Bishop John M. D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend is planning to release a statement tomorrow, March 24, on the intention of Notre Dame to pay homage to Obama on May 17, 2009. Assuming that the Bishop condemns the visit this would not be his first clash with the powers that be at Notre Dame. On February 24, 2004 he condemned the annual presentation at Notre Dame of the Vagina Monologues. Notre Dame ignored him, and, under President Jenkins, the department sponsored Vagina Monologues performances continue, with his about face on that issue indicating Jenkins’ complete lack of willingness to defend Catholic teaching and morality. On April 30, 2006 and again on March 2008, Bishop D’Arcy released statements about the ongoing performances of the Vagina Monologues, highlighting his intense disagreement with Jenkins. The Bishop has also condemned the “Queer Film Festival” sponsored by Notre Dame.
On March 9, 2009 Bishop D’Arcy released this statement regarding the embryonic stem cell policy of President Obama:
“On March 9, 2009, President Obama extended the ability of the federal government to directly fund the destruction of embryonic human beings in order to advance stem-cell research. We should be clear about what is happening here. The president, while claiming to separate science from politics, has, in fact, separated science from ethics. He has brought the American government into supporting the direct destruction of innocent human life.
While the Catholic Church is in full support of stem-cell research that is ethical and scientifically sound, it is opposed to all research that would use a human being — at whatever stage of development — simply as a means to an end. Embryonic stem-cell research does just this.
In addition, while President Obama declared his opposition to human cloning for purposes of reproduction, he left the door open to human cloning for the purposes of experimentation. In other words, while human beings could be cloned with taxpayer money in order to be exploited and killed for scientific research, they could not be cloned and implanted in the womb of a woman in order to be born. This is science at its very worst.
President Obama claims that his decision sets aside ideology in order to advance sound scientific research. The opposite is actually the truth. This decision by the president is an imposition of a utilitarian ideology, which allows a group of human beings that some believe do not share human dignity, to be used and exploited. Human history, of course, is rife with examples of the strong dominating the weak and defenseless. Doesn’t the promise of a democratic America — of respect for the dignity of all — hold us to a higher standard?
Recent breakthroughs in stem-cell research — including the use of adult stem cells — should actually make this question moot. Just last year it was shown that a normal human skin cell could be successfully reprogrammed into an embryonic-like cell. This holds no ethical problems. Yet, there seems to be a headlong rush to do not only what is ethically wrong, but what is likely a scientific dead end.
I pray that Congress will not act to appropriate any funds for embryonic stem-cell research and, in doing so, respect the conscientious objections of millions of American taxpayers who want to preserve, protect and defend the dignity of every human life.”
I look forward to the Bishop’s statement tomorrow. No doubt Jenkins will do his best to ignore it. Perhaps Catholics outraged at his invitation to Obama can make that hard to do this time