Protecting the least among us: The unborn

A child rests as U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks during a rally at the annual March for Life in Washington Jan. 27. (CNS photo/Yuri Gripas, Reuters)  

The March for Life, the annual gathering of pro-life activists, clergy and civic leaders, will take place in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Jan. 18, 2019.  In our pro-life commitment, America is allied with the sentiments expressed in the statements by the Society of Jesus of the United States, “Standing for the Unborn,” which was published in America on May 26, 2003, and “Protecting the Least Among Us,” published on Jan. 18, 2018. As is our annual custom, we republish excerpts from these texts here as an expression of our solidarity with the women and men who will march this month in the nation’s capital.

As we Jesuits survey our culture, we cannot help but see abortion as part of the massive injustices in our society....Since the January 22, 1973, Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, more than 55 million American lives have been ended by abortion. Among all the justice issues we as a society should view with grave concern, abortion is a key social evil. We approach this topic as pastors, scholars, social activists, and educators. There is no part of our ministry that is untouched by the devastating consequences of abortion and there is, therefore, no environment in which we find ourselves that does not have some role to play in addressing this complex issue.

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As we Jesuits survey our culture, we cannot help but see abortion as part of the massive injustices in our society.

Pope Francis writes, “No one must say they cannot be close to the poor because their own lifestyle demands more attention to other areas…. None of us can think we are exempt from concern for the poor and social justice” (Evangelii Gaudium, 201). In the same way, the Society of Jesus today asks its members and collaborators to find ever new and creative ways to bring the protection of the unborn and solidarity with mothers in difficult situations into whatever mission they serve.

As we continue to engage on the topic of abortion, we wish to proceed in a way that rests on the following insights:

First, the foundation of the Catholic moral tradition is the dignity of the human person. The second key insight of Catholic moral life is that we are social beings and that solidarity matters. The social acceptance of abortion is a profound moral failure on both counts. It undermines the claim that every life is infused with God-given dignity, and it often pretends such decisions can be relegated to individual choice without having negative consequences on society as a whole. Sacred Scripture, the witness of early Christianity, Catholic social teaching, and the magisterium consistently teach that we cannot in good conscience ignore this tragedy.

Second, Ignatian spirituality and Jesuit history offer unique lenses through which to view the topic of abortion that should deepen our resolve to work in this area. The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola are motivated from beginning to end by the laboring presence of God in creation and redemption. We are invited to co-labor, not because we are perfect, but because we are loved, and in recognizing God’s love for us we cannot but act on it. Jesuits throughout history have lived out this insight to transform the world, and we are asked to do the same today.

 

Third, beyond the actual content of “what” we say in making a case against abortion, it is critical to pay attention to “how” our defense of the unborn takes place. As St. Paul reminds us, we must “speak the truth with love” (Ephesians 4:15). Success will not come through force of will; it will only come by changing hearts. Therefore, we must always keep watch over our own hearts and ensure they are filled with the love and hope needed for this holy work.

Our Jesuit brother and our Holy Father, Pope Francis, highlights our concern: “Among the vulnerable for whom the Church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this” (Evangelii Gaudium, 213). May we always listen to the lives of the most vulnerable in our society and use our voice on their behalf.


 

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Crystal Watson
4 months 3 weeks ago

As Jesuits, you made a promise to *women* at the 34th General Congregation .... "we invite all Jesuits to listen carefully and courageously to the experience of women. Many women feel that men simply do not listen to them." If you did actually listen to women, even just Catholic women, you would hear that a majority of them want abortion to remain legal. And you also promised ... " we invite all Jesuits, as individuals and through their institutions, to align themselves in solidarity with women." But instead you have taken a stance opposed to what the majority of women have spoken and voted for. You won't even support women when it comes to contraception, which would actually reduce abortion. So sorry but I don't put much stock in your commitments.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 3 weeks ago

Amen Crystal - Getting a little sick and tired of the bull from this hierarchy which has know for over a decade the facts that abortion is highest in the countries where it is hardest to obtain. From the 2014 article "Thank The Pill For Abortion Rate Drop" by Sally Kohn, "Four in 10 unintended pregnancies in America lead to abortion. In Texas, newly enacted restrictions on abortion access have apparently not led to a drop in abortions but rather a surge in self-abortion disasters."

The World Health Organization research and stats (which have been shared with Catholic Charities ongoing for decades) prove that countries with difficult access to Abortion and not free reliable birth control or illegal abortion and birth control have the highest rates of abortion and this measure is accurate in every country around the globe. In my below comment, I will give the Gutmacher research on global abortion. It is the Western European Countries and the U.S. that have the lowest abortion rates - for now. Places like S. America have the highest abortion rates because it is difficult for women to get abortions and birth control because the countries have been led by Catholic Politicians. The Maternal death rates are much higher in these countries too. Our false stand on supposedly reducing deaths of the unborn thru Pro Life not only increase the rates of death for the unborn but also drastically increase the rates of death for the women too. Pro Life is killing not saving the unborn and women on a global scale and our church is well aware of this and does nothing to change its stand.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 3 weeks ago

Crystal et al: How did you ever conclude a 'commitment to listen to women ' equates to a 'commitment' to condone the slaughter of innocents? The Catholic Church , established by Jesus Christ Himself, has no wiggle room on this issue. The Church has always understood that life begins at conception. Perhaps the Jesuits have shown a cowardice to be plain about this issue but I do't see how anyone who makes an honest effort to know what the Church teaches can make such a horrific error. Again, as was pointed out to you before, John jumped for joy in Elizabeth's womb when pregnant Mary visited her cousin. It is my hope and prayer Matt Malone and other Jesuits will see how their relative silence continues to spawn twisted, fraudulent and sacrilegious misrepresentations of 2000 year old Church teaching on this site by those who persistently profess to be Catholic.. The Church also believes in Hell,,,and I think most Jesuits, even the most wayward, when push comes to shove, don't wish to slap the Holy Spirit in the Face.

Crystal Watson
4 months 3 weeks ago

The church has created a narrative about the superior worth of fetuses that isn't supported by anything in the bible, OT or NT.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 3 weeks ago

Whatever perjorative language you wish to use does not detract from the teaching. Your interpretation of the Bible is worthless.. Authority was given by Christ to the 'teachers' (apostles ) whom He selected and who, in turn , passed it forward through the Sacrament of Ordination, to present day Bishops. The 'Christian Bible came out of the Church. The Church did not come out of the Bible. The Bishops alone, in their collegiality, are the authoritative interpreters of the Bible. ( Satan can otherwise easily use thousands of words to create anything he wants to say). The Bishops, in their collegiality, are guided by the Holy Spirit. The fact the Church has had bad popes and bishops does not deter from our confidence in Church teaching, any more than Judas, being a bad apostle, deterred from the promises of Christ. The Church has always taught that life begins at conception. This is Catholic teaching, like it or not.

Crystal Watson
4 months 3 weeks ago

The gospels, though flawed as historical sources, are the best information we have about Jesus, what he said and did. He didn't comment on abortion of the "unborn" but he was a friend to women. For the church to put so much emphasis on abortion says more about the present day male hierarchy's desire to control the behavior of women than it says about the intentions of Jesus/God.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 3 weeks ago

No, Crystal , the 'Gospels' or the Bible, is not the 'best' information. Without Divine Tradition , and Authoritative interpretation from the successors of the Apostles, they are a compass without a North Pole

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 3 weeks ago

Crystal et al: Where do you get the idea most Catholic women are pro-abortion?. Are you talking about practicing Catholics ? I doubt it. What reason would these pro-abortion 'Catholics' you speak of have to desire Communion?. I would think the cognitive dissonance would be deafening.

Nora Bolcon
4 months 3 weeks ago

Sorry Father but our church has been lying for many years to women and the laity regarding Pro Life and abortion. Pro life and our church push to criminalize abortion even though they are well aware from The World Health Org. and Guttemacher that making abortion and birth control difficult to procure leads to large increases in the occurrence of abortion in every country of the world. It is truly shameful on our hierarchy's part, its present Pro Life Stand on abortion. We are actually causing more abortions to happen and far greater maternal deaths as well. It seems it may be the only reason our church leaders ever condemned abortion was not to save the lives of the unborn or help women but to merely try to control women thru their reproductive organs. Our hierarchy still seems bent on trying to push women back into having many kids so they can't work and are forced to be housewives even if that is not what they want for themselves. This is misogyny to the highest degree. These lies are killing more unborn and women every day around the world. It is in the Western European Countries and for now, the U.S, that have the lowest rates of abortion because abortion and birth control are legal and more easily obtained. If our hierarchy wants to become actually Pro Life then it needs to convert its stand on illegalizing abortion everywhere in the world and support free and easily accessed birth control around the globe.

Guttmacher Stats which agree with the WHO's research:

From Guttmacher: Abortion and Birth Control Stats.

( and Notes from my other research on this topic -are after these stats.)
REGIONAL INCIDENCE AND TRENDS:

• The highest annual rate of abortion in 2010–2014 was in the Caribbean, estimated at 59 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, followed by South America, at 48.
The lowest rates were in Northern America, at 17, and Western and Northern Europe—at 16 and 18, respectively.
• Across regions, Eastern Europe experienced the largest decline in the abortion rate, from 88 in 1990–1994 to 42 in 2010–2014. Despite this decline, there is a persistent gap in rates between Eastern and Western Europe (42 vs. 16) likely reflecting lower use of effective, modern contraceptive methods in Eastern Europe.
• The overall abortion rate in Africa was 34 per 1,000 women in 2010–2014. Subregional rates ranged from 31 in Western Africa to 38 in Northern Africa. There has been little if any change in abortion rates in these subregions since 1990–1994.
• For Latin America, subregional abortion rates range from 33 in Central America to 48 in South America. Rates have increased slightly since 1990–1994, but not by statistically significant amounts.
• Abortion rates in Asia have also fallen since 1990–1994, although not significantly. Asia’s subregions all have rates close to the regional average of 36 per 1,000 women.
• Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. When countries are grouped according to the grounds under which the procedure is legal, the rate is 37 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age where it is prohibited altogether or allowed only to save a woman’s life, compared with 34 per 1,000 where it is available on request, a nonsignificant difference.
• High levels of unmet need for contraception help explain the prevalence of abortion in countries with restrictive abortion laws.

What I have researched from other appropriate sources agrees with Guttmacher but also indicates the below information on this subject:
The World Health Organization Research agrees with the Guttmacher Research. Their results are almost identical.
However, neither the W.H.O. or Guttmacher can give us a solid conclusion, due to lack of evidence, as to what happens when countries offer easy access to quality birth control but make their abortion laws stricter. This is due to the fact that most countries either are lenient on both issues or they are strict on access to both abortion and birth control.
We could make some confident speculation, based on the global evidence that does exist, that in countries, currently, where laws are strict for both abortion and birth control or where both are criminalized, that were these countries to loosen up laws on birth control access alone and not on abortion, the abortion rates would come down more, and likely closer to where the Western and developed nations are at. However, these countries are not necessarily or likely to get quite as low as the western, industrialized, countries since there does exist evidence that the mere difficulty of access to abortion alone lends, especially in certain cases, to higher abortion rates by itself.
Unfortunately, in the countries where the laws for abortion become much stricter than in the past, such as may exist in the U.S. for the future, the amount of abortions could increase quite a bit even if birth control access remains easy and free. One of the reasons this is true is due to the fact that, in these countries, many women who get pregnant in their later years, 40s or older, often now seek to get an amnio to see if their fetus is healthy. They can only get this during the late part of the 3rd month or beginning of the fourth month of their pregnancy. With stricter laws, some of these women may decide they don't want to take the chance the fetus is unhealthy or has downs syndrome, and instead may opt to get an early abortion thru more easily, anonymously obtained, although perhaps illegally obtained, abortion pills. These pills become not an option in later months, and testing would put women in a position to not be able to deny they are pregnant, publicly, if they wait, so this puts the women at risk they could be charged with a crime if abortion becomes illegal. (Please note: I am not suggesting this is right or moral or Christian behavior but only that the reality exist and I personally know quite a few women who would fit this category, today, in the U.S. despite anyone's opinions or beliefs)
A horrible side effect of the above situation is this: 50% of all downs fetuses naturally miscarry in the first trimester, and 40% that make it to the 2nd trimester miscarry then. Fetuses that have other severe health issues often miscarry, naturally, within the first three - four months of pregnancy as well. The amount of downs fetuses that become born infants are very small amounts even for older women. This illness is still quite rare overall. This means many women could end up aborting perfectly healthy fetuses, by the thousands, each year, or more, to avoid the possibility of having an unhealthy baby, and this number increases if women already have other children. One way some western countries avoid this issue is that they keep early abortions legal and allow later abortions into the 4th and 5th month if the fetus has tested unhealthy or the woman's life is in real danger if she remains pregnant. Many married older women think they aren't fertile when they still are and stop taking birth control.
Lastly, there is no existing evidence that easy access to abortions, even throughout pregnancy, equates to more abortions, in any country, that has free and easy access to birth control. In fact, countries with easy access to abortion and also free easy access to birth control have the lowest rates in the world, and these rates lower even more when those countries offer mandated longer paid maternity/paternity leaves, free quality universal health care, and free, quality, public daycare. (The only exception to this seems to be Sweden. Despite Sweden's similarly ease of access to both abortion and birth control and it's offering many of the benefits listed above that other Western European Countries offer, it still has quite a high abortion rate. However, there is no evidence suggesting that tightening Sweden's existing laws would lower its rate for abortion and doing so would likely only raise it even higher.)
The evidence we do have seems to indicate, on a global scale, that despite what seems reasonable in theory, i.e., harsh abortion laws will lower abortion rates, is completely false when put to the test in reality. It just may be that easy access to abortion, and lenient abortion laws, help more to reduce abortion rates than having strict laws against abortion, in any country. Perhaps some morality issues simply cannot be solved by force or threat but must instead be dealt with by respecting the situation of the people involved and helping them out of their place of fear or desperation, with physical and material protections and emotional and spiritual support. We could do much more perhaps by encouraging a choice for good, and for life, without attempting to control women. We could choose to help women in real ways, instead of trying to corner them into doing the Christian thing.

Jim Lein
4 months 3 weeks ago

Men, us guys, could stop causing unwanted pregnancies. How about Catholic men taking a pledge to never or never again contribute to an unwanted pregnancy, and certainly not pressure a woman we impregnate to have an abortion?
Until men stop contributing to the problem, we should not vote for outlawing abortion. If it is again outlawed, we should at least admit that we are accomplices.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 3 weeks ago

and so are you saying ... the the devil tricks men, by sexual sin, to deny the Holy Spirit, to commit the Deadliest Sin by manipulating them into lying to themselves about the seriousness of killing human beings?..... even to the end they deny the humanity of the 'most vulnerable' among us?. ..to the end that, to salve their consciences, they become cheer- leaders for the ever growing abortion industry that is killing their children? So the men offer their children as a sacrifice for their sins? To whom is the sacrifice given?

Cynthia Yoshitomi
4 months 3 weeks ago

If this is the Jesuit stance on who is the least among us, the Order has not been through the same world events that I or other Catholics have ben through. The hypocrisy of this article in the light of the starvation Rape of women and children in War zones and within the Catholic Church and the evidence that there is something severely wrong in the all male priesthood is the world I live in. Fr Malone your supported Kavanaugh and now this? Apologize to the women and Children you discount every day with your need to follow this false moral code coming from one of the most corrupt institutions on earth. Being an American Catholic is so much more spiritually and morally complicated than your writings reveal. Start listening to real women who lead real lives. Listen to the victims of child rape, sexual harassment.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 3 weeks ago

It's not a Jesuit 'stance'. It is the 2000 year old teaching of the Catholic Church. The Jesuits are Catholic.

Cynthia Yoshitomi
4 months 3 weeks ago

If this is the Jesuit stance on who is the least among us, the Order has not been through the same world events that I or other Catholics have ben through. The hypocrisy of this article in the light of the starvation Rape of women and children in War zones and within the Catholic Church and the evidence that there is something severely wrong in the all male priesthood is the world I live in. Fr Malone your supported Kavanaugh and now this? Apologize to the women and Children you discount every day with your need to follow this false moral code coming from one of the most corrupt institutions on earth. Being an American Catholic is so much more spiritually and morally complicated than your writings reveal. Start listening to real women who lead real lives. Listen to the victims of child rape, sexual harassment.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 3 weeks ago

Please don't pretend to speak for all women nor all women who have been raped, abused etc. How dare you rape and abuse the teachings of Christ?. As a woman who has experienced life and is well familiar with human foibles, I can say you don't represent me nor, I would bet, a multitude of women and children, many of whom have experienced trauma. .. To Whom do you think the priest owes his allegiance? Oh, that's right....Jesus was a man so he doesn't have the proper 'union ticket' to speak about this issue. Your tortured, unholy, pro-holocaust, bloodthirsty diatribe has no saving grace and has no place in an honest discussion about Catholic teaching..

Cynthia Yoshitomi
4 months 3 weeks ago

If this is the Jesuit stance on who is the least among us, the Order has not been through the same world events that I or other Catholics have ben through. The hypocrisy of this article in the light of the starvation Rape of women and children in War zones and within the Catholic Church and the evidence that there is something severely wrong in the all male priesthood is the world I live in. Fr Malone your supported Kavanaugh and now this? Apologize to the women and Children you discount every day with your need to follow this false moral code coming from one of the most corrupt institutions on earth. Being an American Catholic is so much more spiritually and morally complicated than your writings reveal. Start listening to real women who lead real lives. Listen to the victims of child rape, sexual harassment.

Pamela Kestner
4 months 3 weeks ago

If you want to protect the unborn, care for the women.

Judith Jordan
4 months 3 weeks ago

I agree with the claim that the unborn are defenseless and innocent. However, I do not understand why they are considered more defenseless and innocent than a new born baby. Or, a six-month-old, or a nine month old, or on and on.

If a woman has an abortion, she is immediately excommunicated. But, if someone kills a new born baby, there is no automatic excommunication. Why is that? Or, why was no Nazi excommunicated? A moral position in the 1930s and 1940s would have been for the Church to excommunicate every Nazi. Instead, the Church often worked very closely with the Nazis.

It is obvious why so many, especially women, question the Church’s adamant condemnation of abortion while it remained thunderously silent on so many other evil issues, such as the Nazis. Yes, there were Church members who helped the victims of the Nazis, but the institutional church should have been the leader in condemning and excommunicating all Nazis.

There is one exception. The Church did excommunicate Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Reich Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany. However, the Church did not excommunicate him for killing millions of people. He was excommunicated because he married a divorce woman outside of the Church. By excommunicating Goebbels on the divorce issue and not for killing millions, the Church made itself look even more ridiculous and was, I believe, a source of scandal.

This article reminds us that St. Paul told us success will not come through force of will. Yet the Catholic Church is one of the leaders insisting that abortion should be illegal, i.e. force. The leaders against abortion have an ethical obligation to research the consequences of their positions. The illegalization will not stop abortion. It means women, many of whom are already mothers, will seek illegal abortions. They will die and leave their children orphaned. Or, live and be prosecuted and separated from their children while the mothers serve time in prison. I fail to see any good in these scenarios. Please do not say the mothers will not be legally punished. That is already happening in some states where there are strong restrictions against abortion.

Finally, I often find those who are the most adamant in opposing abortion are also the most adamant against government programs to help the defenseless and innocent baby. The Catholic Church has not been guilty of this, but many Catholics leaders are. Also evangelical Protestants have the same failure. This also gives rise to suspicions of the opponents’ motivations.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 3 weeks ago

Regarding the Catholic Church cooperating with Nazis....A bunch of ignorant stuff. Not true. I researched this years ago for purposes of public speaking. My research included consulting with Jewish communities and literature. That stuff was made up by those who profited on fundamentalist protestant talk circuits and was completely negated by the Encyclopedia Judaica.. I don't think the protestant community gives it credence nowadays . In fact, the Encyclopedia Judaica said thousands of Jewish children were hidden in the Vatican and the Catholic people in Italy hid thousands of Jews at great peril to themselves.. I knew a family from Avelino, whose truck was buried with the help of neighbors to avoid confiscation. This Jewish family was able to retrieve their truck at the end of the war . (As a side note, because it was the only truck in southern Italy at the time , they, my friends, made a lot of money). I also learned from the Encyclopedia Judaica, that the Jewish population of Italy managed to retrieve 85% of their possessions at the end of the war largely due to the help they received from the Catholic population. I hope the Jesuits are so inspired.

Daku Mundi
4 months 3 weeks ago

Society is the real culprit here and that consists all of us. The norms and rules that we have made ourselves to judge someone's character make people take such wrong actions. We can't control everyone's mind so this debate can go on forever with no real solution.
Speaking of solution does anyone know how to type Degree Symbol Mac ?

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 3 weeks ago

To Matt Malone and other Jesuits: I hope you will see the responses on this site by self described pro-abortion Catholics as a wake-up call, and rise to serve Christ. We need new, updated and ongoing focus on this issue. Years from now, will it be said you were lackluster during this holocaust?, That you didn't speak out often with courage and passion?........that you were not energized enough to write a profusion of your own articles on this critical issue?... (and present more than one or two a year at that?) Satan tries to neutralize us with our own sin. We can't let that happen.

Joseph Corrado
4 months 3 weeks ago

Rev. Malone, the hypocrisy in your "Protecting the least among us" article was breathtaking. It would have been more honest for you to acknowledge that respect for life logically begins with caring for the lives of human persons already in the world. Speaking of the "slaughter of innocents" is so easy when they are not in your back yard! Moreover, an all-male hierarchy that has become corroded by breathtaking moral turpitude is in no position to tell women how to exercise dominion over their own bodies. Why didn't you offer any scriptural or rational argument for why unborn humans are the "least among us?" Did you mean that they are the least able to engage socially? And why didn't you examine the assumption that the possible future truth of a fetus should take precedence over the actual truth of well-intentioned men and women?

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 3 weeks ago

Priests have no authority to 'interpret' the Bible and neither do you. That authority was given by Christ to the successors of the Apostles, period.. A priest has taken vows to serve The Body of Christ and his allegiance belongs to Christ. Take it or leave it. Like it or not. Respect for Human life, beginning at conception, is as old as the Church. We are encouraged to read the Bible for inspiration. Remember John jumped for joy in Elizabeth's womb when pregnant Mary visited her. Personally, I find men who promote the killing of human beings (usually for convenience and as a salve for their own guilty consciences) to be cowardly. Standing up for the persecuted and the voiceless in the face of a monstrous bully takes courage.

Crystal Watson
4 months 3 weeks ago

Priests can and do interpret the bible. There are many Catholic priests who are bible scholars (and Jesuits) like Felix Just SJ.
Jesus didn't give the disciples authority to exclusively interpret the bible (mush less the NT).
Priests take vows to God of chastity, poverty, obedience, (and for Jesuits, to the Pope if he wants to send them off somewhere) ... not "to serve the body of Christ".
There's nothing in the bible and nothing said by Jesus in the gospels about human life beginning at conception. There wasn't a consensus about when a fetus gained a soul in the early church.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 3 weeks ago

Not true. Priests cannot interpret the Bible. You are not educated in the Faith. All deference is given to the successors of the Apostles.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 3 weeks ago

Regardless of any ' Bible scholar' designation, total deference is given to the successors of the Apostles. If there is any confusion, it will be settled by the final word of the successors of the Apostles , which is where the authority lies, by the authority of Jesus Christ Himself. (The Bible has been translated through many languages, cultures, and time frames and languages don't translate literally. The meaning of words change over time also. The first written gospels appeared about 75 years after Christ died. Before that, oral accounts reported the Story.Most early Christians couldn't read anyway( and inscribing materials were probably hard to come by. ) . And even so, there were many manuscripts that didn't make it into the Bible that the Bshops canonized in the 4th century .( The 27 that went into the New Testament came from a pool of approximately 400 that were circulating at the time) What makes you think you (or a priest) can usurp the direction of Jesus Christ and speak for Him?). You have not been given direction or permission, by Jesus, to do so and neither have those 'biblical scholars' I'm sure they are useful as consultants, much like the clerks that serve the justices on the supreme court. Bottom line... no priest , unless rogue, will say he can 'interpret' scripture. He can call attention to inspiration from Scripture but that's it.

Crystal Watson
4 months 2 weeks ago

The "successors of the apostles" are frail human beings who can make mistakes.
Catholics ... 51% say abortion should be legal in all or most cases ...
24 percent of women who procure abortions identify as Catholic, almost the same as 22 percent of all U.S. women who called themselves Catholic in a 2014 survey by Pew Research Center.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 2 weeks ago

Again, you miss the point. ... ( By the way, the Catholic Church isn't a democracy.. What are you trying to show with 'poll' numbers ?. We don't vote on faith and morals in the Catholic Church)._____ Divine Tradition (from which the Christian Bible was produced), shows us the Pope, when speaking Ex-Cathedra, and the Bishops, when defining doctrine ecumenically ( under specifically defined circumstances), are endowed with The Holy Spirit to speak infallibly. This is The Faith. This is it. Like it or not. The Church has had 'bad' popes and bishops, but we remain confident the teaching is guided by the Holy Spirit. Remember . ..'.and'upon this rock I will build My Church' ... ..' the gates of hell shall not prevail' against it.'....whatsoever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven'..... and ....'whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. A 'Judas' or two will not bring His Church down.

Crystal Watson
4 months 2 weeks ago

** Remember . ..'.and'upon this rock I will build My Church' ... ..'**
Yeah, and then there was Jesus saying to Peter "Get thee behind me, Satan" ;) ... Mark 8:33

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 2 weeks ago

Crystal: You confirm what I said above. I repeat. Without the charism of The Holy Spirit, Satan ,( or people) can easily use the thousands of words in the 'Bible' to say almost any self serving thing they want. As I also said, In the fourth century, the Catholic Bishops, in their majesterial role, by the authority given to them by Jesus Christ, gathered 27 out of over 400 floating manuscripts, pronounced them as the inspired Word of God and formed the Christian Bible. The majesterium interprets the Bible by the same authority that prompted its formation.
The Bible is a portion of the Revelation given to the Church by God.. Divine Tradition is also Revelation, of which not all is contained the Bible; but all of the Bible came out of Divine Tradition and is therefore never inconsistent with it.

Crystal Watson
4 months 2 weeks ago

First, Jesus didn't give the Catholic bishops anything. There's no reason to believe Jesus envisioned the present day Catholic hierarchy as having some special authority. And speaking of self-serving, the church says that the bishops have the only authority to tell us what the bible says/means, and they base that on their own interpretation of the bible. I'm starting to really get what was behind the Reformation ;)

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 2 weeks ago

Crystal: ----- You say "... Jesus didn't give the Catholic bishops anything. There's no reason to believe Jesus envisioned the present day Catholic hierarchy as having some special authority." ------ And you're right about the Reformation.. You don't espouse Catholicism. You outright deny it. The Authority given by Jesus Christ,( God Himself), is the crux of the belief. Protestant churches deny the authority of the only Witness that reaches back through the ages to Jesus Himself. The problem is, the concept of Sola Scriptura destroys it own credibility. Once you deny the' Authority' that formed the' Bible', there is no basis for it. It's a fairy tale. It has no intellectual integrity. You also deny the Deity of Jesus Christ by saying " There's no reason to believe Jesus envisioned the present day Catholic hierarchy...." You're saying Jesus was fallible.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 2 weeks ago

ps to Crystal: Given your outright declaration , I wonder why or how or even if you're Catholic. It doesn't matter except it's good to know where you're starting from when you offer opinion in this venue. If I didn't believe Christ was God, I wouldn't be Catholic.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 2 weeks ago

accidental repeat

Crystal Watson
4 months 2 weeks ago

I am a Catholic, though I've become pretty disillusioned about the Catholic church over the years. Jesus' life is not a fairy tale just because some people don't think the Catholic church has the exclusive right to interpret the gospels. Jesus existed, he was a historical figure, and there is other evidence besides the gospels of that. The important thing about Christianity is what Jesus did, what he said, and his resurrection ... not the idea that Jesus gave some special authority to one denomination. Certainly Christians of other denominations believe Jesus is God. Sometimes it seems like Catholics worship Catholicism more than Jesus.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 2 weeks ago

Crystal: The only way to know what Jesus said and did is by way of the Church and what it recorded and preserved and taught.. The entire story rests on the credibility of the Catholic Church.

Crystal Watson
4 months 2 weeks ago

You conflate Christianity with Catholicism. The Protestant churches are just as much the heirs of the early Christian church as the Catholic church is.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 2 weeks ago

Jesus did not establish a Protestant Church ; He did establish The Catholic Church and all existing historical evidence supports this statement .. The word 'Christian' as a name for the Church Christ established is not historical. It's a modern invention that came out of the Protestant 'Reformation' and became in common use in Anglican culture.. Originally , the Church was referred to simply as' The Church' .
The earliest known written expression of the word 'Catholic', likely in its Greek form, was by by Ignatius of Antioch, 3rd Bishop of Rome , in 105 ad, in a letter to the Church on his way to be fed to lions. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna and martyr, also referred to the Church as Catholic, which means "universal' and 'whole', indicating the 'whole of salvation' in the Catholic Church. . In 325, the Council of Nicaea, confirmed the popular name and also described the attributes of the Church..
The attributes, which were ensconced in The Nicene Creed, were '' One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic'. No Protestant Church can be described by these attributes and none are historically connected to Jesus, the Apostles., the martyrs, the early patriarchs or anyone who was connected to them. The Catholic Church, to this day, matches those descriptors, ie, ONE.....( Catholics are united as one in the Eucharist all around the world), HOLY...(because it was established by Jesus) , CATHOLIC ..(.it embodies the fullness of salvation and is universal..all over the world) APOSTOLIC......(.. the Apostles were its first leaders, ie Peter was first Bishop of Rome, and Ignatius and Polycarp and others were taught by Apostles).
. Protestant' Churches' can be Christian communities but not Churches. When congregants are baptized, they are actually baptized into the Catholic Church. .Without apostolic successors, they have no authority to 'interpret' the Bible or proclaim doctrine. They also do not have the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
And no, Protestant 'churches' are not 'just as much heirs..' How could they be? They were started a good fifteen hundred years after Christ. by men, not Jesus, ie Luther, Henry the viii, John Knox, Calvin etc . There are thousands of splinter groups from the ones that originated by protesting the Catholic Church , the Church whose lineage connects directly with the Apostles, and the one whose founder is Jesus Himself. ............... Historical evidence shows your claim to be without merit.

Crystal Watson
4 months 2 weeks ago

I think you are wrong and at the end of the day it doesn't matter - Jesus doesn't care what Christian denomination a believer belongs to.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 2 weeks ago

Crystal : How do you know ? ( ....... think about it. )

Crystal Watson
4 months 2 weeks ago

If you know anything about him, you know that.

Bill Mazzella
4 months 2 weeks ago

Matt,

This topic, along with your 10 top stories of 2018, shows how you are swayed more by what it is in fashion than to work on getting people to elevated their lives. For example how many stories have you done on New Horizons or the latest on "Ultima Thule.

Matt,

Neither this topic nor your ten best stories of the last year shows your vision is where it ought to be. How many words did you spend of New Horizons or the latest on "Ultima Thule?" 4 billion miles away brings us photos and you are silent. We know that Awe is a gift of the Holy Spirit! But where are you on this Matt? I know the mob likes the fashionable items. But we must be crucified with Christ and point to the ultimate where there is joy and celebration to be had. Far from this imperfect world!! It is only in dying that we live. Look at nature and pollination. We have to avoid what is fashionable and rejoice always with Paul as we look to New Worlds and New Joy!

Phil Lawless
4 months 2 weeks ago

Abortion results when a mother-to-be can foresee no future relationship with her fetus. Whether it is because of the circumstances of the conception or the future prospects of nurturing, the mother cannot commit to birthing her offspring. Would you insist that this is a relationship that must continue, with all sorts of bad consequences likely? If all sorts of supportive help provided the mother for birth and adoption, is this enough to encourage pregnancy rescues? I do not think so. Who an rescue the pregnant mother from shame and condemnation? Society judges cruelly for a universal urge so easily assented to. I have personal knowledge of those consequences. I do think if churches were to survey married couples, it would be astonished at the evidence of premarital sex. But they would never do that because it would indicate a lack of influence over the behavior of their followers.

Annette Magjuka
4 months 2 weeks ago

There was a Samantha Bee show about how women with tragic pregnancies are at risk in Catholic hospitals, where the fetus takes precedence over the life of the mother (even a dead fetus that is infecting the mother). A Catholic priest said, “sometimes a mother just has to die with her baby.” Women do not want to die with our babies. We are full human beings with rights. We want agency over our bodies. WOMEN must be in charge, not men. Period.

ELIZABETH MALONE
4 months 2 weeks ago

It is migraine-inducing to hear anti-abortion railings from quarters famous for their indifference to mothers and little ones once they arrive in this world . Anti-abortion militance is the easiest and least constructive part of a pro-life commitment.
No one who has witnessed the crushing heartbreak of a child alone and defenseless with the horror of violence, starvation, disease, trauma could possibly condemn a woman for attempting to thwart fate, however misguided the effort. This is not to condone abortion as a solution. It is to say our male clergy have lacked the imagination and the empathy to do much other than harp with fire and brimstone about protecting the unborn. It is to say that this in itself is barely a nod in the cause of protecting the least among us. It does nothing to address the many, complex and ongoing supports needed by both mother and child. It may even aggravate the conditions which tip the decision.
Church leaders would do better to spend their moral energies creating safe havens that offer children and their mothers the right (not just the hope) to thrive in a welcoming community. In a world of warm and reliable embrace there is little reason to consider terminating a pregnancy.
But such a world can never come to pass as long as the preventable sufferings of women and children are brushed aside in favor of sanctimonious finger shaking.

ELIZABETH MALONE
4 months 2 weeks ago

It is migraine-inducing to hear anti-abortion railings from quarters famous for their indifference to mothers and little ones once they arrive in this world . Anti-abortion militance is the easiest and least constructive part of a pro-life commitment.
No one who has witnessed the crushing heartbreak of a child alone and defenseless with the horror of violence, starvation, disease, trauma could possibly condemn a woman for attempting to thwart fate, however misguided the effort. This is not to condone abortion as a solution. It is to say our male clergy have lacked the imagination and the empathy to do much other than harp with fire and brimstone about protecting the unborn. It is to say that this in itself is barely a nod in the cause of protecting the least among us. It does nothing to address the many, complex and ongoing supports needed by both mother and child. It may even aggravate the conditions which tip the decision.
Church leaders would do better to spend their moral energies creating safe havens that offer children and their mothers the right (not just the hope) to thrive in a welcoming community. In a world of warm and reliable embrace there is little reason to consider terminating a pregnancy.
But such a world can never come to pass as long as the preventable sufferings of women and children are brushed aside in favor of sanctimonious finger shaking.

ELIZABETH MALONE
4 months 2 weeks ago

It is migraine-inducing to hear anti-abortion railings from quarters famous for their indifference to mothers and little ones once they arrive in this world . Anti-abortion militance is the easiest and least constructive part of a pro-life commitment.
No one who has witnessed the crushing heartbreak of a child alone and defenseless with the horror of violence, starvation, disease, trauma could possibly condemn a woman for attempting to thwart fate, however misguided the effort. This is not to condone abortion as a solution. It is to say our male clergy have lacked the imagination and the empathy to do much other than harp with fire and brimstone about protecting the unborn. It is to say that this in itself is barely a nod in the cause of protecting the least among us. It does nothing to address the many, complex and ongoing supports needed by both mother and child. It may even aggravate the conditions which tip the decision.
Church leaders would do better to spend their moral energies creating safe havens that offer children and their mothers the right (not just the hope) to thrive in a welcoming community. In a world of warm and reliable embrace there is little reason to consider terminating a pregnancy.
But such a world can never come to pass as long as the preventable sufferings of women and children are brushed aside in favor of sanctimonious finger shaking.

Bev Ceccanti
4 months 2 weeks ago

Really? I've been looking for comment about this issue for months and have found little reference to it by Jesuits on this site or any other venue. Where's the 'fire and brimstone' in this article? I can't recall any 'fire and brimstone' rhetoric from Jesuits ( or others) during sermons at Mass either. ( and I attend regularly). The article is consistent with the position of the majesterium and 2000 years of Catholic teaching and, furthermore, the defense of the unborn doesn't equate to a lack of compassion toward women and children. The presentation of these false, zero-sum scenarios is dishonest on its face and is intended to intimidate and muzzle the Truth. ( Nice try).

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