"A Total Perversion of the Truth!"

Well, I guess he disagrees with me.  

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Actually, he disagrees with M. Cathleen Kaveny, professor of theology and law at the University of Notre Dame, who wrote on Dotcommonweal here, about the excommunication of Sister Margaret Mary McBride.  He also disagrees with Kevin O'Rourke, professor of bioethics at the Neiswanger Institute of Bioethics and Public Policy at Loyola Chicago's Stritch School of Medicine, who wrote about the case in America.  And he disagrees with Ladislas Orsy, S.J., professor of canon law at Georgetown University, who has also taught at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, Fordham University, the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and is the author of numerous books on canon law.  Fr. Orsy wrote about the case in a Letter to The (London) Tablet.   

All the above scholars discuss this somewhat provocative case in some detail, but without engaging in ad hominem attacks.  That is, none of them attack Bishop Olmsted personally.  So why is it that so many on the far-right seem so quick to do so?  On top of demolishing the arguments, many feel obliged to demolish the person, too.  (Check out the blogosphere if you need any proof.)  Anyone who disagrees with anything is a "dissident" or "heretic."  Why do so many on the far-right, at least on the blogosphere, move to ad hominem attacks?  As far as I can see Professor Kaveny, O'Rourke or Orsy did not feel the need to do so.  Why did this commentator?  Why do so many in the blogosphere?    

James Martin, SJ

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7 years 6 months ago
Good grief, father.  You have just perverted the truth.  Just read Mr. Winter's columns for ad hominems.  And you use an ad hominem when you use the term far-right.  It is a meaningless term and only used to disparage or ridicule someone.
 
So please stop this distortion.
 
I have no idea of the merits of the case for either side but I can analyze an argument.
Nicholas Collura
7 years 6 months ago
I agree with you, Father, though I think there is a bigger difference than the political one between Professors Kaveney, O'Rourke, and Orsy and this little video report: it's one of scholarly credentials. After all, I'm sure we've both seen plenty of authentically ad hominem attacks on (so-called) "liberal" blogs or from "liberal" commentators on TV and online. I recall one article on Bishop Olmsted that was really pretty savage - I think it was at NCR, though I can't now find the link - and I've certainly heard Catholic commentators (both credentialed and self-styled) impugning the character of all sorts of curia members, up to and including the Pope, in recent weeks.
 
But of course you tend not to find that kind of rhetoric among scholars. They are usually simply better mannered than the blogosphere's hoi polloi. This may in part be because they understand the intricacies of cases like this one. I was laughing when this guy in the video totally sidestepped Father Doyle's very good (and very non-judgmental) analysis, insisting that "the simple facts are...!!!" when Father Doyle's whole point was to tease out "the shades of gray in a world of apparent ["the simple facts are!"] absolutes." I think the difference is one of erudition, not politics.
 
...Although, let's face it, you gotta love that little chalk cartoon in there. That's rich. haha. 
Nicholas Collura
7 years 6 months ago
Ah! Sorry to re-post, but I'm suddenly reminded of Hans Kung's recent open letter to the world's bishops. It typified left-ward ad hominem perfectly, practically a character assassination of the Pope, and yet it was the fact that it came from such a lofty and erudite source that left me astounded - and had me spluttering indignantly on the comments section of your America article, as I recall!!!
7 years 6 months ago
I'm a conservative, pro-life Catholic.  That video is over the top.  Whatever happened, this video totally mis-characterizes the writing on this topic (at least in America), and fundamentally ignores fundamental Catholic moral methodology with respect to the application of canon law.  It seems more geared to getting up a white hot anger than informing.
Peter Lakeonovich
7 years 6 months ago
I'm a conservative, pro-life Catholic. If the Church tells me that black is white, I will believe it. (See St. Ignatius.) Reason has so deepened my understading of my faith, and my faith has so illuminated every aspect of my life and transcended the limitations of my reason, that I know that in the Church we encounter Jesus Christ - spiritually in prayer and fully in the Eucharist - because it is the Holy Spirit who is the real head of the Chruch founded by Christ and comprised . The rest is commentary. What can the so-called experts possibly provide us that Our Father cannot provide us? I read not one appeal to the Holy Spirit, who makes all things right, in the writings of the experts. Isn't that missing? Isn't that what Archbishop Olmsted and Sister McBride need? If you think that I am being too naive, then ask yourself if you really believe what you think you believe? - - - that black is white, that the Eucharist is Jesus Christ (Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity).
William Kurtz
7 years 6 months ago
Thank you, Jeff!
These nutcases (I'm sorry if I offend anybody by calling them out) seem to look on canon law the way fundamentalists proof-text the Old Testament, or certain Muslims look on the Qu'ran.
If canon law requires that two die, instead of one, then, to paraphrase Dickens, canon law is an ass.
Liz Brandt
7 years 6 months ago
Thank you so much, Fr. Martin, for being a beacon of truth, light and a vital direly needed voice of reason! You are brave but you have tons of troops who will follow you into this battle. The faithful in the middle of the pew are aghast at Bishop Olmsted's actions.
1. First and foremost, to our public knowledge Bishop Olmsted could not be accused of using pastoral discretion or demonstrating an abundance of mercy and compassion. Ministry abilities/skills too were MIA based on all his official actions. That is a serious misrepresentation of our faith and worse an affront in highest degree to all those personally affected.
2. Sr. Margaret, from all accounts a faithful servant, used her informed conscience. How does that impact 'punishment'? Is pure intention of doing right in a crisis situation n/a?
3. The Bishop is interpreting Canon law and the hospital guidelines. The Ethics Board in conjunction with Sr. Margaret interpreted them differently based on facts available during the crisis. It is an abomination to make any suggestion about their character otherwise. Many pro-life extremists have insinuated such things. Assailing others' personhood is a serious sin. We, the rational, reasonable, thinking, praying, common sense, reasonable, logical majority simply believe Bishop Olmsted is wrong on several levels based on the evidence and his actions we DO know. He may be a wonderful Bishop otherwise, nothing personal.
As a pro-life Catholic (now unsure if this is accurate) it truly pains me that faithful servant Sr. McBride was horrifically and publicly punished for apparently using her informed conscience.Furthermore, the image of medical personnel standing by at the command of a Bishop while a mother dies for no reason as her 11 week unviable pre-born is destined for heaven is exceptionally horrifying and ghastly to many.
This pro-life nightmare reality case is doing damage to the real cause and it shouldn't have seen the light of day. However, it's heartening and encouraging so many Catholics and others are considering Sister's compassion and WWJD.
Liz Brandt
7 years 6 months ago
I actually just watched the video... had to be intestinally prepared lol. DID YOU SEE THE CHALKBOARD DEPICTION OF SR. MARGARET BEING CUT OFF FROM GRACE?
Liz Brandt
7 years 6 months ago
Second thought, that scene perfectly illustrates Bishop Olmsted's sans ministerial qualities and pastoral indiscretions. He's depicted as standing next to Sr. Margaret who's fallen, presumably physically/emotionally hurt, and lecturing her... NOT offering a hand or heart but doctrine!!
7 years 6 months ago
''far right'' is an ad hominem whether it applied to an individual or a class of people unless that person is a libertarian.  I am sorry you used an ad hominem.  An as I said Mr. Winters is a master at it.
 
Why use it if you did not mean to disparage someone or a group.  It does not describe anything but is only meant to characterize someone or a group unfavorably.  Unless you meant to use it to refer to libertarians which what the term would now mean in our society since they are the opposite of liberals on the political spectrum.  I don't think you meant to use it to describe libertarians.
7 years 6 months ago
"Reason has so deepened my understading of my faith, and my faith has so illuminated every aspect of my life and transcended the limitations of my reason, that I know that in the Church we encounter Jesus Christ - spiritually in prayer and fully in the Eucharist - because it is the Holy Spirit who is the real head of the Chruch founded by Christ and comprised . The rest is commentary. What can the so-called experts possibly provide us that Our Father cannot provide us? I read not one appeal to the Holy Spirit, who makes all things right, in the writings of the experts. Isn't that missing? Isn't that what Archbishop Olmsted and Sister McBride need? If you think that I am being too naive, then ask yourself if you really believe what you think you believe?"
 
1. I don't think anyone would disagree with a word of this, so far as it goes.
2. Have you read Acquinas, Munoz or any other canonist?  I think you're misunderstanding the WAY canon law & moral theology works.  The Catholic tradition is defined by careful and critical exegesis of texts!  Sorry, but the black/white analogy just doesn't work.  
3. As one pro-lifer to another, you've got to recognized degrees of moral culpability.  Obviously, procuring or performing an abortion is a qualitatively different moral act than writing a check or voting, even.  But this all or nothing, black or white approach, is not fruitful.  And the red meat in the video is, frankly, un-charitable.  One example: he presents opinion pieces as if they were no different than straight up factual reporting.  Another is the characterization that all these pieces are "attacks".  That's foolish.  Yes, God gave us reason, and this video is a manifest failure to use it.
7 years 6 months ago
Fr. Martin, let's complete this circle of disagreements, shall we?Hitchborne disagrees with you (who stuck his head in the sand about Obama's rigidly pro-abortion policies), Cathleen Kaveny, Kevin O'Rourke, and Fr. Ladislas Orsy ... who all, in turn, disagree with Bishop Olmsted and Catholic Teaching.Hmm ... where am I going to place my trust?  In individuals ignoring the fact that a baby was directly murdered and arguing in favor of abortion, or bishops acting faithfully in line with Church teaching, that ALL abortions are intrinsically evil?Let's see here ... bishops, or letters, the Catholic Church, or letters ... I'm going to go with ... Bishops and Catholic Teaching.  If you want to abandon ship, that's your perogative, but don't you dare continue to call yourself Catholic at that point!
But let's make one thing perfectly clear; I want you and Kaveny to explain how an abortion isn't an abortion!  I want you to describe ... IN DETAIL ... how the surgery performed to "separate mother from child" was not A) targeted at the child, and B) did not involve the process Hitchborne describes!
Jim McCrea
7 years 6 months ago
Pete Lake said:  “If the Church tells me that black is white, I will believe it.”
 
Human reasoning is largely a matter of practice, not rule-following.
 
Or, as J. H. Newman put it:
 
"The mind ranges to and fro, and spreads out and advances forward with a quickness which has become a proverb, and a subtlety and versatility which baffle investigation. It passes on from point to point, gaining one by some indication; another by probability; then availing itself of an association; then falling back upon some received law; next seizing on some inward instinct, or some obscure memory; and thus it makes progress not unlike a clamberer on a steep cliff, who, by quick eye, prompt hand, and firm foot, ascends, how, he knows not how himself, by personal endowments and by practice, rather than by rule, leaving no track behind him, and unable to teach another. It is not too much to say that the stepping by which great geniuses scale the mountain of truth is as unsafe and precarious to men in general as the ascent of a skillful mountaineer up a literal crag. It is a way which they alone can take; and its justification lies alone in their success. And such mainly is the way in which all men, gifted or not gifted, commonly reason — not by rule, but by an inward faculty. Reasoning, then, or the exercise of reason, is a living, spontaneous energy within us, not an art."
 
"Implicit and Explicit Reason," Sermon 13 in Fifteen Sermons Preached Before the University of Oxford (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1998).
Peter Lakeonovich
7 years 6 months ago
“We should always be disposed to believe that that which appears white is really black, if the hierarchy of the Church so decides.”

- St. Ignatius of Loyola
Stephen O'Brien
7 years 6 months ago
In discussing the Phoenix abortion case, we should dispel the miasma of confusion and draw a clear distinction between two questions.  Whether the abortion for which Sister Margaret Mary McBride gave the green light was morally licit under Catholic criteria is an issue utterly separate from the issue of whether Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted was correct in stating that Sister McBride had thereby excommunicated herself under canon 1398.
 
The answer to the first question - the much more important one - is in the negative, given the Magisterium’s teaching, which is reflected in American Life League’s citation of Pius XII, whose October 29, 1951, *Allocution to Midwives* anticipated the categorical declaration of the new catechism in section 2271: “Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”  Please note the crucial words “or a means.”
 
The response to the second question is - unless I am mistaken - in the negative, on the basis of the reasons set forth by Father Ladislas Orsy.
 
One of the deplorable outcomes of this confusion (in which the Devil himself has to have an ultimate hand) is that it deflects attention from the urgent need to excommunicate politicians to whom we largely owe the massive evil of legalized abortion in the first place.  To address one of the worst scandals in the whole history of the Church, those legislators ought to be excommunicated by name with “inflicted” excommunications under the authority of a number of relevant canons (1318, 1341-1342, 1369, 1371, and 1399).
David Nickol
7 years 6 months ago
Stepen M. O'Brien quotes Pius XII saying, “Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.” 
 
As I have tried to show in my (very long!) message above. There are two very serious arguments against considering the abortion in question to be ''direct.'' As I note, it is important to keep in mind that ''direct'' is a technical term in moral theology. The exact same surgical technique in one case could be entirely illicit - a hysterectomy to end a pregnancy and sterilize the woman - or perfectly acceptable in Catholic medical ethics - a hysterectomy to remove a pregnant woman's diseased uterus. The first is direct, and the second indirect, yet a person watching the operation would not be able to tell the difference were he not aware of the intentions of those involved. "Direct" and "indirect" do not necessarily depend on the physical nature of the abortion.
Brendan McGrath
7 years 6 months ago
With regard to the black/white St. Ignatius quote - I first heard of that quote in the "St. Teresa of Avila" miniseries with Concha Velasco.  I would argue that the quote is not the best representation of authentic Catholicism - or at least, of the mainstream Catholic tradition.  Perhaps it would fit within the Nominalist strand of the Catholic tradition (to the extent that Nominalism can be considered as a strand of the Catholic tradition), but I doubt that Aquinas would have liked it: i.e., faith goes beyond reason, but it does not contradict it. 
 
However, the version of the quote posted above which says, “We should always be disposed to believe that that which appears white is really black, if the hierarchy of the Church so decides" is more acceptable, the key word being "appear."  There could be an analogy to the Eucharist here.  I.e., under this way of phrasing it, you're not required to say deny that your senses are showing you white; you just need to say that what appears white to us is really in some way black - there are all sorts of imaginable ways in which this could apply.  It's also a question of distinguishing between the phenomenon and the noumenon - or to put it another way, between substance and accidents (even though "white" is an accident, etc.). 
 
What is NOT acceptable, I would argue, is the version of the quote which says that "if the Church tells me that black is white, I will believe it" - unless it's understood in the sense discussed above. 
Vince Killoran
7 years 6 months ago
Sharp elbows in the heat of a debate are okay, but that's quite different from being told at the outset that you are not a "real" Catholic.
7 years 6 months ago
By the way, those "ethicists" you cited are HARDLY worthy of consideration, considering their other dissenting opinions against Church teaching they have promoted.  For instance:
Fr. Kevin O'Rourke is the same "ethicist" who supported the starvation/dehydration murder of Terry Schiavo: read about it here
Cathleen Kaveny invented a bogus example she deemed "licit" use of condoms by marrieg couples (she is dead wrong, by the way): read about it here
 
 
 
Peter Lakeonovich
7 years 6 months ago
Brendan, fair point on the significance of the word appears, I agree. But I can't agree that Ignatian spirituality does not represent authentic Catholicism. Pope JPII used to do the Exercises every year, and, so too, I believe, does Pope Benedict. I suppose that is just a point I have reached in my journey, and it is a joyous point. It may be difficult for the American way of thinking to throw itself wholeheartedly behind the image of Christ "the King," but when you hear and heed His call, and that of those in whom he has bestowed authority, you just go. And if you hear it on authority that what appears white is black then you will go give it all to defend that it is black, to the point of happy martyrdom. Because when you realize what Christ the King has done for you, then you realize that you will do anything for Him.

And Reason, when married to Faith, understands this clearly though in only a limited fashion.
Brendan McGrath
7 years 6 months ago
Pete - I think you misunderstood me; I was raising concerns only about that one quote from St. Ignatius, not Ignatian spirituality as a whole.  I'm a product of eight years of Jesuit education, have a great love of the Jesuits, and am a sort of wanna-be Jesuit myself.  (There's a line in both the novel and miniseries of "Brideshead Revisited" about people who are sort of half-in and half-out of a monastery or something, it's Cordelia talking about Sebastian.  I hope I have the former's name right - anyway, when I heard that line I thought it perfectly described what I'd love to be with regard to the Jesuits.  In fact, a big part of me would love to be a Jesuit someday.  Thomas Merton talks in "The Seven Storey Mountain" about praying, "Lord, make me a priest."  I sort of modify that and combine it with St. Augustine's prayer: "Lord, make me a Jesuit/priest, but not yet."  ;)
 
If the Church taught that there were some object which appeared white, but which was really black, due to the fact that in reality it was a substance whose true blackness-accident was present but only present according to the manner of substance, while meanwhile there was present a whiteness-accident which was not rooted in or mediating that substance  and which was causing the substantially-present object to appear white, then yes, I suppose I would believe it. 
 
Who says we can't understand Aristotelian-Thomistic language anymore?
David Nickol
7 years 6 months ago
George Dorian says: "By the way, those "ethicists" you cited are HARDLY worthy of consideration, considering their other dissenting opinions against Church teaching they have promoted."
 
There are at least two possible meanings of "dissent" when talking about Church teachings. One, which I think you intended here, is to disagree with, or oppose, official Church teaching. The other, which is what I think is actually the case with the ethicists in question, is to have what is currently a minority opinion. The majority does not necessarily rule when it comes to Church teachings. Some questions have been open for centuries (like the fate of unbaptized babies). When I was in Catholic grade school in the 1950s, I would not have dared to deny the existence of Limbo. Now we find out it was never an official teaching at all, though you could not have figured that out from the Baltimore Catechism!
7 years 6 months ago
Pete,
 
www.vatican.va
7 years 6 months ago
It is interesting that my post was deleted with my (paraphrased) quote from St. John Chrysostom.  It is a scary quote for those who have authority (such as Catholic Magazine editors), I will admit.
Matt Emerson
7 years 6 months ago
Brendan and Pete:
 
Regarding the (in)famous ''black and white'' passage from the Exercises, historian Fr. John O'Malley, S.J., in his outstanding book ''The First Jesuits'' addresses its meaning: 
 
''Although that wording [of the Rules for Thinking with the Church] sometimes seems particularly emphatic, the doctrinal implications they contain do not differ from those to which Catholics of the sixteenth century would have subscribed.  Even the thirteenth rule about believing what seems to me white to be in fact black, if so defined by the church, is no exception.  Definitions of the church, in the technical sense in which we must assume Ignatius used it, were conceded by all to contradict in certain cases the evidence of the senses, as when the real body and blood of Christ are defined as present in the Eucharist in what appear to be bread and wine . . .
 
'' . . . the relatively little comment and controversy aroused in the sixteenth century by the 'Rules for Thinking with the Church' indicate that they should not be invested with the exaggerated orthodoxy they were often later made to represent.''
George Dorian
7 years 6 months ago
Perhaps the reason these dissident theologians are so quick to blast bishops towing the line of orthodoxy is that they fear the charge set to the bishops against modernist publications like ''America'' and ''The National Catholic Reporter''.
Here's what I mean.  This comes from the Catechism on Moderninsm,which was written According to the Encyclical Pascendi Domini Gregis in 1908.
http://www.catholicapologetics.info/modernproblems/modernism/catmodernism.pdf Q. What are the duties of the Bishops with regard tocorrespondents or collaborators of reviews and newspapers?
A. With regard to priests who are correspondentsor collaborators of periodicals, as it happens not unfrequentlythat they contribute matter infected withModernism to their papers or periodicals, let theBishops see to it that they do not offend in this manner ;and if they do, let them warn the offenders and preventthem from writing.
Q. Must there be a special censor appointed for eachreview and newspaper ? What shall be his office, andwhat the Bishop's ?A. Let there be, as far as this is possible, a specialcensor for newspapers and periodicals written byCatholics. It shall be his office to read in due timeeach number after it has been published, and if he findanything dangerous in it, let him order that it becorrected as soon as possible. The Bishop shall havethe same right even when the censor has seen nothingobjectionable in a publication.
Peter Lakeonovich
7 years 6 months ago
Matt, thanks for the historical context provided in the quote from Fr. O'Malley. Having read the autobiography of St. Ignatius and other accounts of his life, however, I cannot bring myself to accept the suggestion that St. Ignatius meant any less than what he actually said in the very words he used. For example, I have no doubt that St. Ignatius was serious when he penned the Principle and Foundation (inspired by the Holy Spirit for sure), that "it is necessary to make ourselves indifferent to all created things in all that is allowed to the choice of our free will and is not prohibited to it; so that, on our part, we want not health rather than sickness, riches rather than poverty, honor rather than dishonor, long rather than short life, and so in all the rest; desiring and choosing only what is most conducive for us to the end for which we are created." That is another passage that could be deconstructed and stripped of its meaning. Then again, that's just my take, and I know St. Ignatius was always very quick to point out that the Exercises would not be the same for all and would lead all to the same places and that the director giving the Exercises should go at the pace that the exercisant is subjectively being led on.

Is exaggerated orthodoxy even possible? How about exaggerated love? How about exaggerated faith? Exaggerated charity?
Matt Emerson
7 years 6 months ago
Pete:
 
That's an interesting question.  My first instinct is to say that there is probably no such thing as ''exaggerated'' orthodoxy, but isn't ''orthodoxy'' a complex concept?  John T. Noonan (among others) has argued quite effectively that the Church has fundamentally changed its teaching in some key areas (e.g., religious liberty).  See Noonan's The Church that Can and Cannot Change.  (I recall reading an Avery Dulles article that argued that Vatican II implicitly taught the value of dissent precisely because of the dramatic reversals VII initiated.) 
 
In other words, what was once considered orthodox Catholic teaching has been, in some cases, repudiated.  In light of that, I think we have to be somewhat cautious of what we deem ''orthodox'' and how we approach the risk that the Church, and we, may be holding positions that our grandchildren's Church will not. 
7 years 6 months ago
For an alternative view go to:

www.ncregister.com/.../questions_remain_in_phoenix_excommunication_case/
Kevin Jam
7 years 5 months ago
What is it with these guys and chalkboards?
7 years 5 months ago
Pete Lake,
I can also go to www.usccb.org and get the direct teaching from our bishops.  I don't have to be mislead by America Magazine and the Jesuits.
Just out today:  http://www.usccb.org/doctrine/direct-abortion-statement2010-06-23.pdf
 
David Nickol
7 years 6 months ago
George Dorian says: ''I want you to describe ... IN DETAIL ... how the surgery performed to ''separate mother from child'' was not A) targeted at the child, and B) did not involve the process Hitchborne describes!''
 
There are two different arguments about this situation, both which seem to me to be within Catholic teaching and support the decision to INDIRECTLY abort the 11-week-old fetus to save the life of the dying mother. 
 
First, a direct abortion to save a life is never permissible (according to Catholic teaching), but an indirect abortion is permissible. But what is the meaning of ''indirect''? Germain Grisez (and please read him - don't count on my summary) would say that that ''direct'' does not mean ''hands on,'' but rather has to do with the intention of those deciding for abortion. He says:
 
**********
For example, suppose a woman suffering from kidney disease becomes pregnant and wants to avoid the health problems that will result from carrying the child; or a woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape and wants to be freed of her ongoing suffering. In either case, and perhaps in a few others, in seeking abortion the precise object of the pregnant woman’s choice might be, not the baby’s death, but the termination of pregnancy as the necessary means to the end in view: a benefit expected to flow from the baby’s removal rather than from the baby’s death or any consequence of it. On this assumption, the proposal adopted is, not to kill the unborn baby, but to have him or her removed from the womb, with death as a foreseen and accepted side effect. An abortion carrying out such a choice would not be an intentional killing.
**********
http://www.twotlj.org/G-2-8-D.html
 
Couldn't such reasoning be used to justify almost every abortion? Grisez says no, that the death of the fetus is directly willed in almost all abortions, and even if it is not directly willed, most circumstances (including the case of pregnancy caused by rape, I believe) do not justify accepting even the indirect death of the fetus. There must be a very good reason to accept even the indirectly caused (and unwilled) death of a fetus. And of course one such reason would be to save the life of the mother.
 
The reasoning of the ethics panel that actually decided on the abortion was based on the medical conclusion that the threat to the life of the mother in this case was the placenta:
 
**********
[I]n a report later made to the bishop of Phoenix, the hospital’s ethics committee identified the pathological organ as the placenta. The placenta produces the hormones necessary to increase the blood volume in pregnant women; in this case, the additional volume put an intolerable strain on the woman’s already weak heart. Since the placenta is located in the uterus, perhaps it would have been more accurate for the ethics committee to designate that organ as pathological and thus compel its removal. 
**********
http://www.americamagazine.org/content/article.cfm?article_id=12348
 
We do not know the exact nature of the surgery performed on the woman in Phoenix, but the intention was to remove the placenta. I am not a doctor, but from searching the web, it appears that the removal of a placenta in a false pregnancy (in which there is a placenta and no baby) would be accomplished by a D&C. This procedure (instead of suction) may very well have been the one performed in Phoenix. In the presence of a fetus, it is considered an abortion technique. Similarly, a hysterectomy when there is a fetus present is an abortion technique (formerly used to abort a baby and sterilize the woman at the same time, but now considered too risky). However, when a woman has cancer of the uterus, an operation to remove the uterus, even when a baby is present who will die, is a classic case of an indirect (and licit) abortion. The intent is to remove the cancerous uterus, not the baby. In the Phoenix case, very similarly, the intent was to remove the placenta, and the death of the fetus, even though foreseen, would be considered indirect. 
 
If suction was used in the Phoenix case, I don't see any reason to consider the procedure any less licit than a D&C. The intent would still be the removal of the placenta, not the dismemberment of the fetus. No matter what technique was used, the object of the act (as I understand the terminology) is the removal of the placenta, not the destruction of the fetus. The death of the fetus would be a tragic, foreseen side effect. The woman in this case did indeed want the baby, and at first refused an abortion, but was later faced with the decision to accept an abortion or die (and have the infant die along with her). 
 
The reasoning of Grisez is based on a theory of human action, and what is direct and indirect, that not everyone agrees with. The reasoning of the ethics committee is based on the principle of double effect, a very well accepted part of Catholic moral theology, and the principle that justifies removal of the part of the fallopian tube from a woman with an ectopic pregnancy and the removal of a cancerous uterus from a pregnant woman. The Phoenix ethicists applied a very solid Catholic principle to a newly defined situation, and I find their reasoning perfectly plausible and in keeping with Catholic teaching on abortion. 
 
Even if one disagrees with Grisez or the Phoenix ethics committee, it is clear (to me at least) that it is not self-evident that the abortion in question was direct - keeping in mind that ''direct'' here is used in a technical manner different from its dictionary definition. This is a case about which moral theologians can and do disagree, not a case where lay persons can claim to know with certainty ''what the Church teaches.''
Peter Lakeonovich
7 years 6 months ago
Brendan, that's great that you are discerning a vocation. Perhaps in the silence of the Exercises you can hear what the Lord want you and Him to accomplish together. God bless.

Joe, the information age has allowed you to go the source and get the real truth? Do you realize how that sounds? And where does that leave the One True God - Father, Son, and Holy Spirit - who is the Truth and is the center of every "age" and without whom there is no "age"?
7 years 6 months ago
RE # 31. Hear, hear Mr. Dorian. It is precisely the deafening silence of our Bishops over these many decades that has left us a Church divided and mired in secularism and sin. Ever notice that when it comes to simple right and wrong at America Magazine, we find ourselves aloft in the ether of arcane canon law to whose Truth only certain priests with long foreign degrees are privy? We are not fooled.

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Kit Harrington, right, in ‘Gunpowder’ (HBO)
The series tells the story of the Gunpowder Plot, when a group of Catholics plotted to blow up Parliament.
Jake MartinDecember 15, 2017
Have we reached a turning point in how we handle sexual misconduct in the workplace and beyond?
Ashley McKinlessDecember 15, 2017
More than 22,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children are already subject to deportation, and Congress seems no closer to finding a solution.
J.D. Long-GarcíaDecember 15, 2017
A guide the Australian sexual abuse crisis, priestly celibacy and the seal of confession.
America StaffDecember 15, 2017