Vatican vows to expel stem cell scientists from Church

… as well as abortionists, politicians, and others who condone and approve of destroying embryos and carry out stem cell research on embryos:

Scientists who carry out embryonic stem cell research and politicians who pass laws permitting the practice will be excommunicated, the Vatican said yesterday.

‘Destroying human embryos is equivalent to an abortion. It is the same thing,’ said Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

‘Excommunication will be applied to the women, doctors and researchers who eliminate embryos [and to the] politicians that approve the law,’ he said in an interview with Famiglia Christiana, an official Vatican magazine.

Given the fact that stem cell research can be carried out without endangering embryos, this seems like a complete non-issue. Unfortunately, some folks don’t get the point (or don’t see the ethical problems with using embryos for tests).

For those not familiar with the process, excommunications within the Catholic Church occur in two ways, either formally or latae sententiae (automatic). What many people do not understand about excommunicatory acts is that — in the eyes of the Church anyhow — the only reason to excommunicate anyone is to prevent scandal or the leading of others away from the faith. For example, if you have someone teaching that Jesus Christ was not the Son of God, then that person excommunicates himself by teaching something heretical.

The Church gets into all sorts of debate of what is and what is not an automatic excommunication. For instance, St. Thomas Aquinas’ followers condemned the Immaculate Conception (now a dogma of the Church) as “the Scotus heresy” as the debate raged amongst Scholastics during the 13th century. Is dissent an excommunicatory act? Be surprised — no. But dissent that leads to scandal or the straying of the faithful is.

Catholic theologians and philosophers are often criticised for being rigidly captured by the Catholic Church, but the opposite is true. In fact, dissent is appreciated and cultured, so long as it is willing to assent to truth. Dissent for novelty or for the sake of dissention is contrary to the spirit of unity (a Christian ethic if there ever was one) can could never rightly be tolerated as being Catholic. In fact, because it intentionally splits itself from the unitative quality of the Church, it separates itself and viola!, latae sententiae excommunication.

On issues regarding the Catholic Faith — homosexuality, abortion, marriage, priesthood, sanctity of human life, Christ’s divinity, the Eucharist, etc. — there must be unity of faith based on an assent to truth. Dissenting theologians, philosophers, religous, and laity must always understand that private dissent may in fact be tolerated, but not at the sake of creating divisions in the Body of Christ.

You’re dose of theology for the day…

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