Spirituality for Today – Fall 2020 – Volume 25, Issue 1

Stem Cell Research and the Sacredness of Life

Reverend Mark Connolly

I would like to share a few thoughts with you on a topic that is rarely spoken about and which should be upper most in the mind of every Catholic and that topic basically is the sacredness of life.

For 2,000 years it has been the teaching of the Catholic Church that from the moment of conception until the last breath is taken, life is sacred. Cardinal Bernardine used to refer to life as the seamless garment of Christ. From the womb to the tomb, it is to be totally protected. So when you talk about this theme, the sacredness of life as an individual Catholic, there is no doubt as to what the present Pope has said about the sacredness of life. There is no doubt that all the popes who have preceded him have through their writings highlight, no matter what the age, that life is sacred from the first moment of conception.

We are now living in what the Holy Father calls not a culture of life, but a culture of death. We have grown up since January 22, 1973, living with the fact that since that time 40 million abortions have taken place. We rationalize it. We exonerate it. We defend it by saying that this is the law of the Supreme Court of our country. That law said that abortions can be legalized. We seem to have conveniently forgotten that a Supreme Court, around the year 1857 in the famous Dred Scott decision, said that black people can be considered as property, nothing more. From that one decision of the Supreme Court that disregarded the sacredness of a whole race, we have had problems of a serious nature with racism and the ongoing problems between blacks and whites in this country. That Supreme Court decision raised hell in our country.

That same Supreme Court decision in our country back in 1973 has done a tremendous amount of damage since then to disregard the sacredness of life. We, in all our Catholic background, have to keep in mind that when Jesus Christ died on the cross he never died so that we could have the luxury of committing abortions. He never died on the cross so that throughout the world, whether in Cambodia or Bosnia, we could have these terrible atrocities committed just because it was the trend or what the culture dictated. We have to follow the standards of Christ and they might be in total conflict with the standards of our culture.

There is no doubt in any theologian’s mind that Dr. Kevorkian and his so called mercy killing approach was contrary to all the ethics handed down by Jesus Christ. But there is no doubt in the minds of all theologians that the Dr. Kevorkian’s of the world are to be forgiven in the expression, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do."

If one believes that life is sacred and the other does not believe that life is sacred, where will we be in one hundred years. Think of this, we believe the embryo is life, whether it is the size of dot or a period, the embryo is life. That is our sacred Catholic teaching. If the government can decide when life begins, then logically it can decide when life will end. Holland approves of abortion and euthanasia. Is our country far behind? In the gospels we are taught surrender to Caesar the things that are Caesar's and surrender to God the things that are God's. Oftentimes, there will become a clash between the supreme law of God and the laws of the Supreme Court. When it comes to the abortion bill of January 22, 1973, passed by our Supreme Court, with all due respect, we still have to go back to the supreme law of God that all life is sacred.

Jesus Christ died for the unborn. He died for the vulnerable, he died for the sick. He did for everyone in need of compassion. It is amazing when think of what has happened in our culture over the years. We know from the famous Nuremberg trials and from the official US Government position then was that all of those German officials who took part in these tragic medical experiments, what they call the high altitude experiments, the freezing experiment, the mustard gas experiments, the embryonic experiments, all of those officials were charged with murder because of the atrocities they committed in the name of medical science. There is no question we have dedicated doctors who are trying to uphold their Hippocratic oath. There is no question that we have Catholic doctors who are trying to show Christ-like compassion and tenderness to their patients. There is no question that every Catholic doctor that I know who would love to alleviate the pain and suffering of all his patients. So we thank God that we have such wonderful doctors, but we say to the Catholic doctor today and the Catholic lay man today, please hold onto your sacred traditions about the sacredness of life.

We do not want 100 years from now people looking at this culture saying that we committed, for the sake of medical science, atrocities that history and the Catholic Church will be ashamed of. Years ago the Nazi experiments that we are now aware of, atrocities were committed in the name of medical science. We ask all of you today, because these are life or death problems, to hold onto your convictions that life is sacred from the moment of conception. To those who think otherwise, we simply have to repeat the words of Christ, "Father forgive them for they know not what they do."