Wednesday, May 28, 2008

HFEA to rule on theology?

Briefing: Lisa Jardine fancies herself as a theologian. What she has missed is that the debate about ensoulment which was carried on in antiquity and the middle ages was never thought to bring the wrongness of abortion into question. The Catechism of the Catholic Church carefully refrains from making the wrongness of killing the unborn depend on any metaphysical claims about the unborn: it must be treated as person, regardless of the state of our knowledge about it.

CCC: 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.

This is a common mistake of critics of the Church. St Augustine would have been horrified at Prof. Jardine's job, as the renewal of the worst excesses of paganism.

From SPUC: The Catholic church has changed its teaching on when human life starts, according to the head of the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. Professor Lisa Jardine, an historian, cites St Augustine of Hippo as teaching that humanity started when a child was first felt to be moving, and implies that other Christian and Abrahamic faiths draw the line at 14 days. She writes: "only 21st-century Catholicism has this problem" and hopes the church will change its policy. [Guardian, 28 May] Anthony Ozimic of SPUC said: "The Catholic church and its leading authorities, from the earliest times to today, have always forbidden the destruction of the fruits of conception. Differences of opinion among theologians before the mid-19th century related not to embryo destruction (which was always forbidden by the church), but at which stage of development the embryo possessed a soul and whether lighter or harsher penalties should be applied for embryo destruction before and after the soul's presence. Theologians of the Middle Ages could only use the science available to them at the time, derived from Aristotle, which suggested that the embryo was not sufficiently developed enough to possess a soul until some weeks after conception. It was only in the mid-19th century and advances in embryology that scientists could be sure about the physical evidence of how human life begins - at fertilisation. The Catholic church therefore changed, not its teaching on the wrongness of embryo destruction, but its penalties for embryo destruction, to be equal from fertilisation onwards."

No comments:

Pope Leo XIII's Prayer to St Michael

Holy Michael, Archangel, defend us in the day of battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou, Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, thrust down to Hell Satan, and all wicked spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls. Amen