For the first time I looked at the blog called Catholic America: A closer look at Church, Culture and Change, by Anthony Stevens-Arroyo which is a feature of Newsweek/Washington Post.
Watch how this writer ascribes to Pelosi a position she didn’t have. She was talking about "when life begins" and he shifts this to "when conception takes place". And he does so with vile intent, I think, and consequences.
My emphases and comments.
The Archbishop, the House Speaker and the Abortion Dance [an image which, I think, degrades the issue]
After House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke about the abortion issue in a television interview, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington issued a clarifying statement. Rather than a put-down as some had expected, however, the Archbishop did a dance with her.
In the interview, Pelosi had said that the Democratic Party’s position reflected the religious pluralism of the country. Uncertainty about when life begins was understandable, she said, because the theological history of even the Catholic Church had produced varying opinions about when exactly the "moment of conception" takes place. [This is the lead up to the assertion that conception is separated from fertilization.] The Archbishop admitted that there had been changes in opinion about when conception takes place, [Umm… No… he didn’t. He admits changes in knowledge of embryology, but he doesn’t talk about changes in the view of the moment of conception. There was a debate, of course, about when human life begins.] but insisted that the teaching of the Church has always safeguarded that moment. [No. It safeguards human life. What the Church has always held is that abortion is evil. Now, that term abortion is applied to what exists after the moment of fertilization. What the writer is going to try to do is separation fertilization from conception.] The House Speaker had talked about the scientific dimension of the issue: [Right. Scientific. Right. She started out saying she was an "ardent Catholic". No. She was talking theology, not science.] the Archbishop emphasized the theological (or metaphysical) definition. They were moving in lock-step but in different directions – just like partners in a dance. [For pity’s sake: look how far we are from intelligent conversation about this issue?]
Other bishops continue to repeat the theological opinion, [That word "opinion" weakens what the bishops are repeating.] which of course they should do. However, while theologians can speak authoritatively about the need to respect the moment of conception, [Again, watch out for the trap down the line. He is trying separated conception from the moment of fertilization.] it is "above their pay grade" to put on a biologist cap and define scientifically when that moment occurs. [HERE WE GO! Read carefully:] Fertility doctors, who are the experts on this matter, distinguish between a "fertilized egg" and "conception." Only when the embryo is implanted in the womb does it achieve conception, they say. In fact, it would appear that in normal circumstances a significant number of fertilized eggs – perhaps as high as 30% — never reach conception.
[Several points here. Whatever it is that exists after fertilization, it is nothing other than a human something. A deliberate action on our part to kill it directly, or kill it by preventing implantation is wrong. That is the Church’s teaching. However, if through natural reasons whatever it is fails to implant properly, there is no moral delict. Thus a drug or device that prevents implantation of a fertilized egg, a blastocyst, is not and contraceptive. It is an abortifacient. But this fellow, who is pushing the line favored by Planned Parenthood, separates the moment of conception away from fertilization. Thus, those drugs or devices are, in that view contraceptives: they prevent conception which would, in that view, occur from implantation.
This is pushed by Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion, pro-experimentation types.
The consequences of separation of conception from the moment of fertilization? You can do anything you want to that thing there, that fertilized egg or blastocyst. So long as it is not implanted, you can kill it, freeze it, experiement on it, clone it, harvest elements of it, morph it into something else by putting genetic matter from say, yaks into it. There are no moral consequences.
Watch what he does now….]
Now, Catholic teaching instructs us that even if an embryo is not yet conceived, it has that potential. [No. Conception takes place at fertilization. The writer has plowed ahead, forcing the Church’s teaching into his own premise that conception and fertilization are separate.] The embryo is human life, even if undifferentiated cells do not constitute a fetus or a functioning human person. Moreover, the embryo is biologically not part of the woman’s body in its cellular composition, even if it is not viable outside of the woman’s body. While these distinctions might resemble angels dancing [again that word] on the head of a pin to most of the public, they are important to theologians. [They are important to everyone.] It is heavy stuff, not easily reducible to bumper-sticker sloganeering – although there seem to be quite a lot of dummies who try to trivialize Catholic teaching that way. [How condescending.]
Unfortunately, this avoids the real issue for bishops and politicians alike: [Okay… what does he think is the real issue?] Does Catholic teaching bind non-Catholics? [That’s the real issue?!?] For instance, the United Church of Christ – Senator Obama’s denomination – has a different teaching about abortion than the Catholic Church: Are Catholic voters obliged by their bishops to take away the right of Protestants (or Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc.) to practice their religion (or atheists to be atheists) in the U.S.? I am sure that there are some Catholics who will cite Pope Pius IX that "Error has no rights." In that interpretation, Catholics in America are bound in conscience to be subversive, to undermine democracy and impose a religious test on candidates, officials and legislation even if in so doing they contradict the Constitution of the United States. [This is absurd. Whatever the teachings of other religions or denominations, the issue of the moment of conception (fertilization) can be discussed simply on a natural basis. Also, when Catholics practice their religion, adhere to their views, and act on them, they are not subverting the Constitution. The Constitution upholds the rights of people, even Catholics!, to practice their religion. If a Catholic, bound in conscience to accept the the Church’s (and common senses) teaching that human life begins at the moment of fertilization, votes for candidate X because he is pro-choice, that is not a subversion of the Constitution, just because someone disagrees with the Church’s teaching. When Methodists pushed prohibition, did any say that the Constitution was being subverted because for German Catholics beer was a part of a normal diet? Does anyone give a damn that when Roe v Wade or Doe v Bolton affect the laws of the land, Catholic taxpayers were affected? Did anyone complain that the Constitution was being undermined when those SCOTUS opinions came down even though clearly Catholics think abortion is evil? Moreover, if a person decides to impose a religious test on a candidate, he is free to do so. What the Constitution prevents is that the State impose a religious test. Voting, either at the ballot box or on the bench of the Supreme Court, results in victory for some, loss for others. But the expression of religious views in the public square is not subversion of the Constitution. My view and vote does not take away the rights of a secular humanist or indistinct Protestant.
And… btw… the real issue is the sanctity of human life. The Constitution is just fine. What this guy is really suggesting is that Catholics shouldn’t say anything in the public square that might contradict the side that wants to be able to kill or experiment on unimplanted embryos, whether in the womb or in a dish.]
Speaker Pelosi and Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Biden clearly do not interpret their Catholicism in ways that would be anti-American or be subversive of civil rights of non-Catholics. [No, but that is not the point. Is he just being obtuse? They are a) dead wrong about their interpretation of Church teaching and b) not competent to interpret that teaching for others, much less competent to change that teaching. Stating that has nothing to do with civil rights.] (We could add names of other Catholics and Republicans like Rudolph Giuliani to this list of pro-American Catholics.) [I think he just suggested that expressing a religious view that abortion is wrong from the moment of fertilization onwards is… un-American. Is that what just happened?] I have read the bishops’ statement on Faithful Citizenship and it clearly settles this issue in favor of small-d democrats everywhere. However, so as long as the bishops give theological answers to political questions, they expose our faith to confused charges of infidelity to the American way. [Which is… I think… what this guy just did.] Speaker Pelosi is no dummy: [QED] she spoke correctly from her perspective, [I love it.] just as the Archbishop did from his. [Even better. Picture two Catholics: one is a Catholic lay woman who is a public figure, and one is successor of the apostles, the officially appointed pastor of the diocese in which the other has some sort of domicle, the Archbishop. The Archbishop lays out what the Church teaches. The laywoman responds: "Well, that might be true for you. I have a different view."] It would be a service to Catholics everywhere if the bishops articulated more clearly the need to distinguish between theological teaching and political decision-making. Keep Catholic political leaders and bishops on the dance floor of the public square, I say! [Notice that dances, though interesting and even energetic, don’t go anywhere but in circles?] The public needs to see the careful intricacy we undergo in living within our shared Catholic conviction. I think the two concerns of theology and democracy can make beautiful music together.
Posted by Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo on September 2, 2008 9:55 AM
A couple things.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi wasn’t asked questions about when "conception" begins or what the relationship is between fertilization and conception. She was asked when human life begins. She effectively responded that it didn’t matter, that it is okay to kill whatever is there anyway, and that right to kill is should be a matter of choice, human life or not.
The Church’s leaders are clear that human life begins at the moment of fertilization, which is not to be separated from conception.
The writer things Archbp. Wuerl was in on some kind of dance. I don’t think so. I was disappointed that His Excellency did not make a clear statement about Catholic pro-abortion politicians, but he was not fuzzy on the beginning of human life.
In his statement he wrote, he quotes CCC 2270 which speaks about "the moment of conception". Fine so far. That could go either way. But then he writes:
"the biological evidence today that human life – a human being – begins at conception. Whatever the theories and embryology from ealier centuries may have been, today all of the sceintific reasearch clearly confirms that the coming together of a human sperm and egg begins a new human life. The scientific position concerning the embryological origins of humans has become clearly elucidated during the past century in a manner that provides overwhelming empirical evidence of the contunity of the life of a human being. that continuity extends from the joining of a sperm and eff through its stages as an embryo, a fetus, an infant, a child, an adolescent, and adult and a senior on to natural death.
Human life begins at fertilization. Fertilization is the moment of conception. What has been conceived is a human being. And so the "continuity" Wuerl writes of must be extended to implanted or not-yet-implanted blastocysts.