Fr. Paul Surlis writes:
In his Feb. 28 letter to the editor, Julian Bauer stated that "according to the Catholic catechism, abortion is a serious sin" ["Catholic Tenets and the Vote"].
This categorical statement needs qualification. At least two forms of abortion, called "indirect," are permitted by the Roman Catholic Church. One is in the case of a cancerous uterus, whereby to save the mother's life the uterus must be removed. The death of the fetus is foreseen but not directly intended. The other case is that of an ectopic pregnancy, whereby the lives of mother and embryo are both threatened.
The condemnation of abortion is made on the basis of rational arguments, not revelation, and a person not convinced by the arguments has a right to dissent from the teaching. This is standard Catholic teaching on conscience and its relationship to authority.
What seminary did this priest graduate from?
From the very first century, abortion has been universally condemned by the Church. As it is taught since the age of the apostles, it is part of the Deposit of Faith. Therefore, according to the Church, it is divinely revealed that abortion is a sin.
It is true that there are cases where the death of the fetus can be foreseen but not intended. But those do not fall under the Catholic definition of abortion. An abortion is the intentional taking of a life of an unborn child. Those "exceptions" are not exceptions at all.
There is strictly no right to dissent from Catholic teaching. In all the papal teaching, nobody has ever said that there was a right to dissent. It does not exist. A Catholic has a right to conscience. That "right to conscience" is coupled with the obligation to be informed by Divine Revelation AND Magisterial teaching. You can't separate the two. If the Church teaches that God has divinely revealed that abortion is a sin, a Catholic may not doubt that God did not reveal it. The whole point of the Church is to witness. If you don't believe in the Church's witness, then you don't believe in Catholic Revelation.
Somebody should inform his Bishop about his mistakes.
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