Saturday, May 29, 2010

Mirror of Justice: Kevin Flannery on the Phoenix case

Father Kevin Flannery S. J., who teaches philosophy at the Gregorian, has this to say about Cathy Kaveny's position on the Phoenix case:

--- If one follows Thomas Aquinas’s action theory—and I would argue that the Church’s action theory is Thomas’s action theory—the basic error of Kathy’s argument lies in the sentence, "The immediate aim (object) of the procedure is simply to separate the baby from its dependence on the mother’s system, not to kill the baby, either as an end in itself or as a means to another end." The object of the procedure is not the "aim" in the sense of what the agent hopes to achieve but rather the fetus’s skull (or spine or whatever). Scholars who oppose traditional Catholic teaching on cases such as the craniotomy case (and also, for instance, on the use of condoms where one spouse is HIV positive) tend to argue that the object of a human action cannot be physical object such as a skull. This goes against what Thomas says, for instance, at ST 1-2.18.2 ad 1. He also maintains that a moral object (such as a baby’s skull) is a moral object in so far as it is part of the larger structure of a human act [ST 2-2.58.3 ad 3]. These are not incompatible propositions.

In any case, it is the object of the external act that gives it its species, "what it is." What the external act is has a bearing upon the human act’s moral character: that is why Kathy does not want to say that the act is (has the species of) (e.g.) crushing a fetus’s skull. If one knows that such an act will kill the fetus, it is called ‘killing a fetus,’ i.e., killing a human being. The act performed in the Phoenix case apparently had a fetus’s skull (or some other vital part) as its object; that object makes that act to be an act about that object, not about separating the baby from its dependence on the mother’s system—or, at least, not solely about that. Anscombe would not have tolerated such selective descriptions of what one was intending. As she says in paragraph 25 of Intention: "The idea that one can determine one’s intention by making such a little speech is bosh."

I think I'd have to agree with those "scholars who oppose traditional Catholic teaching" -- the object of the act cannot be some thing, like the skull, by itself. The skull can be the matter of the object, but the object cannot be limited to it.

The (what is the word I am thinking of -- not proximate) remote end of the act may be to separate the baby from its dependence on the mother's body, but the proximate end, which is what the act achieves, is the crushing of the baby's skull, which does end the baby's life. Can one intend to crush the baby's skull without intending its death? I don't think the morality of the act can be "saved" through an attempt at double-effect reasoning.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Papal Address to Migrants and Travelers Council

Papal Address to Migrants and Travelers Council

"The Acquisition of Rights Goes Hand in Hand With the Acceptance of Duties"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Travelers.

The meeting, which was held this week in Rome, reflected on the topic: "Pastoral Care of Human Mobility Today, in the Context of the Co-Responsibility of States and of International Organizations."

* * *

Esteemed Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I welcome you with great joy on the occasion of the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers. I greet the president of the dicastery, Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò -- whom I thank for his words of happy cordiality -- the secretary, the members, the consultors and the officials. I wish all fruitful work.

You chose as the topic of this Session the "Pastoral Care of Human Mobility Today, in the Context of the Co-Responsibility of States and of International Organizations." The movement of peoples has been for some time the object of international congresses, which seek to guarantee the protection of fundamental human rights and to combat discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. They are documents that furnish principles and techniques of supranational protection.

Appreciable is the effort to build a system of shared norms that contemplate the rights and duties of the foreigner, as well as those of the host community, taking into account, in the first place, the dignity of every human person, created by God in his image and likeness (cf. Genesis 1:26). Obviously, the acquisition of rights goes hand in hand with the acceptance of duties. All, in fact, enjoy rights and duties that are not arbitrary, because they stem from human nature itself, as Blessed Pope John XXIII's encyclical "Pacem in Terris" affirms: "Every human being is a person, that is a nature gifted with intelligence and free will; and hence subject of rights and duties which are, because of this, universal, inviolable, inalienable" (No. 5).

Therefore, the responsibility of states and of international organizations is specified in the commitment to influence questions that, respecting the competencies of the national legislator, involve the whole family of peoples, and exact an agreement between governments and the organisms most directly concerned. I am thinking of problems such as the entry or forced removal of the foreigner, the enjoyment of the goods of nature, of culture and of art, of science and technology, which must be accessible to all. Not to be forgotten is the important role of mediation so that national and international resolutions, which promote the universal common good, finds acceptance with local entities and are reflected in daily life.

National and international laws which promote the common good and respect for the person encourage the hopes and efforts being made to achieve a world social order founded on peace, fraternity and universal co-operation, despite the critical phase international institutions are currently traversing as they concentrate on resolving crucial questions of security and development for everyone. It is true, unfortunately, that we are witnessing the re-emergence of particular instances in some areas of the world, but it is also true that some are reluctant to assume responsibility that should be shared.

Moreover, not yet extinguished is the longing of many to pull down the walls that divide and to establish ample agreements, also through legislative dispositions and administrative practices that foster integration, mutual exchange and reciprocal enrichment. In fact, prospects of coexistence between peoples can be offered through prudent and concerted lines for reception and integration, consenting to occasions of entry in legality, favoring the just right to the reuniting of families, asylum and refuge, compensating the necessary restrictive measures and opposing the disgraceful traffic of persons. Precisely here the various international organizations, in cooperation among themselves and with the states, can furnish their peculiar contribution in reconciling, with various modalities, the recognition of the rights of the person and the principle of national sovereignty, with specific reference to the exigencies of security, the public order and control of borders.

The fundamental rights of the person can be the focal point of the commitment of co-responsibility of the national and international institutions. This, then, is closely linked to "openness to life, which is the center of true development," as I confirmed in the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" (cf. No. 28), where I also appealed to states to promote policies in favor of the centrality and integrity of the family (cf. ibid., No. 44).

On the other hand, it is evident that openness to life and the rights of the family must be confirmed in the various contexts, because "in a society in the process of globalization, the common good and the commitment to it must assume the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say of the community of peoples and nations" (ibid., No. 7). The future of our societies rests on the meeting between peoples, on dialogue between cultures with respect to their identities and legitimate differences. In this scene the family retains its fundamental role. Because of this, the Church, with the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ in every sector of existence, carries forward "the commitment .... in favor not only of the individual migrant, but also of his family, place and resource of culture and life and factor of integration of values," as I reaffirmed in the Message for the World Day of the Migrant and the Refugee of the year 2006.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is also up to you to sensitize organizations that are dedicated to the world of migrants and itinerant people to forms of co-responsibility. This pastoral sector is linked to a phenomenon in constant expansion and, therefore, your role must translate into concrete answers of closeness and pastoral support of persons, taking into account the different local situations.

On each one of you I invoke the light of the Holy Spirit and the maternal protection of Our Lady, renewing my gratitude for the service that you render the Church and society. May the inspiration of Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, described as "Father of Migrants" by the Venerable John Paul II, and of whom we will remember the 105th anniversary of his birth in heaven next June 1, illumine your actions in favor of migrants and itinerant people and spur you to an ever more attentive charity, which will witness to them the unfailing love of God. For my part I assure you of my prayer, while blessing you from my heart.

[Translation by ZENIT]

The controversy that has arisen is the charge that the “good of the spouses” has now taken an equal place alongside that of the procreation and education of children in the ends of matrimony, and that this represents a change in the Church’s teaching. This assertion is deserving of a critical response.

Before discussing these passages in detail, the history of the matter requires some reflection. The Church had typically spoken of the ends of marriage in a hierarchical manner, ordering them as primary or secondary and emphasising the subordination of the secondary to the primary end. Now, in Gaudium et Spes, the section on matrimony does not contain this traditional terminology. This fact is cited as evidence that the Church has radically changed her understanding on the matter.

The claim that Gaudium et Spes represents a retreat by the Church on this teaching is one that has already been responded to by the Magisterium, which rejected this weakly-founded interpretation of the conciliar text. In a doctrinal note on the book Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith stated the following, appealing to the comment of the theological commission on the text during the drafting stages of Gaudium et Spes:

“Furthermore, in regard to the teaching of Vatican II, we note here another mistaken notion. This book repeatedly states that the Council deliberately refused to retain the traditional hierarchy of primary and secondary ends of marriage, opening ‘the Church to a new and deeper understanding of the meaning and value of conjugal love’ (p. 125 and passim). On the contrary, the Commission of the Modi declared explicitly, replying to a proposal brought forward by many Fathers to put this hierarchical distinction into the text of n 48, ‘In a pastoral text which intends to institute a dialogue with the world, juridical elements are not required… In any case, the primordial importance of procreation and education is shown at least ten times in the text’ (cf. nos. 48 and 50).”22

In other words, the Council keeps intact this teaching, which is evidently brought out by the text whilst refraining from using the hierarchical terminology, not because it is rejecting it as wrong, but because of the pastoral nature of a document issued to the whole world. As we shall see, this general approach has been retained by the Magisterium since that time. For the Code of Canon Law in turn makes no mention of this hierarchical language, but rather states nothing with respect to priorities. It does, however, list “the good of the spouses” first, which would appear to be the foundation of the claim that it is out of accordance with tradition.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Monday, May 24, 2010

Pope's Words to Centesimus Annus Foundation

Pope's Words to Centesimus Annus Foundation

"The Common Good Is the End That Gives Meaning to Progress"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2010 ( Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday upon receiving in audience the participants in the 2010 International Conference of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation titled "Development, Progress and Common Good."

* * *

Esteemed Cardinal,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Illustrious and Dear Friends,

I am happy to greet you on the occasion of the congress promoted by the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation. I greet Cardinal Attilio Nicora, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli and the other prelates and priests present. A special thought goes to the president, Doctor Domingo Sugranyes Bickel, whom I thank for his courteous words, and to you, dear advisers and members of the foundation, who wished to visit me with your relatives.

I appreciate that your meeting is focused on the relationship between "Development, Progress, Common Good." In fact, today more than ever, the human family can grow as a free society of free peoples only when globalization is guided by solidarity and the common good, as well as by social justice, all of which finds in the message of Christ and of the Church a precious source. The crisis and difficulties that international relations, nations, society and the economy suffer at present are, in fact, due to a great extent to the lack of trust and of an appropriate solidaristic, creative and dynamic inspiration oriented to the common good, which leads to authentically human relations of friendship, solidarity and reciprocity also "within" economic activity.

The common good is the end that gives meaning to progress and to development, which otherwise would be limited to the sole production of material goods. Progress and development are necessary, but if they are not oriented to the common good, they lead to the negative consequences of the prevalence of consumerism, waste, poverty and excess.

As I highlighted in the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," one of the greatest risks in the present-day world is that "the ethical interaction of consciences and intelligences does not correspond to the de facto interdependence between men and peoples, from which might emerge as a result a truly human development" (No. 9). Such interaction, for example, seems to be too weak for those governing that, in face of renewed episodes of irresponsible speculation in confrontations with weaker countries, do not react with appropriate decisions for governing finances. Politics should have primacy over finance and ethics should guide every activity.

Without the point of reference represented by the universal common good it cannot be said that there is a true worldwide ethos and the corresponding will to live it, with appropriate institutions. It is now decisive that those goods be identified to which all peoples should have access in view of their human fulfillment. And this should be carried out not in any manner whatsoever, but in an ordered and harmonious manner. In fact, the common good is made up of many goods: of material, cognitive and institutional goods, as well of moral and spiritual goods, the latter [two] being superior over the former.

The commitment to the common good of the family of peoples, as for every society, entails, therefore, taking care of and of making use of a complex of institutions that structure juridically, civilly, politically, culturally global social living, in such a way that it takes the form of polis, of the city of man (cf. Ibid., 7). Therefore, one must ensure that the economic-productive order is socially responsible and to the measure of man, with a joint and unitary action on more planes, including the international (cf. Ibid., 57.67). Likewise, the consolidation must be sustained of constitutional, juridical and administrative systems in countries that still do not enjoy them fully. Together with economic aid must be exercised, therefore, aid geared to reinforcing the guarantees proper to the state of law, a just and efficient system of public order, in full respect of human rights, as well as truly democratic and participatory institutions (cf. Ibid., 41).

However, what is fundamental and a priority, in view of the development of the entire family of peoples, is to do one's utmost to recognize the true scale of goods-values. Only thanks to a correct hierarchy of human goods is it possible to understand what type of development must be promoted. The integral development of peoples, central objective of the universal common good, is not happen only with the diffusion of entrepreneurship (cf. ibidem), of the material and cognitive goods such as the house and the instruction, of the available choices. That happens in particular with the increase of those good choices that are possible when the notion exists of an integral human good, when there is a telos, an end, in whose light development is planned and desired.

The notion of integral human development presupposes precise principles, such as subsidiarity and solidarity, as well as the interdependence between state, society and market. In a global society, made up of many peoples and various religions, the common good and integral development are obtained with the contribution of all. Religion is decisive in this, especially when it teaches fraternity and peace, and when, in a society marked by secularization, it instructs the faithful to give space to God and to be open to the transcendent. With the exclusion of religion from the public realm, as well as religious fundamentalism, the encounter and collaboration for the progress of humanity between peoples is impeded, the life of a society is void of motivation, and politics assumes an oppressive and aggressive face (cf. Ibid., 56).

Dear friends, the Christian vision of development, of progress and of the common good, as it emerges in the Social Doctrine of the Church, responds to the most profound expectations of man, and your commitment to further it and spread it is a valid contribution to build the "civilization of love." For this I express my gratitude and best wishes, and bless you all from my heart.

[Translation by ZENIT]