Today, though, I learned via Deacon Greg Kandra's blog that the Savages consider themselves Catholics. And since they are once again expecting IVF babies, they are naturally hurt and upset that the Church has spoken out forcefully to condemn the evil of IVF:
When a fertility center made a critical error by transferring another couple's embryos to my wife, we were thrust into an unusual pregnancy and eventually found ourselves at the center of an intense media storm. On September 24, 2009, the day Carolyn gave birth to a very loved baby boy, who was immediately turned over to his genetic parents, the Catholic Diocese of Toledo released a statement to The Toledo Blade condemning IVF as "morally unacceptable."
Because we were the focus of the news, we felt as though the diocese was really condemning us.
The statement hurt Carolyn and me tremendously. We had hoped for the church's support and prayer on one of the hardest days we've ever faced. [...]
Instead of support, the church branded us in a very public way with the apparently shameful letters IVF. Why couldn't the church recognize our journey for what it was - an affirmation of the sanctity of life? Their negative response motivated me to look closer at the issue. [...]
Now for the ironic in Donum Vitae: "Scientists are to be encouraged to continue their research with the aim of preventing causes of sterility and of being able to remedy them so that sterile couples will be able to procreate in full respect for their own personal dignity and that of the child to be born."
So although there are solutions for sterile couples today, those should not be sought because they are outside of the conjugal act? If Carolyn and I were to wait until the scientific advances described in this statement before pursuing additional children, we would not have our daughter - or the opportunity to welcome two more children into this world this August.
If science can advance to the point that all procreation can happen within the confines of the conjugal act, that would be incredible. But what do couples do while waiting the years and probable decades before these advances come to fruition?
I have written many times about the evil of IVF (see here, here, here, and here for some of the posts on that subject). I don't want to go over too much old ground, but in essence: IVF is evil because it treats the child as a commodity, a "thing" to be manufactured on demand instead of a gift from the loving God who blesses the marital union with fruitfulness in His due season. Children born after IVF are no more at fault than the children of rape or incest, and should be loved for their own sake--but parents who use IVF to manufacture children have participated in a grave evil and a very serious sin, and must repent and turn back to the loving God Whom they have turned against by this evil.
One of the evil effects of IVF can be seen in Sean Savage's writing, above: IVF creates in parents a sense of entitlement, a belief that children are things which are somehow owed to them by virtue of their marriage, not an understanding that children are persons created and brought into being by a loving God Who knows and sees what we cannot know and can never see. The same view of children as property lies behind the fearful use of artificial contraception and abortion; the same lack of trust in God to determine our family size is responsible for artificial birth control and for IVF.
Embracing God's will in terms of our families is a hard thing to do. One family may be blessed with abundant fertility that laughs at the very notion of nursing amenorrhea; another family may have several children in the first few years of marriage--and then one, or no, more--still another family may wish fervently for a large family and have God send them only one or two or three before secondary infertility or illness or other matters interfere; and hardest of all is the cross carried by the infertile, who wish for even one child, but are denied this wish's fulfillment. The world sees these matters and says: Easy! Use artificial contraception to keep from having too many children, and use IVF to keep from having too few, or none. Forget all this superstitious nonsense about people being gifts from God with immortal souls, part of His divine plan: we're just animated carbon racing toward oblivion, so make as many--or as few--as you like, provided you can pay for it all!
But Christians aren't supposed to live according to the selfish values of the world. Nowhere is the contrast between Church teaching and worldly values more clear than in matters pertaining to human sexuality, to the welcoming of children, and to the adherence to moral means of family planning and fertility enhancement. Mr. Savage's article seems to miss the point of Christian living entirely, as he expresses the desire for the Church to support him in the evil he has chosen, complains that the Church won't change her teachings to suit him, and asks what he's supposed to do about it all?
What the Savages are supposed to do is exactly what every Catholic is supposed to do: follow God's will as expressed through Church teaching. What they are not supposed to do is to thwart Church teaching, willfully participate in gravely evil acts, and then ask for a blessing for having done so. But that distinction is lost on people who have decided to be their own gods, because what they want is more important to them than what He wills and commands.