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It seems clear that Catholic Church rejected Origen's claim that souls were created and existed before conception and birth.

Does the Church pinpoint fertilization of the egg as the moment a soul is created, or upon implantation, or once the heart starts beating, or at some other stage before birth? Or is it upon the taking of the first breath, since the Greek word pneuma ("breath") is associated with the word "soul"? Or does it happen at some other point in time?

According to the Catholic Church, when do souls start to exist?

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Actually the RCC does support "Creationism". I'm not sure what seemed clear. Origin (may have) had some extra stuff in there that the RCC didn't support, but they are creationism. You can see an overview here:… I link to the Catholic new advent showing they are creationists here: – Joshua Feb 3 at 17:58
@ Joshua bigbee I don't understand what your saying re read the question – Kris Feb 3 at 18:01
Just follow my second link, it's the answer you are looking for. – Joshua Feb 3 at 18:03
This is an excellent question. Catholic doctrine on this has been clarified over the years. This tangentially related question may be interesting to you: How have commentators historically viewed the death of the fetus in Exodus 21? – Nathaniel Feb 3 at 18:20
This is not a duplicate of Where did our spirit come from? (Overview) That question asks for an overview of major Christian views on the subject. This asks specifically for the Catholic view. – Lee Woofenden Feb 3 at 18:39

It seems clear that Catholic Church debunked Origens claim that souls were created and existed before conception and birth.

That is not as clear as you suggest, and certainly the soul is there before birth according to current teaching of the RCC. Current teaching looks like "at the time of conception" per the following:

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Article 2270, in English):

2270 Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception.

From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person - among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you.

The Italicized portion comes from Jeremiah 1:5.

The above extract is a subset of a longer discourse beginning in article 2258 about life and not taking innocent life, per the Fifth commandment, which then goes to abortion and euthanasia and suicide and more. The "before I formed you in the womb" stands out, when combined with earlier articles in the Catechism that presents the soul:

365 The unity of soul and body is so profound that one has to consider the soul to be the "form" of the body i.e., it is because of its spiritual soul that the body made of matter becomes a living, human body; spirit and matter, in man, are not two natures united, but rather their union forms a single nature.

366 The Church teaches that every spiritual soul is created immediately by God - it is not "produced" by the parents - and also that it is immortal: it does not perish when it separates from the body at death, and it will be reunited with the body at the final Resurrection.

From that combination, the meaning comes across as either that

  • the soul was known to God before conception, or

  • that the soul and physical being/body are joined at the time of conception

If I had to choose one of the two, go with the latter as the articles feel more explicit in terms of the official teaching. The passage in Jeremiah could be taken as "formed in the womb" being the entire process of gestation before birth ... if that's the meaning intended, it would marry up with the latter pretty well.

Final Answer: based on the Catechism, at time of conception.

A Difficulty / Postscript

When you get to ideas and doctrines like God being omnipresent and thus unbound by time, the whole idea of a "before" for God loses meaning. This could lead to God knowing you as being unbounded by time at all stretching into infinity/eternity in both directions and thus more or less "before conception." Interesting as a line of inquiry, but not helpful to answering your question. The Catechism tries to make things more understandable, not less so. (Though it success on that score varies).

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The Catholic Church has not issued a definitive teaching on this topic. There are certain boundaries that have been established, e.g. that our souls have not always existed but rather were created by God, and that the soul is definitely present within the body at conception. The exact timing, however, is not known, and, indeed, the Church has no firm opinion on how, exactly, time works, or what, exactly, it is. For further reference, see the Time entry at New Advent.

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A far more concise reply than mine that covers the same ground. +1. – KorvinStarmast Feb 3 at 22:06

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