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Evangelium Vitae

(The Gospel of Life)

Encyclical Letter by the Supreme Pontiff JOHN PAUL II on the Value and Inviolability of Human Life 25 March 1995

Some historical notes

-48,000-word (11th) encyclical issued on 25 March 1995, Feast of the Annunciation, on the 17th year of JP II s pontificate. -A response to the proceedings of the plenary meeting of College of Cardinals held from April 4-7, 1991 to discuss threats to the dignity of human life ( Cf EV #5). -The Cardinals, recognizing the threat, asked the Pope, to give an authoritative voice and expression to the Church s magisterium in regard to the dignity of human life.

Veritatis Splendor ( The Splendor of Truth, 1993) -presented the process of moral analysis -the why and how of moral decision-making Evangelium Vitae ( The Gospel of Life) -teaches us of the what of moral decision-making -direct and voluntary killing of the innocent, abortion, euthanasia, manipulation of life are gravely immoral acts.


Outline of the Document

Chapter 1: THE VOICE OF YOUR BROTHERS BLOOD CRIES TO ME FROM THE GROUND - a reflection on the murder of Abel by Cain (Gen. 4) - present-day threats to human life contraception abortion techniques of prenatal diagnosis euthanasia the demographic question capital punishment

Chapter II: I CAME THAT THEY MAY HAVE LIFE - a Christian message concerning life - the Paschal mystery as paradigm for fullness of life - the notion of quality of life - human life as essentially ordered to eternal life - death as even a passage towards fullness of life Chapter III: YOU SHALL NOT KILL - the culture of death - abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, etc - legal law vis--vis natural moral law

Chapter IV: YOU DID IT TO ME -For a new culture of human life -The collective duty to promote a culture of life -The culture of life promoters -Bishops, priests, theologians, catechists, teachers, health care professionals -The aids to promotion prayer, sacraments, charity, the gift of self -formation of conscience CONCLUSION: MARY as model of culture of life

Today we are witnesses of a true war of the mighty against the weak, a war that looks to the elimination of the disabled, of those who are a nuisance, and even those who are poor and useless in all the moments of existence. With the complicity of states, colossal means have been used against people at the dawn of their life, when their life has been rendered vulnerable by accident or illness, or when they are near death. * The Problem of Threats to Human Life *

Modern Fixation on the Individual

The Right to Privacy

Modern Skepticism: All Opinions are Equal Dictatorship of Relativism

Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)

At the heart of liberty is the right to define one s own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and the mystery of human life.

A Slippery Slope Connection

Griswold vs. the State of Connecticut (1965): legalizes sale of contraceptives Roe vs. Wade (1973): legalizes abortion Compassion in Dying vs. the State of Washington (1996): legalizes assisted suicide Lawrence v. Texas (2003): legalized sodomy

Crimes Against Life: New Rights

In seeking the deepest roots of the struggle between the culture of life and the culture of death, we cannot restrict ourselves to the perverse notion of freedom .We have to go to the heart of the tragedy being experienced by modern man: the eclipse of the sense of God and of man. Evangelium Vitae 21

Foundational Principles
God as ultimate origin and destination of life
And God said, Let us make man in our own image and likeness In his own image He made them. Male and female He created them . (Gen 1:27)

God is the source of everything we HAVE and ARE

Who is the Human Person?

1. Open and relational by nature openness as the logic of life per = to suonare= to sound through 2. Conscious being 3. Embodied spirit 4. Historical reality 5. Unique yet fundamentally equal ( a fitting helper )

The murder of Abel by Cain ( Gen. 4: 2-16) EV chapter 1

1. The prohibition against murder

But God cannot leave the crime unpunished: from the ground on which it has been spilt, the blood of the one murdered demands that God should render justice (cf. Gen 37:26; Is 26:21; Ez 24:7-8). From this text the Church has taken the name of the "sins which cry to God for justice", and, first among them, she has included willful murder Indeed "the blood is the life" (Dt 12:23), and life, especially human life, belongs only to God: for this reason whoever attacks human life, in some way attacks God himself. (EV 9)

2. The prohibition vs conspiracy against life (EV 12) - Abortion ( secular definition) :Deliberate ending of a pregnancy by medical intervention. (But medical personnel will also use this term for a miscarriage, which is involuntary, calling it a "spontaneous abortion.") - Abortion (EV #58 definition) procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing, by whatever means it is carried out, of a human being in the initial phase of his or her existence, extending from conception to birth.

3. The prohibition vs capital punishment (EV 9) - Cain is cursed by God and by the earth (Gen 4:11-12) - And yet, God is merciful in his punishment, put a mark on Cain, lest any who came upon him should kill him (Gen 4:15) - Not even a murderer loses his personal dignity. God himself pledges to guarantee this. The paradoxical mystery of the merciful justice of God is shown forth. ( EV 9, 56)

2. False notion of Freedom (EV 19)

a. Man does not create the truth, he discovers it b. Freedom the power to do/choose what I ought c. License the power to do what I like
The tree of knowledge of good and evil

from within people, from their hearts come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile. (Mk 7:21-22 NAB also 1 Peter 4: 3-5)

Consequences of false freedom ( EV 20)

1. a serious distortion of life in society (EV 20) where natural rights can be overturned by the strong, majority. 2. A society of individuals with no responsibility. Am I my brother s keeper? To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance This is the death of true freedom: "Truly, truly, I say to you, every one who commits sin is a slave to sin (Jn 8:34)(EV 20)

3. The loss of a sense of God (EV 20) a. Cain laments, from your face I shall be hidden (Gen 4:13-14) b. Man no longer sees himself as mysteriously different from all the rest of the animals, reduced to being a thing.
You and me baby, we ain t nothin but mammals so let s do it together, like they do in discovery channel. - from a song by Bloodhound Gang

c. Life itself becomes a mere thing which man claims as his exclusive property, completely subject to his control and manipulation (EV 22)

Consequences of loss of sense man s dignity (EV 23) 1. The notion of Quality of life
quality of life is interpreted primarily or exclusively as economic efficiency, inordinate consumerism, physical beauty and pleasure, to the neglect of the more profound dimensions - interpersonal, spiritual and religious - of existence (EV 23) - Phenomenon of prenatal testing for abortion purposes - Euthanasia or mercy killing

Some people with poor quality of life * *

Consequences of loss of sense man s dignity (EV 23)

Utilitarian and Functionalist Philosophies Speciesism (T. Engelhart, J. Fletcher) - Thou shall not discriminate on the basis of being a member of the human species. It makes a distinction between Human a biological member of the human species Person a self-conscious, free, moral agent. Some are considered non-persons.

Critique of Speciesism
-being a person does not require that here and now one is functioning as an intelligent, free, moral agent. One must simply have the innate power to develop such capacities and to exercise them more effectively under favorable and appropriate conditions. - Fails to distinguish and appreciate the difference between passive potency and active potency.

Critique of Speciesism
Passive potency having the potential to change but somebody/something else gives me the capacity to do that. The capacity is not within the person/thing concerned. Active potency having the potential to change and develop and the capacity is not given by somebody/something else. The capacity is intrinsic and within the person/thing concerned.

2. The misuse/abuse of sexuality, procreation

2. The misuse/abuse of sexuality, procreation

- Wombs for hire - Designer children, children as property , therapeutic cloning - Artificial forms of reproduction: IVF (in vitro fertilization) 3. Confusion of nature of motherhood/fatherhood a. Natural mother d. Nurturing mother g. Genetic/nurturing b. Genetic mother e. Genetic/gestational c. Gestational mother f. Gestational/nurturing

Confusion Galore

Mike Keefe, The Denver Post, 3/26/03

Donum Vitae: Gift of Life


Replacing nature vs. Assisting nature

If the technical means facilitates the conjugal act or helps it to reach its natural objectives, it can be morally acceptable. If, on the other hand, the procedure were to replace the conjugal act, it is morally illicit. (II:6) A medical intervention respects the dignity of persons when it seeks to assist the conjugal act either in order to facilitate its performance or in order to enable it to achieve its objective once it has been normally performed. (II:7)

Assisting Nature
Timing of intercourse Nutrition: e.g., limit alcohol, smoking Stop excessive exercise Hormones Fertility Drugs Surgery Wear loose-fitting boxer shorts

Selective Termination

Excess Embryos

Embryo Adoption

4. The instrumentalization of the human body - I have a body vs I am a body - the commercialization of the body sale of organs Anatomical/physiological integrity - the physical completeness of body parts and organs Functional integrity the capacity of a person to function as an organic whole regardless of the loss of some anatomical parts

4. The instrumentalization of the human body Mutilation (principle of integrity) - the taking away or purposely rendering dysfunctional of a healthily functioning part of the body -safeguards the principle of stewardship Therapeutic surgery (principle of totality) - The justifiable injury or taking away of a diseased or pathological part of the anatomy for the purpose of healing.

The Challenge of Evangelium Vitae Promote the Culture of Life

The New Testament revelation confirms the indisputable recognition of the value of life from its very beginning. (EV 45 Elizabeth and Mary) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word is God. And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:1-3)

The Bible and the Greek word Brephos

-literally means baby Luke 1:41 the baby (brephos) leapt in Elizabeth s womb Luke 2:12,16 and they found the newborn (brephos) Jesus lying in the manger Luke 18:15 and the little children (brephos) were being brought to Jesus

- refers to the same person identity conception, birth, infancy and childhood. - a continuity of the same personal dignity and identity the task of accepting and serving life involves everyone; and this task must be fulfilled above all towards life when it is at its weakest. (EV 43)

To reject the Culture of Death (EV 28) - Abortion - Contraception - Euthanasia - Prenatal diagnosis - Techniques of artificial reproduction - Capital punishment

You Will Be with Me in Paradise

I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. John 11:25-26

Some questions for reflection

1. What feelings were evoked in me as I listen to the presentation? Ano ang aking mga naramdaman habang nakikinig sa panayam? 2. What challenges, if there are, were aroused in me? May mga hamon ba akong naramdaman? 3. What is my attitude, point of view with the concerns raised? Ano ang aking mga pananaw sa mga bagay na pinagusapan? 4. Where/how do I manifest my promotion of the Culture of life? Culture of death? Saan at kailan ko naipapahayag ang kultura ng buhay? Kultura ng kamatayan?