X-Message-Number: 2583
Date:  Wed, 02 Feb 94 22:24:50 
From: Steve Bridge <>
Subject:  CRYONICS and Catholicism

(Via unlicensed copy of UGATE)
To CryoNet
>From Steve Bridge
February 2, 1994

In response to   Message: #2581 - Canadian Cryonics Dinner
                 From:  (Ben Best)
                 Date: Mon, 31 Jan 1994 02:00:00 -0500

>One of these friends seemed serious about signing-up
>and wanted information on costs and procedures. He also wanted to
>know the Vatican's views on the subject because he is Roman Catholic.
>(Does anyone know if the Vatican has ever made a statement about

     The  Catholic  viewpoint  on cryonics has been the  subject  of  much 
lively discussion over the years, especially since several cryonicists  of 
my  acquaintance  are lapsed Catholics.  I am not, but  have  a  curiosity 
about this and have asked many questions about the subject.

     Apparently,  the  Pope  himself  has  never  offered  an  opinion  on 
cryonics.   However,  the  Vatican (but perhaps not  the  Pope)  has  made 
statements in the past that frozen human embryos do possess souls and  are 
humans.  The Church is not in favor of creating such humans; but once  the 
eggs  are  fertilized,  any destruction of them  would  be  tantamount  to 

     This  shows  the Catholic Church's interesting ability  to  adapt  to 
change  when science offers no other choice.  This decision was  not  made 
until  it  was  proven that the frozen embryos  could  produce  full-term, 
obviously human infants.  One couldn't say that frozen embryos were *dead* 
then, could they?

     For  this  reason,  I believe that if eventually  we  can  show  that 
cryonics  works,  the Catholic Church will take the  position  that  these 
people  are alive and must be repaired.  It does not  necessarily  follow, 
however, that the Church will be in favor of people choosing cryonics.

     Still,  there  is a more hopeful viewpoint that I have heard  from  a 
couple  of  priests.  From the Catholic viewpoint, suicide is one  of  the 
greatest  sins.   Suicides  are not allowed to be  buried  on  consecrated 
ground; and most would say that suicide prevents one's soul from  entering 
the  Kingdom  of Heaven.  A priest told me about a common  argument  among 
Catholics: If a person was in the hospital and surgery would probably save 
the person's life (and NOT to have the surgery would mean certain  death), 
then  choosing not to have the surgery would be choosing to die.   Willful 
death  is  suicide.   (If  God had wanted you to  die,  he  wouldn't  have 
invented surgeons that could fix your problem.)

     By  the  same logic, if it could be proven  that  cryonic  suspension 
would  preserve a person's life, then NOT to choose suspension when  in  a 
terminal  condition  would  ALSO be willful  death.   Under  those  future 
circumstances,  this  priest  would  argue  that  NOT  to  choose  cryonic 
suspension would be the mortal sin of suicide.

     While this argument may seem far-fetched and beside the point to  the 
non-religious  among you (why not just lead them away from the  opiate  of 
the masses?), it has an important point.  Just as I am willing to use  any 
odd  law  from  Anatomical  Donations to  Assisted  Suicide  to  Religious 
Protection  from  Autopsy to protect Alcor's members and  Patients,  I  am 
willing to argue for cryonics on religious grounds if it means saving some 
people that I love.

     This  young man should also be aware that most American Catholics  do 
not  follow  every teaching of the European Pope.  (I don't  know  whether 
Canadian  Catholics fall in line better or not.)  For instance, this  week 
the  Pope  pleaded with Italian pharmacies to stop  selling  those  sinful 
condoms.  He doesn't care about AIDS; he just wants to stop birth  control 
devices.  The Italian pharmacists ignored him.   At the same time, 90%  of 
American Catholics use some form of birth control prohibited by the Pope.

     "But, Mom... John Paul says...."

     "Now, Junior, if John Paul told you to jump off a cliff, would you?"

     Of  course, people who encourage you to die are, in essence,  telling 
you  to  jump off a cliff.  Even the religious have to make up  their  own 
minds about some things.


Rate This Message: http://www.cryonet.org/cgi-bin/rate.cgi?msg=2583