Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.When a Catholic hospital in Phoenix recently terminated a pregnancy to save the life of the mother, the church acted. The bishop stripped the hospital of its affiliation with the diocese and excommunicated the nun who approved the abortion. The hospital said the 27-year-old mother would almost certainly died otherwise. But abortion runs counter to Catholic faith. And there's no doubt the bishop had the right to do what he did.
Nicholas Kristof of The New York Times suggests the episode underscores a clash between two expressions of religious faith. Without litigating the deep and difficult issue of abortion itself (if we can), consider a broader question: What's the role of faith when there's no good choice? Sometimes doctrine says one thing but circumstances say another. What happens when both sides believe they have the fundamentals of faith on their side? How do we bring our faith to bear in situations where there is no good choice?
Our Texas Faith panel weighs in. And it's telling that two members invoke Dietrich Bonhoeffer, which is where we start with the panel's answers. Read on.
NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), DallasA question like this illustrates the need for deeper spiritual philosophical understanding. As the Nectar Of Instruction states that ones spiritual life can be hampered by following religious regulations strictly without deeper understanding or abandoning religious regulations due to whimsical practice and understanding. One must search out what is the deeper principle that is being upheld by said rule.
For the most part people in general do not have deep philosophical understanding of the self. They do not understand that the soul is different from the body, nor is it understood, by many that the self, the soul, has its own needs separate from the needs of its vehicle, the body. As a GPS is only useful when it can tell us our position on the map, so similarly we can only achieve our goal of happiness and peace when we understand our metaphysical position. Routes are bound to be full errors if one does not know where he is on the map.
So regarding the question that framed this question. The soul enters into the ovum via the semen at the time of conception. This is why abortion is considered by the wise to be abominable. Because the mother is meant to provide protection rather than harm. Also suicide is considered abominable because the human form of life provides the great wealth of the chance to become fully God conscious. In fact all life is valuable and should not be taken unnecessarily, we see people often eat slaughtered animals when such a diet is unnecessary. I would put forward that the family made the correct choices in their actions but as Lord Krishna states in the Gita, "Every endeavor is covered by some fault." Faults become nullified if we completely devote our heart to God. If that woman does not devote her life to God then that fault will harm her as karma in the next life. For she would have taken a life to continue a fruitless life.
To see all the responses from the Texas Faith Panel click here