Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: Response to a question on the liceity of a hysterectomy in certain cases
On July 31, 1993, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith published Responses to Questions Proposed Concerning “Uterine Isolation” and Related Matters. These responses, which retain all of their validity, consider the removal of the uterus to be morally licit when there is a grave and present danger to the life or health of the mother, and hold as illicit, insofar as they are methods of direct sterilization, the removal of the uterus and tubal ligation (uterine isolation) with the intention of making impossible an eventual pregnancy which can pose some risk for the mother.
The New Charter for Health Care Workers, the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers’ definitive guide on bioethics in the Catholic Church, is now available in an online form. Updated from the earlier 1995 Charter, this book cover a wide range of issues in medical ethics, including end-of-life issues, reproductive ethics, and moral questions connected to the advance of science and medical technology.
As the fiftieth anniversary of Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae draws near, I have thought it useful to draw some reflections on the document. I have a vision of that great text as if resting upon three great pillars.
The first pillar treats human life as a great gift from God. Can anyone create himself (a self-made man?)? Indeed, can anyone maintain himself in being? Or create beauty and life from nothing?
A substantial and non-incidental part of the gift of life is the possibility of procreating, of collaborating in the work of Creation. The physiological bases of human procreation are well known, and an essential part of them are woman’s rhythms of fertility–non-fertility. Those rhythms, which can be perfectly known, form part of women’s health. They are there for some reason. I would say that they form a substantial part of the human being. To alter them is to alter the substance of man. It is to head for post- or trans-humanism. The finite and imperfect human seeking to amend the unfathomable divine Wisdom.
Woman’s ovulation rhythms form part of the divine gift of life and cannot be altered. God has reserved for himself the design of the human being. It is true that we collaborate towards the conservation and development of Creation (¨Look after the garden, and fill the Earth!”). There are many very diverse and interesting things that we humans can do with ourselves, with nature or with society. We dress ourselves, build, develop thought and science to surprising limits, such as interconnectivity, space travel or the knowledge of our genetic language. We can boost our natural gifts to such limits as it is difficult to imagine. We doctors should and must help couples by repairing what is ill in the event of sickness or disorders. However, we CANNOT change human essence. Neither fertility nor children are an illness.
The second pillar rests on the great gift of sexuality by which the spouses help one another, complement each other and grow together (“it is not good for man to be alone”).
The gift of children adds fecundity to the fecundity of a healthy carnal love. And there is indeed a healthy carnal love and a devious one. We all see it in our interior and exterior. It is the fallout of the great fall.
The third pillar seeks to indicate to the human being where the Creator’s criterion heads for and where not.
Married love helps spouses to overcome concupiscence or the shady area of the sexuality of the fallen man. This shady area threatens even governments, influencers and other organisations seeking to twist a nuclear aspect of the created human being.
I sincerely believe, as did Catalan Blessed Dr Pere Tarrés, that each and everyone of us should seek/ask for the gift of purity, which pleases God so much and so much peace offers to the resting human. Without this repairing gift it is impossible to fight against sexual abuse to children, or the trafficking especially in women, or the plague of pornography or the abuse of one human over another in all orders of life. Blessed Paul VI had a clear vision of this and was courageous to the end exposing the divine-natural truth.
On February 11, 1985, Pope St. John Paul II founded the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers. Inspired by faith and hope, he intended to offer a response to the challenges arising in the world of health care. In 1994, the first president of the dicastery, the late Fiorenzo Cardinal Angelini, published the Charter for Health Care Workers, translated into nineteen languages. Following upon new advances in the scientific and biomedical field as well as magisterial pronouncements during the pontificates of Popes St. John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis, the dicastery considered it necessary to revise and update this document while keeping its original structure, focused on the calling of health care workers to be ministers of life.
A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you, says His Holiness Pope Francis in this searing TED Talk delivered directly from Vatican City. In a hopeful message to people of all faiths, to those who have power as well as those who don’t, the spiritual leader provides illuminating commentary on the world as we currently find it and calls for equality, solidarity and tenderness to prevail. “Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the ‘other’ is not a statistic, or a number,” he says. “We all need each other.”
The Incarnation of Jesus Christ the Son of God, into the human condition has served to forever change the meaning and value of human life. His incarnation has restored upon the face of humanity, the image of God, which had been disfigured through sin. As part of the restoration of the divine image upon the human countenance, the value of each and every human being has thus been invested with inestimable worth. No longer can it be said that the human is far from God but indeed God in Jesus has joined Himself to the human being and become one like them and so has raised it to the dimension of its origins.
In the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae St John Paul II has written clearly about the Church’s teachings on the value of each and every human life. He writes that human life is specifically “holy” and “good” because “the life which God gives man is quite different from the life of all other living creatures, inasmuch as man, although formed from the dust of the earth (cf. Gen. 2:7, 3:19; Job 34:15; Ps 103:14 Ps 104; 29), is a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of His presence, a trace of His glory (cf Gen. 1:26-27; Ps 8:6) ” (n.34).
Before he ascended the Chair of St. Peter, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, a man of unparalleled theological understanding with a natural genius for teaching. Co-published by The National Catholic Bioethics Center and Ignatius Press, On Conscience combines two lengthy essays written by Cardinal Ratzinger and originally delivered as speeches while he presided as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Both speeches were presented at workshops hosted by The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Dallas, Texas. They explore the vital importance of conscience and its exercise in particular circumstances.