Dubia and Initiating Processes

I am very grateful to the four cardinals who submitted dubia about the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia to the Holy Father. With humility and reverence before the Vicar of Christ, and “supreme teacher of the faith,” they ask him to answer some specific questions about how Amoris Laetitia is consistent with previous teachings of the Church. As they note, uncertainty has been caused by conflicting interpretations, and they ask the Holy Father to bring clarity by responding definitely to their questions.

I felt something like relief when I read of the dubia, as I had expressed somewhat similar concerns to those of the four cardinals in my letter to Cardinal Schönborn. Moreover, I had later signed a list of censured propositions drawn up by certain theologians, and sent to the cardinals with the request that they ask the Holy Father to make clear that none of the censured propositions can be held to have been authoritatively taught by Amoris Laetitia. My Abbot objected to the tone of that document, and has asked me to withdraw my signature. I hereby publicly withdraw my signature. I am all the more willing to do so as the most essential concerns expressed in the censures have now been taken up in the dubia of the four cardinals.

Apparently the Holy Father has decided not to respond to the four cardinals’ dubia. I hope that he will change his mind. His decision fits, however, with his preference for “initiating processes rather than possessing spaces” (Evangelii Gaudium, ¶223). The idea of “initiating processes rather than possessing spaces” is a think a helpful key not only to understanding why the Holy Father might choose not to respond to the dubia, but also more broadly for understanding current conflicts in moral theology.

In a discussion with the General Congregation of the Society of Jesus, the Holy Father praised Fr. Bernhard Häring for having helped overcome a decadent scholastic moral theology that had been fixated on negative commandments, and opened up a way for moral theology to flourish. Now, Häring’s moral theology is a great example of what it might mean to begin processes as opposed to occupying spaces. Häring’s theology is focused on the free response of the Christian to the love of God given in Christ. This response of the Christian is a dynamic process in which the Christian learns ever more what an adequate response could be. In this process the Christian must follow his conscience, which might initially be an erring conscience, but which will slowly lead him to a more and more adequate response to God’s love. Häring liked to quote a dictum of Bl. Cardinal Newman’s: “I have always contended that obedience even to an erring conscience was the way to gain light.” (Apologiach. 4, §2). This dictum, however, takes on a somewhat different meaning in Häring than it had in Newman. For Newman it meant that one must not begin with private judgment and criticism of the religious system in which one has been raised, but must rather generously submit and obey. Consider the passage in context:

For is it not one’s duty, instead of beginning with criticism, to throw oneself generously into that form of religion which is providentially put before one? Is it right, or is it wrong, to begin with private judgment? May we not, on the other hand, look for a blessing through obedience even to an erroneous system, and a guidance even by means of it out of it? Certainly, I have always contended that obedience even to an erring conscience was the way to gain light, and that it mattered not where a man began, so that he began on what came to hand, and in faith; and that anything might become a divine method of Truth; that to the pure all things are pure, and have a self-correcting virtue and a power of germinating.

Häring puts all the emphasis on the part of the context following the dictum, rather than on the part preceding it. One must, he argues, follow one’s conscience even in opposition to the authority of the Church. Even if the Church is right about the matter in hand, it is better for authorities not to apply any pressure on someone who disagrees in conscience, as if they were to act against their conscience out of fear, this would be a sin, whereas to act against the authority of the Church in good conscience is not a sin. The person who consistently follows conscience will eventually come to see more perfectly what the response to God demands. So, to exert pressure would be to “occupy space” whereas to respect conscience by advising someone to follow private judgment against Church authority would be to “initiate a process” which will lead them toward the truth. As Häring puts it:

It is very important not to see the erroneous judgment of conscience in a purely static manner. It would be a fatal error if a pastor or confessor or any one else wanted to press someone into acting against an erring conscience, or would hamper the development of his conscience by indiscreetly insisting on an objective norm.

[E]s ist sehr wichtig, vom irrigen Gewissensspruch nicht nicht in einer rein statischen Weise zu reden. Wollte ein Seelsorger, Beichtvater oder sonst irgend jemand diesen Menschen bedrängen, gegen sein irrendes Gewissen zu handeln oder durch indiskrete Eintrichterung einer objektiven Norm die Entfaltung seines Gewissens zu stören, so wäre das ein verhängnisvoller Fehler. [Bernhard Häring, Frei in Christus, vol. 1 (Freiburg: Herder, 1989), p. 242].

Part of the reason why Häring thinks it so important to respect conscience in this way is that he thinks that there are cases where conscience is in fact right and the “objective norm” laid down by the Church is wrong. One can see here the influence of modern historicism on Häring’s thought. He thinks that the proper response to God’s love is worked out slowly through history, and that the Church learns that certain things are not helpful to such a response by the prophetic voice of persons who stand up to her in conscience. He gives the example of the morality of torture (Frei in Christus, vol. 1, pp. 168, 282). This is a soft version of certain strands of modern historicism, indebted to Hegel. Having abandoned nature, and an objective teleological order, Hegel and some of his followers give to history a role analogous to that played by nature in classical philosophy. History judges about which social developments are in accordance with the flourishing of human freedom and which are not. Hence the ubiquity in modernity of talk about “the judgment of history.” Häring is proposing something similar for the life of the Church.

I call this sort of historicism “soft” since its proponents would not all be willing to affirm the dark core of Hegel’s account of the good. But by adopting historicist terms they tend to draw conclusions that imply the basically subjectivist, modern account of the good, and the account of freedom that follows from it. Thomas Stark has shown how these problems play out in the theology of Cardinal Kasper. And similar difficulties are found everywhere in the “new moral theology” that Häring did so much to initiate. In a telling passage, worth quoting at length, Richard Gula contrasts the “classicist” world view of the old moral theology with a world view marked by “historical consciousness” that marks the new moral theology:

Stated briefly, the classicist worldview assumes that the world is a finished product. In principle, everything that can be done has been done; “there is nothing new under the sun.” Moreover, the classicist worldview mistakes knowing for looking. One only needs to look upon the world to discover its order because a good look grasps the unchanging principles of the moral order. Since the natural, unchanging principles remain valid forever, they yield a high degree of certitude in the conclusions which are deduced from them. According to this worldview, moral living requires that we reproduce the order given in the world and learn to live by it. The Greek Parthenon and the Roman Forum are symbols of the classicist worldview. Each represents a world standing in well-balanced proportions. Stability is the principal virtue; change is a threatening vice. “Abstract,” “universal,” “eternal,” “necessary,” “essential,” and “fixed” are adjectives which characterize the classicist worldview. It is most reluctant to admit that moral theology itself could change or that the specific conclusions drawn in one historical period may not be valid in another era. From this point of view, moral theology only needs to make different applications of its eternal principles to the new problems and questions which may emerge.

The modern, historically conscious worldview, on the other hand, sees each thing as part of a whole which has yet to be discovered. Since life is an ongoing process of knowing more and more, thinking in developmental terms is quite natural. The historically conscious view conceives the person as growing closer to the truth but not being so bold as to know the whole of it anywhere along the way. This point of view recognizes that all knowledge is conditioned by time and place, limited self-awareness, and limited grasps of reality. “Specific,” “individual,” and “changing” are adjectives which characterize this point of view. Change, development, and revision are not signs of imperfection but ways of coming to the truth. This point of view believes that, although we come to possess truth slowly, we are not wandering aimlessly with nothing to give us direction. The truth can be grasped in some reliable way, allowing us to obtain a foothold in our journey before moving on to new discoveries.

Historical consciousness recognizes that humanity is both a product and a maker of history. For this reason, historical consciousness requires that all statements of moral teaching be interpreted from within their context and for a new audience. Since it does not absolutize any one particular culture or one particular moment in history as having grasped the whole of truth, the modern worldview is not satisfied with the mere repetition of the formulations of another age for a new era with new people and new experiences. [Richard M. Gula, Reason Informed by Faith: Foundations of Catholic Morality (New York: Paulist Press, 1989), p. 31].

We are faced here with a form of what has been called the “dehellenization of Christianity.” And dehellenization carries a risk that something essential will be lost. “The encounter between the Biblical message and Greek thought did not happen by chance,” as Pope Benedict XVI put it in Regensburg. It was providential. And there are truths found in Greek philosophy that cannot be denied without betraying the faith. It is of course possible for moral theology to learn certain things from the “historically conscious worldview,” but a moral theology that would consistently follow historicist principles would find itself giving up essential truths.

In an early (and mostly favorable) assessment of Häring’s work, presented as a lecture in November of 1962, Fr. Ernest Fortin pointed out the following dangers that the approach involves:

The problem of the mode of procedure is, in any event, directly related to the more fundamental issue of the general principles, or, as Häring calls them, the “essential concepts” of moral theology. Häring’s key concepts are those of “call” and “response,” which in the present context are obviously taken to mean God’s call and man’s response. The choice of this starting point is dictated by the author’s understanding of Christian life in terms of an interpersonal relationship between God and man, and it leads to an articulation of moral philosophy along lines that may be described roughly as those of personalism, as P. Delhaye has rightly pointed out in his preface to the French edition of the Law of Christ. Häring’s sympathy with the position is linked to, and corroborated by, his criticism of Aristotelian and Thomistic eudemonism in the first part of his book. […] The fact that Häring should prefer a different approach from that of the classics does not mean that he is automatically wrong. It does compel us, however, to examine the relative merits of these two irreducible positions; and it also means that, even if we should finally decide in favor of the modern position, sooner or later we shall have to face the enormous theoretical and practical difficulties to which it is exposed. One cannot help wondering whether, by rejecting eudemonism or, differently stated, by refusing to base his study of human behavior on a previous analysis of man’s perfection or natural end, an author can still do justice to the intellectual or objective component of Christian morality. [Ernest Fortin, “The New Moral Theology,” in: Collected Essays, vol. 4, (Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield, 2007), pp. 113-129, at p. 127].

The encyclical Veritatis Splendor was largely to be concerned with that last question: does the new moral theology do justice to the objective component of morality? Already in 1975 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had began to address this question in the instruction Persona Humana. There we read:

[T]here can be no true promotion of man’s dignity unless the essential order of his nature is respected. Of course, in the history of civilization many of the concrete conditions and needs of human life have changed and will continue to change. But all evolution of morals and every type of life must be kept within the limits imposed by the immutable principles based upon every human person’s constitutive elements and essential relations — elements and relations which transcend historical contingency. These fundamental principles, which can be grasped by reason, are contained in “the Divine Law — eternal, objective and universal — whereby God orders, directs and governs the entire universe and all the ways of the human community, by a plan conceived in wisdom and love. Man has been made by God to participate in this law, with the result that, under the gentle disposition of Divine Providence, he can come to perceive ever increasingly the unchanging truth.” This Divine Law is accessible to our minds.

There is, then, a fundamental order that persists throughout all historical change. And this order is accessible to our minds. But what does it mean that it is accessible to our minds? In an eloquent attack on my thought on these matters, the author of the blog Entirely Useless writes:

It is not by chance that P. Edmund basically holds that the truth of Catholicism is supremely obvious. His integralism cannot be true, unless his “Catholicism is obvious” thesis is also true. Both are false.

One way or another, the thesis of hiddenness and the thesis of obviousness are in direct conflict and cannot both be accepted. P. Edmund rejects the hiddenness. Pope Francis, and most of the Catholic Church, rejects the obviousness. And ultimately Amoris Laetitia is simply drawing out consequences of this. If the truth of Catholicism is not obvious, it is not obvious even to Catholics, nor are particular doctrines, like the Church’s doctrine on marriage, obviously true.

Leaving aside questions of the differences between supernatural faith and natural knowledge of the natural law, I would respond to my anonymous friend by saying that a truth need not be “obvious” in every sense for it to be blameworthy for someone not to know it. Consider St. Paul’s famous words in the Epistle to the Romans:

For from heaven is revealed the anger of God against all the impiety and unrighteousness of people who in their unrighteousness suppress the truth; since what can be known about God is plain to them because God made it plain to them. Since the creation of the world, what is his and invisible, his eternal power and divinity, has been perceived by the mind through what he has made, so that they have no excuse; because, while knowing God, they did not glorify or thank him as God, but they were be­guiled in their reasonings and their uncomprehending hearts were made dark. (Romans 1:18-21)

Now, the existence of God is surely not “obvious” to the gentiles in the sense employed by Entirely Useless. Their minds are darkened by sin, and so it is difficult for them to see the truth. But St. Paul teaches that this darkening by sin is blameworthy, and can be overcome. As I wrote in my letter to Cardinal Schönborn:

It is possible for conscience in the sense of the particular judgment about what is good to be in error. It is even possible to be habitually in error about the moral good. But there is something indelible about conscience in the sense of synderesis, the knowledge of the good that God has inscribed in our hearts. Hence moral error always includes an element of “suppressing the truth” (cf. Romans 1:18) that gives witness against us in the depths of the soul.

This is why, contra Fr. Häring, it is important to insist on the objective norm, which the person is capable of recognizing. One can even exert “pressure,” not to make someone act against their conscience, but rather to correct the judgement of their erring conscience by reminding them of the truth that is engraved by synderesis in the depths of their heart. As Tom Pink put it:

Where an authority does have the right to punish, then in [Suarez’s] view, as we have seen, the bearer of that authority can legitimately combine argumentative persuasion with the threat of coercive pressure. Now the pressure is indeed intended to motivate compliance through exploiting dislike of the penalties; but dislike of the threatened penalties is supposed to work by engaging the attention of those threatened, and motivating and directing them seriously to consider what is being argued, thereby facilitating right understanding. [Thomas Pink, “What is the Catholic doctrine of religious liberty?” p. 38]

I remember once getting into an argument with a distinguished moral theologian from Germany in a seminar on IaIIae q 19 a 6, where St. Thomas teaches that an erring conscience does not excuse. The theologian said that St. Thomas did not take into account the “prophetic” character of conscience, and was unwilling to accept that the norm proclaimed at his time might be wrong. I answered that he wasn’t talking about the socially accepted norm of his time, but about the natural law, which is immutable. “Well,” said the theologian, “how does he know about the definite content of the natural law? He accepts what is assumed in the culture of his time.” This position seems to me clearly false. And the question about divorce and “re-marriage” gives us pretty much the opposite case. The “culture of our time” tells us that it is OK to “re-marry,” but the Church appeals to the law written in the depths of the heart. The truly “prophetic” role of conscience is not to insist on private opinion, backed up by the custom of our time, against the perennial teachings of the Church. Rather, the truly prophetic act of conscience is allow oneself to be reminded by that perennial teaching of the eternal truth.

Now, I do not think that the Holy Father is a consistent follower of the “historically conscious” strand of moral theology represented by the likes of Häring. He certainly disagrees with Häring on some particular conclusions. On contraception, for example, Häring famously dissented from from the teaching of Humanae Vitae, whereas the Pope certainly does not. But the Holy Father’s praise of Häring, and the whole approach of “initiating processes” that marks his teaching on the moral life in Amoris Laetitia and beyond is bound to raise difficult questions about the extent to which that approach can be reconciled with the perennial teachings of the Church. The dubia of the four cardinals raise those questions with great clarity and precision. A clear and precise answer would be most helpful.

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39 thoughts on “Dubia and Initiating Processes

  1. For the first US diocesan synod applying Amoris Laetitia, cf. the account of the online-only Times of San Diego https://timesofsandiego.com/life/2016/10/30/divorced-catholics-lgbt-embraced-at-first-in-nation-synod/:
    ‘…[Bp. Robert] McElroy said a second surprise of the synod was the embrace of the role of conscience in making moral decisions. Parishioners felt that others should be educated about this, delegates said.

    ‘“Many Catholics tend to think of our moral life as being rule-oriented,” McElroy said. “Rules are important primarily as a check on rationalization. The real core of Catholic teaching is and always was a decision of conscience.”

    ‘The Catholic Church long has taught that you must follow your conscience, even if it is contrary to church teachings, McElroy said.

    ‘McElroy said: “Our rules are not universalized in that they are meant to be guides in a great majority of circumstances.”

    ‘Conscience takes into account a person’s circumstances and their belief that “God is asking me to do the opposite” of church teachings, he said. “It’s in major decisions in our lives that conscience can be helpful.”’

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  2. Are the four cardinals interested in doctrinal clarity or are they interested in initiating processes which lead to rejecting the authority of magisterial teaching and the authority of Papal teaching,? Are they merely interested in protecting the interests of a class of people who have not really ever grasped or accepted the development of doctrine regarding conscience taught by the Second Vatican Council and all the recent Popes? The process which Pope Francis wants to initiate or strengthen is the process of pastoral care for people in irregular situations in which “conditionings and mitigating circumstances” have opened the way of the working of God’s grace. This process requires the clarification of doctrine realized admirably in AL. I think that the answer to the dubia is fairly clear: Amoris Laetita does not reject the teaching of John Paul II regarding moral absolutes; neither is it ambiguous in this regard. There is nothing in AL which puts into doubt moral absolutes. But one of the dubia misrepresents the teaching of John Paul II regarding conscience when it tells us that John Paul II rejects the affirmation of the creativity of conscience in Veritatis Splendor. What John Paul II rejects is not the creative nature of conscience. Conscience inasmuch as a participation in the Divine Light is creative. What John Paul II rejects is the perverse misuse of the language of “creative conscience” in justifying the violation of universal negative precepts such as “Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Christian conscience is not only creative but salvific. It is God’s Word speaking in us. One has created a false opposition between the discourse about mitigating circumstances and the discourse about the content of repentence from the sin of adultery. Repentence is a mitigating circumstance, breaking the hard law of sin. Mitigating circumstances are part of Redemption. All Pope Francis has done is to broaden and deepen the discourse about mitigating circumstances. This is part of his vision of the Field Hospital of the world and of the Mercy Campaign. This is an eminently Christian and realistic vision which ought to be praised.

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      • What leads me to feel that there is a submerged unconscious motive such as protecting the interests of a class of people is the impression that, rather than simply asking important questions, the dubia seems to pressurize the Church and the Pope to do a pre-conceived thing. This is corroborated by the suggestion of Cardinal Burke that sanctions are forthcoming. One feels the presence of the voluntarism, which is at the essence of rigorism. The message is: fix what is wrong with Amoris Laetitia, i.e. give the Kasper Proposal (understood as the dastardly thing that we have always presented it as) the clear negative it has always deserved, because affirming moral absolutes is to be equated with the negation of that Kasper Proposal. One question needs to be added to the dubia: How is AL’s doctrine affirming that conditionings and mitigating circumstances can open a door to the sacraments be combined with the affirmation of moral absolutes. By not asking this question the four cardinals give the impression that it cannot be, and therefore leave everything in ambiguity. One thing is the desire that something be done to resolve a crisis which one perceives: searching for a solution. Another is to insist that the solution has to be in preconceived terms that one wants to impose. You should read the open letter of Finnis and Grisez: this is far better, for it insists on the rearticulation of certain moral principles (without affirming that they have been called into question by AL) in the post AL context, and this without affirming or implying that AL is fundamentally defective. Thus there is no denial of the authentic development of doctrine realized by AL. The dubia denies that development when it falsely attributes to Veritatis Splendor the affirmation that conscience is not creative, whereas John Paul II simply says in the passage mentioned that a misconstrued creativity of conscience may not be used in order to justify that which violates moral absolutes. The crisis thus can be resolved by supplementing Amoris Laetitia with something, with a sort of hermeneutics of continuity which does not undermine what AL is all about. I think that things might very well go in that direction. We should all get of of our High Horse. I should probably also get off mine, but let it be known that I am defending a decency and respect towards the Holy Father (I have always felt that decency and respect towards the Holy Father is a good way to start being decent and respectful in one’s way of treating all others. It seems to me that the dubia pressurize and do mere lip service to decency. Pope Francis, too, is a human being, and if one lacks the empathy too understand why he has not felt like answering the dubia in the terms in which they are cast (rather inquisatorial) one runs the risk of causing the crisis to get worse before it gets better. I have seen the thin-skinnedness of the AL critics who have no problem with associating the Pope with evil designs, oblivious to that their judgments may be seen as temerarious. Once more: we all need to get of our High Horses if we are sincerely interested in resolving the crisis.

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        • Dear Pater Edmund: I am going to put your patience and goodness to the test again, forgive me. But I was thinking about your writings about “integralism” and a text of yours in which you say that it has to do with final causes (thus with the good) and our knowledge of them/it. I was thinking that this has a relation with what I am saying about rigorism/voluntarism. What I am saying is not that we do not know the good, but rather that we do know the good. This puts me in the line of Thomistic intellectualism, the authentic intellectualism. and it puts me in the line ot what I would call the strong doctrine of conscience, the doctrine affirming the primacy and dignity of conscience without immediately undermining the affirmation by injecting the commentary, “but don’t forget: by conscience, well-formed conscience is meant.” The problem with this familiar-sounding annotation is not that it speaks of and demands formation of the conscience, but rather that it implies a shallow conception of form, a conception which has nothing to do with that of St. Thomas. It implies that a formed conscience is one conforming to ideology, and that orthodoxy means conformance to doctrine conceived of as ideology, whereas St. Thomas would tell you, by contrast, that a conscience is formed when a conscience does what conscience does, and therefore is itself. (Thomas might refer you to the Aristotelian axiom that a thing is intelligible inasmuch as it is in act.) If the well-formedness of conscience is nothing more than conformance to doctrine conceived of as ideology, one needs necessarily rigorism, and its political enforcement: the ideological police-state in order to guarantee conformance.

          Final causes do exist. The good exists. And we know the good. And God knows the good. Our knowing is participation in God’s knowing. St. Thomas insists that our knowing is active (the doctrine of the intellectus agens in man, against Averroes, and foundation of the doctrine of the dignity of the (human) person). We know the good because God knows the good, and because our knowing (which is active) is participation in God’s knowing which is active, and creative.

          Everything is grace. And that is why rigorism is to be rejected. I do not want to go around calling people rigorists; I want to help people escape from the error of rigorism, to understand what that error consists of.

          Thanks, Father Edmund!

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          • Fr. Carl, I quite agree with you that conscience is not “conforming to ideology.” And the same thing could be said with even more cause of prudence. I think that the whole debate would benefit much if we shifted the focus from conscience to prudence. Prudence presupposes not only knowledge about what tends to our final end, but also a right ordering of our appetitive powers toward the end. Thus it is impossible to be prudent if one lacks temperance and courage and justice. As St. Thomas says: «Since then reason and appetitive faculty concur in choice, if choice ought to be good—this is required for the nature of a moral virtue—the reason must be true and the appetitive faculty right, so that the same thing which reason declares or affirms, the appetitive faculty pursues. […] To express the true and the false is an essential function of every intellect. But the good of the practical intellect is not absolute truth but the “conformable” truth, i.e., corresponding to a right appetitive faculty…» (http://dhspriory.org/thomas/Ethics6.htm#2) That is, to act rightly one needs more than knowledge of general rules; one needs to have appetites that have been rectified by moral virtue. But someone who is imprudent (judges and commands wrongly about an act) because he is intemperate is not thereby excused. The coercive power of the law is certainly not a substitute for virtue, but it can be a pedagogical help, helping people to rectify their appetites by withdrawing them from disorders. Telling people that they are probably not to blame for objectively disordered acts, on the other hand, does not seem helpful to me…

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        • Carl Kuss,

          I am sorry for interfering in your discussion with Fr. Edmund, but I would like to add “my 2 cents”.

          1.”One question needs to be added to the dubia: How is AL’s doctrine affirming that conditionings and mitigating circumstances can open a door to the sacraments be combined with the affirmation of moral absolutes.”

          Questions of the dubia are (and must be) in yes/no format, so the question you suggest is not an option in such a formal request as dubia are. The dubia are necessarily “inquisitorial”, as you say, because they seek the clarity and do not admit more vagueness so characteristic of the new theology.

          2. “One thing is the desire that something be done to resolve a crisis which one perceives: searching for a solution. Another is to insist that the solution has to be in preconceived terms that one wants to impose.”

          But some of us still believe in the Revelation that came from above, that is finished, and that is known to us. And starting from such a position necessarily implies insisting on a solution in “preconceived terms”, i.e. in terms given by revelation. Here I do not either affirm or deny that the cardinals do what you are accusing them are doing; I just say then even if they do it, I don’t see what is wrong with that.

          3. “Pope Francis, too, is a human being, and if one lacks the empathy too understand why he has not felt like answering the dubia in the terms in which they are cast (rather inquisatorial) one runs the risk of causing the crisis to get worse before it gets better.”

          I don’t want to be pathetic, but I would also like you to see that traditional and conservative Catholics are also human beings and one should also have the empathy for them and understand why they are frustrated with constant attempts of changing and relativizing the things we consider sacred and coming from God; things that should therefore never be changed or relativized. From our perspective, this is betrayal of God from the highest ranks of Church hierarchy, and that is utterly unsettling.

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    • I cannot take seriously any criticism from someone who has chosen to remain within a group that is as tainted as the Legionaries.

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  3. Fascinating, illuminating piece. Thank you. I have recently come back to the Church — or am close to it, I suppose — in large part due to the pope; in larger part due to the dark fallout of my Catholic parents’ nasty divorce; and then also due to the discovery of the unmistakable, supernatural richness within my marriage to my husband, made official this fall. (I’m a woman, FWIW, and yes these reasons I give are self-centered. Sorry….)

    Anyway, I am very grateful for this deep, philosophical lens through which to view the divorce-remarried debate (and indeed many other issues). If a marriage has taken place, then divorce quite literally breaks a family, and it’s difficult to see how any historical context could rightly (objectively) deem that “good.”

    However, bringing my liberal bent to the table, I have to wonder: It seems that it may very well be the case that gay people have always existed, but we have only recently recognized who they are … they weren’t quite allowed to identify themselves until modern times, often by threat of jail or death. What to make of this potentially objective, eternal fact about human persons? (I realize you may dispute that anything exists a priori called “a gay person.”)

    But if you’ll bear with me, let’s assume such people exist who have a persistent, immutable desire to build a life with a person of the same sex, including physical intimacy, and we’ll call that person “gay.” Might the gay person be God’s reminder not to take ourselves and the rules quite so seriously…? (After all, why else would we conclude that this life isn’t as significant as the next?) Is the gay person God’s reminder that humanity has an essential funkiness, an impurity, an earthiness that doesn’t have to equal “sin and only sin, full stop”? (Is South Park sinful?) Is the gay person a reminder that time (and by extension, the human body and sex anatomy) is mere clothing, albeit necessary clothing for God’s project and His communion with us in this life? Say what you will about the ‘seriousness’ of AIDS (my take on the facts is that 1. AIDS can and will be beaten and 2. AIDS, and anal sex for that matter, inherently has nothing to do with gayness), it’s difficult to believe that the overt cruelty gay people have historically experienced, often in the name of God’s Objective Truth, was somehow “better” than AIDS from a Christian perspective. Perhaps AIDS was a sign from God to Christians that gay people deserve and need love too.

    Might the individual gay person — and the mutual, loving relationships they’re capable of — be an uncanny yet objective twist on the “normal” feminine/masculine union present in holy matrimony and humanity at large? I know conservatives despise the notion, but “Love is Love,” and some women are masculine while some men are feminine. (As my husband so lovingly puts it, “There are men, women, and the queers. What’s the big deal?”) Can we really chalk up these facts to mere “sin”? Again, masculinity/femininity, regardless of whether they turn up in a man or a woman, appears to be mere clothing. (In what way is same-sex cuddling or mutual-orgasm “objectively” or “eternally” sinful? From where, from what, would such logic even derive? Wouldn’t the female orgasm then qualify as equally sinful, seeing as it serves no reproductive purpose? Or are you committed to the idea that it does serve a purpose, but we haven’t discovered it yet? Or are you committed to the idea that the female orgasm, pursued for its own end, is always sinful even in marriage?)

    In other words: How does the classicist account for gay people; or does he reject their existence? How does the classicist account for a gay couple who appears to flourish; or does he reject the possibility of their existence?

    I’m not advocating for gay marriage in the Church, for marriage is the fortress we’ve built around our bodies’ capacity to give life. And that is its very own thing; a gay couple can never be that. Instead, I am inquiring as to the Church’s unwavering—indeed, dogmatic—commitment against unchaste, committed, spiritual friendship between persons of the same sex (or between a couple in which at least one person is fully intersex), IN LIGHT OF the potentially objective fact of the gay human person. Truly, I am curious. When I look in the eyes and hearts of my gay friends, this is the only part of the Catholic faith that does not fit with what I see. Maybe I am blind.

    Signed,
    A modern charlatan; an inductive unrealist; an ignorant dabbler; a total Catholic noob

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    • Thanks for your thoughtful comment. I would hold that reproduction is the key to understanding sex. Sexual union is defined by its ordering toward the giving on of life. Any act that excites the sexual faculty, while at the same time positively excluding the giving of life is a kind of lie (cf this piece of mine: https://ethikapolitika.org/2014/09/16/natures-words-contraception-lie/). Of course there have always been persons who are attracted to the opposite sex, but I would see this as something that arises from the woundedness of human nature (cf. Michael Hannon’s excellent piece on sexual orientation: https://www.firstthings.com/article/2014/03/against-heterosexuality). We must avoid any injustice against our friends who are attracted to persons of the same sex, but if we really desire their good, then we cannot pretend that those desires are harmless.

      (As to the female orgasm, I don’t agree that it “serves no reproductive purpose.” If it makes it more likely that people will have sexual intercourse, which seems reasonable, then it does have such a purpose. Or am I misunderstanding your point?)

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  4. Pingback: A must-read piece from Pater Edmund – Semiduplex

  5. Pingback: Remarriage and What People Know | Entirely Useless

  6. “In this process the Christian must follow his conscience, which might initially be an erring conscience, but which will slowly lead him to a more and more adequate response to God’s love.” I don’t agree with this statement. It is because conscience is so easily inwardly and outwardly manipulated it does not inevitably lead “to a more and more adequate a response to God’s love”. Rather a malformed conscience leads away from God and also leads all those one interacts with, including one’s country away from God. Religion is not just sentiment. It is not saying or feeling one love’s God but in fact it is just a little intellectual or moral god of one’s construction based upon bad habits driven by lusts, passions and expediency.
    I take issue with you Abbots instructions to you. The notion of obedience in Benedictines is often falsely invoked to mitigate and cause decay within monasteries. The rule says you are not to be obedient if it means being complicit with an evil. Austrians should never forget appeasement to evil ideology is never the right way (even if in the 1930’s) or now it means being very “unmodern”.

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      • I did not say it was a sin. There are occasions in which one is obliged to disobey… Not from self will but rather a higher obligation that endures pressure that I’d brought to bare because there is a higher love.

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        • Father Edmund, prudence should indeed be placed at the center. That is why I insist on establishing the authentic context of the Synodal Process. Its context is a world ravaged by sin, the contemporary post-sexual revolution world. Taking in, through phenomenlogical analysis the dire straits of this Field Hospital World, the Holy Father chose to frame his Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation in terms of mercy. It is not an abstract eternal treatise but a Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation for a concrete moment of history. The crtics of AL claim that the context of the document is, rathter, a Church under threat from the Kasper Proposal (understood as these critics understand it) and that the Pope, if one takes this as the context must be held to account for not having spoken clearly. But this context is not the true context; it is based on a historical revisionism in which the Kasper/Francis Proposal gets understood as the endangering of the holiness of the sacraments and the salvation of souls by admitting unrepentant adulterers to the sacraments. But that Proposal never existed. When Joseph Ratzinger responded to the German bishops in the nineties, he did not conclude that they had no point. In spite of a prevalent interpretation to the contrary Joseph Ratzinger, did not issue a no as response to the Kasper Proposal. It was, rather, a reaffirmation and clarification of the doctrine of John Paul II. True Joseph Ratzinger did not go on to realize the development of doctrine which has now taken place. (He was merely the head of the CDF; to realize such a development was not his task.) But now one cannot pretend that there has been no development of doctrine. A development of doctrine is always something dramatic. It presupposes the existence of a false interpretation of traditional teaching, which may have become prevalent. This means practically that it will not easily be understood by everyone. Development of doctrine is not, thus, a mere mechanical and abstract unfolding of deductive reasoning. Therefore there is need of a “hermeneutics of continuity.” (I have never liked the phrase “hermeneutics of continuity” but here one has arrived where it is necessary to speak of hermeneutics of continuity, not as a pseudo-conservative defense of indefensible changes, but as a reasonable explanation and clarification of what has happened, connecting the development of doctrine to its dogmatic foundations. Thus my conclusion is that if one understands the true context, Pope Francis acted prudently in writing AL the way he wrote it. In its true context it all makes perfect sense, but that does not mean that it would be easily understand by everyone. The fact is, that misunderstandings have arisen that ought to be resolved by such a hermeneutics of continuity as has been mentioned. I am not saying thus that the critics of AL have acted in bad faith and that there genuine questions should receive no answer. AL does not “tell people that they are not to blame for their disordered acts”: to do so would be to give an arbitrary interpretation to ambiguity, which indeed offends against prudence. What the Holy Father is doing is not that but rather exhorting pastors to discern the truth in situations of ambiguity and therefore to avoid such arbitrary reductionism. But the “conditionings and mitigating circumstances” of which AL speaks are concrete things which can create an opening to the sacraements. This opening is something objective. (The difference between conditionings and mitigating factors lies in that conditionings are temporally/metaphysically prior to the act in question, whereas mitigating factors are posterior. One can recall the profound remark of St. Therese that God acts mercifully also when he prevents–by whatever means–our falling into sin.)

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          • It seems as if the misunderstandings of AL are present in its proponents as much as in its opponents. Some of the proponents seem to be saying that anyone can be welcome to Communion if their conscience tells them it is okay, regardless of any other variables or objective facts. The statments by the bishop of San Diego are being interpreted that way. And this is why the Holy Father should speak out.

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          • Development of doctrine is not possible against and in contradiction to previous definitive doctrine. Otherwise, what would remain of infallibility, of Revelation, of dogma; what would remain of the basis of Church’s teaching authority? How can you demand submission to current Church teaching, if the Church herself admits it could be changed, even reversed, in future? Then it is just human opinion, not something having God’s authority. Authentic development of doctrine is possible only in a way consistent with previous teaching. Old truths can be better explained (but always in the same sense); new truths might even be deduced from the old ones, but old truths can never be contradicted. And here it is not the case, because it seems AL is in open contradiction with previous teaching. So, let us not overplay development of doctrine, let us not give to it the power it doesn’t have.

            As for mercy, the problem is that the solution proposed in AL is not mercy. Because, as st Paul says, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord.” (1 Cor 11,27). Therefore, to deny communion to some people is not merciless – it saves them from one sin more, from one more reason to go to hell. On the contrary, to allow communion to certain people could be the opposite of merciful; it is effectively saying to them “yes, go to hell, I don’t care”.

            I am afraid pope Francis and liberal clique around him are confusing mercy with approval. I am afraid they don’t really believe in eternal life and possibility of eternal damnation, so there is no danger in committing profanation by receiving Communion in state of sin; on the other hand, the only possibility for mercy in their opinion is to approve of people and their action here and now. For traditionalist,that is very superficial and misleading. Real mercy is concerned with helping people to obtain eternal salvation; to avoid hell. That doesn’t mean giving communion to everyone indiscriminately – that will not get them in Heaven, as we have seen in St. Paul’s words. For traditionalist, real mercy is trying to remove people from their sin. By telling them that is a sin. By telling them they are doing wrong. Yes, even by threatening with hell. Jesus himself threatened with hell. St Paul somewhere says to threaten. And only after sin is renounced, giving them Communion. That’s how “Filed Hospital” works. It is not always pleasant (which hospital is?), but it helps to clean us from sin, to avoid hell and get to heaven. But the problem is, we are speaking about “Field Hospital”, but we don’t even agree what are the wounds this “Hospital” should heal? Are they the wounds of sin, as I believe? Wounds of sin are not healed by denying the sin. Or are we talking about some other wounds? In that case, which ones? Economic inequality, ecology..?

            So, I am afraid we really have two faiths, two religions under one name. We fundamentally disagree about the meaning of mercy, about the most important goals of human life, about the possibility of changing the doctrine, about the contents of God’s Revelation… About almost everything. And we use the same name, Catholic. But for progressive camp, only the name is retained, nothing of the content from the historical Catholicism (or at least it seems to me so). “Nomina nuda tenemus.” Everything got dissolved in the “development of doctrine”. Read Church Fathers. Read St. Thomas. Read great writers in counter-reformation and neo-scholastic tradition. Is that the same faith as that of today’s progressives? To me, it doesn’t seem. Where is the common content?
            So, I would say, it’s not that there is a danger of schism. The schism is already here; it is present at least from 1960s. We just pretended we didn’t see it, but it was there, it was latent. Now it is just becoming public and visible.

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  7. Father Edmund, another issue here is that of the relation between integralism and coercion. You hold that integralism guarantees the legitimate use of ecclesial/politcal coercion (in some circumstances). Examples: the Church’s acceptance (=not total rejection) of the death penalty, of torture, of censorship, of organizing the active coercive suppresion of heresy, of refusing sacraments to public sinners. I am in agreement with you about the not total rejection of these things; but I am in disagreement that the Church’s teaching here is based on integralism. Integralism, in order to be something about which we can talk objectively, must have some definite idea-content and cannot mean whatever one wants. I understand integralism as the doctrine which puts some relativizing limit on the primacy and inviolability of conscience. But I would argue that the Church in defending the above named forms of coercion-in-some-circumstances, does not do so by relativizing the primacy and inviolability of conscience. It is, rather, insisting that conscience cannot be reduced to merely individual conscience. Take the case of censorship. The Church is not censorship-friendly and regimes of censorship are not the normal state of things, but is rather a last resort which can become necessary when words attack the Word, and when consciences attack Conscience. The Church does not withhold free thought from her children, but does not prohibit reactive coercion in order to defend her children from the worst agressions and abuses of the intellectual Law of the Jungle. In other words the primacy of conscience is never abandoned, and where the primacy of conscience is never abandoned, integralism has not been accepted. Sure it is possible to find Church texts which have an integralist sound to them, but this does not prove anything. This also has a definite application also to the case of the divorced and remarried. The Church texts regarding the question for the divorced and remarried are not integralist texts, but there is a substantial number of people who read them as if they were. And there you have the problem that Pope Francis has addressed. He is telling us that we should not read them in an integralist way. This means that we may not read the Church texts expressing the rule that withholds communion from the divorced and remarried as if they suspend the primacy of conscience. The Church may use coercion in refusing communion to those who flagrantly and publically reject moral laws in grave matters, turning them back from the communion rail. But this is the exception, not the rule. The rule that the Church does not give communion to the divorced and remarried remains valid, but without an integralist interpretation. St. Paul says “let each one examine himself” and Pope Benedict following St. Paul puts the accent on conscience in his doctrine regarding the divorced and remarried. If one reads John Paul II with care one will see that he does so also. Coercion is applied prudentially, not as the rule in these matters. The rule comes from conscience. The possible use of coercion follows from the principle of conscience, and not from the abandonment of the principle of conscience.

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  8. At the end of the presenation of the Dubia the author (s) tell us that “consience depends on truth.” This is not St. Thomas (and it is not John Paul II either). It is a case of “turning what-I- think- at-first-blush into St. Thomas, the Constant Teaching of the Church and a norm for everyone.” It is a common error. It is a type of positivism. It tells us that conscience cannot be truth because truth is this stuff out there which exists independently of mind. One of our professors in Rome wrote a textbook in which he told his students that for St. Thomas ontological truth is primary. But this is not true: St. Thomas, following Aristotle tells us that truth is primarily in judgement, and derivatively in things. Those who believe that conscience depends on truth will fire back: “But conscience can err!” But this is not true: conscience cannot err. Certainly human conscience, my own conscience and your own conscience can err, but this does not follow from conscience being fallible, but from my being human. To err is human. The Church teaches that conscience binds, and it could not bind if it were not truth. It does not bind because it is all we shall ever know (Kantian agnositic fatalism). It does not bind because of a decree of the Great Dictator God chaining me mercilessly to my conscience. It binds because it is truth. The notion that conscience depends on truth is an essentially pagan and fatalistic notion that contradicts what Our Lord taught us: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” because truth, according to this conception, is not, in the final analysis, to be found in the Word. The Word is a mere epiphenomenon to be unmasked by human reasonings which tell us that behind everything is the Great Dead Truth. Conscience does not depend on truth, conscience is truth. Here is where one discovers the fundamental error of integralism. Conscience is not a modern invention. Conscience is not liberal ideology. The integralist argues that it is okay to perpetuate systems of coercion in the name of Catholic Truth, in order to defend it against liberal ideology. But conscience is not liberal ideology. Conscience is truth.

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    • Yes, but then conscience unable to err is an ideal, an ideal type, because anyway we are human (and, to go further, one doesn’t err because he’s human, he errs because he’s fallen), and then what good is this dreamt conscience unable to err, if we err anyway, for whatever reason, and are thus separated from this mysterious conscience unable to err, and unable to be reached?
      Also, conscience must be educated. And how is it educated, if not by external truths?
      Truth in judgments doesn’t mean truth in conscience, but truth in true propositions. Why invent an Aristotle champion of the … primacy of conscience? It’s not only false. It’s anachronistic (Protagoras predated Aristotle, but even him meant judgments, propositions, ‘of the things that are, that they are, of the things that are not, that they are not’).

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    • What Aristotle thought was that things are real (or not), judgments are true (or not). Truth belongs to propositions, reality belongs to the things judged, evaluated. It’s a distinction, not an opposition (like in a form of idealism, where ‘mind is truer than things’); you use many labels, but I believe that what you write is not only an anachronistic Arist., but an anachronistic Protagoras. Then, let’s resume the question of how is conscience educated, shaped.

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      • Aristotle does not say that truth is in propositions. That is a modern, positivist reading of Aristotle, not the historical reading. He says truth is in judgment. To say that truth is in propositions is merely to say that truth is in true propositions, and that puts the measuring stick in things, and that is what he does not do. Thomas Aquinas says that our human judgments are measured by things, but that is not to say that judgment in itself is measured by things. What he says is the opposite: that judgment measures things. Furthermore I disagree with your statement that we err because we are fallen and not because we are human. Falling was, and is, a function of being human. The doctrine of Original Sin teaches us what we are, what it means to be human.

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      • St. Thomas teaches that being is in the first place in things, but truth is in the first place in judgment. Things are real because they are things. Propositions are true or false. But judgment is at a level superior to that of propositions. And that is why Aristotle says that truth is in judgment. What you are doing, Cristian, is confusing propositions with judgment. You think that I am supporting some subjectivistic conception of truth and conscience which would free people from having to pay attention to the Magisterium and to objective reality. That is precisely not what I am doing. The dictates of human conscience are indeed fallible, and that is why God gave us a Church with a Magisterium to guide us along the way of life. It is the AL dissenters who are not recognizing the fallible nature of the dictates of the human conscience, and fall into subjectivist individualism. The doctrine of the primacy of conscience does not negate human fallibility. It is not based on human fallibility. It is based on the primacy of the Word, which is in turn based on the primacy of the Father as Begetter of the Word. Understanding the Church as a supernatural organism and as an extension of the Incarnation the conflict between conscience and magisterium is relieved.

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    • The unerring conscience described by you is an idol and a dream. But conscience as existing is a faculty for (moral) truths, erring, feeble and in need of correction and learning. Truth doesn’t exist independently of the judgments, because it’s their quality; but things do. Conscience can know the things, by true judgments; and it also should.

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      • Christian Ciopron: The human conscience must indeed be formed, shaped and the Magisterium has an essential function in that. But this does not relativize conscience and does not contradict the inviolate nature of conscience, but rather establishes it. For conscience to be formed it must become what it is. This excludes the extrinsecism which the authors of the Dubia name: that conscience is dependent on truth as if truth were something extrinsic to it.

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  9. “Since [the “historically conscious” faction] does not absolutize any one particular culture or one particular moment in history…”

    Thank you for sharing this quote from Gula. What’s wonderful about it is that this is *exactly* what we accuse the modernists of doing.

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  10. One more thing for Father Edmund. (Being a fanatic of King Lear I love Edmund as a name. Edmund is an immensely interesting character in Lear). You are worth reading even when you are wrong. The business about Bernard Häring is worthwhile. You lead me to his article in Commonweal. Such a classical locus of Catholic dissent! I have a lot of respect for dissenters. I actually even think that dissent is part of faith. To assent to revelation, one must dissent from the anti-Word. This is why I am a dissenter in the cloud of conservative anti-AL dissent. You make the attempt to affirm that the Holy Father being interested in initiating processes, more than in truth, is imbued with the subjectivism of modern philosophy, and is a man who left his mind, to some appreciable extent, in the sixties and therefore resembles Häring and his subjectivism. I would disagree using the same elements, but turning them on their head. It is the AL dissenters, not the Holy Father, who got stuck in the sixties. They see the Holy Father as this strange ghost of the sixties which astonishingly becomes Pope. Pope Francis announces that he admires something in Bernard Häring. Okay, but what does he admire? Is he admiring what is admirable? (Once Paul VI, to the great scandal of Traditionalist-Sedevacantist types affirmed in an interview-book that the post-conciliar liturgical reform was Calvinist, but he was using the term Calvinist in a positive sense! What a great freedom one can have when one makes the daring assumption that one’s reader is intelligent!) When the Church develops doctrine (as the Church did do at the Second Vatican Council, but also at the First Vatican Council and at Trent, and at the early Christological Councils as well) it initiates processes. The Church by taking its pastoral mission seriously and therefore taking its office of Teaching seriously, initiates processes. When one speaks the truth one initiates processes. But also when one speaks untruth. But I find truth in AL, not in the AL dissent. One needs to talk about AL, but cutting through all the historical revisionism and tendentiousness that has colored our reading of it. One needs to read it in its own terms and enter into its own logic.

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  11. Just a note that, while I am not an expert on such matters, Aquinas does hold in some places that the natural law is “mutable” rather than purely “immutable”, particularly when dealing with the “sins of the patriarchs”. In what senses the natural law is “mutable” vs “immutable” would be a good topic for a blog post 😉

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  12. Reading through what Bernard Häring writes in his Commonweal piece following the publication of Humanae Vitae, he gives the impression that the Holy Father should be free to ignore or ride roughshod over the previous pronouncements of the Church, because of the supposed abundance of cases in which what the Church said previously, seen from now appears as absurd. This attitude might be called historicist and represents a vile servitude to the Spirit of the Times. But it is not good history. If one analyzes thoughtfully the Church’s teaching about issues such as war, torture, usury and capital punishment one will find a more complex history, and also evidence of a development of doctrine, which is not a mere enslavement to the opinions of the moment, but which evidences how the Holy Spirit is the very soul of the Church.

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  13. Kuss’s denunciation of “integralism” here is nonsense. He means by it something that I think hardly any integralist would accept is accurate:

    I understand integralism as the doctrine which puts some relativizing limit on the primacy and inviolability of conscience.

    See, that’s just a silly way to define it, as if an accident can tell you what the thing actually is.

    Kuss’s silliness at “volunatarism” is even worse, if possible:

    One feels the presence of the voluntarism, which is at the essence of rigorism.

    From what I can see, this is so absurd as to amount to a bit of insanity. Voluntarism is WORLDS apart from rigorism (and, mind you, any charges of rigorism – in today’s world – are almost always erroneous). Here is the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy’s definition:

    Voluntarism is the theory that God or the ultimate nature of reality is to be conceived as some form of will (or conation). This theory is contrasted to intellectualism, which gives primacy to God’s reason.

    And a definition of the other: Rigorism is the moral system according to which, in every doubt of conscience as to the morality of a particular course of conduct, the opinion for law must be followed.

    Kuss wraps up his other nonsense with this bit of absurdity:

    But this is not true: conscience cannot err. Certainly human conscience, my own conscience and your own conscience can err, but this does not follow from conscience being fallible, but from my being human. To err is human. The Church teaches that conscience binds, and it could not bind if it were not truth.

    It is amazing to me that someone can write such intensely obtuse stuff. This notion has absolutely NOTHING to do with Catholicism or anything the Church has ever said, and ascribing it to authors like Thomas is nearly libel. Let’s give just ONE refutation: the fact that an erroneous conscience binds IS in Thomas, at Ia IIae, Q 19 A5. But he also says that an erring civil authority binds, and nobody is so absurd as to declare on that basis that no civil authority can err? Or that because it binds, it is truth! What an absurdity! The capacity to bind comes from God and is granted to an authority – whether external or internal – not because God gives to such authority TRUTH, but because God gives to the authority to rule. That’s what the binding capacity means. To suggest that “it could not bind if it were not truth” is to turn all of thought and reflection about truth on its head.

    Kuss appears to have drunk deeply of the modernism which Pope St. Pius X warned us about in Pascendi Domenici Gregis. At every turn, his expressions and concepts are those of the modernists. At every turn, they stand Catholicism on its head.

    For the record, St. Thomas clarifies and tempers the dictum that the will is bound by an erring reason: If then reason or conscience err with an error that is voluntary, either directly, or through negligence, so that one errs about what one ought to know; then such an error of reason or conscience does not excuse the will, that abides by that erring reason or conscience, from being evil.
    When a man has erring conscience that is voluntary, his real obligation to do right is not to FOLLOW that erring conscience, but to CORRECT that erring conscience and then follow it when it is in the right. Thus the erring reason when the error is voluntary (either directly or indirectly, by action or by negligence), does not bind the will to follow it in error, the will remains free to reverse its former sin in voluntary distortion of the conscience, and allow the conscience to become corrected.

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  14. Pingback: Understanding the Amoris Laetitia Controversy | Catholic Front

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