Bioethics Course Prompts Bishops to Consider Going on the Offensive

Aim to Overcome "Dogmas" of Pro-Abortion, Pro-Contraceptive Groups

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ROME, NOV. 19, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Italy´s first bioethics course for bishops prompted the prelates to propose a "counterinformation" assault to overcome media silence and distortion on life-and-death issues.



The proposal aims to dismantle the scientific "dogmas" propounded by the businesses and multinational organizations that promote contraception, abortion and sterilization in the world.

The three-day bioethics course, attended by 100 bishops and directed by doctors, scientists, geneticists and moralists, was held on the outskirts of Rome. It ended Friday.

The course focused on information not often reported in the mainstream media.

For example, Father Angelo Serra, a world pioneer in human genetics and professor emeritus of the Catholic University of Rome, cited research carried out in artificial insemination centers.

In 18% to 25% of the cases of in vitro fertilization, spontaneous abortions occur; in 27% of the cases there are multiple conceptions; in 29.3%, premature births; and in 36%, underweight newborns result, according to Father Serra.

He went on to give the testimony of a French scientist, Jacques Testart, a researcher in the field of assisted procreation. In 1987, Testart said: "I have decided to put an end to this mad race of scientific exploitation. Scientists of the world: Stop and reflect!"

Father Serra also quoted French writer Dominique Grange, who produced a book on the subject. "Woman is reduced to being a machine of super-ovulation," she said. "First they take away sex, then the heart, and finally the mind. The couple ends up destroyed."

Some bishops came away from the course convinced that they must act with greater determination.

"In face of such a challenge, the Church cannot remain in the rearguard," said Bishop Luigi Martella of Molfetta. "It is necessary to communicate our reasons adequately, both in relation to the scientific world as well as the laity."

Bishop Michele De Rosa of Cerreto Sannita said: "We must be present in the places of debate and scientific dissemination. Personally, when medical congresses are held in the diocese, I am always there."

Following the course, Auxiliary Bishop Armando Brambilla of Rome, responsible for health care ministry, launched an initiative to establish grass-roots contacts with doctors.

"We often forget this network of good health agents that can be of great help to families in difficulty," the bishop said.

Archbishop Francesco Cacucci of Bari noted: "Couples must be advised, especially women, of the risks they take when they engage in certain practices: economic risks but, above all, psychological ones."