Being Catholic, The Church, IVF, and thoughts from a Padre
The American Fertility Association is doing something that could be considered somewhat controversial, edgy, and hands down fantastic. They are going where other organizations have not regarding a much talked about issue which is being Catholic and undergoing IVF.
On Monday, December 7th, The American Fertility Association will be presenting an open webinar for the general public entitled Catholics and IVF: A Pastoral Approach. This webinar will help prepare Catholics who are considering IVF or other forms of assisted reproductive technology to have a productive and respectful conversation with their pastors.
The webinar will feature Fr. Jon Pedigo as guest speaker. Fr. Pedigo has been active in civic affairs and social justice causes for over 25 years.
According to Ken Mosesian, Executive Director of The American Fertility Association, “This webinar is not an opportunity to debate the teaching of the Catholic Church, nor is it an opportunity to promote or discourage religion or any one particular religion. Rather, it is simply a safe place for individuals to talk to a priest about the best way to share their lived experiences with their Pastors, so that Pastors can better minister to the families in their care”. According to Mosesian, The American Fertility Association, a national non profit and non denominational organization, is hosting this event due to an outpouring of community need for this topic to be heard and addressed.
The U.S. Bishops may not agree. Earlier this month in Baltimore, The U.S. Bishops approved a document regarding the moral use of reproductive technologies for infertile couples. The document, entitled “Life-Giving Love in an Age of Technology” condemns the use of assisted reproductive technology for family building, stating “simply because the desired end (of having a child) is good, it does not justify every possible means”. The document goes on to call assisted reproduction of any kind immoral and without justification, even encompassing cancer patients who wish to freeze their eggs prior to treatment or men who are paraplegic and opt to utilize sperm donation as a means of building their families.
Catholic individuals may thus feel conflicted about their desire to get pregnant when grappling with infertility, and the stated teachings of the Catholic Church. The webinar on December 7th may prove to be a good starting point for much needed conversations about this issue to be aired.
REGISTER HERE for this amazing webinar!
As a fellow Catholic (practicing or not, once a Catholic always a Catholic, it’s in your bones) and a mother via egg donation this is going to be especially interesting to me to listen to what a priest has to say about this topic because as we all know The Roman Catholic Church has plenty to say about IVF let alone Third Party Reproduction.
I can remember as if it were yesterday my very first conversation I had with my parish priest about my infertility, my losses, and my love for the Catholic Church.
Unfortunately for me my conversation was not productive. I walked away feeling ashamed, frightened, and terribly alone. Much like a child who has been caught doing something naughty. I heard words like “illegitimate”, “adultery”, “unnatural”, “not of the marriage bed”, “God’s Will” all wrapped up in a conversation that I had hoped would be full of blessings and hope.
However, being who I am I didn’t allow one conversation with one priest stop me. I just couldn’t imagine or accept the God I love and know to reject me, or cast me to hell or more importantly not love my future child, or to view my future child as a product of adultery because my husband and I thought outside the box, and loved each other enough to use a donor egg to create our family.
In my search far and wide I did happen to find and talk to a lovely Jesuit priest who spoke to me more than once about this delicate and often troubling subject. And I was finally left with this from him, which I will cherish and hold near and dear to my heart forever:
“No matter where you are with your husband — at home, at a hotel on vacation, on a business trip, travelling, or in a surgical suite, that’s your marriage bed. It’s the place where you two are together creating life with love, and really that’s all that matters to God. Not what a church thinks.”
I wept tears of joy and relief. I didn’t realize how tightly bound I was in the concern and worry about The Church and her approval of my reproductive life — after all The Church wants us all to go forth and procreate.
From that time forward I had a new attitude about The Church, my spiritual life, and my reproductive life — thankfully our cycle was a success and I have an amazing child that I know God embraces, loves, and marvels at just as I do.
My child is a miracle and no church in the world can deny my that joy.