjugal act, an expression of the love of the spouses of their union, not only biological but also spiritual,” said Benedict.

The pope also warned that the “indifference of conscience to what is true and good represents a dangerous threat to genuine scientific progress,” as “scientism and the logic of profit” now dominate the field “to the point of limiting many other areas of research.”

“The humility and precision with which you study these issues, considered obsolete by some of your colleagues before the allure of the technology of artificial insemination, deserves encouragement and support,” he said.

One member said the pope’s remarks were a saving grace for the troubled conference.

“If it weren’t for the pope’s speech, the conference would have been a devastating blow to truth,” the member said.


Contact information:

[email protected]

See list of staff and members of PAV

 

FREE pro-life and pro-family news.

Stay up-to-date on the issues you care about the most. Subscribe today. 

Select Your Edition:


Share this article

Advertisement
Featured Image
St. Peter Damian
Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve

St. Peter Damien (1049): what Church MUST do in response to rampant homosexuality among clergy

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

June 29, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The rise of the power and influence of homosexual priests, bishops and cardinals, as well as influential laity, has been a major factor in the growing chaos within Catholicism over the past 60 years. This disorder within the Catholic Church has had a negative impact on the entire world because of the resulting decline in the positive influences that Catholicism has had on civilization for many centuries.

To think that what is happening now is new, however, betrays an ignorance of history. In 1049, when St. Peter Damien wrote his treatise, Book of Gomorrah (Liber Gomorrhianus), to Pope Leo IX, homosexuality and sexual perversion in general were far more openly rampant within the clergy than today.  This horrendous state of affairs is what the Saint addressed in his appeal to the Pope for urgently needed reforms.

We often hear from sleepy, comfortable, cowardly, timid or cultural Catholics, and especially from clergy who are directly implicated in homosexuality, that we should never criticize priests, bishops and especially the Pope. Supposedly, that is a greater sin than that of the heretics and sexual perverts facilitating great personal suffering and sending souls to Hell without anyone doing what is necessary to either convert or stop them.

St. Peter Damien was not so foolish as to listen to such nonsense denying God His justice at a time when the Church appeared to be in its death throes. He understood the grave duty to be blunt about the dangers and sinfulness, to not minimize the catastrophe that would come if strong actions were not quickly taken and to demand corrective actions. And yet, he also emphasized that all of this must be done with charity and Christian hope for the persons involved in the moral corruption. Their conversion was above all hoped and prayed for, rather than their condemnation for eternity.

An Italian translated version of the Book of Gomorrah has recently been published. An English version carefully translated by one of our LifeSite journalists will also soon become available.

On Feb. 11 of this year the Rorate Caeli website published excerpts from the introduction by Professor Roberto de Mattei to the Italian version.

Following are some paragraphs from that introduction that I hope will jar awake some of the faithful, especially considering what is going on now in the United States as a result of the mad Supreme Court decision and the moral chaos around the Synod on the Family regarding Church sexual teachings.
 

Excerpts from the Introduction:

St. Peter Damien (1007-1072) Abbot of the Fonte Avellana Monastery and subsequently Cardinal/Bishop of Ostia, was one of the most outstanding figures of Catholic reform in the XI century. His Liber Gomorrhianus, appeared around 1049, in an age when corruption was widely spread, even in the highest ranks of the ecclesiastical world.

In this writing, addressed to Pope Leo IX, Peter Damien condemns the perverted habits of his time in a language that knows no false mercy or compromises. He is convinced that of all the sins, the gravest is sodomy, a term which includes all the acts against nature and which want to satisfy sexual pleasure by separating it from procreation. “If this absolutely ignominious and abominable vice is not immediately stopped with an iron fist – he writes – the sword of Divine wrath will fall upon us, bringing ruin to many.”

There have been times in (the Church’s) history when sanctity pervades Her and others when the defection of Her members cause Her to collapse into darkness, appearing almost as if the Divinity has abandoned Her.

Peter Damien’s voice resounds today, as it did yesterday, with encouragement and comfort for those, like him, who have fought, suffered, cried and hoped, throughout the course of history.

He did not moderate his language, but kept it fiery to show his indignation. He was fearless in voicing an uncompromising hatred for sin and it was precisely this hatred that rendered his love burning for the Truth and the Good.

Today, at the beginning of the third millennium of Christ’s birth, priests, bishops and Episcopal conferences are arguing for married priests; they are placing in doubt the indissolubility of the marriage bond between man and woman and at the same time, accepting the introduction of laws for homosexual pseudo-marriage. Sodomy is not being thought of as a sin that cries to God for vengeance but is diffused in seminaries, colleges, ecclesiastical universities and even inside the Sacred Walls of the Vatican itself.

Liber Gomorrhianus reminds us that there is something worse than moral vice practiced and theorized. It is the silence that should speak, the abstention that should intervene, the bond of complicity that is established among the wicked and of those, who with the pretext of avoiding scandal are silent, and, by being silent, consent.  

Graver still, is the acceptance of homosexuality by churchmen, thought of as a “positive” tension towards the good, worthy of pastoral care and juridical protection and not as an abominable sin. In the summary Relatio post disceptationem of the first week’s work in the Synod of Bishops in October 2014, a paragraph affirmed that:   “homosexual persons have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community”, with an invitation to the Bishops “…are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing them a fraternal space in our communities?”

This scandalous statement was removed from the final report, but some bishops and cardinals, inside and outside the Synod Hall, insisted on the appeal to look for the positive aspects of a union against nature, going as far as hoping for “a way to describe the rights of people living in same-sex unions.”

St. Peter Damian as a simple monk, and with greater reason as a cardinal, did not hesitate in accusing even the Popes of that time for their scandalous omissions. Will the reading of the book Liber Gomorrhianus instill the spirit of St. Peter Damien in the hearts of some prelates or laypeople, by shaking them out of their torpor and force them to speak and act?

Even if abysmally far from the holiness and prophetic spirit of St. Peter Damien, let us make his indignation against evil, ours, and with the words that conclude his treatise we turn to the Vicar of Christ, His Holiness, Pope Francis, presently reigning, so that he may intervene and bring an end to these doctrinal and moral scandals: “May the Almighty Lord assist us, Most Reverend Father, so that during the time of Your Apostolate, all of the monstrosity of this vice be destroyed and the state of the Church, presently supine, may wholly rise up again in all its vigour.”

The book can be found in Italian here. 

Advertisement
Featured Image
Bernadette Smyth, the head of Northern Ireland's Precious Life, speaks at LifeSiteNews' Rome Life Forum in May 2014. Steve Jalsevac / LifeSiteNews
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

Victory in Ireland: Pro-life leader’s ‘harassment’ conviction overturned

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

BELFAST, June 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Northern Ireland’s most prominent pro-life leader who last year was found guilty of “harassment” against an abortion facility director has had charges thrown out of court on appeal due to insufficient evidence.

“I thank God for my vindication and for helping my family and me through this horrible ordeal,” stated Bernadette Smyth, head of Northern Ireland’s leading pro-life group Precious Life, after the Monday decision that quashed the previous guilty verdict.

“Our prayers have been answered. I would like to thank the wonderful work of Aiden Carlin Solicitors and all my legal team. ‘Precious Life’ and I will continue with the work we have been doing over the last 18 years, which is to advocate for unborn children.”

Between 2012 and 2014 Smyth, 52, had been among a group of pro-life sidewalk counselors who prayed, handed out leaflets, and talked to passers-by outside the illegally operated Marie Stopes abortion facility in Belfast.

In 2014 Smyth was found guilty of “harassment” against the facility’s operator, the former politician Dawn Purvis who claimed she was intimidated by Smyth’s comments and “witchy” laughter. The legal attack came at precisely the moment when Smyth was publicly leading an effective campaign to oppose the liberalization of Northern Ireland’s abortion laws.

Smyth was ultimately handed a £2,000-fine, 100 hours of community service, and a five-year restraining order.

Smyth's lawyer challenged Purvis' claim that his clients interaction with the director on two occasions had left her in fear, pointing out in court on Monday that Purvis was a seasoned politician with a former role within the Progressive Unionist Party.

“Are you not a person with a bit more fortitude than that?" he asked.

When Smyth's lawyer asked to have the case thrown out, the judge agreed, ruling that the evidence at hand was insufficient for a successful prosecution.

“Today Judge Gordon Kerr quashed the conviction, ruling that Bernadette Smyth’s laughter outside the Marie Stopes center in Belfast was not criminal behavior and that there was insufficient evidence that Bernadette Smyth had harassed Dawn Purvis,” Precious Life stated in a press release.

Pro-life groups welcomed the news as a victory.

“We’re delighted that justice has been served and that the court has thrown out these ridiculous charges against Bernadette Smyth,” said Niamh Uí Bhriain of the Life Institute.

Uí Bhriain praised Smyth for giving her life to “supporting women in crisis and providing real assistance to mothers and babies.”

“This attempt to shut down her pro-life work was reprehensible and she should never have been dragged through the courts to face these baseless accusations.”

“Bernadette Smyth can hold her head high as the court has vindicated her good name and the important work she does to protect mothers and babies,” said Uí Bhriain. “ We are delighted with today’s ruling which overturned the miscarriage of justice which saw Bernadette accused of harassment.” 

Advertisement
Featured Image
Sofia Vazquez-Mellado

,

Bishops conduct exorcism over the entire nation of Mexico to cast out demon of abortion

Sofia Vazquez-Mellado
By Sofia Vazquez-Mellado

MEXICO CITY, June 30, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – An unprecedented event took place in the city of San Luis Potosi, in Mexico, as a group of bishops performed an exorcism on the entire country.

“Mexico opened the door to the devil when we legalized abortion,” said Cardinal Juan Sandoval, Bishop Emeritus from Gualajara, who led the exorcism. “It’s the legalization of homicide,” he told El Universal.

The first ever exorcism on a whole country took place last month behind closed doors inside the Cathedral of San Luis Potosí. It was made public once Pope Francis was informed it had happened. Only one journalist, Roberto O’Farril, was allowed inside.

“Mexico is living a demonic infestation similar to the one these territories lived before the evangelization and before Our Lady of Guadalupe’s apparition,” said O’Farril in an interview with AciPrensa.

He compared abortion to the sacrifices performed by the Aztecs. “Many of those sacrifices were human sacrificies,” he continued. “Young warriors and damsels whose chests were cut open to take out the heart and offer it to these demons.”

According to renowned exorcist Fr. Jose Antonio Fortea, who was also present, an Exorcismo Magno “is useful in a situation in which great violence is unleashed in a country.”

San Luis Potosi’s Archbishop, Mons. Cabrero, explained the exorcism was done to ask “for the liberation of this strong presence of the enemy.”

“This prayer is certainly extraordinary, but it’s still a practice within the Church,” he explained in interview with AciPrensa.

Official data show 138,000 legal abortions have been performed in Mexico City since abortion was made legal there in 2007.

A recent study from the Guttmacher Institute revealed that Mexico has one of the highest abortion rates in the world, with 33 in every 1,000 pregnancies ending in abortion.

In 2013, LifeSiteNews reported the case of a man who claimed he was suffering from demonic influence because of the legalization of abortion in Mexico. Renowned exorcist Fr. Amorth confirmed the possession and tried to exorcise the man's demons, concluding the demons would leave him when the abortion law was reversed.

O’Farril, who covered this man’s case, said the demons possessing the man had said that time, “She had banished us from Mexico but your stupid laws have allowed human sacrifices to return.”

According to Sandoval, “the grave situation we are living in Mexico has a very profound root,” that goes “further than human evil, it is the devil, who is very connected to death, he’s been the murdered since the beginning.”

Sandoval went on to compare the victims murdered by the cartels, who are often dismembered, to the children who are “torn apart inside their mother’s womb.”

CNN Mexico reported Sandoval might go on to perform more exorcisms in other Mexican states.  

Advertisement

Customize your experience.

Login with Facebook