Pope Francis, contraception, and the problem of ecclesial authority

A short course in understanding ecclesial authority, especially as it bears upon Catholic moral teaching.

Statue of Saint Peter at the Vatican. (Mateus Campos Felipe/Unsplash.com)

It’s been reported (see here and here) that the recent text from the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAL), Etica Teologica della Vita (Theological Ethics of Life, Vatican Publishing, 2022), advocates among other things the disregarding of the central moral norm taught in Humanae Vitae (no. 14), a norm that, as I will argue below, has the status of infallible teaching of the ordinary magisterium.

During an interview on the pope’s recent return flight from Canada, Francis referred to this text: “On the issue of contraception, I know there is a publication out on this and other marital issues.” He said the publication was one of the “acts” of an international gathering of theologians under the auspices of the PAL (he called it a “congress”). “In a congress”, he said, “there are hypotheses, then they discuss among themselves and make proposals.” He went on: “We have to be clear: those who participated in this congress did their duty, because they have sought to move forward in doctrine, but in an ecclesial sense”.

So posing or proposing hypotheses that throw into question definitive moral doctrines is doing one’s professional “duty” and “moving forward in doctrine”.

Testing the pope’s open-mindedness, a religion journalist then raised the question: “Are you open … to a reevaluation [of your predecessor’s total ban on contraceptives]? … Does the possibility exist for a couple to consider contraceptives?” The pope replied: “This [question] is something very timely. But know that dogma, morality, is always on a path of development, but always developing in the same direction.”

These papal statements, as well as other actions and words of the pope, have led to speculation that he intends to use his strategic method for creating ambiguity, as found throughout Amoris Laetitia, to free Catholics – as if he could! – from the obligation to avoid under pain of mortal sin all contraceptive acts

During the pontificate of John Paul II, Catholics had confidence that what was taught by the pope was sound. An unintended side effect was that some became overly dependent on papal statements to know what to think and what to value.

Devout Church watchers today face a different situation. Given the pope’s ambiguous and confusing statements, it is essential that Catholics learn their faith and know their tradition so they can reasonably assess the value of statements and actions that issue from the Vatican.

To do this, they must (among other things) understand what Church teaching authority is and what it is not.

My purpose here is to give a short course in understanding ecclesial authority, especially as it bears upon Catholic moral teaching. Who has the authority to teach? From where does the authority derive? What can rightly be taught? What are the degrees of authoritativeness? What kind of assent do the differing degrees command from the faithful? And must I assent to problematic assertions made by the pope or bishops?

I. Authority to Teach Divine Revelation: Truths of Faith and Morals

The following propositions establish the basis for understanding ecclesial authority (see Vatican II, Dei Verbum, nos. 7-10).

  • The contents of God’s divine communication were committed to the apostles for the sake of faith, holiness and salvation; they are called divine revelation, sometimes referred to as the deposit of faith.
  • Divine revelation—handed on in “the apostolic preaching”— includes the contents of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition that teach matters of both faith and morals.
  • Jesus charged his apostles and so the Church to preserve and transmit—defend & teach—the message of divine revelation.
  • The Church’s authority to teach—called magisterium—is not of merely human origin but is Christ’s own authority given by the Holy Spirit.
  • This authority was committed not only to the twelve apostles but to their proper successors until the end of time and among them in a unique way to the Successor of Peter.

Thus, the pope and bishops’ authority of Christ to teach “extends as far as is necessary for the preservation and faithful exposition of revelation” (Lumen Gentium, 25), and no farther.

We know, for at least two reasons, this authority includes the contents of the natural moral law; first because its existence and its general principles—and many concrete precepts derived from them—are explicitly or implicitly affirmed in Sacred Scripture and so constitute a part of divine revelation; and because the magisterium’s authority to teach extends to all things “required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of the deposit of faith” (Ad Tuendam Fidem, no. 4A, Canon 750, § 2), which includes all those truths “necessarily connected to divine revelation” (Ad Tuendam Fidem, no. 3).

It is a revealed truth, affirmed most plainly in Romans 2:14-16 and by implication throughout the New Testament, that all the precepts of the natural moral law are contained in the moral precepts of the parts of the Mosaic Law reaffirmed by Christ. Many of the precepts are plainly identified in the New Testament; others are implicit in the sense that any sound explanation of why those plainly identified precepts are morally sound will show that these other precepts cannot be denied without falsifying that explanation and thus preventing the faithful transmission and preservation of the precepts plainly revealed,

Now we know that popes make speech acts other than formal teaching acts on matters of faith and morals, for example, during interviews on airplanes, ceremonies with non-Catholics, or speeches before the UN. But since these are not teaching acts, they possess no authority and command no obedience from the faithful. Why? Because he only enjoys the assistance of the Holy Spirit to teach when he is formally teaching.

Of course, if what he says is already a settled Catholic doctrine, then Catholics are bound to accept the doctrine. But—and this is important—they are not required in virtue of it having been said in those extra-magisterial teaching acts, but in virtue of the fact that it was already authoritatively taught by the Church.

Moreover, whenever popes offer their views on matters other than faith and morals, for example, on scientific issues such as whether the earth is round or whether human behavior is the principal cause of climate change, their assertions, even if found in formal ecclesiastical documents, possess no authority and command no obedience. Why? Because even if what they say is true, the Church and so the pope has no authority to teach on scientific questions. God hasn’t promised the Church protection in resolving the quandaries of the natural world, only in understanding his divine communications for the sake of fulfilling his will, living holy lives and getting to heaven.

Finally, if popes assert anything contrary to divine revelation or good morals, even with the intention of formally teaching it or implicitly affirming it as true, the assertion enjoys no guidance by the Holy Spirit and so possesses no authority over the consciences of Catholics. In fact, Catholics are bound when they discover the error to reject such teaching.

In summary, for their assertions to be assisted by the Holy Spirit and so bind the consciences of Catholics, they must be in the context of formal acts of teaching and must concern the truths of faith and morals taught in divine revelation.

II. Modes of Authoritative Teaching

The Church rightly teaches on matters of faith and morals in three distinct modes each of which has conditions for its fulfillment (see Lumen Gentium, no. 25)

  1. infallible teachings of the extraordinary magisterium
  2. non-infallible teachings of the ordinary magisterium
  3. infallible teachings of the ordinary magisterium


The first, infallible teachings of the extraordinary magisterium, refers to teachings in which the acts are guarded from all error by the Holy Spirit. This guarding or protection from error is given to the successors of Peter and to the successors of the apostles, the bishops, in union with Peter (e.g., when they gather together in a general Council), when they definitively teach the contents of divine revelation, to quote Vatican I, when they “religiously guard and faithfully expound the revelation or deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles” (Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, ch. 4, no. 6).

This extraordinary type of teaching is exercised in one or other of two ways: by a pope when he “defines” a proposition of faith or morals “ex cathedra” (from the Chair of Peter), that is, when “he proclaims in a definitive act a doctrine on faith or morals”; and by “the body of bishops in union with the pope” (i.e. a universal Council) when “it exercises the supreme teaching office” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 25).

This mode of authority, in either of its forms, is exercised only very rarely. Neither the teachings of Vatican II, nor any teaching acts of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI or John Paul I or II were exercises of the infallible extraordinary magisterium. The last time the Church exercised its infallible teaching prerogative was when Pius XII defined the dogma of the Assumption of Mary in 1950.

Whether by the pope or a council, infallible teaching acts are carefully planned, conscientiously carried out, and widely publicized. The Church makes it clear when she invokes extraordinary infallibility that she intends to do so. You don’t have to say to yourself: “I wonder if what the pope said yesterday, or what he taught in document X is infallible?” You’ll know. Even the New York Times will announce it, as it did with the news of Pius XII’s proclamation.

Truths infallibly taught are said to be “irreformable” (Lumen Gentium, 25); they can’t be changed, contradicted or their teachings abrogated. The certainty of their truth ranks with the certainty of the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes. From the faithful, they command an assent of “divine and Catholic faith”. Catholics must believe these truths if they wish to remain in full communion with the Church.


The second type of authoritative teaching is called non-infallible teachings of the ordinary magisterium. This includes teachings that help us to understand divine revelation more deeply, recall conformity of some teaching with the truths of divine revelation, and warn against dangerous opinions or ideas incompatible with divinely revealed truth (see Ratzinger, “Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding formula of the Professio Fidei”). The vast corpus of Vatican II, or of John Paul II’s writings, were ordinary teaching. (Again, if these were handing on an already irreformable teaching, it continued to possess this status, but it did not acquire the status in virtue of being taught by the pope or council.)

Catholics do not assent to ordinary teaching with divine and Catholic faith but rather with a “religious submission of will and intellect” (Lumen Gentium, 25). This means we give the teachings a presumption of truth; we begin with a mind and will disposed to accepting them as true; we receive them with humility, and endeavor with docility to understand them as true.

Having said this, the acts by which they are taught are not guarded by the charism of infallibility. They are “per se not irreformable” (Dei Verbum, 24). This means popes and bishops can err in their ordinary teaching. If after careful consideration we come to judge that an ordinary teaching conflicts with a truth of divine revelation, or with definitive teaching of the Church, then we are justified in withholding assent from it. For example, Amoris Laetitia, part of the corpus of ordinary teaching of Pope Francis, teaches in such a way as to give the impression that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics are morally free to return to the sacraments and so full communion with the Church while choosing to remain in sexually active relationships with their new partners while their valid spouses still live. Since this implies that adultery is sometimes legitimate to engage in, Catholics should not only withhold assent from the teaching, they should reject it.

Ordinary teaching carries with it various levels of authoritativeness. The propositions of faith or morals asserted in a papal encyclical, for example, are more authoritative – i.e. more certainly true – than in an apostolic exhortation which are more authoritative than those in a pastoral letter. Each should be given a submission of mind and will in a manner proportionate to the teaching’s authority.

How is a document’s authority determined? Its status derives from the “manifest mind and will” of the author “which is communicated chiefly by the nature of the documents, by the frequent repetition of the same doctrine or by the style of verbal expression” (Lumen Gentium, 25).

Although popes could never invoke infallibility to teach falsehood—we must believe the Holy Spirit would prevent this – we have seen that they can and sometimes do teach falsehood in their ordinary teaching.


Finally, there is infallible teaching of the ordinary magisterium (see Lumen Gentium, 25). This mode is currently rather poorly understood, and somewhat rarely acknowledged, but is and has always been of immense importance for understanding authoritative Catholic teaching. This type of ordinary authority is not exercised in single acts of teaching by a pope or ecumenical council, but rather through the manner in which ordinary teaching is proclaimed.

But if ordinary teaching is per se not irreformable, how can it sometimes be the vehicle for infallible teaching? If it fulfills the following four conditions taught by Lumen Gentium, the faithful can be certain that the teaching has been guarded from error by the Holy Spirit:

whenever the bishops, though dispersed throughout the world – but maintaining the bond of communion among themselves and with the successor of Peter – in teaching authentically matters concerning faith and morals, agree about a judgment as one that is to be definitively held” (LG, 25).

The four conditions are: that (a) the bishops though dispersed remain in union with the pope and one another; (b) they teach authentically on a matter of faith or morals, i.e., teach as bishops some proper object of authoritative teaching; (c) they agree on a judgment; and (d) they teach that judgment as to be definitively held (“definitive tenendam”); note it does not say “teach the doctrine definitively”, which would mean teach it in an extraordinary manner; rather it says teach the doctrine as to be “held” definitively, that is, teach it in such a way that the faithful receive the doctrine as definitive, i.e., without ambiguity, as part of the faith of the Church, not subject to change.

Truths considered proper objects of ordinary infallible teachings include all those of faith and morals taught in divine revelation and truths required for the holy keeping and faithful exposition of divine revelation (see Ad Tuendam Fidem above). This includes moral teachings not explicitly taught in Sacred Scripture but always held and taught to be true and necessary for living a Christian life, such as the wrongness of euthanasia (see Ratzinger, Doctrinal Commentary, no. 11).

Since this mode of exercise, like its extraordinary counterparts, teaches irreformable doctrines, the corresponding truths ought to be held with “divine and Catholic faith” similar to truths taught by extraordinary means (See Code of Canon Law, Can. 750, § 1).

This category correlates to some of the Church’s most controversial teachings, teachings that are frequently dismissed as “non-infallible” by dissenting Catholics and rejected. This includes the truths of the wrongness of every freely chosen contraceptive act, in vitro fertilization, and masturbation. Each of these, and many others like them, have indeed been infallibly taught by the Catholic Church and so are irreformable moral doctrines.


If this pope or a future pope should attempt to teach contrary to his predecessors on contraception, he will run up against the irreformability of the traditional doctrine. This does not mean he will not try.

Should he try, every Catholic needs to know, whether he or she agrees with the Church’s teaching or not, that the pope has absolutely no authority to teach in this way.

Nor had he any authority to teach that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may go to Holy Communion without going to confession and resolving to live chastely.

Catholics have an obligation to reject such teachings. This obligation derives from the authority of divine revelation itself. Of course, it firstly binds our Church’s leaders to avoid – in their teaching, indeed in everything they state – any ambiguity about or contradiction of moral truths that have been taught by the Church’s extraordinary or ordinary magisterium as to be definitively held (even, and especially, truths about which bishops have fallen into silence, denial or ambiguity). Sadly, not all our bishops feel bound by this obligation.

Thus, lest we or those we love grow confused by the statements of various ecclesiastics, we must get clear on who has the authority to say what, and how we should respond.

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About E. Christian Brugger 7 Articles
Dr. E. Christian Brugger is a moral theologian living in Front Royal, Virginia.


  1. Of the natural law: “The Church is no way the author or the arbiter of this [‘moral’] norm” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 95).

    • We read: “Although popes could never invoke infallibility to teach falsehood—we must believe the Holy Spirit would prevent this – we have seen that they can and sometimes do teach falsehood in their ordinary teaching.”

      But WHAT IF, with the synodal Cardinal Grech et al, the only intent is to “expand the grey area,” say, possibly between divine revelation and human morals? Perhaps this is done by inserting another fixed variable (!), by folding-in the “universal call to holiness” as the more-or-less universal “sensus fidei.” This, as now expressed more by the (well-formed?) laity under the influence of, oh yes, a Holy Spirit reading the signs of the times!

      But WAIT, anticipating this con-fusion, Pope St. John Paul II included the following TWO TEACHINGS in Veritatis Splendor:

      “A separation, or even an opposition, is thus established in some cases between the teaching of the precept, which is valid and general, and the norm of the individual conscience, which would in fact make the final decision [no longer a ‘moral judgment’!] about what is good and what is evil. On this basis, an attempt is made to legitimize so-called ‘pastoral’ solutions contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium, and to justify a ‘creative’ hermeneutic according to which the moral conscience is in no way obliged, in every case, by a particular negative precept [thou shalt not!]” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 56).


      “This is the first time, in fact, that the Magisterium of the Church [!] has set forth in detail the fundamental elements of this [‘moral’] teaching, and presented the principles for the pastoral discernment necessary in practical and cultural situations which are complex and even crucial” (n. 115).

      Do we see, now, why the block-party version of synodality doesn’t have much to say about Veritatis Splendor?

      • Good point, as a follow up to an excellent article, but it’s much worse than just abusing “pastoralism” to reinforce the tyranny of the subjective. Francis has denied that absolute immutable truth really exists. He has confirmed his enthusiastic acceptance of the process theology of Walter Kasper and others that the mind of God, Who those of us striving for authentic faith recognize as the sole source of truth, is in process and capable of changing His thought. Francis has expressed his sympathy for moral theologians who see moral theology as exclusively concerned with the elimination of a troubled conscience. And there was that episode several years ago where his idea of continuity of doctrine entertained an end run around Humanae Vitae by having a commission of theologians restudy it to see if maybe it was “misunderstood” by everyone on the planet, and maybe it really meant the exact opposite of what everyone thought it meant. And of course there doesn’t seem to be a snowball’s chance in the bad eternal destination that he would ever demonstrate an ability to draw a connection between the contraceptive culture and the abortion culture.

  2. Great column. Incredibly accurate.

    If only Pope Francis would transcend his desire to “mess things up”. His words.

    One wonders how many souls our illustrious Pope endangered by his refusal to clarify Amoris Laetitia, to begin with.

    • It is interesting that when Jesus called Peter, Satan, it was on the heels of having been made the rock upon which the Lord will build His Church.

      He does not simply call him Satan, He gives a reason: Peter was as Satan because he was thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.”

      And isn’t that what we have been receiving from Francis: man’s thinking (climate change, one world governemnt, one world religion, permissiblity of divorce and remarriage, coprophagia,etc) and not God’s. Can we therefore conclude that he is on the side of that wily Serpent.

      When will he turn so that he can strengthen his brothers?

      • Excellent! I too have thought this passage is a key to understanding how a pope-this pope-could run afoul of promoting unity in and through the truth.

      • I think 🤔 you have it reversed brother. You sound more like the zealous Sons of Thunder disciples of Jesus who wanted to bring down “fire from Heaven” in the Name of The Lord. Jesus compassionately rebuked them. The Holy Fathers seeks to emulate The Way of the Lord. Do you really believe The Lord will chastise His Vicar for that. Jesus seemed to contravene the doctrine/Law of his time. His disciples laboring and healing on the Sabbath. Jesus not stoning the woman caught in adultery…and it goes on. Listen to The Holy Father. You may find that it is you who need to turn as did Jesus disciples did many times when Jesus’teachings and actions made them confused and wonder.

        • Correction:
          Calling a man who “transed” to become a woman and is now “married” to a woman, a she – way of the world

    • When Pope francis said “hagan lio” at a World Youth Day, he was telling the youth to “stir things up” or “get moving.” This is what “hagan lio” means as an idiom in Argentina. I’ve had this confirmed by several priests from Argentina. “Hagan lio” might translate literally as “make a mess,” but that’s not what it means in its proper context and idiom.

      • Thanks Robert Fastiggi for this information. I thank Pope Francis was stirring things up. I thought I was doing well in my Catholic faith by going regularly to mass and confession, abstaining, fasting and donating money. Our very Catholic Pope then jolted me. I realized I was merely being religious – just like the Pharisees and Sadducees of our Lord’s time. He wanted me to appreciate Jesus and his Family, the Church, and the need for the members to look out, reach out, lift up or, if necessary carry our Lord’s brothers and sisters in need – whatever their state. Now this is tough. No wonder the Apostles said: Then who can be saved? It is indeed wonderful to know that Pope Francis, the Vicar of my Lord, has lived this life, and still does.

        • Yes Mal for two thousand and sixteen years every Catholic was practising the faith incorrectly until Pope Francis came along to set us straight and shake things up. Just like a certain Monk did 500 years ago. In fact one can say Francis is channelling Luther in intent and doctrine.

          • Never said that. Every Pope has done well in his time. I do believe that we have been drifting off slightly and the time was right to, as you said, set us straight.

          • Change commandments and moral theology? No, and no change has been made. When Jesus was accused of breaking the Sabbath Law how did he respond? When a n adulteress was brought by the religious, law-abiding people to Jesus, how did he respond? Jesus did not change the Law, but he made it meaningful.
            Our Lord’s black and white really differs from ours.

      • Oh, my, that is so reassuring! That certainly dissipates all my concerns about a pope who appoints sodomites to high-ranking positions every chance he gets. And eviscerates the JPII Institute. And attacks the sacred liturgy. And destroys thriving religious communities… Rome is not mess. It’s just gotten moving.

  3. “If this pope or a future pope should attempt to teach contrary to his predecessors on contraception, he will run up against the irreformability of the traditional doctrine.”

    Is this why the Pope continues to distrust and demonise tradition and those who call for the Church to abide by those traditions. What a pesky and annoying concept for the modernists.

  4. Now, quickly, get this document into the hands of every active bishop (including the one in Rome). And then make certain it is sent to every new bishop as soon as Rome announces their appointment. Now that would be a mission of evangelization if ever there was one.

  5. “Moving forward” in an ecclesial clearly means:

    – blessing fornication;
    – blessing sodomy;
    – blessing divorce and re-marriage;
    – blessing same-sex “marriage,”
    – etc etc.

    In a phrase, per Rod Dreher: “Queering the Church.”

    Such “ecclesial men” (and women) are not Christian. They are part of what one political word-smith called “the new pagan ethos.”

    • Tell me what you think moving forward with the god awful things you posted that need to be blessed (ie sodomy) in the Catholic Church? Just the words alone seem creepy!

  6. Thank you, Dr. Brugger, for your crystal clear explanation of why the wildly unhinged, absolutely wacky pronouncements of our Jesuitical pope do not in any way undermine the infallibility of our Church’s authoritative teachings.

    But, I confess, you did leave me wondering…

    Is there any explicit denial in Scripture or tradition of claims of infallibility for papal statements made on airplanes, ships, trains, sports cars, rickshaws or assorted other conveyances?

    As in, perhaps, Isaiah 57:13, “When thou shalt cry, let thy companies deliver thee, but the wind shall carry them all off, a [Plymouth] breeze shall take them away…”

    • There is strict definition as to under what circumstances the pope speaks infallibly. The circumstances are clearly defined, and the intent is declared.

  7. Infallibility of general councils

    All the arguments which go to prove the infallibility of the Church apply with their fullest force to the infallible authority of general councils in union with the pope. For conciliary decisions are the ripe fruit of the total life-energy of the teaching Church actuated and directed by the Holy Ghost.

    Catholic Encyclopedia

    A rejection of the legitimacy of Vatican II seems to me to require disbelief of the promise of Christ that the Holy Spirit would remain with the Church forever and guide it into all truth. In other words it requires a rejection of Catholicism.

    As outrageous as Bergoglio has been in his confusion-causing ambiguity regarding contraception and abortion, he has been no less dangerous to the Church than the promulgation of the belief that Christ didn’t keep His promise and the Holy Spirit abandoned the Church at Vatican II. It may not be expressed precisely that way, but that is the implication of the rejection of Vatican II.

    Bergoglio has been a disaster. So has casting the misinterpretation and abuse of Vatican II as Vatican II itself.

    • David,

      God made sex. But the thing is sex means baby. Sex means marriage. All these things go together for the God approved sex.

      God did not create sex for sex sake. Sex is the way by which He makes eternal souls.

      Sex for sex sake is selfishness, debauchery, enslavement to our baser instincts.

    • Well David, natural intimacy sans artificial add-ons is more enjoyable. In the same way everything in Creation is better when organic & the way the Creator intended.

      It’s shame that the movement towards what’s natural, sustainable & ethically sourced stops dead in its tracks at women’s natural fertility. Then the heavy pharmaceutical guns are called in.

  8. This whole thing about infallibility sounds a bit silly. Anyone can twist the definitions to their preference on a given issue. Pope Francis’s ambiguity isn’t new. That ambiguity IS Catholic tradition.

  9. Addressed earlier the ‘hypothetical’ issue of discussion was given informal approbation by Francis stating theologians were seeking to advance a pastoral approach rather than theological.
    Purposeful intervention to prevent the transmission of life is a subtle, complex issue discussed twice by credentialed participants under the auspices of Paul VI [in both instances the panel of experts determined the contraceptive pill was not immoral when used properly] prior to his decision to declare intervention by synthetic means [the pill] are immoral and grave. It’s quite difficult to find an argument in specific natural law principles [clearly evident as Brugger asserts] when it’s permissible to avoid pregnancy by natural means, abstention, the sympto thermal method [even there some theologians find it immoral if such natural methods are excessive]. Either it is permissible or it is not.
    Paul VI settled on the argument of unnatural means, the illegality of the imposition of artifact for prevention of transmission. Unnatural has a wider basis for moral efficacy because it extends to unnatural acts which extend beyond stimulation and prevent transmission. I accept Brugger’s fine argument on the infallibility of Humanae Vitae’s doctrine.
    I might add to it that purposeful interruption, diversion from the transmission of human life has the wide spectrum of purity of intention in sexual relations. That the attraction to a woman, how it’s responded, to the conjugal act, and the inception of life are sacred. That is why beginning with a lustful stare, and all that follows when venal pleasure is the object rather than divinely inspired love of a woman, is gravely sinful.
    My opinion is that the essential truth of the matter was revealed to Pius VI by an interior disposition given by the Holy Spirit. All that followed, the correct prophesy of what the ramifications of the pill would be are supportive arguments.

    • Fr. in your last paragraph you meant to say Paul VI not Pius?

      Fr. please allow me to ramble on for a bit and then do tell me where I am the what and the what-not.

      Married have the grace of state. Many times the open lawful act will not bear fruit in conception -in a very natural sense; but they are meant to make it authentic all the same. That is their privilege too. And gift. They have to cherish the meaning. Then on the other hand, life moves ahead and actual childbearing is shifting out of the picture more and more; thus John Paul II gave the recommendation of periodic continence as a practice in the unfolding of shared chastity and understanding.

      The other points I want to register build on one I already indicated elsewhere, where I suggested that you (“you” third person sense) can not have what is against nature being justified, else there’d be nothing to confess -see my comments in the link. So 1. they are toying with ideas that will run against what I just outlined and there they are “not delivering us from evil”. And 2. the very dealing and delving into the matter as a publicized affair has its own corrupting effects and they are “leading us into temptation”.

      You don’t have to have a theological inquiry where you are supposed to teach the subject and the matter. Communion, children, conjugal love – GRACE does not “wait” that way.


      • I agree with what you say here Elias [thanks for the Pius VI Paul VI correction], whereas opening up for hypothetical discussion the natural transmission of life as ordained by God is conducive to suggesting the performance of acts that do not end with that natural transmission. And, your quote of John Paul II on the good of abstinence [something I’ve preached from the pulpit] has multi faceted benefit. Enhanced appreciation of mutual and conjugal love, strengthening of moral character.

      • Elias, there’s the related adage here, A chip off the old block. Well, Francis seeks more than one chip off the old block, the Apostle Peter, chipping away obliquely by fomenting doctrinal hypotheticals until there’s no block to chip. The Chair reduced to a nice place to sit.

  10. I am not a learned theologian, and thankyou for your thorough article. However, to me what he said “But know that dogma, morality, is always on a path of development, but always developing in the same direction.” means that to follow the same teaching of what has been said about contraception. He is also against abortion, he is clear on that issue as well. Your article is long and serves as a good material to fortify what’s in the catechism. I am thankful to Pope Francis clarity on two important issues, as what St Mother Teresa said, that abortion is the number one sin of our time, and likewise contraception is a dangerous path to abortion.

    • Where do you see “clarity” on abortion? Early in his pontificate he condemned the idea of being “obsessed” about abortion and throughout his pontificate he has entertained the world’s most notorious abortionists as modern day prophets for their “environmental” work and their promotion of globalist agendas. He gave an unqualified endorsement of U.N. policies knowing of their abortion promotion. He dismantled the Pontifical Academy for Life, getting rid of pro-life scholars and replacing them with known pro-aborts. Francis, the politician, only began condemning abortion on select occasions to defer criticism that he was failing to do so, and he did so in crude terms. No thoughtful sincere reflective pro-lifer condemns an aborted woman of hiring a “hitman”.

    • “…always on a path of development, but always developing in the same direction.”

      Developing in the “same direction”? Might this term–both correct and pliable–mean the bundling of current/sound moral theology within an uprooted, broader and more “inclusive” package? Code language: “synthesis?”

      Such that sound moral theology (e.g., Veritatis Splendor, the Catechism) is never denied, but becomes a benignly tolerated option (for “rigid bigots”) within a range of consequentialist and proportionalist options, all shrink-wrapped within an ethics of “pastoral” discernment no longer accountable overall to absolute moral prohibitions.

      (Under the same mindset of double-speak, the breadth of secularist gender theory includes—does not reject—the marginalized option of binary and complementary human sexuality.)

      Which is to say that the narrow path (Mt 7:13-14) to salvation is simply widened, cleverly?, such that “path of development is always [still] in the same direction.” But more lanes! The fast lanes then find an off-ramp trending not up but down and thence into the pits of hell–

      …a well-traveled road likely “paved with the bones of priests and monks…and the skulls of bishops are the lampposts that light the path” (attributed to St. John Chrysostom).

  11. The peace of Jesus. From his first public appearance on his election day, I wanted a new, faithful and honest pope, because before blessing the people of God, he asked the whom world present and watching on multimedia to be silent and to pray for him. Why? First, the popes bless the people of God, then he asks them for their prayers. I felt that something was wrong with him that first night of his election. So far, I have been right.

    • Unlike you, I thought that was beautiful. I believe no other Pope ever came to the window and asked the Church family to pray for him.

    • When he walked out in the balcony, having never seen nor even heard of him, I was surprised that I suddenly voiced 2 words, out loud in front of my family gathered together watching the TV:


      Over time, especially starting in the 2nd year of his pontificate, did the Pontiff’s words and actions begin to validate that initial sense that I was watching something terrible happening.

    • Fr Matthew you are not alone.

      I was reading Steve Skojec’s reaction and next thing you know it people were writing similar reactions. Some people probably just have a sense of evil of when they see it even when it is not obvious.

  12. This conservative take on issues forgot at least 2 things: 1. Infallibility requires acceptance by the faithful. 2. The bond of marriage comes from the intent of the couple taking the vows – not from the ritual , witnesses, or paperwork involved. The couple administer the actual sacrament. Change results from growth. Fear of change and desperate clinging to the past is not saintly but psychologically disturbed.

    • Kate: Absentminded conservatives everywhere thank you for your kind reminder. However, I think you overestimate your absent-minded-reading skills. I would also point out that the author has written a highly regarded, 300+ page book titled The Indissolubility of Marriage and the Council of Trent (CUA, 2017), so I’m sure he knows a few things about the fundamental teachings of the Catholic Church about the sacrament of holy matrimony.

    • Well said, Kate. The very religious Pharisees of our Lord’s time would have worshipped regularly in the Temple and done all the religious things but the change proclaimed by Jesus was not what they wanted or liked. Oh, the old traditional way made more sense to them, they were comfortable with it. They were scribes, theologians and, perhaps, writers, and asked: What does this man from Galilee know? Just imagine telling us that Man was not made for the Sabbath? Reach out lovingly to sinners? Sell our goods and give the money to the poor? This is not what they wanted to hear, and so they planned to get rid of him.
      It is still happening, isn’t it?

      • Yes it is still happening. We have a pope who is selling out the Church in China for lots of money and selling out the all the poor throughout the world for that matter with his acquiescence to Marxist propaganda and implementation. On the other hand he, like you, associates Catholics who act on traditional Catholic priciples of personally implementing the corporal works of mercy in their lives, based on a traditional understanding of Catholic moral obligations, as contemptable and dismissible “ideologues.”

        • Selling the Church is a huge lie created by people who hate Pope Francis. The agreement was secret, so how do they know its contents. Besides that, the Church in China needed Bishops and this agreement saw some Bishops being appointed. Besides that, Pope Francis asked the world to pray for the Chinese Catholics and placed them under the protection of our Lady.
          BTW, the agreement was the result of consultations that went on during the time JP2 and BXVI and, of course, Pope Francis.
          It is also time you acknowledge that tradition is not static; it develops.

          • So you believe tradition developes in a way that traditional Catholics who practice the Corporal Works of Mercy should give up their quaint notion that moral imperatives never change and abandon their work with the poor just because Francis insults them as “ideologues?”
            And you believe the very public surrendering of total control of the Catholic Church in China, obvious to everyone, well, excepting you and Francis, represents some sort of secret agreement than no one knows about? And that it is implicitly validated because other popes also sought negotiations? Your logic is as sound as your faith in papal idolatry.

    • Are you saying that an infallible teaching must be accepted by the faithful to actually be infallible? That is false. The faithful do not decide what teaching is acceptable. We must hold to all infallible teaching on matters of faith and morals. That too many Catholics do not agree on the Church’s teaching on contraception, does not make that teaching incorrect.

    • Ms. Grace: Your point number one is absurdly false, the sort of adolescent silliness promoted by the not very bright voices at the National Catholic Reporter. Second, God is the source of a Sacramental event. Intentionality is not enough, and people are not their own divinity. And third, the notion that desperation is involved in what you characterize as “clinging” to the past is a desperate attempt to cling to a trivialization of values rooted in changeless immutable truths, an understanding of which have never been pursued with sufficient honesty, possibly reflecting a psychological disturbance.

  13. Hey, someone get the Pope from Rome, some guy has an important “course” to teach him on papal authority. Don’t worry, it’s a short one. I mean 40 paragraphs might be long for an online diatribe, but for a theological how-to on being a Pope that lives up to some guy’s standards, it’s a bargain at twice the length.

  14. What percentage of Catholic couples DON’T use so-called “artificial” contraception? Does the Holy Spirit recommend that the Church not take money & support from the the people that do on the theory that they contaminate the Church? What even is the Church?

    • Maybe you can put aside your anti-Catholicism long enough to make an effort to learn what the Church is. And perhaps then learn enough about common sense to realize that “so-called artificial contraception” is artificial contraception. From there you might surrender the sort of adolescent logic the believes a point is made that accepting a donation from anyone with less that perfect purity is a matter that is confounding to a Church that has aways taught that everyone possesses less than perfect purity.

  15. I agree with Dr. Brugger that the teaching of the Church against contraception qualifies as an infallible judgment of the ordinary and universal magisterium. The definitive nature of this teaching, however, was not clear to many members of the so-called “birth control commission” under John XXIII and Paul VI. In fact, the majority on the commission (including some cardinals) believed a change in teaching was possible. The Holy Spirit, though, guided St. Paul VI to affirm the authentic and definitive teaching of the Church against contraception. I think we need to trust the Holy Spirit to guide Pope Francis and future popes to uphold the truth of the Church’s condemnation of contraception. After all, Pope Francis affirms the teaching of Humanae Vitae in Amoris Laetitia, no. 222.

    I agree with much of what Prof. Brugger says in his article says about magisterial authority. There are, though, some points that need clarification. At one point, he says:

    “Thus, the pope and bishops’ authority of Christ to teach ‘extends as far as is necessary for the preservation and faithful exposition of revelation’ (Lumen Gentium, 25), and no farther.”

    In this context, however, Lumen Gentium, 25, is referring to the “infallibility with which the Divine Redeemer willed His Church to be endowed in defining doctrine of faith and morals.” The authority of the pope and the bishops also extends to areas of discipline and governance as well as to pastoral judgments on contingent matters. This is clearly taught by Vatican I’s Pastor Aeternus, which states:

    “If anyone, then, shall say that the Roman Pontiff has the office merely of inspection or direction, and not the full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the Universal Church, not only in things which belong to faith and morals, but also in those which relate to the discipline and government of the Church spread throughout the world; or assert that he possesses merely the principal part, and not all the fullness of this supreme power; or that this power which he enjoys is not ordinary and immediate, both over each and all the Churches and over each and all the Pastors and the faithful; let him be anathema.” (Denz.-H, 3064).

    To say that the teaching authority of the pope and the bishops extends no farther than what “is necessary for the preservation and faithful exposition of revelation” seems to conflict with the infallible teaching of Vatican I. Some might argue that disciplinary and pastoral judgments are not “teachings” of the magisterium. Such a position, though, can undermine the need to comply with disciplinary and pastoral judgments of the magisterium.

    Dr. Brugger also needs to distinguish more clearly the primary and secondary objects of infallibility. This distinction is present in the concluding paragraphs of the 1989 Profession of Faith and further elaborated in the 1998 Doctrinal Commentary of Cardinal Ratzinger and Archbishop Bertone. This distinction can be understood as the first two levels of assent articulated in the 1989 Profession of Faith:

    Level One refers to infallible teachings requiring the assent of faith based on the authority of God’s Word (de fide credenda—being believed as of the faith). These are truths of primary objects of infallibility, which the Church, either by a solemn declaration or by the ordinary universal Magisterium, sets forth to be BELIEVED as divinely revealed: Examples are the divinity of Christ; the Immaculate Conception of Mary; the Mass as a true sacrifice; Purgatory; papal infallibility, etc.

    Level Two refers to infallible judgments or decisions requiring firm acceptance and maintenance. These magisterial judgments relate to secondary objects of infallibility and are HELD as belonging to the faith (de fide tenenda) because of the protection of the magisterium by the Holy Spirit. In other words, the Holy Spirit will not allow the magisterium to make a definitive judgment on a matter pertaining to faith and morals unless the judgment were true. Examples are the solemn canonization of saints; Pope Leo XIII’s 1896 judgment on the invalidity of Anglican ordinations; John Paul II’s 1994 definitive judgment on the inability of the Church to ordain women as priests.

    Magisterial judgments that are “definitively to be held” are not the same as those that have been set forth as divinely revealed. Dr. Brugger seems to suggest that all definitive and infallible teachings of the magisterium are to be held with “divine and Catholic faith,” and he cites canon 750 §1 of the 1983 CIC in this regard. This, though, is misleading. Definitive judgments that pertain to secondary objects of infallibility require irrevocable assent based on the infallibility of the magisterium. They don’t require the assent of faith that pertains to doctrines set forth as revealed by God (primary objects of infallibility). Instead they require the type of assent described in canon 750 §2 of the CIC which reads: “Each and every thing which is proposed definitively by the magisterium of the Church concerning the doctrine of faith and morals, that is, each and every thing which is required to safeguard reverently and to expound faithfully the same deposit of faith, is also to be firmly embraced and retained; therefore, one who rejects those propositions which are to be held definitively is opposed to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.”

    To obstinately deny or call into doubt primary objects of infallibility is heresy. To deny or call into doubt secondary objects of infallibility is not heresy but “opposition to the doctrine of the Catholic Church.”

    I know this all sounds very technical, but it’s important to understand these distinctions correctly.

    The final area of Dr. Brugger’s article that needs clarification is his understanding of Amoris Laetitia. In his article, he claims that Pope Francis teaches that: “Catholics are morally free to return to the sacraments and so full communion with the Church while choosing to remain in sexually active relationships with their new partners while their valid spouses still live. Since this implies that adultery is sometimes legitimate to engage in, Catholics should not only withhold assent from the teaching, they should reject it.”

    Prof. Brugger’s reading of what Pope Francis teaches in Amoris Laetitia is his own judgment, which is quite fallible and open to challenge. If Dr. Brugger admits that teachings of the ordinary magisterium can contain errors, then a fortiori his judgments can also be erroneous. NOWHERE in Amoris Laetitia does Pope Francis ever say that adultery is sometimes legitimate to engage in. The Holy Father is merely recognizing that sometimes those in irregular marital situations are not guilty of mortal sin because of mitigating circumstances. Discerning whether mortal sin is present is something that needs to be handled at a local level with a confessor. Mortal sin, according to Church teaching, requires not only grave matter but also full knowledge and deliberate (or complete) consent” (cf. CCC, 1858–1859). There are also cases—which have been mentioned by Cardinals Ratzinger and Müller—when there is moral certitude that the first alleged marital bond was invalid, but there is no way of proving its invalidity.

    Footnote 351 of Amoris Laetitia and the pastoral approach of Pope Francis is NOT a justification of the legitimacy of adultery. To claim that the Holy Father believes adultery is sometimes legitimate strikes me as rash judgment which is forbidden by the eighth commandment (cf. CCC, 2477–2478). Brugger also claims that Pope Francis did not have “any authority to teach that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may go to Holy Communion without going to confession and resolving to live chastely.” Pope Francis, however, never gives permission for those in mortal sin to receive Holy Communion. He simply recognizes that some of the divorced and civilly remarried are not in mortal sin because of mitigating circumstances. Discernment is needed on the local pastoral level to determine whether and when there can be access to the sacraments “while avoiding any occasion of scandal” (Amoris Laetitia, 299). There is no change in Catholic faith and morals but only a change in the pastoral approach to sacramental discipline. Prof. Brugger apparently disagrees with this pastoral approach. To suggest, though, that Pope Francis did not have any authority to change the pastoral approach to sacramental discipline seems to deny “the full and supreme power of jurisdiction” of the Roman Pontiff “not only in matters of faith and morals, but also in matters that pertain to the discipline and government of the Church throughout the whole world” (Vatican I, Pastor Aeternus, chapter 3; Denz.-H,m 3064). As such Prof. Brugger’s denial of the authority of Pope Francis over a matter of sacramental discipline risks falling under the anathema of Vatican I.

    Dr. Brugger has written some very good books on capital punishment and the indissolubility of marriage at the Council of Trent. Unfortunately, his reading of Amoris Laetitia is, I believe, misguided and mistaken. Those who wish to understand Pope Francis’s exhortation in a proper and orthodox sense should read Dr. Pedro Gabriel’s book, The Orthodoxy of Amoris Laetitia, which bears the imprimatur of Mons. António Coelho de Olivereia, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Porto, Portugal.

    We need to be very careful when telling Catholics that they should reject teachings of the Holy Father. It is far more likely that those who call for such rejection are in error than the Roman Pontiff.

    • Would like to hear clarification on whether “full and supreme power of jurisdiction over the Universal Church” guarantees that decisions arrived at under this undisputed supreme power will be wise or even correct, and whether it is either wise or correct to invent the new middle-ground category of “irregular” marital situations…silent response to the dupia does not help, especially after nine years.

        • Not dubious at all. The questions were not just valid, they are vital. And they have been ignored. As I wrote back in November 2016:

          The bottom line, for me, is this: if the ambiguities and problems with chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia can be clarified in accord with Veritatis Splendor, what really was the point of the past three years? Why wasn’t the Apostolic Exhortation more clear and precise from the start? Was it a failure of competence? Or something else?

          But if these questions and concerns are finally addressed and clarified in a way contrary to Veritatis Splendor, what then? At the very least, we will be in deep and troubled waters, for it would mark a break with the Church’s perennial teaching on bedrock moral truths. And, that being the case, if an Apostolic Exhortation written in 2016 can take magisterial precedence over an Encyclical written in 1993, what other teachings of the Church might be up for a less rigid, less black-and-white “evolution” (to borrow from Cardinal Schoenborn)? Contrary to the opinion of Cardinal Tobin, “reducing” this to a dubium is not “naive”, but quite necessary. After all, we aren’t in this situation because of the four cardinals.

          Your ultramontanist yammering is embarrassing.

          • My “ultramontanist yammering”? A real protestant-type statement. No, my so-called “yammering” is actually a faithful Roman Catholic’s response to the anti-Pope Francis views often displayed here.

            I would like to make it abundantly clear that I do not believe, and never have believed, that a pope’s non-ex cathedra statements are infallible. For instance, I do not believe that man-made CO2 is responsible for climate change. I do, however, believe that pollution does have serious consequences. So, though I disagree with our Pope on one issue, I agree with him on the other. But these are not matters of faith.

            Carl, in that article you wrote: “for it would mark a break with the Church’s perennial teaching on bedrock moral truths.” What is precisely that you are complaining about here? What is this grave break you mentioned? It would be nice to know.

          • Spot on, Carl. We are in these messed up situations because of the ongoing modus operandi of the Holy Father and his assistants who frequently engage in language manipulation, sloppiness, intentional ambiguity, and so on in order to introduce problematic ideas that seek to undermine some elements of traditional orthodoxy while pretending to be just another development of orthodox teaching, which is, of course, pure balderdash Modernism.

            As I hinted at in another comment, language manipulation was a favorite tactic of Jesuit hero Karl Rahner in his efforts to change orthodoxy while still appearing to be orthodox. The great Cardinal Siri, in his most learned 1981 book, “Gethsemane,” shines a discerning light on Rahner (and others) and his disingenuous use of language to undermine traditional Church teaching, and in one reference to Rahner’s highly problematic approach to the Incarnation and Creation, Siri astutely and acutely dissects the language manipulation game of Rahner in pointing out that “in his [Rahner’s] interminable linguistic acrobatics he voices the most improbable and contradictory definitions, but without ever clearly teaching the doctrine of the Church on the Incarnation or the Creation.”

            In recent years we have witnessed the Rahnerian “linguistic acrobatics” approach on steroids, only this time it is even more dangerous to the Faith because it emanates from the highest office of the Church. Making matters worse, of course, are the heretical ultramontanists and their fellow travelers who become bedazzled by the ambiguity of the Holy Father. Coupled with their heretical misunderstanding of Papal authority and infallibility in opposition to definitive Church teaching on these things that clearly explains how faithful Catholics are to understand the power of the Keys and the Binding and Loosing that goes with them, they wrongly assume and promote the absurd notion that the employment of such twisted language by the Pope is necessary to express deeper insights that somehow just can’t be conveyed by the use of clear and orthodox terminology used by the most faithful, intelligent, insightful, and honorable leaders of the Church throughout Church history.

            Nevertheless, despite the knuckle-headed view that ambiguity and heterodox expression is a sign of wisdom that makes the documents appear to these star-struck papal groupies as “beautiful and pastoral and orthodox,” what invariably and hypocritically follows in due course is the march of the spin doctors who try to “educate” the presumed troglodytes that “even though the Holy Father said one thing that is or appears to be in opposition to Church doctrine, we will show you how you can read into his statements things that aren’t really there so you can pull the new and improved orthodoxy out of them.” It’s a great magic trick, and again the ultramontanists and fellow travelers are reinforced in their brain-numbed admiration of the mess and chaos brought about primarily by the one who believes that messes and chaos are great things despite the obvious and completely Unnecessary Harm that such things cause the Lord’s Church.

        • Posing questions in the form of “Dubia” is a mark of Christian reasoning, behavior and integrity by Catholic Bishops who imitate the Good Shepherd.

          Ignoring “Dubia” is a manifest contempt for Christian reason and integrity.

          It’s contempt similar to ignoring the pleas of abuse victims and families, or ignoring Cardinal Zen and refusing to even meet him.

          • Since there was no Reply button for you MAL, I’ll tag my summary Dubia question to you here for you to answer if you believe Francis has been perfectly clear: Are there any exceptionless norms to the negative precepts of the natural law? And has Francis ever answered this question at any time in any context?

          • Edward, sinful acts are always sinful acts. The Church understands and teaches that. But, the Church deals with people because it is a human organization having a spiritual foundation. The adulteress, who was brought to Jesus by the religious people, has sinned. All who were there, including Jesus, recognized this fact. Judging merely by face value and their black and white acceptance of the laws, the religious condemned her. Though Jesus acknowledged the sinful act, he did not condemn her. Our Lord’s assessment or judgement was different. Jesus had the ability to see the bigger picture, whether it be the circumstances that governed her life or those deep within her soul, and so came up with the decision not to condemn her.
            The sinful act was not condoned, but the person who committed it was. External circumstances or personal situations cannot be ignored.

          • Yes, Mal, and why do you suppose that the response was finally written, six years later, by Emeritus (!) Pope Benedict rather than by Pope Francis? What is on Pope Francis’ mind? Or, are we to believe that there are two popes?

          • Peter, there was nothing that really needed clarification. TBenedict was merely responding to questions put to him.

          • Yet again MAL a no reply button forces a reply here. I did not need your condescending lecture that avoiding the quesiton I posed. Everyone knows about the forgiveness of Christ, and everyone knows about degrees of culpability in would be sinful actions. That is not the sort ot questions related to the Dubia. Got it? The problem with AL is that it promoted an absolutist position on moral subjectivive decision making. Got it? It justified a silly relativist abuse of “discernment” to justify sin on a conscious level, not the sort of unconscious lack of awareness where someone might have diminished culpability. Therefore the Dubia justly and directly challenges the reasoning of AL by asking if Francis can bring himself to acknowledge whether he can identify any exceptionless norms to the negative precepts of the natural law. Not a hard question. For the sake of God’s Church, we are owed an answer. Horrible damage is done to the victims of sin by a refusal to answer. Francis can’t answer because his theology is not in accord with Catholic theology, and neither is that of his willfully blind supporters, and all will be accountable before God.

        • No, your “yammering” is that of a papolator and Protestant caricature of what a Catholic is supposed to be and believe.

        • If the finish is dubious to you then you have no idea how the church works when it comes to theological disputes. But you did say that you were not really much of a Catholic before Francis came. Now he’s made you even less so.

        • Mal:

          This is in response the below captioned comment you made on Saturday 7:37 pm, which can only be understood as an unserious comment, to wit: “There was a beautiful response by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. If you are truly interested, you will find it here….”

          A. It is unserious to assert a defense of the silence and contempt of the Pontiff Francis, by offering a “non sequitor” in the form of a link to an article showing how a variety of statements cobbled together from the previous Pontiff might have shown how Pope Benedict would have answered the Dubia (which were sent privately to the Pontiff Francis in Sep 2016).

          B. It is likewise unserious in your first remark (on Friday 5 Aug) to have outright dismissed the 2016 Dubia as “dubious,” and then turn around in a second remark, on the very next day, and claim that you somehow appreciate the beauty of how Pope Benedict’s words each how to answer the Dubia, a statement which implies (though it seems to have escaped your notice) that the Dubia questions themselves are likewise wholesome and beautiful, which of course they are (despite that fact also not having made an impression upon you).

          C. It is also unserious of you to suggest that someone like myself, simply by contending with you, am somehow “not interested in the truth,” and to imply that by contrast that you yourself are “obviously” interested in the truth.

          Your response underscores my point:
          1. the Pontiff Francis has shown silence and contempt for the Dubia and the Cardinals who wrote them, having ignored them for 7 months after having them hand-delivered to him in Sep 2016, and having subsequently refused these Cardinals an audience (just as he refused Cardinal Zen’s request for an audience on the secret China accord, and as he likewise refused an audience with the victims abused by his friend Rev. Julio Grassi of Argentina).

          2. Sep 2022 will mark 6 years of contemptuous silence by the Pontiff Francis on the Dubia questions, which you have subsequently and unintentionally endorsed as important, and worthy of an answer, in light of your link to Ms. Mitchell’s essay, which should be understood only as a commendation of Pope Benedict XVI, and thus having been written in the 6th year of the reign of the Pontiff Francis, and the 3rd year of his silence, can only be understood as a rebuke of the Pontiff Francis.

          • All above. It is all based on Thomist morality.
            Pope Francis explained it like this. “St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure affirm that the general principle holds for all but — they say it explicitly — as one moves to the particular, the question becomes diversified and many nuances arise without changing the principle,” he had said. It is a method that was used for the Catechism of the Catholic Church and “Amoris Laetitia,”

          • Excellent, Mal. This is precisely the point…

            The Catechism and Amoris Laetitia are on the same page in the sense that the Catechism identifies the moral goal posts, and Amoris Laetitia acknowledges the same goal posts as generalities—but then “moves to the particular” by mounting these goal posts on skateboards.

            It was this alchemist’s magic trick which St. Pope John Paul II clarified (!) in Veritatis Splendor:

            “Each of us knows how important is the teaching which represents the central theme of this encyclical and which today is being restated with the authority of the Successor of Peter. Each of us can see the seriousness of what is involved, not only for individuals but also for the whole of society, with the REAFFIRMATION OF THE UNIVERSALITY AND IMMUTABILITY OF THE MORAL COMMANDMENTS [italics], particularly those which prohibit always and without exception [!] INTRINSICALLY EVIL ACTS [italics]” (n. 115).

            The new paradigm-shift Magisterium patterns itself after the fictional “Pirates of the Caribbean,” where the pirate-villain Hector Barbossa asserts that even the steadfast (“rigid”?) “[Pirates’] code is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”

        • Hmmm, cute but no.
          Absolutely nothing dubious about the questions asked by four princes of the Church who had faithfully served the two previous pontiffs in positions of great responsibility.
          They are serious men asking serious questions about serious issues.
          The bishop of Rome ignores the Dubai because he is only a shadow of his predecessors, unwilling to engage honestly with the superior intellects of these, now only two, Cardinals.

    • Fastiggi: “Those who wish to understand Pope Francis’s exhortation in a proper and orthodox sense should read Dr. Pedro Gabriel’s book, The Orthodoxy of Amoris Laetitia…”

      LOL. Once again the Pope requires another moderately clever lapdog to recast and reinterpret his statements in order to make him and his statements appear to be more orthodox (and Fastiggi thinks this is just fine; can’t have the Pope or his ghost writers do this in the actual documents to really benefit the faithful, can we?), because too many official documents under the Pope’s name that are provided to the faithful are frequently unreliable, ambiguous at best, and often so sloppy that “misinterpretations” are too easy to be made even by the wisest of solidly orthodox Catholic theologians, let alone the typical person in the pew.

      In other words, don’t rely on the all-too-often muddle-headed Francis and/or his ghost writers to do anything more than provide ambiguity instead of clarity as befits truly faithful teachers of the Faith. But don’t worry. Soon enough, somebody else will come along to tell us “what the Pope really wrote,” and you, too, will be able to understand this in a “proper and orthodox sense” under this person’s ‘enlightened reinterpretation.’ Learning from this ‘gift of enlightenment,’ you should then always interpret whatever the Pope writes in a “proper and orthodox sense” so that even if he were to write that 2 plus 2 = 5, you will know that he really means 2 plus 2 = 4 after all. He may in fact one day write that 2 plus 2 = 5 just to make a mess and see if you are paying attention to his brilliant insights that are hidden in many of his declarations. Quite exciting stuff indeed, and even a game show based on discovering the hidden meanings in his writings is now in the works with the tentative title of “Dubia – The Pope Wrote What?”

      All kidding aside, it is downright shameful that Pope Francis, holding the highest teaching position in the world, can’t teach hardly anything without needing it to be “clarified” because he lacks the ability and/or desire to write with greater clarity and unequivocal orthodoxy he owes to the faithful as the Vicar of Christ. No wonder he rejects this title. The responsibility that goes with it is too demanding, but he loves the power of the post nevertheless.

      Perhaps after everything he “writes,” from now on, there should be a statement at the end that reads something along the following lines:

      ‘Thank you for reading this document by the Holy Father. Now, in order to reinterpret and better understand what he has set forth in a more orthodox light, pick up a copy of ……….. by Dr……..’

      • Dear DV,

        Thank you for your observations. Any text is capable of being misrepresented or misinterpreted, including the Bible. If Sacred Scripture is so clear, why has the magisterium needed to clarify the meaning of various texts over the centuries?

        When Amoris Laetitia came out in 2016, I was asked to do a radio interview on the exhortation. I remember the document was released on a Friday, and my interview was the following Monday. I, therefore, read through the entire exhortation from beginning to end that weekend. I thought Amoris Laetitia was beautiful, pastoral, and orthodox. My understanding of the exhortation has not changed from my initial reading. Pedro Gabriel’s book seeks to respond to those who have misrepresented and misinterpreted the document since its release. His book can be found here:https://www.amazon.com/s?k=the+orthodoxy+of+amoris+laetitia&i=stripbooks&crid=H58SF7I3X574&sprefix=the+orthodoxy+of+amoris+laetitia%2Cstripbooks%2C86&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

        It carries the imprimatur of Mons. Antonio Coehlho de Oliveira, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Porto, Portugal. Before calling Dr. Gabriel a “lapdog” you should read his book.

        Dr. Gabriel and I agree with what Cardinal Gerhard Müller said in an interview published in the Italian journal, Il Timone, in February 2017: “It is not Amoris laetitia that has provoked a confused interpretation, but some confused interpreters of it” (Non è “Amoris laetitia” che ha provocato una confusa interpretazione, ma alcuni confusi interpreti di essa). Should we consider Cardinal Müller a “lapdog”?

        • So if Francis is so orthodox in AL, perhaps you can explain the moral justification he creates for a man deciding it is perfectly fine to “discern” that his “complex circumstances” allows him to abandon his wife and children to run away with his mistress and start a new family and tell himself that this is what God is asking him to do at this time and be perfectly certain he is not being a phony self-serving buffoon and that anyone who believes that this senario is morally justifiable is also not being a phony buffoon and anyone who promotes this senario as a moral teacher and head of a Church is not also being a glory seeking, pandering to popular cynicism, phony buffoon?

        • And thank you, Robert. See my responses below to each of the statements you made in replying to me.

          RLF: Dear DV,
          Thank you for your observations. Any text is capable of being misrepresented or misinterpreted, including the Bible. If Sacred Scripture is so clear, why has the magisterium needed to clarify the meaning of various texts over the centuries?

          DV: Really, Robert? Where have I stated anywhere that Sacred Scripture is, in your words, “so clear”? Nowhere, of course, so this is a bit of a red herring on your part to move away from the primary problem with much of Pope Francis’ writings and statements that lack clarity and cause problems that would not require others to come forward if he would write with greater clarity one should be able to expect from the highest teacher in the world. His ambiguity and sloppiness are not necessary to convey deeper insights, yet that is his frequent modus operandi that you apparently support. Regarding your red herring faux argument, once the Magisterium has clarified Sacred Scripture, does it continually write new things that add ambiguity to what it has already written about Sacred Scripture, or has it indeed continued to write with greater clarity so as to avoid ongoing misinterpretations or the need for somebody outside the Magisterium to come forward to further clarify what the Magisterium really meant?

          RLF: When Amoris Laetitia came out in 2016, I was asked to do a radio interview on the exhortation. I remember the document was released on a Friday, and my interview was the following Monday. I, therefore, read through the entire exhortation from beginning to end that weekend. I thought Amoris Laetitia was beautiful, pastoral, and orthodox. My understanding of the exhortation has not changed from my initial reading. Pedro Gabriel’s book seeks to respond to those who have misrepresented and misinterpreted the document since its release. His book can be found here:https://www.amazon.com/s?k=the+orthodoxy+of+amoris+laetitia&i=stripbooks&crid=H58SF7I3X574&sprefix=the+orthodoxy+of+amoris+laetitia%2Cstripbooks%2C86&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

          DV: Others with solid Catholic understanding and credentials similar to or even more impressive than your own did not and do not see it the way you and Pedro Gabriel do. Indeed, the insightful moral theologian Dr. Brugger observes more of the problems with the text than you and others do, and I believe his assessment is on target despite Pedro Gabriel’s spin and your take on the text. I hope that Carl Olson will arrange for Dr. Brugger to respond to your criticism of his article, because he may very well point out that what you accuse him of doing may actually be more applicable to you and your critique of his position and his reading of Amoris Laetitia. We shall see.

          RLF: It carries the imprimatur of Mons. Antonio Coehlho de Oliveira, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Porto, Portugal. Before calling Dr. Gabriel a “lapdog” you should read his book.

          DV: This is too funny. Of course Gabriel’s book carries an imprimatur. After all, he recast and/or interpreted the Pope’s writing in an orthodox way as a good lapdog does whose master is incapable of or unwilling to do so himself. If the Pope would write with greater clarity and better recognized orthodoxy as his extremely insightful predecessors Pope St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI did in faithfully fulfilling the teaching mission of the Holy Father, he would avoid the need for lapdogs and fellow travelers and others to come to his aid, but either he cannot do this or he refuses to write things that are less capable of misinterpretation, and so lapdogs like Gabriel come to the rescue.

          RLF: Dr. Gabriel and I agree with what Cardinal Gerhard Müller said in an interview published in the Italian journal, Il Timone, in February 2017: “It is not Amoris laetitia that has provoked a confused interpretation, but some confused interpreters of it” (Non è “Amoris laetitia” che ha provocato una confusa interpretazione, ma alcuni confusi interpreti di essa). Should we consider Cardinal Müller a “lapdog”?

          DV: Absolutely. To the extent that Cardinal Müller also ignores the problems with the text in order to claim that many have simply misinterpreted it, then in this respect he is imitating the ways of the lapdog coming to the aid of his master who, again, could avoid the need of anyone having to act like press secretaries engaged in damage control to tell others that the Pope really declared 2 plus 2 = 4 even though he actually wrote that 2 plus 2 = something that may or may not be 4.

          Of course we also have the unanswered Dubia presented by the 4 Cardinals who also found some things quite problematic in Amoris Laetitia. Using a bit of your rhetorical style, let me ask you this: if the document was so completely orthodox and without any ambiguity or problems in and of itself upon its release, then why didn’t the Holy Father in good faith respond to the Dubia? Perhaps he wrote to them secretly: “See Pedro Gabriel’s book in……only 6 more years. I don’t have time to address your legitimate concerns that could actually help the faithful, but Pedro will take care of it soon enough.”

          P.S. I see that you included your middle initial “L” in your reply. It can’t be what I think it stands for, can it?” Just kidding. 🙂

          • Dear DV,

            My middle initial “L” stands for Louis. I could respond to your other points, but I choose not to. I think Titus 3:9 applies.

            Oremus pro invicem.

          • Robert Fastiggi
            AUGUST 7, 2022 AT 10:20 AM
            Dear DV,

            My middle initial “L” stands for Louis. I could respond to your other points, but I choose not to. I think Titus 3:9 applies.

            Oremus pro invicem.


            Thanks again, Robert, and also good of you to admit that many of your comments are better left alone as Titus 3:9 certainly applies to them.

            However, when it comes to responding to my “other points,” perhaps you can get Pedro Gabriel to do this for you. I hear he’s pretty good at spinning things on behalf of others. 🙂

            Magna est veritas et praevalebit

          • DV and RLF,
            Yes and no. First, Titus 3:9 speaks to “foolish” controversies, while this counsel leaves untouched those contentions which are not foolish. Touche.

            But, then, I certainly agree that Cardinal Muller is not a “lapdog” to the Francis clique. Instead, he is a rare statesman and unambiguous leader who, in his Muller Report and in defense of a besieged Church, very capably explains that a pattern of ambiguity can and should be interpreted in an orthodox light, regardless of intended novelties and wayward synods.

            Looking ahead, at the next conclave might there be a deadlock and the need for a compromise candidate, if enough of the Francis appointees are successfully guided by the Holy Spirit to reject the gangrenous heresies that now infect the “field hospital” Church, in the West.

            The worthy compromise candidate could be one of Muller’s exceptional qualifications and personal character, solidly faithful to the perennial Catholic Church, and who has prudently and charitably, and even mercifully (!) refrained from poking sharp sticks at the pygmies now presuming to navigate the Barque of Peter. A diplomat who is not a politician and a worthy first choice.

            As for the trads branded as “Pharisees,” how much of this caricature is the result of superficial thinking, and a slander and a violation of the Eighth Commandment? Debating with such possible slanderers (if not simply Titus’ “foolish”) is like trying to convince Pavlov’s dogs to stop salivating whenever someone rings their bell.

            A family squabble, amidst rich yammering; so are we having fun yet?

        • We read: “It carries the imprimatur of Mons. Antonio Coehlho de Oliveira, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Porto, Portugal.”

          Possibly relevant to this point, are the many defective local catechisms of the late 20th century, which also carried the imprimatur. The imprimatur assures that the book includes no violations of the Faith…
          It is no assurance against strategic omissions. I also recall a seminary textbook (I was not a seminarian) which affirmed that the Holy Eucharist is a symbol of Christ’s real presence (which is true), but which then carefully avoided adding that the Eucharist also IS that which it symbolizes. So, both an imprimatur and a deception, I think the author was Schillebeeckx.

          • Your post above this one brings clarity and concordance. I reply here because there is no way to answer you on that post!

            What an astounding God we serve. The gift of precious Son to save us and His Holy Spirit to sanctify us.
            God working within us to will and to do.

            Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God.


          • P. Beaulieu on Cardinal Müller engaged in his own spinning of texts to make them appear more orthodox:

            “[Cardinal Müller] is a rare statesman and unambiguous leader who, in his Muller Report and in defense of a besieged Church, very capably explains that a pattern of ambiguity can and should be interpreted in an orthodox light, regardless of intended novelties and wayward synods.”

            Wow! What a remarkable approach in support of Cardinal Müller that amounts to this: Whenever the Pope screws up as he is wont to do (aka patterns of ambiguity, etc.), follow the lead of Cardinal Müller and others and just ignore what the Pope has actually written that could cause many problems. Instead, gaslight others by interpreting what the Pope writes in as orthodox a manner as possible, and don’t worry about telling the truth about what he really wrote and the deleterious impact his actual words and intentions may have on the faithful. After all, who really cares about objective truth these days, right? The narrative of “my truth” is king.

            Once again, all of the spinning, recasting, and so on and so on wouldn’t be necessary if the Pope simply did his job with the kind of clarity of expression he owes to Jesus and the faithful. His Rahnerian kind of ambiguity does not contain hidden gems of theological insight as gullible fan boys and girls pretend to see, but they too often contain views that are or appear to be heterodox at worst and problematic at best; hence the strained efforts by others to interpret them in as orthodox a manner as possible. What we are ‘treated’ to time and time again is the absurdity of “there he (Pope Francis) goes again introducing yet more ambiguity and incoherence when clarity is required. Time to call in the orthodox cleaners to try to clean up another one of his messes yet again.”

            I have a better idea for consideration: Instead of attempting to interpret what the Pope actually writes in an orthodox manner when such are very problematic, how about good people like Cardinal Müller introduce a truly solid novelty wherein they point out the problems with the Pope’s statements in various documents and advise him/his assistants to edit the documents instead of letting the documents stand with the problematic phrases? Imagine something like “Amoris Laetitia, Revised Edition,” that carries with it an Imprimatur and introduction by the Holy Father himself thanking others for their Christ-like assistance to make sure he employs words that are properly understood by the faithful instead of some of the words used in the first edition that are indeed problematic and no longer to be followed. If the Holy Father really means to be orthodox as many of his defenders claim, he should welcome the opportunity to revise any and all documents with objectively clarifying terminology that cannot be so easily interpreted as expressing any unorthodox and/or heterodox views.

            Of course we already know the Pope’s attitude about making any kind of helpful corrections. His dereliction of duty to faithfully and charitably respond to the four Cardinals of the Dubia (as they have been so identified) illustrates that he actually prefers ambiguity and multiple interpretations to persist regardless of how they may be received by the faithful. Nobody of good will wants this to be the case, but pretending that the emperor is fully dressed with new clothes of opaque orthodoxy proudly deemed by some to perhaps be too difficult for many followers of Christ to recognize when such is not even close to being true doesn’t help the Church that must always teach the truth with as much clarity as possible.

      • I trust much more a half dozen of my colleagues at Franciscan University, ALL of whom have the same negative appraisal of Amoris Laetitia.

        • Perhaps, they changed their tune a short while later when a busload of its students travelled to be with this Pope. On their website we read:
          “Just being in the same city as Pope Francis is a blessing,” said Zach Willi, a graduate philosophy student from Peoria, Illinois.”
          Beginning near one of the 40 Jumbotrons scattered throughout the venue, the papal parade brought the crowd of an estimated 860,000 people to their feet. The students joined in welcoming the pope with cries of “Papa Francisco!”

          • Just curious, but did all this take place before or after this pope met privately with James Martin, SCH?

      • The only thing worst than “Papal Lapdogs” is vicious radtrads who cannot help but hate on the Pope and mock their brothers. Geez & ye wonder why Trads have such a lousy reputation as bitter Pharisees? The Holy Father uses a lot of ambiguous language which is less than helpful and can be interpreted in a heterodox manner. That is on him.

        However if ye want to bang others for interpreting his words in harmony with Tradition then ye might as well slag off Cardinal Muller who in THE MULLER REPORT did just that.

        So is he a lap dog now? Also if ye read Austin Ruse’s article on this very website he rwrites about angry Catholics who anger lead them OUT OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. One lad the ex-gay man joined the anti–Catholic Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia and the other is now an Agnostic.

        Just so you know. So enough of the mockery. Also criticism of Pope Francis these days is just but you lot add to that stories ye make up. That doesn’t help now does it?

        • Did you even bother to proofread your comment before posting it? Maybe you should consider holding your tongue until you learn proper grammar. As an adult, it is important to know how to spell if you want anyone to take your opinions seriously.

      • ‘It is downright shameful that Pope Francis, holding the highest teaching position in the world, can’t teach hardly anything without needing it to be “clarified” because he lacks the ability and/or desire to write with greater clarity and unequivocal orthodoxy he owes to the faithful as the Vicar of Christ.”

        You captured so well one of the many problems with Francis

        • On the contrary, Pope Francis has been an excellent teacher. Yes, he has his unique South American way of expressing his views, but the views are truly Catholic.

          • I’ll ask you for the seventeenth time MAL. A question you keep ducking. How is it “Catholic” to justify a man abandoning his family to run away with his mistress as Francis has clearly indicated it can be?

          • Edward, I believe that Pope Francis would care more about the wife and family that have been stranded by this useless man. He knew many such families.

          • MAL: Again the missing reply button requires my response here. So you think Francis would disapprove of a man abandoning his first family? Think again. This is the crux of the blatant moral relativism of AL, the fact that he most emphatically DOES NOT. He very specifically, to borrow from your own blatant heretical comment above, promotes complete subjectivity with his abuse of the term discernment, to which he adds the notion that because there are derivative specifics of a given principle, it is acceptable to bypass the principle by violating the principle. Francis very clearly indicated in AL that pursuing second marriages after abandoning a first marriage was perfectly fine if that is what someone judges that that is what God is asking of them. No allowance is made at all for phony sinful self-deception.

  16. If one has to make so many caveats to make sense of a Pope and his teachings/pronouncements, then it does force one to ask what’s the point of the institution of the Papacy? It seems Catholics on the left and right just spend their time trying to figure out how not to listen to the Pope. The whole thing becomes silly at a certain point.

    BTW can anyone explain to me why it took an ecumenical council to declare the Pope’s infallibility? How does it make sense that the infallibility of this teaching rests on an ecumenical council’s authority and infallibility and not the papacy in and of itself? It seems to me that an ecumenical council is the highest teaching authority in the Church as even papal claims rest upon them. Maybe the Orthodox have a point.

  17. and thereby becoming even more responsible for the damnation of even more Catholic souls while helping to continue the ruination of even more marriages.

  18. Infallibility must be based on fact and truth before it is acceptable. Fertilisation of an ovum and conception (implantation in a mother’s womb) are clearly defined, independent and entirely different physiological truths which occur some 6 or 7 days apart. Fertilisation, while representing an identifiable human cell bestows potential for human life as a human being – something which is not inevitable.In fact, many fertilised ova never progress to conception by implantation in a mother’s womb. Conception, on the other hand, represents the implantation of an ovum in a human mother’s womb and under normal circumstances will inevitably develop into independent, fully human life. The implications of preventing these events are different – preventing fertilisation removing the potential for human life and preventing conception removing inevitable, true human life in its earliest form. Thus the morality applying to preventing these different processes must of necessity also be different. The prevention of conception would seem to be of greater gravity than the prevention of fertilisation and on a par with destruction of an already implanted ovum in a mother’s womb (abortion). It may be that to practise anti-fertilisation is morally sound in some cases where the parents cannot provide the greater moral obligation as custodians of the moral and/or temporal well-being of any and every child they produce.

    • If the parents were not in a position to reproduce, why are they engaging in the one act designed by God for that very reason?
      Bonding? Mutual love support? Good of the spouses? Then try pickle-ball, hiking the Appalachian Trail, or Bridge. There are many, many other ways to emotional bond with one’s spouse.

      • So I guess it is safe to assume that you have never eaten dessert after a meal given God gave us food to survive, and we clearly don’t need dessert to survive…
        And the fact that folks can orgasm without creating an embryo every time suggests that God may have designed sex to be more than fetus production…
        (I apologize if you were being facetious or sarcastic–but judging from many of the post here, you may not be…)

        • Facetious no; living with reality yes.
          Contracpetion fails. Not always, maybe not even that often, but fail it does, enough so that if a teen girl/women wants to use Accutane (Isotretinoin), she must sign the iPledge form stating she will not get pregnant. Avoidance if sex is preferred, but if not then TWO forms of contracpetion are to be used. Even boys/men must sign their own version of the form committing to pregnancy prevention while on this medication.
          And a good many abortions are due to contraceptive failure (so says Guttmacher/PP): https://www.guttmacher.org/news-release/2018/about-half-us-abortion-patients-report-using-contraception-month-they-became
          So, no. I’m not joking here: don’t want a baby, just can’t have a baby, pregnancy complication risk is too high, whatever the reason: if a baby is the last thing a couple wants or needs or desires or whatever, then they should not be engaging in that very behavior God designed and ordained for baby making.
          Sure, yeah, sex is great fun and orgasm is wonderful. (Heck, that can happen in a dream state–no sex needed. A God-given bonus!). And no, a couple does not need to actually want to have a baby after a night of drinking and dancing and canoodling. But if “the parents cannot provide the greater moral obligation as custodians of the moral and/or temporal well-being of any and every child they produce,” then they need to abstain.

          • Well gosh Kathryn, it appears we have two very different relationships with Our Dear Lord. God bless!

    • j. frawley:

      All statements and teachings officially declared to be and/or recognized as infallible by the Church are definitively true and are to be accepted by all of the faithful. As such, your very first statement appears to suggest that some kind of additional test is needed before the statements and teachings are to be accepted, and your erroneous claims regarding fertilization and conception and implantation that follow further illustrate that you do not accept some infallible statements because you do not believe they pass your subjective test of what constitutes “fact and truth.”

      Next, in opposition to your false claim of… “Fertilisation, while representing an identifiable human cell bestows potential for human life as a human being – something which is not inevitable,”… many serious defenders of human life have objectively demonstrated the silliness of the “potential life” claim you set forth, and among these serious defenders of human life, the wise Dr. Maureen Condic has engaged in detailed studies of when human life begins, and her objective scientific conclusion is the following:

      “The conclusion that human life begins at sperm-egg fusion is uncontested, objective, based on the universally accepted scientific method of distinguishing different cell types from each other and on ample scientific evidence (thousands of independent, peer-reviewed publications). Moreover, it is entirely independent of any specific ethical, moral, political, or religious view of human life or of human embryos. Indeed, this definition does not directly address the central ethical question surrounding the embryo: What value ought society place on human life at the earliest stages of development? A neutral examination of the evidence merely establishes the onset of a new human life at a scientifically well-defined “moment of conception,” a conclusion that unequivocally indicates that human embryos from the one-cell stage forward are indeed living individuals of the human species; i.e., human beings.” (See “A Scientific View of When Life Begins” by Dr. Maureen Condic. June, 2014).

      Dr. Condic does not fall into the absurdity of the anti-scientific “potential life” at fertilization nonsense, and she also correctly recognizes that fertilization is the first moment of conception based on objective scientific evidence. Conception does not take place a week or so later at implantation as you wrongly and unscientifically assert.

      Now, since you get the fundamentals of infallibility, conception/fertilization, and implantation wrong from the get-go, the remainder of your suggestions regarding the morality of certain actions related to such are also wrong, misleading, and harmful, and could easily led to the destruction of more innocent human beings in the womb. In short, your would-be teaching is not only scientifically wrong, it’s also immoral.

    • Conception is not implantation. According to biology, conception is when an ovum is fertilized by a sperm in the Fallopian tube. If the embryo were to implant there, it would be an ectopic pregnancy and a disaster for both mother and child. And since fertilization creates a new person with a unique DNA, trying to artificially separate it from conception by claiming that implantation is necessary for a “true life” to happen seems remarkably confusing. It also certainly doesn’t justify contraception. As Kathryn noted, there are plenty of ways to bond that do not involve sexual intercourse if a couple wants to space their children. Being open to life and not withholding an essential part of oneself (fertility) is what the Catholic Church requires of married couples. Going down the other path leads to selfishness and a coarsening of the relationship, sometimes ending in infidelity. Pope St. Paul VI prophesied much human misery from widespread contraception use in Humanae Vitae that has already come true.

  19. I’m just wondering if they’re still room to have a genuine relationship with God given so many folks have stated they know what God wants. I personally value my relationship and communication with God and will take it from there. God bless!

  20. I am again dismayed by the dismissive attitude towards Pope Francis’ guidance which seems most Christ like. Jesus took care of the people’s earthly needs as well as spiritual, unlike so many churchmen who expect tithing to enrich their lives while the poor can suffer until they reach the next life. Watching men of the Church gather with wealthy and powerful people who cheat in business and make life harder for others is no different than reliving the Middle Ages with the Medicis. I was raised thinking Mary of Magdela was a prostitute, all because some churchmen didn’t want to acknowledge her as a good woman with a close relationship like the Apostles. A woman was too threatening. As sung in the musical Carousel,’There’s nothing so bad for a woman as a man who thinks he’s good.’ Jesus saved the woman from stoning by asking who without sin would throw the first stone, and then told her to sin no more. I have friends who have been divorced by spouses who were cheating. Some got annulments others had uncooperative exes, and most remarried. We live longer lives nowadays and spending half alone because your ex cheated and divorced you is not productive or realistic, especially financially for a woman. But again churchmen don’t have to think about those things. Then there are those infertile couples who know their love making is not creating life, are they supposed to stop? All the black and white laws made by our churchmen that don’t even follow from Judaism can seem capricious, then adding terms of when proclamations are guided by the Holy Spirit for extra measure. I never understood why people would leave the one holy apostolic church to start their own version, but the more I see and listen to some of the things coming out of the mouths of some of these men of God I worry about the Inquisition. My 72 years as a Catholic including 36 teaching in a Catholic school could not prepare me for the rancor of far right conservatives toward this holy man leading our Church in a world burning with wildfires and temperatures up to 124°, flooding, wars, and indiscriminate cruelty because of religious or racial tribalism. Blessed are the peacemakers, yet he is derided for trying to bring people together. We are caretakers of creation, but island nations are disappearing and their people becoming refugees, desertification across Africa is expanding making more refugees of the populations that did not cause climate change, yet Christian Nationalism or fascism is taking root in our country and in Europe although it has nothing in common with Christ. And some disagree with the Pope for thinking climate change is a topic that affects his flock. Are we stewards or not? Is our church still hiding from science, like 1 of every 1,000 babies is born intersexed? That includes those who have mismatched external and internal sexual organs, or missing internal organs. Brain researchers have linked hormones from the mother bathing the fetus at various stages of development to the gendered brain. So when parents decide to have surgery on their infant with both genitals they may choose the wrong one for their brain, accounting for children who want to change gender, or adults who cross dress, or even homosexuality. And there is evidence of brain and genital opposition in others leading to the same sexual ‘confusion.’ Since we’re told that God doesn’t make mistakes that can only mean that like any other genetic/hormonal condition we humans are born with, we must adapt to survive. Are some churchmen still thinking in terms of punishing people like Galileo if they won’t conform to Church teaching? I had to convince a parent that it was okay to say the universe wasn’t created in six (earth) days, by reminding her that days are different on each planet just in our solar system, so we don’t know how long is one of God’s days. (I also remember John XXIII and John Paul for their love of the Church.)

    • Susan,
      There is much room for discussion within the Church, and Pope John Paul II was one who stressed that such tensions were not a violation of solidarity. Pope Francis, more recently, remarked that “it is not a sin to criticize the pope.” Here are some partial responses to your run-on, single paragraph:

      Regarding Christ’s attention to “earthly needs” versus the prevalence of monied robber barons still today (a central topic of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical well over a hundred years ago, Rerum Novarum), what is your point?

      Regarding Mary Magdalen, yes, Christ did add to “sin no more,” while those who critique Pope Francis is that his messaging on mercy seems (to them) to lack this admonition.
      Regarding Laudato si, an urgent message but also less well received than it might have been. Had its release not been (admittedly) accelerated to influence the politics of the Paris Climate Accord, it could have done a better job of distinguishing between the new and evolving science and articulation of the Church’s solid and applicable moral principles. A tough call, with consequences.

      Regarding marriage annulments and those whose spouses have cheated them, and the need to be “realistic,” isn’t there still the preeminent need to uphold the permanence of sacramental marriage and the marital vow in the post-Christian world as ours has become? A very wretched situation for the betrayed, but where does the betrayal stop?

      Who, exactly, maintains that infertile couples are confined to mutual celibacy? Never heard of it.

      The medical correction of intersexed births is a distinct and very small share of what has become the radical politics we see now, militating that is a social construct sex altogether unrelated to biology, and that it can be arbitrarily manipulated (different than medically corrected). The evidence of non-harm does not square with the facts in terms of later psychiatric problems, suicide, etc., a finding certainly to be strongly reinforced as more longitudinal studies become possible and can be completed.

      Homosexuality and its political agenda are not due to intersexual births. Read up on this.

      As for Galileo, looking through the telescope this devout Catholic noticed the outer universe and the movement of celestial bodies; today our “scientific” culture illegalizes the use of ultrasound and fiber optics to likewise notice the inner universe of moving independent human lives. You are right to fear a new Inquisition, but it is not where some think it is.

      In short, these are complicated times, and some Catholics simply think Pope Francis (like the rest of us) is in over his head, but still could fine-tune many of his written and off-the-cuff remarks toward a more unified (less contradictory?) proclamation of both mercy and truth, together.

  21. ‘ Many marriages are not of God ‘ – said to have been words of Bl.Mother at Fatima ..
    St.John Paul 11 has warned how marriages that contracept have the ‘user ‘ mentality which is the same spirit as in adultery ..
    The Holy Father who would very much be under the watchful care and guidance of the Holy Spirit , esp. through the above powerful figures – his words of the field hospital image for The Church at the very beginning of this ministry ? inspired
    on account of being revealed the extent of the wounds that are afflicting families and persons ..to come up with merciful means in using the Power of The Keys to show the narrow path of chastity and holiness to the ordinary people so that the loss of faith from receiving Sacraments unworthily can be minimised ..

    One possible decision by the Academy could be to allow use of contraceptives
    ( unless it already is there ) as a help in symptoms that are in the range of PMS with the hormonal flucutations that make it particularly difficult for some , likely a result of the effects of the evils in the culture as whole . Allowing use of the pills to regulate the hormones and related moods , while abstaining during the fertile phase might be one possible change .
    The respect and tenderness of the Holy Father for the native cultures might allow The Spirit to bless us with new natural remedies in these areas , without resort to synthetic hormones .

    Acknowledging that there are challenges in the area is an act of compassion in itself in The Church ; the good will in same being cherished as a whole , to thus bless the efforts to bring forth good fruit can be a means of honoring The Father esp. for tomorrow as the First Sun in August –


    The words of the Holy Father in his first encyclical ‘Joy of the Gospel’, to trust that we are infinitly loved – that trust to lead to the desire to requite that Love as an antidote for issues ; The Church as the field hospital in efforts to get persons there …
    Attitudes that convey lack of trust in the eforts and persons might be just as detrimental as the use of unholy means in marriages – for the overall healing that the culture is in need of .

  22. Fastiggi AUGUST 5, 2022 AT 11:10 AM seems to identify infallibility with everything and anything done by the Pope. This would not be our faith.

    He seems also derive a standardized obedience due from the faithful, from that. And in fact Fr. Benedict never propounded anything so.

    Some of the things Fastiggi references, already have been crossed/offended by those supporting and interpreting the Holy Father -precisely where conflicts can be expected to develop; meanwhile the contention arising is that the Holy Father himself has not been careful enough over what produces the clashes or how to correct the modes.

    Fatiggi has slippages on TIME, which is a sign of Modernism. For example, right at the top he acknowledges that the contraception prohibition has been defined and settled already, yet he then allows that it is alright to be having a re-investigation.

    Says he, “I think we need to trust the Holy Spirit to guide Pope Francis and future popes to uphold the truth of the Church’s condemnation of contraception.”

    Neither Fastiggi nor the Holy Father nor the other supporters resolve the problem of attacking obedience as rigidity. How can you attack obedience as rigidity and still demand strict adherence/obedience?

    Brugger raises a really PRESSING question at the end but to catch it you had to be paying a minimum of attention. Fastiggi, then, commits even basic debating error.

    Shall I go further with my drilling! It could get real painful!

    • It all depends on obedience to what. Our Lord was criticized because, according to his accusers, he disobeyed the fourth commandment. From our Lord’s answer we come to realize that it is not all black and white. For those who brought an adulteress to Jesus it was black and white, but not for Jesus. He knew she has done wrong but it appears that he also knew something else about her that the accusers did not know. This might be the reason that he did not condemn her.
      There are some Christian denominations that allow its people to divorce and remarry. How will they be judged? No, it is not the laws that will matter for Catholics, but the love and respect we have for our brothers and sisters – all of them.

      • “It all depends on obedience to what”

        Actually Mal, it all depends on obedience to WHOM?

        Who do we obey : Jesus the Christ or Francis, because the latter is opposed to the former.

        And please don’t write back to say that the division is of my own making beause it is not I who is preaching a contrary doctrine.

    • Dear Elias,

      I don’t think I ever indicated that I identify infallibility with everything and anything done by the Pope. I know the difference between infallible teachings and those that are authoritative but not per se irreformable. Popes can sin, be negligent, and make prudential mistakes. We are obliged, though, to adhere to magisterial teachings that are not per se irreformable with religious submission of mind and will according to Lumen Gentium, 25 and canon 752 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law.

  23. Certitude is confirmed by Christ in handing the keys to Peter as his vicar. As Brugger correctly gives assurance that, “Popes could never invoke infallibility to teach falsehood—we must believe the Holy Spirit would prevent this”. Any doctrine that definitively relates to the Deposit of Faith must be definitively and formally pronounced as reaffirmed in proposition 2 in the Doctrinal Commentary to Fides et Ratio and as held since the institution of the Church and Apostolic Tradition.
    Certitude is concomitant with knowledge of first principles, when both subject and predicate are apprehended as one, as in one act of knowing. This act is good. This act is evil. Man’s inherent faculty to identify what is good and what is evil. Moral principles identified by Christ preserved by the Apostles held in Apostolic tradition in the transference of the Keys. However we may cut it, an argument may hinge on the death penalty teaching of Francis, itself ambiguous with the word inadmissible [which suggests variables and admissibility] and without condemnation of the penalty equivalent to John Paul II on the matter, or whether a sensus fidei presumably inspired by the Holy Spirit [perhaps with a papal nod and a wink] as suggested [and repudiated] by P Beaulieu, certitude remains exclusively with the eternal word revealed by the Redeemer, in the Gospels, conveyed by the Apostles.

    • Because we now have the means to handle criminals in different ways, relying on the old ways is inadmissible. As our catechism clearly states:
      2267 Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.
      Today, however, there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state. Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption.
      Consequently, the Church teaches, in the light of the Gospel, that �the death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person�, and she works with determination for its abolition worldwide.

      Most objections to this teaching comes from the Catholics of the USA. The civic authorities in Australia, New Zealand and many democratic countries have also done away with capital punishment.

      • A revised Catechism does not, in its entire content, represent the perennial Magisterium of the Church. When a man destroys the right to life of another, Justice requires the forfeit of his own life. Insofar as lethal punishment opined as an assault against human dignity Mal, then take your case to God and argue it regarding the eternal punishment of unrepentant sodomists, murderers, liars, false witnesses, adulterers, fornicators, the avaricious, the moral cowardly, the flaccid disinterested, the perpetrators of grievous lies et al.

        • And Mal, and I dislike saying this, you strike me as a, what is it now? Yes, an ultramontanist yammerer.

      • When asked about the strong prudential judgment against the death penalty, offered by Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger responded:
        “Clearly the Holy Father has not altered the doctrinal principles…but has simply deepened (their) application…in the context of present-day historical circumstances” (National Review, July 10, 1995, p. 14; First Things, Oct. 1995, 83). In a July 2004 letter to former-Cardinal McCarrick—a letter intended for all of the bishops but which came to light only when later leaked to the press—he wrote: “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia….There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

        On the same question of capital punishment, Cardinal Avery Dulles concluded that traditional teachings on “retributive justice” and “vindication of the moral order” are not reversed by John Paul II’s strong “prudential judgment” regarding the use of capital punishment. The pope simply remained silent on these teachings. (“Seven Reasons America Shouldn’t Execute”, National Catholic Register, 3-24-02).

        Pope Francis’ term “inadmissible” remains short of rendering capital punishment immoral. But, we might wonder whether the realm of “good and evil” and moral clarity is being eclipsed by more unrooted mentality, not of “good and evil,” but “inadmissible” and “admissible?”. As, for example, the disconnected pastoral approaches to sexual morality (advanced by Marx, Batzing and Hollerich), detached from objective moral norms (as detailed in Veritatis Splendor).

        Then there’s the conundrum of life imprisonment…and the de facto death penalty that this can admit, as when long-term inmates resent the bad name given to even them by child abusers. The notorious Boston priest sex-offender Geoghan was strangled and stomped to death in his cell by inmate Joseph Druce. Or, the consequence of protective solitary confinement which, given the social nature of man (even in gangs), is surely a formula for insanity and possible suicide. The death penalty simply a different name?

      • Perhaps we’re saying the same thing but most US folks who support the death penalty are not Catholic. Many American Catholics like me are opposed to capital punishment. At least in virtually every case, there may be rare exceptions.

    • Speaking of Apostolic keys, Saint Paul speaks in 2 Thesselonians about a global apostacy before the second coming of our Lord and that what has kept the apostacy at bay is the “resrainer.” Seems to me the restrainer is the pope who is called to defend the deposit of faith. Since Benedict left the papacy (with mysterious lightning sttike at Vatican), the restainer is being removed as now confusion abounds and the German church is doing what it wants and now the entite church is “walking” in “synodality” where everone is encouraged to proclaim thier own views. Our Lady said at Akita it will be bishop against bishop and the church will be full of those who accept compromises. The “restrainer” would prevent this sort of mess instead of opening it up.

  24. DV.
    Dr Maureen Condic has clearly convinced you of her opinion which is based on a clear misunderstanding of what human life is in reality. The fertilised ovum is undoubtedly alive, like every other independent cell in nature (whether animal or vegetable) and identifiable as human, just as any other cell from a human being is identifiable. It is thus a living human cell. That does not mean that it is a living human being. The ovum, a complex cell which possesses the potential to produce a living human being does not realise that potential unless it is conceived, ie, implanted in the womb. And yes, fertilisation and implantation are separate entities, very different events, with very different outcomes, separated by 6 or 7 days, despite what any theologian might contrive. Mind you, the theologians had got a lot of it right, including the definition of human life as possessing the cognisance to know and serve the God Creator, a cognisance which develops as the result of implantation and which is not a defining feature of the fertilised ovum. If a fertilised ovum is not implanted it suffers the same fate as myriads of human cells shed every day from the skin and lining of the alimentary tract. That’s a fact, that’s the truth, that’s the science,regardless of your admired, quoted mentor’s erroneous opinion. The Church’s teaching on contraception requires some fine tuning – just as did its opinion on the fact that the sun, not God, is the centre of the universe. It needs to concentrate on the contrived prevention, by whatever means, of implantation and development of the implanted ovum rather than on the prevention of fertilisation. It needs to at least consider that sometimes it might be morally essential to prevent fertilisation.

    • JF: It is not just Dr. Condic who “convinced” me of what objective science reveals. Accordingly, you have purposely mischaracterized what I set forth to set up a weak ad hominem argument against both yours truly and Dr. Condic to try to save your heretical and unscientific views from being exposed as the irrational musings they are. Rather, it is the teaching of objective science presented by objective scientists that I follow in direct opposition to your mere statements you claim are scientific on your own authority and irrational arguments and nothing else. As one fine example of the kind of objective scientists that I respect, I quoted from a small section of Dr. Condic’s extensive work to illustrate how wrong-headed you are in your claims that are actually designed to try to get the Church to do something it cannot do in its Faithful service to Christ (thanks for being a bit more forthcoming in your reply to me in revealing your true aims that are actually destructive; not helpful in the least).

      Dr. Condic’s correct conclusion that human life begins at conception, which is also fertilization (and not the irrational and even laughable claim that conception begins at implantation) is indeed based on objective science that she has laid out in many formats such as a White Paper, a book, and many scholarly articles, and the objective science she uses is presented for all to see….as opposed to your mere declarations of presenting science with nothing but your non-supported declarations and no science whatsoever. LOL.

      I and other faithful Catholics will stick with objective scientists like Dr. Condic, and we will also stick with the unchanging teachings of the Church while you go ahead and proudly stick with your own fantasies and challenge the Church in settled matters that cannot be changed or altered as some things could in the past that were Not settled, which you also simply do not understand.

      By the bye, you also mischaracterize a lot of what the Church actually teaches on these matters, so you set up many strawmen and present them as Church teaching when such are not the case. Rather than assume you know what the Church teaches on these matters (you clearly do not based on the statements you have made), take the time to learn what it actually teaches and why. You may actually gain some rationality in the process.

  25. Instead of formally teaching what is contrary, just align with progressives and create a global synod on “synodality” and place persons at the head who are heretics like Cardinal Hollerich and invite the global church to “walk together” with everyone giving thier opinions where thus different places, such as Germany, adopt thier own practices that contradict the One Faith so the entire church is no longer one in its teaching and practice of the deposit of faith.

  26. A “fertilized ovum” as you call it, assuming the sperm and egg came from Homo sapiens as oppose to a Quercus acerifolia or Canis familiaris, is a “complete” Homo sapien (human being) at his/her level of biological development–not simply a cell.
    It does not suddenly become a human being upon implantation in the mother’s uterus
    If Dr. Condic says a fertilized ovum is a human being, well, she is (or was) a prof of neurobiology and studies stem cells and the like. Think she is up on her “science”.

  27. DV. Thank you for your vitriolic “ad hominem” critique not only of my opinion but of myself. I suggest you might write to the president of the world-prestigious American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, a body with more than a passing understanding of the processes surrounding procreation of human life and demand that it remove forthwith the definition of conception promulgated by the College as a result of better scientific understanding; namely,”Conception is the implantation of a fertilised ovum in the womb”.
    If indeed I am heretical and irrational it might be best to keep that opinion to yourself just in case you and your admired Dr Condic are wrong and unfamiliar with the truths and advancements of science which indeed are great gifts from God and, as truths, are part of His revelations to the people He has created. Try to realise that Christ the Creator did not bestow all of his gifts to Humanity, such gifts as penicillin or the electron microscope or an understanding of the processes of life creation, all in the same basket at the very beginning but at a time and place of His choosing – another great mystery we humans can’t quite compute. Perhaps you and I will both learn something when we transcend our Humanity in the hereafter – I suspect opinions won’t carry much traction in heaven.

    • J Frawley: LOL. Thanks for starting off your comment with some of the old ‘I’m rubber, your glue’ bogus whining. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology are radically pro-abortion, and so they have provided a bogus, non-scientific definition of life beginning at implantation to further support the use of life-ending drugs to abort the unborn child. And far from being an advancement in science you believe Dr. Condic is unfamiliar with, the ACOG first made this bogus claim in 1965. Moreover, since you only focus on the superb Dr. Condic and purposely ignore my statement that my accurate position is based on objective science and the work of many in addition to Dr. Condic, and you favor the pro-abortion ACOG, now deal with the following (again among many such sources) that completely obliterates your position:

      Jul 12, 2019
      Most Biologists Believe Life Begins at Conception

      CHICAGO, IL – A recent five-year research study has revealed that an overwhelming majority of biologists from 1,058 academic institutions confirm that “a human’s life begins at fertilization.”

      Steven Jacobs was a University of Chicago Ph.D. candidate who recently successfully defended his dissertation, “Balancing Abortion Rights and Fetal Rights: A Mixed Methods Mediation of the U.S. Abortion Debate.” For his research, Jacobs recruited 5,502 academic biologists to participate in his thesis study, “Biologists’ Consensus on ‘When Life Begins.’” The biologists identified themselves as “very pro-choice, very pro-life, very liberal, very conservative, strong Democrats and strong Republicans.”

      After five years, the research showed that 95 percent (5212 out of 5502) of the biologists affirmed the biological view that a human’s life begins at fertilization, revealing that biology professors in American academia overwhelmingly agree with this pro-life position.

      During the survey, Jacobs asked the biologists to agree or disagree with two “implicit statements:”

      1) “The end product of mammalian fertilization is a fertilized egg (‘zygote’), a new mammalian organism in the first stage of its species’ life cycle with its species’ genome.”

      – Approximately 90 percent agreed the development of a mammal begins at the moment of fertilization.

      2) “The development of a mammal begins with fertilization, a process by which the spermatozoon from the male and the oocyte from the female unite to give rise to a new organism, the zygote.”

      – More than 75 percent agreed that fertilization marks the beginning of a human’s life.

      Then the participants were given an open-ended essay question and asked to answer, “from a biological perspective,” the question “When does a human’s life begin?”

      – Ninety percent of biologists who described themselves as “very pro-life” said at the moment of fertilization; Almost 75 percent of those who called themselves “pro-choice,” and approximately 60 percent of those who identified themselves as “very pro-choice,” answered the same.

      When Jacobs began his research about the American abortion debate for a qualitative research class, he surveyed 2,899 American adults and discovered that a large majority of respondents believe that the question “When does a human’s life begin?” is important to the discussion. The poll also revealed that 81 percent of respondents, including a larger share of pro-abortion individuals, “selected biologists as the group most qualified to determine when a human’s life begins.”

      Jacobs’ research also suggests that 83 percent of “pro-choice” participants surveyed believe that support for legal abortion would decrease “if it became common knowledge that fetuses are biological humans at fertilization.”

      “Despite how much politicians try to use euphemisms to deny it, every human life begins at conception, and thousands of biologists now confirm this truth,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel. “It should go without saying that every unborn and born baby has value, no matter the stage or circumstances,” said Staver.

      QED. 95% of the biologists surveyed in a large sample recognize that human life begins at conception. What percentage of the 5% who don’t recognize that human life begins at conception push the silly 1965 “at implantation” nonsense in order to support the use of some abortion drugs like the ACOG that you follow? Probably not even 1%.

      Do you now want to make another silly claim that only the ACOG in 1965 through today is more advanced than all of these other biologists? You tried pulling this intellectually dishonest stunt regarding the ONGOING work of Dr. Condic, so double down on your support for the pro-abortion group as if they are better informed than the vast majority of biologists…..or finally admit you are wrong, and get yourself right with the Church. Indeed, your false opinions in opposition to what the Church teaches will have absolutely no traction in Heaven, but the Truth will set you free…if you are willing to follow it.

      Bonus: Also see the following that exposes the history of the ACOG and its pro-abortion decision to falsely redefine when human life begins:


    • I have taken the time to browse through the ACOG’s website and the only thing I could find (https://www.acog.org/practice-management/health-it-and-clinical-informatics/revitalize-gynecology-data-definitions) that seems relevant flat out denies what you are saying. Quote: “Conception is a lay term that has no scientific validity and is not generally used in the medical literature because of its variable definition and connotation.”

      Your original reasoning seems deeply flawed to me: You said that a zygote (a fertilized ovum, according to ACOG above) does not become a human being until it is implanted. So it seems that for you, the difference between something being a human being or not, is being in the environment to survive and develop? That would seem to imply that if a child were to be temporarily deprived of an environment containing oxygen, it would cease to be a human being since it now lacks the environment to survive. I don’t think you can come up with a convincing definition of “human being” that relies on external factors, i.e. its environment.

      • MH: Also note the following:

        The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology (ACOG) are radically pro-abortion, and so they have provided a bogus, non-scientific definition of life beginning at implantation (way back in 1965) to further support the use of life-ending drugs to abort an unborn child.

        See https://www.liveaction.org/news/acog-abortion-population-control-redefined-beginning-life/

        Also see https://lc.org/newsroom/details/071219-most-biologists-believe-life-begins-at-conception-1

        In the second cited article, note a 5-year study involving 5,502 biologists from 1,058 academic institutions. The results published in 2019 reveal that 95% of biologists (comprised of pro-life and pro-abortion, etc. biologists of various political stripes as well) agree/conclude that human life begins at conception. Of the remaining 5%, it is unknown what percentage believe in the seriously flawed “life begins at implantation” nonsense pushed in part to approve some abortion drugs, but it’s a tiny number nevertheless compared to the 95%.

        As such, the notion promoted by J. Frawley that ACOG is legitimate and in essence knows better than some 95% of biologists is both absurd and opposes in part what the Church teaches about human life beginning at fertilization/conception.

        Also note the propaganda game played by ACOG that you set forth in one of its false declarations: that “Conception is a lay term that has no scientific validity…..” This is similar to many false claims made by the wokies and their allies in pushing the malevolent “transgender” movement by claiming male gender and female gender are actually fluid “Lay” or societal terms without scientific validity, which is a flat out lie in an attempt to undermine objective science as one of its main enemies.

        Indeed the ACOG is disreputable as well as being a collection of poor scientists and academics who abuse science to push their pro-death agenda.

  28. On the discussion above between Peter B and Mal (smong others), on the so-called “development” of the Catholic teaching on the death penalty, I hasten to offer this very helpful and indeed highly clarifying observation about the intentions of the Pontiff Francis on this matter.

    A. The Pontiff Francis and his “Team Francis” (a title they themselves have marketed) have asserted that the death penalty is “now” discerned by them to be “inadmissible” because everywhere on earth there is recourse to “life imprisonment” as a due penalty for murder.

    B. Simultaneously, the Pontiff Francis has already slso declared that “life imprisonment” is indefensible because it does not allow a murderer to be set free after the state might judge him or her to have reformed, or as the political ideology of therapeutic incarceration puts it, finished the “corrections process.”

    C. Thus, we can with all confidence conclude that the Pontiff is not only incoherent on the death penalty topic, but insincere.

    D. Further, since the Pontiff Francis has already subverted the very basis he has given for “erasing” the New Testament, apostolic teaching on death penalty, by appealing to an alternative that he has already likewise condemned, the result of following the Pontiff Francis in this matter is to promote the ideology that murder is not to be treated as a crime of magnitude dignified by the value of the life of the victim whose life is taken.

    E. Thus, the reasonable conclusion is that the Pontiff Francis is counseling society to “make a mess” of society’s entire foundation of justice, and to experiment by replacing this with utter and life-threatening chaos.

    • Thank you for resurrecting this link. Related to which, and under the new dispensation of indeterminant consequentialism, we might ask whether all consequences are equal, or whether some are more equal than others…That is, consequentially speaking, do meaningful penalties for felony crimes serve as deterrents from many more future crimes, thus reducing the societal malignancy toward ever more criminal acts and faceless victims?

      (Likewise, about the moral fluidity of Amoris Laetitia regarding merely “irregular” unions and the indissolubility of marriage.)

      And, regarding the possibility of convict conversions, might the severity of some penalties actually accelerate such conversions? “When a man knows he is to be hanged…it concentrates his mind wonderfully” (Samuel Johnson).

  29. Bless you for this accurate, well informed, and convincing opinion. May the seethe of the dissenters in these comments ring in your ears as beautiful as the wailing of the damned in the Kingdom.

  30. MH. Thank you for pointing out that the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has seemingly changed the definition of conception which it promulgated as long ago as 1972 and considers conception to be a lay term which includes both fertilisation and implantation. [Such is the evolution of language!] These, as I have mentioned above, are VERY DIFFERENT EVENTS SEPARATED BY AT LEAST 6-7 DAYS. Fertilisation is not invariably followed by implantation. Pregnancy and development of a foetus does not exist until implantation has been successfully achieved. Thus, the contraceptive pill preventing fertilisation is not considered an abortifacient, whereas drugs or devices which cause the loss of an implanted fertilised ovum [blastocyst] are. To me, the implications of interfering with fertilisation defined as preventing a spermatozoon penetrating an ovum are completely different from the implications of preventing implantation or obliterating an already implanted fertilised ovum. Words are both great and terrible things – classical double edged swords with a capacity to support both sides of an argument depending on context- a bit like statistics!! My position is that I think that the moral implications surrounding the union of a spermatozoon and an ovum and implantation of that combined, living cell in a womb differ in gravity, something the modern Church needs to consider in its teaching on the broad subject of contraception. [Also interesting that the College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists doesn’t use the word CON-ception but is quite happy to use CONTRA-ception].

  31. You say that Amoris is not to be followed? If Francis is pope then you must follow this document that has now been added to the ACTA along with an accompanying letter document which cements his heretical teaching. By elevating this teaching, he is clearly intending to teach the entire Church as the pope. If you read every Vatican I commentator who actually attended the council, they say that when the pope intends to teach the Church as pope, no matter the formula used, he cannot teach heresy. This does not only apply to extra-ordinary infallible teaching. This also does mean that every word he says is infallible. It most certainly means that he cannot teach an erroneous doctrine concerning faith and morals when he clearly intends to teach the Church. Why is everyone trying to change the consistent papal doctrine concerning a pope teaching heresy? No one is following Vatican I and the consistent teaching that accompanies the Council. Read Hettinger and Manning for starters who were the papal theologians which both teach what I just said. We as Catholics do not modify what the pope is to fit the Francis. Sorry. Since he wrote an encyclical, commented on it, answered questions on it and then elevated the teaching by including in the ACTA, he clearly intends to teach the Church his heresy. This has never happened before where a pope has intended to teach a clear heresy in this capacity. We have a problem and no one is willing to admit it!

      • It could be going in that direction. Perhaps the Holy Father hopes the Synod on Synodality will provide the basis?

        Should it turn out so (on whatever basis), perhaps the Holy Father will by that time also supply clarification on the dubia?

        If there are other “questions” and apparent defects beyond the dubia, hopefully the Holy Father will resolve them too?

  32. To DV, August 8, 2022, 8:50 p.m.
    Rather than misreading my comment, you might consider that Cardinal Muller is doing damage control on behalf of the Church, and NOT an endorsement of Pope Francis’ double-speak. Yes?

    We are on the same page, but on the next page the additional longer-term issue is that of remaining viable as papibile, such that the termites cannot easily blacklist Muller and others from the start. Orthodox and street smart, both…

    Is it possible for us, you and me, to walk and chew gum at the same time? I think so. Try it some time. Or are you of the one-dimensional notion that Pope Francis, under the influence of silenced and banished theologians, might still fine-tune his messaging?

  33. D V and MH. I wish to assure you that as an active member of a government committee working to prevent the liberalisation of abortion law for some years (sadly unsuccessfully after the abomination of Roe v Wade gave Western Christian Society the green light for unconstrained abortion), I am not a pro-abortion or pro-choice advocate, positions which equate to murder and accessory to murder. I do accept that ALL HUMAN LIFE begins at fertilisation with at least 50% of fertilised ova never progressing to implantation in a mother’s womb. Fertilisation is thus the beginning of human life only for that 50% of fertilised ova that are implanted in a mother’s womb.There is no going back after implantation -a human being is in existence and evolving to maturity. Some will die from intercurrent disease and be miscarried. Implantation on the other hand allows the development of a multi-potential human cell (not a human being), into a definitive human being.It seems to me that the moral implications of preventing fertilisation are not as grave as those of preventing implantation or destroying an implanted fertilised ovum. However, I am sure that we will not see eye to eye on the matter and I will just have to accept the Almighty’s judgement on my heresy when the time comes.

    • J. Frawley writes: “Fertilisation is thus the beginning of human life only for that 50% of fertilised ova that are implanted in a mother’s womb.”

      Completely and objectively wrong once again, JF. Fertilization is the beginning of life for all human beings without exception, and for those human beings who do not become implanted in the womb, God has intended their extremely short lives (NOT Potential lives as you continue to wrongly claim) to last for just a few days, but they are his living children nevertheless regardless of how long they remain alive. Rejecting this reality as you do leads to accepting the use of abortion drugs to kill human beings during the first week or so of their existence, and it opens the door to inappropriate/immoral contraception that you also favor or believe should not be judged the way the Church has already decided it should be judged.

      Once again the biology is clear, but you just want to proudly hold on to the unscientific and immoral position that you have now spun a little bit to make the irrational claim that human life only begins at conception if it leads to implantation, which is pure nonsense.

      If you are truly pro-life, then stop trying to hang on to the idiotic position that life only begins at conception if the conception leads to implantation. Moreover, the being in the womb is actually/definitively alive until death. It is completely irrational and flat out absurd to claim that a living being is just “potential life.”

      And to be sure, this is also NOT just your opinion vs. my opinion shared by MH and others, so enough with the relativism. The Church has weighed in definitively on this issue, and being flippant about accepting your heresy is a cop out so you can maintain your incoherent and dangerous position as if it has both scientific and theological legitimacy as “just another opinion.” Again, your opinion is objectively wrong, and you would do well to accept this reality and, as previously stated, get yourself right with the Church instead of mocking the idea of a particular judgment that you won’t have to face if you follow the Church and not your proud irrationality.

    • Your thesis presents some basic difficulties: 1) Non-implanted fertilized ova are also multi-potential humans. Sure, fertilized human ova are human ‘cells’ but that one cell is human, and it surely is ‘multi-potential.’ 2) Because not all fertilized ova naturally implant does not justify non-natural interventionist/contraceptive/preventive fabrication to inhibit those which otherwise naturally would implant.

      Would one argue that because of scant natural rainfall in Arizona, it is therefore licit or logical to prevent rain which does occur from falling into the ground?
      Although rare, cases of ectopic pregnancies have progressed to live births of fully functioning, ‘multi-potential’ humans.

      BTW, who could not be defined as a ‘multi-potential’ human? We all have imperfections of some type or form.

  34. Aside of the problems of personal sin and relationship sin going with contraception, there are the dimensions of societal and economic sins; and these seem to have escaped scrutiny for the whole time the issue has been discussed, decades into centuries.

    The economic side is simple enough to see, making money from products targeting vice in the marketplace. The pill/patch might have the complication where it can be used to some good medical effect, helping establish a regulated menstrual pattern. What the profit aspect coming from the contraceptive/abortive power within the pill, does, however, is, it turns attention away from developing alternative pharmaceuticals for the similar positive effects; that would not be contraceptive or abortive and would rather sustain fertility.

    The societal side desperately needs evangelical intervention. For example, people manufacturing condoms is a direct affront to decency integral in civic life and authenticity in work -direct frontal assaults upon the whole fabric of community, common purpose shared and human endeavour.

    Some 15 years ago or so I attended a Church-based meeting “youth at risk” with reps from Government and NGO’s. Everything I said fell flat and from there went nowhere. In a short space of time following that Pope Benedict was being quoted as saying that condoms might have an understandable function while yet there would still be the need to confess using them. Surely this kind of self-cancelling “evangelization” is against faith and reason and has to be undone.

    By the way, the good effect of the pill is not guaranteed and there can be negative side-effects. Also, if the pill is used to bring menstruation into a regular cycle, the couple now has the obligation to avoid intercourse until the pill is no longer needed; because the pill will have the abortion or maiming risks in case pregnancy occurs.

  35. D V. I SUGGEST YOU LOOK UP THE MEANING OF “CONCEPTION” AND “CONCEPTUS” IN AN ENGLISH DICTIONARY. You might then follow what I have said. I suggest you also look up the events surrounding the implementation of Papal infallibility which you seem to accept without question- no doubt you also still believe that God, not the sun, is the centre of our universe. I note that you have already passed judgement on my immorality – what a privileged position you have created for yourself. Enough!!. If you are not prepared to address the argument because of blind adherence to your own viewpoint then the whole exercise becomes a waste of time.

    • I understand what you are trying to say john frawley but it’s not the teaching of the Catholic faith.

      From conception there is a unique person body and soul who deserves love, respect and protection. We do not calculate that he is only to be protected, or, recognized, if he achieves implantation in his mother’s womb.

      With intercourse they are all obliged to bring any life that might be conceived, to natural delivery; and to avoid risks.

      This is another way of affirming that sexual intercourse is for marriage. But if they do it outside marriage there still are obligations.

      The word “human” is somewhat superfluous in context because of the whole reality, whereas the word person is essential and is drawn from the reality and illuminates the context. In the scientific discourse the word “human” is often deployed to wrong effect; or, they fail to use it at all.

      There are legal aspects going with this, that have to get established. I don’t wish to go into all of them; only to draw people’s attention to the implication of having sexual intercourse with careless, reckless or malicious attitudes.

      If these are involved BEFORE conception occurs, by those involved directly or indirectly, they can can amount to crimes against the person who is conceived into circumstances that imperil his life or bodily integrity or ordinary unfolding, or occasion such perils. Such is the case married or not.

      They also come into serious sin whether between married couples or non-married.

      • Elias: Keep up the fine work in defense of the Faith, and don’t let Frawley buffalo you in any way by his disingenuous claims that he agrees with you. In addition to your own comments and insights, also see DV’s comments and insights that expose Frawley’s agenda that includes claims of advancement in science that are not true and not even close to being so. As DV has pointed out, Frawley is sinfully attempting to persuade the Church and the faithful to give up definitive teaching by misrepresenting the unchangeable teaching, and by also malevolently claiming that Church teaching lacks an understanding of alleged advances in science, which is pure hogwash on his part. No such advances in science exist as he claims to be the case.

  36. Elias Galy. I agree completely with you Elias. All that I have been trying to say is that in the light of advances in knowledge and understanding that come from enlightenment with advances in science, The Church in the advancing world perhaps should review some of its tenets derived and formulated at a time when knowledge of the processes involved was deficient and perhaps wrong. The big question is, “Is the prevention of pregnancy ever morally justified?” I am suggesting that the answer might be “Yes” in some cases and this has never been addressed by Catholic teaching while teaching has addressed abortion of healthy babies in order to save a mother’s life – eg removal of a cancerous womb which contains a living foetus. The obligations of the parents, both mother and father, as the Creator’ s instrument for the propagation of human lifeneed to be clearly defined by the modern day Church.

  37. Dear Brian and john frawley,

    I appreciate your considerations.

    What I would point to is, a trending confusion that seems to be developing, where (supposedly) “morality” in the “Catholic” sense is for setting out everything in advance.

    It is a misleading thing. It is often the case that we have to work along with reality patiently without predeterming the results. St. Gianna Beretta Molla gave an heroic example of this.

    Similarly, advances are being made in saving ectopic pregnancy.

    And what this is telling us is we have to respect and uphold the more basic principles of responsibility, subsidiarity, freedom, excellence, truthfulness, improvement, courage and honour so on.

    And of course, LIFE.

  38. Brian. I hope you were on the streets protesting when Roe v Wade was handed down. I presume also that you and commentators such as DV are currently working tirelessly to rid the USA of the scandal of hundreds of thousands of abortions of healthy babies each year. I would have thought that a concerted effort to prevent such barbaric killing is more important than preventing unwanted fertilisation which is not equivalent in the wildest imaginations with abortion of an implanted human embryo.

    • Frawley. DV has thoroughly exposed your attempts to try to buffalo Elias and all other members of the faithful that you now try directly on me. It won’t work. DV’s comments contain up-to-date science and unchangeable, beautiful Church teaching that points out the extreme sinfulness of contraception that will never change as part of the ordinary magisterium. As others have written backed up by up-to-date science agreed to by some 95% of biologists in a recent extensive study DV referenced in a comment, a human being becomes so at conception or fertilization and not implantation. Direct abortion of a child in its mother’s womb from the first moment of its existence at conception throughout the entire pregnancy is murder, and Thank God the Church teaches this and always will, and thank God it will never listen to people like you who seek only to destroy and darken the Church while falsely claiming to help it become more enlightened, which is just a cruel woke joke. Thank God, too, that the Church has also exercised advanced enlightenment by rejecting the ancient claims that life does not begin until implantation or even at a later time in a pregnancy. Anybody who rejects the advanced science that human life begins at the first moment of conception will also support abortion at some early stages of a child’s life, which is horrifically monstrous.

    • An item seems to need clarifying, john frawley, the question of contraception as “lesser evil” to abortion. This is a false “lesser evil” argument. At the time of using the contraception there is no “lesser evil” situation, the evil is the contraception. The best thing is to take right and holy counsel.

      I would like to emphasize logic: that the considering of the absence of the evil of killing a child, is not how we come to terms with the gravity of preventing pregnancy. It’s a misleading juxtaposition. Preventing pregnancy has to be dealt with on its own terms. For example, in non-married sexual relations the use of condoms can engage predatory psychology.

      On the other hand, some contraceptions are abortive. As I have noted, the pill and patch and other chemical contraception sometimes do not work to prevent contraception and will have a latent lasting power tending to harm or kill the conception. This latent power will work before, during and after implantation and this part of the science should dispel any fixation about implantation.

      There is also the married context where preventing pregnancy stops up the very act made for co-operating with God giving life -a very great evil that is not softened because “no abortion happened”. Buffalo in the room.

      When you are in a committee all kinds of interventions can occur. They may seem to be productive of something, particularly when they have some running support or because of an emotive charge or when people are ready to compromise to achieve some end and give off a good feeling and sense of advance.

      • I am replying to john frawley below AUGUST 15, 2022 AT 5:24 PM; and to Brian below AUGUST 15, 2022 AT 8:16 PM.

        I have to edit my third paragraph, immediately above, second sentence, where it says “prevent contraception” – it should say “prevent conception” -: “As I have noted, the pill and patch and other chemical contraception sometimes do not work to prevent conception and will have a latent lasting power tending to harm or kill the conception.”

        There seems to be some confusion about the pill etc. causing abortion. The medical information I know says that the pill does not always succeed in preventing conception; and then when it fails to prevent conception it can have harmful results for the conception. From what I know it is well established.

        The coil, a physical contraception, has its own set of complications. The coil is not designed to prevent conception (it could if there were chemicals involved with it); it is designed to prevent implantation. In other words conception will happen and then there is a high likelihood the conception will be ejected by the spring action in the coil.

        However, it is not 100% effective; implantation can happen and the coil can then become physically embedded in the baby’s body.

        Again, I understand there are issues with moral culpability; and I would suggest 4 things about that. First, culpability would not be solely linked to the type of the contraception. Second, culpability is an area usually best left with those who have the responsibility for it.

        Third, I think it is very misleading to be referencing a, or some, notional culpability, as the way to decide what to do with intrinsically evil things and other things that have deleterious effects.

        It is crucial to distinguish the culpability content and good insight. The admixture of “culpability” followed with “do not judge” and “don’t proselytize”, is contrary to the right disposition of matters calling for prudent judgment, right reason, exercising responsibility and care, etc., etc. It is also self-defeating and anti-Catholic.

        We are not arbiters inside the confessional.

        Fourth, always bear in mind the doctor typically knows full well what he is prescribing. Making allowances for such frees him from malpractice and criminal liability. Some politicians are feeding those results through their own ideology or system of compromise and these are forms of subversion.

  39. Elias. I agree with you and my agreement is not an attempt “to buffalo you” as Brian suggests. BECAUSE OF THE DIFFERENT FORMS OF “CONTRACEPTION” AND WHAT THESE IMPLY, I am simply suggesting that the teachings need to ascribe the relative degree of morality/culpability to these just as it does, for instance, to all the varying types of breaches of the Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” and submit for consideration and, no doubt, further criticism the following.
    Preventing a spermatozoon from penetrating an ovum (eg, condoms and diaphragms) is not equivalent to harming or destroying a human life.
    The oral contraceptive pill or a patch which prevents ovulation do not harm or destroy a human life. They are, however, contrary to the Fifth Commandment in that they do interfere with the normal physiological function of the woman’s body – a type of self-mutilation. The pill represents the first time in the long history of Medicine where the doctors accepted the prescription of a substance which interfered with the normal, God-created function of the human female body.
    The morning after pill, intrauterine implants with or without attached drugs and so called contraceptive pills which in fact are abortifacients are all designed and intended to destroy human life in its earliest forms.
    The “morally acceptable” natural form of contraception which involves the diligent planning and identification of the ovarian release of an ovum ready for fertilisation and the avoidance of intercourse guided by such identification is equally as contrived and deliberately flies in the face of God’s Natural Law, perhaps more so than other methods, and excludes the possibility of the consummation of God’s procreative plan for Humanity and is thus also contrary to God’s intent, particularly within the sacramental marriage contract the married couple have with the Creator. All I am saying is that there are possibly varying degrees of immorality with varying methods of contraception and perhaps the Church needs to revisit the topic. Perhaps, as I have alluded to above, there may be some situations where preventing fertilisation serves a greater moral good and can be justified or at least be considered as venial rather than mortal sin, provided abortion is not the chosen form of “contraception”.

    • Turn out the lights, John, your deception party is over. “All” that you say is directly against UNCHANGING and UNCHANGEABLE Church teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium.
      Also, because the Church is enlightened and protected from error by Jesus in such matters when it has definitively spoken as is the case involving any form of contraception (so much for your “different forms…” latest attempt to buffalo Elias and others), it would be a major dereliction of the Church’s duty to even consider or revisit heresies pretending to be advances in science and theology, or as the aphorism has it: old wine in a new bottle.

  40. Omg, all these learned people without uteri & their wordy, legalistic, picayune explanations about their certainty of what the Holy Spirit thinks about birth control, or abortion, for that matter! Y’all are hilarious! Not one single doubt in my mind that had the development & hierarchy of the church been female there would be an entirely different understanding of the ethics & morality of practices surrounding reproduction.

    • “Picayune” meaning small-mindedness and frippery?

      What bearing, if any, can the word “picayune” and any of its connotations have, in the seriousness of protecting life and the goodness and sacredness of sexual intercourse.

      It would mark out how both men and women can be tempted and can fail.

      • Paula I venture that you are upset about something and a direct attention placed on pro-life witness will not help you come to terms on whatever it is. Allowing for that for the time, then, simultaneously, surely, pro-life being what it is, it deserves to be upheld in every occasion and in all its aspects and we should invest our effort for it positively just for the reasons that make it so; and because of what it portends, because it affirms and cherishes life and because of the fact that it is the message of hope, no matter who is involved or what has happened.

    • After reading what Paula writes that reminds one of secular feminism with no sense of the sacred, I thank God even more that He chose to redeem us as a man, and in His perfect wisdom He established the Male Hierarchy in the Church for all time.

      Also, Church teaching on abortion and contraception reflects its sacred commitment to honoring women who share with men being created in God’s image. Abortion and contraception dishonor women and distort God’s image within them, turning some into mere sexual objects and others into accessories to murder if they choose to have an abortion. Wise women who are pro-life and anti-contraception accept and promote Church teaching to better serve the Lord that always better serves themselves in the process.

      I wish I could say to Paula that you, too, are hilarious, but in fact, you’re just sad and bitter in failing to recognize and honor the gift that God has given you. Good luck.

  41. Bravo Brian!! Finally we have found the common ground on which we can both pitch our tents without conflict. And to Paula – ethics and morality bear no relationship to gender and are the one area where the same rules apply to both men and women. Killing unborn healthy babies is wrong regardless of whether a man or a woman does the killingor determines the moral law surrounding it.

  42. The so-called “seamless garment” approach with its “all stages of life until death must matter” philosophy, has the tendency to misdirect or disorient pro-life witness. Pro-life witness does need to enlarge but it is not about homelessness or euthanasia.

    Three aspects to this, broadly speaking, are, 1. pro-life pushing down maternity limits and gaining excellence of science, 2. pro-life understanding its diversity of maternity/pro-life witness and 3. Catholic faith.

    Here at NC REGISTER “Pro-life Prudence” article by Jonathan Liedl, the interviewees re-position the demand for the integral approach. While this happens because of necessity, it can’t be all-defining of pro-life array and it must not hinder pro-life witness where it does not apply.

    The integral approach also must take care not to muddle the real content, or help along diversions/dilutions, or delay what has to be heard per venue and forum -that abortion is crime. Society has to lay hold of responsibility for that. Even those who have had a change of heart have to come to terms with the seriousness of it. This part of pro-life has been over-shadowed by recent euphoria.

    In “Pro-life 3.0” Mary Frances Myler discusses “possibilities” amidst “consistency”. While abortion is not crime, the goal of having “comprehensive approach to pro-life policy making” is going to fall far short of the truth; and distortions of reality are inescapable.

    The priesthood preaching on sin and redemption is the perennial and ageless truth.

    VATICAN II suggested or indicated pathways for secular involvement but the message of the Gospel goes beyond that. What is right and true for this life can indeed have its own righteous calculus but even that -ordained goodness that it is- is not saved for eternity without Jesus Christ.



    • Fr. Petri makes the case again for the “integral” approach.

      This progress-by-steps is not the only program or process in pro-life politics and Christian witness and limiting the latter to it is 1. anti-Gospel, 2. not intended by JPII, 3. truncating zeal and scope and 4. blinding the clergy.

      I am obliged to say it can approach to insulting people’s intelligence Christian or not.

      Not good enough. What I suggest is, clergy need to reflect on the open nature and power in the lay context.

      Clergy also have to reflect better the demands placed on them. If I have to lecture you about it what is that.

      ‘ This brings us back to politicians and the politics of abortion legislation. Even though pro-lifers might be described as “extremists,” St. John Paul recognized that pro-life politicians would be confronted with difficult choices in order to mitigate evil. ‘


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  2. Pope Francis, contraception, and the problem of ecclesial authority | Franciscan Sisters of St Joseph (FSJ) , Asumbi Sisters Kenya
  3. Pope Francis, contraception, and the problem of ecclesial authority – Via Nova Media
  4. Something to read, 09.08.22 – RC Largs and Millport

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