Pastoral accompaniment of serial killers

September 26, 2017 § 174 Comments

Mark Shea quotes Michael Liccione:

… the real question is whether every [sexually active] irregular marriage or cohabiting relationship [objectively] constitutes unrepented adultery or fornication. The Pope thinks not, and I agree with him. […]

The same goes for the idea that some irregular sexual relationships are the best people can do in their current circumstances. Sometimes the answer is yes, …

Wrong: the answer is an unequivocal yes to the first, and an unequivocal no to the second.  (I don’t know what the Pope thinks).

It is never morally acceptable to choose intrinsically immoral behaviors. The “best someone can do in their current circumstances” never constitutes choosing an intrinsically immoral behavior, whatever “ticking time bomb” consequences they may perceive to be at stake.  Compassion for difficult circumstances never translates into a determination that choosing objectively immoral behavior is “the best we can do”, that is, good.

Veritatis Splendour:

Furthermore, what must be done in any given situation depends on the circumstances, not all of which can be foreseen; on the other hand there are kinds of behaviour which can never, in any situation, be a proper response — a response which is in conformity with the dignity of the person. Finally, it is always possible that man, as the result of coercion or other circumstances, can be hindered from doing certain good actions; but he can never be hindered from not doing certain actions, especially if he is prepared to die rather than to do evil.

The Church has always taught that one may never choose kinds of behaviour prohibited by the moral commandments expressed in negative form in the Old and New Testaments.

It is never morally acceptable to torture prisoners.  It is never morally acceptable to fornicate, commit adultery, or engage in contracepted intercourse.  It is never morally acceptable to kill the innocent.  It is never morally acceptable to contract for profits on a mutuum loan.

If someone thinks that choosing an intrinsically immoral behaviour – killing some innocent people, for example, even when he is convinced that many more will die from other causes if he chooses not to – is “the best he can do”, he needs to think again.  Choosing an evil behaviour is never under any circumstances “the best you can do.”

This is ultimately the same old consequentialist utilitarian nonsense that modernity has been shoveling for centuries, changing up the labels to beg the question on behalf of the Current Year sins the speaker wishes to reframe as virtuous.

A preview of future consequentialism, same as past consequentialism:

From a theoretical viewpoint, development [of a theory of licit sex outside of marriage] was retarded by the concept of normally married conjugal relations, which led to a belief that ever to admit sex outside of wedlock would be to destroy the fornication prohibition itself. …

In the end, as everyone knows, licit sex outside of marriage came to be considered the norm, and fornication the exception …

If that one doesn’t resonate, try this one on for size:

From a theoretical viewpoint, development [of a theory of killing innocents on purpose] was retarded by the concept that killing innocent people is normally murder, which led to a belief that ever to admit choosing to kill innocent people would be to destroy the murder prohibition itself. …

In the end, as everyone knows, licit ‘collateral damage’ from bombing came to be considered the norm, and murder the exception …

Examples can be multiplied by iterating over particular vicious acts someone is attempting to frame as a virtuous act in certain circumstances.

Now it is uncontroversially true that some sins are more objectively grave than others, and that personal culpability varies based on circumstances, pressures, etc.  It is also uncontroversially true that some objectively evil choices represent an improvement over other objectively evil choices. A serial killer who has gone from murdering one person a week to murdering only one person a year can be said to be on an objective path of improvement, in a sense. In this same sense it is true that there may be improvements taking place in the life of any unrepentant mortal sinner.

But it doesn’t follow that killing just a few more people is “the best he can do.”  The best he can do is repent and make a commitment, with the help of God’s grace and human authorities, to stop choosing immoral behaviors and to do the right thing.


Note: In this post I am addressing the specific cited contentions, not the so-called ‘filial correction’, which I have not read.

§ 174 Responses to Pastoral accompaniment of serial killers

  • donnie says:

    Correct. And this is precisely the heresy which His Holiness has been accused of propagating, stated in far fewer words. It boggles my mind why the authors of the ‘filial correction’ didn’t try to trim down their letter to something as succinct as this. It’s bonkers to think His Holiness is going to pay attention to anything critical of him that is longer than a half dozen paragraphs, if that.

  • LarryDickson says:

    If the “filial correction” is the one I heard of, it is sponsored by SSPX schismatics. In typical Protestant fashion, they are looking for a way to state the case that dethrones the Pope, rather than a way to understand what he is trying to say.

    Doctrinal and pastoral are not the same thing, and are both needed. It is always wrong to choose evil as a path forward in life, but some people feel they are trapped in evil that comes from the past, and it is also wrong to simply tell those people to go to hell. Auto-condemnation of people who do not reach moral perfection at the cost of sacrificing hostages, especially when the hostages are their own children, is not teaching all nations. Sometimes correction takes time. See the story of the Woman at the Well (John 4).

  • “Note: In this post I am addressing the specific cited contentions, not the so-called ‘filial correction’, which I have not read.”

    I don’t have a problem with the fact that you haven’t read the statement. But if you have read Mark Shea’s blog post, that combination of reading and non-reading suggests some very bad method of selecting things to read.

  • Zippy says:

    LarryDickson:

    … and it is also wrong to simply tell those people to go to hell

    Folks who would like their arguments to be taken seriously should probably refrain from gratuitous, obvious strawmen.

  • Zippy says:

    entirelyuseless:

    I haven’t regularly read Mark’s stuff in years, but he stayed at my house twice during the ‘oughts and rode in my airplane once. If that makes this thread ritually impure, well, nobody needs to read here either.

  • donnie says:

    Larry,

    There is no justification for the SSPX position, not during this pontificate or any other. But that’s not an excuse to use ad hominem arguments to dismiss the substance of the correction, which is on point.

    Now, substance aside, was it wise for those who wrote this correction to allow it to become a lengthy manifesto? I don’t think so. Was it wise for those who wrote this correction to publicize it? Almost certainly not, due to the serious risk of scandal. Is it even appropriate for a group of laypeople and lesser clergy to send this sort of thing to a reigning Pontiff? I don’t know.

    But as far as substance is concerned, it’s about right.

  • You aren’t allowed to judge an individual’s culpability for their actions, so shut up while I judge that most of these people are not culpable for their actions and ignore the glaring fact that evil is evil, culpable or not.

  • It is really startling when someone just comes out and says “The real question is whether ‘a’ is ‘a’,” and even more horrific is that people take him seriously.

  • tz says:

    Because there is no easy or simple cure, we are denying the disease is a disease, and a deadly one at that.
    We are in a fallen world, with tempters everywhere trying to get us to fall. It has become as if crawling around on our bellies because we have fallen has to be normalized and declared equivalent to someone who can stand, walk, and run.

  • Robert Brockman says:

    “It is never morally acceptable to torture prisoners.”

    Claiming that it is never morally acceptable to torture prisoners is apparently heresy.

    http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Leo10/l10exdom.htm

    Specifically, Leo claims that Luther is a heretic for, among a laundry list of other things, stating that “33. That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.”

    Presumably heretics that have been detained by civil authorities and judged to be so by the church are “prisoners”, and if being burned at the stake isn’t torture, than it’s not clear what is.

  • donnie says:

    [We can under no circumstances tolerate or overlook any longer the pernicious poison of the following errors]… 33. That heretics be burned is against the will of the Spirit.

    It’s a bit of a stretch to point to that condemned error and then conclude, “claiming that it is never morally acceptable to torture prisoners is apparently heresy.”

    if being burned at the stake isn’t torture, than it’s not clear what is.

    It’s a form of capital punishment. You don’t burn someone at the stake to extract information from them. In fact, the whole point of burning heretics is so that they don’t spread anymore of their “information.”

    St. Thomas Aquinas explains why putting heretics to death is not contrary to the will of the Spirit in Summa theologiae II-II, q. 11. a. 3.

    I answer that, With regard to heretics two points must be observed: one, on their own side; the other, on the side of the Church. On their own side there is the sin, whereby they deserve not only to be separated from the Church by excommunication, but also to be severed from the world by death. For it is a much graver matter to corrupt the faith which quickens the soul, than to forge money, which supports temporal life. Wherefore if forgers of money and other evil-doers are forthwith condemned to death by the secular authority, much more reason is there for heretics, as soon as they are convicted of heresy, to be not only excommunicated but even put to death.

    On the part of the Church, however, there is mercy which looks to the conversion of the wanderer, wherefore she condemns not at once, but “after the first and second admonition,” as the Apostle directs: after that, if he is yet stubborn, the Church no longer hoping for his conversion, looks to the salvation of others, by excommunicating him and separating him from the Church, and furthermore delivers him to the secular tribunal to be exterminated thereby from the world by death. For Jerome commenting on Galatians 5:9, “A little leaven,” says: “Cut off the decayed flesh, expel the mangy sheep from the fold, lest the whole house, the whole paste, the whole body, the whole flock, burn, perish, rot, die. Arius was but one spark in Alexandria, but as that spark was not at once put out, the whole earth was laid waste by its flame.”

  • TomD says:

    One of the things to remember when reading Denzinger, is that when a proposition is condemned, that proposition is condemned, nothing more, and it is very possible to read more into it than should be done.

  • Robert Brockman says:

    “Failed argument #2.”

    Not applicable here. The heretic is being executed *and tortured*. When you want to execute someone, you chop their head off with an axe or give them a fast-acting poison. The goal is to get them dead as quickly as possible with a minimum of fuss.

    Burning is different. Burning is long, slow, and horrible, designed to maximize the suffering of the heretic. It is done publicly, so that everyone in the town, young and old, get to see what happens to heretics, hear the screams and watch their flesh melt away. Terror and intimidation is the goal of the exercise.

    The actual harm done to the heretic is minimal, since some minutes of extreme physical pain are of epsilon significance compared to the eternal all-consuming fire their spirit will be subjected to immediately afterwards. If it “encourages the others” to not be heretics, then the torture was worth it, which is why the church authorized it.

  • Zippy says:

    Robert Brockman:

    It may not be obvious to you that you are assuming the conclusion; but it is obvious to me that you are doing so. You also create the problem for yourself of making your own interpretation cohere with other Magisterial statements.

    But I spent six or eight years debating torture on this blog and elsewhere, and have less than zero interest in resuming that debate — especially with newbies to it. So please be so kind as to take it somewhere else.

  • Robert Brockman says:

    [Since my request was not honored as a request, I have endowed it with juridical force. –Z]

  • rociomatamoros says:

    Larry Dickson said: If the “filial correction” is the one I heard of, it is sponsored by SSPX schismatics. In typical Protestant fashion … etc. etc.

    I see you’re a rather disloyal son to Pope Frances, Larry Dickson. These are the same SSPX “schismatics” Pope Frances allowed to celebrate mass in St Peter’s Basilica, and the same “schismatics” whose sacraments he recognises. The same “schismatics”, indeed, with whom he had cordial relations back in Buenos Aires. The Holy Father doesn’t seem to see them as schismatics at all. Are you trying to say, Larry, that you’re more Catholic than the Pope? (as the saying goes).

    Besides, what could be wrong with acting in “typical Protestant fashion”? As the Holy Father reminded us at Lund, and again this year, Luther’s intention was “was to renew the Church, not divide Her”. Are you some kind of Catholic triumphalist, Larry?

    If anything, you should be criticising Bishop Fellay (the SSPX Superior and signatory of the “filial correction”) for his utter failure to channel that renewing spirit of Luther:
    Our respect for the Pope remains intact, and it is precisely out of respect for his office that we ask him as his sons to “confirm his brethren” by publicly rejecting the openly heterodox propositions that are causing so much division in the Church. I appreciated the answer of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi [Vatican Bank president under Pope Benedict], who also signed the Correctio Filialis. He rightly declared that we are not the enemies of the Pope. On the contrary, we do this because we love the Church.”

  • Robert Brockman says:

    Zippy: Sorry, I did not page refresh and get your response before generating the second comment. I had no intention of continuing the discussion contrary to your wishes, please accept my apologies.

  • You take a very strong stance here, but I have to ask how practical most of what you’re saying is.

    You say that killing innocents is always wrong, and I agree that it is immoral, but it is sometimes necessary for political authorities to do so. The fact that it is necessary does not detract from the fact that it is wrong, but I have to ask whether or not that means you still should not do it, at least in the knowledge that if you don’t do so someone worse will displace you.

    Similarly with women: I will agree that extra-marital sex is wrong, and is immoral, but given the current social structure I don’t see any alternative way of interacting with women. If you don’t press the issue (of sex), then women will see you as weak, and you will have no chance of finding a wife to raise a family with in a moral fashion.

    So while one should always aim to eventually repent and sin no more as an end state, I have to ask whether or not sin can be justified. Because in this day and age, the only way I can see to be moral is to live like a monk. And I find it very strange that this is the only time in history where every single member of the laity has a non-worldly vocation.

    Maybe I just need to read more St. Augustine.

  • Mike T says:

    Similarly with women: I will agree that extra-marital sex is wrong, and is immoral, but given the current social structure I don’t see any alternative way of interacting with women. If you don’t press the issue (of sex), then women will see you as weak, and you will have no chance of finding a wife to raise a family with in a moral fashion.

    Women don’t see you as weak if you don’t press the issue. Women see you as weak for all of the other gamma behavior that most Christian men display.

  • Zippy says:

    Robert Brockman:

    No problem.

  • Zippy says:

    collegereactionary:

    It is never acceptable to do something morally wrong. That is what “morally wrong” means.

  • Aristokles Contra Mundum says:

    You say that killing innocents is always wrong, and I agree that it is immoral, but it is sometimes necessary for political authorities to do so.

    This is literally the exact position Zippy is arguing against in his post. The whole point is that it is never necessary to do evil.

    Taking this to a broader level, if it were the case that there were situations in which it was necessary to do evil, then it would be the case that there are times when God’s will is not supreme, where it is simply impossible to do His will and we must in fact act counter to it. Thus, the proposition “it is sometimes necessary to do evil” ends up entailing that either

    1.) God’s will is not sovereign
    or
    2.) God sometimes wishes us to do evil

    in either case, this means that God is not God.

    So, if God does in fact exist, then it is always possible to do the good. It may be exceedingly difficult, however (ask Perpetua and Felicity).

  • TomD says:

    As Zippy quoted before:

    “The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the many millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say, should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one willful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.” – Blessed John Henry Newman

    Things being venial doesn’t make them good – it just means that God in His mercy doesn’t allow us to cut ourselves off from Him entirely.

    As for “getting a wife” I can assure you that the wife you’d find by sleeping around is not going to be the wife you wanted – it’s going to be much harder.

    We really do need to trust God, not men.

  • Zippy says:

    TomD:

    As for “getting a wife” I can assure you that the wife you’d find by sleeping around is not going to be the wife you wanted – it’s going to be much harder.

    Yes, the moral law often rescues us from hijacking the Titanic. Or not, when we refuse to follow it.

  • Paul J Cella says:

    A loose woman with a contrite heart who repents of her sleeping around is hardly unsuited for Christian matrimony. Yeah it’s a risk from the husband’s side, but I’m here to tell you that all marriages are a risk. That’s the adventure and romance of it: you attach your heart to another sinful human heart and cut loose the protection.

    The fact that any marriages anywhere survive is evidence of the grace of our Lord.

    All that said, from my outside perspective (though one who wishes nothing less than the best for the Catholic Church), it seems that the Pope has made a error here; but some of his most vociferous critics have superadded their own errors. The policy that I would recommend to any Catholic, prelate, priest, layman, is to just wait this storm out.

  • TomD says:

    Sure – God’s grace is everywhere, but to insist that the only way to “get where we need to be” is to sin, is to deny God’s grace. If we see no way out but through sin, we’re despairing.

  • Peasant says:

    Mr. Cella:

    > A loose woman with a contrite heart who repents of her sleeping around is hardly unsuited for Christian matrimony. Yeah it’s a risk from the husband’s side, but I’m here to tell you that all marriages are a risk.

    This is true but facile; all marriages are risky (to both spouses), but they are not all equally risky. Marrying Zelie Guerin is not the same proposition as marrying Stefania Germanotta which is in turn not the same proposition as marrying Rose Michaels.

    That being said, how many young men are going to listen to anybody’s advice on marriage? It’s like the friar from Romeo and Juliet said. Knowing my own tendencies I fear the day when my sons discover girls, though I have a few years before this is an immediate problem.

  • donnie says:

    A loose woman with a contrite heart who repents of her sleeping around is hardly unsuited for Christian matrimony.

    I think collegereactionary was trying to make the point that modern young women expect an attractive, masculine man to lead her to the bedroom early and often throughout the course of any dating/courtship relationship. Plenty of young men don’t actually do this, of course, but this is in much larger part due to cowardice in emasculated young men rather than a principled moral stance against fornication (principled moral stances against fornication among millennial males are rarer than a bloody steak).

    None of those facts, however, have any bearing on the moral nature of fornication. Having a woman you’re attracted to erroneously lump you in with weak-willed, emasculated men because you don’t push for sex on the first date is a pretty light cross to have to carry in the grand scheme of things.

    it seems that the Pope has made a error here; but some of his most vociferous critics have superadded their own errors.

    That’s practically a summary of everything that’s happened in the Catholic Church over the last 50+ years.

    The policy that I would recommend to any Catholic, prelate, priest, layman, is to just wait this storm out.

    Yup, still doing that. I know, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God,” but I do often wonder: Lord, how much longer must we wait?

  • TomD says:

    That last part is why marriage prep is so preposterously done at the wrong time – by that time they’ll agree to anything to get married, and don’t really pay much attention.

    The time for marriage prep is before you find the person you want!

  • donnie says:

    Of course, then I remember that the early Christians were waiting on Christ to return within their own lifetimes, and then I start to feel like an ass.

  • Zippy says:

    I have to say that it is rather odd to have Novus Ordo Watch re-tweeting my citations of Veritatis Splendor.

    Whatever one may say about St. John Paul II, he stood on the wall and defended the splendor of truth.

  • donnie says:

    Papa Sancte Ioannes Paulus Secundus, ora pro nobis.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    I’ve seen Liccione expand upon this theory back when he was a Facebook friend of mine. (Which is no longer the case both because he “unfriended” me and because I’m taking an indefinite Facebook hiatus.) His theory is that the only people the pope is talking about are objectively married in the eyes of God (because their earlier marriages *really were* invalid, and God knows that, and their subsequent marriages, whether civil or common law, *really are* valid, and God knows that) but that the annulment process is just too slow or difficult to get access to or something for them and so that’s why they haven’t gotten annulments. I think this is crazy from multiple perspectives (I don’t think the pope is talking only about people whom the pope himself believes fall into that category, and the Catholic annulment process is really easy anyway in the U.S., and it’s highly implausible that you have all these people who made invalid marriages the first time but valid marriages the second time without getting an annulment in between, etc.). But that’s Liccione’s theory and is why he says what he does. Maybe everybody in the thread understood that to begin with, but I just throw it in FYI.

  • Mike T says:

    A loose woman with a contrite heart who repents of her sleeping around is hardly unsuited for Christian matrimony. Yeah it’s a risk from the husband’s side, but I’m here to tell you that all marriages are a risk. That’s the adventure and romance of it: you attach your heart to another sinful human heart and cut loose the protection.

    Such women and their player counterparts very much are unsuited for matrimony until they’ve had some real time to heal under God’s grace. There are proven physiological and psychological harms that come from those vices and you need some time to actually try to get past that.

  • Zippy says:

    Lydia:

    … it’s highly implausible that you have all these people who made invalid marriages the first time but valid marriages the second time without getting an annulment in between…

    It isn’t merely implausible, it is impossible. Any prior marriage – even really manifest defect of form cases – constitutes an impediment which is only lifted when a declaration of nullity is actually issued.

  • TomD says:

    And at least one diocese I know of, the tribunal takes their work seriously; however they’re often presented with both parties desiring an annulment, and that can make it hard.

    And lots of marriages are invalid, especially among immigrants.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    Whatever one may say about St. John Paul II, he stood on the wall and defended the splendor of truth.

    Funny thing about saints; they aren’t saints because of their political reliability, but because of their love of God.

    So I can, for example, disagree with some of St. John Paul II’s political sympathies, but still recognize his saintliness.

  • Well in my opinion, which of course means very little, Pope Francis is not guilty of half the things he is being accused of, and people should really get behind him and try to hear what he is actually saying. Also,when your leadership is being pressed from all sides, that is totally the wrong time to be trying a filial correction. It’s a bit like a no confidence vote. It would be far better for the church to rally around their leadership, which begins to affirm the church’s authority and trust, at least in the eyes of the general public. Once you tear down the basic authority structure,nobody cares what the church declares.

  • Patrick says:

    “I will agree that extra-marital sex is wrong, and is immoral, but given the current social structure I don’t see any alternative way of interacting with women.”

    You can’t do that without it altering your soul in negative ways. Men and women interacting intimately (I dont mean just sexually) change each other. In the context of fornication instead of marriage the change tends negative. You will learn about women but will be shaped in ways you won’t anticipate.

  • I will say that I do admire a couple of the modern and oft-reviled Popes (by traditionalists, I mean) quite a bit, even while I recognize flaws.

    Pope Paul VI made many mistakes, but Humane Vitae was a brave and necessary document whatever you think of him. His flaws were his flaws, his mistakes were his mistakes, but I think the man always tried to do what he thought was best for the Church, even if he was often wrong; you can hardly ask more.

    Pope John Paul II as well made a lot of mistakes, but Veritatis Splendor is a very significant document as well, and an excellent achievement.

  • collegereactionary.

    Similarly with women: I will agree that extra-marital sex is wrong, and is immoral, but given the current social structure I don’t see any alternative way of interacting with women.

    I hope you don’t feel you’re being ganged up on too much, but this really is a pretty stunning statement.

    You know, I read this stuff all the time, too. I’ve been on some dates recently. I have to ask…where are you people looking?

    I don’t mean to sound naive here or anything, and you know, I’m not married, but so far my brief toe in the water stuff, and even my observation of the world at large, has just not lead me to this particular pit of despair yet.

    I read Dalrock too. I get it and all. Just…

    …I dunno. Where are you people looking?

  • Patrick says:

    They’re trying to solve a different problem.

  • Peasant says:

    > I don’t mean to sound naive here or anything, and you know, I’m not married, but so far my brief toe in the water stuff, and even my observation of the world at large, has just not lead me to this particular pit of despair yet.

    You’re not weird or naive. I married my wonderful wife less than five years ago, and I didn’t have (nor “have”) to sleep around to find her. In our parish, there are a bunch of other young couples chasing toddlers around and I bet they didn’t find each other by sleeping around, either.

    The biggest thing is just controlling the venue. While you’re in college, the biggest mixers are frat parties and house parties, an environment where playboys will run the show and the women in attendance more or less know what they’re getting in to. This is where guys who want to remain chaste are going to be frustrated. If you hang around in this scene long enough, you will also probably find yourself testing the boundaries of sin and still not find the girl you’re actually looking for (ask me how I know).

    Another thing to keep in mind is that it’s OK for a guy to marry a little later. Your stock as a potential husband shoots up like a rocket once you graduate, get a job, and generally get your @#$% together (if you can excuse my French). None of the girls at Frassati or whatever they call the young adult Catholic group in your area are going to think it’s creepy that a twenty-four year old is talking to them.

  • Peasant says:

    A quick note for Zippy, since he’ll be familiar with the terminology from his time in the (groan) tech sector – I think this post from Mr. Shea represents the pivot I feared was coming for the last few years. Recall that when the Holy Father first started undermining Dominical teaching on marriage with random phone calls to divorcees in South America, that the stance of Mr. Shea and others from his corner of the blogosphere was “It’s ridiculous that you think that the Pope is saying that obviously-wrong thing – you’re misinterpreting him!”. It seemed inevitable that, once it became totally undeniable that the Pope really meant what his words and actions implied, that there would be a pivot to “the Pope is right! Jesus was misquoted! The Church has been wrong and Unmerciful for two thousand years!”. It’s sad to see, though not unexpected.

  • Chad says:

    Malcolm
    Ditto what peasant said. Heck, in traditional parishes it isn’t untoward for a 30 year old to show interest in 18 year olds if the family and young woman are of like mind. Focus on you, pursuing God, and the ability to lead souls to calvary along your own particular path.

    Eventually, you’ll find a woman to join you.

    Honestly, the hardest two parts are sorting the wheat from the chaff and then demonstrating virtue and leadership to them.

  • TomD says:

    A huge part is not insisting it be done your way on your terms – my marriage was pretty close to arranged by mutual acquaintances – and why would that be worse than meeting at a bar?

  • I agree with all of this. Not that I’m overly interested in talking about my dating life, merely noting that I’ve been on a few dates recently, and while nothing has gone further than that I had no problem with any of them from a moral standpoint. I dunno.

  • Mike T says:

    …I dunno. Where are you people looking?

    You can see a lot of it around you if you just look.

  • Mike T says:

    while nothing has gone further than that I had no problem with any of them from a moral standpoint

    Remember that a lot of the men that complain about this are afraid of being alone and haven’t reached a point where their pride is more important than getting laid. Other Christian men have joked about that and been unnerved when I nonchalantly point out that it’s better for a man to stand up for himself and burn down his relationship (including getting laid) than be a doormat and hope he gets scraps (which is all these low deltas and gammas can expect anyway).

  • donnie says:

    Well in my opinion, which of course means very little, Pope Francis is not guilty of half the things he is being accused of, and people should really get behind him and try to hear what he is actually saying.

    insanitybytes22, you really should be a Catholic. You’d be the best of all of us.

    I do think it’s important to recognize, however, that the Papacy is deeply wounded and this has had a profound impact on the philosophical/theological orientation of our most recent Pontiffs. Malcolm makes a very good point above when he talks about our very flawed, but yet still admirable, modern Popes. Looking at their reigns on the whole, one comes to the conclusion that they were men torn between the traditional and the novel.

    For instance, Blessed Paul VI could say publicly, “the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God,” and pen encyclicals as astoundingly wonderful as Mysterium Fidei and Humanae Vitae, while at the same time promulgating a horrifying deformation of the Roman liturgy and penning Populorum Progressio.

    Saint John Paul II wrote the marvelous Veritatis Splendor, helped topple Soviet communism, and was a strong, outspoken defender of the unborn. Yet at the same time, he organized the enormously scandalous and destructive Assisi event, was lax to the point of negligence in his governance of the Church, and was absolutely abysmal in his handling of the sex abuse crisis.

    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI issued the much-needed Dominus Iesus while Prefect of the CDF under John Paul II, and as Pope himself wrote and promulgated the divine blessing that is Summorum Pontificum. As I think Zippy has said in the past, he was the only modern Pope who seemed to think that being pastoral meant being pastoral to both liberals and conservatives. Yet he continued his predecessor’s practice of engaging in scandalous inter-faith activities, approved new editions of his older, error-filled writings, and penned the jaw-dropping Caritas in veritate, in which he calls for an enormous extension of the United Nation’s role in the world, practically endorsing the concept of UN-lead One World Government.

    I don’t think it’s unreasonable to conclude that these servants of the servants of God conflicted with what they were doing. While they each firmly and consistently claimed that the work of the Second Vatican Council was that of the Holy Ghost, they each seemed to draw back in their own ways from its consequences. They were not “good” in fulfilling their duties as Pontiffs, and their lack of consistency in accomplishing whatever they believed they were doing caused a great deal of harm to the faithful. With Pope Francis, however, this appears to have changed. He appears to be the first “natural” Pope since the Council, hardly conflicted at all. I suspect this is why so many like Mark Shea and Michael Liccione have jumped enthusiastically on board. The faithful have been starved for any kind of consistency coming from Rome. Now, for some, they are finally getting it.

  • buckyinky says:

    @donnie

    …promulgating a horrifying deformation of the Roman liturgy…
    …he organized the enormously scandalous and destructive Assisi event…
    …he continued his predecessor’s practice of engaging in scandalous inter-faith activities…

    Not the first time I’ve mentioned this here at Zippy’s, but how many of the above scandalous things could be attributable, not so much to the scandalous nature of the things, but to our ability to know of them in our increasingly real-time update society? This is not, by the way, the same as to say that all scandals, even the ones we are addressing here, are created equal.

    Another aspect of this that I’ve not been able to satisfy myself on in a comparison of past popes with present ones – what is less scandalous, as far as a pope’s fidelity to the Catholic faith goes, about a pope’s keeping a mistress or his practicing simony, as compared to, say, JPII’s shenanigans at Assisi in later days? Seems we are extending the benefit of the doubt that earlier carousing popes were upholding the faith even as they defied it through the personal practice of fornication or such (“don’t do this at home, folks”), but are certain that later popes’ activities represent a direct offense and forsaking of the Catholic faith. It has the smell of special pleading to me.

  • donnie,

    It’s Horatius at the Bridge syndrome. We can’t have just had a few poor or even “mixed” Popes, we need to be in the WORST CRISIS EVER, because we’re all special snowflakes.

    Everyone wants to be the hero. Reality tends yo be far more plebeian.

  • donnie says:

    Malcolm and buckyinky,

    You guys are reading into my comment something that’s not actually there. The fact that the Papacy is wounded and suffering now is not to suggest that the Papacy was never wounded and suffering in the past. The papal ‘pornocracy’ of the 900s, the Avignon Papacy and the horrid schism which followed it, the rampant moral and ecclesial corruption of Rome during the Renaissance – all of these were periods in history during which the Papacy was deeply wounded and suffering. In time, and through the work of many holy men and women, those wounds healed. Likewise, so will the present ones. As Our Lord promised Saint Peter, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.”

    But none of this has any bearing on the fact that the Papacy is, right now, wounded and suffering. This is a serious issue which needs to be addressed, and it cannot be addressed if it is not acknowledged.

  • buckyinky says:

    donnie,

    I think I’m in agreement with everything you say at 1:39 (and now, I realize, probably everything at 11:52 – except for the insanitybytes22 part, of which I will disclaim to make known an opinion).

    Was too eager to get into pontificating mode.

  • Zippy says:

    buckyinky:

    I’ve been thinking about your comment and similar observations.

    Folks tend to think that the “internal forum” refers to a realm of Cartesian subjectivity. But in reality it might better be though of as “things handled in private” versus “things preached in public”.

    And modern always-on mass media in many ways represents the death of the internal forum.

  • donnie,

    I don’t disagree with any of that, or with you generally. I am merely criticizing the alarmism and especially defeatism that passes among many – not you – as “criticism”.

    I think a lot of more extreme traditionalists are of the Horatius at the Bridge variety. I have talked to some; while you are right, we should not panic. We’ve been here before.

  • JustSomeGuy says:

    “Your majesty, we, the Catholic clergy, have done our best to destroy the church for the last 1,800 years. We have not succeeded, and neither will you.”

    – Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, to Napoleon Bonaparte

    Napoleon later quipped about him, “he is a man who does not wish to appear to be a priest, but he is more a priest that all the rest of them.”

  • itascriptaest says:

    I think most Trads would argue that the contemporary crisis is qualitatively worse because you have prelates and even the Pope who are actively trying to over turn things as opposed to merely personal sins or neglience on the part the clergy as was the case in the past. In centuries past heretics almost never captured the Papacy and those few who did held it for seldom more than single reign. Since VII that just hasn’t been the case.

    I would rather have a Pope with a mistress but didn’t otherwise do anything else than a Pope like JPII who was personally devout but was a muddled theologian and an even worse administrator and who was constantly foisting his pet novelties on the Church.

  • Chad says:

    I personally loathe the alarmist mentality that hangs on all the Pope says. As i tell people at my parish, who knows what Pope St Gregory the Great would have said if they shoved a mic or tv in his face every minute? Add to that a hostile media and you’re doomed to spiritual anxiety if you hang one every word.

  • itascriptaest,

    I’m aware. I don’t buy it.

  • donnie says:

    Alarmism is certainly a problem. Most folks with traditionalist leanings would do well to shut up for a while and do some serious meditating on Vatican Council I’s First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ, Pastor Aeternus, particularly its opening. Those whose answer to this wounded papacy are to embrace errors like sedevacantism or the SSPX position do themselves and the Church an enormous disservice, and only help to worsen the Papacy’s present sufferings. And those who remain in full communion with the Holy Father, yet look eagerly toward things like the dubia and the filial correction in the hopes that they will lead to a future deposition of Pope Francis, are harming the papacy just as much. “The First See is judged by no one.”

    In centuries past heretics almost never captured the Papacy

    To be clear, no Pope has ever been, nor ever will be, a formal heretic. I used to think it was possible for a Pope to be a formal heretic, Honorius I being the classic example, but it is clear from Pope St. Leo II (among others) that Honorius was not a heretic himself and never actually taught heresy. None of this is to suggest that a Pope cannot personally succumb to all sorts of philosophical and theological error, which can of course be expressed in their agendas, practices and non-infallible teachings. When this happens, as it has in our day, it is important for us Catholics to acknowledge the problem, defend against it, and take whatever steps we can to remedy it. But we cannot erroneously conclude that the Pope is a formal heretic or that such a scenario is even possible in principle. For if we did that, we would have to also conclude that Our Lord lied in his promise to Peter: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.” Holding obstinately to such an offensive error would almost certainly make us formal heretics!

  • itascriptaest says:

    I am not sure that we are facing the absolute worst crisis ever in the Church but VII and its aftermath has to rank as the most serious crisis in the Church since the Protestant Revolt. Modernism is the synthesis of all heresies that has to give it a certain magnitude greater than many of the individual heresies of the past.

    A lot of the stupid fear mongering stems more from political issues. During the contraceptive mandate you had a lot of melodramatic talk about persecution as though Obama was on the verge of liqudating the Catholic Church. This led Catholics including many Trads to a fullthroated embracing of right-liberalism and ecumenism. Rorate Caeli is a good example of this when it praised the Protestant run Hobby Lobby even though of course Hobby Lobby provided contraceptives to its employees (it was only objecting to certaim abortifacients). Also witness the support for Donald Trump as the next Constantine or Robbie George’s shilling for Mitt Romney in 2012.

  • TomD says:

    The idea that the pope can be a formal heretic is itself liberalism, in my opinion.

    And anyone who dares to filially correct the Pope (whatever that means) but has never even bothered trying to correct their pastor or bishop, clearly has things backwards, in my opinion.

    And since this whole thing has already happened with Usury, it is not at all a new danger to the Church, just an old danger with a different vector.

    Yes, Pastor Aeternus is very important to read, because it has more to do with authority than one might suspect.

    Why do so many who attack the Pope filially defend Trump?

  • Peasant says:

    > The idea that the pope can be a formal heretic is itself liberalism, in my opinion.

    St. Robert Bellarmine, a liberal. Who’d’a thunk it.

  • TomD says:

    “Political power resides immediately in the whole multitude as in an organic unit. The divine law has not given this power to any particular man; therefore, it has given it to the multitude. There being no positive law to this effect, there is no more reason why, among equals, one should have a greater right to rule than another. Therefore, the power belongs to the whole multitude.”

    “Modern writers in great numbers, following in the footsteps of those who called themselves philosophers in the last century, declare that all power comes from the people; consequently those who exercise power in society do not exercise it from their own authority, but from an authority delegated to them by the people and on the condition that it can be revoked by the will of the people from whom they hold it. Quite contrary is the sentiment of Catholics who hold that the right of government derives from God as its natural and necessary principle.”

    One’s Bellarmine, one’s an encyclical. A doctor of the Church can be confused or imprecise, not recognizing the dangers thereby, as Aquinas says:

    There are, in my opinion, two reasons why some of the statements of the ancient Greek Fathers strike our contemporaries as dubious. First, because once errors regarding the faith arose, the holy Doctors of the Church became more circumspect in the way they expounded points of faith, so as to exclude these errors. It is clear, for example, that the Doctors who lived before the error of Arius did not speak so expressly about the unity of the divine essence as the Doctors who came afterwards. And the same happened in the case of other errors. This is quite evident not only in regard to Doctors in general, but in respect to one particularly distinguished Doctor, Augustine. For in the books he published after the rise of the Pelagian heresy he spoke more cautiously about the freedom of the human will than he had done in his books published before the rise of said heresy. In these earlier works, while defending the will against the Manichees, he made certain statements which the Pelagians, who rejected divine grace, used in support of their error. It is, therefore, no wonder if after the appearance of various errors, present day teachers of the faith speak more cautiously and more selectively so as to steer clear of any kind of heresy. Hence, if there are found some points in statements of the ancient Fathers not expressed with the caution moderns find appropriate to observe, their statements are not to be ridiculed or rejected; on the other hand neither are they to be overextended, but reverently interpreted.

  • Zippy says:

    TomD:

    The idea that the pope can be a formal heretic is itself liberalism, in my opinion.

    I definitely disagree with that. Liberalism is a political philosophy, not an epistemic theory of theological truths.

    I don’t really know if it is possible for a pope to be a formal heretic (though I can think of at least ten or twelve different senses in which I could define that situation, offhand).

    Without wishing to diminish the gravity of the current crisis, I think a lot of the angst over that specific question arises from a view of the papal office as the Search Engine of Christ on Earth — an epistemic bias which itself arises from Protestantism and its enthronement of Scriptural texts in place of the living sacramental Church.

    And since this whole thing has already happened with Usury, it is not at all a new danger to the Church, just an old danger with a different vector.

    Agreed, here. Modernity divided pastoral practice from doctrine in much the same way as it divided body and soul. Many see the Church itself as a post-Cartesian anti-realist monstrosity, a dualistic institution of subjectively-directed pastoral practice in an utterly distinct realm from objective standards of behavior/practice.

  • TomD says:

    Perhaps I should be more precise; the idea that the pope can be formal heretic needing the people to judge him as such is very similar to liberal thought.

  • TomD says:

    Ooooo – that’s a really good point; any error on marriage or mind/body must eventually infect the idea of the Church itself, for it is both Bride of Christ and His Body.

  • Zippy says:

    I could easily be convinced that St. Robert Bellarmine had some paleo- or pre-liberal commitments. (I don’t know enough to have a firm opinion; but it doesn’t strike me as ludicrous on its face). I could also easily be convinced that people reading him through a modern lens have completely misunderstood him.

    But it isn’t uncommon for important counter-revolutionary figures to make the mistake of allowing the revolutionaries to frame all, some, or some aspects of the concrete matters in dispute; etc.

  • Zippy says:

    TomD:

    …the idea that the pope can be formal heretic needing the people to judge him as such is very similar to liberal thought…

    That I agree with. If Pope Francis is “corrected” or judged a formal heretic it will be done by competent authority, almost certainly posthumously. A lesser charge against Amoris specifically, like “offensive to pious ears,” seems more plausible.

    But the impatient will have to wait, and must accept that it is all in God’s hands.

  • donnie says:

    As other have mentioned, the 24/7 media presence is a big problem. If you spent a week or so reading the transcripts of every homily, speech and interview the Pope gives, you would see that most of what he says is fairly benign. But every once in a while he says something truly astonishing and/or distressing and the media is always there ready to make sure the world hears about it. Plus, everything gets interpreted through a preferred media narrative. This happened to Pope Benedict XVI, whom they cast as boogeyman arch-traditionalist despite his enthusiastic support for expansion of the United Nations and the messianic hopes he expressed upon the ascendancy of Barack Obama to the US Presidency. Now they’ve cast Pope Francis as the complete opposite, a Dalai Lama-esque religious celebrity whose going to finally replace the Church’s two millennia tradition of “rigidity” with “Who am I to judge” Current Year liberal morality. Anything he says that doesn’t fit well with this narrative, such as clear statements about the impossibility of homosexual marriage, or the evils of gender ideology, tend not to get nearly the same level of media attention. But it works! Most Catholics, including most traditional Catholics, believe that there is this radical bifurcation separating the pontificates of Benedict and Francis, when really Francis is more like a radicalization of Benedict.

    Honestly, breaking down this manufactured image is what traditionalists ought to be doing instead of publicizing ‘filial corrections’ that only feed into the media narrative.

    Maybe we should start a meme campaign where we constantly spam quotes of Pope Francis upholding traditional teachings. This one of him upholding traditional marriage back in Argentina might be a good place to start:

    “Let us not be naive: this is not simply a political struggle, but it is an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill (a mere instrument) but a “move” of the father of lies who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.” – Pope Francis

    This one is also good:

    “Today children – children! – are taught in school that everyone can choose his or her sex…And this [is] terrible!” – Pope Francis

    If we can drive a wedge between Holy Father and the media that uses and abuses him, we might just get somewhere.

  • donnie says:

    If Pope Francis is “corrected” or judged a formal heretic it will be done by competent authority, almost certainly posthumously.

    That’s the second reason why I am now convinced it is impossible for a Pope to be a formal heretic. 1) Christ does not deceive, therefore Peter’s faith is never-failing, and 2) there is no competent authority that can judge a Pope. “The First See is judged by no one.”

    A general council cannot judge a Pope, even though the Council Fathers present at the Third Council of Constantinople certainly tried to. Belief that a General Council is higher in authority than the Pope is a heresy, called Conciliarism. The Fifth Lateran Council made this very explicit.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    Belief that a General Council is higher in authority than the Pope is a heresy, called Conciliarism. The Fifth Lateran Council made this very explicit.

    Belief that a General Council acting separately from and against the sitting Pope is higher than him in authority, sure. But in full communion with some future Pope? Who am I to judge?

    In any case schisms, multiple claimants to the papacy, etc are nothing new. Raising people from the dead may be evidence of Divine intervention, but that is nothing next to keeping Apostolic Catholicism alive for two millennia despite all of us actual Catholics.

  • itasxriptaest,

    It is possible VatII, or at the very least the “spirit” thereof, is the greatest crisis since the Protestant Reformation. But I am not at all prepared to say such a statemwnt is self-evident or obvious, for the simple reason that it has been quite a long time betqeen then and now. A lot happened.

  • donnie says:

    Belief that a General Council acting separately from and against the sitting Pope is higher than him in authority, sure. But in full communion with some future Pope? Who am I to judge?

    If this were to occur, the anathema would not derive it’s authority from the General Council because, as the First Vatican Council makes clear, Popes possess “superiority over Councils.” Therefore the anathema would have to derive it’s authority from this hypothetical future Pope. However, this contradicts the principle of par in parem non habet imperium: an equal cannot bind another equal.

    There is no basis in the divine constitution of the Church for arguing that one Pope has the authority to judge another Pope. There have certainly been at least a couple of Popes who have tried to judge their predecessors, but in each case the results were unequivocally disastrous. See Exhibit A. I think that example ought to be sufficient in illustrating the serious possibility of error involved in Popes judging Popes.

    Furthermore, consider Pastor Aeternus:

    That which the Prince of Shepherds and great shepherd of the sheep, Jesus Christ our Lord, established in the person of the Blessed Apostle Peter to secure the perpetual welfare and lasting good of the Church, must, by the same institution, necessarily remain unceasingly in the Church, which, being founded upon the Rock, will stand firm to the end of the world. For none can doubt, and it is known to all ages, that the holy and Blessed Peter, the Prince and chief of the Apostles, the pillar of the faith and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer of mankind, and lives, presides and judges to this day, always in his successors the Bishops of the Holy See of Rome, which was founded by Him and consecrated by His Blood. Whence, whosoever succeeds to Peter in this See does by the institution of Christ Himself obtain the primacy of Peter over the whole Church. The disposition made by Incarnate Truth therefore remains, and Blessed Peter, abiding in the rock’s strength which he received, has not abandoned the direction of the Church.

  • S.A. Taylor says:

    Thank you for the calm, thoughtful, and non-browbeating comments thus far on this page. I tried to comment on Mark Shea’s post & several comments were deleted; in others, it was nearly pointless to say anything in the face of instant contradiction.

  • I don’t really have a comment on the Councils or documents anything like that, not being educated enough; all I really can say is that the Pope being *incapable* of formal heresy strikes me too much as magical thinking – like he will magically be prevented from thinking certain thoughts by virtue of being the Pope.

    I mean, your sources seem sound, but that still seems wrong to me intuitively.

    But then I really don’t know.

  • Zippy says:

    Malcolm:

    I don’t really have a comment on the Councils or documents anything like that, not being educated enough…

    As far as I can tell donnie is interpreting things in a very specific way to conclude that it is logically impossible for Francis to be, even personally outside his Magisterial capacity qua pope, a formal heretic; and that it is per se impossible for him to be an antipope. But all sorts of things have happened in the Church which were by definition unprecedented at the time: schisms, anti-popes, multiple claimants to the papacy, etc.

    Keeping in mind that we are discussing logical possibility not likelihood, I don’t see any reason why you must believe that it is per se impossible for Francis (or some of his writings, etc) to be declared heretical or antipope or what have you by a future pope or pope-and-council. The fact that it is above our pay grade to declare it so implies, concomitantly, that it is above our pay grade to declare it definitely not so. That we don’t have the standing to declare that Bob is going to Hell implies that we also don’t have the standing to declare that he isn’t.

    I don’t think it is very likely that this will be Francis’ legacy. The problem with Amoris – which seems to be deliberate, given the non-responsiveness to the dubia etc – it that it definitely can be interpreted as propagating heresy*. But that doesn’t mean that it has to be interpreted that way out of logical necessity, especially given the conflicts of that specific interpretation with Magisterial proclamations which carry much greater authority.

    Donnie’s criticisms of my writing on liberalism indicate that his view is that to help people accept the truth it is best to fill in all of the epistemic gaps. But my own view is that rejecting that orientation-toward-positivism is fundamental to grasping the truths that we do know, so ‘fill in the gaps’ epistemology needs to be killed in its crib rather than indulged.

    * Personally I find it most plausible that Amoris is giving certain instances of adultery the usury treatment, as opposed to positively asserting actual heresy. As a pastoral exhortation/policy it can, as with practice w.r.t. usury, be reversed with the stroke of a pen.

  • Patrick says:

    Donnie’s position is the same as the sedevacantist position, the pope can’t be a heretic, Francis is a heretic, so francis isn’t pope.

  • Patrick says:

    Francis or person x claiming to be pope.

  • […] These radical traditionalist Vatican II haters are always stirring up trouble.  Why can’t they just all shut up and get on the Big Pope Francis Mercy Train? […]

  • c matt says:

    If the “filial correction” is the one I heard of, it is sponsored by SSPX schismatics.

    The only one I heard of was prepared by non-SSPX persons, and Bishop Fellay signed on to it after it had been issued. As did Bishop Emeritus Gracida of Corpus Christi (non-SSPX). Calling it “SSPX schismatic sponsored” is disingenuous. Regardless, that does nothing to address the merits.

    If we can drive a wedge between Holy Father and the media that uses and abuses him, we might just get somewhere.

    Well, he seems to have a penchant for seeking the limelight, so that wedge will be resisted by both the media and Francis. I don’t recall Benedict being as . . . willing . . . to accommodate the media.

    Well in my opinion, which of course means very little, Pope Francis is not guilty of half the things he is being accused of

    And the other half?

  • Also, to my best understanding is the SSPX is not schismatic.

  • donnie says:

    Can you guys at least read Vatican Council I’s First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ before telling me I’m going too far out on a limb here?

    From Chapter IV:

    And indeed, all the venerable Fathers have embraced, and the holy orthodox Doctors have venerated and followed, their Apostolic doctrine; knowing most fully that this See of holy Peter remains ever free from all blemish of error, according to the Divine promise that the Lord our Savior made to the Prince of His disciples: “But I have prayed for you, so that your faith may not fail, and so that you, once converted, may confirm your brothers.” (Lk 22:32).

    This gift, then, of truth and never-failing faith was conferred by heaven upon Peter and his successors in this Chair, that they might perform their high office for the salvation of all; that the whole flock of Christ, kept away from the poisonous food of error by them, might be nourished with the pasture of heavenly doctrine; that the occasion of schism being removed, the whole Church might be kept one, and, resting on its foundation, might stand firm against the gates of Hell.

    Anyone familiar with my comment history knows that I used to think it entirely possible for a Pope to be both a valid Pope and a heretic. But that was before I ever bothered to read the documents of the First Vatican Council. Personal interpretations of infallible decrees aren’t in and of themselves infallible (obviously) and positivism is false, but if you read Pastor Aeternus slowly and carefully I think you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

    Christ has promised that neither Peter nor his successors will ever lose the gift of never-failing faith. Near as I can tell this means that, so long as Francis’s election to the Throne of Peter was valid (and I know of no good reason to think it was not), then Francis, despite expressing manifest errors in his agenda, practices, and non-infallible teachings, possesses that supernatural gift of never-failing faith, and the Holy Ghost will protect him from ever committing the sin of formal heresy.

    St. Thomas Aquinas’s thoughts on heresy might also be helpful here:

    As Augustine says (Ep. xliii) and we find it stated in the Decretals (xxiv, qu. 3, can. Dixit Apostolus): “By no means should we accuse of heresy those who, however false and perverse their opinion may be, defend it without obstinate fervor, and seek the truth with careful anxiety, ready to mend their opinion, when they have found the truth,” because, to wit, they do not make a choice in contradiction to the doctrine of the Church. Accordingly, certain doctors seem to have differed either in matters the holding of which in this or that way is of no consequence, so far as faith is concerned, or even in matters of faith, which were not as yet defined by the Church; although if anyone were obstinately to deny them after they had been defined by the authority of the universal Church, he would be deemed a heretic. This authority resides chiefly in the Sovereign Pontiff.
    Summa Theologiae, II-II. Q.3, a.2

  • donnie says:

    Whoops, Summa citation is wrong. It should read Summa Theologiae, II-II. Q.11, a.2

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    Near as I can tell this means that, so long as Francis’s election to the Throne of Peter was valid (and I know of no good reason to think it was not), then Francis, despite expressing manifest errors in his agenda, practices, and non-infallible teachings, possesses that supernatural gift of never-failing faith, and the Holy Ghost will protect him from ever committing the sin of formal heresy.

    I don’t see that interpretation as anywhere near necessary or definitive. (It isn’t a crazy interpretation. mind you; but it is a long way from being something necessarily implied by the words, especially taken in context).

    A never-failing faith expressed through the office doesn’t guarantee much of anything about the man temporarily occupying it qua private individual, and we know that the latter frequently have terrible flaws.

    Is it your view that all Popes are necessarily saints – that it is impossible for a Pope to go to Hell – because of this personal gift of never-failing faith?

  • donnie says:

    Is it your view that all Popes are necessarily saints – that it is impossible for a Pope to go to Hell – because of this personal gift of never-failing faith?

    No, not at all. When the Council Fathers drafted Pastor Aeternus they were not ignorant of history. By the time of the First Vatican Council two hundred and fifty five men had sat on the Throne of Peter, all of them unworthy of the honor. Many of them were Saints, several of them were scoundrels, and some of them are almost surely in Hell. Yet not one of them, whatever their other faults may have been, ever lost the supernatural gift of Faith, which Christ promised would never fail for Peter or his successors. Of this, I believe, we can be sure. The Council Fathers defined very clearly that, “This gift of truth and never-failing faith was conferred by heaven upon Peter and his successors in this Chair, that they might perform their high office for the salvation of all.”

    Surely you of all people understand that we must be quite careful in applying definitive labels to people. For instance, it is one thing to say that John is behaving foolishly, and another thing entirely to say that John is a fool. In fact Christ warned us of this very thing: “And whosoever shall say, Thou Fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matthew 5:22)

    I believe a similar distinction must be made between saying that a man has written or taught heresy, on the one hand, and designating him a heretic on the other. The label of “heretic” designates a condition within the human soul in which the Catholic Faith has been denied or abandoned.

    St. Thomas Aquinas taught that, “charity is the form of faith.” Faith is formed by the fundamental act of charity (love) which submits to the authority of God, Who has revealed Himself. To be a formal heretic, someone who has lost the supernatural gift of faith, one has to culpably and persistently refuse to submit to the authority of God. It requires a lack of charity (love) towards God’s authority as revealed through His Church.

    Consider our very first Pope, St. Peter. Right after Christ told him that He had prayed for his faith not to fail, Peter denied Christ three times. And not just deny, the Gospel says he “he began to curse and to swear that he knew not the man.” A casual observer might reasonably conclude from that sort of behavior that Peter had abandoned the Faith in that moment. But they would be wrong, as St. John Chrysostom pointed out: “He does not say, ‘I have prayed that thou deny not,’ but that thou do not abandon the faith.”

    I think it is necessary to conclude that acting like a heretic and actually being a heretic, are two entirely separate things. And while any man can be guilty of the former, no man validly chosen as the successor of St. Peter has been or ever will be guilty of the latter.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    Surely you of all people understand that we must be quite careful in applying definitive labels to people.

    You are changing the subject.

    The proposition in dispute is “is it possible that a future pope and council may find that a particular previous prima facie pope was a heretic or anti-pope”.

    My answer is that I don’t rule out that possibility. Yours is (as best as I can tell) that you do rule out the possibility, based on your interpretations of various documents.

  • c matt says:

    @donnie

    While those quotes are in the constitution, some important context/qualifiers are

    For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the Revelation, the Deposit of Faith, delivered through the Apostles.

    Sort of puts a bit of a damper on the God of surprises, no?

    And the meat of the dogma of infallibility is thus:

    We teach and define that it is a divinely-revealed dogma: that the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex Cathedra, that is, when in discharge of the office of Pastor and Teacher of all Christians, by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, is possessed of that infallibility with which the divine Redeemer willed that His Church should be endowed for defining doctrine regarding faith or morals: and that therefore such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable of themselves, and not from the consent of the Church.

    The actual defined dogma is that the Pope is infallible in defining dogma regarding faith and morals when he speaks ex cathedra. Honestly, it doesn’t even really say the Pope would never lose faith. The Pope could personally not believe one iota of Catholic dogma, and speak/act against it in personal ways from dawn to dusk, as long as he does not “speak ex cathedra.” I don’t see why, in his heart of hearts, and even on his world-wide concert tour, he could not be making heretical statements – as long as he is not invoking his authority to “define[] a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church.” Does AL promote heretical ideas? Arguably so (hence the need for the correction). Does it define[] a doctrine regarding faith or morals to be held by the Universal Church.”? Doesn’t seem to me it does – it’s self-proclaimed purpose is pastoral, not to define doctrine (and in fact denies it is doing such). Is it still problematic and potentially dangerous? Um, yes.

  • donnie says:

    You are changing the subject.

    My last reply was a response to your question as to whether I believed that the never-failing faith of Peter and his successors meant that all Popes were protected from eternal damnation. The answer to that question is no, and the rest of that reply is an attempt to illustrate what I believe the never-failing faith of Peter and his successors actually means, since the question would indicate that my prior attempts were insufficient.

    The proposition in dispute is “is it possible that a future pope and council may find that a particular previous prima facie pope was a heretic or anti-pope”.

    My answer is that I don’t rule out that possibility. Yours is (as best as I can tell) that you do rule out the possibility, based on your interpretations of various documents.

    My position is this:

    1) It is the teaching of both the Gospel, as well as the doctrinal teaching of the First Vatican Council, that the faith of any given Pope is “non-failing.”

    2) It is impossible to equate doctrinal error in itself with formal heresy or loss of Faith.

    3) Formal heresy (and its concomitant loss of Faith) can exist only when there is a culpable and obstinate refusal to submit to God’s Sovereign Authority as revealed through His Church.

    4) The authority to judge whether an individual has culpably and obstinately refused to submit to Divine Authority (i.e. guilty of formal heresy) has been delegated exclusively to Holy Mother Church, and rests ultimately in the hands of the Sovereign Pontiff.

    5) No one can judge or declare the Pope to be one who has culpably and obstinately made this refusal. Prim Sedes a nemine judicatur.

    So, yes, I reject the possibility that a future Pope and Council may find that a particular previous Pope was a formal heretic.

    I do not rule out the possibility that a future Pope and Council may find that a particular previous prima facie Pope was, in fact, an anti-Pope.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    So, yes, I reject the possibility that a future Pope and Council may find that a particular previous Pope was a formal heretic.

    I do not rule out the possibility that a future Pope and Council may find that a particular previous prima facie Pope was, in fact, an anti-Pope.

    Good, we seem to have reached clarity. In sum, your position (I attempt paraphrase) is that it is impossible for a future pope/council to declare an apparent pope a heretic without also declaring him an anti-pope.

    As Patrick suggested above, this is basically the position the sedevacantists take, absent their private judgment that recent popes qualify.

    As I’ve said, this isn’t a crazy position. However, given the further stipulations on the doctrine of infallibility, at which these statements are clearly directed, it is not at all obvious to me that it is correct.

  • donnie says:

    In sum, your position (I attempt paraphrase) is that it is impossible for a future pope/council to declare an apparent pope a heretic without also declaring him an anti-pope.

    No, not quite. If a future Pope and Council were to attempt to anathematize a previous Pope, this would not ipso facto make him an anti-Pope. The anathema would not carry legitimacy until it was already established that the prima facie Pope’s claim to the Papacy was never valid to begin with.

    Otherwise, I do not know how to reconcile the “never-failing faith” of Peter and his successors with the notion that a true successor of Peter could have culpably and obstinately refused to submit to the Faith.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    So in your view it is also impossible for a Pope to be validly elected and subsequently lose the papacy? (Formal heresy might be one potential way but there could be others: dementia, etc). In your view this is just materially impossible, and no future popes/councils will ever determine otherwise?

    Again this doesn’t strike me as an implausible position, but it doesn’t seem to be (stipulating my own limited knowledge of the subject area) established beyond doubt, or the only way to interpret the doctrine of infallibility. The doctrine of infallibility protects a pope from heresy when speaking ex cathedra, but there is a lot of room between “when speaking ex cathedra” and “always”.

  • donnie says:

    So in your view it is also impossible for a Pope to be validly elected and subsequently lose the papacy?

    A validly elected Pope can only lose his claim to the Papacy if he himself renounces it. If he doesn’t, he’s a valid Pope until death.

    There were a few Popes during the papal ‘pornocracy’ of the tenth century who were “deposed” in the sense that they were driven from the Throne of Peter by force. But the Church’s view on these events is that these so-called “depositions” were only valid when the Pope acquiesced to the demands and renounced his office. Without the Pope’s consent, these apparent “depositions” were invalid and the “deposed” Pope remained the actual Pope until his death (which tended to come swiftly during this dark period in papal history).

    There is not and never has been any Church provisions that would allow for a valid Pope’s involuntary removal as the reigning Pope – not even for physical or mental health reasons. Could such provisions be put in place in the future? I don’t know, I am not a canon lawyer. But I suspect such provisions would be very difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile with the development of the Church’s understanding of papal supremacy in both it’s doctrines and canon law.

    The interpretation I have put forward regarding the never-failing faith of Peter and his successors is based upon the doctrinal teachings of the First Vatican Council found in Pastor Aeternus, but this belief in the never-failing faith and the efficacy of Christ’s promise to Peter and his successors is much older than Vatican I. The Council Fathers of Vatican I cited this aspect of our faith as part of the foundation upon which the dogma of papal infallibility stood upon. I don’t see how the limitations of papal infallibility has any bearing on Christ’s promise to Peter that, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.”

    Believing that Christ’s prayer efficaciously protects Peter and his successors from abandoning the Faith (despite Peter’s subsequent denials and the many lamentable things some of his later successors said and did) is not the same as believing the Pope exercises infallibility all the time, which would be ludicrous. It is not the same thing as believing that he is protected from falling victim to and expressing doctrinal error (history shows us otherwise). It simply means that, at his core, no Pope will ever obstinately resist and rebel against the Faith. “Blessed Peter, abiding in the rock’s strength which he received has not abandoned the direction of the Church.”

    The only real alternative to this understanding, as I see it, is a loss of faith in Christ’s promise to Peter.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    There is not and never has been any Church provisions that would allow for a valid Pope’s involuntary removal as the reigning Pope – not even for physical or mental health reasons.

    That again is (or appears to be) a subtle reframing of the issue.

    The question isn’t whether such a removal could be achieved through some juridical process whereby a group of bishops (say) might depose a sitting pope. The question is whether a future pope might (say) declare that a prior pope had abdicated the chair of Peter by (say) acting as a formal heretic.

    This is an unresolved question as far as I know, with at least some notable saints holding the opinion that this is possible.

  • donnie says:

    That again is (or appears to be) a subtle reframing of the issue.

    Again, I was only attempting to answer the question you asked.

    I’ll grant you that I am not aware of any Magisterial pronouncements on the topic. I’ll merely remind you that we’ve already had Popes attempt to judge their validly-elected predecessors as having lost the papacy. Pope Stephen VI, at the infamous “Cadaver Synod” which I linked to above, declared his predecessor, Pope Formosus, to be an anti-Pope on the grounds that he was unworthy of the Pontificate. As a result, Stephen declared all of Formosus’s acts to be annulled, all of the ordinations and consecrations conferred by him to be invalid, meaning that all the bishops he consecrated were considered to have not actually been bishops, and all the priests those bishops ordained were considered to have been not actually ordained. The ramifications of Stephen’s decision were nothing less than chaos, and to top it all off he ended it with a macabre spectacle in which he had the three consecration fingers of Formosus’s dead hand cut off, the papal vestments torn from his corpse, and his body dumped in the Tiber.

    Stephen VI’s decision regarding Formosus outraged the people of Rome, who rescued the body of Formosus from the Tiber and believed that the late Pope’s corpse had begun to perform miracles. Shortly thereafter the people of Rome revolted, and Pope Stephen VI was imprisoned and strangled to death. Following Stephen was the brief three month reign of Pope Romanus, after which Pope Theodore II ascended to the Throne. Theodore’s reign was also short (only twenty days) but he did manage to convene a second synod to annul the previous Cadaver Synod of Stephen VI and restore his predecessor Formosus to a place of honor. His immediate successor, Pope John IX, convened two additional synods to confirm Theodore’s annulments of Stephen VI’s decisions, ordered the acta of the Cadaver Synod destroyed, excommunicated seven Cardinals who supported Stephen VI’s judgement of Formosus, and prohibited any future trial of a corpse. Which was all fine and dandy until…

    Pope Sergius III ascended to the Throne of Peter four years (and two more short pontificates) after the death of John IX. He reaffirmed all the decisions of Pope Stephen VI and nullified those of Theodore III and John IX. You can imagine how many bishops and priests were now involved in their orders being declared invalid. This state of abysmal confusion persisted throughout the awful pontificate of Sergius III and even afterwards. It would take many years for the Church to finally clarify that Stephen’s and Sergius’s judgements were illegitimate: Formosus was indeed a valid Pope and the orders conferred by him were valid.

    So, while this historical example doesn’t entirely put to rest the question at hand, I think it helps illustrate the grave dangers in going down the route of Popes judging their validly elected predecessors.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    The questions are only being asked to get at your meaning.

    So what you are saying is (I think) that later popes asserted reversals of a great many of Pope Stephen’s decisions, that was a good thing, and we are to take from the incident the lesson that popes reversing the decisions of their predecessors is a bad thing, or even an impossible thing? More to the actual point of contention, a future Pope could reverse and nullify everything controversial that Francis did, but finding Francis guilty of formal heresy specifically and personally is per se impossible? “Everything he did and said is suspect and probably wrong, but he wasn’t a formal heretic personally” fits within this framework?

    I think the generally understood doctrine of infalliblity-when-speaking-ex-cathedra is much more reasonable: more consonant with both reason and Magisterial pronouncements on infallibility.

  • donnie says:

    So what you are saying is (I think) that Pope Sergius asserted a reversal of a great many of Pope Stephen’s decisions, and that was a good thing

    No, Theodore III and John IX annulled Stephen VI’s judgement of Pope Formosus. Sergius III then annulled his predecessor’s annulments of Stepehn VI’s judgement of Formosus, returning all the bishops he consecrated and the priests those bishops ordained to a state of prima facie invalidity. It’s important to note that as far as papal magisterium goes, Sergius was the last one to deal directly with this issue. Yet the Church has universally disregarded his declarations on the matter, considering Formosus to have been a valid Pope whose orders were always valid. Stephen and Sergius were in the wrong on this one, even though Sergius had the last word.

    My interpretation of why the Church has seen fit to disregard the decrees of Stephen VI and Sergius III regarding the judgement of Pope Formosus, is that neither had any authority to issue judgements against their predecessor. As the Church has made clear for centuries now, “The First See is judged by no one.”

    This is my answer to the question of whether a Pope has the authority to judge one of papal predecessors. No, it is not condemned explicitly like the heresy of Conciliarism, but the Church’s universal disregard of the final papal decree on the matter by Pope Sergius III suggests that the decree itself, and the original decrees of the Cadaver Synod, were not legitimate decrees. And I think the most obvious explanation for the illegitimacy of these decrees are that Popes possess no authority to judge their predecessors.

    More to the actual point of contention, a future Pope could reverse and nullify everything controversial that Francis did, but finding Francis guilty of formal heresy specifically and personally is per se impossible?

    Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. So long as Francis is a legitimate successor to St. Peter there is not and never will be an earthly authority that can judge him. And furthermore, we don’t have to worry about a successor to St. Peter being guilty of formal heresy specifically and personally because Our Lord, in His Wisdom and Mercy, assured Peter and his successors that, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not.”

    I think the generally understood doctrine of infalliblity-when-speaking-ex-cathedra is much more reasonable: more consonant with both reason and Magisterial pronouncements on infallibility.

    My view is entirely in keeping with the infallibility-when-speaking-ex-cathedra dogma. I don’t understand why you think there’s a difference.

  • TomD says:

    I suspect that the resolution is somehow contained in the impossiblity of authority to limit itself, but I’m not sure exactly how.

    Perhaps we should dubia it instead of silly questions everyone knows the answer to.

    I’ll have to see if St Alphonsus Ligouri covers it in the new translation I got.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    My view is entirely in keeping with the infallibility-when-speaking-ex-cathedra dogma. I don’t understand why you think there’s a difference.

    I don’t see your view as necessarily incompatible with the doctrine of infallibility; just as a not-obviously-correct accretion to it.

    “Anything can be reversed, but a pope can never personally be guilty of heresy” does appear to construe infallibility as a personal immunity of the Pope qua individual as opposed to an epistemic guarantee of doctrinal consistency and constancy to the Church. Incompatibility of these views isn’t logically necessary, I suppose, but a given pope’s personal failures aren’t constitutive of the Church.

    TomD:

    Part of the ambiguity comes in when our discussion fails to clearly distinguish between veracity (epistemic authority) and authority to command.

  • Zippy says:

    Two entirely distinct propositions:

    1) Nobody other than God Himself has the juridical authority to convict a pope of heresy.

    2) It is impossible for a pope to be personally guilty of heresy.

    The former could be true — even with respect to future popes passing sentence posthumously — without implying that the latter is true.

  • donnie says:

    Zippy, yes those are two entirely distinct propositions. I think that 2) would be better stated as, “God Himself protects the See of Peter so that it’s occupant shall always be one who has not obstinately denied the Faith.”

    If the above is false, then I believe it necessitates a lack of faith in Christ’s promise to Peter, or at the very least an understanding of Christ’s promise to Peter that runs contrary to the teachings of the Church Fathers.

  • ignacy says:

    The curious case of Pope Honorius might be of help here.

  • donnie says:

    ignancy,

    From the Wikipedia article itself:

    However, Pope [Saint] Leo II’s letter of confirmation of the Council interprets the council as intending to criticize Honorius not for error of belief, but rather for “imprudent economy of silence”. Leo’s letter states: “We anathematize the inventors of the new error, that is, Theodore, Sergius, … and also Honorius, who did not attempt to sanctify this Apostolic Church with the teaching of Apostolic tradition, but by profane treachery permitted its purity to be polluted.” The New Catholic Encyclopedia notes: “It is in this sense of guilty negligence that the papacy ratified the condemnation of Honorius.”

    A cursory reading of Honorius’s infamous letter makes it very clear that he was orthodox, he was not a Monothelite, and his words about “one will” were taken out of context by the Monothelites to advance their heresy. His error was in ordering silence in regard to the terms, and while in retrospect this was a mistake, it is also clear that his primary motive was to prevent condemnations of Monothelitism from inadvertently aiding the growth of other heretical groups, like the Nestorians and Monophysites.

    This fact is backed up by a number of number of contemporary figures:

    Pope John IV: Wrote an epistle to Emperor Constantine III titled Dominus qui dixit, exonerating his predecessor Honorius of heresy.

    Pope Saint Martin I: Convened the Lateran Council of 649 in order to define orthodox doctrine and condemn Monothelitism. All the major proponents of this heresy were anathematized by name. Honorius was never mentioned, however, the council affirmed that since the rise of the heresy all Roman Pontiffs had stood firm against it.

    Saint Maximus the Confessor: In his public discussion of faith with Pyrrhus of Constantinople, Maximus defended Honorius from the charge of heresy by citing the abbot who had penned the infamous letter on behalf of Honorius. It turns out that this abbot also penned John IV’s Dominus qui dixit defense of Honorius, and through this abbot Maximus was able to confirm that Honorius was not a Monothelite. This story is pretty astounding and you can read about it
    here.

    Pope Saint Agatho: Convened the Third Council of Constantinople. In a letter which he wrote to the Emperor, which was read at and embraced by the Council Fathers, he said the following:

    Let your tranquil Clemency therefore consider, since it is the Lord and Saviour of all, whose faith it is, that promised that Peter’s faith should not fail and exhorted him to strengthen his brethren, how it is known to all that the Apostolic pontiffs, the predecessors of my littleness, have always confidently done this very thing

    He makes reference to the orthodoxy of Honorius later in the letter:

    Wherefore the predecessors of Apostolic memory of my littleness, learned in the doctrine of the Lord, ever since the prelates of the Church of Constantinople have been trying to introduce into the immaculate Church of Christ an heretical innovation, have never ceased to exhort and warn them with many prayers, that they should, at least by silence, desist from the heretical error of the depraved dogma

    And then finally there was Pope Saint Leo II, who following Saint Agatho’s death accepted the Council’s anathematizing of Honorius. However, since no Council has the authority to judge any Pope (later Councils made this fact explicit), whatever force the anathema holds receives it from Pope Saint Leo II, who ratified it. And it is clear from his writings that while he strongly condemned Honorius for his negligence in failing to strongly oppose the Monothelite heresy, he did not condemn his predecessor for teaching the heresy, let alone being a believer in the heresy.

    It is clear from all of this evidence that Pope Honorius was very far from being a formal heretic.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie, a quibble:

    “God Himself protects the See of Peter so that it’s occupant shall always be one who has not obstinately denied the Faith.”

    If “the Faith” then perhaps apostasy would be a better term than heresy. And if heresy, then “any doctrinal truth of the Faith” might be a better clause.

    In any case it remains unclear to me that this personal immunity from even willful error, of the pope qua private individual, is itself a doctrine of the faith; whereas infallibility when speaking ex cathedra (and under the other conditions explained in the Catechism and the documents of Vatican I) is a doctrine of the faith.

    Beyond that, it is quite clear that popes do make and have made many, many mistakes. So a lot of this kind of discussion is angels dancing on the head of a pin.

  • donnie says:

    If “the Faith” then perhaps apostasy would be a better term than heresy. And if heresy, then “any doctrinal truth of the Faith” might be a better clause.

    OK, I would revise it to say “God Himself protects the See of Peter so that it’s occupant shall always be one who has not culpably and obstinately denied a defined doctrinal truth of the Faith.”

    To be clear, I do not interpret this to mean that the Pope cannot be living in a state of culpable doctrinal confusion, or even mortal sin (which is always God’s judgement, not ours). Rather, I mean to say simply that God Himself protects the See of Peter so that it’s occupant shall always be one who possesses the supernatural gift of faith. Thus, we can be confident that neither a formal heretic nor an apostate will ever sit on the papal throne.

    This confidence rests upon the traditional interpretation of Luke 22:32, an interpretation that was taught by the Church Fathers and early Popes (see the quote from Pope Saint Agatho in my last comment as one example). Now, one might be inclined to say that the Church Fathers and early Popes taught this interpretation erroneously, and that if they had lived to see some of the later Popes of the Middle Ages they would not have taught this. But this line of reasoning fails because the Council Fathers of Vatican I reiterated this interpretation of Luke 22:32 in Chapter IV of Pastor Aeternus. The benefit of historical hindsight which they all had did not cause them to shy away from this traditional interpretation of Christ’s promise to Peter.

    My contention is this: if the traditional interpretation of Christ’s promise to Peter in Luke 22:32 is true, and given the Magisterial weight behind this interpretation I believe that it is, this necessitates the conclusion which I am drawing from it. Namely, that a successor to St. Peter can never be considered as someone who has lost his Catholic faith.

  • donnie says:

    So a lot of this kind of discussion is angels dancing on the head of a pin.

    Well, perhaps, but I don’t think I am proposing anything bizarre or innovative. I think this is the traditional understanding of the never-failing faith of Peter which most Catholics over the last 2,000 years would have recognized to be true and which modern-day traditional Catholics have (ironically) forgotten.

  • MarcusD says:

    A loose woman with a contrite heart who repents of her sleeping around is hardly unsuited for Christian matrimony.

    Was this meant sarcastically? I can’t tell. Either way, it’s untrue.

  • Mike T says:

    MarcusD,

    Was this meant sarcastically?

    Knowing the W4 crew, no. In a sense, he is correct because a genuinely reformed slut can become marriage material. The problem is that most men will pass her over if they know what they’re getting by marrying her. She is unlikely to find many quality men with options wanting to wife that up.

    At the end of the day, a reformed hard slut is approximately like a reformed male homosexual. Most women, after finding that out, would go “hard pass” because of the implications for their future.

  • Mike T says:

    1) Nobody other than God Himself has the juridical authority to convict a pope of heresy.
    The former could be true

    Since the Pope is a sovereign, it’s almost a given that misconduct by him would be overlooked until such time as his malfeasance forced the hand of another sovereign (ex. Nuremberg trials; if Hitler had just gassed the Jews and other untermenschen in his country, we’d have never bothered him). In the case of Francis, the other sovereigns would be content to let him spew all manner of abstract error, but something like him rehabilitating clearly questionable priests in their jurisdiction might be the sort of thing that down the road could have someone say “arrest the Pope when he arrives in town.”

  • donnie says:

    Mike,

    OK, fine, and if the Pope carjacked someone’s Bugatti during a tour through France the local authorities would be well within their rights to charge him with vehicular theft. But this doesn’t really have anything to do with the arguments Zippy and I were hashing out.

  • TomD says:

    I actually don’t think they can – even normal non-papal sovereigns basically have diplomatic immunity; you can threaten war but that’s about it.

  • donnie says:

    TomD – that’s true, hadn’t considered that. So perhaps hypothetically the Pope could fly down the French Riviera in a stolen Bugatti.

    Best be careful though. Wouldn’t want to give writers for HBO and Netflix any ideas…

  • TomD

    That’s an interesting subject in itself. It seems that, strictly speaking, it is the power to arrest the pope that is lacking not the authority. Diplomatic immunity seems to be a ridiculous rule crippling the ability of a sovereign to protect the common good when it comes to the personal actions of diplomats and other sovereigns.

  • ignacy says:

    Now it is uncontroversially true that some sins are more objectively grave than others, and that personal culpability varies based on circumstances, pressures, etc. It is also uncontroversially true that some objectively evil choices represent an improvement over other objectively evil choices

    If I understand the Amoris Laetitia correctly, the approach, it is based on these very facts. It seems to take into account the fact that sins of weakness can carry diminished culpability in some circumstances in spite of them being intrinsically evil. In other words, it postulates that these are in that cases venial sins, not mortal, and therefore do not disqualify the perpetrators from Holy Communion.

    Sure, there is Canon 915, but Amoris simply (again, if I’m right) allows it to be applied on case by case basis, not universally to all adulterers

    I’d really really love to be proven wrong.

  • donnie says:

    If I understand the Amoris Laetitia correctly…
    It seems to take into account the fact that sins of weakness can carry diminished culpability in some circumstances in spite of them being intrinsically evil. In other words, it postulates that these are in that cases venial sins, not mortal, and therefore do not disqualify the perpetrators from Holy Communion.

    Taken at face value, what the controversial bits of Amoris Laetitia‘s infamous Chapter VIII says is that pastors should help individuals in their flock living in irregular situations to discern what God is asking of them. Then with a lot of ambiguous verbiage and a few footnotes, the Holy Father linked these discussions of conscience to the Sacraments, noting that the Sacraments are “medicine for the weak.”

    Interpreted narrowly, there is a way to read this that is consistent with St. John Paul II’s post-synodal apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio. The Polish episcopate have interpreted Chapter VIII precisely in this way and made clear that, in their view, Amoris Laetitia does not allow Communion for the divorced and remarried, and that “Familiaris Consortio and Amoris Laetitia are in the same line, with this linear understanding of these documents.” What’s more, this position has actually been approved by the Holy Father, albeit “for Poland.”

    However, the Holy Father has also personally and unequivocally endorsed the position of some Argentinian bishops, which directs ministers of the Blessed Sacrament to help individuals work through concrete cases which impact their access to the Sacraments. Again, like Amoris itself, the language is endlessly malleable, however it certainly appears from a plain reading of their text that the Argentinian bishops interpret the Pope’s exhortation as allowing for a Catholic’s subjective assessment of their own worthiness to receive the Sacraments (per Canon 916) to override the pastor’s obligation to withhold the Sacraments on the basis of certain objective, externally verifiable conditions (per Canon 915). This is certainly the position taken by the bishops of Malta, who have issued directives to the priests of their diocese (published with implicit Vatican approval in the Vatican’s own newspaper) that the Blessed Sacrament is to be distributed to any Catholic who feels that he or she is “at peace with God.”

    The glaring problem in all of this (well, one of the glaring problems) is that the binding directives governing the distribution of the Sacraments to the faithful is not found within a single ambiguous papal document with varying, contradictory interpretations depending on what diocese you happen to be in. Rather, these binding directives are found within a different papal document with far more authority and clarity: The Code of Canon Law. Unless and until the laws of the Church governing the distribution and reception of Holy Communion are formally changed, ministers of the Blessed Sacrament are bound to uphold them.

    My suspicion is that the Pope’s use of ambiguity in Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia isn’t so much meant to be a “mercy” to the civilly remarried as much as it’s meant to be a “mercy” to the clergy. The centuries old wisdom and practice upon which Canon 915 is rooted has gone practically unenforced in the West for the last several decades because the faithful to whom it applies refuse to submit to it and the clergy don’t have the fortitude to abide by it, even when they’d like to and perhaps even feel guilty about not following it. Pope Francis, through the use of his ambiguity, is giving these clergymen an “out”, if they choose to take it. If following the existing law of the Church laid out in Canon 915 is not too burdensome for a particular diocese (e.g. in places like Poland where the faithful are more likely to respect the teachings of their own sainted Pope and the revised code of laws which he promulgated), then they may interpret Amoris Laetitia in light of John Paul’s prior exhortation. But for dioceses where the priests have utterly failed in applying Canon 915, they can now, if they wish, consider themselves released of their prior responsibilities.

    But unless and until we get a firm answer to the dubia, we’ll likely never know what’s going on inside the Pope’s head.

  • TomD says:

    I think you’re right – Pope Francis is most concerned with “what can we do now” and not with theological details. This can even be prudent (for example, not requiring priests to know exactly which contracts are usurious, and withhold communion) – but can also mislead.

    Pope Francis’ extension of faculties to the SSPX for confession is an example – it creates confusion but removes the immediate problem of many Catholics receiving invalid confession.

  • donnie says:

    Tom – there’s a couple of major differences between abolishing the ecclesiastical penalties for usury and what Francis appears to be trying to do. Number one is the fact that the ecclesiastical penalties for those obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are still on the books and ministers of the Blessed Sacrament still remain bound by them. Francis’s deliberate lack of clarity may reduce the subjective culpability of many priests who fail to uphold Canon 915, depending on how sincerely they interpret the Pope’s words to be releasing them from their canonical obligations. But at the end of the day, Canon 915 is still the universally binding law of the Roman Church. And apparently Pope Francis is fine with it staying that way. For faithful priests who realize this and continue to try to uphold the law of the Church, this is a profoundly unmerciful approach. How are these priests supposed to respond when angry parishioners scream at them that “the Pope says” they are entitled to Communion?

    Also, there seems to me to be a far better practical solution to all of this: encourage the ancient practice of frequently abstaining from Holy Communion. Hold the teachings of St. Pius X regarding daily reception of Communion as the ideal to strive for, but exhort the faithful to be humble before the Blessed Sacrament, and to err on the side of abstention from Holy Communion so as not to disrespect Our Lord by receiving Him out of habit or formality. This would seem to me a far less scandalous way of making it easier for those who ought to abstain from Holy Communion to do so without feeling like they are being “singled out”.

  • donnie says:

    I also think it would make Canon 915 easier to enforce for priests. If many parishioners who, living in the state of grace, choose to forfeit their prerogative to receive Holy Communion from time-to-time out of a sense of humility before the Blessed Sacrament, it should be much easier then to deny any parishioners who present themselves for Holy Communion while living in a state of manifest grave sin. The arrogance displayed in such an action alone would likely be enough to rally much of the parish to the side of the priest, something that cannot be said today with how things are run.

  • ignacy says:

    The Pope’s approach wrt bishops in Poland and in Argentina is consistent with my interpretation. If it is agreed that at least some adulterers are sinning only venially, then Amoris Laetitia calls for discernment in applying Canon 915 (and of course in assessment of moral culpability).

    The same logic could in principle be applied to usury. Nowadays, the circumstances of current economy changed so much that usurers generally sin only venially (in particular when lending within legally allowed limits), so there’s no point in banning Communion from them.

    Of course, racist hateful self-absorbed Promethean neopelagian proselytizing Pharisees sin mortally without much need for discernment.

  • donnie says:

    ignancy,

    If it is agreed that at least some adulterers are sinning only venially, then Amoris Laetitia calls for discernment in applying Canon 915 (and of course in assessment of moral culpability).

    Except this is not possible unless priests gain the ability to read souls. The reason why Canon 915 focuses on obstinate persistence in objective grave sins and not mortal sins (which depend on subjective culpability) is precisely because demanding that all priests become soul readers is ridiculous.

    Nowadays, the circumstances of current economy changed so much that usurers generally sin only venially (in particular when lending within legally allowed limits), so there’s no point in banning Communion from them.

    That wasn’t the logic behind the change in pastoral policy to usurers either. Who is and who is not a venial or mortal sinner is known to God alone. The Church merely ruled that it is not sinful for a confessor to assume that a usurer who fails to confess usury is invincibly ignorant of the Church’s teaching, and to grant him absolution on that basis.

  • donnie says:

    Actually, having just re-read Zippy’s article on the usury accommodation, the change in pastoral practice is actually quite a bit narrower than how I described it above:

    https://zippycatholic.wordpress.com/2015/01/21/the-grand-inquisitor-shows-pastoral-mercy-to-usurers/

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    Except this is not possible unless priests gain the ability to read souls. The reason why Canon 915 focuses on obstinate persistence in objective grave sins and not mortal sins (which depend on subjective culpability) is precisely because demanding that all priests become soul readers is ridiculous.

    Yes, this is the critical flaw at the epicenter of the whole Jesuit “pastoral” approach, and reveals its underlying worldly arrogance. Actually discussing the nature of objectively grave matter with penitents changes venial culpability into mortal culpability, but this ‘transition’ is never visible to us (including priests in the confessional) and is only God’s to judge.

    In the final analysis ignorance as the eighth sacrament – the matter of which is ambiguous subjectivity under the misnomer “conscience” – has to go one of two ways. Priests can be told to ignore objectively grave matter even when the penitent himself raises the issue, and just absolve everyone all the time under the assumption that any unrepentant choice of grave matter may be venial[*]; or the whole approach can be “don’t ask don’t tell”. Either of those makes the sacrament of confession into an abomination, it seems to me.

    If a penitent confesses a venial sin but then says that he has no purpose of amendment – he has no intention of even trying to stop sinning in that particular way – is the sacrament still valid? Venial sins are not required to be confessed in an itemized fashion, but isn’t a firm purpose of amendment on all sins confessed a necessary condition of sacramental validity?

    In the end, trying to market Catholicism to Protestants by downplaying all that sin and repentance stuff has been a spectacular failure, has been wildly counterproductive, even judged on material terms.

    [*] As has been pointed out many times, if this is the ‘pastoral’ approach then it makes no sense to restrict it only to certain kinds of politically correct grave matter. Arguably (for example) a man who doesn’t civilly divorce his wife but just unrepentantly keeps his concubine on the side is every bit as entitled to ‘mercy’ as the man who divorces his wife and ‘marries’ his concubine. And a man who tortures on behalf of the state, who has no intention of stopping, likewise. Etc, etc.

  • Rhetocrates says:

    If you claim to absolve sins of the unrepentant, that is a mortal sin. If you intentionally shield sinners with ignorance, so that their misdeeds may not be sins, the weight of their sins transfers to your blood, for there is still evil in the world of their doing.

    Luke 17:1-2 applies here, I think.

    “And he said to his disciples: It is impossible that scandals should not come: but woe to him through whom they come.

    It were better for him, that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should scandalize one of these little ones.”

  • ignacy says:

    Except this is not possible unless priests gain the ability to read souls. The reason why Canon 915 focuses on obstinate persistence in objective grave sins and not mortal sins (which depend on subjective culpability) is precisely because demanding that all priests become soul readers is ridiculous.

    Yes, this is the critical flaw at the epicenter of the whole Jesuit “pastoral” approach, and reveals its underlying worldly arrogance. Actually discussing the nature of objectively grave matter with penitents changes venial culpability into mortal culpability, but this ‘transition’ is never visible to us (including priests in the confessional) and is only God’s to judge.

    Is this the case? If so, it would be really great news that the current practice on usury, adultery, contraception etc could be dismissed so easily.

    However, I fear that there is more to that. Consider that Amoris Laetitia speaks of circumstances that lessen the culpability and that the circumstances were also invoked in the usury case (the law of the prince etc.). Finally, both cases (together with the contraception case from the Vademecum) apply to priests absolving people whose conscience does not accuse them.

    Similar situation appears in the Catechism 2352, which condemns masturbation, at once listing factors that may affect culpability:

    To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.

    The Canon 915 is prohibits Holy Communion in the cases when the person is 1) obstinately persevering in 2) manifest 3) grave sin. It could be understood that while Familiaris Consortio applies that to all divorced in new civil unions, where civil union is a criterion for obstinacy and manifest grave sin, Amoris Laetitia allows to look on each case separately, deciding if the sin is (for example) not manifest and the sin is grave but subjectively not mortal.

    As has been pointed out many times, if this is the ‘pastoral’ approach then it makes no sense to restrict it only to certain kinds of politically correct grave matter. Arguably (for example) a man who doesn’t civilly divorce his wife but just unrepentantly keeps his concubine on the side is every bit as entitled to ‘mercy’ as the man who divorces his wife and ‘marries’ his concubine.

    Agreed. Of course, taking into account subjective culpability is heavily influenced by what ‘people’ demand and want, and this boils down to politically correct sins only.

    Cardinal Napier inquired whether Amoris Laetitia applies to naturally married ex-pagan polygamists, who are objectively speaking much more entitled to ‘mercy’ in that matter (since they exchanged valid natural marriage vows not knowing about Christ’s commandments). I don’t know if he ever received an answer.

  • donnie says:

    ignacy,

    I don’t think there is much doubt that the champions of Amoris are attempting to frame this question in pretty much the same way that you have above. The renowned canon lawyer Ed Peters has an excellent post on the topic which covers pretty much all the aspects of this problem:
    https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2017/10/09/disregarding-the-divinely-rooted-canon-915-portends-serious-consequences-for-the-church-and-her-faithful/

    Bottom line as I see it is this: unless and until the Holy Father amends or abrogates Canon 915, it is still the universal law of the Roman Church and ministers of the Blessed Sacrament are bound to follow it. That hasn’t changed. What may have changed is that ministers of the Blessed Sacrament who, prior to Amoris, were not enforcing Canon 915 may now be personally less culpable for their failure to fulfill their obligations, depending on how sincerely they erroneously interpret Amors as rendering Canon 915 irrelevant.

  • Zippy says:

    One thing I’ve considered writing about, though my thoughts have been too inchoate to form into a coherent post, is that modernity has made the internal forum disappear. Facebook is this trend’s current apotheosis.

    It used to be the case that some things could be “handled in private” – even to the tune of having general guidelines for how to handle things in private – without causing scandal or other additional harm to various parties. But everything is public now, so the mercy tyrants would like to treat the external forum as if it were the internal forum.

  • donnie says:

    Essentially, as I see it, the Holy Father has (perhaps) reduced the personal culpability of those priests who cause great scandal by causing an even greater scandal of his own. It is almost as if he has attempted to take upon their sins himself. Why he would ever do such a thing (assuming he even realizes that this is what he has done) is anyone’s guess.

  • buckyinky says:

    Zippy:

    It used to be the case that some things could be “handled in private” – even to the tune of having general guidelines for how to handle things in private – without causing scandal or other additional harm to various parties. But everything is public now, so the mercy tyrants would like to treat the external forum as if it were the internal forum.

    FWIW, this clarifies some what you brought up in the comments a few days ago, here. I’ve been chewing on it since then to not much avail, but this tenderizes it some for me.

  • […] the person manifested in his deliberate choice of behaviors.  A human being can mercifully ‘accompanied‘, can be pastorally shielded from his own sinfulness by keeping him in the dark, by blocking […]

  • donnie,

    Here is my issue, I suppose, with that view (which Dr. Feser seems to disagree with): http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2017/10/15/the-popes-remarks-on-capital-punishment-need-to-be-clarified/

    Let’s say Pope Francis comes out and says “No, I really do think capital punishment is intrinsically immoral and in the past we who thought it wasn’t were wrong.”

    Is he an antipope?

    Why would I think that? His election seemed perfectly valid.

    Or is it simply impossible that he really thinks that?

    That doesn’t seem to be the case.

    My options appear to be orthodoxy, or your view of this is wrong, or Pope Francis and Pope John XXIII had no mistaken beliefs and everyone who thinks so is wrong, or I am misunderstanding you.

  • donnie says:

    You seem to be misunderstanding me. I am not saying that a Pope’s non-infallible teaching office is guaranteed to be free from error. What I am saying is that there is a necessary distinction between objective error, on the one hand, and full-fledged heresy or loss of faith on the other. This is an important distinction that traditional Catholics have forgotten. Our Lord allows Popes to be guilty of the former, but protects the See of Peter from ever being occupied by a man guilty of the latter.

    Consider yourself. Surely there have been moments when you have been mistaken in your understanding, and perhaps even your defense, of certain points of the Catholic faith (I know that I have). Presumably you also recognize that these moments do not mean you were once a full-fledged heretic. When the truth was finally shown to you, you may have struggled with it somewhat, but eventually through God’s grace, and perhaps a little help from someone in the hierarchy, you were able to ultimately submit to the truth. You were in error, but you were not a heretic. You had not lost the faith.

    The same is true for Popes. In his teachings which are not covered by the charism of infallibility, the Holy Father can err. This does not mean that he is a heretic, nor does it mean that he has lost the faith and thus is ipso facto an anti-Pope. Loss of faith or formal heresy involves something much more serious. This is what traditional Catholics have forgotten.

  • donnie says:

    With regards to the specific apparent error regarding capital punishment which the Holy Father appears to hold, Dr. Feser notes toward the end of his article that, “Pope Francis goes so far as to assert that in saying what he does about capital punishment, he is ‘not in any way contradicting past teaching’ and that the view he is advocating ‘in no way represents a change in doctrine'”.

    We certainly owe it to the Holy Father to take him at his word here: he does not believe his view on capital punishment to be in contradiction to past teaching. How is this possible? I don’t know. As Dr. Feser rightly notes in the title of his post, the Pope’s remarks need to be clarified. But what is clear from the Holy Father’s disclaimer is that, while he may personally be erring on this point, he is doing so in “good faith” and in the belief that his views are compatible with what the Church has always taught. There is no case to be made here that the Pope’s prima facie error constitutes full-fledged heresy or loss of faith on his part.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    What I am saying is that there is a necessary distinction between objective error, on the one hand, and full-fledged heresy or loss of faith on the other. This is an important distinction that traditional Catholics have forgotten.

    It seems to me (again) that the phrase “full-fledged heresy or loss of faith” is obscuring the distinction between heresy and apostasy.

    Material heresy is denial of any individual doctrine[1] of the faith. Formal heresy is knowing and deliberate denial of any individual doctrine of the faith. Apostasy is loss of faith. Schism is rejection of the authority of the Church hierarchy.

    The referent of heresy (material or formal) is a particular doctrine or doctrines. The referent of apostasy is the Catholic faith in general.

    I understand the condemnation of Honorius (without having really done due diligence) to be, not heresy, but dereliction of duty. So I am willing to stipulate the proposition that no Pope has in fact ever been posthumously and formally declared a heretic.

    But as far as I can tell, the ecclesial impossibility of this ever occurring has not been demonstrated.

    —-

    [1] Or group of doctrines.

  • donnie says:

    Zippy,

    The referent of apostasy is the Catholic faith in general.

    Actually, no, this is not correct. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith CCC 2089

    A formal heretic cannot be said to possess the Catholic faith, since he obstinately refuses to embrace the Catholic faith in its fullness. That said, he is not necessarily an apostate unless he repudiates Christianity entirely. Consider Martin Luther: a heretic, but not an apostate.

    The teaching that one guilty of heresy has lost or abandoned the Catholic faith is very old, at least as old as the Athanasian Creed, and also reiterated in Pastor Aeternus. For example, after setting forth the doctrine of papal primacy the Council Fathers declare, “This is the teaching of Catholic truth, from which no one can deviate without loss of faith and of salvation.”

    Rejecting the doctrine of papal primacy would make one a heretic, and it would constitute a “loss of faith” per the teaching of the Council. However, this loss of faith would not be the same thing as apostasy.

    And if we interpret Luke 22:32 the same way that the early Church Fathers did, the same way that Pope St. Agatho did, and the same way that the Council Fathers of Vatican I did, we can know with confidence that no one who would obstinately and pertinaciously reject the teaching of papal primacy, or any other doctrine of the Church, will ever occupy the See of Peter.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    It is clear that you would like to disagree with the substance of my comment (the referents of apostasy and heresy, specifically); but it isn’t clear that you have actually succeeded in doing so. Your reply proposes to object to my understanding and then goes on to affirm it: apostasy is total repudiation of the Catholic faith (which just is the Christian faith), whereas heresy is rejection of one or more specific doctrines of the faith.

    A formal heretic cannot be said to possess the Catholic faith, since he obstinately refuses to embrace the Catholic faith in its fullness.

    We agree that a formal heretic does not possess the faith in its fullness. We also agree that this (that is, heresy, not to mention scandalizing others into embracing heresy) has salvation/damnation consequences for the individual.

    However, this loss of [the fullness of the] faith would not be the same thing as apostasy.

    Right.

    .. we can know with confidence that no one who would obstinately and pertinaciously reject … any … doctrine of the Church [in his private non-magisterial opinions, non-infallible public statements, conduct, etc] will ever occupy the See of Peter.

    Is it your view that this is, itself, a doctrine of the Church?

    (Relevant: Professio fidei, AD TUENDAM FIDEM, and Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio fidei all in one basket).

    If this is important to you, I’d suggest creating a blog and writing up your due diligence including citation of and answers to common objections (Suarez, Bellarmine, Gratian’s Decretum, Part 1, Distinction 40, Chapter 6 attributed to Boniface, etc — the usual stuff encountered upon a cursory inquiry about the subject) in a blog post similar to the Usury FAQ (though probably not as long).

    Combox imperatives to “read the Church Fathers” and the like come off as handwaving, which probably isn’t a fair presentation of your argument. I know as well as anyone that putting together a clear, strong, well supported argument which addresses the most common objections is a lot of work, and that comboxes — while they can be very good for hammering out specific points — are not a very good place for systematic presentation.

  • Zippy says:

    (Mind you, for reasons which should be obvious I am predisposed to believe that Jesuit opinions on the subject are highly suspect, given the Jesuit program of fighting Protestantism by embracing it. This makes the fact that Bellarmine is the sedevacantist go-to guy more than a little ironic, at least to me).

  • donnie,

    Thank you, that clarification helped.

  • donnie says:

    Zippy,

    Just so I am clear: We are both in agreement that Christ’s assurance to Peter in Luke 22:32 extends to his successors, in keeping with what the Church has always taught, correct?

    If not, I would contend that this interpretation of Luke 22:32 is a doctrine of the Church, per the various sources I have already cited.

    If we are in agreement on the above point, then it seems to me our disagreement hinges on whether a formal heretic is one who has lost the supernatural form of faith. It has always been my understanding that the answer to this is yes, and I’ve never come across anyone who argued otherwise. But if this is the point in dispute then you are right that it deserves a stronger defense.

  • donnie says:

    malcolm,

    No, thank you. The last thing I want is for folks to think I am arguing for some kind of neo-ultramontanism, so I am grateful for the opportunity to further clarify the point.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    Just so I am clear: We are both in agreement that Christ’s assurance to Peter in Luke 22:32 extends to his successors, in keeping with what the Church has always taught, correct?

    No, not if I understand you correctly.

    Do I agree without further support that this doctrine (whatever it may entail) extends to Peter’s successors as something entirely distinct from the doctrine of infallibility? No. That would have to be established. Is my failure to agree based on my own gross ignorance? Possibly; but again this also would have to be established.

    From my point of view you are arguing for something – precisely what is still not clear to me – which runs parallel to but is entirely distinct from the doctrine of papal infallibility, and which therefore always obtains and is not subject to the limiting conditions of papal infallibility.

    I might be as naive as a newly converted Moslem here, but you’d have to actually establish 1) what precisely this special and necessary charism of the Pope is and entails, 2) what if any limiting conditions apply to this charism, and 3) that its existence is in fact doctrine: a distinct doctrine from the doctrine of papal infallibility, which does have well defined limits.

  • Zippy says:

    Here is how I see it, donnie. Lets call the doctrine for which you are arguing proposition D.

    One possibility is that D is part of or is a mode of understanding papal infallibility. If this is the case then the pretty well defined clearly articulated Magisterial limiting conditions on infallibility also apply to D: D when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, not-D otherwise.

    Another possibility is that D is independent of the doctrine of infallibility. In this case it needs to be established what exactly D entails in the first place and that it is even a doctrine of the faith at all. Is it possible that the Scriptural and Magisterial citations which assert infallibility might do double duty here, establishing two distinct but parallel doctrines? That one of these doctrines is limited in scope to when the Pope speaks ex cathedra, whereas the other is not so limited?

    Sure it is possible. But you’d have to basically start from scratch and actually make the argument.

  • donnie says:

    Zippy,

    What I mean is that, whatever Christ meant when he said, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not,” he meant it to apply not just to Peter personally but to his successors as well. As Pastor Aeternus states, “This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this See so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all”

    If we agree on that then our difference is over what Christ actually meant when he said those words.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    As far as I am aware, the Church authoritatively interprets those words to imply Papal infallibility when the Pope speaks ex cathedra. If you think it means something else you’d have to actually make the argument that it means something else.

  • donnie says:

    Your interpretation is hard to square with the writings of several saintly popes who reigned long before papal infallibility was ever defined as dogma.

    Pope Pelagius II:

    [After quoting Luke 22:32] The truth cannot lie, and Peter’s faith will not be shaken or altered in eternity.

    Pope Saint Agatho:

    Let your tranquil Clemency therefore consider, since it is the Lord and Saviour of all, whose faith it is, that promised that Peter’s faith should not fail and exhorted him to strengthen his brethren, how it is known to all that the Apostolic pontiffs, the predecessors of my littleness, have always confidently done this very thing,

    Pope Saint Leo IX:

    To this day the faith of the Roman Church which is built upon the rock through Peter has not failed, nor will it fail in ages to come, because the Lord Christ prayed for it. [He then cites Luke 22:32]

    Pope Saint Gregory VII:

    [Referencing Luke 22:32] According to the testimony of Scripture the Roman Church has never erred and does not err in perpetuity

    I take your point about this needing a stronger defense to heart. However, I do not understand why you think the default interpretation of Christ’s words ought to be that He was referring only to the limited charism of Peter’s infallibility. This is not a natural reading of the Gospel nor is it a natural reading of the Magisterial teachings which deal with this passage. It seems to me that if you think Christ was really only referring to papal infallibility when he spoke of Peter’s never-failing faith you would likewise have to support an argument that this is the limited meaning of His words.

  • donnie says:

    The quoted teachings of Pope Saint Leo IX and Pope Saint Gregory VII above probably require further historical context in order to be fully appreciated. Again, your point that this sort of argument needs to be defended in a blog or an FAQ is well taken. If I can scrape together enough time I’ll certainly take a stab at it.

    However, my broader point is that I do not understand why you think the default position ought to be that Christ’s words about Peter’s never failing faith ought to be interpreted only as relating to papal infallibility, rather than relating to what appears to be a natural reading of the Gospel and the many teachings which have been drawn from it: namely, that it relates specifically to the faith of Peter as head of the Roman Church, whose faith shall never fail.

    It seems obvious to me when reading Pastor Aeternus that papal infallibility rests upon the prior foundation of Peter’s never failing faith. I understand that this does not seem obvious to you, but I don’t understand why you think we should default to a very narrow understanding of Christ’s words when we already have a wealth of Magisterial commentary on them that points to a broader interpretation.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    I see no need for alternative or enhanced interpretations when the Church has given us a clear, definite, authoritative interpretation. But if you decide to take up the subject in a systematic way I look forward to reading what you come up with.

  • Zippy says:

    donnie:

    It seems to me that if you think Christ was really only referring to papal infallibility when he spoke of Peter’s never-failing faith you would likewise have to support an argument that this is the limited meaning of His words.

    I think you have the burden of proof all wrong. The answer to “does it mean that the Pope speaks infallibly when he speaks ex cathedra” is yes. My answer to “is it per se impossible for a Pope to be posthumously declared a heretic” is “I don’t know.”

  • ignacy says:

    I don’t want to derail Zippy’s and donnie’s heated discussion, but let me again return for a while to the previous topic:-)

    donnie:

    unless and until the Holy Father amends or abrogates Canon 915, it is still the universal law of the Roman Church and ministers of the Blessed Sacrament are bound to follow it. That hasn’t changed. What may have changed is that ministers of the Blessed Sacrament who, prior to Amoris, were not enforcing Canon 915 may now be personally less culpable for their failure to fulfill their obligations, depending on how sincerely they erroneously interpret Amors as rendering Canon 915 irrelevant.

    To repeat: proponents of “laxist” interpretations of AL can and will argue that AL guides the applicability of Canon 915 and does not try to abrogate it (of course, practically speaking, Canon 915 is doomed to be “uncanon” invoked by unmerciful).

    This requires the ability to read souls inasmuch as Catechism’s take of the grave sin of masturbation, which urges to take into account various factors – many of them circumstantial and consequential – in the assessment of culpability.

    And even objective circumstances and consequences can diminish culpability:

    CCC 1754 The circumstances, including the consequences, are secondary elements of a moral act. They contribute to increasing or diminishing the moral goodness or evil of human acts (for example, the amount of a theft). They can also diminish or increase the agent’s responsibility (such as acting out of a fear of death) . Circumstances of themselves cannot change the moral quality of acts themselves; they can make neither good nor right an action that is in itself evil.

    Naturally, one can also mortally sin in adverse circumstances (e.g. due to malice), but Pope Francis’ whole mercy, discernment and “who I am to judge” casuistic Jesuit project seems to be a call to “read souls” and always assume as little culpability as it is possible (the last is certainly within the reach of all priests). Yes, I know that it is actually judgement 🙂

    While I have lots of practical reasons why this is a terrible idea, I don’t see how it can be theologically or doctrinally misguided. All it takes for AL-chemy to succeed is to take penitent and priest’s “discernment”, obtain venial sin certificate from confessional, and avoid scandal thanks to big city anonymity (I believe that Zippy’s stipulation – that handling things in private is no longer possible thanks to modernity – while clever, is not very true; it is much easier to have “privacy” of that sort in modern city than any village of yore).

    BTW, I see someone arguing in the similar fashion for orthodoxy (and orthopraxy) of AL:
    https://reducedculpability.blog/2017/01/19/amoris-laetitia-an-apologia-for-its-orthodoxy/

  • Zippy says:

    Ignacy:

    All it takes for AL-chemy to succeed is to take penitent and priest’s “discernment”, obtain venial sin certificate from confessional, and avoid scandal thanks to big city anonymity…

    Big city anonymity might have worked in the past, especially when adulterers moved to a different city to shack up. But social media guarantees that status changes will be in-your-face for the happy serial monogamist’s thousand closest friends and twenty thousand friends-of-friends.

    RCIA ought to start handing out venial-sin-despite-grave-matter certificates, just to make sure that the “all are welcome unless you care about the truth or need the Church’s help to avoid sin, in which case you are a promethean neopelagian coprophage” message gets through loud and clear.

  • donnie says:

    I don’t want to derail Zippy’s and donnie’s heated discussion, but let me again return for a while to the previous topic:-)

    Haha, no worries. I think we can table that discussion for now, at least until I find the time to do further due diligence and make a more systematic case.

    proponents of “laxist” interpretations of AL can and will argue that AL guides the applicability of Canon 915 and does not try to abrogate it

    I am not a canon lawyer, but my understanding is that the Church’s law cannot be “guided” by a laxist interpretation of a controversial footnote within an ambiguous pastoral document, that does not even explicitly say what it’s laxist proponents claim it says. Again, see canonist Ed Peters who has written quite a lot about this. I linked to him upthread already, and if you haven’t read that article of his already you should. Here is another good article of his that also has several links to other posts where he defends his view that the law of the Church (and the interpretation of that law) before Amoris is still the law after Amoris.
    https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/i-am-a-lawyer-not-a-mind-reader/

    As far as Catechism’s approach to masturbation, I may have once had personal experience in learning how the Church instructs her ministers in approaching this issue pastorally. Here is how it was explained to me by a priest at the time:

    The teaching is meant to help priests shepherd the young people in their flocks, primarily pre-teens and teens. It is not meant to have any application to adults already living out their vocation (married, priestly, or religious).

    The rationale behind the teaching is the fact that most children discover masturbation very early, between the ages of 9 and 13 (and no that’s not just boys). For most of these children, the vice develops into a habit before they learn that it is a grave sin. This was the case in my own experience; it wasn’t until two years after discovering self-stimulation on my own that I even learned the word ‘masturbation.’ It was another year after that before I was ever informed that it was a grave sin that could damn my soul to Hell. I’ve been told that this situation is extremely common for both sexes.

    In situations like these, priests are advised by the Church to assume that the gravity of the sin is greatly diminished, to the point where future instances of masturbation can be assumed to be venial for all the reasons listed in the Catechism, and that the young person need not distance him or herself from the Sacraments so long as he or she is also making an honest-to-God effort to root out the vice and avoid occasions of sin.

    What the Church is trying to avoid in these situations, at least as I understand it, is having to put young people struggling with this sin in a difficult position when they go to Sunday Mass with their family: abstain from Holy Communion and face the inquiries that our bound to come from their parents and siblings when they do this, or receive Holy Communion while being conscious of having committed a grave sin. The Church’s judgement in these instances is that the sin is almost certainly not grave for young people in the common situation just described, and since the sin is presumably done in private there is no scandal involved. Therefore it is admissible, even perhaps advisable, for priests to inform young people that their sin is most probably not grave, and they can receive Holy Communion with their families so long as they are taking steps to root it out of their lives.

    Whether this pastoral practice is actually good for souls in general is a question that could probably be debated: I could easily conceive of an argument that the practice itself is scandalous and causes people not to erroneously conclude that masturbation is not a serious sin.

    But the larger point is that the Church’s pastoral teaching with regards to young people and masturbation, as I understand it, is something that targets a very specific issue and does not hold priests to the impossible standard of reading souls.

  • ignacy says:

    But social media guarantees that status changes will be in-your-face for the happy serial monogamist’s thousand closest friends and twenty thousand friends-of-friends.

    Would you then say that everything is a-ok if an adulterous couple agreed in the confessional before obtaining venial-sin-despite-grave-matter certificate to quit all social media & stuff? Would doctrine & theology be left intact then?

  • ignacy says:

    donnie:

    As I stressed above, AL refers to circumstances and consequences diminishing culpability, so it is at least arguable that the degree of mind- and soul-reading required is similar to the case of masturbation, differences between teens and adults notwithstanding.

    Pope Francis in his informal talks also stresses “accompanying” and referring to the difficult situation of adulterers in new unions, seldom or never more ‘purely subjective’ factors.

  • Zippy says:

    ignacy:

    In my view there is a basic sacramental problem in attempting confession with a deliberate, premeditated, explicit, pre-negotiated positive commitment to continue choosing grave matter, even with a sin technically venial due to subjective factors.

    I don’t claim unambiguous magisterial warrant for my view (though there is some warrant from Veritatis Splendor and Familiaris Consortio, among others); but I think that alternative views are sacramentally anti-realist and that in general reducing culpability to pure subjectivity doesn’t work. (“A doctrine which dissociates the moral act from the bodily dimensions of its exercise is contrary to the teaching of Scripture and Tradition” — VS).

  • Peasant says:

    Zippy,

    It is for that reason that St. Francis de Sales recommends making a general confession near the very beginning of his Introduction to the Devout Life. He goes over those sort of defects of confession in some detail in the first few chapters, if memory serves.

  • Zippy says:

    ignacy:

    As I stressed above, AL refers to circumstances and consequences diminishing culpability, so it is at least arguable that the degree of mind- and soul-reading required is similar to the case of masturbation, differences between teens and adults notwithstanding.

    Is it your understanding that valid absolution can be successfully confected for a penitent who has explicitly pre-negotiated with the confessor an express intention to continue masturbating, after being unambiguously informed by the confessor that masturbation is objectively grave matter?

    Does this principle extend to (say) abortionists who pre-negotiate an explicit intention to continue performing abortions? What if the abortionist lives in a world in which pro abortion politicians unabashedly receive Communion and he is convinced that his own children will starve if he gives up his livelihood?

  • The thing is that Canon 915 has nothing to do with personal culpability it doesn’t seem. It just matters that the person be obstinately refusing to stop committing a manifest grave sin; it doesn’t require that the person be personally culpable of a mortal sin. It seems that the way out looks like “if the church doesn’t tell them to stop, then they aren’t obstinately refusing, and this are not disobeying canon 915.”

    But as Zippy has pointed out, sacramentally, as well as theologically, spiritually, and practically, this is a terrible idea.

  • donnie says:

    ignancy,

    If I understand you correctly, you’re asking whether the pastoral discernment offered to young people with regard to overcoming a previously ingrained habit like masturbation could be extended to adults and to other grave sins such as adultery, homosexuality, etc.

    I suppose in theory this could happen, but if this is what the Holy Father wants it is well within his authority to simply say so. Unless and until he explicitly expands the Church’s pastoral practice in this manner, I can only conclude that he is fine with it remaining the way it is. Pointing to the Holy Father’s ambiguous language regarding discernment and accompaniment and claiming that this marks a firm case of change in pastoral practice is not very convincing.

    I also agree with Zippy’s last comment: such pastoral changes appear imprudent for a variety of reasons. Even the Church’s present pastoral teaching with regards to masturbation among young people is arguably less prudent then simply telling kids the plain and simple truth – the act of masturbating is intrinsically evil and can send your soul to Hell. If you’ve committed this sin make sure you repent and receive Sacramental absolution as soon as possible.

  • Zippy says:

    Making a firm purpose of amendment doesn’t mean that we are promising that we will definitely never do X again. We generally aren’t capable of making that level of promise, and making promises we may not be able to keep is a kind of lie.

    What we can do is make a vow though: best effort to refrain from sin, with regular resort to Confession and penance when we fail.

  • donnie says:

    It seems that the way out looks like “if the church doesn’t tell them to stop, then they aren’t obstinately refusing, and this are not disobeying canon 915.”

    I think elsewhere Canon law requires priests to discretely inform public sinners within their flocks that they are publicly sinning, in accordance with Our Lord’s instructions (Matthew 18:15-18).

  • ignacy says:

    Zippy:

    Is it your understanding that valid absolution can be successfully confected for a penitent who has explicitly pre-negotiated with the confessor an express intention to continue masturbating, after being unambiguously informed by the confessor that masturbation is objectively grave matter?

    I don’t know, I would personally say that no, of course not, but hey, don’t you know the God of Surprises?
    I can however imagine this to be more like the penitent and priest agreeing that e.g. if some circumstances arise the penitent won’t be able to resist gravely sinning (in the case of adultery it would be a nagging demand from non-catholic cohabitant or so), and in that cases he or she doesn’t have to visit confessional again (just like in the case of masturbation). I can imagine sufficiently creative Jesuit to come up a better example of not explicitly forming intention but considering possibility of less-than-perfectly-voluntary grave sin.

    Does this principle extend to (say) abortionists who pre-negotiate an explicit intention to continue performing abortions? What if the abortionist lives in a world in which pro abortion politicians unabashedly receive Communion and he is convinced that his own children will starve if he gives up his livelihood?

    I imagine that this could apply (similarly to how Bonald once attempted to frame it) to sins of weakness only (not those of pride or malice). If this understanding is correct, then the answer could be no.

    On the other hand, it has already been at least implicit in the case of usury, which doesn’t seem like a good example of weakness. What’s more, while adultery, masturbation or sodomy could be framed as such, contracting an adulterous civil union clearly isn’t (and I believe is, taking into account earthly consequences, orders of magnitude more harmful than e.g. sodomitic acts) and AL implicit provisions don’t seem to apply only to those adulterers who repent of the act of contracting civil union (even Familiaris Consortio doesn’t). However sad it is for me, this means that the answer could be yes to the serial killers.

    donnie:

    I suppose in theory this could happen, but if this is what the Holy Father wants it is well within his authority to simply say so. Unless and until he explicitly expands the Church’s pastoral practice in this manner, I can only conclude that he is fine with it remaining the way it is.

    Good point, though I’m rather concerned whether this is “well within his authority to do so” and what are the limits of this authority in that case.

    Besides, Pope Francis has already stated that “there is no other interpretation” than those of Argentinian bishops, and I remember him (but cannot find source) wondering why people are saying that AL is not magisterial or something like that.

  • TomD says:

    It’s pretty obviously an attempt to make something not sinful through ignorance, first personal ignorance but later collegial ignorance.

    The number of people who can *arguably* be culpable for usury is probably in the low hundreds, given how few even know what *it is*.

    But even without culpability, the *natural results* of evil persist.

  • Zippy says:

    Personally I suspect that the “ignorance” out mostly applies to true ignorance, to defect of knowledge: to when the cop is not aware that the gun the kid is brandishing is a toy. The natural law is not revealed religion, so ‘baptism of desire’ in the face of literally having never heard the Gospel doesn’t apply. I think people viscerally know that charging interest on a personal loan is wrong, at least to the same extent that people viscerally know that sodomy is wrong.

    Veritatis Splendor:

    In any event, both in moral theology and in pastoral practice one is familiar with cases in which an act which is grave by reason of its matter does not constitute a mortal sin because of a lack of full awareness or deliberate consent on the part of the person performing it. Even so, “care will have to be taken not to reduce mortal sin to an act of ‘fundamental option’ — as is commonly said today — against God”, seen either as an explicit and formal rejection of God and neighbour or as an implicit and unconscious rejection of love. “For mortal sin exists also when a person knowingly and willingly, for whatever reason, chooses something gravely disordered. In fact, such a choice already includes contempt for the divine law, a rejection of God’s love for humanity and the whole of creation: the person turns away from God and loses charity. Consequently, the fundamental orientation can be radically changed by particular acts. Clearly, situations can occur which are very complex and obscure from a psychological viewpoint, and which influence the sinner’s subjective imputability. But from a consideration of the psychological sphere one cannot proceed to create a theological category, which is precisely what the ‘fundamental option’ is, understanding it in such a way that it objectively changes or casts doubt upon the traditional concept of mortal sin”

  • donnie says:

    Besides, Pope Francis has already stated that “there is no other interpretation” than those of Argentinian bishops, and I remember him (but cannot find source) wondering why people are saying that AL is not magisterial or something like that.

    Amoris Laetitia is clearly part of Pope Francis’s magisterial body of teachings, I too don’t understand why someone would think it is not. As Pope Francis said himself back in 2015:

    Finally, the synodal process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, who is called upon to pronounce as “pastor and teacher of all Christians,” not based on his personal convictions but as a supreme witness of “totius fides Ecclesiae” (the whole faith of the Church), of the guarantor of obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ and to the Tradition of the Church.

    As far as Pope Francis’s endorsement of the Argentinian bishops’ plan for implementing Amoris Laetitia, there is nowhere in that personal letter in which the Holy Father abrogated Canon 915, nor did he interpret it out of existence. Furthermore, the Argentinian bishops’ plan is itself just as ambiguous as Amoris, and there is arguably just enough ambiguity to read the text as being consistent with Familiaris Consortio if one were determined to do so. After all, whatever the Holy Father meant when he wrote “there is no other interpretation”, we also know that he approved of the Polish episcopate’s interpretation. This is far from an open and shut case.

    As far as I’m aware, if Pope Francis wanted to amend Canon 915 to read only that “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty are not to be admitted to holy communion” (thereby striking the language regarding those persevering in manifest grave sin) all he would need to do is issue a motu proprio to that effect. Since he has not done so, I am left to conclude that he does not wish this to be the case.

    I agree that all the confusion Francis has wrought will undoubtedly make it much harder for any priest observing Canon 915 to continue to do so. However, as I see it, all ministers of the Blessed Sacrament continue to remain by Canon 915, even in stressful situations, unless and until the Holy Father takes some action which explicitly changes the law of the Church.

  • donnie says:

    In practice, I suspect the current Canon 915 will go the way that the old Canon 1262 went in the 1917 Code of Canon Law. It will be widely ignored, yet remain in force until some future Pope simply omits it from a future revised Code of Law. Personally, I think this is horrible, but I think the same of what happened to the old Canon 1262.

  • TomD says:

    For those keeping score at home:

    The 1917 Code of Canon Law. canon 1262, stated,

    1. It is desirable that, consistent with ancient discipline, women be separated from men in church.

    2. Men, in a church or outside a church, while they are assisting at sacred rites, shall be bare-headed, unless the approved mores of the people or peculiar circumstances of things determine otherwise; women, however, shall have a covered head and be modestly dressed, especially when they approach the table of the Lord.

    Neither, however, dealt directly with inherently evil acts. Even Burke points out that though women should wear veils at EF Masses, it is not sinful to fail to do so.

  • donnie says:

    Don’t get me wrong: I agree fully with His Eminence that it is not sinful for a woman to leave her head uncovered at Mass. After November 1983, the current Code of Canon Law superseded the 1917 code, and that code completely omits any mention of women’s head coverings. There is no canonical requirement for chapel veils anymore.

    The parallel I was attempting to draw is what happened between May 1969 and November 1983, when the old canon 1262 was still in force. Like the current canon 915, canon 1262 was a twentieth-century canonical norm intended to reflect the collective wisdom and discipline of one of the Church’s ancient practices. However, after newspapers widely misquoted Cardinal Bugnini as saying that women would not be required to cover their heads in the New Mass (something Bugnini himself attempted to correct, calling the reports
    “false, a terrible mistake”) Catholics the world over stopped following the canon, and the clergy by and large didn’t do anything to correct the situation. This persisted until the current Code of Canon Law was promulgated by St. John Paul II, in which the text simply omits any mention of head coverings.

    The 14 year interlude when Catholics, laity and clergy alike, chose to simply ignore canon 1262 is, in my view, objectively sinful and scandalous. Likewise I think ministers of Holy Communion who today choose to ignore canon 915 are doing something which is also objectively sinful and scandalous. This is not to say that the old canon 1262 is just as important as the current canon 915, only that there is a similarity in the two situations.

  • TomD says:

    It should be noted that both Canons Law (1917 and 1983) contain Canon 26, so obviously the law expects that there is a way for “a custom contrary to the canon law now in force” to exist, as it can become law “if it has been legitimately observed for thirty continuous and complete years”.

    This, for example, is why Redemptionis Sacramentum was issued when it was.

    Of course, most priests don’t know much about canon law at all; and nobody talks about any of this stuff anymore (which I suspect is half the appeal of the SSPX; they talk about it but really badly).

  • Mike T says:

    Zippy,

    Off topic, but I thought you might be pleased to know that after consideration and listening to what the Lord was probably whispering into my very soul, I have come to the conclusion that contraception is intrinsically immoral.

  • Zippy says:

    Thanks for letting me know Mike.

  • Mike T says:

    I’ve been in a Facebook argument for a day with a conservative friend and a few of his liberal friends about the sexual harassment and abuse. It’s amazing how hard it is for people to see the relationship between contraception, abortion and women being truly objectified. Weird part is that in his case, he doesn’t even have a deep commitment either way, but still cannot see that reduction to hedonism is a complete destruction of the actual purposes of sex and how that leads to destruction of any decent view of people who stand in the way of the Will.

  • Zippy says:

    Mike T:

    It’s amazing how hard it is for people to see the relationship between contraception, abortion and women being truly objectified.

    Combine post Cartesian dualism with contraception and a woman’s body is just a plaything.

    Men’s bodies are generic and utilitarian, as befits a man’s multifarious roles in the world. Women’s bodies have the manifest focused telos of creating and raising the next generation. A large proportion of a woman’s body is dedicated to sex and childbirth. A man’s most primal power is violence; a woman’s most primal power is sex (understood holistically). It is no accident that the besetting sins of men are sins of violence; that the besetting sins of women are sins of sex.

    Now combine this with contraception[1] and with the idea that the ‘real’ human being is a ‘ghost in the machine’, dissociated from the body; the body a piece of property piloted by its disembodied owner. A woman’s body, then, is just a plaything. A man might care for the ghost in the machine or not; but the distinctive femaleness of her body itself just exists for fun.

    So modern female emancipation will always lead to treating women as objectified sexual playthings by both men and women — importantly, will lead to women treating themselves as objectified sexual playthings, with all the neuroses and sociopathy that implies.

    Opposite day, as usual.

    ——

    [1] And with other both lesser and greater bodily mutilations of sex, e.g. tramp stamps and transwhateverism.

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