“How many women have had in vitro fertilization — have had their eggs and sperm [joined in a laboratory]? We wanted to make a statement, and they don’t allow it. That’s against employment law [sic].”
Protestor Gloria Beaune, mother of a Marian High School student, described herself as a “recovering Catholic.”
Lillian Li, whose daughter graduated from Marian in 2013, told me, “We came all the way from Grosse Pointe to bring her to this school. It’s shocking how this is totally against the grain of what they taught the students at Marian.”
Enthusiastic support for Barb Webb came from other corners, as well. Cars leaving Mass at nearby St. Regis Catholic Church and drivers on busy Lahser Road honked, their drivers signaling “thumbs-up” as they passed. An on-line petition, I learned from speakers at the rally, had already garnered support from 70,000 people nationwide. A crowd-sourcing fund drive geared toward raising funds for a “diversity club” at the high school and diversity training for faculty and administrators brought in nearly $3,500 on its first day, although it seems to have stalled at about $4,100 (far short of the month’s $50,000 goal).
Clearly, Barb Webb’s story has struck a chord among liberal American Catholics.
The people I met standing vigil at Marian High School were good, well-intentioned people, committed to equality and social justice. They were committed to Marian High and to its excellence in education. They welcomed student participation in the Sunday rally, but had asked the current students not to disrupt classes or skip school in protest.
But what is frustrating in the protesters’ comments and in media coverage is that Catholic teachings concerning reproductive technologies and same sex "marriage" are misunderstood, misreported or simply unexamined because they are assumed to be outmoded and erroneous.
At issue are at least three Catholic moral principles:
— a disordered condition not in God’s plan for humanity but which is not in itself morally wrong — and sexual acts between persons with same sex attraction.
Church’s teaching on legal recognition of same sex unions.
3. In vitro fertilization and other methods of reproductive technology that substitute for the natural embrace of husband and wife raise grave moral concerns: (a) prospective parents take for themselves the power which is the prerogative of God alone; (b) new human beings are created in laboratories by technicians, not through an act of love between husband and wife; biological parents (including unknown donors and even persons who are dead) are merely suppliers of eggs and sperm; and (c) the process of IVF typically entails discarding and killing nine or more human embryos for every one that survives to birth. The U.S. bishops’ Respect Life Program (2011) offers a brief, basic
introduction to the Church’s teaching on IVF and similar technologies. A 2009 pastoral statement by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops presents a more extensive discussion in “
Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology.” The CDF has addressed reproductive technologies in “
Dignitas Personae” (2008) and “
Donum Vitae” (1987).