Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
That is true.
The Catholic Church teaches, and ever will teach, that no doctor has any right before God and in conscience to perform such an operation. The deliberate and direct destruction of innocent human life is forbidden by the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill." Another principle insisted upon by the Catholic Church is that the end does not justify any morally evil means. And the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," forbids the direct killing of an innocent human being before birth as well as after birth.
No. But if it did, accepted medical ethics would be wrong. However no medical man who observes the ethical principles generally acknowledged by the profession would perform such an operation. Doctors exist to save life, not to destroy it. And there are thousands of doctors, men of honor and integrity, who will have nothing to do with an operation to secure the deliberate abortion of a living child at any stage prior to viability. Even if the choice seems to be between the life of the mother or of the child, they will not deliberately destroy the life of the one in order to save the other. Admitting the equal rights of both to existence, they do their utmost to save both, leaving the issue to God's providence. And very often they do save both, finding their earlier opinion most happily mistaken.
It was not. The doctor believed that the law forbade what he did, and argued that he wanted the law changed. But when the case actually came to court, his legal advisers really dodged the issue, and pleaded that his action was really remotely in accordance with the law. And the jury accepted the plea, and gave a verdict of not guilty. But, whatever the attitude of civil law on this matter, in the light of God's law, "Thou shalt not kill," operations similar to that performed rank as the sin of murder. No human legislation can change the law of God, nor can human reasons of expediency justify its violation. The Catholic Church, therefore, will always insist that such operations are morally wrong and unjustified before God.
The soul is present the moment the active and passive principles of germination coalesce to form a definite entity. We therefore say that from the moment of conception, the soul is present. Our very doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary implies that doctrine. For we say that, from the moment of her conception, her soul was preserved immaculate, or free from any taint of original or inherited sin. Her soul, therefore, was created by God at the moment of her conception, and long before human activity in the sense of discernible physical movement. In St. Luke we read that, when Our Blessed Lady visited Elizabeth, the latter cried, "Behold, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy." I., 44. Even before his birth, St. John the Baptist was able to know by revelation of the presence of the also yet-unborn Christ. And the souls of others are also created at the moment of their conception. The unborn child possesses an "earthly existence" every bit as much as the child lying in a cradle or romping in the streets. It is a living human being from the moment of conception.
Correct. No doctor has a moral right to recommend unjustifiable homicide. And the killing of a living unborn child is that.
You last point is not quite correctly put. Normal processes may be accelerated where necessary, provided the prematurely born child is able to live. That would be after the twenty-eighth week. Also whilst uncertainty on the part of the doctor would make it still more unjustified to take the life of the child, that factor is not really material to the case. For even were he certain that the mother would die unless he destroyed the child, he would not be morally free to take that living child's life. He must simply do all that he can for both within the moral law, and hope for the best. But that last point does not affect your argument. The two vital factors are the commandment: "Thou shalt not kill," and the moral principle that the end does not justify the means.
That is not so, if there be no other way out. If an unjust aggressor seriously threatens to wound or even kill another man, that other has the right of self-defense. If less than death, such as wounding or disabling, is sufficient, to do more is sinful and against justice. But the right to defend one's own life is valid always against an unjust aggressor; and by his criminal conduct he encompasses his own death if he goes so far as to render so violent a defense necessary.
No more than that is wanted in the case of self-defense against an unjust aggressor.
That does not follow, for the child is not an unjust aggressor, is guilty of no crime in being in its natural place, and is actuated by no malevolence towards the mother. The cases are not parallel, and the transition from one to the other is illogical.
That is not true. In abortion the doctor directly intends the killing of an innocent child as a means to the end he desires to attain. He does not merely permit the child to die. He definitely kills it. The child is not responsible for its own death, unjustifiably exposing its life to danger. But in self-defense against an unjust aggressor, the attacked person intends directly his own protection, opposing violence to violence. The aggressor unjustifiably exposes his own life to danger if he walks into the zone of protection his sinister intentions have forced the attacked person to set up. The attacked person does not intend his aggressor to be an aggressor, nor to be killed. He intends his own safety and permits the aggressor to kill himself should he be so evil as to render his death necessary and put himself in the way of it. If the aggressor chooses to throw his own life away, it is he who breaks the fifth commandment. But the unborn child is not an unjust aggressor; is not choosing to throw its own life away; and, in abortion, is killed deliberately as a means to an end.
In self-defense the decision is to defend one's own life even by extreme measures, permitting the aggressor to encompass his own death if he persists in his murderous intentions. In the case of abortion, it is the doctor who is the unjust aggressor. It is he who is attacking an innocent life, and you are not making his case any better by saying that he is not doing it in the heat of the moment and in a disturbed state of mind, but with cool, calculating deliberation. As a matter of fact the human being he is going to kill has the right of self-defense. And if only that living child were big enough, and able to do it, the right would be there to defend itself by violence if necessary, even though the doctor met his death by persisting in his decision to kill the child. And surely you will not say that the defenselessness of the child makes the case of the would-be killer any better!
I do not argue that the commandment "Thou shalt not kill," is not categorical. It categorically forbids man, on his own responsibility, to take his own life or that of anybody else. Therefore I have pointed out that an unjust aggressor has no right either to indulge in his criminal aggression, or to risk encompassing his own death by encountering the means of self-protection adopted by his intended victim.
Just as a man is categorically forbidden to kill, so he is categorically forbidden to commit adultery. Apart from that, there is no parity between the two cases. The commandment "Thou shalt not kill" vindicates the individual's right to life and to self-defense which others ignore to their cost. But it would be impossible to vindicate the law "Thou shalt not commit adultery" by committing or permitting adultery.
The fifth commandment means what it clearly and explicitly states.
The State officially acknowledges neither God nor the laws of God. Nor would it for a moment claim that its own legislation is a necessary indication of the right interpretation to be imposed upon God's ordinances. It's no use quoting the decrees of human legislative bodies composed of men professing any religion or no religion.
I have complied with your request. Your questions certainly bring out the need of an authentic interpreter of God's laws just as the State appoints courts for the authentic interpretation of civil law. You know what difficulties arise in civil life where the sense and application of civil laws are concerned. A civilian will consult a lawyer. Lawyers themselves will differ. Appeals will be carried from court to court until perhaps the final authoritative decision of the State will be given in a judgment in which the sense of the law is crystallized, and which is quoted henceforth as a precedent. Where the Divine Law is concerned the Catholic Church is the authentic organ of interpretation. You may consult me as a kind of "ecclesiastical attorney." And I have been explaining to you the sense and interpretation of God's law, "Thou shalt not kill" in reference to abortion. Actually the Catholic Church has officially passed judgment on the matter—a judgment which anticipates any appeal from this "fallible attorney" to an official tribunal. For the Catholic Code of Canon Law declares that where abortion is concerned excommunication is incurred by the very fact by any Catholic who cooperates in bringing about an abortion or the killing of an unborn living child at any stage of its development. The excommunication falls upon those who persuade or advise another to have it done, who commission an abortionist to do it, and upon the abortionist who performs the operation. No Catholic priest could ever sanction such an operation, and if he actually advised one who sought his advice to have an abortion performed, Canon Law declares that he is to be deposed from office. That legislation, so strict and so far-reaching, settles the question for Catholics. Abortion is murder, forbidden by the commandment: "Thou shalt not kill." And no amount of human speculation about the pros and cons of the case can avail against this authentic decision of the Catholic Church. If one disputes the authority of the Catholic Church to adjudicate in such matters, then the discussion moves on to another topic altogether, namely, the credentials of the Catholic Church as the divinely appointed guardian of faith and morals in this world.
The deliberate destruction of a living child prior to its birth is as much murder in the sight of God as its deliberate destruction after its birth.
I never said that it would be a sin to relieve her. We are discussing the means to be taken in order to give her relief. I simply say that it would be sinful to destroy deliberately the life of her child as a means to the end desired. What you must face is the question as to whether it is a sin or not to kill an innocent living child. Will you answer that with a yes or no? Or will you say, "Of course that would be murder unless we had good reasons for it." Would you then say that murder ceases to be murder as soon as it happens to be expedient?
She may have certain fears, and they may be fostered by an accommodating doctor. But neither the woman nor the doctor has absolute certainty that both mother and child will not survive. Yet even if they had, will you admit the principle that the end justifies the means, and that it is lawful to do evil that good may result? The child is living, and it is a perfectly innocent human being so far as personal conduct is concerned. On what score has it forfeited its right to life? On what grounds do you think that the commandment no longer obliges—"Thou shalt not kill"?
You have been wrongly advised. No Catholic man, nor any other man, has any more right to say that the mother "is to be sacrificed" than to say that the child has "to be sacrificed." He must ask the doctor to do his utmost to save both lives without resorting to the direct killing of the child. In hundreds of cases, despite fears and conjectures, both lives have been saved. Should one life, or even both be lost, despite all morally lawful precautions, then death is due to unavoidable causes. No human being can be accused of having sacrificed either life. But if the living and innocent child is deliberately killed as a means towards saving the mother, then indeed one without any right to do so has chosen to sacrifice an innocent human life.
You do not know what you are saying. The Catholic Church forbids the direct killing of either mother or child. You advocate the deliberate murder of the child. Who is ruthless?
I would be glad if you would say who, in that case, broke the fifth commandment. If that Catholic mother gave her life rather than allow her child to be killed, she was indeed a splendid Catholic—as splendid as the early martyrs of the Christian religion who also died rather than violate other laws of God. The sad consequences you mention do not affect the point at issue. Fidelity to what is right often has uncomfortable consequences. But the appeal to convenience or expediency is ethically invalid where an action is evil and immoral in itself. We cannot do evil that good may come. The deliberate murder of the child cannot be justified in that way.
I can but explain the sound moral principles affecting the case. If the wife's fears are indeed well founded, and it is certain her life will be gravely endangered, then the husband should refrain from asking those privileges ordained to the procreation of children. If he does not, the wife would be justified in refusing his requests, though she may, if she chooses, discount the risk, and face the possible dangers, trusting in God to preserve her, should it be His Holy Will.
Most certainly not.
Neither women nor men may make any laws concerning this matter. It is for God to make the laws. You speak of "good, tolerant, God-fearing women." If they are God-fearing, they will respect His laws, and certainly will not tolerate the abortion you advocate, involving the murder of an innocent child as a means to some other end. As for priests not knowing what they are talking about, one does not have to be married in order to know the implications of the law, "Thou shalt not kill." If you think that priests do not understand the difficulties which the observance of God's law will cost in certain individual cases, you are very much mistaken. And if you think the priest devoid of sympathy you are still more mistaken. But the priest knows that, even as he did not make the law, so he cannot abrogate it. He knows that it is useless for him to give a permission he has no authority to give and which God will not ratify. God has given the law. The priest must declare that law. Men may not do evil that good may come. It is morally evil in itself to destroy an innocent child's life. One may not do it, therefore, even to save the life of another. Abortion is murder, forbidden by the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill."
I am a Catholic priest giving the only statement possible so long as the law of God stands. "Thou shalt not kill"
The Catholic Church has never put anyone to death for being a heretic. She has declared certain of her renegade subjects to be heretics or deniers of the faith; and in ages which differed from our own in social structure, the State put militant heretics to death as enemies to the general civic welfare. But what has all that to do with my declaration now that the killing of an innocent child is murder? Your vehement denunciation of what you regard as murder in the Middle Ages should make you grateful for our milder views now, and a staunch supporter of our doctrine that innocent children must not be killed.
Will you say that it is not a sin to destroy the life of an innocent unborn child? If to that question just as it stands you reply, "Yes, it would be a sin to kill such an unborn child," will you hold that it is lawful to do a morally wicked thing provided you can foresee some apparent good to be got by doing so? If you say, "No, I don't believe you may do a sinful thing as a means to a good end—I do not believe that the end justifies evil means," then you may not plead the safety of a mother as justification for the murder of her child.
The wholesale slaughter of heretics can never be right. But even if it were, it would not affect the case of an innocent unborn child who has not been guilty of heresy.
Not at all. I would beg the doctors to move heaven and earth to save both mother and child. But the law of God compels me to say that they may not resort to the deliberate murder of either in order to save the other.
You do not abolish the grave law of Almighty God, "Thou shalt not kill" by calling the man who repeats it a "mere dispenser of doctrine." Nor is this law, which the Catholic Church did not make, nor can unmake, an indication of her "ruthless character." God made the law, and God forbids ruthless murder. My human feelings do not really affect the matter; but still I am not devoid of them. And they do protest against the deliberate murder even of an unborn child. Will you tell me why your human feelings are indifferent to that? Also why the child should have certain death inflicted upon it rather than that the mother should "take her chance," facing only a possibility? Time and again doctors have expressed their opinion that a mother will not survive, yet care and skill have saved both lives.
I go further. I say, "Save both." You say, "Murder the child." Think the whole matter over again. And don't imagine for a moment that I am simply refusing to understand your position. You mean well, but you have let your heart run away with your head. Concentrating on one aspect of the case you have lost sight of other aspects, and sentiment has obscured your vision of all the principles at stake. Owing to the limitations of the human mind absorption by one idea can blot out all advertence to others, as in the case of the man who laughed uproariously whilst being flogged, and gave as the reason for it, "You're flogging the wrong man." Concentration on the ludicrous aspect made him oblivious of physical pain. In your case thoughts only of pity for the mother (quite noble in themselves) have excluded from your mind all thoughts of the life of the child and its inalienable right to existence. And it is to that right I call your attention—a right vindicated by God's commandment: "Thou shalt not kill."