Germain Grisez justifies partial birth abortions

In his book, ‘The Way of the Lord Jesus’, Roman Catholic moral theologian Germain Grisez openly rejects magisterial teaching against direct abortion to save the life of the mother. And he approves of partial birth abortions. Grisez claims that it is moral for a physician, when a child’s head is too large to allow for birth, to perform “an operation in which instruments are used to empty and crush the head of the child so that it can be removed from the birth canal….” [section 3. d.]

In his justification of direct abortion to save the life of the mother, including direct partial birth abortions, Grisez ignores the teaching of Veritatis Splendor on the three fonts of morality and intrinsically evil acts. He then devices a rather ridiculous theological rationalization to approve of these direct abortions:

“The proposal can be simply to alter the child’s physical dimensions and remove him or her, because, as a physical object, this body cannot remain where it is without ending in both the baby’s and the mother’s deaths. To understand this proposal, it helps to notice that the baby’s death contributes nothing to the objective sought; indeed, the procedure is exactly the same if the baby has already died. In adopting this proposal, the baby’s death need only be accepted as a side effect.”

In this proposed act, the physician takes an instrument and physically crushes the skull of the prenatal child, just prior to birth, killing the infant. What causes the death of this child? The act of crushing its skull. In faithful Roman Catholic moral theology, nothing could be more clearly a direct killing.

Grisez justifies this act of direct killing by saying that, if the child were already dead, the physician would perform the same act. Let’s apply this rationale to another medical procedure, and see if the reasoning holds up. After all, no moral theology is sound if it is comprised of special rules crafted for each situation. The eternal moral law is based on basic principles, not a capricious judgment that varies with each case.

Suppose that a man has died, and, as an organ donor, his heart is used to save the life of another person. The act is moral, as the man died of natural causes, not from the act of removing his heart. Now suppose that a man is terminally ill, but not dead, and the same medical procedure, the removal of his heart, is used to save a life. As Grisez said, “the procedure is exactly the same if the baby [or person] has already died”. But clearly the second case is immoral. It is absurd to say that whether the person is alive or dead has no bearing on what acts can be morally done to the body.

Grisez also justifies partial birth abortion by treating the living child, moments away from birth, as a mere physical object, such that the bodily dimension of the act (crushing the skull of a living infant) supposedly has no bearing on the morality of that act. Such an approach is clearly condemned by Pope Saint John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor:

“A doctrine which dissociates the moral act from the bodily dimensions of its exercise is contrary to the teaching of Scripture and Tradition. Such a doctrine revives, in new forms, certain ancient errors which have always been opposed by the Church….” [Veritatis Splendor 49]

But Grisez is unconcerned with the clear contradiction between his approval of direct partial birth abortion and the teaching of the Magisterium. He openly admits that this and other types of actions to save the life of the mother are considered direct abortion and are condemned by the Magisterium: “Thus, not only classical moralists but the magisterium regarded it as ‘direct’ killing: a bad means to a good end.” But he approves of these abortions nonetheless.

Abortion is Genocide

Over one billion prenatals have been killed by surgical abortions: over 40 million abortions a year for over 25 years. Add to that immense number the prenatals killed by abortifacient contraception, and the total lives snuffed out may well top two billion. And this has occurred and is continuing to occur with the broad approval of sinful secular society AND the approval of many Catholic teachers. Whosoever justifies direct abortion or the use of abortifacient contraception by a woman who is sexually active, thereby approves of some abortions and is complicit in the most extensive and most wicked genocide in all of human history: abortion.

Germain Grisez publicly teaches that the direct killing of an infant, ready to be born, by crushing its skull, is morally justified. That false teaching alone should disqualify him from being allowed to teach in any Catholic institution. He should have been formally excommunicated by the Church (ferendae sententiae). He should be prohibited from reception of Communion, and all other Sacraments, until and unless he repents. In my view, he is automatically excommunicated by his act of formal heresy, in rejecting the teaching of the Magisterium against direct abortion.

No One Notices

My God, what is happening to the Church today?! Grisez is just one of many examples of prominent Catholic teachers who openly reject or radically reinterpret magisterial teaching on intrinsically evil acts, so as to approve of grave sins. They are openly teaching heresy and no one seems to notice or care. No Bishops speaks out against any of these teachers. They hold or have held teaching positions in Catholic universities. Some even teach seminarians. The wolves have taken the place of the shepherds, and their disguise is not very convincing. And yet most of the sheep do not notice.

Intrinsic evil is one subject that clearly divides faithful teachers from unfaithful teachers. The unfaithful teachers invent clever theological rationalizations to approve of certain intrinsically evil acts, ones that the weak in faith wish to justify: abortion to save the life of the mother, contraception, abortifacient contraception, direct sterilization, unnatural sexual acts, lying, and whatever else sinful Catholics wish were moral.

But these false teachers use a double standard. For the popular intrinsically evil acts, they have all manner of foolish excuses to justify the grave sin. But for unpopular intrinsically evil acts, they suddenly switch to the correct teaching: that intrinsically evil acts are always immoral, regardless of intention or circumstances. They justify abortifacient contraception for a medical purpose, despite the deaths of innocent prenatals. But they condemn (as they should) euthanasia, which always has a medical purpose, to relieve great suffering. So for the popular intrinsically evil act, contraception, a medical purpose (which is the font called intention) is said to justify the act, and transform it into an act that is supposedly no longer intrinsically evil. But for the unpopular intrinsically evil act, euthanasia, no medical purpose can justify the act, because it is intrinsically evil. They should have condemned all intrinsically evil acts, without exception, regardless of intention or circumstances.

“No circumstance, no purpose, no law whatsoever can ever make licit an act which is intrinsically illicit, since it is contrary to the Law of God which is written in every human heart, knowable by reason itself, and proclaimed by the Church.” [Evangelium Vitae 62]

“A good intention (for example, that of helping one’s neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means.” [CCC 1753]

“Circumstances of themselves cannot change the moral quality of acts themselves; they can make neither good nor right an action that is in itself evil.” [CCC 1754]

“It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.” [CCC 1756]

“Consequently, circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice.” [Veritatis Splendor 81]

But the most popular position, among Catholic moral theologians and other Catholic teachers, is a radical reinterpretation of magisterial teaching on intrinsically evil acts, such that various intrinsically evil acts are supposedly no longer intrinsically evil and no longer the same type of act, due to a change of intention or circumstances.

We have reached a point in the perversion of Catholic teaching on intrinsically evil acts, such that teachers of heresy on intrinsic evil are in the majority, and hold most of the prominent teaching positions, outside of the Magisterium. And then, too, there are many anonymous commentators online who are helping to spread this grave distortion of moral theology, so that intrinsically evil acts seem to become justified in many different ways. Even abortifacient contraception and abortion are being justified by many different Catholic teachers and online commentators. The heretical view is in the majority.

What will happen next? A conservative schism, followed by a liberal schism, followed by the great apostasy. Rotting fruit soon falls from the tree.

God is going to punish sinful secular society for its widespread approval of grave sin. God is also going to punish the Church on earth for Her failure to correct false teachers, who not only approve of grave sin, but who have the gall to claim that this approval of grave sin is actually the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Church and her unrepentant sinful teachers and members will be punished severely in this generation, during the first part of the tribulation.

God help us poor sinners, who cling to the true teachings of Christ, in the midst of such great error.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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1 Response to Germain Grisez justifies partial birth abortions

  1. Mark P. says:

    The heresy of modernism is pervasive in the Church today. We need to face the reality that Christianity, and more specifically, Catholicism, has taken a back seat to the secular state as the voice of reason, values, and morals in the world. The typical Western country is divided into the same camps of liberals and conservatives that we see in the US. And here in the US, which was founded on “personal freedom,” it was inevitable that we would reach the point we are at today, where man is his own end and salvation. So, the Church’s teachings on matters of sexual and contraceptive ethics are seen as obstacles to achieving this guaranteed personal freedom. Furthermore, we now operate under a system of endless litigation which has frightened anybody from speaking out on these issues and following their religiously-formed conscience as expected of the faith. The clergy in the West is frightened of this secular legal and shaming army, so many choose not to forcefully speak out against these affronts to the faith like gender ideology, same sex marriage, and even abortion; many have become more than frightened – worse, they have become accessories to these ideas, being formed by society’s “teachings” instead of the Church’s. However, they are more than happy to be seen as the vanguards of morality when it comes to popular left-wing social issues such as immigration reform, health care, climate change, the death penalty, etc. While these topics do indeed fit into Catholic social teaching, they do not deal with grave, intrinsically evil acts that can directly have an effect on one’s salvation. Just imagine how ashamed St. Paul is of many of today’s clergy. The Apostle ventured into pagan territory, populated by people living some of the most debased lifestyles, and fearlessly preached the Gospel. Many of our supposed shepherds today seem ashamed to do so, and perversely, some feel proud to go against it.

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