Misconceptions of the Pope
The Pope, leader of the Catholic Church recently said, while at a three day Vatican conference addressing infertility problems faced by people of the earth, that according to him and his religious regime, traditional marriage is the only place permissible to conceive children. He then dismissed IVF as a possible way to conceive because he said:
This was part of a larger speech where he condemned IVF and any other technologies that may aid conception as “arrogance” and “playing God”
Well, we know the Pope has a lot on his hands, handling the constant influx of claims against Catholic priests molesting altar boys and children of the congregation, but the scourge of IVF obviously constitutes enough of a threat to God that it needs addressing. What could the church possibly be afraid of?
I have a couple of ideas.
For one, putting any decision on conception into the hands of people, rather than making it a church-based decision, derides control from the church. If people can freely (at a moderate cost) have access to technologies that may possibly lead to a child being born, then the “will of God” has obviously been overridden. And yet they decry abortion, even for those who are rape victims including those who have been raped by their own family members. And shame be on ye if you happen to be a de-facto couple, because this is “living in sin” even if the act of sex is not required to make a child.
Secondly, technology has taken away a lot of the mysticism of the creation of a child. We no longer talk about “vital fluids”, sanctified by God when talking about fertility. We no longer call it a “blessing” from above. No, we know how a sperm and an egg combine to create a zygote, which is a potential embryo, which is a potential fetus, which is a potential child. The more people use technologies such as IVF to have children, the less “magic” there is in the act of procreation.
Thirdly, the Vatican has a vested interest in vilifying the “sins of the flesh”, as it is the one thing that has been successfully made so taboo by the church that it remains an area of embarrassment and shame among its adherents. From the use of contraception all the way to masturbation, the Catholic Church like to stick its voyeuristic little nose in, and tell YOU what you can and can’t do. As long as it keeps the stigma of sex a major part of its agenda, the church will have power over its people.
While the edicts from the Vatican trickle down to lend to the crisis of AIDS in Africa by denying condoms to the people, and while priests are continually being exposed as pedophiles, the Pope in his ultimate wisdom sees that denying people the right to take advantage of technologies of fertility as important enough to speak publicly about. Well here’s a question that I want answered.
If God created us, and also has certain views on who with, how and when we have sex, then surely he has views on death too, since mortality is one of the payments for the sin of knowledge of life and death, as begun by Eve when she bit into the apple. That being the case, then surely any kinds of technologies that might protect us or prolong out lives are also against the rules. I’m sure that the Pope has never used heart medication, or had surgery of any kind, or had antibiotics to help him recover from a particularly nasty flu, has he? Well in July of 2009, the pope fell and fractured his wrist and required surgery to fix the bones and ligaments. As to whether this prolonged his life, we’ll never know, but it sure has hell made the remainder of his life somewhat more comfortable than it might have been, had he not “played God” and had surgery to repair it. It is just a matter of steps before repairs to one’s body prolong a person’s life beyond what would otherwise be possible without it.
Not to mention the 3 inches of toughened glass that surround him when he drives around Vatican City in the Pope-mobile. (Not sure if God will protect you, or going against the possibility that God would want you to die from a gunshot wound? Either it’s lack of faith, or defying God.)
But no, prolonging one’s life beyond what “God’s plan” may be is totally acceptable. As soon as it has to do with genitals, and all that nasty fluid, the Pope is right there with his stick of righteousness, claiming the moral high-ground over the rights of others. The Vatican has no right to tell anyone what to do, especially in light of how badly it protects it’s flock from the wolves in the pulpits.
I tell you what Pope Benedict, if you shut up about the reproductive rights of others, I promise not to get people thinking about other kinds of technologies they, and you, use to prolong life. It’ll be our little secret.