Father, you created us male and female and called us to a life-giving communion of love that would bring forth new life, a reminder of your presence among us. Through a misuse of modern technology, your plan to bring forth new life has been altered, causing embryonic human life to be created outside of the loving embrace of man and woman.
> Compassionate and loving Father, they remain in Your Hands. We pray for an end to this misuse and abuse of human life. We pray for a renewed awareness of the dignity of every human life, from the moment of conception to natural death. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, we wish to make reparation for this sin against the dignity of human life and pray for hearts to be ready to receive the gifts You wish to offer. May all, born and unborn, be united one day in the warmth of Your Embrace. We offer this prayer through the Sacred Heart of Jesus and The Immaculate Heart of Mary. Amen.
(Imprimatur Granted by The Most Reverend Bishop David L. Ricken DD, JLC 0Bishop of The Green Bay Diocese on January 5, 2012 Feast of St. John Neumann may he help us to educate peoples on the dignity of the human person).
There is a great need for reparation in our country for the thousands of “persons” who have been frozen in time. These persons are neither living nor dying. They are alive, yet they are not living their lives. They are not dying, but death seems to be a more likely certitude since they have no right to life in a country where the unborn are not given the status of “person”. If they are not recognized as a person, then there is little hope for them to be treated like one.
I am talking about the many hundreds of thousands of human embryos that are frozen in laboratories, research centers and fertility clinics in the United States. These are not “potential” people but are in fact persons. These embryos have been created after sperm and ovum have united and an immortal soul has been infused by God. This is not "genetic material" created by two genetic “donors” but one living person with their own biological and genetic material. In fact anyone who understand the way organ donation or bone marrow registry works knows that a parent and child match is extremely low. Why? One reason is because a child is a new creation. A child is not merely a genetic product.
So how many of these persons are frozen in a state of “limbo” neither living nor dying and what is being done with them? Well according to the research at the Rand Corporation there are almost half a million human embryos that are frozen. What is being done with them? Well, for those abandoned by their parents due to divorce, loss of contact with patient, death of parent(s), their fate includes being discarded as medical “waste”, being used in laboratories for experimentation or research.
“The RAND-SART team designed and implemented a survey to determine the number and current disposition of embryos frozen and stored since the mid-1980s at fertility clinics in the United States and the number of those embryos designated for research. The survey was sent to all 430 assisted reproductive technology facilities in the United States, 340 of which responded. Estimates for nonresponding clinics were developed using a statistical formula based on a clinic's size and other characteristics. The results show that as of April 11, 2002, a total of 396,526 embryos have been placed in storage in the United States. This number is higher than expected; previous estimates have ranged from 30,000 to 200,000.
Although the total number of frozen embryos is large, the RAND-SART survey found that only a small percentage of these embryos have been designated for research use. As the figure illustrates, the vast majority of stored embryos (88.2 percent) are being held for family building, with just 2.8 percent of the total (11,000) designated for research. Of the remaining embryos, 2.3 percent are awaiting donation to another patient, 2.2 percent are designated to be discarded, and 4.5 percent are held in storage for other reasons, including lost contact with a patient, patient death, abandonment, and divorce.” RB-9038 » RAND: How Many Frozen Human Embryos Are Available for Research?
This is our reality. It is disturbing to me that we live in a country that protects the rights of animals with much more fervor than it does the unborn. But do not despair, because I have decided to find a way in which I could make reparation for this great evil and injustice and I encourage you to do the same. We should all be looking at the places in which we as a society are broken and seek to find a means in which to bring healing or even a cure where possible.
Let me share with you how I came to learn about these abandoned persons and was inspired to find a way to effect some form of change to it.
This past week I spent at the Theology of The Body Institute studying “Sexual Ethics” with Dr. John Haas, President of the National Catholic BioEthics Center. I learned many things that week, one of which I will share with now.
In our country there are human embryo's by the hundreds of thousands. While the name "human embryo" sounds like a medical term, the reality is that these are “persons”. But they are not seen as persons in our world. Instead they are seen as "potential" persons. Some are boys and some are girls and these persons were created in a laboratory and placed in a petri dish then frozen for later “use”.
While this is a very complicated subject, it is a new reality in our world. A reality that includes the creation of life occurring in a laboratory rather than inside of the marital union. This new reality has introduced a new set of questions that must be addressed.
I am not a biophysicist nor am I a theologian so my observation is going to be that of a mother of 8 children as well as a daughter of Christ.
What is to be done in regard to these babies? After all, they are persons. Because of this, some will have red hair, some will have blond hair, some will have curls and some will not. Blue eyes, brown eyes, green eyes, tall or short, great at math or really funny. For one child there will be a natural inclination towards math or science and for another it will be the arts. Perhaps one is the next Mozart. These proclivities are an inherent trait within each and every one of us at the time of our creation. Our environment then becomes the second affecting agent as to whether or not those inclinations are brought to fruition. After all, a fertilized ovum is a human embryo. A human embryo is a human being. A human being is a “person” and each “person” has being created in the image and likeness of God for a reason, for their own sake and should never be used as an object. This beautiful premise is elaborated upon in Blessed Pope John Paul II very clearly stated in Love and Responsibility.
However, we live in a world where these inherent truths are rejected and instead these persons are looked upon as biological material and nothing more. But what if we could for one moment operate from a place where everyone accepted that these are persons? If we did, we could no longer look upon any cryostasis facility as a laboratory of science but would instead have to see these facilities as the modern day orphanages of the 21st century. A facility housing many abandoned children of God. As Christians what is our responsibility towards these children? What is to be done with these persons?
There are organizations such as the “Snowflake Embryo and Adoption and Donation Program” in which families seeking to rescue these abandoned embryos are able to bring them into their own homes by first providing them the womb. This gives them the possibility of living out their lives, being baptized and giving their gifts to the world through the embracing of family life facilitated by their adopted parents. It must be said that this certainly reveals that the we have gone into uncharted territories with the advancements of medical science. Just as the laws have not caught up with the fast paced advancements on the internet, so too have we not contemplated the morality or the ethics behind medical treatments or procedures being used in our modern world.
As a Catholic, we look to Rome for clarifications on these sort of things, not because we are not intellegent enough to decide something for ourselves but because there are many aspects to every part of what is happening in these “laboratories” that must be considered so as to respect the dignity of life and the human person in every action. When we say we look to Rome, it is because there are experts like Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph. D. with a degree in Philosophy, biochemistry, molecular cell biology and chemistry, and did laboratory research on hormonal regulation of the immune response. He earned a Ph.D. In Neuroscience from Yale University, where he focused on cloning genes for neurotransmitter transporters which are expressed in the brain. He worked for several years as a molecular biologist at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School. He then studied for 5 years in Rome where he did advanced work in dogmatic theology and in bioethics, examining the question of delayed ensoulment of the human embryo. He has spoken on ABC World News Tonight, NPR, CNN and more. The point is, he is an expert in both the biology as well as the theology and he is one of hundreds if not thousands of voices that Romes looks to for counsel before declaring anything. As a Catholic, I know that a declaration on whether or not I could adopt an embryo and bring it into my body as my child, would first take into careful consideration whether or not this further desecrates the body or speaks against the dignity of the person or if it in fact is a loving solution to this horrible atrocity going on in laboratories all over the world.
As I listened to this argumentation being discussed in class, my mother heart within in me ached for these poor souls, abandoned and in limbo. So until Rome makes a declaration what can be done? Well, some Catholic parents have in fact adopted these embryos and have become parents. Some are waiting for formal approval before doing so. This approval may not come so what happens now? What can be done? I was mortified by the prospect that nothing could be done until there was a great comment made by one of the students. It gave me so much peace and put things into prospective. It also led me to another line of thinking I would not have otherwise taken.
The comment was that these human embryos are under the care of God. There is no risk of mortal sin for these little ones and while they have not been baptized, I think we can all agree that these innocent little ones surely have a special place in God's heart. They are not at risk of going to hell, they are free mortal sin and under the care of their heavenly Father and this truth gives me great peace. Every day human beings are living out lives in great sin as they have fallen under the weight of their own weaknesses. In fact, many souls are going to hell everyday because of their rejection of their greatness, their great God given dignity, which came because of their rejection of God.
With this new thought I realized that I could and should do something for these little ones, but it should be done to make reparation to God for this great evil and in doing so, this reparation should be a means of which to convert hearts in the world so that no more of these persons are brought into being in this disordered way, no more should be abandoned to these Frozen Orphanages.
It is from this great love of these persons that my friend Becky and I talked of making a prayer card for these human embryos in reparation for this great wrong to our Lord. To console His caring and Merciful heart so as to inspire more souls to contemplate the meaning of life and that it begins at the moment of conception. This prayer card will have as it's picture, a human embryo by the name of Grace. Grace was adopted by a family, who answered the call of motherhood and fatherhood and rescued her from this modern day orphanage. Her adopted mother, gave her very body for this child and in doing so, received a great grace. Not only did she receive Grace the person, but the grace of motherhood and family to her marriage. We are all called to union and communion and that is why the greatest unit is that of family and not of individual.
Grace only lived 10 hours after being delivered. She had many medical conditions that attributed to her death. However, her mother was able to birth her into the world, Grace was baptized by her father and then she did something extraordinary in her very short life. She lived the life of the trinity. She gave of herself a gift to her mothers body. Her mother received that gift and the reciprocal union of these two persons was so great, that it created the very milk which became a source of life to her brother, a 4 month old newly adopted addition to the family. Grace passed away in a state of grace to her Father in heaven but before she did so, she gave a gift to her mother, her father and even her brother.
I have asked these parents to write the prayer for this card. Who better than those who understand tragedy of this modern day technological crisis? I pray that we all find a way to addresss the loss of dignity that continues to grow in our country. You and I can do something to bring reparation and healing to a world that has hardened their hearts. This was my answer. What will yours be?
If you would like to distribute these prayer cards please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line “A Prayer For Grace”. All proceeds will go to the printing of more cards and anything extra will go to the continuing the cost of keeping these embryos frozen. It is their life support. If the facilities they are at no longer provide them a place to live, they will be discarded as medical waste, an attack on their very dignity. For now at least, it seems to be an act of mercy to allow them to live. In the meantime, we can all pray in reparation for this evil to console the heart of God our Father and the graces that will flow from our prayers can turn the hearts of the world toward once again recognizing the dignity inherent in every human being. After all, a person's a person no matter how small.