Is the Pope Catholic?

Posted by on September 15, 2013 in Catholicism, Darryl Hart, Ecclesiology, Featured, Liberalism, Orthodoxy, Papacy, Politics, Protestantism, The Two Kingdoms | 164 comments

My online admirer Darryl Hart has argued that, when discussing American Presbyterianism, the labels “liberal” and”conservative” are misnomers. The reason for this is that such a taxonomy misses the gist of why certain Presbyterian ministers were against the evangelical revivals of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In short, when one is operating from a strict liberal/conservative grid in which liberals were universally critical of evangelical zeal and enthusiasm, one is hard-pressed to know what to do with all the high-church and theologically orthodox ministers who considered George Whitefield a nutjob and Gilbert Tennant an a-hole. For this reason, Hart has argued, a confessionalist/pietist taxonomy is to be preferred to a liberal/conservative one.

I am curious to consider whether or not a similar nuance of nomenclature would be helpful for Catholics in the light of all the charges of quote-unquote liberalism being thrown at Pope Francis by cultural liberals and/or Protestants (you know, on account of his recent teachings about how heaven will largely be filled with lesbian witches  dressed as Hitler).

To be more specific, here’s what I’m wondering: Should the labels of “liberal” and “conservative” be kept in the cultural and political realms? In other words, are there any circumstances under which a Catholic who sincerely affirms all that the Church teaches should be properly called a liberal? Now, if we are discussing earthly and political issues and he voices support for a non-interventionist foreign policy, universal healthcare, and the importance of labor unions, then sure, he’s a liberal. But if that same person attends an extraordinary form Latin Mass and visits the confessional on a weekly basis, wouldn’t labeling him liberal just cause confusion?

And what about the guy who listens to Rush and Hannity all day, and who thinks the Jesus-Is-My-Boyfriend ditties in the Breaking Bread  hymnal, while perhaps a bit intellectually challenging, are for the most part just hunky dory? Is he a conservative? From where I sit, I’d say that he may be one Monday through Saturday, but after that I’m not so sure.

So what do you think? Should we jettison secular labels when we’re discussing sacred matters? If so, what labels should we use to describe those who adhere to what the Church teaches versus those who do not? Can a Catholic (or even the pope) adopt a liberal posture on cultural matters while maintaining a robust theological orthodoxy?

164 Comments

  1. If all official church teaching is accepted then I would contend that the person in question is called a catholic. Period. From that point I think all that is in question is adherence to Sacred Tradition. Traditionalist tend to judge the present by the past. Neo-Catholics tend to do just the opposite judging the past by the present. Liberals like to pretend Tradition means nothing and would like to see the Church outright change dogmatic pronouncements all together. All could technically fall under the heading “Catholic”…. But we still need at least some labels for those inside the Church as long as there are still differing opinions…. And there always will be!

  2. By “liberals” do you mean Ralph Nader fans? Because you’re using (what I’m suggesting might better be thought of as) a political label to describe a theological posture.

  3. I wonder if I’m the only one who misread “Breaking Bread Hymnal” as “Breaking Bad Hymnal”…oops.

  4. Ahhhhhh I see what your saying. Hmmm… Well then I don’t know what you would call the third group? Liberal just sounds right lol

  5. Daniel, Breaking Bad might be a tad more edifying. . . .

  6. As a Catholic, I believe that the deposit of faith must be handed on to the next generation completely intact, with no changes at all. Does that make me a conservative, since I am totally committed to conserving the deposit of faith without change? Does it make me a conservative if I firmly believe that the moral doctrines that were binding on first century Christians are the same moral doctrines that are binding on Christians in the year 2013?

    What does it mean to be liberal? Liberal used to mean generous. If I imitate Jesus, must not I be generous in my mercy to others? If I want to be counted with the sheep, and not with the goats, must not I be generous to the poor? Of course I must.

    To be more specific, here’s what I’m wondering: Should the labels of “liberal” and “conservative” be kept in the cultural and political realms?

    I don’t think so. What I think needs to be done is to reclaim the English language from political hacks that want to change the meaning of words. In the political realm, conservative is beginning to mean a mean spirited S.O.B that worships the ground that Ayn Rand walks on – a man that worships the false god of unregulated free market capitalism. Never mind that Ayn Rand was infested with the spirit of antichrist – a woman who thought that altruism is evil. Ayn Rand and her mewling sycophants are vehemently opposed to this:

    As for the rich in this world, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on uncertain riches but on God who richly furnishes us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good deeds, liberal and generous, thus laying up for themselves a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life which is life indeed.
    1 Tim 6:17-19

    Political hacks are also changing the meaning or the word liberal from a synonym for generous, to a synonym for licentious. And of course living a licentious life is irreconcilable with the Gospel:

    Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart; they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness.
    Ephesians 4:17-19

    Once the meaning of words are changed, it becomes impossible to have a meaningful political debate – the political “liberals” want to justify licentiousness, and the political “conservatives” want to turn greed into virtue. Where does that leave the Christian that understands that to conserve the Gospel intact, that it requires preaching to the rich that they are obligated to being liberal in their alms giving to the poor, and preaching to the licentious that fornication is a sin that destroys the fabric of society?

    Can a Catholic (or even the pope) adopt a liberal posture on cultural matters while maintaining a robust theological orthodoxy?

    Sure – as long as we don’t let political hacks redefine the meaning of the words “liberal” and “conservative”

    [Pope Francis] gave a group of ambassadors to the Holy See a message for their government leaders: “The worship of the golden calf of old has found a new and heartless image in the cult of money and the dictatorship of an economy which is lacking any truly humane goal.”

    Ref: magazine article Pope Francis puts Mission first, Maryknoll magazine, September/October 2013

    That quote from Pope Francis doesn’t surprise me. What does surprise me is the article in the March 2013 Smithsonian magazine First Blood – Bernard Bailyn illuminates a largely forgotten – and savage- period in American history.

    In that article Ron Rosenbaum interviews Bernard Bailyn and touches upon the “fair price” controversy that was debated in the Puritan communities:

    Our wampum discussion leads to the “fair price” controversy in the Puritan communities, the argument over how much profit a pious person should make on a given transaction.

    Free market theory dictates there should be only one motive in economic culture: getting the max. But early colonists integrated piety and humility into their economic lives. Spiritual considerations. … in fact, most of the Protestant heretics who settled America believed … that too much wealth could signify the exact opposite of sanctification: greed and spiritual degradation. … Bailyn tells me. “There were moral prohibitions against making as much as you possibly could – that’s not good! You have to do it within constraints. There is a big literature about this.”

    The Puritans lived by the assumption that pious people charge what is fair in their economic transactions. They rejected modern free market theory that teaches moral considerations be damned, charge what you can get away with. This is news to me. Sixteenth century Puritans expressing concerns that resonate with the concerns of a 21st century pope. Go figure.

  7. I don’t know, Mateo, it seems to me that the words are lost to us now and just mean what they are understood by the media and culture to mean. I, for one, am fine just coming up with new ones. “Orthodox” and “heterodox” work for me.

  8. Mr Jason Stellman,

    What makes you so certain non-interventionalist foreign policy is “liberal,” by that I presume you mean “progressive?”

    A restrained or non-interventionalist foriegn policy is a classical liberal, i.e. American conservative, conception of foreign policy, not a progressive or “modern liberal” one.

    Ever hear of Wilsonian internationalism? Woodrow Wilson was a progressive’s progressive – akin to a modern liberal leftist.

    Bush administration foreign policy, neo-conservatives in general, and liberal internationalism all come out of Wilsonian internationalism – the idea social engineering can be done by the barrel of a gun; something classical liberals, American conservatives reject. Read the Cato Institute, American Conservative magazine, Edmund Burke, Albert Jay Nock, and Barry Goldwater instead of Sean Hannity or Fox News to determine what is conservative and what is not.

    Needless to say, it an error to think non-intervention in American military affairs is of the left – when such an ideological ideal of most assuredly of the right.

    It has been convient for too many to assume that Bush was conservative, thus what Bush did was conservative policy.

    But this fails to explain the progressive premises behind a) Bush domestic spending, including the department of homeland security; b) Bush interventionalism; c) The Bush education plan No Child Left Behind, which empowered even more federal control not only over education, but local educational decision-making.

    All Were stridently anti-conservative (conservative in the American parlance of that word) for they usurped standard federalism practises which is at the heart of all classical liberalism, especially American constitutionalism, which is a particular expression of classical liberalism.

    Conservative has never been a good term for those “conserving” classical liberalism in America. For more on that peruse Hayek’s essay about WHY I AM NOT A CONSERVATIVE.

    The Dixiecrats were “conservative,” as was the Klu Klux Klan – culturally. But they were not classical liberals and indeed many scholars have pointed out that they voted (especially at the national level) for big government Democrats from Woodrow Wilson to FDR. Also, between Ronald Reagan and Pres. Jimmy Carter – who won the Dixiecrat vote?

    Not the “conservative” Ronald Reagan. Jimmy Carter did. Alas, even in politics, conservative vs. liberal is not a great category; but better is progressive vs. libertarian/classical liberal.

    Those like Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum would be better labeled as paleo-progressives, rather than conservatives, i.e., classical liberals.

    Have a fantastic week!

    David

  9. David,

    What makes you so certain non-interventionalist foreign policy is “liberal,” by that I presume you mean “progressive?”

    I don’t think that non-interventionist foreign policy, full stop, is liberal, and I didn’t mean to give that impression (nor do I think I did).

  10. Jason, “orthodox” and “heterodox” work for me too, because I am a Catholic and those words mean something in the world of Catholicism. If someone says that Francis is an orthodox Catholic, I can make all sorts of assumptions about what Francis believes and stands for. But in the world of Protestantism, what do the words “orthodox” and “heterodox” mean? It seems to me that in the Protestant world, orthodox means someone that agrees with me if I am a Protestant. The most “liberal” protestant, say, the Episcopalian that fully supports his lesbian priestess, believes that he is orthodox, and the most “conservative” Protestant, say, a member of Fred Phelps’s God hates fags community thinks that he is orthodox too.

    Suppose you read the opening sentence in a newspaper article about a man that lived in our era that said: “John believed that he was an orthodox Protestant.” What would you assume that John believed and stood for? There is not enough information to assume anything, right?

    What I am trying to say is that the words “orthodox protestant”, besides being an oxymoron from the Catholic point of view, is also a phrase that conveys no meaning in itself.

  11. @Daniel re:Breaking Bad hymnal

    No. No your not. I read Breaking Bad twice before I saw it correctly. I got Walt on my mind, too.

  12. One thing I don’t think Protestants quite grasp is the size of the Church. The Catholic Church has a relatively “liberal” view as to how an individual approaches their faith. If they want to practice Latin Mass, that’s okay. If they want to speak in tongues, that’s okay too. If they want to practice Novenas and use scapulars, fine. If they don’t want any of that, that’s okay too. Provided that they are exercise a sacramental life which is most important.

    As far as Church goes, I think one can be liberal and/or conservative and still have an orthodox faith. A person who is liberal in their faith would have a focus more on social issues (i.e. feeding the poor, abortion, etc.) and a person who is conservative would have more of a focus on their personal relationship with God (i.e. Latin Mass, novenas, etc.) Both of which are completely orthodox and fully compliant with Catholic teaching.

    I think the difference between B16 and Francis is a view of a conservative and a liberal pope not in a bad way but more of a way of seeing two approaches which are both equally acceptable.

    I thing Dr. Hart and others see Francis as more of a Nancy Pelosi type which is not liberal but rather wolf in sheep’s clothing.

  13. Jason, RC’s already have these categories covered. You’re either ‘spirit of Vat II’ or not. Or in the case of say, SSPXers you don’t want anything to do with Vat II. Francis is a conservative amongst liberation theologians particularly within his own religious order; Jesuit. Which largely means he wasn’t/isn’t a marxist anarchist. However, all the guys post Vat II including Ratzinger and Kung imbibed/imbibe some version of the higher-critical method from Bultmann to Jesus seminar radicals to a more conservative brand, i.e. more conservative dating of the letters of the NT, while still positing a robust oral tradition in which they ground ‘T’ tradition.

  14. First off American politics does scale globally. It doesn’t even scale well to Hawaii and Alaska and polling there is very complex because essentially those 2 states end up polling like foreign countries.

    If we just deal with the continental 48 then people have opinions on issues that don’t all perfectly correlate. But they do correlate. The 3 big areas of correlation are: economic policy, social policy and foreign policy. If I know someone’s opinion on several foreign policy issues and they are liberal / conservative on all them they are highly likely to have similar opinions on any other given area within those big areas.

    For the USA there is only a slight correlation between social opinions and economic opinions. Knowing someone is socially liberal tells me they are unlikely to be a economic conservative but they are more likely to be economically moderate than a social conservative. Foreign policy used to correlate strongly with social policy in the USA. Enough that during the Bush administration it was reasonable to just use a 2 factor model to describe voters (social left/right, economic left/right). That is not the case anymore and we are back to a 3 factor model with 9 main groups. (http://www.people-press.org/2011/05/04/beyond-red-vs-blue-the-political-typology/).

    In the same way that our clusters dramatically shifted in the last decade on foreign policy the ties between social and economic policy broke in 1965. Prior to that we had two parties:

    a socially conservative / economically liberal party called the Democrats
    a socially moderate / economically moderate party called the Republicans

    After 1965 there was a huge shift in the relative importance of social issues which has thrown both parties off kilter in ways that have made it tough to represent the population.

    When people use conservative / liberal in religious terms they mean socially conservative and socially liberal with no particular meaning as far as economic policy. No one should assume that pro-lifers are anti-union or that gay rights activists are opposed to the NSA surveillance program.

    I’d assume among voters in other countries there are similar breakouts. But I wouldn’t assume they cluster the same. There is no reason an Argentinian should look like an American when it comes to clustering. Trying to put him in an American box just won’t work. Francis is popular with American economic liberals mainly because he at least seems genuinely interested in their economic concerns. If we try and put him in American box he’d be a social conservative / economic liberal which is not an uncommon configuration and until 2005 was the most common configuration with about 1/4 of the population.

  15. Dennis,

    the only problem with the way that you have categorized liberal and conservative is that the labels aren’t useful in deciphering views. Certainly a Latin mass attending, novena practicing catholic could hold just as much fervor for feeding the poor, stopping abortion, etc.? I just don’t see the point in labels at that level. Labels are useful when deciphering schools of thought (Thomist, Molinist, Jesuit, Dominican, etc etc) but I don’t think its necessary to divide worship from social service and call that liberal/conservative. In my eyes the only way one could really use the terms “conservative” and “liberal” would be on judging any given Catholics adherence to tradition. Either sacred Tradition or tradition in general. Do they judge the past by the present? Or the present by the past? Do they think Tradition can be trusted? To what degree have they adopted modernist/americanist philosophies? Now all of a sudden the labels of conservative and liberal have a true and helpful meaning. If you are a Democrat or something and so don’t like the term “liberal” being used in a negative way, sure, you could come up with new names and lingo. For the most part though I think those labels (conservative/liberal) are still useful even if they don’t apply to ones politics.

  16. It seems to me that in the Protestant world, orthodox means someone that agrees with me if I am a Protestant.

    Just little old me here. But a Catholic can be an orthodox Christian. The Catholic Church, however, is apostate, per my view.

    Again, I wouldn’t talk this way. Jason, you to want to continue the prot/cat debate on your blog. Not sure why, but hey, we’re all paying attention with great interest.

    Ciao

  17. I use “orthodox” and “heterdox” too.

    Seems the best way to separate it from politics.

  18. Jason, if you can get Lost Soul of American Protestantism into the hands of the RCC’s 1.2 billion members, okay, a quarter of that, I and my publisher will be happy.

    But you do know that I am not the only one asking questions about Francis. http://www.wnd.com/2013/09/is-pope-francis-even-catholic/

  19. +JMJ+

    Mateo wrote:
    .
    It seems to me that in the Protestant world, orthodox means someone that agrees with me if I am a Protestant.

    Andrew B wrote:
    .
    Just little old me here. But a Catholic can be an orthodox Christian. The Catholic Church, however, is apostate, per my view.

    QED

  20. Dr. Hart,

    Theoretically, I suppose, Francis could be an antipope but remember, it doesn’t matter if popes believe the right things about their own encyclicals. That’s why the guy who wrote Unam Sanctum could be wrong about it but the document could still be correct.

    Of course, there’s really no way for current RCs to know if Francis is orthodox or not because he’s the Magisterium of the moment. Future generations, I suppose could know when that new Magisterium pronounces him orthodox or not. Till then, current RCs gotta take him at his word.

    This is no evaluation on Francis as orthodox or not. He appears to be a kind man whose lips are a little more loose than some RCs might like. The real problem is that RC apologists around here don’t really see why any of this should be problematic for their apologetic, which shows how far from reality these claims that Rome is the church Jesus founded can get.

    Or, what good is a pope as as symbol of unity and orthodoxy when the pope can be a heretic but those living under him can’t really know it?

  21. Kenneth,

    I agree that one can go to Latin Mass and be strong pro life. I would argue that ALL who attend Latin Mass are vehemently pro life. My point is what does that individual feel defines their Catholic life more? Going to Latin Mass or caring about social issues. Each person will have a certain emphasis on one more than the other and that will shift their focus more left or right (within orthodoxy). Pope Francis doesn’t have any problems with Latin Mass but social issues to him are far more important than adherence to Latin Mass. Pope Benedict—by his writings—would likely fall more on the other side of the coin (and yet social issues would still be important to him). Both are orthodox yet one is clearly more conservative.

    In my eyes the only way one could really use the terms “conservative” and “liberal” would be on judging any given Catholics adherence to tradition. Either sacred Tradition or tradition in general. Do they judge the past by the present? Or the present by the past? Do they think Tradition can be trusted? To what degree have they adopted modernist/americanist philosophies? Now all of a sudden the labels of conservative and liberal have a true and helpful meaning.

    I don’t think Tradition/tradition is something that Catholics can really move on. If a priest is against priestly celibacy, (contra small ‘t’ tradition) then he is clearly out of order. If a politician is pro-choice (contra big ‘T’ Tradition) then he is also clearly out of order.

    Adherence to tradition/Tradition is compulsory for Catholics.

    Now, there are two other types of Catholics:

    1. Those types who believe that Novus Ordo mass is wrong…
    2. Those who believe that the Liturgy needs to be more “modernized” with various types of liturgical abuses…

    Neither type of these Catholics I would label as “orthodox” but rather too far right or too far left.

    An ideal Catholic should strive for orthodoxy.

  22. Well said Dennis!

  23. Wosbald, that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

    You Catholics crack me up.

    I was hoping for an anathema, and QED is all you can come up with? You guys have grown soft (emoticon).

    Later.

  24. Another way of putting the question may be, Can a Reformed 2ker maintain his 2k when he goes Catholic? Given that all a pope has to do is declare a particular political opinion sinful and its adherent must repent before taking communion, I still don’t see how he can.

  25. Bingo Zrim.

  26. Here’s another bone:

    Over-strictness demands and begets laxity in performance while a truly liberal but conservative formula binds all essentially sound men together against laxity. In pleading
    for a liberal formula, therefore, we wish it distinctly understood that we do not plead either for a lax formula or much less for a lax administration of any formula within which an essential dishonesty lurks.”

    As loaded as conservative and liberal are, we can no sooner dispense with them than we can pretend that the church exists as a unified body. I’m sorry, but what is orthodox and what is heterodox is a different than conservative and liberal. I, for one, stand with the man in the quote above. As much as the readership here may disagree, I (little as my opinions mean around here, being a protestant and all, right Wosbald?) find the man of impeccable orthodoxy.

    Regards,
    Andrew

    PS I promise to leave you all alone now.

  27. Well as long as this thread is going quiet. I thought I would say something nice about Michael Liccione. A few months back I was debating the Liccione argument that a magisterium is needed for a unique interpretative paradigm to differentiate revelation from human opinion. I argued against him on here and defended the biblical system of prophetic revelation as meeting the “Liccione criteria” and having the additional virtue of being the system described multiple times in the bible, referred to by the apostolic writers rather than the magisterium system which contradicts the bible’s entire relationship between revelation and the office of teacher. I notice now when he uses his apologetic, he’s lately added an additional qualifier of a 1x revelation so as to disqualify the bible’s prophetic system.

    _____

    Normally when Catholics hear good counter arguments all you get is personal insults and crickets. It was nice to see the argument being tuned in response to a counter argument. That being said what he’s proposing now, a 1x supernatural revelation with no further revelation ever to come (or likely to come), sounds a lot like what Protestants think about the bible in practice. So the question then becomes once the revelation is fixed why not just create a total written record of it?

  28. Jason,

    One problem with framing things this way is that the particular items you mention, non-interventionist foreign policy, universal healthcare, and the importance of labor unions, have all been, in one form of another, advocated by the Catholic Church at the level of Papal encyclicals and/or national bishops’ conferences. But you left off the most defining characteristics of American political liberalism: wholesale support for abortion on demand and the recognition of homosexual relationships as marriages. In short, what you describe as “liberal” can be legitimately be used to describe Catholic Social Teaching (it is another, though related, matter to consider what sort of assent, if any, one is obliged to give to CST), while it leaves out essential elements of political liberalism in the U.S., and hence is a misnomer in that respect.

  29. Andrew,

    One problem with framing things this way is that the particular items you mention, non-interventionist foreign policy, universal healthcare, and the importance of labor unions, have all been, in one form of another, advocated by the Catholic Church at the level of Papal encyclicals and/or national bishops’ conferences.

    Yes, but since these are cultural issues usually associated with liberalism, It just seems that using the term “liberal” to describe an orthodox Catholic is confusing. If it were done, it would immediately have to be qualified with “Well, liberal on social issues, I mean.” But if we have to constantly make that qualification, why not just use the term “liberal” solely for social issues in the first place?

    But you left off the most defining characteristics of American political liberalism: wholesale support for abortion on demand and the recognition of homosexual relationships as marriages. In short, what you describe as “liberal” can be legitimately be used to describe Catholic Social Teaching (it is another, though related, matter to consider what sort of assent, if any, one is obliged to give to CST), while it leaves out essential elements of political liberalism in the U.S., and hence is a misnomer in that respect.

    Right, which just shows that CST cannot be captured by American political labels. What do you call someone who is so pro-life that he considers abortion and contraception and the War on Terror immoral? You can’t call him “liberal,” and you can’t call him “conservative,” either. You could call him a “Catholic,” but lots of on-paper Catholics won’t agree with those ideas.

    How about calling him an “orthodox Catholic”? That way, he can be known to be a person who adheres to all the Church officially teaches, regardless of what he may think about welfare or immigration or gun control.

  30. The term liberal catholic also sort of implies heterodoxy if the current liberal agenda is supposed. For example, for someone to truly identify themselves as a liberal politically that would SEEM to insinuate pro-choice, pro gay union, pro americanist philosophy, on and on and on. So a catholic really can’t even identify with that party in my eyes without a host of exceptions being made. Mean while on the Republican or “conservative side” they don’t really have very much in the core of their political platform that would conflict with Catholic theology except for maybe the death penalty (depending on what state your in). I guess what I’m trying to say is that

    1. identifying yourself as a liberal catholic theologically would insinuate that you are breaking from or disagree with various Traditions/tradition and so would not be viewed as completely orthodox.

    2. Identifying yourself as a catholic who is apart of and votes for liberals politically (who by consequence vote pro gay marriage, pro choice, etc etc) would also identify someone has a heterodox catholic

    3. the term liberal catholic is equally useful in both senses to identify heterodox Catholics.

    4. Therefore, it is still useful and productive to use such terms in dialog as it really can’t cause much confusion.

    CD HOST,

    why do you as an atheist wish to argue theology with Christians? Is it just for the thrill of debate? Is that not the very definition of sophistry?

  31. What do you call someone who is so pro-life that he considers abortion and contraception and the War on Terror immoral? You can’t call him “liberal,” and you can’t call him “conservative,” either. You could call him a “Catholic,” but lots of on-paper Catholics won’t agree with those ideas.

    How about calling him an “orthodox Catholic”? That way, he can be known to be a person who adheres to all the Church officially teaches, regardless of what he may think about welfare or immigration or gun control.

    So you can’t be simultaneously an orthodox Catholic and a hands-off 2Ker? Do you need to issue a recall for Dual Citizens?

  32. Kenneth,

    Identifying yourself as a catholic who is apart of and votes for liberals politically (who by consequence vote pro gay marriage, pro choice, etc etc) would also identify someone has a heterodox catholic.

    I would disagree here. If a voter is morally responsible for all the positions of those for whom he votes (even those he may disagree with), then voting cannot but be sinful in itself.

  33. Can one be an orthodox Roman Catholic and pro-choice? Has the life issue been declared infallibly?

  34. Robert,

    Can one be an orthodox Roman Catholic and pro-choice? Has the life issue been declared infallibly?

    The “life issue” is part of big ‘T’ Tradition(See Didache Paragraph 2) and one cannot be orthodox Catholic and pro-choice…and yes, it has been declared infallibly.

  35. Jason,

    it is considered to be a grave sin to vote for a prochoice candidate as long as there is a prolife candidate in the field. So, yes, you are correct that it would make voting a sin! Lol but the Church does in fact hold you responsible for your vote. Lest you should think “there Kenneth goes with his wacky-rad-trad-geocentrism” here is an article from Catholic Answers that explains the issue.

    http://www.catholic.com/sites/default/files/voters_guide_for_serious_catholics.pdf

  36. Jason,

    I don’t equate pacifism with pro-life, particularly since according to the Church there is such a thing as a just war. Your comment begs the question regarding the “war on terror,” as to whether and in what respect it is just, and in that sense “pro-life.”

    But my main point is this: These are not just “cultural issues.” They are moral and therefore ultimately religious ones, which is precisely why the Church teaches on them.

  37. Kenneth,

    it is considered to be a grave sin to vote for a prochoice candidate as long as there is a prolife candidate in the field. So, yes, you are correct that it would make voting a sin! Lol but the Church does in fact hold you responsible for your vote. Lest you should think “there Kenneth goes with his wacky-rad-trad-geocentrism” here is an article from Catholic Answers that explains the issue.

    I have to agree with Jason on this one. I think it’s the obligation to have a morally formed conscience when voting and people should consider the five non-negotiables. However, the voting guide never uses “grave sin” when talking about voting. Also, the CCC doesn’t say it as well. The voting guide is more in line with what Jason said.

    Additionally, it depends on the position that people are running for. I’m not concerned with the five non-negotiables for candidates whose office has no control over making such decisions. I could care less if my local sanitation commissioner or town treasurer is pro life or pro choice.

  38. Kenneth,

    I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this:

    “A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.” Worthiness to Receive Holy Communion: General Principles,
    Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/curia/cdfworthycom.htm

  39. Andrew,

    I don’t equate pacifism with pro-life, particularly since according to the Church there is such a thing as a just war. Your comment begs the question regarding the “war on terror,” as to whether and in what respect it is just, and in that sense “pro-life.”

    I wasn’t attempting to put forth any position on any of these issues, I was just asking how you’d label a guy who was anti-abortion, anti-war, and anti-contraception. It seems to me that our usual nomenclature doesn’t work that well for this.

    But my main point is this: These are not just “cultural issues.” They are moral and therefore ultimately religious ones, which is precisely why the Church teaches on them.

    I agree that some issues are both cultural and moral. My only question is whether taking a so-called liberal position on matters the Church has not definitely addressed should earn someone the label of “liberal Catholic.” Because I hear that and think lesbian priests and doubts about the resurrection. It would seem unfair to lump in with that crowd someone who believes all the Church teaches.

  40. +JMJ+

    Maybe the difference is between a liberal Catholic and a Catholic liberal?

  41. Jason,

    do you have proportionate reasons to vote for a candidate who is for abortion? That’s over 40 million murdered babies at the last count in this country alone? Do you have proportionate reasons to vote for a candidate who is for LITERAlLY ALL FIVE non-negotiables? Not only in this country mind you, but financially supports the spread of “population control” methods the Church disagrees with all over the world. The current administration is responsible for actually FORCING the Church to supply contraception. It is absolutely a grave sin to vote Democrat in this country. Their current party platform blatantly advertizes and promotes its stance against all that the Church stands for. No way dude, you can’t be a Democrat and a faithful catholic at the same time (at this time in history). Its a no brainer in my eyes.

    Dennis,

    there is nothing in the voters guide that supports Jasons view. Pope Bennedicts speculation about how far that extends does not matter. JP2 condemned voting for any such candidate explicitly in an infallible pronouncement. This one is easy man.

  42. The Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, with reference to judicial decisions or civil laws that authorize or promote abortion or euthanasia, states that there is a “grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection. […] In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to ‘take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law or vote for it'” (no. 73). Christians have a “grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. […] This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it” (no. 74).

    that’s pretty grave language dennis

  43. For the record, I didn’t vote for Obama.

    PS – What do you think Ratzinger meant by a “proportionate reason” if, according to the video, such a thing does not exist?

  44. Jason,

    there isn’t one that exists in our culture and time. Perhaps one day if there were, say, 9000 abortions per year and somehow said pro-abortion candidate could save millions from poverty and end an unjust war or something…. But that just isn’t the case! Can you think of one? My wife is currently prego with our third boy and I’m always a little more passionate about this topic when she is expecting…. So I may be giving a biased testimony

  45. If (as I personally believe will happen) the GOP shifts toward a pro-choice position and there aren’t any pro-life candidates, would you just not vote? I’m assuming the answer is yes, but I want to be sure.

    Or, let’s say abortion becomes illegal and there are no more pro-choice candidates, would you still vote Republican?

  46. Kenneth, is it then accurate to say that the RCC has a political test for religious orthodoxy? If so, then I wonder what a politically liberal Catholic who favors wealth redistribution policies does when the papacy declares those views just as immoral as those that favor reproductive rights, as in to be pro-choice is to participate in murder and to favor wealth redistribution is to participate in robbery.

  47. Hi Kenneth congrads on the upcoming delivery.

    why do you as an atheist wish to argue theology with Christians? Is it just for the thrill of debate? Is that not the very definition of sophistry?

    Why do you participate in discussions where Conservative Reformed Protestants outline the case against Catholicism? Why do you think my reasons are different from yours? My guess is you are interested in Christian theology and like to test your theology against counter arguments, and find the Conservative Reformed ones interesting. Protestantism is in a large movement growing in a dozen countries and well established for 500 years. No one believes that Protestants in meaningful numbers are going to go Jason’s route, decide the CtC apologetic is right and do RCIA. You are picking this small subgroup because you find Conservative Presbyterian theology interesting, and find their relationship with Christianity interesting.

    Sometimes you run into new apologetics. In 2010 I had never heard the Mormon apologetic. In 2008 I had never heard the CtC Vatican-I style apologetic. Before I debated Liccione here just a few months back I had no idea if the prophetic system counter argument would or wouldn’t hold up to Liccione’s apologetic. I can speculate which ones hold up, because I’m experienced but sometimes I’m wrong.

    For example I lost an argument on Green Baggins last year about quotes from the Apocrypha in the NT (i.e. the person was arguing there weren’t any, when I felt there self obviously were). Prior to last year I thought that point would hold up, now I know it doesn’t. I believe we learn though experimentation and observation.

  48. Kenneth,

    JP2 condemned voting for any such candidate explicitly in an infallible pronouncement. This one is easy man.

    For the record, I don’t vote for politicians who are pro abortion. That being said, a couple points about your statement.

    1. Evangelium Vitae was not spoken ex-cathedra and was thus not Infallible.
    2. In regards to voting, Pope JP2 is referring to proposals and ballots that support abortion and/or euthanasia (and yes, I agree with that)

    Reading through Evangelium Vitae, it still doesn’t elevate voting for candidates who are pro abortion to grave sin.

    Again, we need to have a morally formed conscience and ought to vote for candidates who support life but I think pushing it to “grave sin” is something that the Church does not do.

  49. The current administration is responsible for actually FORCING the Church to supply contraception.

    No they are not. Churches aren’t subject to the Patient Protection Act (Obamacare) at all. They aren’t covered by it. They are subject to it. It has 0 impact on churches.

    What you may be thinking of is organizations with a loose religious affiliation. Those with a strong religious affiliation are able to and are granted the legal status of religious organizations. Those organizations with loose affiliations for example: staff from multiple religious communities, serving a population from multiple religious communities, a primarily non religious function are just non-profits legally and are subject to the same laws as secular non-profits. Obama had nothing to do with the classification system that’s been in place for decades. For that matter most of the laws (i.e. passed by congress) governing this are from the 1930-50s before Obama was even born.

    So a second statement of your complaint might be something like “The current administration is responsible for actually FORCING non-profits who don’t meet the criteria of being a religious organization but still claim Catholic affiliation to supply contraception“. And that would still be false. The Biden compromise which was negotiated by: Kathleen Sebelius, Joseph Biden, Nancy Pelosi, Sister Carol Keehan all of whom are Catholic.

    It allows for any organization to opt out of contraceptive coverage by having the insurance company issue a non-compliant policy and then rectifying it. In effect paying a penalty equal to the cost of coverage.

    So an accurate statement might be: “Leading Catholics in the United States worked out a policy where non-profits who don’t meet the criteria of being a religious organization but still claim Catholic affiliation are able to opt out of supplying contraception by paying a fine designed to merely offset their savings.

    Now I understand that ArchBishop/Cardinal Dolan didn’t agree with this compromise. But he doesn’t control any hospitals or medical groups, and as far as I can tell from watching the interviews lacks a grasp of even basic employment law or understanding of how health insurance works. Sister Keehan conversely does understand the law and the insurance system so she was a better representative for the church’s concerns even if the male hierarchy is unable to see that.

    But in terms of CreedtoCult what this case does show is how little the magisterium means in practice. We are talking about likely the most influential nun in the United States who arrived at a private judgement that the highest ranking Catholic official in the United States was spouting nonsense. She thus, based on this private judgement, felt comfortable completely undermining him in the negotiation. And more importantly when they were debating the Catholic population better than 2::1 sided with Joe Biden’s / Sister Keehan’s position against Cardinal Dolan’s even when they were made aware by pollsters of who was advocating which position. Which means the Catholic population when confronted with a matter of faith and morals: the definition of the procurement of contraception made a determination that Cardinal Dolan was wrong and Sister Keehan was right and that she best represented Catholic tradition.

  50. @Zrim:
    This is the other area of theology where I actually have some interest, so I’ll take a crack at that question.

    Like every other area of Catholic theology, we distinguish between principle and practice. In the case of government, the fundamental principle of government, the purpose of its existence, is the protection of the lives of its citizens against violence. It can do all sorts of other things, but that is the thing that it cannot fail to do without ceasing to be a government. Likewise, there are a couple of fundamental wrongs for government; it cannot directly attack the natural family, for example. Those matters go to the fundamental legitimacy of government, so that a government that does those things, to the extent it does them, is tyrannical.

    Because it has these positive obligations, violating them as a matter of law also make the government itself formally complicit in wrongdoing, in that, unlike mere delinquence, it means that the government has repudiated its fundamental roles. In other words, by not taking reasonable steps to prevent the evil, the government is responsible for the evil. Just as a watchman who conspires with assassins is himself a murderer, so a government that conspires with abortionists to allow them to do it is morally responsible for all abortions committed on its watch. We should treat the government’s responsibility for abortion, therefore, exactly the same as if the government were rounding a class of people up and killing them itself. It is difficult to image a proportionate reason to support that, although I suppose that some other form of genocide might be proportionate.

    Those principles are all matters of natural law, so there isn’t a political test for religious orthodoxy, but for moral uprightness. In other words, those beliefs are beliefs that all human beings should share, so to the extent that a 2K believer goes so radically far as to say that there are no moral absolutes for government, then that isn’t a belief that Catholics can hold, because it isn’t a belief that any moral person should hold. Relativism in government is an evil. Public servants who are directly complicit in the government forfeiting its fundamental responsibilities and making itself into a tyranny are likewise morally violating their roles of office. There are some, like judges, who may simply not have been given the authority to change things, but legislators and executives are assuredly responsible for doing what is possible within their authority to correct the situation.

  51. +JMJ+

    Zrim wrote:

    Kenneth, is it then accurate to say that the RCC has a political test for religious orthodoxy?

    It would be much more accurate to say that We have a moral test for religious orthodoxy. And since political action is a moral act, then it is a fair subject for moral speculation.

  52. [Kenneth] JP2 condemned voting for any such candidate explicitly in an infallible pronouncement. This one is easy man.

    [Dennis] Evangelium Vitae was not spoken ex-cathedra and was thus not Infallible.

    Oh the tragedy of human opinion! If only there were a religious system that didn’t have this problem of having to discern infallibility.

  53. +JMJ+

    RubeRad wrote:

    Oh the tragedy of human opinion! If only there were a religious system that didn’t have this problem of having to discern infallibility.

    The difference is that both of these people actually believe in Church Infallibility. Their response to disagreement or controversy is not “Infallibility is a the self-delusion of childhood dreamers.”

    And unless you think that “When I became a man, I put away the things of a child.” translates to “It’s hopeless. Why bother?”, then you might want to consider mulling over this distinction for a bit.

  54. Wosbald,

    Confessional Presbyterians and Lutherans both believe in Scripture’s infallibility, but we disagree in (some matters) as to what it teaches. We have two RCs here who believe in ecclesiastical infallibility but disagree in (some matters) as to what it teaches. Whence the RC advantage again?

  55. Robert,

    We have two RCs here who believe in ecclesiastical infallibility but disagree in (some matters) as to what it teaches. Whence the RC advantage again?

    I agree wholeheartedly with Evangelium Vitae…and while it might or might not be infallible, it’s still binding for a Catholic to adhere to it.

    Kenneth’s reading/interpretation of the document differs from my interpretation/reading of it and I think that’s one of the key differences for Catholics/Protestants.

    Protestants go to Scripture which can be interpreted more loosely where Catholics have encyclicals and documents which doesn’t allow for as loose interpretations as Scripture does. If the disagreement of the interpretation were so severe in misunderstanding, we could appeal to the bishops who would give us the proper understanding of the document.

    Because the degree of interpretation is tighter with Vatican documents, the difference between Catholics is not as varied as Protestants. Although there are variations from one Catholic to another.

    Dorothy Day and Therese of Lisieux are two women who are about as opposite as you can possibly get. One actually had an abortion and was a social activist. Yet they are both held up in the Catholic Church…one is a saint and the other is on her way to becoming one.

  56. +JMJ+

    Robert wrote:

    Wosbald,
    Confessional Presbyterians and Lutherans both believe in Scripture’s infallibility, but we disagree in (some matters) as to what it teaches. We have two RCs here who believe in ecclesiastical infallibility but disagree in (some matters) as to what it teaches. Whence the RC advantage again?

    There’s no advantage as long as one presupposes Christian Identity, I’ll give you that much. If you’re comfortable with that, then knock yerself out. If you think that finding Jesus is hopeless, if you think that whomever he was, he’s long since left the building, then don’t even bother trying.

  57. I agree wholeheartedly with Evangelium Vitae…and while it might or might not be infallible, it’s still binding for a Catholic to adhere to it.

    ?? If it is actually fallible and in some detail actually wrong, how can it be binding?

    Protestants go to Scripture which can be interpreted more loosely where Catholics have encyclicals and documents which doesn’t allow for as loose interpretations as Scripture does.

    So prot/cat’lick epistemology differs only qualitatively, not quantitatively. As many have said before, you’ve just rolled the question of authority back a yard.

    If the disagreement of the interpretation were so severe in misunderstanding, we could appeal to the bishops who would give us the proper understanding of the document.

    And you expect me to believe that two disagreers couldn’t each find their own bishop who endorses their private interpretation? Or what if the disagreers are bishops to begin with? Then the question ascends the hierarchy. We have the same thing in Presbyterianism. It’s called local elders, Presbytery, and General Assembly.

  58. Dennis,

    Protestants go to Scripture which can be interpreted more loosely where Catholics have encyclicals and documents which doesn’t allow for as loose interpretations as Scripture does.

    So God, who speaks through Scripture, speaks less clearly than God when He speaks through the church?

  59. Robert,

    So God, who speaks through Scripture, speaks less clearly than God when He speaks through the church?

    No, you have it backwards. God speaks less clearly through Scripture. The main point of the encyclical talks about the sanctity of life about which Kenneth and I have no dispute. We disagree on a very small point within the document.

    Kenneth and I agree on 99.99% of all things. On this one point, we disagree. Our disagreement can technically be heard in a forum. If we both shared the same bishop, he could settle it for us. Unless Kenneth lives in the Detroit area, which is highly unlikely and the disagreement would be settled with the US Council of Catholic bishops. But regardless, we both submit to the authority of the Church.

    Lutherans and Presbyterians disagree on items that are far greater and not only that, both cannot go to a single authority to settle disputes.

  60. Jason,

    I think if there was no other alternative it would be permissible to vote for a candidate who was pro-abortion. That would bring the proportionate bar a lot lower and one could just vote for the lesser of two evils.

    Dennis,

    The Magisterium Ordinarium is a legititimate organ for infallible teachings in regard to faith and Morals. Please see the CCC 2035 which speaks of this (that the Magisterium is protected by the charism of infallibility in regards to matters of doctrine including morals). The CE states that when the Magisterium at times is vague in its teachings, it can be ineffective on its own, so the ex cathedra (used only twice) and councils help to shore up confusion. In the case of HV claims, it is not vague in any regards to the use of birth control just as Evangelium Vitae has very clear prohibitions against abortion. There is no vagueness or duplicity in the Church’s teachings on birth control. The popes in union and Bishops in union with them (the magisterium) have been consistent and clear on this issue. It therefore is not “indefinite in its pronouncements” making it on its own ineffective.

    whether or not the sin is grave is not an issue that I will push. I consider it to be grave but just “sinful” in general will due for the sake of our dialog.

    CD,

    I would never get on a Muslim blog and argue a mock Muslim theology just to “see how it holds up”. I think everyone here would be more willing to dialog with you if you represented views that you actually hold

    Robert and RUBERAD

    guys you have accidently substituted sola ecclesia with the three legged paradigm Catholics actually hold. Allow me to point out your errors. Protestants think that the bible is infallible. However, there is still discussion about what parts of scripture are infallible and which are not. People have to consider things like literary genre, context, allegory, etc. Etc. Well, yes, We Catholics still have to have those types of discussions… But this in and of it self is NOT the issue that makes sola scriptura unsatisfactory. Its the CIRCULARITY of sola scriptura that is its biggest downfall. Next comes the issue of interpretation in the many areas of scripture that are unclear or apparently contradictory and then after all that you have to constantly tweak your doctrine of inerrancy and infallibility. Are you seeing the difference? Also, the ace in the hole is papal infallibility declared excathedra. If confusion ever arises from Tradition Scripture or vague magisterial pronouncnents we have the Pope and councils to shore up confusion (see my response to Dennis)

    I would also like to point out just how peripheral our disagreements are. We are arguing politics and economics lol I mean come on….

    1. Politics
    2. The health of the Church
    3. Economics

    these are peripheral issues and things that are not yet spelled out in scripture tradition or church teaching as of now…. We are all free to hold different opinions on these issues…. Were not robots…. Are protestant disagreements so peripheral? I think not

  61. Ruberad,

    If it is actually fallible and in some detail actually wrong, how can it be binding?

    I didn’t say it was fallible. I said it wasn’t declared ex-cathedra so it’s not technically infallible. What the Pope is saying is true and cannot be argued. It’s technically infallible because he’s basically expounding on Gaudum et Spes.

    If I were to say, “Jesus Christ is Lord”, I am not speaking infallibly but what I’m saying is not wrong.

    So prot/cat’lick epistemology differs only qualitatively, not quantitatively. As many have said before, you’ve just rolled the question of authority back a yard.

    Everything is open to interpretation. The Church issues a document about the Gospel of Life and Kenneth and I may read it differently and yet we both get the main point that “Life is sacred.” It’s the weakness in our human minds that allows for the small differences.

    And you expect me to believe that two disagreers couldn’t each find their own bishop who endorses their private interpretation? Or what if the disagreers are bishops to begin with? Then the question ascends the hierarchy. We have the same thing in Presbyterianism. It’s called local elders, Presbytery, and General Assembly.

    Everyone submits to the Pope so if the bishop disagrees with the Pope, then he needs to submit to the Pope. Generally, we go and discuss things with our local parish priest who can help us through things. (And yes, I’ve found varying answers to the same questions among priests.) Typically, on MAJOR things, everyone agrees. On minor issues, there can be differences of opinion.

  62. And as Dennis said we actually AGREE on the topic at hand LOL we are disagreeing on the weight a certain document holds not on the teaching of the document it self. Y’all are “moving the goal posts” and pretending that absolute uniformity is what is required to best sola scriptura… Its just not so. Also, you have to feel, at least a little bit like a troll at this point. You have successfully hijacked our very interesting and respectful conversation and pulled us into another sola ecclesia slumber-fest. Just couldn’t help yourself? Don’t know how to have a discussion without running towards your favorite argument? Why be that guy? No one wants to be that guy. Walking around the party having the same convo with different people over and over and over and over again because you just can’t get out of your comfort zone. Not everything has to be polemical. Just sayin

  63. Kenneth,

    Protestants think that the bible is infallible. However, there is still discussion about what parts of scripture are infallible and which are not. People have to consider things like literary genre, context, allegory, etc. Etc. Well, yes, We Catholics still have to have those types of discussions…

    Actually, no. I’m assuming that RubeRad holds to the Chicago Statement or agrees with it’s essential proclamation, in which case we believe that all that the Bible affirms/teaches is infallible. The only question might be over what the Bible actually teaches, kind of like the Roman Catholic disagreement over what has been taught by the church on so many matters.

    But this in and of it self is NOT the issue that makes sola scriptura unsatisfactory. Its the CIRCULARITY of sola scriptura that is its biggest downfall.

    Well, it’s no more circular than Rome’s teaching on its own infallibility.

    Next comes the issue of interpretation in the many areas of scripture that are unclear or apparently contradictory and then after all that you have to constantly tweak your doctrine of inerrancy and infallibility.

    Actually, no, we aren’t constantly tweaking our doctrine. Since at least the time of the Reformation, Protestants have sought to ground interpretation in the original intent of the author, and we have made allowances for genre etc. Rome has tweaked its definition of infallibility to mean that the original intent of the author is completely meaningless, which means that what Rome means today may not be what it means tomorrow. ¬There’s no principial difference between that and Mormonism.

    Are you seeing the difference? Also, the ace in the hole is papal infallibility declared excathedra. If confusion ever arises from Tradition Scripture or vague magisterial pronouncnents we have the Pope and councils to shore up confusion (see my response to Dennis)

    Except where it doesn’t and you need to interpret the statements of popes and councils. It’s been fifty years and no one knows what Vatican II means. Papal infallibility’s been invoked what, one time? And then for the Assumption, and then nobody knows whether they should believe Mary died before the Assumption took place.

    And we’re all still waiting for that infallible list of infallible decrees.

    And as Dennis said we actually AGREE on the topic at hand LOL we are disagreeing on the weight a certain document holds not on the teaching of the document it self. Y’all are “moving the goal posts” and pretending that absolute uniformity is what is required to best sola scriptura… Its just not so. Also, you have to feel, at least a little bit like a troll at this point. You have successfully hijacked our very interesting and respectful conversation and pulled us into another sola ecclesia slumber-fest. Just couldn’t help yourself? Don’t know how to have a discussion without running towards your favorite argument? Why be that guy? No one wants to be that guy. Walking around the party having the same convo with different people over and over and over and over again because you just can’t get out of your comfort zone. Not everything has to be polemical. Just sayin

    Well, yes, not everything has to be polemical, but Jason has set up an entire blog that now touts the superiority of Rome’s epistemology. When you all start talking about “minor” differences among yourselves, we get the “it doesn’t matter because it’s not dogma line” but Protestants don’t get the same pass. Some of us are just waiting for a consistent interlocutor to show himself. The discussion itself is worthwhile, so have at it. But it is prefaced by an appeal to some of Dr. Hart’s comments and in it you show that Rome is no more united than Protestantism is.

    If division is the main issue for you guys, and it appears that it is (along with certainty), you can’t appeal to Roman unity as the solution if the unity does not exist. That is our point. Sure, you all believe the same things, at least on paper about certain issues. So do confessional Protestants. Lutherans, Baptists, and Presbyterians, for instance, all believe that baptism does not justify a person, that our good works are in no ways a part of our justification, and on so many other things.

    For Rome to offer a better solution than Protestantism, Rome has to be able to show full unity on all matters. Without that, we have two groupings of professing Christians and in each group the people agree on essentials and disagree on what they consider to be non-essentials. The question is, what are essentials and what are non-essentials. For the Roman Catholic, the answer must be whatever the Rome of today says they are. (Boniface sure as heck thought that definable, clear submission to the pontiff was the only way to salvation. Vatican 2 goes against what he taught) Like I’ve said, it doesn’t really matter in the final analysis to Rome what Scripture or tradition say, it only matters what Rome says.

    I guarantee you that RubeRad and I agree on probably 95% of what the Bible teaches even though we aren’t a part of the same church. Looks like the same is true of you and Dennis. RC offers a better way, why?

  64. Dennis,

    What the Pope is saying is true and cannot be argued.

    Unam Sanctum said “no salvation outside the church” and by that meant no salvation outside of membership in the RC Church and communion with the pontiff. Did the truth change when Vatican 2 when the door of heaven was opened to all people?

  65. Robert,

    Augustine spoke of separated brethren in the fifth century, even using those exact terms. I have produced the quote several times before, and can find it again if you like.

  66. Protestants think that the bible is infallible. However, there is still discussion about what parts of scripture are infallible and which are not.

    No, there is no discussion there. It is completely out of bounds to deny that Scripture is infallible. However our interpretations are indeed fallible, and indeed there is much discussion about which protestant interpretations are essential and inviolable, and which are negotiable. WCF, as you might know, confesses that it is doctrines to do with salvation that are so clearly set out in scripture, as that any ordinary man (through diligent use of ordinary means of attending to word and sacrament) can understand them.

    the ace in the hole is papal infallibility declared excathedra.

    Lovely turn of phrase. So before Rome pulled this card out of their sleeve (when was it? Vat I? 1800s?), how did Rome get by without this ace? It’s not like these questions weren’t asked before — they are central to the Reformation, and I’m sure they were considered even earlier.

  67. Robert,

    Unam Sanctum said “no salvation outside the church” and by that meant no salvation outside of membership in the RC Church and communion with the pontiff. Did the truth change when Vatican 2 when the door of heaven was opened to all people?

    I don’t think the Church has changed after V2…from Lumen Gentium 14 (Issued 11/21/1964):

    14. This Sacred Council wishes to turn its attention firstly to the Catholic faithful. Basing itself upon Sacred Scripture and Tradition, it teaches that the Church, now sojourning on earth as an exile, is necessary for salvation. Christ, present to us in His Body, which is the Church, is the one Mediator and the unique way of salvation. In explicit terms He Himself affirmed the necessity of faith and baptism(124) and thereby affirmed also the necessity of the Church, for through baptism as through a door men enter the Church. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

    The door of heaven is opened to all people. God wants all men to be saved. Salvation, however, is through the Church. That Truth has not changed as it’s what Christ taught.

  68. It would be much more accurate to say that We have a moral test for religious orthodoxy. And since political action is a moral act, then it is a fair subject for moral speculation.

    Wosbald (and Jonathan), while politics and morality may intersect, they are distinguishable. Voting or having a political view is not the same as personal or moral behavior. So it is something of a circumvention (or conflation) to deny the RCC has a political test for religious orthodoxy and instead say she has a moral test. What she says is that:

    “A Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in evil, and so unworthy to present himself for Holy Communion, if he were to deliberately vote for a candidate precisely because of the candidate’s permissive stand on abortion and/or euthanasia. When a Catholic does not share a candidate’s stand in favour of abortion and/or euthanasia, but votes for that candidate for other reasons, it is considered remote material cooperation, which can be permitted in the presence of proportionate reasons.”

    That reads like a political test, not a moral one, which is to say that a certain political outlook is enough to invite religious sanction. The political test is reproductive legislation—think this way and kaput. It is easily conceivable that the RCC would determine that wealth redistribution policies are similarly immoral and kaput. So what does a high papalist who is also poli-economically liberal do when he runs for office with policies that arguably favor wealth redistribution? It seems to me he must repent. In other words, he may be a political liberal until the papacy says he mayn’t and that he must be more Catholic than liberal.

  69. +JMJ+

    Zrim wrote:

    That reads like a political test, not a moral one, which is to say that a certain political outlook is enough to invite religious sanction. The political test is reproductive legislation—think this way and kaput. It is easily conceivable that the RCC would determine that wealth redistribution policies are similarly immoral and kaput. So what does a high papalist who is also poli-economically liberal do when he runs for office with policies that arguably favor wealth redistribution? It seems to me he must repent. In other words, he may be a political liberal until the papacy says he mayn’t and that he must be more Catholic than liberal.

    If that’s just a somewhat loquacious way of saying that one’s political action must proceed from one’s moral principles, then is there something controversial here?

  70. Wosbald, it’s a way of saying that thinking wealth needs to be re-distributed (whatever that means) is not the same as actually robbing anybody in one’s own person, any more than thinking women should have certain reproductive rights (whatever that means) is the same as actually killing anybody in one’s own person. So how about the church backs off her members’ political liberty?

  71. Down the rabbit hole we go….

    both of you said that there is absolutely no question at all about infallibility…. Genre has nothing to do with it…. Ok…

    Joshua 10:12-13
    Then spoke Joshua to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the men of Israel; and he said in the sight of Israel, “Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon, and thou Moon in the valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies. Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stayed in the midst of heaven, and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day.

    So am I to believe that the sun stopped its daily rotation around the earth? Was the originally intending to say thst the EARTH stood stillnin the heavens? Seems like he put it in a very finny way….. Perhaps the issues and nuances concerning biblical infallibility are not identical to infallible Church pronouncements but they are very similar. The Catholic paradigm is only circular if sola ecclesia is shown to be true. I have already demonstrated to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that it isn’t…. Until you can show me otherwise and defeat ny argument from Tradition your charge has no teeth.

    You say protestants have ALWAYS had the same definition of biblical inerrancy and infallibility? Are you so sure? Didn’t have to tweak it to meet textual criticism? The Chicago statement was made in response to something after all it didn’t just come out of the clear blue sky.

    Ruberad-

    what did we have before excathedra pronouncements? Authoritative Church Councils and the magestsrium Ordinarium. Equally as useful as excathedra statements with equal weight and authority.

    you are both inventing criterea that you THINK the Church should have to fulfill instead of taking the Church at her word. This enables you to knock down all kinds of straw men. If I came up to you and said “you hold to the Chicago statement?!?! That thing is ludicrous we don’t have the original manuscripts, everyone disagrees on the original intent and your making a loophole for bad cosmology from a document that is supposed to be innerrant! Your basically admitting that there ARE errors in the bible and then blaming them on transmission errors and genre. Everyone clearly believed the bible taught a young earth and geocentrism until science proved otherwise and NOW you want to get all nuanced. Not to mention the long ending of Mark etc etc etc etc etc……” that person would be guilty of thrusting THEIR OWN ideas of what inspiration should look like and not coming to the text it self and taking your claims on their own merit. That’s exactly what you are doing with us faithful Catholics. Its a slight of hand for bible bashers and its slight of hand for you also.

  72. Kenneth,

    So am I to believe that the sun stopped its daily rotation around the earth?

    There’s one of those .0001% of those things we don’t agree on…you geocentrist you!

    Haha. Maybe we should appeal to the bishop.

  73. Lol oh no I am not a geocentrist! I’m just illustrating a point

  74. +JMJ+

    Zrim wrote:

    Wosbald, it’s a way of saying that thinking wealth needs to be re-distributed (whatever that means) is not the same as actually robbing anybody in one’s own person, any more than thinking women should have certain reproductive rights (whatever that means) is the same as actually killing anybody in one’s own person. So how about the church backs off her members’ political liberty?

    But isn’t that why you’re Protestant? Because you don’t agree with the Church’s authority?

    I suppose that what I’m asking is that, since you seem to have at least a broad understanding of the Catholic POV, what’s so surprising?

  75. So am I to believe that the sun stopped its daily rotation around the earth? Was the originally intending to say thst the EARTH stood stillnin the heavens

    I never said the bible was easy to understand, I said it is infallible. So if you (or I) interpret it to mean something false, then our interpretation is wrong, not the Bible. Within the Reformed system, we understand that we might never be able to understand it, except to understand that it is not about salvation. What does the RC church teach about this passage that is so much superior? Does it teach that the Bible is fallible (or even erroneous!) on this point? I sure hope not!

    You say protestants have ALWAYS had the same definition of biblical inerrancy and infallibility? Are you so sure? Didn’t have to tweak it to meet textual criticism? The Chicago statement was made in response to something after all it didn’t just come out of the clear blue sky.

    Yes, the orthodox definition of biblical inerrancy and infallibility has been steady since the Reformation and I’m sure even before. German/High Textual Criticism went off the rails and departed from Orthodoxy (i.e. tweaked the definition of inerrancy/infallibility). See how much easier it makes life when you can look back at past mistakes in your church’s history, and confess them to be mistakes, rather than having to try to rationalize and justify?

    Your basically admitting that there ARE errors in the bible and then blaming them on transmission errors and genre. Everyone clearly believed the bible taught a young earth and geocentrism until science proved otherwise and NOW you want to get all nuanced.

    I fail to see how those two sentences are connected to the topic, or even to each other. Nobody changed their mind about geo/heliocentrism or young/old earth based on issues of textual variants. And yes, there are errors in our copies of the biblical manuscripts, but the Holy Spirit has preserved the message. There isn’t anybody arguing that either Textus Receptus or Nestle-Aland proves/disproves either RC or Prot are there? I don’t see the point of bringing up that topic.

    what did we have before excathedra pronouncements? Authoritative Church Councils and the magestsrium Ordinarium. Equally as useful as excathedra statements with equal weight and authority.

    So if it’s equal weight and authority, what’s the point? And I would argue that it is not equally useful, but more useful, since as noted above the magesterium ordinarium can be “vague” and “ineffective”. And since it is more useful, that means that the RC church lacking the doctrine of ex cathedra was less useful. It makes no sense why job #1 of the office of the pope would not be to exercise this new(ly developed) superpower to go through, say, the catechism and tune it all up to infallibility and put the ex cathedra stamp of approval on it. Then you guys would have a lot more foundation to claim superior level of authority and clarity.

  76. . I think everyone here would be more willing to dialog with you if you represented views that you actually hold

    What view that I don’t actually hold do you think I’m representing? You want to a dialogue on pure atheism, sure. Then there is are no gods, no demons, no angels, the material universe is all that there is. When you die you rot in the ground there is nothing to be saved from because there is no immortal soul. There were no Jews until around the 6th century BCE, the first 3rd of the old testament is an amalgamation of myth from the surrounding pre-existing cultures attributed to the various biblical heroes. So in most senses there was no Adam, Noah, Abraham. Moses and David. Jesus is an amalgamation of various Jewish myths at his core with various hellenistic myth on top.

    OK now what is there to dialogue about?

  77. Wosbald, what’s surprising is when Prots speak like Catholics on this issue. I know why you guys trample liberty, but why do so many Reformed cheer when you do?

    ps no, I’m not Reformed because I disagree with the RCC’s authority. It’s because I oppose their gospel and affirm the Reformed’s gospel.

  78. RUBERAD,

    the point of the geocentrism verse is to show that one needs an incredibly nuanced view to hold biblical inerrancy and infallibility. William Lane Craig has something like 15 hours on his defenders podcast describing the doctrine of inspiration and all of its incredible nuances. The point is that you are employing a double standard! When biblical authority and inerrancy is critiqued your cool with “well… I have no idea what that means but I know its infallible” but when its papal infallibility we are “explaining away past mistakes” BOGUS

    I don’t want to go tit for tat with your last point but it looks like you said “yes our doctrine of inerrancy and infallibility has always been the same…. Except when it wasn’t…. But now it is again…. At least we admit mistakes…” What?!?!?

    the point of the rant against the Chicago statement was to show you what it looks like when someone takes their own personal ideas of what infallibility should look like and then judge your paradigm based off of their imagination. I contend that is exactly what you and Robert are doing when you want to pick apart our authority. Instead of taking our paradigm on its own terms (three legs of authority) you substitute sola ecclesia and or demand absolute conformity on all issues with every single belief being infallibly defined excathedra and all Tradition written down and categorized in order for you to believe the Church is actually infallible. That’s not even reasonable these are just demands made up in your own head.

    the magesterium does not make up the totality of Catholic authority. The Church, Tradition and scripture are all needed. Before we had excathedra pronouncements we still had an infallible Church Infallible Tradition and Infallible scripture which is the ONLY paradigm that is satisfactory epistemologically.

  79. CD HOST,

    there are plenty of topics I would love to discuss with you on that list!!!! Especially “the material world is all there is” comment. But this just isn’t the blog for that. Its a free country and you can play devils advocate all you want I just think its weird.

  80. I don’t want to go tit for tat with your last point but it looks like you said “yes our doctrine of inerrancy and infallibility has always been the same…. Except when it wasn’t…. But now it is again…. At least we admit mistakes…” What?!?!?

    Unorthodox, heretical theologians are not protestants or representative of protestantism any more than Luther and Calvin are representative of Rome. But perhaps from where you’re sitting you can’t tell the difference between Reformed or EO or Mormons.

  81. Whosoever, therefore, knowing that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, would refuse to enter or to remain in it, could not be saved.

    The door of heaven is opened to all people. God wants all men to be saved. Salvation, however, is through the Church. That Truth has not changed as it’s what Christ taught.

    That qualification is huge. Salvation is through the church, as well as through the complete absence of the church. This question deserves a blog post all its own.

  82. three legs of authority…infallible Church, Infallible Tradition, and Infallible scripture

    Wait, this is an incredibly dumb question that may get me laughed out of the discussion. When did that stool grow a third leg? What’s the distinction between “Church” and “Tradition”?

  83. @Zrim:

    Wosbald (and Jonathan), while politics and morality may intersect, they are distinguishable. Voting or having a political view is not the same as personal or moral behavior.

    They do more than intersect. Politics is a subset of human action and therefore a subset of moral action, since morals govern all personal action. If voting isn’t a personal behavior, then what else could it be? Resistance to exactly this kind of political relativism led me to Christianity in the first place.

    That reads like a political test, not a moral one, which is to say that a certain political outlook is enough to invite religious sanction. The political test is reproductive legislation—think this way and kaput. It is easily conceivable that the RCC would determine that wealth redistribution policies are similarly immoral and kaput.

    That’s not easily conceivable to me. For one thing, it appears to contradict existing principles on the use of property. It couldn’t possibly be true for all time, only under certain specific conditions, which means that there would still be room for discussion among Catholics over how and why it applied, and whether the Pope had a correct factual understanding (on which matters he is not infallible). By contrast, with abortion and other forms of murder, there’s not really any moral ambiguity about it, nor any confusion about the moral principle. You don’t need to be infallible to know that murdering innocent human beings is wrong.

    So what does a high papalist who is also poli-economically liberal do when he runs for office with policies that arguably favor wealth redistribution? It seems to me he must repent. In other words, he may be a political liberal until the papacy says he mayn’t and that he must be more Catholic than liberal.

    That just says that your morals should determine your politics, which should not be controversial.

    Wosbald, it’s a way of saying that thinking wealth needs to be re-distributed (whatever that means) is not the same as actually robbing anybody in one’s own person, any more than thinking women should have certain reproductive rights (whatever that means) is the same as actually killing anybody in one’s own person.

    Since the government has a moral obligation to protect unborn children in the womb, it is the same from the perspective of the government itself. In other words, whoever passes a law that allows unborn children to be aborted, he has done the same thing as a guard who opens the door to assassins. Even if he didn’t personally do the killing, he (and the government for which he passed the law) is responsible for the killing. The bugaboo of wealth redistribution is just a phantom; no one has actually made the argument you cite, nor do we have any reason to think anyone ever will. By contrast, abortion is a real and immediate issue of right and wrong, akin to the Holocaust in Nazi Germany. I would presume you would not defend the “right” of anyone to support that, and this should not be different.

    So how about the church backs off her members’ political liberty?

    Catholics aren’t telling anyone how to vote. They are telling them how to vote morally, which is an entirely different thing.

  84. Great article by apologist Mark Shea discussing Tradition and the Church

    http://www.mark-shea.com/tradition.html

  85. Ruberad,

    That qualification is huge. Salvation is through the church, as well as through the complete absence of the church. This question deserves a blog post all its own.

    No. Salvation is only through the Church. If a Protestant, or an atheist, or a Muslim were to be saved, it would be through the Church.

    Jesus Christ established a Church. The Church wasn’t established as a building to go to on Sundays. It was established to save people. A person is saved through Baptism into the Church…into His Body. As Christ is risen, the person who is Baptized into His Body is united with Him. He has died with Christ and will rise with Him as well.

    Christ is the head, and the Church is His Body. That Catholic Church subsists fully within His Body. If a Protestant, were to be saved, it’s through the truth that he shares with the Catholic Church. It’s through Christ that that person is saved in His Body.

    If an atheist were to be saved, it’s through Christ in His Body which is the Church. Why? Because that’s what Christ established.

    Salvation is only through the Church.

  86. I’ve pretty much got CD posted a Skinnerian, and suggest Walden II (which I haven’t read since high school) if you want more of where he’s coming from.

    Oh wait, I’m supposed to leave you alone. My bad. At least I haven’t gotten the lashing poor CD’s gotten here recently. Am I the only one that knows his real name actually starts with a C?

  87. Jason,

    You asked:

    I was just asking how you’d label a guy who was anti-abortion, anti-war, and anti-contraception.

    I would not label him at all, without more information.

    You wrote:

    My only question is whether taking a so-called liberal position on matters the Church has not definitely addressed should earn someone the label of “liberal Catholic.” Because I hear that and think lesbian priests and doubts about the resurrection. It would seem unfair to lump in with that crowd someone who believes all the Church teaches.

    A Catholic who takes Catholic positions on certain political matters because he seeks to be faithful to the Church should not be confused with a political liberal, because the Catholic is thinking and operating within a different paradigm than the political liberal. Beyond that, I prefer to use language as it is actually used in public, so to avoid confusion. Thus, I take to heart Augustine’s observations regarding the “Catholic Church” (i.e., Protestant churches simply don’t qualify, even though some of them would like to appropriate the word “catholic” for various reasons), and apply it across the board:

    A political liberal in the US advocates the redistribution of wealth by government agencies, sexual libertinism, and the culture of death. To identify as “liberal” while bailing on one or more of these liberal shibboleths is to engage in a private language to the detriment of communication (kind of like if a PCA church painted “St Beza Catholic Church” on its signs).

    A religious liberal in the Catholic Church denies one or more doctrines that have been taught with the full authority of the Church. It would be more precise to label such a person a “dissenter,” but “liberal” works for purposes of communication. Everyone knows what (and whom) you mean, because the number of “conservative” dissenters is by comparison infinitesimally small. Among conservative Catholics, there are sub-categories, ranging from dissenting traditionalists (e.g., the SSPX) to neo-conservative, clap-happy Bugninites who think that Ronald Reagan should be canonized. But this does not render the label “conservative” useless, it just means that it transcends the bounds of full communion.

    As for Protestantism: A religious liberal in Protestantism denies the inerrancy of Scripture and typically one or more traditional Christian doctrines that were originally maintained by most Protestants after the Reformation. “Confessional and “pietist” simply do not cover the field, since each of these camps have historically been “orthodox” relative to Protestantism’s fundamentals. The PCUSA, TEC, UMC, to cite just a few examples among mainline Protestant churches, cannot be accounted for by either of DGH’s labels, but “liberal” works quite well for these denominations as a whole.

    In short, I do not think that your modified version of DGH’s taxomony is as useful as the popular use of the words “liberal” and “conservative” across the religious spectrum, even though those terms are sometimes misapplied.

  88. http://www.faithfulanswers.com/extra-ecclesiam-nulla-salus-part-i/

    no salvation outside the church? This is a helpful link that you might enjoy from a traditional catholic perspective

  89. A person is saved through Baptism into the Church…into His Body.

    OK, so if you’re saying something about baptismal regeneration, fair enough, agree to disagree. But what about people who are never baptized (or exposed to the church at all)? They don’t know that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, nor did they ever refuse to enter or to remain in it; they can be saved, right?

  90. Ruberad,

    OK, so if you’re saying something about baptismal regeneration, fair enough, agree to disagree. But what about people who are never baptized (or exposed to the church at all)? They don’t know that the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ, nor did they ever refuse to enter or to remain in it; they can be saved, right?

    Yes, they can possibly be saved.

    If they were not baptized in their lives then the Church holds hope that there are some who would have the “Baptism of Desire” meaning that if–through no fault of their own– they had known the about the importance and efficacy of Baptism in their lives, they would have desired baptism and would be saved through their desire of having been baptized. This is akin to the Thief on the cross who dies next to Jesus who is assured that he will see paradise for recognizing Christ on his death.

  91. Ruberad,

    Here’s how the CCC words it:

    1260 “Since Christ died for all, and since all men are in fact called to one and the same destiny, which is divine, we must hold that the Holy Spirit offers to all the possibility of being made partakers, in a way known to God, of the Paschal mystery.” Every man who is ignorant of the Gospel of Christ and of his Church, but seeks the truth and does the will of God in accordance with his understanding of it, can be saved. It may be supposed that such persons would have desired Baptism explicitly if they had known its necessity.

  92. @Ruberad

    Wait, this is an incredibly dumb question that may get me laughed out of the discussion. When did that stool grow a third leg? What’s the distinction between “Church” and “Tradition”?

    If you go to the left of the CtCers and go to more of the mainstream and liberal Catholicism there is a real distinction. The magisterium is the hierarchy which represents current policy. Tradition indicates what the church fathers did in the past. And for mainstream and liberal Catholicism the two can diverge.

    Since we are discussing abortion lets use that example. Does ensoulment occur during fertilization? You see the posts from the Catholics on here, for them abortion is killing an existent person. That is the current church’s position. As many Catholics will point out, up until about mid 19th century the notion that ensoulment resulted from sex i.e. in effect that sperm carries with it a human soul was a heresy. The position of the majority of early church fathers was that inside the womb there was a progression from a vegetative creature to an animal to a human and ensoulment occurred no earlier than quickening (the time when the mother can feel fetal movement).

    So in this example:
    current church / magisterium = embryos are human
    church tradition = embryos are not human

  93. CD-Host,

    So in this example:
    current church / magisterium = embryos are human
    church tradition = embryos are not human

    The early Church also thought the world was flat and in geocentrism.

    The Catholic Church has more data today to make their judgement and I’m willing to bet if the early Church fathers were privy to the same data, they would draw the same conclusions.

    Still even moreso, Scripture disagrees with you. When Elizabeth greets Mary, she address Mary as “the Mother of my Lord” and not as “the Mother of a vegetative creature who will become my Lord.” (Luke 1:43)

  94. CD-Host,

    Reflecting on this further, John “leaps” in her womb at the presence of Mary with Jesus. i.e. the fetal John recognizes the Lord who at the time (she left to visit Elizabeth in haste per Luke 1) would have been nothing more than a bunch of cells and not anywhere close to the quickening yet.

    So, John in Elizabeth’s womb recognizes Christ in the womb of Mary.

    I’m pretty sure that’s more than sufficient evidence that life begins at conception for the Church.

  95. In other words, whoever passes a law that allows unborn children to be aborted, he has done the same thing as a guard who opens the door to assassins. Even if he didn’t personally do the killing, he (and the government for which he passed the law) is responsible for the killing.

    Jonathan, but in the American arrangement (and plenty elsewhere), no single politician “passes a law.” Nobody has that kind of power. They simply have political opinions, and it’s a very far distance from having an opinion to being personally responsible for the death of someone. Your analogy may be good rhetoric for stirring up antipathy against those with choice politics, but the upshot is a level of irresponsibility that is puzzling.

    And I say that as one who is just as morally and politically opposed to elective abortion as the next guy on this list. My choice opponent is not in fact guilty of opening doors to assassins; he is not personally and morally corrupt. I’ve no problem saying that he or she who practices elective abortion is corrupt. But he or she who simply has a political view different from mine is, well, simply someone who disagrees with me. And I’d rather push back on him politically, not morally or spiritually. I understand having robust convictions on a political matter, but I’m just as convinced that there is such a thing as moralizing politics. Legalizing elective abortion may be bad law, but just as problematic is morally impugning those who affirm it. And I have to say, for all the posturing you CtCers do about charity for one’s interlocutor, I find it not a little rich that you’re so given to argumentation that equates choicers to Nazis.

  96. @Zrim:
    It’s not a question of the system, but the choices the individual makes. Obviously, no single person will be as responsible as a fascist dictator, but he is responsible to some extent.

    As far as responsibility or judging people as responsible, I’m not making any such judgment. It’s easy to cast the South, for example, as evil because it was the pro-slavery side, but the truth is that they weren’t any worse people than the North. They just had a huge moral blind spot for lots of reasons, a blind spot that was shared by plenty of Northerners.

    I’m not judging people for being accountable for right and wrong in this case, but it’s not doing anybody any good to lie about it either. Same goes for my opinion on Protestantism, although that isn’t morally wrong at all. I don’t ascribe any personal fault for believing it, but I would be remiss not to say I think it is out of touch with reality. Political opinions are like religious opinions or any other opinions; it can be wrong to hold them and wrong to live according to them.

  97. The early Church also thought the world was flat and in geocentrism.

    And how are we to know that those thoughts were fallible, except that the church eventually changed its mind? What would they have thought if asked at the time whether their thoughts were infallible?

  98. RUBE,

    geocentrism has nothing to do with the faith. So all the ECF thoughts on that would be irrelevant. The ECFs also probably unanimously thought that the world was flat and would have no idea what plate tectonics are… The Catholic answer would be… Who cares?

    do you think that the Catholic teaching that it is *possible* for unbelievers to go to heaven is wrong? If it was *impossible* wouldn’t that make God unjust? I’m not saying that a single unbeliever has ever reached heavens gates… I’m convinced that they all fail to (or at least almost always fail to)… But not because it was *impossible*. Everyone has sufficient grace unto salvation. Otherwise we are left with the monster God of Calvinism and who wants that?

  99. No I actually think what you describe is not too far off. Westminster confesses that the church is the only ordinary means of salvation; if God wills to save outside of the church, that’s his business, but he doesn’t promise or reveal very much about it in scripture.

    So no, I don’t find the position impossible, I just find it hard to believe it is consistent with teaching/doctrine/dogma from less PC times.

  100. http://www.catholic.com/blog/todd-aglialoro/survey-says

    awwww snap Jason caught some bad press from Catholic Answers!!!! Lol the beginning of this article is about you dude there is no way its coincidence

  101. Not really bad press but this guy definitely didn’t come up with this topic on his own. That’s awesome. Jason stellman the man who sets the catholic blogging agenda

  102. @Dennis

    CD-Host So in this example:
    current church / magisterium = embryos are human
    church tradition = embryos are not human

    Dennis: The early Church also thought the world was flat and in geocentrism.
    The Catholic Church has more data today to make their judgement and I’m willing to bet if the early Church fathers were privy to the same data, they would draw the same conclusions.

    Maybe, I doubt it. I’m privy to the same data and feel perfectly comfortable with Aquinas’ position while I think the current Catholic position is a logical nightmare of contradictions. The current Catholic position is unable to basic questions like whether identical twins prior to division have one soul or two? Or if a human soul is capable of operating in a body far less sophisticated than a human body, what is the point of a bodily resurrection? The relevant fact is that neither one of us knows. What we do know is they did in fact hold a very different position. We do know that they identified theories at the very least very much like the current one and arguably exactly like the current one as heresies. Those are the facts.

    Your position seems to me far more damning than mine (i.e. the pro-choice Catholic / Pelosi one). Under your theory the church fathers declared something heretical because they were ignorant of science. But in that case that puts the deposit of faith in serious question, if the church regularly can’t successfully distinguish between opinion based on scientific fact and heresy why believe they can successfully distinguish heresy in other cases? Why believe the creeds? In Pelosi’s opinion the current magisterium is just abusing their authority but Catholic tradition remains intact.

    Still even moreso, Scripture disagrees with you. When Elizabeth greets Mary, she address Mary as “the Mother of my Lord” and not as “the Mother of a vegetative creature who will become my Lord.” (Luke 1:43)

    …. Reflecting on this further, John “leaps” in her womb at the presence of Mary with Jesus. i.e. the fetal John recognizes the Lord who at the time (she left to visit Elizabeth in haste per Luke 1) would have been nothing more than a bunch of cells and not anywhere close to the quickening yet.

    So, John in Elizabeth’s womb recognizes Christ in the womb of Mary.
    I’m pretty sure that’s more than sufficient evidence that life begins at conception for the Church.

    John’s nativity in your religion is June 24th. Jesus nativity is Dec 25th. Roughly April 6th would have been when Mary. Which means that he was 10 weeks short of birth or well past quickening at the earliest possible for the scene in question. So no, the verse doesn’t support your position.

  103. Jonathan, except that spiritual beliefs have eternal consequences. In which case, ascribing moral and spiritual fault to those who embrace religious falsehood is indeed appropriate. Portraying it as “out of touch with reality” seems like the sort of problem JJS was pointing out in the dialogue thread. Are you guys on the same page or not? I’m saying your Catholicism is wrong, not “out of touch with reality.” You’re saying my Protestantism isn’t necessarily wrong but “out of touch with reality.”

    And what do you mean when you say you’re not judging anybody for being accountable for right and wrong in this case? That’s precisely what you’re doing to the extent that you affirm Ratzinger’s statement above. It’s exactly what lifers who talk about Nazis and slavery mean to say.

  104. CD,

    I don’t think you understand Aquinas position. His metaphysics on form and matter and its relation to the human soul (hylemorphism) demands that an embryo be human. Natural Law Theory which is derived from Thomistic metaphysics also comes to the same conclusions as the current magesterium. It is a sure thing that he would accept the current position of he knew what we do now.

  105. @Rubeard

    The early Church also thought the world was flat and in geocentrism.
    And how are we to know that those thoughts were fallible, except that the church eventually changed its mind? What would they have thought if asked at the time whether their thoughts were infallible?

    It is worse than that. There was an official declaration to that effect by the holy inquisition. That is effectively the magisterium:

    Assessment made at the Holy Office, Rome, Wednesday, 24 February 1616, in the presence of the Father Theologians signed below.

    Proposition to be assessed:

    (1) The sun is the center of the world and completely devoid of local motion.

    Assessement: All said that this proposition is foolish and absurd in philosophy, and formally heretical since it explicitly contradicts many places the sense of Holy Scripture, according to the literal meaning of the words and according to the common interpretation and understanding of the Holy Fathers and the doctors of theology.

    (2) The earth is not the center of the world, nor motionless, but it moves as a whole and also with diurnal motion.

    Assessment: All said that this proposition receives the same judgement in philosophy and that in regard to theological truth it is at least errouneous in faith.

    signed:

    Petrus Lombardus, Archbishop of Armagh.
    Fra Hyacintus Petronius, Master of the Sacred Apostolic Palace.
    Fra Raphael Riphoz, Master of Theology and Vicar-General of the Domincan Order.
    Fra Michelangelo Segizzi, Master of Sacred Theology and Commissary of the Holy Office.
    Fra Hieronimus de Casalimaiori, Consultant to the Holy Office.
    Fra Thomas de Lemos.
    Fra Gregorius Nunnius Coronel.
    Benedictus Justinianus, Society of Jesus.
    Father Raphael Rastellius, Clerk Regular, Doctor of Theology.
    Father Michael of Naples, of the Cassinese Congregation.
    Fra Iacobus Tintus, assistant of the Most Reverend Father Commissary of the Holy Office.

    The magisterium ruled and ruled in error on this topic quite directly. Protestants, rightly, used this as strong counter evidence argument against the idea that the church cannot err and that the church is protected from error.

    Now one can argue that the inquisition, even in a ruling approved of by the pope is not infallible… but again it is hard to figure out how a Catholic acting in real time is supposed to have any assurance in the church if documents this official can be casually brushed aside as entirely in error.

  106. @Kenneth —

    I don’t think you understand Aquinas position. His metaphysics on form and matter and its relation to the human soul (hylemorphism) demands that an embryo be human.

    The problem with that position is he quite explicitly said the opposite. For example

    Again, the seminal power acts by virtue of the soul of the begetter according as the soul of the begetter is the act of the body, making use of the body in its operation. Now the body has nothing whatever to do in the operation of the intellect. Therefore the power of the intellectual principle, as intellectual, cannot reach the semen. Hence the Philosopher says (De Gener. Animal. ii, 3): “It follows that the intellect alone comes from without.”

    Again, since the intellectual soul has an operation independent of the body, it is subsistent, as proved above (Question 75, Article 2): therefore to be and to be made are proper to it. Moreover, since it is an immaterial substance it cannot be caused through generation, but only through creation by God. Therefore to hold that the intellectual soul is caused by the begetter, is nothing else than to hold the soul to be non-subsistent and consequently to perish with the body. It is therefore heretical to say that the intellectual soul is transmitted with the semen. (Summa I.118.2.0)

    He’s quite explicit all throughout 118 that the intellectual soul (a human soul) requires a human body and human brain structures and doesn’t pre-exist them,” That the soul remains without the body is due to the corruption of the body, which was a result of sin. Consequently it was not fitting that God should make the soul without the body from the beginning: for as it is written (Wisdom 1:13-16): “God made not death . . . but the wicked with works and words have called it to them.

    I’m not sure how he could be more clear that the embryos aren’t human yet. More or less what we’ve discovered tracks with Aquainas’ theory quite well. Prior to 7 weeks an embryo doesn’t have a brain at all. If the soul is connected to the intellect where is this intellect in your understanding of Aquinas? At about 11 weeks you start to have non-functional structures that can be called a brain, same question. Month 3 basic animalistic reflexes are in place but nothing that implies thought or intellect. Etc…

    Aquinas said what he said. Human souls require human brains.

  107. http://www.catholic.com/blog/todd-aglialoro/survey-says
    awwww snap Jason caught some bad press from Catholic Answers!!!! Lol the beginning of this article is about you dude there is no way its coincidence

    That’s rough, having the Magisterium come down against you like that…

    Just a joke there. However, that raises the more serious question, is The Catholic Encyclopedia part of the Ordinary Magisterium (or at least the parts of it that are about doctrine, rather than just biography)? It certainly presents itself as authoritative:

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, as its name implies, proposes to give its readers full and authoritative information on the entire cycle of Catholic interests, action and doctrine. What the Church teaches and has taught; … Designed to present its readers with the full body of Catholic teaching, the Encyclopedia contains not only precise statements of what the Church has defined, but also an impartial record of different views of acknowledged authority on all disputed questions. In all things the object of the Encyclopedia is to give the whole truth without prejudice, national, political or factional. … The Editors have insisted that the articles should contain the latest and most accurate information to be obtained from the standard works on each subject. … The Encyclopedia bears the imprimatur of the Most Reverend Archbishop under whose jurisdiction it is published. In constituting the Editors the ecclesiastical censors, he has given them a singular proof of his confidence and of his desire to facilitate the publication of the work which he has promoted most effectively by his influence and kindly co-operation.

  108. CD-Host,

    Your position seems to me far more damning than mine (i.e. the pro-choice Catholic / Pelosi one). Under your theory the church fathers declared something heretical because they were ignorant of science. But in that case that puts the deposit of faith in serious question, if the church regularly can’t successfully distinguish between opinion based on scientific fact and heresy why believe they can successfully distinguish heresy in other cases? Why believe the creeds? In Pelosi’s opinion the current magisterium is just abusing their authority but Catholic tradition remains intact.

    No, you’re misunderstanding what the Church fathers have declared.

    The Deposit of Faith’s teaching isn’t necessarily about abortion. The Apostolic Teaching–ie what Christ handed down is that All Human Life is Sacred.

    From there, that begs the question about the sanctity of life in the womb and when does life begin. The Church has declared that “Life begins at Conception.”

    So, the big ‘T’ Tradition isn’t Life begins at Conception but rather that “All Human Life is Sacred” and the Church has interpreted that to mean life within the womb.

    John’s nativity in your religion is June 24th. Jesus nativity is Dec 25th. Roughly April 6th would have been when Mary. Which means that he was 10 weeks short of birth or well past quickening at the earliest possible for the scene in question. So no, the verse doesn’t support your position.

    No, you misunderstood what I said. I’m not talking about John. I’m talking about Christ. Christ was before the quickening and John recognized Him.

    Luke–who was a doctor–recorded the key events in Christ’s life. He recorded the conception and the birth but did not record His quickening. Additionally, there are key feast days that the early Church has highlighted on the liturgical calendar:

    Annunciation i.e. Christ’s conception: 3/25
    Visitation: 5/31
    John’s birth: 6/24
    Nativity: 12/25

    (Interesting side note is that the Nativity was chosen as the shortest day and John the Baptist’s Day was chosen as the longest day to signify the “He must increase while I decrease” astronomically. )

    Note that the early Church never placed a feast day for Christ’s quickening.

    For Luke–and the early Church, the evidence more points that Christ’s life began at conception.

  109. @CD-Host,

    I imagine what Kenneth means is that Aquinas’ metaphysics require that the embryo be human even if that’s not the conclusion he himself drew. People don’t always draw the conclusions necessitated by their own premises (particularly when we’re talking about facts about Medieval embryology vs. the embryological knowledge gathered by modern medicine). John Finnis, among others, has argued that *if* Aquinas knew what we know about neonatology and embryology, *then* Aquinas’ own metaphysics would force him to conclude that the embryo is human. Hope that helps.

    Yours Sincerely,
    ~Benjamin

  110. Benjamin,

    People don’t always draw the conclusions necessitated by their own premises (particularly when we’re talking about facts about Medieval embryology vs. the embryological knowledge gathered by modern medicine).

    And sometimes people draw the wrong conclusions based on correct premises.

  111. @Dennis —

    No, you’re misunderstanding what the Church fathers have declared.
    The Deposit of Faith’s teaching isn’t necessarily about abortion. The Apostolic Teaching–ie what Christ handed down is that All Human Life is Sacred.
    From there, that begs the question about the sanctity of life in the womb and when does life begin. The Church has declared that “Life begins at Conception.”
    So, the big ‘T’ Tradition isn’t Life begins at Conception but rather that “All Human Life is Sacred” and the Church has interpreted that to mean life within the womb.

    I’d start by saying first off, that’s a really minimal definition of tradition and certainly one that most Catholics would reject. I think the very Catholic definition of tradition is more than a few brief sentences of vague moral principles. But let’s go with your theory.

    Then you have to explain why the early fathers attributed their personal opinion to tradition and moral law. Had they said that the only teaching of Jesus was that all human life was sacred and they were taking a WAG that human life begins at quickening and thus anyone else could disagree that would be fine. But they said nothing of the kind. I can see how it bolsters your case against the Pelosi / Catholics for Choice position, as it turns an indisputable fact of history into an errant moral opinion. But then you have three very big problems:

    a) In terms of Pelosi / Catholics for Choice you have to make an argument why the current church teaching should be treated as anything more than the magisterium’s current WAG. Under your theory there is no divine mandate to back them up, they are just guys with an opinion. The church today doesn’t say anything of the kind either, they declare their opinion to be the moral law as handed down to the church.

    b) In terms of the Creed to Cult debate it substantially weakens the notion of tradition. If the deposit of faith, the tradition, contains these sorts of brief statements which could equally well be derived from the bible why bother?

    c) Once you no longer have any divine mandate at all for the church’s current opinion the logical counter arguments like identical twins grow much more powerful. Human opinions should be subject to evaluation and if they can’t even handle basic edge cases they are best discarded.

    No, you misunderstood what I said. I’m not talking about John. I’m talking about Christ. Christ was before the quickening and John recognized Him.

    Oh, I see your argument, you are correct I misunderstood your point. So let me respond to your actual point. Under your theory my soul formed in 1969. Under Aquinas it formed in 1970. What definitely didn’t happen in either of your theories is that my soul pre-existed the universe. Jesus has an eternally existent human nature in hypostatic union with his eternally existent divine nature. Other humans / actual humans don’t have a soul situation remotely similar. He’s a worthless example to prove anything about when human souls form or what the definition of human is. If you believed in adoptionism then that would be clear cut evidence, since on 5/31 (I’ll accept those dates) he wouldn’t yet have the Christ soul. But since you and Catholics for Choice both reject adoptionism and thus he’s had a human soul since before the universe I don’t see how the infancy narrative from Luke provides any evidence for your position.

  112. @CD-Host,

    I see now – you’re glossing “intellectual soul” as “human soul” but that’s inaccurate. See Aquinas’ commentary on De Anima if you care about it that much. Nonetheless, I’m puzzled why you write: “I’m not sure how he could be more clear that the embryos aren’t human yet.” Is the embryo residing within a female homo sapien not itself a embryonic homo sapien? (If you mean that its embryonic development is incomplete then that’s true – but also will be true at least until the homo sapien hits puberty!) Or do you think that some homo sapiens (specifically embryonic homo sapiens) are not humans? (If that’s the case, then I’m pretty sure you just don’t understand biology! The definition of “human” just is a member of the species homo sapiens.)

    I suspect what you mean is not that embryos aren’t *human* (since they clearly are), but that embryos aren’t *persons*. That’s the standard philosophical terminology – and there are lots of philosophers who think that some humans aren’t persons and, consequently, that they may be killed. Terri Schiavo is often proposed as a candidate for being a human but not being a person. Pro-choice people think that fetuses are humans but aren’t persons – and since one must be a person to enjoy the right ot life, that fetuses don’t have the right to life. Since this seems to be the train you’re riding personally (that not all humans are persons), I wonder if you’ve considered anencephalic infants? (Look ’em up on Google if you haven’t). I wonder if you think that it’s morally legitimate to kill anencephalic infants? Or if you think Aquinas would hold that it’s morally fine to kill anencephalic infants? (Probably don’t reply since, frankly, your answer would take us rather far afield of Jason’s topic…but I find it highly unlikely that Aquinas would conclude that there’s nothing morally wrong with killing an anencephalic infant.)

    Yours Sincerely,
    ~Benjamin

  113. @Benjamin —

    I imagine what Kenneth means is that Aquinas’ metaphysics require that the embryo be human even if that’s not the conclusion he himself drew.

    That’s possible. I responded that the point from Dennis who did make that claim and I don’t see any evidence for it. What I see is that over the last 900 years we’ve learned a lot of stuff that mostly confirms Aquinas theory. I don’t see how what we’ve learned does anything but weaken the position that humans exist from fertilization.

    I see now – you’re glossing “intellectual soul” as “human soul” but that’s inaccurate. See Aquinas’ commentary on De Anima if you care about it that much.

    Please educate me. I’m unclear on the distinction. I see lines like, ” We must assert that the intellectual principle which we call the human soul is incorruptible” and he seems to define a human as consisting of both soul and body and the human soul of consisting of the vegetative soul, the animal soul and the intellectual soul. You seem to be disagreeing, so what exactly do you believe to be Aquinas’ theory?

    The rest of your post is about my position not my understanding of Aquinas position so I’ll respond separately so I’m not putting words in Aquinas’ mouth.

  114. @Benjaimin

    Is the embryo residing within a female homo sapien not itself a embryonic homo sapien? (If you mean that its embryonic development is incomplete then that’s true – but also will be true at least until the homo sapien hits puberty!) Or do you think that some homo sapiens (specifically embryonic homo sapiens) are not humans? (If that’s the case, then I’m pretty sure you just don’t understand biology! The definition of “human” just is a member of the species homo sapiens.)

    The definition of species for non-reproductive adults is really complex: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Species_problem

    It is certainly reasonable to group born children (pre-puberty) as human under the social definition of species. But that’s a social definition not a biological one. But the social argument is strong and thus no-one (myself included) objects.

    Once we start going further back it gets more complex. Lets take a situation of two
    Case 1: 4 celled embryo call him X. Is X human?
    1 of those cells breaks off and implants to create Y. While the other 3 cells continue to form Z. Are Y and Z human? Are they the same humans as X?

    Case 2: Let’s make it worse. X lives in a jar in a lab. I grab one of X’s cells and implant him who grows to baby Y. The other 3 exist still in the jar. Are those cells part of Y?

    Case 3: Let’s make it worse. X lives in a jar in a lab. I grab one of X’s cells and implant him who grows to baby Y. I grab another one of X’s cells and blast it with chicken RNA for the next 21 days producing a chicken, Z. Is Z human?

    BTW case 3 isn’t science fiction something very much like this is how many pharmaceuticals are manufactured though generally it is bacterial cells being blasted with some human DNA/RNA strands.

    I think the easiest answer to those questions is that human embryos are not human. They are cells with designed for rapid growth and differentiation with human DNA. They will, if all goes well (which it mostly doesn’t in practice) grow into a human infant.

    . I wonder if you think that it’s morally legitimate to kill anencephalic infants?

    Very fair question. Completely consistent with my premises. My answer is yes. AFAIK they are considered still born and I don’t disagree with that position.

    Or if you think Aquinas would hold that it’s morally fine to kill anencephalic infants?

    Anencephalic infants died instantly in his world. I’d assume he’d consider them just another variety of non-viable still born mutations. My opinion is he wouldn’t even have considered this an edge case. But we are both creating a theory about stuff he never indicated his position on.

  115. CD HOST

    Thomistic thought is a particular specialty of mine. I will quote the Thomist John Haldane at length to answer you objection.

    “the key metaphysical principle concerning the question of the time of ensoulment is the following: P) in a material substance the matter must be proportioned to the form, or in a living material substance, to the soul. But this principle could mean two different things:

    P. 1) what is necessary for ensoulment is the presence of the actual organs, sufficiently developed to support the operations proper to that species; or

    P. 2) what is necessary for ensoulment is the material organization sufficient for the development of those organs, in other words, the epigenetic primordia of the organs that support the operations proper to the species.

    Aquinas was unaware that the embryo satisfies P. 2) (has epigenetic primordia of organs) long before it has visibly present organs. He thought that the formative power in the ‘animal spirits’ remained, and acted on the menstrual blood, then on the embryo, then on the fetus, up to the time that the organs were actually present (though not yet operative, or able to operate for some time). and that this interpretation of the metaphysical principle is true…. But more importantly, given the embryological facts as we now known them, Aquinas’s principles actually lead to P. 2), and to the conclusion that the rational soul must be present at conception, that is, at fertilisation.

    Because Aquinas thought that ensoulment happened at 40 days for males and 90 for females it is highly unlikely that they would have fulfilled p1 at that time (especially since the brain is supposed to be able to produce conceptual thought). Leading me to believe he must have been looking for p2 but didn’t have all the I formation necessary.

    for a better exposition check out John Haldane. He is a leader in Thomistic thought and directly addresses your objections in his published work which can be viewed here

    http://www2.franciscan.edu/plee/aquinas_on_human_ensoulment.htm

  116. epigenetic primordia of organs

    Does that mean DNA?

  117. CD-Host,

    I’d start by saying first off, that’s a really minimal definition of tradition and certainly one that most Catholics would reject. I think the very Catholic definition of tradition is more than a few brief sentences of vague moral principles.

    That’s not ALL of the Apsotolic Tradition. That’s the Apostolic Tradition that’s germane to Abortion teaching. Christ said a lot more than that.

    a) In terms of Pelosi / Catholics for Choice you have to make an argument why the current church teaching should be treated as anything more than the magisterium’s current WAG. Under your theory there is no divine mandate to back them up, they are just guys with an opinion. The church today doesn’t say anything of the kind either, they declare their opinion to be the moral law as handed down to the church.

    It doesn’t matter as Pelosi and all Catholics should submit to the authority of the Magisterium. The Church declares their opinion to be the moral law as handed down by the Church because it is the moral law handed down by the Church…”what is bound on earth…”

    The Church won’t move the goal posts on this and to my knowledge never has. Abortions have never been permitted at any time. The Didache even says that abortions can’t be permitted…not even “abortions after the quickening.”

    b) In terms of the Creed to Cult debate it substantially weakens the notion of tradition. If the deposit of faith, the tradition, contains these sorts of brief statements which could equally well be derived from the bible why bother?

    Because the Tradition unlocks the Scripture. For example, if you go in to reading Scripture with the understanding that “Life is Sacred” you won’t interpret Scripture seeking to justify abortion. Understanding the Apostolic Tradition i.e. what Christ said to the Apostles gives you a better understanding of Scripture.

    c) Once you no longer have any divine mandate at all for the church’s current opinion the logical counter arguments like identical twins grow much more powerful. Human opinions should be subject to evaluation and if they can’t even handle basic edge cases they are best discarded.

    In regards to abortion, the Catholic Church seems to be one of the only sane voices out there. To disregard their opinion would be to disregard logic.

    According to statistics, 50 million babies have been aborted since Roe vs. Wade.
    12 million died as a result of the Holocaust. (The entire death toll of WWII was 50 million)
    The Holocaust was a result of a system where Nazis murdered people.
    The abortion industry is a result of a system where mothers are murdering their children.

    If you asked a person from 1000 years ago (say Thomas Aquinas)—or 1000 years from now, which scenario (Nazi Germany vs. Present Day) would seem more horrific, I would argue that they would say “mothers murdering their children.” It doesn’t even make sense.

    The primary role of government is to protect the individual. Our government is failing at the most fundamental level when it allows for the murder of the most innocent.

    This problem is as big as slavery. It’s as big as WWII Germany.

  118. CD-Host,

    What definitely didn’t happen in either of your theories is that my soul pre-existed the universe. Jesus has an eternally existent human nature in hypostatic union with his eternally existent divine nature. Other humans / actual humans don’t have a soul situation remotely similar. He’s a worthless example to prove anything about when human souls form or what the definition of human is.

    It’s not about when the soul enters the body. The argument is that human life is sacred and human life begins at conception.

    Scripture shows that Christ was being recognized in the womb before the quickening regardless of His soul.

  119. @Dennis

    It doesn’t matter as Pelosi and all Catholics should submit to the authority of the Magisterium. The Church declares their opinion to be the moral law as handed down by the Church because it is the moral law handed down by the Church…”what is bound on earth…”

    That’s what they are debating. From their perspective the church is broader than the hierarchy, “we are the church, they are the hierarchy”. For liberal Catholics the church is infallible on matters of faith and morals not the magisterium. You are trying to have it both ways, regarding the magisterium freely dismissing the earlier fathers as not reflective of the tradition while asserting the current magisterium has the authority to bind. If the current magisterium has that authority why didn’t the earlier one that declared that ensoulment occurs at quickening? They are being consistent arguing that the tradition is what is sacred. For them the church has the authority to bind and that the position of the magisterium on contraception has been rejected by the church.

    You are begging the question.

    The Church won’t move the goal posts on this and to my knowledge never has. Abortions have never been permitted at any time. The Didache even says that abortions can’t be permitted…not even “abortions after the quickening.”

    The definition of abortion changed after 1870. What the didache calls an abortion would be a late term abortion in today’s nomenclature.

    In regards to abortion, the Catholic Church seems to be one of the only sane voices out there. To disregard their opinion would be to disregard logic.
    According to statistics, 50 million babies have been aborted since Roe vs. Wade.
    12 million died as a result of the Holocaust. (The entire death toll of WWII was 50 million)
    The Holocaust was a result of a system where Nazis murdered people.
    The abortion industry is a result of a system where mothers are murdering their children.

    Under your definition the abortion industry is a droplet in the ocean. Implantation failures, that is fertilized eggs that fail to induce pregnancy are very common in fertile women, incidentally much more common in fertile women practicing NFP. There are 130m live births globally per year. Implantation failures plus later miscarriages are probably around 1/2 billion per year. So using your theology that’s a 1/2 billion negligent homicides annually. Every sexual active fertile women’s uterus is a slaughter house. Using your theology NFP should be grave sin and barrier methods, which don’t induce implantation failures should be virtually mandatory, preferable to even non-contraceptive sex.

    During Aquinas’ time with poor nutrition and much higher rates of disease, I’d imagine the rate of implantation failures for was likely considerably higher. So if you really are going to treat fertilization as the start of life women’s bodies have been killing the overwhelming majority of their children since the start of humanity. Surgical abortion is a statistical blip not even worth discussing.

    Fertilization as the start of life creates a very different morality than what most pro-lifers actually hold to.

  120. Really CD? Implantation failure and miscarriage is surely in a different category than intentional abortion; events that are in God’s hands, not ours. It’s pretty silly to lump it into the category of negligent homicide.

    Isn’t it enough that you have shown very convincingly that the church has changed its stance on when ‘quickening’ occurs?

  121. CD-Host,

    . If the current magisterium has that authority why didn’t the earlier one that declared that ensoulment occurs at quickening?

    I don’t think the magisterium ever declared ensoulment occurs at the quickening. If you have something, please show it.

    The definition of abortion changed after 1870. What the didache calls an abortion would be a late term abortion in today’s nomenclature.

    I think abortion procedures improved but I think an abortion is an abortion…i.e. they didn’t have another term for a non late term abortion.

    Implantation failures plus later miscarriages are probably around 1/2 billion per year. So using your theology that’s a 1/2 billion negligent homicides annually. Every sexual active fertile women’s uterus is a slaughter house. Using your theology NFP should be grave sin and barrier methods, which don’t induce implantation failures should be virtually mandatory, preferable to even non-contraceptive sex.

    None of these involves an active decision from a woman to murder her child. The intrinsic evil lies in that decision.

  122. RUBE,

    the encyclopedia presents the teaching of the Church without elevating the doctrinal status of those teachings beyond what they otherwise have. Consequently, one must look to other documents and to the tradition of the Church to establish the doctrinal weight of any particular point in the encyclopedia. Since the encyclopedia treats many things that not only have not been taught infallibly but which also have been proposed in the most tentative of fashions (esp. in the area of social teaching), there remains due liberty for theologians (and others) when they encounter something that has been proposed only tentatively.

  123. @Kenneth —

    Aquinas was unaware that the embryo satisfies P. 2

    I don’t see how. He was well aware that the menstrual discharge plus sperm had potential human organs he just correctly believed it didn’t have actual human organs. So you and I are disagreeing on a question of fact regarding embryology I think though I’m a bit unsure. I’ll wait for the next round.

    Using the article’s definition of an organ in a more primitive form… still doesn’t help because embryos during early pregnancy don’t have brains at all and won’t till about 7 weeks. At 11 weeks you still don’t really have a human brain but at least you have some functionality.

    But let’s assume that were not true. I’m not sure that P2 is in consistent with Aquinas writings. Aquinas when he writes of the intellectual soul as being a composite entity in its creation. That is that it must belong to a body capable of engaging in human thought.

    If it were only a potential body then why could a chicken embryo if blasted with human RNA would develop the same organs as a human embryo. Moreover this reintroduces the problem of identical twins in spades. All human embryos prior to differentiation are potentially dozens of twins and humans retain undifferentiated cells (i.e. potential twins) for months.

    The author of the article (Haldane and Lee) is correct that human brains don’t really develop into entities capable of full human functioning until about 3 years after birth (he puts it at months and I’d disagree). So I’d agree with the article Aquinas must have meant some kind of partial functioning and he didn’t specific what degree of partial functioning. I’d agree that’s a weakness in wholeheartedly adopting Aquinas. I suspect you end up with a semi-arbitrary lines. Quickening isn’t a bad line since it correlates with milestones in brain development and is traditional but another line could be chosen.

  124. @Dennis

    I don’t think the magisterium ever declared ensoulment occurs at the quickening. If you have something, please show it.

    Summa which we are talking about. Movement is part of Aquinas’ very definition of life. And since you were freely quoting scripture, scripture repetitively uses breath as the definition for living. Human style lungs develop 16-24 weeks which is the time of quickening.

    CD-Host: The definition of abortion changed after 1870. What the didache calls an abortion would be a late term abortion in today’s nomenclature.

    I think abortion procedures improved but I think an abortion is an abortion…i.e. they didn’t have another term for a non late term abortion.

    There you are incorrect. They used the term “restoration of menses” or contraception for early term abortion.

    None of these involves an active decision from a woman to murder her child. The intrinsic evil lies in that decision.

    How does having sex late in a menstrual cycle not involve an active decision? That’s like firing a gun wildly into a crowd and saying that I didn’t actively decide to murder anyone and therefore there is no intrinsic evil.

  125. @Ruberand

    Really CD? Implantation failure and miscarriage is surely in a different category than intentional abortion; events that are in God’s hands, not ours. It’s pretty silly to lump it into the category of negligent homicide.

    I agree it is silly. It is however a logical implication of the fetal definition of human life. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reductio_ad_absurdum

    Isn’t it enough that you have shown very convincingly that the church has changed its stance on when ‘quickening’ occurs?

    Yes and no. There are 3 parts of the argument:

    a) The current definition violates tradition
    b) The current definition violates the bible
    c) The current definition is stupid

  126. Dennis wrote:

    It doesn’t matter as Pelosi and all Catholics should submit to the authority of the Magisterium. The Church declares their opinion to be the moral law as handed down by the Church because it is the moral law handed down by the Church…”what is bound on earth…”

    Sola Ecclesia

  127. How does having sex late in a menstrual cycle not involve an active decision? That’s like firing a gun wildly into a crowd and saying that I didn’t actively decide to murder anyone and therefore there is no intrinsic evil.

    Nothing like it. Perhaps you can quibble about the intention to conceive, but if a husband and wife are actively trying to conceive, and they miscarry, it’s ridiculous to hold them culpable.

    Yes and no. There are 3 parts of the argument…

    I think only “a) The current definition violates tradition” is relevant to this discussion.

  128. @Ruberad —

    For a women with no fertility problems (i.e. young healthy…) if you have sex 9-11 days after ovulation and the women gets pregnant there is 84% chance of implantation failure. At day 12 it is 100%. If implantation is successful the odds of miscarriage during the next 6 weeks skyrocket to almost 50% so successfully bringing to term is unlikely. If we start talking about fertile women in the 40s the numbers are far worse than that.

    So yes, if you consider life to begin at fertilization then women are committing (at the very least) negligent homicide when they have sex 11 or more days after ovulation. They are deliberately intentionally engaging in acts whose most likely outcome if it has any effect at all is the death of a person.

    The fact that you don’t want to think of women’s uteruses as slaughterhouses indicates that deep down you are grasping the problem the fertilization definition.

  129. CD Host,

    Summa which we are talking about. Movement is part of Aquinas’ very definition of life.

    Summa is not the Magisterium. Where does the Magisterium define quickening as life? I don’t think it does. I don’t think it ever did.

    since you were freely quoting scripture, scripture repetitively uses breath as the definition for living. Human style lungs develop 16-24 weeks which is the time of quickening.

    “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
    before you were born I set you apart (Jeremiah 1:5)

    You still can’t breathe in the womb even with lungs. That definition would justify abortion. Also, the way I as a Catholic interpret these passages is that through God’s grace, we breathe. It’s God that gives us life. Without God, we cannot breathe and thus we would die.

    How does having sex late in a menstrual cycle not involve an active decision? That’s like firing a gun wildly into a crowd and saying that I didn’t actively decide to murder anyone and therefore there is no intrinsic evil.

    Really? Having sex late in a menstrual cycle is not the same as driving to an abortion clinic, pulling out your credit card, spreading your legs and having a stranger go in and rip a baby out of your body.

    If fertilization were to occur and implantation didn’t happen, then that’s a natural occurrence.

    If a woman misses her period after having sex and is motivated out of fear, pride, school, peer pressure, boyfriend, or some other reason then it’s an active decision of selfishness. It’s focusing on “what I want” as opposed to “what God wants” and therein lies the sin.

    Catholic teaching (Big ‘T’ Tradition) is that we follow the will of God daily. We choose God’s will over our own will as Christ teaches us. In choosing our own will over God’s will for us, we sin. It’s an act of selfishness.

    A woman who chooses to kill her child is an act of selfishness because she is not choosing God’s plan but rather her own. It’s intrinsically evil because she’s taking a human life which is sacred.

  130. So yes, if you consider life to begin at fertilization then women are committing (at the very least) negligent homicide when they have sex 11 or more days after ovulation. They are deliberately intentionally engaging in acts whose most likely outcome if it has any effect at all is the death of a person.

    Your argument is still silly, or at least proves too much. (a) this level of understanding was not available until what, the last few decades? Should the Catholic catechism include sections on reproductive biology, so that women can avoid sinning?

    But even beyond that, having sex even on the optimal day for successful conception is not 100%, so if your argument is true, then all sex is sinful, because it necessitates at least some nonzero probability of miscarriage.

    I guess at this point you say “yes, this is the dilemma RC is faced with.” I just say whatever dude, you’ve passed into counterproductivity with your argument, if you want to waste your time that’s up to you.

  131. CD host,

    Aquinas knew that there was the potential for organs but what he did not know was that they were already present in epigenetic primordial form. Why is that significant? Because that is all that is necessary for the composite to exist. It does not matter if there is no “functional” brain. Remember that for hylemorphism and dualism in general consciousness is not dependant on the brain. Our soul (or the part of you that makes you YOU) is not material. Our soul is the formal cause, our body and all of the organs that make the body function (including the brain) are the material cause. All that is needed for the composite to be complete is the epigenetic primordia found in an embryo. Consider again

    P In a material substance the matter must be proportioned to the form, or in a living material substance, to the soul.

    so the matter must be proportioned to the soul. We know that Aquinas thought that an infant would be composite even though not much activity would be happening in the brain? Why would he think this? Because all that he was looking for was P2!

    P. 2) what is necessary for ensoulment is the material organization sufficient for the development of those organs….

  132. I don’t know how anyone can deny that a fertilized egg is a human being, albeit a developing one. Even the pro-choice atheistic philosophers don’t deny that – they just deny that it is a person and, therefore, deny that it has any moral worth.

    Can’t say that I like the idea, though, that NFP results in more failed implantations. Gonna have to look into that.

  133. @Kenneth —

    That was a good reply. OK we are definitely disagreeing on some critical points and I may be misunderstanding you on some others. There are a lot of what I consider jumps in your argument. But it is my belief that the single biggest place we are disagreeing is on the infant issue.

    We know that Aquinas thought that an infant would be composite even though not much activity would be happening in the brain? Why would he think this? Because all that he was looking for was P2!

    I think you are begging the question to some extent. Why wouldn’t Aquinas believe an infant’s brain is fully formed? If you crack open a human infant’s skull you see a brain that appears very much like an adult human’s. It absolutely is the case that the the quantity of higher brain centers relative to lower ones is to low and this is observable. But to observe this requires that one dissect brains of dead infants can compare them to adult brains and to the best of our knowledge in the middle ages there was no medical science doing that sort of work and wouldn’t be till the 15th century.

    Aquinas as far as I can tell believes that human souls require a capacity for human cognition in their natural state, they are granted reason after death supernaturally but naturally wouldn’t have it. I see this as a critical point. But your assertion seems to be: infants don’t have formed brains yet do have intellectual souls hence a fully formed brain is not required for an intellectual soul. While I think he believes that infants do have the capacity for human cognition they are just aren’t very talented at it yet.

    Of course even assuming your infant point were true it still leaves open the question how formed does it have to be? Aquinas was quite clear that they needed to be some level of formation which is why souls without any bodies would constitute an imperfection of the universe unlike souls with bodies.

    You argue in that post for the blueprint being present. If all I need is a blueprint, well I’m sitting in the kitchen losing skin cells on my table. Why can’t my table have a human intellectual soul? Throw an egg on the table and I have undifferentiated cells. So then my table has exactly the same materials you are arguing for

    Aquinas knew that there was the potential for organs but what he did not know was that they were already present in epigenetic primordial form.

    Let me start by just opening this up. Why do you consider epigenetics important to this question? I’m not following that leap at all.

    I’ll respond as best I can.

    1) I’m not sure that in a meaningful sense Aquinas didn’t know this.
    2) I disagree with this line being sensible.

    Aquinas believed that the woman provided structured material to the forming fetus while the man provided an organizing principle. Our current belief is that the both mother and father provide an organizing principle while the woman provides unstructured material.

    Now that’s certainly a difference from Aquinas’ position. But structure + organizing principle is what caused human formations. The woman structures was already present very early, and the father’s organizing principle were present from the beginning. So one could argue for a few extra days but not the large amount of time that Aquinas demands. He doesn’t seem to be demanding that the blue print exist but that at the very least the building’s foundation exist. As much as anyone in his time could have understood the design was in place Aquinas knows the design is in place.

    Which brings us to the 3rd area of disagreement:

    what is necessary for ensoulment is the material organization sufficient for the development of those organs….

    Again you are getting this from the infant example so that is blocking us a bit. What I don’t see though is how organization sufficient for the development of human organs isn’t present in just about any fetus. There is no difference except the blueprint, DNA, between a human zygote and a chicken zygote. And you seem to be arguing for potential, if you really mean this then every bacteria has the potential to evolve into something like a human.

    I think the idea that things with potentially human brains would have intellectual (i.e. human) souls would completely change Aquinas’ whole theology.

    ____

    Finally let me close by raising another somewhat broader point. For Aquinas the key for him is that human thought requires a human soul. The intellectual soul for Aquinas is what makes possible complex thought. Holding onto that definition Aquinas soul would be the synaptic connections in the human brain. We’d unavoidably disagree with Aquinas on the immortality of synaptic connections but I’m not sure where to go if you want to dump the connection between thought and intellectual soul. That for Aquinas is the primary not the secondary issue.

  134. @Brian

    I don’t know how anyone can deny that a fertilized egg is a human being, albeit a developing one. Even the pro-choice atheistic philosophers don’t deny that – they just deny that it is a person and, therefore, deny that it has any moral worth.

    Not really. Though I agree the pro-life literature makes this assumption about pro-choicers. This is very similar to the critique of Jason’s previous post that I mentioned that his Protestant opponent was agreeing with many Catholic positions. Actual pro-choicers have a very different philosophy on this issue and that’s one of the reasons the theoretical debates don’t work well.

    For example “life begins at conception” they believe is an undisputed fact. Pro-choicers argue that life in the sense they mean it began once about 3.5b years ago (I’d personally put it a bit earlier) and has evolved into a variety of forms. Conception is not a point where two dead things “come to life”. Pro-choicers really and truly don’t believe fertilized eggs have any different status than dandruff (that analogy BTW comes directly from NARAL). They reject the notion that the fetus is distinct from the mother in any sense that the intestinal bacteria which help me digest my food are distinct from me. They view intestinal bacteria as part of my intestinal system and view a fetus as part of the mother’s reproductive system. Viability is also a major issue, which is why they often use the term “parasite” rather than separate human being. This was the argument used in Roe v. Wade.

    Again let me quote Joyce Arthur:
    Zygotes and blastocysts are barely visible to the naked eye and have no bodies, brains, skeleton, or internal organs. Are they materially substantial enough to count as human beings? Fetuses cannot breath or make sounds, and they cannot see or be seen (except by shadowy ultrasound). They absorb nourishment and expel waste via an umbilical cord and placenta, not via a mouth and anus as do human beings. Further, fetuses are not just miniature babies. At various stages, fetuses have eyes on stalks, notochords (instead of spines), fish-like gills, tails, downy fur, distorted torsos, spindly legs, giant heads, and alien-looking faces. In fact, an early human fetus is practically indistinguishable in appearance from a dog or pig fetus. Finally, the fetal brain is not yet capable of conscious thought and memory (which aren’t fully actualized until two or three years after birth). But our complex brains are what set us apart from animals and define us as human beings. The brain is the seat of personhood.

    Considering that the early fetus does not even look recognizably human, cannot engage in normal human perception or thought, and does not have the most basic human body functions, can we call it a human being?

    Can’t say that I like the idea, though, that NFP results in more failed implantations. Gonna have to look into that.

    I’m glad. Trying to actually apply the fertilization definition is what convinces people it is totally unworkable.

  135. CD,

    Respond only if you feel like it, because I haven’t had the time to read all the 130 comments in this thread, but I did read your last. You strike me as being quite well read, so I imagine you are up on Peter Singer’s views on the topic at hand.

    What do you think of Singer’s arguments. Namely:

    Be that as it may, in Singer’s view, the central argument against abortion may be stated as the following syllogism:
    It is wrong to kill an innocent human being.
    A human fetus is an innocent human being.
    Therefore it is wrong to kill a human fetus.

    Singer’s argument for abortion differs from many other proponents of abortion, then; rather than attacking the second premise of the anti-abortion argument, Singer attacks the first premise, denying that it is necessarily wrong to take innocent human life:
    [The argument that a fetus is not alive] is a resort to a convenient fiction that turns an evidently living being into one that legally is not alive. Instead of accepting such fictions, we should recognise that the fact that a being is human, and alive, does not in itself tell us whether it is wrong to take that being’s life.

    Regards,
    Andrew

  136. @Dennis

    I don’t think the magisterium ever declared ensoulment occurs at the quickening. If you have something, please show it.

    You want a few more examples.

    Apostolic Constitutions (380 CE) allowed abortion before the fetus acquired human shape and banned it thereafter.

    Pope Gregory XIV (1535-1591) revoked the Papal bull “Effraenatam” reinstated the “quickening” test, which he determined happened 116 days (about 17 weeks) into pregnancy.

    Pope Innocent III dealt directly with the case of a monk who procured an abortion for his mistress. I believe John Bugby has already argued this one here so I’ll just hit the main points. A person is only guilty of homicide if the fetus was “animated.” He declared that the soul enters the body of the fetus at the time of “quickening”, and thus abortion before this point is less serious since it kills a potential human being not a human being.

    Pope Pius IX in 1869 issued a bull “reversing” the distinction between “fetus animatus” and “fetus inanimatus”. That is the Pope most directly responsible for the current policy was of the opinion that his policy constituted a change in church doctrine.

    Theodore of England an abortion required only 120 days penance far lower than the penalty for murder or for that matter anal/oral sex.

    Finally there are multiple references from the magisterium endorsing Jerome’s letter to Aglasia that “The seed gradually takes shape in the uterus, and it [abortion] does not count as killing until the individual elements have acquired their external appearance and their limbs”

    I could probably keep going but you are denying something impossible to deny. Catholics for Choice’s website is a disorganized mess but a treasure trove of various officials taking positions contrary to the current one.

    Really? Having sex late in a menstrual cycle is not the same as driving to an abortion clinic, pulling out your credit card, spreading your legs and having a stranger go in and rip a baby out of your body.

    Why not? Because it is less graphic? Because it doesn’t involve a “stranger” (not sure why that one was relevant)? Because it happens as part of a women’s normal routine. You were the one making the Nazi Germany comparisons just a few months. You want the fetus definition then you have to accept that these irresponsible women kill as many people died in the holocaust every week.

    As for God’s will… I think you are conflating chance with God. If I go play craps and roll a 6 instead of a 9 and thus lose that doesn’t become a manifestation of God’s will. If I play chess and make a good move that’s not over riding God’s will. Unless you want to attribute everything that is statistical to God and everything that is near certain to humanity I don’t see how God’s will plays any different role in either case.

  137. PS Especially no need to respond, since this thread is not dealing with abortion. Per my view, you are simply using this forum to trumpet your views, which are totally off topic, but hey, it’s not my blog.

    Ciao.

  138. But CD, even if I look into the NFP business and, per impossible, became a pro-choicer, nothing would change my mind that the fertilized egg is a new human being. That’s just evident fact. It just is a new entity in the human family, albeit developing one. Anything else is just plain wrong. The Carlin and Arthur arguments you quoted are just juvenile, and emphasizes the need for pro-choicers to take a hard logic class.

  139. CD,

    Apostolic Constitutions (380 CE) allowed abortion before the fetus acquired human shape and banned it thereafter.

    No. That’s not what it says. Here is the direct quote from the Apostolic Constitution Book VIII:

    III. You shall not use magic. You shall not use witchcraft; for He says, You shall not suffer a witch to live. You shall not slay your child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten; for everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed. You shall not covet the things that belong to your neighbour, as his wife, or his servant, or his ox, or his field. You shall not forswear yourself; for it is said, You shall not swear at all. Matthew 5:34 But if that cannot be avoided, you shall swear truly; for every one that swears by Him shall be commended. You shall not bear false witness; for he that falsely accuses the needy provokes to anger Him that made him. Proverbs 14:31

    Pope Gregory XIV (1535-1591) revoked the Papal bull “Effraenatam” reinstated the “quickening” test, which he determined happened 116 days (about 17 weeks) into pregnancy.

    No, he did not. The most he did was revoke the excommunication that Pope Sixtus implemented. Abortions before the quickening were still considered “grave sin.” Oddly, I can’t find the document to support it.

    As for the other references, I don’t have the patience to go and find the rest. However:

    1. You have to be a little leery about things found at a “Catholics for Choice” website
    2. If those people had the data we have today, they would be on the side of the current Magisterium.

    Why not? Because it is less graphic? Because it doesn’t involve a “stranger” (not sure why that one was relevant)? Because it happens as part of a women’s normal routine. You were the one making the Nazi Germany comparisons just a few months. You want the fetus definition then you have to accept that these irresponsible women kill as many people died in the holocaust every week.

    Because a woman who chooses to have an abortion is essentially saying, My life is more valuable than my child’s life. She is making an active decision and then choosing to kill her child. This is not true with a woman who conceives a child and the child does not implant naturally.

    Abortion goes against nature. In nature, a mother protects the child. In our culture, we have mothers who are killing their children.

    As for God’s will… I think you are conflating chance with God. If I go play craps and roll a 6 instead of a 9 and thus lose that doesn’t become a manifestation of God’s will. If I play chess and make a good move that’s not over riding God’s will. Unless you want to attribute everything that is statistical to God and everything that is near certain to humanity I don’t see how God’s will plays any different role in either case.

    That is because you are an atheist and you don’t understand God’s plan. God has a plan for all men. Choosing according to God’s plan brings forth happiness and life. Choosing against it brings forth despair. Sin not only damages the soul, it bruises and disfigures a person until they become unrecognizable. Sin brings death.

    You are a person who is searching for truth but you deny that the truth lies in God. You believe that you can find the truth without God and have bought in to a deception that the greatest good lies in man’s intellect.

  140. 2. If those people had the data we have today, they would be on the side of the current Magisterium.

    What does that have to do with anything? God has always had the data we have today, plus all the other data. Why didn’t he preserve his church(‘s magisterium) from error?

  141. @Dennis —

    Reread the quote from the Apostolic Constitution. “You shall not slay your child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten; for everything that is shaped, and has received a soul from God, if it be slain, shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed.” Having human shape is what is meant by that clause. In your theory of their intent what does that clause even mean?

    No, he did not. The most he did was revoke the excommunication that Pope Sixtus implemented. Abortions before the quickening were still considered “grave sin.”

    Grave sins aren’t the point in dispute. The point in dispute is whether he considered them to have souls and he did not. Here is a book online which discusses the issue of ensoulment and Gregory’s repeal of “Effraenatam”.

    http://books.google.com/books?id=VSG94ZH0SxEC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

    ____

    As for the woman you are begging the question. You are saying that what happens as a likely outcome of her actions having sex late is natural and thus perfectly all right, while what happens likely as an outcome of her actions: paying an abortionists is an act of will. Both are equal acts of will. Both have intent. You just approve of the one act and don’t approve of the other. There is nothing “natural” or submitting to God about the one that’s not true of the other. Acts are acts. Either people are responsible for the consequences of their acts or they are not.

  142. Ruberad,

    First off, the Catholic Church has never said definitively that it is okay to have an abortion at ANY TIME.

    Some individuals have expressed opinions regarding the quickening–and from what I can tell, they are opinions and nothing more. Unfortunately, with the exception of Aquinas, I can’t find any data on most of it from reliable sources.

    Regardless, the science back in medieval times wasn’t nearly as sophisticated to draw the same conclusions that can be drawn today.

    The Catholic Church has never said abortion is okay before the quickenig

  143. CD-Host,

    The point in dispute is whether he considered them to have souls and he did not.

    Please find me the reference. I can’t find it. I’m not arguing it until I read it.

    Grave sins aren’t the point in dispute. The point in dispute is whether he considered them to have souls and he did not. Here is a book online which discusses the issue of ensoulment and Gregory’s repeal of “Effraenatam”.

    Grave sins are the point in dispute. The Church hasn’t defined ensoulment. Only that “Human Life is Sacred.”

    From what I’m reading, Gregory still called the sin grave and that excommunication was too harsh for abortions before the quickening.

    For example, murder is grave sin. Murder will not get you excommunicated. He’s still likening abortion before the quickening to murder.

    As for the woman you are begging the question. You are saying that what happens as a likely outcome of her actions having sex late is natural and thus perfectly all right, while what happens likely as an outcome of her actions: paying an abortionists is an act of will. Both are equal acts of will. Both have intent. You just approve of the one act and don’t approve of the other. There is nothing “natural” or submitting to God about the one that’s not true of the other. Acts are acts. Either people are responsible for the consequences of their acts or they are not.

    You’re not getting my point–and it seems intentional. I will keep on explaining it until you understand:

    1. Woman has sex. Conceives. Embryo Implants. Pregnant. Afraid. SELFISHLY Kills Baby.—>WRONG
    2. Woman has sex. Conceives. Embryo doesn’t implant. Not pregnant. Embryo dies naturally. —>NOT WRONG.

    What are you not understanding?

  144. As a fellow Catholic, Dennis, let me explain the difficulty: if a certain method of sex is more likely to result in implantation, and the woman (and man) know that, that makes them somewhat culpable for engage in in that method. I choose my words carefully, you’ll note that I said “difficulty.” I have no doubt in that matter that there’s a resolution to the difficulty because of my faith, but it’s something I do not understand at this time.

    I totally disagree with CD-host’s argument, btw. The point is that the Church has always condemned the take of unborn life, it’s just that the science of the day has helped inform what that means. The principle is the same.

  145. that should read *in failure to implant

  146. CD HOST,

    I think that perhaps what is missing are some A/T metaphyic fundamentals. Your asking good questions but I cant answer them without using highly technical language in some instances. So here we go…

    A soul is the form – the essence, nature, structure, organizational pattern – of a living thing or organism. We know now through modern biology that the human organism begins at conception. We have already noted that Aquinas did not have this information. You asked what about twinning? does that undermine somehow the idea that the embryo was ever a distinct human person? Not at all. A divided flatworm will develop into two new flatworms… but that doesn’t mean there was never a distinct individual flatworm to begin with. Of course, the features essential to human beings as rational animals – being able to take in nutrients , to sense the world around them, to think, etc – are not fully developed.. but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Rationality, locomotion, nutrition, and the like are present at conception “in potency” or as inherent potentialities. This doesn’t mean potential in some far fetched sense in which a rubber ball might spontaneously combust or roll it self around the kitchen due to some bizarre quantum fluctuation. It doesn’t even mean potential in the way that a rubber ball is potentially a eraser. It means potential in sense of a capacity that an entity already has within it by virtue of its nature or essence, as a rubberball qua rubberball has the potential to roll down a hill even if it is locked in a closet. in this sense the zygote has the potential, or “goal directedness toward” the actual exercise of reasoning, willing, and all the rest that a rubber ball doesn’t have,that a sperm or egg all by themselves don’t have, and that even a skin cell, despite having the full compliment of human DNA within it, doesn’t have unless redirected AWAY from its natural end )functioning as part of skin) by a scientist trying to clone someone. The skin cells on your nose might be a potential human being in the way that a rubber ball is potentially an eraser. But a zygote is NOT a potential human being or a potential rational animal. Rather, it is an ACTUAL human being and thus an actual rational animal, just one that hasn’t realized its inherent potentials. Keep in mind that what Aquinas meant by soul was not a ghost like thing that floats away after death but rather the formal cause of a person. Our soul is our form. Our brains are a part of our material. In A/T metaphyics Does this help at all?

    In response to your broader point about thinking and brains…. Again, Aquinas (like dualists in general) DO NOT BELIEVE that the electricity in our brains and our thoughts are the same thing. This leads into another specialty of mine which is philosophy of mind… but just for the sake of our convo I think you have accidently presupposed and atheistic or naturalist philosophy of mind while discussing hylemorphism… which of course ends with all kinds of problems. Looking forward to your response!

  147. Ruberad,

    Remember, the church is infallible…except when it’s not, and it cannot infallibly know when it is infallible until a future infallible Magisterium sets things straight infallibly—which will hold at least until yet another infallible Magisterium makes things more clearer, just not infallibly so.

    They key thing is whether this fallible summary of an infallible teaching makes you feel better. Who cares if it’s coherent or different in any meaningful way from a fallible body of elders working with infallible Scripture.

  148. Brian,

    if a certain method of sex is more likely to result in (failure of )implantation, and the woman (and man) know that, that makes them somewhat culpable for engage in in that method.

    The key is to leave everything in God’s hands. If everything is natural and they are doing things accordingly (naturally) and trusting God, then there really is no culpability.

    If a person is using some form of “barrier”, or intrauterine device, or medical prescription, then that is not allowing for natural occurrences.

    IE, the couple is choosing what will happen instead of God.

    Failure to implant is an occurrence that can naturally happen. It’s not sinful if it’s part of the natural occurrence of things.

  149. @Dennis

    CD-Host: Grave sins aren’t the point in dispute. The point in dispute is whether he considered them to have souls and he did not.

    Dennis: Grave sins are the point in dispute. The Church hasn’t defined ensoulment. Only that “Human Life is Sacred.”

    OK you have lost track of this thread, NQA. I made the first comment on this example though Robert has used it multiple times in other threads so let me quote myself from above:

    Since we are discussing abortion lets use that example. Does ensoulment occur during fertilization? You see the posts from the Catholics on here, for them abortion is killing an existent person. That is the current church’s position. As many Catholics will point out, up until about mid 19th century the notion that ensoulment resulted from sex i.e. in effect that sperm carries with it a human soul was a heresy. The position of the majority of early church fathers was that inside the womb there was a progression from a vegetative creature to an animal to a human and ensoulment occurred no earlier than quickening (the time when the mother can feel fetal movement).

    This is what you were disagreeing with. This argument was always about ensoulment (It was also about the magisterium having declared the earth to be stationary and the center of the solar system). Moreover there has been frequent references to Nancy Pelosi who as one of the most influential Catholics on the planet in public forms argued that the current church’s magisterium was preaching traducianism. Traducianism used to be a heretical doctrine till the mid 19th century and is now a fully endorsed part of the deposit of faith handed down by Jesus to the apostles that sperm carries with it soul, i.e. ensoulment occurs at fertilization not later.

    We then had a long discussion about Summa Theologiæ, the most authoritative the most quoted work of Catholic theology which explicitly takes Pelosi’s position. I should mention Pelosi in her original statement quoted Augustine. People went back and forth for a while denying that Augustine knew what he was saying or really meant what and then argued that perhaps he wouldn’t have said what he did if he knew about modern DNA.

    You then came back with the argument that Summa Theologiæ doesn’t really constitute Catholic Teaching even though it is repeatedly cited in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and only explicit teaching of the magisterium count. So no problem there is such a wealth of early church pronouncements to that effect I find a half dozen pretty fast including Pope’s quite explicitly declaring that quickening is when ensoulment occurs.

    Necrophilia is a grave sin that does not make it rape.
    Chopping up a dead body is a sin, that does not make it murder.

    The issue is not and has never been whether abortion was a sin. The issue is the magisterium’s current position is that fertilized eggs have human souls from the moment of fertilization. That position was rejected definitely by the church in earlier centuries. Nancy Pelosi raised this point, and the current Catholic Conference of Bishops called her a liar. The more conservative Protestants on this board have argued, that Nancy Pelosi was right (which I’m sure is a rare experience for them) because the facts agree with her.

    Which means: the church changed its doctrine with the anti-contraception wave of the 1870s and is now trying to mislead people about its history to defend this change of doctrine is almost completely rejected by the church’s membership. That’s what this debate is about.

  150. CD-Host,

    Your argument was that:

    current church / magisterium = embryos are human
    church tradition = embryos are not human

    Basing your argument that life began at ensoulment.

    My response was that you were confusing the Church Tradition.

    Tradition wasn’t that life began at ensoulment. Tradition was that Human Life is Sacred which begs the question “When does life begin?”

    Then from Scripture I showed that it was before the quickening. I also mentioned that the Church doesn’t discuss the ensoulment and that “Life begins at Conception.”

    You keep talking about the quickening and saying that the Church has definitively drawn that as a point when life began and I’m saying it hasn’t but that it has said that abortion is a sin.

    The logical definitive point is at conception. Please point to a web reference that directly quotes otherwise because I still haven’t seen it.

  151. Robert,

    Jesus knew that a judicious use of His power and miracles was better than a constant torrent. Like the Jewish leaders in Jesus day were never satisfied with what they saw. They always demanded another miracle and then another. Unfortunately, your position on the Church is the same. You will always have another set of criteria – another scripture to infallibly interpret another Church document that needs more clarity, another set of Tradition that you don’t think is clear enough – that is needed before you believe. The problem isn’t the evidence the problem is that you, like the pharasees, have already made up your mind and nothing that we provide you with will change your mind. Only God can change your heart. The only question left Robert is this

    will the sheep hear his Lords voice?

  152. To all those concerned over NFP and increased embryo death

    http://generationsforlife.org/2006/0606/does-nfp-lead-to-massive-embryonic-death/

    you don’t need to worry about it

  153. Kenneth —

    Sorry the data is not from 1956. It is from 1999 and it is not from so low quality source but rather the New England Journal of Medicine: http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJM199906103402304#t=articleResults

    People should worry about it.

  154. Kenneth,

    The sheep do hear the Lord’s voice. It’s not coming from the Vatican.

  155. Kenneth —

    Very complex response on the Aquinas. For this one let me outline areas of agreement and disagreement.

    Let me open with a concession on the issue of the soul as a formal cause of the person. You are absolutely correct that is Aquinas. Certainly intellectually I disagree with Aristotle on the existence of formal causes and disagree with Aquinas that his divine Christian soul and Aristotle’s soul are compatible. I don’t see where that’s colored my response but if at any point it has then you are absolutely right to call me on it. It is certainly reasonable to use those prepositions with regard to what Aquinas would believe today.

    . We know now through modern biology that the human organism begins at conception. We have already noted that Aquinas did not have this information.

    Here I think you are begging the question. I don’t know that the human organism begins at conception. Nor am I aware of anything I know, in an abstract sense that Aquinas did not know. So I don’t see any meaningful shift in our biological understanding that would allow me to draw this conclusion. In my September 20, 2013 at 5:34 am to Brian I gave some arguments from pro-choicers fully aware of the biology who deny that a fetus is a human organism. You can’t assume agreement on this.

    Now you had offered a candidate for what the shift was, the idea that epigenetics creates the big shift and I replied to that in detail.

    But this claim goes even further. Modern biology tells us nothing about humans in Aquinas sense since his definition of human (formal cause) requires a soul. No soul, no human. So when ensoulment occurs is vital to the ethical question for a Catholic vital. Biology can’t detect a soul.

    Of course, the features essential to human beings as rational animals – being able to take in nutrients , to sense the world around them, to think, etc – are not fully developed.. but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there.

    ability to take in nutrients is true of plants. So in Aquinas’ terms that would true of any being with a vegetative soul. In Aquinas theory the fetus has that and I’d agree the fetus has the ability to take in nutrients at fertilization.

    to sense the world around them is true of almost all animals. In Aquinas terms this would be true of a being with an animal soul.
    8 weeks some sensitivity to touch, 32 till fully developed
    13-15 weeks till any taste
    olfactory systems starts developing 11 weeks and is meaningfully present by week 15, though they likely won’t smell much until birth so it hasn’t been used.
    18 weeks first formation of inner ear. No meaningful hearing until week 25.
    eyes open for the first time at week 26

    So I don’t see any senses until week 8 and that is not much more then you find with the most primitive lifeforms on the planet. They certainly “aren’t there” before week 8. And at least one of them isn’t there until week 26. So we are disagreeing I’m asserting they aren’t there until week 8.

    As far as thinking that is the intellectual soul and that’s key because to Aquinas that’s the definition of human. During week 7 is when there is any brain at all. So prior to week 7, yeah it does mean that property of a brain isn’t there, it isn’t just not fully developed it doesn’t exist at all. And given what Aquinas means about the brain even the brain capable of nothing more than simple animal reflexes during the 3rd month IMHO doesn’t qualify for his notion of a human brain. Frankly many of the characteristic that Aquinas attributes to human reason aren’t present until a minimum of 3 years after birth. Where he to know more about how the brain develops he might very well have pushed his date for ensoulment back. Certainly where Aquinas would draw the line given today’s understanding of brain development is a tricky question, but at least for now we can definitely assert that prior to week 7, the fetus doesn’t qualify for the rational soul.

    Now we move from biology to the more complex issue of the goal directedness of the fetus.

    in this sense the zygote has the potential, or “goal directedness toward” the actual exercise of reasoning, willing, and all the rest that a rubber ball doesn’t have,that a sperm or egg all by themselves don’t have, and that even a skin cell, despite having the full compliment of human DNA within it, doesn’t have unless redirected AWAY from its natural end )functioning as part of skin) by a scientist trying to clone someone.

    Now this is tricky. The zygote at fertilization consists of undifferentiated cells that aren’t distinguished in anyway from undifferentiated chicken cells. There is nothing uniquely human about them, except the DNA within them. I think it is consistent to argue from an Aristotelian perspective that human DNA is directed at creating humans. But even there you run into some problems. And that’s because it is situation not a purpose or end, formal cause. It is DNA’s presence in the undifferentiated cells and later being hit with the hormones from the mother’s body that stimulates them towards their “natural end”. Change the situation and the DNA does maintenance on muscle cells or grows hair. Hence DNA can’t be said to have an end of growing babies from zygotes.

    So I guess what I would say is:
    undifferentiated cells have a natural end of growing to some kind of animal slightly more sophisticated than algee all the way up to complex organisms. Even in a healthy pregnancy, some of those cells will amniotic sack for example, not the “baby”. The ones that grow into the sack are not any different than the ones that grow to become the baby.

    DNA has the natural end of building and maintaining organisms or sub-organisms capable of acquiring nutrients that reproduce DNA. In some environments that might mean just reproducing fat cells when enough fat is stored, in other environments that would mean taking

    The mother’s hormones arguably have the end you are describing but they are not part of the fetus under your definition which sees the fetus as a person separate from the mother.

    So I’m going to agree with your philosophical point, that is consistent with Aquinas’ theology. I’m going to disagree with your biological point though that anything is present.

    In response to your broader point about thinking and brains…. Again, Aquinas (like dualists in general) DO NOT BELIEVE that the electricity in our brains and our thoughts are the same thing. This leads into another specialty of mine which is philosophy of mind… but just for the sake of our convo I think you have accidently presupposed and atheistic or naturalist philosophy of mind while discussing hylemorphism…

    Here I think we have a tougher problem then the problem of ensoulment. Aquinas clearly believed that some mental processes exist in the soul (like reason) though this soul required a brain unless God granted it the ability for reason without one, which happens after death. On the other hand other types of thought like memory he attributed to the brain and not the soul.

    He makes this very explicit in his comments on education where the soul is perfect hence the bodily part of reason must acquire knowledge through education to reason.

    I can’t make much headway on this theory other than to just assert he seems to assume a fairly high level of functioning from the biological system prior to the God granting this biological system a rational soul. He very explicitly rejects the idea of a soul capable of thinking without a body since that would be more like the angelic soul and the human soul belongs to the animal genus. Summa I.90.4.O2. And he sees it as self evident that a body can’t think rationally without a soul.

    Ultimately the reason that Aquinas notion of a soul has gone out of fashion is because people today do believe that the electricity in our brains is our thoughts. We know we can induce thoughts in people by putting electrodes in the brain and sending charge down them. We can induce hunger, lust, contentment, fear, agonizing pain, an immediate desire for sleep…. If you ask what I think Aquinas would do given modern biology, honestly I think he would dump the idea of a soul altogether as contradicted by the biology. I think he was rather close to it already in Summa. I assume if Aquinas remained Christian then he would adopt the currently fashionable Hindu/Gnostic notion of a soul, as some sort of supernatural ghost that lives inside a person unconnected with their matter but is eternal. To quote the Gita, “For the soul there is neither birth nor death at any time. He has not come into being, does not come into being, and will not come into being. He is unborn, eternal, ever – existing and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.” But that’s idle speculation in the end, impossible to know.

  156. CD HOST,

    Thank you for your comments! I will respond to your thoughts in the order in which they were given…

    1. I didn’t know that you denied that human existence begin at conception. This seems to be a self evident fact. From what point can it properly be said that the human organism begins its life if not at conception? From conception on the being is highly organized, has the ability to acquire materials and energy, has the ability to respond to his or her environment, has the ability to adapt, and has the ability to reproduce (the cells divide, then divide again, etc., and barring pathology and pending reproductive maturity has the potential to reproduce other members of the species). Non-living things do not do these things.

    Furthermore, that life is unquestionably human. A human being is a member of the species homo sapiens. Human beings are products of conception, which is when a human male sperm unites with a human female oocyte (egg). When humans procreate, they don’t make non-humans like slugs, monkeys, cactuses, bacteria, or any such thing. Emperically-verifiable proof is as close as your nearest abortion clinic: send a sample of an aborted fetus to a laboratory and have them test the DNA to see if its human or not. Genetically, a new human being comes into existence from the earliest moment of conception.

    “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion … it is plain experimental evidence.” The “Father of Modern Genetics” Dr. Jerome Lejeune, Univ. of Descarte, Paris

    “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.” Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman, Department of Genetics at the Mayo Clinic

    “Almost all higher animals start their lives from a single cell, the fertilized ovum (zygote)… The time of fertilization represents the starting point in the life history, or ontogeny, of the individual.”
    [Carlson, Bruce M. Patten’s Foundations of Embryology. 6th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1996, p. 3]

    “Physicians, biologists, and other scientists agree that conception marks the beginning of the life of a human being – a being that is alive and is a member of the human species. There is overwhelming agreement on this point in countless medical, biological, and scientific writings.” Subcommittee on Separation of Powers to Senate Judiciary Committee S-158, Report, 97th Congress, 1st Session, 1981

    Further, “intestinal bacteria” does not posses any of the inherent potentiality that a fetus does. But we will discuss more on that later…..

    2. Your response to my argument from potential was disappointing. You seemingly ignored the distinctions that I made in regards to various potentialities. The argument that I made was not that an embryo manifested rationality, locomotion, etc. at the time of conception but rather that these essentials were present in potentiality. If you recall, that is all that would be necessary for the form (or soul) to be present. Because a form by its definition is simply the the essence, nature, structure, organizational pattern of any given thing. Perhaps it would be helpful to illustrate my point by showing when a soul departs from the body. Again, the soul is just the form of the human organism, so it is necessarily there as long as the living organism is. Hence it leaves only when the organism dies; and that means DEATH, not severe brain damage, not the loss of various organs, and not a persons lapsing into a persistent vegetative state. Though a person may not be capable of exercising his rationality, it is there none the less in potentiality. As Aristotle and Plato both agree, for something to fail to instantiate a form or essence perfectly does not mean that it fails to instantiate it at all. Thus, a zygote, being a human organism and thus in possession of the form or essence of a human organism (rational soul) is just as much a person as you or Terri Schiavo. This is an argument for P2 which was briefly discussed in our previous comments. It simply does not matter what point in time the embryo begins to instantiate its essence. What matters is that possesses that essence, nature or form from the moment of conception and thus, possesses a human soul. Check out this brief blog post for a more detailed explanation of forms and souls…. http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/03/what-is-soul.html

    3. “undifferentiated cells have a natural end of growing to some kind of animal slightly more sophisticated than algee all the way up to complex organisms.” That may be true… but a zygote is not JUST “undifferentiated cells” as you well know. You can not divorce certain portions of the zygote from their whole and then begin to make definitions and metaphysical demonstrations from this separated incomplete packagen (DNA here…. undifferentiated cells over there). A womans hormones properly considered help the fetus instantiate its form or essence but do not GIVE the embryo its form or essence and so can not be said to be its cause.

    4. Your thoughts on Aquinas and the brain are confused. hopefully some of my points prior to this one made that clear. Biological sophistication is necessary for our soul (form) to inform the body (material) but not necessary for the form and body to be composite.

    “Ultimately the reason that Aquinas notion of a soul has gone out of fashion is because people today do believe that the electricity in our brains is our thoughts.”

    I understand that people today do believe that. However, this belief has run headfirst into a host of insurmountable problems (intentionality, qualia, etc.). I think I will be content to finish this point by quoting leading philosophy of science professor and staunch atheist Thomas Nagels book “Mind and Cosmos”.

    “…I would like to extend the boundaries of what is not regarded as unthinkable, in light of how little we really understand about the world. It would be an advance if the secular theoretical establishment, and the contemporary enlightened culture which it dominates, could wean itself of the materialism and Darwinism of the gaps – to adapt one of its own pejorative tags. I have tried to show that this approach is incapable of providing an adequate account, either constitutive or historical, of our universe.

    However… [a]n understanding of the universe as basically prone to generate life and mind will probably require a much more radical departure from the familiar forms of naturalistic explanation than I am at present able to conceive. Specifically, in attempting to understand consciousness as a biological phenomenon, it is too easy to forget how radical is the difference between the subjective and the objective, and to fall into the error of thinking about the mental in terms taken from our ideas of physical events and processes…

    It is perfectly possible that the truth is beyond our reach, in virtue of our intrinsic cognitive limitations, and not merely beyond our grasp in humanity’s present stage of intellectual development. But I believe that we cannot know this, and that it makes sense to go on seeking a systematic understanding of how we and other living things fit into the world. …The empirical evidence can be interpreted to accommodate different comprehensive theories, but [in the case of reductive materialism and its neo-Darwinian extension], the cost in conceptual and probabilistic contortions is prohibitive. I would be willing to bet that the present right-thinking consensus will come to seem laughable in a generation or two – though of course it may be replaced by a new consensus that is just as invalid. The human will to believe is inexhaustible.”

  157. @Zrim:
    Sorry for being tied up with other things, but I thought you probably ought to have an answer.

    Jonathan, except that spiritual beliefs have eternal consequences. In which case, ascribing moral and spiritual fault to those who embrace religious falsehood is indeed appropriate. Portraying it as “out of touch with reality” seems like the sort of problem JJS was pointing out in the dialogue thread. Are you guys on the same page or not? I’m saying your Catholicism is wrong, not “out of touch with reality.” You’re saying my Protestantism isn’t necessarily wrong but “out of touch with reality.”

    I’m not sure if this would be more or less offensive, but I’m using it in the same way Frank Sheed uses the term in Theology and Sanity. God is real, and He has certain properties, so believing wrong things about Him is always a kind of delusion about reality. But in the case of most well-meaning people, it’s more like a neurosis than madness; it is something wrong in thinking that thwarts people’s ability to thrive and to be happy in the fullest sense. There are a lot of reasonable people who are neurotic about certain things, and I don’t see religion as being particularly different. Despite the tone people read into it, most of what Catholics are saying is nothing more than the Dr. Phil-ism “how’s that workin’ out for ya?” It’s the same thing with authority; we’re talking about avoidance of cognitive dissonance about how God actually revealed Himself.

    And what do you mean when you say you’re not judging anybody for being accountable for right and wrong in this case? That’s precisely what you’re doing to the extent that you affirm Ratzinger’s statement above. It’s exactly what lifers who talk about Nazis and slavery mean to say.

    Maybe that’s what they mean, but it isn’t what I mean. I think it’s one of those things where people are going to look back on it in the future (and in the afterlife) and ask themselves “what in the Hell were we doing?” But I don’t necessarily think that it’s their fault, because everybody lives in a societal context of right and wrong, and moral reasoning is just plain not easy. The reason that I bring it up isn’t to say “this is something that you consider really horrible, and you are just as bad” but to urge caution. The same rationalizations that are playing out here are the rationalizations that everybody gives for all sorts of things, and that hasn’t changed in human history.

    My point here is that nothing has to be this way, even though we’ve told ourselves that mothers killing their babies is just a fact of life, even a necessary fact of life. That’s just something we’ve told ourselves, and if we can tell ourselves something that isn’t true on the individual or societal level, then there’s always hope that we can train ourselves to fix it. But we can’t possibly fix it if we believe the lie, and that’s the part where we have to keep telling the truth that believing this is really hurting people. How we handle discipline of people who don’t fulfill that responsibility is a matter of judgment, and mercy has a real place there because people are genuinely confused. But we do need to be emphatic that the truth doesn’t end at the church door or the voting booth.

  158. @Kenneth —

    Hi. Sorry again for the delay.

    I didn’t know that you denied that human existence begin at conception. This seems to be a self evident fact.

    This is really important. Remember the context here.

    Catholics for choice has an apologetic regarding their interpretation of Aquinas. You are arguing their apologetic is wrong. The basis for that argument is that Aquinas would given today’s biological knowledge believe that ensoulment occurs at conception. Your basis for that argument is now that the fetus is human, which is that it has a human soul.

    Catholics for choice would disagree across the board here.

    They disagree that the zygote is biologically human. They would argue (and I would add rightly) that at fertilization a zygote is attempting to become via. a implantation a parasitic organism with human DNA. It completely lacks human structures. That lack of structures makes it less human than a cancerous tumor which is also a parasitic life-form with human DNA and generally has cell structures similar to those you find in humans. That is to say most fertilized eggs don’t even make it to being as human as cancerous tumors.

    Given that most of the world treats fertilized eggs as being of little moral importance while attaching enormous moral importance to new born infants I don’t think it is a self evident fact. I think there is any evidence for it at all. Rather I think there is an ideology that is popular with about 20% of the population, but even they have trouble holding it consistently.

    From conception on the being is highly organized,

    That’s false. It is less organized that a bacteria at conception.

    has the ability to acquire materials and energy has the ability to respond to his or her environment, has the ability to adapt

    That’s saying it is alive, not that it is human

    and has the ability to reproduce (the cells divide, then divide again, etc.,

    Your quite right that is the ability to reproduce up until almost 3 weeks of age by cell division. Humans can grow via. cell division but don’t reproduce that way. That isn’t evidence of humanity it is evidence against humanity.

    and barring pathology and pending reproductive maturity has the potential to reproduce other members of the species).

    What? We are talking about capacities it has in the womb at conception. At conception it lacks all sex organs. It lacks the ability to produce sex organs. It won’t have anything like a reproductive systems for many weeks and that system won’t be functional for years.

    From what point can it properly be said that the human organism begins its life if not at conception?

    It isn’t a question of beginning life. Life began 3.5 billion years ago for Catholics for Choice (I’d put it earlier). New life reorganizes old life into different forms.

    The question is when it becomes human life. Catholics for Choice puts it at ensoulment. Based on Aquinas they tie ensoulment to the development of a human brain (not a potential human brain). So you can see how circular your counter argument is getting.

    Furthermore, that life is unquestionably human. A human being is a member of the species homo sapiens. Human beings are products of conception, which is when a human male sperm unites with a human female oocyte (egg).

    Species as a biological concept exists for breeding adults. As a social concept it extends to non-breeding members of the society, like children. The breeding adults determine when their society recognizes children as their young. When a women expels a fertilized egg completely unaware that doesn’t qualify. When a women takes a morning after pill “just in case” to expel an egg that doesn’t qualify. “I’m late a few days” and discovers “it was nothing” even though it was a miscarriage that doesn’t qualify… You want to use the biological definition, that’s the definition.

    When humans procreate, they don’t make non-humans like slugs, monkeys, cactuses, bacteria, or any such thing. Emperically-verifiable proof is as close as your nearest abortion clinic: send a sample of an aborted fetus to a laboratory and have them test the DNA to see if its human or not. Genetically, a new human being comes into existence from the earliest moment of conception.

    No one is arguing that being is not genetically human. But so what, so is a tumor.

    You think follow with a bunch of quotes from professors and doctors. Let me concede in advance there are lots of advocates of pro-life and the conception definition from reputable sources. It is unquestionably popular even among the mainstream. All of them are arguing by assertion. None of them are proving the point just asserting it. And I could similarly find assertions from the pro-choice side.

    So we need more than assertion by credible people. We need reasons.

    I’ll hit the issue of cause and Aquinas in the next response.

  159. @Kenneth —

    Your response to my argument from potential was disappointing. You seemingly ignored the distinctions that I made in regards to various potentialities. The argument that I made was not that an embryo manifested rationality, locomotion, etc. at the time of conception but rather that these essentials were present in potentiality.

    I don’t think I ignored it, in fact I explicitly cited it once in my response as part of your structure. I think I’ve given a responses to it.

    1) If we are talking fertilized egg they aren’t even there in potential. A nonexistent brain can’t be potentially rational. Nonexistent senses don’t meet even Aquinas definition for the animal soul. Etc…

    2) Which means that potential becomes at best a very vague sense that would have applied equally well (or even better) in Aquinas’ theory of fetal development. Since he didn’t apply it to this vague definition there is no reason to suppose he would apply it today. He would want either an actually existent intelligence or quite a bit more potential.

    Again, the soul is just the form of the human organism, so it is necessarily there as long as the living organism is. Hence it leaves only when the organism dies; and that means DEATH, not severe brain damage,

    I don’t know where Aquinas addressed severe brain damage. I’d argue that under Aquinas’ definition it is quite likely that someone who say lost higher brain function (higher brain death) has lost their soul as well.

    As Aristotle and Plato both agree, for something to fail to instantiate a form or essence perfectly does not mean that it fails to instantiate it at all.

    The question is not imperfection but nonexistence. You are arguing a being without a brain has imperfect rationality, I’m asserting it has no rationality. So we are even disagreeing on this hypothetical. Let me make it worse just to explain the degree of the disagreement. There are autistic persons with IQ’s permanently below those of dogs, cats, rats… Permanently incapable of reason, and thus I’d argue under Aquinas’ definition they don’t have human souls.

    A womans hormones properly considered help the fetus instantiate its form or essence but do not GIVE the embryo its form or essence and so can not be said to be its cause.

    Why not? Embryo A gets the hormones and produces the RNA strands needed to form human structures. Embryo B gets different hormones and becomes a cancer. Embryo C gets different hormones and melds into damaged tissue to repair it (which is likely possible this decade). Embryo D gets no hormones and dies.

    That’s my point it is the environment for the DNA, existing in these undifferentiated cells and having the mother’s hormones, as well as the DNA itself.

  160. CDH,

    a zygote is not directed towards becoming a parasite. A zygote is not directed towards becoming a cancerous tumor or a carrot, or hair follicles. A zygote is directed towards the growth of a human organism. The zygote possesses an inherent potentiality of rationality and thus has the form of a rational animal (which is a soul). In order for you to disprove this you need to show that the zygote does NOT possess that inherent potential (keeping in mind the distinctions I made about potentiality in the example of the rubber ball).

    you say that it is less organized than bacteria… You do realize that bacteria is highly organized on a biological level? The major difference is that bacteria does not possess the inherent potentiality of becoming a rational animal…. A zygote does..

    you mentioned earlier that “twinning” may occur after conception…. With that in mind how are you now denying that a zygote can produce another member of the same species a la certain types of worms?

    I asked what time YOU would say the human organism begins its life…. You answered ensoulment. That is not a biological answer. I want to know considering biology ALONE when does human life begin? There is no other answer other than conception. Or if there is please provide it.

    my appeal to authority is not so easily dismissed as “some professors think that way some don’t”. The standard texts used at major universities as well as the overwhelming opinion of all experts in the field say that human life begins at conception. You read their arguments supporting their assertions in most standard textbooks. They may still think it morally acceptable to kill that human life (because it hasn’t yet realized its potential for rationality or whatever) but there is NO serious academic debate about when human life begins

  161. CDH,

    if the soul is the form of a human organism and the organism exists at conception then the soul is necessarily present. Therefore most of our discussion rests on my previous post. It doesn’t matter if the zygote has nonexistent feelings or rationality. What matters is that those things are present as inherent potentialities

  162. @Kenneth

    if the soul is the form of a human organism and the organism exists at conception then the soul is necessarily present. Therefore most of our discussion rests on my previous post. It doesn’t matter if the zygote has nonexistent feelings or rationality. What matters is that those things are present as inherent potentialities

    That’s a fine argument. What you haven’t shown is that it is Aquinas’ argument. Aquinas doesn’t say the inherent potentiality of rationality has to be present rather he says that structures associated with rationality have to be present. Aquinas believed that the rational soul existed and used that interchangeably with the human soul. We know that Aquinas rejected potentiality because the potentiality was clearly present from conception even in his theory. He demanded more than that. A human for Aquinas was necessarily rational.

    That’s why I gave the example of the severely retarded (i.e. permanently incapable of rational thought) but sexually functional adult. It simplifies the discussion to its most basic point. Under the species definition such a being is unquestionably a member of the human species. Under the Aquinas definition such a being does not have a human soul. You may not like that implication, but that’s irrelevant to being consistent with Aquinas.
    I understand you are rejecting Aquinas theory and going with the currently popular Catholic one. But you need to firmly distinguish your beliefs from Aquinas’ beliefs.

    It is fine that you aren’t agreeing with him. But the argument is about whether Catholics for Choice is consistent with what Aquinas believed not with what you think Aquinas should have believed. This really is the key point. The issue of the embryo is a side point.

    Your previous argument was that our new information about the the humanity of the zygote was so compelling that Aquinas would have changed his position. Obviously that’s not the case because it is not all that compelling nor frankly qualitatively much different than what Aquinas had as discussed previously and below. Now let’s hit the biology.

    a zygote is not directed towards becoming a parasite.

    It is not directed towards becoming a parasite. But that’s what it is. As it grows it will cease to be a parasite.

    A zygote is not directed towards becoming a cancerous tumor or a carrot, or hair follicles.

    That’s false (except the carrot). Inject a zygote into scalp + add some chemicals and it will become hair cells (again we probably will work out the final details this decade). As for becoming cancers that happens all the time, so that’s provably false.

    In order for you to disprove this you need to show that the zygote does NOT possess that inherent potential

    No I don’t. I’m rejecting that inherent potential has anything to do with the question of ensoulment under Aquinas’ theory.

    you say that it is less organized than bacteria… You do realize that bacteria is highly organized on a biological level?

    No I don’t recognize that. What would be unorganized in that system, a virus? Your point about “highly organized” was that it somehow implies humanity. Being less organized than a bacteria, much less a human, certainly disproves that the zygote’s organization is sufficient evidence of anything.

    you mentioned earlier that “twinning” may occur after conception…. With that in mind how are you now denying that a zygote can produce another member of the same species a la certain types of worms?

    I’m not denying that. What I’m denying is that is human reproduction. Human reproduction is not asexual splitting as per twinning. Yes the zygote can reproduce but it doesn’t reproduce the way humans do.

    I asked what time YOU would say the human organism begins its life…. You answered ensoulment. That is not a biological answer. I want to know considering biology ALONE when does human life begin? There is no other answer other than conception. Or if there is please provide it.

    I did answer but I’ll give a more detailed one. The biological answer using the species definition would be puberty when the zygote enters the human reproductive system. No one prolife or prochoice wants to use the biological species definition. So the next layer out becomes the species, social definition, which is when reproductive adults start treating non-reproductive members as part of their species. That is when the parents start treating the fetus as as their young. That is when the parents become aware and start planning for a baby. Which is what prochoicers mean by “every woman must decide for herself”. We know that humans (including prolifers) don’t treat fertilized eggs as their young because their mother’s casually expel them with no concern or even acknowledgement.

    Many of the prochoice Catholics who have adopted the Aquinas definition pick a particular point of brain development. They vary on which particular milestone but they are generally fairly close in end of 2nd trimester:

    Week 23 first appearance of brain waves in high brain centers

    Week 24 when the brain starts regulating the body (i.e. starts acting as a functional organ). Others hold back to week 28 when the brain is completely regulating the body.

    Week 26 structures consistent at least with mammalian brains form.

    FWIW personally I think the clearest dividing line is the loss of lanugo (a type of fur) at 8 months. At that point the fetus may be missing some human characteristic, but it no longer has any non-human characteristics. That however is not consistent with the Aquinas definition which depends on rationality not other parts of the body.

    my appeal to authority is not so easily dismissed as “some professors think that way some don’t”. The standard texts used at major universities as well as the overwhelming opinion of all experts in the field say that human life begins at conception.

    I think you are dead wrong there. Not only do I disagree with your claim regarding standard text, I’d say the majority opinion is pregnancy, that is implantation not fertilization. The second most common is birth.

    We just had a debate because of the Fertilization Amendment in Colorado. American Society for Reproductive Medicine went on record rejecting the fertilization definition because of twin reproduction. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists rejected the fetal definition. This definition was rejected in 1982 when there was an attempt to overturn ROE and ban the IUD based on the “finding” that life begins at conception.

    So no, you don’t have uniform opinion on the conception definition. You have some highly qualified people that agree with you and more that think it is totally pseudo-scientific nonsense.

    Catholics for Choice’s position IMHO is very scientific regarding biology, they talk like biologists do. Their position is biologically there is no beginning of life. Human life doesn’t form from inorganic matter but rather from organic matter, it is a change of form both the sperm and the egg are alive. The beginning of life was 3.5b years ago and the very question prolifers are raising is a category error trying to biologically distinguish human from non-human when the distinction is ethical and political. And that’s why ensoulment is so key, because there is no biological moment you can point to.

  163. @Kenneth —

    Are we stopping here or you just need more time for a response?

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