Powerful pro-life film previewed at conference stresses potential of every life
By Julie Filby
Gospel of Life Conference
On Oct. 22, 170 pro-life warriors gathered for the Denver Archdiocese’s annual Gospel of Life Conference on the campus of the John Paul II Center.
Following 8 a.m. Mass at Christ the King Chapel, celebrated by Bishop James Conley, apostolic administrator of the archdiocese, the conference moved to nearby Bonfils Halls where participants had the opportunity to screen a short film by Movie to Movement, the company behind 2006’s award-winning film “Bella.”
Based on a true story, the film relayed the heart-wrenching struggle of a pregnant woman in 18th century Germany. Married to an abusive and unfaithful man, “Maria” couldn’t bear to bring a child into “such discord” so she obtained a concoction to induce abortion—with the warning that more than three drops would end her life as well.
When she went to drink a cup-full of the powerful potion, her own life and the life of her child were miraculously saved by events that transpired. Later, the film ended with mother and son—a young Ludwig van Beethoven—joyfully running through the streets after he was accepted into lessons with a prestigious piano teacher.
“I’m not easily moved to tears at movies,” said attendee Kamilla Ludwig. “I was totally drawn in; it was astounding.”
Attendee Margarita Nelson, secretary for the Respect Life Committee at St. Thomas More Parish in Centennial, appreciated the movie and its message as well.
“It was moving; I loved it,” she said. “It addressed the potential of every human, and that can’t possibly be known before birth.”
The conference continued with a legislative update on civil unions from Jenny Kraska, executive director of the Colorado Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm for Catholics in the state.
“There’s a lot coming up in the arena of civil unions,” she said. “As Catholics, we’re not as involved as we need to be.”
Kraska shared details of last year’s “big fight” when civil unions legislation was defeated by only one vote after nine hours of emotional testimony. She said the issue will be back in 2012: well-funded and well-organized.
“This issue cannot be ignored,” she said. “Marriage is the cornerstone of our society.”
Photo by James Baca/DCR:
She encouraged the faithful to get involved by working on campaigns, supporting candidates with Catholic views, contacting elected officials, and signing up for updates from the conference at www.cocatholicconference.org.
The two speakers that followed explained developments in fields of biomedical and clinical technologies from a pro-life perspective.
E. Christian Brugger, professor at St. John Vianney Theological Seminary and J. Francis Cardinal Stafford Chair of Moral Theology, spoke on “Transhumanism and the Perfection Imperative.”
“I’m going to frustrate you today by presenting a subject that’s not clear cut,” he started. “It raises ethical problems now, and the next generation will face these issues like we face abortion now.”
Brugger shared the example of comic book character Captain America—a scrawny adolescent who emerged a muscular super hero after participating in a secret military project to transform soldiers into super-human fighting machines.
“Although we find ourselves firmly on the side of Captain America … the scenario raises one of the most intense debates facing the future of biotechnology: should we use science to make ourselves ‘more than human?’” he said.
Transhumanism aims to move beyond therapy to enhancement, he explained, and there are three reasons why pro-life Christians should take this seriously: first, the transhumanist ideal is already active, namely in reproductive medicine; secondly, biomedical science is moving rapidly and the line between legitimate and illegitimate uses must be considered; and finally “we want to be ready to make good decisions.”
“If we don’t draw good lines in the ethical sand now, we may find ourselves picking up the pieces of ruined sand castles later,” he said.
The afternoon session began with Father Thomas Berg, speaking on “Emerging Biotechnologies and Human Self-Understanding.” Father Berg from the Archdiocese of New York is a professor of moral theology at St. Joseph Seminary. His talk provided an overview of embryonic stem-cell research since it begin in earnest, about 15 years ago.
“For the better part of two decades … the project of using human embryos for research purposes has seeped into the mindset of Americans to the point which it is now broadly tolerated … especially in the political arena, in academia, and certainly within the scientific community,” he said.
As opponents of embryo-destructive research, “we must realistically admit that there is no such thing as turning back the field of developmental biology.”
“All we can really do as persons dedicated to defending the dignity of human persons … is to know where it is going and what ethical challenges it will present in the future,” he said.
Like Kraska, he encouraged participants to get involved in the public square at the policy level, committee level and at the voting booth.
The day concluded with a Q&A panel with Father Berg, Brugger, Kraska and Lynn Grandon, director of the Respect Life Office.
“I was excited to attend my first Gospel of Life Conference; it was very informative,” said Nelson. “The speakers stressed the importance of being informed and involved as Catholics.”
Talks from the conference are available for purchase at www.ncrsusa.com.