Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The CCC on abortion:


2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.72

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.73

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth.74

2271 Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:

You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.75

God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.76

What the Catechism claims about the conceptum is quite clear. But is this de fide? Or a theological opinion presented in authoritative trappings? I have asked whether the Church has infallibly taught that human life begins at conception (with "human" being understood univocally, not equivocally). It seems that the Feast of the Annunciation also celebrates the conception of Christ, and the humanity of Christ at conception is affirmed as a part of Sacred Tradition. But is this sufficient evidence that the Church has always taught that all concepta are human beings or persons?

Some claim that we have unambiguous evidence that the conceptum is human; I will have to address this question in a later post, having already done so in some notes. As far as I know, nothing the Church has proclaimed in recent years contradicts the teaching of the Council of Vienne, which defined the soul as the substantial form of the body. It seems impossible that the Church could define the formal cause as something else, such as DNA. The question a Catholic physicist would ask, then, is whether we can know (with certainty) that the rational soul is infused at conception. If the activities of the conceptum can also explained by an animal soul, then it would seem that we cannot know with certainty that the conceptum is human, though we may believe it with the certitude of Faith, if this has been revealed by God.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

If even a republic is governed by a minority of the people who are its parts, and only these few can possess the requisite virtues, then can a liberal education ever be something that is "universal," provided and of benefit to all? If only a minority governs in any good regime, then can the culture it possess be anything but "elite" or limited with respect to the number of people who maintain it and pass it on?
To what sort of teacher do we owe the virtue of observance? One who truly possesses knowledge, especially scientia? Or to anyone who has some measure of "learning," even if that is only the result of memorization? If a "scholar" should be honored for being well-acquainted with the opinions of others (in his study of their works), then why shouldn't a Jeopardy winner be honored for his amassing of trivia? Even if we concede that a scholar as defined above has some measure of perfection that is lacking in the one who is ignorant, should he be given the same honor as the man who possesses widsom or scientia?

Monday, December 14, 2009

Pope: No Justification for Anti-Personnel Mines

US Attends Conference for 1st Time, No Plans to Sign Convention

By Jesús Colina

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 14, 2009 ( There are no ethical arguments to defend the production and use of anti-personnel landmines, especially given that most victims are innocent civilians, a statement written on Benedict XVI's behalf is reiterating.

The Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, affirmed this in a note sent on the Holy Father's behalf to a six-day summit that concluded Dec. 4 in Cartagena, Colombia.

The Cartagena Summit was the second review conference on the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction. The convention is also known as the Ottawa Treaty.

The Holy See reiterated its appeal to all nations to join the 156 countries that have adopted this convention, which has been in force since 1999. China, India, the United States and Russia are the four most important states that have yet to sign it.

In the letter, the Holy See also appeals "to all states to recognize the deplorable humanitarian consequences of anti-personnel mines."

Cardinal Bertone wrote: "Experience shows that these weapons have caused more victims and damages among the civilian population, which should be defended, than they have served to defend states.

"The thousands of victims that they continue to bring remind us, in case it should still be necessary to repeat it, of the chimera of wanting to build peace and stability with an exclusively military vision."

The Holy Father's closest collaborator reiterated that "peace, security and stability cannot depend only on military security, but above all depend on the existence of all those conditions that allow for the full development of the human person, which so many times are impeded by the use and presence of anti-personnel mines."


The letter expressed Benedict XVI's closeness "to all the victims, their families and the affected countries."

"They all need will power and courage to undertake a process of rehabilitation, and they also need our help and human closeness," the cardinal wrote.

The papal statement reiterated "the Holy See's unconditional support to all those involved in the great task of freeing our world from anti-personnel mines."

The Cartagena Summit concluded with the resolution to give greater assistance to victims. It also noted that four countries -- Albania, Greece, Rwanda and Zambia -- have cleaned all their areas of these mines, in compliance with the treaty.

The Cartagena Action Plan to guide efforts between 2010 and 2014 pivots on two main goals: assistance to the victims of anti-personnel mines and the humanitarian clean-up of contaminated fields.

On behalf of the Pontiff, the letter thanked Norway's Susan Eckey, president of the conference, for her work.

Holding back and watching

During the closing of the event, Eckey pointed out that there has been success in efforts to support survivors and people who live with the risk of anti-personnel mines.

Twenty of the 39 countries that have not adhered to the Ottawa Treaty attended as observers. Among them -- for the first time -- was the United States, which announced a review of its anti-personnel mines policy, although for the time being there is no sign of intentions to adopt the convention.

In 2008 only the armies of Russia and Myanmar used anti-personnel mines. However, insurgents such as the Armed Revolutionary Forces of Colombia and the Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka utilize them.

1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on Their Destruction
International Humanitarian Law - Ottawa Treaty, 1997
Mine Action
James Chastek, Thought in algebra (or calculus, analytic geometry, trig, etc) (See his previous post on algebra.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Joe Carter, What Do Philosophers Think?


Edit. See Anthony Esolen's explanation of the findings.