"Human development begins at fertilization when a male gamete or sperm (spermatozoon) unites with a female gamete or oocyte (ovum) to produce a single cell - a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marked the beginning of each of us as a unique individual."
-- from the book "The Developing Human"
"In other words, human life begins at conception. That is not a religious posture, but a scientific fact that the lowest paid laborer on the planet can assert without qualm. What we do with that understanding is another matter, but no one in the 21st century should pretend not to know when human life begins.
"On this matter at least, the church and science are in agreement."
-- Kathleen Parker (firstname.lastname@example.org) of The Washington Post Writers' Group
(Photo: Pregnancy Week 1, the human egg. For fertilization to occur, sperm must penetrate its dense outer membrane.)
In the Chuch there is no confusion, and never has been, about the sanctity of life.
The Church from the first century has condemned procured abortion.
This is in distinction from theological debates about ensoulment, which never affected the Church's teaching on the sanctity of human life from the womb.
As we hear from Archbishop Wuerl:
"We respect the right of elected officials such as Speaker Pelosi to address matters of public policy that are before them, but the interpretation of Catholic faith has rightfully been entrusted to the Catholic bishops. Given this responsibility to teach, it is important to make this correction for the record.
"The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear: the current teaching of the Catholic Church on human life and abortion is the same teaching as it was 2,000 years ago. The Catechism reads:
“ 'Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.' (Catechism, 2270-2271)
"The Catechism goes on to quote the Didache, a treatise that dates to the first century: ’You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.’
"From the beginning, the Catholic Church has respected the dignity of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death."
In the same way, though today the Church does not know exactly when the soul leaves the body, the Church insists that human remains be treated with dignity and respect, whether cremated or not.
Unfortunately it is all too clear that the only confusion is on the part of those, like Mrs. Pelosi, who fail to make the proper distinction between conjecture on when the soul enters the body of a child in the womb and the sanctity of every human life from conception regardless, and entirely distinct from, our human inability to determine when ensoulment takes place.
(Photo: Image of six week unborn child whose life is sacred, because created in God's image and likeness, regardless of whether or not one can prove the child has yet been given a soul by the Creator.)
Call, write or email in support and congratulations to the above pro-life heroes who stood in solidarity with our Lord and His Church to defend the unborn by making the following statement to Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
“[Y]our erroneous claim about the history of the Church’s opposition to abortion is false and denigrates our common Faith...
“To reduce the scandal and consternation caused amongst the faithful by your remarks, we necessarily write to you to correct the public record and affirm the Church’s actual and historical teaching that defends the sanctity of human life. We hope that you will rectify your errant claims and apologize for misrepresenting the Church’s doctrine and misleading fellow Catholics.”
"The Christian tradition from the earliest days reveals a firm antiabortion attitude. The condemnation of abortion did not depend on and was not limited in any way by theories regarding the time of fetal animation. Even during the many centuries when Church penal and penitential practice was based on the theory of delayed animation, the condemnation of abortion was never affected by it."
--‘Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective’, John Connery, S.J. (Loyola, 1977)
Bishops respond to House Speaker Pelosi’s misrepresentation of Church teaching against abortion WASHINGTON—Cardinal Justin F. Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William E. Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, have issued the following statement:
In the course of a “Meet the Press” interview on abortion and other public issues on August 24, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi misrepresented the history and nature of the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church against abortion.
In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law." (No. 2271)
In the Middle Ages, uninformed and inadequate theories about embryology led some theologians to speculate that specifically human life capable of receiving an immortal soul may not exist until a few weeks into pregnancy. While in canon law these theories led to a distinction in penalties between very early and later abortions, the Church’s moral teaching never justified or permitted abortion at any stage of development. [This is something that bears repetition: even though theologians in centuries past were working from scientific knowledge less advanced than that of today, through the history of the Church abortion has never been condoned.]
These mistaken biological theories became obsolete over 150 years ago when scientists discovered that a new human individual comes into being from the union of sperm and egg at fertilization. In keeping with this modern understanding, the Church teaches that from the time of conception (fertilization), each member of the human species must be given the full respect due to a human person, beginning with respect for the fundamental right to life.
More information on the Church’s teaching on this issue can be found in our brochure "The Catholic Church is a Pro-Life Church".
Archbishop Wuerl on the Church’s Constant Teaching on Abortion
August 25, 2008
The following statement is from Washington Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl:
On Meet the Press this past Sunday, August 23, 2008, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi made statements regarding the teaching of the Catholic Church, human life and abortion that were incorrect.
Speaker Pelosi responded to a question on when life begins by mentioning she was Catholic. She went on to say, “And what I know is, over the centuries, the doctors of the Church have not been able to make that definition...” After Mr. Tom Brokaw, the interviewer, pointed out that the Catholic Church feels strongly that life begins at conception, she replied, “I understand. And this is like maybe 50 years or something like that. So again, over the history of the church, this is an issue of controversy.”
We respect the right of elected officials such as Speaker Pelosi to address matters of public policy that are before them, but the interpretation of Catholic faith has rightfully been entrusted to the Catholic bishops. Given this responsibility to teach, it is important to make this correction for the record.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear: the current teaching of the Catholic Church on human life and abortion is the same teaching as it was 2,000 years ago. The Catechism reads:
“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception…Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” (Catechism, 2270-2271)
The Catechism goes on to quote the Didache, a treatise that dates to the first century: “’You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.’”
From the beginning, the Catholic Church has respected the dignity of all human life from the moment of conception to natural death.
Bishops Correct Speaker Nancy Pelosi: 'On the Separation of Sense and State' By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. and Bishop James D. Conley 8/25/2008 Archdiocese of Denver (www.archden.org/)
"Abortion kills an unborn, developing human life. It is always gravely evil, and so are the evasions employed to justify it."
(Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi greeted the Holy Father upon his arrival in the US. She gave a public sign of fidelity to his teaching office. However, she has overtly dissented from that teaching and attempts to confuse fellow Catholics and the public concerning Catholic teaching and its absolute opposition to every procured abortion.)
DENVER, CO (Archdiocese of Denver) - The Bishops of the Archdiocese of Denver, Colorado, site of the Democratic convention, issued a letter directed to the faithful of the Archdiocese of Denver entitled "Separation of Sense and State: A Clarification for the People of the Church in Northern Colorado.We set forth this fine letter for the readers of Catholic Online in its entirety:
To Catholics of the Archdiocese of Denver:
Catholic public leaders inconvenienced by the abortion debate tend to take a hard line in talking about the "separation of Church and state." But their idea of separation often seems to work one way.
In fact, some officials also seem comfortable in the role of theologian. And that warrants some interest,not as a "political" issue, but as a matter of accuracy and justice.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is a gifted public servant of strong convictions and many professional skills. Regrettably, knowledge of Catholic history and teaching does not seem to be one of them.
Interviewed on Meet the Press August 24, Speaker Pelosi was asked when human life begins. She said the following:
"I would say that as an ardent, practicing Catholic, this is an issue that I have studied for a long time.And what I know is over the centuries, the doctors of the church have not been able to make that definition . . . St. Augustine said at three months. We don't know. The point is, is that it shouldn't have an impact on the woman's right to choose."
Since Speaker Pelosi has, in her words, studied the issue "for a long time," she must know very well one of the premier works on the subject, Jesuit John Connery's Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective (Loyola, 1977). Here's how Connery concludes his study:
"The Christian tradition from the earliest days reveals a firm antiabortion attitude . . . The condemnation of abortion did not depend on and was not limited in any way by theories regarding the time of fetal animation. Even during the many centuries when Church penal and penitential practice was based on the theory of delayed animation, the condemnation of abortion was never affected by it.
"Whatever one would want to hold about the time of animation, or when the fetus became a human being in the strict sense of the term, abortion from the time of conception was considered wrong, and the time of animation was never looked on as a moral dividing line between permissible and impermissible abortion."
Or to put it in the blunter words of the great Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
"Destruction of the embryo in the mother's womb is a violation of the right to live which God has bestowed on this nascent life. To raise the question whether we are here concerned already with a human being or not is merely to confuse the issue. The simple fact is that God certainly intended to create a human being and that this nascent human being has been deliberately deprived of his life. And that is nothing but murder."
Ardent, practicing Catholics will quickly learn from the historical record that from apostolic times, the Christian tradition overwhelmingly held that abortion was grievously evil. In the absence of modern medical knowledge, some of the Early Fathers held that abortion was homicide; others that it was tantamount to homicide; and various scholars theorized about when and how the unborn child might be animated or "ensouled."
But none diminished the unique evil of abortion as an attack on life itself, and the early Church closely associated abortion with infanticide. In short, from the beginning, the believing Christian community held that abortion was always, gravely wrong.
Of course, we now know with biological certainty exactly when human life begins. Thus, today's religious alibis for abortion and a so-called "right to choose" are nothing more than that - alibis that break radically with historic Christian and Catholic belief.
Abortion kills an unborn, developing human life. It is always gravely evil, and so are the evasions employed to justify it. Catholics who make excuses for it - whether they're famous or not - fool only themselves and abuse the fidelity of those Catholics who do sincerely seek to follow the Gospel and live their Catholic faith.
The duty of the Church and other religious communities is moral witness. The duty of the state and its officials is to serve the common good, which is always rooted in moral truth. A proper understanding of the "separation of Church and state" does not imply a separation of faith from political life. But of course, it's always important to know what our faith actually teaches.
Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap. +Archbishop of Denver
Catechism to be changed to better reflect teaching on salvation of all in Christ
It was announced Aug. 5 that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has approved an important change to The U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults. A seriously ambiguous, misleading and doctrinally deficient statement on the status of the Sinaitic Covenant, that is, the Torah or Law of Moses, will be removed, and --- if the Holy See grants its recognitio --- will be replaced with a statement that quotes St. Paul’s epistle to the Romans.
The sentence to be changed currently reads:
“Thus the covenant that God made with the Jewish people through Moses remains eternally valid for them.”
In its place will be this sentence:
“To the Jewish people, whom God first chose to hear his word, 'belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and of their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ' (Rom 9:4-5; cf. CCC, No. 839).”
The current language is objectionable for many reasons, not least because it suggests --- and seems to have been intended to suggest --- that the Law of Moses remains in force and obligatory for the Jewish people, that Jews are ordinarily saved through the observance of Mosaic law and therefore need not confess that Jesus is Lord and Christ. That heretical opinion has been spreading throughout the Church, and was even promoted in “Reflections on Covenant and Mission” (12 Aug. 2002), a document of the USCCB’s Committee on Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs. On the contrary, the New Testament, the Church Fathers, and the ordinary and extraordinary Magisterium clearly, consistently, irreformably and infallibly teach that the Sinaitic Covenant was never salvific and has not been binding on anyone ever since it was fulfilled by Christ. As St. Paul teaches, “You are made void of Christ, you who are justified in the law: you are fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4). To claim that anyone, even just the Jews, can be saved through the Law is to deny the holy Catholic faith.
In a letter informing the U.S. bishops of the outcome of their vote to edit the adult catechism, Msgr. David Malloy, USCCB general secretary, correctly explains:
“Catholics understand that all previous covenants that God made with the Jewish people have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ through the new covenant established through his sacrificial death on the cross. The prior version of the text might be understood to imply that one of the former covenants imparts salvation without the mediation of Christ, whom Christians believe to be the universal savior of all people.”
Of course it is possible to parse the current language of the adult catechism in such a way that it does not contradict, or almost doesn’t contradict, the Catholic faith. Nevertheless a catechism should plainly and clearly and accurately state the faith. The average adult should not have to (nor is he qualified to) squint and strain to understand a statement in the correct way. The predictable effect of the extremely ambiguous current language will be gravely hurtful to souls: pernicious misteaching, a failure to hand on what the Church believes about the Sinaitic Covenant.
The proposed new language is far superior, because it avoids the suggestion that the Law of Moses is salvific for the Jews. It could still be clearer about the status of the Law and of the Jewish people, but it is better to have a divinely-inspired passage from Holy Scripture that can be misinterpreted than to have a misleading statement that can, with effort, be interpreted in a way that doesn’t contradict divine revelation.
Let us continue to pray for those Jews who have not yet received the gift of faith in Christ. May the blood of the Savior now descend upon them a laver of redemption and of life, that they may enjoy the never-revoked promises that God made to Abraham and to his seed. And let us pray for the conversion, or short of that, the silencing, of those who attempt to subvert what the Church believes.
(Thanks to Rorate-Caeli.blogspot.com for this story.)
Catholics who support abortion should not receive Communion, says Archbishop Burke
Archbishop Raymond Burke
Rome, Aug 19, 2008 / 10:00 am (CNA).- The prefect of the Apostolic Signature, Archbishop Raymond Burke, said this week that Catholics, especially politicians who publically defend abortion, should not receive Communion, and that ministers of Communion should be responsibly charitable in denying it to them if they ask for it, “until they have reformed their lives.”
In an interview with the magazine, Radici Christiane, Archbishop Burke pointed out that there is often a lack of reverence at Mass when receiving Communion. “Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ unworthily is a sacrilege,” he warned. “If it is done deliberately in mortal sin it is a sacrilege.”
To illustrate his point, he referred to “public officials who, with knowledge and consent, uphold actions that are against the Divine and Eternal moral law. For example, if they support abortion, which entails the taking of innocent and defenseless human lives. A person who commits sin in this way should be publicly admonished in such a way as to not receive Communion until he or she has reformed his life,” the archbishop said.
“If a person who has been admonished persists in public mortal sin and attempts to receive Communion, the minister of the Eucharist has the obligation to deny it to him. Why? Above all, for the salvation of that person, preventing him from committing a sacrilege,” he added.
“We must avoid giving people the impression that one can be in a state of mortal sin and receive the Eucharist,” the archbishop continued. “Secondly, there could be another form of scandal, [This is a very important point.] consisting of leading people to think that the public act that this person is doing, which until now everyone believed was a serious sin, is really not that serious - if the Church allows him or her to receive Communion.”
“If we have a public figure who is openly and deliberately upholding abortion rights and receiving the Eucharist, what will the average person think? He or she could come to believe that it up to a certain point it is okay to do away with an innocent life in the mother’s womb,” he warned.
Archbishop Burke also noted that when a bishop or a Church leader prevents an abortion supporter from receiving Communion, “it is not with the intention of interfering in public life but rather in the spiritual state of the politician or public official who, if Catholic, should follow the divine law in the public sphere as well.”
“Therefore, it is simply ridiculous and wrong to try to silence a pastor, accusing him of interfering in politics so that he cannot do good to the soul of a member of his flock,” he stated.
It is “simply wrong” to think that the faith must be reduced to the private sphere and eliminated from public life, Archbishop Burke said, encouraging Catholics “to bear witness to our faith not only in private in our homes but also in our public lives with others in order to bear strong witness to Christ.”
A man in the parish named Rob brought his new web site to my attention this morning. Thus begins a new collection of Catholic sites dedicated to busting the myths and bringing out the truth about the beauty of the fullness of Christian Faith in the universal Church: one, holy, catholic and apostolic.
Do you have a site to add to the collection? Any elements of unorthodoxy will result in elimination.
Try this one out. Send comments. Thanks.
From Rob's site:
"Which Church is the Church founded by Jesus Christ?
"Many claim that their church is that founded by Jesus Christ. Christ, Himself, clearly states his intention to found one and only one church. “And this on this rock I will build my church.” [Matthew 16:18]. In His high priestly prayer at thLast Supper, He prayed “that they may be one, as we are one.” [John 17:20 2] For the first thousand years, there was only one Christian Church. So which church today is the legitimate and faithful continuation of the Church Jesus founded?
"To find the answer, we need to look back to the writings of Christians from the 1st and 2nd centuries and examine what they wrote about the Church in its early decades. For these writings, we look to the Early Church Fathers, some of whom learned their faith from the apostles themselves. Their writings, many still in existence, speak in great detail of the practices and doctrines of the early church. Let’s compare what they say to the claims of churches in our own time."