SCDF: November 18, 1974


Declaratio de abortu procurato: SACRED CONGREGATION for the DOCTRINE of the FAITH

Nov. 18, 1974 AAS 66 (1974) 730-747; OR 25/26.12.1974, 1-2;






I. Prooemium





1. The problem of procured abortion and of its possible legal liberalization has become more or less everywhere the subject of impassioned discussions. These debates would be less grave were it not a question of human life, a primordial value, which must be protected and promoted. Everyone understands this, although many look for reasons, even against all evidence, to promote the use of abortion.

1. Quaestio de abortu procurato deque lege quae abortus libertatem forte concedat, fere ubique acrium disceptationum argumentum evasit. Quae disceptationes minoris gravitatis profecto essent, si de vitae humanae causa non ageretur, quae primordiale bonum est, necessario tuendum ac promovendum. Id cuique patet, quamquam multi rationes quaerere conantur, ut, contra manifestam rei veritatem, etiam abortus huic causae inservire possit.

  One cannot but be astonished to see[:]

[1] a simultaneous increase of unqualified protests against the death penalty and every form of war and

[2] the vindication of the liberalization of abortion, either in its entirety or in ever broader indications.

The Church is too conscious of the fact that it belongs to her vocation to defend man against everything that could disintegrate or lessen his dignity to remain silent on such a topic.

Ac mirum non videri non potest, quod dum ex una parte gliscere cernimus apertam reclamationem adversus poenam capitis et quodlibet belli genus, ex altera vero parte animadvertimus magis magisque abortus libertatem vindicari, sive absolutam sive certis limitibus circumscriptam, qui quidem laxiores usque fiunt. Ecclesia autem, utpote quae plane sit conscia ad muneris sui partes pertinere hominis defensionem contra ea omnia, quae ilium destruere vel dehonestare possint, hanc quaestionem silentio praeterire nequit :
     Because the Son of God became man, there is no man who is not His brother in humanity and who is not called to become a Christian in order to receive salvation from Him. cum Dei Filius homo factus sit, iam nemo est, qui, ob communem naturam humanam, frater eius non sit, nec vocetur ut christianus fiat, ad salutem ab ipso accipiendam.





2. In many countries the public authorities which resist the liberalization of abortion laws are the object of powerful pressures aimed at leading them to this goal. This, it is said, would violate no one’s conscience, for each individual would be left free to follow his own opinion, while being prevented from imposing it on others. Ethical pluralism is claimed to be a normal consequence of ideological pluralism. There is, however, a great difference between the one and the other, for action affects the interests of others more quickly than does mere opinion. Moreover, one can never claim freedom of opinion as a pretext for attacking the rights of others, most especially the right to life.

2. Apud plures Nationes, publicae auctoritates quae renituntur libertati abortus lege sanciendae, vehementibus sollicitationibus premuntur, ut ad hoc faciendum inducantur : id dicitur nullius violare conscientiam, cum suam cuique sequendi sententiam libertas relinquatur, atque impediatur nequis propriam aliis imponat. « Pluralismus ethicus » vindicatur, quasi hic e « pluralismo ideologico » suapte natura consequatur. At de rebus agitur, quae inter se magnopere differunt, quia actiones citius quam merae opiniones alios attingunt in iis, quae ad ipsos pertinent, et quia numquam alicui fas est ad opinandi libertatem appellare, ut aliena iura laedat, maxime autem ius ad vitam.





3. Numerous Christian lay people, especially doctors, but also parents’ associations, statesmen, or leading figures in posts of responsibility have vigorously reacted against this propaganda campaign. Above all, many episcopal conferences and many bishops acting in their own name have judged it opportune to recall very strongly the traditional doctrine of the Church.[1] With a striking convergence these documents admirably emphasize an attitude of respect for life which is at the same time human and Christian. Nevertheless, it has happened that several of these documents here or there have encountered reservation or even opposition.

3. Plures laici christiani homines, medici praesertim, atque etiam patrum matrumque familias consociationes, viri in re politica versati vel gravibus officiis fungentes, adversus huius opinionis motum consulto excitatum fortiter obstiterunt. Potissimum autem plures Conferentiae Episcopales, nec non Episcopi nomine proprio, opportunum duxerunt de tradita Ecclesiae doctrina sine ulla ambiguitate fideles commonere.1 Haec documenta, quorum mira est concordia, praeclara in luce collocant observantiam, quae secundum naturam humanam et doctrinam christianam, humanae vitae debetur. Nihilominus fieri contigit, ut eorum plura, hic illic, non sine quadam reticentia reciperentur ac vel etiam prorsus recusarentur.





4. Charged with the promotion and the defense of faith and morals in the universal Church,[2] the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith proposes to recall this teaching in its essential aspects to all the faithful. Thus in showing the unity of the Church, it will confirm by the authority proper to the Holy See what the bishops have opportunely undertaken. It hopes that all the faithful, including those who might have been unsettled by the controversies and new opinions, will understand that it is not a question of opposing one opinion to another, but of transmitting to the faithful a constant teaching of the supreme Magisterium, which teaches moral norms in the light of faith.[3] It is therefore clear that this declaration necessarily entails a grave obligation for Christian consciences.[4] May God deign to enlighten also all men who strive with their whole heart to “act in truth” (Jn. 3:21).

4. Pro munere sibi concredito promovendi atque tutandi fidem et mores in Ecclesia universali,2 S. Congregatio pro Doctrina Fidei statuit in omnium christifidelium mentem praecipua huius doctrinae capita revocare. Hoc modo ipsa, dum Ecclesiae unitatem in luce ponit, Apostolicae Sedis auctoritate confirmabit, quae hac in re feliciter Episcopi iam sunt aggressi. Ac fore confidit, ut universi fideles, non iis exceptis qui his controversiis novisque opinionibus perturbati sunt, plane intellegant hic non agi de opinione aliis opinionibus opponenda, sed de ipsis tradenda constanti doctrina supremi Magisterii, quod regulam morum, fidei lumine collustratam, exponit.3 Patet igitur hac Declaratione graviter onerari fidelium conscientias.4 Faxit Deus, ut per earn universi quoque homines illuminentur, quotquot sincero corde «veritatem facere » student (cf. Io. 3, 21).











5. “Death was not God’s doing, he takes no pleasure in the extinction of the living” (Wis. 1:13). Certainly God has created beings who have only one lifetime and physical death cannot be absent from the world of those with a bodily existence. But what is immediately willed is life, and in the visible universe everything has been made for man, who is the image of God and the world’s crowning glory (cf. Gen. 1:26-28). On the human level, “it was the devil’s envy that brought death into the world” (Wis. 2:24). Introduced by sin, death remains bound up with it: death is the sign and fruit of sin. But there is no final triumph for death. Confirming faith in the Resurrection, the Lord proclaims in the Gospel: “God is God, not of the dead, but of the living” (Mt. 22:32). And death like sin will be definitively defeated by resurrection in Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 15:20-27). Thus we understand that human life, even on this earth, is precious. Infused by the Creator,[5] life is again taken back by Him (cf. Gen. 2:7; Wis. 15:11). It remains under His protection: man’s blood cries out to Him (cf. Gen. 4:10) and He will demand an account of it, “for in the image of God man was made” (Gen. 9:5-6). The commandment of God is formal: “You shall not kill” (Ex. 20:13). Life is at the same time a gift and a responsibility. It is received as a “talent” (cf. Mt. 25:14-30); it must be put to proper use. In order that life may bring forth fruit, many tasks are offered to man in this world and he must not shirk them. More important still, the Christian knows that eternal life depends on what, with the grace of God, he does with his life on earth.

5. « Deus mortem non fecit, nec laetatur in perditione vivo-rum » (Sap. 1, 13). Verum quidem est Deum animantia creavisse, quae certo temporis spatio vivunt, et mortem abesse non posse a mundo viventium corporeorum. Illud autem quod est in primis propositum, vita est; omnia in hoc aspectabili universo sunt facta propter hominem, qui imago Dei est et rerum creatarum fastigium (Gen. 1, 26-28). In humanarum rerum ordine, « invidia diaboli mors introivit in orbem terrarum ,> (Sap. 2, 24). Mors per peccatum invecta, peccato haerere pergit, cuius signum et simul consectarium exstat; eadem tamen praevalere nequaquam poterit. Etenim Christus Dominus, resurrectionis veritatem confirmans, in Evangelio proclamat Deum non esse Deum mortuorum, sed viventium Olt. 22, 32); ac mortem, sicut peccatum, per resurrectionem in Christo devictum iri (cf. r Cor. 15, 20-27). Hinc intellegitur humanam vitam, hisce etiam in terris, pretiosam esse. Quae vita a Creatore inspirata est, eademque ab ipso resumitur (cf. Gen. 2, 7; Sap. 15, 11). Vita humana permanet sub Dei protections : sanguis hominis clamat ad ipsum (cf. Gen. 4, 10), qui requiret ut eius ratio reddatur : u ad imaginem quippe Dei factus est homo » (Gen. 9, 5-6). « Non occides o (Ex. 20, 13) : hoc est mandatum Dei. Vita dono quidem datur, sed simul officia coniuncta habet : non solum, enim, accipitur ut a talentum o (cf. Mt. 25, 14-30), sed opus est inde lucrum colligatur. Ad quos fructus ferendos, multiplicia munera in hoc mundo homini offeruntur, a quibus ipse se subducere non potest; idque christianus homo altius intellegit, quippe qui probe sciat sibi vitam aeternam pendere ex iis, quae ipse, Dei gratia adiutus, in terrestri hac vita peregerit.





6. The tradition of the Church has always held that human life must be protected and favored from the beginning, just as at the various stages of its development. Opposing the morals of the Greco-Roman world, the Church of the first centuries insisted on the difference that exists on this point between those morals and Christian morals. In the Didache it is clearly said: “You shall not kill by abortion the fruit of the womb and you shall not murder the infant already born.”[6] Athenagoras emphasizes that Christians consider as murderers those women who take medicines to procure an abortion; he condemns the killers of children, including those still living in their mother’s womb, “where they are already the object of the care of divine Providence.” Tertullian did not always perhaps use the same language; he nevertheless clearly affirms the essential principle: “To prevent birth is anticipated murder; it makes little difference whether one destroys a life already born or does away with it in its nascent stage. The one who will be a man is already one.”[8]

6. Ecclesiae Traditio semper docuit humanam vitam tutandam esse, eique esse favendum tam in initio, quam in variis eius processus temporibus.5 Ecclesia inde a primaeva aetate, cum Graecorum Romanorumque moribus adversaretur, instanter asseveravit christianorum mores hac in re ab illis longe distare. In opere, cui Didache est index, id Clare enuntiatur : « Non interficies fetum in abortions neque interimes infantem natum ».6 Athenagoras sedulo annotat a christianis pro homicidis eas feminas haberi, quae medicamentis utuntur ad fetum eiciendum; ipse damnat interfectrices puerorum, etiamsi hi adhuc vivant in sinu matris, ubi iam << Deo curae esse » existimantur.' Tertullianus fortasse de hac re non semper consona scribit; nihilominus hoc essentiale principium Clare ponit: Homicidii festinatio est prohibere libere nasci, nee refert, natam quis eripiat animam an nascentem disturbet. Homo est et qui est futurus ».8





7. In the course of history, the Fathers of the Church, her Pastors and her Doctors have taught the same doctrine - the various opinions on the infusion of the spiritual soul did not introduce any doubt about the illicitness of abortion. It is true that in the Middle Ages, when the opinion was generally held that the spiritual soul was not present until after the first few weeks, a distinction was made in the evaluation of the sin and the gravity of penal sanctions. 7. Saeculorum decursu, Sancti Ecclesiae Patres eiusque Pastores ac Doctores eandem doctrinam tradiderunt, neque tamen diversae sententiae de puncto temporis, quo spiritualis anima in corpus infundatur, ullam umquam fecerunt dubitationem de abortus illiceitate. Verum quidem est Media Aetate, qua communiter existimabatur animam spiritualem nonnisi post primas hebdomadas in fetu praesentem adesse, diversam aestimationem de tali peccato deque poenarum gravitate esse factam;
 Excellent authors allowed for this first period more lenient case solutions which they rejected for following periods. But it was never denied at that time that procured abortion, even during the first days, was objectively grave fault. This condemnation was in fact unanimous.  scilicet probatos quoque auctores pro hoc priore vitae tempore, in solvendis casibus, benigniores quasdam sententias retinuisse, quas tamen pro insequentibus graviditatis temporibus respuebant. Nihilominus ab its numquam tune negatum est abortum, etiam primis its diebus, objective grave esse peccaturn.
Among the many documents it is sufficient to recall certain ones. The first Council of Mainz in 847 reconsidered the penalties against abortion which had been established by preceding Councils. It decided that the most rigorous penance would be imposed “on women who procure the elimination of the fruit conceived in their womb.”[9] Ac reapse in talem condemnationem omnes convenerunt. E tot, quae exstant, documentis satis esto nonnulla commemorare. Primum Concilium Moguntinum, anno DCCCXLVII celebratum, poenas resumit a superioribus Conciliis illatas contra abortum, ac decernit severissimam poenitentiam imponendam esse mulieribus quae «partus suos necant vel quae agunt secum, ut utero conceptus excutiant ».9
The Decree of Gratian reported the following words of Pope Stephen V: “That person is a murderer who causes to perish by abortion what has been conceived.”[10]  In Decreto Gratiani haec Summi Pontificis Stephani V verba referuntur : «Conceptum in utero qui per avorsum deleverit homicida est ».10
St. Thomas, the Common Doctor of the Church, teaches that abortion is a grave sin against the natural law.[11]  At the time of the Renaissance Pope Sixtus V condemned abortion with the greatest severity.[12] A century later, Innocent XI rejected the propositions of certain lax canonists who sought to excuse an abortion procured before the moment accepted by some as the moment of the spiritual animation of the new being.[13] S. Thomas, Doctor communis Ecclesiae, docet abortum grave peccatum esse, legi naturae contrarium." Renatarum Litterarum aetate, Xystus V abortum quam maxima severitate condemnat.'Z Saeculo post, Innocentius XI respuit quorundam propositiones canonistarum, laxismo faventium, qui a culpa excusare conabantur abortum ante illud tempus procuratum, quo a quibusdam censebatur animam spiritualem in novum viventem infundi.13

 In our days the recent Roman Pontiffs have proclaimed the same doctrine with the greatest clarity. Pius XI explicitly answered the most serious objections.[14] Pius XII clearly excluded all direct abortion, that is, abortion which is either an end or a means.[15] John XXIII recalled the teaching of the Fathers on the sacred character of life “which from its beginning demands the action of God the Creator.”[16] Most recently, the Second Vatican Council, presided over by Paul VI, has most severely condemned abortion: “Life must be safeguarded with extreme care from conception; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes.”[17] The same Paul VI, speaking on this subject on many occasions, has not been afraid to declare that this teaching of the Church “has not changed and is unchangeable.”[18]

 Nostris temporibus postremi Romani Pontifices eandem doctrinam quam accuratissime declaraverunt : Pius XI gravioribus obiectationibus expresse respondit;14 Pius XII Clare reiecit abortum directum, eum scilicet qui finis vel medii ad finem rationem habet;15 Ioannes XXIII magisterium SS. Patrum revocat, cum statuit indolem sacram hominis vitae, quippe « quae inde a suo exordio, Creatoris actionem Dei postulet ».16 Recens Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum II, cui Paulus VI praefuit, severissime abortum damnavit : a Vita ... inde a conceptione, maxima cura tuenda est; abortus necnon infanticidium nefanda sunt cri-Inina ».17 Idem Paulus VI, qui saepius de hoc argumento ser monem habuit, asseverare non dubitavit huiusmodi Ecclesiae doctrinam (( neque esse mutatam, neque posse umquam mutari )).











8. Respect for human life is not just a Christian obligation. Human reason is sufficient to impose it on the basis of the analysis of what a human person is and should be. Constituted by a rational nature, man is a personal subject capable of reflecting on himself and of determining his acts and hence his own destiny: he is free. He is consequently master of himself; or rather, because this takes place in the course of time, he has the means of becoming so: this is his task. Created immediately by God, man’s soul is spiritual and therefore immortal. Hence man is open to God, he finds his fulfillment only in Him. But man lives in the community of his equals; he is nourished by interpersonal communication with men in the indispensable social setting. In the face of society and other men, each human person possesses himself, he possesses life and different goods, he has these as a right. It is this that strict justice demands from all in his regard.

8. Observantia humanae vitae debita non christianis tantummodo praecipitur; earn enim ratio quoque per se ipsa exigit, si quidem inquirat quid persona humana sit et quid esse de-beat. Rationali natura cum constet, homo subiectum personals est, quod in seipsum cogitationem intendere, atque de actibus suis et ideo de sua ipsius sorte decernere valet: ipse liber est. Quapropter est sui dominus, vel potius, cum se perficiat in tempore, ei subsidia praesto cunt, uncle talis fieri possit; in hoc proprium ipsius munus positum est : anima eius, a Deo immediate creata, spiritualis est, ac proinde immortalis. Item ad Deum ipse patet, ac nonnisi in eo plenam sui ipsius perfectionem inveniet. Is autem vitam degit cum suis similibus societate coniunctus, et quasi innutritur per mutuum personate commercium cum ipsis, in pernecessario sociali convictu. Respectu habito ad societatem atque ad alios homines, cuilibet humanae personae ius est sui possidendi, necnon possidendi suam vitam suaque diversa bona; idque strict-a- iustitia omnibus erga ipsum imponitur.





9. Nevertheless, temporal life lived in this world is not identified with the person. The person possesses as his own a level of life that is more profound and that cannot end. Bodily life is a fundamental good, here below it is the condition for all other goods. But there are higher values for which it could be legitimate or even necessary to be willing to expose oneself to the risk of losing bodily life. In a society of persons the common good is for each individual an end which he must serve and to which he must subordinate his particular interest. But it is not his last end and, from this point of view, it is society which is at the service of the person, because the person will not fulfill his destiny except in God. The person can be definitively subordinated only to God. Man can never be treated simply as a means to be disposed of in order to obtain a higher end.

9. Attamen temporali vita, quae in hoc mundo ducitur, non omnia continentur, quae ad personam pertinent, quippe cui proprius sit altior vitae gradus, qui nequit fine terminari. Corporalis vita bonum quoddam fundamentale existimanda est, quod hisce in terris tamquam ceterorurn omnium condicio habetur. At praestantiora bona exstant, quorum causa licebit, immo etiam necessarium esse poterit, eiusdem vitae iacturam facere. In personarum societate, commune bonum est finis, cui singulae personae servire debent cuique sua privata commoda subicient. Bonum tamen personae humanae finis ultimus haud est; sub hoc respectu, societatis prorsus est inservire personae, cum haec nonnisi in Deo destinatam sibi supremam metam consequi possit. Eadem nonnisi Deo ultime subicitur; ideoque numquam fascit hominem pro mero instrumento haberi, quo quis libere uti possit ad celsiorem finem adipiscendum.





10. In regard to the mutual rights and duties of the person and of society, it belongs to moral teaching to enlighten consciences; it belongs to the law to specify and organize external behavior. 10. Circa mutua iura et officia personae atque societatis, ad moralem disciplinam spectat conscientias illuminare, ad ius vero definire atque ordinare quae sint officia praestanda.
 There is precisely a certain number of rights which society is not in a position to grant since these rights precede society; but society has the function to preserve and to enforce them. Iamvero, complura quidem iura sunt, quae humana societas tribuere per se nequit, utpote quae ei praecedant, quae tamen et tutari et efficacia reddere debet :

These are the greater part of those which are today called “human rights” and which our age boasts of having formulated.

huiusmodi sunt, maxima ex parte, ea quae hodie « iura hominis » appellantur, quaeque nostra haec aetas se plane declaravisse gloriatur.





11. The first right of the human person is his life. He has other goods and some are more precious, but this one is fundamental -  the condition of all the others. Hence it must be protected above all others. It does not belong to society, nor does it belong to public authority in any form to recognize this right for some and not for others: all discrimination is evil, whether it be founded on race, sex, color or religion. It is not recognition by another that constitutes this right. This right is antecedent to its recognition; it demands recognition and it is strictly unjust to refuse it.

11. Primum personae humanae est ius vivendi. Ei alia quidem sunt bona, quorum nonnulla sane pretiosiora sunt, at ius ad vitam fundamentum est atque condicio ceterorum, ac proinde magis quam cetera protegendum est. Ad societatem vel publicam auctoritatem, quaecumque est eius forma, nullo modo spectat illud ius aliis reservare, aliis autem auferre : quodlibet huius generis discrimen, turn nom.ine stirpis vel sexus, turn no-mine coloris corporis vel religionis factum, semper iniquum est. Illud enim est ius non ex gratia aliena profluens, sed cuilibet gratiae antecedens, ac postulat proinde, ut agnoscatur; si denegatur, stricta iustitia violatur.





12. Any discrimination based on the various stages of life is no more justified than any other discrimination. The right to life remains complete in an old person, even one greatly weakened; it is not lost by one who is incurably sick. The right to life is no less to be respected in the small infant just born than in the mature person. In reality, respect for human life is called for from the time that the process of generation begins. 12. Si ratio discriminis innititur diversis vitae hominis aetatibus, non minus excusatione caret ac aliae quaelibet rationes. Ius ad vitam integre pertinet ad senem vel maxime debilitatum; ab eo qui insanabili aegritudine afficitur, non amittitur; legitimum est non minus puero recens nato, quam homini maturitatem habenti. Revera quaevis vita humana observanda est ex eo ipso tempore, quo generationis processus incipit.

From the time that the ovum is fertilized,

a life is begun

Simul atque ovum fecundatum est,

iam inchoata est vita,

 which is neither that of the father nor of the mother, it is rather the life of a new human being with his own growth. It would never be made human if it were not human already.

 quae neque patris neque matris est, verum novi viventis humani, qui propter se ipsum crescit. Is numquam humanus fiet, nisi iam tunc talis fuit.





13. To this perpetual evidence - perfectly independent of the discussions on the moment of animation [19] - modern genetic science brings valuable confirmation. 13. Scientia genetica recentioris temporis praeclare confirmat has res, quae manifesto semper patuerunt, quaeque minime tangunt disputationes de certo animationis tempore.19



Following is the text of

footnote 19:



[19] This declaration expressly leaves aside the question of the moment when the spiritual soul is infused. There is not a unanimous tradition on this point and authors are as yet in disagreement.

Haec declaratio consulto quaestionem reliquam facit, quo temporis momento anima spiritualis infundatur. Qua de re ut traditio non est unanima, ita auctores inter se differunt.

For some it dates from the first instant; for others it could not at least precede nidation. It is not within the competence of science to decide between these views, because the existence of an immortal soul is not a question in its field.

Nam cum alii affirment id primo vitae tempore fieri, aliis placet non hoc ante fieri, quam germen in sua sede steterit. Nimirum non est scientiae eas dirimere quaestiones, quia existentia animae immortalis ad eiusdem provinciam non pertinet.

It is a philosophical problem from which our moral affirmation remains independent for two reasons:

Agitur enim de quaestione philosophiae propria, a qua haec moralis affirmatio nullo modo dependet, duabus his de causis:

(1) supposing a belated animation, there is still nothing less than a human life, preparing for and calling for a soul in which the nature received from parents is completed,

(1) quia, etiam si ponatur infusionem animae tardius supervenire, est nihilominus in fetu incipiens humana vita (de qua biologicae scientiae ope constat), quae et praeparat et exigit animam, per quam natura a parentibus accepta perficiatur;

(2) on the other hand, it suffices that this presence of the soul be probable (and one can never prove the contrary) in order that the taking of life involve accepting the risk of killing a man, not only waiting for, but already in possession of his soul.

2) quia si solum tamquam probabilis illa animae infusio, de qua dicimus (non enim de re contraria umquam constabit), iudicetur, vitam ei adimere idem est ac periculo se committere occidendi hominis, non tamquam in spe, sed omnino anima instructi.





It has demonstrated that, from the first instant, there is established the program of what this living being will be: a man, this individual man with his characteristic aspects already well determined. Right from fertilization is begun the adventure of a human life, and each of its capacities requires time- a rather lengthy time- to find its place and to be in a position to act. Ipsa videlicet demonstravit iam a primo momento adesse fixam structuram seu programma geneticum huius viventis : hominem nempe, et quidem hunt hominem individuum, omnibus suis notis propriis praefinitisque iam ornatum. Ab ipsa fecundatione iniit mirificus cursus cuiusdam vitae humanae, cuius singulae potentes facultates tempus poscunt, ut recte ordinentur atque ad agendum praeparentur.
The least that can be said is that present science, in its most evolved state, does not give any substantial support to those who defend abortion. Hoc saltem dici potest, scientiam aetatis nostrae, etiam perfectissimam, nullum efficax adiumentum suppeditare abortus fautoribus.
Moreover, it is not up to biological sciences to make a definitive judgment on questions which are properly philosophical and moral such as the moment when a human person is constituted or the legitimacy of abortion. Ceterum non pertinet ad scientias biologicas decretoriam sententiam ferre de quaestionibus proprie philosophicis et moralibus, cuiusmodi est quaestio de momento quo constituitur persona humana, vel de abortus legitimitate.
From a moral point of view this is certain: even if a doubt existed concerning whether the fruit of conception is already a human person, Ex ratione vero morali hoc constat : etiamsi forte dubitetur sitne fructus conceptionis jam persona humana,

it is objectively a grave sin to dare to risk murder. “The one who will be a man is already one.”[20]

 objective jam grave peccatum est se committere in periculum homicidii faciendi. « Homo est et qui est futurus











14. Divine law and natural reason, therefore, exclude all right to the direct killing of an innocent man. However, if the reasons given to justify an abortion were always manifestly evil and valueless the problem would not be so dramatic. The gravity of the problem comes from the fact that in certain cases, perhaps in quite a considerable number of cases, by denying abortion one endangers important values to which it is normal to attach great value, and which may sometimes even seem to have priority. We do not deny these very great difficulties.[:]

[1] It may be a serious question of health, sometimes of life or death, for the mother;

[2] it may be the burden represented by an additional child,

[3] especially if there are good reasons to fear that the child will be abnormal or retarded;

[4] it may be the importance attributed in different classes of society to considerations of honor or dishonor, of loss of social standing, and so forth.

14. Lex igitur divina atque ipsa naturalis ratio excludunt quodlibet ius directe interficiendi hominem innocentem. Verumtamen si causae, quibus abortus defenditur, semper essent manifesto pravae vel futtiles, haec quaestio non tam vehementer agitaretur : quae contra inde gravissima fit, quod aliquibus in casibus, immo fortasse bene multis, abortus recusatio in discrimen adducit alia magni momenti bona, quae homines tutari Solent quaeque nonnumquam etiam videri possunt aliis antecedere. Non agnoscere non possumus gravissimas has diflicultates : exempli gratia, valetudo matris in periculum adduci potest, et quidem in ipsum vitae discrimen; grave onus esse potest, quod secum affert alius in familia infans, praesertim si iustis de causis existimatur ille futurus esse abnormis vel mansurus vitio aliquo invalidus ; premere potest etiam certum quoddam pondus, quod obtinent in aliquibus regionibus quaestiones honoris et dedecoris, vel deminutio capitis et dignitatis, et ita porro.

We proclaim only that none of these reasons can ever objectively confer the right to dispose of another’s life, even when that life is only beginning. With regard to the future unhappiness of the child, no one, not even the father or mother, can act as its substitute- even if it is still in the embryonic stage- to choose in the child’s name, life or death. The child itself, when grown up, will never have the right to choose suicide; no more may his parents choose death for the child while it is not of an age to decide for itself. Life is too fundamental a value to be weighed against even very serious disadvantages.[21]

At prorsus est declarandum ex his rationibus nullam umquam obiective tribuere posse ius decernendi de alterius hominis vita, etiam in eius exordio; ad futuram autem infelicitatem infantis quod attinet, nemo, ne eius quidem pater aut mater, possunt se in eius substituere locum nec si in primo germinis seu embryonis statu versetur, ut ipsius nomine mortem praeponant vitae. Ille ipse infans cum ad maturam aetatem pervenerit, numquam ius habebit  mortem sibi consciscendi; donee igitur sui iuris non est, tanto minus parentes eligere valent pro eo mortem. Etenim vita bonum est nimis fundamentale, quam ut aequiperari et cornparari possit cum incommodis etiam maximis.21





15. The movement for the emancipation of women, insofar as it seeks essentially to free them from all unjust discrimination, is on perfectly sound ground.[22] In the different forms of cultural background there is a great deal to be done in this regard. But one cannot change nature. Nor can one exempt women, any more than men, from what nature demands of them. Furthermore, all publicly recognized freedom is always limited by the certain rights of others.

15. Quantum motus ad feminas emancipandas eo praecipue spectat, ut ab omni iniquo discrimine eas expediat, tantum quidem plene probatur.22 Hac autem in re multum profecto restat agendum in variis humani cultus provinciis. Attamen natura mutari nequit, nec femina, sicut ne vir quidem ipse, subduci possunt ab officiis, quae natura ab its poscit. Ceterum, omnis libertas publice agnita semper tamquam finibus circumscribitur certis aliorum iuribus.





16. The same must be said of the claim to sexual freedom. If by this expression one is to understand the mastery progressively acquired by reason and by authentic love over instinctive impulse, without diminishing pleasure but keeping it in its proper place - and in this sphere this is the only authentic freedom - then there is nothing to object to. But this kind of freedom will always be careful not to violate justice. It; on the contrary, one is to understand that men and women are “free” to seek sexual pleasure to the point of satiety, without taking into account any law or the essential orientation of sexual life to its fruits of fertility,[23] then this idea has nothing Christian in it. It is even unworthy of man. In any case it does not confer any right to dispose of human life - even if embryonic- or to suppress it on the pretext that it is burdensome.

16. Idem dicendum est de vindicatione sexualis libertatis. Si intellegitur sub hac dictione acquisitus paulatim dominatus i ationis verique amoris in appetitus naturae, cum tamen ipsa delectatio non spernatur sed in suo convenienti loco retineatur — et in hoc dominatu posita est Bola vera libertas —, nihil ei obici potest; talis enim libertas a iustitia violanda semper cavebit. Verum, si quis contra putat virum et feminam « liberos a esse, quasi its liceat voluptate sexuali frui usque ad satietatem, nulla habita ratione vel legis vel necessariae ordinationis vitae sexualis ad eius fecunditatis fructus,23 tune eiusmodi cogitandi modus nihil christiani in se habet; immo ipso homine indignus est. Quidquid est, nullum tribuitur inde

ius de alterius vita decernendi, licet sit embryonalis, vel earn exstinguendi, causa adducta alicuius gravaminis.





17. Scientific progress is opening to technology - and will open still more - the possibility of delicate interventions, the consequences of which can be very serious, for good as well as for evil. These are achievements of the human spirit which in themselves are admirable. But technology can never be independent of the criterion of morality, since technology exists for man and must respect his finality. Just as there is no right to use nuclear energy for every possible purpose, so there is no right to manipulate human life in every possible direction. Technology must be at the service of man, so as better to ensure the functioning of his normal abilities, to prevent or to cure his illnesses, and to contribute to his better human development. It is true that the evolution of technology makes early abortion more and more easy, but the moral evaluation is in no way modified because of this.

17. Progredientes scientiae tribuunt rei technicae peritis, imrno latiorem usque tribuent facultatem interventuum exquisitorum, quorum consectaria gravissima esse possunt in bonam malamve partem. Haec sunt per se admirabilia ingenii humani inventa. At technica ars iudicium doctrinae moralis fugere non potest, quoniam suapte natura eo spectat, ut homini deserviat, ac propterea eadem fines, quibus homo destinatur, servare debet. Sicut nemini licet vires atomicas adhibere ad quamlibet sine discrimine finem, ita nemo legitime potest vitam humanarn in quamlibet partem flectere vel usurpare; omnis artis technicae usus nonnisi in hominis ministerium fieri potest, ut scilicet melius explicentur naturales eius potentiae, ut morbi praecaveantur vel depellantur, ut hominis progressio plenius foveatur. Etsi constat perfectiorem technicam artem reddere usque faciliorem abortum primo graviditatis tempore, nihilominus morale de eo iudicium nequaquam inde mutatur.





18. We know what seriousness the problem of birth control can assume for some families and for some countries. That is why the last Council and subsequently the encyclical “Humanae vitae” of July 25, 1968, spoke of “responsible parenthood.”[24] 18. Plane novimus quam gravis sit quibusdam familiis ac Nationibus quaestio de temperando natorum numero : hanc ob causam novissimum Oecumenicum Concilium et deinde Litterae Encyclicae Humanae Vitae, die xxv mensis Iulii anno 1968 editae, de (( paternitate responsabili » dixerunt.24

What we wish to say again with emphasis, as was pointed out in the conciliar constitution “Gaudium et spes,” in the encyclical “Populorum progressio” and in other papal documents, is that never, under any pretext, may abortion be resorted to, either by a family or by the political authority, as a legitimate means of regulating births.[25] The damage to moral values is always a greater evil for the common good than any disadvantage in the economic or demographic order.

 Quemadmodum ergo docuerunt Constitutio Conciliaris Gaudium et Spes, et Litterae Encyclicae Populorum Progressio aliaque documenta pontificia, rursus nunc firmiter asseverare est propositum, numquam ac nullam ob causam abortum adhiberi posse neque a familia, neque ab auctoritate politica tamquam instrumentum legitimum ad numerum natorum temperandum.0 Iniuria enim et offensa, quae principiis moralibus infertur, semper bono communi importat gravius damnum, quam ullum prorsus incommodum oeconomici vel demographici generis.











19. The moral discussion is being accompanied more or less everywhere by serious juridical debates. There is no country where legislation does not forbid and punish murder. Furthermore, many countries had specifically applied this condemnation and these penalties to the particular case of procured abortion. In these days a vast body of opinion petitions the liberalization of this latter prohibition. There already exists a fairly general tendency which seeks to limit, as far as possible, all restrictive legislation, especially when it seems to touch upon private life. The argument of pluralism is also used. Although many citizens, in particular the Catholic faithful, condemn abortion, many others hold that it is licit, at least as a lesser evil. Why force them to follow an opinion which is not theirs, especially in a country where they are in the majority? In addition it is apparent that, where they still exist, the laws condemning abortion appear difficult to apply. The crime has become too common for it to be punished every time, and the public authorities often find that it is wiser to close their eyes to it. But the preservation of a law which is not applied is always to the detriment of authority and of all the other laws. It must be added that clandestine abortion puts women, who resign themselves to it and have recourse to it, in the most serious dangers for future pregnancies and also in many cases for their lives. Even if the legislator continues to regard abortion as an evil, may he not propose to restrict its damage?

19. Disputatio de abortus honestate fere ubique coniunctas habet disceptationes ad iuris provinciam spectantes. Nulla sane Natio est, in qua non prohibeatur et puniatur homicidium; in pluribus praeterea eadem prohibitio et poenae complectuntur peculiarem casum abortus procurati. Nostris vero diebus latus opinionis publicae motus exposcit, ut huiusmodi prohibitio mitigetur. Iam animadvertitur valde diffusa animorum propensio eo spectans, ut quaecumque leges coercentes quam maxime restringantur, praesertim quoties privatam vitam pervadere videntur. Suscipitur etiam argumentatio ex « pluralismo » : si cives multi, ac peculiari modo Catholicae Ecclesiae filii, abortum damnant, alii contra multi eum probant, saltem uti minus malum; cur ergo hi cogi debent, ut opinionem sequantur quam non accipiunt, et nominatim in Natione ubi maiorem constituunt partem? Ex altera autem parte, ubi leges quae abortum vetant adhuc vigent, difficulter applicantur : nam crimen ipsum crebrius et multo frequentius factum est, quam ut semper puniatur, ac proinde publicae auctoritates prudentius esse existimant in eis flagitiis conivere. At si lex quae non applicatur ac tamen conservatur, fieri non potest quill detrimentum aliquando afferat ipsi auctoritati ceterarum legum. Atque illud etiam addendum est abortum clandestinum ipsas feminas, quae ad eum confugiant, maioribus obicere periculis non tantum earum futurae fecunditatis, verum saepe ipsius vitae. Etiamsi ipsi abortum tamquam malum considerare pergant, nonne legum latores decernere possunt, ut eius damna minuantur?





20. These arguments and others in addition that are heard from varying quarters are not conclusive. It is true that civil law cannot expect to cover the whole field of morality or to punish all faults. No one expects it to do so. It must often tolerate what is in fact a lesser evil, in order to avoid a greater one. One must, however, be attentive to what a change in legislation can represent. Many will take as authorization what is perhaps only the abstention from punishment. Even more, in the present case, this very renunciation seems at the very least to admit that the legislator no longer considers abortion a crime against human life, since murder is still always severely punished. It is true that it is not the task of the law to choose between points of view or to impose one rather than another. But the life of the child takes precedence over all opinions. One cannot invoke freedom of thought to destroy this life.

20. Hae rationes, et aliae etiam quae hinc illinc afferuntur, non valent ad libertatem abortus lege decernendam. Negari quidem non potest legem civilem non posse omnem provinciam morum continere neque omnia punire mala; nemo hoc ab ea poscit. Saepe tolerare debet id quod tandem aliquando minus malum est, ut maius vitetur. Cavere tamen necesse est id quod accidere possit, si leges mutentur : multi, enim, licentiam agendi putant, earn quae, fortasse, nihil aliud est nisi puniendi recusatio. In hoc autem abortus casu, ipsa recusatio puniendi significare saltem videtur legis latorem non amplius existimare abortum crimen aliquod esse contra vitam humanam, cum homicidium semper graviter punire pergat. Verum etiam est legem ipsam non debere inter varias opiniones decernere, neque aliam plus praecipere quam aliam. Nihilominus vita infantis praeferenda est omni opinioni; neque appellari potest libertas cogitandi, ut eidem vita auferatur.





21. The role of law is not to record what is done, but to help in promoting improvement. It is at all times the task of the State to preserve each person’s rights and to protect the weakest. In order to do so the State will have to right many wrongs. The law is not obliged to sanction everything, but it cannot act contrary to a law which is deeper and more majestic than any human law: the natural law engraved in men’s hearts by the Creator as a norm which reason clarifies and strives to formulate properly, and which one must always struggle to understand better, but which it is always wrong to contradict. 21. Munus legis non est tantummodo denotare et describere id quod iam agitur, sed adiuvare ut id melius agatur. Utcumque res sese habet, officium Civitatis est tutari uniuscuiusque iura ac debiliores protegere. Qua de causa oportebit eam multa errata corrigere. Non necesse est lex omnia puniat, sed non potest adversari legi liii altissimae et sanctissimae omnium legum humanarum, videlicet legi naturali, in ipso homine ab eius Conditore inscriptae tamquam normae, quam ratio recludit beneque exprimere contendit, et quam iugiter opus est melius intellegere, sed cui semper malum est contradicere.

Human law can abstain from punishment, but it cannot declare to be right what would be opposed to the natural law, for this opposition suffices to give the assurance that a law is not a law at all.

Lex humana nonnumquam omittere potest poenam, at reddere non valet honestum et probum id quod ius naturale transgreditur, quia haec ipsa contradictio per se sufficit, ut aliqua lex iam cesset lex esse.





22. It must in any case be clearly understood that whatever may be laid down by civil law in this matter, man can never obey a law which is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principle the liceity of abortion. Nor can he take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it. Moreover, he may not collaborate in its application. It is, for instance, inadmissible that doctors or nurses should find themselves obliged to cooperate closely in abortions and have to choose between the law of God and their professional situation.

22. Quidquid leges civiles hac in re statuunt, exploratissimum esse debet hominem numquarn parere posse legi intrinsece inhonestae; et hoc accidit, si lex feratur quae principium liceitatis abortus recipiat. Is praeterea non potest esse particeps alicuius motus publicae opinionis, qui eiusmodi legi faveat, neque potest latis suffragiis sustinere. Ne poterit quidem suas conferre partes ad talem applicandam legem. Exempli gratia, patiendum non est, ut medici et nosocomi in necessitatem adducantur proxime cooperandi in abortu faciendo, ac proinde alteram utram eligendi partem, legem scilicet Dei aut vitae professionis condicionem.

[but see §19-20 above on restricting damage and tolerating lesser evil -- this will be revisited with careful nuance by Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae 73 ]






23. On the contrary, it is the task of law to pursue a reform of society and of conditions of life in all milieux, starting with the most deprived, so that always and everywhere it may be possible to give every child coming into this world a welcome worthy of a person. Help for families and for unmarried mothers, assured grants for children, a statute for illegitimate children and reasonable arrangements for adoption - a whole positive policy must be put into force so that there will always be a concrete, honorable and possible alternative to abortion.

23. Ex contrario, legis humanae est societatis renovationem promovere ac tales vitae inducere condiciones in omnibus civium ordinibus — its in primis qui minus prospera fortuna utuntur — ut semper et ubique omnis infans, in hunc mundum enatus, modo hominibus digno suscipiatur. Subsidia farniliis et matribus non nuptis, auxilia infantibus destinata, leges pro infantibus naturalibus atque institutum adoptionis sapienter ordinatum : hae omnes rationes solidae et frugiferae provehendae sunt, ut pro abortu praesto sit semper altera optio et electio tam vere possibilis, quam honorabilis.











24. Following one’s conscience in obedience to the law of God is not always the easy way. One must not fail to recognize the weight of the sacrifices and the burdens which it can impose. Heroism is sometimes called for in order to remain faithful to the requirements of the divine law. Therefore, we must emphasize that the path of true progress of the human person passes through this constant fidelity to a conscience maintained in uprightness and truth; and we must exhort all those who are able to do so to lighten the burdens still crushing so many men and women, families and children, who are placed in situations to which, in human terms, there is no solution.

4. Haud semper facile est in diving lege observanda sequi conscientiam, quippe quae incommoda imponat et onera, quo-rum minime est parvipendenda gravitas, heroicamque requirat quandoque virtutem, ut huiusmodi moralibus postulationibus pareatur. Attamen necessarium est plane declarare constantem huiusmodi verae rectaeque conscientiae fidelitatem viam esse ad verum humanae personae profectum, ac praeterea eos omnes, ad quos res pertineat, cohortari ut tot hominibus et mulieribus leviora reddant onera, tot succurrant familiis et pueris, qui in difficillimis ac paene perditis vitae condicionibus versantur.





25. A Christian’s outlook cannot be limited to the horizon of life in this world. He knows that during the present life another one is being prepared, one of such importance that it is in its light that judgments must be made.[26] From this viewpoint there is no absolute misfortune here below, not even the terrible sorrow of bringing up a handicapped child. This is the contradiction proclaimed by the Lord: “Happy those who mourn: they shall be comforted” (Mt. 5:5). To measure happiness by the absence of sorrow and misery in this world is to turn one’s back on the Gospel.

Nequit sane apud christianos homines de quavis re existimatio terrenis huius vitae limitibus contineri, cum ipsi probe sciant in praesenti hac vita alteram sibi parari, cuius tantum est momentum, ut ad eius normam omnia ponderari debeant. 26 Secundum hanc normam nulla est hac in terrestri vita infelicitas, quae absoluta habenda sit, ne acerbissimus quidem dolor, qui gignitur e necessitate filium mentis vel corporis vitio affectum alendi. Hic agitur de mutata illa rerum aestimatione, quam Christus Dominus nuntiavit : « Beati qui lugent, quoniam ipsi consolabuntur a (Mt. 5, 5). Ab Evan­gelio igitur recedit, qui e dolorum aerumnarumque privatione felicitatem hoc in mundo metiri velit.





26. But this does not mean that one can remain indifferent to these sorrows and miseries. Every man and woman with feeling, and certainly every Christian, must be ready to do what he can to remedy them. This is the law of charity, of which the first preoccupation must always be the establishment of justice. One can never approve of abortion; but it is above all necessary to combat its causes. This includes political action, which will be in particular the task of the law. But it is necessary at the same time to influence morality and to do everything possible to help families, mothers and children. Considerable progress in the service of life has been accomplished by medicine. One can hope that such progress will continue, in accordance with the vocation of doctors, which is not to suppress life but to care for it and favor it as much as possible. It is equally desirable that, in suitable institutions, or, in their absence, in the outpouring of Christian generosity and charity every form of assistance should be developed.

25. Hoc tamen haud significat fas esse nihil omnino hos dolores et aerumnas curare. Ex contrario, quivis cordatus homo, ac profecto quivis christianos promptus esse debet ad hisce malis remedia pro viribus adhibenda. Id nempe requirit praeceptum caritatis, cuius cura ad iustitiam stabiliendam primum pertineat oportet. Numquam sane est abortus pro­bandus, at in primis eiusdem removendae sunt causae. Haec omnia quandam, ut dicitur, politicam actionem requirunt, ac peculiaris provincia haec erit, quae ad leges spectabit. At simul boni mores fovendi sunt, atque actuosa opera danda est ut familiis, matribus et filiis quovis modo subveniatur. Magnas quidem progressiones in humanae vitae bonum medi­cinalis scientia iam consecuta est; et ampliores etiam licet exspectare, secundum proprium medicorum munus, quorum est vitam sustentare et fovere quam maxime, nequaquam autem earn exstinguere. Optandum pariter est, ut per idonea instituta aut, its deficientibus, per christianae magnanimitatis et caritatis ardorem omnes assistendi formae magis in dies promoveantur.






27. There will be no effective action on the level of morality unless at the same time an effort is made on the level of ideas. A point of view - or even more, perhaps a way of thinking - which considers fertility as an evil cannot be allowed to spread without contradiction. It is true that not all forms of culture are equally in favor of large families. Such families come up against much greater difficulties in an industrial and urban civilization. Thus in recent times the Church has insisted on the idea of responsible parenthood, the exercise of true human and Christian prudence.

27. Moribus tutandis efficax opera dari nequit, nisi etiam in doctrinae campo contendatur. Permittendum enim non est, ut illa cogitandi ratio vel potius etiam ille animi affectus, quo fecunditas malum putatur, diffundatur, neque ei obsista­tur. Verum quidem est non omnes civilis cultus formas familiis, numerosa prole fecundis, pari modo favere, hasque maioribus angustiis praepediri, ubi quaestuosae industriae vel urbanae vitae ratio invalescunt. Quo factum est, ut Ecclesia iterum ite­rumque recentioribus hisce temporibus egerit de « paternitate responsabili », tamquam de verae prudentiae exercitio, hu­manae et christianae.

Such prudence would not be authentic if it did not include generosity. It must preserve awareness of the grandeur of the task of cooperating with the Creator in the transmission of life, which gives new members to society and new children to the Church. Christ’s Church has the fundamental solicitude of protecting and favoring life. She certainly thinks before all else of the life which Christ came to bring: “I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full” (Jn. 10:10). But life at all its levels comes from God, and bodily life is for man the indispensable beginning. In this life on earth sin has introduced, multiplied and made harder to bear suffering and death. But in taking their burden upon Himself, Jesus Christ has transformed them: for whoever believes in Him, suffering and death itself become instruments of resurrection. Hence Saint Paul can say: “I think that what we suffer in this life can never be compared to the glory, as yet unrevealed, which is waiting for us” (Rom. 8:18). And, if we make this comparison we shall add with him: “Yes, the troubles which are soon over, though they weigh little, train us for the carrying of a weight of eternal glory which is out of all proportion to them” (2 Cor. 4:17).

Quae prudentia autem germana esse nequit, nisi magnanimitatem complectatur; praeterea stabili­ter coniunctam habere debet conscientiam magni illius mune­ris cooperandi cum Creatore in vita tradenda, quae et novis membris humanam consortionem ditat et novos filios largitur Ecclesiae. Praecipua cura ac sollicitudo Ecclesiae Christi est, ut vita protegatur eique faveatur. Sine dubio ipsa in primis ad earn vitam spectat, quam Christus in terns attulit : « Veni ut vitam habeant et abundantius habeant » (Io. 10, 10). Omnia vero vitae genera a Deo proveniunt, et ad homines quod atti net, corporalis vita habenda est necessarium initium. In ter­restri hac vita peccatum invexit, multiplicavit et graviora usque reddidit dolorem et mortem; Iesus autem haec onera in se assumens, ea transmutavit; credentibus in eum dolores atque ipsa mors resurrectionis instrumenta fiunt. Quare S. Paulus asserere iure potuit : « Existimo enim quod non sunt condignae passiones huius temporis ad futuram gloriam, quae revelabitur in nobis » (Rom. 8, 18). Ac volentibus corn­parationem instituere, cum eo addere licebit : « Quod in prae­senti est momentaneum et leve tribulationis nostrae supra Inodum in sublimitate aeternum gloriae pondus operatur in nobis » (2 Cor. 4, 17).



The Supreme Pontiff Pope Paul VI, in an audience granted to the undersigned Secretary of the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on June 28, 1974, has ratified this Declaration on Procured Abortion and has confirmed it and ordered it to be promulgated.

Given in Rome, at the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on November 18, the Commemoration of the Dedication of the Basilicas of Saints Peter and Paul, in the year 1974.

Franciscus Card. SEPER

Hieronymus HAMER
Titular Archbishop of Lorium


1. A certain number of bishops’ documents are to be found in Gr. Caprile, “Non Uccidere, Il Magistero della Chiesa sull’aborto.” Part II, pp. 47-300, Rome, 1973.

2. “Regimini Ecclesiae Universae,” III, 1, 29. Cf. ibid., 31 (AAS 59 [1967], p. 897). On the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith depend all the questions which are related to faith and morals or which are bound up with the faith.

3. “Lumen gentium,” 12 (AAS 57 [1965], pp. 16-17). The present Declaration does not envisage all the questions which can arise in connection with abortion: it is for theologians to examine and discuss them. Only certain basic principles are here recalled which must be for the theologians themselves a guide and a rule, and confirm certain fundamental truths of Catholic doctrine for all Christians.

4. “Lumen Gentium,” 25 (AAS 57 [1965], pp. 29-31).

5. The authors of Scripture do not make any philosophical observations on when life begins, but they speak of the period of life which precedes birth as being the object of God’s attention: He creates and forms the human being, like that which is moulded by His hand (cf. Ps. 118:73). It would seem that this theme finds expression for the first time in Jer. 1:5. It appears later in many other texts. Cf. Is. 49:1-5; 46:3; Jb. 10:8-12; Ps. 22:10; 71:6; 139:13. In the Gospels we read in Luke 1:44: “For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy.”

6. “Didache Apostolorum,” edition Funk, “Patres Apostolici,” V, 2. “The Epistle of Barnabas,” IX, 5 uses the same expressions (cf. Funk, l.c., 91-93).

7. Athenagoras, “A plea on behalf of Christians,” 35 (cf. PG. 6, 970: S.C. 3, pp. 166-167). One may also consult the “Epistle to Diogentus” (V, 6 Funk, o.c., I 399: S.C. 33), where it says of Christians: “They procreate children, but they do not reject the foetus.”

8. Tertullian, “Apologeticum” (IX. 8 PL. 1, 371-372: Corp. Christ. 1, p. 103, 1, 31-36).

9. Canon 21 (Mansi, 14, p. 909). Cf. Council of Elvira, canon 63 (Mansi, 2, p. 16) and the Council of Ancyra, canon 21 (ibid., 519). See also the decree of Gregory III regarding the penance to be imposed upon those who are culpable of this crime (Mansi 13, 292, c. 17).

10. Gratian, “Concordantia Discordantium Canonum,” c. 20, C. 2, q.[2]. During the Middle Ages appeal was often made to the authority of St. Augustine who wrote as follows in regard to this matter in “De Nuptiis et Concupiscentiis,” c. 15: “Sometimes this sexually indulgent cruelty or this cruel sexual indulgence goes so far as to procure potions which produce sterility. If the desired result is not achieved, the mother terminates the life and expels the foetus which was in her womb in such a way that the child dies before having lived, or, if the baby was living already in its mother’s womb, it is killed before being born.” (PL 44, 423-424: CSEL 33, 619. Cf. the “Decree of Gratian” q. 2, C. 32, c. 7.)

11. “Commentary on the Sentences,” book IV, dist. 31, exposition of the text.

12. Constitution “Effraenatum” in 1588 (“Bullarium Romanum,” V, 1, pp. 25-27; “Fontes Iuris Canonici,” I, no. 165, pp. 308-311).

13. Dz-Sch. 1184. Cf. also the Constitution “Apostolicae Sedis” of Pius IX (Acta Pii IX, V, 55-72; AAS 5 [1869], pp. 305-331; “Fontes Iuris Canonici,” III, no. 552, pp. 24-31).

14. Encyclical “Casti Connubii,” AAS 22 (1930), pp. 562-565; Dz- Sch. 3719-21.

15. The statements of Pius XII are express, precise and numerous; they would require a whole study on their own. We quote only this one from the Discourse to the Saint Luke Union of Italian Doctors of November 12, 1944, because it formulates the principle in all its universality: “As long as a man is not guilty, his life is untouchable, and therefore any act directly tending to destroy it is illicit, whether such destruction is intended as an end in itself or only as a means to an end, whether it is a question of life in the embryonic stage or in a stage of full development or already in its final stages” (Discourses and Radio-messages, VI, 183ff.).

16. Encyclical “Mater et magistra,” AAS 53 (1961), p. 447.

17. “Gaudium et spes,” 51. Cf. 27 (AAS 58 [1966], p. 1072; cf. 1047).

18. The speech, “Salutiamo con paterna effusione,” December 9, 1972, AAS 64 (1972), p. 737. Among the witnesses of this unchangeable doctrine one will recall the declaration of the Holy Office, condemning direct abortion (Denzinger 1890, AAS 17 [1884], p. 556; 22 [1888-1890], 748; Dz-Sch 3258).

19. This declaration expressly leaves aside the question of the moment when the spiritual soul is infused. There is not a unanimous tradition on this point and authors are as yet in disagreement. For some it dates from the first instant; for others it could not at least precede nidation. It is not within the competence of science to decide between these views, because the existence of an immortal soul is not a question in its field. It is a philosophical problem from which our moral affirmation remains independent for two reasons: (1) supposing a belated animation, there is still nothing less than a human life, preparing for and calling for a soul in which the nature received from parents is completed, (2) on the other hand, it suffices that this presence of the soul be probable (and one can never prove the contrary) in order that the taking of life involve accepting the risk of killing a man, not only waiting for, but already in possession of his soul.

20. Tertullian, cited in footnote 8.

21. Cardinal Villot, Secretary of State, wrote on October 19, 1973, to Cardinal Dopfner, regarding the protection of human life: “(Die Kirche) kann jedoch sur Behebung solcher Notsituationen weder empfangnisverhutende Mittel noch erst recht nicht die Abtreibung als sittlich erlaubt erkennen” (“L’Osservatore Romano,” German edition, October 26, 1973, p. 3).

22. Encyclical “Pacem in terris.” AAS 55 (1963), p. 267. Constitution “Gaudium et spes,” 29. Speech of Paul VI, “Salutiamo,” AAS 64 (1972), 779.

23. “Gaudium et spes,” 48: “Indole autem sua naturali, ipsum institutum matrimonii amorque coniugalis ad procreationem et educationem prolis ordinantur, iisque veluti suo fastigio coronantur.” Also paragraph 50: “Matrimonium et amor coniugalis indole sua ad prolem procreandam et educandam ordinantur.”

24. “Gaudium et spes,” 50-51. Paul VI, Encyclical “Humanae vitae,” 10 (AAS 60, [1968], p. 487).

25. “Gaudium et spes,” 87. Paul VI, Encyclical “Populorum progressio,” 31: Address to the United Nations, AAS 57 (1965), p. 883. John XXIII, “Mater et magistra,” AAS 53 (1961), pp. 445-448). Responsible parenthood supposes the use of only morally licit methods of birth regulation. Cf. “Humanae vitae,”[14] (ibid., p. 490).

26. Cardinal Villot, Secretary of State, wrote to the World Congress of Catholic Doctors held in Barcelona, May 26, 1974: “Por lo que a la vida humana se refiere, esta non es ciertamente univoca, mas bien se podria decir que es un haz de vidas. No se puede reducir, sin mutilarlas gravemente, las zonas de su ser, que, en su estrecha dependencia e interaccion estan ordenadas las unas a las otras: zona corporal, zona afectiva, zona mental, y ese transfondo del alma donde la vida divina, recibida por la gracia, puede desplegarse mediante los dones del Espiritu Santo” (“L’Osservatore Romano,” May 29, 1974).



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