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(Full Texts) About John C. Ford, S.J. — Newly released records reveal advisers to Pope Paul VI Pontifical Commission on Population, Family and Birth-rate were stacked in favor of changing church teaching on contraception

During an audience of Pope Paul VI in 1977
Pope Paul VI in 1977

“In 2011, Grisez judged that he was no longer bound to keep these documents secret for two reasons: (1) he never undertook to keep them secret; and (2) after more than 44 years, the publication of these documents is hardly likely to harm the Church and may well benefit her.”

Germain Grisez’s explanation of the release of commission documents

EDITOR NOTE: As you read on, keep in mind the uncountable times during the last 44 years that this very same commission has been used by modernist’s as justification to bludgeon the hierarchy of the Church on the issue of contraception…

First, the OSV story followed by texts.

Church birth control commission docs unveiled

New records show pope’s advisers were stacked in favor of changing Church teaching. Intentionally?

By Russell Shaw – OSV Newsweekly, 2/27/2011

Information provided by a prominent American theologian close to the famous papal “birth control commission” of the 1960s shows it was tilted in favor of changing Church teaching on contraception from the start. Pope Paul VI eventually said no to the commission and reaffirmed Church teaching in his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae (“Of Human Life”).

The new information depicts the commission’s secretary general as a supporter of change who influenced the commission’s proceedings to produce that result. It also suggests a substantial number of members and advisers of the body were predisposed in favor of change, or at least more than merely open to it.

Jesuit Father John C. Ford, an American moral theologian with the commission who opposed change, is quoted as saying that far from pushing the commission the other way, Pope Paul “wanted to give the proponents of change every opportunity to make their case.”

Favoring an outcome

The new disclosures are contained in a biographical sketch of Father Ford by Germain G. Grisez, who worked with the priest in Rome during a critical period in the commission’s proceedings. The sketch appears together with several previously unpublished documents on his website (www.twotlj.org). Grisez is the author of numerous books and articles, including an influential three-volume treatment of moral theology.

In brief, the story he tells is this.

Blessed Pope John XXIII established the Pontifical Commission on Population, Family and Birth-rate — popularly known as the birth control commission — in March 1963, shortly before his death. Its job was to prepare for the Holy See’s participation in a conference organized by the United Nations and the World Health Organization.

Dominican Father Henri de Riedmatten of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State was named secretary general of the new body. According to Grisez, the priest “single-handedly managed the commission’s work,” even after Pope Paul, who succeeded Pope John, appointed Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, its president. The priest’s support for change could be seen in arranging meeting agendas and shaping documents — including his final report to the pope — to favor this outcome.

Pope Paul expanded the commission’s membership and mandate in June 1964. In October he named Father Ford, then teaching at The Catholic University of America, to serve with the body. At that time considered possibly the leading Catholic moral theologian in the United States, the priest had drawn attention during World War II with a stinging critique of American and British saturation bombing of German and Japanese cities.

Teaching ‘reformable’

By the time the commission met in the spring of 1965, Grisez reports, 12 of 19 members of its theological section thought the Church’s teaching on contraception was “reformable” — it could be changed. Father Ford did not.

The Second Vatican Council, then nearing its close, left the contraception issue to be resolved after the commission finished its work. The pope now reorganized the commission, naming the previous members “expert advisers” to a group of 16 cardinals and bishops who were the actual members. Father de Riedmatten then scheduled a cluster of meetings in spring and summer of 1966, culminating in a June 20-25 gathering of the 16 prelates to reach conclusions.

Father Ford by now was one of a minority of four within the 19-member theological section who supported the Church’s teaching against contraception. The others were moral theologians Jesuit Father Marcelino Zalba, Redemptorist Father Jan Visser and sociologist Jesuit Father Stanislas de Lestapis. All were prominent scholars.

At the climactic meeting of cardinals and bishops, Grisez writes, there was “little discussion, and no minds were changed.” On the crucial question of whether every contraceptive act is wrong, the vote was 9 no, 3 yes, and 3 abstentions.

Of the commission’s three American members, Cardinal Lawrence Shehan of Baltimore and Archbishop (later, Cardinal) John Dearden of Detroit voted no, and Archbishop Leo Binz of St. Paul and Minneapolis voted yes. Archbishop Karol Wojtyla of Krakow — later, Pope John Paul II — who was expected to be a solid vote against contraception, had been prevented from attending the meeting by the communist authorities in Poland.

Cool reception

Father de Riedmatten prepared his final report and submitted it to the pope on June 27. Grisez recalls that he and Father Ford were “appalled” by how biased it was. At Cardinal Ottaviani’s request, he and the priest prepared a document rebutting the pro-contraception arguments, and that document also presumably went to Pope Paul.

In the spring of 1967, selected theological documents from the commission, misidentified as the “majority report” and the “minority report,” were leaked to some media, evidently to put pressure on Pope Paul. But in July 1968, the pope issued Humanae Vitae, which unequivocally affirms that every contraceptive act is wrong.

Back in the United States, Father Ford returned to the seminary in Weston, Mass., where he had taught for many years, but was received coolly, especially after Humanae Vitae came out. Grisez describes him as “dismayed but not surprised” by dissent from the encyclical on the part of many academics and some bishops. Retiring from teaching, he spent his last years doing pastoral work and died Jan. 14, 1989, at the age of 86.

Russell Shaw is an OSV contributing editor.

Benefit (sidebar)

“Certain official documents of the Pontifical Commission on Population, Family and Birth-rate are published here [http://osv.cm/hjcyaA] without permission under the limitation of copyright called fair use, inasmuch as the documents on which [Jesuit Father John C.] Ford and [Germain] Grisez collaborated could not be accurately understood and fairly evaluated without the otherwise unavailable commission documents to which they were responding.

“In 2011, Grisez judged that he was no longer bound to keep these documents secret for two reasons: (1) he never undertook to keep them secret; and (2) after more than 44 years, the publication of these documents is hardly likely to harm the Church and may well benefit her.”

— Germain Grisez’s explanation of the release of commission documents

Text(s) source…

About John C. Ford, S.J.

This biography includes links in red both to some of the official documents of Pope Paul VI’sCommission on Population, Family, and Birth-rate, and to a response to that body’s final report, prepared by Ford and Grisez at the request of Alfredo Cardinal Ottaviani, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and delivered by him to Pope Paul VI.

John Cuthbert Ford, S.J., was born on December 20, 1902, at 151 Stanwood Street, in the Massachusetts town of Dorchester. His grandparents were Irish immigrants. His parents, Michael Ford and Hanna Cuthbert, married in St. Joseph’s Church, Lynn, Massachusetts, in 1900. They had three children. John, their second child and only son, was baptized on June 4, 1903.

The family soon moved to a nicer neighborhood in Brookline, Massachusetts, where the boy’s parents sent him to a public grade school. While in grade school, he became an altar boy at his parish, and eventually head altar boy. His pastor recommended that John enroll in a college preparatory program at the Jesuits’ Boston College High School.

Impressed by the piety and character of his Jesuit teachers, John awakened one morning during his final year at BC High with the clear conviction: “I am going to be a Jesuit!” Confident that this was God’s call, he at once committed himself and never looked back. On August 14, 1920, he entered a two-year novitiate and began his formation as a member of the Society of Jesus.

During the first year, especially as he finished a thirty-day retreat according to St. Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises,Ford joyfully felt that all was well. But in 1921 he contracted tuberculosis and was laid up much of the time. In July 1922, he was sent for treatment at a Jesuit nursing unit in Monroe, New York. In October he was told he might be dismissed from the Society.

He recovered sufficiently, however, to be allowed to make his first vows on February 8, 1923. That fall, Ford began his first two years of college at Shadowbrook in Lenox, Massachusetts. During 1925–28, he studied philosophy and other college-level courses at Weston College in Weston, Massachusetts. He received his A.B. in 1927 and Ph.L. in 1928.

In the fall of 1928 Ford began what normally was a three-year “regency,” a period of service—in his case teaching Latin to freshmen at Boston College. Around the end of the first year, however, he suffered a recurrence of tuberculosis. His superiors curtailed his regency and, in the fall of 1929, sent him back to Weston to study theology. Though recovering only gradually from his illness, he did well in his studies, was ordained to the priesthood on June 20, 1932, completed his seminary work, and received the S.T.L. in 1933.

To compensate for his abbreviated regency, Ford was assigned to teach philosophical psychology at Weston College in 1933–34. In 1934–35, he completed his formal Jesuit formation by doing tertianship (a year of study and prayer rounding out the spiritual formation begun in the novitiate). In the fall of 1935, Ford’s superiors sent him for two more years of intellectual formation, this time in moral theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He received his S.T.D. in 1937. His doctoral dissertation was:The Validity of Virginal Marriage. The topic pertained to canon law and sacramental theology as well as to moral theology.

Returning to the United States, Ford made final profession on August 15, 1937. With that, the thirty-four-year-old John Cuthbert Ford, S.J, S.T.D., was ready to begin his career as a moral theologian.

In Rome, Ford had studied with two leading moralists of the time: Arthur Vermeersch, S.J., a Belgian, who died in the summer of 1936; and Franz Hürth, S.J., a German, under whom Ford completed his dissertation.

Ford greatly admired Vermeersch’s creativity, rejection of moral minimalism, and tough-mindedness. The Belgian Jesuit had broken fresh ground, not least with a book on tolerance. As the framework of his systematic moral theology, Vermeersch used the virtues rather than the Ten Commandments, and not only catalogued sins to be avoided but dealt with the positive side of Christian life. He was careful not to use weak philosophical arguments and scriptural texts taken out of context to support the Church’s moral teachings.

Reflecting on Vermeersch’s approach, Ford asked himself: “How do we know that the Church’s moral teachings are true?” His conclusion: Because Jesus commissioned the Church to teach the baptized all that he commanded, she teaches in the name of Christ. Thus we can be sure that all the moral norms the Catholic Church has taught constantly and firmly are true. That she has taught them as she has makes it clear that they must be grounded in divine revelation itself, even if no Scripture text mentions them.

Throughout his career, therefore, Ford regarded as unquestionable all the moral norms that the Church had constantly and firmly taught as binding on the consciences of the faithful. At the same time, he seldom offered scriptural or philosophical arguments for any of them, urged care in applying them, and was open-minded about matters regarding which the Church had not yet taught at all or had not taught constantly and firmly.

From 1937–45 Ford was Professor of Moral Theology at his alma mater, Weston College. During the early years, he also studied law at Boston College Law School, where he received his LL.B. in 1941. In 1940 a group of Jesuit scholars, including Ford, founded the journal Theological Studies. The plan called for an annual survey of current developments in Catholic theology. Initially, Ford contributed a section on moral theology, but beginning in 1942 he (and later others) made “Notes on Moral Theology” a regular and distinctive feature of the journal.

During those years a topic Ford worked on made him famous: In 1944 he published a forty-nine page article cogently arguing that the rights of the innocent were being violated by the obliteration bombing which the United States and the United Kingdom were even then conducting. In 1945, having mentioned in “Notes on Moral Theology” the atrocities committed by the Soviets, Nazis, and Japanese, Ford spoke bluntly of “the greatest and most extensive single atrocity in the history of all this period, our atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

Musically talented and gregarious, Ford enjoyed playing the piano and partying with his fellow Jesuits. In the early 1940s, his drinking got out of hand. Realizing this, he obtained treatment from Dr. William Silkwood at Towns Hospital in New York, regained his sobriety, and became friendly with one of A.A.’s co-founders, Bill Wilson. Finding that A.A. was more effective than previous organizations at helping alcoholics remain sober, Ford subsequently sought to ensure that A.A. would not be problematic to Catholics and would be recommended to Catholic alcoholics by their pastors. In 1948 he participated in a summer program of Alcohol Studies at Yale University; he then served as a regular lecturer in that program for many years. He also personally helped many fellow alcoholics, especially after he retired from teaching in 1969.

The experience of alcoholism nurtured Ford’s previous interest in the psychological aspects of moral life and in people’s complex, psycho-moral problems. Through the 1950s and ’60s he continued reading in psychology, conferring with professionals in the field, and addressing psycho-moral issues in his writings. Catholic professionals and pastors, including bishops, as well as many lay people with problems increasingly sought his advice and help not only with alcoholism but with other addictive behaviors, sexual problems, scrupulosity, and so on. Competent, compassionate, and generous with his time, Ford by his confidential pastoral work provided great though little-noticed service to the Church.

From 1945–59 his superiors also used him to meet various urgent needs. In 1945 he was called to Rome to serve as Professor of Moral Theology at the Gregorian University. In 1947–48 he was back at Weston, but from 1948–51 he taught ethics and religion at Boston College. Then, while continuing at Weston from 1951–59, he spent several semesters at Jesuit theologates in West Baden, Indiana, and St. Mary’s, Kansas.

When Ford went to Rome in 1945, he gladly handed over the task of doing “Notes on Moral Theology” to Gerald Kelly, S.J., Professor of Moral Theology at St. Mary’s College in Kansas, and a friend since their years together as graduate students in Rome; Kelly continued the annual survey through 1954. Over the years, their friendship grew closer. The two shared the view that moral theology needed a renewal that would be both thoroughgoing and faithful to Tradition—that is, to the moral truths the Church had received and handed down.

Ford liked to analyze issues and formulate reasoned judgments on them, but he disliked research work, which Kelly enjoyed and was good at. In the early 1950s, the two men decided to collaborate on a series of volumes developing and systematizing their work on matters that they, and others after 1954, had dealt with in “Notes.” The general title of the volumes would be Contemporary Moral Theology.

The first, Questions in Fundamental Moral Theology,was published in 1958 and was reprinted five times in six years. The second volume, Marriage Questions, appeared in 1963. Well received initially, it was reprinted the following year. In it, Ford and Kelly clearly explained and confidently defended relevant constant and firm teachings of the Church, including that on contraception, while exercising their usual care to promote sound and gentle pastoral practices, and not to overstate moral responsibilities.

Meanwhile, important changes were occurring. Pius XII died in 1958 and Cardinal Angelo Roncalli became Pope John XXIII. On January 25, 1959, he announced that he had decided to convoke Vatican II. In the fall of that year, Ford began seven years as Professor of Moral Theology at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., looking forward with enthusiasm to both the new pontificate and his new assignment.

Though Ford never publicly criticized Pius XII or the Roman Curia, he shared the dissatisfaction then common among theologians with the overly cautious attitude of the Holy See toward innovations of any sort. He also thought Pius XII had attempted to settle some difficult moral questions without adequate study and reflection. Thus, Ford was pleased by the more open approach of the new pontificate and looked forward to the coming Council in the hope that it would pave the way for needed renewal in the Church, not least in moral theology.

The last months of 1962 were good neither for the Church nor for Ford. The first session of Vatican II ended with much less accomplished than Pope John had hoped, and the Pope himself was mortally ill. Ford had been working too hard and became exhausted. There was no recurrence of tuberculosis, but the disease had weakened him, and he now became diabetic. Hospitalized in January 1963, he obtained a semester’s leave-of-absence and spent much of the following eight months regaining his health.

While Ford was recuperating, John XXIII created on April 27, 1963 (thirty-seven days before his death), a Pontifical Commission on Population, Family, and Birth-rate. Its specific purpose was to prepare for the Holy See’s participation in a coming conference sponsored by the United Nations and the World Health Organization. For that reason, the Rev. Henri de Riedmatten, O.P., who worked in the Holy See’s Secretariat of State, was named the Commission’s Secretary General, and de Riedmatten single-handedly managed the Commission’s work even after Cardinal Ottaviani, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was named its President in February of 1966.

Pope John died on June 3, 1963. Cardinal Giovanni Montini, a man more inclined to entertain possibilities for doctrinal development than his three immediate predecessors, began his pontificate as Paul VI on June 21.

Until then, hardly any Catholics publicly defended contraception. By the end of that year, however, three European theologians had published articles challenging the received teaching. Others, who had been added to Pope John’s Pontifical Commission, urged Paul VI to expand that body’s mandate to consider the questions being raised about contraception, including whether using the birth control pill might be morally acceptable. Soon many other Catholics spoke up, including the Dutch and English bishops, who disagreed with one another.

Early in 1964, at Paul VI’s direction, a confidential inquiry was carried out among the bishops around the world about developments on these matters in their territories, and about their own views. Cardinal Patrick A. O’Boyle of Washington, D.C., then head of the U.S. bishops’ conference, asked Ford to help prepare the report for the United States. On June 6 Ford had the first of several private audiences with Paul VI on what was becoming a challenging problem.

Confident of the truth of the Church’s teaching on contraception that Pope Pius XI had reaffirmed in his encyclical, Casti Connubii, and reassured by the reports he was receiving from bishops around the world, Pope Paul had nevertheless been persuaded that use of the birth control pill might not be contraception. He therefore believed that a thorough study was needed to ensure that the Church would not ask more of faithful Catholic married couples than God did.

Because of the complexity and delicacy of the matter, Paul VI thought that the Council was not the suitable place to consider it. So, he decided to expand the Commission again and announce its work, which he did on June 23, 1964. In doing so, he did not spell out his mandate to the expanded Commission, but indicated it by mentioning, not the teaching of Pius XI (who had taught that contraception is always gravely wrong) but that of Pius XII (who had rejected a forerunner of the pill).

That same spring, Grisez had written his first book,Contraception and the Natural Law. Having read Marriage Questions, he asked Father Ford to review the manuscript before submitting it to a publisher. Amidst a great deal of other work that summer, Ford read it, made helpful suggestions, and strongly encouraged publication.

On August 2, 1964, Gerald Kelly, Ford’s collaborator and his close friend of almost thirty years, died.

In October, Paul VI appointed Ford to the Pontifical Commission on Population, Family, and Birth-rate. Grisez congratulated him, and over the following months the two occasionally had telephone conversations about developments, although Ford, respecting the confidentiality of the Commission’s proceedings, said little about what he was doing. Thus, while mentioning his participation in a meeting in the spring of 1965, Ford told Grisez nothing about what had happened and shared none of its documents with him.

However, Dr. John R. Cavanagh, a Washington, D.C., psychiatrist who had also been appointed to the Commission, was less concerned about confidentiality. That summer, he discussed the meeting at length with Grisez and others, and having received the official English translation of the Report on the Fourth Session of the Commission Set Up by the Holy See to Study the Problems of Population, Family, and Birth-rate, he shared it with Grisez. After studying it, Grisez called Ford, and the two then freely discussed the Commission’s work.

It was clear that de Riedmatten, the Commission’s Secretary General, had skillfully managed the session.

Philosopher and lawyer John T. Noonan, Jr., was about to publish a book about the Church’s doctrine on contraception that was in effect a massive brief for the view that the teaching could change, and de Riedmatten had arranged for Noonan to summarize his case in a two-hour plenary meeting that opened the session’s discussions.

Then, instead of focusing on the question of the birth control pill or even on the truth of the Church’s constant and very firm teaching, de Riedmatten focused on the question of whether, as he put it, the teaching was “reformable” or “irreformable.” Twelve of the nineteen members of the theological section thought that the teaching was reformable—that it could be changed.

Although aware that Paul VI was willing to have the expanded Commission examine every aspect of the matter and make as good a case as possible for any view that might be true, Ford was surprised to find the theologians so predisposed to change. Significantly, the other members of the Commission—physicians, demographers and sociologists, married couples, and pastoral workers—sat in on almost all the discussions of the theological section. As Grisez was told by Dr. Cavanagh, he and other non-theologians began to think, for the first time in their lives, that using contraceptives might be accepted by the Church.

Having heard beforehand about Noonan’s work, Ford had hoped it would be helpful. Now he was severely disappointed. In discussing the book with Grisez, Ford raised many questions about its historical accuracy, and Grisez researched some of them. Impressed with the results, Ford tried but failed to get Grisez appointed to the Pontifical Commission. From then on, however, he regarded Grisez as a junior colleague, and in the fall of 1965 the two often talked as Ford prepared to see Pope Paul again.

By then Ford had resigned from his position at the Catholic University of America effective in 1966, and had already stopped working there. But he was still living in the Jesuit residence near the University, and Grisez often visited him there.

Early in November Ford requested an audience with the Pope and was soon called to Rome. The section on marriage in Vatican II’s almost-finished document, The Church in the Modern World, was unclear about contraception, and wanting the Council to reaffirm the teaching of Casti Connubii, Pope Paul put Bishop Carlo Colombo, his personal theological advisor, to work drafting amendments. On Monday, November 22, the Pope, having called Ford in for an hour-long private audience, enlisted him to work with Colombo and told him to return the next day with the draft amendments.

When Ford returned, Paul VI told him not to leave Rome as he had planned. Ford and some of the other theologians from the Commission were sent as theological advisors to the conciliar subcommission that would deal with the amendments. However, the subcommission did not welcome the Pope’s initiative. Wishing to avoid open conflict as the Council drew to a close, Paul VI allowed the subcommission to revise the amendments. The result was that the Council left “certain issues” about the morality of contraception to be resolved after the Commission on Population, Family, and Birth-rate completed its work.

That outcome greatly increased both the importance and the urgency of the Commission’s work. Ford and Grisez thought Paul VI should more clearly define the questions to be addressed and should direct the Commission to deliver to him, as soon as possible, the strongest cases that could be made both for and against the propositions on which its members disagreed. Ford tried to convey that idea to Paul VI and also urged de Riedmatten to organize the Commission’s work in that way, though Ford had little hope that the Secretary General would do so without a direct order from Paul VI.

Ford’s plan was not adopted, but the Pope did reorganize the Commission, so that all its previous members became expert advisors to sixteen cardinals and other bishops, newly named to constitute the Commission.

Once again, de Riedmatten organized everything. The experts were to meet in Rome, beginning with the theologians April 19—29, 1966, continuing with various groups including a second session of the theologians May 23–28, and wrapping up with a plenary session of the experts June 5–8. The members—the sixteen prelates—were then to consider the disputed matters June 20–25, and to deliver their findings and advice to the Pope.

Easily fatigued and never entirely well, Ford found the Commission meetings tedious and disheartening. Two of the seven members of the theological section who had held the previous year that the Church’s teaching on contraception could not change were no longer meeting with the experts and one other had switched sides. So Ford now found himself a member of a minority of four.

His three colleagues were good company, however. Marcelino Zalba, S.J., and Jan Visser, C.Ss.R., were leading Catholic moral theologians who had published updated versions of multivolume manuals of the moral theology that until then was typical of their religious institutes. Stanislas de Lestapis, S.J., was not only a sociologist who had published a book, Family Planning and Modern Problems,but a truly compassionate pastor, who foresaw that Catholics who were abandoning the Church’s teachings on marriage, sex, and innocent life would experience the disastrous consequences already experienced by many non-Catholics who had embraced a secularist ethics.

Almost all the laypeople now supported change. Patrick Crowley, a Chicago lawyer, and his wife, Patricia, who had founded the Catholic Family Movement, were given ample opportunity to present anecdotal data about birth regulation gathered by methodologically questionable surveys.

At one point, de Riedmatten himself invoked certain responses Paul VI had received to questions he put in 1964 to the bishops of the world; when Ford challenged the Secretary General to produce the documentation, de Riedmatten refused—and offered the excuse that it was confidential.

One of the Commission’s most able experts was Josef Fuchs, S.J., Professor of Moral Theology at the Gregorian University and a scholar whose earlier work Ford knew and respected. The previous spring Fuchs had declared that the Church had not taught on contraception in a way that precluded change. But although proponents of change had cast about for an argument that would win his support, he had not then been willing to say that the teaching was mistaken. Now, however, Fuchs had found a satisfying rationale for the moral acceptability of using contraceptives, and was prepared to say that the Church should change her teaching. The Commission’s other proponents of change, most of them not moral theologians, gladly embraced Fuchs’s new rationale.

Delighted with the emergence of what he called “substantial consensus”—fifteen members of the theological section denied that using contraceptives is in itself morally bad, while only four still held that position—de Riedmatten quickly recorded their votes (April 28). The Secretary General later put the tallies near the beginning of his Rapport Final (see pp. 8–10) and made them one of its central features.

For the experts of the theological section, the May sessions were an anticlimax. However, a proposal was made to facilitate the work of the Commission’s members—the prelates who would meet in June—by preparing papers summarizing the opposing cases on the question: Is using contraceptives always gravely wrong? Convinced that the case for the Church’s teaching is far stronger than the case its opponents had cobbled together, Ford and his colleagues enthusiastically accepted the proposal. The other side also agreed, and a date was set for delivering the two papers.

Ford drafted the principal parts of the paper for his group; to most of his draft, his three colleagues offered only minor amendments. However, although all four favored giving an account of the other side’s underlying theory, they lacked time to work out an account they could entirely agree upon. So, the others accepted Ford’s draft with an indication that not everyone agreed with everything in that section. Fr. de Lestapis also prepared a pastoral supplement, which his three colleagues gladly included.

On the agreed day, Ford delivered the completed paper, which was in Latin: Status Quaestionis: Doctrina Ecclesiae Eiusque Status. Those on the other side gave an excuse for lateness and delivered their paper, also in Latin, a few days later: Documentum Syntheticum de Moralitate Regulationis Nativitatum. When later telling Grisez what had happened, Ford wryly observed that the document’s drafters had made good use of the extra time.

During those spring sessions, Ford had sent Grisez occasional letters, briefly reporting developments and asking him to research a few things. Contrary to later reports, however, Grisez was not at all involved in the preparation ofStatus Quaestionis. He first learned of it and of Documentum Syntheticum when both documents arrived in his mail at Georgetown with Ford’s request for comments. Just finishing the spring semester at the time, Grisez set to work and soon sent many pages of comments: Grisez’s Critique of the Two Papers.

Ford received the first batch of comments just as the final session of the experts (June 5–8) was about to begin. Most of the experts would leave after that session, but some, including ten of the theologians—seven from the majority and Visser, Zalba, and Ford from the minority—would remain to sit in on the session of the members (June 20–25). With little time and much to do to prepare for that session, Ford telephoned Grisez and asked him to fly to Rome to lend a hand.

Grisez arrived in Rome on June 8, and was helped by Francis Furlong, S.J., Rector of the Collegio Bellarmino, to settle in a room near Ford’s. That evening, Ford took Grisez out to dinner and sightseeing. The next morning, the two began what would be a daily routine: Mass, a quick breakfast, and work.

Ford explained that the prospects for the coming session were not bright. Karol Wojtyła, Archbishop of Kraków, would have been an able defender of the Church’s teaching, but the word was that harassment by the Polish authorities would keep him from coming. No doubt he would in due course make his contribution directly to Pope Paul.

Five of the fifteen members who were coming—Cardinals Suenens, Döpfner, and Joseph Lefebvre (not to be confused with Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre); Archbishop Dearden; and Bishop Reuss—were known proponents of change on contraception. Cardinal Shehan and Bishop Dupuy of Albi probably shared their view. Cardinal Gracias from India, Archbishop Zoa from Cameroon, Archbishop Palido-Méndez from Venezuela, and Archbishop Morris from Ireland were unknown quantities.

In 1964 Cardinal Heenan had led the British bishops in countering the Dutch bishops’ support of the pill, but lately he seemed more hesitant. Only Cardinal Ottaviani, Archbishop Binz, and Bishop Colombo were certainly opposed to change, and Colombo still thought the pill was somehow different from the contraceptives that had always been condemned. Plainly, Ford observed, when Pope Paul reorganized the Commission, he hardly tried to load it against change; rather, he wanted to give the proponents of change every opportunity to make their case.

Ford wanted to meet, if possible, with Cardinal Heenan, Archbishop Morris, and other prelates when they arrived in Rome and before their session was to begin—in just eleven days. They would have already received Status Quaestionis,but he wanted something else to give them: a presentation of the case against change such as a skillful debater would make. He hoped it would not only firm up their thinking on the issue but make its way into de Riedmatten’s report, thus providing Pope Paul with a more rounded case than Ford had been able to present in Status Quaestionis.

Grisez proposed making the case by formulating a series of questions and treating each in just one page. Ford at once accepted the idea. The two formulated thirteen questions and outlined the answers, and Grisez set to work drafting. As he completed each page, Ford worked on it. Then they revised the entire draft, and Grisez typed what they expected to be the final version, which they titled: The Church and Contraception.

Ford and Grisez were able to meet with, and deliver the document to, Cardinals Heenan and Gracias and Archbishop Morris. Cardinal Heenan was noncommittal, and Archbishop Morris was anguished and considered himself unable to judge what Pope Paul should say about contraception. Cardinal Gracias, surprisingly, welcomed what Ford and Grisez had prepared, and at once began skimming it. In the event, Cardinal Gracias used a few of their pages during the members’ session, but de Riedmatten did not mention them in his report.

Ford had heard that some of the theologians promoting change were working on a schema—that is, a draft—of a possible papal document promulgating what they expected to be the Church’s new doctrine. While nothing had been said about such a schema during the sessions of experts, the plan seemed to be to put something before the fifteen prelates at their upcoming session. Ford did not know what he would do if that happened, but he thought he should have an alternative schema ready in case it was needed.

So, the two developed an outline, and Grisez produced a draft. After fifteen minutes of generous praise, Ford offered many “suggestions” to “improve” it. Accepting Ford’s devastating critique, Grisez scrapped most of the draft and wrote another. This one was close to what Ford had in mind, and the two worked together in correcting and polishing it. Pleased with the result, Ford translated it into Latin: Schema Quoddam Declarationis Pontificiae circa Anticonceptionem.During the whole of their stay in Rome, however, Ford never found an appropriate moment to make use of their alternative schema.

On Monday morning, June 20, Ford was among the theological experts sitting in as de Riedmatten began the session of the Commission’s members—the fifteen cardinals and bishops who were present—with a lengthy summary of the work of the Commission, from its foundation by John XXIII until the end of the recent experts’ sessions. This wasDe Riedmatten’s Relatio Generalis.

The Commission had been asked in June of 1964 to examine the precise problem of the pill; in their most recent session all the theologians but one or two had agreed that it presented no special problem. However, de Riedmatten focused in his presentation almost entirely on whether contraception is intrinsically evil. He framed his summary of the Commission’s work in quasi-factual observations suggesting that the widespread use of contraception made pastoral acceptance of it virtually inevitable. While inadequately summarizing the arguments set out by Ford and his colleagues in Status Quaestionis, he presented those inDocumentum Syntheticum at length and sympathetically.

Each of the prelates—except Cardinal Ottaviani and Archbishop Binz, who remained silent—presented his more or less prepared intervention. There was little discussion, and no minds were changed. Some of the prelates put questions to the experts, and a few of the non-theological experts were allowed to have their say in favor of change. Before noon Wednesday, there was nothing more to say, and the prelates could have gone home. But their formal vote was not scheduled until Friday.

It was proposed that a schema be prepared for a document to be issued by the Holy Father announcing the Church’s new doctrine. The members discussed the idea and accepted it. The theologians supporting change readily agreed to deliver a draft the next morning—that is, Thursday.

Obviously prepared in advance, the draft—Schema Documenti de Responsabili Paternitate (Schema of a Document on Resonsible Parenthood)—was discussed that day and part of the next, and some amendments were offered. Bishop Dupuy also produced a document he had brought with him entitled Pastoral Indications, which was well received by the other prelates who shared his position. With time running out on the members’ session, they left it to the theologians present who supported change and to de Riedmatten to complete the revision of the schema for delivery to Pope Paul along with the rest of the Commission’s documents.

On Friday, the prelates voted on three questions.
(1) “Whether it is the case that every contraceptive intervention—abortion and irreversible contraceptive sterilization excluded—is intrinsically illicit?”
• Nine voted no; three voted yes; and three abstained.
(2) “Do the members hold that the licitness of a contraceptive intervention— in the terms described by the majority of the Commission’s theological experts—can be affirmed in continuity with the Church’s tradition and the supreme Magisterium’s declarations about the goods of matrimony?”
• Nine voted yes; five voted no; and one abstained.
(3) “Should the supreme Magisterium speak quite soon?”
• Fourteen voted yes, and one abstained.

The nine votes firmly favoring change were those of Cardinals Suenens, Döpfner, Lefebvre, and Shehan; Archbishops Dearden, Zoa, and Palido-Méndez; and Bishops Reuss and Dupuy. The three votes that firmly rejected change were those of Cardinals Gracias and Ottaviani and Archbishop Binz.

Cardinal Heenan thought that a simple reaffirmation of the received teaching would not solve the existing problem, but he was not convinced that a new teaching along the lines supported by the majority of the theologians was possible. Archbishop Morris was the one persistent abstainer. In a written explanation, he said neither side’s arguments convinced him; he suggested that the issue be submitted to the bishops around the world. That proposal was supported by Cardinal Ottaviani, but opposed by others. Put to a vote, it was rejected eleven to four.

None of those prelates’ views surprised Ford, but the view of Paul VI’s personal theologian, Bishop Carlo Colombo, did. Colombo held that there were methods of contraception that the Church had always condemned, but he left open the possibility that the condemnation admitted exceptions in some cases. Although he thought the view of the majority theologians was at odds with the past teachings requiring respect for the “integrity of the conjugal act,” he also thought there might be contraceptive methods, presumably including the pill, compatible with it.

Bishop Colombo’s views surely contributed to Paul VI’s conviction that a thorough study of contraception was necessary. In rejecting Colombo’s peculiar view, as Paul VI ultimately did, the Pope—on the issue that had mainly concerned him—acted in accord with the nearly unanimous advice of the Commission’s experts and members.

Although Cardinal Ottaviani was the President of the Commission and realized that de Riedmatten’s final report to Pope Paul would be biased in favor of change, Ottaviani made no attempt to influence the Secretary General. Even before the members’ session ended, however, the Cardinal called Ford aside and asked him to stay in Rome for another week or two, to prepare a response to de Riedmatten’s report. Ford told Ottaviani about Grisez, and the Cardinal agreed that he should help.

On Saturday, June 25, the members left Rome. Six of the theologians who supported change and de Riedmatten put the finishing touches on their Schema Documenti de Responsabili Paternitate, which was to be the final part of the Secretary General’s Rapport Final, and he put the finishing touches on the Rapport as a whole.

After delivering the document to Paul VI on Monday afternoon, June 27, de Riedmatten was to deliver a copy of it to Cardinal Ottaviani. The Cardinal asked Ford and Grisez to meet with him immediately after that. So they spent the weekend beginning to plan the response they would put together for the Cardinal.

Meanwhile, Grisez had been thinking about the poor options the Holy Father now faced, and drafted a short paper on that matter to give Ottaviani on Monday. He finished it on Saturday, and an Italian friend had a translation ready on Monday: Quali Sono le Alternative che Rimangono Aperte per il S. Padre?

Ushered to a corridor on the top floor of Palazzo del S. Uffizio late Monday afternoon, Ford and Grisez watched de Riedmatten cross the courtyard below as he arrived and, a short time later, departed. Less than a half hour after that, the door at the end of the corridor opened, and Cardinal Ottaviani, who was alone, warmly welcomed them into his private apartment, sat down with them at a low table, exchanged pleasantries, gave them a copy of the Rapport Final, and began a remarkably frank and collegial discussion of the job he wanted them to do. He was unhurried, and waited patiently as Ford translated for Grisez.

Regarding the response Ford and Grisez were to prepare, Ottaviani specified only two things. First, he wanted it in a week or ten days, if possible, for he wished to deliver it to Pope Paul soon. Second, he wanted it to answer a question he was sure the Holy Father would ask: How could all these good men have come to this conclusion? The Cardinal thought it would be very difficult for the Pope to disagree with the proponents of change unless he had a satisfying answer to that question. Ottavani did not suggest an answer; perhaps the question puzzled him too.

Ford described the thirteen questions and answers he and Grisez had written, and proposed to include them in the response. He also proposed to make a few important points about the Rapport Final rather than undertake a systematic critique. Ottaviani readily agreed to both proposals, and discussed the second with Ford in some detail. When their conversation drew to an end, Grisez presented the memorandum about options he had drawn up, and the Cardinal, apparently sincerely interested, graciously thanked him.

Skimming de Riedmatten’s final report, Ford and Grisez were appalled but not surprised by how biased it was. Toward the end, the Secretary General even rationalized its one-sidedness on the ground that those favoring change had, after all, prevailed. The two men spent many hours discussing how to answer the question Ottaviani had raised. The section ofStatus Quaestionis with which Ford’s colleagues had not completely agreed touched on the question. Grisez proposed additional ideas; Ford questioned and developed them. Grisez took notes, and they soon had an outline.

During the next week, Grisez spent almost all his time drafting and redrafting that single document, while Ford spent almost all his time drafting general and specific observations on the Rapport Final and on the Schema Documenti—which, by putting it at the Rapport’s very end, de Riedmatten made out to be the consummation of the Commission’s entire work.

On Monday, July 4, Grisez completed his assignment, and Ford completed his general observations. Ford sent Ottaviani those two parts along with a third consisting of the thirteen questions and answers, while promising delivery of a fourth part, consisting of specific observations, two days later. Ford wrote a covering letter but did not give the packet of materials a single title. It may be called Materials Prepared by Ford and Grisez at the Request of Cardinal Ottaviani.

On Wednesday, Ford completed his work on part four, and the Italian friend who had translated for him and Grisez treated them to a fine farewell dinner. Thursday, July 7, Ford and Grisez flew together to New York, and there parted. Grisez headed home for a needed week’s vacation with his family, and Ford went for health care and prepared to return to Rome to participate, from September 8 to November 17, in the second session of the thirty-first General Congregation of the Society of Jesus.

Ford never said much about that Congregation’s affairs—just enough so that Grisez realized that there, too, Ford was in a minority on many matters and that he found that work as burdensome as his work on the Commission.

During the whole stretch he worked with Ford, however, Grisez never saw him depressed or gravely anxious about how things would turn out. The key to Ford’s inner peace and unwavering hope was his childlike faith in providence. He used to say: “No matter how bad things seem, when I go to bed at the end of the day, I know I am in God’s arms and am sure everything will be all right.”

That fall, while Ford was still in Rome, there was publicity in the U.S. about a public conference to be held in Washington, D.C., involving the former Commission experts, other than Ford, from the U.S. De Riedmatten was scheduled to give the keynote address. The word was that the organizers planned to publicize the outcome of the Commission’s work so as to prepare people for a coming papal statement along the lines of the Schema Documenti.

Apparently hearing of the plan, the Pope took action. Addressing the Italian Society of Obstetrics and Gynecology on October 29, 1966, just 124 days after de Riedmattten had delivered his Rapport Final, Paul VI said that the Commission’s conclusions, “it seems to me, cannot be considered definitive, because they have serious implications with respect to not a few weighty questions—questions of a doctrinal, pastoral and social order—which cannot be isolated and put to the side, but require a logical consideration in the context of the issues under study.”

Reading the address in L’Osservatore Romano, Ford airmailed that page of the paper to Grisez with a jubilant note. The day he received it, Grisez showed it to a priest-theologian who, though pro-contraception, respected Grisez’s book on the subject and remained his friend. He had come to Washington to hear de Riedmatten and the others. On reading the passage, his face went white. In the event, De Riedmatten’s presentation at the public conference was so reserved it received hardly any coverage.

About six months later, in the spring of 1967, translations of four Commission documents were leaked and published in English and French, obviously to put pressure on Pope Paul. The Schema Documenti de Responsabili Paternitate, which de Riedmatten had included at the end of his Rapport Final, was labeled The Majority Report and misleadingly presented as the counterpart of Status Quaestionis: Doctrina Ecclesiae Eiusque Status, which was labeled The Minority Report. The latter document’s true counterpart, Documentum Syntheticum de Moralitate Regulationis Nativitatum was labeled The Majority Rebuttal.

Finally returning in January 1967 to Weston College, the place he regarded as home, Ford found that many confrères who had been friendly were so no longer, and at best treated him with cool politeness. Boston College and other Jesuit schools in the U.S were about to hire non-Catholics to teach undergraduate theology courses, and the opposition to doing so—in which Ford wholeheartedly joined—was a losing cause. Plans were being made to move the entire Weston theology program to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to be near Harvard University. Ford expected nothing good from that move, but opposing it was another unpopular and losing cause.

Amidst the abject surrender of academic authorities to the student rebellion of the late 1960s, many of the young Jesuits whom Ford strove to teach in 1967–68 treated him without respect, and some with manifest contempt. Empathetic and friendly, Ford suffered terribly from the unfriendly, even hostile, attitude of those men. Given a sabbatical for the following year, Ford offered to retire from teaching as of Janaury 6, 1969, and his resignation was readily accepted. His plan was to continue serving as well as he could, especially by carrying on the unobtrusive pastoral work he loved so much.

Meanwhile, Paul VI finally concluded his conscientious study of birth regulation. He issued Humanae vitae on July 25, 1968, but released it for publication only on Monday, July 29. The central teaching seemed to Ford entirely sound, precisely formulated, and complete. The explanation of it, however, seemed unclear and incomplete. (John Paul II would set out one theological explanation at great length in what is called his “theology of the body.”)

In preparation ever since Paul VI’s statement of October 29, 1966, a tide of straightforward dissent by many Catholic academics and more or less guarded dissent by a substantial minority of bishops, including some conferences of bishops, began. It crested only after about three months. Ford was dismayed but not surprised.

One of the few bishops who strongly and steadfastly opposed dissent in his diocese was Cardinal Patrick A. O’Boyle, Archbishop of Washington, D.C. Some theologians and other clerics teaching at The Catholic University of America, who provided little or no pastoral service in the diocese, issued a statement on Tuesday morning, July 30, initiating so-called theological dissent throughout the U.S. Their proximity to and relationships with certain disaffected priests serving the diocese encouraged some of the Washington priests to subscribe to a statement of pastoral dissent, which was issued Tuesday evening, July 30. (The number of signers varied, as priests added or removed their names; it peaked at fifty-four and ended with thirty-nine.)

Archbishop O’Boyle (as he preferred to be addressed) at once called on Ford for help. Ford, along with the staff members closest to the Cardinal, quickly helped him work out the policy he adopted and held to. Dissent from the teaching of the encyclical by those engaged in pastoral ministry in the diocese would not be tolerated; yet those dissenting would not, strictly speaking, be punished for doing so. Rather, their faculties—that is, the Archbishop’s official authorizations, required by Church law—to hear confessions, to preach, and/or to teach would be withdrawn unless the priests agreed not to apply their dissenting opinion when using those faculties. The rationale for this policy was that the Archbishop could not in good conscience authorize priests assisting him to do what he believed it would be wrong to do himself—wrong because potentially disastrous to souls entrusted to his care.

O’Boyle also wanted Ford to draft a pastoral letter and in other ways help deal with the dissent. On August 1, Ford called Grisez, who the evening of July 30 had been one of the few to speak out against dissent at the mass meeting at Catholic University in which the leaders of academic dissent publicized their view. Late in the afternoon of August 2, Ford and Grisez delivered their draft to the Archbishop and his inner circle. With a few amendments, he was satisfied with it, and said it would be read at all the Masses in the diocese on Sunday, August 11.

Grisez at once argued strongly and bluntly that a week’s delay was pastorally unacceptable. Startled, O’Boyle said nothing for nearly a minute. Then he asked key staff members if they could get the pastoral out that same weekend. They quickly devised a plan for doing that and began to implement it.

That evening, O’Boyle and his closest associate dined with Ford and Grisez, and the four men discussed three possible projects— a substantial pastoral booklet, clearly and briefly answering the questions the faithful were actually asking; a letter for the Archbishop to send his dissenting priests, examining the position they had taken, explaining his own, and asking them to retract; and a critique of claims made by the academic dissenters together with proposals for dealing with them. The Cardinal asked Ford and Grisez to begin work at once on the pastoral booklet; within a week they were working on the other two projects as well.

O’Boyle had provided a two-bedroom suite in an apartment hotel near his own office for Ford. He and Grisez worked there during most of August; Grisez often staying overnight. This time, they were full partners. The two also enjoyed each other’s company, and became closer friends.

The forty-eight page pastoral booklet, Sex in Marriage: Love-Giving, Life-Giving, was distributed to every family in the diocese on September 8, and subsequently reprinted by many other bishops and Catholic organizations. Eventually, more than one million copies became available in the English-speaking world. The letter to the dissenting priests became ten pages; O’Boyle completed work on it on August 10, and it was mailed out August 14. It was a factor in reducing the size of the group subscribing to the dissenting pastoral statement. The critique of claims by the academic dissenters was soon supplied to the Archbishop, but that group was dealt with by all the bishops on the board of Catholic University, and the majority, on the advice of the University’s lawyers, chose to tolerate the faculty members’ dissent.

Around the end of August, Ford returned to Weston. Although he occasionally provided helpful advice during the following months, Grisez alone continued to work full time for O’Boyle during the academic year 1968–69. (The Cardinal obtained a leave of absence for Grisez from Georgetown shortly before classes were to begin.)

At Weston, Ford found himself unable to concentrate on paperwork. He immersed himself in pastoral service, and ignored the troubling things happening in the Church and the Society of Jesus. From time to time during the following years, Grisez, usually accompanied by his wife, Jeannette, visited Ford, who always arranged a guest room for them and often took them out for sightseeing and a great meal.

For many years, Ford said Mass at a home for the elderly where he befriended the residents and served as their pastor. He also regularly visited disabled people in other institutions. Some were bitter about their sufferings, and Ford strove to promote their faith and hope—to get them to forgive God. He also spent many hours on an alcohol hot line, listening patiently to fellow alcoholics. The Grisezs always found him vivacious and happy with his work.

In 1976, in connection with a catechism project, Grisez for the first time carefully studied some of the documents of Vatican II. He realized that a passage in the Council’s document on the Church (Lumen gentium, 25) provided the basis for a powerful argument that the Church had infallibly proposed her teaching on contraception long beforeHumanae vitae. Ford had thought and argued that in 1966, but without reference to the conciliar teaching.

Grisez proposed to Ford that they publish an article together making the case. At first, Ford flatly refused. But Grisez went to work on a draft, eventually got Ford to read and criticize it, and finally persuaded him to study it sentence by sentence. The two worked together until Ford was satisfied with every sentence of the final draft, which they sent to Theological Studies, with Ford’s name first. The journal reluctantly accepted the article— “Contraception and the Infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium” —and published it on the tenth anniversary of Humanae vitae.

During their work together over the years, Ford taught Grisez a great deal of what he knew of the classical moral theology and its methodology. In that way, Ford was Grisez’s theological mentor. That theological formation greatly helped Grisez when he undertook to write The Way of the Lord Jesus.

For the next ten years, Ford continued his pastoral work. His mind remained clear and sharp, but he gradually became less and less able to get about. He joked that they no longer made spare parts for a 1902 Ford.

On September 24, 1988, the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars gave Ford its Cardinal O’Boyle Award for Defense of the Faith. The meeting was in Boston. Friends brought Ford from the Jesuit residence at Weston to receive the award in person. Grisez read the citation (in the opposite column on this page, after the publications list). Ford, plainly delighted, responded appropriately.

There was little opportunity that evening for the Grisezs to chat with Father Ford, and they never saw him again. He died less than four months later, on January 14, 1989. He was eighty-seven years old and had celebrated the sixty-eighth anniversary of entering the Jesuits the previous August.

Some of the factual statements in the preceding biography were drawn from or verified by: William P. Fischer, John C. Ford, S.J.: A Mid-Century Reformer Revisited, 1937–1969 (Ph.D. dissertation, The Catholic University of America, 2004)



In recent times the Holy Spirit has moved groups of Anglicans to petition repeatedly and insistently to be received into full Catholic communion individually as well as corporately. The Apostolic See has responded favorably to such petitions. Indeed, the successor of Peter, mandated by the Lord Jesus to guarantee the unity of the episcopate and to preside over and safeguard the universal communion of all the Churches,[1] could not fail to make available the means necessary to bring this holy desire to realization.

The Church, a people gathered into the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,[2] was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ, as “a sacrament – a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all people.”[3] Every division among the baptized in Jesus Christ wounds that which the Church is and that for which the Church exists; in fact, “such division openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching the Gospel to every creature.”[4] Precisely for this reason, before shedding his blood for the salvation of the world, the Lord Jesus prayed to the Father for the unity of his disciples.[5]

It is the Holy Spirit, the principle of unity, which establishes the Church as a communion.[6] He is the principle of the unity of the faithful in the teaching of the Apostles, in the breaking of the bread and in prayer.[7] The Church, however, analogous to the mystery of the Incarnate Word, is not only an invisible spiritual communion, but is also visible;[8] in fact, “the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, the visible society and the spiritual community, the earthly Church and the Church endowed with heavenly riches, are not to be thought of as two realities. On the contrary, they form one complex reality formed from a two-fold element, human and divine.”[9] The communion of the baptized in the teaching of the Apostles and in the breaking of the eucharistic bread is visibly manifested in the bonds of the profession of the faith in its entirety, of the celebration of all of the sacraments instituted by Christ, and of the governance of the College of Bishops united with its head, the Roman Pontiff.[10]

This single Church of Christ, which we profess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic “subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him. Nevertheless, many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside her visible confines. Since these are gifts properly belonging to the Church of Christ, they are forces impelling towards Catholic unity.”[11]

In the light of these ecclesiological principles, this Apostolic Constitution provides the general normative structure for regulating the institution and life of Personal Ordinariates for those Anglican faithful who desire to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church in a corporate manner. This Constitution is completed by Complementary Norms issued by the Apostolic See.

I. §1 Personal Ordinariates for Anglicans entering into full communion with the Catholic Church are erected by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith within the confines of the territorial boundaries of a particular Conference of Bishops in consultation with that same Conference.

§2 Within the territory of a particular Conference of Bishops, one or more Ordinariates may be erected as needed.

§3 Each Ordinariate possesses public juridic personality by the law itself (ipso iure); it is juridically comparable to a diocese.[12]

§4 The Ordinariate is composed of lay faithful, clerics and members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, originally belonging to the Anglican Communion and now in full communion with the Catholic Church, or those who receive the Sacraments of Initiation within the jurisdiction of the Ordinariate.

§5 The Catechism of the Catholic Church is the authoritative expression of the Catholic faith professed by members of the Ordinariate.

II. The Personal Ordinariate is governed according to the norms of universal law and the present Apostolic Constitution and is subject to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and the other Dicasteries of the Roman Curia in accordance with their competencies. It is also governed by the Complementary Norms as well as any other specific Norms given for each Ordinariate.

III. Without excluding liturgical celebrations according to the Roman Rite, the Ordinariate has the faculty to celebrate the Holy Eucharist and the other Sacraments, the Liturgy of the Hours and other liturgical celebrations according to the liturgical books proper to the Anglican tradition, which have been approved by the Holy See, so as to maintain the liturgical, spiritual and pastoral traditions of the Anglican Communion within the Catholic Church, as a precious gift nourishing the faith of the members of the Ordinariate and as a treasure to be shared.

IV. IV. A Personal Ordinariate is entrusted to the pastoral care of an Ordinary appointed by the Roman Pontiff.

V. V. The power (potestas) of the Ordinary is:

a. ordinary: connected by the law itself to the office entrusted to him by the Roman Pontiff, for both the internal forum and external forum;

b. vicarious: exercised in the name of the Roman Pontiff;

c. personal: exercised over all who belong to the Ordinariate;

This power is to be exercised jointly with that of the local Diocesan Bishop, in those cases provided for in the Complementary Norms.

VI. § 1. Those who ministered as Anglican deacons, priests, or bishops, and who fulfill the requisites established by canon law[13] and are not impeded by irregularities or other impediments[14] may be accepted by the Ordinary as candidates for Holy Orders in the Catholic Church. In the case of married ministers, the norms established in the Encyclical Letter of Pope Paul VI Sacerdotalis coelibatus, n. 42[15] and in the Statement In June[16] are to be observed. Unmarried ministers must submit to the norm of clerical celibacy of CIC can. 277, §1.

§ 2. The Ordinary, in full observance of the discipline of celibate clergy in the Latin Church, as a rule (pro regula) will admit only celibate men to the order of presbyter. He may also petition the Roman Pontiff, as a derogation from can. 277, §1, for the admission of married men to the order of presbyter on a case by case basis, according to objective criteria approved by the Holy See.

§ 3. Incardination of clerics will be regulated according to the norms of canon law.

§ 4. Priests incardinated into an Ordinariate, who constitute the presbyterate of the Ordinariate, are also to cultivate bonds of unity with the presbyterate of the Diocese in which they exercise their ministry. They should promote common pastoral and charitable initiatives and activities, which can be the object of agreements between the Ordinary and the local Diocesan Bishop.

§ 5. Candidates for Holy Orders in an Ordinariate should be prepared alongside other seminarians, especially in the areas of doctrinal and pastoral formation. In order to address the particular needs of seminarians of the Ordinariate and formation in Anglican patrimony, the Ordinary may also establish seminary programs or houses of formation which would relate to existing Catholic faculties of theology.

VII. The Ordinary, with the approval of the Holy See, can erect new Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, with the right to call their members to Holy Orders, according to the norms of canon law. Institutes of Consecrated Life originating in the Anglican Communion and entering into full communion with the Catholic Church may also be placed under his jurisdiction by mutual consent.

VIII. § 1. The Ordinary, according to the norm of law, after having heard the opinion of the Diocesan Bishop of the place, may erect, with the consent of the Holy See, personal parishes for the faithful who belong to the Ordinariate.

§ 2. Pastors of the Ordinariate enjoy all the rights and are held to all the obligations established in the Code of Canon Law and, in cases established by the Complementary Norms, such rights and obligations are to be exercised in mutual pastoral assistance together with the pastors of the local Diocese where the personal parish of the Ordinariate has been established.

IX. Both the lay faithful as well as members of Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, originally part of the Anglican Communion, who wish to enter the Personal Ordinariate, must manifest this desire in writing.

X. § 1. The Ordinary is aided in his governance by a Governing Council with its own statutes approved by the Ordinary and confirmed by the Holy See.[17]

§ 2. The Governing Council, presided over by the Ordinary, is composed of at least six priests. It exercises the functions specified in the Code of Canon Law for the Presbyteral Council and the College of Consultors, as well as those areas specified in the Complementary Norms.

§ 3. The Ordinary is to establish a Finance Council according to the norms established by the Code of Canon Law which will exercise the duties specified therein.[18]

§ 4. In order to provide for the consultation of the faithful, a Pastoral Council is to be constituted in the Ordinariate.[19]

XI. Every five years the Ordinary is required to come to Rome for an ad limina Apostolorum visit and present to the Roman Pontiff, through the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and in consultation with the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, a report on the status of the Ordinariate.

XII. For judicial cases, the competent tribunal is that of the Diocese in which one of the parties is domiciled, unless the Ordinariate has constituted its own tribunal, in which case the tribunal of second instance is the one designated by the Ordinariate and approved by the Holy See.

XIII. The Decree establishing an Ordinariate will determine the location of the See and, if appropriate, the principal church.

We desire that our dispositions and norms be valid and effective now and in the future, notwithstanding, should it be necessary, the Apostolic Constitutions and ordinances issued by our predecessors, or any other prescriptions, even those requiring special mention or derogation.

Given in Rome, at St. Peter’s, on November 4, 2009, the Memorial of St. Charles Borromeo.


[1] Cf. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 23; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter Communionis notio, 12; 13.

[2] Cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 4; Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 2.

[3] Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 1.

[4] Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 1.

[5] Cf. Jn 17:20-21; Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 2.

[6] Cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 13.

[7] Cf. ibid; Acts 2:42.

[8] Cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8; Letter Communionis notio, 4.

[9] Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8.

[10] Cf. CIC, can. 205; Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 13; 14; 21; 22; Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 2; 3; 4; 15; 20; Decree Christus Dominus, 4; Decree Ad gentes, 22.

[11] Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 8.

[12] Cf. John Paul II, Ap. Const. Spirituali militium curae, 21 April 1986, I § 1.

[13] Cf. CIC, cann. 1026-1032.

[14] Cf. CIC, cann. 1040-1049.

[15] Cf. AAS 59 (1967) 674.

[16] Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Statement of 1 April 1981, in Enchiridion Vaticanum 7, 1213.

[17] Cf. CIC, cann. 495-502.

[18] Cf. CIC, cann. 492-494.

[19] Cf. CIC, can. 511.



Bishop Martino: When He Returns

“Regarding the grave sin of abortion or euthanasia, when a person’s formal cooperation becomes manifest (understood, in the case of a Catholic politician, as his consistently campaigning and voting for permissive abortion and euthanasia laws), his Pastor should meet with him, instructing him about the Church’s teaching, informing him that he is not to present himself for Holy Communion until he brings to an end the objective situation of sin, and warning him that he will otherwise be denied the Eucharist.’

Head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then Cardinal (now Pope Benedict XVI) Joseph Ratzinger

“Public officials who are Catholic and who persist in public support for abortion and other intrinsic evils should not partake in or be admitted to the sacrament of Holy Communion. As I have said before, I will be vigilant on this subject.

Bishop Martino

DSC_0047 morning star venus before dawn en azDo not seal up the prophetic words of this book, for the appointed time is near. Let the wicked still act wickedly and the filthy still be filthy. The righteous must still do right, and he who belongs to the Lord must consecrate himself more and more to him. I am coming soon, and I will bring with me the recompense which I will give to each, according to his deeds.’ (cf. Rev 22:10-12)

And Again,

‘To the victors, who carry out my Will until the end, I will give authority over the nations, as I myself have received it from my Father, and I will give them also the morning star.’ (cf. Rev 2:26-28)

The Word of God

EDITORS NOTE: It has been reported both within the secular press and within Catholic publications that the resignation of Most Reverent Bishop Martino may not have been do solely to health issues. But, instead, may have been the result of  hierarchal “silencing” of this “outspoken” servant of God… A sort of smack down, if you will, by fellow Bishops and superiors…
I will not comment here on the press, or even, (if such reports are valid), the works of the Devil which result from those failing to let their yes be yes, and their no be no, in regard to both faith and morals and our responsibility to defend these in union with the Vicar of Christ on earth…
I do, however, want to honor and thank a good shepherd from the Diocese of Scranton, Pa.
You can join me by sending your own words of support and thanksgiving to Bishop Martino at this e-mail: Rev-Christopher-Washington@Dioceseofscranton.org
For those asleep before the dawn, I offer the following pastoral letter on Life:
At the direction of the Most Reverend Bishop, this letter is to be read by the celebrant at all Masses of Obligation on Respect Life Weekend, Saturday, October 4, and Sunday, October 5, at the time of and instead of the homily.

Moreover, a copy of the letter should be circulated with all parish bulletins on this same weekend.


Respect Life Sunday

My brothers and sisters in Christ,

The American Catholic bishops initiated Respect Life Sunday in 1972, the year before the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the United States. Since that time, Catholics across the country observe the month of October with devotions and pro-life activities in order to advance the culture of life. This October, our efforts have more significance than ever. Never have we seen such abusive criticism directed toward those who believe that life begins at conception and ends at natural death.

As Catholics, we should not be surprised by these developments. Forty years ago, Pope Paul VI predicted that widespread use of artificial contraceptives would lead to increased marital infidelity, lessened regard for women, and a general lowering of moral standards especially among the young. Forty years later, social scientists, not necessarily Catholics, attest to the accuracy of his predictions. As if following some bizarre script, the sexual revolution has produced widespread marital breakdown, weakened family ties, legalized abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, pornography, same-sex unions, euthanasia, destruction of human embryos for research purposes and a host of other ills.

It is impossible for me to answer all of the objections to the Church’s teaching on life that we hear every day in the media. Nevertheless, let me address a few. To begin, laws that protect abortion constitute injustice of the worst kind. They rest on several false claims including that there is no certainty regarding when life begins, that there is no certainty about when a fetus becomes a person, and that some human beings may be killed to advance the interests or convenience of others. With regard to the first, reason and science have answered the question. The life of a human being begins at conception. The Church has long taught this simple truth, and science confirms it. Biologists can now show you the delicate and beautiful development of the human embryo in its first days of existence. This is simply a fact that reasonable people accept. Regarding the second, the embryo and the fetus have the potential to do all that an adult person does. Finally, the claim that the human fetus may be sacrificed to the interests or convenience of his mother or someone else is grievously wrong. All three claims have the same result: the weakest and most vulnerable are denied, because of their age, the most basic protection that we demand for ourselves. This is discrimination at its worst, and no person of conscience should support it.

Another argument goes like this: “As wrong as abortion is, I don’t think it is the only relevant ‘life’ issue that should be considered when deciding for whom to vote.” This reasoning is sound only if other issues carry the same moral weight as abortion does, such as in the case of euthanasia and destruction of embryos for research purposes. Health care, education, economic security, immigration, and taxes are very important concerns. Neglect of any one of them has dire consequences as the recent financial crisis demonstrates. However, the solutions to problems in these areas do not usually involve a rejection of the sanctity of human life in the way that abortion does. Being “right” on taxes, education, health care, immigration, and the economy fails to make up for the error of disregarding the value of a human life. Consider this: the finest health and education systems, the fairest immigration laws, and the soundest economy do nothing for the child who never sees the light of day. It is a tragic irony that “pro-choice” candidates have come to support homicide – the gravest injustice a society can tolerate – in the name of “social justice.”

Even the Church’s just war theory has moral force because it is grounded in the principle that innocent human life must be protected and defended. Now, a person may, in good faith, misapply just war criteria leading him to mistakenly believe that an unjust war is just, but he or she still knows that innocent human life may not be harmed on purpose. A person who supports permissive abortion laws, however, rejects the truth that innocent human life may never be destroyed. This profound moral failure runs deeper and is more corrupting of the individual, and of the society, than any error in applying just war criteria to particular cases.

Furthermore, National Right to Life reports that 48.5 million abortions have been performed since 1973. One would be too many. No war, no natural disaster, no illness or disability has claimed so great a price.

In saying these things in an election year, I am in very good company. My predecessor, Bishop Timlin, writing his pastoral letter on Respect Life Sunday 2000, stated the case eloquently:

Abortion is the issue this year and every year in every campaign. Catholics may not turn away from the moral challenge that abortion poses for those who seek to obey God’s commands. They are wrong when they assert that abortion does not concern them, or that it is only one of a multitude of issues of equal importance. No, the taking of innocent human life is so heinous, so horribly evil, and so absolutely opposite to the law of Almighty God that abortion must take precedence over every other issue. I repeat. It is the single most important issue confronting not only Catholics, but the entire electorate.

My fellow bishops, writing ten years ago, explained why some evils – abortion and euthanasia in particular – take precedence over other forms of violence and abuse.

The failure to protect life in its most vulnerable stages renders suspect any claims to the ‘rightness’ of positions in other matters affecting the poorest and least powerful of the human community. If we understand the human person as ‘the temple of the Holy Spirit’ – the living house of God – then these latter issues fall logically into place as the crossbeams and walls of that house. All direct attacks on innocent human life, such as abortion and euthanasia, strike at the house’s foundation [emphasis in the original]. These directly and immediately violate the human person’s most fundamental right – the right to life. Neglect of these issues is the equivalent of building our house on sand. Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics, 23.

While the Church assists the State in the promotion of a just society, its primary concern is to assist men and women in achieving salvation. For this reason, it is incumbent upon bishops to correct Catholics who are in error regarding these matters. Furthermore, public officials who are Catholic and who persist in public support for abortion and other intrinsic evils should not partake in or be admitted to the sacrament of Holy Communion. As I have said before, I will be vigilant on this subject.

It is the Church’s role now to be a prophet in our own country, reminding all citizens of what our founders meant when they said that “. . . all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Church’s teaching that all life from conception to natural death should be protected by law is founded on religious belief to be sure, but it is also a profoundly American principle founded on reason. Whenever a society asks its citizens to violate its own foundational principles – as well as their moral consciences – citizens have a right, indeed an obligation, to refuse.

In 1941, Bishop Gustave von Galen gave a homily condemning Nazi officials for murdering mentally ill people in his diocese of Muenster, Germany. The bishop said:

“Thou shalt not kill!” God wrote this commandment in the conscience of man long before any penal code laid down the penalty for murder, long before there was any prosecutor or any court to investigate and avenge a murder. Cain, who killed his brother Abel, was a murderer long before there were any states or any courts or law. And he confessed his deed, driven by his accusing conscience: “My punishment is greater than I can bear. . . and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me the murderer shall slay me” (Genesis 4:13-14)”

Should he have opposed the war and remained silent about the murder of the mentally ill? No person of conscience can fail to understand why Bishop von Galen spoke as he did.

My dear friends, I beg you not to be misled by confusion and lies. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, does not ask us to follow him to Calvary only for us to be afraid of contradicting a few bystanders along the way. He does not ask us to take up his Cross only to have us leave it at the voting booth door. Recently, Pope Benedict XVI said that “God is so humble that he uses us to spread his Word.” The gospel of life, which we have the privilege of proclaiming, resonates in the heart of every person – believer and non-believer – because it fulfills the heart’s most profound desire. Let us with one voice continue to speak the language of love and affirm the right of every human being to have the value of his or her life, from conception to natural death, respected to the highest degree.

October is traditionally the month of the Rosary. Let us pray the Rosary for the strength and fortitude to uphold the truths of our faith and the requirements of our law to all who deny them. And, let us ask Our Lady to bless our nation and the weakest among us.

May Mary, the mother of Jesus, the Lord of Life, pray for us.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Joseph F. Martino, D.D., Hist. E.D.

Bishop of Scranton

Encyclical Letter on the Value and Inviolability of Human Life

His Holiness Pope John Paul II

March 25, 1995

To Thank Bishop Martino:


President Meets Pope: What President Obama will be reading on his way to Ghana: Dignitas Personae (Full Text)



Mick's baby girl


1. The dignity of a person must be recognized in every human being from conception to natural death. This fundamental principle expresses a great “yes” to human life and must be at the center of ethical reflection on biomedical research, which has an ever greater importance in today’s world. The Church’s Magisterium has frequently intervened to clarify and resolve moral questions in this area. The Instruction Donum vitae was particularly significant. And now, twenty years after its publication, it is appropriate to bring it up to date.

The teaching of Donum vitae remains completely valid, both with regard to the principles on which it is based and the moral evaluations which it expresses. However, new biomedical technologies which have been introduced in the critical area of human life and the family have given rise to further questions, in particular in the field of research on human embryos, the use of stem cells for therapeutic purposes, as well as in other areas of experimental medicine. These new questions require answers. The pace of scientific developments in this area and the publicity they have received have raised expectations and concerns in large sectors of public opinion. Legislative assemblies have been asked to make decisions on these questions in order to regulate them by law; at times, wider popular consultation has also taken place.

These developments have led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to prepare a new doctrinal Instruction which addresses some recent questions in the light of the criteria expressed in the Instruction Donum vitae and which also examines some issues that were treated earlier, but are in need of additional clarification.

2. In undertaking this study, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has benefited from the analysis of the Pontifical Academy for Life and has consulted numerous experts with regard to the scientific aspects of these questions, in order to address them with the principles of Christian anthropology. The Encyclicals Veritatis splendor and Evangelium vitae of John Paul II, as well as other interventions of the Magisterium, offer clear indications with regard to both the method and the content of the examination of the problems under consideration.

In the current multifaceted philosophical and scientific context, a considerable number of scientists and philosophers, in the spirit of the Hippocratic Oath, see in medical science a service to human fragility aimed at the cure of disease, the relief of suffering and the equitable extension of necessary care to all people. At the same time, however, there are also persons in the world of philosophy and science who view advances in biomedical technology from an essentially eugenic perspective.

3. In presenting principles and moral evaluations regarding biomedical research on human life, the Catholic Church draws upon the light both of reason and of faith and seeks to set forth an integral vision of man and his vocation, capable of incorporating everything that is good in human activity, as well as in various cultural and religious traditions which not infrequently demonstrate a great reverence for life.

The Magisterium also seeks to offer a word of support and encouragement for the perspective on culture which considers science an invaluable service to the integral good of the life and dignity of every human being. The Church therefore views scientific research with hope and desires that many Christians will dedicate themselves to the progress of biomedicine and will bear witness to their faith in this field. She hopes moreover that the results of such research may also be made available in areas of the world that are poor and afflicted by disease, so that those who are most in need will receive humanitarian assistance. Finally, the Church seeks to draw near to every human being who is suffering, whether in body or in spirit, in order to bring not only comfort, but also light and hope. These give meaning to moments of sickness and to the experience of death, which indeed are part of human life and are present in the story of every person, opening that story to the mystery of the Resurrection. Truly, the gaze of the Church is full of trust because “Life will triumph: this is a sure hope for us. Yes, life will triumph because truth, goodness, joy and true progress are on the side of life. God, who loves life and gives it generously, is on the side of life”.

The present Instruction is addressed to the Catholic faithful and to all who seek the truth. It has three parts: the first recalls some anthropological, theological and ethical elements of fundamental importance; the second addresses new problems regarding procreation; the third examines new procedures involving the manipulation of embryos and the human genetic patrimony.

First Part:

Anthropological, Theological and Ethical Aspects of
Human Life and Procreation

4. In recent decades, medical science has made significant strides in understanding human life in its initial stages. Human biological structures and the process of human generation are better known. These developments are certainly positive and worthy of support when they serve to overcome or correct pathologies and succeed in re-establishing the normal functioning of human procreation. On the other hand, they are negative and cannot be utilized when they involve the destruction of human beings or when they employ means which contradict the dignity of the person or when they are used for purposes contrary to the integral good of man.

The body of a human being, from the very first stages of its existence, can never be reduced merely to a group of cells. The embryonic human body develops progressively according to a well-defined program with its proper finality, as is apparent in the birth of every baby.

It is appropriate to recall the fundamental ethical criterion expressed in the Instruction Donum vitae in order to evaluate all moral questions which relate to procedures involving the human embryo: “Thus the fruit of human generation, from the first moment of its existence, that is to say, from the moment the zygote has formed, demands the unconditional respect that is morally due to the human being in his bodily and spiritual totality. The human being is to be respected and treated as a person from the moment of conception; and therefore from that same moment his rights as a person must be recognized, among which in the first place is the inviolable right of every innocent human being to life”.

5. This ethical principle, which reason is capable of recognizing as true and in conformity with the natural moral law, should be the basis for all legislation in this area. In fact, it presupposes a truth of an ontological character, as Donum vitae demonstrated from solid scientific evidence, regarding the continuity in development of a human being.

If Donum vitae, in order to avoid a statement of an explicitly philosophical nature, did not define the embryo as a person, it nonetheless did indicate that there is an intrinsic connection between the ontological dimension and the specific value of every human life. Although the presence of the spiritual soul cannot be observed experimentally, the conclusions of science regarding the human embryo give “a valuable indication for discerning by the use of reason a personal presence at the moment of the first appearance of a human life: how could a human individual not be a human person?”. Indeed, the reality of the human being for the entire span of life, both before and after birth, does not allow us to posit either a change in nature or a gradation in moral value, since it possesses full anthropological and ethical status. The human embryo has, therefore, from the very beginning, the dignity proper to a person.

6. Respect for that dignity is owed to every human being because each one carries in an indelible way his own dignity and value. The origin of human life has its authentic context in marriage and in the family, where it is generated through an act which expresses the reciprocal love between a man and a woman. Procreation which is truly responsible vis-à-vis the child to be born “must be the fruit of marriage”.

Marriage, present in all times and in all cultures, “is in reality something wisely and providently instituted by God the Creator with a view to carrying out his loving plan in human beings. Thus, husband and wife, through the reciprocal gift of themselves to the other – something which is proper and exclusive to them – bring about that communion of persons by which they perfect each other, so as to cooperate with God in the procreation and raising of new lives”. In the fruitfulness of married love, man and woman “make it clear that at the origin of their spousal life there is a genuine ‘yes’, which is pronounced and truly lived in reciprocity, remaining ever open to life… Natural law, which is at the root of the recognition of true equality between persons and peoples, deserves to be recognized as the source that inspires the relationship between the spouses in their responsibility for begetting new children. The transmission of life is inscribed in nature and its laws stand as an unwritten norm to which all must refer”.

7. It is the Church’s conviction that what is human is not only received and respected by faith, but is also purified, elevated and perfected. God, after having created man in his image and likeness (cf.Gen 1:26), described his creature as “very good” (Gen 1:31), so as to be assumed later in the Son (cf. Jn 1:14). In the mystery of the Incarnation, the Son of God confirmed the dignity of the body and soul which constitute the human being. Christ did not disdain human bodiliness, but instead fully disclosed its meaning and value: “In reality, it is only in the mystery of the incarnate Word that the mystery of man truly becomes clear”.

By becoming one of us, the Son makes it possible for us to become “sons of God” (Jn 1:12), “sharers in the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4). This new dimension does not conflict with the dignity of the creature which everyone can recognize by the use of reason, but elevates it into a wider horizon of life which is proper to God, giving us the ability to reflect more profoundly on human life and on the acts by which it is brought into existence.

The respect for the individual human being, which reason requires, is further enhanced and strengthened in the light of these truths of faith: thus, we see that there is no contradiction between the affirmation of the dignity and the affirmation of the sacredness of human life. “The different ways in which God, acting in history, cares for the world and for mankind are not mutually exclusive; on the contrary, they support each other and intersect. They have their origin and goal in the eternal, wise and loving counsel whereby God predestines men and women ‘to be conformed to the image of his Son’ (Rom 8:29)”.

8. By taking the interrelationship of these two dimensions, the human and the divine, as the starting point, one understands better why it is that man has unassailable value: he possesses an eternal vocation and is called to share in the trinitarian love of the living God.

This value belongs to all without distinction. By virtue of the simple fact of existing, every human being must be fully respected. The introduction of discrimination with regard to human dignity based on biological, psychological, or educational development, or based on health-related criteria, must be excluded. At every stage of his existence, man, created in the image and likeness of God, reflects “the face of his Only-begotten Son… This boundless and almost incomprehensible love of God for the human being reveals the degree to which the human person deserves to be loved in himself, independently of any other consideration – intelligence, beauty, health, youth, integrity, and so forth. In short, human life is always a good, for it ‘is a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory’ (Evangelium vitae, 34)”.

9. These two dimensions of life, the natural and the supernatural, allow us to understand better the sense in which the acts that permit a new human being to come into existence, in which a man and a woman give themselves to each other, are a reflection of trinitarian love. “God, who is love and life, has inscribed in man and woman the vocation to share in a special way in his mystery of personal communion and in his work as Creator and Father”.

Christian marriage is rooted “in the natural complementarity that exists between man and woman, and is nurtured through the personal willingness of the spouses to share their entire life-project, what they have and what they are: for this reason such communion is the fruit and the sign of a profoundly human need. But in Christ the Lord, God takes up this human need, confirms it, purifies it and elevates it, leading it to perfection through the sacrament of matrimony: the Holy Spirit who is poured out in the sacramental celebration offers Christian couples the gift of a new communion of love that is the living and real image of that unique unity which makes of the Church the indivisible Mystical Body of the Lord Jesus”.

10. The Church, by expressing an ethical judgment on some developments of recent medical research concerning man and his beginnings, does not intervene in the area proper to medical science itself, but rather calls everyone to ethical and social responsibility for their actions. She reminds them that the ethical value of biomedical science is gauged in reference to both theunconditional respect owed to every human being at every moment of his or her existence, and the defense of the specific character of the personal act which transmits life. The intervention of the Magisterium falls within its mission of contributing to the formation of conscience, by authentically teaching the truth which is Christ and at the same time by declaring and confirming authoritatively the principles of the moral order which spring from human nature itself.

Second Part:

New Problems Concerning Procreation

11. In light of the principles recalled above, certain questions regarding procreation which have emerged and have become more clear in the years since the publication of Donum vitae can now be examined.

Techniques for assisting fertility

12. With regard to the treatment of infertility, new medical techniques must respect three fundamental goods: a) the right to life and to physical integrity of every human being from conception to natural death; b) the unity of marriage, which means reciprocal respect for the right within marriage to become a father or mother only together with the other spouse; c) the specifically human values of sexuality which require “that the procreation of a human person be brought about as the fruit of the conjugal act specific to the love between spouses”. Techniques which assist procreation “are not to be rejected on the grounds that they are artificial. As such, they bear witness to the possibilities of the art of medicine. But they must be given a moral evaluation in reference to the dignity of the human person, who is called to realize his vocation from God to the gift of love and the gift of life”.

In light of this principle, all techniques of heterologous artificial fertilization, as well as those techniques of homologous artificial fertilization which substitute for the conjugal act, are to be excluded. On the other hand, techniques which act as an aid to the conjugal act and its fertilityare permitted. The Instruction Donum vitae states: “The doctor is at the service of persons and of human procreation. He does not have the authority to dispose of them or to decide their fate. A medical intervention respects the dignity of persons when it seeks to assist the conjugal act either in order to facilitate its performance or in order to enable it to achieve its objective once it has been normally performed”. And, with regard to homologous artificial insemination, it states: “Homologous artificial insemination within marriage cannot be admitted except for those cases in which the technical means is not a substitute for the conjugal act, but serves to facilitate and to help so that the act attains its natural purpose”.

13. Certainly, techniques aimed at removing obstacles to natural fertilization, as for example, hormonal treatments for infertility, surgery for endometriosis, unblocking of fallopian tubes or their surgical repair, are licit. All these techniques may be considered authentic treatments because, once the problem causing the infertility has been resolved, the married couple is able to engage in conjugal acts resulting in procreation, without the physician’s action directly interfering in that act itself. None of these treatments replaces the conjugal act, which alone is worthy of truly responsible procreation.

In order to come to the aid of the many infertile couples who want to have children, adoptionshould be encouraged, promoted and facilitated by appropriate legislation so that the many children who lack parents may receive a home that will contribute to their human development. In addition, research and investment directed at the prevention of sterility deserve encouragement.

In vitro fertilization and the deliberate destruction of embryos

14. The fact that the process of in vitro fertilization very frequently involves the deliberate destruction of embryos was already noted in the Instruction Donum vitae. There were some who maintained that this was due to techniques which were still somewhat imperfect. Subsequent experience has shown, however, that all techniques of in vitro fertilization proceed as if the human embryo were simply a mass of cells to be used, selected and discarded.

It is true that approximately a third of women who have recourse to artificial procreation succeed in having a baby. It should be recognized, however, that given the proportion between the total number of embryos produced and those eventually born, the number of embryos sacrificed is extremely high. These losses are accepted by the practitioners of in vitro fertilization as the price to be paid for positive results. In reality, it is deeply disturbing that research in this area aims principally at obtaining better results in terms of the percentage of babies born to women who begin the process, but does not manifest a concrete interest in the right to life of each individual embryo.

15. It is often objected that the loss of embryos is, in the majority of cases, unintentional or that it happens truly against the will of the parents and physicians. They say that it is a question of risks which are not all that different from those in natural procreation; to seek to generate new life without running any risks would in practice mean doing nothing to transmit it. It is true that not all the losses of embryos in the process of in vitro fertilization have the same relationship to the will of those involved in the procedure. But it is also true that in many cases the abandonment, destruction and loss of embryos are foreseen and willed.

Embryos produced in vitro which have defects are directly discarded. Cases are becoming ever more prevalent in which couples who have no fertility problems are using artificial means of procreation in order to engage in genetic selection of their offspring. In many countries, it is now common to stimulate ovulation so as to obtain a large number of oocytes which are then fertilized. Of these, some are transferred into the woman’s uterus, while the others are frozen for future use. The reason for multiple transfer is to increase the probability that at least one embryo will implant in the uterus. In this technique, therefore, the number of embryos transferred is greater than the single child desired, in the expectation that some embryos will be lost and multiple pregnancy may not occur. In this way, the practice of multiple embryo transfer implies a purely utilitarian treatment of embryos. One is struck by the fact that, in any other area of medicine, ordinary professional ethics and the healthcare authorities themselves would never allow a medical procedure which involved such a high number of failures and fatalities. In fact, techniques of in vitro fertilization are accepted based on the presupposition that the individual embryo is not deserving of full respect in the presence of the competing desire for offspring which must be satisfied.

This sad reality, which often goes unmentioned, is truly deplorable: the “various techniques of artificial reproduction, which would seem to be at the service of life and which are frequently used with this intention, actually open the door to new threats against life”.

16. The Church moreover holds that it is ethically unacceptable to dissociate procreation from the integrally personal context of the conjugal act: human procreation is a personal act of a husband and wife, which is not capable of substitution. The blithe acceptance of the enormous number of abortions involved in the process of in vitro fertilization vividly illustrates how the replacement of the conjugal act by a technical procedure – in addition to being in contradiction with the respect that is due to procreation as something that cannot be reduced to mere reproduction – leads to a weakening of the respect owed to every human being. Recognition of such respect is, on the other hand, promoted by the intimacy of husband and wife nourished by married love.

The Church recognizes the legitimacy of the desire for a child and understands the suffering of couples struggling with problems of fertility. Such a desire, however, should not override the dignity of every human life to the point of absolute supremacy. The desire for a child cannot justify the “production” of offspring, just as the desire not to have a child cannot justify the abandonment or destruction of a child once he or she has been conceived.

In reality, it seems that some researchers, lacking any ethical point of reference and aware of the possibilities inherent in technological progress, surrender to the logic of purely subjective desiresand to economic pressures which are so strong in this area. In the face of this manipulation of the human being in his or her embryonic state, it needs to be repeated that “God’s love does not differentiate between the newly conceived infant still in his or her mother’s womb and the child or young person, or the adult and the elderly person. God does not distinguish between them because he sees an impression of his own image and likeness (Gen 1:26) in each one… Therefore, the Magisterium of the Church has constantly proclaimed the sacred and inviolable character of every human life from its conception until its natural end”.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

17. Among the recent techniques of artificial fertilization which have gradually assumed a particular importance is intracytoplasmic sperm injection. This technique is used with increasing frequency given its effectiveness in overcoming various forms of male infertility.

Just as in general with in vitro fertilization, of which it is a variety, ICSI is intrinsically illicit:  it causesa complete separation between procreation and the conjugal act. Indeed ICSI takes place “outside the bodies of the couple through actions of third parties whose competence and technical activity determine the success of the procedure. Such fertilization entrusts the life and identity of the embryo into the power of doctors and biologists and establishes the domination of technology over the origin and destiny of the human person. Such a relationship of domination is in itself contrary to the dignity and equality that must be common to parents and children. Conception in vitro is the result of the technical action which presides over fertilization. Such fertilization is neither in fact achieved nor positively willed as the expression and fruit of a specific act of the conjugal union”.

Freezing embryos

18. One of the methods for improving the chances of success in techniques of in vitro fertilization is the multiplication of attempts. In order to avoid repeatedly taking oocytes from the woman’s body, the process involves a single intervention in which multiple oocytes are taken, followed by cryopreservation of a considerable number of the embryos conceived in vitro. In this way, should the initial attempt at achieving pregnancy not succeed, the procedure can be repeated or additional pregnancies attempted at a later date. In some cases, even the embryos used in the first transfer are frozen because the hormonal ovarian stimulation used to obtain the oocytes has certain effects which lead physicians to wait until the woman’s physiological conditions have returned to normal before attempting to transfer an embryo into her womb.

Cryopreservation is incompatible with the respect owed to human embryos; it presupposes their production in vitro; it exposes them to the serious risk of death or physical harm, since a high percentage does not survive the process of freezing and thawing; it deprives them at least temporarily of maternal reception and gestation; it places them in a situation in which they are susceptible to further offense and manipulation.

The majority of embryos that are not used remain “orphans”. Their parents do not ask for them and at times all trace of the parents is lost. This is why there are thousands upon thousands of frozen embryos in almost all countries where in vitro fertilization takes place.

19. With regard to the large number of frozen embryos already in existence the question becomes: what to do with them?  Some of those who pose this question do not grasp its ethical nature, motivated as they are by laws in some countries that require cryopreservation centers to empty their storage tanks periodically. Others, however, are aware that a grave injustice has been perpetrated and wonder how best to respond to the duty of resolving it.

Proposals to use these embryos for research or for the treatment of disease are obviously unacceptable because they treat the embryos as mere “biological material” and result in their destruction. The proposal to thaw such embryos without reactivating them and use them for research, as if they were normal cadavers, is also unacceptable.

The proposal that these embryos could be put at the disposal of infertile couples as a treatment for infertility is not ethically acceptable for the same reasons which make artificial heterologous procreation illicit as well as any form of surrogate motherhood; this practice would also lead to other problems of a medical, psychological and legal nature.

It has also been proposed, solely in order to allow human beings to be born who are otherwise condemned to destruction, that there could be a form of “prenatal adoption”. This proposal, praiseworthy with regard to the intention of respecting and defending human life, presents however various problems not dissimilar to those mentioned above.

All things considered, it needs to be recognized that the thousands of abandoned embryos represent a situation of injustice which in fact cannot be resolved. Therefore John Paul II made an “appeal to the conscience of the world’s scientific authorities and in particular to doctors, that the production of human embryos be halted, taking into account that there seems to be no morally licit solution regarding the human destiny of the thousands and thousands of ‘frozen’ embryos which are and remain the subjects of essential rights and should therefore be protected by law as human persons”.

The freezing of oocytes

20. In order avoid the serious ethical problems posed by the freezing of embryos, the freezing of oocytes has also been advanced in the area of techniques of in vitro fertilization. Once a sufficient number of oocytes has been obtained for a series of attempts at artificial procreation, only those which are to be transferred into the mother’s body are fertilized while the others are frozen for future fertilization and transfer should the initial attempts not succeed.

In this regard it needs to be stated that cryopreservation of oocytes for the purpose of being used in artificial procreation is to be considered morally unacceptable.

The reduction of embryos

21. Some techniques used in artificial procreation, above all the transfer of multiple embryos into the mother’s womb, have caused a significant increase in the frequency of multiple pregnancy. This situation gives rise in turn to the practice of so-called embryo reduction, a procedure in which embryos or fetuses in the womb are directly exterminated. The decision to eliminate human lives, given that it was a human life that was desired in the first place, represents a contradiction that can often lead to suffering and feelings of guilt lasting for years.

From the ethical point of view, embryo reduction is an intentional selective abortion. It is in fact the deliberate and direct elimination of one or more innocent human beings in the initial phase of their existence and as such it always constitutes a grave moral disorder.

The ethical justifications proposed for embryo reduction are often based on analogies with natural disasters or emergency situations in which, despite the best intentions of all involved, it is not possible to save everyone. Such analogies cannot in any way be the basis for an action which is directly abortive. At other times, moral principles are invoked, such as those of the lesser evil or double effect, which are likewise inapplicable in this case. It is never permitted to do something which is intrinsically illicit, not even in view of a good result: the end does not justify the means.

Preimplantation diagnosis

22. Preimplantation diagnosis is a form of prenatal diagnosis connected with techniques of artificial fertilization in which embryos formed in vitro undergo genetic diagnosis before being transferred into a woman’s womb. Such diagnosis is done in order to ensure that only embryos free from defects or having the desired  sex or other particular qualities are transferred.

Unlike other forms of prenatal diagnosis, in which the diagnostic phase is clearly separated from any possible later elimination and which provide therefore a period in which a couple would be free to accept a child with medical problems, in this case, the diagnosis before implantation is immediately followed by the elimination of an embryo suspected of having genetic or chromosomal defects, or not having the sex desired, or having other qualities that are not wanted. Preimplantation diagnosis – connected as it is with artificial fertilization, which is itself always intrinsically illicit – is directed toward the qualitative selection and consequent destruction of embryos, which constitutes an act of abortion. Preimplantation diagnosis is therefore the expression of a eugenic mentality that “accepts selective abortion in order to prevent the birth of children affected by various types of anomalies. Such an attitude is shameful and utterly reprehensible, since it presumes to measure the value of a human life only within the parameters of ‘normality’ and physical well-being, thus opening the way to legitimizing infanticide and euthanasia as well”.

By treating the human embryo as mere “laboratory material”, the concept itself of human dignity is also subjected to alteration and discrimination. Dignity belongs equally to every single human being, irrespective of his parents’ desires, his social condition, educational formation or level of physical development. If at other times in history, while the concept and requirements of human dignity were accepted in general, discrimination was practiced on the basis of race, religion or social condition, today there is a no less serious and unjust form of discrimination which leads to the non-recognition of the ethical and legal status of human beings suffering from serious diseases or disabilities. It is forgotten that sick and disabled people are not some separate category of humanity; in fact, sickness and disability are part of the human condition and affect every individual, even when there is no direct experience of it. Such discrimination is immoral and must therefore be considered legally unacceptable, just as there is a duty to eliminate cultural, economic and social barriers which undermine the full recognition and protection of disabled or ill people.

New forms of interception and contragestation

23. Alongside methods of preventing pregnancy which are, properly speaking, contraceptive, that is, which prevent conception following from a sexual act, there are other technical means which act after fertilization, when the embryo is already constituted, either before or after implantation in the uterine wall. Such methods are interceptive if they interfere with the embryo before implantation and contragestative if they cause the elimination of the embryo once implanted.

In order to promote wider use of interceptive methods, it is sometimes stated that the way in which they function is not sufficiently understood. It is true that there is not always complete knowledge of the way that different pharmaceuticals operate, but scientific studies indicate that the effect of inhibiting implantation is certainly present, even if this does not mean that such interceptives cause an abortion every time they are used, also because conception does not occur after every act of sexual intercourse. It must be noted, however, that anyone who seeks to prevent the implantation of an embryo which may possibly have been conceived and who therefore either requests or prescribes such a pharmaceutical, generally intends abortion.

When there is a delay in menstruation, a contragestative is used, usually one or two weeks after the non-occurrence of the monthly period. The stated aim is to re-establish menstruation, but what takes place in reality is the abortion of an embryo which has just implanted.

As is known, abortion is “the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth”. Therefore, the use of means of interception and contragestation fall within the sin of abortion and are gravely immoral. Furthermore, when there is certainty that an abortion has resulted, there are serious penalties in canon law.

Third Part:

New Treatments which Involve the Manipulation of
the Embryo or the Human Genetic Patrimony

24. Knowledge acquired in recent years has opened new perspectives for both regenerative medicine and for the treatment of genetically based diseases. In particular, research on embryonic stem cells and its possible future uses have prompted great interest, even though up to now such research has not produced effective results, as distinct from research on adult stem cells. Because some maintain that the possible medical advances which might result from research on embryonic stem cells could justify various forms of manipulation and destruction of human embryos, a whole range of questions has emerged in the area of gene therapy, from cloning to the use of stem cells, which call for attentive moral discernment.

Gene therapy

25. Gene therapy commonly refers to techniques of genetic engineering applied to human beings for therapeutic purposes, that is to say, with the aim of curing genetically based diseases, although recently gene therapy has been attempted for diseases which are not inherited, for cancer in particular.

In theory, it is possible to use gene therapy on two levels: somatic cell gene therapy and germ line cell therapy. Somatic cell gene therapy seeks to eliminate or reduce genetic defects on the level of somatic cells, that is, cells other than the reproductive cells, but which make up the tissue and organs of the body. It involves procedures aimed at certain individual cells with effects that are limited to a single person. Germ line cell therapy aims instead at correcting genetic defects present in germ line cells with the purpose of transmitting the therapeutic effects to the offspring of the individual. Such methods of gene therapy, whether somatic or germ line cell therapy, can be undertaken on a fetus before his or her birth as gene therapy in the uterus or after birth on a child or adult.

26. For a moral evaluation the following distinctions need to be kept in mind. Procedures used on somatic cells for strictly therapeutic purposes are in principle morally licit. Such actions seek to restore the normal genetic configuration of the patient or to counter damage caused by genetic anomalies or those related to other pathologies. Given that gene therapy can involve significant risks for the patient, the ethical principle must be observed according to which, in order to proceed to a therapeutic intervention, it is necessary to establish beforehand that the person being treated will not be exposed to risks to his health or physical integrity which are excessive or disproportionate to the gravity of the pathology for which a cure is sought. The informed consent of the patient or his legitimate representative is also required.

The moral evaluation of germ line cell therapy is different. Whatever genetic modifications are effected on the germ cells of a person will be transmitted to any potential offspring. Because the risks connected to any genetic manipulation are considerable and as yet not fully controllable, in the present state of research, it is not morally permissible to act in a way that may cause possible harm to the resulting progeny. In the hypothesis of gene therapy on the embryo, it needs to be added that this only takes place in the context of in vitro fertilization and thus runs up against all the ethical objections to such procedures. For these reasons, therefore, it must be stated that, in its current state, germ line cell therapy in all its forms is morally illicit.

27. The question of using genetic engineering for purposes other than medical treatment also calls for consideration. Some have imagined the possibility of using techniques of genetic engineering to introduce alterations with the presumed aim of improving and strengthening the gene pool. Some of these proposals exhibit a certain dissatisfaction or even rejection of the value of the human being as a finite creature and person. Apart from technical difficulties and the real and potential risks involved, such manipulation would promote a eugenic mentality and would lead to indirect social stigma with regard to people who lack certain qualities, while privileging qualities that happen to be appreciated by a certain culture or society; such qualities do not constitute what is specifically human. This would be in contrast with the fundamental truth of the equality of all human beings which is expressed in the principle of justice, the violation of which, in the long run, would harm peaceful coexistence among individuals. Furthermore, one wonders who would be able to establish which modifications were to be held as positive and which not, or what limits should be placed on individual requests for improvement since it would be materially impossible to fulfil the wishes of every single person. Any conceivable response to these questions would, however, derive from arbitrary and questionable criteria. All of this leads to the conclusion that the prospect of such an intervention would end sooner or later by harming the common good, by favouring the will of some over the freedom of others. Finally it must also be noted that in the attempt to create a new type of human being one can recognize an ideological element in which man tries to take the place of his Creator.

In stating the ethical negativity of these kinds of interventions which imply an unjust domination of man over man, the Church also recalls the need to return to an attitude of care for people and of education in accepting human life in its concrete historical finite nature.

Human cloning

28. Human cloning refers to the asexual or agametic reproduction of the entire human organism in order to produce one or more “copies” which, from a genetic perspective, are substantially identical to the single original.

Cloning is proposed for two basic purposes: reproduction, that is, in order to obtain the birth of a baby, and medical therapy or research. In theory, reproductive cloning would be able to satisfy certain specific desires, for example, control over human evolution, selection of human beings with superior qualities, pre-selection of the sex of a child to be born, production of a child who is the “copy” of another, or production of a child for a couple whose infertility cannot be treated in another way. Therapeutic cloning, on the other hand, has been proposed as a way of producing embryonic stem cells with a predetermined genetic patrimony in order to overcome the problem of immune system rejection; this is therefore linked to the issue of the use of stem cells.

Attempts at cloning have given rise to genuine concern throughout the entire world. Various national and international organizations have expressed negative judgments on human cloning and it  has been prohibited in the great majority of nations.

Human cloning is intrinsically illicit in that, by taking the ethical negativity of techniques of artificial fertilization to their extreme, it seeks to give rise to a new human being without a connection to the act of reciprocal self-giving between the spouses and, more radically, without any link to sexuality. This leads to manipulation and abuses gravely injurious to human dignity.

29. If cloning were to be done for reproduction, this would impose on the resulting individual a predetermined genetic identity, subjecting him – as has been stated – to a form of biological slavery, from which it would be difficult to free himself. The fact that someone would arrogate to himself the right to determine arbitrarily the genetic characteristics of another person represents a grave offense to the dignity of that person as well as to the fundamental equality of all people.

The originality of every person is a consequence of the particular relationship that exists between God and a human being from the first moment of his existence and carries with it the obligation to respect the singularity and integrity of each person, even on the biological and genetic levels. In the encounter with another person, we meet a human being who owes his existence and his proper characteristics to the love of God, and only the love of husband and wife constitutes a mediation of that love in conformity with the plan of the Creator and heavenly Father.

30. From the ethical point of view, so-called therapeutic cloning is even more serious. To create embryos with the intention of destroying them, even with the intention of helping the sick, is completely incompatible with human dignity, because it makes the existence of a human being at the embryonic stage nothing more than a means to be used and destroyed. It is gravely immoral to sacrifice a human life for therapeutic ends.

The ethical objections raised in many quarters to therapeutic cloning and to the use of human embryos formed in vitro have led some researchers to propose new techniques which are presented as capable of producing stem cells of an embryonic type without implying the destruction of true human embryos. These proposals have been met with questions of both a scientific and an ethical nature regarding above all the ontological status of the “product” obtained in this way. Until these doubts have been clarified, the statement of the Encyclical Evangelium vitae needs to be kept in mind: “what is at stake is so important that, from the standpoint of moral obligation, the mere probability that a human person is involved would suffice to justify an absolutely clear prohibition of any intervention aimed at killing a human embryo”.

The therapeutic use of stem cells

31. Stem cells are undifferentiated cells with two basic characteristics: a) the prolonged capability of multiplying themselves while maintaining the undifferentiated state; b) the capability of producing transitory progenitor cells from which fully differentiated cells descend, for example, nerve cells, muscle cells and blood cells.

Once it was experimentally verified that when stem cells are transplanted into damaged tissue they tend to promote cell growth and the regeneration of the tissue, new prospects opened for regenerative medicine, which have been the subject of great interest among researchers throughout the world.

Among the sources for human stem cells which have been identified thus far are: the embryo in the first stages of its existence, the fetus, blood from the umbilical cord and various tissues from adult humans (bone marrow, umbilical cord, brain, mesenchyme from various organs, etc.) and amniotic fluid. At the outset, studies focused on embryonic stem cells, because it was believed that only these had significant capabilities of multiplication and differentiation. Numerous studies, however, show that adult stem cells also have a certain versatility. Even if these cells do not seem to have the same capacity for renewal or the same plasticity as stem cells taken from embryos, advanced scientific studies and experimentation indicate that these cells give more positive results than embryonic stem cells. Therapeutic protocols in force today provide for the use of adult stem cells and many lines of research have been launched, opening new and promising possibilities.

32. With regard to the ethical evaluation, it is necessary to consider the methods of obtaining stem cells as well as the risks connected with their clinical and experimental use.

In these methods, the origin of the stem cells must be taken into consideration. Methods which do not cause serious harm to the subject from whom the stem cells are taken are to be considered licit. This is generally the case when tissues are taken from: a) an adult organism; b) the blood of the umbilical cord at the time of birth; c) fetuses who have died of natural causes. The obtaining of stem cells from a living human embryo, on the other hand, invariably causes the death of the embryo and is consequently gravely illicit: “research, in such cases, irrespective of efficacious therapeutic results, is not truly at the service of humanity. In fact, this research advances through the suppression of human lives that are equal in dignity to the lives of other human individuals and to the lives of the researchers themselves. History itself has condemned such a science in the past and will condemn it in the future, not only because it lacks the light of God but also because it lacks humanity”.

The use of embryonic stem cells or differentiated cells derived from them – even when these are provided by other researchers through the destruction of embryos or when such cells are commercially available – presents serious problems from the standpoint of cooperation in evil and scandal.

There are no moral objections to the clinical use of stem cells that have been obtained licitly; however, the common criteria of medical ethics need to be respected. Such use should be characterized by scientific rigor and prudence, by reducing to the bare minimum any risks to the patient and by facilitating the interchange of information among clinicians and full disclosure to the public at large.

Research initiatives involving the use of adult stem cells, since they do not present ethical problems, should be encouraged and supported.

Attempts at hybridization

33. Recently animal oocytes have been used for reprogramming the nuclei of human somatic cells – this is generally called hybrid cloning – in order to extract embryonic stem cells from the resulting embryos without having to use human oocytes.

From the ethical standpoint, such procedures represent an offense against the dignity of human beings on account of the admixture of human and animal genetic elements capable of disrupting the specific identity of man. The possible use of the stem cells, taken from these embryos, may also involve additional health risks, as yet unknown, due to the presence of animal genetic material in their cytoplasm. To consciously expose a human being to such risks is morally and ethically unacceptable.

The use of human “biological material” of illicit origin

34. For scientific research and for the production of vaccines or other products, cell lines are at times used which are the result of an illicit intervention against the life or physical integrity of a human being. The connection to the unjust act may be either mediate or immediate, since it is generally a question of cells which reproduce easily and abundantly. This “material” is sometimes made available commercially or distributed freely to research centers by governmental agencies having this function under the law. All of this gives rise to various ethical problems with regard to cooperation in evil and with regard to scandal. It is fitting therefore to formulate general principles on the basis of which people of good conscience can evaluate and resolve situations in which they may possibly be involved on account of their professional activity.

It needs to be remembered above all that the category of abortion “is to be applied also to the recent forms of intervention on human embryos which, although carried out for purposes legitimate in themselves, inevitably involve the killing of those embryos. This is the case withexperimentation on embryos, which is becoming increasingly widespread in the field of biomedical research and is legally permitted in some countries…  [T]he use of human embryos or fetuses as an object of experimentation constitutes a crime against their dignity as human beings who have a right to the same respect owed to a child once born, just as to every person”. These forms of experimentation always constitute a grave moral disorder.

35. A different situation is created when researchers use “biological material” of illicit origin which has been produced apart from their research center or which has been obtained commercially. The Instruction Donum vitae formulated the general principle which must be observed in these cases: “The corpses of human embryos and fetuses, whether they have been deliberately aborted or not, must be respected just as the remains of other human beings. In particular, they cannot be subjected to mutilation or to autopsies if their death has not yet been verified and without the consent of the parents or of the mother. Furthermore, the moral requirements must be safeguarded that there be no complicity in deliberate abortion and that the risk of scandal be avoided”.

In this regard, the criterion of independence as it has been formulated by some ethics committees is not sufficient. According to this criterion, the use of “biological material” of illicit origin would be ethically permissible provided there is a clear separation between those who, on the one hand, produce, freeze and cause the death of embryos and, on the other, the researchers involved in scientific experimentation. The criterion of independence is not sufficient to avoid a contradiction in the attitude of the person who says that he does not approve of the injustice perpetrated by others, but at the same time accepts for his own work the “biological material” which the others have obtained by means of that injustice. When the illicit action is endorsed by the laws which regulate healthcare and scientific research, it is necessary to distance oneself from the evil aspects of that system in order not to give the impression of a certain toleration or tacit acceptance of actions which are gravely unjust. Any appearance of acceptance would in fact contribute to the growing indifference to, if not the approval of, such actions in certain medical and political circles.

At times, the objection is raised that the above-mentioned considerations would mean that people of good conscience involved in research would have the duty to oppose actively all the illicit actions that take place in the field of medicine, thus excessively broadening their ethical responsibility. In reality, the duty to avoid cooperation in evil and scandal relates to their ordinary professional activities, which they must pursue in a just manner and by means of which they must give witness to the value of life by their opposition to gravely unjust laws. Therefore, it needs to be stated that there is a duty to refuse to use such “biological material” even when there is no close connection between the researcher and the actions of those who performed the artificial fertilization or the abortion, or when there was no prior agreement with the centers in which the artificial fertilization took place. This duty springs from the necessity to remove oneself, within the area of one’s own research,from a gravely unjust legal situation and to affirm with clarity the value of human life.Therefore, the above-mentioned criterion of independence is necessary, but may be ethically insufficient.

Of course, within this general picture there exist differing degrees of responsibility. Grave reasons may be morally proportionate to justify the use of such “biological material”. Thus, for example, danger to the health of children could permit parents to use a vaccine which was developed using cell lines of illicit origin, while keeping in mind that everyone has the duty to make known their disagreement and to ask that their healthcare system make other types of vaccines available. Moreover, in organizations where cell lines of illicit origin are being utilized, the responsibility of those who make the decision to use them is not the same as that of those who have no voice in such a decision.

In the context of the urgent need to mobilize consciences in favour of life, people in the field of healthcare need to be reminded that “their responsibility today is greatly increased. Its deepest inspiration and strongest support lie in the intrinsic and undeniable ethical dimension of the health-care profession, something already recognized by the ancient and still relevant Hippocratic Oath,which requires every doctor to commit himself to absolute respect for human life and its sacredness”.


36. There are those who say that the moral teaching of the Church contains too many prohibitions. In reality, however, her teaching is based on the recognition and promotion of all the gifts which the Creator has bestowed on man: such as life, knowledge, freedom and love. Particular appreciation is due not only to man’s intellectual activities, but also to those which are practical, like work and technological activities. By these, in fact, he participates in the creative power of God and is called to transform creation by ordering its many resources toward the dignity and wellbeing of all human beings and of the human person in his entirety. In this way, man acts as the steward of the value and intrinsic beauty of creation.

Human history shows, however, how man has abused and can continue to abuse the power and capabilities which God has entrusted to him, giving rise to various forms of unjust discrimination and oppression of the weakest and most defenseless: the daily attacks on human life; the existence of large regions of poverty where people are dying from hunger and disease, excluded from the intellectual and practical resources available in abundance in many countries; technological and industrial development which is creating the real risk of a collapse of the ecosystem; the use of scientific research in the areas of physics, chemistry and biology for purposes of waging war; the many conflicts which still divide peoples and cultures; these sadly are only some of the most obvious signs of how man can make bad use of his abilities and become his own worst enemy by losing the awareness of his lofty and specific vocation to collaborate in the creative work of God.

At the same time, human history has also shown real progress in the understanding and recognition of the value and dignity of every person as the foundation of the rights and ethical imperatives by which human society has been, and continues to be structured. Precisely in the name of promoting human dignity, therefore, practices and forms of behaviour harmful to that dignity have been prohibited. Thus, for example, there are legal and political – and not just ethical – prohibitions of racism, slavery, unjust discrimination and marginalization of women, children, and ill and disabled people. Such prohibitions bear witness to the inalienable value and intrinsic dignity of every human being and are a sign of genuine progress in human history. In other words, the legitimacy of every prohibition is based on the need to protect an authentic moral good.

37. If initially human and social progress was characterized primarily by industrial development and the production of consumer goods, today it is distinguished by developments in information technologies, research in genetics, medicine and biotechnologies for human benefit, which are areas of great importance for the future of humanity, but in which there are also evident and unacceptable abuses. “Just as a century ago it was the working classes which were oppressed in their fundamental rights, and the Church courageously came to their defense by proclaiming the sacrosanct rights of the worker as person, so now, when another category of persons is being oppressed in the fundamental right to life, the Church feels in duty bound to speak out with the same courage on behalf of those who have no voice. Hers is always the evangelical cry in defense of the world’s poor, those who are threatened and despised and whose human rights are violated”.

In virtue of the Church’s doctrinal and pastoral mission, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has felt obliged to reiterate both the dignity and the fundamental and inalienable rights of every human being, including those in the initial stages of their existence, and to state explicitly the need for protection and respect which this dignity requires of everyone.

The fulfillment of this duty implies courageous opposition to all those practices which result in grave and unjust discrimination against unborn human beings, who have the dignity of a person, created like others in the image of God. Behind every “no” in the difficult task of discerning between good and evil, there shines a great “yes” to the recognition of the dignity and inalienable value of every single and unique human being called into existence.

The Christian faithful will commit themselves to the energetic promotion of a new culture of life by receiving the contents of this Instruction with the religious assent of their spirit, knowing that God always gives the grace necessary to observe his commandments and that, in every human being, above all in the least among us, one meets Christ himself (cf. Mt 25:40). In addition, all persons of good will, in particular physicians and researchers open to dialogue and desirous of knowing what is true, will understand and agree with these principles and judgments, which seek to safeguard the vulnerable condition of human beings in the first stages of life and to promote a more human civilization.

The Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI, in the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect on 20 June 2008, approved the present Instruction, adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered its publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 8 September 2008, Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

William Card. Levada

+ Luis F. Ladaria, S.I.
Titular Archbishop of Thibica

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae on respect for human life at its origins and for the dignity of procreation (22 February 1987): AAS 80 (1988), 70-102.
John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis splendor regarding certain fundamental questions of the Church’s moral teaching (6 August 1993): AAS 85 (1993), 1133-1228.
John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae on the value and inviolability of human life (25 March 1995): AAS 87 (1995), 401-522.
John Paul II, Address to the participants in the Seventh Assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Life (3 March 2001), 3: AAS 93 (2001), 446.
Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Fides et ratio on the relationship between faith and reason (14 September 1998), 1: AAS 91 (1999), 5.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, I, 1: AAS 80 (1988), 79.
Human rights, as Pope Benedict XVI has recalled, and in particular the right to life of every human being “are based on the natural law inscribed on human hearts and present in different cultures and civilizations. Removing human rights from this context would mean restricting their range and yielding to a relativistic conception, according to which the meaning and interpretation of rights could vary and their universality would be denied in the name of different cultural, political, social and even religious outlooks. This great variety of viewpoints must not be allowed to obscure the fact that not only rights are universal, but so too is the human person, the subject of those rights” (Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations [18 April 2008]: AAS 100 [2008], 334).
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, I, 1: AAS 80 (1988), 78-79.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, II, A, 1: AAS 80 (1988), 87.
Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Humanae vitae (25 July 1968), 8: AAS 60 (1968), 485-486.
Benedict XVI, Address to the Participants in the International Congress organized by the Pontifical Lateran University on the 40th Anniversary of the Encyclical Humanae vitae, 10 May 2008: L’Osservatore Romano, 11 May 2008, p. 1; cf. John XXIII, Encyclical Letter Mater et magistra (15 May 1961), III: AAS 53 (1961), 447.
Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 22.
Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 37-38: AAS 87 (1995), 442-444.
John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Veritatis splendor, 45: AAS 85 (1993), 1169.
Benedict XVI, Address to the General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life and International Congress on “The Human Embryo in the Pre-implantation Phase” (27 February 2006):AAS 98 (2006), 264.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, Introduction, 3: AAS 80 (1988), 75.
John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio on the role of the Christian family in the modern world (22 September 1981), 19: AAS 74 (1982), 101-102.
Cf. Second Vatican Council, Declaration Dignitatis humanae, 14.
Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, II, A, 1: AAS 80 (1988), 87.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, II, B, 4: AAS 80 (1988), 92.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, Introduction, 3: AAS 80 (1988), 75.
The term heterologous artificial fertilization or procreation refers to “techniques used to obtain a human conception artificially by the use of gametes coming from at least one donor other than the spouses who are joined in marriage” (Instruction Donum vitae, II: AAS 80 [1988], 86).
The term homologous artificial fertilization or procreation refers to “the technique used to obtain a human conception using the gametes of the two spouses joined in marriage” (InstructionDonum vitae, II: AAS 80 [1988], 86).
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, II, B, 7: AAS 80 (1988), 96; cf. Pius XII, Address to those taking part in the Fourth International Congress of Catholic Doctors (29 September 1949): AAS 41 (1949), 560.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, II, B, 6: AAS 80 (1988), 94.
Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, II: AAS 80 (1988), 86.
Currently the number of embryos sacrificed, even in the most technically advanced centers of artificial fertilization, hovers above 80%.
John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 14: AAS 87 (1995), 416.
Cf. Pius XII, Address to the Second World Congress in Naples on human reproduction and sterility (19 May 1956): AAS 48 (1956), 470; Paul VI, Encyclical Letter Humanae vitae, 12: AAS60 (1968), 488-489; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, II, B, 4-5: AAS 80 (1988), 90-94.
An increasing number of persons, even those who are unmarried, are having recourse to techniques of artificial reproduction in order to have a child. These actions weaken the institution of marriage and cause babies to be born in environments which are not conducive to their full human development.
Benedict XVI, Address to the General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life and International Congress on “The Human Embryo in the Pre-implantation Phase” (27 February 2006):AAS 98 (2006), 264.
Intracytoplasmic sperm injection is similar in almost every respect to other forms of in vitrofertilization with the difference that in this procedure fertilization in the test tube does not take place on its own, but rather by means of the injection into the oocyte of a single sperm, selected earlier, or by the injection of immature germ cells taken from the man.
There is ongoing discussion among specialists regarding the health risks which this method may pose for children conceived in this way.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, II, B, 5: AAS 80 (1988), 93.
Cryopreservation of embryos refers to freezing them at extremely low temperatures, allowing long term storage.
Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, I, 6: AAS 80 (1988), 84-85.
Cf. numbers 34-35 below.
Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, II, A, 1-3: AAS 80 (1988), 87-89.
John Paul II, Address to the participants in the Symposium on “Evangelium vitae and Law” and the Eleventh International Colloquium on Roman and Canon Law (24 May 1996), 6: AAS 88 (1996), 943-944.
Cryopreservation of oocytes is also indicated in other medical contexts which are not under consideration here. The term oocyte refers to the female germ cell (gametocyte) not penetrated by the spermatozoa.
Cf. Second Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, n. 51; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 62: AAS 87 (1995), 472.
John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 63: AAS 87 (1995), 473.
The interceptive methods which are best known are the IUD (intrauterine device) and the so-called “morning-after pills”.
The principal means of contragestation are RU-486 (Mifepristone), synthetic prostaglandins or Methotrexate.
John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 58: AAS 87 (1995), 467.
Cf. CIC, can. 1398 and CCEO, can. 1450 § 2; cf. also CIC, can. 1323-1324. The Pontifical Commission for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code of Canon Law declared that the canonical concept of abortion is “the killing of the fetus in whatever way or at whatever time from the moment of conception” (Response of 23 May 1988: AAS 80 [1988], 1818).
In the current state of knowledge, the techniques which have been proposed for accomplishing human cloning are two: artificial embryo twinning and cell nuclear transfer. Artificial embryo twinning consists in the artificial separation of individual cells or groups of cells from the embryo in the earliest stage of development. These are then transferred into the uterus in order to obtain identical embryos in an artificial manner. Cell nuclear transfer, or cloning properly speaking, consists in introducing a nucleus taken from an embryonic or somatic cell into an denucleated oocyte. This is followed by stimulation of the oocyte so that it begins to develop as an embryo.
Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, I, 6: AAS 80 (1988), 84; John Paul II, Address to Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See (10 January 2005), 5: AAS 97 (2005), 153.
The new techniques of this kind are, for example, the use of human parthenogenesis, altered nuclear transfer (ANT) and  oocyte assisted reprogramming (OAR).
John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 60: AAS 87 (1995), 469.
Benedict XVI, Address to the participants in the Symposium on the topic: “Stem Cells: what is the future for therapy?” organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life (16 September 2006): AAS98 (2006), 694.
Cf. numbers 34-35 below.
Cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the participants in the Symposium on the topic: “Stem Cells: what is the future for therapy?” organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life (16 September 2006):AAS 98 (2006), 693-695.
John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 63: AAS 87 (1995), 472-473.
Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 62: AAS 87 (1995), 472.
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Donum vitae, I, 4: AAS 80 (1988), 83.
Cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 73: AAS 87 (1995), 486: “Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection”. The right of conscientious objection, as an expression of the right to freedom of conscience, should be protected by law.
John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Evangelium vitae, 63: AAS 89 (1995), 502.
John Paul II, Letter to all the Bishops on “The Gospel of Life” (19 May 1991): AAS 84 (1992), 319.

St. Mary’s Priest Sacked in Brisbane (Full Text): Archbishop Bathersby’s Letter to Peter Kennedy February 6 2009


Editors Note: Creator, Liberator, and Sustainer?

The Word of God made flesh says this: Go, Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mathew 28, 19-20).

Please, St. Mary’s, humble yourself and listen to what the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is saying to the churches…

Brothers and sisters: Through Jesus, let us continually offer God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have; God is pleased by sacrifices of that kind. Obey your leaders and defer to them, for they keep watch over you and will have to give an account, that they may fulfill their task with joy and not with sorrow, for that would be of no advantage to you. May the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great shepherd of the sheep by the Blood of the eternal covenant, furnish you with all that is good, that you may do his will. May he carry out in you what is pleasing to him through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

With prayers for truth and reconciliation in communion with the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church– james mary evans


Archbishop’s House
790 Brunswick Street
PO Box 936)
New Farm Old 4005
AustraliaTelephone (07) 3131 5500
Facsimile (07) 3358 1357

6 February 2009

Rev Fr P Kennedy
St Mary’s Catholic Parish
PO Box 3449

Dear Peter

Thank you for your letter of 12 January with its invitation to further discuss the situation of St Mary’s South Brisbane. I see no reason to do so. I have repeatedly asked for changes but you and the community have not budged an inch. Moreover South Brisbane’s instant disclosure of my letters and comments in the media gives me no reason to enter into discussion. By all means consult the people of St Mary’s as you wish but ultimately you yourself are the shepherd and leader of its decisions. Time and time again I have spelt out a request for changes at St Mary’s Parish if it is to remain in communion with the Archdiocese of Brisbane and the Roman Catholic Church. However time and time again St Mary’s has chosen to go its own way. Therefore reluctantly I make the following decisions.

1. I will terminate your appointment as Administrator of St Mary’s Parish effective Saturday, 21 February 2009 unless you were to resign beforehand.

I would like to add, without trying to exert pressure, that if you wish to retire from active service as a priest, the Archdiocese will assist you as it does with other Archdiocesan priests who retire.

2. From the 21st February 2009 I will appoint Dean Ken Howell, of St Stephen’s Cathedral, as Administrator of St Mary’s, until a new Administrator is appointed.

From Sunday, 22 February 2009 regular Masses at 7am and 9am will be celebrated at St Mary’s Church until the matter is reviewed. Other sacraments of the Church will be available and can be arranged with Dean Ken Howell. Church goers attached to St Mary’s are most welcome to continue, as well as those who wish to return to the parish or those who wish to become new parishioners.

3. I sincerely hope that St Mary’s emphasis on social justice will remain. However such matters should be discussed with the new Administrator.

4. Because of its name, chosen originally in 1864, I also hope that sound Marian devotion will be promoted at St Mary’s as was normal in the past. I will do whatever I can to facilitate and encourage this devotion.

5. Because there is doubt about the validity of the many baptisms performed at St Mary’s, I will nominate a special day in the near future when baptisms can be performed at St Stephen’s Cathedral and certificates issued to parents concerned about validity, or those who are adult converts. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made it clear in March 2008 that invalid baptisms cannot be dismissed and forgotten. They must be corrected.

6. Peter you have already claimed in the media that you may lead people who desire to follow you into a breakaway Christian community elsewhere in South Brisbane. I cannot stop you from doing so. However those who follow you should realise that they will not be in communion with the Roman Catholic Church or the Archdiocese of Brisbane.

Peter, making these decisions gives me no satisfaction whatsoever. The separation of Christians is contrary to all that Christ prayed for. Nor does such division promote the Kingdom of God. You have had ample time to make a considered decision. Please God the division that exists at the present time will be healed in the future, probably not in my time. I ask the priests, deacons, religious and people of the Archdiocese of Brisbane to pray for me and for all who belong to the Archdiocese, especially the community of St Mary’s in its present situation. In this matter I pray also that Mary the mother of Jesus will be our inspiration and guide as we seek her prayerful support for the healing of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, and St Mary’s Parish.

Sincerely in Christ

Most Rev John A Bathersby DD

Doctrinal Note on some Aspects of Evangelization

Doctrinal Note on some Aspects of Evangelization

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
December 14, 2007

I. Introduction

1. Jesus Christ was sent by the Father to proclaim the Gospel, calling all people to conversion and faith (cf Mk 1:14-15). After his resurrection, he entrusted the continuation of his mission of evangelization to the Apostles (cf. Mt 28:19-20; Mk 16:15; Lk24:4-7; Acts 1:3): “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn 20:21, of. 17:18). By means of the Church, Christ wants to be present in ever)’ historical epoch, every place on earth and every sector of society, in order to reach every person, so that there may be one flock and one shepherd (cf. Jn 10:16): “Go out into the whole world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved, but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk 16: 15-16).

The Apostles, therefore, “prompted by the Spirit, invited all to change their lives, to be converted and to be baptized”,1 because the “pilgrim Church is necessary for salvation”.2 It is the same Lord Jesus Christ who, present in his Church, goes before the work of evangelizers, accompanies it, follows it, and makes their labours bear fruit: what took place at the origins of Christian history continues throughout its entire course.

At the beginning of the third millennium, the call which Peter and his brother Andrew, as well as the other first disciples, heard from Jesus continues to resound in the world: “put out into the deep and lower your nets for a catch” (Lk 5:4).And after the miracle of a huge catch of fish, the Lord revealed to Peter that he would become “a fisher of men” (Lk 5:10).

2. The tern evangelization has a very rich meaning.4 in the broad sense, it sums up the Church’s entire mission: her whole life consists in accomplishing the traditio Evangelii, the proclamation and handing on of the Gospel, which is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (John 1:16) and which, in the final essence, is identified with Jesus Christ himself (of. 1 Cor 1:24). Understood in this way, evangelization is aimed at all of humanity. In any case, to evangelize does not mean simply to teach a doctrine, but to proclaim Jesus Christ by one’s words and actions, that is, to make oneself an instrument of his presence and action in the world.

“Every person has the right to hear the `Good News’ of the God who reveals and gives himself in Christ, so that each one can live out in its fullness his or her proper calling”.5 It a right which the Lord himself confers on every person, so that every man and woman is able truly to say with Saint Paul: Jesus Christ “loved me and gave himself up for me” (Gal 2:20). This right implies the corresponding duty to evangelize: “If I preach the Gospel, this is no reason for me to boast; it is a duty
for me, Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16; cf. Rom 10:14). Thus, it is evident how every activity of the Chinch has an essential evangelizing dimension and must never be separated from the commitment to help all persons to meet Christ in faith, which is the primary objective of evangelization: “Social issues and the Gospel are inseparable. When we bring people only knowledge, ability, technical competence and tools, we bring them too little”.6

There is today, however, a growing confusion which leads many to leave the missionary command of the Lord unheard and ineffective (cf. Mt 28:19). Often it is maintained that any attempt to convince others on religious matters is a limitation of their freedom. From this perspective, it would only be legitimate to present one’s own ideas and to invite people to act according to their consciences, without aiming at their conversion to Christ and to the Catholic faith. It is enough, so they say, to help people to become more human or more faithful to their own religion; it is enough to build communities which strive for justice, freedom, peace and solidarity. Furthermore, some maintain that Christ should not be proclaimed to those who do not know him, nor should joining the Church be promoted, since it would also be possible to be saved without explicit knowledge of Christ and without formal incorporation in the Church.

In the face of these problems, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged it necessary to publish the present Note. This document, which presupposes the entirety of Catholic doctrine on evangelization, as extensively treated in the teaching of Paul VI and John Paul II, is intended to clarify certain aspects of the relationship between the missionary command of the Lord and respect for the conscience and religious freedom of all people. It is an issue with important
anthropological, ecclesiological and ecumenical implications.

 II Some anthropological implications

4. “This is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (Jn 17:3). God has given human beings intellect and will so that they might freely seek, know and love him. Therefore, human freedom is both a resource and a challenge offered to man by God who has created him: an offer directed to the human person’s capacity to know and to love what is good and true. Nothing puts in play human freedom like the search for the good and the true, by inviting it to a kind of commitment which involves fundamental aspects of life, This is particularly the case with salvific truth, which is not only an object of thought, but also an event which encompasses the entire person – intelligence, will, feelings, actions and future plans – when a person adheres to Christ. In the search for the good and the true, the Holy Spirit is already at work, opening the human heart and making it ready to welcome the truth of the Gospel, as Thomas Aquinas stated in his celebrated phrase: omne verum a quocumque dicatur a Spiritu Sancto est.7 It is important therefore to appreciate this action of the Spirit, who creates an affinity for the truth and draws the human heart towards it, by helping human knowledge to mature both in wisdom and in trusting abandonment to what is true.8

Today, however, with ever-increasing frequency, questions are being raised about the legitimacy of presenting to others – so that they might in turn accept it – that which is held to be true for oneself. Often this is seen as an infringement of other people’s freedom. Such a vision of human freedom, separated from its integral reference to truth, is one of the expressions “of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires
and under the semblance of freedom, becomes a prison for each one’.9 In the various forms of agnosticism and relativism present in contemporary thought, “a legitimate plurality of positions has yielded to an undifferentiated pluralism, based upon the assumption that all positions are equally valid, which is one of today’s most widespread symptoms of the lack of confidence in truth. Even certain conceptions of life coming from the East betray this lack of confidence, denying truth its exclusive character and assuming that truth reveals itself equally in different doctrines, even if they contradict one another”.10 If man denies his fundamental capacity for the truth, if he becomes skeptical regarding his ability really to know what is true, he ends up losing what in a unique way draws his intelligence and enthralls his heart.

 5. In this connection, when it comes to the search for truth, whoever trusts only in his own individual efforts and does not recognize the need for help from others, is deceiving himself Human beings “from birth, therefore, are immersed in traditions which give them not only a language and a cultural formation but also a range of truths in which they believe almost instinctively… Nonetheless, there are in the life of a human being many more truths which are simply believed than truths which are
acquired by way of personal verification”.11 The need to trust in the knowledge handed on by one’s culture or acquired by others, enriches a person with truths that could not have been attained on one’s own, as well as by the interpersonal and social relationships which this process develops. Spiritual individualism, on the other hand, isolates a person, hindering him from opening in trust to others – so as both to receive and to bestow the abundant goods which nourish his freedom and jeopardizes the right to manifest one’s own convictions and opinions in society.12

In particular, the truth which is capable of shedding light on the meaning of one’s life and giving it direction, is similarly attained through trusting acceptance with regard to those persons who are able to guarantee the certainty and authenticity of the truth itself: “There is no doubt that the capacity to entrust oneself and one’s life to another person and the decision to do so are among the most significant and expressive human acts”.13 Although it happens on a deeper level, the acceptance
of revelation which takes place through faith also falls within the dynamics of the search for truth: “The obedience of faith’ (Rom 16:26 cf Rom 1:5; 2 Cor 10:5-6) must be given to God who reveals; by this obedience of faith man freely commits his entire self to God, offering `the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals’ and freely assenting to the revelation given by him”14 The Second Vatican Council, after having affirmed the right and the duty of every person to seek the truth in matters of religion adds: “The search for truth, however, must he carried out in a manner that is appropriate to the dignity of the human person and his social nature, namely, by free enquiry with the help of teaching or instruction, communication and dialogue. It is by these means that people share with each other the truth they have discovered, or think they have discovered, in such a way that they help one another in the search for truth”.15 In any case, the truth “does not impose itself except by the strength of the truth itself.16 Therefore, to lead a person’s intelligence and freedom in honesty to the encounter with Christ and his Gospel is not an inappropriate encroachment, but rather a legitimate endeavour and a service capable of making human relationships more fruitful.

6. Evangelization does not only entail the possibility of enrichment for those who are evangelized; it is also an enrichment for the one who does the evangelizing, as well as for the entire Church For example, in the process of inculturation, “the universal Church herself is enriched with forms of expression and values in the various sectors of Christian life.. She comes to know and to express better the mystery of Christ, all the while being motivated to continual renewal”.17 Indeed,
since the day of Pentecost, the Church has manifested the universality of her mission, welcoming in Christ the countless riches of peoples from all times and places inhuman history.18 Beyond its intrinsic anthropological value, every encounter with another person or culture is capable of revealing potentialities of the Gospel which hitherto may not have been fully explicit and which will enrich the life of Christians and the Church. Thanks to this dynamism, “tradition, which comes from the
Apostles, makes progress in the Church by the help of the Holy Spirit”.19

It is indeed the Holy Spirit who, after having been operative in the incarnation of Jesus Christ in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, animates the maternal action of the Church in the evangelization of cultures. Although the Gospel is independent from any culture, it is capable of infusing all cultures, while never allowing itself to be subservient to them. 20 In this sense, the Holy Spirit is also the principal agent of the inculturation of the Gospel, presiding in a fruitful way at the dialogue between
the Word of God, revealed in Christ, and the deepest questions which arise among the multitude of human beings and cultures, In this way, the Pentecost-event continues in history, in the unity of one and the same faith, enriched by the diversity of languages and cultures.

The communication of religiously significant events and truths in order that they will be accepted by others is not only in profound harmony with the human phenomena of dialogue, proclamation and education, it also corresponds to another important anthropological fact: the desire, which is proper to the human person, to have others share in one’s own goods. The acceptance of the Good News in faith is thus dynamically ordered to such a communication. The truth which saves one’s life inflames the heart of the one who has received it with a love of neighbour that motivates him to pass on to others in freedom what he has freely been given.

Although non-Christians can be saved through the grace which God bestows in “ways known to him”,21 the Church cannot fail to recognize that such persons are lacking a tremendous benefit in this world: to know the true face of God and the friendship of Jesus Christ, God-with-us. Indeed “there is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with him”22 The revelation of the fundamental truths23 about God, about the human person and the world, is a great good for every human person, while living in darkness without the truths about ultimate questions is an evil and is often at the root of suffering and slavery which can at times be grievous. This is why Saint Paul does not hesitate to describe conversion to the Christian faith as liberation “from the power of darkness” and entrance into “the kingdom of his beloved Son in whom we have redemption and the forgiveness of our sins” (Col 1: 13-I 4), Therefore, fully belonging to Christ, who is the Truth, and entering the Church do not lessen human freedom, but rather exalt it and direct it towards its fulfillment, in a love that is freely given and which overflows with care for the good of all people. It is an
inestimable benefit to live within the universal embrace of the friends of God which flows from communion in the life-giving flesh of his Son, to receive from him the certainty of forgiveness of sins and to live in the love that is born of faith. The Church wants everyone to share in these goods so that they may possess the fullness of truth and the fullness of the means of salvation, in order “to enter into the freedom of the glory of the children of God” (Rain 8:21).

8. Evangelization also involves a sincere dialogue that seeks to understand the reasons and feelings of others. Indeed, the heart of another person can only be approached in freedom, in love and in dialogue, in such a manner that the word which is spoken is not simply offered, but also truly witnessed in the hearts of those to whom it is addressed. This requires taking into account the hopes, sufferings and concrete situations of those with whom one is in dialogue. Precisely in this way, people of good will open their hearts more freely and share their spiritual and religious experiences in all sincerity. This experience of sharing, a characteristic of true friendship, is a valuable occasion for witnessing and for Christian proclamation.

As in any other field of human activity, so too in dialogue on religious matters, sin can enter in. It may sometimes happen that such a dialogue is not guided by its natural purpose, but gives way instead to deception, selfish motives or arrogance, thus failing in respect for the dignity and religious freedom of the partners in dialogue. For this reason, “the Church severely prohibits forcing people to embrace the faith or leading or enticing them by improper techniques; by the same token, she also strongly defends the right that no one be deterred from the faith by deplorable ill treatment”.24

The primary motive of evangelization is the love of Christ for the eternal salvation of all, The sole desire of authentic evangelizers is to bestow freely what they themselves have freely received: “From the very origins of the Church, the disciples of Christ strove to convert men to faith in Christ the Lord; not, however, through coercion or tactics unworthy of the Gospel, but above all by the power of the word of God”25 The mission of the Apostles and its continuation in the mission of the early Church remain the foundational model of evangelization for all time: it is a mission that has often been marked by martyrdom, as demonstrated by the history of the twentieth century. It is precisely martyrdom that gives credibility to witnesses, who seek neither power nor advantage, but instead lay down their lives for Christ. Before all the world, they display an unarmed strength brimming with love for all people, which is bestowed on those who follow Christ unto the total gift of their existence, So it is that Christians, from the very dawn of Christianity up until our own time have suffered persecution on account of the Gospel, as Jesus himself foretold: “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (Jn 15:20).

III. Some ecclesiological implications

9. Since the day of Pentecost, one who fully accepts the faith is incorporated into the community of believers: “those who received his word [Peter’s] were baptized and that day about three thousand people were added to them” (Acts 2:41). Since the beginning, the Gospel, in the power of the Spirit, is proclaimed to all people so that they might believe and become disciples of Christ and members of his Church, In the writings of the Fathers of the Church, there are constant exhortations to
fulfill the mission entrusted by Christ to his disciples.26 Generally, the term conversion is used in reference to bringing pagans into the Church. However, conversion (metanoia), in its precisely Christian meaning, signifies a change in thinking and in acting, as the expression of the new life in Christ proclaimed by faith: a continuous reform of thought and deeds directed at an ever more intense identification with Christ (cf Gal 2:20), to which the baptized are called before all else, This is, in the
first place, the meaning of the call made by Jesus himself: “repent and believe in the Gospel” (Mk 1:15; cf Mt 4:17).

The Christian spirit has always been animated by a passion to lead all humanity to Christ in the Church, The incorporation of new members into the Church is not the expansion of a power-group, but rather entrance into the network of friendship with Christ which connects heaven and earth, different continents and ages. It is entrance into the gift of communion with Christ, which is “new life” enlivened by charity and the commitment to justice. The Church is the instrument, `the seed and the beginning”27 of the Kingdom of God; she is not a political utopia. She is already the presence of God in history and she carries in herself the true future, the definitive future in which God will be “all in all” (1 Cor 15:28); she is a necessary presence, because only God can bring authentic peace and justice to the world, The Kingdom of God is not as sonic maintain today – a generic reality above all religious experiences and traditions, to which they tend as a universal and indistinct communion of all those who seek God, but it is, before all else, a person with a name and a face: Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the unseen God.28 Therefore, every free movement of the human heart towards God and towards his kingdom cannot but by its very nature lead to Christ and be oriented towards entrance into his Church, the efficacious sign of that Kingdom. The Church, therefore, is the bearer of the presence of God and thus the instrument of the true humanization of man and the world. The growth of the Church in history, which results from missionary activity, is at the service of the presence of God through his
Kingdom: one cannot in fact “detach the Kingdom from the Church”.29

10. However, the Church’s “missionary proclamation is endangered today by relativistic theories which seek to justify religious pluralism, not only de facto but also de lure (or in principle)”.30 For a long time, the reason for evangelization has not been clear to many among the Catholic faithful.31 It is even stated that the claim to have received the gift of the fullness of God’s revelation masks an attitude of intolerance and a danger to peace.

Those who make such claims are overlooking the fact that the fullness of the gift of truth, which God makes by revealing himself to man, respects the freedom which he himself created as an indelible mark of human nature: a freedom which is not indifference, but which is rather directed towards truth.This kind of respect is a requirement of the Catholic faith itself and of the love of Christ; it is a constitutive element of evangelization and, therefore, a good which is to be promoted inseparably with the commitment to making the fullness of salvation, which God offers to the human race in the Church, known and freely embraced.

Respect for religious freedom32 and its promotion “must not in ally way make us indifferent towards truth and goodness. Indeed, love impels the followers of Christ to proclaim to all the truth which saves” 33 Such love is the sign of the authentic presence of the Holy Spirit who, as the principal agent of evangelization,34 never ceases to move people’s hearts when they hear the Gospel, by opening them to receive it. It is a love which lives in the heart of the Church and from there, as burning charity, radiates out to the ends of the earth, as far as the heart of every human being. The entire heart of man awaits the encounter with Jesus Christ.

Thus one understands the urgency of Christ’s invitation to evangelization and why it is that the mission entrusted by the Lord to the Apostles involves all the baptized. The words of Jesus “go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt 28:19-20), are directed to everyone in the Church, each according to his own vocation. At the present time, with so many people in the world living in different types of desert, above all, in the “desert of God’s darkness, the emptiness of souls no longer aware of their dignity or the goal of human life”,35 Pope Benedict XVI has recalled to the world that “the Church as a whole and all her Pastors, like Christ, must set out to lead people out of the desert,
towards the place of life, towards friendship with the Son of God, towards the One who gives us life, and life in abundance”.36 This apostolic commitment is an inalienable right and duty, an expression of religious liberty, with its corresponding ethical-social and ethical-political dimensions.37 It is a right which in some parts of the world, unfortunately, has not yet been recognized and which in others is not respected in practice. 38

He who announces the Gospel participates in the charity of Christ, who loved us and gave himself up for us (cf Eph 5:2); lie is his ambassador and he pleads in the name of Christ: let yourselves to be reconciled with God (cf. 2 Cor 5:20). It is a charity which is an expression of the gratitude that flows from the heart when it opens to the love given in Jesus Christ, that Love which, as Dante wrote, is displayed throughout the universe.39 This explains the ardour, the confidence, and the freedom of speech (parrhesia) evident in the preaching of the Apostles (cf. Acts 4:31; 9:27-28; 26:26, etc.) and which Agrippa experienced when he heard Paul speaking: “You will soon persuade me to become a Christian!” (Acts 26:28).

Evangelization is not only accomplished through public preaching of the Gospel nor solely through works of public relevance, but also by means of personal witness which is always very effective in spreading the Gospel. Indeed, “side by side with the collective proclamation of the Gospel, the other form of handing it on, from person to person, remains valid and important… It must not happen that the pressing need to proclaim the Good News to the multitudes should cause us to forget
this form of proclamation whereby an individual’s personal conscience is reached and touched by an entirely unique word that he receives from someone else”.40

In any case, it needs to be remembered that, in transmitting the Gospel, word and witness of life go together.41 Above all, the witness of holiness is necessary, if the light of truth is to reach all human beings. if the word is contradicted by behaviour, its acceptance will be difficult. However, even witness by itself is not enough “because even the finest witness will prove ineffective in the long run, if it is not explained, justified – what Peter called `giving a reason for the hope that is in you’ (I Pet 3:15) – and made explicit by a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus”.42

IV. Some ecumenical implications

12. From its beginnings, the ecumenical movement has been closely connected with evangelization. Unity, in fact, is the seal of the credibility of missionary activity and so the Second Vatican Council noted with regret that the scandal of division “damages the most sacred cause of preaching”.43 Jesus himself, on the night before his death, prayed “that they all may be one, so that the world may believe” (Jn 17:21).

The mission of the Church is universal and is not restricted to specific regions of the earth. Evangelization, however, is undertaken differently according to the different situations in which it occurs. In its precise sense, evangelization is the missio ad gentes directed to those who do not know Christ. In a wider sense, it is used to describe ordinary pastoral work, while die phrase “new evangelization” designates pastoral outreach to those who no longer practice the Christian faith,44 In
addition, there is evangelization in countries where non-Catholic Christians live, including those with an ancient Christian Tradition and culture. In this context, what is required is both true respect for the tradition and spiritual riches of such countries as well as a sincere spirit of cooperation. Catholics, “avoiding every form of indifferentism or confusion, as well as senseless rivalry, through a common profession of faith in God and in Jesus Christ before all peoples – insofar as this is possible – may collaborate with their separated brethren in social, cultural, technical and religious matters in accordance with the Decree on Ecumenism”.45

Different dimensions of the work of ecumenism can be distinguished: above all, there is listening, as a fundamental condition for any dialogue, then, theological discussion, in which, by seeking to understand the beliefs, traditions and convictions of others, agreement can be found, at times hidden under disagreement. Inseparably united with this is another essential dimension of the ecumenical commitment: witness and proclamation of elements which are not particular traditions or
theological subtleties, but which belong rather to the Tradition of the faith itself.

Ecumenism does not have only an institutional dimension aimed at “making the partial communion existing between Christians grow towards full communion in truth and charity”.46 It is also the task of every member of the faithful, above all by means of prayer, penance, study and cooperation. Everywhere and always, each Catholic has the right and the duty to give the witness and the full proclamation of his faith. With non-Catholic Christians, Catholics must enter into a respectful
dialogue of charity and truth, a dialogue which is not only an exchange of ideas, but also of gifts,47 in order that the fullness of the means of salvation can be offered to one’s partners in dialogue.48 In this way. they are led to an ever deeper conversion to Christ.

In this connection, it needs also to be recalled that if a non-Catholic Christian, for reasons of conscience and having been convinced of Catholic truth, asks to enter into the full communion of the Catholic Church, this is to be respected as the work of the Holy Spirit and as an expression of freedom of conscience and of religion. In such a case, ii would not be a question of proselytism in the negative sense that has been attributed to this term.48 As explicitly recognized in the Decree on Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council, “it is evident that the wok of preparing and reconciling those individuals who desire full Catholic communion is of its nature distinct from ecumenical action, but there is no opposition between the two, since both proceed from the marvelous ways of God” 50 Therefore, the
work of ecumenism does not remove the right or take away the responsibility of proclaiming in fullness the Catholic faith to other Christians, who freely wish to receive it.

This perspective naturally requires the avoidance of any undue Pressure: “in spreading religious faith and introducing religious practices, everyone should refrain at all times from any kind of action which might seem to suggest coercion or dishonest or improper persuasion, especially when dealing with poor or uneducated people”.51 The witness to the truth does not seek to impose anything by force, neither by coercive action nor by tactics incompatible with the Gospel. By definition, the exercise of charity is free. 52 Love and witnessing to the truth are aimed above all at convincing others through the power of the word of God (Cf 1 Cor 2:3-5; 1 Thess 2:3-5)53 The Christian mission resides in the power of the Holy Spirit and in the truth itself which is proclaimed.

V. Conclusion

13. The Church’s commitment to evangelization can never be lacking, since according to his own promise, the presence of the Lord Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit will never be absent from her: “I am with you always, even until the end of the world” ~Mt 28:20). The relativism and irenicism prevalent today in the area of religion are not valid reasons for failing to respond to the difficult, but awe-inspiring commitment which belongs to the nature of the Church herself and is indeed the
Church’s “primary task”54 Caritas Christi urget nos – the love of Christ impels us” (2 Cor 5:14): the lives of innumerable Catholics bear witness to this truth. Throughout the entire history of the Church, people motivated by the love of Jesus have undertaken initiatives and works of every kind in order to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world and in all sectors of society, as a perennial reminder and invitation to every Christian generation to fulfill with generosity the mandate of Christ. Therefore, as Pope Benedict XVI recalls, “the proclamation of and witness to the Gospel are the first service that Christians can render to every person and to the entire human race, called as they are to communicate to all God’s love, which was flatly manifested in Jesus Christ, the one Redeemer of the world”.55 The
love which comes from God unites us to him and “makes us a `we’ which transcends our divisions and makes us one, until in the end God is `all in all’ (1 Cor 15:28)”56

The Sovereign Pontiff Benedict XVI in the Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect on 6 October 2007, approved the present Doctrinal Note~ adopted in the Ordinary Session of this Congregation, and ordered its publication.

Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 3 December 2007, Memorial of Saint Francis Xavier, Patron of the Missions

+ William Cardinal Levada

+ Angelo Amato, SDB
Titular Archbishop of Sila

1. JOHN PAUL. II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris rnissio (7 December 1990), 47: JIAS 83(2991), 293.
2. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 14; cf. Decree Ad gentes, 7; Decree Un/tans
redintegratio, 3. This teaching does not contradict the universal salvific will of Cod, who `desires that all men be saved and
come to a knowledge of the truth’ (I Ton 2:4); therefore, “it is necessary to keep these two truths together, namely, the real
possibility of salvation in Christ for all mankind and the necessity of the Church for salvation” (JOHN PAUL U, Encyclical
Letter Redemptoris missio, 9: AAS 83 [1991], 258).
3. Cf JOHN PAUL II Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte (6 January 2001), 1: AAS 93(2001), 266.
4. Cf PAUL. VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangel/i cant/with (8 December 1975), 24. AIlS 69 (1976), 22
5. JOHN PAUL. II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 46: iL45 83 (1991), 293; ci PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation
Evangelli nuntiandi, 53 and 80: ~4.45′ 69 (1976), 41-42, 73-74,
6. BENEDICT XVI, Homily at the Moss celebrated at the outdoor site of the Neue Messe in Munich (10 September
2006): 448 98(2006), 710
7. SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, Summa Theologiae, 1-fl, q 109, al, ad I: “any truth no matter by whom it is spoken,
is from the Holy Spirit”.
8 Cf JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Fides et ratio (14 September 1998), 44: il4S 91(1999), 40.
9. BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Participants in the Ecclesial Diocesan Convention of Rome “Family and
Christian community formation of the person and transmission of the faith” (6 June 2005): AAS 97(2005), 816
10. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Fides et ratio: AAS 91(1999), 9~10.
11. ibidem, 31: AAS 91 (1999), 29, of SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes 12.
12. This right was recognized and affirned also by the Universal Declaration of Hluman Rights of 1948 (art 18-19).
13. JOHNPAUL II, Encyclical Letter Fides et raio,, 33. AAS9I (1999), 31.
14. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 5
15 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Declaration Dignitatis humanae, 3.
16. Ibidem, 1
17. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 52: ,L4S 83 (1991), 300.
18. Cf. JOHN PAUL II Encyclical Letter Slavorum Apostoli (2 June 1985), 18: AAS 77(1985), 800,
19. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 8.
20. Cf PAUL Vi, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelli nuntiandi, 19-20. AilS 69 (1976), 18.19.
21. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Ad gentes, 7; ci Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 16; Pastoral
Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 22
22 BENEDICT XVI, Homily at the Mass for the Inauguration of the Pontificate (24 April 2005). AAS 97(2005), 71 S
23. ct: FIRST VATICAN COUNCIL~ Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, 2: “It is indeed thanks to this divine revelation,
that those matters concerning God, which are not of themselves beyond the scope of human reason, can, even in the present
condition of the human i-ace, be known by everyone without difficulty, with firm certitude and with no admixture of error
(cf SAINT THOMAS AQUINAS, Summa Theologiae, I, q..l, a I)” (DII 3005)
24. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Ad gentes, 13.
25.SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Declaration Dignitatis humanae, 11
26 Cf.. tot example, CI.EMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, Protrepticus (Exhortation to the Greeks), IX, 87, 3-4 (Sources
Chrétiennes 2 154-155); SAIN1 AUGUSTINE, Sermo 141) [-152 Al,) (Nuova Bibliotca Agostiniana, XXXV!), 269-271)
27. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium. 5.
28. Cf JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, IS: 14A8 83 (1991), 265-266: “If the kingdom is
separated from Jesus, it is no longer the kingdom of God which he revealed The result is a distortion of the meaning of the
kingdom, which fins the risk of being transformed into a purely human or ideological gool, and a distortion of the identity
of Christ, who no longer appeals as the Lord to whom everything must one day be subiected (ci I Go;- 15:27)”
29. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 18: AAS 83 (1991), 266- On the relationship between
Christ and the Kingdom, cf. also CONGREGATION FOB THE DOCTRINE OF THE. FAITH, Declaration Dominus Iesus (6 August
2000), 18-19. ,t4S 92(2000), 759-761
30. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, Declaration Dominus Iesus, 4. AAS 92(2000), 744
31. Cf. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 80: AAS 69 (1976), 73. “Besides, it is added, why
proclaim the Gospel when the whole world is saved by uprightness of heart? We know likewise that the world and history
are filled with “seeds of the Word”; is it not therefore an illusion to claim to bring tile Gospel where it already exists in the
seeds that the Lord Himself has sown?”
32 Cf BENEDICT XVI, Address to the Roman Curia offering Christmas Greetings (22 December 2005). AAS 98
(2006), 50. “. if religious freedom were to be considered an expression of the human inability to discover the truth and thus
become a canonization of relativism, then this social and historical necessity is raised inappropriately to the metaphysical
level and thus stripped of its true meaning Consequently, it cannot be accepted by those who believe that the human person
is capable of knowing the truth about God and, on the basis of the inner dignity of the truth, is bound to this knowledge. It
is quite different, on the other hand, to perceive religious freedom as a need that derives from human coexistence, or indeed,
as an intrinsic consequence of the truth that cannot be externally imposed but that the person must adopt only through the
process of conviction”
33 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 28; cf PAUL VI. Apostolic Exhortation
Evangeii nuntiandi, 24: AAS 69(1976), 21-22
34. Cf JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 21-30: A,45′ 83(1991)268-276.
35. BENEDICT XVI, Homily at the Mass for the Inauguration of the Pontificate (24 April 2005): AAS 97(2005), 710
36 Ibidem,
37.Cf SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Declaration Dignitatis humanae, 6
38. Indeed, where the right to religious freedom is recognized, the right to share one’s owi3 convictions with others
in full respect for their consciences is usually recognized as well; this sharing is aimed at having others enter one’s own
religious community and is an established right in numerous legal systems, with a well-developed jurisprudence.
39. Cf DANTE ALIGHIIERI, La Divine Commedia Pared/so, 33.87: che per l’universio si. squaderna
40. PAUL. VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii. nuntiandi, 46: AIlS 69(1976), 36.
41.” Cf SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gent/urn, 35.
42. PAUL VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 22. AIlS 69(1976), 20.
43..”~ SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Unitatis redintegratio. 1. cf JOHN PAUL H, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris
mission. .1AS 83 (1Q91), 249, 297
44. Cf JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris missio, 34. AAS 83 (1991), 279-280.
45. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Ad gentes, I5.
46 JOHN PAUL 11, Encyclical Letter Ut unum sint (25 May 1995), 14. AAS 87(1995), 929.
47. Cf ibidem, 28. AAS 87(1995), 939-
48. Cf SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Unitatis redintegratio, 3 and 5
49. The term proselytism originated in the context of Judaism, in which the term proselyte referred to someone who,
Coining from the gentiles, had passed into the Chosen People So too, in the Christian context, tile tent proselytism was
often used as a synonym for missionary activity. More recently, however, the term has taken on a negative connotation, to
mean the promotion of a religion by using means, and for motives, contrary to the spirit of the Gospel, that is, which do not
safeguard the freedom and dignity of the human person. It is in this sense that the term proselytism is understood in the
context of the ecumenical movement cf. The Joint Working Group between the Catholic Church and the World Council of
Churches, “The Challenge of Proselytism and the Calling to Common Witness” (1995).
50. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree Unitatiss redintegratio, 4.
51 SECOND VATICAN CODNCIL, Declaration Dignitalis hurnanae, 4
52.Cf BENEDICT XVI, Encyclical Letter Deus caritas es (25 December 2005), 31 C: AAS 98 (2006), 245.
53. Cf, SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL., Declaration Dignitatis humanae, 11.
54. BENEDICT XVI, Homily during the visit to the Basilica of Saint Paul outside the Walls (25 April 2005): 4~1597
(2005), 745.
55. BENEDICT XVI, Address io the participants in the International Conference on the 40th anniversary of
the conciliar Decree Ad Gentes “(II] March 2006): AAS 98(2006), 334
56. BENEDICT XVI. Encyclical Letter Dees caritas es, 18- AAS 98 2006), 232

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