I was just enjoying some quiet Sunday evening time with my copy of Denzinger, and stumbled upon two particularly poignant teachings from Pope St. Pius X’s Encyclical, Casti Cannubi, that had evidently slipped my mind. Here is the teaching:
“Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects; therefore, where no crime has taken place and there is no cause present for grave punishment, they can never directly harm, or tamper with the integrity of the body, either for the reasons of eugenics or for any other reason. …St. Thomas teaches this when inquiring whether human judges for the sake of preventing future evils can inflict punishment, he admits that the power indeed exists as regards certain other forms of evil, but justly and properly denies it as regards the maiming of the body. …Furthermore, Christian doctrine establishes, and the light of human reason makes it most clear, that private individuals have no other power over the members of their bodies than that which pertains to their natural ends; and they are not free to destroy or mutilate their members, or in any other way render themselves unfit for their natural functions, except when no other provision can be made for the good of the whole body.”
These paragraphs (70 and 71 of the Encyclical), in one fell swoop, demolish two common errors today:
- Mask/Vaccine Mandates, and
- “Sex change” surgery
Allow me to explain.
- In the first paragraph here quoted, the sainted Pope is focusing on denouncing eugenics (that diabolical notion wherein those deemed “unfit to procreate” should be sterilized by the state); but he specifically chose to not restrict his condemnation to that practice, as he added the phrase, “.. or for any other reason.” Indeed, only when a crime has been committed may a man’s bodily integrity be licitly “tampered with” by the state; e.g., by locking that man up. But forcing a man to cover his face is an example of tampering with his body also — for it entails forcing him to (perhaps all day) breathe in only his own just exhaled breath, block two-thirds of his face from those whom he must communicate with (rendering this communication extremely difficult, as much communication is non-verbal), significantly increase his risk of a bacterial lung infection, and on the list goes. Perhaps this is a reasonable punishment for a man who, for example, is guilty of verbally assaulting people at random. But it may never be mandated for a law abiding person. Similarly, Pius here condemns any mandated vaccination. Receiving an injection into one’s body certainly constitutes “tampering with” the body, if anything at all so qualifies. This clear Magisterial teaching, “Public magistrates have no direct power over the bodies of their subjects,” must become our rallying cry today. Deus Vult.
- A bodily member may only be removed or in any way mutilated if this is necessary to save the body itself (e.g. amputating a limb with gangrene). “Sex change” surgery, therefore, is absolutely condemned by Catholic teaching. (I put the phrase in quotes because there is no such thing as a surgery that can change one’s sex.) It is indeed an intrinsic grave evil, and no Catholic may in any way formally cooperate with it.
Note: Obviously, point 1) here does not mean that abortion must be legal — the child in his mother’s womb is not his mother’s body. The first duty of any government is to outlaw murder. Abortion is murder. Any government that fails to outlaw it is scarcely worthy of the name “government,” and is in fact little more than a gathering of functionaries overseeing anarchy.