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To know ourselves—and become fully who we are—we have to look back to our origins. The word that seems most apt here is anamnesis, a remembering that connects our present to the past. In this four-part series, we look at the various ways in which the “recovery of origins” is threatened. Divorce, reproductive technology, same-sex unions, and absent fatherhood, each, in different ways, obscure this remembering and with it the awareness of who we are: the fruit of an embodied unity in difference, and (within that) a gift from the Source of all Being.

Children of Divorce

This issue is the first of our four-part series on “recovering origins,” where we consider the various dimensions of the origin of the child, all of which have been put into question today in thought and in practice. The first of those is the unity of two −by which everyone always and everywhere comes into being− in the face of the wide-spread practice of divorce. For many years talk about divorce has minimized the effect of divorce on children (provided the divorce was a “good divorce”). Adult Children of divorce themselves have begun to say otherwise by identifying an “ontological wound” left by the break in their unitary origin. If what they say is true, this has enormous implications for society – implications so large that the topic is likely to be avoided and the evidence disregarded by mainstream political and media groups. All the more reason, then, to focus on it.

Artificial Reproductive Technology

This issue− the second in our series on “recovering origins”− is devoted to reviewing artificial reproductive technology (ART). The question is about technological intervention in human reproduction, which our society tends increasingly to answer purely in terms of practical results in the short term, and without any consideration of the nature of the human person either as a parent or a child. Is it true that in conceiving a child, the bodily unity of parents is negotiable?

Same-Sex Unions

With this issue−the third in our series of “recovering origins”− we take up another one of the dimensions to which our coming to be in inextricably linked, that of coming from a unity of two, two sexes. What does it mean that at the origin of our being there is always and everywhere a unity in difference? Can this basic dimension of our humanity be disregarded without consequence?

Absent Fathers

This issue − the last in our series on recovering origins−takes up that dimension of our coming to be which opens us up to the Origin of all origins. As Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger’s said in 2000: “Human fatherhood gives us an anticipation of who God is. But when this fatherhood does not exist, when it is experienced only as a biological phenomenon, without its human and spiritual dimension, all statements about God the Father are empty. The crisis of fatherhood we are living today is an element, perhaps the most important, threatening man in his humanity.”

Humanum: Issues in Family, Culture & Science
Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family
620 Michigan Ave. N.E. (McGivney Hall)
Washington, DC 20064