Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Sorry, you're not allowed to do that.

This has been on my mind for a long time now.

I am going to be blunt.

You are not the arbiter of Christian doctrine.
You don't get to decide the tenets of Christianity.
You don't have permission to reverse or negate Christian teaching.

You don't have the authority to define Christianity.

Neither do I.

If you are a Catholic, you don't get to pick and choose which parts of the moral law and the Creed are valid. If you are a Protestant, you don't get to personally interpret the Bible and tell us what you are sure Christ meant. If you are a secularist, you don't get remake Jesus in your own image, i.e., a New Agey, non-threatening guru who fits neatly into your own worldview.

Trust me, it's nothing personal.

You just simply don't have that option.

You didn't establish Christianity, and you have no permission to reinvent it.

You see, Christianity is a revealed religion.
It was given. It is handed down.

It is not open to anyone's personal interpretation, whether one's name is Arius, Nestorius, Luther, Kennedy, Pelosi, Chittister, or Miller.

You can choose to accept the whole of Christianity and her teachings, or you are free to reject them. You are even free to start your own religion, teaching whatever you'd prefer.

But you do not have the right to speak in the name of Christ's Church and define authentic Christian belief for yourself or others.

You do not have that right, because you do not have that authority. 

Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle (St. John) and the entire Deposit of Faith has been handed down intact by the only men to whom Christ delegated His authority: The Apostles and their successors, also known as the pope and the body of bishops. This teaching authority, or Magisterium, is not you*, and it's definitely not me.

The Magisterium, guided by the Holy Spirit, protects the Deposit of Faith from any deviation, addition, subtraction, reversal, contradiction, distortion, or destruction offered by those who wish Church teaching to be something it is not.

So, as earnest as you are, as sincere as you are, as studious as you are, as kind as you are, even as holy as you are, you are not allowed in any way to alter, bypass, morph, undermine, negate, or redefine Christian teaching on faith or morals and still insist that it's Christian.

You may receive the Faith, you may accept the Faith, and you may hand down the Faith pure and entire, but you may not be its arbiter.


Sorry, you're just plain not allowed to do that.



Related post: Authority


*I am 100% certain that a Bavarian going by the name of Benedict an Argentinian going by the name of Francis is not reading the Bubble.


+++++++

For emphasis, and for the sheer joy and peace that faithful Catholics feel when the millennia melt away as we read the Early Fathers, I give you St. Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, extolling in 189 A.D. the selfsame faith we hold today. He writes of what Christians everywhere already knew… but which the heretics could not accept:


"It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about" (Against Heresies 3:3:1 [A.D. 189]). 

"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul—that church which has the tradition and the faith with which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world. And it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition" (ibid., 3:3:2). 

"Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time" (ibid., 3:3:4). 

"Since therefore we have such proofs, it is not necessary to seek the truth among others which it is easy to obtain from the Church; since the apostles, like a rich man [depositing his money] in a bank, lodged in her hands most copiously all things pertaining to the truth, so that every man, whosoever will, can draw from her the water of life. . . . For how stands the case? Suppose there arise a dispute relative to some important question among us, should we not have recourse to the most ancient churches with which the apostles held constant conversation, and learn from them what is certain and clear in regard to the present question?" (ibid., 3:4:1). 

"[I]t is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Church—those who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the infallible charism of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth" (ibid., 4:26:2). 

"The true knowledge is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops, by which succession the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere" (ibid., 4:33:8). 


For more Fathers on Church authority and apostolic succession, go here.



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110 comments:

  1. *I am 100% certain that a Bavarian going by the name of Benedict is not reading the Bubble.

    ***

    I actually really did laugh out loud when I read this line and Mike wanted to know what I was looking at.

    Love this post, Leila!

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  2. Amen! Could you add a little graphic so I can Pin this post?

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  3. Thank you, Leila! Hope you have a great day.

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  4. You are about to start some trouble.......... :)

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  5. Love this! you said it so well (as usual)!

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  6. You really have some nerve Leila tellin' folks that they're not God and all....

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  7. Ooh, dems fightin' words... but none truer have ever been spoken.

    Nice one, mama.

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  8. I couldn't agree more.

    Except for this one part: "the entire Deposit of Faith has been handed down intact" that's not strictly true.

    I just wish more Catholics would accept this, or cease calling themselves Catholics.

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  9. This may be one of my favorite posts ever!

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  10. Interestingly, many Protestant sects not only believe they DO have this authority, but they actually encourage the "me and my bible" approach to studying the revealed truths of God. This fails even on a logical level, for how can you lead a group of self-led individuals?

    Now that I'm Catholic, I hear a lot of talk about these "Catholic" (or so-called Catholic groups) who are trying to reinvent the wheel. It's an outrage to be sure, but I suppose its less shocking to me. My former faith tradition actually thrived on this kind of division! I'm so glad that I'm now in Christ's Church where division is actually seen for the scandal that it is.

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  11. Amen, amen, amen. Shall we say it again? Amen!

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  12. Perfect. Hope you don't mind that I printed out a copy to use when my personal Jehovah's come to visit (yes, I seem to be a special project for them. They even brought the wife of one of their district overseers last week).

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    1. I always ask'em "Which of you used to be catholic eh"!

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  13. That little thing called pride is bringing down a lot of souls.

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  14. Nice Leila! Too bad the name "Hammer of the Heretics" is already taken by St. Anthony of Padua.

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  15. March Hare you said: "the entire Deposit of Faith has been handed down intact" that's not strictly true.

    How so?

    You might be confusing doctrine with discipline.

    Tina, please do! :)

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  16. It's funny that you mention Arius, though, because when he got started, he wasn't a heretic. The nature of Christ hadn't been fully, um, fleshed out yet in doctrine.

    While Catholics absolutely Do need to defer to the Magisterium, I think it's important to note that we're still supposed to be guided by conscience.

    The same priests who were silenced in the 40s and 50s ended up WRITING many of the documents of Vatican II.

    I think it's really important for the community of believers to have conversations about what we believe and why - and do discuss it vigorously and with disagreements!

    The problems arise, I think at two places:

    1) When people can't manage to have these discussions with the mutual respect due; and
    2) When folks invoke the name of the Church tin support of things that even a cursory glance would reveal have nothing to do with Church teaching...

    YOU seem to be talking about #2. And I agree. People love to say Jesus is on their side. I don't know that Pelosi has formally gotten that endorsement, though...

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  17. Even when I wasn't in line with the Faith, not so long ago, I always maintained that the Church had a right to Her doctrine and all, and felt/said exactly what you said, that if someone didn't like a particular teaching, there were plenty of other religions to join, or, one could start his/her own. Let the Church be the Church and get over it. Apparently, some folks have a problem with that.

    Great post. I might have to point some folks to it.

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  18. Curious question: Assuming that Pope Benedict did not write the new translation himself which is I'm thinking is a fair guess ~ was it delegated. I realize that doctrines did not change but the actual words of the canon including the consecration and many prayers of the Mass did.

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  19. Love this! Just...love it! And thank God I'm Catholic!

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  20. And by "some folks," I mean the crowd whose mantras include "tolerance" and "diversity."

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  21. Katy, you make an interesting point about conscience, but usually the dissenters distort that teaching, too. I wrote about that, here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/12/dissenting-catholics-dont-know-squat.html

    Begin guided by conscience does not mean what they think it means! :)

    Also, when you speak of the nature of Christ not being "fleshed out" yet, you are talking about development of doctrine. There was never a time before the "fleshing out" that Jesus was not known and taught by the Church as God and man. He was. What open heresy does for the Church is allow her to go even deeper, to turn the light up higher, and see more of the details and beauty of what we already believe. In that sense, heretics have benefited the Church! :) We wouldn't have the beautiful Creed, or the writings of the Councils if not for the need to combat heresy with deeper, more dazzling truth. But the truth itself has never been reversed or changed.

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  22. Joy, the words and language and translation of the mass is not a doctrine. Those types of details are called disciplines (which can change and be modified), and they are part of the "binding and loosing" authority that was given to the Apostles by Christ. It's very important to know the difference (most Catholics don't), so I wrote about that distinction, here:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/09/catholics-you-must-understand-this.html

    Hope that helps!

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  23. Joy, to further clarify, yes, the Pope can delegate that stuff, let translators, experts and a then a committee of bishops do the work of it, and the Holy See simply gives the final seal of approval (after perhaps having asked for revisions, etc.).

    Tell me if that doesn't make sense and I will try again.

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  24. This is how someone responded to this one facebook: "No... never tell someone they're not allowed to think for themselves! That is not what Catholicism is about! No Catholic priest will EVER tell you that you must subscribe only to blind faith. Anyone who simply says the Chief Priests should never be questioned need to re-read Mark 15:11." How would you respond? Thanks!

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  25. Chirp, faith is not blind, but enlightened. As our faith is a Revealed faith, it cannot be known by the use of reason alone. It does not affront or contradict reason, but without Revelation, it is totally out of our reach--like the Trinity. When you ask yourself whether or not your faith is "blind" you must consider the Source. Either you believe the Source is the Holy Spirit--Light Himself--or you don't. Once you accept the Holy Spirit's indwelling in the Church, your acceptance of the tenet of the faith are on the firmest of bases, better than any chain of human reasoning. If you don't accept the indwelling, this is not the Church for you.

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    1. And of course I don't mean "you" as in You, I mean "one". You know what I mean.

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  26. Chirp, I would ask them where Leila's post said people can't think for themselves, because it didn't say that at all. I'd also direct them here: http://a-star-of-hope.blogspot.com/2011/02/do-catholics-blindly-follow-vatican.html

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    1. Thanks! I used that....we'll see how it works! :)

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  27. I emailed a copy of this to Nancy Pelosi's office!!

    dd

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  28. Chirp, I am glad the others answered! I would just echo them: Never once did I say that "priests should never be questioned" or that we must simply live an unexamined faith. Our faith is so deep and so rich that one could spend a lifetime exploring it and never get to the end of the beginning of its beauty! Gosh, all I do is explore and become more knowledgeable about our Faith.

    I sort of think she missed the point of the article, which is that we are not the arbiters of the Christian faith….but we certainly are encouraged to intellectually dive in! We love learning, we love truth, and as I always say, it was Catholics who founded the university system. We like to use our brains! :)

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  29. DD, ha ha! Thanks! She and her people won't understand it...

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  30. Great post, Leila :). There is so much peace in allowing the pope to act as the pope. When searching for answers as a Protestant/lapsed Catholic, interpretation of the Bible was exhausting. I watch my Protestant friends and family go through this too. It's tough to stay that way, especially when someone is sure that the Holy Spirit revealed the meaning of doctrine or faith in their personal relationship, while another person is quite sure the Holy Spirit is revealing it differently to them personally. I'm so glad God does not require us to muddle through this world with just our own brains and gut feelings, even if they are of great service when used properly.

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  31. "what You bind and loose..." "He who hears You, hears Me....." . This was not said during the sermon on the mount but in private!
    Nice flying back kick, Leila.

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  32. Yeah!

    So glad I clicked on your link in Devin Rose's blog roll. This is just the type of kickbutt thing I needed to read as my parish deals with our dissident pastor.

    I may have to refer him to your post.

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  33. Dave, there are few things more distressing than a dissident pastor. Sigh.

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  34. I thought I saw a picture somewhere of the Pope with an iPad, so maybe he does read your blog.

    What is the proper way to address the Pope if we wanted to give him a shout-out?

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  35. Leila: I need to get enough nerve to send this to my niece. She's the resident Atheist of the family. She, believe it or not, is a professor of "Comparative Religions" to boot!

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  36. Eileen, always fun to have an atheist teaching religion! :) Hey, if she is a good religion teacher, she would absolutely know this about Christianity, so it shouldn't offend her a bit. But then again, she might be biased…. Hmmmm….

    Lena, not sure, ha ha!! Welcome to the Bubble, Your Holiness! You're the reason we're all here! :)

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  37. Leila, I don't want to detract from your article, I think it's one Catholics, or those who call themselves Catholics, should read and understand.

    But you asked about the small part I wasn't entirely sure was factual, the 'Deposit of Faith being handed down intact', this is because there is a real problem with the original documents and the various translations. These are not necessarily deal breakers, especially if you invoke the Holy Spirit as the Church's guide when it had to select between the various documents that were to become scripture, gospel and the guide to a good Catholic life. I think that's cheating, but that's because I don't think the Holy Spirit exists, but it might be enough of a get-out clause for believers.

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  38. And this Leila is why you are on my blogroll. I would have loved it if you had been my teacher in law school. I've referred blog dissenters to you since there is just no way I can say it better.

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  39. I have found your blog to be very interesting. However, while I mostly am OK with what you have written here, the issue I would have is that everything passed down through large numbers of people, is ultimately interpretive.

    Ultimately it is still a committee of people who are deciding things, even if most of those decisions were made a long time ago.

    If we are talking about Catholicism as an intellectual property / brand name, then I guess you are correct, and I think I will have to say that I am not Catholic anymore, in the sense that you mean it.

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  40. Thanks for writing this. I have been struggling with whether or not to join the church for a while now. There are just a few teachings that I have never been able to accept. I was considering becoming catholic and just "having my own opinion" on certain issues, but I knew in my heart that that was hypocritical. Reading this article really drove it home for me. "If you are a Catholic, you don't get to pick and choose which parts of the moral law and the Creed are valid." It makes me sad, but I know now I can never be Catholic.

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  41. March Hare, the Deposit of Faith is not only Scripture (since we are not sola scriptura Protestants), but also Sacred Tradition. But yes, the Holy Spirit did guide the early Church in the canonization of Scripture. The protection of the Holy Spirit is the reason that no teaching on faith or morals have been reversed, omitted, or distorted in 20 centuries. You can't find that supernatural track record anywhere else. :) Great evidence that the Church is what she claims to be.

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  42. Nicholas, usually things that are passed down through large numbers of people over the course of two millennia would bear no resemblance to what it started as! Wouldn't you agree? It's like a game of telephone, when even ten people in ten minutes cannot keep one sentence straight. How do you think the Church managed to keep every teaching intact for 20 centuries, unbroken?

    Or, if you think it hasn't, then what teaching has been reversed?

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  43. Arwen, first, thanks for your integrity. Second, if you knew that the Church was founded by Christ and actually did teach truth in His name, would you submit? Because this sounds like an authority issue more than anything. Once one acknowledges a legitimate authority, the rest falls into place (and you will understand…as St. Augustine says, it's "faith seeking understanding").

    Is it that you don't believe the Church has legitimate authority from Christ?

    I do hope you eventually find yourself in the Church. A great quote from Chesterton, which any of the converts here can attest to:

    The outsiders stand by and see, or think they see, the convert entering with bowed head a sort of small temple which they are convinced is fitted up inside like a prison, if not a torture-chamber. But all they really know about it is that he has passed through a door. They do not know that he has not gone into the inner darkness, but out into
    the broad daylight.


    Read the whole thing, here:

    http://www.ewtn.com/library/CHRIST/CONVERSI.TXT

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  44. I don't have an issue with the Church teaching, per se, but I just can't get myself to care about fretting over the specs in the eyes of others like gay marriage or whatever.

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  45. Also, every time I hear about a guy who was married for like 20 years with multiple children who was granted an "Annulment" so they can get re-married, I want to find whatever lofty "authority" of the Church granted that bullshit and spit on them. If we want to tell gay people that they have to follow the rules the very least we can do is suck it up ourselves.

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  46. Nicholas, right, and yet we Catholics would say that sex is a sacred, holy act because it is the very mechanism that brings new human beings (body and soul) into the world and to live for eternity. So, protecting the beauty and integrity of human sexuality is not "fretting over specs" but in fact is paramount for human dignity.

    Denying the unitive and procreative aspects of sex has been disastrous.

    We Americans walk over 54 little corpses to prop up our culture's view of human sexuality. Right there we should be able to see that something is terribly wrong with our view of sex. (I'm not even counting the broken hearts and broken, diseased bodies of the adults.)

    So yes, we Catholics esteem and revere sex to the point that it's a sacrament. That very high and transcendent view of sex (think, "sex as a Renoir") is a very good thing. It's better than taking that Renoir and using it for the lining of a birdcage.

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  47. Nicolas, I agree, but you realize that tribunal decisions are not infallible and that any person can appeal to Rome on annulment decisions, right?

    And, there is a difference between believing that annulments are abused vs. believing that they are not valid at all. Not sure into which camp you fall?

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  48. My opinion only of course, but any time that I, a lowly human sinner, am worried about the sins of my brother that is fretting over specs, because as Jesus reminded me, I have planks enough in my own eye to worry about.

    So it isn't so much that I want to change the Church... I accept that isn't my place. But I cannot follow an agenda that forces it on anyone else. God can handle that himself.

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  49. I have no issue with the concept of an Annulment. But apart from say Brittney Spears drunken Las Vegas debacle, you only seem to hear about the ones where clearly there was a marriage.

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  50. But I cannot follow an agenda that forces it on anyone else. God can handle that himself.

    Then, Nicholas, you have a bit of a problem. Because the protection of marriage in the public square is actually a non-negotiable according to Christ's Church.

    In a 2006 speech to European politicians, Pope Benedict XVI said the following:

    As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:

    *Protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;

    *Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

    *The protection of the rights of parents to educate their children.


    Now that you know this, what is your response?

    Thanks!

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  51. My response is I wish the Church success in her endeavors. And while I personally will not be having any abortions or marrying any men, etc. I will not personally take up any kind of serious advocacy on those issues. Nor will I base such things as how I vote in civil elections solely on those issues, although they certainly will be well-considered (abortion much more so than civil definitions of marriage).

    If that signifies that I cannot "be" Catholic, not much I can do about that at present.

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  52. Nicholas, free will is a precious gift. God doesn't mess with it, no matter which way and to what degree we wish to go. He will never force you.

    But just a reminder that the saints all had two virtues in common: Obedience and humility. How we moderns chafe at such things! We fight it at every turn. But, it is the surest path to holiness and eternal glory. God wants a contrite heart, and docile obedience. It's a very hard thing for many people to accept. I get it. I'm a prideful human being myself.

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  53. Nicholas, I think I may have at first mistook you for another Nicholas that comments here who is Catholic. I am thinking you are not Catholic? Sorry! And thanks for any clarification.

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  54. "If that signifies that I cannot "be" Catholic, not much I can do about that at present."
    Catholicism isn't something that happens to you; being Catholic is a choice. So to be really honest, what you're saying is that you reject the choice to become Catholic because you have an authority issue. Your authority reigns over the divine authority of the Church.
    I get it. It took me a long while to be humbly obedient - even if the Church doesn't run things the way I would if I had been in charge - and to realize that my obedience was my first clear step (the choice) in showing my love for God, even if I didn't fully understand (which opened the door to faith).
    God bless. I'll pray for you.
    erin

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  55. @Anonymous - Not sure if you're being snarky or sincere... I "am" Catholic in the sense that I was baptized as such, confirmed as such, and have generally self-identified as such. So really the question is what level of "action" is being required?

    @Leila - I think I'm the same Nicholas you are thinking of, not a potential convert like Arwen. I'm just wrestling with whether or not it is worthwhile to self-identify, or if I'm just kidding myself since I don't see certain hot-button issues as seriously as the Church does.

    It isn't that I want to say the Church should change its position, or that they are mistaken, simply that those are not issues that are important enough that I am going to fight for them.

    And I don't think it is so much an issue of pride really, more along the lines of what you have previously described as excessive compassion. Life is short, unfair, and filled with both joys and sorrows. I just can't bring myself to condemn an Atheist gay couple (or whatever) for wanting to follow their own hearts when there are what I believe to be better uses of my time and attention. And it isn't like God isn't going to settle all accounts in the end, anyway.

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  56. But Nicholas, I'm a little disappointed if you're the same one. After all, what does God require of you? All of your heart and obedience. Radically. That is the path of the Christian. It seems like you are lukewarm, lackluster. What God loves, you must love. With a strong resolve. Have you read the passion and the commitment to the truth that makes up the writings of the saints? There is nothing lukewarm about it. Once you make a decision for Christ, you shouldn't be content to be lukewarm. It's not enough to say with a yawn, "God will settle all accounts anyway." What kind of disciple is that? Please know, I am saying all this as a challenge to you, not with malice.

    I want your to light a fire and burn for Christ! When His will becomes your will (and your will is totally lost in His), then you will be divinized in union with the Heart of the Trinity. He demands nothing less than your whole heart and will to get there.

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  57. I understand what you are saying, but I am not feeling that at the moment. If that is lukewarm, I'll own it.

    And to be honest, I dispute this which you wrote above:

    *Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

    Because to be honest and true to the above, we should be working to end no fault divorces and all the other civil and secular insults to sacramental marriage that have led to this point. Marriage in America doesn't in any way shape or form resemble this idealized concept.

    It is like trying to fix problems in the education system by addressing 18 year olds... They're already done with basic education!

    Or maybe I am just missing the point? What am I being asked to do by the Church? Because I am not sensing any clear direction other than alienate friends and family members who are gay and vote for one lousy candidate over another who is probably just as bad and in reality only cosmetically different?

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  58. *Recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

    I didn't write this. The pope did.

    You are worried that your private vote or even public actions to preserve marriage will offend some friends? Are you trying to please God or man? Scripture says you can't do both. You really need to worry more about offending God than man. I'm sad, because I thought you used to have some real faith and zeal. I am not sure what happened? Maybe the Parable of the Sower applies?

    Again, I challenge you to get back on track, because Jesus says in Revelation that He wants to "vomit the lukewarm out of [his] mouth." A challenge from Christ? ;)

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  59. Nicholas, we do oppose no-fault divorce, and we recognize that marriage in secular U.S. is very broken. No doubt about that. The Church has been trying to rescue marriage for decades, long before same-sex marriage issues came about. The pope spoke out against birth control and other catalysts for the devaluing of male-female relationships. We oppose pornography, premarital sex, cohabitation, abortion, abuse, etc. We promote premarital counseling, particularly on the spiritual level, but also to address other aspects of merging two lives. It didn't start with same-sex marriage. Acknowledging the real crisis in America's societal structure does not give us permission to throw our hands up and give up on the dignity of the human person within our society. It doesn't justify yet another step in the wrong direction.

    As far as your friends and family members, I understand your plight. I have friends and family members, wonderful people, who have same-sex attraction and different beliefs. It's tough! I would not recommend getting into a discussion with them over that particular topic unless you have a strong relationship and you know you can discuss it without personally attacking each other or speaking in anger. There is a time to speak and a time to stay silent. Sometimes our best efforts and intentions drive people away, and we have to work on ourselves enough to know when our efforts may be counterproductive. It takes some trust in God to show us those moments. I rarely speak about Catholicism or political views with certain family members, because it won't help the situation in any way. They know I'm Catholic. We have to accept and love people where they are in life. That doesn't mean total agreement with them. Attempting to model a good Catholic life is helpful too, but a quiet example is often more powerful in those situations than shouting from the rooftops. Maybe God will open the door one day for a productive conversation that will strengthen you both.

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  60. I understand what you are saying, but I am not feeling that at the moment. If that is lukewarm, I'll own it.

    Sorry to hear that, Nicholas. Hope all improves for you soon.

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  61. "I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! 16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth." - Revelation 3:15-16

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  62. Nicholas, you misunderstand (most) Catholics' concern, about people who identify as "gay," as "focusing on specs" rather than being real, true and actual concern about their salvation! I do not believe that having homosexual feelings, or even that engaging in homosexual behavior, will condemn a person (anymore than any other sin will condemn them or us). What sin does is turn us away from God and when we turn away...and away...and away, so that our hearts harden, we condemn ourselves. My personal concern for gay people is for their physical, mental and spiritual health on earth, and their eternal joy hereafter. (BTW, I am commenting as Anonymous only because I'm a technopeasant and don't know how to publish this otherwise!) - Alana

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  63. I think it would be awesome if the Pope read your blog :)

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  64. Brilliant post. Unvarnished truth which will disconcert and change some who read it, I am sure.

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  65. Leila, you said: "no teaching on faith or morals have been reversed, omitted, or distorted in 20 centuries."

    As a political institution I find this entirely understandable, but as a supposed repository of objective morality I find this untenable - the Catholic Church (even your great Aquinas) supported certain forms of slavery.

    The early Catholics recognised the problems of slavery on the dignity of God's creation, but when it came down to it, pressure from European powers led the Church to issue Papal bulls supporting slavery (as does the Bible).

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  66. March Hare:

    You're confusing chattel slavery with different forms of tide slavery (e.g., indentured servitude). See this very helpful article that clarifies the difference:

    Papal condemnation of slavery persisted throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Pope Gregory XVI’s 1839 bull, In Supremo, for instance, reiterated papal opposition to enslaving “Indians, blacks, or other such people” and forbade “any ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this trade in blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse.” In 1888 and again in 1890, Pope Leo XIII forcefully condemned slavery and sought its elimination where it persisted in parts of South America and Africa.

    Despite this evidence, critics still insist the Magisterium did too little too late regarding slavery. Why? One reason is the critics’ failure to distinguish between just and unjust forms of servitude. The Magisterium condemned unjust enslavement early on, but it also recognized what is known as “just title slavery.” That included forced servitude of prisoners of war and criminals, and voluntary servitude of indentured servants, forms of servitude mentioned at the outset of this article. But chattel slavery as practiced in the United States and elsewhere differed in kind, not merely degree, from just tide slavery. For it made a claim on the slave as property and enslaved people who were not criminals or prisoners of war. By focusing on just title servitude, critics unfairly neglect the vigorous papal denunciations of chattel slavery.

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    1. *title slavery, not tide slavery, sorry

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  67. Sorry JoAnna, I simply cannot play along and pretend that slavery type A is okay but slavery type B is evil. Indentured Servitude is simply not compatible with anything the church teaches today. One simply CANNOT sell oneself into slavery.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_and_slavery has a good part about Aquinas' views.
    Also: In the early thirteenth century, official support for slavery and the slave trade was incorporated into Canon Law (Corpus Iuris Canonici), by Pope Gregory IX,.[62][63] Canon law provided for four just titles for holding slaves: slaves captured in war, persons condemned to slavery for a crime; persons selling themselves into slavery, including a father selling his child; children of a mother who is a slave.

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  68. March Hare, then don't pretend; do more research. Go to a more indepth source than Wiki about this:

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14036a.htm

    But to clarify: Are you claiming that all forms of servitude are the same?
    Also, are you claiming that the Church once used to teach that slavery was a positive good? Because I do not get that, even from the Wiki article. Do you?

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  69. Obviously you did not read the article, March Hare, because it addresses your objection.

    As used here, “slavery” is the condition of involuntary servitude in which a human being is regarded as no more than the property of another, as being without basic human rights; in other words, as a thing rather than a person. Under this definition, slavery is intrinsically evil, since no person may legitimately be regarded or treated as a mere thing or object. This form of slavery can be called “chattel slavery.” (There are other ways in which the term can be used, such as in reference to the slavery discussed in the Old Testament, where slaves were regarded as property but nonetheless as bearers of human rights.)

    However, there are circumstances in which a person can justly be compelled to servitude against his will. Prisoners of war or criminals, for example, can justly lose their circumstantial freedom and be forced into servitude, within certain limits. Moreover, people can also “sell” their labor for a period of time (indentured servitude).

    These forms of servitude or slavery differ in kind from what we are calling chattel slavery. While prisoners of war and criminals can lose their freedom against their will, they do not become mere property of their captors, even when such imprisonment is just. They still possess basic, inalienable human rights and may not justly be subjected to certain forms of punishment — torture, for example. Similarly, indentured servants “sell” their labor, not their inalienable rights, and may not contract to provide services which are immoral. Moreover, they freely agree to exchange their labor for some benefit such as transportation, food, lodging, et cetera. Consequently, their servitude is not involuntary.

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  70. This, below, seems really clear to me (it's more of the article JoAnna linked, and I bolded a part that really struck me!):

    The matter, I discovered, was more complicated than either my friend or our professor had let on. The Catholic Church’s record on slavery is not the wicked thing the professor suggested. More interesting, though, was the use to which that record was put by many dissenting Catholics to lobby for changes in Catholic moral teaching.

    Therein lies a tale.
    But before we consider it, we should be clear about what we mean by slavery and the real story of the Catholic Church’s position on it. As used here, “slavery” is the condition of involuntary servitude in which a human being is regarded as no more than the property of another, as being without basic human rights; in other words, as a thing rather than a person. Under this definition, slavery is intrinsically evil, since no person may legitimately be regarded or treated as a mere thing or object. This form of slavery can be called “chattel slavery.” (There are other ways in which the term can be used, such as in reference to the slavery discussed in the Old Testament, where slaves were regarded as property but nonetheless as bearers of human rights.)

    However, there are circumstances in which a person can justly be compelled to servitude against his will. Prisoners of war or criminals, for example, can justly lose their circumstantial freedom and be forced into servitude, within certain limits. Moreover, people can also “sell” their labor for a period of time (indentured servitude).

    These forms of servitude or slavery differ in kind from what we are calling chattel slavery. While prisoners of war and criminals can lose their freedom against their will, they do not become mere property of their captors, even when such imprisonment is just. They still possess basic, inalienable human rights and may not justly be subjected to certain forms of punishment — torture, for example. Similarly, indentured servants “sell” their labor, not their inalienable rights, and may not contract to provide services which are immoral. Moreover, they freely agree to exchange their labor for some benefit such as transportation, food, lodging, et cetera. Consequently, their servitude is not involuntary.


    The rest of the article is here:

    http://catholiceducation.org/articles/facts/fm0006.html

    Thanks, JoAnna!

    I hope you read and considered it all, March Hare!

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  71. JoAnna, I think we were having the same thought at the same time!

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  72. Shame on the pair of you for defending the indefensible.

    Forced labour is wrong in any moral view that I wish to even debate with. Anyone who doubts this is fundamentally a denial of the most basic of human rights (even for POWs and convicted criminals) is a morally bankrupt* person and any system of morals that allows this is absolutely broken.

    So the fact that the Church currently appears to allow for POWs and criminals to be forced into providing labour basically means it is NOT the correct place to go looking for morals, absolute or otherwise. The fact it used to allow people to sell themselves AND THEIR CHILDREN into slavery, sorry indentured servants, and now doesn't proves, beyond any reasonable doubt that, as I originally said, that it has changed its position, hence the Doctrine of Faith is not unalterable.

    * Kinda rich coming from a moral error theorist, but I want to put this in language you'll understand, and understand just how strong my views are on this.

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  73. Yes, March Hare, it's really rich coming from a man who is A-okay with human child dismemberment.

    But answer directly: Are you saying that the Church once used to teach that slavery is a positive good? And, are you saying that all forms of servitude are the same?

    And just to be very clear about your position: When the state has prisoners clean up the highways or make license plates, that forced servitude is intrinsically immoral in your view, correct?

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  74. Leila's right. Your moral outrage rigs false considering that you favor denying human beings their human rights as long as they're unborn.

    Believing that something is not intrinsically evil is not the same as believing it to be GOOD. That's what you don't seem to get.

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  75. My 'moral' outrage is not the point. It should be your point!
    Forcing X to do Y - how does that work in Christianity? WWJD?

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  76. Did the Church EVER accept the servitude of a human? Do they now say that it's wrong? Did they EVER change their mind on anything?(important)

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  77. Educate yourself:

    http://oce.catholic.com/index.php?title=Slavery
    http://oce.catholic.com/index.php?title=Ethical_Aspect_of_Slavery

    The Church has never taught slavery as a "good", March Hare.

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  78. i)"The Mosaic Law was merciful to the slave"

    Gee - isn't that nice? How about denouncing the flipping practice? Come on owners of God's moral teachings, where's the outrage?

    "Christianity accepts society as it is, influencing it for its transformation through, and only through, individual souls."

    Cough. Splutter. What?

    "Primitive Christianity did not attack slavery directly; but it acted as though slavery did not exist."

    Yip, sticking your head in the sand and pretending evil is not going on. How has that worked out in recent evil-doings?



    ii)"when Christianity obtained power it could not and did not attempt summarily to abolish the institution"

    Defend away...

    "implicitly accept slavery as not in itself incompatible with the Christian Law"

    Bad Christian Law then.

    "the affirmation that slavery is not against the natural law"

    The 'the natural law' is wrong...

    "Even granting that slavery, when attended with a due regard for the rights of the slave, is not in itself intrinsically wrong, there still remains the important question of the titles by which a master can justly own a slave."

    No! There simply isn't an instance EVER when one human being can claim the right to unconditionally tell another sane adult human being, not harming or about to harm another human, what to do. And force them to do it.


    Thanks Nubby, not only are you wrong that the Church has never taught slavery as a 'good', even the examples you show where it's spun as the Church being, at best, pragmatic, show it as getting the so-called morality wrong, wrong and wrong.

    Leila: "And just to be very clear about your position: When the state has prisoners clean up the highways or make license plates, that forced servitude is intrinsically immoral in your view, correct?"

    If I can fall in to your moral talk (which I fundamentally disagree with) then, YES! Forcing prisoners to do work of any kind is absolutely wrong. They are separated from society to protect society, not as a money-making slave workforce. If they are offered money/privileges to do it then that's fine, but to force them is fundamentally wrong.

    JoAnna/Leila, attacking me based on my position on X to diminish my position on Y is known as an ad hominen. As it happens my position on X is perfectly consistent with my position on Y, but you never take the time to hear it or understand it. JoAnna, you've never heard my position on abortion so that's understandable, Leila it's kind of poor form from you.

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  79. All of which is kind of a diversion from Leila's original point which I totally agreed with :)

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  80. March Hare,

    It's very lazy to drop quotes out of context in hopes that they glob together in some kind of argument.
    You strangely ignored:

    But to say, with Ciccotti (Il tramonto della schiavitd, Fr. tr., 1910, pp. 18, 20), that primitive Christianity had not even "an embryonic vision" of a society in which there should be no slavery, to say that the Fathers of the Church did not feel "the horror of slavery", is to display either strange ignorance or singular unfairness. In St. Gregory of Nyssa (In Ecclesiastem, horn. iv) the most energetic and absolute reprobation of slavery may be found; and again in numerous passages of St. John Chrysostom's discourses we have the picture of a society without slaves—a society composed only of free workers, an ideal portrait of which he traces with the most eloquent insistence (see the texts cited in Allard, "Les esclaves chretiens", pp. 416-23).

    In 1871 a writer had the temerity to assert that the Papacy had not yet been able "to make up its mind to condemn slavery" (Ernest Havet, "Le christianisme et ses origines", I, p. xxi). He forgot that, in 1462, Pius II declared slavery to be "a great crime" (magnum scelus); that, in 1537, Paul III forbade the enslavement of the Indians; that Urban VIII forbade it in 1639, and Benedict XIV in 1741; that Pius VII demanded of the Congress of Vienna, in 1815, the suppression of the slave-trade, and Gregory XVI condemned it in 1839; that, in the Bull of Canonization of the Jesuit Peter Claver, one of the most illustrious adversaries of slavery, Pius IX branded the "supreme villainy" (summum nefas) of the slave-traders. Everyone knows of the beautiful letter which Leo XIII, in 1888, addressed to the Brazilian bishops, exhorting them to banish from their country the remnants of slavery a letter to which the bishops responded with their most energetic efforts, and some generous slave-owners by freeing their slaves in a body, as in the first ages of the Church.

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  81. There's a lot more you conveniently forgot to add to your post. And we've not even covered, in modern times, what JP2 said in Evangelium Vitae, where he forcefully condemned slavery. See:

    The Second Vatican Council, in a passage which retains all its relevance today, forcefully condemned a number of crimes and attacks against human life. Thirty years later, taking up the words of the Council and with the same forcefulness I repeat that condemnation in the name of the whole Church, certain that I am interpreting the genuine sentiment of every upright conscience: "Whatever is opposed to life itself, such as any type of murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, or wilful self-destruction, whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, torments inflicted on body or mind, attempts to coerce the will itself; whatever insults human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution, the selling of women and children; as well as disgraceful working conditions, where people are treated as mere instruments of gain rather than as free and responsible persons; all these things and others like them are infamies indeed. They poison human society, and they do more harm to those who practise them than to those who suffer from the injury. Moreover, they are a supreme dishonour to the Creator.

    If you're still confused:

    The Church teaching is this, as per the Catechism:

    2414 The seventh commandment forbids acts or enterprises that for any reason - selfish or ideological, commercial, or totalitarian - lead to the enslavement of human beings, to their being bought, sold and exchanged like merchandise, in disregard for their personal dignity. It is a sin against the dignity of persons and their fundamental rights to reduce them by violence to their productive value or to a source of profit. St. Paul directed a Christian master to treat his Christian slave "no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother, . . . both in the flesh and in the Lord."

    In summary:
    Your analysis is short sighted. Your attempt to pin the Church for the eradication of slavery, which was acceptable in many cultures when Christianity arose, is irrelevant. If you think the present day Church doesn't stand for the oppressed, then you're simply uneducated in all that Pope JP2 had done in modern times.

    The Church has dealt with slavery, culturally, as Christianity arose. Joanna has already given you the definition of chattel slavery, to boot.


    And to this:
    No! There simply isn't an instance EVER when one human being can claim the right to unconditionally tell another sane adult human being, not harming or about to harm another human, what to do. And force them to do it.

    Why don't you apply that reasoning to the unborn, who don't even have the ability to reason for their freedom? The most vulnerable of vulnerable, the most defenseless of the defenseless. Your outrage is inconsistent, analysis short.

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  82. Nubby, the point was the Catholic Church's teaching on this has not been 100% consistent. Many, perhaps even most, Catholic writers, clergy, bishops and popes may well have been against it, but some weren't.

    The present day Church allows for the forced labour of certain people. This is wrong on a most basic level. Care to defend it?

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  83. "Why don't you apply that reasoning to the unborn, who don't even have the ability to reason for their freedom?"

    1) Up until the development of a central nervous system there is no conversation - it simply isn't anywhere near a person and not deserving of any special treatment over and above regular human cells.

    2) Once it has a CNS then it can suffer. This is the point we should be interested in its welfare.

    3) Regardless of age, it has absolutely no claim on a woman's body/blood supply and thus should be removed at the woman's request.

    4) Should the request happens subsequent to the formation of a CNS then we should attempt removal as a living being and try to keep it alive (assuming medical viability).

    This appears to be entirely consistent with not forcing people to do things against their will. I still think your attempt to tar me with a pro-abortion stance as proof of the invalidity of my "Catholic Church's inconsistency on slavery" stance is pretty poor form.

    Incidentally, does the Dum Diversas issues by Pope Nicholas V not allow for the perpetual slavery of Saracens and pagans? At the very least it allows for their lands to be seized.

    http://www.romancatholicism.org/popes-slavery.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_V#Pope_Nicholas_V_and_slavery

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  84. March Hare - actually, I am aware of your position on abortion. We've debate on Leah Libresco's blog before.

    Let me ask you this, just for the sake of clarification: is a human zygote a human being?

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  85. Also, March Hare, given that you believe "forced labor" of any kind is wrong... do you think parents who require their children to do chores are evil? Should they be condemned?

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  86. JoAnna, apologies, I don't recall it.

    Human zygotes mostly fulfils the necessary properties of definition 1, but not definition 2: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/human+being

    But a human being is not a person. I want a CNS before I start talking about harm (it would be damage without a CNS I guess).

    They are human life but not a person. They are alive and human but not deserving of rights beyond any other cell/collection of cells.

    "Also"... Children (i.e. post-birth), the biggest spanner in the works - people, yet not people. Sane adults who are not a threat to people should not be forced to work. If they have committed a crime they may be detained, i.e. have their liberty curtailed, as disincentive to them and others from committing the same act and/or to protect society from them (and possibly to observe if they are a danger to society).

    Children though, well, in most states they don't have the same rights as adults. However, they do have additional rights that an adult doesn't e.g. the right to education, healthcare, sustenance and shelter in most modern countries. The US is a ridiculous outlier in this! http://www.unicef.org/crc/

    My view is that once a child is born (either naturally or via 'removal') the mother can give it up as a ward of the state or she has accepted an implicit duty of care for the child and the state can, and should, hold her to it. Part of that duty of care (either by the parents [adoptive or natural] or by the state) is to educate the child, even against its will - part of that may include chores, it may also be for pocket money and hence voluntary, but children can be 'forced' to do things either by threat of removal of privileges or by parental authority. And, to pre-empt your question, no, you should never hit children, or anyone (except in self-defence).

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  87. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  88. Nubby, the point was the Catholic Church's teaching on this has not been 100% consistent. Many, perhaps even most, Catholic writers, clergy, bishops and popes may well have been against it, but some weren't.

    Just what do you do with the ample historical record of the Church's formal condemnation of slavery? You ignore it. Not my issue.

    Your perspective of the Church and slavery is shallow, in that you believe the Church should have risen up as this military institution or political machine that set to work immediately on eradicating all forms of slavery.

    Do you realize how many generations it took to fight slavery? And that even in those cultures, sacraments were conferred upon slaves by the Church, correct?

    There are numerous papal condemnations of slavery, regardless of some bishops who may have thought otherwise. Papal teaching condemns both the slave trade and slavery itself.

    It's there for anyone to read. The Church has never taught involuntary slavery is "good". You decry slavery as horrible, and yet you know little to nothing about how slaves lived under Mosaic law. They were hired out for work, and treated justly (see Leviticus for starters).

    You cannot apply that same thinking to the American slave trade. Just and unjust slavery are two very different shades.

    Recommended: The Popes and Slavery by Fr. Joel S. Panzer. You'll get the full texts there in Latin and English. You'll get a lot more than that, too. The Church has never endorsed or taught involutary slavery as a "good". Ever.

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  89. Nubby, I was simply looking for one area, one simple thing, where the Catholic Church had altered its position. That's all! Just once.

    Did Pope Nicholas V actually say that it was okay to subjugate Saracens and pagans or not? Even if it was purportedly for the eternal salvation of their souls.

    Yes or no?

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  90. Ah, yes. This old route. Sorry, there's no 'gotcha' moment.

    You've, again, taken things out of context. Crusades and papal bulls are a topic all unto themselves.

    To the point: A papal bull does not automatically = infallible teaching on faith and morals.

    It doesn't constitute an ex-cathedra pronouncement and/or = infallible authority.

    The conditions in this bull were not met for ex cathedra teaching. The teaching given must be declared as such. It's not an infallible dogma of the Church! This is the point you need to grasp.

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  91. Nubby, whether the present day Catholics consider it straight from God or not, the fact is the Catholic Church, at some point(s?) in its history, got its position on slavery (of one form or another) woefully wrong by today's standards.

    If you really want some other issues that the Church are wrong on today then the idea that you would go to Hell for Eternity for masturbation is laughable, or stealing, or adultery, or ANY of the 10 Commandments other than killing (and even then it seems harsh).

    "The deposit of faith given by Jesus Christ to the Apostles and passed on in the Church from one generation to the next without addition, alteration or subtraction."

    Except it is quite obvious that it has been altered, since it was originally in Greek, then Latin, now English and any number of other languages. The content of which is disputed between various sects (but obviously Catholics have the right one).

    Obviously this little exercise would be much easier if the Church did the decent thing and laid out those things that were actually, if proven false, proof that the Church isn't inspired by the Holy Spirit and that Papal Infallibility is a sham. But alas, the only things that are officially covered by Papal Infallibility are unprovable. However the Sacred Scripture is available and requires an amazing mental flexibility to work round the issues therein.

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  92. requires an amazing mental flexibility to work round the issues therein.

    I don't know how you conclude this. But, then again, I also don't get it when people can't get simple algebra. Maybe it's just me and the millions of other knowledgeable Catholics, but we certainly aren't brainwashed or dim in our thinking. Lots of us have covered just these kinds of questions and found answers that stand up.

    So you have your opinion, okay. Doesn't mean you've got a completely true assessment. I can tell that by the limited exchanges we've had here that your understanding of our faith or Church history isn't fully rounded out, and it doesn't take 'mental flexibility' to connect the dots. However, you're drawing an opinion on only half-stories or a shallow knowledge. Have you considered it just might be you who's in the wrong?

    I don't believe anything I lay in front of you on any of those points you've brought up would help give you a new perspective at this time. Because I know you're not searching, but merely arguing. Nothing I can do about that. Maybe some other day.

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  93. "I don't know how you conclude this."

    The Bible (NT) isn't consistent and in order to believe it's inerrant you have to jump through hoops. This isn't a deal-breaker for Catholicism, just Biblical inerrancy and infallibility.

    e.g. The stories of the people who went to Jesus' tomb to find it empty do not tie up. They are petty details considering the bigger picture, but they do not tell the exact same story. Or Jesus' lineage, there are two stories which link Jesus back to a former king, the mental gymnastics is that one was Mary's and one Joseph's, but since Joseph was not Jesus' father this is a superfluous and pointless kludge to explain away two different lineages - or it is Joseph's intentionally, but that raises questions about the author's belief about Jesus actual parentage.

    Nubby, I'm not here trying to deconvert anyone, neither am I trolling or looking for definitive answers on Catholic thought, I just don't like people having certitude on issues where there is no justification for it. So on the slavery issue I wasn't saying that all of Catholicism falls because one Pope once, for political reasons, allowed the subjugation of a people - rather I am saying that the Church has altered its position on certain issues over time (to be expected over 2,000 years!) therefore the idea of an unaltered, unbroken passing on of perfect moral knowledge is wrong.

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  94. Again, this is my point. You stopped seeking a fuller understanding. So let's see:

    The Bible (NT) isn't consistent and in order to believe it's inerrant you have to jump through hoops. e.g. The stories of the people who went to Jesus' tomb to find it empty do not tie up. They are petty details considering the bigger picture, but they do not tell the exact same story.

    Exactly, and this makes it all the more accurate! If everyone had the exact same detail, you'd be rightly suspicious. If you heard eye witness accounts of a bank robbery, would you be suspect if they all had the exact same data, I mean, even down to everyone agreeing on the small nuances of the situation? It makes the gospels that much more valid. Reasonable? Yes.

    You know where they don't differ? They don't differ in the main message. They all hold up the same information with a different style.

    You also need to consider: Oral tradition as it was in that day. People told news, word of mouth. There was no telegraph, no email, no phone, no television. Their very culture was steeped in oral transmission. This doesn't mean things were altered, in fact, it is just the opposite.

    If your culture relies on verbal transmission, you will live among people who have this basically down pat, supremely accurate people. Reasonable? Yes.

    You also need to consider extra biblical evidence from non-christian sources. See: Josephus for one, Pliny the Younger for another, and Tactius for a third. What do they say about Christ? What do they say about the followers of Christ? Reasonable, indeed.

    You also need to consider the archaeological record: In a time when everyone wanted to prove this Jesus Christ as a fraud, a hoax, whatever, we have ZERO archaeological proof of this. In fact, we have droves of evidence that, in fact, Christ was risen from the dead. Leila posted on this a while ago. Search her blog.

    You've got the simplest consideration even, of the idea that any guard leaving the tomb or falling asleep on the job would've been penalized by death. You've got the simplest thing to consider that the massive stone in front of the tomb wouldn't have been easily rolled away, if someone wanted to steal the body. You've got these very simple things tied into this huge archaeological record of zero evidence against Christ having risen from the dead. Coupled with these eyewitness accounts of his appearance after His death.

    Reasonable conclusions can be drawn with a fuller knowledge, a fuller understanding.

    As for Jesus' lineage, try: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06410a.htm

    Plenty of food for thought.

    rather I am saying that the Church has altered its position on certain issues over time (to be expected over 2,000 years!) therefore the idea of an unaltered, unbroken passing on of perfect moral knowledge is wrong.

    The Church has altered disciplines and it has fleshed out doctrines to explain a truth it has already held, to ward off heresies. But it has never, ever changed its deposit of faith since the founding of the Church in 33 a.d. Period.

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  95. Nubby, I think you missed the point of my post: This isn't a deal-breaker for Catholicism, just Biblical inerrancy and infallibility.

    "You also need to consider extra biblical evidence from non-christian sources."

    Yes, you do. And this is one of those points that, to any reasonable observer, proves that The Bible is not a complete record of fact - Matthew 27:52 should have been the biggest story of Biblical times, but we find no contemporary record of it, or any record of it outside of Matthew.

    Which, again, doesn't matter to the message of Catholicism, but is a deal breaker for those who think it is an inerrant book.

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