Among the many vital things the pope reminds us of in his interview is the new and drastically different condition of the modern world that God seeks to save. It’s one thing to argue about abortion and sexuality when both disputants in the debate share the same basic moral framework and language; the same meaning to words like “justice”; the same set of beliefs about the nature of the human person. But it’s quite another thing when we no longer have that common vocabulary. The modern world is mission territory. It’s morally fractured. Our politics, as Alasdair MacIntyre once famously wrote, is civil war pursued by other means. The modern heart can only be won back by a radical witness of Christian discipleship—a renewed kind of shared community life obedient to God’s commandments, but also on fire with the beatitudes lived more personally and joyfully by all of us.
Indeed, our society has become “morally fractured.” One need only read the headlines about genetically manipulated human beings to understand the real tragedy as well as the challenge. The Men Having Babies website, for example, exists because of the standard among homosexuals that there is nothing wrong with two men who are attracted to each other engaging the services of a surrogate mother to carry their child!
In another example, transgender pregnancy is defined as the “last frontier” in assisted reproductive technology. Intrauterine insemination has made it possible for a transgender woman born with a male body and her bisexual lover to have a baby.
Charlotte Allen writes about the surrogacy business—a direct result of in vitro fertilization’s acceptance. Allen reports from the perspective that surrogate motherhood is acceptable in our culture. She apparently does not view the practice as morally fractured.
The three-parent embryo is another good example of an experiment with no concern about the potential risks. Actually, the only reason for such research is to prove that science can rid the world of defects in preborn children. In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration will hold public hearings on this practice. While we have not heard about this in the media, we also will not hear about the tragic risks associated with it.
There are so many examples of these reproductive technology horrors that one could write a book about them. But the overriding problem is the public’s acceptance of the manipulation of the human being who is treated as nothing more than a science experiment.
For guidance and honest answers, we must look toward Pope Benedict XVI’s words in Dignitas Personae and remember that all human beings, from the moment of creation onward, are deserving of respect and dignity.
Archbishop Chaput is clearly correct that we live in a world with two sets of principles, one based on the natural law and other on utilitarianism. This is why we so often confront the enemies of life and cannot engage in meaningful debate.
This is precisely what Pope Francis is attempting to convey. We cannot talk as we once did, because there is a chasm separating the two world views. There are many people today who claim to be following their conscience when, in fact, they have no idea what a moral absolute is, they don’t understand the difference between right and wrong, or they fail to think that what their conscience approves of is erroneous.
So at the end of the day each of us are missionaries. We have to start from square one and decide from the beginning that the person we wish to communicate with is in possession of a conscience dead to sin. We will never be disappointed and we may do a lot of good.
As Pope Francis said a few weeks ago to Catholic physicians: “Be witnesses and diffusers of the ‘culture of life.’ . . . This is a task of the new evangelization that often requires going against the tide and paying for it personally. The Lord is also counting on you to spread the ‘gospel of life.’”
Indeed. As the identity of the human person becomes increasingly a matter of science and technology rather than creation, it is incumbent on each of us to proclaim this truth simply and with confidence: Every human being is created by God and is God’s gift to the world.