In this first essay, we find that in author Mary Kochan’s first two paragraphs, there are issues already – so let’s explore them, shall we?
Where the Rubber Meets the Road: Part One
By Mary Kochan
“I once had an interesting debate regarding “sola scriptura” with a Protestant apologist. I insisted scripturally and historically on the Catholic position that 1. Scripture could not interpret itself anymore than it could read itself and 2. that the task of authoritative interpretation belonged to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. My clever interlocutor rejoined with a great question: Who then interprets the interpretation? Doesn’t this just become an endless loop?
My answer was that this question missed the incarnational aspect of the Catholic faith. Everything does not remain on paper, or floating up in the rarefied air of theological theory. Every doctrine comes down to earth, becomes incarnated by an act: a ritual is performed; a Sacrament is received; a vow is made and kept for life; a prayer is made by human lips and ascends to God; an act of penance is performed. This is where the rubber meets the road. We act on, pray on, live, what we believe.”
Mary's first two paragraphs are designed to establish that the Church's Magisterium is authoritative on matters of scriptural interpretation. It isn't to far to go from there to matters of "faith and morals."
After many years of examining the failures of the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church in interpreting sacred scripture on numerous moral issues, I have come to the conclusion that the problem is in part with the fact that the Magisterium is made up of fallible men, and even the Pope’s claim to infallibility when officially speaking on matters of faith and morals, officially confirmed by the First Vatican Council in 1870, is suspect.
In this essay, I am going to explore one area where the Magisterium misinterprets sacred scripture, and has used its interpretation in a less than moral manner to interfere with secular affairs involving people who don’t agree with Church teachings, and the law as it relates to everyone and not just Roman Catholics. My point of view is that of a cradle Catholic who was asked not to come back to Church over ten years ago, and who has evolved a theological perspective free from the constraints imposed on the faithful, using my informed conscience, right reason, sacred scripture, law, science, and history.
Let’s start with the whole idea of ensoulment as imaged in sacred scripture, and then incarnated in the Sacrament of Baptism, and how that relates to the Church’s current teaching on women’s reproductive rights.
Here’s a snippet of something I wrote on this topic to New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan, when I challenged him on his claim, made in a speech, that the Roman Catholic Church is “unchanging.” I wrote:
The Church’s initial teachings on “ensoulment” and abortion are based on writings of Aristotle, St. Jerome, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas – all of whom believed that “ensoulment” occurred several weeks after conception. Pope Innocent III, to whom one might ascribe “infallibility” (though there is the story of one Pope trying and condemning a deceased predecessor – try sorting *that* out), made it Church doctrine around the 13th century that abortion was permitted until fetal animation (called “quickening” – Aquinas posited that girl souls were implanted at 90 days after conception, while boys got souls after only 40.
Of course, this medieval and Aristotelian-based philosophical stuff ignored the majestic message of Sacred Scripture, in which the infusion of the soul (and the soul’s taking leave of the body) is inextricably intertwined with breathing – the soul itself involves the “breath of God” or “the breath of life.”
It was not until the 19th century that the Church started to change its position on abortion – and, of course, we have Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae that is largely responsible for the Church losing its moral compass on the ideas and concepts of ensoulment and what constitutes a human being. Human life is a continuum, but a human being does not exist until birth and breath. Humanae Vitae prohibited Catholics from the use of any sort of artificial birth control.
It’s clear what the current Church hierarchy teachings are on abortion and birth control – I submit that while these may be binding on those Roman Catholics who accept the apostasy of the Church hierarchy in its misguidance of the flock, it is in no way appropriate for the hierarchy, and that means you, your Excellency, to take action as the agent of a foreign power to interfere with the constitution and laws of the State of New York and the United States as they apply to those citizens and inhabitants of the United States and the State of New York who do not subscribe to your hierarchical apostasy.
So, let’s look at some examples of the “majestic message” of the breath of life I noted:
Genesis 2:7 -
the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Job 7:7 -
Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again.
Job 27:3 -
as long as I have life within me, the breath of God in my nostrils,
Job 33:4 –
The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life.
Psalm 39:5 –
You have made my days a mere handbreadth; the span of my years is as nothing before you. Each man's life is but a breath. Selah
Ezekial 37:5-6 –
This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: “I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the LORD.' "
Revelation 11:11 -
But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them.
Death is described in scripture as occurring when one takes a last breath – See:
Genesis 25:8 –
Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.
(Also Gen. 25:17, 35:18, 25:29, and 49:33)
Job 14:10 –
But man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more.
Jeremiah 15:9 –
The mother of seven will grow faint and breathe her last. Her sun will set while it is still day; she will be disgraced and humiliated. I will put the survivors to the sword before their enemies," declares the LORD.
Mark 15:37 –
With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.
Luke 23:46 –
Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last.
It is reasonable for a Christian to conclude from passages like these in sacred scripture that from a Christian perspective, the span of our lives runs from the moment we are born and take our first breath, and lasts until we die and take our last breath – that our soul enters and leaves as the breath of God.
Now, Mary Kochan wrote, as we quoted above:
“Every doctrine comes down to earth, becomes incarnated by an act: a ritual is
performed; a Sacrament is received; . . .”
If I understand this correctly, the Sacrament of Baptism, for Christians, is the incarnational embodiment of the act of birth and breath, and relates this event to ensoulment. While the Roman Catholic ritual allows for pouring water over the initiate, the Church still permits, and many Protestant denominations (mostly those that reject infant baptism) insist, on the original sacramental ritual, which involves immersion of the initiate in a body of water, holding them down just long enough, and then raising them up to take that first, new breath of air. The immersion is symbolic of the state of being prior to birth, the raising up is a re-enactment of birth, and the “first breath” is symbolic of the initiate’s new life as a believer in Christ’s message. The initiate is given a white garment, also symbolic of the new life.
In the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 93 S.Ct. 705, 35 L.Ed.2d 147 (1973), Justice Blackmun’s majority opinion delved into the origins of the English common law, which, prior to 1776, is the source of American jurisprudence. For those who haven’t read the decision, I will excerpt it here:
3. The common law. It is undisputed that at common law, abortion performed before "quickening" - the first recognizable movement of the fetus in utero, appearing usually from the 16th to the 18th week of pregnancy - was not an indictable offense. The absence of a common-law crime for pre-quickening abortion appears to have developed from a confluence of earlier philosophical, theological, and civil and canon law concepts of when life begins. These disciplines variously approached the question in terms of the point at which the embryo or fetus became "formed" or recognizably human, or in terms of when a "person" came into being, that is, infused with a "soul" or animated." A loose consensus evolved in early English law that these events occurred at some point between conception and live birth. This was "mediate animation." Although Christian theology and the canon law came to fix the point of animation at 40 days for a male and 80 days for a female, a view that persisted until the 19th century, there was otherwise little agreement about the precise time of formation or animation. There was agreement, however, that prior to this point the fetus was to be regarded as part of the mother, and its destruction, therefore, was not homicide. Due to continued uncertainty about the precise time when animation occurred, to the lack of any empirical basis for the 40-80-day view, and perhaps to Aquinas' definition of movement as one of the two first principles of life, Bracton focused upon quickening as the critical point. The significance of quickening was echoed by later common-law scholars and found its way into the received common law in this country.
Whether abortion of a quick fetus was a felony at common law, or even a lesser crime, is still disputed. Bracton, writing early in the 13th century, thought it homicide. But the later and predominant view, following the great common-law scholars, has been that it was, at most, a lesser offense. In a frequently passage, Coke took the position that abortion of a woman "quick with childe" is "a great misprision, and no murder." Blackstone followed, saying that while abortion after quickening had once been considered manslaughter (though not murder), "modern law" took a less severe view. A recent review of the common-law precedents argues, however, that those precedents contradict Coke and that even post-quickening abortion was never established as a common-law crime. This is of some importance because while most American courts ruled, in holding or dictum, that abortion of an unquickened fetus was not criminal under their received common law, others followed Coke in stating that abortion of a quick fetus was a "misprision," a term they translated to mean "misdemeanor." That their reliance on Coke on this aspect of the law was uncritical and, apparently in all the reported cases, dictum (due probably to the paucity of common-law prosecutions for post-quickening abortion), makes it now appear doubtful that abortion was ever firmly established as a common-law crime even with respect to the destruction of a quick fetus.
In point 4, Justice Blackmun examines English statutory law – but I note only that the first English criminal abortion statute came in 1803. That statute made a distinction between pre-“quickening” (quickening being when the pregnant woman can feel the fetus moving) and post-quickening abortions.
The permitting of abortion until quickening, which Justice Blackmun indicates may have been a part of the received common law of the United States, is ultimately based on Christian teaching dating back to the time of Thomas Aquinas and Pope Innocent III. However, Justice Blackmun indicates that some early American cases that followed Sir Edward Coke’s treatise that erroneously indicated that post-quickening abortion was a “misprision, but not murder” put
“reliance on Coke on this aspect of the law was uncritical and, apparently in all the reported cases, dictum (due probably to the paucity of common-law prosecutions for post-quickening abortion), makes it now appear doubtful that abortion was ever firmly established as a common-law crime even with respect to the destruction of a quick fetus.”
It’s clear that by the 13th Century, Roman Catholic teachings on abortion involved a retreat from the “birth and breath” concept. Even at the time, this did not have an effect on the concept that the human being becomes a person at “birth and breath.”
On the concept of “when life begins,” Justice Blackmun’s opinion in Roe v. Wade delves into many sources, including religious ones:
It should be sufficient to note briefly the wide divergence of thinking on this most sensitive and difficult question. There has always been strong support for the view that life does not begin until live birth. This was the belief of the Stoics. It appears to be the predominant, though not the unanimous, attitude of the Jewish faith. It may be taken to represent also the position of a large segment of the Protestant community, insofar as that can be ascertained; organized groups that have taken a formal position on the abortion issue have generally regarded abortion as a matter for the conscience of the individual and her family. As we have noted, the common law found greater significance in quickening. Physicians and their scientific colleagues have regarded that event with less interest and have tended to focus either upon conception, upon live birth, or upon the interim point at which the fetus becomes "viable," that is, potentially able to live outside the mother's womb, albeit with artificial aid. Viability is usually placed at about seven months (28 weeks) but may occur earlier, even at 24 weeks. The Aristotelian theory of "mediate animation," that held sway throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance in Europe, continued to be official Roman Catholic dogma until the 19th century, despite opposition to this "ensoulment" theory from those in the Church who would recognize the existence of life from the moment of conception. The latter is now, of course, the official belief of the Catholic Church. As one brief amicus discloses, this is a view strongly held by many non-Catholics as well, and by many physicians. Substantial problems for precise definition of this view are posed, however, by new embryological data that purport to indicate that conception is a "process" over time, rather than an event, and by new medical techniques such as menstrual extraction, the "morning-after" pill, implantation of embryos, artificial insemination, and even artificial wombs.
Blackmun continues with this:
In areas other than criminal abortion, the law has been reluctant to endorse any theory that life, as we recognize it, begins before live birth or to accord legal rights to the unborn except in narrowly defined situations and except when the rights are contingent upon live birth. For example, the traditional rule of tort law denied recovery for prenatal injuries even though the child was born alive. That rule has been changed in almost every jurisdiction. In most States, recovery is said to be permitted only if the fetus was viable, or at least quick, when the injuries were sustained, though few courts have squarely so held. In a recent development, generally opposed by the commentators, some States permit the parents of a stillborn child to maintain an action for wrongful death because of prenatal injuries. Such an action, however, would appear to be one to vindicate the parents' interest and is thus consistent with the view that the fetus, at most, represents only the potentiality of life. Similarly, unborn children have been recognized as acquiring rights or interests by way of inheritance or other devolution of property, and have been represented by guardians ad litem. Perfection of the interests involved, again, has generally been contingent upon live birth. In short, the unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense.
That may have been true in 1973, but there have been developments in some parts of the United States, perhaps inspired by Justice Blackmun's opinion, to legislate personhood as beginning with conception. Let's look at one recent state law that illustrates the absurdity of the idea.
In late February, the state of Utah passed a law that reportedly criminalizes "a woman's 'intentional, knowing, or reckless act' leading to a pregnancy's illegal termination. It specifies that a woman cannot be prosecuted for arranging a legal abortion."
On news article went on to state:
Some Senate Democrats attempted a last-minute amendment to remove the wordThe ACLU of Utah sent a letter in the attempt to convince the Governor to veto:
"reckless" from the list of criminal acts leading to miscarriage.
The actual bill text, as enrolled (passed) is at:
There is some convolution, including at least one double negative, in the bill (not put in quotes here to preserve the line numbers):
68 (3) A person is not guilty of criminal homicide of an unborn child if the sole reason
69 for the death of the unborn child is that the person:
70 (a) refused to consent to:
71 (i) medical treatment; or
72 (ii) a cesarean section; or
73 (b) failed to follow medical advice.
74 (4) A woman is not guilty of criminal homicide of her own unborn child if the death of
75 her unborn child:
76 (a) is caused by a criminally negligent act of the woman; and
77 (b) is not caused by an intentional, knowing, or reckless act of the woman.
So, to eliminate the double negative, let's rephrase 4, option b:
(4) A woman is guilty of criminal homicide if the death of her unborn child: (b)
is caused by an intentional, knowing or reckless act of the woman.
There is an "or" in there - so a "reckless" act might be one that is unintentional, or one that without any knowledge that the act is reckless. All that would be necessary would be for a court to determine that whatever it is that the women has done that is deemed to be the cause of fetal "death" - courts might presume that any act of a woman that could result in the "death" of a fetus would be by definition "reckless" if it results in the "death" of a fetus. Perhaps the only situation that might allow an escape from conviction would be if someone else's act caused the fetal "death" and the woman did not put herself in harm's way in any way. If she stupidly walks down a dark alley at night and gets mugged, and has a miscarriage because of that unintentional, unknowing, but potentially reckless act of walking into that alley, she could be held criminally liable.
It will depend on what is meant by "reckless." My thought on this is that the mens rea standard of "reckless" requires only an attitude of "I don't care what the result might be."
The mugging example could be determined to be reckless.
The following acts, if they result in the "death" of her fetus?
Drinking while pregnant? Reckless.
Taking illegal drugs while pregnant? Reckless.
Driving while pregnant? Maybe not.
Speeding while pregnant? Reckless, as far as harming or causing the death of a fetus. The speeding in and of itself may or may not be inntional or unknowing as well.
Disobeying traffic laws or driving in a negligent manner, causing a traffic accident? Reckless.
The law here is scary for a lot of reasons, but perhaps the scariest reason is the inclusion of "reckless" as a part of the standard, and the principal sponsor's reckless disregard for the concerns of those few Democrats who sought to have the word removed.
While the bill excludes "failing to follow medical advice" it remains to be seen what may fall under the umbra of "reckless."
Utah legislators seem to be comfortable with the idea of elevating the rights of fetuses to new heights, as long as the law adversely affects only women, or reduces pregnant women to the status of criminally responsible baby machines.
If women are ultimately to be reduced to chattel property in Utah and stripped of their rights as citizens and human beings, the Utah legislature might at some time in their dystopian future seriously consider amending the law so that the man who is legally in charge of the woman as property - her husband, father (grandfather or uncle), eldest son, or nearest male relative, would be held criminally responsible for allowing such an "intentional, knowing or reckless" act to take place. Why not? In their world, women would be reduced to the status of incompetents in most other ways, so that perhaps criminal responsibility should be transferred to their owners.
--- NOTE: The word "death" is in quotes as it relates to a fetus because a fetus does not have a life independent of the pregnant woman, and until birth and taking a first breath, is not a human being, regardless of Utah law. In Utah, one becomes a human being at the point at which the fertilized ovum is implanted in in the uterine lining - which insanity results in laws like this as their logical progression.
From the Wikipedia entry on "reckless" as used as a legal standard:
Black's Law Dictionary defines recklessness in American law as "Conduct whereby the actor does not desire harmful consequence but...foresees the possibility and consciously takes the risk," or alternatively as "a state of mind in which a person does not care about the consequences of his or her actions." Black's Law dictionary 1053 (Bryan A. Garner ed., 8th ed. abr. 2005). In American courts, a wrongdoer who recklessly causes harm can be held to the same liability as a person who intentionally does so.
In my above analysis, I made use of the alternative definition.
The reason for this is that the in phraseology "intentional, knowing, or reckless" it would appear that "knowing" would include within its ambit the first definition from Black's. All of this would be subject to the definitional usage in the courts of the State of Utah.
Still, some jurisdictions that are in the grip of reactionary right wing religionists have begun to hange their definition of when a human personhood begins – abandoning the time-honored and scripturally-based “birth and breath” doctrine. Down the road. If laws like these catch on, there will be major changes in the way the laws of descent, distribution and inheritance are interpreted. Birthdays may be abandoned in favor of conception days, and people will (in most cases) all get 9 months older. Absurd, but the logical consequence of the Utah law and the Roman Catholic Magisterium’s teachings.
The doctrine that life begins at birth and breath was firmly established under the common law – and that establishment is based largely on the biblical soul as “breath of life” doctrine. The distinction between legal doctrines that hold that life begins at birth and breath, and legal doctrines that criminalized abortion as a crime (in violation of the woman’s constitutional rights as a person, are more likely to be based on misogyny than anything else – the idea that an abortion denies the party who provided the sperm of any rights to the potential child.
Now, returning to the point – the Roman Church’s current doctrine on things like abortion and artificial birth control have changed over time. The current teachings are based on the July 25, 1958 encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae.
Paul VI makes it clear that Catholics cannot deny that the Church is
“competent in her magisterium to interpret the natural moral law.”Mary Kochan certainly concurs in this view, though the feelings of many Catholics with regard to the magisterium’s teachings on numerous issues has eroded greatly since 1968. Way before I was tossed out of the Church, I had become a “cafeteria Catholic” with regard to Church teachings I felt were at best wrong, and at worst, immoral.
In Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI wrote:
"With regard to man's innate drives and emotions, responsible parenthood means that man's reason and will must exert control over them."It appears that the pope was not mindful of 1 Cor. 7:8-9, where St. Paul proclaims that marriage is reserved for those who cannot control their passions and remain celibate. The degree of self control the Pope expected of married lay people certainly went beyond the capacity of many married lay people.
Thankfully, the pope left at least a recourse to “lawful therapeutic means,” which allows for “impediments to procreation” if necessary to cure bodily diseases. This reasoning has also been available to Catholic moralists for justification for removal of an ectopic pregnancy.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith addressed abortion in its Declaration on Procured Abortion, promulgated November 18, 1974. In this document, the Congregation rewrites the history of the Church’s position on abortion, though it acknowledged that, “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.”
The Second Vatican Council found that Life must be safeguarded with extreme care
from conception; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes. Gaudium et
spes," 51. Cf. 27 (AAS 58 , p. 1072; cf. 1047).
Of course, references to the writings of 19th and 20th century popes seems to reflect the changes in thinking about abortion that were reflected in the common Western culture of the times. While secular society has recovered from this, the Church has only dug in deeper.
The Congregation, in considering human life before birth and breath to be the same as human life after birth, made a grave error. Abortion was never deemed to be murder, even when it was a felony, even after quickening. The crime was rooted in the idea of the property rights of the party that provided the sperm.
The Congregation confused the blueprint with the home. The Congregation confuses the house under construction with the home, stating:
“From the time that the ovum is fertilized, a life is begun 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.”The human person becomes a person at birth, when God breathes life into the infant. Sacred scripture is clear on that, even if medieval thinking made an issue over “quickening” and 19th century legislators were focused on male property rights and sometimes the danger of the surgical procedures of the time, which were often a threat to the woman.
The Congregation claimed to base its thinking on science, and yet ignored the science that Justice Blackmun struggled with, when he sought to extend a “state interest” in the potential life, in which he analyzed the fetal potential for breathing during the 3rd trimester. Science also understands that there is insufficient myelinization within the brain until the 3rd trimester, for a claim to “brain life.”
Having drawn itself into a corner by misunderstanding the science and confusing the home with the blueprint, the Congregation took a draconian position against the lives and health of women who would be affected:
“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.”Endangered values? Such as the life and health of a woman who is already certifiably alive, breathing and has a soul? The Congregation exhibits a callous disregard for a female human life in being, by trumping up the portion of the continuum of life that involves the construction of the human body for the soul to enter, and placing that portion of the human existence on an equal plane with a human life already in personhood.
Chillingly, the Congregation writes:
“We do not deny these very great difficulties. It may be a serious question of health, sometimes of life or death, for the mother; it may be the burden represented by an additional child, especially if there are good reasons to fear that the child will be abnormal or retarded; 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. 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.”
Unfortunately, the magisterium’s irresponsible disregard for the lives and health of women, in favor of fetuses that have not yet received the breath of life, flies in the face of scriptural authority. What makes it easier for the Congregation to so cavalierly treat women, is the fact that not one of them is capable of getting pregnant. It has been said that if men could ge pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.
The evolution of magisterial teaching on the subject of abortion and on ensoulment cannot be hidden by de-emphasizing the teachings of the past. The invocation of science without a scientific basis, as a justification for teaching that a human being is a person from conception, or that the soul is infused before birth and breath (as found in scripture), with the “incarnational aspect” that Mary refers to, found in the Sacrament of Baptism.
The Church’s confusion of the blueprint with the home, and even the foundation and framing with the home, does not justify ignoring the foundational scriptural authority.
From the 13th century, Aquinas, Innocent III and others, propounded a doctrine of “mediate animation” – by taking the perception of fetal movement into consideration, the idea of prohibiting abortion thereafter was a huge leap from the scriptural birth and breath. We do note that this “mediate animation” idea was not used in the secular law to change the understanding that a human becomes a person at “birth and breath,” only to decide the point at which abortion would become considered a gravely sinful act.
The perceptions of the 19th and early 20th century lawmakers and the culture of the times dictated unfair treatment of women in favor of the rights of the providers of sperm, with perhaps some mind being paid to the risks of surgical abortion. Yet when secular society became more enlightened on the issue of women's human rights, the Church decided to intrude on the secular law, and retreat from real science in favor of pseudo-science. Once basing its stand on erroneous principles, the conclusions that proceed are like a house built on loose sand and not on a firm foundation, magisterium or no magisterium.
Vatican II was the Church's brief encounter with the Modern World, a world from whose reality the Church has been retreating ever since.
When the Church further intrudes its doctrine of sin into the secular world, where society has in many places become more civilized in the treatment of women’s reproductive rights, the Church has transformed itself into a powerful force for evil.
While I do respect the right of the Roman Catholic Church to bind the faithful to follow its teachings at the peril of excommunication, I do not respect the Church’s unwarranted intrusion into secular matters, by its opposition to laws protecting women and their rights against the intrusion of those who would enslave them or treat them as human beings whose lives are subordinate to lives not yet in being. Having shaken their dust from my sandals, It is a wonder why I care so much to comment and point out the Church's failings - perhaps I wish to inspire it to reform.
We hope to have more to write based on Mary’s two part essay, but this essay has become overly long already. My final conclusion today is that the concept that “the task of authoritative interpretation belonged to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church” relates solely in relation to the spiritual guidance of the faithful, and where that “authoritative interpretation” flies in the face of science, reason and the reasonable beliefs of those who disagree with the Magisterium, the Church has no business dictating to Caesar.
With that in mind, and from the perspective of a transsexual woman who has rejected the immoral teachings of the Magisterium in other ways, I hope to address more of Mary’s writing in my next essay.