One of the things that saddens me when reading about people's experiences with their Catholic parishes is how many of them complain that their priests never talk about Catholic doctrine. We all know that in many parishes there are taboo subjects, things that the priest dares not bring up for fear of offending some segment of his congregation - birth control, abortion, fornication, homosexuality.
This has never been an issue at St. Agnes, and I guess I get a little spoiled - it's probably a good reminder for me that not all parishes are the same. It keeps me from taking St. Agnes for granted. This Sunday was no exception. Fr. Welzbacher has really been on a homilitic roll lately, and he was at it again with yesterday's homily, in which he took Senator Frist to task for his position on embryonic stem cell research.
By now we all know Frist's position; I wrote about it briefly on Friday. My point here is not to talk about Frist, but about Fr. Welzbacher's comments, and they were spot on. The most striking portion was his comparison of Frist to the notorious Nazi doctor Joseph Mengele; for in essence, by admitting that life begins at conception, Frist is saying he supports experimentation on living human beings for the purposes of medical research - just as Mengele did. He points to the advancements that can be achieved through such experimentation - just as Mengele did (particularly in the field of hypertension). And eventually what he's saying is that it's OK to devalue the meaning of human life, to use it merely as tool for research - just as Mengele did.
Now, I don't know much about Frist's personality or private character. I doubt that he reeks of the evil that Mengele did. But we've all heard the old saying that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, and there's a very good reason why that's an old saying - it's repeated because time and experience shows it to be true. Frist's motives may be noble, as may those be of many who support destruction of the human embryo for research purposes. But anyone who calls himself pro-life, as Frist does, should understand first and foremost that words mean things. One of those inconvenient things about being pro-life is that you have a tendency to believe that human life is sacred, and that it's never permissible to abuse or destroy that life in order to benefit the lives of others (except in cases of self-defense or just war, and it's pretty hard to make a case that this little embryo is posing a threat to any of us).
What's particularly sad about this, as Fr. Welzbacher pointed out, is that Frist's stature as a respected medical doctor is bound to give weight to his opinion in the eyes of his colleagues. The president continues to stand firm in his vows to veto any such legislation that would expand Federal support for embryonic stem cell research; time will tell. Frist is also overlooking the massive amount of promising research that's been done on non-embryonic stem cells and the real potential for medical advancement that's coming from these areas. Perhaps he's too busy reading the Congressional Record, or his own press clippings, to keep up with medical journals, which makes me wonder just how good a doctor he really is.
The plain and simple fact is that Frist's statement makes no logical sense. By saying on the one hand that he's pro-life and on the other that he believes in expanding embryonic stem cell research, he's flat-out contradicting himself. And as we know, the truth can never contradict itself.
You always have to watch out for pride, one of the seven deadly sins, but I must admit that I'm very proud of Fr. Welzbacher, of his courage and dedication to Catholic teaching. This is a man who's not afraid to say and do what needs to be done in pursuit of the truth, and in hopes of pointing souls in the direction of salvation.
And as for Bill Frist, which is it, Senator? Which side do you really believe? My own thought is that in politics, like medicine, you judge people by their actions. And if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, . . .
Quack, quack, quack.