Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Delayed Hominization: Fr. Joseph F. Donceel, S.J.

This theory of "delayed hominization," as the psychology and theology scholar Joseph F. Donceel, Society of Jesus, once noted, is the most consistent thread throughout church history.
So Pelosi was not off the mark when she noted publicly that the church had held varied positions on abortion and that her role as a legislator did not require her to put church doctrine into law. My reason for speaking at that Sunday mass was partly to defend the speaker since Father Ralph was using the "bully pulpit" to espouse his view without Pelosi being there to defend her position.
Link (here) to the full pro-abortion op/ed piece by Ray Gonzales, he is retired from the CSU system. He was elected to the Assembly from Kern County in 1972, served in the (former Jesuit) Jerry Brown administration, and was a diplomat in the U.S. Foreign Service..


Frank Gibbons said...

Like, when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, there was, like, a delayed hominization of the Word made Flesh?

Joseph Fromm said...



Rob C. said...

Apparently the Church is bound by statements based upon faulty scientific theories of the past.

Science, on the other hand, bears no such burden.

Modern science has demonstrated rather well that human life begins at conception.

Maria said...

Well, we sure wouldn't want Speaker Pelosi,left twisting in the wind, without a Jesuit coming to her defense in her denunciation of the Deposit of Faith. Wouldn't St. Ignatius be proud?

Anonymous said...

"Apparently the Church is bound by statements based upon faulty scientific theories of the past."

No statements about the Catholic faith have been based on scientific theories. Perhaps you can provide some examples of what you mean.

Tsunami said...

With all due respect to the author, this is a misrepresentation of both the Church's stance on abortion and that of the Angelic Doctor.

Though there was a time when the Church considered delayed hominization the best theory of the contemporary choices, this was before modern science (ultrasound, etc) gave us a picture of the fetus developing even in its smallness. When this was discovered, the position of the Church on hominization as a scientific confusion changed, and Donceel attempted to use his theory to argue against the accepted position of the Church with regard to abortions in the case of "grave matter"; this conception of grave matter reveals a misunderstanding of the moral teaching on the matter. And one is hard pressed to find someone from the scientific community to defend Donceel's understanding.

By contrast, Fr. Austriaco, a Dominican, presents a much more convincing case for immediate hominization from a systems perspective which both takes into account the way we now see the embryo and the Church's moral teaching on abortion, which will not be suspended for a dubious theory which, when it was in vogue, was founded upon an epistemological uncertainty. Now that we can see the embryo, it's not nearly the same situation.

But science of it aside, the Church has never, ever permitted abortion of a human being. Period. What constituted a human being changed, but what constituted abortion did not. And, moreover, contra Biden and Pelosi, Thomas was of this mind:

"Whoever then procure a drug of sterility, are not spouses, but fornicators. This sin however is grave, and should be reckoned among evil deeds, and against nature, because even beasts await their young; however it is less than homicide; because so far there was another method to impede conception. Nor should it be judged to be as irregular [or “lesser”], [except] when the infant is already well-formed when the abortion is procured."

Book IV, distinction 31, art. 3 - Commentary on the Sentences

"And in the first it is always a mortal sin, because offspring cannot follow, from which the whole intention of nature is frustrated."

Exposition of that text

"He that strikes a woman with child does something unlawful: wherefore if there results the death either of the woman or of the animated fetus, he will not be excused from homicide, especially seeing that death is the natural result of such a blow."

Summa II-II q64 a8

Moreover, the human being is both form and matter. To say that the hominization is delayed in Thomas' view is only partially true, on the side of form; the matter is always that of two human parents, and is human, while striving upwards to the form of a man. It's not the matter of a rock, or a horse. As such, it has a dignity as part of a human body, something to be respected; and in any case, even before the 40 days he thought was necessary, it remained a most grave sin to kill the fetus.

Lastly, to expect a priest not to use the pulpit to pronounce against the public misinformation of his flock is to expect him not to do his job. Priests do not need to debate with the person who says something false; their vocation is far more important than that of a politician.

Daniel Latinus said...

Ancient penitential manuals, which defined sins and specified penances to be imposed, specified lighter punishments if the abortion took place before quickening (first noticed movements of the fetus), and much more severe penalties afterwards.

But the one point that runs through all this is: abortion was always a sin, regardless of the stage at which the fetus was killed.

Joseph Fromm said...


TonyD said...

There are situations where material death is appropriate -- for a wide variety of reasons.

We define ourselves before God in choosing a position on abortion. Scientific proof of life? The Magisterium? Historical church positions? Statements by Church Saints? The Pope? The Gospels? Your priest? You just "know" that abortion is evil?

I've stated many times on this blog that the most important consideration is "love your neighbor" - which includes consideration for community values. This is an actual value that defines a person and the way that they encounter the world and God.

God wants you to love your neighbor. That is a more important aspect of self than all the other "logic" and "interpretations" used to craft a position on this topic.