Category Archives: Morality

Amorphis Morality is False

The threats to the Church’s infallible moral teaching — which abound today in erroneous notions of law and justice and judgment and mercy — have precursors in what can only be called classical dissent.

Genuine exercise of Magisterial teaching has its authority not in virtue of the arguments with which it is propounded but simply in virtue of itself. Of course, some teaching is infallible and thus its authority is greater than that which is not infallible. However, even non-infallible teaching calls for religious assent of mind and will. It may be that a sincere expert encounters reasons grounded in the faith or some other certain source not to assent to a non-infallible teaching. This must not be the norm but the exception. Further, one should not limit infallible teachings simply to the extraordinary Magisterium (ex cathedra statements and Ecumenical Councils). The Church teaches infallibly on matters of or pertaining to faith and morals when she teaches the matter “always and everywhere”. This “always and everywhere” is to be taken in the sense of moral unanimity of bishops united with the pope. That intending to have artificially contraceptive intercourse is a grave evil is an example of such a teaching. That the only sexual act that is not a grave evil is that between a married woman and man open to new life — this is another example. These teachings are not up for grabs.

Richard Gula seems to have a different conception of Magisterial authority. He writes:

The great disadvantage of having an institutionalized authority in the church is that, if it does not function well in a cooperative fashion, it can obscure the human character of the process of formulating a moral teaching…. To obscure this process can result in creating an ‘extrinsic’ authority for teachings. ‘Extrinsic’ authority fails to recognize that a teaching is as strong as the thoroughness of the homework which produced it and the cogency of the arguments which support it (Gula, Reason Informed by Faith, p. 154). [Remark: This is an error, not what I propound.]

Note that this is to reduce Magisterial authority to the arguments it propounds in support of its claims. Gula does admit that there is an advantage in having a Magisterium, since it can provide a structure for theological conversation. Further, he claims, the Magisterium can help guide one in the formation of conscience.

Nevertheless, Gula he goes on to describe the way one appropriates magisterial statements on moral issues as follows. So he contends: One should treat the Magisterium as a key conversation partner adding key information, but not as infallible oracle (on those matters presented infallibly in either ordinary or extraordinary ways). However, perhaps one sees that one is not morally capable of adhering to the moral teaching. One is financially strapped and morally weak. If this is the case, one may legitimately, he states, decide not to obey the teaching but to commit what the Magisterium teaches to be sin. He calls this merely prudential judgment (Reason Informed by Faith, pp. 159f). He essentially is grounding the judgment of conscience in the personal estimate of what someone can do. Traditionally, however, conscience was considered the faculty whereby one judges what one must do or not do, in light of God’s Law (natural or revealed) in the concrete.

In particular, Richard Gula reduces moral norms – which the Church teaches apply always and everywhere ­– simply to ideals of the best behavior. That is, he confuses the limitless upward call with the minimal moral demands. He argues that what the Church holds to be the minimal moral demands are in fact the limitless features of the call to perfection. Thus, he exonerates the moral agent who cannot live up to these minimal demands:

“Pastoral moral guidance is the art of the possible. That is to say, it focuses on the person and what that person can do based on his or her capacity of knowledge, freedom, and emotion to appreciate and choose moral values enshrined in moral standards” (Just Ministry [New York: Paulist Press, 2010], p. 231). [Remark: This is an error, not what I propound.]

Gula thus endorses a kind of “gradualism of the law”. Once again, I repeat, Gula does not throw out moral norms all together. However, he changes their character: Instead of being absolute norms that should confront a person’s conscience, if it is well formed, they are simply ideals for which one should strive. So, Gula does not want us to think that a person is guilty simply because he knowingly violates a moral norm. The person is only guilty, Gula contends, if he can obey the norm. It may be, Gula contends, that one cannot obey a moral norm. In such a case, a person who knowingly does the action is not guilty. Gula defends the claim thus:

“This tradition [of the Catholic moral reflection] realizes that ought implies can” (Just Ministry, p. 234). [Remark: This is an error, not what I propound.]

In dogmatic fact, the way that this conditional (if you ought to do X, you can do X) is authoritatively interpreted — and NO ONE MAY BROOK THAT INTERPRETATION, Given that it is infallible and eternal, and thunders anathema against the contradictory — is that because of grace every justified person can obey the moral law. (And every non-justified person is offered grace sufficient for conversion.) Thus, according to Catholic faith, the ought is a given, and the can therefore follows because of grace. Gula reverses this. He claims that the ought will follow only if the can can follow. But he claims that it can happen that the can cannot follow. Further, he suggests that if we are in the situation of being moral guides, we ought to hide the full force of the moral norm from such a person:

“This means that we are not to require a particular obligation in practice, however justifiable it may be theoretically, if the person, for good reason, cannot perform it. While everyone is required to do what he or she can, no one is ever required to do what is beyond his or her reach” (Just Ministry, p. 234). [Remark: This is an error, not what I propound.]

Gula bends conscience around the person’s capacity so that the person will not judge himself guilty when he cannot obey.

Contrast Gula’s stress on “limited possibilities” and “gradualism” and on a conscience adapted to one’s capacities to Paul’s incriminating words in Romans:

“None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands, no one seeks for God…. Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For no human being will be justified in his sight by works of the law, since through the law comes knowledge of sin” (Rom 3:19f). [Remark: This is Revealed Truth, which no one may brook.]

On Gula’s analysis, sin is probably not possible. Or very difficult. A Notre Dame prof taught me, “None of us is smart enough to commit mortal sin.” I remember thinking to myself, “What a condescending piece of nonsense!” (At the same time, it’s kind of like getting a back massage after committing mortal sin. You say to yourself, “Not bad. I’ll go sin again.” And this is once again proof that it is the spirit of Antichrist. For the Christ says, “Do not sin again.”)

JPII underscores the severity of the Law. He does not seek to minimize the law, out of a bleeding heart desire to get everyone into heaven through HUMAN efforts. Rather, he points to God’s grace, which enables obedience to the Law of God. JPII in his marevelous Veritatis splendor, art. 102 (citing Trent):

“Even in the most difficult situations man must respect the norm of morality so that he can be obedient to God’s holy commandment and consistent with his own dignity as a person. Certainly, maintaining a harmony between freedom and truth occasionally demands uncommon sacrifices, and must be one at a high price: it can even involve martyrdom…. But temptations can be overcome, sins can be avoided, because together with the commandments the Lord gives us the possibility of keeping them…. Keeping God’s law in particular situations can be difficult, extremely difficult, but it is never impossible. This is the constant teaching of the Church’s tradition, and was expressed by the Council of Trent: “But no one, however much justified, ought to consider himself exempt from the observance of the commandments, nor should he employ that rash statement, forbidden by the Fathers under anathema, that the commandments of God are impossible of observance by one who is justified. For God does not command the impossible, but in commanding he admonishes you to do what you can and to pray for what you cannot and he gives his aid to enable you.”

So, we CAN obey all the Law. Under anathema (pronounced on every last human person on the face of the earth, until the end of all time) must we hold this, no matter who we are.

SO, the Law is NOT A MERE “IDEAL” as some are dangerously saying, unto the real perdition of real people. The bleeding heart of humanism will not save anyone. Only the bleeding heart of Christ, who offered perfect obedience and calls us to be perfectly obedient. From VS, art. 103:

“It would be a very serious error to conclude that the Church’s teaching is essentially only an ‘ideal’ which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man, according to a ‘balancing of the goods in question.’ But what are the ‘concrete possibilities of man? And of which man are we speaking? Of man dominated by lust or of man redeemed by Christ? This is what is at stake: the reality of Christ’s redemption. Christ has redeemed us! This means that he has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being; he has set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man still sins, this is not due to an imperfection in Christ’s redemptive act, but to man’s will not to avail himself of the grace which flows form that act. God’s command is of course proportioned to man’s capabilities; but to the capabilities of the man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given; of the man who, though fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit” (citing an address of his own on responsible parenthood, delivered March 1, 1984).

God’s Law is NOT a Mere “Ideal”

The normal meaning of the word “ideal” is simply a goal, an aim. If you tell someone that it would be “ideal” if he did XYZ, he will realize that you really want him to do these things, but that doing all of them is not absolutely necessary.

Now, the Divine Law is necessary. The negative moral precepts bind always and everywhere, such that to violate a negative moral precept is always a grave evil. Period.

Hence, the Divine Law is not a mere “ideal”. It is not a mere goal, to which it is best that we live up to it, but the adequate doing of which is not absolutely necessary for salvation.

To the contrary: The adequate adherence to the Divine Law in the form of doing what one is commanded positively to do when the circumstances allow and avoiding what one is commanded never to do is necessary for salvation.

Therefore, to present the Law of God as an “ideal” is to confuse this very important teaching, which is the faith of the Church. Why would one want to present the Law as but an “ideal”? Because, perhaps, one does not think that God offers sufficient grace to every free actor? But that thought, too, is contrary to the faith of the Church. And if one despairs of this over oneself, one is doing just that despairing.

But we should not be afraid. Not be fearful. Not read our faith in fear that God is not our Shepherd, does not care for us and supply for us. Not us not understand God’s mercy as his “not judging us because he never supplied for us.” That would be doubly desperate and doubly false. He does supply and he does judge. He judges us according to our works.

Let us listen to words that truly are full of hope, words that don’t cast us down in spirit, words that don’t console us with a false understanding of mercy and judgment but that indicate the truth of God’s mercy: God’s mercy enables true obedience.

Let us listen to John Paul II, Veritatis splendor, art. 103:

“It would be a very serious error to conclude… that the Church’s teaching is essentially only an “ideal” which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man, according to a “balancing of the goods in question”. But what are the “concrete possibilities of man”? And of which man are we speaking? Of man dominated by lust or of man redeemed by Christ? This is what is at stake: thereality of Christ’s redemption. Christ has redeemed us! This means that he has given us the possibility of realizing the entire truth of our being; he has set our freedom free from the domination of concupiscence. And if redeemed man still sins, this is not due to an imperfection of Christ’s redemptive act, but to man’s will not to avail himself of the grace which flows from that act. God’s command is of course proportioned to man’s capabilities; but to the capabilities of the man to whom the Holy Spirit has been given; of the man who, though he has fallen into sin, can always obtain pardon and enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit”.

These are words that bind us, words that bind Catholics magisterially. These are words consonant with Sacred traditions and with the Holy Scriptures.

Sin is Rooted in Intellectual Error

Our Zeitgeist tells us that sin is not rooted in error. More precisely, it tells us that if there is intellectual error there is no culpability. Now, in particular cases, it can be that intellectual error mitigates or erases culpability. But it is universally the case that sin is rooted in intellectual error.

That error can lead to sin is clear from Wisdom. Solomon declares: “Perverse thoughts separate men from God.” This claim alone chafes against our Zeitgeist. Solomon continues: “Ungodly men … reasoned unsoundly.” Their unsound reasoning in fact resembles the materialists of today. See chap. 2 of this lofty book. Their decision to do ungodly deeds is rooted in this error: “Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist, and make use of the creation to the full as in youth.”

We have here a materialist conception of man: You are but organized dust; though, obviously, you are conscious dust; hence, you can have pleasure, if limbs will allow it; drink, then, your fill of pleasure and count not the cost.

Sound philosophy, too, shows us that intellectual error can lead to moral wrong. Even more, it shows us that all moral wrong is rooted in such error.

But then the question is put to Socrates: So, if only we can educate people, they will see truth? Is this not obviously false?

Yes, the stereotyped Socrates got it wrong. Aristotle is more incisive. I might know the law in a universal way. I know that all thievery is wrong. I know it. Really know it. But on this occasion, I am staring at the gold in my neighbor’s house. I contemplate the lowliness of my physical estate. At the gold’s glittering, greed sends roots into my heart. I seize it and count not the cost.

What happens in sin is that I judge the evil to be good for me on this occasion. I know the law in the universal sense. But in the particular sense, I strike at its heal so as to ignore its wisdom. I plunge into my plan of order, which contradicts the universal and divine sense of order.

In short, I choose to see things in a distorted light. I choose the intellectual error by which I can rejoice in the sin I am about to commit.

Hence, I am culpable for this error: “The ungodly will be punished as their reasoning deserves.”

Hence, if we are to avoid sin, then, as the Greek Catholics preach: “Wisdom! Be attentive.”

Now, if the individual sinner who sins on an occasion must ignore the universal law for the moment, so that he may enjoy his pleasure that contradicts that law, then the committed or hardened sinner must strive to re-write that universal law itself. Though he knows it habitually, he chooses not to think on it. He chooses actually to displace it with another universal law. However, since his mind cannot undo the first principles of reason itself and their immediate implications, he exists in a state of internal self-contradiction.

He declares that fornication is OK. Free sex is OK. Or unnatural sex is OK. Or masturbation is OK. Or pornography is OK.

Yet, his inward mind cannot out the law inscribed within that condemns the damned spot. So, he is at war with himself.

And if your ways contradict his set ways, he no longer tries to evade your presence and sin in secret. Rather, he attempts to write your ways as evil and his ways as good. He re-legislates. He does not flee but rather declares war on God’s eternal law. And anyone who lives in that eternal law and serves as its Icon– such a one he murders: “Let us lie in wait for the righteous man, because he is inconvenient to us and opposes our actions…. The very sight of him is a burden to us.”

Finally, if in history there are examples here and examples there of the individual sinner who evades God’s law; if there are examples here and there of sinners making bold against the Law of God; if there are examples here and there of groups of sinners making bold collectively against the Rule of Law…, then let us know who read the signs of the times that an all-out war is upon us. That the Church of God herself is this righteous person. That the City of Man has had enough of all residue of the universal law within this Church of God. That the City of Man surely plots the death of the Church of God, the way the ungodly plotted the death of the righteous man in Wisdom.

Shall we fear? No. But a head in the sand is in fact fear itself. We must face our future with resolution. Not that of Heidegger but that of Christ. And he promises us: The jaws of death, summoned by its demonic worshippers, shall not prevail.

The Bishops’ Failure to Preach Ruins the Laity’s Role in Mercy

Mercy cannot be understood apart from the poverty and emptiness, especially the sinfulness, of man. Mercy is the free act that sustains a needy thing. We all, as creatures, are needy. God’s creative act is the mercy that sustains us, even before we sin. We are also empty of ourselves, unfulfilled just in existing. God’s wise mercy is committed to bring to fulfillment what he began in creating us. His gentle providence leads us home.

Now that we have sinned, and inherited from Adam that primal sin called original, we require the mercy of forgiveness. But note that forgiveness is given where law is violated. What is called for is a mature reception of forgiveness. Such reception requires the recognition of the evil that one has committed. One must recognize one’s act as evil. One must reject that act. One can reject it either out of love for God above all things, or out of the fear of hell. Only the love of God is a salutary rejection, but the fear of hell ain’t all that bad. In fact, the Church teaches that it is good and not bad. The Church rejects those who condemn the fear of hell as itself evil.

Now, in order to recognize that my sinful action is evil, I must know the Law that it violates. I must recognize the Law of God’s mind as knowable by reason — natural law. And / or I must recognize God’s law given freely to men in the 10 Commandments.

But how can I know the Law unless someone helps me to know it? For fragile and weak, darkened and distorted are our minds unless God’s light shines in the darkness. Yes, yes, natural reason can in principle know the truths of natural law. In principle, but not so easily in practice. Practically speaking, we need help from above. We need the Church to shine the light of God on our minds. Thus, we are elevated above human limitations to a certain knowledge, clearer than the noonday sun, of what the good is that must be done and what the evil is that must be shunned. The paths laid out before us – the paths of life and death – we know which way we must trod in order to reach that blessed abode, where tears no longer fall upon our faces, where shadows are not cast on all our plans, where joints do not ache with age, where limbs are youthful to express the love the heart bears, were brothers dwell in peace. Ah, Lord: The blessed way you have given us in your person and your body, The Church, our true Mother on earth, our dearest homeland in this weary pilgrimage.

And when we know these paths, yet forsake the good one in pursuit of evil, when our own minds then convict us of our sin, we are cut to the heart because we know the truth clearly. We then reach out a hand, for help. And help comes near. A friend sits with us, while we weep for our own sins. A friend consoles us while we fear judgment. A friend leads us back the proper way. Not denying, not lying. Rather, our friend takes us to the channels of mercy, the confessional and the Eucharist, penance and ashes. Only then can we feel at peace, at one with ourselves in the unity restored between our soul and God.

Consider, then, what happens when no one knows the Law. When darkness prevails. When the many call Good evil and Evil good. When perversion abounds. When lies abound. When flattery is the rain, and deception the wind. When the light of the sun is man’s own construction, his aims projected outward with fiery wrath that denies the in-born natural inclinations. How, then, can a man recognize his own fault? How should he ever claim “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa” when the Law he knows not?

And why does he not know the law? Because the Bishops are silent. Yes, even Peter fails to offer a clear presentation of the true faith. Because the Priests remain silent. Because all the world that should lead to that vision of the two paths, that should cast a light upon darkening minds, so that they might be elevated towards the participation in the One True Light – because all these have gone astray. They fail to preach because it is not in season.

What, then, of the poor man who sins in ignorance? What must his friend do for him? Instead of greeting him in his own clear recognition of fault, and lifting him up towards the font of life… instead of all the finer elements of mercy, his friend must first preach to him the Law. His friend must do what the priest, the bishop, even Peter have failed to do. His friend must preach the Law so that the real sin might be laid bare. And then the friend must extend the finer elements of mercy. Etc.

But it is notoriously difficult for a sinner to undergo both aspects of his friend’s love. And it is notoriously difficult for a friend to maintain both these aspects in balance. Indeed, if the priests, and the bishops are in fact preaching contrary to the Law and the real teaching of Holy Mother Church, then this friend must in fact correct them. Correct them so as to direct the poor wandering, alienated and forgotten, trampled upon soul of the misled man who thinks that Evil is good and Good evil.

And what confusion is provoked now! The princes of the Church being corrected on the spot by some poor member of the Church for the sake of the salvation of another poor member. While the rich batten on spoil.

O great perversion. Yet, be corrected they must! For those who preach error invite correction.

Speak Truth, Ye Pastors. The Full Truth. And Nothing But the Truth.

For the law of morality is universal and exceptionless. This is the foundation and presupposition of all true Mercy. Mercy does not obstruct the law and cancel it. Now, it enables its fulfillment. Thus, if you strangle the law’s voice with your silence, you eclipse Mercy from drawing a man home. But if a man through your diligent courage knows the full truth, then the laity are free to lead him to the waters of mercy that you are charged to dispense, faithfully and lovingly. Thus, let the laity do their proper role. Let them work on the application of principles. Preach the principles.

Steven Long and the Moral Object – 3

Another interesting outcome of this New Morality approach to the natural law. Criminal legislation!

All Catholics ought to be pro-life. But the pro-life stance involves the will and the effort to achieve legislation protecting the unborn.

Now, on the New Natural Law approach, we supposedly don’t know if an act of in-utero-child-killing really is abortion until we ask the agent what her / his intention is. Only if the agent proposes to himself / herself “I seek the death of the child,” then – on this execrable account of the moral object – the act constitutes abortion.

But if the agent proposes to himself / herself “I seek only the removal of the child,” then – on this execrable account of the moral object – the act does not constitute abortion but simply “removal of the fetus.”

In the latter case, the New Natural Law analysis has one further question: Is there “proportionate reason” to remove the fetus? If not, the act is not justified. If so, the act is justified. The NNL analysis then submits that if the mother were to die unless the fetus is removed, there is proportionate reason. A fortiori, the argument goes, if both mother and fetus were to die unless the fetus is removed.

What is the upshot? The upshot is that on the New Natural Law account, pro-life legislation requires examination of the intention of the agent. Now, it is notoriously difficult for a human tribunal to discover with moral certitude the intentions of an agent. Sometimes these intentions are shown in evidence. Example: Someone plotting a death in writing leaves evidence of First Degree culpability. But just what would be the way in which one might reliably, for the most part, determine the intention of the agent seeking or providing abortion?

In fact, the New Natural Law approach seems on this score very ill suited to practical application. And practical application is one of the leading reasons why those who eschew the theory tolerate it – or donate to its richly endowed foundations. But here, that practical political application seems doomed to a bad fate.

Is this defect not definitional to the NNL approach? For that approach denies the basic point that some actions have per se effects and that for any agent intelligently to propose to commit the action just is to propose to bring about these per se effects. Let the money go to the Traditional Natural Law.

Steve Long and the Moral Object – 2

Let’s follow up on Steve Long’s critique of recent moral thinkers on the moral object.

Basically, some recent thinkers will contend that the object of the act is what I find attractive about my action. Example. What I find attractive in the golf course when I wield a club is the swing, the hitting of the ball by swinging. I don’t do this so as to ruin the turf. But it sometimes (often?) happens I do ruin the turf. That would be a side effect. But I only choose / intend the swing qua hitting the ball.

So far, fine.

Problems come, however, when this notion runs rough-shod over the intrinsic order of cause-effect discernible in nature. Say it is evident that such-and-such a dose of pain killers will kill anyone to whom it is administered. Then, intelligently to administer that dose to anyone must be to kill them. There is no other intelligent description of the act. There is no other intelligent way of committing that act. Granted, some people are out of their minds. They might be sick with horror over their loved one’s pain. Say he is screaming constantly. So, they stick the needle and administer the deadly dose of pain killer. But that person is acting from sick emotion. Out of his mind. Not acting intelligently.

I am focussing and saying: Let’s look at the act intelligently done. My contention – following Long – is that precisely because the act is known to all to be the lethal administration of pain-killer that the one moral object that this act can constitute, the one direct action that this constitutes, is killing. The doctor of course does not will death for death’s sake. But this is the means he chooses, directly, to obtain the further goal, the cessation of pain.

Craniotomy is another one. What mother would possibly disagree that the crushing of the skull is simply the “reshaping of the skull to fit the child through the canal”? To crush the baby’s skull immediately causes death. This is the immediate, per se effect of the physical act. Hence, intelligently to commit the act just is intentionally to kill. One might be out of one’s mind. But that is a different story.

New scenario. Say my son is lodged in a narrow cave. On the far side of him is a nuclear bomb that will totally annihilate the planet. All I have to do is push the ‘off’ button. All I have is a sharp knife. The only possible way to get to the button is to dismember my son. How should I look at this situation?

Well, the new morality says: I can propose to myself “the reshaping of these limbs such that space is opened up for me to get to the bomb and save the planet.”

But the old morality – which is ever ancient and ever new – says that to do so is in fact hideously to murder my son so as to achieve the good end of saving the planet. The old morality says: In this awful case, you can’t do anything harmful to your son. Never harm. The old physician’s adage. So, you must suffer. You must take up your cross and suffer.

But back to the new morality. I suppose they would go further. I suppose they would say: SINCE the ‘object’ is what you find attractive about the act, then the ‘murdering act’ in fact becomes simply the reshaping of the parts and removal of physical matter. And for what end? To save a planet with 10 billion people. Then they would say, “But it is unfortunate your son dies. Is it ‘proportionate’? Heck yes: Because 999,999,999,999 others are saved.”

But the old morality just looks at the act straight in the eye and asks its perp: “You know, don’t you, that you have just committed an evil deed, so that good may come. Can you seriously say that you did not? Is the order in nature so far beneath your intelligence that you can run rough shod over it, shaping as you will, under the narrative description you choose? And where will this stop?”

In fact, how can it stop at the conclusion: “This act is permissible”? It cannot. For the proportion of lives is so drastic that the new morality has to go on and say that dismembering the child is what one ought to do.

The Real Sensus Fidelium Speaks in ITALY

Theologians have stressed the “sense of the faithful” (sensus fidelium) since the Second Vatican Council.

Often, they use this concept to wear away at Tradition, to alter dogmas and venerable liturgical traditions. They use the concept as though it were sociological. “What are the people saying? That’s the ‘sense of the faithful.'” So, surveys are conducted, views examined.

This very approach – taking surveys – handled in this sociological way can be very disturbing. If handled in some other way, it can be wonderful. The Marian definitions in the past two centuries were preceded by a test of the ‘sensus fidelium’ conducted in such a way as not to subject the faith to the opinions of the masses but in such a way as to determine whether it was opportune to define or not. That was wonderful. But the sociologists among ecclesiologists nowadays often use this survey approach to subject the faith to the individual believers, taken collectively. “Should we do away with the perpetual virginity? Should we do away with the ‘prohibition’ on condoms? Should we stop insisting the Holy Spirit proceeds filioque?”

This is disastrous.

But you can’t prevent the true stones of truth from speaking out. You cannot prevent – not forever – the truth of nature from crying out to heaven.

The faithful, and even nature herself in her rational agents, have spoken their voice. The sociologists themselves cannot ignore it. Italy has spoken. The people know that the True Family is the real family. That other forms of family are not “participations” of the family but deviations from it, perversions. It is false to analogize the perversion of the very essence of something with a refracted share in it. As Pius XI taught, false unions are not diminished participations; they are not like red and yellow of the rainbow. They are erasures of color, black spots, blindnesses.

This voice of nature and the voice of the ‘sensus fidelium’ is in harmony with the ancient wisdom – which is Ever New – of the Church. Truth is ever new. Because truth is not an artifact. Truth is Now. It is Being. It is Reality. Make it go away, and you will find yourself aging, on the way to corruption, fading, averse, perverse, in the dark, cast in shadows – miserable! Come to the Truth, all you labor and are weary, blundering in perversions and lies; deceiving and deceived; He shall set your soul to peace, gathering the pieces of shard your moral ruin has caused you.

Italy has spoken; Truth has spoken in Italy; and no one, No One, can hide it under a Bushel: http://rorate-caeli.blogspot.com/2016/02/on-family-day-god-of-surprises.html#more

Steve Long and the Moral Object

I have been reading Steven Long of late. His account of the moral object seems urgent to consider.

In a moral act, the first thing we must consider is the “what it is” you are doing. The object of the act. Are you murdering or are you feeding someone? Etc.

Those who know, know that this is one very difficult topic.

One of Long’s crucial points, though, is lost on many, including many good Catholics. It is this: That the natural order of cause and effect in the sub-rational world already indicates certain truths about certain possible actions for our choice. This inherent order in certain natural lines of causality cannot be ‘ignored’ when I choose to act. Indeed, to choose intelligently to act requires adverting to these ordered structures. And these ordered structures determine the character of the actions which a rational agent proposes to commit.

Case in point. Say a given doss of pain-killer is known medically certainly to be lethal. Well, then, to choose to administer this doss is to choose death. Period. Of course, the doctor or relative will say to himself, “I only want the pain-killing side of the act. I don’t want the death-dealing side of it.” Ah, but you know that it does deal death. And you are to act intelligently. This is the kind of action the natural course of which necessarily entails death. (Let necessary = medically known sufficiently to cause, except in rarest of cases or miracles.) Then, for any intelligent agent to choose to administer it just is to choose death. One cannot – in GNOSTIC fashion – then claim that one interiorly (spiritually) only desires a certain aspect of this natural (merely material, he claims) act. If  one were to justify the action by saying that one only chooses the act under its desirability, one would be acting in Gnostic fashion. It would be the “intentionalist” fallacy. That my intention can – in the face of a naturally known telelogical order of a certain action – bypass this order and find some other reason for the appetibility of the act. That my intention finds what is appetible and chooses it only thus. This is what Long calls “intentionalism.”

Its effects are absolutely dire, and contrary to Catholic moral tradition. Another example is craniotomy. This is the crushing of a baby’s skull to save the mother’s life when otherwise both will die.

Remember: We must never do evil that good may come. Even if I only kill one little babe to stop WWIII, nonetheless, I would sin evilly in doing so. All good Catholics grant this basic point.

But those who confuse the moral object can’t see straight on craniotomy. How do they tackle it? They do this: They say that the doctor chooses the “reshaping” of the skull. He doesn’t choose the death. Only the reshaping, so it can fit the birth canal so he can save the mother.

Long’s counter: But crushing the skull necessarily entails death. Hence, to choose this action intelligently just is to choose death. And if the object is rational and innocent, then to choose its death is murder. But if you opt for intentionalism, you can wipe away this very serious, long approved condemnation of craniotomy. You can wipe it away with your good intention. Which now comes to supposedly “specify” the act and – voila! – you turn murder into salvation. This really is a vile consequence of a gnosticizing theory.

The order impressed in nature does not enslave us. It gets us going and serves as the partial determination – in some cases crucial determination – of the kinds of actions that are morally good.

Long’s tome on the subject is The Teleological Grammar of the Moral Act. Long is a good friend, a compassionate soul, and a brilliant theologian / philosopher.

I highly recommend this text.

Condoms and Aids

Is there a dilemma here? It would be a dilemma if we had to choose to obey one commandment at the expense of disobeying another. Do we have to choose the 5th commandment, and disobey the 6th? Or vice versa? Must we, in obeying one, disobey the other? That would be the case if there were a moral dilemma?

There is no such thing as a real moral dilemma. Why not? Because by definition a dilemma says both options are wrong. A dilemma says you have to sin, no matter what.

But sin is an act that requires freedom, such that it is able to be avoided. But a dilemma cannot be avoided. Ergo, the notion of a dilemma contradicts the very foundational Catholic belief in sin. But the Catholic faith is from God Almighty, who is True and not Deceived. Therefore, Catholic faith is true. Whatever contradicts it is false. The positing of a dilemma contradicts it. Thus, all dilemmas are chimeras. QED (by Catholic Theology).

Of course, we want an explanation. What can we do in this situation? Or situations that look like dilemmas?

Take the horror of Sophie’s Choice. (Sophie has 2 kids; the Nazi doctor forces her to choose which to take, and he will kill the other.) If you read the situation rightly, she can choose to save one. She most certainly does NOT consign the other to oblivion. The guard does that. Period. End of Story. Of course, she might get so sick thinking of it that she collapses, in which case he would probably kill both.

But what if the guard said, “Choose which one I take!”? Then, if she gave one to him, she would indeed sin. She would have complied with a chain of events that he set up, causing the first domino to fall. So, what should she do if that is the question he poses? She should be silent. She should not act.

The Catholic “out” of any dilemma is this: We do NOT have to act. We can choose not to act. It is not the “result” that is the be and end all here, much as our worldly minds like to think. Ah! Here we have it. Here we put our finger on the source of “Dilemma” thinking. The source is consequentialism. Perhaps not in the strict sense but in a general or vague sense. If our minds are focused on the results only, there indeed are situations in which results are bad, either way. But this does not make our every option a sin.

Yes, both kids might die if she falls silent. But neither would die at her hands. That’s it. End of story. What does God do with innocent victims? He gives them rewards. What does the innocent sufferer do? Grow in holiness. Really cleave to God. This is good. This is the true path. We are not called to a bed of roses or a series of endless pleasures. We are called to union with God.

There is no such thing as a moral dilemma.

What about the condom issue? In the end, simple:

  1. All sex is immoral that is not heterosexual and that does not terminate in the vagina and that is not between husband and wife.
  2. So, all moral sex must terminate in the vagina. But condoms prevent this with heterosexual sex. Ergo, they render heterosexual sex immoral.
  3. If the sex is already immoral because so counter-natural as not to be heterosexual, then I suppose adding a condom does not add immorality. But if it does not add immorality, yet it does some preventative good, it can probably be used. Again, the sex committed is a mortal sin nonetheless. The idea is that the sex is already so egregiously evil, one does not aggravate its evil by this condom.
  4. But to do what is evil so that good may come is evil and not permitted. Hence, to use condoms in heterosexual sex is evil and not permitted, even if they were to prevent disease.
  5. What to do? Well, why don’t we try not having sex? Secondly, keep our soul before God, rather than our body healthy in hell. If we wear a condom and go to hell with a healthy body, what good is that for us? But if we die of a disease and don’t go to hell, although we should have used some self-control for crying out loud, at least we did not go to hell for the reason of wearing a condom.

Lesson from Pius IX on Pastoral Duty

From his marvelous Qui pluribus:

25. When ministers are ignorant or neglectful of their duty, then the morals of the people also immediately decline, Christian discipline grows slack, the practice of religion is dislodged and cast aside, and every vice and corruption is easily introduced into the Church. The word of God, which was uttered for the salvation of souls, is living, efficacious and more piercing than a two-edged sword.[24] So that it may not prove to be unfruitful through the fault of its ministers, never cease, venerable brothers, from encouraging the preachers of this divine word to carry out most religiously the ministry of the Gospel. This should not be carried out by the persuasive words of human wisdom, nor by the profane seductive guise of empty and ambitious eloquence, but rather as a demonstration of the spirit and power.

26. Consequently, by presenting the word of truth properly and by preaching not themselves but Christ crucified, they should clearly proclaim in their preaching the tenets and precepts of our most holy religion in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church and the Fathers. They should explain precisely the particular duties of individuals, frighten them from vice, and inspire them with a love of piety. In this way the faithful will avoid all vices and pursue virtues, and so, will be able to escape eternal punishment and gain heavenly glory.