The abortion and the bishop

bishopA few weeks ago, I wrote about a story in The Washington Times which reported that employees of Catholic Charities of Richmond helped a teenage foster child procure an abortion. Now in a follow-up, the Times‘ Julia Duin reports that both the Richmond bishop and Catholic Charities director knew about the plannned abortion and did nothing to stop it:

The Roman Catholic bishop of Richmond was told that a diocesan charity planned to help a teenage foster child get an abortion in January and did not try to prevent the procedure.

Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo “was told erroneously that everything was in place and there was nothing he could do to stop it,” said Steve Neill, Bishop DiLorenzo’s communications officer. “He is very apologetic about the whole episode.

“It is very awkward, it is very embarrassing. A human life was taken. He certainly has not taken it lightly in any way. He is clearly opposed to abortion.”

Mr. Neill said the bishop was informed Jan. 17, the day before an abortion was performed on the 16-year-old Guatemalan girl, who was a foster care client of Commonwealth Catholic Charities of Richmond (CCR), a group incorporated under the diocese.

Like its predecessor, this story gets religion. It treats abortion as a paramount issue under Roman Catholic doctrine. While the story could simply have been a tale of moral hypocrisy and legal trouble, it also struck a note of theological gravity:

The unnamed girl had been implanted with a contraceptive device provided by CCR two months earlier, according to the April 29 letter. Catholic doctrine condemns deliberate abortion and the use of contraception as mortal sins. Those who obtain an abortion or help someone else to do so can be excommunicated.

In addition, Duin got revealing quotes from the bishops’ spokesman. His comments below suggest that he sought at least partly to rationalize the employees’ decision to let the teenager have her unborn infant killed:

“They were so caught up with the plight of the young girl who already had a child,” Mr. Neill said. “She was not a Catholic. She got pregnant by her boyfriend, and she was determined not to have the baby.”

What the young girl’s religious affiliation has to do with the employees’ formal cooperation in the abortion I have no idea.

And yet and yet and yet. This story needed more explanation — a lot more explanation. While Catholics of all stripes are angry at and resentful of their bishops, this story needed more exculpatory details and depth.

It’s not enough to assert that Bishop DiLorenzo or the director of Catholic Charities knew beforehand about the abortion. To portray the bishop’s lack of response accurately, Duin needed to probe deeper. She should have asked the dioceses’ lawyer more questions, such as:

– Does the bishop have any operating authority over the local Catholic Charities branch? Each bishops’ authority in this matter varies by diocese. (In the Richmond diocese, Bishop DiLorenzo serves on Catholic Charities’ board of directors.)

– What could the bishop have done to prevent the abortion? Granted, the diocesan lawyer declined to elaborate on this question, but the Times should have given readers more information. What do other church authorities or experts have to say about this matter?

– How far in advance did the bishop know about the planned abortion and did he know that the teenage foster child in question was going to abort her child? Both questions affect the reader’s impression of the bishop’s lack of response.

– The bishop’s spokesman said that the bishop is “very apologetic about the whole episode.” If the bishop could have done nothing to stop the unborn child from being killed, why is he apologetic?

No doubt the Times had limited space and wanted to publish the story as soon as possible. But should those considerations outweigh impugning the bishop’s name? In an important story such as this one, I say no.

Please confine your comments to the discussion at hand. All others will be treated with extreme prejudice.

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  • Corban

    OT here but I wanted to catch your attention – I hope you will come back to the GAFCON story soon, as there is an enormous amount of spinning going on in the press about this, including the invention of names like ‘FOCA’ by the UK Guardian and all sorts of unsubstantiated rumors – a case of the press wanting to create the news rather than report it. Also interesting that the religion corrspondent for the Guardian is a young Muslim woman called Riazat Butt who repeats all the liberal shibboleths about gays and evangelicals (nasty bigots etc) but doesn’t seem to recognize the extreme irony of her own position. (She did mention in one story that she went on hajj and got sexaully assaulted at the Kaaba by pilgrims.) Something for Get Religion to profile?

  • James

    Contraception, a MORTAL sin? I do not think that even the most “orthodox” Catholic is bound to believe this.

  • http://catholidoxy.blogspot.com Irenaeus

    James, I’m not an expert, but there’s a good case to be made that contraception should be considered a mortal sin. The Catechism defines mortal sin this way: “For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: ‘Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent’” (CCC 1857).

    The subjective question would concern whether individuals were acting with full knowledge and deliberate consent, while the objective question (with which we are thus here concerned) would involve whether contracepting is a grave matter.

    Again, the Catechism: “[E]very action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil” (CCC 2370; emphasis mine). “Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means . . . for example, direct sterilization or contraception” (CCC 2399).

    I’m not even Catholic, but this is my read on the situation, FWIW. So it seems the reporter has this right (even if one is initially incredulous; it caught my eye as well).

    My question concerns this, and it’s a small, but significant, point: The reporter writes, “Those who obtain an abortion or help someone else to do so can be excommunicated.” It’s my understanding that abortion incurs an automatic, latae sententiae excommunication. I do think that one can be ‘actively’ excommunicated as well, so perhaps the phrasing isn’t technically wrong.

  • http://catholidoxy.blogspot.com Irenaeus

    [I posted previously, but it seems to have disappeared; apologies if it shows up later.]

    James, there’s a good case to be made that contraception should be considered a mortal sin. The Catechism defines mortal sin this way: “For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: ‘Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent’” (CCC 1857).

    The subjective question would concern whether individuals were acting with full knowledge and deliberate consent, while the objective would concern whether contracepting is a grave matter. Again, the Catechism: “[E]very action which, whether in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil” (CCC 2370). “Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not justify recourse to morally unacceptable means . . . for example, direct sterilization or contraception” (CCC 2399). So it seems the reporter is right.

    The question I had concerns this line: “Those who obtain an abortion or help someone else to do so can be excommunicated.” My understanding that an abortion in this case would be automatic, a latae sententiae excommunication.

  • FW Ken

    James, the previous GetReligion thread (linked above) included a helpful discussion of the term “mortal sin” and it’s use in journalism. It’s worth reading.

  • Ptrick

    I know Catholic teaching pretty well and was always taught that contraception is a mortal sin. Pope Paul’s Humanae vitae really made it quite clear back in 1968. I think part of the confusion, though, is that many Catholics now side-step the issue or avoid the whole idea of mortal sin.

    To the point, however, I must say I hate it when I read a news stories like this that leads to more questions than are actually answered. … and I especially hate it when comment is refused because of “pending or possible litigation.”

  • http://andalsowithyou.blogspot.com franksta

    Yes and no, James. It would have been better stated as “artificial birth control,” not “contraception,” to distinguish licit family planning methods (such as NFP) from barrier methods of contraception. And even then, it can only be stated that it is “grave matter,” not definitively mortal sin, because that also requires full knowledge and willful consent, which can only be judged internally. So, these are theological matters WAY beyond the scope of Julia’s piece. But I think she did a fine job addressing that, and more importantly, the abortion issue, given her space limitations. Perhaps it’s not enough that she addressed those things better than most any other religion reporter around, but it is noteworthy, Mark’s considerations notwithstanding.

  • Patrick

    I humbly defer my post above to the excellent discussion of mortal sin in the previous post, as mentioned by FW Ken while I was typing.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mark Stricherz

    This is not the forum to discuss whether contraception is a mortal sin. Be warned: I will delete all future replies about that topic.

  • Francis X. Maier

    As Mark rightly notes, dioceses’ relationships with their Catholic Charities organizations are often complicated. Catholic Charities is usually a separate civil corporation and juridic person, with varying degrees of real control by the local bishop and legal obligations connected to administering government funds. This is exactly why the Archdiocese of San Francisco lost in state court on the issue of CC providing unCatholic services. Appropriate CC autonomy tends to drift into real independence, where the “Catholic” label means little or nothing. Thus, more bishops are now trying to draw CC more closely into diocesan operations and exercise more direct influence on CC personnel and procedures. Automatically blaming the bishop in this case is premature. More needs to be known.

  • Peggy

    I certainly thought that the article raised more questions, though we learned that the bishop knew ahead of time–and apparently did NOTHING to stop the abortion. The situation is just mind-boggling. How did this happen! I don’t know that one can fault the reporter if the diocese is dissembling and hardly forthright on this topic.

  • http://catholidoxy.blogspot.com Irenaeus

    “This is not the forum to discuss whether contraception is a mortal sin. Be warned: I will delete all future replies about that topic.”

    Um, Mark, I like that you take charge of the comboxes, but (1) the story claims that that is Catholic doctrine; and (2) a comment above questions that. Thus, it seems the issue bears on the reporting (QED:))

    Is that why my earlier comments weren’t posted? I did spend some significant time researching the issue.

  • Brian Walden

    I’d like to see reporting that gives a clear timeline of all the events and questions why things happened when they did. Even if we concede that the Bishop may have indeed been given misinformation that led him to believe there was absolutely nothing he could do to prevent the abortion, there’s a whole lot of months to account for between January 18 and today (not to mention examining the events leading up to the abortion beginning with installing a contraceptive device two months prior). It seems to me that the bishop’s actions have always been reactionary to save face rather than pro-active to achieve justice. I’m incredibly repulsed by it.

  • http://catholidoxy.blogspot.com Irenaeus

    Here’s a question that I think bears on the reporting. The reporter writes, “Those who obtain an abortion or help someone else to do so can be excommunicated.” I always thought that this situation incurred automatic, latae sententiae excommunication. Should the reporter have clarified this? Is the sentence wrong, or given that one can also be formally, explicitly, publicly excommunicated, is it accurate enough?

  • Francis X. Maier

    It’s only mind-boggling to people who put their Catholic convictions and identity first (which is as it should be). But this is the weird fruit of 40 years of downplaying Catholic institutional witness in the name of being inclusive, ecumenical, cooperative — pick your adjective. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with any of those adjectives, properly understood and lived. But in practice, they often provide cover for what B16 called “quiet apostasy” when he was here in April.

    Re the bishop: Circumstances like this one are almost always more complicated than they appear. It’s unwise to judge him too quickly or harshly.

  • Brian Walden

    Francis Maier,

    I admit I look at things simply, but for the good of all the faithful who are entrusted to him I can’t see any reason why the Bishop shouldn’t have made this public (without revealing the identities of the individuals involved) as soon as he received confirmation it actually happened. If there are lawsuits in play involving employees and/or volunteers of Catholic Charities, the bishop should be helping the authorities if he knows the people involved are in fact guilty of breaking the law. What worth is money in a potential lawsuit compared to all the souls who will be scandalized and possibly lost because of the way this incident has been handled. A baby is dead, a girl is wounded, several people have put their souls in incredible danger – how many more must be sacrificed so that the bishop and the diocese can save face and possibly money?

  • Matt

    Mark, I think you are too hard on Duin. She did answer the question of when the bishop knew. It was the day before the abortion took place. She did not imply that he could have prevented the action, though surely he could have at least told the director that this was wrong. I see no basis for your accusation that Duin “impugned the bishop’s name”; she simply reported the facts to which she had access.

    I also object to your prejudicial language (e.g., “…the employees’ decision to let the teenager have her unborn infant killed”) when that is not an agree-upon viewpoint (I am purposely not stating my own opinion on abortion). Would such language pass the AP Stylebook? I understand and applaud your own Catholic convictions on this matter, but shouldn’t a media critic be even more scrupulous than the media in what he says?

  • http://ontheotherfoot.blogspot.com Joel

    This is kind of a side question, but the story says that the girl was Guatemalan, but also quotes the CC people as saying she wasn’t Catholic. Wikipedia shows a 50-60 percent Catholic population in Guatemala, with the large minority Pentecostal or “Evangelical” Protestants (which also tend to frown on abortion). Is the story implying that she had no religious issues with abortion?

  • Susan Peterson

    I think a real bishop would have demanded where the girl lived, got his driver to drive him there, and told the girl and the foster parents that on no account would an abortion be done while the girl was in foster care under the aegis of Catholic Charities. He would of course have offered all the financial help needed, counseling etc. Then he would have demanded the home numbers of all the involved employees, summoned them to a meeting, and told them in no uncertain terms that they were fired for their involvment either in fitting the girl with a contraceptive device or facilitating the abortion,or both. Then he should have summoned the person in charge of Catholic Charities there, found out if he knew his staff was involved in contraception and abortion, fired him if he did know, and if he denied it, warned him that there would be an investigation and he would be fired if it came out that he did know, warned him that such things must NEVER happen again.

    It doesn’t matter if the GIRL had no religious objections to abortion or contraception. A Catholic institution cannot provide or facilitate something which is immoral, whether or not its client’s think it is immoral. The Catholic hospital I worked for would not dispense contraceptives from its pharmacy, pay for contraception, abortion, or sterilization in its insurance policies. The maternity ward could not talk to people about contraception as part of the discharge plan. (I think some nurses probably violated this, but it wasn’t official.) When a woman in the hospital for other reasons discovered she was pregnant, and a doctor told her if she wanted an abortion she could go to X hospital after discharge, he was reprimanded for referring for abortion. That is how a Catholic institution is supposed to act.
    Susan Peterson

  • Martha

    Sounds messy all round. I’d like to know what the procedure would be for a non-religious foster agency/social services; suppose this was the state social services in charge, and the girl had gotten pregnant, would this still apply?

    Yes, I suppose it would, if we’re talking about breach of a parental consent law.

    I get the strong impression that a lot of legal “what-iffing” went on here; maybe the CC employees decided that if they refused to help her get an abortion, she might go ahead with a legal case against them.

    Would that be possible? if she was fitted with a contraceptive device, does that mean it is legally permissible for a minor to be sexually active? Even one in foster care?

    The more this story is covered, the more questions seem to arise.

  • Thomas A. Szyszkiewicz

    Fran, to answer your question, Julia Duin had reported earlier that Bishop DiLorenzo chairs the board of Catholic Charities in his diocese. So it’s not like in some other dioceses where the bishop is an honorary figurehead. Susan Peterson’s descriptor of what should have happened was perfect. And Fran, you know as well as I that bishops like your own good Archbishop Chaput and Burke and Bruskevitz would have taken whatever action was necessary to prevent the taking of a human life. And while we know that these things can be quite complicated, there is a remarkable simplicity about this story: DiLorenzo knew and was easily duped into thinking there was nothing he could do.

    Matt, Mark has addressed the “prejudicial language” issue you raised in the previous post on this story. As he stated there, this is a blog, not the AP or a newspaper. He is allowed to let his opinions show, especially since his opinions are formed by the facts.

    Bishop DiLorenzo addressed the situation in his column in The Catholic Virginian. Can’t say it sheds a whole lot of light. In fact, far more than Julia’s article is alleged to have done, this one raises many more questions than it answers.

  • Brian Walden

    Thomas, thanks for the link to Bishop DiLorenzo’s letter:

    Finally, I express my profound apology for the loss of the life of one of the most vulnerable among us, and I apologize for the profound embarrassment this has caused the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, and Catholics throughout the United States.

    I would have liked to see him take some responsibility for this. Actually I would have liked him to take full responsibility for reforming both Catholic Charities of Richmond and the way the diocese handles scandals. Instead he issued your typical political apology – apologize for the situation but don’t admit that you did anything wrong. I might have found this apology acceptable in January, but not in July. Maybe I’m naive, but I expect more from a Bishop.

  • http://commonsensepoliticalthought.com Dana

    Re; Irenaeus’ comment, he is exactly correct. Canon 1398 reads, very simply:

    Can. 1398 A person who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae excommunication.

    Not “may incur,” but “incurs.”

  • Julia

    decision to let the teenager have her unborn infant killed”) when that is not an agree-upon viewpoint

    In law school we were taught that “killing” is a purely descriptive term. Whether the killing is morally or legally culpable is a different matter. For instance, it’s possible to kill somebody in self-defense which is neither morally nor legally culpable.

  • Dave2

    Julia wrote:

    In law school we were taught that “killing” is a purely descriptive term. Whether the killing is morally or legally culpable is a different matter. For instance, it’s possible to kill somebody in self-defense which is neither morally nor legally culpable.

    I suspect Matt is objecting to the term ‘unborn infant’. For all we know about this case, it might have been an embryo so early it hadn’t even undergone cellular differentiation yet. Calling that an ‘infant’ is clearly prejudicial language.

  • Matt

    [T]his is a blog, not the AP or a newspaper. He is allowed to let his opinions show…

    Of course Mark can say what he likes. I guess it comes down to what kind of blog this is supposed to be. Whether or not abortion is “killing infants” is completely immaterial to the point of Mark’s post. It seems to me that, if you want to be effective as a media critic, you should express yourself in such terms that a person with a completely different view of abortion could read it and absorb your main point without being turned off by what comes across as polemical langauge.

    But you’re right. It’s up to Mark and the other GR writers to decide what kind of blog this is.

  • Brian Walden

    For all we know about this case, it might have been an embryo so early it hadn’t even undergone cellular differentiation yet. Calling that an ‘infant’ is clearly prejudicial language.

    For all we know the child might have already undergone cellular differentation. The fact is, we don’t know and I doubt anyone is going to say. What term do you suggest we use for the thing that is aborted when we don’t know what stage of development it was in?

  • Dave2

    Brian Walden wrote:

    For all we know the child might have already undergone cellular differentation. The fact is, we don’t know and I doubt anyone is going to say. What term do you suggest we use for the thing that is aborted when we don’t know what stage of development it was in?

    People standardly use the disjunctive term “fetus or embryo”. Then Mark’s sentence would simply read, “If the bishop could have done nothing to stop the fetus or embryo from being killed, why is he apologetic?”

    Then we can follow common usage in reserving the word ‘infant’ for newborns and toddlers.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mark Stricherz

    Brian Walden writes,

    For all we know the child might have already undergone cellular differentation. The fact is, we don’t know and I doubt anyone is going to say. What term do you suggest we use for the thing that is aborted when we don’t know what stage of development it was in?

    An unborn infant is human and therefore is a subject not an object. Referring to unborn offspring as “it” might be judicious politically, but it’s technically inaccurate; I don’t imagine he calls a male or female toddler “it.” For more on this, see my comments below.

    Dave 2 writes,

    I suspect Matt is objecting to the term ‘unborn infant’. For all we know about this case, it might have been an embryo so early it hadn’t even undergone cellular differentiation yet. Calling that an ‘infant’ is clearly prejudicial language.

    I submit that the term unborn infant is not prejudicial at all. It acknowledges a scientific truth: an unborn infant is human. For example, Dave 2 was a member of the human species when he was inside his mother’s womb and now that he is outside it.

    Here’s my problem with the terms embryo and fetus: they do no more than imply that the unborn infant is human. So too does the term “neonate,” the scientific definition of an infant in his or her first month. Both terms are somewhat dehumanizing.

    For what it’s worth, Wikipedia’s definition of infant supports my argument:

    In basic English usage, an infant is defined as a human child at the youngest stage of life, specifically before they can walk and generally before the age of one[1] (see also child and adolescent).

    The term “infant” derives from the Latin word in-fans, meaning “unable to speak.” There is no exact definition for infancy. “Infant” is also a legal term with the meaning of minor;[2] that is, any child under the age of legal adulthood.

    A human infant less than a month old is a newborn infant or a neonate.[3]

  • Dave

    Mark writes:

    Here’s my problem with the terms embryo and fetus: they do no more than imply that the unborn infant is human. So too does the term “neonate,” the scientific definition of an infant in his or her first month. Both terms are somewhat dehumanizing.

    These terms aren’t inherently dehumanizing; they’re precise.

    I think I see in your comments along this line, Mark, a perception that the pro-abortion-rights side of this debate is making rhetorical points with ordinary language, but I find no perception on your part that the anti-abortion side is doing the same thing. As another commentator said, if you want to persuade those not already convinced, you must be mindful of your own language.

  • http://www.getreligion.org Mark Stricherz

    Dave 2 writes,

    I think I see in your comments along this line, Mark, a perception that the pro-abortion-rights side of this debate is making rhetorical points with ordinary language, but I find no perception on your part that the anti-abortion side is doing the same thing …

    If anybody besides the World Bank used the term “neonate,” I might agree with your argument. But let’s call a spade a spade. Pro-choicers refer to unborn offspring as “fetus” and “embryo” because they either don’t know that the terms refer to humans or are attempting to mislead or confuse others about their humanity.

  • Brian Walden

    People standardly use the disjunctive term “fetus or embryo”.

    Yeah, I hear mothers say all the time that their fetus just kicked?

  • Dave

    Mark, that wasn’t Dave2, it was just plain Dave.

    OK, let’s call a spade a space. Anti-abortion folks use terms like “killing her unborn child” for shock value. If you are going to use inflammatory rhetoric at least own it.

    Brian, I applaud the mother who says her baby just kicked. That means she has bonded while it’s still in utero. But that doesn’t make it any less a fetus.

  • Dave

    BTW, every hospital with intensive care for newborns calls it the NICU — neonatal intensive care unit. If one’s kid needs the NICU one is unlikely to care what it’s called.

  • Brian Walden

    Brian, I applaud the mother who says her baby just kicked. That means she has bonded while it’s still in utero. But that doesn’t make it any less a fetus.

    Dave, you’re right, and being a fetus doesn’t make a baby any less a baby. Didn’t your middle school science teacher teach you that a tadpole is a frog. In the same way, the smallest human embryo is a human just as the smallest newborn is a human.

    What does owning it mean? Killing a human embryo or fetus is killing a child. If owning it means professing it, I do. Ask any biologist. She’s a living human. Normal people commonly call young humans children or babies or infants. I’m not saying you can’t call an unborn baby a fetus, just don’t get all worked up when people who respect that fetus’ basic human dignity call her by more endearing terms.

  • Dave

    Brian, my junior high school science teacher taught me that a tadpole becomes a frog. I don’t object to calling a fetus an unborn baby, but don’t try to tell me that term isn’t being used in a propagandistic or inflammatory way when it obviously is.

    I’ll also underscore a point made on another thread: When you address someone who doesn’t agree with you about abortion generally to convince that person of one point about the subject, it’s unwise to use language that gets in the way of persuasion.

  • Dave2

    Mark Stricherz wrote:

    An unborn infant is human and therefore is a subject not an object.

    You must know that this inference is a matter of enormous controversy. I, for one, would find it quite bizarre to refer to a Homo sapiens newborn with anencephaly as a “subject not an object”.

    I submit that the term unborn infant is not prejudicial at all. It acknowledges a scientific truth: an unborn infant is human. For example, Dave 2 was a member of the human species when he was inside his mother’s womb and now that he is outside it.

    Matters of biological classification are not in dispute and do not require linguistic buttressing. The problem with the term ‘infant’ can be clearly seen by recalling the term ‘infanticide’. Pro-lifers typically hold (with some exceptions) that abortion is tantamount to infanticide. Pro-choicers typically hold (with some exceptions) that abortion should be legal and that infanticide should not be legal. By using the term ‘infant’ to pick out the aborted fetus or embryo, one takes sides in this dispute.

    I don’t mean to suggest that this is the only way of seeing what is wrong with the term ‘infant’ in this context. Indeed, I think that any native English speaker should be able to see the problem without my assistance. But if this explanation doesn’t help, please let me know and I’ll try again.

    Here’s my problem with the terms embryo and fetus: they do no more than imply that the unborn infant is human. So too does the term “neonate,” the scientific definition of an infant in his or her first month. Both terms are somewhat dehumanizing.

    The term ‘neonate’ is beside the point when it comes to abortion, but ‘newborn’ provides a nice Anglo-Saxon substitute. If your problem with ‘embryo’ and ‘fetus’ is that they are not reserved for humans (one can speak quite naturally of a dog fetus or chicken embryo), then you should also have a problem with ‘newborn’ (mother cats lick their newborn kittens clean). Or if your problem is that they are Latinate medical terms, then you should also have a problem with ‘abortion’.

    The terms are, in any case, good enough for the United States Supreme Court, even in the pro-life dissenting opinions. And, whatever their problems, they have an advantage over ‘infant’ in that they are not obviously completely outrageously inappropriate.

    For what it’s worth, Wikipedia’s definition of infant supports my argument:

    It most certainly does not. You even quoted it as saying: “A human infant less than a month old is a newborn infant or a neonate”. If the term ‘infant’ applied to fetuses and embryos, then since fetuses and embryos are less than a month old, it would follow that they are newborn infants or neonates, which is absurd. Therefore Wikipedia’s definition of ‘infant’ is inconsistent with your usage of it to refer to fetuses and embryos.

  • Dave2

    Mark Stricherz wrote:

    If anybody besides the World Bank used the term “neonate,” I might agree with your argument. But let’s call a spade a spade. Pro-choicers refer to unborn offspring as “fetus” and “embryo” because they either don’t know that the terms refer to humans or are attempting to mislead or confuse others about their humanity.

    At this point, Mark, you are acting the fool. Let’s look at your claim. Let’s make your claim quite clear.

    Your claim is that pro-choicers use the terms ‘embryo’ and ‘fetus’ because they are either (i) ignorant, or (ii) dishonest.

    That’s your claim.

    You ought to be ashamed of yourself.

  • Bruce

    I believe that the latae sententiae excommunication only applies to Latin Rite Catholics. IIRC, the Code of Canon Law governing Eastern Church Catholics does not contain the provisions regarding excommunication latae sententiae. However, I might be wrong and this is certainly not my field.


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