The Pelosi business has occupied much of Catholic blogdom the past few days and is finally making its way into some mainstream media coverage, here and there.
What I want to do in this post is just offer some links to good blog posts elsewhere that are dealing with the theological questions.
Fr. Zuehlsdorf, a patristics expert, has offered good discussions of Augustine
Here is his major blog post on the subject
The importance of the conversation
He also makes the excellent point:
But Augustine also thought that males were vivified at 30 days and females at 90 days.
Does Speaker Pelosi like that position too?
Maureen at Aliens in this World takes a close look at the passage Pelosi cites in Augustine:
Moving closer to the present, Jack Smith at the Catholic Key blog (the blog of the KCMO diocesan paper) looks at the influence of Daniel Maguire and others on the matter:
Daniel C. Maguire is a theologian at Marquette University who has for years proposed that there are valid pro-choice and pro-life “traditions” in the Catholic Church. He argues that one can be in either camp and still be a good Catholic.
An early work of his on this topic was published in 1983 in Christian Century. Therein he states something remarkably close to the Speaker’s view:
“On the other hand, the teachings about abortion contained some remarkable scientific premonitions, including the insight that the early fetus could not have personal status. Said St. Augustine: “The law does not provide that the act [abortion] pertains to homicide. For there cannot yet be said to be a live soul in a body that lacks sensation when it is not formed in flesh and so is not endowed with sense.” As Joseph Donceel, S.J., notes, up until the end of the 18th century “the law of the Roman Catholic Church forbade one to baptize an aborted fetus that showed no human shape or outline.” If it were a personal human being, it would deserve baptism. On the question of a rational soul entering the fetus, Donceel notes that Thomas Aquinas “spoke of six weeks for the male embryo and three months for the female embryo.” In Aquinas’s hylomorphic theory, the matter had to be ready to receive the appropriate form. According to such principles, as Rosemary Ruether points out, “Thomas Aquinas might well have had to place the point of human ensoulment in the last trimester if he had been acquainted with modern embryology.
“If the bishops and other negative absolutists would speak of tradition, let them speak of it in its full ambiguity and subtlety, instead of acting as though the tradition were a simplistic, Platonic negative floating through time untouched by contradiction, nuance or complexity.”
Any other bloggers who have been teasing apart the theological and ecclesiological issues here – let us know.
Update: Carl Olson very able dissects Tim Rutten’s piece in today’s LA Times in which Rutten seeks to enlist John Courtney Murray in the cause.