Dr. John Haas: An Episcopal Priest Who Became A Catholic

For more information about this series of posts and this TV series, see this page.

The twenty-first episode of The Journey Home is titled “Dr. John Haas: An Episcopal Priest Who Became A Catholic” and aired March 13, 1998. It can be viewed online here.

As is normal when these episodes have a guest who has always been a serious Christian, there’s nothing for me to really say about the actual conversion story, because it takes for granted that Christianity is true. In this case, the issue that led the guest, Dr. John Haas, to Catholicism was that the Catholic Church still has a living authority to decide the morality of issues like human cloning or in vitro fertilization.

Now, I make have to make a post or two on these topics separately. I would like to note, however, that I don’t think the Catholic position on these issues makes sense.

For one thing, every instance of identical twins is also an instance of natural, spontaneous human cloning. (Source for how identical twins happen; source for a human cloning technique that reads like an attempt to replicate that process.) It simply doesn’t make sense, to me, to declare a sin the replication of a natural process. Perhaps they are only teaching that it is wrong because some embryos, or most embryos, die in the process; in that case, if we perfect the process of human cloning so it becomes a flawless process that always results in a healthy infant human, will it become moral?

The Catholic Church is so concerned with forcing parents to have absolutely as many children as they can possibly afford, it is a shock, honestly, to see they are against in vitro fertilization, which undoubtedly many couples would use (and do use!) to have children and more children. Granted, I knew that was the Church’s position before tonight, but now that I think about it, it just doesn’t make any sense.

It’s possible that, if I actually read the document mentioned in the episode that outlined these issues (I believe it is this one), the position would make more sense to me. The fact is, however, it’s just not that important to me what Rome says, because I don’t recognize Rome as an authority. I have no reason to.

On the other hand, given what I know about the overpopulation problem, and the number of orphans that exist, I’m inclined to agree that we should perhaps hold off on cloning and increasing fertility. After all, if a couple is that desperate for a child, there are millions of orphans to choose from that already need parents. That sea of orphan faces is also part of why I think it’s moral to undergo a procedure like a vasectomy or tubal ligation, which is obviously an issue where the Catholic Church completely disagrees. I hope we all agree on this, though: no baby you could make from your own genes would be automatically superior to any of the, again, millions of orphans that already exist and need parents. This is not to say I think it’s immoral to make a baby, by any means of the word, but I do think it’s morally superior to adopt and refrain from reproducing.

…I still want a baby of my own, because I’m selfish. But at least I’m big enough to admit I’m a hypocrite, right?

So far, our breakdown of the guests’ religious state before conversion to Catholicism looks like this.

  • Serious Christian: 14
  • Always Catholic: 4
  • Lax Christian: 1
  • Non-Christian, but religious: 2
  • Non-believer, but not very skeptical: 0
  • Skeptic: 0

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