Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2270-2275, 2322-2323 – Abortion

clock July 12, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the sin of abortion. Supporting material comes from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Instruction, “Donum Vitae”.

Abortion

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.

From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.71

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.72
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.73

2271 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:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.74
God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves.
Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.75

2272 Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense.
The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life.
"A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,"76 "by the very commission of the offense,"77 and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law.78
The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy.
Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society.

2273 The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation:

"The inalienable rights of the person must be recognized and respected by civil society and the political authority.
These human rights depend neither on single individuals nor on parents; nor do they represent a concession made by society and the state; they belong to human nature and are inherent in the person by virtue of the creative act from which the person took his origin.
Among such fundamental rights one should mention in this regard every human being's right to life and physical integrity from the moment of conception until death."79
 
"The moment a positive law deprives a category of human beings of the protection which civil legislation ought to accord them, the state is denying the equality of all before the law.
When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined....
As a consequence of the respect and protection which must be ensured for the unborn child from the moment of conception, the law must provide appropriate penal sanctions for every deliberate violation of the child's rights."80

2274 Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.

Prenatal diagnosis is morally licit, "if it respects the life and integrity of the embryo and the human fetus and is directed toward its safe guarding or healing as an individual....
It is gravely opposed to the moral law when this is done with the thought of possibly inducing an abortion, depending upon the results: a diagnosis must not be the equivalent of a death sentence."81

2275 "One must hold as licit procedures carried out on the human embryo which respect the life and integrity of the embryo and do not involve disproportionate risks for it, but are directed toward its healing the improvement of its condition of health, or its individual survival."82
"It is immoral to produce human embryos intended for exploitation as disposable biological material."83
"Certain attempts to influence chromosomic or genetic inheritance are not therapeutic but are aimed at producing human beings selected according to sex or other predetermined qualities.
Such manipulations are contrary to the personal dignity of the human being and his integrity and identity"84 which are unique and unrepeatable.

IN BRIEF

2322 From its conception, the child has the right to life. Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, is a "criminal" practice (GS 27 # 3), gravely contrary to the moral law. The Church imposes the canonical penalty of excommunication for this crime against human life.

2323 Because it should be treated as a person from conception, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed like every other human being.

“Donum Vitae” (I, 1) discusses the respect necessary for human embryos.

I. RESPECT FOR HUMAN EMBRYOS

Careful reflection on this teaching of the Magisterium and on the evidence of reason, as mentioned above, enables us to respond to the numerous moral problems posed by technical interventions upon the human being in the first phases of his life and upon the processes of his conception.

1. WHAT RESPECT IS DUE TO THE HUMAN EMBRYO, TAKING INTO ACCOUNT HIS NATURE AND IDENTITY?

The human being must be respected - as a person - from the very first instant of his existence. The implementation of procedures of artificial fertilization has made possible various interventions upon embryos and human foetuses. The aims pursued are of various kinds: diagnostic and therapeutic, scientific and commercial. From all of this, serious problems arise. Can one speak of a right to experimentation upon human embryos for the purpose of scientific research? What norms or laws should be worked out with regard to this matter? The response to these problems presupposes a detailed reflection on the nature and specific identity - the word "status" is used - of the human embryo itself .

At the Second Vatican Council, the Church for her part presented once again to modern man her constant and certain doctrine according to which: "Life once conceived, must be protected with the utmost care; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes". (23) More recently, the Charter of the Rights of the Family, published by the Holy See, confirmed that "Human life must be absolutely respected and protected from the moment of conception".(24)

This Congregation is aware of the current debates concerning the beginning of human life, concerning the individuality of the human being and concerning the identity of the human person. The Congregation recalls the teachings found in the Declaration on Procured Abortion: "From the time that the ovum is fertilized, a new life is begun which is neither that of the father nor of the mother; it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already. To this perpetual evidence ... modern genetic science brings valuable confirmation. It has demonstrated that, from the first instant, the programme is fixed as to what this living being will be: a man, this individual-man with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization is begun the adventure of a human life, and each of its great capacities requires time ... to find its place and to be in a position to act". (25) This teaching remains valid and is further confirmed, if confirmation were needed, by recent findings of human biological science which recognize that in the zygote* resulting from fertilization the biological identity of a new human individual is already constituted. Certainly no experimental datum can be in itself sufficient to bring us to the recognition of a spiritual soul; nevertheless, the conclusions of science regarding the human embryo provide a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of this first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person? The Magisterium has not expressly committed itself to an affirmation of a philosophical nature, but it constantly reaffirms the moral condemnation of any kind of procured abortion. This teaching has not been changed and is unchangeable.(26)

Thus the fruit of human generation, from the first moment of its existence, that is to say from the moment the zygote has formed, demands the unconditional respect that is morally due to the human being in his bodily and spiritual totality. The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life. This doctrinal reminder provides the fundamental criterion for the solution of the various problems posed by the development of the biomedical sciences in this field: since the embryo must be treated as a person, it must also be defended in its integrity, tended and cared for, to the extent possible, in the same way as any other human being as far as medical assistance is concerned.

* The zygote is the cell produced when the nuclei of the two gametes have fused.

Footnotes

71 Cf. CDF, Donum vitae I, 1.
72 ⇒ Jer 1:5; cf. ⇒ Job 10:8-12; ⇒ Ps 22:10-11.
73 ⇒ Ps 139:15.
74 Didache 2, 2: SCh 248, 148; cf. Ep. Barnabae 19, 5: PG 2, 777; Ad Diognetum 5, 6: PG 2, 1173; Tertullian, Apol. 9: PL 1, 319-320.
75 GS 51 # 3.
76 ⇒ CIC, can. 1398.
77 ⇒ CIC, can. 1314.
78 Cf. ⇒ CIC, cann. 1323-1324.
79 CDF, Donum vitae III.
80 CDF, Donum vitae III.
81 CDF, Donum vitae I, 2.
82 CDF, Donum vitae I, 3.
83 CDF, Donum vitae I, 5.
84 CDF, Donum vitae I, 6.



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Obama Surrogate Michael Sean Winters Smears the US Bishops

clock December 18, 2012 01:09 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Michael Sean Winters, a critic of many of the Church’s teachings. Winters writes for the National Catholic Reporter, which officially endorsed women priests and called the Church’s teachings on the matter an “injustice”. This week, he has accused the US Bishops of playing politics and accosting them for standing up for religious liberty and against some of the nefarious initiatives of the President and his administration. (Winters’ comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

The President should fix the HHS mandate exemptions because doing so would be good politics for the Democrats, as I argued yesterday. Today, it is necessary, sad but necessary, to consider why President Obama may have a different political calculation and why the U.S. bishops need to look in the mirror when asking how they found themselves in this mess.

The President should fix the HHS mandate because it is a direct violation of our religious freedom. Who cares about politics? If Winters thinks that politics is the primary reason to remove the draconian mandate, he has his heart in the wrong place. This isn’t about strategy, this is about serving God. If you are forced to sin, you are left with either violation of the law or violation of your faith. The bishops found themselves in this mess because 40 years of poor catechesis left 50% of the American Catholic populate with so little understanding of their faith that they voted for a man that stands directly opposed to every major moral stance of the Church.

But, ignore [the achievement of electing the first black President] the bishops did. They greeted the incoming president with a postcard campaign about…..drumroll…the Freedom of Choice Act or FOCA. It mattered little that FOCA had never passed a committee vote in any Congress since it was first devised in the early 1980s as a fundraising device. It mattered little that it was clear the incoming President had bigger fish to fry. No, the bishops wanted to set down a marker and they did. This presidency would be viewed through one lens and one lens only, the pro-life lens. It didn’t matter that in forty-five years since Roe v. Wade, the Republicans had done precious little on abortion and the pro-life movement had become a cheap date for the GOP. Obama was the enemy.

They greeted him with a postcard campaign about the Freedom of Choice Act because he promised that passing it would be his first act in office. Removing all restrictions on abortion is an enormous assault on the morality of the nation. Winters should realize this, but he is more concerned about politics is seems. The pro-life lens is the most important lens. Our society has devolved into moral decay. There are so many fronts that could be opened in the war being waged for souls, but the battle for life is the most important and the most telling of our society. If we insist on allowing the slaughter of our own children, what does that say about our nation? The Republicans have not delivered on the life issue. That we can agree on. The problem, however arises when a candidate like Obama promises to expand the killing by removing restrictions on it. The life issue is not the only issue, but it is the most important. We cannot shift focus away from it until it has been resolved.

This was followed by the bishops’ decision not to support the Affordable Care Act. There were – and are – problems with the ACA. The concern most prominently voiced by the bishops, that the ACA would provide federal funding of abortions, required a very expansive reading of the text. Mind you, sometimes judges do render expansive readings of legislative texts. But, a court in Ohio has ruled that, on its face, the ACA does not permit federal funding of abortion. The bishops were more on target, as we have since learned, in their concern about the lack of statutory conscience exemptions in the law. And, they were undoubtedly correct that the failure to include undocumented immigrants in the law’s provisions was a serious lack. Nonetheless, the bishops seemed shrill and hysterical in their opposition to the ACA.

If Winters’ view is that the bishops are “shrill and hysterical”, what does that say about him and his newspaper whining about women’s ordination? The bishops were standing their ground on religious freedom and the right to life. The NCR was railing against the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church. The NCR prints shrill editorials from Obama surrogates castigating the Church for its stance on contraception. Coincidence? This article by Winters only solidifies my view that the NCR is simply a front for the Obama administration to influence wish-washy Catholics. Winters issues light criticism of the President, but like so many other Democratic apologists, he bends over backwards to minimize those criticisms and emphasize Obama’s concern for the poor and equality, even though Obama has stood by while poverty has risen and has stirred the pot of division on nearly every large politically divisive issue. Winters is losing any credibility he had left, as is the NCR. He knows why the Bishops have come out against Obama’s policies. It isn’t because he is a Democrat. It is because his policies are direct attacks on the Catholic Church. If a Republican proposed such evil policies, the Bishops would oppose them too.

The NCR has already been asked by the late Bishop of Kansas City to stop calling itself “Catholic”. They in their self-righteous arrogance have refused. They are a lie at best, and an agent for moral confusion. If you subscribe to the National Catholic Reporter, stop now. You are funding a campaign against the Catholic Church.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for December 18, 2012 to Michael Sean Winters.

Ear Tickler Award - Michael Sean Winters


Tuesday Ear Tickler – John McCarthy Spills Liberal Tripe Across the Page at the National Catholic Reporter

clock November 27, 2012 03:05 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is John McCarthy, an Obama surrogate and member of the oxymoronic group, “Catholics for Obama”. This week, McCarthy came out swinging against the bishops for defending the freedom of religion and against the magisterium as a whole for upholding the sanctity of the marital act. Leading off with the title, “Can Birth Control be Pro-Life?”, he conveys his lack of exposure to both science and the Catholic faith. Apparently, campaigning for Obama leaves little time for reading authentic Catholic teaching such as the “Theology of the Body”. (McCarthy’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently released numbers that said abortion rates have dropped 5 percent between 2008 and 2009 -- an all-time low. For so many of us in the faith community, we have to ask: Why the decrease?

I'd love to say that the answer was because of our swift economic recovery and that women finally have the resources they need to bring children into the world. Unfortunately, this isn't yet the reality. The Washington Post finds an important correlation: "At the same time the abortion rate took a big drop, use of more effective contraceptives had recently increased."

Let’s make this clear since McCarthy doesn’t get it. Surgical abortions decreased because chemical abortions increased. The numbers he quotes look only at surgical abortions. They cannot however track abortions caused by the “more effective” birth control methods which cause implantation abortions. I’m going to chalk this up to ignorance, but that is an assumption on my part. I like to presume the best of people, and therefore I will not assume that he prefers one type of abortion over another.

The bishops aren't going to be moving anytime soon on the relationship between abortions and birth control -- probably because they're still fighting for religious freedom or something -- but the laity needs to start thinking more seriously about the issue.

Here we see a rather childish dig at the bishops of this country who courageously defend our religious liberty from the blatant frontal assault launched by the president and his administration. McCarthy feigns ignorance on the subject, with his “or something” remark, but the joke is on him. Clearly he doesn’t understand the issue, the rights and freedoms involved, or the enormity of the suffering inflicted on the Church and its members throughout the course of history by wicked governments. McCarthy, working for Obama of course would side with the President rather than the Catholic Church. The fact that a newspaper purportedly serving that Church would publish his liberal tripe is offensive and telling of the mentality that exists at the Reporter.

Is it more moral for a woman to use birth control than have an abortion? I certainly think most members of the laity (about 97 percent of who use birth control) would resoundingly agree. If it lowers the rate of abortions, should the church more actively advocate for prayerful use of birth control in family planning?

While these are certainly just a series of questions, the new information is important for the laity to consider as we tackle these larger issues. What are your thoughts?

Well, since he asked, I have a few thoughts on the matter. The first is that the end does not justify the means. This is not a matter of simply choosing the lesser of two evils as if one or the other of them is unavoidable. Surely McCarthy is not a moral theologian, but he should have been informed on this subject at some point by some faithful Catholic in his life. With his logic, we could simply forcibly sterilize everyone. Abortions would completely cease if that was the case. Is it more moral to sterilize than to abort? The Church is not concerned with the abortion rate. The Church is concerned with the salvation of souls. Abortion is murder. It is gravely sinful and destroys the light of Christ in the soul of the abortionist, the mother, and anyone who willingly cooperates with the abortion.

Here is the third option that liberals like McCarthy do not even acknowledge: self-control. Rather than throwing up our hands and assuming that people are unable to control their sexual impulses like rabbits, the Church in her wisdom preaches self-control. The will is not subordinate to the urges. There is a method of family planning that is both effective and moral: NFP. It requires self-control for a few days each month. Are we that devoid of willpower that we cannot control ourselves for a few days a month? Is it better that we violate the dignity of marriage and chemically abort children than we practice a little self-control?

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday November 27, 2012 to John McCarthy.

Ear Tickler Award for John McCarthy



Do Human Beings Have an Inherent Dignity and Worth? (The Catholic View)

clock November 18, 2012 02:29 by author John |

Human DignityIn previous articles, we discussed when human life begins and whether human life constitutes a human being. Today, we will explore the dignity and worth inherent in human beings. This is an important consideration given the pressure recently to legalize “assisted suicide”, abortion, and various other practices that exist based on the assumption that human life only has value under certain conditions. Peter Singer and others have even gone so far as to admit that if abortion is a legitimate practice, so too must be infanticide, since there is no significant difference between two people just because one of them resides in the womb. You would think that with an argument like that, he would be against abortion and infanticide, but that is not so.

Dignity and Worth Based on Physical or Mental Attributes

Many if not most of the secular culture assumes that the value of life is determined by the degree of perfection of the physical and mental abilities of a person. This is clearly evidenced by the abortion rate of about 90% for children with Down Syndrome. One fundamental problem with this view is that everyone has some physical or mental shortcoming. We are imperfect creatures, aspiring toward the imitation of God’s perfection, but constantly falling short. Any attempt to assign lower dignity or worth to a certain imperfection is necessarily arbitrary. Some of us can run a mile in under 4 minutes. Some of us have an IQ off the charts. Some are more physically appealing.

Which of these attributes is desirable? Clearly some attributes are more desirable to some that to others. There are obviously gradations in these attributes among the human populace. At which point is a life worth living? Which combination of imperfections is acceptable and which are not? If God deigned it necessary to create someone, why do we have the arrogance to reject that gift of life? In creating the world, we know that God looked upon His creation and called it “Good”. Why would we doubt the goodness of one of His highest creations – man?

Dignity and Worth Based on “Quality of Life”

The other criteria frequently held up as a standard for assisted suicide and abortion are related to the attributes of a person, though distinct: the quality of life of the person. Imperfections make life more difficult for some. Of course as Catholics, we know that there is value in pain, suffering, and trials in our life. For the uncatechized, however there is significant confusion about the value of life lived in a trying way. They tend to ignore the blessings found in every life, looking at the difficulties instead and failing to see the beauty of life itself – the experiences, emotions, ups and downs. As much as humans try to minimize difficulties, (and rightfully so), a life lived without challenges will rarely if ever result in happiness. The fundamental question is whether it is the ease of living that produces a higher quality of life, or the experiences and choices of life itself that lead to a higher quality of life. Regardless of the criteria used to determine the quality of life, we can clearly identify the arbitrary nature of assigning a point at which a life is not worth living. The concerns invariably should become insurmountable when this decision is made by one person for another, as is the case in abortion.

The Catholic View of Human Dignity

Catholics believe that every human being has inherent dignity and worth. We believe that every human being is created “in the image and likeness” of God. This is not the case with animals, plants, or the other components of the created universe. Humans occupy a special place of distinction among the other creatures. There are certain attributes that set us above the animals and plants, such as an intellect and will, and the subordination of the impulses to the intellect and will.

In Genesis 1:28, we see an important distinction made between man and the rest of creation,

And God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth."

God gives us the authority to have dominion over the fish, birds, and every other living thing. We also are given the command to “subdue” the earth. This is a critical passage to help us understand our place in the physical world. We are above the other animals and plants.

Not only are we a higher order of being than the animals and plants, but we occupy a special place in God’s affection. The whole earth was created for us, but beyond that, we know that God loves us in a special way, promising eternity in the midst of His glory if we can only love Him with our whole heart. Throughout history, God has bestowed blessings on us, correcting us when necessary, and extending His grace to aid us in our journey toward him. In Matthew 10:29-31, Jesus tells us our value to God, expressing how much he cares for us, holding us in existence and providing for our needs,

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's will. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

God loves us beyond comprehension. He created everything to be “good”, and we know that God is perfect love, mercy, justice, wisdom and power. The only thing that is outside of His power is to do something in a less than perfect way. “God doesn’t create junk”, the common saying goes, and there is incredible truth in it. If God created it, as He did with all of us and the world around us, then we can only know that it has a purpose and its existence is of value. We all have inherent dignity and worth – God wouldn’t have created us otherwise. It may be difficult for us to grasp, but every human life is worth living. There are no exceptions.

 

Other Articles You May Like

When Does Human Life Begin? (The argument from Catholic Faith and Science)

Human Life Vs. Human Being (Is a Fetus a Human Being?)

Is That Really What You Believe



Human Life vs. Human Being (Is a Fetus a Human Being)

clock November 12, 2012 21:38 by author John |

Baby in the WombIt may seem like a strange distinction to talk about human life vs. human being, but that is the point our society has reached. We have produced 2 terms that should refer to the same exact thing, but there are many who insist there is a difference. In this article, we will examine whether there is a difference, and some of the implications that stem from the use of these terms.

What is Human Life?

In the previous article in this series, we explored when human life begins. All of the evidence pointed to fertilization, which most people refer to as “conception”. We also explained that a fetus exhibits all of the 5 characteristics which define life:

1. Living things are highly organized.
2. All living things have an ability to acquire materials and energy.
3. All living things have an ability to respond to their environment.
4. All living things have an ability to reproduce.
5. All living things have an ability to adapt.

In the most basic sense, human life is the result of the union of a human egg and human sperm. A fetus is human life. A toddler is human life, as is an adolescent, and an adult. A piece of tissue such as skin or a human organ would not be considered human life, since it cannot reproduce, adapt, respond to its environment, or acquire materials and energy.

What is a Human Being?

A human being in Catholic teaching is a human life infused with an immortal soul, created by God in His image and likeness. A human being is also referred to as a human person. The point at which a human life becomes a human being is when the soul enters the body. We believe that the body and soul join to form a human being and that even though the soul and the body are separated at death, after the final judgment, the body and soul will be reunited in the afterlife.

Does Every Human Life Constitute a Human Being?

As Catholics, we believe that a human life becomes a human being at the very first instant – at fertilization. It is at this point that not only is the human life created, but also the soul is infused by God, forming a human being.

We know this because even though the fetus depends on the mother for nourishment and protection, it is a wholly separate life, with its own brain, heart, eyes, hands, and genetic makeup. The fact that it is connected to the mother by the umbilical cord does not make it part of the mother. People don’t have 2 brains or 2 hearts. Clearly the baby in the womb is a separate human life. A baby can be born naturally or through caesarian section. The process of birth does not make a human life a human being. The birth can and often does happen early. We wouldn’t consider a premature baby any less of a person. We cannot say that a person only becomes a person at the normal 40 weeks gestation. Babies have been born shortly after 20 weeks and still survived outside the womb and grown to adulthood.

Any attempt to draw a hard and fast line on the age a baby becomes a person is strictly arbitrary and has no scientific or religious basis to it. A child born at 22 weeks today could in theory survive outside the womb with the proper care. With advances in technology and medical knowledge, we will eventually be able to push that point of viability back. Clearly God does not operate according to our meager knowledge of biology.

To put a rest to this discussion once and for all, we know that in the process of in-vitro fertilization, the doctors create children in a lab and then implant them into the mother. If the child is separate before the pregnancy, and is separate, though attached to the mother in the womb, and is removed from the mother at birth, regardless of at what stage of development, then clearly, the soul must be infused that the point of fertilization, since that is the only point where human life begins. (For clarity, it should be noted here that the process of in-vitro fertilization is considered gravely sinful by the Catholic Church. It is used as an example only for scientific purposes, not as an endorsement of the procedure.)

Other Criteria for Human Beings

Some people try to offer other attributes to identify when human life becomes a human being. They use concepts such as sentience, which is the awareness of oneself, or consciousness. This is clearly arbitrary, since we lose consciousness and self-awareness when we are sleeping, under anesthesia, or in a coma. We would not logically conclude that a sleeping person is no longer human, so why would we use that as a delineation point at the beginning phases of life? The ability to feel pain is another arbitrary point used to rationalize abortion. Again, painkillers and consciousness affect our ability to feel pain. It cannot be used as a solid indicator of human personhood.

One Condition Indicates Human Personhood

Only one condition can be a solid indicator of personhood: being itself. As we know from Exodus 3:14,

God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"

God names Himself by one particular attribute, which is His Being. God is eternal. In Genesis 1:26-27, we read,

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

We must realize that we are made in the image and likeness of God. We are defined by our being, just as God is defined by His being. God is eternal, and though our body will die, our soul will live forever. We are special not because of any physical attribute, but because we have an immortal soul and we are specially made by God. There is no significant difference between an adult and a child in the womb. All human life from the moment of fertilization to the moment of death is a human being.

Other articles you may like:

When does Human Life Begin? (The argument from faith and science)



When Does Human Life Begin? (The Argument from Catholic Faith and Science)

clock November 10, 2012 19:12 by author John |

Baby in the WombWhen human life begins, whether human life constitutes a human being, and whether human beings have an inherent dignity and worth are the foundational questions of Catholic Social teaching. They compel Catholics to defend each other from unjust aggression, provide for each other in times of need and speak out for each other when fundamental rights are threatened. These questions also form the basis for the discussion of the merits of abortion, embryonic stem cell research, in-vitro fertilization, and the use of abortifacient drugs such as the “Plan-B Pill”. In this series, we will investigate the answers to each of these three questions, starting with the first and most basic question, “When does human life begin?”

When Does Human Life Begin? (The Catholic View)

God created man in His image and likeness. In Genesis 1:26-27, this is revealed to us:

Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth." So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Given the fact that God created us in His image and likeness, we can then use the gift of reason to infer the point at which human life begins. Reason is one attribute of God’s likeness in which we are created, though to an imperfect degree. God has perfect truth and logic. Our grasp of these two things are limited, though sufficient for our needs.

Now in understanding the ways in which we resemble God, we can only rely on what God has revealed to us, the use of our senses and the application of our intellect and reasoning. Knowing that God would not reveal something to us without providing value in the revealed truth, we can deduce that the revelation given in Genesis 1:26-27 is intended for our understanding of our own nature and attributes.

Therefore, we must decide at what point a person assumes the “image and likeness” of God. We know some of the attributes that constitute the “image and likeness”. These include a will and an intellect. Now the will and the intellect can be compromised such as when we are asleep or through disability. These attributes cannot be used reliably as a means of defining a human. The ultimate attribute of God is Being itself, which is the name God conveys to Moses in Exodus 3:14:

God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And he said, "Say this to the people of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'"

If therefore, God is defined by his existence, then humans are best defined by their very existence, and not by a physical attribute or capability. From a Catholic perspective, we know that our existence is evident before we are born, since we read in the Bible,

For thou didst form my inward parts, thou didst knit me together in my mother's womb. - Psalm 139:13

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Jeremiah 1:5

But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace Galatians 1:15

Listen to me, O coastlands, and hearken, you peoples from afar. The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. 2 He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow, in his quiver he hid me away. 3 And he said to me, "You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified." 4 But I said, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God." 5 And now the LORD says, who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob back to him, and that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD, and my God has become my strength – Isaiah 49:1-5

for he will be great before the Lord, and he shall drink no wine nor strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother's womb. - Luke 1:15

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43 And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. – Luke 1:41-44

When Does Human Life Begin? (The Scientific View)

It is clear to everyone that a fetus is human tissue. It is living as we know that it meets the 5 criteria for living things:

1. Living things are highly organized.
2. All living things have an ability to acquire materials and energy.
3. All living things have an ability to respond to their environment.
4. All living things have an ability to reproduce.
5. All living things have an ability to adapt.

The question then turns to the point at which this living tissue is organized and differentiated. The answer is clearly at fertilization, the point at which the egg and sperm join. This is the point at which the genetic makeup is determined. It has a unique genetic identity, which it will carry for the rest of its life. The DNA this child has is distinct from the mother’s. The fetus is not simply a growth or a “blob of tissue” in the mother’s body any more than the mother herself is a “blob of tissue”.

In Summary

Human life begins at conception. This is evident from both a Biblical and scientific point of view. Any attempt at minimizing this point by referring to the child in the womb as a “blob of tissue” is intellectually dishonest. Calling something by a different name does not change what it is. In the next articles in this series, we will examine whether every human life constitutes a “human being”, and whether each human being has inherent dignity and worth. These questions will help us understand the validity of abortion as well as many other encroachments on human life such as euthanasia.

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Tuesday Ear Tickler Award: Catholics For Obama Confusing Consciences

clock November 6, 2012 01:02 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is a group known as “Catholics for Obama”, comprised of several politicians and shills for Obama who have either an improperly formed conscience or are outright sellouts for a quick political buck. That group’s oxymoronic title is akin to slogans such as “Vegans for Meat”, “Hamsters for Housecats”, or “Dentists for Coca Cola”. I have outlined several of the licentious claims and moral equivocation found on the website, which was designed primarily to allow people to violate their conscience in supporting the “First Gay President” as Newsweek crowned him.

Let’s get the obvious facts down first. Obama stands for unlimited abortion rights, including taxpayer funded abortion, abortion up to the last day of pregnancy, partial birth abortion, and abortifacient contraception. He is in support of homosexual marriage, which the Bible calls an “abomination”. He is also the president who has forced the Catholic Church to pay for contraception, sterilizations, and abortifacients in violation of their consciences. If a Catholic votes for Obama in accordance with their conscience, it would appear to me that they have an improperly formed conscience. If a person murdered 5 people, but gave money to 20 homeless people, would you consider them a good person? I wouldn’t. It follow then, that a person who advocates for the right to kill 1.3 million people each year could not be called a good candidate for president, no matter how much his social safety nets help people.

Caroline Kennedy of Catholics for Obama

“I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. I believe I have found the man who could be that president – not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans”. - Caroline Kennedy

I hate to break it to you Carline, but inspiration is empty if it is devoid of goodness and grace. As a Catholic, you should know that inspiration to the good is honorable and virtuous. Inspiration is evil if it promotes evil. Barack Obama promotes the culture of death. He is eyeball deep in the blood of unborn children. Shame on you Caroline Kennedy for promoting evil.

Marcy Kaptur of Catholics for Obama

“From his time as a community organizer in eight Chicago parishes, Senator Obama has demonstrated his appreciation for the Catholic Social Tradition and its focus on the common good.” – Marcy Kaptur

Marcy Kaptur sounds so shallow. Does she really not understand that the primary social justice issue is abortion? Does she really not know that abortion is murder or is she simply ignoring the fact in order to achieve a prestigious appointment in the Obama administration and reap campaign money from Planned Parenthood? Shame on you Marcy Kaptur for abandoning your conscience whether though malformation or disregard.

Senator Bob Casey of Catholics for Obama

“He has appealed, as Abraham Lincoln asked us to do many years ago, to the better angels of our nature” – Bob Casey

Bob Casey claims that Obama has “appealed… to the better angels of our nature.” If by better angels, you mean the angel of death, then yes, I believe Senator Casey is correct. Barack Obama is the most unapologetic abortion-minded president in the history of our country. If you support that man, I find it hard to believe that you are truly “Pro-Life” as Casey claims to be. Shame on you Bob Casey for muddying the waters, confusing Catholics and promoting the pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, anti-Catholic Obama.

Douglas Kmiec of Catholics for Obama

“One of the things I kept discovering was that Obama was sounding more Catholic than most Catholics I know.” – Douglas Kmiec

Well, I can’t argue with that statement because I don’t know how many Catholics Kmiec knows. Perhaps that is an indictment of the people Kmiec associates with. Perhaps Kmiec doesn’t get out much. Perhaps Kmiec is being disingenuous. Regardless, that kind of moral equivocation is disgraceful. Kmiec received a comfy ambassador assignment as his 30 pieces of silver after providing cover for Obama-supporting Catholics in 2008. A man of his education should have a better-formed conscience than that. Shame on Douglas Kmiec for confusing the consciences of countless Catholics.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award to Caroline Kennedy, Marcy Kaptur, Bob Casey, Douglas Kmiec, and the rest of the disgraceful “Catholics for Obama” group.

 



Tuesday Ear Tickler: Bryan Cones' Promotion of the Culture of Death through Bad Theology

clock October 30, 2012 01:08 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…


Today’s winner is Bryan Cones, who showcases his bad theology in his article, “How many Christians share the bad theology behind Mourdock's political gaffe?”. Cones presents some typical liberal talking points while bring some of his belief into light which are very troubling.  (Cones’ comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

How many Christians share the bad theology behind Mourdock's political gaffe?

While pundits and Democrats can't make enough political fodder of GOP Indiana Senate candidate Richard Mourdock's comment that pregnancy as a result of rape is "something God intended," I have to wonder why there aren't more theologians and pastors roundly denouncing the theology behind it. I wonder if it isn't because many people hold this understanding of the way God's power works in the world, a variant of God "writing straight with crooked lines." It's just that no one wants to admit it when it comes to something as horrific as rape.

The pundits and Democrats that Cones speaks of are not quoting Mourdock word for word. They are making straw man arguments because the statement Mourdock made is not actually that shocking. Mourdock stated that every child is a gift from God regardless of how they were conceived. The reason there are not more theologians and pastors denouncing Mourdock is because what he said is in line with traditional Christian values.

Frankly, it's a big problem with the way we people of faith deal with evil: We want to insist God is in complete control--which perhaps makes our suffering a bit easier--but then we're forced to say that God has some ultimate good in mind when God "permits" terrible things to happen--think the Holocaust. But we wouldn't sanction immoral means to achieve a good end for human beings, so why would we absolve God for doing it?

Here’s the problem with Cones’ argument. What he said would be true if God were the one committing the evil action. We know that God does not commit evil actions; he only allows them as a consequence of our free will. Cones’ lack of understanding of basic Christian beliefs is rather astounding.

It seems to me sufficient to say that the rules of God's creation have made it so that, in the right conditions, when a human sperm and egg join in the right place and at the right time, human life is possible. Unfortunately, that can happen through an act of violence, which is also possible through the rules of God's creation expressed in human freedom. But to say God directly "intends" the creation of that life through such a profound perversion of human freedom is a theological step too far, and we people of faith should call out this kind of blasphemy--because that's what it is--especially when it comes from the mouth of another Christian.

If you want to get emotional, which is what Cones’ is doing here; we can take his argument to the logical conclusion. We can then say that the person created as a result of that act of violence is a person that God did not intend to exist. That of course is ridiculous because God loves us all as His children. He does not despise or regret anyone’s existence simply due to the mean by which they were conceived. Surely Cones’ is not insinuating that Mourdock thinks rape is something God intends. That would be dishonest.

That still leaves us with what Catholic tradition calls "the mystery of evil"; there is simply no good answer for the fact that something fundamentally good--human life--can result from an act of such diabolical evil--rape--which is finally why the issue of abortion in the case of rape is so fraught with moral difficulty. Some argue--and this would be most consistent with church teaching--that the objective good of the developing human life is sacrosanct, while others would respond that the pregnancy is a continuation of the objectively immoral assault on the woman who has been raped, and so an abortion in this instance would be morally permissible.

The issue of abortion in the case of rape is only fraught with moral difficulty because people like Mourdock have muddied the waters. Either an unborn child is a person or not. If abortion is not desirable for conventional pregnancies, then it cannot be desirable in cases of rape. This is essentially a failure of logic or a failure of honesty. You cannot have it any other way. So is Cones in favor of the view of the “others” who do not hold the view of the Church? Cones is basically saying that doing evil is OK as long as you have faulty logic. That is a severely morally-depraved conviction.

Those fine points of moral theology never get fair coverage in the press--we can hardly expect them to. But what Christians simply cannot allow, however, is permitting a frankly childish theological answer such as Mourdock's to stand without response.

We also cannot allow a childish rebuttal of a fundamentally sound theological statement to stand without response. I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler award for Tuesday, October 30 to Bryan Cones.



The Myth of the One-Issue Voter (The Catholic Take)

clock October 27, 2012 03:18 by author John |

VotingIn the heat of the political season, you often hear the term, “single-issue voter” being bandied about, mostly from the left-of-center crowd. They use it to describe anyone that uses their faith as a reason to vote for or against a certain candidate. I propose we stop using that term. It has no real meaning.

Frequently, a person who is pro-life is described as a “single-issue voter”. While it is true that the pro-life stance can be summarized by a single phrase, it is disingenuous to assume that a person only cares about 1 issue, and is concurrently misrepresentative to equate those opposed to induced abortion with a pro-life view. A pro-life view includes advocating for life in all cases. This means standing against euthanasia, abortion, infanticide, homicide, suicide, and every other means of ending human life. It also means standing against contraception, sterilization, homosexual marriage, infidelity, adultery, promiscuity, inappropriate sex education, pornography, and in-vitro fertilization. These issues all attack the natural and proper origins of human life.

If a pro-life person can be called a single-issue voter, then by the same token, a person who advocates for the poor, “women’s rights”, peace, and entitlements can be called a single-issue social justice voter. It is all about terms. There are many aspects to the pro-life view, just as there are many aspects to the social justice view.

It is also disingenuous to assume that a person is a single-issue voter just because they believe one issue is more important than the others. A person who is pro-life doesn’t necessarily advocate for the starvation of the poor, but you would never know that by listening to the common rhetoric of the day. It seems if you take a pro-life stance, then you are labeled as “anti-poor”. Give me a break! This is nonsense, and I can’t imagine anyone with half a brain would believe it. Let’s just agree to stop labeling people as single-issue voters.

As a pro-life voter, I would be more actively involved in advocating for the poor if there wasn’t an even greater need to advocate for the unborn. I am not a single-issue voter. I just have a list of issues with life occupying the top spot.

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Tuesday Ear Tickler: Eric Miller Hails Obama as a "Pro-Life Hero"

clock October 22, 2012 21:52 by author John |

The Tuesday Ear Tickler award is Solemn Charge’s weekly recognition of teachers who “Tickle the Ears” of those who “no longer endure sound doctrine”. In the spirit of 2 Timothy 4 2-4, this award serves to identify theological or doctrinal errors, dissent or hostility toward the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or writing that undermines the purpose of each human soul – to know love and serve God so as to enjoy eternal happiness with Him in Heaven. I make no judgment of the writer’s intentions. Usually the winner of this award was raised in the 60’s so that right there is a mitigating factor toward their culpability for their actions. I do judge concrete actions and the quality of ideas, however…

Today’s winner is Eric C. Miller, who makes the specious claim that Barack Obama is a “Pro-Life Hero”. Sorry, I should have warned you to put that hot coffee down before I conveyed Miller’s ridiculous canonization of the pro-abortion President. Any claims of personal injury as a result of that statement should be directed toward Mr. Miller. Anyway, without further delay, let’s get down to taking apart his argument and exposing the shallow thinking it espouses. (Miller’s comments in the red quote boxes, my comments in black.)

On October 3rd researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine published a study with profound implications for policymaking in the United States. According to Dr. Jeffery Peipert, the study’s lead author, abortion rates can be expected to decline significantly—perhaps up to 75 percent—when contraceptives are made available to women free of charge. Declaring himself “very surprised” at the results, Peipert requested expedient publication of the study, noting its relevance to the upcoming election.

First, we should assert that when this study mentions abortion, it fails to consider chemical abortions caused by pills/hormones that cause an “implantation abortion”, where the child is conceived, but cannot implant or dies shortly after implantation. Peipert asked for expedient publication because it had positive political connotations for the Obama campaign. If the results had been the opposite (which I now doubt could be in the realm of possibility given Peipert’s jubilant “expedient publication) I wonder if they would have been published at all.

As most observers surely know, the Affordable Care Act (aka “Obamacare”) requires insurance coverage for birth control, a provision staunchly opposed by most of the same religious conservatives who oppose legalized abortion. If Peipert is correct, however, the ACA may prove the single most effective piece of “pro-life” legislation in the past forty years.

Wrong! If being “pro-life” means that surgical abortions decrease while chemical abortions increase, then perhaps this statement could be true. The same reasoning could be used to call a fielding error by the shortstop a nice hit by the batter, or a doctor who cheated on his final exams in medical school a valedictorian and top-ranked surgeon. If you want to change definitions, then you can make any statement true.

Encouraging as these results are from both a women’s health and, ostensibly, pro-life perspective, they become even more so in light of their economic benefits. Author Brian Alexander notes that, according to a 2011 study from the Guttmacher Institute, “unplanned pregnancies cost the United States a conservatively estimated $11 billion per year,” money that may be saved simply by covering the cost of birth control.

Working from a false assumption allows you to claim that contraceptives are “pro-life”. If contraceptives are so powerful and positive in their societal impact, then we would have seen great decreases in unplanned pregnancies, STDs, and abortion since their widespread incorporation into society decades ago. The opposite has happened. As contraceptives have become more widely used, these societal scourges have likewise increased. One statistic that you will not hear mentioned by the likes of Miller or other culture of death apologists is the fact that the higher the devout Catholic population of a country, the less abortion, STDs and unplanned pregnancies that country has.

Peipert himself touted this benefit. “The way I look at it as a gynecologist with an interest in women’s health and public health and family planning, is that this saves money,” he said. “When you provide no-cost contraception, and you remove that barrier, you finally reduce unintended pregnancy rates. It doesn’t matter what side one is on politically, that’s a good thing.” Dr. James T. Breeden, president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, called the data “an amazing improvement,” adding, “I would think if you were against abortions, you would be 100 percent for contraception access.”

Peipert has identified himself as a contraceptive pusher. Do you think that the “lead author” of a study’s personal bias would translate into skewed results? Pardon the pun, but that is surely a “conceivable” possibility. Hey I’m not the only one using lame puns. Peipert started it with his blatant reference to “removing the barrier” around contraceptives. While we are at this, if Dr. Breeden thinks that simply reducing abortions would make someone in favor of a morally corrupt way of achieving that end, then why not simply sterilize all the poor people? That would also reduce abortions. Both are morally unacceptable. That’s why. Repeat after me, “The end cannot and does not justify the means”.

But it remains the case that, by and large, those most opposed to abortion are not “100 percent for” contraception access. In fact, Peipert’s study comes at a time when more than thirty federal lawsuits have been filed by social conservatives bent on overturning the ACA’s contraception mandate. In many cases, these suits are “religious freedom” complaints, arguing that requiring religiously affiliated organizations to include contraception in their health care plans violates their rights of conscience. These claims are, in most cases, dubious given that the ACA offers a religious “accommodation” whereby the onus of contraceptive coverage is placed on insurance companies rather than organizations.

Notice the inflammatory language about conservatives? “Bent” Those federal lawsuits were filed because the Obama administration trampled on the right of conscience for Christians. How clueless do you have to be if you fail to grasp the reason that over 100 institutions are suing the Obama administration? This is the most insidious violation of religious freedom in recent memory. The dubious claims are found in the phony “accommodation” given by the administration, which basically states that religious organizations will still fund contraception and abortion-causing drugs, but the administration will pretend that isn’t the case and expect Churches to follow the lead. In a word, the policy is arrogant.

Such efforts by social conservatives to oppose the ACA betray both an unseemly partisanship and a nervous insecurity. It seems entirely plausible that, in the contraception mandate, leaders of these groups see not a violation of their own freedom so much as a weakening of their ability to dictate the terms by which their members live.

Miller claims the “social conservatives” are exhibiting an “unseemly partisanship” and “nervous insecurity”. There are two problems with that assertion. First, it is judgmental, assuming that the religious groups and private businesses have a political agenda when they are fighting for their most basic right – the right to honor God. Second, it would seem a “nervous insecurity” is warranted given the boot the President has firmly placed on the neck of the Church. Miller shows his utter ignorance of Church teaching by claiming that the Church dictates the terms by which their members live. The Church doesn’t do that, Mr. Miller. God does. The Church doesn’t want to pay for sin. It is a pretty simple concept, yet one that Miller cannot grasp.

But by addressing the problem of unintended pregnancy—rather than the politically fraught problem of abortion—“Obamacare” addresses the issue at its root. Though abortion has served as the central locus of the “culture war” for nearly forty years, it has always been a secondary concern—a problematic solution to a deeper and less sensational problem. By insisting on mere illegality, pro-life forces have turned a blind eye to the troublesome side-effects of illegal abortion even as they dedicated themselves to a largely symbolic political victory. And since the political divisions accompanying the debate have become so intractable, hope for a deliberative resolution has long ceased to exist.

Wrong! The root of the problem is immorality. If people didn’t devalue sex, we wouldn’t have unintended pregnancies. Liberals have promoted free and indiscriminate sex. The effects are plaguing our society. Illegalizing abortion will reduce abortions. Less abortion means less innocent children killed. It is a very straightforward principle. Saving lives isn’t symbolic. It is heroic. Shame on Miller for suggesting otherwise.

I am not so naïve as to believe that this conclusion is likely to be reached soon, or without further contest. Nor do I anticipate that Tom Minnery or Bryan Fischer will embrace President Obama as a pro-life hero. But it seems to me that, if conservatives really believe in the evil of abortion, they are morally obligated to embrace a policy that stands to limit it so impressively.

If Miller wasn’t so naïve, he would understand that the only force which morally obliges us is God. Shallow logic, hollow rhetoric, and empty insults do not constitute a moral obligation. Miller is ignorant of Church teaching, which precludes him from speaking intelligently about conscience, morality and religious freedom. He fills this hole in his argument with judgmental, condescending accusations devoid of merit. Miller is tickling ears and leading souls away from Christ.

I hereby award the Tuesday Ear Tickler Award for Tuesday, October 23, 2012 to Eric C. Miller.