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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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A right to private property? If only Ananias and Sapphira had known about this ;)

What is this about the traditional "ecology" of human nature? Neither Aquinas nor any of the other traditional Catholic moralists had any notion of an "ecology" of human nature. "Ecology" is a late 19th century concept. To append it to a traditional Greek-medieval concept (human nature) is an egregious sort of anachronism. Further, "ecology of human nature" doesn't seem to make any sense. An ecology is a biological system comprising relationships among many different living species and their environment. Human nature is only one species, so It makes no sense to talk about its "ecology".

Ann Olivier: My, oh my, such rigid thought constructs!Disclosure: My most recent book is titled OF ONG AND MEDIA ECOLOGY (New York: Hampton Press, 2012), so I am inclined to like the conceptual construct of "ecology."Now, regardless of whatever the bishop may have meant by the expression "ecology of human nature," the expression has merits to recommend its use beyond any merits of conceptual constructs that Thomas Aquinas happened to use.But even Thomas Aquinas thought of the human person as a composite of body and soul, which is to say that human nature is not all body (i.e., all materiality) or all soul (i.e., all nonmateriality). On the one hand, infrahuman animals and infrahuman fertilized eggs before ensoulment (i.e., viability of the fetus to live outside the mother's womb) are by nature all materiality. On the other hand, angels are understood to be by nature all nonmateriality. But human nature after ensoulment is a composite of materiality and nonmateriality.On many levels, the living human person (i.e., after ensoulment and before death) works in ways that can be understood as like ecology is understood in biology. For example, physiological problems are often accompanied psychological problems, which can be understood as an example of the ecology of human nature.

Let me get this straight. "Government coerced socialism" in the form of using tax dollars to fund services for the common good = intrinsic evil. Religiously motivated socialism, in the form of using pledges and contributions in cash and in kind to provide services for the purposes determined by the church = good.(facepalm)

N.B.: Bishop Morlino has a doctorate in moral theology from the Pontifical Gregorian University ion Rome.facepalm?

Facepalm, as in "I put my face in my palms and shake my head at the absurdity of it"

"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. "While I think this conditional statement is true in a strict sense, I don't see how the condition could ever obtain in real life.

Mary Kennedy:"I put my face in my palms and shake my head at the absurdity of it" describes exactly what I would have wanted to do when I read Bishop Morlino's bio yesterday. Thanks.

Two separate points:1. Re "intrinsic" evils and "grave" evils: Can anyone give a complete list of either of these supposed categories? I doubt it. Can there be any actual instances of moral evils when culpability is not relevant and determinative? Again, I doubt it. Persons perform deeds. There are no "free floating" deeds. 2. Re Thomas Farrell's comment: Are you claiming that, re human beings, Aquinas was the kind of dualist that Descartes was? For Aquinas, like Aristotle, a human being is matter formed in a specific way, a specific kind of substance. For Descartes, human beings are composed of two discrete substances, namely, mind and matter. Please clarify what you see as the difference between Aquinas and Descartes.

Thomas F. --Of course ecology is a great idea in biology, and certainly it could be used appropriately metaphorically in some circumstances. However, your metaphor fails because although it involves two "species" (matter and form), there is no analogous environment involved. No environment, no ecological system. Further, If a bishop is talking to his flock, it is unreasonable of him to assume that its members have any concept of matter and form in a medieval sense, though they probably would have at least rough understandings of "ecology". So, the combination of those terms in talking to the faithful also fails. The Gregorianum should have taught him more about ordinary language, though it is my understanding that neither biology nor Wittgenstein are among its fortes.

"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."* sacredness of human life -- check.* matrimony -- check.* religious freedom -- only recently, and only contingently in countries with "most Catholic rulers." Something definitely not on a par historically with caring for widows and orphans.*conscience -- is the bishop sure he wants to include that? I mean, it's OK with me, but in the context of his column, he might have a problem with it.* right to private property? Headsmack. As Crystal said, Ananias and Sapphira couldn't appeal to it. Neither could the owners of the Gadarene pigs. And of course, the private sector money lenders in the Temple had a right that was far from absolute. Pope Leo stressed the right to their pay for workers, which is a concept currently under denial in Bishop Morlino's state. But if he really means to equate private property with human life, it's hard to take him seriously. The Deist Jefferson knew better.

It is of course very convenient that the bishop's conception of the most fundamental issues in the formation of Catholic conscience so nicely hew to Republican social conservative positions! I really wonder if it's possible for these bishops to see how completely they've been co-opted?I suppose I should be grateful that a male-only/celibate clergy has not yet been promoted to one of those fundamental issues, but I suppose it won't be long now.

Just to be accurate, note that the good bishop spoke, not of government coerced socialism," but of "government-coerced secularism."I took the main purpose of this column (he promises more) is what is said in these paragraphs:

As one looks at issues such as the two mentioned above and seeks to apply the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity, Catholics and others of good will can arrive at different conclusions. These are conclusions about the best means to promote the preferential option for the poor, or the best means to reach a lower percentage of unemployment throughout our country. No one is contesting here anyones right to the basic needs of food, clothing, shelter, healthcare, etc. Nor is anyone contesting someones right to work and so provide for self and family. However there can be difference according to how best to follow the principles which the Church offers.Making decisions as to the best political strategies, the best policy means, to achieve a goal, is the mission of lay people, not bishops or priests. As Pope Benedict himself has said, a just society and a just state is the achievement of politics, not the Church. And therefore Catholic laymen and women who are familiar with the principles dictated by human reason and the ecology of human nature, or non-Catholics who are also bound by these same principles, are in a position to arrive at differing conclusions as to what the best means are for the implementation of these principles that is, lay mission for Catholics.Thus, it is not up to me or any bishop or priest to approve of Congressman Ryans specific budget prescription to address the best means we spoke of. Where intrinsic evils are not involved, specific policy choices and political strategies are the province of Catholic lay mission.

This last sentence repeats what he had said at the beginning: "It is not for the bishop or priests to endorse particular candidates or political parties. Any efforts on the part of any bishop or priest to do so should be set aside. And you can be assured that no priest who promotes a partisan agenda is acting in union with me or with the Universal Church."And may we not join in his hope: "Above all, let us beg the Lord that divisions in our electorate will not be deepened so as to have a negative impact on pre-existing divisions within the Church during this electoral season. Let there be the peace and reconciliation that flow from charity on the part of all."

I have not read Bishop Morlino's column. I fully endorse the last two paragraphs of Fr. Komonchak's comment and the words of Bishop Morlino that he quotes there. Nonetheless, it is hard to deny that the drumbeat of criticisms of Democratic politicians that have been coming from American bishops these last several years do give grounds for charges that they are partisan.

I am suspicious about the good bishops reason for listing the right to private property along with the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death, marriage, religious freedom and freedom of conscience. As I see it, the term right to private property is a code word for capitalism. The fact that good Bishop Morlino does not come out and say that he strongly defends capitalism as much as he strongly defends Paul Ryan bothers me. (Maybe he too has been influenced by Ayn Rand.)

If proscribing and taking birth control pills are intrinsically evil [regardless of intention] 'the good bishop' should so inform the Catholic pro-life community that they are giving out wrong catechisis..all of them agree that the pill to regulate menstrual cycle is legit. see Priest for Lifehttp://www.priestsforlife.org/qa/question.aspx?id=305

After the passage quoted above by Fr. Komonchak, Bishop Morlino does slip in a good word for candidate Ryan, commending him for having his conscience on "intrinsic" moral evil correctly formed.After saying "Thus, it is not up to me or any bishop or priest to approve of Congressman Ryans specific budget prescription to address the best means we spoke of. Where intrinsic evils are not involved, specific policy choices and political strategies are the province of Catholic lay mission.", he adds: " But, as Ive said, Vice Presidential Candidate Ryan is aware of Catholic Social Teaching and is very careful to fashion and form his conclusions in accord with the principles mentioned above. Of that I have no doubt. (I mention this matter in obedience to Church Law regarding ones right to a good reputation.)Peace and reconciliation in coming monthsI obviously didnt choose the date for the announcement of Paul Ryans Vice Presidential Candidacy and as I express my pride in him and in what he has accomplished, I thought it best to move to discussion of the above matters sooner rather than later. No doubt it will be necessary to comment again on these principles in the days ahead for the sake of further clarification, and be assured that I will be eager to do so."One can hope that the principles the Bishop looks forward to reiterating bear on lay responsibility for making appropriate political choices rather than his notions about the "intrinsic" evil of specific moral actions and forms of social organization.

Yes, it's not as if for intrinsic evils there isn't a distinction between absolute moral prohibitions and the way in which they are to be addressed in and by civil society. I don't know why the principle the bishop defends so well in his column wouldn't have its application also in other cases.

"It seems clear that Bishop Morlinoalong with a number of other U.S. bishopsis confusing the concept of intrinsic with the concept of grave. "It appears in Morlino's case that intellectual rigor was not a governing criterion for his advance to the new dress and pointy hat brigade. Ditto for Lori. And so very many more.These guys knew what had to be said and done to catch the eyes and ears of the minders of JPII and BXVI, and they did it.facepalmetto: I put my face in my palms, shake my head at the absurdity of it, and weep bitter tears at the sheer egregiousness of it all.

For the episcopacy, the "right to private property" is expressed in the concept of corporation sole. Has been recently manifested in the seizure of assets from parishes that THEY discontinued. And most likely is behind this constant pressure on the US nuns to tow the bishops' lines of the moment or suffer the consequence.Follow the case of Raymond Burke when he coveted the property and assets of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church in St. Louis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Stanislaus_Kostka_Church_(St._Louis,_Missouri)Private property: funded and maintained by the pew potatoes; owned and controlled by the episcopacy.

R.D {whoever?] looks like one of the 'get out of the Church' posters. Commonweal should just have a pre-done post that makes it easy for the 'get out of the Church' crowd to post their singular contribution to discourse.. key strokes are minimized and the trolls can move on more quickly to other venues.

What a pity that the Church has lost its intellectual underpinnings. The right to private property is actually a derived right. The moral right is that one has self-determination and benefits from the fruit of his labors. Property is only one element of that right. It really has nothing to do with capitalism per se. In face capitalism becomes evil when it conflicts with human dignity. Poverty is certainly one form of effrontery to human dignity. So to the extent that capitalism leads to vast differences in the distribution of wealth, it can be a tool of evil, just as communism can or extremes of socialism.

I agree with jbruns. The passage is too long to reproduce here, but for those interested in a more recent treatment of the rights of private property than the Gadarene swine(!), please see section 14 of Laboren Exercens, accessible here:http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_...

Btw, I take the reference to "socialism" in Bishop Morlino's column to mean something along the lines of, "the government wrenching property ownership away from its private owners". I deplore that practice at least as much as Bishop Morlino does, but I don't know why it would be applicable in the Presidential election, as I don't believe either candidate espouses anything of the sort.

"It seems clear that Bishop Morlinoalong with a number of other U.S. bishopsis confusing the concept of intrinsic with the concept of grave. ".FWIW - here is what I think is going on. Consider abortion. The bishops have been clear - at least, in the best iterations of their teaching, they have been clear - that, even though abortion is both intrisically evil and an extremely important issue, nevertheless it is not always wrong to vote for a candidate who supports abortion. For example, many races confront the voter with choosing between two major party candidates who are pro-choice. (This happened in the congressional district in which I was lived in 2010). All of us need to weigh all sorts of circumstances in determining our vote: the candidates' positions, the relative importance of the issues, the likelihood of their becoming law, and so on. However, it would be wrong for a voter to vote for a pro-abortion candidate *specifically because s/he is pro-abortion*.What I think is going on, and the reason that I think these bishops are harping on the notion of intrinsic evil, is that they are trying to warn Catholic voters about the danger of voting for candidates specifically because they support initiatives that are likely to become law. These bishops may perceive that many Catholics wrongly view gay marriage as a matter of civil rights which voters are morally obligated to support. The bishops, I think, are trying to tell voters, "Gay marriage is never right. If you vote for a candidate because of his/her support for gay marriage - you're sinning. There are no circumstances in our jurisdiction that can justify that voting decision."Similarly, these bishops may perceive that contraception is wrongly viewed by voters as being morally good because it is claimed that contraception delivers health benefits. So bishops are telling voters, "If you vote for Candidate X specifically because she supports the contraception mandate - that would be sinful, because contraception is always wrong, and in the vast majority of cases it is sinful."

During an Aug. 15 telephone interview, Bishop Morlino told the National Catholic Register: American Catholics are shaped by an economic culture that fosters, really reinforces, a self-centered ethos . We cannot be complacent about our market system . Private property is a natural right, but its not an absolute right.http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/paul-ryans-bishop-defends-him-amid-...

Jim Pauwels, a question.Suppose Charlie reaches a thoughtful conclusion that it is good public policy to legalize gay marriage or to have a health care benefit that includes contraception. Charlie has a choice between candidates x and y, one of whom has reached the same conclusion that Charlie has and one of whom opposes such policies.Would you say, or should the bishops say, that Charlie is sinning by voting for his preferred candidate?I wouldn't, but I have been known to be wrong, and not rarely.

So the bishops refused to accept a proposed compromise the President himself offered to replace the administration's original, flawed contraception mandate, so they wouldn't negotiate with him further, so the HHS mandate goes into effect as originally written, flaws and all. So now those same bishops spend the last months in the runup to the election talking about how that mandate makes support for the President and his health care plan *intrinsically evil* (IOW, a direct ticket to hell). So I'm less concerned about this bishop's tenuous grasp of traditional Catholic morality than I am about what seems a group of bishops' very firm grasp of how to manipulate Catholic voters.

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/paul-ryans-bishop-defends-him-amid-... Bp. Morlino could be perceived to be "defending" Paul Ryan on economic theory just goes to show where his heart is. Even if he gives lip service to the long-held Catholic position that both free market capitalism and private property must be subordinated to the common good, he's obviously straining to rationalize Ryan's over-the-top views on both; listing private property as a "fundamental issue" of morality is just part and parcel of that ongoing enterprise.

St. Benedict thought that private property was evil.

Bernard D: maybe the opinion of this theologian of some note might answer your question @ 12:27 pm above:For Newman, conscience represents the inner complement and limit of the church principle. Over the pope as the expression of the binding claim of ecclesiastical authority there still stands one's own conscience, which must be obeyed before all else, if necessary even against the requirement of ecclesiastical authority. This emphasis on the individual, whose conscience confronts him with a supreme and ultimate tribunal, and one which is in the last resort beyond the claim of external social groups, even of the official Church, also establishes a principle of opposition to increasing totalitarianism. Genuine ecclesiastical obedience is distinguished from any totalitarian claim which cannot accept any ultimate obligation of this kind beyond the reach of its dominating will. Joseph Ratzinger on article 16 of Gaudem et Spes, in Volume 5 of the "Commentary on Documents of Vatican II", edited by Vorgrimler (New York/London 1969).Granted, said theologian has been known to change his mind as he got older, so here is another opinion from one theologian whose thoughts have been known to stand the test of Catholic time (Aquinas, not Keenan):James F. Keenan, S.J., Professor of moral theology and director of the doctoral program at Weston Jesuit School of Theology, was one of the main organizers of the successful mammoth international seminar on ethics and moral life, for which over 600 professor or lecturers of moral theology took part between July 24-27, 2010 in Trento, Italy. In his book Moral Wisdom, Lessons and Texts from the Catholic Tradition he wrote that when Thomas first arrived at Paris in 1252 to teach (namely, to comment on Peters Lombards Sentences, since every budding professor lectured on them as their first university lecture appointment) he dutifully referred to Lombard as the Master. However, on the question of conscience Thomas straightforwardly rejected Lombard. Here the Master is wrong (hic magister falsum dicit). Lombard had argued that one is not obliged to follow ones conscience when at odds with Church teaching. Thomas responded that we ought to die excommunicated rather than violate our conscience. (Scriptum super libros Sententiarum, IV,38,2.4 q..a 3; See also IV.27.1.2.q.a.4ad 3; IV.27,3.3. exposition)It is true that Aquinas was censored by the Archbishop of Paris. Nevertheless, the teachings of Aquinas and not those of the Archbishop of Paris stood the test of time.http://catholicethics.com/sites/default/files/u3/Keenan_Trent%20Article.pdf

Re intrinsic evils and grave evils: to the average Catholic pew potato - and most likely, many if not most of the pastors - this is a distinction without a difference."The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug." (Mark Twain)When I use a wordit means just what I choose it to meanneither more nor less. (Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass.)"The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." (William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming)

Can anyone help me sort this out?There seems to be a kind of unquestioned jump from "action x is an intrinsic evil"To"the state should have a law prohibiting people from doing action x"Isn't the question of whether the state should have such a law a prudential judgment?Otherwise, in a civil society, how do you maintain harmony with people who do not share your belief that action x is an intrinsic evil?[i skip over the natural law argument that the truth is self-evident to everyone - since that argument, in itself, is not accepted by everyone]If you agree with a politician's prudential judgment that the state should not have a law forbidding action x, how do you sin by voting for that politician for that reason?

Jim McCrea --As I learned it (I've forgotten the sources) Thomas was called on the carpet for heresy by the Archbishop of Paris. He convinced the bishop that he was not heretical. I forget what the issue(s) was in that instance. Later, after Thomas died, some of his Aristotelian principles were officially condemned. Some years later, however, the condemnation was lifted. So there is no condemnation in effect of Thomas' opinion that we must follow our conscience above all.

John Hayes - thank you for your insightful comment. It gets to the heart of what troubles many people of good will.

Re: intrinsic and grave evil' --On its webpage the USCCB states:" legal approval of 'civil unions' contributes to the erosion of the authentic meaning of marriage. As such, they are never acceptable."http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/marriage-and-family/marriage/prom... March, the New Hampshire legislature considered the repeal of the States existing same-sex marriage law. The Diocese of Manchester NH supported this repeal legislation even though the proposed legislation would re-institute the legality of civil unions, which the Church had previously opposed. The Diocese justified its acceptance of a law legalizing civil unions as follows: HB 437c [invalidating same-sex marriages and re-instituting civil unions] falls into a category of legislation which the US Bishops have previously considered: bills in civil law which may not reflect the fullness of the Churchs teaching, but which nonetheless provide an incremental improvement in the current law and a step toward full restoration of justice. http://newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/26/n-h-diocese-supports... are told that they cannot support legislation establishing civil unions, because they contribute to the erosion of the authentic meaning of marriage," and "as such they are never acceptable." (Isn't this the functional definition of an "intrinsic evil?")Or is support for legislation establishing civil unions essentially a grave evil which Catholics, on occasion, can be permitted to give formal cooperation in the service of a "greater good? And who decides what constitutes a "greater good" -- bishops, Catholic politicians, or run-of-the-mill Catholic voters?

John Hayes --I couldn't find the text where Aquinas says explicitly that we must follow the dictates of our own conscience no matter what others say. However, you might find these articles in the Summa theologica of interest: S.T. I-II, Q 76, arts. 2-3. They concern how (non-negligent) ignorance excuses mistaken consciences, that is, how acting according to a mistaken conscience is not sinful. (However, if we are ignorant because of our own negligence, it becomes another matter.)it's not exactly the same question you raise, but it is part of his thinking on the subject.

Oops -- John Hayes -- that's an answer to a different question. I also tried to find the answer to yours, and couldn't. Sorry.

jp farry - that NH example is a very interesting instance that supports what Peter wrote in the initial post.Bernard - given the facts in your hypothetical, I don't think we know if the person has sinned or not. I have voted for pro-choice candidates over the years with a clear conscience. (And apropos of nothing except the calendar, if you happen to be named for the great Cistercian of Clairxeaux - happy saint's-name day :-))Jimmy Mac - If my supposition of what Bishop Morlino is trying to do is correct, then I would say that he is trying to form Catholic consciences.Bernard again - if you happen to have been named for the great Cistercian of Clairveaux - happy saint's-name day :-)

Ann Olivier, maybe S.T. i-II, Q 96, art 2? "Whether it belongs to the human law to repress all vices?"Or S.T. II-II, Q 10, art 11, where he says "Accordingly in human government also, those who are in authority rightly tolerate certain evils lest certain goods be lost or certain greater evils be incurred: thus Augustine says "if you do away with harlots, the world will be convulsed with lust"

Jim P., Thanks much! Though I'm named after my father, I gladly claim St. Bernard as my patron saint. He's a toughie. I like that. From today's sketch of him in "Give Us This Day:" "Bernard's personality is well conveyed through his extensive correspondence. To the bishop of Geneva he wrote: 'The bishop's throne for which you, my dear friend, were lately chosen, demands many virtues, none of which, I grieve to say, could be discerned in you, at any rate in any strength, before your consecration'."

Ann Olivier, maybe add S.T. I-II, Q 98, art 1, where he says "again it must be observed that the end of human law is different from the end of Divine law. For the end of human law is the temporal tranquillity of the state, which end law effects by directing external actions as regards those evils which might disturb the peaceful condition of the state."

John H, -Thank you. Thomas also says somewhere that it isn't the function of the state to prevent all sins, but only those which disturb the common good. In other words, sins with import that is only private should not be the object of laws. All I have is an old copy of the Summa, and it's index is awful, but I seem to remember it's in the S.TChurch law in the Middle Ages did prohibit at least heresy. It was the Church which tried people for heresy, then gave over the heretic to the princes for punishment. .

Ann Olivier, i think that's in the first citation I gave above:"Now human law is framed for a number of human beings, the majority of whom are not perfect in virtue. Wherefore human laws do not forbid all vices, from which the virtuous abstain, but only the more grievous vices, from which it is possible for the majority to abstain; and chiefly those that are to the hurt of others, without the prohibition of which human society could not be maintained: thus human law prohibits murder, theft and such like."And"

And:"The natural law is a participation in us of the eternal law: while human law falls short of the eternal law. Now Augustine says (De Lib. Arb. i, 5): "The law which is framed for the government of states, allows and leaves unpunished many things that are punished by Divine providence. Nor, if this law does not attempt to do everything, is this a reason why it should be blamed for what it does." Wherefore, too, human law does not prohibit everything that is forbidden by the natural law."

John H. --Another thanks :-) i'm not Thomist, but ISTM his ethics and theory of law remains the best yet. His knowledge of human nature seems clearly based on observation, not a priori intuitions. Maybe he just observed his lively and cantankerous family very, very carefully. His optimism, in spite of human frailty, also impresses me mightily. No cynicism for him. Very Christian.

Jim P.., Following up on my hypothetical about Charlie, by parity of reasoning, I take it that if Charlie himself was a public official,he too could reasonably come to the conclusion that he could support, without sinning, the public policy of legalizing same sex marriages or the HHS mandate concerning contraception. Would you agree?

"The bishops throne for which you, my dear friend, were lately chosen, demands many virtues, none of which, I grieve to say, could be discerned in you, at any rate in any strength, before your consecration."He sounds like a dotCom commenter :-)

Bernard - yes, to the dismay of many elected officials who in running for higher office have had their legislative records thrown in their faces by their opponents - there are times when a legislator will vote for a measure, not because she supports that thing, but for some other reason (e.g. it was attached as a rider to some other, unrelated bill that the legislator supported).

Thanks, Jim. Unfortunately, as my kids would confirm, I all too often have the tact that St.Bernard exemplifies in this quotation.Ann and John H., your citations of Aquinas and Augustine are indeed apt. Let me add, though, that I take it that the bishops are well within their rights to argue in the public square against public policies such as those that would legalize same sex marriage and those that have features they find objectionable such as the HHS mandate, Where they exceed these bounds, and seem to run afoul of the positions of Aquinas and Augustine, is when they demand obedience from Catholics and accuse those who disagree with them of moral fault.There is lots about current American public policy these days that should give all of us pause. Consider immigration. The bishops are well advised to object vigorously to some of the policies in this area. But again, these are not matters to be dealt with by demanding obedience.

Viability outside the mother's womb is a biological condition but it tells us nothing of "ensoulment".So it is purely arbitrary or rather contrived to consider viablity ourside the womb as concurrent with ensoulment.The zygote is biologically alive and a human[it's not a skin cell, nerve cell,muscle etc., but an already genetically separate from the mother entity]. The church is therefore morally compelled to say that biology is sufficent to uphold the sanctity of human life.[conception].Though a zygote is not a person -it is genetically a human and it is alive.And for those who believe we're created by God -then that means human life is sacred at conception when it is created. And of course a fetus-whether viable outside the womb or not-is capable of suffering and on that basis alone our humanity, our compassion and our belief that Jesus Christ whose solidarity is with suffering humanity in general and individuals in particular calls us to acknowledge the reality that the fetus suffers and therefore we can't justify killing it.Abortion is therefore intrinsically evil -a grave evil-and no accomodation with it can ever be made by the church.

Cardinal Ratzinger once wrote an article discussing whether one is cooperating with evil if a Catholic votes for a candidate whose views are in tension with Catholic teachings (e.g., pro-choice, gay marriage). He concluded that a Catholic must use the concept of proportionality because a political candidate is often not characterized by one issue, nor do many Catholics vote for a candidate based on one issue, although some do. You can be pro-life but for same-sex civil unions; against abortion but allow for terminating pregnancy to save the life of the mother when the fetus cannot survive under any circumstances (e.g. the Phoenix case). When it comes to social programs, there are a host of issues ranging from the environment to employment to immigration. As Cardinal Ratzinger asserted, one must use their informed consciences and the rule of proportionality in arriving at voting decisions.As for intrinsic evil and its definition (always morally evil regardless of circumstances and intentions), note the following inconsistencies:> Deportation is claimed to be intrinsically evil (JP II in Veritatis Spendor). Yet who among us would claim that it is intrinsically evil to deport an illegal alien who committed a felony? > Contraception is intrinsically evil, but is taking the pill to avoid conception during an act of marital intercourse not the same object as the deliberate and intentional physical acts of measuring and plotting of temperature and cervical mucus to ensure that marital acts will not be procreative? What about a woman whose life is threatened by another pregnancy? She cannot take the pill or be sterilized to safe-guard her life. She must either practice risky NFP or sexual abstinence. Is it not a violation of the hierarchy of values to subordinate a decision to use the safest and prudent means to safeguard one's life to a decision to ensure that every marital act is open to procreation?

Let me add, though, that I take it that the bishops are well within their rights to argue in the public square against public policies such as those that would legalize same sex marriage and those that have features they find objectionable such as the HHS mandate, Where they exceed these bounds, and seem to run afoul of the positions of Aquinas and Augustine, is when they demand obedience from Catholics and accuse those who disagree with them of moral fault.Exactly so. I agree with your statement. I think the problem in the bishops' presentation is the unstated proposition that human law should enforce every aspect of the natural law. That is the opposite of what Aquinas and Augustine argued.

There is much debate over Aquinas. His teachings must be given both historical context and contemporary exegesis. Two points:1. Natural law was for Aquinas the participation of us in the eternal law, in that humans had a conaturality or natural knowing of good and evil, right and wrong. It was the practical reason participating in the eternal law, in conjunction with the natural inclinations and subjective reason that pointed us to the good and the right...a highly complex theory considering our Fallen-Redeemed nature and the distortions of sin. For Aquinas, the answer was the practice of virtue. Our actions, he taught, point to either a virtue or vice. However, Aquinas did not develop a theory of virtue sufficient enough to be practical and easily applicable to moral dilemmas, conflicts of virtues and values and the many complex cases in everyday life. For example, many of our voluntary human actions point to several virtues and the so-called "means" of these virtues are not the so-called mid-point but can be closer to one end or the other depending on circumstances etc. While some actions may point to one virtue, most actions are complex and several virtues are involved. Some proponents of virtue theory claim that, for example, that "responsible parenthood" is the virtue of chastity-temperance without remainder. Unfortunately, this is a human construction to defend the teaching because there is no evidence in Scripture or revelation that can support this claim as the absolute moral truth.Much of the prohibitions that Aquinas taught us were thought to be natural law, but at that time, for example, the act of coitus interruptus was considered quasi-homicide because of ignorance of reproductive biology. 2. Theologian Bill Murphy in his essay "Forty Years Later: Arguments in Support of Humanae Vitae in Light of Veritatis Spendor" provides some light about Aquinas and natural law when he writes:"Many theologians misunderstand Aquinas whereby they assert that the moral practice of sexual intercourse, for example, required the non-frustration of the procreative end, which was understood to reflect the natural law, which itself was understood, not rarely, as centered in the non-frustration of natural ends. What Aquinas taught was that the proximate good and end intended by the agent indicates the "essence" of the human act whereas the "relation to the natural end," which corresponds to what is physically caused...is accidental. Accident does not mean irrelevant, although it does indicate clearly that Thomas's understanding of natural law is not centered in the non-frustration or normativity of natural ends."In conclusion, the issues involved in voting for a political candidate today is a mixture of sexual and social ethical teachings. What makes this complex is that there is a significant difference in the underlying philosophy and theology, or the moral method, of sexual ethical teachings versus and social ethical teachings of the Catholic Church. Sexual ethics tend to be absolute normative prohibitions, while social ethics tend to be based on guidelines and principles that the agent applies in specific circumstances. In the end (no pun intended), it is our informed consciences and a prudent application of the concept of proportionality that Cardinal Ratzinger, now Benedict XVI, has taught us is the best advice.

rose-ellen --You are defending the teachings of the current bishops. They do NOT entirely reflect the main historical ethical tradition of the Church on t he matter of abortion. That tradition is, of course, that of Aquinas. Aquinas taught that the zygote is not a person until one month later for males and 80 days for females. His metaphysics-ethics force the conclusion that it is murder to kill a male before r0 days and a female after 80. But he does not say that BEFORE those cut-off dates it is murder. HOwever, he does think that the zygote has the right to life, but it is not as strong as that of an ensouled fetus. In other words, when the bishops claim "natural law" asserts that an early abortion is murder, they don't know their Aquinas.My problem with thinking that the early zygote has a right to life is that it assumes a human right to a non-person. I say that is metaphysically impossible. YOu can argue that it is very much like a person, but so is a chimpanzee, even genetically.You should also be aware that the Church has never once pronounced any *moral* issue to be an infallible teaching, and that includes its teachings on abortion, whether medieval or contemporary. Aquinas himself recognized that individual circumstances could change the character of some moral issues. None of this implies that the bishops should not teach what they think is the traditional teachings. But they *ought* to know that their teaching is not exactly the traditional Thomist one. Further, neither has the Thomist one been declared an infallible one. In my opinion, the bishops overstate their case, and it does more harm than good. Better to really learn Aquinas and criticize him where necessary on the basis of better biology and revise the old teaching if necessary. Nevertheless, I agree that the Thomistic metaphysics should continue to stand -- it's still the best on the market. But it does lead to some very foundational issues that the bishops and pope never even get into. So much for their natural law understanding. It persuades neither many Catholics nor many outside the Church. That is a real pity, because, I think, much of Aquinas (not all) still stands even given the new biology.

Bernard --Yes, the bishops must follow their consciences, but unfortunately they don't seem to know enough about what Aquinas says about abortion to speak very persuasively. As to homosexual marriage, yes, they clearly have Scripture on their side if you are prepared to ignore the contexts in which the Scriptural statements were made (when there weren't enough people to guarantee survival and so homosexuality was a threat to the species.) Now I think arguments can be made in its favor. Unfortunately, until yesterday, as a matter of fact, I had never seen a bishop give any empirical evidence or even make a *claim* to empirical evidence that homosexual marriage is a threat to hereosexual marriage. (They said it was a threat, but gave zilch reasons.) But yesterday I read something from the NCCB that says gay marriage is a threat because it weakens the concept of hetero-marriage. But all that boils down to is that the words "marriage" in "homosexual marriage" and "heterosexual marriage" have somewhat different meanings -- the hetero ones include their own kids generally. But that is only a semantic issue, not a moral one. It doesn't say why adoptive hetero parents are better than adoptive gay ones. In fact, the loyalty of gay couples might give good example to the oft-married hetero ones who try to solve their problems via divorce. But I'll grant you, we really don't know yet how stable gay marriages are going to end up being. I suspect there won't be much if any difference in divorce rates between theirs and the heteroes. People are people are people . . .

Great points Ann,I would add that a zygote does not have a brain, functioning organs or hormones. It does not have a conscience, nor does it have feelings. It is not aware of anything because it is not larger than a cell. The mother's body is not aware of that it is pregnant until a period of time after conception.If a human person is a unity of body and soul, then how can a soul be part of something that is not a human body as science today defines it? At the present time, the scientific community defines life at the time of implantation. If there is a body and soul at conception and the zygote is aborted by the mother's body naturally (for any number of natural reasons), where does this human zygote-person go? To heaven or limbo? At the end of the world, how can its spirit-soul be united with its body when there was no body to begin with? Does this spirit-soul get a new body or the old body that never existed? Is there any relationship with the old body and the new body?

"If a human person is a unity of body and soul, then how can a soul be part of something that is not a human body as science today defines it?"Michael B --This is exactly the crucial point that Aquinas and other medievals make. They base it on bad biology, but contemporary biology also supports the conclusion. Anybody who is interested in the actual arguments of Aquinas and others, see these two excellent articles I've recommended here before. First rate scholarship by any standards, and very clear.William Shannon and Allan B. Wolter, ofm on The Moral Status of the Pre-Embryo in Theological Studies, Vol. 52, No. 4, pp. 603-626.Joseph F. Donceel, SJ, Immediate Animation and Delayed Hominization, Theol. Studies, March, 1970, pp. 75-105.I imagine that Theological Studies is available in most Catholic college libraries and in large secular ones as well.

In the 1987 Instruction on Human Life the CDF (+Ratzinger with the approval of JPII) said that the Church does not have a posiion on when ensoulment occurs - but that does not affect the sinfulness of abortion at any time from conception onwards)

This Congregation is aware of the current debates concerning the beginning of human life, concerning the individuality of the human being and concerning the identity of the human person. The Congregation recalls the teachings found in the Declaration on Procured Abortion: "From the time that the ovum is fertilized, a new life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already. To this perpetual evidence ... modern genetic science brings valuable confirmation. It has demonstrated that, from the first instant, the programme is fixed as to what this living being will be: a man, this individual-man with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization is begun the adventure of a human life, and each of its great capacities requires time ... to find its place and to be in a position to act". (25) This teaching remains valid and is further confirmed, if confirmation were needed, by recent findings of human biological science which recognize that in the zygote* resulting from fertilization the biological identity of a new human individual is already constituted. Certainly no experimental datum can be in itself sufficient to bring us to the recognition of a spiritual soul; nevertheless, the conclusions of science regarding the human embryo provide a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of this first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person? The Magisterium has not expressly committed itself to an affirmation of a philosophical nature, but it constantly reaffirms the moral condemnation of any kind of procured abortion. This teaching has not been changed and is unchangeable.(26)Thus the fruit of human generation, from the first moment of its existence, that is to say from the moment the zygote has formed, demands the unconditional respect that is morally due to the human being in his bodily and spiritual totality. The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life. This doctrinal reminder provides the fundamental criterion for the solution of the various problems posed by the development of the biomedical sciences in this field: since the embryo must be treated as a person, it must also be defended in its integrity, tended and cared for, to the extent possible, in the same way as any other human being as far as medical assistance is concerned.http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_...

I imagine that Theological Studies is available in most Catholic college libraries and in large secular ones as well.Those papers are available here:http://www.ts.mu.edu/content/51/51.4/51.4.2.pdfhttp://www.ts.mu.edu/cont...

John Hayes --Thanks very much :-) Everyone interested in the problem of "ensoulment" should consider the evidence and arguments in these articles.Would you perhaps know which "Philosophy of Science" book it is that includes Wolter's article on substance? He gives the name of the book, but he doesn't give the author/editor. I'd like to get a copy of the article, but I don't know what to look for. Amazon doesn't help, neither does bookfinder.

Ann Olivier, i haven't read it but it may be this one:http://www.worldcat.org/title/philosophy-of-science-the-philosophy-of-sc...

Ann O., John H. -- Many thanks for 2 excellent refs. Have these induced significant rebuke, acclaim, or other follow-on that would seem warranted, given their clarity, strength of argument, and 20th century understanding of post-Thomistic biology?

Have these induced significant rebuke, acclaim, or other follow-on that would seem warranted, given their clarity, strength of argument, and 20th century understanding of post-Thomistic biology?Here's a 2000 book by William May with an imprimatur and a foreword by Bishop Lori:"The attempt by Donceel, Shannon/Wolters and others to rehabilitate the "delayed hominization" theory to justify early abortions fails on several counts..."See more: http://tinyurl.com/9vc7lm3

That chapter starts on page 151 and the quote is from page 162.I hadn't realized that the URL I copied from my browser takes oyu to the book but not a specific page.

Ann O and John H.,Thanks much for those articles. They provide a strong and compelling philosophical, theological and scientific argument in support of a reform of the doctrine on abortion. This does not minimize the fact that any abortion is a premoral evil and is a serious matter. Nevertheless, the arguments presented in these essays give substantial weight that an individual and ontological person does not occur at conception, but rather after implantation, after restriction or gastrulation is completed.

"But Ill grant you, we really dont know yet how stable gay marriages are going to end up being. I suspect there wont be much if any difference in divorce rates between theirs and the heteroes. People are people are people . . ."Get to know some of us; you might be surprised.I know a good Catholic couple who did all the right things in raising their 3 children (they really did). All 3 married. Only one is still married after 5 years. It appears that the benefit of a good Catholic education, an excellent early home life and church-sanctioned matrimony is no more successful that my experience of good Catholic education, an excellent early home life and no church-sanctioned matrimony. And my partner and I celebrated #40 this past May.It's a matter of effort, willingness and sheer tenacity to make a relationship work, as I am sure those of you who have successfully married already know. I doubt seriously that a church-sanctioned ceremony has contributed significantly to your relationship's success or failure.

We had this bishop - for two and a half years --- then on to a bigger diocese. I heard his homily when he visited the parish and heard doors closing on VII. Heard his homily for Confirmation and hear doors closing on VII.So his bonfides were - toe the marks that JPII set.

Every time I hear or read "...until natural death" from a member of the clergy, I wonder why John Paul II, Frank Pavone, and assorted other priests and bishops opposed the removal of Terri Schiavo's feeding tube. A person with an irreversible brain injury who can eat or drink only through a tube is living an UN-natural LIFE which is merely postponing natural death.

Jim McCrea --I do know some of you and that's why I wonder if the results will generally be different. Some gay unions last till death, some don't. Same as the heteros.

Thanks, Mr. Nixon. This is (part of) what comes from Rome appointing bishops who all have degrees in canon law instead of theology, many of whom have little or no pastoral experience but have been groomed by "the system" nearly since they entered the seminary. (North American College and all that.)It also comes from deleterious changes to the selection process for bishops, which occurred some years back. We seem now to be at the mercy of Cardinal Burke and whomever HE thinks should be our next bishops. Wider consultation, and the constructive role of the Apostolic Delegate (now the papal Nuncio) as in the days of Jean Jadot. Compare the current level of theology coming from our bishops with those of the not-so-distant past. The contrast can be appalling. Compare Lori, or Vasa to people like Bernardin or John Cummins.

Ann Olivier:My understanding of Aquinas' argument for the right to life of the zygote has to do with the fact of its "potency" to become a human being. That is, it may live or die; but if it lives, it will ONLY become a human being, never a cat or an alligator. Thomas was a remarkable intellect. It's just important to remember that he wasn't a "Thomist", but a real seeker after truth; and for his time, a type of empiricist. As you point out, a lot of his thinking still stands up to scrutiny. Now what we could use is a similar intellect able to grasp and incorporate modern science into theology in a way analogous to his incorporation of Aristotle -- IMHO. Maybe she's out there somewhere?

Michael C. --Yes, that's my understanding of what he says about the zygotes. But I think that the CDF misrepresents his view about killing a zygote. He didn't think it is not a mortal sin, as Rome claims. (And I think that point needs careful review by Rome.)I agree with you about Aquinas' continuing value, though I'm not a Thomist.. Just as the whole culture continues to be nourished by Plato, Aristotle, Leibniz, and Kant in spite of their short-comings, the culture would be much, much the poorer without Thomas' great insights. As Aristotle preserved much of the thinking of the pre-Socratics, so Thomas preserves much of the intellectual heritage of the West by his explanations of what went before. Just the mass of distinctions applicable in all sorts of disciplines which are found all over his works makes him a treasure trove of ideas, even though he was not the first to make all of the distinctions. As a lexicon of philosophical definitions his work is unparalleled, I think. To me it is tragic that because of the serious problems with some of Thomas' ignorant and small-minded followers many contemporary Catholic thinkers have thrown Thomas the baby out with the bath water. It's their loss too.

OOps --- should be: he didn't think killing a zygote was a mortal sin

To avoid anachronim, we shouldn't use the term "zygote" when referring to Aquinas' teaching; he couldn't have known the word. His views were based upon what he knew about the development of the fetus, and one shouldn't pretend to know what he would have thought of the matter if he knew what is known today about it. It's always chancy for others to predict how a great genius would answer a question he never asked.Ann: Does Aquinas really say that killing a zygote is not a mortal sin? Could you give us a reference?

Does Aquinas really say that killing a zygote is not a mortal sin?i don't think he says that but, in answering a question about Exodus 21:22 he introduces the qualification (not in Exodus) that causing the death of an "animated" fetus is homicide. S.T. II, II, Q 64:8. "He that strikes a woman with child does something unlawful: wherefore if there results the death either of the woman or of the animated fetus, he will not be excused from homicide, especially seeing that death is the natural result of such a blow." Other than that it is not homicide, he does not say what the guilt would be if the fetus was not yet "animated" but I believe that up until the time of Leo IX it was frequently held that there was a difference in the degree of guilt depending on the state of development of the fetus.

Further to that, here is a link to a useful excerpt from an article which is, otherwise, only available behind a paywall:http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/2008/08/27/moral-theology-and-e...

I believe that up until the time of Leo IXSorry, should have written Pius IX.

" -- have been groomed by the system nearly since they entered the seminary. "That's called identified to be on the fast track to upper management in Holy Mother Church LLC. If it is good enough for General Motors, Duke Energy, Bank of America, ......That's the advantage of emulating the advice of McKinsey & Company. You look sooooooooo corporate.

According to Donceel's article, in 1591 Pope Gregory XIV explained in his Bull, Sedes apostolica, "where no homicide or no animated fetus is involved, not to punish more strictly than the sacred cannons or civil legislation does". In 1713, the Holy Office said "In the case under consideration (the baptism of a an aborted fetus), if there is reasonable foundation for admitting that the fetus is animated by a rational soul, then it may and must be baptized conditionally. If, however, there is no reasonable foundation, it may by not means be baptized". Clearly, over centuries the question of when human life or ontological personhood starts has been both biological and philosophical. Using O'Mahony and Potts remark, the fertilized ovum shows of human vegetative life; it does not possess the higher levels of human life and that is why it possesses no rational, human soul. I agree with Karl Rahner when he said "If 50% of fertilized ovums never reach nidification in the uterus, then does the Church admit that 50% of human beings...real human beings with an "immortal" soul and eternal destiny do not, from the very start, get beyond this first stage of human existence?"

My scepticism about the claim that Aquinas did not think killing the "zygote" was a mortal sin is that he regarded contraceptive deflection of semen as a sin than which only murder was a greater sin against life. Could he have regarded abortion as a venial matter?

His argument is similar to the Humanae Vitae argument about every sexual act being open to procreation - in this case that, unlike any other substance excreted from the human body, God gives man semen for the exclusive purpose of the procreation of children and any other use of it opposes God's intent and is sinful.

S.C.G.. 3:122 Nor yet should it be counted a slight sin for one to procure the emission of the semen irrespective of the due purpose of generation and rearing of issue, on the pretence that it is a slight sin, or no sin at all, to apply any part of one's body to another use than that to which it is naturally ordained, as if, for example, one were to walk on his hands, or do with his feet something that ought to be done with his hands. The answer is that by such inordinate applications as those mentioned the good of man is not greatly injured: but the inordinate emission of the semen is repugnant to the good of nature, which is the conservation of the species.* Hence, after the sin of murder, whereby a human nature already in actual existence is destroyed, this sort of sin seem to hold the second place, whereby the generation of human nature is precluded.http://www2.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/gc3_122.htm

Of course, he also had an incorrect understanding of the development of the fetus and thought that it was all due to the semen contributed by the man and that the woman contributed only inert material.

JAK --To say that murder is worse than contraception implies nothing about the degree of evil of contraception. It only says that it is less than that of murder and no other act against life is worse than it.No, I don't have a reference saying explicityly that such killing is not murder. I have read that he thought it was so, but maybe that writer was just inferring that conclusion. My problem with thinking that a very early zygote has a right to life is that it would seem to be metaphysically impossible. For it to have a full human right to life there needs be a human soul present -- the human soul is what grounds, gives rise to such a right in the first place. In other words, no human soul, no human right.

My problem with thinking that a very early zygote has a right to life is that it would seem to be metaphysically impossible. For it to have a full human right to life there needs be a human soul present the human soul is what grounds, gives rise to such a right in the first place. In other words, no human soul, no human right.The Church's answer is in JPII's Evangelium Vitae, where he says that even though we don't know when ensoulment occurs, "the mere probability that a human person is involved" requires us to avoid aborting a fetus at any age. He wrote that about five years after the Shannon/Wolfers paper was published.

60. Some people try to justify abortion by claiming that the result of conception, at least up to a certain number of days, cannot yet be considered a personal human life. But in fact, "from the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun which is neither that of the father nor the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already. This has always been clear, and ... modern genetic science offers clear confirmation. It has demonstrated that from the first instant there is established the programme of what this living being will be: a person, this individual person with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization the adventure of a human life begins, and each of its capacities requires time-a rather lengthy time-to find its place and to be in a position to act".57 Even if the presence of a spiritual soul cannot be ascertained by empirical data, the results themselves of scientific research on the human embryo provide "a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of the first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person?". 58Furthermore, 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. Precisely for this reason, over and above all scientific debates and those philosophical affirmations to which the Magisterium has not expressly committed itself, the Church has always taught and continues to teach that the result of human procreation, from the first moment of its existence, must be guaranteed that unconditional respect which is morally due to the human being in his or her totality and unity as body and spirit: "The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life".59 61. The texts of Sacred Scripture never address the question of deliberate abortion and so do not directly and specifically condemn it. But they show such great respect for the human being in the mother's womb that they require as a logical consequence that God's commandment "You shall not kill" be extended to the unborn child as well.http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_...

I am not certain that abortion and so-called contraception were based on the same Aquinas principle. I believe they are two related but independent issues. Aquinas's condemnation of so-called contraception (this word was not in existence) was based on erroneous biology. The male seed was thought to possess the complete material essence of a potential human person, where the woman's only role was to provide her vessel so that the male seed would develop into a human being. In fact, at that time coitus interrupts and some potencies were the only means of so-called contraception. Aquinas believed that the male seed must be deposited in its proper place for procreation....not to spill the seed on the ground. By the early 1800s, when vulcanized rubber was invented and by 1850 when condoms became available, this teaching was applied...not to spill the seed in a condom. The male seed must be deposited in its proper place, the female vagina, for procreation. Up until the 15th century coitus interruptus was consider by the Church (pope, bishops and theologians) as quasi-homicide. After that time, quasi-homocide only applied to so-called poisons. These facts are clearly articulated by Noonan in his comprehensive book on Contraception.With respect to abortion, did not Aquinas believe in delayed humanization (e.g., after 40 days)?

@John Hayes,JP II did not address the issues raised in the two articles you posted for reflection. Human life may begin at conception, but not a individual person as modern biology proves. It does not possess all material at the moment of conception to become a fully human person. Many things must happen. JP II based many of his theology and philosophy on misinformation. For example, he firmly believed, based on his most trusted and closest advisor Dr. Wanda Poltawska, that women who take the pill develop neurosis; and that women will tend to abort a child when contraception fails, while women who practice periodic continence (PC) will accepted an unplanned pregnancy-child into their families with unconditional love. He also believed that couples who practice contraception, even after having several children and do not want more for good and just reasons, have a false, evil and destructive love. There is no evidence whatsoever that PC couples treat each other as loving subjects, while couples that use artificial birth control have a utilitarian attitude and a diabolical love grounded in concupiscence. Nor is there any evidence accepted by respected scientific organizations that assert that women who practice contraception develop neurosis.

JP II did not address the issues raised in the two articles you posted for reflection. I think he did address them in articles 60 and 61 of Evangelium Vitae, which I quoted above. I think his basic point is that even if the time of ensoulment could be determined, it wouldn't affect the teaching from Tradition that that potential life (ensouled or not) should be protected from the moment of conception. Theologians might argue for an evolution of of our understanding of Tradition in that regard, but I think that is the current teaching of the Magisterium.

"The Churchs answer is in JPIIs Evangelium Vitae, where he says that even though we dont know when ensoulment occurs, the mere probability that a human person is involved requires us to avoid aborting a fetus at any age. He wrote that about five years after the Shannon/Wolfers paper was published."John Hayes --True, if the zygote were *probably* a person it would be wrong to kill it. But it seems that new biological understandings indicate that at least at the very beginning it is definitely not a person. Why say this? Because within the first week of the sperm and egg uniting there is sometimes twinning, and -- and this is the important point -- sometimes those so-called "twins" RECOMBINE into one organism!!! But two people do not turn into one, so the assumption MUST be that at that time there was no person involved at all.Further, I think that the classic Thomist argument still holds -- that there is no reason to think that the organism is a person when it does not have a specifically human body. And modern biology confirms the old belief -- it takes days for even the brain stem to start to develop, much less the frontal cortex which is the specifically human part of the brain. In other words, there is no human body, so there is no human person.In Evangelium Vitae JP II didn't consider, much less rebut the Aquinas-Shannon-Wolter argument, nor, so far as I know, did he consider it anywhere else Frankly, I find that scandalous. Wolter was recognized as one of the great medieval scholars of the time (including not just the Franciscan thinkers but the others a well), and for Rome/JP II to ignore his work is simply wrong. Aquinas himself would have presented the argument and explained where it went wrong. (Yes, JAK, I can say that because that was the modus operandi of the medieval thinkers including Thomas.) Either JP II didn't know of the argument or he ignored it. Considering that he himself had been a philosopher, not a theologian, I find that really really, well, incompetent, though living behind the iron curtain or so long perhaps he didn't know about it. Still, the CDF surely must have known. They do NOT represent the tradition.

I agree about the concept of ensoulment, even though that could be argued. However, when it comes to something that is a human life, in its broadest meaning, at what point does this human life become an individual human person? If we step back from the fertilized ovum for the moment, this theory is also similar the teaching that sexual intercourse must be always open to procreation. If so, how can anyone continue to defend the willful, intended physical acts of temperature and mucus plotting to ensure sexual intercourse is not procreative? Either both PC and artificial birth control violate Humanae Vitae, or they do not.Even if we theorized that ensoulment is present at conception, 50% of fertilized ovum do not reach any further stage of human development, but are aborted by the body. How does anyone understand this? Is it divine providence that half of all fertilized ovum, a real individual human person, theoretically with a soul and an eternal destiny, dies within 3 weeks of conception? If, as JP II asserts, God's procreative plan is manifested in the fertility-infertility nexus, in the grammar and language of the body, then would be unreasonable to say that it is also God's plan that half of fertilized ovum die within 3 weeks? Do these human persons go to heaven or limbo? Without appearing sarcastic, is it possible that they are the lucky ones since they will not suffer the sin and ills of this life? All of this theory is complex and JP II's teaching discounts modern biology and the issues that both articles raise. All abortion is a premoral evil. However, it is a profound misunderstanding that the term "direct abortion" is not a disputed question and cannot be reformed. Consider the Phoenix case. Even the most orthodox of theologians, and defenders of Magisterial teachings, Martin Rhonheimer and Germain Grisez, considered the acts in this case "indirect abortion". Thus, the teaching of abortion (as well as contraception) will continue to benefit from our growing knowledge and scholarship in theology, philosophy, anthropology, the sciences as well as Scripture and Tradition.

"He also believed that couples who practice contraception, even after having several children and do not want more for good and just reasons, have a false, evil and destructive love."Michael G. --Are you sure JP II was this definite? It contradicts Paul VI's Humanae Vitae (yes, that one). In HV Paul maintains that there are times when a couple *ought not* to have more children, and this implies no sex or the rhythm method.Humanae Vitae, except for the contraception sections, has much to recommend it, I think. Pity the contraception ban is included in it.

the teaching of abortion (as well as contraception) will continue to benefit from our growing knowledge and scholarship in theology, philosophy, anthropology, the sciences as well as Scripture and Tradition.Well, it didn't really work that way in the case of contraception and Humanae Vitae. That was decided, in the end, on the basis of Tradition rather than the recommendations of the expert commission. Similarly for abortion. Evangelium Vitae is based on tradition, not new scientific or theological investigations.

The Church's canonical discipline, from the earliest centuries, has inflicted penal sanctions on those guilty of abortion....Given such unanimity in the doctrinal and disciplinary tradition of the Church, Paul VI was able to declare that this tradition is unchanged and unchangeable. 72 Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops-who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine-I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_...

Convincing non-Catholics of the rightness of positions based upon Tradition and natural law as interpreted by the Catholic Church can be difficult. I think we need to be careful not to impute evil intent to non-Catholics who do not share the Church's views on these matters.

Ann: My computer-line was down for a couple of days and so I couldn't reply earlier. I didn't ask for a text in which Aquinas says, as you asserted, that killing what we call a zygote is not murder, but for one in which he says that it is not a mortal sin. There's a difference. No one has yet adduced a text in which he says that early abortion is a venial matter.

JAK, The except I posted above can be read to say that Aquinas did not consider killing a not-yet-animated fetus to be murder. That would be consistent with his discussion of the Fifth Commandment in which he says: "Therefore, the sense of the Commandment is: You shall not kill men. and "The sense, therefore, of You shall not kill is that one shall not kill by ones own authority." You could deduce from that that he didn't consider a not-yet-animated fetus to be a man [human being].However, I don't know that he ever discusses the nature of the guilt attached to killing a pre-animated child. My sense is that he would have considered it a form of contraception and would have said what he did about spilling semen "after the sin of murder, whereby a human nature already in actual existence is destroyed, this sort of sin seem to hold the second place, whereby the generation of human nature is precluded."

"he guilt attached to killing a pre-animated child."should have been "he guilt attached to killing a not-yet-animated child."

Mr. Hayes: As I said earlier, it is always perilous to try to predict what a great mind would have said about something; the temptation will always be to say that he would have said what I would have said.... The claimwas made that he did not consider early abortion a mortal sin. I asked for a text in which he said that. None has been adduced. Until one can be adduced, I think it unfounded to make that claim about him.

Anne,He also believed that couples who practice contraception, even after having several children and do not want more for good and just reasons, have a false, evil and destructive love. This was taken from Christopher West's "Theology of the Body Explained" as well as Karol Wojtyla's "Love and Responsibility"...among other of Wojyta-JP II's writings. It does not contradict Humanae Vitae because it starts with "couple who practice contraception....". No one is disputing that PC or consented sexual abstinence between couples are not legitimate means of birth control. They can be virtuous. However, even JP II asserted that the intention and motivation of the agents, even when practicing PC, must be based on good and just reasons....as in Pius XII's address to the mid-wives. Couples must have the "right intention and a pro-life attitude". JP II believed that somehow PC couples will accept a child born by accident with unconditional love, while couples who practice contraception (even if they have the same intention as PC couples) will tend to abort the child if contraception fails. This was based on his erroneous belief that couples who practice contraception have an anti-life attitude and will not accept a child born by accident. Even when confronted with data that did not support this belief, JP II believed that his philosophy and theology on marriage and procreation would be proved correct even if it took centuries.John Hayes,I agree that to date the teaching on abortion (as well as contraception) has not benefited from our growing knowledge and scholarship in theology, philosophy, anthropology, the sciences as well as Scripture and Tradition....in that these doctrines have not changed. However, my statement must not be viewed from a short term perspective, but based on the length of time that teachings "not received" have changed in the Church...e.g., some took decades and or even centuries. The problematic about sexual ethics is its direct link to 'salvation' and the fact that these teachings are proclaimed as "moral absolutes". This creates an impasse to any discussion on important matters involved in theological ethics. The major issue is the inseparability principle because it is based on the philosophical anthropology, personalism, and symbolism of JP II when he asserted this principle in HV is "Divine Law". No pope, bishop, or theologian ever proposed or mentioned as a principle that there were two meanings of the marital act that cannot be separated under any circumstances and that this was divine law....except for Karol Wojtyla in 1960 with the publication of his book "Love and Responsibility". Thus, this teaching was not a constant teaching of the Church, as Paul VI proclaimed in HV, but a novum based on symbolic speculation.It goes something like this (Theology of the Body, West): The one-flesh union in Genesis (mystery of creation) refers to the union of Christ and the Church (mystery of redemption). through their bodies, and to their call to one flesh, man and woman in some way participate in the divine exchange of Trinitarian life and love. The love between the Father and Christ, and between Christ and the Church is also a love of total self-giving and self-donation. By analogy, spousal love is a total self-giving love but concupiscence exchanges a self-seeking gratification for the sincere gift of self; it uses the other as an object made for my sake rather than loving the other as subject for his or her own sake. Contraception falsifies creative love. It speaks to the diabolic anti-Word. The issue here is whether it is a "metaphoric leap" that unless there is a total self-giving and openness to procreation under all circumstances, and in every act of coitus, spouses are expressing a false, evil and destructive love

the claim was made that he did not consider early abortion a mortal sin. I asked for a text in which he said that. None has been adduced. Until one can be adduced, I think it unfounded to make that claim about him.i didn't make that claim - so i'm not the person to look to defend it.

John, "My sense is that he would have considered it (killing a non-animated fetus) a form of contraception and would have said what he did about spilling semen after the sin of murder, whereby a human nature already in actual existence is destroyed, this sort of sin seem to hold the second place, whereby the generation of human nature is precluded.For the reasons I explained earlier, I don't think Aquinas would have considered killing a non-animated fetus a form of contraception. The word "contraception" was not used at that time. Coitus interruptus was akin to quasi-homicide because it was thought that the male seed contained all that was necessary for human development. Thus, spilling the male seed on the ground was akin to murder or quasi-homicide. St. Raymond attested to this fact is the 15th century. No one thought about "so-called contraception". If the male seed was deposited into the female vagina, it was thought that this would result in a pregnancy. If not, something went wrong "naturally". If no pregnancy resulted after years of sexual intercourse, the woman was thought to be barren, save for divine intervention.The idea that a human person was not formed until sometime after conception was something Aquinas taught. At least this is what I remember.

"Socialism" evil?? Have any of these "Christians" read St. Paul and The Acts? Or is my brain being invaded by some Kenyan/Kansasan Alien when I read those scriptures at Mass recently. Look it up. If you find that difficult, you are not a very good Christian as I and My Bro Barack are.

"My scepticism about the claim that Aquinas did not think killing the zygote was a mortal sin is that he regarded contraceptive deflection of semen as a sin than which only murder was a greater sin against life. Could he have regarded abortion as a venial matter?"and:"I didnt ask for a text in which Aquinas says, as you asserted, that killing what we call a zygote is not murder, but for one in which he says that it is not a mortal sin. Theres a difference. No one has yet adduced a text in which he says that early abortion is a venial matter."JAK --My more considered answer to your question is:I am assuming 1) Aquinas did not think that all venial sins were trivial, that there could be serious sins that were not mortal ones, and 2) all murder is, of course, the killing of a person and is a mortal sin. So far as I have been able to determine, he thought that the killing of the pre-embryo was *not* the killing of a person (see the Shannon-Wolter article), and it follows that it is not murder. Thomas did explicity write that killing the pre-embryo is a grave sin ("peccatum grave"). See the letter from Rev. William B. Smith in the NYt: "Aquinas did hold a theory of delayed animation (at 40 days, not quickening). But the same saint held that no direct abortion was morally licit, that all abortions were a grave sin (peccatum grave); among evil deeds (inter maleficia), and against nature (contra naturam); see his ''Commentary on Sentences,'' Bk. 4, dist. 1, art. 3, exposition of text."Medieval grades of animation could allow different and increasing grades of penalty (canonical and civil), but the grave immorality of all abortions was the same in every case."http://www.nytimes.com/1984/10/17/opinion/l-aquinas-held-all-abortions-a... that he could have but did not refer to it as "peccatum mortaliter", but only as "peccatum grave" (assuming Rev. Smith is accurate). True, the Commentaries were a very early work, and he might say explicitly it was or was not a mortal sin somewhere else. But since he apparently barely mentions the topic, it looks like the issue did not seem to be a very important one to him, which indicates to me that he really didn't ever think it was a mortal sin/murder.Of course, being a venial sin would not excuse it. But talk of "murder" is not appropriate.

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...

John Hayes,Thanks for the reference. I will read it.Your previous claim that there is no official Church teaching that the moring-after pill or Plan B (similar to the anovulant pill) is abortifacient is not true.See the October 31, 2000 "Statement on the So-Called Morning-After Pill" from the Pontifical Academy for Life, which said: The absolute unlawfulness of abortifacient procedures also applies to distributing, prescribing and taking the morning-after pill. All who, whether sharing the intention or not, directly co-operate with this procedure are also morally responsible for it.According to the Church, there seems to be little doubt that Plan B is licit morally under any circumstances (albeit a teaching I disagree with). Nevertheless, we see the same decision taken by the Bishops of Wisconsin. After negative testing (not certain if ovulation testing is required), Catholic hospitals are permitted to administer Plan B for rape victims. Unfortunately, this contradicts the teaching of the statement from the Pontifical Academy for Life. Additionally, there is the disputed question that there is no testing that can detect pregnancy with moral certainty except if the victim was pregnant before being raped. My conclusion still stands: regarding sexual ethics, there is inconsistency and contradiction in Church teachings.

John Hayes,Sorry for the typo: According to the Church there seems to be little doubt that Plan B is "illicit" morally.....

See the October 31, 2000 Statement on the So-Called Morning-After Pill from the Pontifical Academy for Life,That 2000 statement was based on the belief that he way the pill worked was to prevent implantation of a fertilized ovum. The. 2006 article I linked above says: "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."12 states plus DC require hopital emergency rooms ti provide emergency contraception. Only one has a religious exception, so Catholic hospitals have had to com to terms with hat requirement. http://www.guttmacher.org/statecenter/spibs/spib_EC.pdf

John H,I do appreciate your comments. However, they fail to be convincing for 3 reasons:1. The article you referenced is not an official Church teaching. The article is just one theological opinion. In my mind, it is a construction, an exception, to defend the teaching.2. If tradition-minded theologians want to proclaim that Plan B, the drug, which acts in the same way as the anovulant pill, then these same theologians cannot proclaim that the anovulant pill is abortifacient!! This is not surprising to me since there is no consensus among the tradition-minded group on many moral theological issues (e.g, the Phoenix case, the pill as a abortifacient, taking the pill is immoral because it violates the virtue of chastity-temperance versus it is immoral because of the proximate end of a deliberate decision...in other words the disputes about Vertitatis Spendor 78 and Aquinas). If this group is bickering with each other (not to mention with the less-tradition minded), how can anyone move the conversation forward?3. Your reference to 12 states is not relevant. Civil law is not moral law. Refusing to comply with a civil law that is a violation of Church teachings likely means a loss of Federal funding. Since when are financial considerations a moral justification for voluntary human action? My conclusion still stands because it does not hinge on whether Plan B is abortifacient or not. The issue is administering Plan B based on a negative pregnancy test that cannot detect pregnancy due to rape. Bishop Lori's decision is inconsistent and contradictory with Church teachings and their underlying philosophy. They are in a so-called dilemma and cannot find their way out.

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