Principles of Civilisation

When debating abortion, there are a number of foundational / civilisation principles proposed by Fr. Robert Spitzer SJ, to provide the rational and moral basis for proper , ethical decision making in secular societies ( i.e. including for atheists). As is the case in many situations, these were developed by the Catholic Church over a period of approx. 1500 years. These principles are generally accepted by secular society, if not always lived up to, are eminently reasonable, are based on natural law, and do undermine the arguments for abortion and euthanasia on a principled, civilisational basis. The detail behind these principles can be viewed on the EWTN YouTube channel, and on Father Spitzer’s SJ own website. To visit his website please click: . These principles are outlined as follows:

  • The principle of non-maleficence

This is the essence of the Silver Rule which is “do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you” (do no harm)

  • The principle of universal personhood

People cannot be branded as inferior because of their degree of development. This principle in particular led to the abolishment of slavery. This principle also forbids abortion as we have to consider all human beings equally no matter their level of development.  Thus abortion and slavery are quite closely linked together.

  • The principle of just law

Any law that undermines justice negates itself – it is no law at all

  • The principle of inalienable rights

These are also known as natural rights which exist as a result of being a human being and are not under the authority of the state. These rights include life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness (self governance)

  • The principle of the necessary hierarchy of inalienable rights

The most basic right is that to life. After that follows liberty, followed by property, followed by the pursuit of happiness

  • The principle of intrinsic limits to human freedom

One person’s freedom cannot impose undue burdens upon other persons.

These principles are universal, justifiable through natural reason, and ground the legitimacy of all forms of government. If any government violates these principles and rights, they lose their legitimacy until the violation is corrected. Issues cannot be argued in the absence of these principles, as otherwise issues become arbitrary (i.e. “he said, she said”). These principles expose the illegitimacy of governmental bodies who advocate for abortion and assisted suicide.

For more detail on this topic, please click on this link: . To access the actual pdf document please click on the following : .

Fr. Spitzer’s comment is ” If you subscribe to these civilisational principles you have to be against abortion — as much against abortion as you are against slavery. You can’t have it both ways. … We have swept these great principles under the carpet in order to sweep the issue under the carpet. And in the end it will cause a great cultural decadence.”

There is in addition the fundamental Christian societal principle, that of beneficence: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. (Golden Rule from Jesus Christ). This is also known as the principle of contributive-empathetic identity, and is a fundamental principle of Identity and Culture where we invest our time, talents and energy in making the world a better place.

Of course, we are imperfect beings and societies and are not able to live up fully to these principles – but we need to strive towards them as they are essential principles for societies. Christianity recognises our imperfections. Where does secularism stand?


It is instructive to hear Fr. Spitzer SJ talk about a range of issues affecting the above principles. The comments below are extracted from the EWTN’s series “Father Spitzer’s Universe” which are available on EWTN’s YouTube channel as full episodes:

Dehumanising the Unborn (4:29 min)

Lack of Understanding / Clarity is not an excuse! (3:44 min)

Explaining the Pursuit of Happiness (3:05 min)

Explaining Hardness of Heart (3:16 min)

Defining the Unborn(13:19 min)

Explaining Fundamental / Inherent Rights (15 min)

Objective Evidence regarding the Humanity of the Unborn and Explaining Conscience (24 min)

Decision of Supreme Court that unborn have no rights (6:50 min)

Explaining Actualisation of Human Potential (8:39min)

Explaining Full Human Potential, Mental Conditions and Terminal Lucidity (10:12 min)

Explaining the Silver Rule – do no harm. (5:45 min)

Explaining the Hierarchy of Natural Rights (6:33 min)

Explaining the Golden Rule (18:58 min)

Freedom from and Freedom to (11:43 min)

Euthanasia and a Culture of Suicide (12:23 min)

Click to go to: Home