Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 72(1) February 2022

Book Review

Catholic Responses to the World's Questions

by Fr. Carter Griffin Emaus Publishing
Reviewed by Dr Pravin Thavasathan

Book CoverThis is a real gem of a book. The author looks at tough questions the world is asking us and he answers with truth and charity. Above all, he gives good reasons as to why the Church teaches what she does. He employs a Thomistic style for his responses. For example, why is trans-gender incompatible with Church teaching?

He puts forward five common objections to the teaching of the Church. Firstly, gender is who a person is. Second, people suffer from gender dysphoria and it is reasonable to help them. Third, there is such a thing as intersex. Fourth, respecting trans persons is a civil rights issue. Fifth, binary gender is outmoded. The author then puts forward the teaching of the Church clearly: sexual identity refers to the human quality of being male or female. We need to accept who we are as bodily beings. Biological sex and gender are not in conflict: they are interdependent realities. Those who have gender dysphoria deserve our compassion. But it is not the loving thing to propose a false solution. The author then responds to the objections. First, gender cannot be separated from biological sex. Second, when a person's choice is based on a flawed assumption, we have a duty to disagree. Third, intersex is a rare, yet a real medical condition. Gender ideology is not a medical condition. Fourth, gender ideology cannot be a civil rights issue as it is based on flawed assumptions. Fifth, we challenge outmoded views, we do not introduce false ideologies.

The author examines why the Church is against assisted suicide. Again he looks at common arguments in favour. First, people have a right to do with their own bodies as they see fit. Secondly, people should be allowed to die before encountering great suffering. Third, assisted suicide is cheaper than looking after the disabled. Fourth, the Church is inconsistent as it allows for the withdrawal of treatment. We then have the teaching of the Church: what is needed is good palliative care. It is never acceptable to intentionally kill innocent human beings. Suffering has meaning.