The Pontifical Academy of Anything Goes

It’s taking all of my will to not whip out some serious vulgarities after reading this.  

Pontifical Academy for Life Member: Term ‘Intrinsically Evil’ Too Restricting

Edward Pentin

A reflection on Amoris Laetitia has been posted on the website of the Pontifical Academy for Life in which its author, a new member of the academy, proposes that the term “intrinsically evil” is outdated.

Honestly, I’m starting to think I might be overqualified to serve on the Pontifical Academy for Life these days. I’m totally willing to do it, Your Holiness, but seriously?  What are we supposed to go with here??? I mean, I thought “intrinsically evil” was quite truthful and succinct. Shall we go with “really jacked-up” to make it a little more modern?!?! What in the what?! 

Hypothesizing on the moral theology of Amoris Laetitia and Pope Francis’ principle that “time is greater than space” mentioned in his 2013 apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Professor Gerhard Höver argues that changes in perception, “namely, space and time,” have an “effect on specific theologies, such as the theological view of marriage and the family.”

The professor of moral theology at the University of Bonn, Germany, uses selected writings of St. Bonaventure and Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI to argue — quoting from Amoris Laetitia — against thinking that everything is “black and white” which results in closing off the “way of grace and of growth.” 

“He believes that the principle “time is greater than space” relates to an interplay between the eternal and temporal spheres, taking on a “moral-theological significance” that “affects the previous teaching about ‘intrinsically evil actions.'”

Oh, my gosh, I feel like I’m watching a sci-fi movie here. I’d expect this to be a line out of Interstellar or The Arrival. Can’t you just see Matthew McConaughey saying this?

Good stinking luck with this juju. (It’s sad when juju makes more sense than the what the professors comprising the Pontifical Academy of Life come up with these days.) I’m starting to think these windbags just have to say something to hear themselves talk.  They want to sound new and hip no matter how little they make sense.

“It is not without reason that some have requested further clarification on this point,” he adds, referring to the second of the five dubia which asked the Pope whether, after Amoris Laetitia, one still needs to regard as valid “the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions.”

How kind of him. 

The Church currently teaches that intrinsically evil acts are always and everywhere wrong and immoral, regardless of intention or circumstances. This is because, in part, they do not bring one closer to God, and prevent the common good.

But Höver argues that the term “intrinsically evil” is too restricting as it fails to account for some “regularity” within “irregular” situations, ones which could be allowed if one abides by the principle that ‘time is greater than space.’ “If even only one element is defective, the consequence is ‘badness’ and (in this sense) also ‘irregularity,’” he says.

I’m sure Pentin is about to give a behind-whipping on this silly fallacy but in case he doesn’t… No! Situation ethics to not apply. My guess is Pentin will point out that some things are always good or always evil (like abortion) but the person’s situation might mitigate their culpability in the action. It NEVER changes the fact that some things are intrinsically evil – the act is always evil just by its very nature.

“It seems theological reasons lead Pope Francis to refuse to go on accepting this restriction,” Höver continues. “This does not in the least dispute the necessity of calling oppositions and irregularities by their names, above all in cases of injustice and unfairness vis-à-vis other persons. But the Pope regards the path that has been taken hitherto as inadequate to cope with the differentness and complexity of the situations in which people stand or live.”

Huh?!? Does Google Translate work with Wacky Theologian-ese? More importantly, can he cite a teaching of Pope Francis which removes the status of intrinsic evil?

“A moral theologian speaking to the Register on condition of anonymity expressed astonishment that Höver was “digging into obscure references to Ratzinger’s first doctoral dissertation on St. Bonaventure, which doesn’t discuss intrinsic evil anywhere.”

EXACTLY! This is the liberals’ new game. Let’s just say that then-Cardinal Ratzinger said this without any proof that these ideas exist. It’s like they simply think the internet does not exist or that we laity are too stupid to do the research.

“Where are the clear statements about the topic in St. John Paul II’s encyclical on the moral teaching of the Church, Veritatis Splendor?” he asked, adding that even if Höver’s thesis were correct, which he “could not admit, he is placing philosophy over the clear teaching of Christ, St. Paul, St. Peter and the entire moral tradition of the Church, not least Ratzinger himself who admits that intrinsic evil exists.”

BAM! Thank you Anonymous Moral Theologian.

Undermining Morality

Höver’s article is the latest example of a Vatican-appointed figure raising questions about the Church’s teaching on intrinsically evil acts.

Yes! These latest losers on the various academies don’t want any sort of truth. I’m dumb but I think that rather qualifies as Nihilism, right? “God is dead!” probably isn’t far from the minds of some members of the Pontifical Academy of Life. Le sigh!

In a lecture last month, new academy member and moral theologian Father Maurizio Chiodi partly justified his theory of allowing artificial contraception in some cases because the Pope makes no “explicit reference” to contraception as “intrinsically evil,” and adding that “it would have been very easy to do so given Veritatis Splendor.”

“Another new member of the Pontifical Academy, Jesuit Father Alain Thomasset, has said he does not believe in the existence of the term.

Geez. One has to wonder if they even bothered to read Veritatis Splendor.

67. These tendencies are therefore contrary to the teaching of Scripture itself, which sees the fundamental option as a genuine choice of freedom and links that choice profoundly to particular acts. By his fundamental choice, man is capable of giving his life direction and of progressing, with the help of grace, towards his end, following God’s call. But this capacity is actually exercised in the particular choices of specific actions, through which man deliberately conforms himself to God’s will, wisdom and law. It thus needs to be stated that the so-called fundamental option, to the extent that it is distinct from a generic intention and hence one not yet determined in such a way that freedom is obligated, is always brought into play through conscious and free decisions. Precisely for this reason, it is revoked when man engages his freedom in conscious decisions to the contrary, with regard to morally grave matter.

To separate the fundamental option from concrete kinds of behaviour means to contradict the substantial integrity or personal unity of the moral agent in his body and in his soul. A fundamental option understood without explicit consideration of the potentialities which it puts into effect and the determinations which express it does not do justice to the rational finality immanent in man’s acting and in each of his deliberate decisions. In point of fact, the morality of human acts is not deduced only from one’s intention, orientation or fundamental option, understood as an intention devoid of a clearly determined binding content or as an intention with no corresponding positive effort to fulfil the different obligations of the moral life. Judgments about morality cannot be made without taking into consideration whether or not the deliberate choice of a specific kind of behaviour is in conformity with the dignity and integral vocation of the human person. Every choice always implies a reference by the deliberate will to the goods and evils indicated by the natural law as goods to be pursued and evils to be avoided. In the case of the positive moral precepts, prudence always has the task of verifying that they apply in a specific situation, for example, in view of other duties which may be more important or urgent. But the negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behaviour as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception. They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the “creativity” of any contrary determination whatsoever. Once the moral species of an action prohibited by a universal rule is concretely recognized, the only morally good act is that of obeying the moral law and of refraining from the action which it forbids.

  1. Here an important pastoral consideration must be added. According to the logic of the positions mentioned above, an individual could, by virtue of a fundamental option, remain faithful to God independently of whether or not certain of his choices and his acts are in conformity with specific moral norms or rules. By virtue of a primordial option for charity, that individual could continue to be morally good, persevere in God’s grace and attain salvation, even if certain of his specific kinds of behaviour were deliberately and gravely contrary to God’s commandments as set forth by the Church.

In point of fact, man does not suffer perdition only by being unfaithful to that fundamental option whereby he has made “a free self-commitment to God”.113 With every freely committed mortal sin, he offends God as the giver of the law and as a result becomes guilty with regard to the entire law (cf. Jas 2:8-11); even if he perseveres in faith, he loses “sanctifying grace”, “charity” and “eternal happiness”.114 As the Council of Trent teaches, “the grace of justification once received is lost not only by apostasy, by which faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin”.115

Here is the smack-down I was looking for earlier.

“Veritatis Splendor states that intrinsically evil acts “do not allow for any legitimate exception,” nor do they “leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the ‘creativity’ of any contrary determination whatsoever.”

Like I said, no situation in life is going to justify committing these acts. These idiots are trying to mix up acts and culpability. Sorry. These acts are always evil by their nature but a person’s culpability in cooperating with these acts will vary. See? Was that soooooo hard to say???

The Church teaches that abortion, contraception, homosexual acts, adultery, and other gravely sinful actions are deemed “intrinsically evil.”

Rendering the term obsolete therefore potentially radically changes the Church’s moral teaching, according to the anonymous moral theologian, “undermining the whole notion of morality.”

And, of course, that’s EXACTLY what they’re trying to do.  

His concerns are echoed by others as the Church marks 25 years since the publication of Veritatis Splendor and its clear articulation of the Church’s moral teaching on intrinsically evil acts, as well as the 50th anniversary of Paul VI’s landmark encyclical Humanae Vitae and its ban on the use of artificial contraception, deeming its use as “intrinsically wrong.”

A spokesman for Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, told the Register Jan. 25 that Höver’s position “does not necessarily correspond to the position of the academy” and that it is normal for the academy to publish abstracts of members’ published works, with links to their full versions. If they publish something the academy fully agrees with, then he said they make that known.

Boo on them. Don’t post crud. It’s a really good plan. Trust me. Personally, I think “does not necessarily correspond” is waffling. Does it or does it not, Archbishop Paglia?

But allowing academy members to publish hypotheses like Höver’s, challenging the Church’s moral doctrine and the teaching of previous popes, is something new. In the past, new members had to sign a declaration of fidelity to the Church’s pro-life teachings, but new statutes implemented last year ended that requirement.

Word! Might be nice to not post the rantings and musings in an area so serious. By the way, who else would like to see the declaration of fidelity mandatory once again?!

In an interview with the Register last year, Archbishop Paglia offered reassurance that the new statutes “require a stronger commitment on the part of members to the Church’s pro-life teaching” and that they “promote and defend the principles of the value of life and the dignity of the person, interpreted in conformity with the magisterium of the Church.

But last summer, the archbishop oversaw the selection of new members, including Höver, Father Chiodi and Father Thomasset, who clearly have differences with the Church’s teaching on marriage and family life.

This has really been the new status quo. “We’ll totally toe the authentically pro-life line until we don’t and hope you don’t notice.”

Asked if the academy’s leaders were aware of their views before they were selected, the spokesman told the Register “we knew” but added that it was important to provide them “space,” in continuity with “Pope Francis’ preference for dialogue and debate with those holding differing opinions.”

Let’s just ask satan for his opinion on the subject. Sigh. Look, you want to talk with people holding differing opinions? Fine. They don’t need to be appointed to a position in the Academy to do so. It’s not like we don’t know what the rest of the world thinks on the subject. Duh! If you don’t know what the opposition thinks, please get another job.

Archbishop Paglia was asked to comment on how these members of the academy reflect a new requirement for a “stronger commitment” to uphold the Church’s pro-life teaching, but he was unavailable.

WHAT. A. SHOCKER.

He Can’t Handle Intrinsic Evils

Seriously, Bishop McElroy can’t handle intrinsic evils or much of the Church’s teachings.  I think those pesky little details just get in his way.

http://cal-catholic.com/?p=25557

San Diego bishop: forget about intrinsic evils when voting

Bishop Robert McElroy says using “intrinsic evils” not the best standard for deciding how to vote because there are so many of them.

So glad I wasn’t drinking when I read this one.  Can’t you just see him feeling kind of the same way about the teachings of the Church?  Canon Law? Ten Commandments?  “There are just so many of them, it makes my brain hurt, so let’s just ignore them all.” (That it should have been read in the whiniest voice you could muster.)

<snip>

The church teaches that certain acts are incapable of being ordered to God since in their very structure they contradict the good of the person made in God’s likeness. Such actions are termed “intrinsically evil” and are morally illicit no matter what the intention or circumstances surrounding them. Those who focus primarily on intrinsic evil make two distinct but related claims: 1) that the action of voting for candidates who seek to advance an intrinsic evil in society automatically involves the voter morally in that intrinsic evil in an illicit way; and 2) Catholic teaching demands that political opposition to intrinsically evil acts, like abortion, euthanasia and embryonic experimentation, must be given automatic priority over all other issues for the purposes of voting.

The recent statement of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” shows why this argument is simplistic and thus misleading.

Not so much, Your Excellency.  I think it’s you and your buddies like Archbishop Cupich who think we’re a little too simplistic to figure this out, so you’re going to “help” us. My guess is you two have done the high-five on social media for this one.

The bishops’ statement clearly asserts the absoluteness of the prohibitions against concrete intrinsically evil acts, emphasizing that no circumstances or intentions can justify performing or illicitly cooperating with such acts. At the same time, “Faithful Citizenship” recognizes that voting for a candidate whose policies may advance a particular intrinsic evil is not in itself an intrinsically evil act.

Duh.  They’re not contradicting themselves, you are.  Is there a reason you won’t quote when commenting on “Faithful Citizenship?”  How’s this? 

34. Catholics often face difficult choices about how to vote. This is why it is so important to vote according to a well-formed conscience that perceives the proper relationship among moral goods. A Catholic cannot vote for a candidate who takes a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, such as abortion or racism, if the voter’s intent is to support that position. In such cases a Catholic would be guilty of formal cooperation in grave evil. At the same time, a voter should not use a candidate’s opposition to an intrinsic evil to justify indifference or inattentiveness to other important moral issues involving human life and dignity.

  1. There may be times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate’s unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons. Voting in this way would be permissible only for truly grave moral reasons, not to advance narrow interests or partisan preferences or to ignore a fundamental moral evil.

  2. When all candidates hold a position in favor of an intrinsic evil, the conscientious voter faces a dilemma. The voter may decide to take the extraordinary step of not voting for any candidate or, after careful deliberation, may decide to vote for the candidate deemed less likely to advance such a morally flawed position and more likely to pursue other authentic human goods.

  3. In making these decisions, it is essential for Catholics to be guided by a well-formed conscience that recognizes that all issues do not carry the same moral weight and that the moral obligation to oppose intrinsically evil acts has a special claim on our consciences and our actions. These decisions should take into account a candidate’s commitments, character, integrity, and ability to influence a given issue.

See?  You need to look at 36 to clarify 34.  You can’t ever vote for someone who’s pro-abortion if there is a better option or if you are voting for them specifically because of their pro-abortion stance, but you can vote for someone who is pro-abortion if they are the ones who will do the least damage in this area. 

In the end, this is a decision to be made by each Catholic guided by a conscience formed by Catholic moral teaching.

Oh, he leaves out one key word: “well.”  They must be guided by their well-formed conscience.

Voting for candidates is a complex moral action in which the voter must confront an entire array of competing candidates’ positions in a single act of voting. It is crucial that in voting for a candidate who supports the advancement of an intrinsic evil, Catholic voters not have the intention of supporting that specific evil, since such an intention would involve them directly in the evil itself. But voters will often find themselves in situations where one candidate supports an intrinsically evil position, yet the alternative realistic candidates all support even graver evils in the totality of their positions.

Note the heavy focus on the “voters must not have the intention of supporting that specific evil.”  He actually did OK there.  And then he goes onto blow it:

This is particularly true in the United States today. The list of intrinsic evils specified by Catholic teaching includes not only abortion, physician-assisted suicide and embryonic experimentation but also actions that exploit workers, create or perpetuate inhuman living conditions or advance racism. It is extremely difficult, and often completely impossible, to find candidates whose policies will not advance several of these evils in American life.

No. No. No. No. No.  There are some intrinsic evils that have priority.  Anything that deprives life surpasses all others.  If you don’t have life, you have nothing.  Bishop McElroy must have missed this:

http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/abortion/living-the-gospel-of-life.cfm

  1. The losers in this ethical sea change will be those who are elderly, poor, disabled and politically marginalized. None of these pass the utility test; and yet, they at least have a presence.  They at least have the possibility of organizing to be heard.  Those who are unborn, infirm and terminally ill have no such advantage.  They have no “utility,” and worse, they have no voice.  As we tinker with the beginning, the end and even the intimate cell structure of life, we tinker with our own identity as a free nation dedicated to the dignity of the human person.  When American political life becomes an experiment on people rather than for and by them, it will no longer be worth conducting.  We are arguably moving closer to that day.  Today, when the inviolable rights of the human person are proclaimed and the value of life publicly affirmed, the most basic human right, “the right to life, is being denied or trampled upon, especially at the more significant moments of existence: the moment of birth and the moment of death” (Pope John Paul II, The Gospel of Life [Evangelium Vitae], 18).
  1. The nature and urgency of this threat should not be misunderstood. Respect for the dignity of the human person demands a commitment to human rights across a broad spectrum:  “Both as Americans and as followers of Christ, American Catholics must be committed to the defense of life in all its stages and in every condition.”4  The culture of death extends beyond our shores: famine and starvation, denial of health care and development around the world, the deadly violence of armed conflict and the scandalous arms trade that spawns such conflict.  Our nation is witness to domestic violence, the spread of drugs, sexual activity which poses a threat to lives, and a reckless tampering with the world’s ecological balance.  Respect for human life calls us to defend life from these and other threats.  It calls us as well to enhance the conditions for human living by helping to provide food, shelter and meaningful employment, beginning with those who are most in need.  We live the Gospel of Life when we live in solidarity with the poor of the world, standing up for their lives and dignity.  Yet abortion and euthanasia have become preeminent threats to human dignity because they directly attack life itself, the most fundamental human good and the condition for all others.  They are committed against those who are weakest and most defenseless, those who are genuinely “the poorest of the poor.”  They are endorsed increasingly without the veil of euphemism, as supporters of abortion and euthanasia freely concede these are killing even as they promote them.  Sadly, they are practiced in those communities which ordinarily provide a safe haven for the weak — the family and the healing professions.  Such direct attacks on human life, once crimes, are today legitimized by governments sworn to protect the weak and marginalized.

    Just in case you didn’t know, the definition of preeminent is “surpassing all others.”  And I, Bishop McElroy, believe you missed this in the document you speak of but never link to:  http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/faithful-citizenship/upload/forming-consciences-for-faithful-citizenship.pdf

 

  1. Two temptations in public life can distort the Church’s defense of human life and dignity:

  2. The first is a moral equivalence that makes no ethical distinctions between different kinds of issues involving human life and dignity. The direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life from the moment of conception until natural death is always wrong and is not just one issue among many. It must always be opposed.3

  3. The second is the misuse of these necessary moral distinctions as a way of dismissing or ignoring other serious threats to human life and dignity. The current and projected extent of environmental degradation has become a moral crisis especially because it poses a risk to humanity in the future and threatens the lives of poor and vulnerable human persons here and now. Racism and other unjust discrimination, the use of the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, the use of torture,4 war crimes, the failure to respond to those who are suffering from hunger or a lack of health care, pornography, redefining civil marriage, compromising religious liberty, or an unjust immigration policy are all serious moral issues that challenge our consciences and require us to act. These are not optional concerns which can be dismissed. Catholics are urged to seriously consider Church teaching on these issues. Although choices about how best to respond to these and other compelling threats to human life and dignity are matters for principled debate and decision, this does not make them optional concerns or permit Catholics to dismiss or ignore Church teaching on these important issues. Clearly not every Catholic can be actively involved on each of these concerns, but we need to support one another as our community of faith defends human life and dignity wherever it is threatened. We are not factions, but one family of faith fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ.

While we follow both, you seem to fall right into the temptation mention when you directly contradicting number 28 .  You’re playing the “it’s just one issue among many” card to the hilt in your little statement.

Even more important, a fatal shortcoming of the category of intrinsic evil as a foundation for prioritizing the major elements of the political common good lies in the fact that while the criterion of intrinsic evil identifies specific human acts that can never be justified, it is not a measure of the relative gravity of evil in human or political acts. Some intrinsically evil acts are less gravely evil than other intrinsically evil actions.

Riiiggghhhhtttt!  Did you read what you just wrote?  In fact, the Church has shown us (just like the USCCB did above) the ones that get priority.  You, however, seem to want to downplay these for a reason.  Why is that? 

Intrinsically evil action can also be less gravely evil than other actions that do not fall under the category of intrinsic evil. For example, telling any lie is intrinsically evil, while launching a major war is not.  But it would be morally obtuse to propose that telling a minor lie to constituents should count more in the calculus of voting than a candidate’s policy to go to war.

And, Bishop McElroy?  Nobody is comparing the two.  This is what we like to call a red-herring.  It is just you trying to use an action that isn’t happening to downplaying the severity of the preeminent intrinsic evils that the Church has laid out. 

It is the gravity of evil or good present in electoral choices that is primarily determinative of their objective moral character and their contribution to or detraction from the common good. Moreover, because voting is a complex moral action involving mitigating circumstances, a vote for a candidate who supports intrinsic evils often does not involve illicit cooperation in those acts. For these reasons the category of intrinsic evil cannot provide a comprehensive moral roadmap for prioritizing the elements of the common good for voting.

We don’t need more of a road map than already given to us.  The person we should vote for should pass the test of rejecting the preeminent intrinsic evils of our time which, again, as our very own USCCB has stated, are the no brainer offenses against life.  That is PREEMINENT.  I’m not sure how many ways the Church has to say it before Bishop McElroy stop trying to confuse the voters that when two candidates are pro-choice, you can’t ever vote for the worse one, but you may be able to vote for the one who will do the least damage in this area.  If two candidates are apples to apples in this area, then you should go on to look at all of the other issues that go along with the dignity of life.