Friday, August 29, 2008

The Church on Abortion (Hint: it has been a little longer than 50 yrs. Ms. Pelosi)

The Didache
"The second commandment of the teaching: You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not seduce boys. You shall not commit fornication. You shall not steal. You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure [an] abortion, nor destroy a newborn child" (Didache 2:1–2 [A.D. 70]).

The Letter of Barnabas
"The way of light, then, is as follows. If anyone desires to travel to the appointed place, he must be zealous in his works. The knowledge, therefore, which is given to us for the purpose of walking in this way, is the following. . . . Thou shalt not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shalt thou destroy it after it is born" (Letter of Barnabas 19 [A.D. 74]).

The Apocalypse of Peter
"And near that place I saw another strait place . . . and there sat women. . . . And over against them many children who were born to them out of due time sat crying. And there came forth from them rays of fire and smote the women in the eyes. And these were the accursed who conceived and caused abortion" (The Apocalypse of Peter 25 [A.D. 137]).

"What man of sound mind, therefore, will affirm, while such is our character, that we are murderers?. . . [W]hen we say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God for the abortion, on what principle should we commit murder? For it does not belong to the same person to regard the very fetus in the womb as a created being, and therefore an object of God’s care, and when it has passed into life, to kill it; and not to expose an infant, because those who expose them are chargeable with child-murder, and on the other hand, when it has been reared to destroy it" (A Plea for the Christians 35 [A.D. 177]).

"In our case, a murder being once for all forbidden, we may not destroy even the fetus in the womb, while as yet the human being derives blood from the other parts of the body for its sustenance. To hinder a birth is merely a speedier man-killing; nor does it matter whether you take away a life that is born, or destroy one that is coming to birth. That is a man which is going to be one; you have the fruit already in its seed" (Apology 9:8 [A.D. 197])."Among surgeons’ tools there is a certain instrument, which is formed with a nicely-adjusted flexible frame for opening the uterus first of all and keeping it open; it is further furnished with an annular blade, by means of which the limbs [of the child] within the womb are dissected with anxious but unfaltering care; its last appendage being a blunted or covered hook, wherewith the entire fetus is extracted by a violent delivery."There is also [another instrument in the shape of] a copper needle or spike, by which the actual death is managed in this furtive robbery of life: They give it, from its infanticide function, the name of embruosphaktes, [meaning] "the slayer of the infant," which of course was alive. . . ."[The doctors who performed abortions] all knew well enough that a living being had been conceived, and [they] pitied this most luckless infant state, which had first to be put to death, to escape being tortured alive" (The Soul 25 [A.D. 210])."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" (ibid., 27)."The law of Moses, indeed, punishes with due penalties the man who shall cause abortion [Ex. 21:22–24]" (ibid., 37).

Minucius Felix
"There are some [pagan] women who, by drinking medical preparations, extinguish the source of the future man in their very bowels and thus commit a parricide before they bring forth. And these things assuredly come down from the teaching of your [false] gods. . . . To us [Christians] it is not lawful either to see or hear of homicide" (Octavius 30 [A.D. 226]).

"Women who were reputed to be believers began to take drugs to render themselves sterile, and to bind themselves tightly so as to expel what was being conceived, since they would not, on account of relatives and excess wealth, want to have a child by a slave or by any insignificant person. See, then, into what great impiety that lawless one has proceeded, by teaching adultery and murder at the same time!" (Refutation of All Heresies [A.D. 228]).

Council of Ancyra in AD 341
"Concerning women who commit fornication, and destroy that which they have conceived, or who are employed in making drugs for abortion, a former decree excluded them until the hour of death, and to this some have assented. Nevertheless, being desirous to use somewhat greater lenity, we have ordained that they fulfill ten years [of penance], according to the prescribed degrees" (canon 21 [A.D. 314]).

Basil the Great
"Let her that procures abortion undergo ten years’ penance, whether the embryo were perfectly formed, or not" (First Canonical Letter, canon 2 [A.D. 374])."He that kills another with a sword, or hurls an axe at his own wife and kills her, is guilty of willful murder; not he who throws a stone at a dog, and unintentionally kills a man, or who corrects one with a rod, or scourge, in order to reform him, or who kills a man in his own defense, when he only designed to hurt him. But the man, or woman, is a murderer that gives a philtrum, if the man that takes it dies upon it; so are they who take medicines to procure abortion; and so are they who kill on the highway, and rapparees" (ibid., canon 8).

John Chrysostom
"Wherefore I beseech you, flee fornication. . . . Why sow where the ground makes it its care to destroy the fruit?—where there are many efforts at abortion?—where there is murder before the birth? For even the harlot you do not let continue a mere harlot, but make her a murderess also. You see how drunkenness leads to prostitution, prostitution to adultery, adultery to murder; or rather to a something even worse than murder. For I have no name to give it, since it does not take off the thing born, but prevents its being born. Why then do thou abuse the gift of God, and fight with his laws, and follow after what is a curse as if a blessing, and make the chamber of procreation a chamber for murder, and arm the woman that was given for childbearing unto slaughter? For with a view to drawing more money by being agreeable and an object of longing to her lovers, even this she is not backward to do, so heaping upon thy head a great pile of fire. For even if the daring deed be hers, yet the causing of it is thine" (Homilies on Romans 24 [A.D. 391]).

"I cannot bring myself to speak of the many virgins who daily fall and are lost to the bosom of the Church, their mother. . . . 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" (Letters 22:13 [A.D. 396]).

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. . . . [I]f it be slain, [it] shall be avenged, as being unjustly destroyed" (Apostolic Constitutions 7:3 [A.D. 400]).

Thanks to Taylor Marshall for compiling this list from Catholic Answers.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Defending Marriage

I want to share this recent article from the Catholic News Agency (CNA) regarding the fight to protect marriage. Please read and support.


Sacramento, Aug 13, 2008 / 01:10 am (CNA).-, the campaign favoring Proposition 8, the California initiative that would ban same-sex marriage, on Tuesday announced the launch of the official grassroots effort dedicated to supporting the campaign. The organization Catholics for is led by the Knights of Columbus, the California Catholic Conference and Catholics for the Common Good.

Catholics for is chaired by Bill May, who is also chairman of Catholics for the Common Good.

“Our strong Catholic faith teaches us the importance of treating all of God's children with love and respect, it also teaches us that marriage between a man and a woman is the foundation of the family - the first school of love, peace and justice," May said in a statement. "The ruling by the California Supreme Court nullifying the legal definition of marriage in state law was a shock to Catholics and other citizens who are concerned about how this will affect their own children's understanding of marriage.”

California Catholics reportedly played a large role in the passage of Proposition 22 in 2000, which defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. The proposition was approved by more than 60 percent of California voters.

Proposition 22 was overturned on May 15, 2008 by the California Supreme Court. The court’s majority found that domestic partnerships are not an adequate substitute for marriage.
Ron Prentice, chairman of, welcomed Catholics to the effort aimed at amending California’s Constitution. “The fight to protect marriage is an all-encompassing effort that affects everyone in California," he said. "We're honored to have Catholics for offer us their assistance and to add them to our diverse list of supporters. We expect they will help us motivate a groundswell of support for Proposition and we're confident that with that support we will restore the definition of marriage in California, come November.”

Catholics for reportedly supports volunteer activities such as literature distribution and phoning in parishes and surrounding communities. Its website is located at

Thursday, August 7, 2008

By Whose Authority? (Part II)

In order to deal with the issue of authority, we must make sure that we are clear on something. Often times our Protestant brethren make the argument regarding authority out to be Church vs. Scripture. This is a false dichotomy. It isn't an either/or is a both/and argument.

Catholics do believe that scripture is materially sufficient in matters of faith and morals, we just don’t believe that it is formally sufficient. What is the difference? The difference between formal and material sufficiency is the difference between having a brick house and having a big enough pile of bricks to build a house. Drawing on this analogy, Christ is the builder and he uses the mortar of Tradition and the trowel of the Magisterium to build His brick house of revelation from a mere pile of bricks (Mt. 16:18, Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Tim. 3:15). It is these three elements together -- written Tradition (that is, Scripture), unwritten Tradition, and the Magisterium -- that hand down the fullness of revelation, who is Jesus Christ. [1]

Many protestants will say that sola scriptura has its safeguards to prevent them from falling into doctrinal error; they believe in having good hermeneutical (how to apply the text) principles by which one must base his understanding of scripture (ie. using clear texts to interpret unclear, interpreting the New Testament in light of the Old, etc.) We can agree to this as well. However, how do we determine the difference between a “clear text” and an “unclear text?” Is a text clear because one understands it, or is it because one thinks he understands it? If we take the sentence: “I never said you stole money”, we can emphasize different words in the sentence and arrive at vastly different meanings. The sentence is pretty simple, yet we can misinterpret it very easily. It is much easier to hold a face to face converstion with someone than it is to write letters. Why? Because we could hear inflection and read body language. As it is, we are merely reading the written word.

We also must recognize that biblical interpretation is more than just good exegesis (interpreting a text on the basis of the text itself). Biblical scholarship can very easily be reduced to merely dissecting a corpse. We must look at the genre of the book as well as the four senses of scripture: literal, anagogical, allegorical and moral. We should then put ourselves in the historical context of the audience for which it was written. In the case of the NT, that would be first century Jews. First century Jews had a covenantal world view that we don’t really understand. Now if SS is to be adhered to, how does the average person do this? Some of us have the advantage of being well educated. Many of us have the resources available to do in depth personal study? How can one interpret the bible if they have no Bible and even if they did, they couldn’t read it? The only access to scripture that may people have had in previous generations is what they heard in church. If you look at the patristic sources, they were trying to determine the canon so that they would have a list of books that were suitable for being read in church. The context of scripture is the liturgy. In the account of the disciples on the way to Emmaus, the Scriptures came alive for the disciples after Jesus took, blessed, broke and gave bread with them. Is that a coincidence that these are the same words used at the last supper? These are the same words we hear every time we attend Mass. We read the Word of God, then we commune (literally) with the Word of God. As Scott Hahn has said many times, "a protestant studies the menu while the Catholic or Orthodox enjoys the meal."

I recently read the question: “Why is there a need for scripture and the Church…why not one or the other?” Well, why do we have textbooks and teachers? Why do we have the constitution as well as the Court? Why do companies have business plans and boards? Why does baseball have umpires? Why do we have the phrase, “that isn’t what I meant?” There will always be a need to clear up confusion.