A Scientist Explains Swine Flu--and her doubts about the vaccine

Dr Teresa Forcades is apparently a physician, who practised for several years. She holds a PhD in public health from Barcelona, and was a specialist in internal medicine in the State University of New York. She also holds a Masters in Divinity from Harvard, and a doctorate from the Faculta de Theologia de Catalunya.

She is now a Benedictine Nun. From the position of a scientist, she has uploaded six videos onto youtube, in which she attempts to explain the science and doubt behind stories of swine flu in the news. I am not qualified to understand her points, but the videos are fascinating. Dr Forcades is not inclined to charity with regard to the pharmaceutical industry, having written a pamphlet on their crimes and abuses, as she sees them.

Dr Forcades has also attempted to reconcile her feminism with Catholicism. This may upset many of my readers. She believes, as some American catholics do, (on what I have suggested before is a flawed reading of St Thomas Aquinas) that abortion of a non-viable foetus is a question inseparably bound with a woman's liberty, and that imposing a rule of no abortion necessarily limits the freedom of a woman in whose hands God has placed the care of a foetus.

I agree with her, but draw very different conclusions. I respect her intellectual honesty, though; at least she is not lying herself into some of the more strident feminist delusions about the body and the subordinate status of the foetus as a limb. She is also a 'liberation theologian', or could credibly be said to be one. I am not, in the normally understood sense of the term.

So, I thought that I would put the following video here for you as a pass-time, and for myself in the future. Dr Forcades wants very little to do with the swine flu vaccine. Some connected with the Holy See are not happy with her, and others have accused her of pseudo-science, though her credentials seem impeccable.


Philippus said…
What is so hard about being a faithful Catholic? Everyone complains about RHINO's in the Republican party, but they don't attach the same meaning to other situations.

Clearly, this young nun wants to be Episcopalian. She is confused and should rethink why she entered the monastery again.

There can be liberal bishops, priests and religious brothers and sisters including nuns and monks, but the doctrine of the Church will never change. 2000 years of the same teaching is history enough for these cancerous people to get it through their heads. No wymyn priests, no wymyn bishops and certainly no wymyn popes. The Church will always teach abortion is wrong and that there is no such thing as homosexual marriage. Other churches that split from the Catholic church have all given in. Guess what, not even the Catholic Church can destroy herself. It has tried over the centuries. It just isn't going to happen.

Martin Meenagh said…
Well, God must love opinions since he made so many of them, Philippus. I'd be inclined to argue that Dr Forcades' sacrifice of her life to an idea, and her obvious accomplishment, would suggest that she be argued with, not excluded. Metaphors are dangerous things, but ecosystems require a certain amount of diversity.

What is fairly clear is that you're right about abortion. I think that the sacrament of marriage must ever maintain its status and nature--that seems to me a given. What is argued about is the analagous secular relationship that has borrowed the name, and the state's rules about how it recognises unions. I have friends who were married outside the Church, and who believe that they are married; how can a state not recognise them? The difficulty comes when we give in to sentiment and say 'well, we will too'. The better thing to do is to say 'we can't, but we love you anyway'.

The Church is God's instrument in the world; but it is run by flawed men and women. They are necessarily flawed. Sacraments allow it to escape its flaws but they are a gift and should not become an instrument of oppression, or one that invites the secular destruction of the church. I don't believe that people can ever really leave the church though, or God; I think that they make their compromises to live in the world. Everyone's tempted, and often let down; even Christ cursed fig trees, to no avail....

That there are those in its orders who will follow a logic to a conclusion is one thing; that they can be argued back from it by the deposit of the faith protected by the Holy Spirit and the logic of faith as expressed by various Popes or Church Councils from time to time is another.

The Church must bear witness to truth--yes, I agree with you on that. If we are isolated, we are not alone. But, would a God who emerged in the form of a carpenter's son, and who specifically embraced criminals, and prostitutes--and who was betrayed by a tax collector to a lawful authority--really want us to send someone into deeper error?

The Church won't destroy itself. It is flattered by the fascination that it has held for Dr Forcades. She is on the journey of faith that we're all on, and will no doubt fall or doubt just as popes and saints have done in the past, and just as ordinary people would do. The Church won't fundamentally change.

She is also perfectly entitled to attempt to work out the relationship of her womanhood, which conditions the way in which she can think of things, to her insights. I think that ultimately it will be seen to be some mediative physical category of far less relevance than could be thought since faith is probably ultimately not physically provable, thomism nothwithstanding.

So--there is no need to worry about her at all. The videos are interesting though. I am deeply troubled by the way swine flu is mutating and advancing, largely because I read the histories of the previous swine flu years ago and was chilled by them. There seem to be some artificial elements to this latest bout in the Ukraine. The supposed vaccine is untested. This society, western society and specifically english speaking society, would not in large part, have the moral resources to deal with a plague. So I thought Dr Forcades' opinion was interesting.

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