Another Beacon

In his latest column for The Catholic Sun, Bishop Thomas Olmsted asks, “What should science trump?”

His question was prompted by President Obama, who, on Monday, signed an executive order providing federal funding of embryonic stem cell research. In his remarks at the signing, President Obama said, “This Order is an important step in advancing the cause of science in America. . . . It is about ensuring that scientific data is never distorted or concealed to serve a political agenda – and that we make scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology.”

Bishop Olmsted comments,

Our president’s rationale is that science should trump ideology. In other words, that ideology should not have the upper hand in making decisions about who pays for research; science should. We Americans, he says, should trust scientists more than we trust ideologues. But who is our president calling ideologues? Those whom he is calling “ideologues” include the following:

  • Pope Benedict XVI and all faithful Catholics around the world;
  • People of faith from all major religions who believe that human life, especially at its most innocent and vulnerable stage, needs to be protected, not killed for the sake of older human beings; and
  • All people of good will who oppose the killing of one group of human beings in order to benefit another group.

“Science should trump ideology” is a code phrase that means science should trump the Fifth Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill.” It is contending that science should trump the right to life of a certain class of human beings, those who are at the embryonic stage of life. Science, according to our president, does not need to be at the service of the human person or subject to morality. How is this position not influenced by an ideology, which is the very thing our president claims he is seeking to avoid? Is this good for America? Is this what we Americans want our taxes to be used for?

He also offers five points on what a Catholic response should be. Here are some key excerpts:

  • “First, we must beg forgiveness for this horrendous sin of our nation.”
  • “Second, we Catholics must join with others of good will and make our voices heard across our land, at the White House, on Capitol Hill, in our state Legislatures and in the media. We must not stand by idly while our neighbor’s life is at stake.”
  • “Third, we need to point out why such destructive research is especially pointless at this time when ethical means are available . . .”
  • “Fourth, we must pray and fast for an end to this horrendous decision and an end to all attacks on innocent human life. Jesus told us that some evils can only be driven out by prayer and fasting.”
  • “Fifth, we must not lose hope. False rhetoric such as “science must triumph over ideology” will not stand the test of time.”

(Bishop Olmsted is also one of CUF’s episcopal advisors. His excellent talk, “Courage for the Battle Within: Holiness is Everybody’s Business,” from CUF’s 40th Anniversary Conference, is available though the CUF office. Email conference [at] cuf [dot] org for more information.)

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