Rather epic metaphor from First Things author

Although faithful Catholics are not bound by positions adopted by the Pope on such matters, they are bound by the moral norms he proposes for them to hold definitively. So, for example, let’s imagine that a Pope writing in an encyclical says that pregnant women should not take ibuprofen (as they might do for a headache or toothache) because it will cause the death of the children they are carrying, and there is a basic moral responsibility not to cause the death of a child at any stage of development. The fact that one need not believe that ibuprofen is an abortifacient (since there are very good reasons for believing it is not—and, in fact, it is not) does not affect the validity of the norm against causing the death of unborn children, nor does it alter the authority of the Pope to teach the norm as a norm to be held definitively by the faithful. So to disagree with a pope on the question of empirical fact about whether ibuprofen is an abortifacient is not necessarily to dissent from his teaching that a child has a right not to be killed by abortion—a right corresponding to a duty to refrain from causing embryonic or fetal death.

via Four Things to Remember About the Pope’s Environment Letter | Robert P. George | First Things.


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