Idaho Lay Dominicans
Blessed Margaret of Castello Chapter
- Book of Romans - No. 1 -

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A Colloquy on the Natural Law

                                 (The following paper was presented to the Blessed Margaret of Castello Chapter members, and was discussed at our September, 2002 meeting.): 

      Thirty years ago this January 22, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down two decisions, namely Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, two decisions that changed our society, our federal system, and our political landscape for decades to come.   Abortion has hardened the collective heart of America because abortion kills somebody, and killing is wrong.  Fundamental to the Catholic Faith is that life begins at conception, and the killing of innocent life is morally wrong.  Yet, abortion in America is generally accepted under the guise of freedom and “choice.”   Elusive choice has become the standard by which society is measured. Whose choice? Certainly not the choice of the child.

     Before these abortion decisions, the pro-life movement was not a part of the political landscape in this country.  After the decisions, the pro-life cause became part of the political system, through lobbying and education.  There is a place for political involvement.  After all, as Edmund Burke said, if good men do nothing, then evil will prevail.  Evil prevailed in the 20th Century: first, when Stalin subjugated and killed the Russian peoples in the name of Communism; secondly, when the Nazis slaughtered millions of Jews and Christians, and finally when our Nation’s highest Court gave us its diabolical conclusion that the right of a woman to an abortion outweighs the right of a child to live.

     The Court’s decision was deadly wrong...literally.  If sustained in the long-term, this decision is a one-way road to tyranny. Our legal system is based upon the reality that the rights and duties of all men and women are God-given, not derived from the state. With the Roe v. Wade decision, the United States crossed that infamous road of trying to legislate against the natural law.  “Quality” of life became the debate, rather than life itself. 

     There is a realm of law, where human decision-makers, policy makers, administrators, ministers, electorate, and persons in general may debate, discuss, and make a final decision.  In America, our system has engendered so much respect and duplication around the world.  It is not perfect, but the idea is to get the people, through their respective representatives and after proper input from the electorate, to make a decision. Yet, this realm of decision-making only includes legitimate policy concerns, such as traffic regulation, tax rates, building codes, and, among other issues, providing for the common defense and common good. 

     However, there are issues, or principles that are not debatable and not subject to human policy or administration.  There are physical laws that cannot be violated without consequence.  There are also moral laws that cannot be violated without consequence. These laws are often collectively called the “natural law”—the principles that govern the universe.  The physical laws govern motion, energy, time, and other factors. The moral laws govern human behavior.  A legislature does not create a law against murder, stealing, or violence. It adopts the natural law prohibition against these acts. Each person understands these laws naturally.  As it says in Scripture, “I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Hebrews 8:10; 10:16).

      When the United States Supreme Court sanctioned abortion in its 1973 decision, the Court sorrowfully granted “rights” to abortion it was not competent to grant.  God grants certain rights, including the rights to life, to liberty, and to property that cannot be taken by the state.   If these rights are derived from the state, then the state can take them away at a whim. Tyranny will result.  However, if human behavior is guided by the respect of a greater law, i.e. natural law, then true human freedom may thrive.  “As Pope John Paul has observed, ‘At the center of the moral vision of [the American] founding documents of the human person . . .’ The greatness of the United States lies ‘especially [in its] respect for the dignity and sanctity of human life in all conditions and at all stages of development.’"  (Living the Gospel of Life: A Challenge to American Catholics, U.S. Bishops, 1998:  We cannot lose, we cannot forget, and we cannot let go of our love of life!  

                 You may want to read Pope John Paul II’s encyclical: Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae). It can be found at:


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St. Dominic receives the rosary from the Blessed Virgin Mary
St. Dominic receives the rosary from the Blessed Virgin Mary
according to a vision of St. Catherine of Siena

Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922), himself a Dominican Tertiary, said; "Among the means of holiness most useful and opportune for the defense and progress of Christian faith and morals in our day, we recognize the Dominican Third Order as one of the most eminent, easy and secure."
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