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Are the Roman Catholic Bishops Immoral?

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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) July 20, 2014: Are the Roman Catholic bishops immoral? (In their way of speaking, are they "intrinsically evil"?)

Certain moral claims that the bishops advance are immoral (i.e., the opposite of intelligent, reasonable, and responsible moral positions).

It is immoral for the Roman Catholic bishops to advance disordered moral claims about certain practices that are legal in the United States, but that they claim are supposedly "intrinsically evil." (Disclosure: I come from a Roman Catholic background. However, for many years now, I have not been a practicing Catholic. Today I would describe myself as a theistic humanist, as distinct from a secular humanist.)

Of course most adult Americans today still remember how the Roman Catholic bishops contributed to bringing us the priest sex-abuse scandal -- by transferring abusive priests from one parish to another. The complicity of the Roman Catholic bishops in the priest sex-abuse scandal and its cover up shows that the Roman Catholic bishops are not exacty morally upright exemplars.

As a result, all Americans should be wary of their disordered moral claims advanced by the Catholic bishops about certain matters that are legal in the United States such as masturbation and artificial contraception and legalized abortion in the first trimester.

The Roman Catholic bishops to the contrary not withstanding, masturbation and artificial contraception and legalized abortion in the first trimester are not "intrinsically evil" -- as the bishops claim they are.

Basically, the Roman Catholic bishops have disordered views about the human body and about human sexuality -- growing out of centuries of anti-body views in Christianity.

As a result of their disordered thought, the bishops claim that distinctively human life begins at the moment that sperm fertilizes an egg, the moment of conception, as they say. Granted, an infra-human form of life does begin when sperm fertilizes an egg. Arguably this is not the moment when distinctively human life emerges -- the Roman Catholic bishops to the contrary notwithstanding.

Distinctively human life emerges at the moment when ensoulment occurs, because the human soul is the necessary condition for distinctively human life to emerge.

But when exactly does the moment of ensoulment occur?

The Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade (1973) has suggested that distinctively human life emerges when the developing fetus in the mother's womb is capable of living and breathing on its own outside the mother's womb. I would suggest that this standard of viability is indeed when the moment of ensoulment occurs -- when the developing fetus is capable of breathing and living outside of the mother's womb.

However, because of their disordered thinking, based on the anti-body views advanced in Roman Catholic natural-law moral theory, the Roman Catholic bishops object to legalized abortion in the first trimester, because they mistakenly claim that it is "intrinsically evil."

Oddly enough, my suggestion, based on the standard of viability established by the Supreme Court in Woe v. Wade (1973), is consistent with the story of creation in Genesis. In Genesis, God is portrayed as breathing life into matter to create distinctively human life -- get it? -- breathing life represents ensoulment.

When people stop breathing, we tend to say they are dead -- their soul has left their body and only the corpse remains. So if a corpse is no longer breathing, then it is no longer a complete human being -- it is just a corpse.

In a similar way, a developing fetus that is not capable of breathing is not yet a complete human being -- not yet ensouled with the soul that confers distinctively human life -- as a result it is an infra-human life form.

So the Roman Catholic bishops are up to no good -- just as the Republicans today are up to no good.

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Thomas James Farrell is professor emeritus of writing studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). He started teaching at UMD in Fall 1987, and he retired from UMD at the end of May 2009. He was born in 1944. He holds three degrees from Saint Louis University (SLU): B.A. in English, 1966; M.A.(T) in English 1968; higher education, 1974. On May 16, 1969, the editors of the SLU student newspaper named him Man of the Year, an honor customarily conferred on an administrator or a faculty member, not on a graduate student -- nor on a woman up to that time. He is the proud author of the book (more...)

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