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Who is the Child? Gift

Thursday, September 10, 2015

6:00 pm EDT - 7:00 pm EDT


This conversation will explore the effects that artificial reproductive technologies and divorce have on every member of a family, particularly children.

Adult Children of Divorced Parents

There is much that is new in the current debate over marriage, above all the severing of the hitherto indissoluble link between marriage and the capacity in principle to have children, not to mention the link between children and their own parents. In another way, the debate is cashing in on a check written long ago with the advent of no-fault divorce. For all of its apparent advantages, it is undeniable that divorce opened the gates to the widespread instability between parents and their children, introducing the latter to a whole array of new relationships in their ever-changing “step” and “blended” families. Numerous studies of adult children of divorce are beginning to reveal that the experience of divorce strikes to the root of who and what a child is: the permanent one-flesh union of his or her parents.

By looking at the children of divorce, then, we are faced not only with momentous truths about childhood, but also about marriage itself, the adults in it, the young people being prepared for it, and what it is they all most deeply desire. In sum we are faced with the central question about our humanity.

with Margaret McCarthy

Assistant Professor of Theological Anthropology

John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family



Re-conceiving the Human Person: The ART of Reproduction

America has apparently made its peace with Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs), now estimated to be responsible for some 4 million births worldwide. This peace is premised upon the assumption that such technologies raise no fundamental questions about the meaning of the human being.

And yet in saying ‘yes’ to ARTs, we have said ‘yes’ to much more besides. ARTs are the sine qua non for embryonic stem cell research, germline manipulation, and a host of other brave new eugenical fantasies. ARTs are the condition of possibility for same sex marriage. And the decoupling of sex and procreation has given rise to a surrogacy industry that often leads to legal quagmires and to the exploitation of poor women abroad. Meanwhile questions about the fate of children thus conceived are met mostly with silence; while the experience of adult children who dare to question their origins is treated mostly with scorn.

All of this suggests that this peace rests upon a false premise, that ARTS do indeed provoke fundamental questions—questions about human identity origins, about motherhood and fatherhood, and about the human body and human nature itself— which cannot be suppressed. This presentation will begin to pose and address these questions.
201509_Marriage_Hanbywith Michael Hanby

Associate Professor of Religion and Philosophy of Science

John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family

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