Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
The Question Box
by Father I.J. Mikulski
(From the April 30, 2009 edition of the Inland Register)
Q. Explain please the big disagreement regarding embryo stem cell research. From what I’ve read, some of the embryos are used and some are to be discarded anyhow. They use only what is needed for stem cell research wherever medical needs will have greatest promise, so cells not being used are discarded.
A. The logical place to start this discussion is a definition of terms. An embryo is a human person in an early stage of life. It’s a human person. You and I were embryos. Continuing its normal course it will develop into a unique person with DMA like no other person ever born.
The moral dilemma is this: Researchers necessarily destroy the living human embryo in order to extract the embryonic stem cells. Saying that an embryo is at risk of being discarded anyway does not give anyone the right to destroy young human life.
Adult stem cell research, which does not require the destruction of human embryos, has successfully resulted in treating more than 70 different medical conditions. The question here is this: Why destroy a wondrous embryonic human person?
Q. We were so upset when our priest would not baptize our first child that we had a nurse who is my wife’s sister do it in our house. During the past five years we have been worried about the validity. We expect another child soon. We’re asking for your best advice. Can we perhaps do the two baptisms together to get it right with our new priest?
A. The new priest will be familiar with the requisite conditions for baptism, namely that parents are faithful Catholics who live the faith they profess. That sensible reference appears in the Rite of Baptism four times. The new priest understands that and he surely expects you to be true to your word when you answer “Yes.” You wouldn’t fib at a time like that, would you?
Chances are good that your sister-in-law performed that earlier baptism validly, but just to be sure, it can be done again with the full ritual of candles, anointing, special prayers and white gown. It’s not just a personal ceremony. The Rite of Baptism makes it clear that your children are being welcomed into the Catholic Christian community.
Q. One summer as a teen I read the whole Bible because there was nothing else to read. It took me between two or three weeks. I didn’t read it for inspiration but as a history of mankind. Even now, 50 years later, I know the Bible doesn’t have to be studied; just taking time to read it will help anyone through life.
A. As suavely as possible, the Q.B. scrivener responds with a bit of caution. A Catholic convert was amazed when he first reviewed the New Testament as a Catholic document and declared, “Hey. That’s our stuff.” The Bible is our Catholic “family papers.” We respect it as the Word of God among us, a prime feature that distinguishes it from all other documents of any kind. There’s nothing else like it in the world.
We treasure it carefully. The Pontifical Biblical Commission reviews all editions and commentaries to be sure there are no spurious theories finding their way into private interpretations. We have seen some goshawful translations touted as discoveries.
There are large sections of the Bible that a primary student should not enter without a competent guide. A few of the Old Testament prophets, for example. And Revelation-Apocalypse. It’s a labyrinth out there, so watch your step. Neophytes have stumbled out of those arcane chapters babbling nonsense and defending it.
Q. A certain woman is driving us bonkers with her daily Bible quotes for every occasion. We have a little group meeting at the coffee shop once a week. Is there anything we could use to out-duel her quotes?
A. Spare me, O Lord, from sleight-of-hand Bible quoters. It takes years of practice for card sharks to learn how to shuffle and deal from the top and bottom of the deck. It takes years for Bible dabblers to memorize chapter and verse from 72 books to match every world problem.
Do not respond. Join another group. Find new friends.