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Dr. Barr’s startlingly simple question

August 29, 2008

Over at First Things, Dr. Stephen Barr, a theoretical physicist at the University of Delaware who also knows his way around the Catechism, has posted a very interesting idea occasioned by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s “mind-blowingly incompetent” (AmericanPapist) remarks on abortion and innocent human life.

Barr, drawing on John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium vitae (1995) and m.p. Ad Tuendam Fidem (1998), suggests that Pelosi has, completely on her own, forced the bishops, for the good of the Church and the welfare of souls (my phrase, but I think Barr would agree with it), to clarify whether she believes the “direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being” to be gravely immoral.

This being the final weekend before my own Fall teaching starts, I will resist (for now) the temptation to assess Barr’s post and some interesting issues it raises, but it seems to be much too intriguing an idea to let pass without at least a brief mention of it here. I’ll only say, leave it to a renowned astrophysicist to suggest a startlingly simple question.

Related note: Be sure to catch also Fr. Thomas Williams’, lc, fine post on the bishops and pro-life over at National Review On-line. Together these two posts make a nice wrap-up for the work week!

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