A Person is Present from the Moment of Conception

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“Needless to say, it is a value that applies to our entire being; for our soul and body belong to our person, which they express and manifest each in their own way.  Thus, since the body is a dimension of the person, it too possesses specific characteristics, a unique character, and likewise a value that is absolute.  This is the basis for the respect we owe to our own body as well as to that of every other person.  It also confers on the body a spiritual dimension and value, which means that it can no longer be seen as a purely physical substance nor be separated from the man or woman whose body it is.  By the same token, the body shares in the spiritual development of the person as a whole.

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In the eyes of the Fathers, then, the body is an integral part of the person, participating in its spiritual value from the moment of conception and beyond its life on earth.  This, together with the fact that the soul and body are inseparable elements of the human composite, is the basis for asserting that it is possible for a person to reacquire– albeit according to another mode of existence–the same body that had been provisionally separated from the soul by death.  It also justifies Christianity’s rejection of abortion, as well as the doctrine of metempsychosis or reincarnation.  Indeed, abortion is considered by the Fathers to be an attack on the life of an actual person since, as seen, they consider the person to be inseparably present from the moment of conception–we humans not being able to exist as such other than as persons.”  (Jean-Claude Larchet, THEOLOGY OF THE BODY, pp 23-24)

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