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Catholic Faith
Vol. 3 - #4, Jul / Aug 1997

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

Q.  What are the limitations on St. Paul’s admonition that wives obey their husbands, for example, if a husband would permit his children to do things that would definitely endanger their faith or morals? —C.J., New Jersey

A.  The limitations on St. Paul admonitions that wives obey their husbands are the limitations of both the natural law and divine revelation. The natural law does indeed prescribe obedience for the well-being of society. But this obedience to another human being may never be in opposition with the primary obedience we owe to God. His will is supreme. Consequently a wife may never be subject to her husband in anything which is contrary to the divine will.

Moreover, Christian revelation tells us that the dependence of a wife on her husband is a reflection of the Church’s dependence on Christ. Consequently the only true obedience of a wife to her husband is obedience which the Church owes to Jesus Christ as her Head. It is unthinkable that Christ would ever require of His spouse, which is the Church, anything which was not only sinful but not inspired by His selfless love for the Church which He founded by His death on the Cross.

Q.  What are we to believe about the eternal destiny of the souls of aborted babies? Does the theology of the Holy Innocents shed any light on the subject?  —T.R.B., Idaho

A.  We may believe that the souls of the aborted babies reach heaven and therefore enjoy the beatific vision. It is worth quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church on this subject. It declares, “As regards children who have died without Baptism, the Church can only entrust them to the mercy of God, as she does in her funeral rite for them. Indeed, the great mercy of God who desires all men should be saved, and Jesus’ tenderness towards children which caused Him to say, ‘Let the children come to me, do not hinder them,’ allows us to hope that there is a way of salvation for children who have died without Baptism” (1250).

The death of the Holy Innocents, murdered by King Herod, provides another reason for hoping that aborted babies will reach heaven. Abortion is a crime not unlike the murder of the Holy Innocents. Both are inspired by criminal hatred of innocent children.

Q.  Is it morally permissible to clone animals? —I.R., Michigan

A.  There is no moral problem involved in the cloning of animals. The basic reason for this is that animals do not have immortal souls. Absolutely speaking, therefore, it may be possible to reproduce an animal which is genetically identical, and therefore a clone, with the animal from which it was produced. However, no two human beings are ever perfectly identical. Why not? Because at the moment of conception, God creates and infuses an immortal soul into the fertilized ovum. And no two human souls are identical. Therefore, no two children are perfectly identical.

Although not directly asked in the question, it may be added that “cloning” of human beings is absolutely forbidden. It is a direct interference with the divine law.

Catholic Faith
Vol. 3 - #4, Jul / Aug 1997, p. 56

Copyright © 1997 by Inter Mirifica
No reproductions shall be made without prior written permission

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