On the Encyclical Ephebophilia est Legitiums

January 16, 2007 § 11 Comments

Folks who dispute that Evangelium Vitae and the Catechism have anything to teach us about the conditions necessary to licitly use the death penalty often bring up the priestly ephebophilia scandal and coverup, clown masses, etc as support for the notion that a hermeneutic of suspician is appropriate when approaching what the Magisterium of the Church is presently teaching on such issues.

I’ll even take the argument seriously, just as soon as Pope Benedict XVI issues encyclicals entitled On the Pastoral Benefits of Presiding as Bozo or On the Moral Liciety of Ephebophilia as Release for Sexually Frustrated Pastors.

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§ 11 Responses to On the Encyclical Ephebophilia est Legitiums

  • Anonymous says:

    Dear Zippy,What about a hermeneutic of questioning? I am not suspicious of the teaching of the Church, but I often find that I have the thing the wrong way around and constant questioning, which can sound like suspicion (I suppose) eventually gets me to looking at it the right way.The question of the Death Penalty concurs with conclusions that I had already drawn on my own, so, of course I have no difficulty with it. Narrowing the parameters of what constitutes a “Just war” presents no hardship. But I do have tremendous difficulties with some teachings. For example, why is NFP any better, really than artificial contraception if the end purpose is the same? When I begin to ask this sort of question, I find it necessary to return to the real teaching, when I can find it and try to see it in the way the Church is looking at it.In almost no case EVER have I heard and completely understood a church teaching and found it lacking. I’ve often found myself hard-hearted and hard-headed enough to toss it out; however, that is not the fault of the Church.Ever since my fundamental error with <>Veratatis Splendor<> was exposed to me, I have tried very hard to embrace everything I have heard from the magisterium. However, my personality is such that it doesn’t happen without an enormous struggle, sometimes.I’ve learned the essential fallacy of doubting authentic teaching and of thinking that I know better than those in the position of teaching. I’ve learned it, however, it often doesn’t soften the first impact and still I struggle.And perhaps many are in this position with regard to hard teachings that go against what they really want to be true. It is often difficult to get by yourself because too often we’re not all that interested in the truth–convenience is by far more important. And convenience is not to be had by having to change your mind with any frequency.shalom,Steven

  • zippy says:

    Well, Steven, FWIW I would tend to call what you have just described a hermeneutic of trust. The key difference is not in whether or not we are asking questions. The key difference, it seems to me, is in whether we are trying to make sense of what is being taught or if we are trying to make nonsense of what is being taught.<>For example, why is NFP any better, really than artificial contraception if the end purpose is the same?<>Well, remember, contraception isn’t evil because of its end purpose (which can be many different things); it is evil in its object, that is, as a specific behavior. Another way to think about it is that separating the contracepting from a specific sex act isn’t possible: a contracepted sex act is a particular chosen behavior which is different from an accidentally infertile uncontracepted act, even when the latter is being chosen as a matter of timing out of precisely the same motive which moves one to contracept.Mind you, I think that NFP can be and probably often is illicit because of intentions and circumstances: that there may well be a kind of “cult of NFP” that treats it as Catholic birth control despite rationalizations to the contrary. I specifically think that the notion that every Catholic married couple should learn about NFP is a strong indicator of this “cult of NFP” disposition. NFP should be there for hard cases only, when there are at least serious reasons to space children, and I am doubtful that many such cases exist in objective reality: that is, I think the set of real cases where the reasons are serious enough to use NFP on the one hand yet not serious enough to indicate complete abstinence on the other are probably very few, as a practical matter.But as a sexual behavior NFP is fundamentally different from contraception, which is the performance of a sex act which has been intentionally changed in a way which strips it of its natural fertility.At least that is how I understand it, at present.

  • Anonymous says:

    Dear Zippy,A hermeneutic of trust. I like that because it expresses a fundamental attitude–“I know there is something here for me, but I’m not seeing it clearly.” Which is opposed to “There’s nothing here at all–more of the same nonsense.”I sometimes wonder whether many Catholics, including the so-called traditionalists and conservatives, realize what a valuable treasure they have in the magisterium. Having come from a “priesthood of the believer” faith in which everyone forged their own vision of the truth, I can tell you that while I struggle to adopt someone else’s vision, it is still a more satisfactory experience than trying to make it up as I go along. Do I have difficulty with Church teaching–of course, I am at heart rebellious and resentful of authority. But like any wayward child, there is a deep comfort in knowing that there are boundaries and knowing where the boundaries are, even if I’m constantly pushing at them.Oh, and thanks for the NFP notion–I’m glad to see your comment about its possibly illicit use–that’s the particular of NFP that is most puzzling to me–it often seems that the “serious cause” clause is forgotten in the welter of acclaim. But then I’ve always been a little doubtful of my position because it reads a bit like sour grapes given our own family situation.shalom,Steven

  • Zippy and Steven,I couldn’t have said what you said any better.

  • Anonymous says:

    Good job, Zippy and Steven. I especially like the remark: “The key difference, it seems to me, is in whether we are trying to make sense of what is being taught or if we are trying to make nonsense of what is being taught.” That is now a permanent part of my teaching material.<>Re<> the NFP-contraception issue, you might want to see my < HREF="http://mliccione.blogspot.com/2006/05/contraception-state-of-question.html" REL="nofollow">article <> thereon.If you wish to comment, please e-mail me and I’ll make another post out of it.Best,Mike

  • William Luse says:

    Sharp has suddenly become synonymous with spam. Get rid of him.

  • Ryan C says:

    It’s impossible and ultimately pointless to speculate on just how many uses of NFP are illicit, since that would require a knowledge of the situation that more than likely only each married couple would have. Besides which, that sort of discussion only clouds the important point that NFP is good on its own.

  • zippy says:

    <>It’s impossible and ultimately pointless to speculate on just how many uses of NFP are illicit, since that would require a knowledge of the situation that more than likely only each married couple would have.<>With all due respect, I’m not sure how to interpret this other than as a relatively polite way to say “shut up about that”. Lots of moral questions about specific actual acts do ultimately boil down to personal knowledge of very specific facts about the actual act, but that doesn’t mean that it is pointless to discuss the principles involved.<>Besides which, that sort of discussion only clouds the important point that NFP is good on its own.<>I disagree. That is like saying that brain surgery is good on its own. Brain surgery is only a good when it is done for particular kinds of serious reasons, and would be wicked if done for the wrong reasons (even if those wrong reasons were serious). NFP also, the Church teaches authoritatively, is only a good when done for serious reasons.

  • Anonymous says:

    I’m sorry–I’ve been ignoring it as long as I can, but I just can’t stand it any more: “legitiums” is not a Latin word.

  • zippy says:

    ROFL! The post title isn’t supposed to be good Latin, but then, my knowledge of Latin is so limited (pretty much just to various parts of the Mass) that it was always possible that I’d gotten it right on accident.

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