A Message From Fr. Pat...
To my dear St. John Neumann Parish family:
I recently read an article in the Charlotte Observer about a local race car driver who established a “Bundle of Joy” fund to assist couples with fertility challenges. Couples receiving grants use the money to assist with in-vitro fertilization so that their desire to bear a child (or additional children) could become a reality. It is a “feel-good” story: the race car driver and his wife have themselves had fertility problems, conceived a child through IVF, and wanted other couples who were less fortunate to experience the joy of parenthood. Both couples have noble intentions: the driver and his wife want to help others, and the couples receiving grants want to be loving parents. What many people are surprised to know is that the Church counsels couples against IVF for compelling moral reasons.
The Catholic Church, of course, is ardently pro-life, so why would she be opposed to those trying to conceive children? In the first place, in the natural order, children are conceived through the normal marital intimacy between husband and wife. God created us to conceive children in this way, and so we humbly accept the Father’s will as to how many children He will give us, if at all. While it is certainly good to seek medical assistance that will perhaps improve the chances of conception in a natural way, not all medical assistance is successful. A couple unable to bear children but still desiring to be parents might pursue adoption or foster care, or use their loving gifts in other ways to build up the Church family.
In addition, couples seeking IVF often are not aware of the unintended consequences of the procedure. Embryos are created in a laboratory, rather than as a result of an intimate act between the spouses. Multiple embryos are produced, and from the moment of conception we know that they are children. Some of them are implanted; often more than one are implanted per attempt to increase the chances of implantation. If more than the desired number of children are the result, some doctors will advise on “selective reduction,” or aborting one or more embryos to give the one or two that remain a greater chance of survival. In addition, embryos (children) not implanted are frozen, perhaps to be used later. These children may be later discarded; in some rare cases, couples who later divorce fight over their frozen children as “property.” And, in most cases, the couples who choose IVF are not fully aware of these consequences when they make the decision to take this course of action.
We are blessed to live in an age of technology, a time during which scientific advances make possible things which we could have never imagined a century ago. With things happening so quickly, it is important to be aware of the unintended consequences of what is meant to be a loving and giving choice. May the Lord bless all of our families richly as we seek to serve the Lord together each day.
Have a great week!