Other actions, besides those impinging on life and health, can adversely affect the person precisely as bodily. These include mutilation (removing some of the body’s parts and functions), assault (hostile contact with the body), and physical constraint (inhibiting the body’s movement).
Political societies sometimes make use of such practices to punish people. Here, however, mutilation, assault, and physical constraint will be treated as personal and interpersonal acts.
The morality of actions which mutilate or otherwise harm the body, or risk doing so, parallels the morality of actions which cause or risk death. Thus, questions about the morality of actions which cause any kind of bodily harm usually can be answered by applying the analysis which would apply to them if they caused death; in doing so, one must, of course, make the same crucial distinctions between what is sought as an end, chosen as a means, and accepted as a side effect. Still, sometimes basic goods other than life are at stake, and some specific kinds of acts deserve special attention.141
Affirmative responsibilities for maintaining bodily integrity fall under the responsibilities with respect to health treated in the previous question. Thus, the issues to be treated here concern only the morality of acts that remove a bodily part, a physiological or psychic function, or both.
a) Bodily integrity is a good of persons in two ways. In desiring their bodies to be good, people want two things: beauty and health. So, the body’s integrity is good in two ways: insofar as the body expresses the person and is necessary for communication (lack of integrity is disfiguring and repulsive); and insofar as the body functions as a living whole (lack of integrity reduces or eliminates some capacity, and so detracts from health).
Many acts which detract from the body’s integrity affect both goods at once; for example, amputating a limb is both disfiguring and disabling.
b) Acts that detract from neither good are morally acceptable. Acts that remove parts of the body without affecting either of the relevant goods affect bodily integrity only materially, and so do not of themselves raise any moral issue. For example, it is not morally problematic to trim nails or hair in accord with prevailing styles and to remove a normal appendix to prevent possible future appendicitis.
Acts intended to improve appearance that do not detract from any capacity also are morally acceptable in themselves, for example, removing excess fat. Even a materially disfiguring procedure which does not affect any function is morally acceptable if it enhances appearance according to the standards of one’s culture, for example, stretching the lips or ear lobes. Yet a procedure which does not affect any function and is favored in some cultures—tattooing, for instance—can be offensive to others and so have an antisocial significance, by virtue of which it becomes morally wrong.
Because pain is not an intelligible evil but only a sensible one (see CMP, 5.B), people may purposely inflict it on themselves, provided they do not detract from their comeliness or health, for some good end: penitential practices of scourging oneself or wearing a hair shirt, psychological experimentation with the sensation of pain, and so on. (Inflicting pain on others raises a question about bodily contact; see 3.c–d, below).
c) Acts which intentionally detract from either good are always wrong. For the sake of self-punishment or revenge, people motivated by negative feelings sometimes seek as their end to detract from their own beauty, health, or bodily integrity, or that of someone else, by removing some bodily part or suppressing some physiological or psychic capacity. Including, as they do, the will to damage an intrinsic good of the person, such acts are always wrong.
Sometimes people choose to do such things as a means to some ulterior end. Mutilation or its threat is used to coerce someone; a dying, but not yet dead, person’s body parts are taken for transplant. People sometimes disable themselves to arouse others’ pity and motivate almsgiving; choir boys were castrated so that their voices would not change and they could go on singing; misunderstanding Jesus’ figurative speech, some Christians mutilated themselves to avoid temptation.
Although intended for good ends, such acts also include a choice to damage an intelligible good, and so they are always wrong.142
d) Detriment to function sometimes may be accepted. It can be morally good and even obligatory to remove a part of the body essential to some physiological or psychic function, when doing so of itself also protects or promotes health; the detriment to function may not be intended as a means to the other end, but may only be accepted as a side effect.143 For example, a person sometimes should consent to the cutting off of an infected or cancerous limb or nonvital organ when that is necessary to prevent the infection or cancer from doing great harm to the body as a whole. Indeed, this is so even when the part removed is itself healthy, if removing it has natural consequences which are necessary for the health of the body as a whole and which cannot be brought about in another way. For example, a man suffering from breast cancer may consent to the surgical removal of his normal testicles in order to stop the hormones which are aggravating the cancer.144
However, even if detriment to function is not willed as a means but only accepted as a side effect, it would be wrong to accept any great and/or lasting detriment if the benefit to health could be achieved in some less damaging and/or less permanent way. For example, the surgical destruction of portions of the brain, with severe detriment to normal psychic functions, is not a reasonable way to treat behavior problems that can be dealt with adequately by psychoactive drugs; removing a fertile woman’s uterus is not a reasonable way to deal with a disease that could be treated successfully without sterilizing her.
To improve appearance, a person may sacrifice something of his or her bodily integrity and accept the consequent detriment to function as a side effect. For example, a man whose ears are unusually large but functional may have them cosmetically remodeled even at some small sacrifice of function; a young woman may choose to have healthy tissue removed from her unusually large breasts.
e) The preceding norms can be applied to organ transplantation. The norms already articulated make it clear that the morality of removing parts of a human body depends on the act’s relationship to the relevant goods: healthy functioning and beauty.
Since donating parts of one’s remains after death detracts from neither of these goods, a person can rightly make such a donation for others’ benefit. Since donating blood under the conditions set by sound medical practice does not harm the donor and involves very little risk, a person not only may but should donate blood if others need it and there is no special reason not to give it.145
However, since both eyes are necessary for some visual functions, such as depth perception, a living person would damage his or her vision by donating a cornea for transplant. Hence, someone who chose to make or carry out such an organ donation would be choosing to detract from his or her own or another’s health as a means to the good end, for example, benefiting someone else. Since such donations are bad means to a good end, they always are morally wrong.
Someone might argue that a donor could rightly make such a choice in a spirit of self-sacrifice. After all, did not St. Maximilian Kolbe give up his very life to save a fellow prisoner? But the analogy fails, because Kolbe, while freely accepting death, did not choose to end his own life; he suffered death in place of his fellow prisoner, and in doing so lost his life, but he did not transfer his life to the other man. By contrast, the organ donor does transfer his or her own organ and its function to the other person, and so must freely choose to end or damage his or her own function in choosing to give away the organ whose function it is.146
While choosing to give part of one’s body to another is wrong when the very giving of the part involves giving up or detracting from some function, it can be right when it only entails a moderate risk of future detriment to function. In the second case, the potential loss of function is not part of the chosen means but only is an accepted side effect. For example, assuming that donating one kidney for transplant does not lessen kidney function, with detriment to one’s health generally, a person may do so, even though accepting a risk to health in the event he or she contracts a kidney disease later.147
Can mercy call for donating a kidney? If someone has no moral responsibility not to accept the health risks and other side effects of the surgery, if the other’s need is great, and if the possibility of success is good, he or she could have such a Christian responsibility. As with other responsibilities of mercy, of course, only the person who would make the sacrifice can judge in a particular case whether or not it is called for.
f) Sterilization as a method of birth control is always wrong. No benefit to the person as a whole can justify any procedure which brings about sterility and is chosen for that very purpose. In no way does sterility as such truly benefit anyone; it only facilitates sexual intercourse—the distinct act in and through which some benefit is expected—by excluding conception. Thus, the intention in choosing sterilization is contraceptive, and the sterilizing act is at best a bad means to a good ulterior end. Moreover, because sterilization involves bodily mutilation and is usually irreversible, it is, other things being equal, more seriously wrong than other methods of contraception.148
People with a legalistic mentality sometimes suppose there is an easy out for Catholic couples who accept the Church’s teaching on contraception, yet want no more children and do not wish to abstain during the fertile period: let one spouse be sterilized and that spouse (or both) confess the sin; then the couple can engage in intercourse whenever they please without worrying about pregnancy or feeling guilty about contraception. The trouble with this supposed solution is that a sin is not simply a technical violation which can be repaired by going to confession. The choice of sterilization, like any sin, is a self-determination, an existential self-mutilation more profound than the physical self-mutilation of sterilization; and this self-determination lasts until the person repents. Consequently, unless those who have tried to solve their problems by means of sterilization are truly contrite—“I wish I had not done that, and if I had it to do over, I would never make that choice”—confession is fruitless for them.
But sometimes people do sincerely repent being sterilized. Like those who repent any other sin, they can be absolved and spiritually healed, so that they can live in grace again. Must they now either abstain entirely from marital intercourse or try to have the sterilization reversed? While Church teaching does not deal explicitly with this question, general principles point to a negative answer, at least for most cases. On the one hand, having repented sterilization, married couples have the same right to intercourse and reasons for it which other couples have after the wife’s menopause. On the other hand, there usually are good reasons not to try to have the operation reversed: doing so involves costs and other burdens, the attempt often fails to restore fertility, and even if it were to succeed, many such couples would have no moral obligation to try to have a child.149
Nevertheless, those who repent of being sterilized should consider their responsibilities conscientiously. Some couples will rightly judge that they still should have one or more children if they can, and that they can and should accept the burdens of an attempt at reversal.
Moreover, if repentant couples enjoy without restraint the freedom sterility has given them, they might sin by deliberately thinking: “I am glad and would do it again.” Realizing this danger, many repentant spouses will rightly judge and mutually agree that, in order to maintain and confirm their repentance and verify its sincerity to themselves and each other, they should abstain during periods which would be fertile except for the sterilization.150
Sexual assault is a special type of offense against the bodily person. While there is a wrongness common to every instance of this sin, in many cases additional factors aggravate its specific wrongness. Not all sexual assaults are offenses by men against women. All persons capable of the required deliberation and choice can commit this offense against any other person’s bodily self. In ordinary language, assault connotes perceptible violence, but that is not essential to sexual assault as understood here.
The sin of sexual assault is one thing; the sin of an illicit sexual act is quite another. Here, only the former is treated; the latter will be treated below (in 9.E). Hence, the following treatment of sexual assault must be accurately understood: acts not morally objectionable precisely as sexual assaults very often are morally wrong as sexual acts.
While many acts described as sexual harassment constitute sexual assault, the two are not identical. On the one hand, harassment connotes a pattern of behavior with the intention to disturb or annoy, while a sexual assault can be a single act done without any such intention. On the other hand, sexual assault is a kind of bodily contact, while sexual harassment need not involve contact. Thus, other acts which sometimes constitute sexual harassment are treated elsewhere (see 7.B.5.k–l and 9.E.9.d).
a) Sexual assault is defined by four conditions. Sexual assault is (i) intentional contact (ii) by one person with another’s body (iii) that either is sexually motivated or is with the genital parts or both (iv) without appropriate consent by the person whose body is touched.
i) Sexual assault is intentional contact, not contact which is the side effect of some other act, for example, pushing through a crowd or standing in the aisle of a crowded bus.
ii) Sexual assault is contact with another’s body, because, although one can wrongly touch one’s own body, such wrongful touches do not constitute assault. Since a married couple are two in one flesh, truly one body, their unloving sexual contacts with one another do not constitute sexual assault as defined here, but a distinct type of sin, which will be treated below (in 9.E.1.a and 9.E.2.g).
iii) When the other three conditions are met, sexually motivated contact with any part of another’s body is sexual assault. For example, patting another’s arm as a first step in making a sexual approach or pinching another’s buttocks as a way of seeking sexual satisfaction can be sexual assaults. When the other conditions are met, genital contact which is not the side effect of some other morally good act always is sexual assault. A woman’s breasts count as genital organs, since they contribute both to her reproductive role, to the erotic arousal of others, and to her own gratification.
iv) What is required for appropriate consent depends both on whether the contact is sexually motivated and whether it is with the genitals. If the contact is sexually motivated and is with the genitals, the consent required for it not to be sexual assault is actual informed consent. If the contact is sexually motivated but is not with the genitals, or if it is not sexually motivated and is with genitals, the required consent can be either actual informed consent or reasonably presumed consent. Examples of appropriate consent to nonsexually motivated genital contact are a person’s actual informed consent to the genital contact involved in a medical examination and babies’ reasonably presumed consent to the genital contact involved in bathing them. Examples of reasonably presumed consent to sexually motivated nongenital contact are manifestations of erotic affection by a person attempting to establish a romantic relationship with someone who seems interested and willing: warmly holding the other’s hand, squeezing the other’s shoulder, kissing, and the like.
b) Consent to sexually motivated contact involves four conditions. Appropriate, expressed consent to sexually motivated contact requires four things: it must be (i) plainly expressed either by words or by deeds, (ii) based on an understanding of the significance of the contact, (iii) given with full voluntariness, and (iv) given to the contact precisely as sexually motivated.
Hence, consent to sexually motivated contact is not appropriate and the deliberate contact is sexual assault if the consent (i) is presumed to genital contact on the basis of ambiguous signs, (ii) is given by a child or a severely retarded or demented person who does not understand the contact’s significance, (iii) is given out of fear or by someone deprived of the use of reason (for example, due to severe intoxication), or (iv) is given for a nonsexual purpose when the contact is wholly or partly sexually motivated, for example, consent to a medical examination from which the examiner seeks sexual gratification.
When these four conditions are met, consent is adequate so that contact does not constitute assault even though the consent is elicited by prolonged cajoling, a threat to break off a romantic relationship, or a promise (whether sincere or deceitful) of payment or some other benefit. Moreover, consent can be fully voluntary even though a person who otherwise might resist consents when sexually aroused, fatigued, excited due to a celebration or travel, or intoxicated but still able to distinguish between right and wrong.
c) Contact carried beyond the limits of consent becomes assault. People often give consent to some limited sexually motivated contact without giving consent to further sexually motivated contact, for example, consent to kissing but not to genital touches, or consent to genital touches but not to sexual intercourse. Since sexually motivated contact naturally progresses toward completion, a person who gives appropriate consent to any sexually motivated contact implicitly consents to further contact unless he or she clearly sets a limit. For example, unless a woman at some point makes it clear that she does not consent to the further step in the progression, if she allows a man to fondle her breasts she consents to his fondling her vulva, and if she allows him to fondle her vulva she consents to sexual intercourse. Nevertheless, if at some point she expresses her nonconsent to further contact, that further contact becomes sexual assault, and if that unwanted contact is sexual intercourse, it is rape.
d) Sexual contact with a prostitute can be assault. Although a prostitute undergoes sexual contact in exchange for payment, contact with a prostitute sometimes satisfies the definition for sexual assault. For in a particular case a prostitute may not consent to sexual contact or it may be carried beyond the limits consented to. Moreover, a prostitute’s consent is not fully voluntary if he or she is too immature, mentally disturbed, drugged, terrorized by an exploiting handler, or motivated by extreme need. In such cases, contact with a prostitute is wrong not only insofar as it is a certain kind of sexual sin—for instance, adultery or sodomy—but also insofar as it is a sexual assault.
e) Sexual assault violates the person in a unique way. Since the human body is personal, it is more than a physiological-psychic functional system which a person has and uses. A body is not something a person possesses but is an integral part of that person’s self. If it were something other than the self, two persons’ bodily contact never could constitute personal unity between them. But since one’s body is integral to one’s person, it is part of the capacity to give oneself to others in ways that establish and build up communion with them. Such self-giving takes diverse forms, including friendly facial expressions and gestures, handshaking, embracing, and marital intercourse.
As a capacity for self-giving, the body requires special respect, since one can give oneself only if free to do so or to refrain. Among the forms of bodily self-giving, sexual self-giving is uniquely intimate. Hence, the body as a capacity for sexual self-giving has a unique inviolability. Therefore, sexual assault always violates the person, is never considered insignificant by the one who is assaulted, and so is always grave matter.
In many cases, people choose with sufficient reflection to commit some other grave sexual sin and then voluntarily, although without further deliberation and choice, carry out a sexual assault. For example, an unmarried man and woman sinfully engage in mutually agreeable erotic play, the woman makes it clear that she wishes to stop short of intercourse, and the man rapes her. Whether or not he planned and chose to rape the woman, he is guilty of that sexual assault inasmuch as he did choose to engage in gravely immoral sexual play with her and voluntarily pressed it to completion without her consent (see the analysis of executive willing in CMP, 9.G.1–3).
Obviously, the man’s sin of rape in such a case, while mortal, is less wicked than it would be had he planned and chosen the rape, and the woman also bears some responsibility for the rape insofar as she cooperated in the sin that led to it.
f) Many added factors can aggravate sexual assault’s wrongness. The wrongness of sexual assault usually is increased by various specifications and/or circumstances of the act. Generally speaking, sexually motivated assault at least incipiently carries out some other sexual sin. For example, the assailant who touches another’s genitals acts out a fantasy of fornication, adultery, or sodomy. Moreover, sexual assault can lead to sin by the person assaulted and others who observe the act.
Even in its more ordinary and less extreme forms, sexual assault has bad psychological effects and impedes or damages community: it causes anxiety, embarrassment, and humiliation to those assaulted and fuels group antagonisms, for example, the antagonism of some women against men in general. Then too, the high incidence of sexual assault renders all bodily contacts ambiguous and so discourages people from legitimate communicative contacts, for example, embracing others to welcome, comfort, or reassure them. Moreover, many people suffer anxiety due to potential sexual assault. For example, children’s sense of security even with their own parents can be damaged by reports of parents sexually abusing children.
In its more egregious forms, sexual assault often has more serious consequences for its victim: immediate bodily harm, unwarranted loss of reputation, risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, depression and other serious psychological trauma, and harm to an existing intimate relationship or to the potentiality for such a relationship. When a man rapes a woman, she often suffers several or all of the preceding bad consequences; sometimes she also suffers loss of her virginity and/or involuntary pregnancy. Thus, it is easy to see why most people consider such rape the paradigm of sexual assault, a wrong comparable to homicide and, in some cases, even worse.
g) Other behavior should not be confused with sexual assault. Behavior that could be an act of sexual assault but in fact is not should be distinguished from true sexual assault. So, people should not be judged to be engaged in sexual assault if their behavior leads to bodily contact which may well be unintentional. Even if people intentionally make bodily contact that in some way is inappropriate, their acts should not be considered sexual assault unless the contact is genital or its sexual motivation is clear. For example, jocular patting or pinching of buttocks that is not sexually motivated is not sexual assault. Such contact can be grave matter if it is an occasion of mortal sin or is seriously repugnant and insulting. But it also can be virtuous when it occurs as innocent, playful contact among relatives and friends.
Because bodily contact is contact with the person, it seldom is insignificant. It can communicate for good or ill; it can be helpful; it can harm some intelligible good or cause pain.
a) Bodily contact often can be fairly accepted as a side effect. Some bodily contact with others is merely a side effect of moving about and occupying legitimate space. For example, a person takes his or her assigned seat in an airplane, and in doing so touches another’s arms and/or legs. Such contacts are ruled by fairness: they are morally acceptable insofar as they are necessary for legitimate purposes and not harmful, painful, or damaging to the other person. One may push through a crowd if necessary to reach a legitimate destination, but may not injure others in doing so.
b) Communicative contacts are subject to special norms. Some bodily contacts with others are meant to be communicative: tapping someone on the shoulder to get his or her attention, shaking hands, sexual intercourse, lightly spanking a small child. Because these are so various, it is impossible to make a general moral judgment on them. To all such contacts, the general norms of communication apply (see 7.B). For instance, if meant to be communicative but not sexual, contacts such as embracing and joining hands must meet the standards of communication by being sincere and restrained, so that those making them neither pretend interpersonal communion that does not really exist nor press such communion on individuals unwilling to share in it. To some of these contacts, the norms of sexual morality also apply (see 9.E). Since pain is not an intelligible evil, parents may inflict it on small children—for instance, by lightly spanking them—to teach them to avoid certain behavior, provided the act that causes pain does no real harm (see S.t., 2–2, q. 65, a. 2).
c) Contacts intended for other ends can be either good or bad. Bodily contact, when not meant to be communicative, sometimes is intended to benefit or cooperate with another in some way: the contacts of people working or playing together, of health care personnel with patients, of a rescuer with the person rescued. Such contacts, not wrong in themselves, can be wrong because the touching is part of some wrong act, for example, cooperation in injecting illicit drugs. They also can be unfair, because against the reasonable will of those touched or someone responsible for them: health care imposed on competent persons against their wishes, assisting a handicapped individual who prefers to struggle alone, restraining someone else’s child instead of leaving it to the parents to do so.
Some intentional bodily contacts are neither communicative nor intended to benefit or cooperate with those touched, but are intended for some other purpose. In some cases, the contact is made by handling or striking the body of someone who is unfairly harming, threatening, or blocking another or others. For example, one might strike a mugger in self-defense or push aside someone blocking legitimate access to a building. In such cases, the minimal necessary violence, if fairly exerted, is justified.
In other cases, the person with whom the contact is made is not wrongly harming, threatening, or blocking anyone, but his or her body is used as a means for one’s own purposes. Usually such contact is so repugnant that nobody would consider it insignificant. For instance, a mugger assails a man to make him a docile robbery victim, an investigator experiments on an aborted but still living baby, a transplant team takes a woman’s organs while she might still be alive, a police officer inflicts pain on prisoners to coerce them into disclosing information (torture used as a means). Such acts are seriously unfair, and the matter is always grave.
d) Contacts willed for the sake of harm constitute grave matter. Some bodily contacts are motivated by anger or hatred and are intended to inflict pain, cause harm, or even destroy life, health, or beauty. For example, a frustrated motorist runs over a traffic officer; a man vents his anger by beating his wife; a jealous lover throws acid in a rival’s face. All such acts are wrong, not only because of the motive but because of their impact on the bodily person. People do not regard any of these acts as insignificant, even if only slight pain or harm results. Therefore, all such acts are grave matter, and the more serious of them, which carry some risk of death or permanent disability, approach the gravity of intentional killing.
e) Prizefighting cannot be justified and should not be supported. Prizefighters cooperate in setting up and carrying on their fights; provided they abide by the rules they agree to, they do not act unfairly in inflicting harm on one another. However, when they punch each other, they do intend the harm they inflict, because it is the means to weakening and perhaps knocking out an opponent and thus winning the fight. In this respect, prizefighting differs from sports such as football, in which the bodily contact involved can achieve the game’s purpose without inflicting any harm, so that players need not intend the harm they foresee as possible or even likely when they make violent contact with other players. Moreover, the harm fighters seek to inflict on one another is serious enough that nobody suffering such harm in other contexts would consider it insignificant. Therefore, prizefighting cannot be justified, and is grave matter. People should not cooperate in or encourage such activity.151 Nor should they either wager on or watch prizefights, since doing so is likely to lead to a temptation to will that one of the fighters harm the other, and yielding to that temptation would be a sin of thought in grave matter.
f) This norm can be generalized to apply to other sports. The norm regarding prizefighting can be generalized to apply to any sport in which the intentional infliction of bodily harm is essential. Moreover, in any sport whatever, any choice to harm an opponent in order to better the chance of winning is grave matter, since every competitor regards as significant any harm suffered that is likely to affect a contest’s outcome. When rooting for their favored team, spectators should refrain from willing that players on the other side be injured.
4. Others’ Space and Mobility Should Be Respected
As sentient and mobile organisms, people need both space in which to exist and freedom to move about, but plainly it is possible to infringe on others’ space and inhibit their movements. Doing either is likely to lead to bodily contact, and so the morality of respecting space and mobility is very closely related to the morality of bodily contact.
a) People have their proper space in different ways. One way in which people have a certain space is by legitimately occupying a piece of land or some structure. They may own it or have the owner’s authorization to use it, or may be legitimately using a public area or piece of unclaimed territory. People occupy their space by being actually or habitually present in it and/or by indicating in some way—by a sign, a fence, an enclosure, or the like—that others are unwelcome to enter without invitation or authorization. For instance, in a public park where there are plenty of picnic tables, each family or group’s space includes the whole table it uses; in a territory occupied by various nomadic tribes, each tribe’s space is an area sufficient for it to carry on its own activities without interference.
Besides the space people have by occupying land and structures, everyone has a certain proper space. At a minimum, it is the space his or her own body occupies, but in uncrowded conditions it includes sufficient surrounding space to avoid unwelcome bodily contact or other incursions on privacy. For example, on an uncrowded public vehicle, each passenger’s space is that required to avoid unnecessary touching. In a park where couples are strolling and talking, each couple’s space is that required to maintain insofar as possible the privacy of conversations.
b) One can infringe on others’ space without actually entering it. Someone infringes on others’ space not only by actually entering it but by doing anything that inhibits or adversely affects their use and enjoyment of it. For example, using herbicides or insecticides which wind and water carry onto others’ property infringes on it. Again, causing sound—for instance, by playing loud music—which annoys others by carrying into their homes or work places infringes on them. Such infringements are not always recognized as such by law, but that does not mean they are morally negligible.
c) One should not infringe unfairly on others’ space. Not all entering of another’s space is infringing on it, for some entry can be reasonably presumed to be welcome or, at least, acceptable. For example, walking up to and knocking on someone’s door for any legitimate purpose is not an infringement on the occupant’s space. Nor are all infringements unfair. For instance, someone who walked into another’s unoccupied home in a life-and-death emergency to use the telephone would infringe on the resident’s space but do so fairly.
If someone unfairly infringes on another’s space, the matter is grave but admits parvity. For example, in a neighborhood of private homes in which people usually do not trespass, walking between homes along a property line can unfairly infringe on the residents’ space, but generally such trespassing is considered insignificant unless damage is done, and so, even if unfair, can be light matter.
d) One should not unfairly inhibit others’ moving about. People can inhibit others’ movements in two ways: by excluding them from some space or by confining them within some space. Either can be justified. For example, one rightly excludes uninvited strangers from entering one’s home, and rightly holds a burglar until the police arrive. In general, parents may inhibit their small children’s movements for any reason, and anyone may rightly restrain another from committing a crime or may temporarily prevent another from doing violence to himself or herself. Apart from these cases, however, fairness sets narrow limits on the right to interfere with another’s physical freedom.
A person wrongly excludes another or others from some space in wrongly claiming space that is not his or her own or trying to control space beyond his or her legitimate authority. The seriousness of this offense depends on how extensive the limitation is, the significance of the activity it impedes, and so on. Thus, it can be either grave or light matter.
Confining others unfairly prevents them from engaging in the whole range of activities otherwise open to them. Confinement can range from temporarily preventing someone from leaving a building, to preventing people from emigrating, to kidnapping. People aware of undergoing deliberate unfair confinement never consider it insignificant. Thus, the matter is always grave.
e) Added factors aggravate the wrong of unfairly holding someone. While unfairly detaining persons always is a grave offense against them, further factors often aggravate the wrong. The confinement frequently involves wrongful bodily contact which sometimes also leads to bodily injury, often causes psychological distress, sometimes causes other serious harm to those confined and their loved ones, sometimes prevents those confined from fulfilling important responsibilities, and sometimes is an element of another grave wrong to the person, such as sexual assault, robbery, or detaining for ransom. The last, kidnapping, frequently involves many of the other aggravating factors, and therefore is considered one of the most serious offenses against persons as bodily beings, comparable in its gravity with murder and rape.152
141. One source, not always followed, for what follows: Gerald Kelly, S.J., “The Morality of Mutilation: Towards a Revision of the Treatise,” Theological Studies 17 (1956): 322–44.
142. It is a canonical crime to mutilate or seriously wound a person: CIC, c. 1397.
143. This norm has been called “the principle of totality”: mutilation is morally permissible when it is necessary for the good of the whole body. See John Gallagher, C.S.B., “The Principle of Totality: Man’s Stewardship of His Body,” in Moral Theology Today: Certitudes and Doubts, ed. Donald G. McCarthy (St. Louis: The Pope John Center, 1984), 217–42, for an analysis of relevant papal texts and references to many theologians. Actually, the so-called principle of totality is merely an instance of double effect, but the physical “directness” of the causing of harm and physical “indirectness” of the causing of benefit led theologians (and the magisterium) to suppose that a special principle is needed. By using the distinction between what is intended and what is accepted as a side effect to analyze problems of mutilation, one can solve issues (such as those concerning transplantation) that are perplexing if it is supposed that the “principle” of totality is irreducible to more basic principles.
144. See Pius XII, Address to Congress of Urology (8 Oct. 1953), AAS 45 (1953) 674, Papal Teachings: The Human Body, ed. Benedictine Monks of Solesmes, trans. E. O’Gorman, R.S.C.J. (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1960), 278.
145. John Paul II, Address to the First International Congress of the Society for Organ Sharing, 5; L’Osservatore Romano, It. ed., 21 June 1991, 5; OR, 24 June 1991, 2, treats organ donation as an expression of love and solidarity: “A transplant, and even a simple blood transfusion, is not like other operations. It must not be separated from the donor’s act of self-giving, from the love that gives life. The physician should always be conscious of the particular nobility of this work; he becomes the mediator of something especially significant, the gift of self which one person has made—even after death—so that another might live.”
146. John Paul II, Address to the First International Congress of the Society for Organ Sharing, 4; L’Osservatore Romano, It. ed., 21 June 1991, 5; OR, 24 June 1991, 2, states the norm: “A person can only donate that of which he can deprive himself without serious danger or harm to his own life or personal identity, and for a just and proportionate reason. It is obvious that vital organs can only be donated after death.”
147. See Ashley and O’Rourke, Healthcare Ethics, 3rd ed., 304–12, for further discussion and references to other theological work on organ donation. They correctly point out (306) that functional integrity (as distinct from anatomical integrity) is a key factor for the morality of transplants between living persons. For the value of an organ, such as a kidney, is not simply its material reality but its capacity to function for the good of the person as a whole. Ciccone, Salute e malattia, 210–69, who treats organ transplantation more fully, also accepts the principle of functional integrity (222). Augustine Regan, C.Ss.R., “The Basic Morality of Organic Transplants between Living Humans,” Studia Moralia 3 (1965): 338–41, rejects functional integrity, but Regan’s criticism confuses the natural teleology of bodily parts with their relationship to the relevant goods. Regan’s own attempted justification (348–61) depends on extending the principle of totality to include the whole good of the person not only as an individual but as a participant in interpersonal communion. That argument fails inasmuch as the principle of totality is not a fundamental moral standard but rather is reducible to an adequate analysis of relevant acts in terms of what is intended and what is accepted as a side effect.
148. See Paul VI, Humanae vitae, 14, AAS 60 (1968) 490, PE, 277.14; Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Sterilization in Catholic Hospitals, AAS 68 (1976) 738–40, Flannery, 2:454–55; cf. Ashley and O’Rourke, Healthcare Ethics, 3rd ed., 271–78.
149. See Thomas J. O’Donnell, S.J., “Repentance Following Directly Willed Contraceptive Sterilization,” The Medical-Moral Newsletter 26 (Jan. 1989): 4.
150. See John F. Kippley, Sex and the Marriage Covenant: A Basis for Morality (Cincinnati: The Couple to Couple League International, 1991), 208–15.
151. See Joseph Farraher, S.J., “Notes on Moral Theology,” Theological Studies 24 (1963): 64–69; Aertnys, Damen, and Visser, Theologia moralis, 2:136, including n. 25.
152. Fraudulently or forcibly kidnapping or detaining someone is a canonical crime: CIC, c. 1397. C. 1089 makes the kidnapping or detention of a woman an invalidating impediment to marriage; the impediment ceases only after the woman is separated from the man so that she can freely choose, without force or fear, whether to marry him.