Geraldine Ferraro dies

One of the most famous — some would say, infamous — Catholic politicians of the last 30 years has died after a long battle with cancer.  For a time, she was a regular at my parish in Queens, and people still talk about rounding the corner in the grocery store and nearly crashing into her shopping cart, amazed to see her there, picking up cans of creamed corn or eyeballing cuts of beef.


Geraldine Ferraro, the Democratic congresswoman who became the first woman on a major party presidential ticket as Walter Mondale’s running mate in 1984, died on Saturday at the age of 75, her family said.

Ferraro died at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston of a blood cancer after a 12-year illness, according to a statement from her family.

“Her courage and generosity of spirit throughout her life waging battles big and small, public and personal, will never be forgotten and will be sorely missed,” the statement said.

Ferraro was a telegenic, articulate and fiery three-term congresswoman with a liberal reputation when Mondale plucked her from the male-dominated U.S. House of Representatives. Ferraro’s presence on the Democratic ticket generated excitement on the campaign trail, particularly among females of all ages.

Yet on Election Day, Republican President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush defeated Mondale and Ferraro in a landslide, carrying every state except Mondale’s home state of Minnesota.

In delivering her concession speech that night, Ferraro saluted Mondale for helping women reach new political heights.

“For two centuries, candidates have run for president. Not one from a major party ever asked a woman to be his running mate — until Walter Mondale,” she said.

“Campaigns, even if you lose them, do serve a purpose,” Ferraro said. “My candidacy has said the days of discrimination are numbered. American women will never be second-class citizens again.”

She drew plenty of scorn and scrutiny on the campaign trail, particularly for breaking with her Roman Catholic Church in supporting abortion rights.

You can read more about Ferraro and the abortion debate here.

Also: some are already questioning whether she should have a Catholic funeral.  Check out this link for what canon law says.

Meantime, my prayers go out to her family and friends at this moment of loss.

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon her …


  1. Deacon Norb says:

    I’m guessing it was five years ago or so (December 2006) when character-actor Peter Boyle died of acute multiple myeloma. I was not a big fan of the TV show “Raymond” but really liked Boyle’s portrayal of Duffy (read “Macduff”) in Goldblatt’s Mafioso paraphrase of Macbeth that was entitled “Men of Respect.”

    Then less than a year after that, the wife of a very prominent Methodist pastor in my town also died of the same cancer — a malignancy of the blood that is centered in bone marrow. That caused me to chase own a number of web-sites which give the details of that disease and there I found that Geraldine Ferraro also had the same diagnosis.

    Bottom line, she lived with that diagnosed cancer for 12 years. “Eternal Rest grant unto her O, Lord! And Let Perpetual life shine upon her.”

    Please also pray for all the various folks who have to live with that demon daily.

  2. My dad died of this disease as well; it is a very good thing to pray for those who suffer with its ravages. God bless the soul of Geraldine Ferraro and give peace to her family.

  3. Regina Faighes says:

    Requiem aeternam dona eia, Domine.
    Et lux perpetua luceat eia.

  4. Sorrybut bad Latin drives me nuts.

    Requiem aeternam dona eis, Domine.
    Et lux perpetua luceat eis.

    I am saddened to hear about her death. I will pray for her family and for her.

  5. Regina Faighes says:

    I wanted to write” Eternal rest grant to her, Lord and may perpetual light shine upon her.” Eis=them. But I should have written ei for her. Pace!

  6. May God have mercy on her and give peace to her family. May Our Lady intercede for her and for all.

  7. The Time Magazine artilce linked is worse than a joke. Don’t bother clicking the link.

    Ted Kennedy, Mario Cuomo, Geraldine Ferraro, Nancy Pelosi… May God have mercy on their souls.


  8. saveliberty says:

    Dear Tim,

    God knows everything but He loves us anyway.

    God bless.

  9. Bill Russell says:

    Hardiman and Faighes
    Alas, both you are wrong.

    It should be EA -in this case donare taking the feminine singular ablative

    Requiem aeterna dona ea, Domine.

  10. Donal Mahoney says:

    Was Geraldine Ferraro pro-choice or pro-life? I assumed she was pro-choice. May she rest in peace–along with Ted Kennedy.

  11. To Donal Mahoney:

    I don’t think you realize that the attitude expressed in your comment only makes it harder for us to engage in civil dialogue with those people of good will (and most are) who do not share our Church’s pro-life teaching.

  12. I don’t think most people who advocate for or condone the killing of innocent unborn children are people of “good will”. They may under the illusion that they are.
    In any case Mrs Ferraro was a Catholic who should have embraced “our Church’s pro-life teaching”. If she didn’t, that is between God and her–not us.

  13. Robert P McGinn says:

    We ought to pray for our politicians who fail to emrace the Church’s teaching on abortion. We ought to include doing penance for them, because when our souls go before Him in judgement, we will not experience Mr. Good Guy, who glosses over our sins, saying I love you any way. We will experience unvarnished truth. We will be judged by the amount of Love for God in our hearts. If we present a soul in mortal sin, we have no Love of our God in our hearts. We ourselves, will have chosen Hell.

  14. Robert P McGinn says:

    We ought to pray for our politicians who do not embrace the Church’s teaching on Abortion, we should include penance for them. When we go before the Lord in judgement, we will not encounter Mr. Good Guy, who glosses over our sins, and loves us anyway. We will experience unvarnished truth. If we present a soul in mortal sin, we choose Hell ourselves. The is no middle ground on the issue of abortion. It is killing innocent life, always a serious sin. If we are asked to vote in favor of a bill which includes provisions which pay for abortion, we cannot vote for it.
    I present to you a quote from a message given by Jesus to Maureen Sweeney Kyle on 10/19/1998: “With what whimsey and compromise people abandon the truth. This happened before, during the Nazi Holocaust. Innocent lives were taken for the false promise of a greater good. Today the innocents are being sacrificed in the womb. The Nazi regime was brought to defeat.So,I tell you, will every country that embraces legalized abortion be brought to their knees.” JESUS, Oct. 19,1998, We are already there, nothing our goverment tries will work unless they stop killing our children by legalized abortion. Abortion must cease now. If we don’t stop it, our nation is doomed. Every unrepentant voter and politician who has voted for it will go before God, and will not encounter Mr. Good Guy.

    [Robert...I'm leaving your post up for one reason only: to debunk Maureen Sweeney Kyle. The "apparitions" have been discredited by the local bishop, and the faithful are forbidden from practicing any devotion connected to this event. Read more at this link. And please refrain from posting further teachings/locutions from unapproved apparitions. Thank you. Dcn. G.]

  15. What? Another pro choice politician who claims to be Catholic? Throw her in the same box as Ted Kennedy; they deserve each other. When Nancy Pelosi dies, throw her in with them. It wasn’t so long ago I discovered that she also claimed to be Catholic; this female politician who made the statement that the Catholic Church does not condemn abortion.

    Where do these so-called Catholic politicians get the idea that they are immune to Catholic doctrine? Unfortunately, there are many young people who look up to legislative kingpins such as Ferraro, Pelosi and Kennedy and these politicians are giving these young people ( some of them are our own children ) the wrong idea about our faith and our doctrines. In other words, our young people are being scandalized by these politicians.

  16. Donal Mahoney says:

    I want to assure HMS that I long ago lost any interest in patronizing “Roman Catholics” who are pro-choice. I don’t care if they are people of good will. I care that they abet the tumult that says abortion is a “right” instead of a grievous wrong. No one can deny, for example, that Nancy Pelosi is a woman of good will. But so is Phyllis Diller. And I would listen to the latter any time before I would listen to the former–on any subject.

  17. Nancy Pelosi, not being a theologican, did not clearly present her position and the ishops made no effort to clarify it. The Church did not always oppose abortion as murder and with a penalty of excommunication. For grave reasons a pregnancy could be terminated before the soul was joined to the body which was a human body but not a person. A brief review of Church history would support this. 1. The teaching that there is an immortal soul created by God and joined to the human body by God is not found in the Bible. 2. Borrowing ideas from Platonism St. Augustine taught that an immortal soul was created by God and joined to the human body in the womb. 3. At the Council of the Church made this now widely accepted idea a dogma. 4. St. Augustine said that the immortal soul created by God was joined to the human body in the womb only when the body had read a stage of development that made it capable of receiving the soul. Augustine said after 40 days for boys and 80 days for females since they are inferior and needed more time to develop. 5. The Angelic Doctor, St. Thomas Aquinas following Aristotelian philosophy also taught that the soul (the substantial form) could only be united to the body (the prime matter) only when it reached the stage of development which would make it capable of receiving the soul – also with the same time frames. The great 18th century moralist St. Alphonsus Liguori echoed St.Thomas although noting that such views were uncertain. Although the Church always respected and valued the human life of the body beginning in the womb, it allowed for the termination of pregnancy for grave reasons up to 80 days. This teaching for over 1500 years was overturned by a pope who listened to a physician who said the soul was joined to the body at conception. Pius IX in1869 dropped the idea of the soul infused at a later stage of the fetus’ development and began the prevailing opinion that the soul is united at the moment of conception. Despite subsequent non-infallible papal teachings, the words of St. Augustine should be heeded: “When a thing obscure in itself defeats our capacity, and nothing in Scripture comes to our aid, it is not safe for humans to presume they can pronounce on it.” It was only in the revised Code of Canon Law in 1917 that an abortion at any time brought about automatic excommunication. Karl Rahner, S.J., the most important Catholic theologian of the 20th Century, held that the soul joined the fetus after conception at a later but unspecified time. Until then, termination of a pregnancy before 80 days was not considered murder or the killing of a human person because the soul was not yet present. Today with in vitro fertilization who can say that the fertilized ovum in a petrie dish is a human person? Would every fertilized ovum in the womb be a human person who is flushed down the toilet when it fails to properly attach to the womb? How ridiculous!

  18. Correction: Council of Vienne

  19. I appreciate & agree with comment #1 from Deacon. My dad is also battling Multiple Myeloma, cancer of the plasma cells. I’m so grateful that Jesus came to save us and that its not our place to condemn, especially in comments regarding the death of a sister in Christ. I hope that ALL people who are ani-abortion would work hard,, throuugh prayer and action to help people PREVENT being faced with the issue of abortion. Education, ministering to youth well in advance so that their choices won’t lead them to such a path. Mentoring youth, young families without support systems and INVITING people to church can make a difference. Church isn’t an exclusive club…invite someone into the fold, show His love and judge not.

    Thankful that Ms Ferraro served our country & Lord.
    -A Methoidst by practice, and grateful for His grace

  20. Why do many Catholics seem to think that we are not allowed to judge people, especially the deceased, regarding moral decisions? Geraldine Ferraro was a pro-abortion politician and as such, endangered her soul and eternal life as well as others who looked up to her and by example, were lead to believe that if Ms. Ferraro was Catholic and pro-choice, then it must be ok. It is not ok. And it’s not ok to say otherwise. No amount of ignoring her grave error and dancing around the topic changes the situation. We Catholics have become such wet dishcloths that we no longer defend our faith and our life. “To each his own” has become our dogma. Geraldine Ferraro should be denied a Catholic Mass with Catholic sacraments and yes, may God have mercy upon her soul. But I for one will leave that to God and not be a party, like many Catholics, including clergy, who look the other way and hide under the banner of “judge not least ye be judged”. Who’s kidding whom? We make judgments everyday and so do our parents and our courts and our schools etcetera, and thank God for that, because we would be living in chaos as they usually are for the general good of the public. You want to be nice and ignore the evil she perpetuated, go ahead, but I for one will not!

  21. Diane:

    Bravo! Excellent post.

  22. Foxfan6:
    Your post was right on too! Luke warm Catholicism = the death of the Church!

  23. Margaret O'H says:

    I agree with you Diane! God is her Judge but we have to judge her deeds – she was a public figure and did a great disservice to her Faith and to the unborn (to put it mildly!)

  24. Deacon John M. Bresnahan says:

    Unfortunately many ambitious politicians are gulled by the modern “divine right of kings” which is “the divine right of majorities.”
    Most Catholic politicians who go pro-choice believe that majorities in their districts believe that way and that they must bow to the will of the people as their representative and that the situation absolves the politician of sin.
    But American Catholic politicians should do what one Catholic British politician did –say bluntly he didn’t want to represent a district that wanted him to engage in immoral activities through his vote in parliament. They elect him–they elect his values.
    Unfortunately, few American politicians will risk election losses by standing on principle. Instead, like a chameleon, to get elected, they put on what they believe are the value colors of their district.
    Hopefully, Ms. Ferraro’s funeral will not turn into the virtual political rally Sen. Kennedy’s funeral turned into.
    For, like all us sinners will need, she needs prayers to get her through purgatory (especially for her part in exterminating so many innocent lives)–not gushing poliitical eulogies and an instant mini-canonization.

  25. Deacon John M. Bresnahan:

    You wrote (regarding Ferraro), “for, like all sinners will need, she needs prayers to get her through purgatory”…….

    Purgatory? Deacon, being a public pro-choice politician surely results in the death of babies, and that makes the proponent far beyond purgatory as it’s a mortal sin. Sorry to say, but this women is facing hell.

    As far as believing that most politicians go pro-choice because that’s what they think there constituents want may well be true. Yet, isn’t that action similar to what Pontius Pilate did when he handed over Jesus to be crucified? Is that not what the people wanted? Did that somehow justify his action? Did washing his hands of it wipe away his guilt? No, it did not. Also, many pro-choice politicians are pro-choice simply because of the big bucks that planned parenthood and other liberal organizations contribute to their campaigns. They put their careers here on earth before their religion. How else to explain all these supposedly devote Catholic politicians that are pro-choice?

    Deacon, we have got to make a stand and stop excusing and understanding and explaining these politician’s views and policies away. White washing it makes us no better than them and it imperils our souls as well. If only we had done thise years ago, one-third of the youth in this county today would not have been thrown dismembered, piece by bloody piece, into the abortionist’s bucket.

    [Whoa. Congratulations, Diane. You have been given knowledge that nobody else on earth possesses: the ability to discern the state of someone's soul at the moment of death. Do you know that Geraldine Ferraro died in a state of mortal sin? I don't. None of us does. I repeat: none of us does. We cannot unilaterally declare who is or is not facing hell. As someone put it on my Facebook page -- and he was absolutely right -- "Just a heartfelt 'Jesus' on the lips at the moment of death can be a game-changer." Dcn. G.]

  26. Deacon:
    I don’t mean to be obnoxious and I do hope you are right and that Ms. Ferraro did make amends and will be in heaven one day. We will never know. My point is that we, the lay people, have gone over board in accommodating sin, and in not expecting our own to to rise to the occasion, we have become enablers allowing them to feel comfortable in their choices. Choices that reverberated to millions. Ms. Ferraro had the gift of being given several years of life after her diagnosis and wouldn’t it have been great if in that time, she re-thought her position and made a public comment saying that she was sorry for that? For the souls lead astray?

  27. Whoa Kandra! Here you are jumping all over Diane for her statement; which, by the way, wasn’t that Ferraro is definitely going to hell, but rather, that she is facing hell. There is a difference, and it is very possible. We should all be very annoyed with Ferraro and her very visible stand on abortion. Ferraro made a mockery of her religion and every Catholic church leader in the country should have put her in her place long ago; but most of our church leaders don’t seem to have the courage Jesus himself had when he confronted the Samaritan woman at the well. ( The Sunday reading we just had). I have seen only one Arch-bishop step up to the bat recently and that was in Phoenix, I believe, where he dealt harshly with a Catholic hospital for an abortion. We need more leaders like him. How do you know that Ferraro’s malady wasn’t a test from God himself to see if facing her eternity would soften her heart and make her denounce her position? It is very possible; and you know what? If that is what happened, she obviously failed.

    By the way, since you saw and remarked about Diane’s post, you obviously saw Flamen’s as well. Here is a person who is downright slamming one of our core beliefs and you don’t so much as raise an eyebrow, let alone, give him a Whoa! You could have at least let him know that as Catholics, we believe that the soul enters the body at conception, and then explain why we believe that. How about going after the real enemies of our Church and not just try to keep the faithful politically correct.

    [Good point foxfan. I should have corrected Flamen. The fact remains that Diane was crossing a line by singling out Ferraro for possible (likely?) damnation. In point of fact, all of us are "facing hell." And all of us, including Ferraro, are also facing heaven. It's our choice. Dcn. G. ]

  28. Fiergenholt says:

    It’s Monday March 28. I just got up and am having my first cup of coffee reading the overnight comments on this blog-stream.

    Some of you might want to consider this vision that I heard first described in the homily of a deacon from a parish I visited many years ago.

    Our deacon — in his homily — describes himself as being present watching folks check in with Saint Peter at the “Pearly Gates.” In every instance that he observed, the gatekeeper was enforcing a rule he had not heard of before in all of his own church’s teachings.

    It seems as if this “heaven” was a fairly select community and that unless you had someone already there that could “vouch” for you, you were not going to be admitted. But that “sponsor” was not allowed to be a family member that you loved. it was, instead, an individual that you hated/ despised/ ridiculed in this world.

    In other words: if, in this life, you hated African-Americans, it was going to be an African-American you were going to have to trust to vouch for you to St. Peter; if, in this life, you ranted-and-raved about fundamentalist Muslims, someone wearing a Jordanian head-scarf or a Afghani whole-body robe was going to have to be your sponsor; if, in this life, you were abused by a Roman Catholic Clergyman and thus had every reason to despise those folks, your sponsor would be some guy with a Roman Collar.

    If that deacon’s preaching has any truth to it at all, I would be quite cautious condemning Geraldine Ferraro. Maybe, JUST MAYBE, she will have to be your sponsor for your own entrance into eternal glory.

    AND, that is the teaching of our church about the final judgement. Each and everyone of us will have to confront, head-on, the specific evil we have committed in this life — not the evil someone else has committed but our own.

  29. And this is how, little by little, we have lost the nerve to stand up for righteousness and how we are all responsible for the mess we are in. We have become so afraid of acknowledging sin that we avoid it altogether, lest “we appear” to be condemning to hell anyone. In the past fifty years, our leaders have gone from pointing out eternal damnation to tip toeing over the tulips. We seem to condemn nothing anymore. I go to mass and hear social justice sermons and nothing about abortion or living together or a host of other sins that the Catholic Church recognizes as sins. Whatever, but I say this, when Ferraro has her nice Catholic funeral with the nice Catholic liberal politicians in attendance and the nice Catholic priest saying nothing, absolutely nothing, about her pro-abortion stand and how it was wrong because she chose politics over morality and God – another opportunity will be lost to bring souls back into the church and into heaven. As the abortionist’s and Planned Parenthood’s friend and supporter is eulogized and laid to rest, we will offend no one and perhaps help no one either find the road to heaven. Somewhere along the line, our fear has rendered us weak and ineffective soldiers of Christ. Then again, our Church too looked the other way when the first pedophile priests did their dirty deeds. Perhaps it is our own fear of being judged because of our sins, that we are too afraid to confront any other sin. In any case, we have failed our people, only a few clergy speak out any more, and souls are lost.

  30. I would like to know on what theological basis you can say that the spiritual, immortal soul is infused by God at the moment of conception into a fertilized egg.

  31. Catholic belief that abortion is a sin goes back to Apostolic teaching–see the Didache. It is an ancient teaching of the Church.

    Flamen, provide citations that the church allowed abortion up to 80 days of pregancy and that it was a 19th century Pope who condemend abortion. I find your statements hard to believe. While theologians (not the Church) have questioned when the the soul is infused in the body, I am not aware of a theologian (let alone the Church) who viewed the lack of ensoulment as justification for abortion.

    Your first post states that the church at one time did not consider abortion murder. That could be true, but does not mean that it did not consider abortion to be an incredibly grievious sin that cut a person off from the Church.

  32. Flamen–regarding post 30–I’m pretty sure that Church doesn’t try to state when the fetus is ensouled. It contents itself to teach that abortion is a sin.

    Theologians and the faithful do have the right to question when ensoulment happens, but no one really knows. It is not forbidden (nor is it required) for a person to believe that ensoulment happens at conception. What we cannot do, as a faithful Catholic, is deny the sinfullness of abortion.

  33. I did a little hunting to see how the Church viewed abortion after Augustine and the ensoulment arguements. For quite some time the Church viewed abortion in the early stages of fetal development as a mortal sin related to sex not as a mortal sin related to murder. Abortion was viewed as gravely evil sexual sin–not murder. At no time did the Church use the ensoulment debate as an argument to justify abortion. In determining penances, confessors did look at the circumstances and intentions of the woman–not to mitigate the sinfulness of the action but the severity of the penance.

  34. Flamen:

    Regarding your post #30: You worded that post so well, I couldn’t help but respond. I am going to give you a common sense answer. We Catholics celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception every December 8th. We celebrate this day because we are acknowledging that as Catholics we believe that Mary, the mother of Jesus; the Mother of God, was conceived without original sin. Now this is first grade catechism for us Catholics. Note that I stated that she was conceived without original sin, not born without it. The rest of us were not so lucky. We were all conceived with original sin, which means, simply, that at the moment of our conception, we received original sin on our souls. Now tell me; how in the world are we going to receive original sin if we don’t have a soul in place for it to attach to?

    Mary was conceived without it. Her soul, at conception, remained as pure and as white as snow, or so we are taught by the Catholic Church. I don’t think I can make it any simpler or plainer than that.

  35. To Fiergenholt:

    Your post #28 was a good post for someone who is playing it safe; and it seems you have a lot of company among us and our clergy who have jumped on that band wagon. That’s all it is; a band wagon; a fad; a popular mindset that allows us to ignore the evil in the world and pretend it isn’t there. Many people didn’t play it safe though; St. John the Baptist for one, who wasn’t afraid to point out the sins of the very one who would have his head on a platter. There are many others in scripture who would and did condemn the evil in others before dying at their hands.

    It isn’t just Ferraro we are singling out here, but all politicians who would knowingly risk their souls for a few years of popularity and financial security. Even that would be tolerable, however, if it were only their particular souls, ( after all, they had been warned) except that they are also taking some pretty innocent souls with them in the form of all those young and old who believe that these people speak for their Catholic Church.

    So go ahead, play it safe, but take heed; when you are standing at the pearly gates, God might ask you why you didn’t at least speak up for your church and point out that Ferraro and others like her do not stand with the rest of us Catholics on the pro life issues. Sometimes God calls on us to do more than simply allow evil to exist. Sometimes he asks us to confront it.

  36. In response to Rick: you have misunderstood what I have said. Pope Pius IX declared that the soul is united to the body at the first moment of conception. Up to that time abortion was not considered murder before ensoullment. It was considered a serious sin. However even mortal sins have a different gravitas – eating meat on Friday was considered a mortal sin but not with the same gravity as murder. Not every grievous sin cuts a person off from the Church – only those with a penalty of excommunication I never said that.ensoulment was used to justify abortion. . Finally, traditional theology about mortal sin considers the act, the motive and the circumstances. Since sin is in the will, the primary determinant is the intent and the circumstances surrounding one’s decision which could mitigate or remove the sinfulness. Perhaps only a woman could appreciate the effects of bringing to term a pregnancy unwanted because of rape, incest, poverty, or emotional instability – severe psychological damage, deep depression with possible suicide, long lasting traumatic after effects. (The cases of suicides and permanent psychological disorientation of boys abused by clerics would be similar.) If, under such circumstances, after considering the current teaching of the Church, praying, and believing that in the first weeks of pregnancy the fetus is not a human person (due to the controversy which can never be solved with certainty) a decision for abortion could not be a mortal sin. To affirm that one must conform his conscience to the magisterium would be to destroy the freedom of conscience. The Primacy of Conscience applies. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions. He must not be forced to contrary to his conscience. Nor must he be prevented from acting according to his conscience especially in religious matters.” [1782] In 1790 it is stated that a human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience even if it is in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments. “If the ignorance is invincible or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him.”[1793] and consequently any penalty as automatic excommunication. Cardinal Newman succinctly upheld the primacy of the conscience over the law in his famous toast: “I shall drink – to the Pope if you please – still, to Conscience first and to the Pope afterwards.”

  37. In response to foxfan6
    The question of Original Sin and the Immaculate Conception is difficult. There are a few things to consider. First about Original Sin. There is no idea of an original sin passed on in Genesis. In the New Testament St. Paul speaks of the condition of sin but not how it is transmitted. St. Augustine, followed by St. Thomas Aquinas held that it was transmitted by sinfully, pleasurable sexual intercourse. The Council of Trent couldn’t say how it was transmitted. Current theology speaks of original sin as the lack of sanctifying grace rather than a stain on the soul or simply a sinful condition.. Pope Paul VI in speaking of polygenism in Human Generis said #17 “Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which through generation is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own. [12]” Since then Pope John Paul II accepted the evolution of man as a fact which would make polygenism far more likely. Furthermore modern Catholic biblical scholars do not consider Adam, Methuselah and Noah as historical beings but rather as literary constructions in a protohistory by the Hebrew writers. Therefore, there will be revaluations and reinterpretations of Adam, original sin and its transmission in the theology of the Church. The doctrine regarding the Immaculate Conception used the expression from the first moment of her conception to eliminate the possibility of transferring original sin in the sexual intercourse of her parents – a problem St. Thomas saw and why he at first opposed the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. We must understand the Immaculate Conception as Mary was always free from any sin and was always “full of (sanctifying) grace.”

  38. Flamen wrote: “Perhaps only a woman could appreciate the effects of bringing to term a pregnancy unwanted because of rape, incest, poverty, or emotional instability – severe psychological damage, deep depression with possible suicide, long lasting traumatic after effects. (The cases of suicides and permanent psychological disorientation of boys abused by clerics would be similar.) If, under such circumstances, after considering the current teaching of the Church, praying, and believing that in the first weeks of pregnancy the fetus is not a human person (due to the controversy which can never be solved with certainty) a decision for abortion could not be a mortal sin.”

    A decision for abortion COULD not be a mortal sin. That’s a pretty big could, embedded in a lot of context.

    I think what you have written describes important considerations for a priest ministering to a sincere penitent. The things you mention are all things that should be considered in confession when a person believes that he or she has sinned. It is very easy for people to take those concepts and use them for excusing behaviors they have performed or intend to perform, “This isn’t really a sin for me because of my circumstances.”

    I think you have described a clear theology of reconciliation, but not a clear explanation of catholic morality of abortion.

    Regarding the primacy of conscience–I have a question. I am a therapist. Not too long ago I worked with a man who sexually abused his daughter. He claimed it was his right and responsiblity to teach his daughter about sex. As far as I know he actually believed it (but I doubt it). If he actually believed it, in the depths of his conscience, does that somehow mitigate the immorality, sinfulness and seriousness of his crime?

  39. To Rick
    Objectively, NO. Subjectively, YES. See the Primacy of Conscience issue.

  40. If we are not careful, primacy of conscience can lead to the assumption that there is no objective truth and that everything from a woman’s right to abortion, to a father’s right to introduce his children to sex is subjective. Primacy of conscience makes sense with politics and religion–but not war, abortion, slavery, incest, usuary, wife beating, etc. If the only guide we have is primacy of conscience we are screwed. If there is a primacy of conscience, there must also be a co-primacy of truth or the common good. I suppose that’s why the Church refers to the primacy of the INFORMED conscience. The thing that forms the conscience is the moral law.

    I’m not claiming that people must conform to the magisterium. People are free to disagree and free to sin. My concern is when the concepts of moral law and sin are compromised or eliminated we cease to be Christian and we become relativists. As Christians we need moral law.

  41. Kandra:

    You state that for a time Ferraro was a regular at your parish in Queens. Did you ever approach her to inform her that her pro-choice stance as a Catholic politician, or even as a Catholic Parishioner was not acceptable?

    [I moved into the parish after she had left. I never saw her. Dcn. G.]

  42. Donal Mahoney says:

    Even though I harbor nothing but disgust for “pro-choice” Catholic politicians, it is my deep hope that Ms. Ferraro went to confession and received absolution prior to her death. If that is the case, I imagine I will see her in Purgatory where I will be a resident for a long time. But if she and/or Ted Kennedy get out before me, I hope someone will tell me why. I also hope that same someone will tell me why Bishop Hubbard of Albany is still happily in office after giving the Eucharist to Cuomo with TV cameras rolling. Maybe Abp. Dolan has the answer and, between chuckles some day, he might offer an explanation.

  43. Rick
    Please read the excerpts from the Catechism of the Catholic Church carefully. It has to do with the subjective morality of an act. It presumes the careful attention to the teachings of the Church, opinions of theologians, philosophers and other experts on the issue and one’s careful conclusion with prayer. It is not an attempt to justify one’s own actions just to do so willfully. It is a serious disagreement with contemporary teaching. It has nothing directly to do with confession as one does not confess what one has not considered a sin. In regard to abortion the question is what is the objective morality terminating a pregnancy a week after conception. Is it murder of a human person? If ensoulment doesn’t take place until forty days after conception, then it is a sin whose gravity is determined by circumstances. People are not trying to justify their immoral acts; they are saying that the acts are not gravely immoral and in conscience are not sinful. These are distinctions that are made in good faith and should not be lightly dismissed.

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