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Monday, December 12, 2016

Is Logic Dead? Situation Ethics Seems More Alive than Ever!

Socrates was forced to drink Hemlock for asking
questions that disturbed people. Sound familiar?
I was browsing blogs today and am disheartened by the apparent inability to think on the part of seemingly intelligent people whom I believe love the faith. 

Two I read are totally on board with Francis mercy and both engaged in condemning "rigidity" as in, the cardinals who issued the Dubia are "rigid" for asking five simple yes and no questions about how to interpret Amoris Laetitia

The bishops of Argentina, on the other hand, who developed a creative and loose approach to doctrine that undermines the moral law are compassionate. 

Oh gosh! I recognize this. Been there, done that. It's Situation Ethics all over again. I think I'm back in Mr. Reilly's immoral moral theology class at Trinity!

Please, wake me up; I think I'm having a nightmare!

Now what were the five evil questions the cardinals had the temerity to ask? I've shortened them slightly but here they are:
1. "[Is it] possible to grant absolution in the Sacrament of Penance and thus to admit to Holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person...(in a marital way) without fulfilling the conditions provided for by 'Familiaris Consortio' n. 84?" [The condition outlined by St. John Paul II was that a couple commit to live as brother and sister.]
2. ..."does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s Encyclical 'Veritatis Splendor' n. 79, based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?" 
3. "After 'Amoris Laetitia' (n. 301) is it still possible to affirm that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery (cf. Mt 19:3-9), finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin (cf. Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration, June 24, 2000)?" [I printed this question in toto.]
4. ..."does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s Encyclical 'Veritatis Splendor' n. 81, based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, according to which 'circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act "subjectively" good or defensible as a choice'?"
5. ..."does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical 'Veritatis Splendor' n. 56, based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?"
These questions point to the doubts that Amoris Laetitia has cast on moral theology, i.e., the possibility of moral absolutes and intrinsic evils. The cardinals' questions are clear and straightforward unlike many of the pope's confusing and ambiguous statements. They ask if Christ's prohibition of adultery is a moral absolute and whether the conscience can legitimately allow individuals to commit intrinsic evils. Yes or no!

Scripture certainly shows Christ condemning divorce and adultery even when he is merciful toward the sinner. He didn't tell the woman taken in adultery to go her way and have a good life. He told her to "avoid the sin." He quite pointedly told the woman at the well that she was living in serial adultery. Those calling the Cardinals rigid have an obligation to answer the question, "ARE THERE ANY MORAL ABSOLUTES OR INTRINSIC EVILS AFTER AMORIS LAETITIA?" If there aren't, then the Church is embracing the philosophy of Situation Ethics, what Pope Benedict described as the tyranny of moral relativism.

Let's look at a different case. Can an abortionist, for example, after examining the internal forum, come to the conclusion that he can continue to kill children but go to Communion because his situation is a legitimate exception to the moral law? How about the doctor who gives death drugs to a patient like Brittany Maynard? If the answer is no, why? If the internal forum (conscience) can excuse adultery, why not murder? Or idolatry? Which commandments can be eliminated from the list and made optional?

Is it "rigid" to hold to something true? If someone insists the world is round is he rigid? How about the mathematician who insists that 2+2=4? Or the physicist who says the earth's gravitational pull will cause someone who jumps off a roof without a parachute to land splat! on the ground?

Actually, being rigid is often a virtue. One of the three little pigs built a rigid house out of bricks. It was the only one the wolf couldn't blow down thus saving the three brothers a painful (although tasty for the wolf) end. Jesus told a parable about building a house on a "rigid" foundation of stone instead of on shifting sand. The house with the "rigid" foundation withstood the storm.

There is another question that, in view of the conflicting statements from clergy, needs to be asked. Some clerics are saying that Amoris Laetitia is magisterial and hence must be believed or all documents from former popes are cast in doubt. But it is clear that the document conflicts with other magisterial documents. So logic demands an answer. Can two popes release conflicting documents on a moral issue and both be true? Can a moral issue be true according to one pope and false according to another. If John Paul II says the ban on adultery is a moral absolute that bars the sinners from Communion unless they live in continence, and Pope Francis says that some adulterers can continue sinning but approach the altar does that make logical sense? If you think so, we really are in chaos.

So I will happily admit to being rigid in the faith of Jesus Christ. I will uphold the ten commandments and the doctrines of the Church and will not blow about in the wind and ring my hands in order to offer false mercy to someone who wants to commit serious sin and says "I don't know what I believe any more." That is the preamble to rationalization. I do know what I believe and I stand on the faith of the fathers including those who recognized heresy when they saw it.

sWill I accompany a suffering soul in their challenges? Gladly. But I will not lie or tickle their ears to make them feel better. I'd rather have them go to heaven with bruised feelings because I told them the truth and urged them to accept it, than to hell with me telling them all is a-okay when it isn't.

I thank God for Cardinal Burke and his companions and for Bishop Athanasius Schneider and for the many laity coming out to support the truth. Jesus spoke with authority not with ambiguity. He told us the "truth will set you free." Thank God a few shepherds still defend it!

Read more here, here, and here.

1 comment:

Catechist Kev said...

Great post, Mary Ann.

I'm with you in all of this. At what point do we simply cast aside documents that have already been handed down as definitively Magisterial?

Say, for instance, like these from the CCC?


1755 A morally good act requires the goodness of the object, of the end, and of the circumstances together. An evil end corrupts the action, even if the object is good in itself (such as praying and fasting "in order to be seen by men").

The object of the choice can by itself vitiate an act in its entirety. There are some concrete acts - such as fornication - that it is always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil.

1756 It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.


1757 The object, the intention, and the circumstances make up the three "sources" of the morality of human acts.

1758 The object chosen morally specifies the act of willing accordingly as reason recognizes and judges it good or evil.

1759 "An evil action cannot be justified by reference to a good intention" (cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Dec. praec. 6). The end does not justify the means.

1760 A morally good act requires the goodness of its object, of its end, and of its circumstances together.

1761 There are concrete acts that it is always wrong to choose, because their choice entails a disorder of the will, i.e., a moral evil. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.

I emphasize this section from 1756 above:

"There are acts which, in and of themselves, *independently of circumstances and intentions*, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and *adultery*. One may not do evil so that good may result from it." (stars added)

[Kevin here]

I have been waiting for a solid Catholic pundit to emphasize what we see above, but none have done so as yet. (I don't have a blog... I simply do not have the time to do it with my given vocations) So, I present them here for your readers to read and pray over, Mary Ann.

While it is true to say the Catechism is *not* infallible, it is *not* true to say that it does not contain infallible teachings (that is to stay, quotes from certain Magisterial texts that *are* infallible... like Veritatis Splendor).

All of this has simply left this Catholic verily flummoxed. I have even contemplated not teaching H.S. CCD anymore... yet, who wins if I do that?

Thank you for these great posts, Mary Ann.
Catechist Kev