The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian network founded in 1973


Letters - By J. M. Gilheany
Where do we stand in embryo use debate? (Letter of the week)

When Pope John Paul ll wrote in Veritatis Splendour "If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or a particular circumstance can diminish their evil, but they cannot remove it", his words echoed ancient insights of St Paul.

We cannot claim to belong to a harmless religion, despite instructions in the Gospel to accept the consequences of evil rather than resist its perpetrators. Our lives and freedoms exist through the sacrifice of recent generations who fought oppression in Europe. The Catechism upholds necessary evil as a "right and duty" in pursuit of national defence.

An ethical and spiritual dichotomy exists within the Church which neither side seems capable of resolving with absolute integrity in a far from perfect world.

The current controversy over animal and human embryonic rights within the EU may belong to this wider sphere of complexity which exalts and confounds Christian witness from one era to the next.

The Commission for the European Bishops' Conference has raised: "...the fundamental ethical question as to whether society sanctions the destruction and instrumentalisation of human embryos in order to minimise animal testing." (The Universe. 4 July).

An ethical response to the central issue of suffering would strive to inflict the least amount of scientific torment on other beings in pursuit of (possible) medical progress. Our real choice, as ever, remains between taking up the Cross or the Sword when confronted with suffering in the course of mortal life.

The Universe (18/7/10) .

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