Should I React?
grandson and his wife are expecting a baby conceived through in
vitro fertilization. I have
a few questions. May I give the baby a gift, with a nice card, wishing the child
well? May I send a congratulatory card to the parents when the baby is born? How
should this matter be handled if it is ever brought up after the child is born?
all means, congratulate the parents and give this baby a card and a gift. The child
should not be penalized for the circumstances of its conception but should be welcomed
and celebrated as you would do for any other great-grandchild.
Perhaps Pope John Paul I provides a model
in this situation. Shortly before being elected pope in 1978, Cardinal Albino Luciani
said that the in vitro fertilization process poses “grave risks” for the human
family. Yet he also expressed good wishes to Louise Brown, the first person that
we know of born through in vitro fertilization.
Once a child is born, he or she should
be welcomed as we welcome any other baby, a gift of life from God.
If you are ever drawn by family members
into a discussion of in vitro fertilization, you can say nothing or give your
You might simply state that, in seeking
to achieve a good purpose, some unfortunate things have happened and could happen
again. For example, fertilized eggs are routinely destroyed when they are considered
no longer necessary. There can be mix-ups in matching sperm and egg from the same
couple. Someone else’s sperm or egg could be fraudulently substituted; some years
ago one clinic director used his own sperm without a couple’s knowledge.
Technically speaking, the term in
vitro fertilization means any fertilization which occurs outside a woman’s
body, usually in a petri dish. By this term many people often include the use of
someone else’s egg and/or sperm for the conception. The potential complications
about the identity of a child conceived in this manner are enormous.
is the Church’s view on organ donation? My father passed away 10 days ago and we
donated his corneas.
I know my father is at peace, but
this question nags at me. For some reason, somewhere along the way I got the impression
that the Church disapproved. This, however, is a means of giving life to others
who are in need of such help, which leaves me confused.
is a means of giving life to others who are in need of such help...,” you wrote.
I couldn’t agree more.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says: “Organ
transplants are not morally acceptable if donors or those who legitimately speak
for them have not given their informed consent.
“Organ transplants conform with the moral
law and can be meritorious if the physical and psychological dangers and risks incurred
by the donor are proportionate to the good sought for the recipient.
“It is morally inadmissible directly
to bring about the disabling mutilation or death of a human being, even in order
to delay the death of other persons” (#2296).
A couple years ago an American couple
donated the organs of their son murdered in a drive-by shooting in Italy. The Church
publicly applauded their generous decision which helped seven people.
To avoid a potential conflict of interest,
the medical team treating the dying patient should be separate from the team for
any potential recipient.
The donation of your father’s corneas
was made with your consent and perhaps his before he died. There was no risk to the
donor, who had already died. You have given the gift of sight to someone. The Church
blesses your action. Please be at peace with your generous, pro-life decision.
Drinking Alcohol O.K.?
would like to know what the Church thinks about drinking alcohol. I am not an
alcoholic. I like to have a few drinks on the weekend at home. I am very confused
and wonder if God looks down on this or not. I have searched and searched the
Bible for some answers, but there just don’t seem to be any.
alcohol is part of God’s creation, it should be used responsibly and in moderation.
The Scriptures have many positive references to wine, such as Isaiah 25:6, “On this
mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and
choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.”
The Scriptures also give warnings about
the misuse of alcohol. Proverbs 20:1 says, “Wine is arrogant, strong drink is riotous;
none who goes astray for it is wise.”
The key issue here is honesty. Is alcohol
the center of your life, something around which you frequently make decisions to
ensure its availability? Or is it incidental, something that you can take or leave?
If you can honestly say that it is incidental
and those closest to you would agree, then I do not think you need to worry. If you
cannot honestly say that, then you need to deal with this realization, using the
help of a professional or a group like Alcoholics Anonymous.
Some medical conditions require people
to refrain from drinking alcohol. Alcoholism is a disease for which there is no cure
but which can be managed.
Help is available locally from Alcoholics
Anonymous (check the listing in your phone book) or by calling 1-800-711-6375 (Alcohol
A.A. Center 24-Hour Helpline). Any local A.A. group can provide a checklist of signs
pointing to alcoholism.
would like to know what the secret was that the Blessed Virgin Mary gave to Lucy
at Fatima. It was supposed to be revealed to the world in 1960.
I feel if the Blessed Virgin didn’t
want us to know she would not have told Lucy in the first place. No matter what
the secret is, it won’t have any effect on my life, but I’m sure it would help
a lot of unbelievers.
Lucy, a cloistered Carmelite nun, wrote the third part of her apparitions in 1944
and gave them in a sealed envelope to the bishop of Leira, the Portuguese diocese
where Fatima is located. The message was to be opened in 1960 or after her death—whichever
Before the bishop died in 1957, the envelope
was given to the Sacred Congregation for the Holy Office (since 1965 known as the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). Pope John XXIII opened it in 1960 and
showed it to one person, Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, head of that congregation.
The letter was resealed and, to the best
of my knowledge, has not been read again. Cardinal Ottaviani later said that all
the stories circulating about the contents of the letter were fantasies.
Whatever the contents are, they cannot
be central to our faith because they are a private revelation, no matter how widely
they are publicized.
I very much doubt that publishing that
letter would cause many nonbelievers to become believers. It is surely better to
use the Scriptures, the tradition and teachings of the Church, the sacraments and
the good example offered by the saints over the centuries as guides to our decisions.
Unfortunately, Christians can become
so interested in something like the Fatima secret that they neglect God’s public
revelation given through the Scriptures. If you keep close to the Scriptures and
the sacraments, you will not go wrong.
children are attending catechism to make their first Communion. They have to make
a report on their patron saint. My son’s name is Daniel and my daughter’s name
Do you have any suggestions what book
I can buy for them to do research? Your help is appreciated. Their reports are
due very soon.
the short time available, your best bet may be to get information on the Internet
at www.catholic.org/saints or www.newadvent.org/cathen (pick
D for Daniel and V for Vivian).
Two other possibilities are Dictionary
of the Saints, by John Delaney (Doubleday) or Our Sunday Visitor’s Encyclopedia
of Saints, by Matthew, Margaret and Stephen Bunson.
is the Jerusalem cross and where did it come from? What do the four smaller crosses
Jerusalem Cross is also called the Crusaders’ Cross. This emblem was sent by Patriarch
Thomas of Jerusalem to Charlemagne in the ninth century.
There are five crosses all with equal horizontal
and vertical arms: one large and four small, one in each quadrant. Together, they
represent Christ’s five wounds and the four corners of the earth.
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