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Theology of the Body Part I Patristic Thought, The Reformers, Eugenics, Casti Conubii and Humanae Vitae Introduction: Think about it. What are the Questions the Holy Father wanted to address? Doctrinal and Theological-Is Marriage a Good? Procreation? Is The Body Good?

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theology of the body

Theology of the Body

Part I

Patristic Thought, The Reformers, Eugenics, CastiConubii and Humanae Vitae

introduction think about it
Introduction: Think about it.
  • What are the Questions the Holy Father wanted to address?
    • Doctrinal and Theological-Is Marriage a Good?
      • Procreation?
      • Is The Body Good?
    • Philosophical-Is Authentic Freedom a Good?
      • Freedom v. autonomy
    • Moral and Legal-Is Human Nature (and Natural Law) Good?
overview of presentations
Overview of Presentations
  • Background: Where does TB fall in the history of Catholic thought?
  • Theology of the Body
    • Original Innocence
    • The Fall
    • Redemption
  • How can you use this?
patristic thought
Patristic Thought
  • Background of great sexual licentiousness
  • Teachings of Jesus and Apostles on marriage, virginity, and chastity radically opposed the practice of the pagan world
    • Widespread divorce, contraception, abortion, and infanticide; chastity for males was unheard of.
patristic thought5
Patristic Thought
  • Gnostics-metaphysical dualists who held that matter was evil, ergo human body and sexuality
    • Total abstinence
    • Licentiousness without procreation
  • Fathers praised virginity, continence and upheld the good of marriage, and emphasized the good of procreation
patristic thought6
Patristic Thought
  • There was an apprehension about sex.
    • Depravity of the pagans
    • Story of the fall; Adam and Eve were ashamed
    • The problem of the appetite (concupiscence)
    • Blamed the loss of integration on original sin
    • Thus, they stressed the procreative end in order to emphasize virtue in marriage
    • Paul: marriage could allay concupiscence
    • Balancing these concerns was
  • De bono coniugali-Marriage is emphatically a good; embodies, fides, proles, sacramentum; Holy Trinity is the defining and interpretive principal
  • De virginitate-Based upon Paul’s view of virginity and consecration to the Lord
st paul 1 cor 7 25 ff
St. Paul 1 Cor. 7:25 ff.
  • Now in regard to virgins, I have no commandment from the Lord, 11 but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord's mercy is trustworthy. 26 So this is what I think best because of the present distress: that it is a good thing for a person to remain as he is. 27 Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek a separation. Are you free of a wife? Then do not look for a wife. 28 If you marry, however, you do not sin, nor does an unmarried woman sin if she marries; but such people will experience affliction in their earthly life, and I would like to spare you that. 29 12 …For the world in its present form is passing away. 32 I should like you to be free of anxieties. … 35 I am telling you this for your own benefit, not to impose a restraint upon you, but for the sake of propriety and adherence to the Lord without distraction. 36
de genesi ad litteram
De Genesi ad litteram
  • The good of marriage is threefold: fides, proles, sacramentum. Fidelity ensures that no sexual intercourse takes place with another outside the bond of matrimony. The offspring is to be lovingly welcomed, affectionately nurtured, and religiously reared. The sacramentum lays down that the marriage is not splint asunder, and that the husband or wife rejected by the partner should not be joined to another, even for the sake of offspring.
tradition on marriage
Tradition on Marriage
  • From the Fathers to Trent, concerning the blessings assigned to marriage: proles, fides, sacramentum.
  • The first of these is procreation.
  • Marriage was seen as a sacrament of the New Law, a source of grace for conjugal holiness, representing the union between Christ and the Church.
  • With the Reformers came an emphasis on the corruption of human nature in the fall and with that, an emphasis on marriage as a remedy for concupiscence.
  • Since grace does not reorder human nature by a real change in the person, concupiscence itself becomes the law of marriage.
trent 24 th session
Trent 24th Session
  • …Impious men of this age raging, have not only had false notions touching this venerable sacrament, but, introducing according to their wont, under the pretext of the Gospel, a carnal liberty, they have by word and writing asserted, not without great injury to the faithful of Christ, many things alien from the sentiment of the Catholic Church, and from the usage approved of since the times of the apostles
  • ON THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY. CANON I.-If any one saith, that matrimony is not truly and properly one of the seven sacraments of the evangelic law, (a sacrament) instituted by Christ the Lord; but that it has been invented by men in the Church; and that it does not confer grace; let him be anathema.
trent reaction or affirmation
Trent: Reaction or Affirmation
  • Trent - merely a reaction to the sort of things Luther held?
  • The dogmatic formulas of the council then would merely be the reaction of the Church to a particular problem and could be dismissed out of hand.
  • I would suggest rather than saying that she had to speak because of the context, that the context was a problem only because the troubling elements of that context were in conflict with the truth about holiness and conjugal chastity.
  • And the troubling elements of that context were not so different than the earlier struggles or our modern day ones, as well.
manicheeism survives
Manicheeism survives

And the influence of the dualism of the Manichees has never been rooted out among the theologians.

The point is that if marriage is merely a remedy for concupiscence and has no intrinsic goodness as the Church has constantly affirmed, a goodness elevated to the level of sacrament, then, of course, the whole of Christian conjugal morality falls.

Marriage would not necessarily be indissoluble, nor would it then be directed to the good of procreation and education of children, nor would unity of the spouses in their marital love be considered a stable good.

tradition on freedom
Tradition on Freedom
  • Intellect and free will
    • ST I-II Prologue-image in intelligence and free will
    • Efficacious
      • Human acts involve mastery through exercise of reason and will
  • Consciousness
    • The recognition of subjectivity
  • What is Freedom?
  • How is it possible to speak of authentic human freedom and law (e.g. natural law, divine law) without a clash of wills?
  • Philosophical Moral question
    • Objective-Goodness
    • Subjective-Happiness
  • Anthropological Question
    • Who am I?
    • What does it mean to be a person?
  • Theological Question
    • How is Happiness Possible for a Person?
    • God Alone is Good
freedom and morality
Freedom and Morality

Human Being

Per Nature



The Goal of

Life: Perfection of


freedom and morality19
Freedom and Morality





two fonts of christian morality
Two Fonts of Christian Morality
  • St. Paul’s Morality
    • Gives Jewish Justice and Greek Wisdom a new foundation
    • Jesus Christ is
      • The Power of God-Jewish Law-Justice
      • The Wisdom of God-Greek Philosophy-Wisdom
        • Natural Human Reason as a participation in Divine Reason
  • The Sermon on the Mount-Beatitudes
    • Beatitudes and Happiness
question for morality
Question for Morality
  • How does Faith influence Morality Concretely?
  • How to bring the Law of the Sermon and the Faith in Christ of Paul together?
  • The Synthesis from the Patristic period through the Scholastic Period emphasized reason (participatio) as the measure of human actions
    • Free acts were, of necessity, also reasonable
  • Under the influence of nominalism there was a turn towards pure will
nominalist philosophy
Nominalist Philosophy
  • Inserted a conflict between human freedom and nature
    • Nature was something to be dominated
    • The inclinations of human nature (including goodness, sexuality) were a threat to freedom
    • In the Aristotelian-Augustinian-Thomistic synthesis freedom originates in the inclinations of nature
freedom and morality23
Freedom and Morality

Human Being

w/ Reason

Image of God


(Virtues: Human and




  • Autonomy takes the place of participated reason as the measure of human action
  • Marriage is a kind of remedy for concupiscence (sex occurs beneath the level of personhood)
  • Restores the concept of “object” rejected in Kantian subjectivism but it is an object of feeling.
  • Principles of ethical value actually remain subjectivist and intentional
  • But, Christ is a true lawgiver
contemporary idea freedom and sexuality
Contemporary Idea: freedom and sexuality
  • 1. The human person must have license in sexual matters because of original sin.
    • The point seems to be that the concupiscence that remains after baptism is incapable of being controlled by reason and will. Implicitly, the need for relaxing morality is based upon a determinism of the subject which holds that the moral agent is not really free to subject his passions to reason and will.
freedom and sexual expression
Freedom and Sexual Expression
  • 2. At the same time, the right to sexual expression alleged to be rooted in human freedom. The concept is one in which we have the surrender to concupiscence joined to the consensual notion of freedom, which results in calling this surrender of human dignity a right. The right becomes not only a right to live out for myself my sexual tendencies, but also to demand that others remain silent or dutifully consent to similar sexual expression.
the progressives and eugenics

The Progressives and Eugenics

Background to CastiConubii

law and its origin
Law and its Origin
  • Moral Law is not a matter for Catholics only
  • The Declaration of Independence
    • The Law of Nature and Nature’s God
    • Self-evident truth’s-God’s wisdom supplies reason with certain criteria for honest judgment
    • Unalienable rights-The nature of the human being established limits upon the State
blackstone s commentaries 1765 1769
Blackstone’s Commentaries 1765-1769
  • Foremost law book in England and US
  • Played a significant role in development of US legal system
  • Those rights then which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights such as are life and liberty, need not the aid of human laws to be more effectively invested in every man than they are; neither do they receive any additional strength when declared by the municipal laws to be inviolable.
  • On the contrary, no human legislature has power to abridge or destroy them, .... Neither do divine or natural duties (such as, for instance, the worship of God, the maintenance of children, and the like) receive any stronger sanction from being also declared to be duties of the law of the land.
declaration of independence
Declaration of Independence
  • We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed
declaration of independence34
Declaration of Independence
  • --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
what changed
What Changed?
  • A loss of the sense of unalienable rights as persons (spiritual) naturally endowed by God
  • An Erosion of the Values of Marriage and Deterioration of Family
  • The problem has been recognized by the Church’s central authority for well over a century as a “flight from God.”
the pragmatists and progressives
The Pragmatists and Progressives
  • The Declaratory theory of Law
    • Until about the 20th Century
    • Judges, legislators discover, not create law
    • Recall Blackstone and the Declaration of Independence
a new approach
A New Approach
  • Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
    • A new approach
    • The Potential for social evolution
    • Use the law to expedite social change
    • No need to appeal to God
      • The law simply was a statement of compromise between conflicting social interests
holmes said
Holmes said:
  • “The first requirement of a sound body of law is that it should correspond with the actual feelings and demands of the community, whether right or wrong.”
roscoe pound harvard law
Roscoe Pound-Harvard Law
  • Reform the judiciary into an institution for social change
  • The law should become an instrument for “a more effective social engineering.”
william james
William James
  • The influence of the Pragmatists
  • Between 1881 …and the 1930’s there was a dramatic reorientation in American legal thought…During the middle decades of this century (20th) … pragmatic instrumentalism … was our most influential theory of law in jurisprudential circles…Robert Summers, Cornell U.
pius xi
Pius XI
  • Philosophies which repudiated God, i.e., “the flight from God.”
  • The Church, it was argued, was an affront to human freedom (Cf. Quadragesimo Anno, 1931, social justice)
pius xi42
Pius XI
  • The notion of the State that made the human being the absolute subject of the State
  • But human dignity has certain claims to make in the area of free enterprise, ex. Just wage, right to organize
  • This was not always recognized by the alleged voices of freedom
pius xi43
Pius XI
  • From God comes the very institution of marriage, the ends for which it was instituted, the laws that govern it, the blessings that flow from it; while man, through generous surrender of his own person made to another for the whole span of life, becomes, with the help and cooperation of God, the author of each particular marriage, with the duties and blessings annexed thereto from divine institution. Casti connubii, Dec. 31, 1930
social doctrine and family
Social Doctrine and Family
  • The Church’s social doctrine and concern about the family go hand in hand. The more we look back at the issues, the more we see this. It is explicit in the teaching of the modern Pope’s.
  • The fundamental problem is a loss of the sense of connection between God, the Creator, and His image, the human being.
the effects of destabilizing the law
The Effects of Destabilizing the Law
  • Social theories affecting family life are of greatest concern to the Popes
  • Two-fold attack
    • Workers rights, social stability
    • The meaning of the human body, human family, sexuality, marital stability
contrast the two views of law
“No human legislature has power to abridge or destroy… those rights then which God and nature have established, and are therefore called natural rights such as are life and liberty.”

Blackstone, 1765“

Law… should correspond feelings and demands of the community, need to appeal to God.

Holmes, c. 1900

A more effective social engineering

Pound, c. 1900

Contrast the Two Views of Law
aversio a deo

Aversio a Deo

Pragmatists, Progressives and Eugenicists: Contraception, Abortion and Euthanasia

useless eaters
Useless Eaters
  • “Whatever proportions these crimes finally assumed, it became evident to all who investigated them that they had started from small beginnings. The beginnings at first were merely a subtle shift in emphasis in the basic attitude of the physicians. It started with the acceptance of the attitude, basic in the euthanasia movement, that there is such a thing as a life not worthy to be lived. This attitude in its early stages concerned itself merely with the severely and chronically sick. Gradually the sphere of those to be included in this category was enlarged to encompass the socially unproductive, the ideologically unwanted, and finally all non-Aryans. But it is important to realize that the infinitely small wedged-in lever from which this entire trend of mind received its impetus was the attitude toward the non-rehabilitable sick.'' 1949 in the New England Journal of Medicine. Dr. Leo Alexander, Medical Advisor during Nuremburg Trials
  • Sir Francis Galton coined the term “eugenics” in 1883.
    • “well-born.”
    • Galton focused on positive eugenics
    • Negative eugenics, developed in the United States and Germany, played on fears of “race degeneration.”
    • working-class poor were reproducing at a greater rate than successful middle- and upper-class
margaret sanger
Margaret Sanger
  • Organized charity itself is the symptom of a malignant social disease.
  • Those vast, complex, interrelated organizations … are the surest sign that our civilization has bred, is breeding and perpetuating constantly increasing numbers of defectives, delinquents and dependents.
better babies fitter families
Better Babies, Fitter Families
  • “The message of eugenics was delivered in ways that appealed directly to "normal" Americans. The American Eugenics Society sponsored "Fitter Family" contests, open to all who chose to participate, using measures of physical appearance, health, behavior, and intelligence to judge which family displayed the greatest potential to produce genetically superior children. Divided into small, medium, and large family categories, as well as couples, the contests were enormously popular.” Lora Judge, “Eugenics” 2002
birth control and eugenics
“The Eugenics movement quickly became standard education in high school Biology and College. By 1928, the American Genetics Association boasted that there were 376 college courses devoted exclusively to eugenics. High-school biology textbooks followed suit by the mid-1930s, with most containing material favorable to the idea of eugenical control of reproduction. It would thus have been difficult to be an even moderately educated reader in the 1920s or 1930s and not have known, at least in general terms, about the claims of eugenics.” Lora Judge, 2002Birth Control and Eugenics
we must breed a race of thoroughbreds
"We Must Breed a Race of Thoroughbreds."
  • Birth control clinics, or bureaus, should be established "in which men and women will be taught the science of parenthood and the science of breeding."
  • "to breed out of the race the scourges of transmissible disease, mental defect, poverty, lawlessness, crime … since these classes would be decreasing in number instead of breeding like weeds."
social theory becomes law
Social Theory Becomes Law
  • The pseudo-science of the eugenics movement; the state’s right and duty to determine who should and should not be allowed to reproduce.
  • “Anti-social morons,” prostitutes, and “non-producing and shiftless persons, living on public and private charity.”
  • Virginia's Eugenical Sterilization Act of 1924
selection for sterilization
Selection for Sterilization
  • Basis of Selection: Procedure. 1. Investigation by State Eugenicist upon his own initiative or upon complaints lodged or information given by an official, an organization or a citizen. 2. Opinion concerning a particular individual in reference to "potential parenthood of socially inadequate offspring" rendered after scientific investigation, by State Eugenicist to Court of Record. 3. Early date set by court for hearing case. 4. Court to notify and summon interested parties. 5. Due provision for legal counsel for the defendant and for trial by jury. 6. Judgment: Order for eugenical sterilization if the contention of the State Eugenicist is upheld 7. Execution of the order under the supervision and responsibility of the State Eugenicist. 8. In case of inmates of institutions, execution of order may be suspended until inmate is about to be released, allowing ample time for convalescence. 9. Provision for the study of mental, moral, physiological, social and economic effects of different types of sterilization.
types of operation authorized
Types of Operation Authorized
  • Type of Operation Authorized. 1. "Surgical operation upon or medical treatment of the reproductive organs of the human male or female in consequence of which the power to procreate offspring is permanently nullified." 2. Specific type of operation or treatment in each case to be determined by the State Eugenicist upon the advice of duly qualified physicians and surgeons. 3. Due provision for safe, skillful and humane operation and treatment.
  • State's Motive. Purely eugenic, that is, to prevent certain degenerate human stock from reproducing its kind. Absolutely no punitive element.

“It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind...Three generations of imbeciles are enough.”

Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in Buck v. Bell, 1927

pius xi and eugenics
Pius XI and Eugenics
  • 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. Pius XI, 1930
national birth control league
National Birth Control League
  • Founded by Sanger in 1914
  • Before this she had teamed up with one of her lovers, Havelock Ellis, to promote contraception in England.
we must breed a race of thoroughbreds71
"We Must Breed a Race of Thoroughbreds"
  • Birth control clinics, or bureaus, should be established "in which men and women will be taught the science of parenthood and the science of breeding."
  • "to breed out of the race the scourges of transmissible disease, mental defect, poverty, lawlessness, crime … since these classes would be decreasing in number instead of breeding like weeds."
the peril of population
The Peril of Population
  • At a March 1925 international birth control gathering in New York City, a speaker warned of the menace posed by the "black" and "yellow" peril. The man was not a Nazi or Klansman; he was Dr. S. Adolphus Knopf, a member of Margaret Sanger's American Birth Control League (ABCL), which along with other groups eventually became known as Planned Parenthood. (Life and Education Resource,
lambeth conference
Lambeth Conference
  • 1920-Physical union of H and W has sacramental value; urge self-control
  • Warn against use of unnatural methods which frustrate conception
  • We cannot admit the contention that birth control is a matter of expediency to be determined on medical, financial and social grounds
lambeth conference 1930
Lambeth Conference-1930
  • A great amount of social pressure from Ellis, et al.
  • Permitted methods of controlling births other than abstinence
  • First Christian organization ever
  • Pius XI responded at the end of 1930
us federal council of churches
US Federal Council of Churches
  • March 21, 1931
  • The careful and restrained use of contraceptives by married people endorsed.
  • Recognized that “serious evils such as extramarital sex relations, may be increased by general knowledge of contraceptives.”
reaction of the washington post march 22 1931
Reaction of the Washington Post –March 22, 1931
  • “Carried to its logical conclusion, the committee’s report if carried into effect would sound the death-knell of marriage as a holy institution, by establishing degrading practices which would encourage indiscriminate immorality. The suggestion that the use of legalized contraceptives would be “careful and restrained” is preposterous.”
washington post
Washington Post
  • “If the churches are to become organizations for political and “scientific” propaganda, they should be honest and reject the Bible, scoff at Christ as an obsolete and unscientific teacher, and strike out boldly as champions of politics and science as modern substitutes for the old-time religion.”
other statements
Other statements
  • Dr. Walter Maier, Concordia; Birth control is a modern aberration representing 20th Century renewal of pagan bankruptcy
  • Bishop Warren Chandler, ME Church South, April 13, 1931: Whole disgusting movement rests on assumption of man’s sameness with the brutes
  • The Presbyterian, April 2, 1931: Its recent pronouncement on birth control should be enough reason…to withdraw support from that body, which declares that it speaks for…Protestant church in ex cathedra pronouncements.
casti conubii
  • Principles and Goods
  • …let it be repeated as an immutable and inviolable fundamental doctrine that matrimony was not instituted or restored by man but by God; not by man were the laws made to strengthen and confirm and elevate it but by God, the Author of nature, and by Christ Our Lord by Whom nature was redeemed, and hence these laws cannot be subject to any human decrees or to any contrary pact even of the spouses themselves. This is the doctrine of Holy Scripture;[2] this is the constant tradition of the Universal Church; this the solemn definition of the sacred Council of Trent, which declares and establishes from the words of Holy Writ itself that God is the Author of the perpetual stability of the marriage bond, its unity and its firmness.
freedom and bond
Freedom and bond
  • 7. By matrimony, therefore, the souls of the contracting parties are joined and knit together more directly and more intimately than are their bodies, and that not by any passing affection of sense of spirit, but by a deliberate and firm act of the will; and from this union of souls by God's decree, a sacred and inviolable bond arises. Hence the nature of this contract, which is proper and peculiar to it alone, makes it entirely different both from the union of animals entered into by the blind instinct of nature alone in which neither reason nor free will plays a part, and also from the haphazard unions of men, which are far removed from all true and honorable unions of will and enjoy none of the rights of family life.
blessings and benefits
Blessings and Benefits
  • Children
  • Conjugal Fidelity
  • Sacramental stability
  • An important section on love
good of children
Good of Children
  • Integral to conjugal love
  • Related to the dignity of the human person
  • A great gift of divine goodness
    • With parents’ “yes,” (assuming conception) God creates an immortal soul.
conjugal fidelity
Conjugal Fidelity
  • All forms of polygamy and polyandry condemned
    • Simultaneous
    • Sequential or Serial
love of husband and wife
Love of Husband and Wife
  • Mutual Help
  • Perfecting themselves in the interior life so that they advance in virtue and grow in love
  • Mutual inward molding, determined effort to perfect each other can be said to be the chief reason and purpose of matrimony, says the Roman Catechism
mission of conjugal love
Mission of Conjugal Love
  • Procreation and Education of Children
  • Intimate communion of the persons
  • Exclusion of either these implies that the union is not a marriage
  • The opposition between love and procreation is foreign to Tradition
pertains to the deposit of faith
Pertains to the Deposit of Faith
  • Definitive and irreformable
  • The Catholic Church…through Our mouth proclaims anew…
  • Any use whatsoever of marriage exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately deprived of its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature…
  • Eucharist and Penance
  • Docility to the truth
  • Personal cooperation with grace
  • Preparation for marriage
pius xii
Pius XII
  • Conjugal love and procreation, inseparable
  • Grandeur of the conjugal act: cooperation in a spiritual work
  • Address to Italian midwives
    • A personal act in its natural structure
    • Mutual giving which results in “one flesh”
    • Personal and free act
  • No wrong in seeking pleasure
  • The unity of the act affirmed
pius xii89
Pius XII
  • In CastiConubii, Pius XI
  • “solemnly proclaimed anew the fundamental law governing the marital act and conjugal relations; he said that any attempt on the part of husband and wife to deprive this act of its inherent force or to impede the procreation of a new life, either in the performance of the act itself, or in the course of the development of its natural consequences is immoral. …This precept is …an expression of a law which is natural and divine.”
estelle griswold 1900 1981
Estelle Griswold 1900-1981
  • Executive director - Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut
  • United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Association in the 1940's;
  • “Contraception would alleviate the misery abroad and in Connecticut.”
griswold v connecticut 1965
Griswold v. Connecticut 1965
  • The state law restricting contraceptive sales to married couples was a violation of the right of marital privacy-an offshoot of the freedom of association
  • Justice Goldberg concurring-asserted a right of personal, as well as, marital privacy
social engineering
Social Engineering?
  • The law loses its foundation
  • Who decides what the goals are?
  • The liberty interest (personal autonomy) in Roe v. Wade (1973) was fashioned for the court in Planned Parenthood’s brief in Griswold and Eisenstadt (1972)
freedom and human person
Freedom and Human Person
  • Note that throughout the Supreme Court has refused to deal with the question of what it means to be human
  • This void has been filled by a social program opposed to human life
  • Can the meaning of human freedom (privacy, autonomy) be separated from the values expressed in the Declaration of Independence?
    • Leo XIII, Pius XI….John Paul II, and Benedict XVI?