Abortion, Catholic Church, and CSI


#1

On last night’s CSI, one of the character’s said some 16-17 century pope said that the fetus wasn’t human until the 40th day and you could feel movement.

Now I know that the Catholic Church has always been against abortion for example:

  1. The woman who purposely destroys her unborn child is guilty of murder. With us there is no nice enquiry as to its being formed or unformed. In this case it is not only the being about to be born who is vindicated, but the woman in her attack upon herself; because in most cases women who make such attempts die. The destruction of the embryo is an additional crime, a second murder, at all events if we regard it as done with intent. The punishment, however, of these women should not be for life, but for the term of ten years. And let their treatment depend not on mere lapse of time, but on the character of their repentance.

St Basil of Caesarea
188 AD

And I also know that their knowledge of embryonic development was flawed due to the limits of science at the time.
However, does anyone know what Catherine was talikng about and the story behind it?


#2

I don’t know if the statement of a pope saying such a thing is true or not but like you said,

And I also know that their knowledge of embryonic development was flawed due to the limits of science at the time.

It was flawed, not in dogma but, in application (overtly we can tell now when they are alive).
One must remeber that unless a pope is speaking ex catheda (speaking on faith or morals, addressed to the christian world, ect.) he is just as fallible as the rest of us. So unless someone could show that the alledge pope (whom ever that may be) was speaking as such I see no problem in saying he was mistaken (not be much though). But, then again we don’t know if there was a pope who actually said anything to the effect.
Hope that helps.


#3

[quote=axolotl]On last night’s CSI, one of the character’s said some 16-17 century pope said that the fetus wasn’t human until the 40th day and you could feel movement.

Now I know that the Catholic Church has always been against abortion for example:

And I also know that their knowledge of embryonic development was flawed due to the limits of science at the time.
However, does anyone know what Catherine was talikng about and the story behind it?
[/quote]

You are correct. Because of the limits of biology and medical science. It was not certain when life started. The actual concern then was when the soul was infused into the human body. The Church finally decided that life or the infusion of the soul was at conception. This was after medical science showed life began at conception from a scientific viewpoint. Either Augustine or Aquinas used 40 days and boys were different from girls, but the Church never accepted this as view of the Church.


#4

First of all, there was no Pope who made pronouncements on this, only Catholic Theologians.

As mentioned above this discussion was theoretical in nature as was related to the moment when a “quickening” occured, that is, the cells of the new child ceased to be animated by the mother’s soul, and became animated under their own soul.

The Church still has not definively ruled on this theological point.

But this point is entirely seperate to the instrinsicly evil nature of abortion, which the Church has always been condemed.


#5

The Church hasn’t definitively ruled that life begins at conception?


#6

[quote=oldfogey]The Church hasn’t definitively ruled that life begins at conception?
[/quote]

I am unaware of any Papal document definitively stating when ensoulment occurs.

If you know of one, I would greatly appreciate it.

The Church has stated that abortion is intrinsically evil, and has done so for all it’s history

(read the Didache, an late 1st, early 2nd Century A.D. Instruction for new Christians, kind of an early RCIA manual, specifically chapter 2) earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-roberts.html

This is different from stating the exact moment of ensoulment as anything other than speculative theology.


#7

Hey, didn’t you like the way the Catherine Willows character was bragging about being pro-choice while at the same time condemning the choices of other characters? What was it to her if others chose to implant frozen embryos and gestate them? Sheesh!

Also, Grissom’s quote of Leviticus (sorry, can’t remember chapter and verse) was way out of line. The ancient Hebrews believed that each person had something called “lifeblood.” Not all blood was considered lifeblood, but if you happened to bleed out your lifeblood, you died. To apply this concept to the gestational period is misleading. He implies that it means “only” as if to say, “Life is only in the blood” and then uses that to prove that a fertilized egg is not alive. That’s not what the Bible says.


#8

From Evangelium Vitae…

“…And even more so, the value of the person from the moment of conception is celebrated in the meeting between the Virgin Mary and Elizabeth, and between the two children whom they are carrying in the womb…”

It would be impossible to be a person without a soul.


#9

CSI indeed!The first mistake you made is believing anything you see on network television. Television is making an all out assault on the church, so be careful what you watch and believe.


#10

[quote=davy39]CSI indeed!The first mistake you made is believing anything you see on network television. Television is making an all out assault on the church, so be careful what you watch and believe.
[/quote]

I’m not saying I believe it, but that others may, and I want to be able to refute it.

For example, in another forum which I participate in, someone posted this:

Another thing to keep in mind, for what it’s worth, is that, up until 1869,
the **Catholic **Church supported the right of choice up until a certain point
in the pregnancy; I believe they called it “quickening.” About 40 days I
think it was, though don’t hold me to that. Surely some of those
clinic-blocking, doctor-harassing religious zealots know about the Catholic
Church’s history and its position on abortion throughout most of that
history.

Someone at least knew what he was misrepresenting and replied thusly:

Not quite. Aquinas thought that conception wasn’t completed for 40 days.
This was based on Aristotle, who believed that fetuses became human at 40
days.

Abortion was condemned at the Council of Trent in 1546, one of the many
times this was done. There are tons of writings by early Church fathers (
Tertullian, Barnabus, Augustine, etc. ) condemning abortion.

THe 1869 thing your thinking of is Pius IX declaring abortion a capital
crime, reaffirming the previous centuries of Church teachings. He also
refuted the popular teachings of some theologians that ensoulment took place
some time after conception.

Just because some Catholic philosopher proposes some idea, doesn’t mean that
idea will be accepted. . . such as Limbo for unbaptised infants. One of
those medieval dudes proposed. It was never accepted. It was never
rejected. You can believe in it. You don’t have to. It was never an
official Church teaching.

edited to add: sorry about the weird boldings. I googled for the post, and the key words I searched by were highlighted .


#11

I’ve kind of conglonerated some of the answers given here into one explanation that I’ve sent out to friends and family members that I know watch this show…

Hi all–

I know of lot of us are fans of the show CSI, and, of what I’ve seen, it’s a pretty good show, as TV series go. Being a trained arson investigator, I especially enjoy the forensics stuff (though they make it look really easy, which it ain’t!). Having said that, I just had a comment about last nights show that concerned me.

On last night’s program, one of the characters (Catherine, I believe) said “some 16-17 century pope” said that the fetus wasn’t human until the 40th day and you could feel movement. By this she obviously meant to infer that if the Church can be demonstrably wrong on this, they must be wrong in their opposition to abortion. Aside from atrociously weak logic of this reasoning, she is wrong on several points.

In fact, it was the Medieval theologian St. Thomas Aquinas (not “some 16-17 century pope”) who theorized that conception wasn’t completed for 40 days. This was based on the teachings of Aristotle, who believed that fetuses became human at 40 days.

Note that Aquinas was NOT a pope (or even bishop), but a theologian. Just because a theologian (even as eminent as Aquinas) proposes or posits something, does not make it official Church teaching. In fact, the Church has never made an official, definitive statement on this specific issue (when life begins) at all.

Abortion was condemned at the Council of Trent in 1546, one of the many times this was done since the beginning of Christianity. There are numerous writings by early Church fathers (those Christians that lived right after the apostles) condemning abortion.

Also, Grissom’s quote of the Book of Leviticus was way out of line. The ancient Hebrews believed that each person had something called “lifeblood.” Not all blood was considered lifeblood, but if you happened to bleed out your lifeblood, you died. To apply this concept to the gestational period is really misleading. He implied that it meant “only” as if to say, “Life is only in the blood” and then uses that to prove that a fertilized egg is not alive. I don’t know where this bizarre interpretation came from, but it is certainly not supported by the Bible text he cited.

Moral: never expect accurate (or even rational) information from a TV series, no matter how popular or entertaining. Especially not your theology. Especially not on an issue as important as abortion.


#12

I saw that show and saw that comment as well. I like the show, but they often make errors about the Church like saying it teaches that suicides are automatic damnation for the person commiting it; and twice they used Immaculate Conception to refer to unexplained pregnancies.

My understanding is that Catholicism has always taught that life begins at conception, but that some thought conception was a process that lasted 40 days.

Scott

Anyone seen any other errors on this show about Catholicism?


#13

The Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights has issued a statement on this issue:
catholicleague.org/05press_releases/quarter%204/051104_csi.htm


#14

I saw the show last night and I couldn’t believe the gratuitous nature of the comments. They had nothing to do with the story, and struck me as very sophmoric. That is, some writer read some comments that he/she thought were incredibly profound and just forced them into the mouths of the characters.


#15

[quote=Fidelis]The Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights has issued a statement on this issue:
catholicleague.org/05press_releases/quarter%204/051104_csi.htm
[/quote]

Thanks for the link. I followed it to the CBS comment page and left a complaint. I hope everybody else here does the same.


#16

[quote=VociMike]Thanks for the link. I followed it to the CBS comment page and left a complaint. I hope everybody else here does the same.
[/quote]

I left a complaint too.


#17

Also, Grissom’s quote of Leviticus (sorry, can’t remember chapter and verse) was way out of line. The ancient Hebrews believed that each person had something called “lifeblood.” Not all blood was considered lifeblood, but if you happened to bleed out your lifeblood, you died. To apply this concept to the gestational period is misleading. He implies that it means “only” as if to say, “Life is only in the blood” and then uses that to prove that a fertilized egg is not alive. That’s not what the Bible says.

I thought it was just plain goofy all the way around and I’m sure there are some who will buy it hook, line and sinker. I did think it was interesting that Grissom pointed out the human heart starts beating at 18 days since pro-aborts hate it when you bring this up and show that the baby is not a blob or tissue. Yes, his theology and physiology was wrong but I still thought it interesting. I also thought it was interesting that they pointed out that you can actually get pregnant without penetration. So many teens think that if they aren’t “having sex” as they see it then they aren’t sinning and they are “safe”. That might make them think that what they are doing might actually be more than they think (but probably not). That said, I wish that hadn’t been the topic at all. That show has completely gone downhill in the last few years.


#18

I was so glad to see that this subject is being addressed. Like many others, I very much enjoy the CSI series of t.v. shows. But I was really caught off-guard when this particular show aired last night. Never before have I seen any CSI show that used its platform of entertainment and education about forensics to launch a vicious attack against the Church or those who support the pro-life cause. I say “vicious” because of the demeanor of “Catherine” when she began to ridicule the woman representing the pro-life movement. (Apparently the writers were oblivious to the irony of Catherine’s indignation despite the fact that she herself chose not to abort her child. The logical question is “why not?”) Not only was I shocked, but this was so unlike the professionalism that generally dictates the manner used in interrogating people on this show.

In fact, Grisholm later questioned Catherine on this very point, yet he “didn’t know” whether she should be admonished or not. He was too busy musing over his own concept of when life begins - when “lifeblood” is present. My first shock came earlier in the show, though, when the coroner referred to the murder victim as a “Virgin Mary” because she had given birth (by Cesarean delivery) to a “test tube” embryo while retaining her own virginity. Futhermore, her boyfriend attested to the fact that the victim had told him that she had been impregnated “by God”! (While this may have been intended to show her certainty that God had willed her to accept this unborn child, it nonetheless was a direct disparagement of the Immaculate Conception.)

Putting these three scenes together, one could not doubt that the intent was to ridicule the Catholic Church and all pro-life supporters. I, too, thought of contacting the Catholic League about this and I am glad that they have already written a statement. However, I was a little disappointed by the fact that it does not address the accusation made on the show that a pope once stated that life is not present in the fetus before “quickening”. I think that this statement was the focal point of this attack. It should be ascertained whether or not any pope ever did make such a statement and, if so, that this was merely his own personal opinion based upon the limited knowledge of his day - not an official stance of the Church. Further, I think that the League failed to recognize that the inference made on the show was that if the Church can change its stance on such an important issue, how can anyone now supporting its views be considered anything but ignorant?

Since it is true that some things do change in Church teaching (for example the exoneration of Galileo and the current changes in the rites of the Mass, abstinence from meat on Fridays, etc.), I think that someone should make it very clear to CBS and the viewing public that such changes in NO way relate to the most basic Church doctrines - certainly not to its views about abortion, which have always been condemnatory.

I am grateful that Catholic League has provided us a link to lodge our individual complaints to the creators of the show and I hope that many Catholics and other pro-life supporters will use it to do so. Personally, while I will continue to watch the series, I will never feel quite the same way about its characters or the actors portraying them. The characters, like most on t.v., voice the personal opinions of the show’s writers… and, unfortunately, these are usually anti-Christian and anti-life. When the actors agree to cooperate in their acceptance of such a script, they compromise their own moral characters, if not their consciences, in turning an enjoyable entertainment into a vindictive attack on a select group among their audience. Neither Gil Grisholm, Catherine, nor the actors portraying them will ever again be quite so admirable in our eyes.


#19

Do you mean the Virgin Birth and not the Immaculate Conception? This was I point I made above, that CSI on two occasions has dubbed unexplained pregnancies as immaculate conceptions, which is of course a complete misunderstanding of the doctrine. Our Lord is not the Immaculate Conception (although He is born without original sin), Mary is and her conception, while immaculate, came about by the normal means.

Scott


#20

[quote=Scott Waddell]Do you mean the Virgin Birth and not the Immaculate Conception? This was I point I made above, that CSI on two occasions has dubbed unexplained pregnancies as immaculate conceptions, which is of course a complete misunderstanding of the doctrine. Our Lord is not the Immaculate Conception (although He is born without original sin), Mary is and her conception, while immaculate, came about by the normal means.

Scott
[/quote]

Yes, of course you are right. I usually make this distinction myself, but wrote too quickly. I stand corrected and thank you for pointing this out for our clarification! :slight_smile:


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