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 Post subject: Pope Innocent III
PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:09 pm 
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Handmaids of the Lord
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I went to new advent and read their article on Pope Innocent III after my FDL friend sent an article about Pope Innocent III and how he ok'd a monk to have his mistress have an abortion because she wasn't far along in her pregnancy. Of course this proved to them that the Church did not always hold true to abortion as being wrong. Anybody have any insights in Pope Innocent III and this info?
Dawn


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:16 pm 
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Do you have a link to the article, or any other information about it? Who wrote it? Where was it published? What are the author's qualifications? What sources did the author use?

Here's something I found about this, from the anti-Christian, pro-abortion "Religious Tolerance" website:

http://www.religioustolerance.org/abo_hist.htm

Quote:
Pope Innocent III (?-1216) wrote a letter which ruled on a case of a Carthusian monk who had arranged for his female lover to obtain an abortion. The Pope decided that the monk was not guilty of homicide if the fetus was not "animated."

Early in the 13th century, Pope Innocent III stated that the soul enters the body of the fetus at the time of "quickening" - when the woman first feels movement of the fetus. After ensoulment, abortion was equated with murder; before that time, it was a less serious sin, because it terminated only potential human life, not human life.


But since that is a pro-abortion website, it's very likely that they are misrepresenting this incident.

The following discussion seems pretty good -- it mentions Pope Innocent III's actions at the very end of the article, and says it had to do only with canonical penalties for abortion, not the question of whether or not abortion is a grievous sin. Innocent III, like all orthodox Catholic, believed that abortion is a grave evil and never justifiable -- but the question of how the Church's canon law should deal with it is distinct from the question of whether or not abortion is evil:

http://members.aol.com/abtrbng/canonl.htm

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Last edited by Polycarp on Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:22 pm 
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Jedi Master
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I don't know about the incident you describe so can't comment on it. However, the medieval world had only a rudimentary knowledge of biology - they knew nothing about the mechanics of sperm and eggs and fertilization. Therefore, at the time the best thinking was based on agricultural analogies. The man planted a seed that eventually sprouted in the woman. This led theologians to conclude that the child's soul did not enter the woman until sometime after the "planting." Thomas Aquinas and others had various opinions about when ensoulment took place.

Thus, abortion is always wrong and has always been considered to be wrong by the Church. However, we have more detailed and specific knowledge about the biology of the human body than they did.

As a completely irrelevant aside, medievals thought that the male was the perfect human body, and a female body was incomplete and therefore something must have gone wrong in the process of formation. A female was something of a misbegotten male. Aquinas, who knew the best science of his age, opined that perhaps women were the result of an improvident "moist south wind" at a crucial time of development. Remember the crude agricultural analogy, and it makes sense. Now, the question for us is, do we have the humility to believe that in 800 years our science will seem as crude to the people of the year 2800 as the science of 1250 seems to us.


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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 3:24 pm 
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I found this at http://members.aol.com/abtrbng/canonl.htm:

From the earliest days of the Church, men who had shed human blood, no matter how justifiable or blameless the act may have been, were excluded from entering the priesthood (e.g., Decretum Gratiani by Pope Innocent I in the year 404). This traditionally embraced abortion as a form of homicide. However, in 1211, Pope Innocent III issued the decree Sicut ex, which limited the irregularity incurred from abortion to abortions involving a fetus that was not "animated" or "ensouled." This exception was subsequently abrogated as both of the modern codes have provisions that apply to all abortions (can. 985, §4 in the 1917 Code, and can.1041, 4° in the 1983 Code).




How accurate it is I have no idea.

Elsewhere I found that the letter in question, in contrast to the anti-catholic assertion that it was "permission" to get an abortion, was in fact a ruling on what had already taken place., and concerned the question of quickening. But again, nothing solid to go on.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 08, 2005 4:25 pm 
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Abortion is specifically mentioned as prohibited in the Didache which is the oldest writing of the Church. It is, or so I understand, writings of the Apostles or earliest Church Fathers.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 09, 2005 8:20 am 
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I trust that no one here is defending abortion. The only question is what was the knowledge of the people at the time about 'ensoulment' and how abortion was dealt with.


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