What does the Holy Roman Catholic Church have to
What teaching can be drawn from the 5th Commandment,
"THOU SHALT NOT KILL"?
commandment - non occides (Ex. XX,13) - contains in synthesis
the duties concerning life and the integrity of the human body.
It is fruitful in lessons, not only for the professor in the lecture
hall of the university but also for the medical practitioner.
So long as a man commits no crime, his life is intangible and
therefore every action which tends directly towards its destruction
is illicit ... whether this destruction be the goal intended or
only as a means to an end; whether this life be embryonic or in
full flower, or already approaching its term. Only God is
Lord of the life of a man who is not guilty of a crime punishable
by death. The physician has no right to dispose either of
the life of the child or of that of the mother and no-one on earth,
no individual, no human authority, can give him the right to its
destruction. His office is not to destroy life but to save
it. In the course of the last few decades, the Church has
found it necessary to proclaim repeatedly and in all clarity,
these fundamental and immutable principles in opposition to certain
opinions and methods." Pius XII, Allocution to the Italian
Medical-Biological Union of St. Luke, November 12, 1944. (1)
What are the Catholic Principles of Morality in regard to abortion?
PRINCIPLE: "Any direct attempt on an innocent life as a means
to an end - even to the end of saving another life - is unlawful.
Innocent human life, in whatsoever condition it is found, is withdrawn,
from the very first moment of its existence, from any direct deliberate
attack. This is a fundamental right of the human person,
which is of universal value in the Christian conception of life;
hence as valid for the life still hidden within the womb of the
mother, as for the life already born and developing independently
of her; as much opposed to direct abortion as to the direct killing
of the child before, during or after its birth. Whatever
foundation there may be for the distinction between these various
phases of the development of life born or still unborn, in profane
and ecclesiastical law and in certain civil and penal consequences,
all these cases involve a grave and unlawful attack upon the inviolability
of human life." Pius XII, Allocution to Large Families,
November 26, 1951. (2)
PRINCIPLE: "Every human being, even a child in the mother's
womb has a right to life directly from God and not from the parents
or from any society or authority. Hence there is no man,
no human authority, no science, no medical, eugenic, social, economic
or moral 'indication' that can offer or produce a valid juridical
title to a direct deliberate disposal of an innocent human life;
that is to say, a disposal that aims at its destruction whether
as an end or as a means to another end, which is, perhaps, in
no way unlawful in itself." Pius XII, Allocution to Large
Families, November 26, 1951. (3)
But isn't this doctrine new? No. To prove the contrary,
here are a few quotations from authors of the early Church.
TEXT: THE DIDACHE APOSTOLORUM (90 A.D.):
"You shall not kill by abortion the fruit of
the womb and you shall not murder the infant already born." (4)
TEXT: TERTULLIAN (150 - 240 AD):
"To prevent birth is anticipated murder; it
makes little difference whether one destroys a life already born
or does away with it in its nascent stage. The one who will
be a man is already one." (5)
TEXT: ST. AUGUSTINE (354 - 430 AD):
"Their licentious cruelty, or their cruel licentiousness,
sometimes goes to such lengths as to procure sterilizing poisons
and if these are unavailing, in some way to stifle within the
womb and eject the fetus that has been conceived. They want
their offspring to die before it comes to life or, if it is already
living in the womb, to perish before it is born. Surely,
if they are both of such a mind, they do not deserve the name
of husband and wife; and if they have been of such a mind from
the beginning, it was not for wedlock but for fornication that
they became united. If they are not both of such a mind,
then I will venture to say that either the woman is the mere mistress
of the husband, or the man is the paramour of the wife." (6)
TEXT: POPE STEPHEN V (885 - 891 AD):
"That person is a murderer who causes to perish
by abortion what has been conceived."(7)
Has the modern science of genetics added something new in the
matter of abortion?
science offers clear confirmation. It has demonstrated that,
from the first instant, there is established the programme of
what this living being will be; a man, this individual man with
his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right
from fertilization the adventure of a human life begins and each
of its capacities requires time - a rather lengthy time - to find
its place and to be in a position to act. The least that
can be said is that present science, in its most evolved state,
does not give any substantial support to those who defend abortion."
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (8)
But if there were a doubt as to whether the fruit of conception
were already a human person?
"From a moral
point of view, this is certain; even if a doubt existed concerning
whether the fruit of conception is already a human person, it
is objectively a grave sin to dare to risk murder. "The
one who will be a man is already one." Sacred Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith. (9)
Can an aborted child reach the eternal life of heaven without
"In the present
economy there is no other way of communicating this life to the
child who has not yet the use of reason. But, nevertheless,
the state of grace at the moment of death is absolutely necessary
for salvation. Without it, it is not possible to attain
supernatural happiness, the beatific vision of God. (a)
An act of love can suffice for an adult to obtain sanctifying
grace and supply for the absence of Baptism; (b) for the unborn
child or for the newly born, this way is not open." Pius
XII, Allocution to Midwives, October 29, 1951.(10)
What doctrinal conclusion can be drawn at this stage?
constantly reaffirms the moral condemnation of any kind of procured
abortion. This teaching has not been changed and is unchangeable."
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (11)
Catholic Church has always considered abortion as an abominable
crime." Paul VI, Allocution to a group of Belgian Catholic
Doctors, April 24, 1977. (12)
What ecclesiastical penalty is incurred by the person who actually
procures an abortion?
who actually procures an abortion incurs a latae sententiae
excommunication (Code of Canon Law, canon 1398), that means
"it is incurred automatically upon the commission of an offense."
(Canon 1312) (13)
Who is excommunicated when an abortion takes place?
"In the case
of a latae sententiae penalty (here, excommunication) attached
to an offense, accomplices, even though not mentioned in the law
or precept, incur the same penalty if, without their assistance,
the crime would not have been committed and if the penalty is
of such a nature as to be able to affect them." (Canon 1329, 2)
- the mother of the child, except if she is not responsible -
for instance, under constraint or grievous fear. (Cf. canon 1323.)
Also relatives who have influenced her expressly directly in favour
of the abortion, for instance her parents, the father of the child
etc. and all those accomplices without whom the abortion would
not have taken place, i.e. surgeon, nurses ...
A FEW PARTICULAR CASES
What if the life of the mother or of the child to be born is in
in no case has the Church taught that the life of the child must
be preferred to that of the mother. It is erroneous to put
the question with this alternative: either the life of the child
or that of the mother. No, neither the life of the mother
nor that of the child can be subjected to an act of direct suppression.
In the one case as in the other, there can be but one obligation:
to make every effort to save the lives of both, of the mother
and of the child.
It is one
of the finest and most noble aspirations of the medical profession
to search continually for new means of ensuring the life of both
mother and child. But if, notwithstanding all the progress
of science, there still remain, and will remain in the future,
cases in which one must reckon with the death of the mother, when
the mother wills to bring to birth the life that is within her
and not destroy it in violation of the command of God - Thou shalt
not kill - nothing else remains for the man, who will make every
effort till the very last moment to help and save, but to bow
respectfully before the laws of nature and the dispositions of
divine Providence." Pius XII, Allocution to Large Families,
November 26, 1951. (15)
And if she is the mother of a large family?
is objected, the life of the mother, especially the mother of
a large family, is of incomparably greater value than that of
a child not yet born. The application of the theory of the
equivalation of values to the case which occupies us has already
been accepted in juridical discussions. The reply to this
harrowing objection is not difficult. The inviolability
of the life of an innocent human being does not depend on its
greater or lesser value. It is already more than ten years
since the Church formally condemned the destruction of life considered
to be 'without value'; and whosoever knows the sad events that
preceded and provoked that condemnation, whosoever is able to
weigh the direct consequences that would result, from measuring
the inviolability of innocent life according to its value, can
well appreciate the motives that determined that condemnation.
who can judge with certainty which of the two lives is in fact
the more precious? Who can know what path that child will
follow and to what heights of achievement and perfection he may
reach? Two greatnesses are being compared here, one of them
being an unknown quantity." Pius XII, Allocution to Large
Families, Nov. 26, 1951. (16)
What if, in order to save the life of the mother, independently
of her pregnant condition, a surgical intervention or a therapeutic
treatment is necessary which would have as an accidental consequence,
in no way desired nor intended, the death of the fetus?
We have always used the expression 'direct attempt on the life
of an innocent person,' 'direct killing.' Because if, for
example, the saving of the life of the future mother, independently
of her pregnant condition, should urgently require a surgical
act or other therapeutic treatment which would have as an accessory
consequence, in no way desired nor intended, but inevitable, the
death of the fetus, such an act could no longer be called a direct
attempt on an innocent life. Under these conditions the
operation can be lawful, like other similar medical interventions
- granted always that a good of high worth is concerned, such
as life, and that it is not possible to postpone the operation
until after the birth of the child, nor to have recourse to other
efficacious remedies." Pius XII, Allocution to Large
Families, Nov. 26, 1951. (17)
What about the 'medical and therapeutic indication'?
"As for the
'medical and therapeutic indication,' We have already said, Venerable
Brethren, how deeply We feel for the mother whose fulfillment
of her natural duty involves her in grave danger to health and
even to life itself. But can any reason ever avail to excuse
the direct killing of the innocent? For this is what is
at stake. The infliction of death whether upon mother or
upon child is against the commandment of God and the voice of
nature: "Thou shalt not kill!" The lives of both are equally
sacred and no-one, not even public authority, can ever have the
right to destroy them. It is absurd to invoke against innocent
human beings the right of the State to inflict capital punishment,
for this is valid only against the guilty. Nor is there
any question here of the right of self-defense, even to the shedding
of blood, against an unjust assailant, for none could describe
as an unjust assailant, an innocent child. Nor, finally,
does there exist any so-called right of extreme necessity which
could extend to the direct killing of an innocent human being.
Honourable and skillful doctors are therefore worthy of all praise
when they make every effort to protect and preserve the life of
both mother and child. On the contrary, those who encompass
the death of the one or the other, whether on the plea of medical
treatment or from a motive of misguided compassion, act in a manner
unworthy of the high repute of the medical profession,"
Pius XI, Encyclical Casti Connubii, Dec. 31, 1930.(18)
What about reasons such as -
abortion is approved by a great number of citizens;
the application of a law
against abortion is difficult;
the number of abortions is always increasing;
there is a great danger for the life of the mother in clandestine
and others in addition that are heard from varying quarters are
nor conclusive. It is true that civil law cannot expect
to cover the whole field of morality or to punish all faults.
No-one expects it to do so. It must often tolerate what
is in fact a lesser evil, in order to avoid a greater one.
One must, however, be attentive to what a change in legislation
can represent. Many will take as authorization what is perhaps
only a refusal to punish. Even more, in the present case,
this very refusal seems at the very least to admit that the legislator
no longer considers abortion a crime against human life, since
murder is still always severely punished. It is true that
it is not the task of the law to choose between points of view
or to impose one rather than another. One cannot invoke
freedom of thought to destroy life." Sacred Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith. (19)
What is the morality of prenatal diagnosis?
diagnosis makes it possible to know the condition of the embryo
and of the fetus when still in the mother's womb. It permits,
or makes it possible to anticipate earlier and more effectively,
certain therapeutic, medical or surgical procedures. Such
diagnosis is permissible, with the consent of the parents, after
they have been adequately informed, if the methods employed safeguard
the life and integrity of the embryo and the mother, without subjecting
them to disproportionate risks. But this diagnosis is gravely
opposed to the moral law when it is done with the thought of possibly
inducing an abortion depending upon the results; a diagnosis which
shows the existence of a malformation or a hereditary illness
must not be the equivalent of a death-sentence. Thus a woman
would be committing a gravely illicit act if she were to request
such a diagnosis with the deliberate intention of having an abortion
should the result confirm the existence of a malformation or abnormality.
The spouse or relatives or anyone else would similarly be acting
in a manner contrary to the moral law if they were to counsel
or impose such a diagnostic procedure on the expectant mother
with the same intention of possibly proceeding to an abortion.
So too the specialist would be guilty of illicit collaboration
if, in conducting the diagnosis and in communicating its results,
he were deliberately to contribute to establishing or favouring
a link between prenatal diagnosis and abortion.
any directive or programme of the civil and health authorities
or of scientific organizations which in any way were to favour
a link between prenatal diagnosis and abortion, or which were
to go as far as directly to induce expectant mothers to submit
to prenatal diagnosis planned for the purpose of eliminating fetuses
which are affected by malformation or which are carriers of hereditary
illness, is to be condemned." Sacred Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith. (20)
What is the morality of the research on a human embryo and fetus?
research must refrain from operations on live embryos, unless
there is a moral certainty of not causing harm to the life or
integrity of the unborn child and the mother and on condition
that the parents have given their free and informed consent to
the procedure. It follows that all research, even when limited
to the simple observation of the embryo, would become illicit
were it to involve risk to the embryo's physical integrity or
life by reason of the methods used or the effects induced."
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.(21)
What of experiments performed on living human embryos and fetuses?
"If the embryos
are living, whether viable or not, they must be respected just
like any other human person; experimentation on embryos which
is not directly therapeutic is illicit." Sacred Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith. (23)
What of those already dead?
of human embryos and fetuses, whether they have been deliberately
aborted or not, must be respected just as the remains of other
human beings. In particular, they cannot be subjected to
mutilation or to autopsies if their death has not yet been verified
and without the consent of the parents or of the mother.
Furthermore, the moral requirement must be safeguarded that there
be no complicity in deliberate abortion and that the risk of scandal
be avoided. Also, in the case of dead fetuses, as for the
corpses of adult persons, all commercial trafficking must be considered
illicit and should be prohibited." Sacred Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith. (23)
What is the morality of the use of 'in vitro' fertilized embryos
for the sake of research?
"It is immoral
to produce human embryos destined to be exploited as disposable
'biological material.' In the usual practice of 'in vitro'
fertilization, not all of the embryos are transferred to the woman's
body; some are destroyed. Just as the Church condemns induced
abortion, so she also forbids acts against the life of these human
beings. It is a duty to condemn the particular gravity of
the voluntary destruction of human embryos obtained 'in vitro'
for the sole purpose of research, either by means of artificial
insemination or by means of 'twin fission.' By acting in
this way, the researcher usurps the place of God; and, even though
he may be unaware of this, he sets himself up as the master of
the destiny of others inasmuch as he arbitrarily chooses whom
he will allow to live and whom he will send to death and kills
defenseless human beings." Sacred Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith. (24)
What about the direct destruction of a so-called 'life without
destruction of the so-called 'life without value' whether born
or yet to be born, such as was practiced very widely a few years
ago, cannot in any way be justified. Hence when this practice
began, the Church formally declared that it was against the natural
law and the divine positive law, and consequently, unlawful to
kill, even by order of the public authorities, those who were
innocent but, on account of some physical or mental defect, rendered
useless to the State and a burden upon it. The life of one
who is innocent is untouchable, and any direct attempt or aggression
against it is a violation of one of the fundamental laws without
which secure human society is impossible. We have no need
to teach you in detail the meaning and the gravity in your profession
of this fundamental law. But never forget that there rises
above every man-made code and above every 'indication' the faultless
law of God." Pius XII, Allocution to Midwives, October
29, 1951. (25)
What about the abortion motivated by 'social and eugenic indications'?
"It is permissible
and even obligatory to take into account the evidence alleged
in regard to the social and eugenic 'indications' so long as the
legitimate and proper means are used and due limits observed;
but to attempt to meet the needs upon which it is based by killing
of the innocent is an irrational proceeding and contrary to the
divine law; a law promulgated also by the Apostle when he says
that we must not do evil that good may come." (Rom. III, 8)
Pius XI, Encyclical 'Casti Connubii' Dec. 31, 1931. (26)
Can abortion be seen as a means of birth control?
"We are obliged
once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative
process already begun and, above all, direct abortion, even for
therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means
of controlling the birth of children." Paul VI, Encyclical
'Humanae Vitae,' July 25, 1968. (27)
Other reasons given that favour abortions.
"It may be
a serious question of health, sometimes of life or death, for
the mother; it may be the burden represented by an additional
child, especially if there are good reasons to fear that the child
will be abnormal or retarded; it may be the importance attributed
in different classes of society to considerations of honour or
dishonour, of loss of social standing, and so forth." Sacred
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (28)
What are we to think of these reasons?
that none of these reasons can ever objectively confer the right
to dispose of another's life, even when that life is only beginning.
With regard to the future unhappiness of the child, no-one, not
even the father or mother, can act as its substitute, even if
it is still in the embryonic stage, to choose in the child's name,
life or death." Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith. (29)
THE VARIOUS DUTIES IN RELATION TO ABORTION
What are the duties of the State towards the unborn?
then, should, as it were, in virtue of the instinct of self-preservation,
fulfill that which, essentially according to the design of God,
Creator and Saviour, is its first duty, namely guarantee in full
measure the values which ensure to the family order, human dignity,
health and happiness. These values, which are also the very
elements of the common good, may never be sacrificed for what
may apparently be the common advantage. Let Us point out,
as an example, some of these benefits which are greatly threatened
today - the indissolubility of matrimony; the protection of prenatal
life." Pius XII, Allocution to the Fathers of Families.
Sept. 18, 1951. (30)
What is the role of State Law towards the unborn?
cannot tolerate - indeed it must expressly forbid - that human
beings, even at the embryonic stage, should be treated as objects
of experimentation, be mutilated or destroyed with the excuse
that they are superfluous or incapable of developing normally."
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (31)
What are the duties of government and legislators towards the
innocent and especially towards the unborn?
and legislatures must remember that it is the duty of public authority
to protect the lives of the innocent by appropriate laws and penalties,
especially when those whose lives are attacked and endangered
are unable to protect themselves, as is particularly the case
with infants in their mother's womb. If the State authorities
not only fail to protect these little ones but by their laws and
decrees, suffer them to be killed, and even deliver them into
the hands of doctors and others for that purpose, let them remember
that God is the Judge and Avenger of the innocent blood that cries
from earth to heaven." Pius XI, Encyclical 'Casti Connubii,'
Dec. 31, 1930. (32)
What are the duties of parents in the natural process of child
at man's disposal the whole chain of the causes which gives rise
to a new human life; it is man's part to release the living force
and to nature pertains the development of that force, leading
to its completion. Once man has fulfilled his part and set
in motion the marvelous evolution of life, it is his duty to respect
religiously its progress and the same duty forbids him either
to halt the course of nature or to prevent its natural development."
Pius XII, Allocution to Midwives, Oct. 29, 1951. (33)
What are the duties of the legal representatives of children I
who have not reached the use of reason?
representatives, appointed by a private decision or by public
authority, do not possess over the body and the life of their
subordinates, any other rights than they themselves would have,
if they were capable of it and to the same extent. They
cannot then give the doctor permission to dispose of them outside
of these limits." Pius XII, Allocution to the First Congress
of Histopathology, Sept. 13, 1952. (34)
What are the duties of doctors in regard to abortion and propaganda
as doctors, conscious of the scientific and ethical requirements
of your profession, you have a special and very important role
of information and of formation to fulfill, according to your
various specialties, to show the grievous errors on which the
pro-abortion propaganda relies. Who better than you, can
often denounce the manipulation of statistics; rash statements
in the biological domain, disastrous repercussions in the physiological
and psychological sphere." Paul VI, Allocution to a group
of Belgian Catholic Doctors, April 24, 1977. (35)
What are the duties of doctors towards the use of exploration
techniques on embryos?
"above all ... must carefully evaluate the possible negative consequences
which the necessary use of a particular exploratory technique
may have upon the unborn child and avoid recourse to diagnostic
procedures which do not offer sufficient guarantees of their honest
purpose and substantial harmlessness. And if, as often happens
in human choices, a degree of risk must be undertaken, he will
take care to assure that it is justified by a truly urgent need
for the diagnosis and by the importance of the results that can
be achieved by it for the benefit of the unborn child himself."
John Paul II, Discourse to Participants in the Pro-Life Movement
Congress, Dec. 12, 1982. (36)
What are the duties of chemists in regard to the sale of abortifacient
and, likewise, the special glory of pharmacists is to have a mastery
of their science and to stray not one hair's breadth from the
straight path of conscience... but in this age when, because of
the widespread corruption of morals, it is so easy to sin against
justice, consideration for human and Christian dignity weighs
more heavily upon you (i.e. the chemists) to keep you from failing
in your duty. Meanwhile customers too, can approach you
and importune you to become accomplices in their crimes.
But you above all must not put aside the dictates of the eternal
law in favour of gain or false, so-called humanitarianism or carelessness,
when you know that you can sell something that might injure health,
life or limb when used improperly, or can snuff out a life within
the mother's womb. Let no-one imitate the notorious medical
practitioner who promised Fabricius - if such a promise could
ever have been made to him - that he would arrange for the speedy
death of King Pyrrhus. Rather let all seek that same praise
which Pyrrhus showered on Fabricius after he had disclosed the
evil plot to the King; "Fabricius, what a man! The sun is
more likely to deviate from its course than he from the way of
honour." Pius XII, Allocution to the International Congress
of the History of Pharmacy, Sept. 11, 1954. (37)
What are the duties of midwives towards the parents of an unborn
object of your apostolate will be to strive to sustain, to re-awaken
and stimulate the mother's instinct and the mother's love.
When spouses value and appreciate the honour of producing a new
life, and await its coming with a holy impatience, your part is
a very easy one; it will be sufficient to cultivate this interior
sentiment in them; the readiness to welcome and cherish that growing
life follows automatically. Unfortunately, however, it is
not always the case; the child is often not wanted, worse still,
its coming is often dreaded. In such conditions, how can
there be a ready response to the call of duty? Your apostolate
in this case must be both powerful and effective; primarily, in
a negative way, by refusing any immoral co-operation; then also
in a positive way, by deftly applying yourselves to the removal
of pre-conceived ideas, various fears or fainthearted excuses;
and as far as possible, to remove also the external obstacles
which may cause distress where the acceptance of motherhood is
You may come
forward unhesitatingly where you are asked to advise and help
in the bringing forth of new life, to protect it and set it on
its way towards its full development. But, unfortunately,
in how many cases are you rather called upon to prevent the procreation
and preservation of this life, regardless of the precepts of the
moral order? To accede to such requests would be to abuse
your knowledge and your skill by becoming accomplices in an immoral
act; it would be the perversion of your apostolate. It demands
a calm but unequivocal refusal to countenance the transgression
of God's law or the dictates of your conscience. It follows,
therefore, that your profession requires that you should have
a clear knowledge of this divine law, so that it may be respected
and followed without excess or defect." Pius XII, Allocution
to Midwives, Oct. 29, 1951. (38)
effectively safeguard morality unless one takes the fight on to
the field of doctrine. A way of thinking or, rather, an
emotional prejudice against large families - seeing them as an
evil - cannot be allowed to go unchallenged." Sacred
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. (39)
in any case be clearly understood that a Christian can never conform
to a law which is in itself immoral and such is the case of a
law which would admit, in principle, the licity of abortion.
Nor can a Christian take part in a propaganda campaign in favour
of such a law, or vote for it. Moreover, he may not collaborate
in its application." Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith. (40)
Lastly, can a Catholic withdraw himself from this teaching of
the Popes by saying that ultimately, it is up to one's own conscience?
doctrine as well as for the Catholic moral order, the application
of an almost radical revision is being advocated, with a view
to deducing a new scale of values from it. The primary step,
or rather the first blow, against the edifice of Christian moral
canons should be - as is pretended - the redeeming of these rules
from the narrow and oppressive guardianship of the authority of
the Church so that, freed from the sophistic subtleties of the
casuistic method, morality may be brought back again to its original
form and left to the individual's intelligence and determination.
to point out the obvious inexperience and immaturity of judgment
of those who maintain such opinions, it will be well to bring
into light the central flaw of this 'new morality.' By leaving
all ethical judgment to the conscience of the individual, jealously
closed in itself and made sole arbiter of its determinations,
this morality, far from smoothing the way for it, would make it
stray from the main road which is Christ. The Divine Redeemer
has given His revelation, of which moral obligations are an essential
part, not to individual men but to His Church, with the mission
to lead men faithfully to accept the sacred deposit. Likewise,
divine assistance, intended to preserve revelation from errors
and distortions, was promised to the Church and not to individuals.
A wise provision, because the Church, a living organism, may thus
illustrate and probe truths, even moral truths, with certainty
and flexibility and apply them the variable conditions of times
and places without altering their substance.
is it possible to reconcile the Saviour's providential disposition,
through which the Church was entrusted with the Christian moral
heritage, with a sort of individualistic autonomy of conscience?
The Church wishes - and this is expressly emphasized with regard
to the forming of consciences - that a Christian should be introduced
to the infinite riches of faith and grace in a persuasive manner,
so that he may feel inclined to penetrate deeply into them.
The Church, however, cannot give up admonishing the faithful that
these riches cannot be acquired and kept without observing some
precise moral obligations. A different behaviour would only
end by putting into oblivion a dominant principle which Jesus,
its Lord and Master, always insisted upon. Jesus did in
fact teach that it is lot enough to say 'Lord! Lord!' in order
to enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but that it is necessary to do
the will of our Heavenly Father. He spoke of the 'straight
gate,' of the 'narrow way' which leads to life and added: 'Strive
to enter by the narrow gate; for many shall seek to enter and
shall not be able.' He gave us a touchstone and hallmark
of love for Himself, Christ, the observance of the commandments."
Pius XII, Radio Message, March 23, 1952. (41)
Human Body, (subsequently HB) Papal Teachings, by the Monks
of Solesmes, St. Paul Editions 1979, No. 58.
(2) HB 322.
(3) HB 254.
(4-5) Declaration on Procured Abortion, (subsequently DPA)
by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Nov.
l8, 1974 in Abortion and Law, Dominican Publication, 1983,
(6) HB 17.
(7) DPA II, 7.
(8-9) DPA III, 13.
(10) HB 262.
(11) Instruction on Respect of Human Life in its Origin and
on the Dignity of Procreation (subsequently RHL) by the Congregation
for the Doctrine of Faith, Feb. 22, 1987, Catholic Truth Society,
London 1987 I,1.
(12) In Documentation Catholique, Bayard Presse, May 15,
1977, p. 456.
(13-14) The Code of Canon Law, in English translation,
(15) HB 323, 324.
(16) HB 325.
(17) HB 326.
(18) HB 16.
(19) DPA V 20.
(20) RHL I, 2.
(21-23) RHL I, 4.
(24) RHL I, 5.
(25) HB 254.
(26) HB 18.
(27) Catholic Truth Society, London, 1970, No. 14.
(28-29) DPA IV, 14.
(30) Matrimony, Papal Teachings, by the Monks of Solesmes,
St. Paul Editions, 1963, No. 581.
(31) RHL III.
(32) HB 19.
(33) HB 246.
(34) HB 365.
(35) In Documentation Catholique, Bayard Presse, May 15,
1977, p. 456.
(36) RHL Footnote 27.
(37) HB 534.
(38) HB 266-7.
(39) DPA V, 27.
(40) DPA V, 22.
(41) The Teachings of Pope Pius XII, compiled by Michael
Chinigo, Methuen & Co. Ltd., London, 1958, pp. 103-105.