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Back to School?

Scarcely a week after comments from Archbishop Lori that suggested he had forgotten the distinction between formal and material cooperation with evil, we now have another bishop who appears to need some remedial education in moral theology.In a column published this week (HT: In All Things), Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin attempts to provide some guidance to Catholics trying to form political judgments:

However, the formation of conscience regarding particular policy issues is different depending on how fundamental to the ecology of human nature or the Catholic faith a particular issue is. Some of the most fundamental issues for the formation of a Catholic conscience are as follows: sacredness of human life from conception to natural death, marriage, religious freedom and freedom of conscience, and a right to private property.

Violations of the above involve intrinsic evil that is, an evil which cannot be justified by any circumstances whatsoever. These evils are examples of direct pollution of the ecology of human nature and can be discerned as such by human reason alone. Thus, all people of good will who wish to follow human reason should deplore any and all violations in the above areas, without exception. The violations would be: abortion, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, same-sex marriage, government-coerced secularism, and socialism.

Unfortunately, the bishop conflates things that are, in fact, intrinsic evils with things that are clearly not. An intrinsic evil is something that is evil by the nature of its object, regardless of the intent or circumstances. The taking of innocent human life is evil because of what the act does, regardless of the intent of the actor or the circumstances (although these may mitigate subjective moral culpability).Government coerced secularism and socialism, by contrast (assuming they are not merely epithets) are evaluative terms applied to a complex cluster of social and political institutions. One would have to know a great deal about the intent of the actors and the circumstances to make a judgment about whether a particular law or set of laws was evil.It is true that the U.S. bishops have employed the language of intrinsic evil in the context of the debate over the HHS mandate, but they have used it to condemn a law that requires Catholic institutions to facilitate (through the medium of insurance) acts of contraception, which are considered intrinsically evil. One may ultimately conclude that the law is evil, but it is not evil by nature of its object.Similarly, a law offering legal recognition of same-sex relationships is not intrinsically evil. Because the Church holds that homosexual acts are intrinsically evil (because they are closed to procreation), Church leaders have condemned such laws because they appear to endorse or facilitate evil acts. But if the bishops in a particular state were to conclude, for example, that the only way to prevent the greater evil of same-sex marriage would be to support a civil unions bill, it would not necessarily be sinful for them to support it. It would depend on the circumstances and their intent in supporting the legislation.It seems clear that Bishop Morlinoalong with a number of other U.S. bishopsis confusing the concept of intrinsic with the concept of grave. Many of the things the bishop enumerates are grave evils, but they are not intrinsic evils.What worries me about this is that bishops are, in the Catholic tradition, authoritative teachers of the faith. It is true that bishops, when speaking as individuals, do not possess the charism of infallibility. Nevertheless, they have an obligation to get their facts straight when acting as teachers of the faith. At a time when the credibility of the episcopacy is at a historic low, they need to take this responsibility more seriously than ever.

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Michael B. --Thanks for that correction. JP II wasn't quite so bad as I thought. But he was still pretty awful on the subject. An incurable Romantic of the nineteenth century sort who confuses poetry with sometimes hard or unwelcome truths.

So it remains that nowhere does Aquinas say that early abortion is not a mortal sin.

see his Commentary on Sentences, Bk. 4, dist. 1, art. 3, exposition of text.I couldn't find what he mentions there. I think it's a typo and he meant dist. 31"Qui vero venena sterilitatis procurant, non conjuges, sed fornicarii sunt. Hoc peccatum quamvis sit grave, et inter maleficia computandum, et contra naturam, quia etiam bestiae fetus expectant; tamen est minus quam homicidium"He doesn't say anything about the age of the fetus. Perhaps it was clear at the time that "poisons of sterility" were used early on and would thus always cause an abortion of a not-yet-animated fetus. http://www.corpusthomisticum.org/snp4027.html#19830

Thanks, John H. Do you know if an English translation of the whole of the Commentary is available on the net? I haven't found one. I'm not even sure there is an English version of the whole thing. My Latin is awful.

JAK --It also remains that Aquinas seems nowhere to say that early abortion is a mortal sin.What really irritates me about the official current CDF line and the current papal teachings is that they over-simplify the historical positions of the big three three ancients -- Augustine, Anselm, and Aquinas, and those positions still have great, even determining, metaphysical value. The reason that it is important to present them faithfully is that the whole issue of the morality of multi-potent stem cell research hinges on whether or not the organism is a person within the first days of gestation. it can be argued that because it is not a person at that time, killing those cells is not murder, and given the proportionate potential benefits of such research it is permissible, even if the non-person has some purely animal value.

P. S. Using such cells in research is analogous to using rats and mice and other primates and other forms of life, as is done now.

Ann: I agree that it is important to present the position of the Big Three (and others) accurately, which is why I have insisted on challenging your flat and, it seems, mistaken assertion about Aquinas.

Ann: You wrote: "Using such cells in research is analogous to using rats and mice and other primates and other forms of life, as is done now." I trust that this to me shocking statement is not meant to represent or to echo the teaching of the Big Three.

Anne,There is a complete translation of Aquinas's Commentaries, side by side in English and Latin. See below;Aquinas' Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard: English and Latin (8 vols.)by Thomas AquinasLogos Bible Software, Petri Fiaccadori | 18562013$149.99Retail: $270.20Save: $120.21 (44%)PRE-ORDER QUICK BUYGathering Interest

Anne Olivier, i couldn't find any complete English version online. There are some excerpts listed here:http://www.home.duq.edu/~bonin/thomasbibliography.htmlBut not the cite from the Times or the one i quoted above. My impression of the Logos translation announcement is that they are asking for expressions of interest so they can decide if there are enough potential buyers to cover the cost of the translation project.

Anne,The advertisement was not very clear, but John H's impression may be correct in that it appears that Logos may only be guaging interest. Just to be certain, I would check it out.

This is what I saw on the Logos website hat made me think that:"Logos Bible Software is pleased to announce the first ever English translation of Aquinas' Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. Using the Pre-Pub Process for this project allows us to invest resources in translating Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard only if there is sufficient demand. As the scope of the project becomes clearer, the price might increase, such as when we announce the translator and we begin the work of translation. That means users who pre-order the earliest will get the best price."http://www.logos.com/product/18419/aquinas-commentary-on-the-sentences-o...

JAK --I'm sorry you find the thought shocking, but shock is not a moral characteristic, it's an affective event. True, sometimes feelings are relevant to morals -- they alert us to possible moral failures. But in this case, the question should be: why should shock at killing a non-person be relevant in judging the moral value or disvalue of the killing of a pre-embryo? That is the question to be answered.Unless, of course, you know of some way to distinguish revealing shocks from non-revealing ones. By that I mean revealing of what is objective, not just what is is subjective (the shock).

JAK --Small digression: I meant to ask you if you know whether Lonergan ever wrote about fair price and fair wage. I know he did do some economics.

John H. and Michael B --Thanks for the information. I don't think I'll want it at $250. or so if I'm still around when they finish it :-) But it should be interesting.

JAK --P. S. Killing fully-grown boys and girls in war is even more shocking when your really think about it, but it is, in the just war theory, sometimes justified.

Ann: You wrote: "shock is not a moral characteristic, its an affective event." Some shocks are caused by witnessing morally evil events, in which cases the affective response may be morally motivated. It is also possible that shock, as an affective event, can be caused by encountering failures of intelligence, and in this case, it is more the latter than the former, although I do not deny a moral repulsion to the idea that using human stem cells in research "is analogous to using rats and mice and other primates and other forms of life."I would like to know what metaphysically based ethic it is that would make cells that, if left to their natural condition and environment, inevitably develop into human beings equivalent in moral value to non-human beings? For myself, I believe that modern biology does more to confirm the idea of the soul as the actus primus of a body, the internal vivifying, organizing, and directing principle that makes a body a body. I also think that this whole question is often bedeviled by picture-thinking accompanying the idea that an animal soul "replaces" a vegetative soul and a rational soul an animal soul, or the idea that the rational soul is infused [literally: poured] into the body. No living body exists without its internal principle of life and movement. There is not first a body to which a soul is then added to make it alive.

"Ann: You wrote: shock is not a moral characteristic, its an affective event. Some shocks are caused by witnessing morally evil events, in which cases the affective response may be morally motivated. It is also possible that shock, as an affective event, can be caused by encountering failures of intelligence, and in this case, it is more the latter than the former, although I do not deny a moral repulsion to the idea that using human stem cells in research is analogous to using rats and mice and other primates and other forms of life.JAK -This is all so complicated, even just your first paragraph. I agree about there being more than one possible cause of let's call it "moral shock". As you seem to be saying, some are the effect of knowledge of morally repugnant objective events. Other moral shocks, you seem to be saying, are the result of/responses to "failures of intelligence . . .". However, I do not think that our dispute is about a failure of intelligence. That would be an entirely subjective sequence of mental events -- it would be an affective response to a defective intellectual event. You also say that the moral repulsion involved in the latter is revulsion to *an idea*. But I think that the revulsion involved is revulsion towards the possible killing of little organisms. It's the killing of even less-than-human beings that is repulsive. No, killing the less-than-human is not as repulsive as killing babies, but sometimes it is seen to be quite awful when you think of their non-human pain, etc.The big question in all of this is, I think: can/do feelings reveal objective facts? Yes, feelings sometimes reveal subjective facts -- just having a feeling implies being conscious. But that is not our issue. The issue is whether a negative feeling *reveals* a negative objective fact or a positive feeling *reveals* a positive objective fact. I'm not talking about mere correlation of feeling and objective thing. I'm asking: does what my feeling is in itself reveal what the objective thing is in itself, viz., good or bad? In other words, are feelings -- at least some of them *also* simultaneously cognitive events? It has been pointed out that Thomas does accept connatural "knowledge" as revealing facts, but he gives no explanation of how this could possibly be so. And that's what I'm looking for. This is a terribly important question, because if you simply say that "feelings reveal objective values" then Eichmann's positive feelings about killing Jews would be justified by that principle.So when the PETA people say they "feel" that killing animals is wrong, we need to know how they justify that judgment. Why do their feelings count more nautically than other people's feelings? And if a Catholic theologian says that he knows that killing stem cells is evil, we need to know how he reaches that judgment -- is it too a matter of revulsion only? If so, he has not told us what he *knows*, he has told us only what he feels.Maybe there are moral feelings which reveal objective values. Some of the Romantics thought so, Maybe there are feelings that grasp what is good. G. E. Moore thought so. But the question remains: how would you distinguish those feelings and/or goods from other feelings and/or goods? How can they form the basis for a rational and therefore just judgement?

"I would like to know what metaphysically based ethic it is that would make cells that, if left to their natural condition and environment, inevitably develop into human beings equivalent in moral value to non-human beings?"JAK --You seem to be assuming that they are not morally equivalent. Whata is your evidence? Your feelings about them, or some objective character one has that justifies saying so?When you imply that human stem cells are morally NOT equivalent to mere animals, what can this possible mean. just what it is that those human cells are/possess that places them metaphysically beyond being the animals that they are? It is not a human soul, so what is it?. You seem to be saying that although they are not persons, they are more than mere animals. Are you saying that between mere animals and human persons there is some additional metaphysical degree of being? You also say, "I also think that this whole question is often bedeviled by picture-thinking accompanying the idea that an animal soul replaces a vegetative soul and a rational soul an animal soul, or the idea that the rational soul is infused [literally: poured] into the body. No living body exists without its internal principle of life and movement. There is not first a body to which a soul is then added to make it alive."I'm not saying that living bodies don't have souls in the Aristotelian sense. Far from it. That would be a contradiction in terms. Note: the theory of a succession of souls (see Shannon and Wolter) was accepted by Aquinas himself, and, I think, for very good reason. But there is no "pouring" of a soul of any kind into a human-like body. But, yes, there is first a non-living body (with its own chemical form(s) that constitute it as what it is) and then, somehow or other (but we don't know HOW, only THAT) something is combined with it that constitutes it as now a living body.The question is, is there such a principle, such a form in the early stem cells? Well, this brings us back to the epistemological question: how do we *ever* know what a thing is? How do we know it most basic kind of reality? The Aristotelian answer -- which is still the de facto criterion in today's science -- is that we know what a thing is by knowing its properties, including knowing what it does or can do, especially what it does that other kinds of things do not do. Again, see the Shannon and Wolter. We know a being to be a human person when it does what only humans do -- think intellectually and choose. (That is what defines animals as "rational".)By the way, the biologists tell us that all human cells (except sex cells) are the equivalent of (i.e. potentially) multipotent (early) stem cells. Would you say that they too are therefore worthy of the same moral respect as early stem cells, and that they therefore must also never be killed? Why or why not?

There is not first a body to which a soul is then added to make it alive.i believe the Church's position is that we do not know when the soul is comes into existence. The position JPII laid out in Evangelium Vitae is that, given that lack of knowledge, we should not abort at any point. "Furthermore, what is at stake is so important that, from the standpoint of moral obligation, the mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo."http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_.... (60)The Latin word that the Vatican translated as "probability" is "probabilitas", which might have been better translated as "possibility" in this case.

John Hayes --Aw, c'mon. JP II said "probabiliter" and surely he knew what the word means, and surely he knew the word for "possibly". Face it, there is strong evidence that the early organism is *definitely* not a person. He didn't even try to persuade us otherwise.

Ethically, I agree with the statement quoted by John Hayes: Furthermore, what is at stake is so important that, from the standpoint of moral obligation, the mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo.A human being is not adequately defined as rational but as a rational animal, which means that rational acts are posited by a living principle that is also the living principle of all other activities: sub-atomic, atomic, chemical, molecular, biological, psychic, etc. (At least that this is the Thomist view.) The fertilized ovum immediately begins a series of developments, upon a chemical basis, that leads, if it is not interfered with or aborted, to ever higher syntheses of activities culminating in the intellectual, rational, and voluntary. How do you account for the unity of this development? Or do you think that they are simply different things at different times in the development (which is what the idea of successive "souls" seems to suggest), so that at one point this thing is non-human and at another it becomes something qualitatively, ontologically, different, that is, human? It seems to me that your position implies this because the "soul" is the form of a thing, and different forms mean different things. But they're not different things: a single thing, a human being, is under development, emerging.

This argument is compounded by two moral questions/examples.1. If you were the mother of God, would believe it is morally right or neutral to perform a "willful, intended" action that aims at the destruction of the fertilized ovum? If the answer is no, is it because of the belief that it is Jesus? If so, then it is perplexing to me why anyone would believe it is morally right to abort one fertilized ovum but not another. 2. Taking the pill in the practice of responsible parenthood is argued by some theologians and lay experts that the pill is abortifacient. Others argue that there is insufficient evidence to make such a claim. If true, the PDE argues that the consequence of taking the pill is an extremely remote possibility and not intended by the agent. In other words, using Aquinas it is "per acciden". What say you all?

Just to be clear about the second example. I am familiar about the 4 conditions of the PDE. The 4th is sometimes interpreted to mean that there must not be an alternative means of achieving the end intended...in our example using NFP-PC. However, NFP-PC is not a viable means to regulating fertility in the practice of responsible parenthood because, for many reasons, 30% of women have irregular menstrual cycles and NFP-PC does not work for them. The reasons range from stress, sickness of illness, too much exercise, age, and other natural causes.To summarize:Some opponents concede the possibility of an abortifacient effect of the Pill (albeit an extremely remote possibility, in their view) and argue that if there is a bad effect or consequence (an abortifacient effect), then there are sufficiently serious moral reasons for prescribing or taking the Pill, and allowing the uncommon bad effect to occur.In other words, some opponents believe that the good effect of the Pill (that is intended) has sufficiently valuable, moral and ethical value to justify allowing or tolerating a potential or infrequent bad (abortifacient) effect.

Michael B. -- The Shannon/Walter paper, Footnote 4 on p. 604, offers a bit from the Council of Trent that appears to apply to your question 1. "4 For theologians at the Council of Trent, in contrasting the virginal conception of Christ with the ordinary course of human nature, asserted that normally no human embryo could be informed by a human soul except after a certain period of time: 'cum servato naturae ordine '". The text is discussing the late historical arrival of the "immediate animation" theory now prevailing.

Shannon/Wolter

"How do you account for the unity of this development? Or do you think that they are simply different things at different times in the development (which is what the idea of successive souls seems to suggest), so that at one point this thing is non-human and at another it becomes something qualitatively, ontologically, different, that is, human?'JAK --But that's *exactly* what the medievals, including Aquinas are saying. It was a commonplace with them. See also Augustine. The Shannon and Wolter article give Thomas' et al reasoning much better than I can.You also say, "But theyre not different things: a single thing, a human being, is under development, emerging." but that is exactly what you have not given any evidence for -- you are begging the question. In fact, you are switching referents from the first part of the sentence to the last part -- from the early being at the first part changing into a different kind of being at the last part. But if there is a change of substantial kind, there is a change of subject,and your conclusion doesn't follow.Further, there is strong evidence (e.g., the matter of twins turning back into a single thing) that shows that at that point it definitely is NOT a single person. This argument isn't a matter of probability, at least no more so than any other human empirical argumet. Shannon-Wolter also present another argument buttressing their conclusion. It's a teleological argument that I'm not quite sure of it. And people seem to be unimpressed with such arguments, so I haven't presented it.You ask how to account for the unity of the process. You seem to think that because the process is ordered that that the prior things must determine the intrinsic being of the end result. But why? There are all sorts of causal processes in which the causes do not make the result to be what it is intrinsically. Only its own substantial form plus the matter makes it to be what-it-is. I say that question is a red herring relative to the ontological status of either what is/are there during the process and what is there at the end. The evidence presents a process of a succession of forms enlivening a succession of living things with the thing at the end being a rational animal. WHY that can happen, well, maybe Dawkins does have something relevant to say there. But we don't have to know *why* (quia) the process is as it is in order to know *that* (ita) it happens as it happens.

Michael Barberi, as to your second question, the official answer from the Church would be that using the pill is wrong whether or not it is abortifacient. Assuming there were a contraceptive that was definitely known to be abortifacient (i think i have read that some IUDs are abortifacient, at least in the prevent-implantation sense that the Church understands the term) I guess the question would be whether knowingly using an abortifacient contraceptive is worse than using a non-abortifacient contraceptive. I would think it is because it would terminate a life that had already begun as opposed to preventing a life from being created. But it's really a question for a moral theologian.Regarding whether conventional birth control pills are abortifacient, Bishop Lori and the other Connecticut bishops decided that Plan B (a higher dose than conventional pills) could be used for state required emergency contraception in Catholic hospitals (after a pregnancy test) because there was no definite information that it was abortifacient. They said that if it ever was shown to be abortifacient they would reconsider their position. That was a number of years ago and i haven't heard that their hospitals have stopped using it. I think it would be widely reported in the newspapers if they did stop.

@Jack Barry,Thanks Jack for this clarification. I understand the Shannon-Wolter article and find it persuasive. However, my question/example still applies. Even if one believes in the Shannon-Wolter argument, would a rational Catholic human being today believe that Jesus was not a human person with a soul at the moment of conception?; and would it be morally right to perform a willful, intended voluntary human action with the aim of destroying the fertilized ovum in Mary?

@ John Hayes,I failed to state "to disregard the Church's argument that the pill is intrinsically evil". I understand that this is the Church's position. However, this has been a disputed question for the past 44 years, without a resolution. My question aims at the recent argument about the pill.

Michael Barberi, I hope my second paragraph responds to the question about the recent discussions as to whether some contraceptives included in the HHS mandate are abortifacient. Short of hearing that Catholic hospitals are now refusing to give Plan B as emergency contraception, I think that the bishops have already made the decision that there is not enough known risk that Plan B and conventional hormonal birth control pills could cause an abortion to prevent their use in the case of rape.Actual rape or anticipated danger of rape are probably the only situations that they would agree would justify their use. Some of the other contraceptives in the HHS mandate are reported to operate by inhibiting implantation so, at least from a Catholic point of view, are abortifacients. Some, like Ella, are not undertood enough to be judged. Some other

@John Hayes, Your comment was not completely clear to me. If I may, let me try to posit my understanding.If the Church permits giving the pill to those that have been raped provided that a pregnancy test is negative, is perplexing because a pregnancy test is only effective after implantation...although I am not an expert on this. If this is true, then taking the pill for those that are raped, and the taking the pill for those at risk of rape (e.g., Catholic nuns in foreign countries where these acts are prevalent), then it cannot be intrinsically evil and immoral as an act of abortion. This said, it also not be immoral for a female married woman to take the pill in the practice of responsible parenthood for good and just reason, the same reasons that Pius XII said exempted married couples from their moral procreative obligation in marriage.

Ann: You wrote: "You also say, But theyre not different things: a single thing, a human being, is under development, emerging. but that is exactly what you have not given any evidence for you are begging the question. In fact, you are switching referents from the first part of the sentence to the last part from the early being at the first part changing into a different kind of being at the last part. But if there is a change of substantial kind, there is a change of subject,and your conclusion doesnt follow."I don't understand your reply here. Where is the change of referent in my statement?Is it your position that there is no ontological continuity between your various stages, and that the succession of an animal and then a rational soul constitutes two new metaphysical entities? If so, I don't know how you would reconcile this with the biological data.I know what the medievals thought. I think they thought that based on what they knew about the development of the fetus. I don't think it can stand given what we know. You also wrote: "You ask how to account for the unity of the process. You seem to think that because the process is ordered that that the prior things must determine the intrinsic being of the end result." I didn't say that the prior things determine the intrinsic being of the end result; in fact, I hold the contrary: that it is the term of the development that renders the initial stages intelligible. My question to you remains: "How do you account for the unity of the process?" Or do you think that there is none?

MIchael Barberi, here's Bishop Lori's blog post explaining the CT bishops' decision. http://www.americanpapist.com/2007/10/bp-lori-issues-clarification-on-ct... he points out, the four Catholic Hospitals in the state had administered Plan B to nearly 75 rape vctims in the year before the battle with the state came up. The dispute was about how much testing to do before administering the drug. The hospitals had been doing both pregnancy and ovulation tests. The law passed by the state limited testing to just pregnancy tests. The bishops fought but, in the end, went along, describing it as 'reluctant compliance."The blog post mentions that even while they were doing both tests, no rape victim had ever been refused Plan B. Bishop Lori's blog has been offline "for maintenance" for months. Fortunately, the American Papist had repeated a copy of his blog post on its website and I was able to find it there.

John Hayes,Thanks for the link. I read it as well as some of the other links. The CCC statement clearly contradicts Church teaching because they allow Catholic hospitals in Connecticut to administer Plan B when the pharmaceutical manufacturer says that it sometimes prevents the implantation of a fertilized ovum. Even though this issue (the pill as a abortifacient) is in dispute by both moral and healthcare experts, the Connecticut bishops are permitting Catholic hospitals to comply with the law and administer Plan B with a pregnancy test (but not a ovulation test). This question is this: Is the rape victim pregnant or possibly pregnant due to ovulation? Since an ovulation test will not be administered, the later part of this question cannot be answered. If this test is administered, it only proves the "possibility of fertilization". On the other hand, a pregnancy test administered within a few days of rape will be negative because this test is only effective after implantation (which occurs about 3 weeks after fertilization). Thus, the first part of this question cannot be answered as well. In conclusion, to allow Catholic hospitals to administer Plan B (which is no different from the anovulant pill) is violation of the Church's teaching. The excuse that the bishops are "reluctantly complying with the law" explicitly and implicitly means that Catholics that cooperate with administering Plan B are not committing an immoral and intrinsically evil action.

John Hayes,My point is this: you cannot have it both ways. Either pregnancy, a real human person with a soul, occurs at implantation, or at conception. The statement issued by the CCC indirectly or directly supports the former definition.

The blog post from Bishop Lori was in 2007. I haven't seen anything published since then that suggests that the CT bishops have changed their position or that there has been any pressure brought against them from within the Church. The Catholic Healthcare Directives on the USCCB website say:"36. Compassionate and understanding care should be given to a person who is the victim of sexual assault. Health care providers should cooperate with law enforcement officials and offer the person psychological and spiritual support as well as accurate medical information. A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If, after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum."http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/health-car...

My point is this: you cannot have it both ways. Either pregnancy, a real human person with a soul, occurs at implantation, or at conception. The statement issued by the CCC indirectly or directly supports the former definition.I don't think the CT bishops would agree with that. The Church's position on protecting human life from the moment of conception does not require knowing when a rational (or any kind of) soul is present.

John Hayes,I will grant you this: that "The Churchs position on protecting human life from the moment of conception does not require knowing when a rational (or any kind of) soul is present." However, the CCC statement is nevertheless contradictory of Church teaching that a fertilized ovum (e.g., a human life as defined by the Church) must be protected. The bishops statement explicitly or implicitly condones and permits the willful, intentional act of administering Plan B or the anovulant pill to rape victims as long as there is no evidence that the victim is pregnant by the results of a pregnancy test. These acts are immoral and intrinsically evil because the Church believes that Plan B and the anovulant pill are abortifacient. To rest on the claim that there is no evidence that a rape victim is pregnant (by a pregnancy test), is a demonstrable distortion of reality. The fact that the Catholic hospitals have given, and will continue to give all rape victims Plan B regardless of the results of a pregnancy test (that cannot detect pregnancy until implantation), and the bishops will not require hospitals to give rape victims an ovulation test, is proof certain that the Connecticut bishops are condoning this behavior.

the Church believes that Plan B and the anovulant pill are abortifacient.I'm not aware that the Church has ever taken an official position on that. As Bishop Lori said in his blog post:"There is uncertainty about how Plan B works. Its effect is to prevent fertilization of the ovum. Some believe, however, that in rare instances Plan B can render the lining of the uterus inhospitable to the fertilized ovum which must implant in it in order to survive and grow; many other experts dispute this."

I am not defending the teaching but pointing out serious inconsistencies and contradictions.In 2001 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued their revised Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services. Directive 36 states: A female who has been raped should be able to defend herself against a potential conception from the sexual assault. If after appropriate testing, there is no evidence that conception has occurred already, she may be treated with medications that would prevent ovulation, sperm capacitation, or fertilization. It is not permissible, however, to initiate or to recommend treatments that have as their purpose or direct effect the removal, destruction, or interference with the implantation of a fertilized ovum1. Just about all tradition-minded theologians, those that defend Church teachings without remainder, such as Janet Smith, Martin Rhonheimer, William May and many others, have used the argument that the pill is abortifacient. 2. The pharmaceutical manufacturer of the Plan B pill indicates its post-fertilization effect on the endometrium, making the lining inhospitable for implantation.As you pointed out or implied, there are two schools of interpretation of Directive 36. One states that administering a pregnancy test ensures that the person is not already pregnant from pre-rape sexual intercourse. In other words, a pregnancy test can only detect pregnancy after implantation; it cannot detect pregnancy as a result of rape even if it is administered within several days of the rape.The second interpretation is to administer an ovulation test. If the victim has ovulated, then there is a "possibility" of a fertilized ovum. In this case, Plan B cannot be administered because of the abortifacient effects of the pill. The Church has not taken an official position on this, but when the bishops of Connecticut permit the administration of Plan B with only a pregnancy test, this action distorts and undermines the reality of the situation and the moral principles at work in these cases (e.g., if human life begins at conception, then no action should be performed with the aim of preventing implantation). The Church faces a moral dilemma in this case that has the potential of causing a contradiction in moral principle. This is similar to a woman whose life is threatened by another pregnancy. She cannot use the prudent and safest means to safe-guard her life....use contraceptives or be sterilized. She must practice "risky" PC or life-time sexual abstinence. The Church does not want to explain the answers to these moral dilemmas because the answers are unintelligible and unreasonable. Acts of omission are as serious as acts of commission.

If the victim has ovulated, then there is a possibility of a fertilized ovum. In this case, Plan B cannot be administered because of the abortifacient effects of the pill.i don't think that follows. Fertilization cannot occur for a number of hours after the act of intercourse, even if ovulation has already occured. The purpose of administering Plan B post-ovulation would be to "prevent... sperm capacitation, or fertilization" as described in Directive 36. Even if there were agreement that Plan B could prevent implantation if it did not suceed in preventing fertilization, it is arguable the Principle of Double Effect would still permit its use.

You also say, But theyre not different things: a single thing, a human being, is under development, emerging. but that is exactly what you have not given any evidence for you are begging the question. In fact, you are switching referents from the first part of the sentence to the last part from the early being at the first part changing into a different kind of being at the last part.. . ."Is it your position that there is no ontological continuity between your various stages, and that the succession of an animal and then a rational soul constitutes two new metaphysical entities? If so, I dont know how you would reconcile this with the biological data.. . . "My question to you remains: How do you account for the unity of the process? Or do you think that there is none?"JAK --Sorry to take so long getting back to your questions. Was preparing for Isaac.1) You refer to a plural, "they're not . . " then refer to "one single thing". The point is: what evidence do you have that the differences are only relatively superficial.2) There is ontological continuity. As in all substantial change in this world the matter remains the same, the substantial forms are different. 3) How to account for the unity of the process? If I were a reductionist I'd say that the chemical properties of the substances at each stage determine what the units do, with each substance acting according to its own necessities (properties). Granted, animate organizations (organisms) are not your typical combinations of chemical compounds -- they're "self-directing" and "self-regulating". ISTM that the new complexity theories of feedback can account for such self-direction and self-correction that is typical of organisms. The trick is to think of their internal changes as "information" which in effect are commands to behave in a certain way in certain circumstances. Note: when those theorists talk about "information" they seem to be using the term with the Aristotelian sense of "inform".I'm not a reductionist, but I strongly suspect that the new biological theories are true as far as they go -- BUT they are not enough to explain the whole process of gestation from a metaphysical/psycholological/chemical vantage point, and neither can they explain *any other* apparently teleological process involving different substances. It takes positing an Orderer of the whole to account for why these disparate substances seem to work together (in sequence) towards the production of another substance.. And now were in teleological metaphysics, and a controversial one at that.."

@John Hayes,Many rape victims don't get to the police and hospital within a few hours of rape. Some get to the hospital the next day. In any case, my point still stands and your counter-argument about using PDE is interesting. THIS WAS MY POINT A NUMBER OF BLOG COMMENTS AGO! You applied it to the abortifacient effect of the pill in a rape situation. I applied it to a woman taking the pill in the practice of responsible parenthood as an example of the more recent argument where theological defenders of Humanae Vitae assert that contraception is also intrinsically evil as an act of abortion. So, if you want to use PDE in a rape case, you must accept it in the case of contraception in the practice of responsible parenthood for good and just reasons (Pius XII). The good effect of the pill, intended, outweighs the remote possibility of a bad effect (no implantation). Nevertheless, the bishops of Connecticut or the USCCB have never mentioned that PDE applies in rape cases These are examples of how convoluted the philosophy and theology underpinning some Church teachings become in different situations. Remember, that abortion of all kinds and contraception are proclaimed by the Church to be moral absolutes. Thus, no circumstance or intention or end can justify the act. Some prominent orthodox philosophers, e.g., Martin Rhonheimer, claim that an exception to a moral absolute does not pertain to the norm, but to the ethical context which then norm applies. Yet, these same theologians (and the Church) pick and choose the ethical context to support one teaching, and dismiss it in another.Unless the CCC and bishop Lori are claiming PDE in defense of administering Plan B in a rape case, their actions are inconsistent and contradictory to Church teachings.

Michael B. ==The scholastics had an old saying, "From falsity everything follows". In other words, if you start off with contradictions, you can infer contradictions from them.As to "orthodox theologians", in one sense of the term "orthodox" we can justly call those theologians who agree with the current magisterium "orthodox". But when they do maintin contradictions that does make them unorthodox, or at least it makes half of their teaching unorthodox. I try to avoid the term. It just stirs up antipathies; There are not that many teachings besides the Creeds that can confidently be called "orthodox" beyond a doubt.

Michael Barberi, notice that i said "even if there were agreement that Plan B could prevent implantation" Bishop Lori's blog post says that there is not agreement that it prevents implantation (as far as i know, that is still the case). Therefore they did not need to invoke PDE to justify their position. Notice also that he mentions that rape victims have suffered "an unjust assault" That is what makes the situation different from consensual sex. I don't think any Catholic hospital will administer Plan B to a woman who says she had sex with her boyfriend and now wants to avoid a pregnancy.

John Hayes,With due respect, you are missing my point. If Bishop Lori speaks for the Connecticut bishops, and as you claim there is no official Church teaching that the pill is abortifacient, then this issue is only partially resolved.Your claim that the victims of rape have suffered an unjust assault is the ethical context of this moral case. However, this does not resolve the issue that human life begins at conception or the teaching of the USCCB that Plan B must never be administered if there is any evidence of pregnancy. Therefore, the prudent means of determining pregnancy is with a pregnancy test and an ovulation test. Since the CCC does not require an ovulation test, then the pregnancy test is not a prudent or realistic means of determining pregnancy after rape (e.g., within a few days after rape) and before the administration of Plan B. If the CCC would require an ovulation test, and if positive, it would mean that fertilization "might be a possibility" provided the test was administered within few days of a rape (e.g., not a hour after). As I mentioned, many rape victims don't get to the hospital within a few hours of rape for a number of reasons. Therefore, a "positive ovulation test" would be the reason not to administer Plan B. Nevertheless, this is a moot point because Bishop Lori does not require Catholic hospitals in Connecticut to perform an ovulation test. Such a decision by Bishop Lori and the CCC is a deliberate turning away from existential reality and Church teaching because the pregnancy test cannot determine pregnancy due to rape in most or many cases. Hence, to claim that there is no evidence of pregnancy so that Plan B can be administered is a shame.As for ethical context, you fail to draw any similarities to the issue I mentioned, of a young married woman whose life is threatened by another pregnancy. The ethical context in this case is the threat on her life, her marriage, and the bad consequences that her death would cause her husband and children already had. According to the Church, she must practice imprudent and risky PC or a life-time sexual abstinence (which is stoic insensibility). The ethical context involves justice, prudence, charity and the hierarchy of values. The answer the Church offers is clearly an injustice, a distortion of the hierarchy of values, unreasonable legalism, and not prudent or practical. Hence, if you want to claim "ethical context" as a partial reason for your actions in the case of rape, you cannot turn your back on other ethical contexts to justify a prudent decision in other moral cases. My conclusion stands: the CCC decision is inconsistent and cleverly contradictory of Church teachings.

Ann Chapman,Thanks Ann for your comments. I agree. I prefer to use the term "tradition-minded theologians" to define those theologians that defend all Church teachings without remainder...contrasted with the "less-tradition minded". This does not mean the "less tradition minded" do not embrace and respect tradition. Nor do these terms mean "orthodox versus liberal". Both sides of the theological debate use demeaning language. However, I see more of it exercised by the tradition-minded group. To them, anyone or group that disagrees with Church teachings (e.g., sexual ethics) is viewed as: unfaithful dissenters and liberals. They are victims of a distorted reason, individualism, relativism, the ills of modernity or invincible ignorance. If there are better words to describe both groups, please make a suggestion.

Michael B. --I don't like any of the current words that distinguish the liberals and the conservatives. The trouble is the nasties of the opposite side always hang dreadful negatives onto the opponent-words. "Liberal" for their opponents comes to mean relativists, individualist, (sometimes) heretic, etc. "Conservative" comes to mean narrow-minded, small-hearted, ignorant and dumb. All this applies in the political realm of discourse too, and the religious and political uses reinforce each other.i do tend to see the origin of much of the difficulty in the very nature of language. As I never cease to sing, words are essentially ambiguous, and some people (especially conservatives) tend to think that they own "the" meanings of important words (e.g., "orthodox") while some people (especially liberals) tend to think that words properly mean pretty much what we desire them to mean (e.g., subsidiarity). (That's why the liberals tend to favor the Court's freely changing the interpretation of the Constitution and conservatives thinking its impossible.)The meaning of "orthodox" is crucial, but the CCC doesn't even treat the subject. Again, we need a theological epistemology, including some first principles, which treats what we can confidently say is the "orthodox" teaching of the Church, what definitely is not, and what is properly disputable. This, I think, would have to include a lot about the nature of language and about the nature of interpretation itself, and even then I expect there would be gray areas.It's all terribly complicated, and I"m sure many of the bishops would object to such a project on the grounds that is would only confuse the faithful. But nothing is more confusing than what we have now. Sigh.

Michael Barberi, here is the abstract of an article published in December 2006, shortly before the CT decision. Th full article s behind. Paywall but my be available free through your library system:

AbstractOn the grounds that rape is an act of violence, not a natural act of intercourse, Roman Catholic teaching traditionally has permitted women who have been raped to take steps to prevent pregnancy, while consistently prohibiting abortion even in the case of rape. Recent scientific evidence that emergency contraception (EC) works primarily by preventing ovulation, not by preventing implantation or by aborting implanted embryos, has led Church authorities to permit the use of EC drugs in the setting of rape. Doubts about whether an abortifacient effect of EC drugs has been completely disproven have led to controversy within the Church about whether it is sufficient to determine that a woman is not pregnant before using EC drugs or whether one must establish that she has not recently ovulated. This article presents clinical, epidemiological, and ethical arguments why testing for pregnancy should be morally sufficient for a faith community that is strongly opposed to abortion.http://muse.jhu.edu/login?auth=0&type=summary&url=/journals/kennedy_inst...

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