Thomas Aquinas on Embryoes

Filed in Politics, Religion, Science, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Cloning, Missouri, Sanctity of Life, Stem Cells

The spin:

St. Thomas Aquinas, the premier teacher in the Roman Catholic tradition, did not think the early fetus was a person - "ensouled," in his language. St. Thomas believed the early life in the womb received a spiritual soul - and became a baby - only after three to four months. Thus, embryonic cells in a lab dish or frozen away are certainly not "ensouled."

The reality

It is true that Aquinas did believe that the soul was not infused at the beginning of a pregnancy. This is because Aquinas followed Aristotle’s embryology (circa 300 B.C.) and believed that an embryo was not formed enough to receive a soul until well into its development. However, 21st century embryology provides clear evidence that everything the soul needs is present from the first moment of every human being’s existence - as numerous Catholic scholars have explained. Aquinas would undoubtedly accept this evidence and agree with the Church’s current teaching.

Further, St. Thomas also believed the intentional ending of a pregnancy at any stage was a sin - regardless of when the soul was present. Thus, he remains firmly within the tradition of the Church in respecting human life at all stages.

More parsing of the original op-ed, later.

Via John Combest.