An anonymous commenter known as "L" left a comment yesterday that I thought was worthy of its own post, as it covered many topics that begged to be addressed.
Her comments are in red italics.
I agree with college student about sex since the beginning of time and will one up that with "read up on human history." After all it was a long, long time ago that the Catholic Church itself was waffling on the sticky issue of "ensoulment" (for college student, this was the notion that a fetus did not have a soul until 40 days gestation for a male or 90 days for a female... because the church, like most folks at the time, did not see females as equal.)
L, thank you so much for this opportunity to publicly correct this very common error. The issue of "ensoulment" was a theological concept, a pondering put forward by theologians at the time. There was never a time when the Catholic Church condoned abortion. The Church, regardless of the "ensoulment" discussion, has always and everywhere taught that abortion is an inherent evil. Moral truth does not change.
Has there been sexism in the Church through the ages? Because her members are human, and sinners, yes. There have been sinners of every stripe in the Church, as much yesterday as today. To read what Pope John Paul had to say about sexism and the dignity of women in general, please read his Letter to Women. If you truly desire the Catholic response to this concern, it's worth your time.
Some Popes denounced any abortion regardless and some said it was okay as long as they did it before ensoulment.
Some popes "said it was okay"? When you make a statement like that, you really need to cite your evidence. The truth is that no pope ever -- at any time, in any era -- taught that abortion was okay.
There have always been drugs, teas, tinctures to induce abortions - even hundreds of years ago. It is WELL DOCUMENTED.
You are absolutely correct. Not only has abortion existed hundreds of years ago, but thousands of years ago. Catholicism has stood against abortion since Christ founded the Church over two thousand years ago; after all, abortion (and infanticide) was quite common in pagan Rome. No one on this blog, nor any Catholic I know, would dispute the fact that abortion has always existed. Murder, rape, theft, lying, cheating, and myriad other sins have also always existed. There is no new sin under the sun.
Ever since men have had the upper-hand over women, there has always been rape, incest, domination and subjugation throughout history. But here, in modern times we have a voice to say "NO MORE."
The wording here makes me think of the first part of this story. You are correct that sinful men have oppressed (and continue to oppress) women. Rape, domination, and subjugation are evil and unjust, and I thank God that we live in a nation where we do have a voice to fight that evil and assert our innate human dignity. If you "read up on human history" (to borrow your words), you will see that Western civilization has provided women the greatest freedom and dignity, as well as the loudest voice with which to oppose misogyny. In most cultures outside of Western civilization, women are still systematically and/or legally dominated, subjugated, dehumanized, raped and even murdered. I encourage you to investigate why Western civilization has been so good for women, while other civilizations have continued to oppress and misuse them.
What about suffrage? Thank you feminists. NOt Being the PROPERTY (not partner) of one's husband? Thank you feminists. Being able to breastfeed in public? Thank you feminists.
Oh, how I love the suffragists! Thank you, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Victoria Woodhull, Sarah Norton, and so many other strong, courageous women! The early feminists knew that the violence of abortion was a crime against both women and children and an affront to human dignity. Their stories are compelling and inspiring, and I join you in lauding these amazing women.
Now, "women as property" is a non-Christian concept, as the dignity, equality, and partnership of spouses is made clear from the beginning:
1605 Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: "It is not good that the man should be alone." The woman, "flesh of his flesh," i.e., his counterpart, his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a "helpmate"; she thus represents God from whom comes our help.
1662 Marriage is based on the consent of the contracting parties, that is, on their will to give themselves, each to the other, mutually and definitively, in order to live a covenant of faithful and fruitful love. [Catechism of the Catholic Church]
Breastfeeding, in public or otherwise? You've come to the right place! God Himself designed breastfeeding, which is so beautiful that it's actually theological:
…[Breastfeeding] benefits the child and helps to create the closeness and maternal bonding so necessary for healthy child development. So human and natural is this bond that the Psalms use the image of the infant at its mother’s breast as a picture of God’s care for man.... [Pope John Paul II's Address on Breastfeeding, 1995]
So, thanks be to God for breastfeeding! And thank you to the seven courageous and devout Catholic mothers who founded the La Leche League in 1956 to support nursing moms when the rest of society had turned to bottle feeding. Even if modern feminism never existed, Catholics are all over breastfeeding.
You may hate contraception and abortion and the using of sex as a cheap way to fill carnal and sinful desires (secular people don't like a lot of this lifestyle either) But stop with blaming feminism.
I hope you are correct that secular people don't like that lifestyle either. But what part of secular/liberal philosophy will lead to the cessation of that lifestyle? Can you show me in feminist literature where the "free love" mindset is being fought against or repudiated? Help me understand why modern feminist thought is not an accessory to the sexual mess we find ourselves in today.
Stay out of FoxNews type talking points.
That came seemingly out of the blue! But let's address it: Fox News talking points on what? Contraception? I have never heard a FoxNews reporter or commentator oppose contraception. I assume they use contraception at the same rate as the general public. In fact, I remember when Sean Hannity (a Catholic) fought on air with a priest, vehemently defending his own use of contraception!
Or perhaps you believe that Fox News has talking points in defense of Catholic moral teaching? It's quite the opposite. Bill O'Reilly (a Catholic) has bashed John Paul II and the Church's teachings on sex more times than I care to remember. I was so offended that I stopped watching Fox News for years because of it. Fox News is most definitely not a mouthpiece for the Catholic Church.
These are effects of the human condition, they don't exist because some women don't want to get pregnant and take a pill to keep from doing so.
You are absolutely right that sin is part of the human condition, a result of the Fall. And as we humans have the strong tendency to be drawn toward sin (virtue ain't easy!), any mindset or philosophy that facilitates or encourages sin is best avoided. There are better alternatives, which keep us happy and healthy. :)
L, in conclusion, I can't assume that your misrepresentation of the Catholic Church is due to bigotry or malice, so I will assume it's just that you didn't know. I like your passion, I think we do have points of agreement, and I do hope that you will continue to comment. However, if you are going to make your case against Catholicism, please check Catholic sources to make sure you first understand what Catholics believe. That way the debate is fair and honest, and readers can see both sides presented with integrity. I truly appreciate it.
“The truth is, of course, that the curtness of the Ten Commandments is an evidence, not of the gloom and narrowness of a religion, but, on the contrary, of its liberality and humanity. It is shorter to state the things forbidden than the things permitted: precisely because most things are permitted, and only a few things are forbidden.”