This shocks me!!

I found this quote on the internet today regarding the Church’s position on abortion throughout the ages. What do all of you think? Is this valid?

***Contrary to popular belief, the Catholic Church has not always opposed abortion. In fact, for centuries abortion was not considered murder — until 1588 when Pope Sixtus V declared it so. However, only three years later, Pope Gregory XIV revoked all ecclesiastical penalties for abortion, provided that it took place before the soul was “animated.” The church rule therefore allowed that abortion was to be considered murder only if performed after the soul became rational or “animated.” The time for animation was set at forty days after conception for a male fetus, and eighty or ninety days after conception for a female fetus. (There was no explanation how the sex of the fetus would be determined.) It was not until 1869 that Pope Pius IX finally declared that the Catholic Church would regard abortion at any stage as murder.***.

Where did you find this? The only place I did was on a site that offers no citation of source which would make this a baseless statement.

It seems to me that in its context it is nothing more than a rationalization for abortion. I don’t know anything about the assertions made, but the source is suspect.

You have to consider the source.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_Research_Associates

politicalresearch.org/

This once again shows that the Catholic Democrats out there care little that their party is the party of death.

This is false. The Church has always been against abortion. Just because it wasn’t written down until 1588 doesn’t mean it was OK before.

While what they say about the animated theory is most likely true, Dogma is allowed to develop.

They even say it themselves that how would the church know the sex of the fetus, or the exact number of days. The animated theory is simply a theory regarding when the soul enters the fetus. It doesn’t mean that abortion before the soul enters isn’t wrong. It was also a theory, which in practice isn’t a good one to base anything on because you don’t know the exact dates on this side of Heaven AND abortion has negative affects. Abortion is sinful period and grave, regardless.

The Church was always against abortion, it just was not always against abortion on the grounds that it was murder. Biological science being pretty primitive until recently, they had some interesting notions about how human reproduction worked and this colored their understanding of how best to apply basic and generally agreed-upon moral principles. Namely, they believed that a distinct human life was not created until quite some time after it actually was (hence the talk of “animation” which, for obvious reasons, is no longer employed). Once it was generally understand what happens at conception, it was likewise understood that abortion meant the destruction of a human life, and hence that abortion was evil, not merely on the grounds that it represented a deliberate frustration of the human sexual faculty (as it had been up to that point) but on the grounds that it represented murder.

The Church has always taught that abortion is murder. The First Century Didache states:

And the second commandment of the Teaching; You shall not commit murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit pederasty, you shall not commit fornication, you shall not steal, you shall not practice magic, you shall not practice witchcraft, you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is born…

The Catholic church has taught against abortion from the very earliest days! I have listed only a very few of the earliest ones here. Not only do they state that life begins at conception but that any abortion at any time is murder.

The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles: The Didache (1st Century AD)

The Lord’s Teaching to the Heathen by the Twelve Apostles:
Now, this is the way of life:…
The second commandment of the Teaching: “Do not murder; do not commit adultery”; do not corrupt boys; do not fornicate; “do not steal”; do not practice magic; do not go in for sorcery; do not murder a child by abortion or kill a newborn infant…

The Apocalypse of Peter (ca. 135)

“I saw a gorge in which the discharge and excrement of the tortured ran down and became like a lake. There sat women, and the discharge came up to their throats; and opposite them sat many children, who were born prematurely, weeping. And from them went forth rays of fire and smote the women on the eyes. These were those who produced children outside of marriage and who procured abortions.” 2:26

“Those who slew the unborn children will be tortured forever, for God wills it to so.” 2:64

Tertullian (c. 160 - 240)

It is not permissible for us to destroy the seed by means of illicit manslaughter once it has been conceived in the womb, so long as blood remains in the person. - Apologia, cap 25, line 42

Now we allow that life begins with conception because we contend that the soul also begins from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does" , - De Anima 25, line 27

Basil (c. 329-379)

To Anfilochius, Bishop of Iconia:
She who has intentionally destroyed [the fetus] is subject to the penalty corresponding to a homicide. For us, there is no scrutinizing between the formed and unformed [fetus]; here truly justice is made not only for the unborn but also with reference to the person who is attentive only to himself/herself since so many women generally die for this very reason.
-First Letter 2

Jerome (347-420)

You may see many women widows before wedded, who try to conceal their miserable fall by a lying garb. Unless they are betrayed by swelling wombs or by the crying of their infants, they walk abroad with tripping feet and heads in the air. Some go so far as to take potions, that they may insure barrenness, and thus murder human beings almost before their conception. Some, when they find themselves with child through their sin, use drugs to procure abortion, and when (as often happens) they die with their offspring, they enter the lower world laden with the guilt not only of adultery against Christ but also of suicide and child murder. - Epistula 22

The Apostolic Constitutions

Thou shalt not use magic. Thou shalt not use witchcraft; for he says, ‘You shall not suffer a witch to live’ [Ex. 22:18]. Thou shall not slay thy child by causing abortion, nor kill that which is begotten. . . . *f it be slain, [it] shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed" (Apostolic Constitutions 7:3 [A.D. 400] ).

priestsforlife.org/magisterium/earlychurchfathers/fatherscover.html*

I guess a few hundred years of “accidentally” allowing abortions is what you get when you philosophize when you should science-ifize.

I still see that sort of philosophy-first attitude today. For example, I think that if the Catholic Church was really serious that “The promotion of the culture of life should be the highest priority in our societies” then the first thing they should do is fund research into abortion statistics so they can accurately understand the problem. Instead the church has simply emphasized the philosophy of the situation by threatening to excommunicate people and organizing protests calling for abortion bans. I’m sure that makes a lot of people feel good about themselves, but since they haven’t bothered to study the problem first, it could turn out to be exactly the wrong approach. It seems to me that the vast majority of the organizations trying to understand the abortion problem with any sort of academic seriousness are secular.

You have an undocumented source. The Church has consistantly condemned abortion.
catholicnewsagency.com/resources/abortion/catholic-teaching/the-catholic-church-and-abortion/

Linus2nd

catholic.com/quickquestions/did-st-thomas-aquinas-believe-ensoulment-occurred-40-or-80-days-after-conception-maki

Quite right, but for quite some time they didn’t know what constituted an abortion.

In what way?

Accidentally allowing abortions? Please explain.

…the first thing they should do is fund research into abortion statistics so they can accurately understand the problem.

Exactly what statistics? What don’t they understand?

Instead the church has simply emphasized the philosophy of the situation by threatening to excommunicate people and organizing protests calling for abortion bans.

What exactly “should” they be doing?

it could turn out to be exactly the wrong approach.

Wrong approach to what?

It seems to me that the vast majority of the organizations trying to understand the abortion problem with any sort of academic seriousness are secular.

How do you know the Church has not studied the problem with “academic seriousness”?

They did not have in place automatic excommunication for abortions committed prior to “ensoulment.” Therefore, even though abortions might have been frowned upon, lay people could feel that it would be possible for them to get such an abortion without committing a mortal sin (e.g. they may have thought there were extenuating circumstances)

If you think abortion is wrong, your moral imperative is to prevent abortions (not make them illegal, not protest them, but prevent them.) Therefore, when tasked with preventing abortions, the first thing you should do is find out things like:
Who gets abortions
Why do they get abortions
What sort of interventions are effective at preventing abortions

Then, once you have this information, you can implement the most effective interventions.

If you have any Catholic-funded academic studies on things like abortion demographics, let me know. I simply observe that the National Right to Life cites Guttenmacher studies, and not the other way around.

Murder is murder. What needs to be understood differently that would ever change that absolute fact? The Church has preached against abortion from the very beginning, because it is murder. Have you heard about the “5th Commandment: Thou shalt not kill.”? When you kill a fetus, you are still committing murder.

It doesn’t take a Papal Encyclical to tell me that using wires to rip the arms and legs off a baby’s body while still alive in the mother’s womb and then sucking the remains into a jar to be burned in an incinerator is murder.

-Tim-

This post doesn’t make much sense. The cause of the abortion problem, as you put it is pretty simple:

  1. societal embrace of contraception, which changed society’s view on sex to a purely recreational activity vs. a purely procreative activity which strengthens marriage.

  2. once society embraces contraception, there begins a societal embrace of Fornication. Fornication used to be a social taboo.

  3. on contraception and fornication begin to become accepted, society’s view of morality gets blurred and abortion becomes seen as at extension of contraception.

The Church and Her apostolates have been studying human and societal behavior for 2000 years. I’m sure the the collective wisdom of the Church out matches any secular organization by light-years.

Tertullian: Now we allow that life begins with conception because we contend that the soul also begins from conception; life taking its commencement at the same moment and place that the soul does" (De Anime 25, line 27).

Abortions were not “frowned upon”. They were very clearly described as seriously sinful, to be true acts of homicide. The laity may have felt they were not committing a mortal sin. That does not make it any less objectively mortal. Neither must the Church impose excommunication to express the full evil of this or any other mortal sin. Regardless, the belief of the laity is not (unfortunately) synonymous with the doctrines of the Church. The Church clearly taught against abortion.

If you think abortion is wrong, your moral imperative is to prevent abortions (not make them illegal, not protest them, but prevent them.)

Making them illegal is one of many ways to help prevent them. The Church also operates many outreach programs for pregnant mothers. (In my area, 178 women made the courageous decision to continue their pregnancies during the past year alone because of the help offered by the Church.) There are numerous telephone helplines, counseling services, adoption services, the witness of those who have had abortions and are actively speaking to educate others, facebook groups, numerous organizations, and huge numbers of people engaged in devout and constant orayer.

Therefore, when tasked with preventing abortions, the first thing you should do is find out things like:
Who gets abortions
Why do they get abortions
What sort of interventions are effective at preventing abortions

They know these things due to their long-term efforts in the field.

If you have any Catholic-funded academic studies on things like abortion demographics, let me know. I simply observe that the National Right to Life cites Guttenmacher studies, and not the other way around.

Do you dispute Guttenmacher? Most people seem to accept the validity of their information. Must the Church duplicate their efforts? That would be a needless, senseless, and meaningless waste of resources. As you stated, they are working to prevent abortion. Not pencil-pushing and number-crunching.

In any event, none of this does anything to dispute the Church’s longstanding opposition to abortion.

There is no documented source for your contention. You can’t just throw out accusations without proof.

Linus2nd

Abortion has always been condemned as sinful. However, from what I understand (please correct me if I am wrong), the science of when and how a human being came into being was lacking until more recent centuries. Based on the science, the timeline for when an abortion would be an act of contraception or an act of murder may have been updated over time as we gained more knowledge about what was actually happening in the womb. Both contraception and murder have always been considered sinful, they just had different penalties.

Which is nice and all, but no one tried to find out when conception occurred for a few thousand years.

No they weren’t, if it was done prior to enrollment it was not considered homicide.

They are assuming that making them illegal will prevent them. There is no evidence this will be the case; countries with illegal abortions have similar abortion rates. Perhaps you think those countries numbers are inflated or otherwise unreliable. Then that would be the perfect sort of thing to study in an academically serious fashion.

I’m sure that the people protesting at an abortion clinic feel very good when they are able to talk people out of an abortion. But what if they had been able to prevent twice as many abortions by organizing a free sex ed campaign? Or three times as many by offering to fund a Coverdell ESA for children of parents considering abortion?

Without some serious study, they can’t claim to know for sure. They could be using the least effective methods possible because their evidence that their methods work is entirely anecdotal. Of course, it is possible that some pro life organizations have studied their methods seriously, but not released their findings publicly. I can’t imagine why they would do that, since that would prevent other pro-life organizations from befitting from their analysis.

Of course, I don’t dispute Guttmacher’s findings, but I will point out that you are claiming that the church has always opposed abortion. Why did the church wait a few hundred years for someone else to do the work for them, when it is the church (and not Guttmacher) that believes abortion is such a grave sin and societal ill.

I think it is also relevant to note that Right to Life organizations frequently disparage Guttmacher’s findings, which leads to the natural question, if they think they can do better, why don’t they? Why would they deliberately rely on data they believe is suspect?

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