Is it fair to compare pro-abortion politicians to the ancient Israelites who sacrificed their children to the demon Moloch in the valley of Gehenna outside Jerusalem? Or is the comparison unreasonable and too harsh? Our understanding of the Catholic faith helps us make critical distinctions as we “follow the science.”
When the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, God reconciled himself and sinful man in the Person of Jesus. Jesus is true God and true man, one Person with two natures. The reconciliation reveals the perfect compatibility of faith and reason, religion and science, and grace and nature. Hence, our examination of God’s revelation affirms the dignity of man and God’s creation. Our study of man helps us deepen our understanding of God. Science is the study of God’s handiwork.
President Joe Biden—a professed “devout Catholic”—recently presumed to speak for the Catholic faith with this comment at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland: “Roe says what all basic mainstream religions have historically concluded, that the existence of human life and being is a question. Is it at the moment of conception? Is it six months? Is it six weeks? Is it quickening, like Aquinas argued?” For the president, when human life begins is a religious question, not a scientific one.
Increasingly, politicians like the president distrust science and substitute their beliefs for scientific findings. (Biden even justified abortion as a right granted to us on “child of God” grounds.) So we have men who believe they are women, women who believe they are men, and so on. They see us as heretics when we oppose these strange and surreal beliefs on scientific grounds. They believe that we deserve social opprobrium and even legal sanctions.
Thoughtful Catholics recognize the proper autonomy of scientific studies (see Gaudium et Spes 36). Hence, the faith of Catholics is unaffected by legitimate science (excluding, of course, Frankenstein-like immoral experimentation!). Various scientific theories on the origin of the human species have little or no impact on biblical belief. The essential truths and the beautiful metaphors of the first two chapters of Genesis remain. God is the Creator. We have inestimable dignity.
The Church affirms that life begins at conception because it is a scientific fact. Our personal beliefs apply only when reasonable doubts becloud the science. (The Church’s moral theology addresses the various gradations of a “doubtful conscience.”) Science will never have the competence to answer when God endows an unborn baby with a soul.
The Church’s theological discussion of “ensoulment” depends upon science, but not exclusively. We can reasonably surmise that ensoulment takes place when human life begins. Our faith dovetails with science. We celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation on March 25, when Mary conceived Jesus nine months before Christmas. The timing is not coincidental. The Church accepts that conception and ensoulment are concurrent.
According to Supreme Court leaks, it is likely that the justices will overturn the infamous pro-abortion 1973 ruling Roe v. Wade. The majority argues that the U.S. Constitution does not accommodate the alleged “right” to abortion. Of course, people who read English knew that all along.
The American Declaration of Independence proclaims “that all men are created equal” with self-evident human unalienable rights of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Since the Constitution derives from the Declaration, we can infer that the U.S. Constitution protects the fundamental human rights of every person, born or preborn. Even individual states do not have the constitutional right to take the life of unborn babies with a direct abortion.
Even if the Supreme Court does not affirm the science of an unborn baby’s humanity, for the Court to find that abortion is not a constitutional right will be a decision with political merit. The angst of pro-abortion activists suggests that the Court will take a step in the right direction. State legislatures are far more responsive to their voters, and many states are already limiting the timing and circumstances for abortion. In time, perhaps the Court will follow the science and acknowledge the humanity of unborn babies in judicial rulings.
Those who acknowledge a “right” to abortion reject the scientific evidence of an unborn baby’s humanity and replace the evidence with personal prejudice and belief. Pro-abortion advocates seek to impose their quasi-religious precepts and their distortions of constitutional rights on our laws.
Like President Biden and other abortion advocates, the Jews who offered their children to Moloch’s fires appealed to their personal beliefs (appease the demon)—not science—to justify child sacrifice. But there are significant differences. Today’s abortion advocates find the right to abortion in the “emanations from a penumbra” of the texts of the “living” Constitution. But nobody—not even the renegade Israelites—would twist the words of the Torah to find the right to child sacrifice. The ministers of Moloch were more honest.
President Biden denies Catholic teaching on the dignity of every human person, born or preborn. He also rejects science. The ministers of Moloch had their faults. But denying the humanity of the babies they incinerated was not one of them. Moloch’s fiery consumption of Israelite babies was a trifle compared to the 63 million babies mutilated and dismembered in the U.S. since Roe v. Wade.
Catholics—including priests from the pulpit—are on solid scientific and constitutional ground when they vigorously oppose abortion and the politicians who support it. Science affirms the humanity of a child from the moment of conception. The Declaration of Independence acknowledges the inalienable right to life for every person. The Catholic faith also affirms man’s inestimable dignity. If this be treason, make the most of it! But the secular inquisitors will need to invoke the quasi-theological “experts” they believe and convince jurors to deny the science to secure a conviction.
We do not need to invoke Church teaching to indict the immorality of abortion advocacy. Science and the Declaration of Independence suffice. Nevertheless, the discipline of the Catholic faith—including denial of Communion and even excommunication—may help bring “those who persist in manifest grave sin” (see can. 915) to their senses and God’s good graces.