The archbishop of Washington spoke to a packed Alumni House Thursday about the Catholic Church and its views on stem-cell research, war and Islam.
The Newman Catholic Student Center invited the Rev. Donald Wuerl, who is a former college religion professor, to speak as part of a coffee house discussion series they host regularly called Theology on Tap.
“I invited him because he has a love for education,” said Father Bill Gurnee, who is the chaplain of the Newman Center. “He loves to be around college students.”
Pope Benedict XVI named Wuerl the successor of former Washington archbishop Cardinal Theodore McCarrick last May. Wuerl, who previously served as bishop of Pittsburgh, officially took the post last June, said Susan Gibbs, director of communications for the Washington Archdiocese.
Weurl centered his discussion on two main questions – what does the Church do for the individual and what does the Church do for culture?
“Every one of us asks themselves growing up some very significant questions,” Weurl said. “What the Church (offers) is a series of answers on the identity, expectations and faith of the Church.”
In his discussion, Wuerl examined stem-cell research – an issue on which the Catholic Church has been criticized for its strong oppositional stance.
“The Church has always advanced knowledge and science within the parameters of moral judgment,” Wuerl said. “What the Church is saying is that what we cannot do is take an embryo and kill it and kill it. You can’t destroy one living human reality for another living human reality.”
“There are things that are simply not allowed because it would be too horrendous,” he said.
During the question and answer period following his lecture, the Archbishop defended the recent comments Pope Benedict XVI made about Islam when the Pope cited a text that labels the religion’s founder “evil and inhuman.” Wuerl said these comments were taken out of context.
“In the highly sophisticated world we live in today, many people know how to utilize media,” Wuerl said. “If you have a tense-enough situation, you can get a fire started.”
Wuerl also spoke about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have divided American Catholics. The Church has traditionally stated that war is only just when there is no other option for resolution.
“You and I might arrive at different conclusion,” said Wuerl, speaking on the whether the two wars are just. “You have to be able to demonstrate that this was the only solution to the problem.”
University President Stephen Joel Trachtenberg, who was in attendance at the event, invited the Newman Center to join the GW Hillel at some of the Jewish Center’s upcoming events and commended GW students on their involvement with their faith.
“It is interesting that people think that this is a secular time,” Trachtenberg said. “But, if they take time to check it out, there is more participation in the different faiths.”