Oct. 4 Forum to Gather at Linden Parish
Co-sponsored by the Respect Life Office and Pro-Life Commission, the seminar will spotlight two speakers: Bobby Schindler, brother of Terri Schiavo, the brain-injured Florida woman who died three years ago after a court ordered cessation of nutrition; and Father Tadeusz Pacholcyk, a columnist for The Catholic Advocate and director of education at The National Catholic Bioethics Center, which is headquartered in Philadelphia.
The cost to attend the seminar is $10 general admission and $5 for students and parish prolife contacts. Checks should be made payable to the archdiocesan Respect Life Office and are due no later than Sept. 25. The mailing address is 1805 Penbrook Terr., Linden, NJ 07036.
Two years ago Schindler was a featured speaker at a lecture series held at Seton Hall University (SHU), South Orange (see The Catholic Advocate, Nov. 8, 2006). His sister, Theresa "Terri" Schiavo died on March 31, 2005 at the age of 41. She collapsed in her home in 1990 and experienced respiratory and cardiac arrest. She fell into a coma and within three years, was diagnosed as being brain damaged and in a "persistent vegetative state."
The dispute over her fate began to receive national attention and included a legal history of numerous appeals, motions, petitions and hearing in Florida courts and Federal District Court. Her feeding tube was removed on March 18, 2005 and she died 13 days later at Pinellas Park Hospice in Florida. The controversy regarding Terri Schiavo's final days galvanized the nation, sparking discussions on end-of-life issues.
"My sister was killed," Schindler alleged during his 2006 presentation at SHU. The family's "only intention" was to "take care" of Terri. There was an abundance of "confusion" on the matter among Catholics, he pointed out. Schindler said his sister was not dying and nutrition and hydration kept her alive. There was a moral obligation to do so, he stressed.
Fr. Pacholcyk spoke at SHU last year about the ethics of stemcell research and cloning (see The Catholic Advocate, March 7, 2007). He earned a Ph.D. in neuroscience from Yale University and aimed to "cut through the spin" of the media and government policies regarding stem cells and cloning. He believes a majority of the public does not understand basic terminology of the research and has misconceptions about embryonic versus adult stem-cell research.
Stem cells can be molded and can change into different cells found in the body (i.e. muscle, skin and organ tissue), as explained by Fr. Pacholczyk. In embryonic stem-cell research (ESCR), stem cells are taken form five-day old embryos called blastocysts. The cell lines are then ripped from the developing fetus and thus destroy it.
Other sources of stem cells for research-adult stem cells-can be used instead of human embryos including: umbilical cords, amniotic fluid, bone marrow, fat from liposuctions and nasal epithelium.
A common misconception in the stem-cell controversy is that the Catholic Church is against all forms of stem-cell research. In fact, the Church supports adult stemcell research but strongly opposes embryonic stem-cell research.
"There are no fundamental objections to adult stem-cell research. There is a collaboration of evil that can happen when an ethical discussion is not approached," Fr. Pacholczyk explained.
The seminar continues to attract prominent speakers who have been at the center of major life issues. Last year, Norma McCorvey-the plaintiff "Roe" in the landmark Supreme Court case known as Roe v Wade that, in 1973, legalized abortion in the United States-was the feature speaker at the Life Issues Seminar (see The Catholic Advocate, Oct. 24, 2007). A record number of seminar attendants-about 200 people-listed attentively to McCorvey as she spoke about her involvement in the landmark case.
Once considered the national "poster girl" for abortion, McCorvey today is a passionate Catholic speaker who shares her testimonial in a crusade to end abortion.
"I am sorry that I listened to the lies. I was part of the court case that brought the Holocaust of abortion into this country and for that, I deeply apologize," she said last year at the seminar.
Born Norma Lee Nelson in Louisiana, McCorvey was asked by lawyers Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee in 1969 to be the plaintiff in a case to challenge the Texas state law prohibiting abortion. McCorvey, who was pregnant at the time, was cited as "Jane Roe" in the court case. She never had the abortion and McCorvey felt as though the two lawyers used her as a pawn.
In the summer of 1997, with the assistance of her friend, Ronda Mackey, McCorvey began her own pro-life ministry, "Roe No More," based in Dallas (Web site: www.leaseru.com/norma). She also attends theology classes at the University of Texas.
The Oct. 4 seminar begins at 11 a.m., with Mass celebrated by Rev. Msgr. John E. Doran, archdiocesan Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia. Lunch and networking follows at noon. At 12:35 p.m., Father Joseph Meagher, director of the archdiocesan Respect Life Office, will give the opening prayer followed by welcoming remarks by the chairman of the Pro-Life Commission, James Sondey.
Schindler is scheduled to speak at 12:50 p.m., while Fr. Pacholczyk will begin his presentation at 1:45 p.m. A question and answer segment follows the speaker presentations at 2:45 p.m. and the program concludes with a closing prayer from Fr. Meagher at 3:30 p.m.
For additional information contact the archdiocesan Respect Life Office by phone at (732) 388-8211 or via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.