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.