Bishop Morlino explains the 'moral evil' of surrogacy Print
Around the Diocese
Written by Fr. Jorge Miramontes, For the Catholic Herald   
Thursday, May. 25, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
moral theology bishop morlino
Bishop Robert C. Morlino gave a talk on the “Ethics of IVF and Surrogacy” at Holy Family Church in Waterloo on May 18. Here he is pictured with Fr. Jorge Miramontes, pastor. (Photo by Laura Karlen)

WATERLOO — Fewer areas of ethics have become more complex than those surrounding reproductive technologies. How can the Catholic faithful begin to recognize the problems with advancements such as in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and surrogacy and truly understand the Church’s position?

It takes a good teacher. On Thursday, May 18, Bishop Robert C. Morlino drew on his doctoral studies in Moral Theology and specialization in bioethics to teach on the issue of surrogacy at Holy Family Catholic Parish in Waterloo.

Surrogacy agency

In early 2016, an existing surrogacy agency, Pink & Blue Surrogacy and Fertility LLC, moved into a storefront on the main street in Waterloo. The agency matches intended parents who desire a child with a surrogate mother, a woman who is contracted and compensated to carry a child —usually conceived through in vitro fertilization — for the intended parents.

At first glance, Bishop Morlino said this can sound like an “act of charity” on the part of the surrogate mother, who is enabling a couple to bring home a baby. But, a closer look reveals surrogacy’s “moral evil.”

The mind-body split

Bishop Morlino guided the faithful from first principles to tackle the specific problem of surrogacy. He began by describing the fundamentally different worldviews of secular culture and the Catholic Church on how human mind and body cooperate (or not).

Bishop Morlino illustrated how the culture exalts bodily passions over reason by quoting philosopher David Hume: “Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey them.”

While this view makes the mind slave to the body, grace through an encounter with Jesus Christ can heal the mind-body split, making it possible to live with integrity according to the natural law written on each human heart.

Concern for human ecology

Just as many in today’s society have concern for the ecology of turtles on the West Coast or the rainforest, so should we also take Pope Francis’ suggestion in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’ to have concern for “human ecology.”

As Bishop of Helena, Mont., Bishop Morlino joined other bishops in imploring protection for salmon in the Columbia River. If the salmon deserve protection, he pointed out, shouldn’t also the human person?

Yet, surrogacy commodifies a human being and often leads to abortion. For example, Pink & Blue Surrogacy and Fertility surrogacy agreements pay out as much as $3,500 for contractually-stipulated abortions to prevent multiple births or the birth of a disabled child.

Protecting ‘safe space’

God cares so much for humanity, the pinnacle of creation, that He has written His law on our hearts and given us dignity. He so delights in His creation of the human being, that, in Bishop Morlino’s word, God has created a “safe space” for Himself in that creation. He intended the marital embrace to be a “sacred circle” for the husband, wife, and Himself to bring about new life. A surrogate mother simply does not belong in the “sacred circle” reserved for the married couple and God alone.

Although the culture has desired to “exile God” from the bedroom, it is the place that He chose for Himself, and the Church takes interest in protecting His “safe space.” That’s why, Bishop Morlino explained, while the Church encourages treatments that assist the husband and wife in creating life within the “sacred circle,” it cannot advocate for in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination, and surrogate motherhood because they are substitutes for the fruitful marital embrace.

During a questions and answers session after his talk, Bishop Morlino challenged the faithful to share charitably with others the Church’s position on surrogacy and to pray the Rosary publicly (as well as privately) for the conversion of hearts in Waterloo.

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