U.28 — CCC 1949-2051
In this podcast, we’re joined by Fr. Stephen Pullis to discuss better catechesis on grace and its relationship to our effort.Watch
Dr. Lesley M. Rice shares about the “why” behind the Church’s teachings on IVF, reproductive technologies, end of life care, and how God’s plan for life and love leads to the fullest life. Dr. Rice gives us a framework and furthering studying in order to uphold our human dignity and those who are entrusted to us.
(04:37) Edmund introduces us to this podcast’s guest, Dr. Lesley Rice from the Catholic University of America. The discussion begins with Dr. Rice gives us an explanation of bioethics, that is, how we understand our actions and their significance. Edmund outlines that the Catechism is a summary of the deposit of faith, but the deposit of faith doesn’t go into every single unique situation. And the deposit of faith doesn’t have every single scientific advancement and scenario outlined. So this is why this podcast’s discussion is important.
(06:00) Dr. Rice explains that bioethics touch many topics, including reproductive technologies, euthanasia, and physician assisted suicide. Thankfully, our Catholic faith offers us a patrimony, a rich heritage of, of principles and truths that can inform our decision making. She explains, “What the Church teaches, she teaches because it’s true.” Dr. Rice explains Church’s stance on IVF and artificial insemination.
(13:10) Science at the service of the human person: Dr. Lesley Rice shares a fuller vision of the human person and our purpose and destiny as creatures of a loving God. She goes on to explain the role of science in our lives. “The ambitions of science are good in the sense of alleviating suffering.” However, when science gives us a sense of total autonomy from God, and control over suffering, this can be dangerous for the human person.
(18:42) Intentions and consequences: Edmund brings up the point that our morality and ethical understanding of actions must be considered from start to finish, and a good end for an action does not give us license to hurt or violate the rights of another.
(23:13) A deeper look into IVF: Dr. Lesley Rice affirms the good of the intention to want a child. She shares more about the harmful effects of IVF and how the procedure violates the rights of the married couple, as well as the child. Dr. Rice says that IVF “takes away the individuality” of the embryo, which simplifies human beings at their smallest level to something to be manipulated.
(27:27) Edmund asks Dr. Rice how our audience can prepare themselves and navigate facing difficult ethical questions in their lives personally or with family members. Dr. Rice mentions reading Part III of the Catechism, as well as reading John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae.
Edmund: Hi everyone, and welcome back to the Real+True Podcast. I’m one of your co-hosts, Edmund Mitchell. And today we have a wonderful guest, Dr. Lesley Rice. We’re gonna be talking about the topic of bioethics. Dr. Lesley Rice is an assistant professor of bioethics at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at the Catholic University of America. Dr. Rice teaches bioethics on the subject of fruitfulness, infertility, and reproductive technologies. Dr. Rice, thank you so much for being here.
Dr. Lesley Rice: You’re welcome. Thanks for having me.
Edmund: So we’re gonna be talking about bioethics, and I thought it’d be great to just right out the gate define our terms here. I think a lot of people might have heard the term ethics, uh, maybe not so much bioethics. Could you just unpack for us like we’re a freshman college student or something, those two terms.
Dr. Lesley Rice: Sure. And it’s important I think, to look at, at both of them. Um, so the ethics part is about the good life. What does it mean to live a good life? How do we, how do we understand our actions and their significance as they change the world, but also as they change us, um, making the world better and hopefully also making us better at the same time. Um, and then the bio question is, is the question of life. So bias means life. What is, what is that? Um, I think that as Catholics, um, it’s a more comprehensive question and answer, I think even than, than for the average Joe, so to speak. Um, we know that we’re born into the world and we’re alive. We also know that other creatures are alive. Um, there’s something distinctive though, about being a human being who’s alive. And one of the distinctive things about that is that we’re made in God’s image. And so our, our life on, on earth, our temporal life is also referential to, to God, um, to the one who made us. And that we have a capacity to know him and love him, which is distinct from all the other living things on Earth. It’s also, I think, maybe helpful when you’re thinking about the question of what, what life is, um, to think about scripture and, and Christ’s statement, um, uh, well, first of all, I am the way, the truth and the life. So, so he’s the life, right? But also I came that they might have life and have it in abundance. So our, our question is also what does it mean to have abundant life? Um, what does it mean to be, um, ultimately called to eternal life, right? Because the, the fullest expression or the fullest participation in life is eternal life with God. Um, so, so that’s a pretty big opening, um of this little word.
Edmund: Yeah. And bioethics, uh, you know, for people who are listening, that’s a great explanation. And I think for a lot of people, they might not think about this until they start thinking about some of the scientific advancements. I mean, science is advancing so fast, and there’s so many, uh, things that are proposed as options, for example, for reproductive technologies or options for end of life care. And, um, it’s helpful to remind people that, you know, the Catechism is a summary of the deposit of faith, but the deposit of faith doesn’t go into every single unique situation. And the deposit of faith doesn’t have every single scientific advancement and scenario outlined. And so often the Church has to make a statement directly responding to some of those things. And it can be a really complicated and messy topic. I mean, would you agree that’s kind of where this becomes really practical and relevant for a lot of people, is they just don’t realize that some of these situations even have, uh, that, that the Church even has an opinion on some of these things?
Dr. Lesley Rice: Yeah, no, that’s right. Um, so I think what you see in, in our contemporary life is just what you described, which is that there are a lot of new choices that, that people have never had to confront before, that touch on some of the most fundamental experiences of being human are, are being brought into the world and, and the time in which we leave the world, and also the times in which, uh, it’s very challenging to be a human being, periods of suffering, periods of illness. Um, so we’ve, uh, developed a lot of technologies, um, and medical advances that in many ways seem to be in our interest to our benefit. Um, but they can also, particular ones can also pose real, um, real questions or even threats to, to human persons and, and to the love that we’re called to, to live on this earth that’s oriented toward life forever with God. So, and you named reproductive technologies another, um, couple of, of very important issues today are euthanasia, physician assisted suicide. So you can see both, both ends of life are really, um, really touched by questions about what ought we to do when faced with xy situation. How do we res, how do we respond as, as Christians, um, which really just means to, to respond in the most fully human way. Right? Um, the Second Vatican Council said, Christ reveals man to himself, so Christ and coming reveals God to us, but he also reveals what it means to be a human being. And so our faith gives us light on these sorts of questions. But like you were saying, that doesn’t mean that there is, if you look up in the Catechism, you can’t necessarily sit in the emergency room, you know, or in hospice care or whatever with your, with your family member and, and look in the book to see what to do next. Um, at the same time, there’s a, there’s a rich, uh, patrimony, a rich heritage of, of principles and truths that can inform our decision making. And there are, in fact, contemporary teachings about some kinds of situations that we can find ourselves facing.
Edmund: Yeah. And I, I think maybe for the vast, for a lot of people, um, you know, they might, heaven forbid, but they’re, they’re in a doctor’s office and they’re relying on the doctor to give them an opinion and to guide them on making decisions. And if you were then to start saying, well, hey, the Church wants to come in that room too and help you make a decision, I’m sure the question comes up where people say, but to what end? Like, like, I would love for you to speak a little more on like that to become fully human. ’cause I think a lot of people they could understand maybe, okay, abortion, I can understand the Church understands that as murder, but when it comes to some of these things that my doctor or, or, and not just in doctor situations, I know they’re in other situations too, but, but that’s a really clear one where it seems like, it seems to some people like, well, this is just a different way to, for instance, get pregnant. What is it? Is it just so that I represent the Church better, that I should do it? I should say no to this certain treatment or, or procedure? Is that the only end goal here, is just that I represent the Catholic Church who has some strange teaching on this better? Like what, what’s actually the good that comes to me as a person by living out you know, an ethical life? Yeah,
Dr. Lesley Rice: No, that’s, that’s, that’s a great question. And I guess I would begin by, by saying that, that what the Church teaches, she teaches because it’s true, it’s not, not true because she teaches it, but she teaches it because she, by the light of, of Revelation can see the truth of, of the matter. Um, so for, for instance, there is a clear teaching that not everyone who’s Catholic is aware of, um, about, uh, reproductive technologies like in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination. Um, and, and the judgment of the Church is that these are not practices that a Catholic couple or a, a Catholic single person, either because that’s happening in the world, can undergo, um, acknowledging the, the pain of infertility. The church nonetheless says that, that these paths to, to quote unquote solving that problem are, are not actually fully human. They’re not, they entail violations of human beings. And in fact, they entail violations both of, of the persons in the marriage of the marriage itself and of the child. So everyone is actually suffering in these, these procedures, um, because of the way in which they separate things that should be together, the, the, ultimately the integrity of the body and soul of the spouses and the integrity of their embodied participation in, in their conjugal union. Um, okay. How does that contrast the affirmation that that church wants to, to make, which is number one, conjugal love is an embodied experience that can’t be separated out into, um, what in IVF, becomes the component parts. So deriving an egg cell from a mother, deriving a sperm cell from the father, many in fact, and then combining them with the mediation of medical technicians somewhere else, somewhere far from, from the two of these, these persons who are doing the, who are offering the generative parts, um, that, that’s a very alienating experience. And it’s not alienating because the Church has said this is an alienating experience, but in fact, men and women undergoing it experience it as alienating. A woman who’s injecting herself with drugs in order to ovulate more than is normal for a woman experiencing that as an alienation, experiences that as something that she’s doing in separation from her husband. And for him, his gametes are obtained by masturbation, which is also something that’s done apart from his wife, in alienation, from his wife, when in fact, the child is the symbol of the parent’s union, the child is the personal expression, the expression in a new person of the unity of this marriage, which entails not just the wills of the, of the parents, but their whole person, body and soul. Not just a decision, but a decision that’s mediated through the whole person. Okay. So that’s on the Church’s side. Um, if you look at what the medical profession is offering in IVF, it’s the promise that we can get around the problem, whatever the medical problem is, that the parents are suffering, that’s issuing and not, not, um, not conceiving that we can get around it through these technological means and get the result that we want as a result, not as what I would say and what I think the Church would say, a fruit, a fruit of conjugal love, which is out of our control. It’s precisely outside of what the father and the mother can produce on their own. They don’t control whether in this union, this moment a child will be conceived. In fact, that conception won’t happen until a certain period of time has passed anyway. It’s not something that they are constructing or controlling or doing. It’s a, it’s a consequence that God has, has given the human body this capacity to when the conditions are right, and also when he’s cooperating, right, in the infusion of a new soul, um, that a new human being can be born. So it’s, it’s both a real responsibility of the parents, and it’s also something that’s beyond what’s simply in their, um, in their control.
Edmund: Is that, is that kind of like the, this idea, um, of we’re not meant to dominate our, our bodies or nature, we’re meant to cooperate with our bodies in nature in the way God’s made the world.
Dr. Lesley Rice: And in fact, that’s an important part of the teaching that, um, the Church has articulated in the document Donum Vitae from the 1980s when IVF was first becoming a popular possibility. Um, and that is that choosing this way, this, uh, technologized way of, of producing a child actually entails, it’s essentially a kind of a domination over their child, a sense that we are set apart and you are essentially under us when, when what actually is true about parenthood is that you are bringing into the world, um, like a, a brother and sister, you know, your, your children are, are just like you before God. You’re, you’re not actually over them. You, they’re entrusted to you and, and you’ve been given an authority over them, but, but really as, as like one another, um, that, that the philiality really is, is referential ultimately to God. Um, so yeah.
Edmund: I just got chills. My my kids are upstairs screaming, I just got chills. ’cause Yeah. That’s so beautiful that, that you’re, you’re bringing into the world of brother and sister, and the image I got is like, we’re, they’re, we’re not over them in a way dominating them, but kind of we’re under them serving them.
Dr. Lesley Rice: Their service Yeah.
Edmund: In their service. Yeah. I’m thinking too about how hopefully people are maybe being more and more aware of this idea that just because, you know, science could do something doesn’t mean we should do it. I mean, especially with the rise of things like cloning and especially with AI, it’s like, just because, just because we could do it, doesn’t mean we should. Right? So maybe you could talk a little bit about what it means that science should be at the service of the human person and not the other way around.
Dr. Lesley Rice: That’s a great question. Um, I mean, the first question is do we know what a human person is? You know, to ask that question in the first place, presupposes that we’ve thought a little bit, okay, what does it mean to be a human being and what it means essentially to be a human being, that thing to which, you know, science is supposed to be in service is really related very deeply to what we’ve already been talking about, which is to be, to be born to, uh, to receive ourselves. We aren’t the source of ourselves, and we’re not the destiny of ourselves either. So I think in a lot of, in a lot of ways, our contemporary culture, uh, tends to look at us as individuals, as kind of self-starters, you know, regards freedom as the capacity to kind of make yourself, um, when what’s clear in Christianity is that we receive everything, everything that we are and everything that we will be. And that gift is meant to be certainly received and enjoyed, but it’s also meant also to be offered. Um, and that we can gather up everything that’s been given to us and, and bring it back to, to the Father. That’s, that’s what the liturgy is, that’s what we do in, in the Mass every week, um, is, is to acknowledge that we’ve received ourselves and everything else, and to bring that back, bring and with ourselves the whole world, the world of our work, the world of our relations, um, back, back to God, um, so that everything can be one in Christ, um, for the Father. Um, okay. So what does science have to do with that? Um, I think that, and, and we’ve talked about this before, I think that a big, a big thing that science is, um, trying to pursue is, is a more ample life, right? Um, and we talked about how, how it’s, it’s Jesus actually who’s the one who’s, who secures the abundant life, life and life in the full. Um, and science can certainly support that, but there can be a tendency, um, in trying to make life better, to try to alleviate sufferings here on earth. Um, I think to get into a mindset that life on earth is, is the ultimate good, um, and that the sufferings of our lives on this earth, um, should, should be eliminated. And I wanna be, I wanna tread carefully here because it is like the corporal works of mercy are, are part of our patrimony, are part of our heritage as Christians, which is to, to go out and alleviate suffering as much as possible. And there are so many saints whose task on earth, you know, has, has come to beautiful expression through the founding of hospitals and, you know, founding of orphanages and all kinds of, of particular vocations that are specifically meant to alleviate human suffering. However, that should not, um, we shouldn’t be deceived into thinking that suffering is eliminable. So this is, and we, we pray this when we pray the Salve, Regina, this is also a valley of tears. Um, and it’s essentially a valley of tears because of our sins, right? We are exiles. The prayer, the Salve. Regina also says that we, we are exiles on earth, um, and there will be suffering. Um, and there’s, there’s a way in which that’s, we have to grow in order to accept that there’s a certain amount of suffering that belongs to our, our path on this earth. Um, and that’s actually something that can be a part of our offering back to God. It can be united to Christ on the Cross. It can become efficacious for the redemption of the world. That’s a powerful vocation. And so to say that science is the, at the service of the human person has to also take that into account. Um, that, that the ambitions of science are, are, are good in the sense of, of, of alleviating suffering. But we can also get on a certain path where we’re like, oh, oh, well, maybe if we just work a little harder, we can preserve life and health indefinitely. And there are movements, the transhumanist movements, uh, and you mentioned AI that can be associated with this, this sort of transhumanism, which is that it’s not enough to be human. It’s not enough to be finite. It’s not enough to be mortal. We have to increase ourselves in unforeseen ways. Um, and it’s, it’s a, it’s a kind of seeking for transcendence that has a, uh, a true root. We are meant to transcend ourselves, but we’re meant to transcend ourselves as, as children of God called to eternal life, which is divinization. That that’s it, that’s the self-transcendence that, that Christians know to be the human vocation. It’s, it’s not to remake ourselves in order to be, uh, to have a far further reach. Um, yeah.
Edmund: And this, this kind of all relates back to some of the best movies and, and stories and literature, which are like, the best antagonists in a lot of these works are people who want a good outcome and they have a good intention, but maybe go about it with, by committing evil acts. And this, you know, brings us back to morality. And I think a lot of people understand that a little bit, but don’t think about it enough that you can’t justify a immoral action by your good intention and the good that it might, the consequence, like, well, we’re gonna, we’re gonna alleviate all suffering and we have good intentions, but we’re gonna do this immoral thing that is against the dignity of the human person, but at least these other things will be good.
Dr. Lesley Rice: Yeah. And I think that that’s, um, something that I’ve encountered in, in reflecting on, for instance, reproductive technologies, which, which the Church has clearly teach, taught, um, these paths are intrinsically evil, which is to say there, there’s, there are no circumstances that, that make this pursuit good, although the act is objectively evil and, and needs to be avoided, that that doesn’t mean that there aren’t good and even beautiful intentions in, in the, in the husband and wife that are pursuing fertility treatments, that, that their desire for fruitfulness is a good desire. And their, their wish for a child is a natural one that really is a matter of seeking the, the crowning good of of marriage. It’s simply that they have, have not found the right way, um, to pursue it. So I, I wanna acknowledge that because they’re parents who pursue IVF are, are sacrificing, they’re sacrificing for the children that they desire. And I, I just wanna say that that’s, that’s something that really touches my heart. Um, and it doesn’t justify, as you were saying, it doesn’t justify that pursuit of IVF, but it, it shows that their desire is, is true, and there are alternative ways to, to pursue it. In seeking to deepen our, our understanding and, and integration of our faith, um, that’s gonna lead us to, to living more, more fully, and it’s gonna lead us to, to guarding reality and, and its goodness more, more devotedly. So what we’re not, what we’re not doing as Christians is following a bunch of rules so as to have towed the right line. So as to, you know, I mean, we, we don’t earn our place in heaven, right? Um, we, we want to live in conformity to our, our vocation and in conformity to the, the life that God gives us in our baptism and in all the sacraments. But it’s not a moralism. It’s a, it’s a deeper embrace of, of the goodness of the world. That’s what fidelity to the teachings of the Church generates. Um, it generates a, a greater, uh, discipline toward, toward genuine healing, toward genuine fruitfulness.
Edmund: Yeah. So it’s, you know, I hope for people listening that we’re, I mean, we’re talking about how bioethics should be interesting and fascinating because the Gospel is interesting and fascinating in the implications it has in our lives. It has surprising implications. Like I’m thinking of how you know Jesus with, um, the Pharisees, you know, he’s like saying, look, the, in the commandments, it says, you shall not commit adultery. And they understood it as, you know, physically actually committing adultery. And then he’s explaining, well, even if you look with lust on someone, you’ve committed adultery in your heart, kind of this surprising way of saying how the implications of the laws of God, they have surprising implications in our lives, and we should be interested in those things. Yeah. And I’m wondering, um, what other teachings in particular, um, you’ve found are, are surprising for a lot of people that you encounter or students, um, some of these teachings from the Church in regards to bioethics? And one thing I would just say is that, like, I think a lot of people, um, are surprised that a lot of these issues come up. Um, the Catechism covers, you know, under the, the commandment of you shall not kill it covers abortion, euthanasia, suicide, respect for the person in scientific research, respect for bodily integrity. Like, these are all things that some of these things might be things on a list where someone’s kind of surprised that that falls under the category of you shall not kill, you know, most people just, you shall not kill. Cool. I’m never gonna do that. Don’t have to worry about that ever again. And that’s, it’s easy, you know?
Dr. Lesley Rice: Those are all, I mean, it’s, it’s actually great that you bring up all those diverse things that are, that are sort of protected under that, under that particular category. Um, I think people aren’t aware of all the, the variety of things that are sort of happening under the surface. I mean, something like stem cell research, um, or embryo research of other varieties. Those are things that are going on and have become sort of normalized, um, in, in scientific circles. Like, this is just what we need to do to get to the next step that will help human beings. Um, you spoke before about, um, the ends not justifying the means or the, the end, the intention doesn’t justify every particular course of action. And here again, I would say you have people who are very well motivated and are, are really devoting themselves wholly to pursuing medical cures, et cetera, um, with a noble intent, but without necessarily, uh, much attention to what the, what the price is. And it’s the price in, in human lives. So when you think about the, the people that are being sacrificed in, in human embryo research, and also the people who are being sacrificed actually also in IVF, I think people are not aware, um, especially in the United States, we don’t have a lot of legislation, um, that the, that has a purview, um, and in any way regulates, uh, the fertility industry. Um, there are countries in which, for instance, um, you can only fertilize one or two embryos when you’re pursuing IVF precisely because there’s a, a, some kind of basic respect for the fact that these are new lives. Um, our country doesn’t make that restriction. And people produce many, and they’re encouraged sometimes to produce numerous embryos, whether or not they will, uh, be able to gestate them as a kind of insurance policy, um, because it doesn’t always work out. And in order to make the procedure, which is very expensive, worthwhile, you would make extra embryos in order to ensure that you get a baby. Now, what does that do? What does that do to our mentality? It, it reduces all of those embryos to little objects that are subject to the will of the doctors and the parents. It also kind of takes away their individuality because the parents just want some, some kid to be born when in fact they’ve, they’ve generated, you know, maybe 10. Um, and I guess I would, I would call the whole reproductive technology trajectory that we’ve been on for about 50 years a really vast experiment, um, in which everyone is, is inside the experiment. Everyone is underneath the, the purview of the experiment. Um, and there isn’t an sort of an outside, uh, control or something like that. We’re all, we’re all subject to this, and we, we, we didn’t know in advance, uh, how traumatic this would be, not just for the children that are lost, but also for parents when they realize, and not everyone has a sensitivity to make this realization, but, but many do. Oh, I actually have frozen children, many frozen children. I may never be able to bring them into the world. And in fact, it’s problematic to bring them into the world. Um, so I mean, these are all sort of, uh, it’s kind of like the, the underbelly, like what we see is the tip of the iceberg. And the media tends to show us what’s beautiful and, and attractive about some of these, um, procedures or cures, or without telling us, okay, what did it cost to get here? Or, or what are the consequences that are not not so attractive? Um, and we’re not consequentialist, these things aren’t wrong because they have bad consequences, but they do have bad consequences because there’s an original violation that’s that’s, that’s taken place an original fragmentation.
Edmund: Yeah. So if someone’s listening to this and it sounds like just overwhelming, like, man, where do I even start? And we’re basically saying like, there’s not gonna be every single situation outlined in the Catechism, there are different Church teachings, what I mean, basically what this is calling for is, you know, we have to really inform our conscience. We have to form our conscience and seek out experts and, and, um, other opinions in the Church’s teaching, but… So what, what are some kind of basic practical, um, pieces of advice you give people who are like, man, this is overwhelming, or, yeah. You know, I know of different complicated medical situations in my family or in my, you know, extended family and like, where do I even start? Do I just get on Google and just start searching terms, like, how do I begin? Because it seems so complicated and I don’t want, you know, I don’t want to be committing unethical acts.
Dr. Lesley Rice: Yeah. I mean, I, I would say, I mean, and, and your ministry really, um, lends itself to this. Uh, I would say look at the Catechism, though in the first place, not to get the direct answer to your question. That’s not necessarily what you’re going to find there. But if you look at part three of the Catechism, which is life in Christ, which, which deals with questions of morality and more than questions of simply morality do this or do, don’t do this. But really, what does it mean to be, what does it mean to live your life as a follower of Jesus? What is, which means to, to live his life like you’ve been given his life to, to live and, and to begin by drawing on the, the sources that the Church has, has gathered for us in the Catechism, that, that kind of center you and give you a good posture to begin to face these questions that are very specific, um, in a more general, well, more specific than the Catechism, but more general than a specific issue sort of way. I would recommend reading the encyclical Evangelium Vitae by John Paul II, as another kind of, uh, sort of basic formation. Um, that’s something that you would do when you’re not in the middle of a crisis, you know, as a way of anticipating, you know, later decisions. Um, that’s in terms of educating yourself. I mean, another way of preparing yourself for, for these sorts of situations is not just education, but, but just the reception of the sacraments, like living your life more deeply, understanding that the practice of virtue is part of, part of your calling, asking the Holy Spirit for his gifts. So those, those are, those are basic things that I think also are, are essential in, in preparing to face difficult questions. If you have a situation that you are currently confronting, you know, that is kind of a thicket and you don’t know what to do next, there’s a, a wonderful resource, um, for the Church in the United States, and that is, um, the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. They have a hotline, um, and, and also a website. Um, so they have consultants who will actually talk you through whatever the issue is, which is invaluable. Right. Um, yeah. And I have used it. And it is, it is great to know that there’s someone on the other line who, who loves the Church and who who has studied these things and who is available. Um, if you aren’t ready yet for a personal conversation, you can go to their website, basically Google, uh, national Catholic Bioethics Center, and the topic that you are confronting. Um, and they often will have a Q&A that you can use to begin to orient yourself to some of your questions. Um, so those are, I think, uh, a sort of a hodgepodge, but I think that all of those are, are necessary elements, both the very specific deep dives, but also just the general practice, um, of, of prudence become a more prudent person. What does that mean? It means all of our decisions are a matter of relating concrete choices to our, our ultimate end. Um, and that, that kind of practice will, will fortify us. Um, but it’s a kind of practice that depends on, on, on grace. It depends on the gifts of God too. And so to ask for those, um, in prayer, ask, ask for the gifts of discernment and, and right judgment, um,
Edmund: Yeah. That’s great advice. I I love that you’re, I love that you’re promoting reading the Catechism. ’cause I was, that’s exactly right. Like so many of these, you know, the specific scenario is where the question comes from but often, like you said earlier, uh, we could really trace it back a few questions to a more foundational question. You know, when we’re talking about some of these specific situations like, you know, I have a loved one who’s in a great deal of suffering at the end of their life. Like, why could we not, you know, minimizes suffering? And then really backing up to like, like what is your definition of a human person and what is the definition of the purpose of life and the point of life in the context of salvation history and, and God. And that is such, such great practical, um, points there. And it’s like, form ourselves first in these these foundational truths.
Dr. Lesley Rice: I think that, I think you alluded to the complexity of some of these questions, and I think that that’s, that’s true. And it’s, it’s a, um, it’s a very big burden and it’s a novel burden. Um, I think that, that we have decisions to make today that people have not had to make in the past at the same time. And acknowledging that, and thanking you for making that point. I would also say in confronting those complex situations, we also wanna learn how to be simple. And to remember that at the end of the day, the question is always, what does it mean to love in this situation? And to allow Christ and the Church to help us, to orient us, to define for us what love is. There are a lot of, um, there are a lot of false accounts of love that are floating around these days, culturally speaking, there’s a lot of talk of compassion. Um, and compassion can, can, in our, in our contemporary world, means something very different from what it authentically means. Um, it can mean permitting or tolerating or, or pursuing things that are very damaging to people, um, when in fact the Church gives us, um, a a deeper sense of what compassion means, because it, it shows us that our experience in this life is, is not the end. It’s not, it’s not the end, um, that our sufferings are bearable by not only remembering that they’re not gonna be last forever, but remembering that they’re preparing us for life with God, which involves expanding us, expanding our hearts, like we aren’t ready for heaven without having grown, you know, and these are, these are paths by which we can grow and grow together more deeply.
Edmund: Where else can people go to find your work and the work of the JPII Institute? Maybe you could talk a little bit about, about the JP two institutes. A a lot of people might not be familiar.
Dr. Lesley Rice: Yeah. We are a, a graduate school of theology in Washington DC. We’re at the, um, campus of Catholic University of America, but we’re our own entity. Um, we were founded by John Paul II And so our, our work is to really tend to cultural questions as, as well as questions of theology. Um, because it’s, it’s in the family, which is a natural and common institution. We’re all from a family, right? Um, that we really learn precisely the question that we’ve been kind of circling this whole, um, half hour or whatever time we spent together, which is what, what does it mean to be a human being and what does it mean to love? Um, so those are really the fundamental questions that, that we allow the Christian tradition to kind of penetrate and illuminate. Um, in the course of our studies, we, we offer a master’s degree, we offer a doctoral degree, and then we offer ecclesiastical degrees, a licentiate, and a, an ecclesiastical doctorate as well.
Edmund: That’s amazing. Well, thank you so much, Dr. Rice, for being here. This is a really, uh, fascinating topic, and it is very relevant, or it will be relevant to many of us. So thanks again for being here. Just very thankful for the work you’re doing and, and for the institute. Everyone, if you’re listening, again, this is the Real+True podcast. Our mission is to unlock the truth and beauty of the Catechism for the modern world, and to help people encounter its pulsating heart. Jesus Christ. We thank you for listening. You can follow us on all your podcast apps, or you can watch this on, um, YouTube, or you can go to realtrue.org and find the podcast there, as well as all the other units and the videos, um, animations and live action videos that we’re making, uh, helping unlock the Catechism for the modern world. And we thank you so much for listening today, and we will see you in the next episode.
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