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Diving into the Clashing Cultures of Life vs. Death

Sacred Heart Professor Mark Latkovic speaks at Theology on Tap

by Katherine Tibai

“Do not be afraid. Do not be satisfied with mediocrity. Put out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” (Pope St. John Paul II)

On Monday, February 10, at the Royal Oak Taphouse, young adults gathered for the popular Theology on Tap nights hosted by the Archdiocese of Detroit Catholic Young Adults group. Sacred Heart Major Seminary’s professor of moral and systematic theology, Dr. Mark Latkovic, dove into the difficult topic of bioethics and what it truly means to respect and understand the dignity of human life.

Dr. Latkovic has taught at SHMS for more than thirty years and built a strong and reputable platform around his defense of the human person at all stages of life from natural conception until natural death. This event drew a crowd of forty plus young adults, some of them his current and former students, and encouraged an approach to the dignity of life based on reason, not simply emotion or religion. As he observed, “you don’t have to be a Catholic or Christian to grasp the truths on these topics….it’s Natural Law.”

The talk, “The Beginning & End of Human Life: Basic Principles of Catholic Bioethics,” merely scratched the surface of the sanctity of human life and what Pope St. John Paul II classified as the “clash between two cultures: the culture of life versus the culture of death.” This clash formed the heart of Dr. Latkovic’s discussion as he pondered and questioned the matters of abortion, contraception, sterilization, and euthanasia.

Taking from Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life), by Pope St. John Paul II, Dr. Latkovic described the culture of death as a view point that sees the body only as an instrument or tool….the body does not share in the personhood, so we can “take it” if we want to.

Dr. Latkovic continued his talk by describing principles, such as that of “Double Effect.” This principle recognizes that our cooperation with evil is constant. Does shopping at a grocery store that supports immoral behaviors make a person bad? Does working at a pharmacy that sells birth control make a person bad? Dr. Latkovic also expanded on the norms of bioethics, such as “it’s never right to directly kill the life of an innocent person. There are no exceptions, it’s always wrong.”

He also explained the importance of virtues and their application to bioethics: prudence, fortitude, justice, compassion, and benevolence. Dr. Latkovic states that it’s important not to confuse the virtues of compassion and benevolence with letting people die. He says, “it means being there with the sick in their time of suffering.”

Bioethics must appeal to reason, and why taking a person’s life goes against Natural Law. It’s a common tactic for a pro-choice society to appeal to emotion. In previous cases, the pro-life position has been attacked and ridiculed for “wanting people to suffer.” Dr. Latkovic says that it’s never the case to desire suffering for a person, but to – again – apply the virtues and pray and be with a person throughout the course of their suffering.

Dr. Latkovic welcomed questions at the conclusion, and the number of inquiries made it clear that in a world where the “Culture of Death” is celebrated, that the young adults, Christian and non-Christian alike, desire this topic and explanation.

by Katherine Tibai

Katherine Tibai

Katherine Tibai works in the Development and Mission Advancement Office at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

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Sacred Heart Major Seminary is a Christ-centered Catholic community of faith and higher learning committed to forming leaders who will proclaim the good news of Christ to the people of our time. As a leading center of the New Evangelization, Sacred Heart serves the needs of the Archdiocese of Detroit and contributes to the mission of the universal Church.