September 12, 2018 § 127 Comments
Natural, un-mutilated heterosexual intercourse has – qua kind of behaviour – an intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life. This is easily demonstrated by the fact that if all natural, un-mutilated heterosexual intercourse (as a kind of behaviour) ceased then human life would cease to procreate. There is an intrinsic relationship between this specific kind of behaviour and procreation of human life.
Mutilated sexual acts (including but not limited to masturbation, sodomy, condomistic sex, and masturbation into a deliberately poisoned womb) do not have – qua kind of behaviour – this intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life. If all instances of this kind of behaviour ceased it would have no effect on the procreation of human life (except to the extent that people would substitute natural sex for unnatural sex: the cessation of unnatural sexual behaviours would certainly not impair procreation).
The Catholic Church teaches that all sexual acts must of necessity – in order to be morally licit – retain their intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life, in just this sense.
Whatever one may think of the moral implications of this particular distinction in kinds of behavior, it is certainly both intelligible and entirely consistent with scientific facts. Substituting a different meaning into the words “intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life” does not actually alter the consistency of the original and actual meaning; let alone does such substitution falsify Catholic moral doctrine as a “empirically observable fact.”
In other words, in an “average” 28 day cycle, there is no potential for procreation in roughly 22 of the 28 days present. Sexual activity during this period has no “intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life.” This is not my opinion, it is an empirically observable fact, like the Earth’s rotation around the Sun.
This kind of nonsense on stilts might make one wonder where the rationalization is coming from.
 Knowledge about human fertility, or its lack, obviously does not alter the nature of the kind of behaviour itself. If all instances of (e.g.) sodomy (both by people who know lots about human fertility and those who know nothing about it) ceased, that would not impair procreation of human life. If all instances of natural heterosexual intercourse (both by people who know lots about human fertility and those who know nothing about it) ceased, human procreation would cease.
September 10, 2018 § 100 Comments
It is asked whether, following the affirmations of Pope Pius VIII and Gregory XVI, and additional rulings by the Sacred Penitentiary, it has now become possible to grant absolution in the Sacrament of Penance and thus to admit to Holy Communion a person who, while bound to observe the Church’s categorical and infallible condemnation of usury, deliberately and unrepentantly contracts for profits from a mutuum loan. Can the expression “in certain cases” found in note 351 (n. 305) of the exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” be applied to unrepentant usurers and contraceptors?
August 10, 2018 § 41 Comments
Is he going beyond his authority? Is he changing the catechism and breaking with centuries of church teaching? Is it true that if he does this he can do most anything? Rod Dreher over here seems to think so.
I’m not so sure.
The classic example is the Catholic teaching against usury. In the Middle Ages the church taught that usury was a sin. It was argued that it was a sin because it was un natural. It used money to make money rather than honestly selling goods and services. Furthermore, it was invariably seen as a way for rich people to oppress the poor through high interest rates.
However, in the modern world the practice of lending money is far more complex and it is arguable that the money lender is indeed honestly selling a service–making loans. Furthermore, with loans being available to everyone, rather than oppressing the poor it is arguable that the poor are empowered by being able to borrow. They can get an education they could not otherwise afford and purchase things on credit to improve their lives. Is money lending still abused? Of course, but that’s not the main question.
When it comes to the death penalty the real change happened not with Pope Francis, but with Pope John Paul II.
August 7, 2018 § 29 Comments
He that is not with me, is against me: and he that gathereth not with me, scattereth. – Jesus Christ, second Person of the Holy Trinity
Addressing the announced changes to the Catechism on the death penalty, changes categorically asserting its ‘inadmissibility,’ Joseph Shaw writes:
If [the Holy Father’s theological advisers] are not bound by past popes, there is no reason why future popes should be bound by this statement, and indeed the authority of Pope Francis over Catholics today is called into question.
[Compatibility with the teaching of previous popes, councils, etc] is not the natural reading of the text, but one might argue that since it is purporting to represent the teaching of the Church we must read it if humanly possible in accord with previous authoritative statements of that teaching. On the other hand, bishops and theologians supposedly friendly to Pope Francis are loudly saying that the natural reading is the correct one…
This is no accidental ambiguity: it is a design feature. In this case the mouse-hole of ambiguity conservative Catholics need to crawl through to maintain the continuity between the two editions of the Catechism is humiliatingly small. When they have crawled through it, moreover, they will be ignored.
 It takes a certain skill to effectively make ambiguous categorical assertions. But that skill is required when the point is authoritative self-immolation of authority.
August 5, 2018 § 17 Comments
I’m not a historian, let alone a historian of Catholicism. But I know enough to be familiar with what has sometimes been referred to as the ‘pornocracy,’ the rule of medieval Borgia popes more interested in their mistresses and political power than in their often neglected job as appointed guardians of the Faith.
I am not a sociologist either. But I’ve noticed that when heterosexual sins are condemned, the response of people who indulge in them tends to be something on the order of “Meh.” By contrast, I’ve noticed that practicing homosexuals tend to find it utterly intolerable that anyone, anywhere, in any context, might slightly disapprove of their sexual behaviors. As always there will be many individual exceptions; but I think there is enough truth in this observation to create a social gradient.
So I guess it should not be surprising that the thing that really contrasts the old pornocracy to the new, the medieval heterosexual clerical cabal to the Current Year homosexual cabal, is the accompanying internal assault on moral doctrine.
July 20, 2018 § 4 Comments
The negative precepts of the natural law are universally valid. They oblige each and every individual, always and in every circumstance. It is a matter of prohibitions which forbid a given action semper et pro semper, without exception, because the choice of this kind of behaviour is in no case compatible with the goodness of the will of the acting person, with his vocation to life with God and to communion with his neighbour. It is prohibited — to everyone and in every case — to violate these precepts. – Veritatis Splendour
Abstractly speaking an authority can take either a “whitelist” approach to property exchanges (only approved transactions are endorsed and enforced) or a “blacklist” approach (transactions are presumptively endorsed and enforced, but exceptions apply).
As a practical matter though the latter is the only real possibility for actual finite human authorities. Any attempt at the former proposes to actualize a potential infinite, and thus in practice would become a perverse and sociopathic version of the latter.
So blacklists it is. There is good reason why categorical commandments take the form “thou shalt not.”
(Originally a comment here).
June 15, 2018 § 33 Comments
It is worth emphasizing that personal guarantees on invested capital (usury) are indeed very bad business in entrepreneurship, where capital and labor/expertise come together to produce objectively valuable goods and services. Personal guarantees are a huge red flag that the contracts and capital structure are dysfunctional and should be re-worked before a deal is inked, or that perhaps the deal is no good at all on any terms. It is a naive and foolish business practice to give capital to a business partner under a regime of personal guarantees.
Usury is great business though when the objective is to sell things to consumers (e.g. college degrees in grievance studies fueled by five dollar lattes); things that they cannot afford without selling themselves into slavery, at prices massively inflated by the ready availability of usurious loans.