Sex and the ‘single’ banker

September 13, 2016 § 20 Comments

True, the church banned usury, and indeed, it took time for the realization to emerge that charging interest is not always tantamount to usury.

As usual, this gets things almost exactly backward. What took time was the relentless effort to obscure the specific difference between mutuum loans and other contracts beneath a fog of anti-realist obfuscation and ‘pastoral accommodation,’ digging a memory hole into which to discard bedrock moral doctrine.

In the future we can expect similar chin-stroking sage and knowing pronouncements:

True, the Church banned contraception and adultery, and indeed, it took time for the realization to emerge that infertile sex and multiple lifetime partners are not always tantamount to contraception and adultery.


§ 20 Responses to Sex and the ‘single’ banker

  • …. multiple lifetime partners are not always tantamount to contraception and adultery.

    Excellent timing 🙂

    Did you see that yesterday the Pope approved Communion for Adulterers?

  • Zippy says:

    Yes, and in 1997 the Vademicum for Confessors arguably did the same thing; and in 1830 the Pope formally authorized absolution and communion for unrepentant usurers.

  • It’s almost like you predicted that this was going to happen 🙂

    Of course, you were not so much prophetic as you were prepared for the past to be repeated, but we American Catholics, raised in a Calvinistic Republic, are not amused by the salacious shenanigans of Alex and Alice Adulterers whereas we are jake with Umberto and Ursula Usurious and i am not even going to get into how the Calvinistic Corporatists robs Pablo of a just wage so as to be able to afford to also pay Pedro a sub-subsistent wage to pick our crops or do our landscaping.

    You know, when I was younger, I had completely figured-out all of these captious moral problems the Church faces but attaining unto my own personal Salvation and Sanctification is a lot harder now than I ever imagined back then (prior to Vatican Two).

  • A rumor that the Pope did X means less than nothing.

  • Regarding the OP topic, I think “maybe they know subjectively that their first marriage wasn’t valid” will be the route taken.

    This is, in my opinion, a good practical reason for opposing efforts to reduce lack of form from a disqualifying impediment to a merely prohibiting one, that such would make arguments of this sort sound more plausible.

  • Mike T says:

    and in 1830 the Pope formally authorized absolution and communion for unrepentant usurers.

    I’d love to know the argument for such a thing since unworthy participation in the Eucharist is to drink from the cup of wrath. It’s like pouring cyanide into a bottle of water and say “what? He looked dehydrated!”

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:
    One complication in the case of usury was the requirement to make restitution as a condition of absolution. Consider a parallel case: a lifelong thief repents, but is required to make a specific account of everything he stole and restore it all as a condition of absolution. These requirements are entirely different, obviously, from “go and sin no more”.

    The basic mistake was in dropping “go and sin no more” in addition to “a full accounting and restitution is required as a condition of absolution”. The latter definitely needed to be dropped; but the baby went out with the bathwater.

  • Mark Citadel says:

    Just smacks of Liberal tempero-centrism whenever anyone says “it took time to realize” on such issues. Do they see themselves truly as more enlightened than the Christians of the first few centuries?

  • Zippy says:

    Mark Citadel:
    I think they rationalize it by supposing that “we” are more financially or economically enlightened. There is no question that we know some things better than (say) the medievals. We have cars and computers; they didn’t; QED.

    The irony is that the Romans had a better taxonomy of contract-species than we do, and the medievals actually believed in objective reality which cannot be reduced to nothing but subjective human desires (unlike all modern economic theories).

    That we are deluded about some things that the medievals understood far better than we do when it comes to property, contracts, and finance is, as they say, offensive to pious ears. It also happens to be absolutely true.

  • Aethelfrith says:

    I noticed that any attempt to move to an older understanding of (life, metaphysics, economy) is usually countered with the head fake of saying, “Yeah, let’s all go back to a time where the life expectancy wast 40 years and infant mortality was sky high.”

  • Zippy says:

    The possibility that we may have forgotten anything important that was known and even obvious to previous generations doesn’t flatter the modern ego and its progressive prejudices.

  • donnie says:


    Not to veer too off topic, but I wanted to bring this article to your attention:

    Dr. Mirus is arguing that the Pope’s interpretation of his own Magisterial document is not relevant in discerning what the document actually requires us to believe. Only the text of the document itself is relevant.

    As much as I want to believe Dr. Mirus on this one, is this not a textbook example of positivism?

  • Zippy says:

    I haven’t read the article, but it is true that a pope’s private theological views are not magisterial — not even when they address the subject matter of or involve interpretation of his own actually magisterial writings. This isn’t (necessarily) positivism: it is just recognition that different documents carry different levels of authority, and that the author – authority – in interpreting magisterial documents and Scripture is the Church, not a pope acting as private theologian (or even in his capacity as juridical rule-maker) or what have you.

    I can’t comment on Mirus’ specific arguments unless I actually read them at some point, but I can affirm that a pope expressing an opinion about a doctrinal or juridical matter – outside of his specifically magisterial acts – doesn’t intrinsically confer more authority on that opinion than on your or my opinion.

  • Zippy says:

    In other words, the magisterial charism applies to magisterial acts. It does not extend to non-magisterial acts, whatever their subject matter.

  • Jack says:

    Zippy –

    I’ve been reading your blog for about a year, after I stumbled on to it when searching for information on usury. I truly love how you teach on a topic and then defend it against all comers in the comments.

    Have you published anywhere a linear collection of your topics and their defense for someone who want to catch up in a more organized (forgive me, I can’t think of a a better word right now) fashion? Something like a Summa Zippologica? Every time I read one of your posts, I have to recurse all the hyperlinks embedded in them until I’m off on a totally different topic 15 browser tabs and an hour and a half later. If not, is it your abhorrence of positivism that stops you from doing this? Is it inherently positivist to systematize your thought?

    Thanks for keeping true Catholic thought alive and applying it to today’s issues and headlines.

  • Zippy says:


    I haven’t re-organized my material into a non-blog format, unfortunately, though I occasionally do ’roundup’ posts.

    It certainly isn’t because of objections to linear writing or realism / anti-positivism or what have you. I could make the excuse that I just think in hyperlinks, which is probably a little bit true: I put up one of the first 3000 web sites or so and have been an Internet user since the 1980’s, long before browsers and the like even existed.

    But probably the most fundamental reason is laziness. I’ve got some things to say, and the interactive/hyperlinked format allows me to say it. Re-organizing all that into a fundamentally different and systematized form (peppered with realist/anti-positivist caveats of course) would be a large project, and, well, so far I’ve got other stuff to do like read Briggs’ latest book on probability.

  • Wood says:


    The material in Briggs’s book has a big role in my professional life. I selfishly hope you will give us your thoughts on the book at some point in the future. I’d really be interested to hear your take or even a thumbs up/thumbs down.

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