Some of you may have seen this line in the parish newsletter and some Catholics may not agree with the Church teaching on such things as abortion and euthanasia. These subjects are still very much in the popular news and in conversations at the moment – such as in the current attempts to force late-term abortions upon the people of Northern Ireland, the belittling of the lives of babies born with disabilities and the constant lobbying for euthanasia – and it is essential for us as Catholics to at least try to understand where our long tradition for opposing these evils comes from. Here is the Catechism on abortion of tiny babies:
“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.’ (Didache, 2, 2)
‘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.’ (Gaudium et Spes, 51 # 3)Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2271
Unchangeable. Notice that those who think of the Church as an ordinary body politic, with bishops as politicians who can have new and progressive policies, think that these teachings on serious topics can change to suit the times. And inevitably, in some religious communities, this is what happens. But the apostolic Church is not an ordinary political community and continues to defend a very basic principle and law of God – that related to the slaughter of the innocent for the sake of convenience.
And, now, here is the Catechism on 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. 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.”Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2276-77
We may not like it, and we may have cooperated with these evils in the past, but the Church simply draws from Sacred Scripture and her long tradition and the killing of vulnerable human beings, when we are called to a duty of care for them, is simply not admissable. Where we have fallen in the past, we are called to repentance.