On the one hand, it’s an interesting article about the reverse situation where some parents with genetic defects are actually using artificial procedures to choose the “defective” child, which is obviously wrong, since it’s reverse eugenics and it’s still artificial.
However, Mark Shea does not attack the eugenics of it, but rather the desire of disabled people to have children who share their disabilities. So far, two readers agree with him. I already know Jimmy Akin, Kevin Miller and Greg Popcak do. I know most “Catholics in the pews” do, because I know how they’ve treated me all their lives: like I’m a freak, like my health problems inconvenience *them*. After I had my heart surgery, when I’d have some problem or other pop up, dad would ask for prayers, and people would say, “I thought we were through with all that.” Heck, when I was getting married, my brother admitted–as I always knew in my heart–that my siblings always thought of me as a hypochondriac.
Meanwhile, I turn to my fellow “Marfs,” and I get consolation on my day-to-day problems, but find that most of them favor eugenics.
I am so glad I have at least a few people who support me in this, and that several of them are priests, as opposed to laity with advanced degrees who think they’re the arbiters of the Magisterium since they happen to have written popular books, hosted popular TV series or run popular websites. The likes of Akin, Popcak and Shea ought to take a lesson about such hubris from Deal Hudson and Bud MacFarlane.
Just because a person is a good and sincere Catholic who has some good thoughts on certain key issues and generally has a good manner of insight into more ambiguous areas does not make that person a “Guru of Everything.” One of the reasons I love C. S. Lewis is that he is fully willing to admit when a subject is outside his area of expertise, or when he’s just expressing a personal opinion. That is also true of Socrates, St. Paul and St. Teresa of Avila, among others. On of the things that turns me off to St. Thomas Aquinas, as much as I like him, is that he tends to treat every opinion as an expert one, even on the subjects where we know (at least now) that he’s dead wrong.
Take the Immaculate Conception, for example. There is nothing wrong with Aquinas being wrong on this. Obviously, it was not yet dogma when he lived, so he isn’t a heretic. But it *was* something that had happened historically and that many others had solid arguments in favor of, so that makes him *wrong*. of course, one does not have to be infallible to be a doctor of the Church or a saint. But if we look at his arguments *against* the Immaculate Conception, they are based upon several other faulty ideas or arguments.
Today’s “Catholic Gurus” make a very similar mistake–and most of them are big fans of Aquinas, so it’s understandable. They start with a bunch of premises about Catholicism (in this context, the premises are the importance of health and the idea that Original Sin totally corrupted all of nature). Then they build a logical argument *purely* from *those* premises without consideration of other factors–both other logical premises and also what Karl Adam calls the “psychological” element of a theological issue. They are guilty of what Dietrich von Hildebrand calls “incomplete truth,” exaggerating one aspect of Catholic teaching and ignoring any other dimensions to it. At the same time, they are not being fully logical–as it is impossible for any of us to be 100% logical, even Aquinas. Their reasoning is based heavily upon their “bias” as “healthy people.”
I am always struck by the fact that very few, if any, canonized saints had severe birth defects. Most of the Saints regarded as models of disabled people (e.g,. Alphonsus Liguori) had disabilities that came on *later* in life.
There are a couple prominent Blesseds who make the exceptions that prove my point: Margaret of Castillo and Hermanus Contractus (author of “Salve Regina” and one of the greatest scholars of his day, to whom the greatest minds of Europe came for consultation, but he was severely disabled and lived his entire life in a monastery).
Thus, the Church’s entire theology about “corruption of nature” and suffering is based upon the inherent bias of theologians, bishops and saints who are themselves fairly healthy or at least grew up in healthy conditions–people who have no idea what it is to be crippled or ill from the moment of birth.
The person who is born with an obvious “birth defect” has quite a different attitude about his or her condition from the person who develops problems later on or is diagnosed at a later age.
To that extent, I can forgive the “gurus” their ignorance. But their refusal to listen to a contrary voice–from someone who’s actually *experiencing* it–is upsetting.
And it was Mary, my physically “normal” wife, who, when we were first discussing these issues before our engagement, said, “I’d always hoped to have a special needs child.”