Basic Matters of Morality

The Catholic view on some of today's highly debated issues

Catholics are known for being very steadfast in their beliefs. We at Saint John of the Cross are no different: we are uncompromisingly Catholic! In a world where so many peoples hearts are deadened to the cries of others, and moral crimes seem to be considered normal, we Catholics stand up for what we believe. Here are Catholic viewpoints on some of today's most controversial topics, backed up with scriptures from the bible and other religious documents.

Abortion

"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.

    Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.
    My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately wrought in the depths of the earth" (CCC 2270).

"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.
    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" (CCC 1271).

"Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense. The Church attaches the canonical penalty of excommunication to this crime against human life. 'A person who procures a completed abortion incurs excommunication latae sententiae,' 'by the very commission of the offense,' and subject to the conditions provided by Canon Law. The Church does not thereby intend to restrict the scope of mercy. Rather, she makes clear the gravity of the crime committed, the irreparable harm done to the innocent who is put to death, as well as to the parents and the whole of society" (CCC 1272).


Euthanasia

"Those whose lives are diminished or weakened deserve special respect. Sick or handicapped persons should be helped to lead lives as normal as possible" (CCC 2276).

Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable.

    "Thus an act or omission which, of itself or by intention, causes death in order to eliminate suffering constitutes a murder gravely contrary to the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator. The error of judgment into which one can fall in good faith does not change the nature of this murderous act, which must always be forbidden and excluded" (CCC 2277)."

"Discontinuing medical procedures that are burdensome, dangerous, extraordinary, or disproportionate to the expected outcome can be legitimate; it is the refusal of "over-zealous" treatment. Here one does not will to cause death; one's inability to impede it is merely accepted. The decisions should be made by the patient if he is competent and able or, if not, by those legally entitled to act for the patient, whose reasonable will and legitimate interests must always be respected" (CCC 2278).

"Even if death is thought imminent, the ordinary care owed to a sick person cannot be legitimately interrupted. The use of painkillers to alleviate the sufferings of the dying, even at the risk of shortening their days, can be morally in conformity with human dignity if death is not willed as either an end or a means, but only foreseen and tolerated as inevitable Palliative care is a special form of disinterested charity. As such it should be encouraged" (CCC 2279).

Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Human embryos are human beings. "Respect for the dignity of the human being excludes all experimental manipulation or exploitation of the human embryo."

"The Church has consistently taught that human life must be respected from the moment of conception. In Scripture we see that every individual from the very beginning is part of God's plan."
"The Church teaches that unborn life is innocent human life, and that the innocent human being has an absolute right to life. This moral principle goes back to the Fifth Commandment: 'Thou shalt not kill.' That is why the Church teaches: 'The direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral' (The Gospel of Life, 57.4)."

"So strong is this prohibition that the Church stresses that even if a killing was with the intention of helping another, the killing of an innocent human being is an absolutely unacceptable act."
"Some say that the good to be accomplished by healing such diseases as Parkinson's, or Alzheimer's, justifies the evil of destroying some human embryos."

"But this argument reduces people to their usefulness. It also assumes that there are no moral absolutes that must be observed in all circumstances. And it violates one of the most basic principles of morality. After all, many evil acts can be justified for some good that could come from them."


It is important to stress that the Church is not against all forms of stem cell research. The Church opposes only those methods that involve the destruction of a human life, such as embryonic stem cell research. There are methods of obtaining human stem cells from adults such as from the placenta, bone marrow, and the umbilical cord. The use of these stem cells are now treating over 22 significant diseases and the treatments are expected to expand. Contrast this to embryonic cells where not one disease is yet to be treated despite significant research activity.

Human Cloning

In response to the many reproductive technologies, The Vatican issued a document in 1987 called Donum Vitae (hereafter DV), which means the "gift of life." What follows are selected excerpts from DV having applicability to the subject of human cloning:

    "Medicine and technology must respect the moral law. Not everything that is scientifically possible is allowable. Science must always be the servant, not the master, of the human person and respect his god-given rights. Science without conscience can lead to human disasters."

    "Because the unborn child, at any stage, is a human being, the moral laws on experimentation apply to it. No procedure is permitted that poses a risk to the child and that is not for the benefit of his health."

    "DV repeats the teaching of Humanae Vitae that all marital acts must respect both the unitive (love-giving) and procreative (life-giving) purposes of the marital act."

    "A child has the right to be conceived, nurtured in the womb, born, and raised within marriage. The child has the right to be the true fruit of the natural marital act of his father and mother. Being raised by his own parents helps the child discover his identity and achieve his proper human development."

    "DV teaches that cloning is against the moral law because it is contrary to the dignity of human procreation and marital union. Cloning would create human life without any connection to human sexuality. It is a total perversion of procreation as ordained by God. It is also reckless experimentation on the child. Finally, it is a complete violation of a child's right to be conceived within marriage and from the natural marital act."

Homosexual Marriage

"God who created man out of love also calls him to love the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love. Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator's eyes. And this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: 'And God blessed them, and God said to them: 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it'" (CCC 1604).

"Holy Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another: 'It is not good that the man should be alone.' The woman, 'flesh of his flesh,' his equal, his nearest in all things, is given to him by God as a 'helpmate'; she thus represents God from whom comes our help. 'Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh.' The Lord himself shows that this signifies an unbreakable union of their two lives by recalling what the plan of the Creator had been 'in the beginning': 'So they are no longer two, but one flesh'" (CCC 1605).

"On the threshold of his public life Jesus performs his first sign - at his mother's request - during a wedding feast. The Church attaches great importance to Jesus' presence at the wedding at Cana. She sees in it the confirmation of the goodness of marriage and the proclamation that thenceforth marriage will be an efficacious sign of Christ's presence" (CCC 1613).

"'By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.'

    Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: 'It is not good that man should be alone,' and 'from the beginning [he] made them male and female'; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: 'Be fruitful and multiply.' Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day" (CCC 1652).

"True marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Legal recognition of any other union as 'marriage' undermines true marriage, and legal recognition of homosexual unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in what is an objectively immoral arrangement." In addition, data supports that the homosexual lifestyle is detrimental to their psychological and physical health and, as an act of love toward homosexuals, these unions cannot be supported.

"Fundamental values, such as respect for human life, its defense from conception to natural death, the family built upon marriage between a man and a woman, the freedom to educate one's children and the promotion of the common good in all its forms: These values are not negotiable." - Pope Benedict XVI, Sacramentum Caritatis.