Meet the bishops
Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden has followed
Speaker Nancy Pelsoi in appearing on Meet the Press and misrepresenting
his Catholic fath before voter. Now all those bishops who have been
coming out with public corrections of Church teaching on matters of
morality and social policy….can just cc: those on to Biden.
Or issue new ones. Like this one from the entire body of US bishops.
Senator Biden did not claim that Catholic teaching
allows or has ever allowed abortion. He said rightly that human life
begins “at the moment of conception,” and that Catholics and others who
recognize this should not be required by others to pay for abortions
with their taxes.
However, the Senator’s claim that the beginning of human life is a
“personal and private” matter of religious faith, one which cannot be
“imposed” on others, does not reflect the truth of the matter. The
Church recognizes that the obligation to protect unborn human life
rests on the answer to two questions, neither of which is private or
The first is a biological question: When does a new human life
begin? When is there a new living organism of the human species,
distinct from mother and father and ready to develop and mature if
given a nurturing environment? While ancient thinkers had little
verifiable knowledge to help them answer this question, today
embryology textbooks confirm that a new human life begins at conception
(see www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/bioethic/fact298.shtml). The Catholic Church does not teach this as a matter of faith; it acknowledges it as a matter of objective fact.
The second is a moral question, with legal and political
consequences: Which living members of the human species should be seen
as having fundamental human rights, such as a right not to be killed?
The Catholic Church’s answer is: Everybody. No human being should be
treated as lacking human rights, and we have no business dividing
humanity into those who are valuable enough to warrant protection and
those who are not. This is not solely a Catholic teaching, but a
principle of natural law accessible to all people of good will.
Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, in the heart of the political world, issues this letter to his priests.
In late August, I wrote to you following a discussion in
the national media regarding what our Catholic faith says about when
life begins and about abortion. Many of you took the opportunity to
present and affirm the teaching of the Catholic Church on this
important issue with your parishioners, and I thank you. These are
teachable moments, and present an opportunity to highlight the
consistency and clarity of our Catholic faith.
Great sentence. These are prime teachable moments, and bishops came
out of all corners of the country in the past two weeks to clarify
Catholic teaching, what with politicians courting the key Catholic
voters in this election and Pelosi so publicly getting the facts wrong
on the Church and history itelf.
Unfortunately, again this week on Meet the Press, the
Catholic teaching on human life was not clearly presented by a public
official. In an interview, Senator Joseph Biden said he is “prepared to
accept the teachings of my church” on when life begins, but would not
impose that judgment on everyone else.
Which is political waffling and intentional side-stepping.
So that requires clarification. Again.
The role of elected officials to address the public
policy issues before them must be respected, but the interpretation of
the Catholic faith is the responsibility of the bishops. To avoid
confusion among people of goodwill about the Church’s teaching on human
life, it is important to state once again the Catholic Church’s
constant teaching on human life, as well as clarify the difference
between science, the theories of Saint Thomas Aquinas and the faith.
This is important. Follow the thought…
When life begins is not a matter of faith, but a matter
of science. The scientific research available to us today confirms that
the joining of the human egg and sperm begins a new human life. There
is overwhelming empirical evidence that once conceived, that life will
continue through its many natural stages, from embryo to fetus to
infant to child and on until death.
Religious belief does not change this scientific fact.
However, faith and the natural moral law guide us in how we treat this human life.
Exactly a key question to debate in the abortion debate.
Modern science has demonstrated beyond any doubt that
this innocent human life begins at conception. Defense of innocent
human life is not an imposition of personal religious conviction but an
act of justice.
Do civil rights cover and protect all human life, or do they not? Do
we have the right to designate a certain class of humans as unworthy of
all protection and rights? Because when we do, there’s no stopping
the denial of rights to other groups of persons deemed unworthy for
reasons that a ‘consensus’ decides.
That’s the consistent ethic of life. Arguments for justice and
rights on any other social issues just aren’t coherent without the
constancy of that ethic as the foundation for all policies.
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