Monday, November 5, 2012

Eugenics, Compassion, and Cooperating with Evil


"There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church - which is, of course, quite a different thing."
(Bishop Fulton Sheen, Foreword to Radio Replies Vol. 1, page ix (1938), via Wikiquote)

I think part of the problem many Americans, Catholic and otherwise, have with the Vatican is how the Catholic Church sees human life.

People, Love, and Genocide

The Church says that human beings are people: all human beings.

Every human being is a person, with a built-in dignity. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1700) This includes people who are:
  • Not interesting or useful
    • Too young
    • Too old
    • Too sick
    • Weak
  • From the 'wrong'
    • Country
    • Church
    • Class
      • Social
      • Economic
We're also told that we should:
Going along with cultural values and civil authorities can get awkward, once a person believes that all human beings are people: 'real' people.

For example, we're told that genocide is wrong, and that we shouldn't do it. 'I was only following orders' isn't a valid excuse. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2313)

"Lebensunwertes Leben" - 1934 to 1945

I doubt that many Americans would say that they support a "lebensunwertes leben" policy.

For one thing, only a few percent of today's Americans speak German. For another, some of us might recognize where "lebensunwertes Leben," "life unworthy of life" or "life not worth living," came from. It was a term used by the German eugenic program in the 1930s and 1940s. ("Origins of the Nazi Genocide," A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust)

Western enthusiasm for eugenics faded a bit after we got a look at places like Dachau and Auschwitz. The idea of removing undesirable traits - and people - from humanity never really went away, and that's another topic. (August 24, 2012, , October 7, 2011)

Happily, leaders of a remarkable number of countries around the world now say that genocide is a bad idea. Maybe we learned something from the horrors of the 20th century.

Then again, maybe not so much.

Quality of Life - 1973 to 2012

I haven't heard "quality of life" used as a reason for killing a defective person for quite a while. The idea is still very much with us, though.

A significant difference between today's America and the earlier effort to 'cleanse' Europe's gene pool is, I think, the motives involved.

Contemporary America is, by establishment standards, very compassionate. I didn't accept the idea that:
  • 'Defective' people would be better off dead
  • A child conceived accidentally
    • Wouldn't be loved
    • Was better off dead
The 'quality of life' argument caught my attention, since I'm one of those 'defective' people. I'm glad that a half-century of pain ended when I swapped out my hip sockets, but I'm also glad that I survived to experience those decades.

By the way: there's an election in the United States tomorrow. I've posted about the current American administration's odd policies regarding health care and religious liberty before. (March 16, 2012)

I'm safe, so far, since I'm old enough to qualify as a 'real' person under current American law. But I'm going to vote for the other major-party candidate, anyway.

It has to do with formal and material cooperation with evil. More about those terms later.

Dealing With 'the Wrong Sort'

Another way that the Catholic Church rankles some folks is, I suspect, the habit priests and bishops have of not heaping verbal abuse on 'sinners.'

Not that I think the mythical 'typical American' would expect - or want - a member of the clergy to act like this lot:


(ArizonaLincoln (talk), via Wikipedia, used w/o permission)

On the other hand, I do think that there's often a desire to have a priest or minister treat 'those people' differently: politicians I don't like, used car salesmen, telephone solicitors, whatever.

A problem, as I see it, with wanting to heap abuse on 'those people' is that - they are people. Like me. Besides, my Lord gave a pretty good reason for accepting folks who were 'sinners.' (Luke 19:1-10)

On the other hand, this 'pillar of the community' was not shown as a good role model:
" 'The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, "O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity--greedy, dishonest, adulterous--or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income." ' "
(Luke 18:11-14)
I've been over this sort of thing before.(July 27, 2010)

Life: It's Complicated, Sort of

The basics are simple: Love God; love my neighbor; see everybody as my neighbor.

After two thousand years of folks trying to weasel out of those simple rules, explanations have gotten a bit complicated. Lengthy, anyway:
  • Human life
    • Is sacred
      (Catechism, 2258)
    • Begins at conception
    • (Catechism, 2270, 2274)
  • Murder is wrong
    (Catechism, 2259-2262, 2268-2270)
  • Legitimate defense is permitted
    • But not more violence than necessary
      (Catechism, 2264)
    (Catechism, 2263-2267)
  • Abortion is wrong
    (Catechism, 2270-2275)
    • Because even very young human beings are people
      (Catechism, 2273-2274)
  • Euthanasia is wrong
    (Catechism, 2276-2279)
  • Suicide is wrong
    (Catechism, 2280-2283)
    • But regarding the soul of someone who commits suicide
      • Despair is not an option
      • "The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives."
      (Catechism, 2283)
    (June 24, 2012)
Moving along.

Dealing With Sin

There's no way I can avoid dealing with sin. The Catholic understanding of original sin is that we live in a fallen world, and are affected by the sin of our first parents: "...but human nature has not been totally corrupted: it is wounded in the natural powers proper to it...." (Catechism, 405; and see Catechism, 390, 391, 402-406)

In a way, I'm always 'cooperating with evil:' doing something that is connected with a sinful act. If I obsessed about that, I might decide to isolate myself from everyone else - which doesn't seem like a sensible option.

Before I get into the difference between "formal" and "material" cooperation with evil, the usual disclaimer: I'm just "some guy with a blog." I don't speak for the Church. On the other hand, I do my best to check out what the Church says.

Formal and Material Cooperation With Evil

Let's say that some fellow decided to kill his neighbor.

This fellow buys a car at an automobile dealer. Then he runs over his neighbor, killing him. That's murder, and it's wrong: an evil act.

The salesman who sold the car might feel guilty, since he provided the murderer with a weapon.

I don't know how American law would sort that out, but unless the salesman knew that the car would be used to kill someone he hadn't formally cooperated with evil. Selling the car was material cooperation with evil: he took part in some of the physical aspects of the murder, but that's all.

Formal cooperation with evil is knowing that an evil act is being or will be committed: and helping anyway. If the salesman had been told that the car would be used to kill someone, and he'd sold it: that would be formal cooperation. Also a very bad idea.

Formal Cooperation With Evil, and the November Election

Maybe this sounds theoretical. Not many folks, even in America, sell cars: and I don't imagine that many of them sell a car to someone who's shopping for a murder weapon.

On the other hand, a great many Americans will vote tomorrow. As usual, none of the candidates are perfect, and that's yet another topic. (August 3, 2012)

I could panic, decide that since there are no perfect candidates I'll stay as far away from the polling place as possible. That doesn't seem to make sense.

Instead, I've got a list of candidates who I think are most likely to do some good; and least likely to continue the national government's current lethal policies.

Deliberately voting for a candidate who has demonstrated support of objective evils such as the (legal) killing of young human beings would be formal cooperation with evil.

I don't need that sort of trouble at my particular judgment. Still more topics. (August 27, 2011)

I put some material about formal1 and material2 cooperation with evil at the end of this post.

Related posts:
Background:

1 Formal Cooperation
"...Evangelium Vitae also reiterates Catholic moral teaching about the sinfulness of cooperation in evil actions. 'Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God's law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil' (no. 74). The Encyclical goes on to describe 'formal' cooperation: It 'occurs when an action, either by its very nature or by the form it takes in a concrete situation, can be defined as a direct participation in an act against innocent human life or a sharing in the immoral intention of the person committing it.' Examples of such formal cooperation might be the father of a child about to be aborted urging the woman to have an abortion, or consenting to it; in the case of a doctor performing an abortion, a nurse who prepares for and assists in the procedure willingly would be guilty of formal cooperation...."
("Reflections on Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion" (June 13, 2004)) [emphasis mine]
"...It is necessary to distinguish first of all between formal and material cooperation. To formally cooperate in the sin of another is to be associated with him in the performance of a bad deed in so far forth as it is bad, that is, to share in the perverse frame of mind of that other....."
("Accomplice," Catholic Encyclopedia (1907), via newadvent.org) [emphasis mine]
2 Material Cooperation
"...Perhaps the complex moral analysis of the liceity of material cooperation in evil can be helpful as guidance for Catholics in political life. When formal cooperation (evil as intended) is excluded, some degree of material cooperation may be justified, according to the analysis of an individual situation: Is the person's right intention known sufficiently? Will scandal be avoided? Does the cooperation aim at lessening the bad effects of the cooperation? ..."
("Reflections on Catholics in Political Life and the Reception of Holy Communion" (June 13, 2004)) [emphasis mine]
"...On the contrary, to materially cooperate in another's crime is to participate in the action so far as its physical entity is concerned, but not in so far as it is motived by the malice of the principal in the case. For example, to persuade another to absent himself without reason from Mass on Sunday would be an instance of formal cooperation. To sell a person in an ordinary business transaction a revolver which he presently uses to kill himself is a case of material cooperation...."
("Accomplice," Catholic Encyclopedia (1907), via newadvent.org) [emphasis mine]

No comments:

Like it? Share It:

Advertisement

Unique, innovative candles


Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America angels animals annulment anti-catholicism Antichrist apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climatology cloning comet common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression despair devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude guest post guilt Haiti Halloween hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth poverty prayer predestination pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom vacation Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Following "A Catholic CItizen in America:"

Blogroll/Catholic Links

Popular Posts

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.