Papal Contradictions on Abortion


#1

Watching CSI on Thursday night, information was brought to my attention that revealed the following…

  • There is, however, no unity between Scripture and Catholic tradition. And to complicate matters, this tradition of the Catholic Church is recorded in 150 volumes. Many of the traditions contradict one another. For example, pope Gregory XIII said that it was not murder to abort an embryo of less than 40 days. His successor, pope Sixtus V disagreed and made excommunication the penalty. But then came along pope Gregory XIV, who reverse this, making such 40 day abortions not punishable. Then in 1869 pope Pius IX decreed that the killing of an embryo was murder, decreeing excommunication as the penalty.*

  • Now either some of the popes were wrong when they spoke ex cathedra, which would mean that the pope is not infallible, or God just couldn’t make up His mind. I would hate to put the blame on God, “who cannot change and who is never shadowed over” (James 1:17 NAB).**

How can I argue the case of Papal Infalability against this information. I know that in some cases the Pope may not have been offering their opinions in the form of official teachings and therefore they may not have been governed by Papal Infalability, but still I have to admit this is a really good protestant argument. I would really like to be able to challenge anyone who might want to use it to attack my faith. Please help.


#2

You must have watched a rerun. This was discussed *ad naseum * when it first came out. If you use the “search” feature above, you should find it easily.

Suffice to say, don’t believe everything (maybe even nothing) you hear on TV regarding the Church, especially network dramas.


#3

[quote=Fidelis]You must have watched a rerun. This was discussed *ad naseum *when it first came out. If you use the “search” feature above, you should find it easily.

Suffice to say, don’t believe everything (maybe even nothing) you hear on TV regarding the Church, especially network dramas.
[/quote]

Agrees. The networks (and most of Hollywood) are anti-Catholic. They will do anything to mislead and slander the Church.

PF


#4

I tried to search it and came up with nothing.

Can you give me a link?


#5

catholic.com/thisrock/1990/9005frs.asp


#6

I did some searching and could only find these same exact claims on anti-catholic & pro-abortion websites. Not one of these claims could be found on catholic sites! For now, I’d say the claims on CSI and the websites (that have the same wording!) are only to undermine the papal authority and catholic belief. Besides, I see how claiming 40 days of life or equivilent would be more along the lines as the person trying to tap into the scientific aspect, which is not based on faith and morals…just my opinion. Even more, I believe that the Church’s teachings on abortion are very accurate and to contradict the teaching is of mortal consequences.


#7

[quote=return2truth]Watching CSI on Thursday night, information was brought to my attention that revealed the following…

How can I argue the case of Papal Infalability against this information.
[/quote]

You could start by no longer taking seriously things you hear about Catholic doctrine on a fictional cop melodrama.

– Mark L. Chance.


#8

[quote=mlchance]You could start by no longer taking seriously things you hear about Catholic doctrine on a fictional cop melodrama.

– Mark L. Chance.
[/quote]

That’s fine if you’re “preaching to the choir” but given the popularity of this particular show, this information is going out to lots of people who are going to be at the least confused, while others will be more than willing to believe and repeat it.

As such, either answers to the questions or a link to where they can be found would be very useful. The link to This Rock does not address this at all that I could see.


#9

[quote=return2truth]Watching CSI on Thursday night, information was brought to my attention that revealed the following…

There is, however, no unity between Scripture and Catholic tradition. And to complicate matters, this tradition of the Catholic Church is recorded in 150 volumes. Many of the traditions contradict one another. For example, pope Gregory XIII said that it was not murder to abort an embryo of less than 40 days. His successor, pope Sixtus V disagreed and made excommunication the penalty. But then came along pope Gregory XIV, who reverse this, making such 40 day abortions not punishable. Then in 1869 pope Pius IX decreed that the killing of an embryo was murder, decreeing excommunication as the penalty.*


** Now either some of the popes were wrong when they spoke ex cathedra, which would mean that the pope is not infallible, or God just couldn’t make up His mind. I would hate to put the blame on God, “who cannot change and who is never shadowed over” (James 1:17 NAB).**

How can I argue the case of Papal Infalability against this information. I know that in some cases the Pope may not have been offering their opinions in the form of official teachings and therefore they may not have been governed by Papal Infalability, but still I have to admit this is a really good protestant argument. I would really like to be able to challenge anyone who might want to use it to attack my faith. Please help.
[/quote]

Catholic “tradition” in 150 volumes? Get a grip.

The point is not that popes disagreed about when the conceptus is “ensouled” but that any assault on the “ensouled” conceptus is abortion and not acceptable.

The argument mounted here is no how, no way “Protestant.” Dr. R. C. Sproul is getting attention on these forums lately. Check out his web page www.ligonier.com for his excellent discussion of the evil of abortion.

If the Hippocratic oath, dating from the Golden Age of Athens, condemned abortion, you can’t label the anti-abortion position as narrowly Catholic or even Christian.

Ask this question: Even if these popes disagreed with one another, does that mean that abortion is acceptable?


#10

[quote=return2truth]Watching CSI on Thursday night, information was brought to my attention that revealed the following…

  • There is, however, no unity between Scripture and Catholic tradition. And to complicate matters, this tradition of the Catholic Church is recorded in 150 volumes. Many of the traditions contradict one another. For example, pope Gregory XIII said that it was not murder to abort an embryo of less than 40 days. His successor, pope Sixtus V disagreed and made excommunication the penalty. But then came along pope Gregory XIV, who reverse this, making such 40 day abortions not punishable. Then in 1869 pope Pius IX decreed that the killing of an embryo was murder, decreeing excommunication as the penalty.*

  • Now either some of the popes were wrong when they spoke ex cathedra, which would mean that the pope is not infallible, or God just couldn’t make up His mind. I would hate to put the blame on God, “who cannot change and who is never shadowed over” (James 1:17 NAB).**

.
[/quote]

apologeticscourses.com/Courses/WrldView1.htm

I would like to see the documentation first.


#11

The information I posted was not quoted from the show. I heard about it on the show and did a search of my own and found information that both Popes Gregory XIII and XIV permitted it during the first 40-days and then Popes Sixtus V and Pius IX countered it. However, I don’t know how to confirm this historically. My questions is this: is it true? Did Popes Gregory XIII and XIV permit abortion later to have it made a sin by later popes? Is it true or not?


#12

The Real View of Judaism

Liberal Jewish organizations brazenly distort Jewish Law to give people the impression that Hashem, our G-d, condones abortion for "choice. Nothing can be further from the truth. G-d created mankind to be fruitful and multiply, and to protect and nurture life, both born and unborn.

Judaism does not believe in the Christian concept of ensoulment, that at the time of conception the soul enters the embryo making that new life equivalent with a born person. In the earliest stages of pregnancy, up to 40 days post-conception, the fetus is considered “mere fluid” (Mishnah Niddah 3:7). However, after 40 days the fetus is considered formed and a woman who miscarries or aborts has to undergo the ritual cleansing process (mikveh) just as she would if a living child were born (Mishnah Kritot 1:3-6). In the Talmud Arakin 7a-b, the passage indicates it is permissible to desecrate the Shabbat to save the life of an unborn child. Further, while a traditional Jew is forbidden from carrying a knife on the Shabbat, a Jewish surgeon may do so, and use it, to save an unborn child’s life.

jewsforlife.org/Judaism-pro-life-message.cfm

The pro-murder groups claim ensoulment is at 40 days based on Jewish belief that ensoulment happens at 40 days – that is where the 40 days figure really comes from.


#13

[quote=return2truth]The information I posted was not quoted from the show. I heard about it on the show and did a search of my own and found information that both Popes Gregory XIII and XIV permitted it during the first 40-days and then Popes Sixtus V and Pius IX countered it. However, I don’t know how to confirm this historically. My questions is this: is it true? Did Popes Gregory XIII and XIV permit abortion later to have it made a sin by later popes? Is it true or not?
[/quote]

There is a basic misunderstanding of what the popes cited here may have been doing (if the info is correct). They were not ruling on the rightness or wrongness of abortion, but making pastoral decisions regarding when abortion could be done without endangering a living soul.

Early in the Church most people believed that ensoulment didn’t take place until “quickening,” which the doctors of the day decided was at 40 days from conception. They didn’t know anything about how conception happened or anything about genetics. You will recall that when Mary visited Elizabeth, when Elizabeth was 3 months pregnant, that her baby “leapt” in her womb. Apparently, this was the first evidence Elizabeth had that she was carrying a living child–one with a soul.

As medicine advanced later popes made revised pastoral decisions regarding when abortions could be performed without endangering a living soul. Now days we know that the instant the sperm and egg join a unique individual has been created. We still don’t know if the zygote has a soul at this point in the process of development, but that is precisely why in these modern times it has been decided that abortion cannot be performed (except under very prescribed circumstances best discussed in another thread). The reasonings is that since we cannot know the exact instant in which the fertilized egg has a soul, abortion cannot be done lest it mean killing a living soul.

So, abortion has always been seen as an evil, but now the Church has come to see that it is an intrinsic evil since at any point in the development of a fetus it may destroy a living soul.

It is easy to take potshots at this issue in sound bytes meant to deceive the unwary, as the writers of CSI did. It takes much more time and effort to explain the reality of what the popes were and weren’t doing in their decisions on this matter, which no screenwriter is going to bore his audience with. Add to that the desire to debunk the teachings of the Church and we get misinformation, as we can see on so many of our TV programs and movies written by pro-abortion writers and performed and directed by pro-abortion actors and directors. No surprise at all.


#14

Go back right to the beginning:

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.75 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.76

75 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.

76 GS 51 § 3.


#15

[quote=imroc]I did some searching and could only find these same exact claims on anti-catholic & pro-abortion websites. Not one of these claims could be found on catholic sites!
[/quote]

If true, you probably wouldn’t find it on a catholic website. It would be extremely damaging and embarrassing to the Church.


#16

It is a fact that through several early centuries, some Church fathers and Popes had held differing opinion on animation of the human embryo. Those who favored the delayed ensoulment theory, held a less severe attitude towards abortion if done prior to ensoulment. This was borne out of their judgment that any killing of a human was not involved.

The following is an excerpt from Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on Abortion, that might also help to throw some light on this.
“It was long debated among the learned at what period of gestation the human embryo begins to be animated by the rational, spiritual soul, which elevates man above all other species of the animal creation and survives the body to live forever. The keenest mind among the ancient philosophers, Aristotle, had conjectured that the future child was endowed at conception with a principle of only vegetative life, which was exchanged after a few days for an animal soul, and was not succeeded by a rational soul till later; his followers said on the fortieth day for a male, and the eightieth for a female, child. The authority of his great name and the want of definite knowledge to the contrary caused this theory to be generally accepted up to recent times. Yet, as early as the fourth century of the Christian era, St. Gregory of Nyssa had advocated the view which modern science has confirmed almost to a certainty, namely, that the same life principle quickens the organism from the first moment of its individual existence until its death” (Emphasis is mine.)

It was Pope Pius IX who finally and officially abandoned the distinction between ‘fetus animatus’ and ‘fetus inanimatus’, and declared that abortion at any stage is equally grave.

Blindly defending that no such thing happened, and that the whole issue is a figment of the critics’ imagination, is not the right approach in my opinion.

Having said this, this issue doesn’t ‘endanger’ Catholic Church’s dogma on Infallibility in any way. The opinion expressed by the then Popes were merely their judgment based on scholastic views prevalent at those times. None was put forth as a definitive teaching.


#17

[quote=mikew262]If true, you probably wouldn’t find it on a catholic website. It would be extremely damaging and embarrassing to the Church.
[/quote]

Mike,
I’m really curious as to the intent of your post. Are you suggesting it might be true and the Church is hiding something?


#18

That from the encylopedia explains what this pro-choice website is trying to get away with,

5th TO 17th CENTURY CE (Various beliefs on whether abortion is murder):
St. Augustine (354-430 CE) reversed centuries of Christian teaching in Western Europe, and returned to the Aristotelian concept of “delayed ensoulment.” He wrote 7 that a human soul cannot live in an unformed body. Thus, early in pregnancy, an abortion is not murder because no soul is destroyed (or, more accurately, only a vegetable or animal soul is terminated). He wrote extensively on sexual matters, teaching that the original sin of Adam and Eve are passed to each successive generation through the pleasure generated during sexual intercourse. This passed into the church’s canon law. Only abortion of a more fully developed “fetus animatus” (animated fetus) was punished as murder.

Augustine had little influence over the beliefs of Eastern Christianity. They retained their original anti-abortion stance.

St. Jerome wrote in a letter to Aglasia: “The seed gradually takes shape in the uterus, and it [abortion] does not count as killing until the individual elements have acquired their external appearance and their limbs” 8

Starting in the 7th century CE, a series of penitentials were written in the West. These listed an array of sins, with the penance that a person must observe as punishment for the sin. Certain “sins” which prevented conception had particularly heavy penalties. These included:

Abortion, on the other hand, required a less serious penance. Theodore, who organized the English church, assembled a penitential about 700 CE. Oral intercourse required from 7 years to a lifetime of penance; abortion required only 120 days.

Pope Stephen V (served 885-891) wrote in 887 CE: “If he who destroys what is conceived in the womb by abortion is a murderer, how much more is he unable to excuse himself of murder who kills a child even one day old.” “Epistle to Archbishop of Mainz.”

Pope Innocent III (?-1216) wrote a letter which ruled on a case of a Carthusian monk who had arranged for his female lover to obtain an abortion. The Pope decided that the monk was not guilty of homicide if the fetus was not “animated.”

Early in the 13th century, Pope Innocent III stated that the soul enters the body of the fetus at the time of “quickening” - when the woman first feels movement of the fetus. After ensoulment, abortion was equated with murder; before that time, it was a less serious sin, because it terminated only potential human life, not human life.

St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) also considered only the abortion of an “animated” fetus as murder.

Pope Sixtus V issued a Papal bull “Effraenatam” in 1588 which threatened those who carried out abortions at any stage of gestation with excommunication and the death penalty. Pope Gregory XIV revoked the Papal bull shortly after taking office in 1591. He reinstated the “quickening” test, which he said happened 116 days into pregnancy (16½ weeks).

religioustolerance.org/abo_hist.htm


#19

[quote=mikew262]If true, you probably wouldn’t find it on a catholic website. It would be extremely damaging and embarrassing to the Church.
[/quote]

The Church is rooted in Truth. If it was true it would be part of our doctrine. And if discussions took place to answer particular concerns by any Pope and they were not pronounced then the claim is bogus. Many things are discussed and documented and not implemented.


#20

So, in short the popes likely were discussing when the body was ensouled and were not endorsing abortion as the norm.

But, did they allow abortions? And, if so, for what reasons?


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.