My Take: Catholic Church should reverse opposition to in vitro fertilization
Carolyn and Sean Savage with their kids.
May 10th, 2011
09:28 AM ET

My Take: Catholic Church should reverse opposition to in vitro fertilization

Editor's note: Sean Savage is coauthor of "Inconceivable: A Medical Mistake, the Baby We Couldn't Keep, and Our Choice to Deliver the Ultimate Gift" and a cradle Catholic who lives in Sylvania, Ohio, with his wife and three children.

By Sean Savage, Special to CNN

According to the Roman Catholic Church, the only moral route to conceiving a child is through sexual intercourse. As a Catholic, I find the church's position to be discriminatory against couples who have medical conditions that prevent them from conceiving in that manner.

I never intended to challenge the church when my wife and I pursued in vitro fertilization in an effort to expand our family after a decade of unsuccessful infertility treatments. We loved our two boys and we'd always wanted a big family. After a successful IVF procedure in 2007 brought us our daughter in 2008, we tried again so that we could fulfill our commitment to give every embryo we created a chance at life.

When a fertility center made a critical error by transferring another couple's embryos to my wife, we were thrust into an unusual pregnancy and eventually found ourselves at the center of an intense media storm. On September 24, 2009, the day Carolyn gave birth to a very loved baby boy, who was immediately turned over to his genetic parents, the Catholic Diocese of Toledo released a statement to The Toledo Blade condemning IVF as "morally unacceptable."

Because we were the focus of the news, we felt as though the diocese was really condemning us.

The statement hurt Carolyn and me tremendously. We had hoped for the church's support and prayer on one of the hardest days we've ever faced.

Carolyn and I have always believed in our stewardship responsibilities to the church. I'd given thousands of hours over the years to coaching youth through my local parish, have raised funds for Catholic churches and schools and have given charitably to church causes. Carolyn had dedicated her career to teaching and working as a principal in Catholic schools.

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Instead of support, the church branded us in a very public way with the apparently shameful letters IVF. Why couldn't the church recognize our journey for what it was - an affirmation of the sanctity of life? Their negative response motivated me to look closer at the issue.

I believe there is an ethical path a couple can take when pursuing IVF and I ask the Roman Catholic Church to consider adopting a new doctrine that provides moral guidance for Catholic couples on how to do so.

While I share many concerns with the Catholic Church about abuses within the science of IVF, I disagree with a number of points the church makes on the issue. The church spelled out its stance in Donum Vitae, a 1987 doctrine on biomedical issues released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith - an office then led by Cardinal Joseph Ratziner, who is now Pope Benedict XVI - and in 2008's Dignitas Personae, another influential church document.

The original doctrine states that "even if it (IVF) is considered in the context of 'de facto' existing sexual relations, the generation of the human person is deprived of its proper perfection; namely, that of being the result and fruit of a conjugal act." Dignitas Personae echoes this position by stating "human procreation is a personal act of a husband and wife, which is not capable of substitution."

I am personally opposed to the intentional destruction and discarding of unwanted embryos and understand why this is condemned by the church. But to state that a child born of IVF is less perfect than a child created through sexual intercourse is absurd. Is the church truly claiming that our beautiful and innocent daughter, conceived through an IVF procedure, is somehow "less" because of how her physical life began? In her, Carolyn and I see God's precious creation.

Of course, the creation of a child through a conjugal act is the preferred method because it is the most natural, least expensive and least stressful. But that shouldn't mean it should be the only acceptable route to conception.

What about Catholic men and women who have legitimate medical conditions, like endometriosis, which Carolyn has and which caused infertility despite efforts at surgical intervention?

Carolyn and I would have been happy to save thousands of dollars and a decade of emotional ups and downs by conceiving the "old-fashioned way," but that wasn't possible. We turn to medicine for a litany of medical maladies and impairments, but infertile Catholics are supposed to avoid treating a medical condition which prevents them from building or expanding their family?

Yes, adoption is a wonderful option for the couples who decide it's right for them, but adoption should never be forced on anyone.

The Donum Vitae doctrine also states that "in vitro fertilization is in itself illicit and in opposition to the dignity of procreation and of the conjugal union even when everything is done to avoid the death of the human embryo."

The term "illicit" has such a grave connotation and to use it in this context seems quite out of place. Should a couple that seeks a child through IVF, and that does so with a commitment to allow every embryo a chance at life, be considered to be participating in an illicit activity?

The most perplexing and pejorative language from Donum Vitae is that "marriage does not confer upon the spouses the right to have a child... the child has the right, as already mentioned to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents and has the right to be respected as a person from the moment of conception."

Babies born of IVF are here because their parents loved, respected and longed for these children well before conception. These children could not get here through the conjugal love of their parents and it took a very deep love, respect, and commitment to pursue the medical treatment needed to conceive through IVF. There is no doubt in my mind that God is working through loving parents and ethical doctors to allow these children to come into this world.

Now for the ironic in Donum Vitae: "Scientists are to be encouraged to continue their research with the aim of preventing causes of sterility and of being able to remedy them so that sterile couples will be able to procreate in full respect for their own personal dignity and that of the child to be born."

So although there are solutions for sterile couples today, those should not be sought because they are outside of the conjugal act? If Carolyn and I were to wait until the scientific advances described in this statement before pursuing additional children, we would not have our daughter - or the opportunity to welcome two more children into this world this August.

If science can advance to the point that all procreation can happen within the confines of the conjugal act, that would be incredible. But what do couples do while waiting the years and probable decades before these advances come to fruition?

The challenge for the church is to see the beauty in the science and that there is a path within IVF that is worthy of God's grace and approval.

The church's presence in this field could help limit abuses and disregard for human life through advocacy, education, and support. Perhaps it could provide counselors as couples pursue IVF and face many technical and nuanced decisions. And maybe the church could help couples navigate even more complex situations, like embryo adoption.

Carolyn and I were victims of the worst IVF mistake on record. But we remain proponents of the science and understand the good that is done by God through ethical physicians in this industry. We value and support the sanctity of life, even if it's created with the help of IVF.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Sean Savage.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Opinion • Pope Benedict XVI • Sexuality • Technology

soundoff (1,281 Responses)
  1. Suffering2

    I also want to add that people shouldn't judge other couples who don't have children. There are too many stupid people out there who look at you and ask when you're going to have children -or- ask if you don't like children. You don't have to have children or adopt children to prove that you care about and love children. Just think about that next time you want to question someone about whether or not they are going to start a family. It is hurtful. And our fertility is none of your d@mned business.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • VinoBianco


      May 10, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
  2. valerie

    The columnist offers a moving plea. Unfortunately, he distorts the Church's teachings in several key instances (for example - the question of the "perfection" of the generation of a human person is not one and the same with the question of the "perfection" of a human person him/herself) and tries to pull heartstrings precisely by those distortions. Ultimately, he really just wants to do it "his way" and resents the fact that his way isn't approved by the Church. Nothing new here. The Church sets some pretty high standards, and if you want to stop trying to achieve them, that's your choice. But don't expect the Church to lower the bar for every person that whines about how hard it is to respond to the call to holiness.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Sharon

      OTOH, some people think the call to holiness might be to follow the first commandment...with all the Church's "we're okay but you suck" points-of view, definitely not feelin' the love, there. I don't think Christ meant to only love others who believe exactly the way you do. Nuff said.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • Diane

      well put Valerie

      May 10, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  3. sarah

    There are a lot of things I disagree with the Church on. But I do have to agree that even when you do everything you can to protect the embryo, a pregnancy that basically results in a litter puts not only the mother at considerable risk but also the other children involved. It's not a reasonable risk to take with another person's life. We hear about the occasional litters here and there. But there are many more that die or suffer birth defects due to multiple embryos that don't make the news. And adoption is not forced on anyone. You don't have to be a parent. There is no law stating such.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • wsome001

      You only get a litter if you implant a litter. This is pretty straightforward. If you are worried about multiple births, then implant ONE embryo. At this point, your odds of twins are the same as if you had conceived normally.

      The odds of defects etc... are identical to normal conception, too.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
    • Diane

      wsome- actually there are studies that seem to find that these babies are more likely to have problems. The Church is only pushing for what is best for all children- the goal of having married parents who will actually be willing to have intercourse to have them.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  4. Suffering2

    My husband and I are infertile and we looked into IVF after trying natural family planning, hormone stimulation, timed intercourse, you name it. I was raised Catholic, he was raised Baptist. IVF scares me not only because it isn't God's plan, because everyone I know who has gone through it ended up with multiple births of two or more. That can be harmful to the health and well being of the babies and their parents. It can also be financially devastating to go through the failed expense of IVF multiple times or to end up with two or more children at one time with possible health problems. So, we're not going through IVF. We figure God has a plan for us, we just don't know what it is yet. In the meantime, we can be the world best aunt and uncle or positive adult figures in other childrens' lives.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
    • Lisa

      @suffering2........I can't imagine your pain!! But, what you're saying makes soooo much sense. 2 of my brothers did the ivf thing and one brother did not. The 2 that did are in financial ruins, their marriages are stressed to the max and one had twins and the other triplets. Neither one can afford this. My other brother had one naturally. They miscarried and tried again for years. Although it was very painful, they knew that this was God's will and nothing else. This brother attends an awesome church that supported their decision to only have one. They were nurtured. Not in debt, happy (after a long time of grieving) and have moved on!! God bless both of you.

      May 10, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  5. Taranis

    I do not follow the church, but I think that if you believe in your heart you are good with god, it should not matter how the children come. If you adopted children would the church look down on you or condemn you? If so, find another church, or quit all together...

    May 10, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • gerald

      Ya, everyone should follow their own corrupt natures.

      Obey and submit to your leaders who have concern for your souls...Heb 13:17

      May 10, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  6. cmc

    Did I read correctly that they had 2 sons the natural way and that just wasn't good enough? After the thousands of dollars and public and private nightmares they went through with IVF, what message does that send to the two kids you originally had? You simply aren't good enough and I must have more at any cost is the message I would have gotten if I were those kids. If you believe in God's will, then God wanted you to have 2 children. Period. If you believe in the Catholic Church (and most other organized religions), you will always be disappointed if you think they will support you in something that doesn't fit their antiquated doctrine. You are there to support THEM financially and without question. They haven't changed in thousands of years. What made these people think they were special enough to make the church suddenly turn around? Probably the same thing that makes them think they are so special, they have to spread THEIR genes at any cost and in any manner possible. The money they spent trying to continuously duplicate themselves, they could have spent to highly educate the two they had naturally or foster or adopt some other kids. Selfish is the word that comes to mind after reading this article.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • wsome001

      I try to take an impartial stance, but this is siimply a ridiculous posting. There is no logic or reason to it at all. Some parents want to have a lot of children, and have the means to support them. It is not your business, cmc, to assume you know what their motives are, or to tell them how many children is "selfish" and how many is not. We still live in the land of the free. We do not live in Communist China, and we can have as many kids as we like. Be it one, or twenty. Some people love kids and big families. Some people would rather buy a yacht. Let it be.

      If you had any concept of children, you wouldn't make the selfish argument, either. Kids love it when babies come into the family. Single children beg their parents for siblings.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Jerry

      Actually...a response to wsome001.

      I would argue that the current 1-child policy in China is a consequence of previous generations of Chinese having as many children as they wanted.

      May 10, 2011 at 3:21 pm |
    • cmc

      What part of my post is ridiculous exactly? How I would have felt if I were one of the two original kids they had? That is how I'd feel. That their God didn't see fit to give them more than two kids? They only had 2 kids naturally. That they were surprised to not be supported by a church that has continuously denounced science interfering with procreation? This isn't even a surprise to people who are non-religious, such as myself. That it's selfish to not be satisfied with two healthy children and to let children in the system rot away while you have the means and desire to parent? I don't think happen to think that's a particularly outlandish, ridiculous idea. I believe many would agree. Fact: we are overpopulated. The human race will not die out if this particular couple does not continue to procreate via any means necessary.

      May 10, 2011 at 3:33 pm |
  7. Amanda

    I'm not sure I understand this concept of the IVF process intentionally destroying embryos. I've been through IVF and all the embryos we created were used right away or frozen right away. We had two viable embryos implanted the first time, only one took but in no way does this imply that we intentionally destroyed the other embryo. A couple of years later we had another baby via the old-fashioned method (does this mean he is perfect and his brother isn't). After that we had another baby via one of our frozen embryos. To do this they thawed four embryos and let them grow in a petri dish. Only two continued to grow and one of those stopped after a couple of days. The remaining embryo was implanted and took successfully. Earlier this year we decided it was time for the next one and had our remaining six embryos thawed and grown up to day 5 in a petri dish. Of those six only one was viable at day 5. We had it implanted but this time it didn't take (I mourned this lost pregnancy just like any other woman who has had a miscarriage). There is no instance along this timeline in which I think we intentionally destroyed any of our embryos. An embryo is not in a 1 to 1 ratio to a child. Embryos are made and develop in a range of viabilities and grades, some are going to make it and some aren't.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Ben

      Amanda, thank you for sharing your trials and tribulations. You have no doubt been through a lot in seeking for children of your own. When the destruction of embryos is brought up, I believe (I could be wrong) that it refers to those frozen embryos which are actually discarded at the parent's choosing. For example, if you had not had your remaining embryos implanted but they stayed frozen for, say, 50 years...then you obviously wouldn't be able to have them implanted. Those would likely be discarded. I don't know how this occurs, but I've heard that they are treated like simple medical waste...whatever the procedures are for that.

      A telling comment comes at the end, "An embryo is not in a 1 to 1 ratio to a child"....well actually the church would disagree. The idea that life begins when sperm fertilize(s) an egg, that is the fundamental difference here I think. Whether it occurs in a lab or inside a womb, it is life. "Embryos are made and develop in a range of viabilities and grades, some are going to make it and some aren't." What a sad, sad understanding of the gift of life we've been given. Our culture has taught us that life is a science experiment we just need to figure out and optimize. No wonder we're surrounded by so much death, we're doing it to ourselves.

      May 10, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
    • Lisa

      @ Amanda......Any embryo that is lost is a soul that is lost. That means either natural or in vitro. The difference being you have had some that have taken and some that did not. That was a choice you made. Miscarriage is not a choice for women. It happens. Every time someone doesn't use those frozen embryos or they don't grow in a dish they are discarded. Name all the embryos you have discarded,they were human. You will someday see their faces in Heaven and you can explain it then. They are a soul.

      May 10, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
    • bp

      @ Lisa

      A soul? Please show me proof that such a thing exists. I can proove to thatelectrical current travel through our brains jumping synaspes and that such is part of the process of intelligent awareness. But a ghost living in the body but seperate hasnt been established yet so your argument is irrelevant. The term soul is more likely attribuatable to the human psyche and determined by social values and morals. It exists within your brain soley and is not some invisble ghost that seperates from your body at death.

      May 10, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
    • Ben

      @bp, "I can proove to that electrical current travel through our brains jumping synaspes and that such is part of the process of intelligent awareness." Maybe you should rephrase...

      To be more accurate, "the electrical current jumping synapses can prove...everything else you said". YOU aren't really doing anything at all then are you? It's litterally all in your head.

      "A soul? Please show me proof that such a thing exists." What a strange assertion considering people of faith don't ever claim to wish to PROVE such a thing. In reality, I think you'd be astonished at how much you take on faith in your everyday life. The only difference between you and I is that I HOPE for salvation, and you HOPE you're right.

      May 10, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
  8. shame on the Catholic church

    The real problem with Catholics is the Catholic church. With an epidemic of pedophillia among the clergy, cover ups regarding said pedophillia, refusal to allow AIDS stricken Africa to use condoms, hate directed towards those who choose not to burden the responsibility of children, and now condemnation of people who actually do choose to raise children, you guys ought to really consider a new religion. Clearly the only thing the Catholic church cares about is the Catholic church.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
    • Sharon


      May 10, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • A Catholic

      Thank you, I will consider another religion. Would you like to suggest one please? Maybe one that is more in line with your sense of reality perhaps? Or maybe one that bends to the whims of culture? Maybe no religion at all? Whatever YOU prefer.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Lisa

      @ Lisa AMEN!! Run fast, run hard!! Find the beauty of Christ away from this guilt ridden religion

      May 10, 2011 at 4:06 pm |
  9. Marie

    And exactly the reason why I am no longer a practicing Catholic. I was told that my daughter, who was conceived using infertility treatments, was not a true child of God. Really?! How can a priest, a "man of God" even have the right to say something like that to another. That priest is not God, only an instrument of Him. And a poor example of one at that. Catholic church, don't you dare even think you have the right to say that my child is not welcome because of how she was conceived. She will do more good in this world than you ever will.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • gerald

      I don't believe you were told that. But let's say you were. It is not Church teaching. Lots of priests say lots of things. But if you knew your faith it wouldn't have bother you. Of course if you knew your faith and wanted to live it and submit to God rather than your own corrupt nature you wouldn't have used IVG.

      Obey and submit to your leaders who have concern for your souls...Heb 13:17

      May 10, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • Marie

      gerald, so now you know what I was told and what I wasn't. And you are saying that because I could not have a child that I was corrupt? Oh, and my child is corrupt, too, because I could not have a child in the manner you think is the only way. These commands did not come from God but from a bunch of men who wanted to control people out of fear. Quoting bible versus only works when you completely understand the word of God. I have a beautiful child and you, nor anyone will tell me anything different. Be careful, my corrupt child may do something to save your life some day.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Marni

      Marie, I'm sorry this happened to you. Priests, like all of us, are human and make mistakes. Pastorally, he let you down... big time. All children, no matter how they are conceived, are a blessing.

      My thoughts are with you.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Matt R

      ***submit to God rather than your own corrupt nature you wouldn't have used IVG.***

      That's funny, gerald, I don't recall God saying anything about IVF. At all.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
  10. gerald

    My take... What the Bible says:

    Obey and submit to your leaders who have concern for your souls...Heb 13:17

    May 10, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • VinoBianco

      I disagree with this...what if the leader is wrong?

      May 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • Matt R

      Mat 15:14 Let them alone:: they be blind leaders of the blind . And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • gerald

      Or what if your wrong Vince, how do you know the difference. Christ established a church and he said "whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven". You don't take him at his word. You pick and choose.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
    • gerald

      So which is it Matt or did Christ establish a Church? See matt 16:18-19.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:49 pm |
  11. Jamie

    I love how the people who believe in God's will won't accept that will by taking the hint they aren't supposed to procreate.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • VinoBianco

      Maybe they think in vetro is also part of God's will?

      May 10, 2011 at 2:30 pm |
    • John

      If they believe in vitro is god's will and a way he created to have children I assume they also believe abortion is god's will and a way to stop people who weren't supposed to be born?

      May 10, 2011 at 2:43 pm |
    • Artist

      And people who have cancer don't get the hint that they are not supposed to live and go against god's will and seek treatment. What about those people that get severly injuried and dont get the hint that they were not supposed to walk again and go against his will by going through physical therapy.
      Your perception of your god's will has no bearing on other peoples lives...how about getting that hint.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:47 pm |
  12. Carl LaFong

    While they're at it, they should also reverse their Neanderthal views on women, gays, non-Catholics, condoms, etc, etc.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:03 pm |
    • gerald

      Ya and por nogr aphy and mur der and r a p e. Let everyone have their own personal sins. Stop making stands against what is and isn't sin. Churches have no buisnes telling me I am a sinner after all. Or was it John who said "any man who says he has no sin is a liar".

      Obey and submit to your leaders who have concern for your souls...Heb 13:17

      May 10, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • shame on the Catholic church


      Matthew Chapter 6
      Verse 5
      “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.

      Verse 6
      But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

      Verse 7
      And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

      Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

      In case reading comprehension isn't your strongpoint, I'll help you out. That means keep your religion to yourself and mind your own business. Since that's in the Bible and you clearly choose not to follow it, explain how you can pick and choose what you want from the Bible, yet it's not okay to do the same with what the Catholic Church says.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • Sharon

      Strongly agree.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • gerald

      Shame on you,

      That's the kind of theology you get when people like you teach bible alone against what the scriptures say.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
  13. steve

    The moral of this story is simple: the catholic church is a complete joke and this author and his family really should distance themselves from it asap, as should any other reasonable person.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  14. justathought

    I find it a bit ridiculous that never married, purportedly celibate men are telling women and couples how to govern their marriages and reproductive lives. Do we have the illiterate sit on boards of education? Do we have people who've never driven cars write our rules of the road? No, because they'd have no credibility.

    May 10, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • What a dumb thought

      In your distorted sense of reality, would it also be necessary that police and judges be experienced in committing crime?

      May 10, 2011 at 2:38 pm |
  15. Brian Ten Eyck

    But since God reportedly works in mysterious ways–a penchant cited to explain away all manner of personal tragedy and "natural" disaster–what should give Catholics the moral right to medically override the apparent "discrimination" of infertility?

    May 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  16. jeff

    The amazing thing is no one is forced to be Catholic – why are people so adamant that the Church change any position – it doesn't demand or force behavior on anyone. Why can't people who disagree just ignore the Catholic Church's position like they ignore every other religion's position to which they do not agree (Some of which do force their teachings on people)? What is so different about the Catholic Church that people get so upset when they don't agree with it? Is it because deep in their hearts they know the Church does speak the truth (not because of its own merits, but because it is guided by the Holy Spirit) and as Jack Nicholson said, some people "can't handle the truth"? – – ALERT: If you don't like the Church's teaching, then don't follow it – but as far as demanding the Church say what you are doing "is right" – doesn't work that way. There are plenty of churches that have "10 Suggestions" instead of 10 Commandments – try one of those out – or just start your own church!!

    May 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Sharon

      What a narrow-minded point of view! It's all well and good to say "love it or leave it", but then you won't need to defend the plain, unalterated, outrageousness of the Church. Yep. By all means, explain to me (per Pope Benedict) how women being priests is as bad as being a child molester. Explain to me how it's okay to have a million kids ya can't take care of, but's it's not okay to struggle to bring a single, WANTED IVF baby into the world. I could go on, but...Anyway, the Catholic Chruch, as I see it, is only there to defend the rights of males, whatever they are. That is a huge reason I left the Church and I won't look back.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
    • one voice

      carolyn was a principal at a catholic HS....need i say more.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • Cindy

      Right on. Why would anyone feel the need to have the Church condone their behavior? Because the Church *is* the moral arbiter and they know it.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
    • ajk68

      The Church has not said having woman priests is a moral evil. The have said it is an impossibility. However, pretending to say Holy Mass as a woman would have the evil of dissimulation. For example, I would love to fly by flapping my arms – it's just not going to happen. That doesn't mean that if I succeeded that it would be morally evil. However, jumping off a building thinking I can fly would be evil.

      Molestation of children is a grave moral evil.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:34 pm |
    • Jose

      Right on Jeff – I am tired of folks, who dont like a "rule" in the church, try to change the church, instead of praying on and understanding the reason for the "rules"... if you dont agree, go find another church..but leave my church alone. There are many rules I dont agree with, but I follow them, and learn all I can about why I should.. it would be so easy to just do what I wanted, and not what my Lord wants.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Matt R

      @Jose: The church has been wrong before and will err in the future. As a member of the church it is your duty to ensure it stays on track. Anything else and you're a blind follower and there is no virtue in that.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • JJ in CT

      What's interesting is that there are so many derivations of christianity that just don't agree. If you are not in X religion, you are going to heII, but if you are not in Y religion then you are going to heII. People don't agreee with their particular "chosen" faith, but the faiths can't agree either. If the bible is really god's word, and god is infallible, why are there so many different faiths? Wouldn't a perfect god have given a bible that would not leave room for interpretation? face it, the bible was written by imperfect men in an age where they had limited understanding of the world aroun them. The catholic church simply uses it to make more money.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:54 pm |
    • Shelly

      Very good point Jeff, follow the 10 Commandments. Not man-made laws written by priests and claiming to be the Word of GOD. "Thou Shall Not Use Medical Advances to Correct Infertility" is NOT one of the 10 Commandments.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  17. franklyspeaking

    So abortion is an abomination but IVF is a "miracle". IOW, it's OK to mess with nature when it suits you but it's a sin when it doesn't. If you can't conceive naturally then it's just "God's will" that you don't have kids.

    May 10, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
    • Kris

      It will be God's will if I can conceive through IVF or I am unable to adopt. I will pursue all avenues to be a parent.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • wsome001

      It's an interesting question you pose, but it cannot be answered under your terms because you present a logically incomplete question. Destroying an embryo because you made and then didn't want it is a different scenario than creating something you already want. In a crude comparison, you could call it "waste." If you aren't hungry, but then spend all day in the kitchen cooking because you enjoy cooking, it would still be considered wasteful to toss out the food, which has value. A responsible person wouldn't cook food that was intended for the garbage.

      But then, the key there is "value." Sure, a nice cooked meal has value. Not all believe that a fetus has value, and don't feel like it's wasting to toss it out. But you can't argue values, that's a personal issue, not a logic based derivation.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
    • Tooyummy4u

      Purely ignorant statement from another misguided individual. If you can't conceive naturally that doesn't mean that you were not meant to have children. "GOD" introduces children into our lives in many different ways whether it be adoption, IVF or just being a caregiver. "Natural" conception is relative. If it was meant to be, it was meant to be. God gave man the "tools" to create and destroy. DEAL WITH IT.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:33 pm |
  18. Kate

    Why is it people go to such great lengths to try to reconcile the supposed "doctrines"of a bunch of corrupt old men with reality? How can anyone with an IQ over 60 believe this baloney?

    It's like spending hours actually coming up with ways Santa Claus could get down all those chimneys in one night.

    Face it – the emperor has no clothes. Debating why he doesn't wear different styles or why he should change his choice of colors just makes you look really silly.

    OTOH, part of me kinda hopes the church keeps spewing this stuff. The more they do, the faster they accelerate their utter irrelevance.

    May 10, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
    • bam

      keep in mind, 2000 years ago OLD MEN was your 40's.... but right on par. Only the intellectuals had control and sought to maintain it over the ignorant. not to mention the OPIATES and other smokeable drugs that are plentiful in the area this was conceived of.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
    • whiterat


      May 10, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
    • bp


      May 10, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
    • Thomas

      What's all this about Santa not getting down all the chimneys? He still gets to mine.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:28 pm |
    • kim

      Kate – LOVE IT!

      May 11, 2011 at 9:47 am |
  19. Seth Hill

    Maybe a Catholic can explain this to me. It's OK for doctors to extend life far beyond God's will, but not OK to help a couple conceive. When someone gets sick, isn't God calling them home? Why practice death control but not practice birth control? I don't understand.

    May 10, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
    • one voice

      water, nurturance and oxygen is not going beyond or extreme.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Jeepers

      That's a really good question. I find it cruel to extend the life of a gravely ill person when it's considered inhumane to do it to a dog or a horse.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:23 pm |
    • Adam McMillan

      You ask for an explanation. First your language needs to be clarified. You suggest that doctors extend lives "beyond God's will." This has never happened. Everyone dies when it is God's will for them to die. Being sick or needing emergency medical care is not necessarily a sign that it is God's will that a person die. The Church does not teach that and no reasonable person could actually believe it. You then contrast this to it not being OK to help a couple conceive. This is actually perfectly okay. Doctors should help couples conceive.

      In vitro conception is evil though, so that is not a way that couples should be helped. To take a human egg out of the mother and sperm out of the father (usually through immoral means) then combine them in a petri dish, creating life in a context that is completely foreign to how God designed humanity to be created, is wrong. Beyond this, in vitro fertilization often results in the deaths of many children for each child who survives until birth. Nevertheless, even if a method of in vitro was designed that eliminated abortion, selective implantation, masturbation, preying on vulnerable parents who worry that they will never conceive otherwise, and other incidental but commonly conjoined wrongs, the act itself is still wrong.

      Life is a gift. No one has a right to a child. Using in vitro fertilization requires an amazing level of selfishness on the part of parents, a selfishness that modern Americans often possess. Their desire for a child outweighs every consideration. Children ought to be the natural fruit of a marital act, not the product of Dr. Frankenstein and whatever methods he can invent. The fertility industry is a money-grubbing corporate interest. They would sort through a thousand children, killing off 999, choosing the one that parents believe is "perfect" for them.

      However, when the Church teaches that something is immoral, they do not mean that it is immoral for Catholics. They mean that it is actually immoral. So we should consider secular reasons why in vitro fertilization should be illegal. The future of the human race depends on the next generation. An essential part of the growth that humanity has made these past 100,000 years is that the previous generation does not get to design the next generation. Will there still be girls in China or India? Will there still be dark skinned children in India or Mexico? What if parents could determine the political leanings of the next generation? Who knows what genes play a role in that! If in vitro fertilization became cheap and widespread, humanity would stagnate.

      Perhaps you think that we could just pass laws forbidding eugenics in certain cases. No Down Syndrome babies, but gender cannot be a determining factor. Do you know what factors are bad for humanity as a whole and which are good? No. No one is that smart. No one can see the bigger picture. Perhaps you think laws should prevent widespread use of in vitro but allow it when a couple has trouble conceiving. Conception troubles are very widespread. A large percentage of the country would find reasons to use in vitro. Only the expense is preventing a eugenic disaster that would destroy the human race. The end of eugenics would be the death of humanity from a lack of unforeseen genetic diversity or a race of identical "super-humans" who would all be supposedly perfect but in actuality only represent the perfect ideal in the mind of the last naturally produced generation.

      The future of humanity is far too important to put its control in the hands of scientists or even the conscious minds of parents. Reproduction happens on an instinctual level. The body naturally produces good results. Even when we are not happy with all the results, when the baby is not "perfect", this sometimes results in a surprisingly important contribution to human culture.

      If a couple cannot conceive a child, there are many options to help them conceive naturally which are better, cheaper, safer, and moral. If they truly cannot conceive and still want to raise children, there are many children in need of good parents who do not have any. We must not allow scientists, and by extension governments, a place at reproduction. I have not even covered what would happen when governments forcibly sterilize every child before puberty, making in vitro the only option. That may sound overly paranoid, but I believe that when people treat themselves like cattle, they should not be surprised when they are eventually only allowed to be cattle.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
  20. Tooyummy4u

    Bible Thumpers are preaching "Man's Interpretation" of the Bible. If you were destined to have children, God will bless you with them no matter which avenue you persue.We are given options by the grace of God and we should explore them and not condemn them.

    May 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • bam

      "I find the church's position to be discriminatory"
      NO WAY REALLY? I am sure if you do minor searching you would see that is a dominant part of the christian taliban ways. You must abide by the christian Taliban laws or u will be ostracized. maybe even tar and feathered.

      May 10, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.