Changing the Perception

choose-life-blasck-bg-featured-w480x300“Isn’t the Church against stem cell research?” This question came up more than once from my own friends, family members and regular Church-going Catholics as I was preparing to head to Rome to cover the second adult stem cell conference.  It’s a question that highlighted just how much the perception concerning this topic needs to be addressed head on.

After all, there is an old saying that “perception is reality”.  And when it comes to the Catholic Church and science there is the perception of a huge divide.  Since the Catholic Church is not in favor of embryonic stem cell research which requires the destruction of human embryos, too many label or perceive us as somehow backwards, antiquated, against “science”, and against stem cell research altogether.  In fact the conference co-sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Culture and The Stem for Life Foundation exemplified just the opposite: the Church is “pro science” and more importantly “pro person.”  Fr.  Nicanor Pier Giorgio Austriaco, a moral theologian, molecular biologist, and professor at Providence College was among the presenters at the conference entitled “Regenerative Medicine: A Fundamental Shift in Science and Culture” which was held in Rome April 11th through the 13th.   He says just the location of the gathering itself made a huge statement that is helping in the perception category.

“One scientist told me if this meeting were held anywhere else but the Vatican it wouldn’t have the punch that is has and will continue to have. It’s the Vatican. If this were in San Francisco it would just be any other meeting but as another person put it, this is a stem cell summit at the Vatican.  Just the location and the importance of the Catholic Church as an institution involved makes it such a unique venue to discuss science,” Austriaco said.

In her opening remarks, Dr. Robin Smith, President of the Stem for Life Foundation, explained the evidence as in the astonishing results of adult stem cell clinical trials with diseases such as MS, is now starting to outweigh the negative image that was put forth by pro-embryonic stem cell forces.  In the early years of the stem cell debate foundations such as hers, along with others touting adult stem cell research were also put in the same category as the Church, because of efforts to look for ethical methods of stem cell science.

“Adult stem cell therapies hold promise to turn the tide of modern day medicines…Adult stem cells is something we can all agree upon; they are ethically pure. We can grasp what’s inside of us and introduce them into the body,” Dr. Smith stated.

As the title of the conference indicates, the “fundamental shift” in science and culture is starting to occur.   A big part of the reason for that according to Fr. Austriaco is the Church’s wisdom in seeing this discussion as not only explaining the connection between faith and science but also part of the New Evangelization.

“We are mistaken if we think that many scientists have actually been reflective about the moral, cultural, and social impact of their work.  Many of them are doing it because they love it.  It is a problem they want to solve and they hope that in the long term their problem solving in the labs will lead to the alleviation of suffering.  But they have never really reflected on it.  They have never reflected on the appropriation of evil or the cooperation with evil and what is striking about an event like this is it gives them the opportunity to spend two days here at the heart of the Church.  The amount of blood and sweat and prayers of this city, the grace of this city cant’ help but touch even the most hardened of hearts.”

Teresa’s latest book, Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture has been on the Catholic best-seller list since its release in October, 2011.

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About the Author

Teresa’s latest book, God's Bucket List: Heaven's Surefire Way to Happiness in This Life and Beyond is available on Amazon and one of her other popular books, Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture has been on the Catholic best-seller list since its release in October, 2011.

Teresa Tomeo is an author, syndicated Catholic talk show host, and motivational speaker with nearly 30 years of experience in TV, radio and newspaper.

In the year 2000, Teresa left the secular media to start her own speaking and communications company. Many of you remember Teresa from her days in the Detroit media, especially her awarding winning radio work and her many years on Channel 7 and Channel 50.

Teresa’s daily morning radio program, “Catholic Connection”, is produced by Ave Maria Radio in Ann Arbor, and now heard on over 150 Catholic stations nationwide. Her talk show is also carried on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio.

Teresa is a columnist and special correspondent for the national Catholic newspaper, “Our Sunday Visitor”. She appears frequently on EWTN Catholic Television, most recently covering the March for Life in Washington D.C. Teresa has also been featured on “The O’Reilly Factor” and Fox News.

In 2008 Teresa was chosen as only one of 250 delegates from around the world to attend the Vatican Women’s Congress held in Rome marking the 20th Anniversary of John Paul the Second’s Letter entitled “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.”

As a speaker Teresa travels around the country addressing media awareness and activism, as well as sharing her reversion to the Catholic Church. Her first book, “Noise—How Our Media Saturated Culture Dominates Lives and Dismantles Families”, published by Ascension Press is a Catholic best-seller and now in its second printing. Her second book, “Newsflash! My Surprising Journey from Secular Anchor to Media Evangelist” was published in September of 2008. Teresa has also co-authored a series of best selling Catholic books called “All Things Girl” for tween girls focusing on modesty and chastity.

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