|Originally posted by dado
do you know if there a clarification of this issue when the "animated foetua" approach was reversed? i'd love to read how they argued out of the box.
OK, I'm back with a fuller answer for you. First of all, that long page that explained the Immaculate Conception doctrine isn't infallible, only the doctrine itself is infallible. This is the doctrine.
|The doctrine of the Immaculate Conception
The Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instance of her conception, by a singular privilege and grace granted by God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the human race, was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin.
That's the infallible part, pronounced definitively in 1854. I'm making this distinction not
because I think there are errors in that explanatory page (I haven't found any), but just in case you thought I was claiming something I'm not.
Now then: Aristotle thought that life
begins at the instant of conception, but ensoulment
("animation") doesn't happen until sometime later. It was actually a three-step process, whereby the fetus gets a vegetative soul, then an animal soul, then finally a rational (human) soul. I should point out that these weren't three different
souls being switched out like air filters, they were the same
soul being upgraded, as it were. The whole process took 40 days for baby boy fetuses, and 80 days for baby girl fetuses. It was all very silly, but this theory was what a lot of educated folks thought for many centuries. Even Catholic folks. Probably even popes and bishops.
Fortunately, it's not what popes and bishops think
that's infallible; it's what they pronounce and define as dogma. And the Church's dogmatic position on "animation" was, .... nothing. The Church has never pronounced any position at all on when ensoulment occurs! Weird, huh? Obviously, Catholics believe it occurs sometime
, but whether it's at the moment of conception (as most Catholics currently believe) or some other time before birth, the Church has no dogma, and never has. So Catholics can believe whatever they want about it. Or to be more precise, they may believe whatever they want about it, until further notice. After all, that might in the fullness of time become a defined dogma, too. It's a "Management Reserves the Right..." kind of thing.
(Edited. Took out the last paragraph, which discussed Church teaching on
Warning :: Spoiler Ahead! Highlight to read message!
. I really don't want to turn this thread into that
kind of thread. But Dado asked, and anyone interested in the point I would have made here can read this article
. I hope anyone with more questions or comments about you-know-what will start a new thread.)