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Saturday, January 25, 2014


Anna Marie Olivieri


What Dr. Gutting must does and all prodeath folks is to view an abortion on the internet..
(many such websites//or view the movie SILENT SCREAM..(babies fighting for their lives)
They need to be educated in the quote and unquote......

if he does so...he will change his tune..
55 million deaths since roe v wade..

Jean Pergande

Father Fessio is spot on in his responses.

mary joan rourke

this argument is somewhat i fought in the 60's. maybe life doesn't start until implantation. these people are not deep thinkers i feel.


Gutting's major error #1 is not so much an error as a foundational uncertainty. As it happens, the Church's teaching on abortion also rests, in significant part, on that same uncertainty. (Declaration on Procured Abortion, 1974) Gutting's other errors are well noted, but I think that the initial uncertainty about the point at which a developing human being is endowed with a soul, shared as it is by the Church, does allow a space for well intentioned discussion and debate. I read Gutting's piece, and though he did employ some bad arguments, I couldn't see that his engagement with the topic was either ill-intended or inappropriate.

I would note that the Church herself seems to hold that for there to be murder,in the capital sense, the deceased must have a soul, and to rest Her opposition to abortion on the perceived likelihood that it is murder. That territory is not as simple, argumentatively, as many pretend. Particularly when the conclusion people seem so often claim is that denying a united sperm and ovum the opportunity to implant on the uterine wall is categorically murder. That's not to suggest that it isn't categorically sin, of course. But the Church in general may be seen as arriving at the gravest judgement, and doing so definitively, in a manner that is unsupported by it's own understanding. Even probable murder, (if one grants it that) is not the same as murder proper. Or maybe I just need a Jesuit to explain why it is so.

REv. Peter M. Calabrese, CRSP

Thanks for taking the time to type in such an orderly fashion what was screaming in my mind. Great job as always, Father.

ad multos annos

Fr. Peter

Kevin Gunn

Major red herring # 2 seems to be a complete fabrication by Mr. Gutting. The reference to "the philosopher Peter Smith" says nothing of medical research or Catholics' opinion or support of the same, only an ill-defined “gradualist” view of morality.

God bless you, Fr. Fessio--I love your work. And thanks for my new word-of-the-day: risibly ("deserving to be laughed at : very silly or unreasonable")



I think this response really misses the mark. Dr. Gutting's piece is being portrayed as a blanket acceptance of abortion, and it is FAR, FAR from that. Furthermore, the "logic" -- or lack of it's extent, to be precise -- in this response actually underlies some of Gutting's points as to how we draw lines about who should live and who should die. Let me say that what I am about to present does not mean I am in favor of abortion.

First off: I had a friend in Jr High who was impregnated by her father at age 13 (early 70's). Her father also "forced" her to have an abortion. (She COULD have run away from home and carried the baby ... was that practically possible, being a child herself?) The abortion was more traumatic for her than the abuse, being labeled a murderer. The statute of limitations never runs out on murder. She never had children; her life remained sad and relationships were tenuous. THESE are the "difficult" situations that Gutting *suggests* we *consider* as ones in which to avoid "moral condemnation" of abortion. Pope Francis also brings up this issue of avoiding condemnation of women who have had abortions in his interview with Spadaro. Many women in poor situations have no less actual control over their lives than my friend. Then they are broken for life because of that.

Next, the whole rebuttal above is just off. On Error #1: Gutting does NOT contend that a fetus is ONLY a potential life -- he merely says that people can agree that the fest is AT LEAST a potential life. That totally negates the claim for "Error #1." It's there in black and white. He's basically saying that even if we take this as the least we can say about the fetus, then we have such and such... Remember Dr. Gutting is addressing not just Catholics who believe life starts at conception. The IS the NYT!

Major Red Herring #1: There is an assertion that we are not obliged to prevent all fatal "diseases" at the cost of our own life. Well, in the example of the kidney situation, preventing the fatality is NOT at the cost of one's own life. Since the major premise doesn't hold, the rest of the red herring argument doesn't hold. BUT, it is ESSENTIAL to realize that likely Fr. Fessio and MOST of us BEHAVE as though we have no obligation to make even relatively MINOR sacrifices to save lives of those who would die without our intervention. (We do NOT cut our living standard to the bare bones and devote the rest of our money to saving sick children with curable diseases or to preventing HIV transmission to children for example.) We have drawn a distinction between lives that we are obliged to save (those of fetuses) and those we are not (those of children with curable diseases).

**The fact that we label one situation a "disease" and the other not, is part of Gutting's point, I believe: history and culture lead us to be comfortable with this line and with the arbitrary labeling of one state in which life needs assistance as being different than the other, when there is NOT a rational basis for such a line if we hold all life sacred.** (This is where the kidney example is relevant.) This wasn't a problem before we could cure such diseases, and we haven't changed our way of thinking now that we CAN cure these diseases. Many of my colleagues feel just fine with drawing the line at the point the fetus is capable of independent life, and this is no less "reasonable" than drawing a line at saying we do not need to live spartanly and save the lives of sick children with the excess money.

(Aside: There are a lot of fat Catholic camels lined up to get through the eye of the needle.)

On Red Herring #2: I believe Gutting is correct that Catholics spend way more energy and resources trying to prevent abortion than to preventing natural miscarriage. That can be checked, but it's minor. (b) (not minor) Fessio contends we are NOT obliged to prevent deaths of innocent human beings -- then WHY are so MANY Catholics trying to PREVENT abortion? (I am not saying we shouldn't just that the arguments for why don't make sense.) If one says, as Fr. Fessio does, that we are obliged not to kill but not to prevent death, then that seems to leave the killing up to the mother, not others. (Just sayin'.)

It is doubtful that Rome will ever budge on the absolute ban on abortion on paper, and I am sure Gutting is aware of this. Even if that were to happen, likely it would have NO practical effect on abortions (at least in the US -- I cannot make any educated guess about other cultures.) Hence, this would not lead to more abortions. However, *softening the condemnation* WOULD have an effect on women who must go forward from such a terrible situation. Giving these women a "pardon" afterwards is not nearly as beneficial to recovery -- convincing to the women, let's say -- as is acknowledging before-hand that there is a different level of morality involved, that is it not "absolute" in every case.


Below, my answer to my son's query about the article
"Should Pope Francis Rethink Abortion?" By GARY GUTTING January 23, 2014
Pope Francis has raised “expectations of a turn away from the dogmatic intransigence” that has long cast a pall over the religious life of many Roman Catholics. Already!! the intelligent (from intus+legere, to read into or through the appearances) reader should be on his guard: 1) It was not Pope Francis who raised those “expectations of…” but the media’s interpretations of his words. Pope Francis has done or said nothing new, yet…2)The term dogmatic intransigence is deliberately biased: does Cutting mean that intransigence is dogmatic? Or is dogma [always] intransigent? Neither is true, therefore Cutting’s statement is false.3) What has cast a pall over the religious life of many people, not just Roman Catholics, is the growing moral relativism (i.e., secularism) in the world. This moral relativism takes different forms in different cultures (for ex., religious terrorism) but they all have in common the elimination of any absolute standard (in the U.S. culture, under the guise of “equal rights”, “civil justice,” and (!) “religious freedom”) His question “Who am I to judge?” suggested a new attitude (new to whom? Maybe to Pontius Pilate when Christ did not answer his question, “What is the truth?” Or new to the adulterous woman who heard Christ say “Neither do I condemn you”? toward homosexuality,(nowhere in the New Testament do we hear Christ even refer to homosexuality) and he is apparently willing to consider allowing the use of contraceptives to prevent sexually transmitted diseases (again, this allowance dates back at least to John Paul II. BUT, READER BEWARE: CUTTING HAS JUST SHIFTED THE GROUNDS OF HIS OWN REASONING, fusing homosexuality, contraception and, NEXT LINE, abortion. So even if Pope Francis were willing to consider x, y, or z in one issue, his position on A, B, or C cannot be deduced from his x-y-z premise. . But his position on what has come to be the hierarchy’s signature issue — abortion — seems unyielding. “Reason alone is sufficient to recognize the inviolable value of each single human life,” he declared in his recent apostolic exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium,” adding: “Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the church cannot be expected to change her position on this question.”
I want to explore the possibility, however, that the pope might be open to //significant revision of the absolute ban// in order to make the case for a “with-the-flow” moral relativism? Is the revision necessary because the ban is absolute, or because the ban is “undemocratic”? Is the ban evil? Does it negate Gutting’s last four words?on abortion by asking what happens if we take seriously his claim that “reason alone is sufficient” to adjudicate this issue. What actually follows regarding abortion once we accept the “inviolable value of each single human life”? This appeal to rational reflection NOT EMOTIONAL REACTION, has been a central feature of the tradition of Catholic moral teaching. I put forward the following reflections in the spirit of this tradition.

There is considerable rational basis for moral concern about abortions. In many (probably most) cases, it would be immoral to abort a pregnancy. (Note, however, that this by no means implies that most abortions actually performed are immoral nor does it mean that most abortions actually performed are moral. For a philosopher to offer a rationale for the morality or immorality of an act, he would have to base his conclusion –if it is to be universally –on universally valid premises, which cannot be happen with the issue of abortion.) Late-term fetuses, for example, are no different biologically or psychologically from babies born prematurely at the same stage of development. It’s hard to see how killing a premature baby is immoral but killing an identical late-term fetus isn’t. At a minimum, aborting a healthy late-term fetus would, except when the mother’s life is at risk, be immoral — which is no doubt why it is seldom, if ever, done.(False: it is being done more and more frequently. The reason for this increment in late late term abortions may be related to the fact that Gutting defines “babies” or human beings on the basis of time elapsed after conception, allowing each abortionist to define each human baby RELATIVE to time. To introduce “the mother’s life” here is a deliberate effort to con-fuse the issues).Further, from conception on, an embryo or fetus is at least potentially (erroneous use of a philosophical term – act & potency – to describe biological facts, i.e., conception, embryo, or fetus) human in the sense that, allowed to develop along its natural path, there is a human life ahead for it And Gutting is the authority as to when development begins? When does “its natural path” begin? Does the mother determine or even know when the “path” began? Again, to attribute “potentiality” to an entity that is, that has become act, not potency is not only a logical error but a malicious use of the concept.. As the philosopher Don Marquis has pointed out, one reason it’s wrong to kill a human being is that, when you take a life, you take away a human future. The same is true when you kill a [potential, I repeat, NOT potential, but real human being: All the human goods that it might have enjoyed are eliminated. At the very least, even early abortions for trivial reasons (e.g., not having to postpone a trip or pass up an athletic competition) would be immoral, even if not the “murder” of pro-life rhetoric.
At the same time, the “inviolable value of each human life” does not imply that no abortion can be moral , this true, for ex., when we are dealing with the “inviolable values” of two or more human lives.(mother and her fetus or fetuses). Here the case of rape READER BEWARE: Gutting has shifted grounds of reasoning especially relevant. It is hard to claim that a rape victim has a moral duty to bring to term a pregnancy forced on her by rape, even if we assume that there is a fully human person present from the moment of conception. We might admire someone who has the heroic generosity to do this, but talk of murder BEWARE! The word game begins…Is it not murder because it is the result of a rape? is out of place. As the philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson has noted, if someone kidnapped you and connected your kidneys to those of someone who would die unless the connection were maintained for the next nine months, you would hardly be obliged to go along with this. How can we require a woman pregnant by a rapist to do essentially the same thing? We can because the pregnancy is a biological function resulting from physiological conditions, like ALL pregnancies. Pregnancies do not result from rape any more than pregnancies result from acts of legitimate love: all pregnancies result from spermatozoids fertilizing eggs and God - the Father - providing a soul for that fertilized egg. When philosophers and moral theologians throw in emotionally charged situations (rape, incest, etc) when discussing the morality and legality of pregnancy, all they do is confuse the reasoning process, more often than not resulting in wrong conclusions (like differentiating pregnancies on the basis of situations RELATIVE to each case).Other exceptions to the condemnation of abortion arise once we realize that an early-stage embryo may be biologically human but still lack the main features — consciousness, self-awareness, an interest in the future — that underlie most moral considerations (Do the ‘main features – consciousness, self-awareness, an interest in the future’ – define a human being? Is this Gutting’s definition or is it universally valid? If the latter, then it is not Gutting’s definition but mother nature’s or God’s. But we all have known “biologically human” beings who “still lack” those main features. If Gutting’s definition were adopted, we shoud have no moral qualms killing drunkards, terminal drug addicts, people in a coma, victims of depression, and perhaps even those who are asleep; AS LONG AS WE KILL THEM WHILE THEY “STILL LACK THE MAIN FEATURES”, like a human being at the zygote or embryonic stage.
An organism may be human by purely biological criteria, but still merely potentially human in the full moral sense ALERT: NO. IF HUMAN BIOLOGICALLY, HUMAN, PERIOD. THE TERM “POTENTIALLY” DOES NOT APPLY HERE. As we saw, Marquis’s argument shows that killing a potential human is in itself bad, but there’s no reason to think that we are obliged to preserve the life of a potential human at the price of enormous suffering by actual humans.
Another point, seldom discussed, is that not even pro-life advocates consistently act on their belief Again, Gutting uses words in a deliberately biased way, unless by “belief” he agrees to understand as essential to the process of reasoning that any embryo has full moral standing. As the philosopher Peter Smith has noted, they do not, for example, support major research efforts to prevent the miscarriages or spontaneous abortions (many so early that they aren’t ordinarily detected) that occur in about 30 percent of pregnancies. If 30 percent of infants died for unknown reasons, we would all see this as a medical crisis and spend billions on research to prevent these deaths. The fact that pro-life advocates do not support an all-out effort to prevent spontaneous abortions indicates that they themselves recognize a morally relevant difference between embryos and human beings with full moral standing. Not so/
There is, then, a strong case for thinking that abortions always bring about some bad results — at a minimum the loss of potential human life — and that for most pregnancies abortion would be morally wrong. But this conclusion is limited in two ways: A woman’s right to control her reproductive life can, as in the case of rape, offset even a person’s right to life; A woman’s right to control “x”, “y” or “z” will always be limited by “A”, “B” or “C”. One of those limitations is – for ALL human beings male, female, and in-between – the other person’s right to life, which is equal to yours and mine and everyone’s. To allow Gusting’s premise (woman’s right in reproductive…) necessarily and inevitably opens the slippery road fallacy: if it were valid, a woman would have the right to kill the offspring after it’s born, after all, it is the result of her reproductive system and for quite some time the offspring’s life will depend on whether or not that woman respects the offspring’s right to life. and at least at the earlier stages of pregnancy, the embryo has only the moral standing of (NO, we showed this above)potential, not actual, human life, which may be overridden by harm to humans with full moral standing. Having rights and “full moral standing” is , ironically, like pregnancy, either you are or you are not, but there is no such thing as “potential” or a little bit of human rights and moral stature anymore than there is being “potentially’ or a little bit pregnant.
These limitations, I suggest, correspond to the “very difficult situations” (such as “rape” and “extreme poverty”) in which the pope, in “Evangelii Gaudium,” admitted the church has “done little to adequately accompany women.” “According to me,” Gutting should add, “Allowing for exceptions to the moral condemnation of abortion in some of these painful situations would not contradict the pope’s overall commitment to the “value of the human person.”” Rather, it would admit what reason shows: There are morally difficult issues about abortion that should be decided by conscience, not legislation. And this sentence, Dr. Gutting, summarizes the Church’s position in this issue, specially as defined in Vatican Council II and other recent documents. Stop here, do not go into an area foreign to you, like “the pope’s own stated etc.”The result would be a church acting according to the pope’s own stated standard: preaching not “certain doctrinal or moral points based on specific ideological options” but rather the gospel of love.signed: Gonzalo T.. Paalcios, Ph.D., Philosophy Instructor, P.G.C.C., Largo, MD author of "The Virgin Mary's Revolution or love and do what you will." (

John Campbell

Professor Gutting ain't no Catholic.

Father St. Louis

Whatever happened to Pope Saint Pius X's mandate that all who occupied "sacred chairs"-- that is, professors at seminaries and Catholic Universities-- must be removed if they are a Modernist or even have Modernist leanings? (See Pascendi Dominici Gregis, 48).

If Professor Gutting is not a Modernist heretic, then who is?

Nancy Danielson

Not to mention that our Founding Fathers recognized that every son and daughter of a human person is endowed with our inherent unalienable Right to Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness at the moment of our creation, not the moment we become viable or come forth from the womb, or are delivered by Caesarean Section.


The Guttings of the world can be more dangerous than the more openly radical, he targets the faithful, and is in a position to exploit the young faithful. His careful phrased equivocation is the opening gambit in eroding the Christian's faithfullness to the principles of protecting life. People like Gutting need challenging, their arguments are weak, and I think that shows he has gotten used to his rhetoric not being challenged directly, in a situation where he'd have to respond.

Philip Allen

Jesus Himself was a "fetus," through all stages of development. He also said, "That which you do to the least of my brethren you do unto me."

There's a reason that those advocating for Christian theology favoring abortion have to go through such mental gymnastics.

Nancy Danielson

Truth begets truth, while error begets error.

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