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Law, culture, and Catholicism...up in smoke!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

CatholicCulture.org on Jackson Labs-Ave Maria Story

A tip of the hat to commenter Pensieve, who linked to this article entitled "In Depth Analysis: Ave Maria University and the embryo-research connection," by Phil Lawler at CatholicCulture.org.

Though the article is well-written, I was quite disappointed in the article. Instead of the "in depth analysis" it purported to be, it was more of a simple chronological recounting of the entire Ave Maria-Jackson Labs controversy.

The article has a promising start:
Questions also have been raised about what relationship, if any, Ave Maria University (AMU) will have with any of the institutions that may become involved in this new research cluster. More to the point, concerned Catholics—including both critics and supporters of AMU—have asked whether AMU has opened the door to cooperation with embryonic stem-cell research.
Should Monaghan have stopped the biomedical-research project before it began, by refusing to sell his personal interest in 50 acres of land to his development partners who, in turn, were donating it to the Jackson Laboratory? Insofar as the land in question belonged to Monaghan, not to AMU, could the university be held accountable for the business decisions of a founder whose personality still dominates the institution? The questions were pointed, and they were not unreasonable.
Good questions! Will we get answers? Let's see!

Mr. Lawler first mentions the NCBC position:
The NCBC replied that it saw "no moral obstacle" to the deal. There were no known or expressed plans on the part of the Jackson Lab to perform any research at its Florida facility that would contravene the teachings of the Catholic Church, the NCBC found.
Unfortunately, Mr. Lawler doesn't go any further in his analysis of the NCBC position - and so, doesn't point out the important flaws in the NCBC position.

But then, Mr. Lawler references some of the significant concerns about JAX that I and others have pointed out in the blogosphere:
The announcement that Jackson Lab planned to set up a facility next to Ave Maria prompted some worried Catholics to scour the internet for evidence that the institution might be involved in embryonic stem-cell research. In April that search intensified, after a Jackson Lab spokesman acknowledged that the institution had hosted conferences at which such research was discussed and at which the propagation of human embryonic stem cell lines was demonstrated. Flyers on the site promoted the use of Jackson Lab mice for use in stem-cell research of all kinds.
But instead of pursuing this line of thought, Mr. Lawler just falls back into a chronological description of the statements issued by JAX and by the Venice diocese.

So, in the end, Mr. Lawler doesn't answer the questions he raised earlier: Mr. Lawler offers no opinion on whether Tom Monaghan's connection to the new JAX facility is problematic or not, and no opinion on whether support for the JAX project is praiseworthy or not. That's disappointing.