Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"It's complicated"

Here are some questions from anonymous bloggers:

1) “Recently, someone told me they stopped going to Mass b/c they voted for a pro-abortion candidate. They said that someone told them their actions had excommunicated themselves from the church and, until someone (from the church) told them otherwise, they weren't going back. I didn't quite know what to say to that but thought I'd pass it along.”

First, it depends on why they voted for a pro-abortion candidate and what they knew. If they did so because of the candidate’s pro-abortion views and with the knowledge that these views were in opposition to Church teaching, then they are correct that they excommunicated themselves from the Church. In other words, they committed a mortal sin. But, if they voted for such a candidate for reasons other than their pro-abortion views or didn’t have sufficient knowledge that the candidate’s pro-abortion views were opposed to the Church’s views on life, then they didn’t commit a mortal sin.

Second, please tell your friend that they simply need to go to Confession to clear this up. If there’s any question in their mind about whether they committed a mortal sin by voting for a pro-abortion candidate, then they should confess it. It sounds to me like their conscience has kicked in and is telling them that there is a problem. Whenever that happens, the person should resolve the problem in the sacrament of Reconciliation. But it’s an especially helpful solution in this situation because of any confusion with all of the different statements from priests or bishops that have been in the media since the election. Whenever someone commits a mortal sin, they excommunicate themselves; Confession forgives mortal sin and brings the person back into the Church.

2) “Science seems to be moving ahead faster than most can catch up. So, it’s good to be reminded of, and for some introduced to, the church’s positions. However, there are still dilemmas for which the church doesn’t offer guidance. I still am unclear- once (the) embryos are created via scientific means, does Rome have a definitive position on what should be done with them, or is the issue left up to the individual conferences of bishops to react to issues as legislation is introduced in their regions?”

My post on 11/14/08, “Frozen Embryos: Children on Hold”, addresses this. The write-up by Archbishop O’Malley presents a good understanding on why the Magisterium hasn’t given a definitive statement on what to do with the embryos. As the cliché goes, ‘it’s complicated’.

3) “Does the following comment give us something to contemplate? ‘I hope that when the Bishops do decide to discuss the stem cell issue that they will inform themselves more of the observations of scientists and embryologists than to simply rely on what they believe are truisms’”.

Answer by another Anon: “I don’t understand the point the author is making. The Bishops aren’t wrong about embryonic stem cell research. The embryos aren’t left untouched and they aren’t given the opportunity to develop to their full potential- no scientist or embryologist will dispute that. Since the church teaches that life begins at conception, and Catholics accept this teaching as truth, what other position could the church possible have other than to say that embryonic stem cell research is wrong? There is no misunderstood science here.”


At 12:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

“It sounds to me like their conscience has kicked in and is telling them that there is a problem. Whenever that happens, the person should resolve the problem in the sacrament of Reconciliation.”

Conscience is a gift, though maybe some see it as a curse. Mine drives me crazy, more now than it used to. I used to be able to set a lot aside and operate as normal. Sometimes I still can (and do) but not for the span of times I once did. I have a feeling that’s what’s happening with my friend and the voting issue. Someone told me that the "noise" is a gift of grace. I don’t know, but the fact that we have a conscience proves that there aren’t any atheists or agnostics in the world, in the truest sense. A person may live like there is no God, but inside he knows something about Him.

At 2:22 PM, Blogger fran said...

"How is it that contemporary American liberalism became indifferent to the weakest members of the human community?"

Micahel Gerson on Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, "Apostle of Life" today's Washington Post.

At 2:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When it comes to the concept of stem cell research, I can’t help but wonder if one of the problems is the general population’s lack understanding on the sources from which stem cells are obtained. Simply put, not all stem cell used for research are gathered from an embryo, at the expense of the development of that embryo. Blood cells collected from the cord blood of an infant just delivered provide an immense sample of stem cells, cells which help scientists find cures for illnesses.

Then, factor in the following statement, and I can see why, as the cliché goes, stem cell research is a complicated issue.

Sagan, Carl. "Is it Possible to be both 'Pro-life' and 'Pro-Choice?'” in Billions and Billions (Ballantine 1997): "Despite many claims to the contrary, life does not begin at conception: It is an unbroken chain that stretches back nearly to the origin of the Earth, 4.6 billion years ago. Nor does human life begin at conception: It is an unbroken chain dating back to the origin of our species, hundreds of thousands of years ago. Every human sperm and egg is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, alive. They are not human beings, of course. However, it could be argued that neither is a fertilized egg." (Emphasis as in original.)

At 9:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The church supports the methods of stem cell research that do not involve the creation and destruction of embryos. It's a known fact. For reason I do not understand, however, it is a better known misfact that the church does not support stem cell research, when it is only the narrow vein of embryonic stem cell research they do not support.

At 9:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a question-
A popular Catholic statement is often about “carrying one’s cross.” We also say things like, “God never gives us more than we can bear.” How do we reconcile these statements with the fact that Simon carried Jesus’ cross when he could not?

I’m overwhelmed and can’t “carry” one more thing. Maybe the devout would say that Jesus is my Simon, but I really don’t understand how to go about letting him lessen my load. Suggestions would be appreciated; right now I’m feeling like my cross is more than I can bear.

At 11:21 PM, Blogger fran said...

"Every human sperm and egg is, beyond a shadow of a doubt, alive. They are not human beings, of course. However it could be argued that neither is a fertilized egg."

An excellent article from the National Catholic Bioethics Center discusses this, and why it is illogical.

Go to www.ncbcenter.org/making sense.asp, and click on "Acorns and Embryos," May 1, 2007

At 9:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also cannot believe that God does not give us more than we can bear. People commit suicide. They lose their lives to addiction. There are so many broken people in the world who are beyond help. I have such people in my family. Maybe some return to the land of the living by the grace of God, but most do not. Sometimes religious beliefs sound like fairy tales to me.

At 4:18 PM, Anonymous Mark said...

No one is beyond help or hope.

At 11:25 PM, Blogger fran said...

Thoughts on carrying one's cross:

It isn't that Simon could not carry Jesus' cross. The gospels say that Simon was "pressed into service," and that he was "made to" carry it. So, it seems that maybe he could have carried it, probably could have carried it, but did not want to.

Is this the way we approach our crosses in life? I wonder...
I think anon9:59 is right. Jesus is our Simon. He not only carries our cross, but he carries us along with it.

And to that same anon, for me, prayer is the answer.

On religious beliefs being fairy tales: Jesus + eternity = happily ever after.

At 11:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I hear homilists talk about God not giving us more than we can bear, it doesn’t make sense- if we believe that God doesn’t CAUSE our problems. Maybe I’m wrong, and maybe the phrase comes from somewhere else, but the verse from Corinthians seems like it’s misinterpreted. The verse from Cor. is about the fact that God always gives us the ability to manage our problems and/or escape them. Somehow, the meaning in that verse seems to have evolved from allowing temptation to giving burden.

We always have some kind of an out for our trails- maybe it’s walking away from a situation or maybe it’s an attitude adjustment. In particular to what the anon 9:13 stated, those suffering from addiction can choose treatment. Those suffering from depression can seek psychiatric help. I think the reality in dealing with our trials is that we aren’t meant to handle them alone. We aren’t meant to stand there alone, do nothing and suffer.

I’ve been struggling and feeling like a failure because I buckled under the weight of everything. I’m not proud of how I behaved under pressure. So when I hear the words, “God won’t give you more than you can bear,” I want to scream! Right now, I can’t handle the weight of everything in my life, but haven’t sought the counsel of others. I haven’t asked others to pray for me. I haven’t asked anyone to listen. I can’t handle the weight of everything in my life…alone.

At 1:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


God didnt mean for us to do it alone, if he had there would be no church community and no faith.

praying for you.


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