Mortara, Integralism, Liberalism, and Monastic Life

Over at the bloggingheads spinoff I have a conversation with Aryeh Cohen-Wade, in which we discuss the Mortara case, debates about liberalism and integralism among Catholics, and finally the monastic life.  The conversation was enjoyable, though I was a bit groggy from flu and flu medications.

We discussed an interesting essay by Nathan Shields at the Jewish magazine Mosaic,  liberal propaganda about the wars of religion, and Gelasian Dyarchy (I’m afraid I forgot to mention The Josiasthe integralist website for which I have written a number of pieces), and then a little about the monastic life and the practice of lectio divina.


39 thoughts on “Mortara, Integralism, Liberalism, and Monastic Life

  1. The Catholic maid did well by baptizing the boy in danger of death.

    But that did not give the Pius IX the right to take the boy from his family. Not “for his eternal salvation” or any other reason.

    The end does not justify the means.

    That is consequentialism and another sainted Pope, John Paul II condemned that error.

    The end does not justify the means even if you are Pius IX and you will later be a saint.

    The fact that he turned out as a priest and so forth does not change anything. One cannot argue post hoc ergo propter hoc.

    Whose fault would it have been had he later discovered what Pius IX did and hated the Church because of it?

    I would think that as a thoughtful person he would have had to struggle with what was done to him. (And don’t tell me that my sense of conscience is anachronistic!)

    And wasn’t the action of the Pope in fact scandalous, and did it not in fact scandalize people?

    Scandalizing people harms the cause of salvation.
    Scandal is not simply “in the eye of the beholder,” but is something objective.

    Just as today when churchmen cover up sexual abuse they are giving scandal, and it damages the cause of salvation, even when they do it “for the good of the Church”.

    This case illustrates very well the problem with integralism, and shows us how integralism does not simply represent traditional Catholic thought, but something in need of correction.


    • The end can never justify intrinsically evil means. But taking a child away from his family is not a malum in se. This is evident from the fact that everyone agrees that there are circumstances when legitimate authority ought to take children from their parents. There can be disagreement about what those circumstances are, what kind of parental abuse justifies the authorities removing children, but hardly anyone would deny that there are some situations where taking away a child is justified. So the means are not intrinsically evil. The question therefore becomes: was the law of the Papal States correct in identifying the denial of a Christian upbringing to a baptized child as such a circumstance? I think Fr. Cessario makes a good case that it was. It is quite different in the example you cite of covering up the crime of sexual abuse, which is intrinsically evil, and therefore cannot be justified by the end.

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  2. Taking children from their parents is intrinsically wrong.

    Is it right or wrong to take children from their parents?

    It is wrong, intrinsically wrong. I could hardly think of a more evident violation of natural law.

    Just like killing people is intrinsically wrong.

    Still there is something known as the Just War doctrine. This does not mean that the Fifth Commandment doesn’t exist. It doesn’t mean that killing people is morally neutral, only a physical evil, not a moral one.

    It means that there must be discernment of cases. (See Amoris Laetitia).

    The question is really this: Are there conceivable cases in which the rights of children must be defended by separating the children from the family situation in which those rights are being trampled on?

    St. Thomas tells us that acts receive their species from their objects.

    It is an undoubtedly good thing to protect the rights of children, and in some conceivable situations this can only be done by removing (at least temporarily) the child from the family.

    To separate children from the family is to attack the family and is immoral.

    But in some situations removing children from the family is when duly discerned a defense of family values which cannot be at the same time an attack against the family.

    A good act is done, a merely physical evil is tolerated, because it must be tolerated, because there is no alternative.

    In the case of Mortara his Jewish upbringing would have done him no injustice. Removing him from his family was unjustifiable.

    It is argued that baptism works a metaphysical change in the person by which he henceforth belongs to the Church and is subject to the rights and duties of the baptized.

    This metaphysical change must be recognized. It must be recognized as metaphysical, and not just as juridical. Baptism does not only give us rights and duties, it give us grace and the rights and duties flow from the grace.

    One must have faith in the efficacy of baptism. That is why Pope Pius IX should have confided in Providence and in the efficacy of baptism, and not resorted to violence against the family of Mortara, the violence of forcibly separating the boy from the family which had done him no harm and was threatening no harm.

    (I like disageeing with you Fathe Edmund, because I have a firm belief in your good-heartedness and civility. I want to mention that I liked your comment about being impressed by the anti-liberal argumentation of Elizabeth Bruenig. Where did this young lady get such a vibrant intellect from? Let us hope that she continues to make good use of it.)


    • Fr. Carl, it can never be right to do something intrinsically wrong. That’s what it means to be intrinsically wrong. Not wrong by excess or defect in a particular matter, but wrong just because of the kind of object that the act has. Just as it is never right to be unjust or imprudent or cowardly or intemperate or dishonest, so it is never right to do actions whose very object is an act of the kind with which those vices are concerned. If every killing were unjust, then killing would be intrinsically wrong. But the very fact that just war exists proves that there can be just killing, and therefore killing in general is not intrinsically wrong (although killing the innocent is). To tell a lie is a good example of something that is intrinsically wrong: it is always dishonest to lie. Similarly committing adultery is always both intemperate and unjust–Aristotle’s example, in fact: “Nor is there a good or bad way to go about such things—committing adultery, say, with the right woman, at the right time, or in the right way. Rather, doing [such things], simply speaking, is to miss the mark.”

      So the very fact that it can sometimes be just for an authority to remove a child from its parents’ custody proves that such an act is not intrinsically wrong. So again: the question is whether it is just or unjust in this particular case. You say Pope Pius should have more faith in the efficacy of Baptism. But I think that Fr. Cessario has a stronger argument: “Since baptism causes birth into new life in Christ, children require instruction about this form of new life.”


  3. [First Part: Paradoxes]

    Let us examine what you say here:

    “If every killing were unjust, then killing would be intrinsically wrong. But the very fact that just war exists proves that there can be just killing, and therefore killing in general is not intrinsically wrong (although killing the innocent is).”

    This is true if you take “killing in general” in a sense that neither you nor I affirm to be intrinsically wrong. It is a non-probematic assertion that does not clarify things.

    We are not talking about killing in general, but homicide, the killing of human beings. This is not generic but specific. The killing of human beings is not morally neutral but intrinsically wrong.

    I don’t believe that you would maintain that to kill a human being is not an intrinsically evil action, but only a morally neutral action.

    The Bible seems to use a word which can be (and yet not always is) translated by kill because the Bible speaks of Life in relation to Spirit, and therefore no one understands Thou shalt not kill as regarding generic killing, but as regarding homicide (=murder).

    Common sense gives us an intuitive understanding of what murder is, though it is hard to put into an exact formulation.

    The fact that killing (i.e. murder) is intrinsically evil, however, does not yet settle the whole question about just war and capital punishment; it is necessary to go more deeply into the matter.

    If there is such a thing as just war then there is a good killing of human beings (not just a good generic killing), but this does not prove that killing human beings is not intrinsically evil.

    First parallel case: If there are cases in which the state (or some third party) forcibly removes a child from its family justly in pursuance of the good of the child (that is in an act which in fact protects the good of the child, and whose moral species is thus determined by that object), then there is a forcible removal of children which is good.

    But this does not prove that it is not intrinsically evil to forcibly remove children from the family.

    Second parallel case: if there are cases where a tolerated unavoidable temporary continuance of sexual relations is the instrument of defending marital values (bonum fidei and bonum prolii) then there is a morally defendible sex outside of marriage, but that this does not mean that sex outside of marriage is not intrinsically wrong.

    In all three of these cases there is something that might be called an exception to the rule, but which when closely analyzed is not an exception to the rule but rather epikeia, an application of the rule.

    “Just war” is an application of the Fifth Commandment: one fights because killing is wrong, because peace is good and war is wrong, one fights because one hates the evil of violence, one fights because one is forced to defend one’s integrity and one’s life against the aggresion (the intrinsic evil) of violence, killing, and war.

    “Just war” is, in short, a paradox

    “Just kidnapping” similarly is a paradox.

    I don’t like the term “just kidnapping.” It could be misleading, because it gives the impression that kidnapping is just, whereas kidnapping is intrinsically evil.

    Still I make use of it to draw attention to the paradox. Kidnapping is intrinsically evil, for it offends against the twofold end of marriage by offending against the bonum prolis, one of the two ends of matrimony (the other the bonum fidei). It is an offense against the Sixth Commandment.

    But the Church does the same thing with the Just War Doctrine; it does not like the term. It uses it holding its nose. It puts it into quotes. The Church tells us that war is moral evil, not just physical evil. Only taking that into account, does one understand the “Just War” doctrine.

    “Just kidnapping” however is epikeia, an application of the Sixth Commandment: one is defending the bomum prolis, because one is defending the fluorishing of the children, paradoxically, by removing them from a family situation which attacks that fluorishing (by sexual or physcial abuse, for instance).

    Neither do I like the term “Just adultery.” In fact I think it stinks. I am not its inventor. Its inventor, as far as I can see is the anti-Franciscan movement, that accuses Pope Francis of defending adultery in Amoris Laetitia., whereas Pope defends adultery as little as the Just War doctrine defends murder.

    I use this term only paradoxically, holding my nose.

    But let us talk about this (bleah!!) “just adultery” thing.

    Is it not another case of epikeia?.

    It is not a matter of foreseeing the Sixth Commandment with an exception that weakens it. It is rather the argument that when an act applies the Sixth Commandment, defending the twofold end of matrimony, it is a praiseworthy act, because it cannot at the same time defend the ends of matrimony (something it does by presupposition) and attack them (something that acts in violation of the Sixth Commandment, by presupposition, do).

    See AL fn 329.

    [Appendix on the Difficulty of Formulating the Definition of Murder.]

    Pater Edmund argues that there is a good killing.

    But by the same argument there is a good killing of innocents, because in just war, there is sometimes the conscious killing of innocents.

    One can resolve this by observing that murder always involves the DIRECT killing of innocents either as an end or as a means.

    But then one can also go on to discuss what is meant by “direct”

    There can be cases imagined in which the direct killing of innocents becomes a necessary part of the realization of just war (justified by the principle of double effect).

    There can also be cases in which clever murderers, murder INDIRECTLY.

    The sanctions that the U.S. put on Iraq in the nineties caused the death of perhaps a half a million innocents.

    But the fact that it wasn’t direct killing doesn’t mean that those sanctions were not homicidal and morally evil.

    (Madeleine Albright in a “slip of the tongue” once said that those deaths “were worth it.” But wasn’t she in fact arguing that the end justifies the means?

    This shows the problematicity of all verbal formulations of definitions.

    A clever enough murderer could always concoct a murder that would confound one’s definition of murder..

    And unusual constrictive circumstances might exist in which one’s definition would condemn an innocent person of murder, who was in fact only engaged in self-defense.

    Still, men with common sense (for instance, jurrors) would still be able to see through the equiovocations of the clever murderer. They would penetrate the sense of the definition, and transcend the literalist interpretation.

    Conclusion: that of Amoris Laetitia: there must be discernment of cases.

    But if I were to ask you if the killing of innocents is morally wrong, yes or no, your answer, and my answer would most certainly be that the killing of innocents is indeed morally wrong and intrinsically wrong.

    Similarly if I were to ask you, simply, if killing human beings is morally wrong. The simple answer to that question is: Yes it is morally wrong to kill human beings.

    The Church (following natural law) teaches that it is morally wrong, gravely wrong, to kidnap children.)

    The Church teaches that it is morally wrong, intrinsically wrong, gravely wrong to commit adultery. Pope Francis teaches that too!


    • You aren’t presenting us with paradox; you are presenting us with contradiction. You want both to affirm and to deny that there are intrinsically evil acts. But your argument simply rests on overly vague specifications of actions, which might initially appear to be intrinsically evil, until one attends to their ambiguity. “Killing a human being” is too vague a description to adequately specify a moral action. This doesn’t mean that killing people is morally neutral in the sense that it would ever be morally neutral to kill someone. Killing a human being will always be either good or bad. Whether it is good or bad depends on what kind of killing we are talking about. It is bad in the case of killing an innocent person, good in the cases of just war and just punishment. The pacifists use the vagueness of “killing human beings” to conclude that war is murder. But is like the libertarians who exploit the vagueness of the expression “taking someone’s money” to argue that taxation is theft. The solution is not “paradox,” but achieving adequate specificity in the determination of moral objects. Killing innocents is intrinsically evil, nor does your example of double effect refute that point, because the whole point of double effect is that the evil effect is contrary to the intention of the agent. That is, the death of innocent bystanders who die when enemy soldiers are attacked (“collateral damage”) is precisely not the object of the action of attacking enemy soldiers. It could still be wrong for other reasons of course (disproportion), but it doesn’t fall under the universal negative precept against killing the innocent.

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  4. Rigorism itself gives me the opportunity to use the terminology which the rigorists use and turn it on its head. The rigorist hands such terminology to me, and I may use it–against them.

    The pacifist rigorist denies just war, and this gives me the opportunity to speak of Just War, and to paradoxically affirm that there can be just war.

    When I refer to Just War, Just Kidnapping and Just Adultery I am in a similar way making use of the opeming given by the rigorist interpretation to confute the rigorist interpretation, which reduces moral acts to things that can be judged according to merely exterior criteria, and affirming the Church’s rich teaching about acta humana, which are conscious, deliberate and free.

    It is a paradoxical affirmation because war is intrinsically evil, moral evil and not just physical evil. The Church affirms unceasingly that war is moral evil and not just physical evil. “Mai piu la guerra” (Paul VI) and if war were not intrinsically evil saying such things would be indulging in imprudent rhetoric.

    The same thing may be said in the parallel cases of Just Kidnapping and Just Adultery:

    I use all of these terms with repugnance. But I can use them, because rigorism justifies my using them. I can hold my nose and use them, because the rigorists condemns something as evil which is not evil. That gives me the right to turn around and tell them thay what they are condemning is not evil.

    Pope Francis in AL merely affirms the pastoral principles of the Good Shepherd who treats those in irregular situations with mercy and discerns cases. The rigorists malevolently (I am using that term in an objective sense, without judging and condemning) call this the justification of adultery.

    That gives us the right and duty to turn around and affirm Just Adultery, speaking paradoxically, just as the Church speaks paradoxically of Just War because pacifist rigorists condemn what they ought not condemn, because they judge according to the means and not according to the object, as St. Thomas has taught us.

    Here you have the justification of what the bishops of Buenos Aires, Malta and Germany have affirmed in their interpretation of AL

    Thus we use the terms Just War, Just Kidnapping and Just Adulterly improperly, but with justification, because we are rejecting that unjust rigorist interpretation of morality.

    We have the right and the duty to defend the morality of that which is unjustly condemned as immoral by the rigorists.

    We can and must make use of such paradoxical expressions to do so.

    But this does not allow me to practice the laxism of permitting a sainted Pope to kidnap a child from a family which was practicing no injustice.


      • No, that is not my position.

        My position is that acts really are acts, and not abstract essences. Acts are in the first place concrete things, not abstractions (i.e.mere essences).

        If acts are abstract essences, they cannot ever be intrinsically wrong..

        For St. Thomas moral acts are acts, not mere essences. They are acts of reason, rational acts.

        Thus when they are intrinsically irrational they are intrinsically wrong, they undercut themselves as it were; they are self-contradictory.

        If acts are reduced to being mere essences then they cannot be wrong in themselves (anti-rational) but their wrongness comes from a positive decree that comes from without.

        There is then nothing intrinsically wrong with murder, but God (or someone) decided that murder would be henceforth wrong. This positivism unleashes relativism into the heart of morality.

        This is all rooted in Thomistic metaphysics, where St. Thomas often refers to a phrase that comes from Aristotle: a thing is intelligible inasmuch as it is in act.

        Morality only makes profound sense when we see it as centered in acts, in the actus humanus, which conscious, deliberate and free..


        • “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 Splendor, St. John Paul II

          ^This is what people mean when they say that an act is “intrinsically evil”. It is an act such that no person is ever justified in doing it, in any circumstances or for any reason. Killing the innocent, committing adultery, and lying are examples of such acts. As Pater Edmund has been trying to show, taking children from their parents and killing (in itself) are *not* examples of things that are intrinsically immoral, but may be either right or wrong depending on circumstance and intention. If killing a human being was intrinsically evil, then there would not, and could not, be any just war, even conceptually. The idea would be nonsense, a game played with words, like discussing the hypothetical existence of a married bachelor. To say that killing a person is evil *in itself*, and then to assert that there is nevertheless such a thing as just war, is contradictory.


          • I should clarify that the “killing” I’m speaking of in the comment above is *not* killing parents or children, but killing in general. That may have been ambiguous in the original.


  5. When I speak of Just Adultery I am not speaking of adultery (something which is intrinsically wrong, but of that which rigorists call adultery and isn’t. I am using their terminology, speaking their language. This thing is a physical but nor moral evil (They say falsely that it is moral evil.) And when it is taken up as the means of a good act (as the necessary means to realize that good act) it becomes good by participation in that act.


    • Is “ckuss” actually a priest? This man who writes with so much temerity of “Just Adultery,” as though the term were analogous to “Just War”? If so, I ask that he please cease his scandalous posts and that no future posts along these lines be allowed. Thank you.


  6. I am not proposing adulltery, something which is intrinscially immoral. I am not saying that adultery can sometimes be just. I am saying that we sometimes use paradoxical expressions to describe paradoxical things.

    Do you really think that there is nothing paradoxical about “Just War”?

    Or do you hold that war is not sinful?

    Statements like ” killing human beings is intrinsically immoral” are not INEXACT.

    They are SYNTHETIC: i.e. they say the thing in a nutshell. What is said in a nutshell will later need to be unpacked, but that does not mean that it is inexact.

    Father Edmund tells us that killing innocents is immoral IS an EXACT statement. In a way, he is right, because it specifies the generality of “killing human beings” and in this sense it is exact.

    But that doesn’t mean that there are no more questions to ask about his formulation. And in this sense his objection to “killing human beings is immoral” is in conflict with his opinion that “killing innocents is immoral” is unobjectionable.

    If you think that saying “killing people is immoral” is inexact, and if you think that “kidnapping children is immoral” is inexact, why should you think that “sex outside of marriage” is EXACT?


    And this is true; it doesn’t have exceptions.

    But this is not due to a special and magical quality of the Sixth Commandment (which permits us to be rigorists with regard to the Sixth Commandment who need not look beyond merely external criteria and who thus do not need to practice the discernment of cases.)

    It is simply because of the fact that when natural law prohibits something, there are ipso facto no exceptions.

    “War is immoral” does not have exceptions either: Just War is not war. It is not war in the critical sense of the term. When judged according to merely exterior criteria it cannot be distinguished from war, but we are talking here about moral acts and not about merely external phenomona.

    If a norm is or can be well-expressed it has the universality proper to the norm. But that doesn’t mean that statements like “killing people is immoral” or “abortion is immoral” are ill-expressed simply because it is possible to ask what is meant by “killing people” or what is meant by “abortion.”

    The people who tell us that “war is immoral” is inexact do not tell us that “abortion is immoral” is inexact.

    Yet the two statements are quite parallel.

    Why is there this urge to question the immorality of war?

    The difference between the Catholics of former times and the integralists of today is that the Catholics always realized that there was something paradoxical about Christian militancy, whereas the integralists don’t see the paradox, and so they don’t think there is anything wrong with smashing skulls and kidnapping children from Jewish families. That is just obviously so, it is what the Church has always taught. No need for discernment! It can all be done at the level of concepts which are clear and distinct a priori

    And I have also made it clear that I am not approving adultery, In fact I have said that adultery is intrinsically evil, which means that it is never permissible.

    So I have a broader and more realistic concept ot intrinsically evil acts than my critics who don’t believe that kidnapping children is intrinsically evil and who don’t believe that war is intrinsically evil. I happen to believe that there really are Ten Commandments and that all of them should be taken seriously.

    All I am saying is that if one asks for discernment of cases in matters of war, and in matters of kidnapping, one should also see the need for discernment of cases with regard to irregular situations.

    I am for being even-handed and coherent in this. My opponents seem to think that when the Sixth Commandment is in question, that all you need is the rude merely physical criterion with which one can be as judgemental as one likes.

    I was thinking about another Pope: namely Benedict XVI, and his role in a German anti-aircraft unit during the Second World War where I think he was placed after his conscription because of his intelligence.

    Wouldn’t that be something like being in an irregular situation?

    We certainly wouldn’t want to say that he was fighting a just war.

    Some people might; I wouldn’t.

    So there he was, trying to shoot down allied planes, or at least playing along. And the fact is, that when the conditions became right, he deserted and allowed himself to be taken captive by the Allies.

    He and his family were always anti-nazi by conviction and on account of their Christian faith.

    But stil there he was fighting for Nazi Germany.

    A tolerant and normal thinking person will realize that these things happen.

    It happened to me too. There I was defending Father Maciel, tooth and nail, and then things started changing, slowly.

    It also happens that people find themselves in iirregular situations. So if we should not be judgemental with yount Joseph Ratzinger, then we should not be judgemental with people who find themselves in irregular situations.

    (And neither should we be judgemental about the kidnapping activities of Pio Nono; was he not stuck in the middle of the ossified Church politics of the Papal States, and didn’t he mean well?)

    But the rigorists will say no, the Sixth Commandement is different, there things are CLEAR.

    But don’t you think that young, reflective Joseph Ratzinger, passed through stages of reflection before his decision to desert. Don’t you think that his spiritual conversion process went ahead of his having the possibility to actuate his convictions outwardly? That he would have liked to have deserted before he could actually desert?. That he reached the point that he was spritually against what circumstances were still forcing him to do?

    And I don’t think I am being disrespectful by speaking of a conversion process in the young Joseph Ratzinger. Conversion processes are part and parcel of Christian life. I think it is more healthy to think of young Joseph Ratzinger as a normal Christian than as a superhuman being who with his computer-like brain had everything all figured out from the beginning. Life is messy, and it is messy for highly intelligent people like Joseph Ratzinger and people who are going to become saints, like Pius IX.

    So how far are we here from the situation of, let’s say a divorced and remarried woman, who is spiritually in a conversion process, who is spiritually all against adultery, but is not yet in a position to physically stop doing what she has spiritually stopped doing?

    How can we condemn the woman according to a merely physical criteria when we are not condemning the young Ratzinger according to a merely physical criterion?

    Was he not trying to shoot down allied planes? YES or NO?

    “Well, it’s things like that, that people DO in war. War is full of tragedies, we know that.”

    Exactly. But aren’t irregular sittuations full of tragic situations?

    “But if you start employing something other than the brute physical criterion with regard to irregular situations YOU ARE LETTING THE TOOTHPASTE OUT OF THE TUBE, and the next thing you know they will be attacking Humanae Vitae and God knows what else: the slippery slope.”

    But the fact is that Paul VI did not want HV to be interpreted according to merely outward criterion. He also was aware that morality is about acta humana and not about merely outward behavior.

    We do not condemn the young Joseph Ratzinger according to merely outward criteria, and therefore we should not condemn people in irregular situations according to merely outward criteria.

    The slippery slope argument is a tutiorist argument, and the Church has condemned tutiorism. Tutiorism perverts morality by replacing it with a perverted notion of safety. It is preferring “treaditional morality” to morality.

    Is it not inconsistant to use a jocular, flippant and laxist morality with regard to the doings of Popes (especially those whom we like and whom we can use in support of integralism) and then turn around and apply a rigorist morality with regard to groundlings who are in irregular situations, especially women, who are more easily pressurized into doing what we want?

    It is obviously inconsistent. But is this not the type of thing that integralism/rigorism does?

    Rigorism at the front door is always laxism out back.

    Here finally I want to recall the double form of consequentialism.

    a) the laxist consequentialism which permits something which is intrinsically wrong (like kidnapping) because of some good consequence being in view (the salvation of a soul, for instance)

    b) consequentialism of reversed sign, the rigorist consequentialism which obsesses about non-moral, merely physical evils (tabú) to such a point that it loses sight of authentic moral values (for instance the good of the children) and tramples on them, calling such an offense a merely collateral damage, a mere consequence of the (pseudo-) morality of staying clear of the tabú.


  7. Here is a selection of things that Father Edmund tells us in his essay “The Object of the Moral Act”

    1. Acts are determined by their objects.

    2. And just as the natures of things are that in virtue of which we can distinguish different kinds of things, so the nature of an action is that which enables us to say “this is an action of such a kind.”

    3. The goodness or evil of an acts is derived… from the goodness of their object.

    4. For acts have natures.

    5. Human acts, in the strict sense, are acts that proceed from reason and will. Such acts have special kind of goodness and evil: moral goodness or moral evil.

    6. The object of the moral act is what an acting person chooses to do. That is, it is the action itself considered as elicited or commanded by the will.

    7. The Church teaches that certain actions are intrinsically evil, merely because their objects are of themselves unable to be ordered to the end of human life.[5] Thus, committing adultery or lying are evil on account of their objects…

    8. Now, persons may well commit adultery or lie for the sake of good consequences which they expect to follow from those acts. For example, they might commit adultery for the sake of receiving shelter and support, or tell a lie in order to protect themselves from danger. But in the acts themselves they are actually destroying their happiness.

    9. Objects which are “materially” the same can be determined as different kinds of actions by the formal component. Thus, if a violent man cuts open a person’s chest for the sake of revenge, and a surgeon cuts open a person’s chest for the sake of saving life, they are performing different kinds of actions. “Cutting open a person’s chest” is a different moral object when reason finds “violent revenge” in it, than when reason finds “life-saving surgery” in it.

    10. Happiness is not some product of human activity to be produced by cunning design; it is the activities of human life itself, done in a truly human, a truly rational way.

    I haven’t added a word to this. I cut a tiny bit out, and I rearranged the order slightly. But all of this makes the point I am making, though Father Edmund might not recognize it.

    I agree with Father Edmund when he says that adultery can never be done so that “good consequences” might be derived. That is consequentialism; and I have clearly rejected it.

    What I am saying is that “Objects which are “materially” the same can be determined as different kinds of actions by the formal component.” This is what the rigorists don’t get.

    When St. Thomas says that acts receive their species from their object, he means their formal object; their material object is only their material object. I have referred to it as the means of the act.

    If one only has before one the material object the moral species is not yet determined. (This is what the rigorists deny; they think it is already determined in the material object.)

    Father Edmund undercuts his argument about the Mortara case when he says “Happiness is not some product of human activity to be produced by cunning design; it is the activities of human life itself, done in a truly human, a truly rational way.”

    I am not a great expert in Aristotle, but I believe that St. Thomas does not accept fully the eudaemonism of Aristotle but rather transforms it into something else.

    I would say it this way: though it is true that virtue produces happiness, it is not true that the consequence of happiness is the formal criterion of the morally good act (That is, once again consequentialism.)

    It is not true that happiness (the end of our acts) justifies the means.

    If it were true it would follow that one could violate the rights of the Mortara Family because young Mortara would then be brought to eternal bliss by such injustice.

    This divinely sanctioned Machiavellianism not only perverts the idea of justice, but also that of happiness.


    • You’re assuming that taking a child from its family is always unjust. Pater Edmund’s argument is that this is not the case, using your own categories. While it is materially the same as kidnapping, Pope Pius taking a child from the Mortara family is not, formally, the same act at all.


      • Why would the Mortara kidnapping not be kidnapping (but effectively the opposite of kidenapping, just as Just War is effectively the opposite of war)? The argument in favor of it not being kidnapping is not based on the object, but on the consequences or the intention. Formally it is kidnapping, because there is no injustice being redressed, their is no paradoxical undoing of kidnapping.


        • In each of the three cases we have been discussing, the paradoxical case gives us a type of antidote to the sin in question (war, kidnapping, adultery); we are speaking of a penitential act, which undoes the damage done by sin. The point of departure of the penitential act is the point of arrival of the original sin. The logic defending the innocence of thes paradoxical acts is this: The act which undoes a certain sin cannot be sinful.


          • Pope Pius’ action is not kidnapping because the authority of the Church over a baptized infant is greater than the authority of the parents over that infant in matters pertaining to her mission. The baptized belong to the Church in a more intimate way than they do their own parents, and the Church’s authority over them is of a higher kind than the authority of parents. Thus, the Pope’s action was justified, not because of its consequences or his intention, but because the Church has jurisdiction over the baptized: a jurisdiction which the Pope exercised for Edgardo’s eternal benefit.

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  8. Nonsense. The family is the Domestic Church and in matters like kidnapping the local Church ranks above Rome: if the Pope breaks into your house you tell him to get the heck out, and your war is a just war.

    Parents are the first educators of their children, especially in religious matters, “even” when they are Jewish. Edgardo’s parents had the right to raise Edgardo in the Jewish faith, and the mere accident of his Christian baptism, obviously does not abrogate that right.

    Being raised in the Jewish faith would have done him no injustice, but on the contrary.

    It seems that he turned out fine by God’s grace, but that is not the point.

    Those who defend this kidnapping really are not defending an exalted concept of Church and Baptism, but an absurd interpretation of the doctrine of One True Church which coheres with false notions about baptism and salvation which the Church has left, gratefully, behind her.

    If you scratch around long enough in this conception you will find anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is an archetypal form of gnosticism, about which one can read in the recent document of the CDF written by Archbishop Ladaria. Gnosticism always falsifies the incarnate nature of God’s salvific work in the Church and thereby the Incarnation of the Word.


    • Being raised Jewish would have done the child an injustice: as a baptized member of God’s household, he should have been raised in the true faith, and not a false one. (the Judaism of the Old Testament is most certainly *not* the same as Talmudic Judaism; the former was the holy religion established by God in anticipation of the Messiah’s coming, the latter rejects our Lord outright and contradicts God’s Word on multiple points). Granted that, in ordinary circumstances, parents have the legal right to raise their children as they please. But in this particular case, Edgardo, as one of the baptized, was under the jurisdiction of the Church, and her superior authority was legitimately invoked to take him from his family.

      The family’s being the domestic Church applies only to Christian households, since non-Christian ones are not churches of any kind, even metaphorically. And, of course, the rights of parents over the children are not absolute. If a mother or father is being physically abusive, we all recognize the right of temporal power to remove the endangered child from that environment. Likewise if the guardians are drug addicts, members of a cult, etc. If the temporal power has the right to save children within its jurisdiction from physical harm, how much more does the spiritual power possess the right to save them from spiritual harm, and the danger of eternal damnation! (Always supposing that the children in question are under the Church’s authority; she has no rights over, for instance, the children of Muslims, Jews, Hindus, or atheists, *insofar as those children do not belong to the Church.*)

      I’m not sure what ideas regarding baptism, salvation, and ecclesiology you believe the Church has discarded, or how they relate to the Mortara case, so I can’t comment on that part of your reply. Would you elaborate? I’m also not certain what about this debate implies anti-Semitism, nor how Gnosticism relates to the latter. To cling to the old covenant in defiance of the new is to court ruin. “Whoever, after the passion, places his hope in the legal prescriptions and submits himself to them as necessary for salvation and as if faith in Christ without them could not save, sins mortally. [The Ecumenical Council] does not deny that from Christ’s passion until the promulgation of the gospel they could have been retained, provided they were in no way believed to be necessary for salvation. But it asserts that *after the promulgation of the gospel they cannot be observed without loss of eternal salvation.* Therefore it denounces all who after that time observe circumcision, the sabbath and other legal prescriptions as strangers to the faith of Christ and unable to share in eternal salvation, unless they recoil at some time from these errors.” – The Council of Florence


  9. By respecting the Jewish upbringing of Edgardo, Pius IX would have done no injustice to him. Judaism is not a false religion; at least since Vatican II you will not find no Pope affirming that Judaism is a false religion.

    Was Mary formed in a false religion? Was Jesus formed in a false religion? Was St. Paul formed in a false religion?

    Where does St. Paul say “I have left the Jewish religion!” ? What he says is that Jesus has become for him the key to understanding Scripture. That is different. His conversion is to Christ and not against the Jewish religion.

    When Edith Stein was arrested, she said to her sister Rosa (who had also become Catholic): “Come, let us go for our people!”

    She does not mean come, let us make a statement for defend our little ethnic group, let us practice a little identity politics; she is saying that she like St. Paul considers herself to belong the the People of God and to practice its religion the True Religion.) Though baptized, she had the firm conviction that she had not ceased to be Jewish. St. Paul call the Church, the Israel of God, in other words the true Israel.

    When St. Paul and Florence condemn clinging to (the duty of) circumcision they are not condemning Judaism as such. They are condemning a falsification of the Gospel, which effectively denies the key doctrine of justification by faith, by proclaiming a justification by the works of the Law. They are not condemning Judaism but a false interpretation of Judaism. Paul interprets the Old Testament under the light of faith, reading it under the guidance of the Spirit. The integrity of the Old Testament is saved.

    When Paul comes to know Jesus, he discovers the True Religion of Israel, the Truth that is and always was. By calling Judaism a false religion, one is affirming that Truth changes, and one is introducing Relativism in the heart of Christianity.


    • I agree with (almost) every word you wrote. But you misidentify true Judaism with the religion which bears its name in 2018 A.D. “Judaism,” the religion in which our Lord, His Blessed Mother, and the apostles were raised and to which they were faithful, was inspired by God. But Judaism in that sense was fulfilled in Christianity – Catholicism is the true Judaism. “Judaism” as it exists today is explicitly predicated on the denial of Jesus as the Christ. It no longer has God’s approval for its unique, mutable institutions (circumcision, the feasts and festivals, temple sacrifice, etc.) since these were fulfilled in the Sacraments of the New Law. “Judaism” in this sense is a false religion. (And in order to avoid accusations of being a positivist, “false religion” here means “a religion which has elements of both truth and error,” as a contrast to Catholicism, the religion which contains only truth and no error) If a person believes in and practices “Judaism” in this second sense, he will be damned unless he repents and believes in the Gospel.

      You (rightly) criticize the belief that Truth changes, but what are you affirming when you so consistently contrast the unified teaching of the Church before Vatican II, and the supposed changes which took place after?


  10. Your last point about the True Religion of Israel contrecarrés your argument, Fr. Carl. But let’s abstract from the whole question of Judaism for a moment. What would you say, Fr. Carl, if the Mortara’s had been Hindus or atheists? Would Blessed Pius IX have been justified then?


    • No he wouldn’t have been justified. But the fact that Mortara was Jewish is still important to the case.

      Hinduism is not simply a false religion either, but the argument which shows in which way it is not is another argument. Hinduism is something else, something different.

      The shallow argument that other religions are simply false religions in a way that corresponds exactly to the way that the Catholic Church is the true Church practicing the One True Faith makes truth and error something merely parallel, something existing in the same plane; it corresponds to a merely positivistic notion of truth at variance with the authentic metaphysical notion of truth as a transcendental property of being. This notion of truth also is part and parcel of the gnostic conception of good and evil as things existing in the same plane.

      When so-called Catholic apologetes let their thinking be contaminated by this superficial conception of Catholic Truth they do no service to the cause of the Church.

      God revealed himself in the history of His People, Israel. But this Revelation is at the same time something public and universal, though it begins in what is hidden and small.

      Thus there can be seeds of the Word in the world’s diverse religions in such a way that although there is no salvation outside the Church (the Body of Christ), the Spirit can blow where it will.

      The family is the Domestic Church, and he who violates God’s holy temple will face the consequences of his action. When St. Paul said the body is the temple of the Spirit, he was not saying “but not in the case of non-Catholics.”

      In the Summa St. Thomas asks: Is Christ the head of all men? His answer is yes he is. The integralists think that they own this truth, but in fact they misrepresent it, reducing it to something merely juridical.

      Their conception of this merely juridical obligation is very curious. It is an obligation which is empty and vacant. It represents a duty to become Catholic without affirming the universality of the Redemption. It is a merely extrinsic duty. That is a very strange and disturbing notion.

      If Pius IX had the right to kidnap (accidentally baptized) children from Jewish families, then why wouldn’t he have the right to

      One of the commentators on an Article in First Things about “Liberal Integralism” makes the interesting point that Blondel called himself an “integriste” and thus did not want to abandon the word integralism to the neo-Thomists. This commentator tells us that de Lubac and von Balthasar are the true integralists in the Blondelian sense.

      I don’t think that these writers are integralists in your sense, however.


      • You keep on accusing me of Gnostic dualism, but it really your position that is more Gnostic. Since evil is only the privation of being, any privation will render something evil, whereas something is simply speaking “good” only when it is perfect. Bonum ex integra causa, malum ex quocumque defectu. Of course false religions like Hinduism include many truths. That’s not the point. The point is that Hinduism includes a very important defect, namely idolatry, which is what makes it a false religion. Christ is indeed the head of all men, but of the unbaptized He is the Head only potentially. Actually, He is the Head of those who are in a state of grace or glory. A family of the unbaptized is potentially a domestic Church, but until that potency is reduced to act by Baptism, such a family is not actually a Church. Therefore, if such a family has a child who is baptized, they are objectively depriving that child of his right to a Christian upbringing, and the spiritual authority can call in the temporal authority as its agent to remove the little Christian from that family.


        • 1. St. Thomas does not say “Christ is not the Head of all men because some are only united potentially to him,” but rather Christ IS the Head of all men, but diversely, according to an analogy, namely thas Some are His members in act, some only in potency; some of those who are members in potency will be reduced to act, others will, finally, not be reduced to act and will be finally separated from Him.

          (This cannot be taken as the negation of what von Balthasar says about our being able to hope for the salvation of all; that would be anachronism.)

          Christ is the redeemer of all, because he is the head of all.

          The Bible cannot be taken as a source of information about things that the Bible by its very narture does not concern itself with.

          That is one reason why we can be sure that von Balthasar is right in saying that we should/can hope/pray/act apostolically for the salvation of all. The Bible expressly says that God wills the salvation of all; and the Bible is not a document which gives us information about things that have nothing to do with Biblical finalities. It thus does not tell us that some will not be saved; and neither does it tell us that all will be saved.

          For the same reason we should always be wary about interpretations of the Bible that pretend that the Bible is giving us information–that we are bound to accept on the authority of Scripture– about things that do not have to do with Biblical finalities.

          Thus when the Bible tells us that the pagan nations practice false religion: i.e. idoloatry, it is not giving us a (negative tinted) course on World Religions informed by a Manicheanism, according to which, , all is darkness outside of the walls of the Church.

          (I do not mean to “accuse you of gnosticism” but simply to examine the logic of what you seem to be saying.)

          The Bible contextualizes everything. In the part is the whole. The Bible is about salvation in Jesus Christ: the Great Event. if a certain reading of the Bible casts the Great Event into doubt and confusion, one can be certain that this reading is not adequate. The Church knows the Bible. The Biblical conception of truth is not the positivisitic one. If the Bible speaks of pagan religion it is in the context of the Great Plan of Universal Salvation and God’s Salvific Will.

          2. There is a way of thinking according to which grace ismere stuff, the coin of God’s kingdom, which sometimes is indulged in by traditionalists and integralists. They find certain texts which seem to justify this way of thinking which is in fact completely anti-Evangelical.

          If we do certain things, God will give us grace, this stuff, this spiritual money.

          When traditionalists and integralists talk like this they think they have discovered the key to religious pedagogy. Religion, for them, is the same as all other pursuits, except it has a different object, not money, but spiritual money.

          But this way of thinking corrupts radically what grace is, and corrupts the Gospel itself. Grace is gratuitous.

          There is here a (neo-) Pelagianism.

          Traditionalists do not have any good reason to be neo-Pelagians, because Pelagianism is not the authentic Catholic doctrine, handed down by the apostles. Nevertheless Pope Francis did well to point out the (neo-)Pelagianism present in some strains of Traditionalist thought.

          Augustine: God who made you without you will not save you without you.

          But this does not allow us to judge the world’s religions negatively, pretending that they got where they are simply by a series of idolatrous wicked deeds: “They have rejected God, especially the Jews, those Christ-killers ”

          The case of the Jews is important. The Church’s rejection of the anti-Semitic interpretation of the Jewish religion is important. Nostra Aetate is not a mere accomodation to liberalism, as the integralists seem to hold

          (I am not speaking of Blondel’s “integrisme” here, which may actually have something to do with what the Church teaches in Nostra Aetate>)

          The negative and caricatural image of the Jewish religion held by a significant part of the Traditionalist faction is not a result of simple and child-like thinking about the Gospel, it is a result of childish thinking, the result of a gnostic conception that has come to infect the Church.

          Christ came out of Israel. Er ist ein ros entsprungen..And if he came out of Israel, we can say also that he came out of the earth, something which is an everlasting scandal for the gnostics, and the Manicheans.

          When Augustine tells us that God will not save us without us, he is addressing all of us, all of the People of God. He rejects the gnostic idea of a Church of the Pure. We are all in the same boat.

          We should follow the example of St. John Paul II in his attitude towards the world’s religions, not the example of St. Pius IX in the Mortara case. The way of John Paul II has become the way of the Church. The Mortara case is a mere incident.

          The family is the Domestic Church, by kidnapping Edgardo Pius IX did no service to the Church and no service to souls. He did something which is intrinsically wrong. To defend what he did is to defend relativism.


        • The Thomistic principle that moral acts are evil by any defect and good only when integrally so, is ill used when it is used to argue against the existence of gray areas in human reality, a reality in which religion is at the center.

          Misused, this principle leads to black and white thinking.

          And black and white thinking is a tell-tale sign of the spirit of Manicheism.

          Did John Paul II not ask for forgiveness for the sins of the Church in the celebration of the Great Jubilee in the year 2000?

          (He gave us then the wonderful phrase: “An excuse is worse than a lie, because it makes a lie permanent.”

          Such an excuse is heard when certain people say “anti-semitism is a bad thing–but the Jews really deserved it, eh”.

          Such talk is the manifestation of clericalism at its worst.

          And when one falsely claims that the Jewish religion is something evil, is not one saying something like that? Is one not saying that the naughty behavior of the Jews is a reflection of the fact that the Jewish religion is evil? This is what the clerical anti-Semites are saying, as they sip their cognac.

          Then they tell us, that this is why God punishes them.

          Then they tell us for instance that the fact that Naziism was pagan means that the Church had no guilt.

          I would like to clarify here what I was saying about the neo-Pelagianism that I see in Integralism.

          The integralists read the Biblical condemnation of the ur-Pelagianism of the Jews (those who rejected God’s grace and who would justify themselves through works of the law) as a “mere historical fact” and not as a parabola; they fail to give it any particular meaning. They forget that the word of Jesus is addressed to US.

          Thus they are blind when this Pelagianism and the love of money infects their own thinking.

          Pope Francis warns us against Pelagianism, and against the love of money above all things. And the integralists turn around and tell him that he is the great subverter of morality.

          Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia affirms the existence of gray areas, to the consternation of the integralists.

          By their black and whtie thinking the integralists are not integral enough, they do not look at man in the eye, and see him as he is: fallen and redeemed.

          The existence of gray areas means that there must be discernment. Discernment lifts the fog so that we can make clear moral judgements, such as “acts of idolatry are intrinsically evil.”


      • All false religions have a mixture of truth and falsehood. But the article in the Supplementum on Purgatory, which Pater Edmund cited in his article on C.S. Lewis’ view of Hell, is relevant:

        “Evil has not a perfect cause, but results from each single defect: whereas good arises from one perfect cause, as Dionysius asserts [Div. Nom. iv, 4]. Hence each defect is an obstacle to the perfection of good; while not every good hinders some consummation of evil, since there is never evil without some good. Consequently venial sin prevents one who has charity from obtaining the perfect good, namely eternal life, until he be cleansed; whereas mortal sin cannot be hindered by some conjoined good from bringing a man forthwith to the extreme of evils.”

        In the same way, I think we can say that the presence of any error in a religion is a defect, an obstacle to its perfection. No one can be saved by clinging to the true tenets of a false religion, since those are always conjoined with its errors. I don’t know what you mean by accusing integralists of holding to a merely juridical obligation to become Catholic, but I, at least, was taught that becoming Catholic is necessary both under Divine positive law *and* in order to receive sanctifying grace, which comes only to those who, at a minimum, believe in the Incarnation and the Holy Trinity, and which is absolutely necessary to be saved.

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  11. Here is a text from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, together with footnotes and some ot the corresponding texts cited, which is meant to corroborate what I have affirmed: namely, that war is considered by the Church to be morally evil, that is intrinsically evil, and not just a mere physical evil, whose realization is may be discussed, and that therefore Just War is something paradoxical:

    497. The Magisterium condemns “the savagery of war” [1032] and asks that war be considered in a new way.[1033] In fact, “it is hardly possible to imagine that in an atomic era, war could be used as an instrument of justice”.[1034] War is a “scourge” [1035] and is never an appropriate way to resolve problems that arise between nations, “it has never been and it will never be”,[1036] because it creates new and still more complicated conflicts.[1037] When it erupts, war becomes an “unnecessary massacre”,[1038] an “adventure without return”[1039] that compromises humanity’s present and threatens its future. “Nothing is lost by peace; everything may be lost by war”.[1040] The damage caused by an armed conflict is not only material but also moral.[1041] In the end, war is “the failure of all true humanism”,[1042] “it is always a defeat for humanity”: [1043] “never again some peoples against others, never again! … no more war, no more war!” [1044]

    [1032] Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 77: AAS58 (1966), 1100; cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2307-2317.
    [1033] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes,80:AAS 58 (1966), 1103-1104.
    [1034] John XXIII, Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris: AAS 55 (1963), 291.
    [1035] Leo XIII, Address to the College of Cardinals: Acta Leonis XIII, 19 (1899), 270-272.
    [1036] John Paul II, Meeting with Officials of the Roman Vicariate (17 January 1991): L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, 21 January 1991, p. 1; cf. John Paul II, Address to the Latin-Rite Bishops of the Arabian Peninsula (1 October 1990), 4: AAS 83 (1991), 475.
    [1037] Cf. Paul VI, Address to Cardinals (24 June 1965): AAS 57 (1965), 643-644.
    [1038] Benedict XV, Appeal to the Leaders of the Warring Nations (1 August 1917): AAS 9 (1917), 423.
    [1039] John Paul II, Prayer for peace during General Audience (16 January 1991):Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XIV, 1 (1991), 121.
    [1040] Pius XII, Radio Message (24 August 1939): AAS 31 (1939) 334; John Paul II, Message for the 1993 World Day of Peace, 4: AAS 85 (1993), 433-434; cf. John XXIII, Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris: AAS 55 (1963), 288.
    [1041] Cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes 79: AAS 58 (1966), 1102-1103.
    [1042] John Paul II, Message for the 1999 World Day of Peace, 11: AAS 91 (1999), 385.
    [1043] John Paul II, Address to the Diplomatic Corps (13 January 2003), 4: L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, 15 January 2003, p. 3.
    [1044] Paul VI, Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations (4 October 1965), 5: AAS 57 (1965), 881.

    Consequently, as it points out the authentic and noble meaning of peace and condemns the frightfulness of war, the Council wishes passionately to summon Christians to cooperate, under the help of Christ the author of peace, with all men in securing among themselves a peace based on justice and love and in setting up the instruments of peace.
    GS, 77
    Thus, in this age which boasts of its atomic power, it no longer makes sense to maintain that war is a fit instrument with which to repair the violation of justice
    Pacem in Terris, 127

    But if war can end without winners or losers in a suicide of humanity, then we must repudiate the logic which leads to it: the idea that the effort to destroy the enemy, confrontation and war itself are factors of progress and historical advancement
    Centessimus Annus, n. 18
    Attentive and pressing concern for one’s neighbour
    in a moment of need — made easier today because of the new means of communication which have brought people closer together — is especially important with regard to in the search for ways to resolve international conflicts other than by war. It is not hard to see that the terrifying power of the means of destruction — to which even medium and small-sized countries have access — and the ever closer links between the peoples of the whole world make it very difficult or practically impossible to limit the consequences of a conflict. 52. Pope Benedict XV and his Successors clearly understood this danger.104 I myself, on the occasion of the recent tragic war in the Persian Gulf, repeated the cry: “Never again war!”. No, never again war, which destroys the lives of innocent people, teaches how to kill, throws into upheaval even the lives of those who do the killing and leaves behind a trail of resentment and hatred, thus making it all the more difficult to find a just solution of the very problems which provoked the war.
    Centessimus Annus 51-52


    • I think you are wrong to interpret those texts as saying that war is intrinsically evil. They are rather to be read in line with the following passage of Augustine’s Contra Faustum: «What is the evil in war? Is it the death of some who will soon die in any case, that others may live in peaceful subjection? This is mere cowardly dislike, not any religious feeling. The real evils in war are love of violence, revengeful cruelty, fierce and implacable enmity, wild resistance, and the lust of power, and such like; and it is generally to punish these things, when force is required to inflict the punishment, that, in obedience to God or some lawful authority, good men undertake wars, when they find themselves in such a position as regards the conduct of human affairs, that right conduct requires them to act, or to make others act in this way.»


      • When the Compendium condemns the savagery of war it is not condemning war just in those cases when it is realized with savagery, but it is telling us that savagery belongs to the essence of war, and that war is deeply disordered and intrinsically wrong.

        When it asks that war be considered in a new way, it is anouncing a development of doctrine with regard to war. If Pope Francis feels the Spirit was asking him to declare that Capital Punishment is anti-Evangelical, and thus to take a step beyond the steps taken by his predecesors (which, however, were very much going in the same direction) then we are justified in thinking that without changing the essence of the Just War Doctrine, the Church is condemning war with greater clarity. War is indeed a moral evil, and not just a physical evil. If we are to speak of Just War, we are to be aware that this is a profoundly paradoxical expression.

        “War is a “scourge” [1035] and is never an appropriate way to resolve problems that arise between nations, “it has never been and it will never be”,[1036] ”

        God’s moral law does not change. But man sometimes only grasps its meaning slowly.


      • When God punishes He acts salvifically. God is not a Split Personality who sometimes punishes and sometimes act salvifically. God’s punishments show God’s permanent and definitive commitment to salvation.

        That God uses Just War to PUNISH war shows that war is intrinsically evil, and that God who is Goodness Itself cannot but be opposed to it, and not the contrary.

        From the human point of view I would say that Just War is a kind of penitential act.

        This concords with what I am saying about the three parallel cases (war, kidnapping, intimacy of D&R)
        That the paradoxical case is “the exception that proves the rule”; though it is not really, in the strict sense an exception, because it is not a hiatus in the existence of the truth that what is evil is evil, nor of the primordial moral principle of bonum faciendum malum vitandum. That which realizes justice (punishment, penance) cannot at the same time be sinful.

        War is intrinsically wrong.
        Kidnapping is intrinsically wrong.
        Adultery is intrinscially wrong.

        And rigorism is a falsification of morality.


  12. Incidentally, Fr. Cessario has responded to his critics in the Letters section of the latest issue of First Things. Here is what he writes:
    I acknowledge with gratitude the courtesy and gentlemanliness that characterize the communications from Rabbi Gil Student and Pastor Joe Leavengood. Since the political regime that Pope Pius IX led came to an end in 1870, it is difficult to assess Rabbi Student’s worthy suggestions for alternative arrangements that the pope may have employed. I should point out, however, that the pope did welcome the boy’s parents in Rome.

    Both Jews and Christians join in resisting secular coercion. As the pages of First Things often suggest, the best means for accomplishing this goal may not be easier to identify now than it was during Pius’s pontificate (1846–1878). Pastor Leavengood raises, from a Christian perspective, other possible courses of action that the pope may have taken. Allow me to recall that, according to Catholic teaching, the character of baptism does not work like magic. The new life that Catholics believe baptism brings requires instruction in the faith of the Catholic Church. Such instruction precedes baptism for adults. On the other hand, baptized children require rearing in the faith just as any child requires instruction in order to develop his or her human capacities.

    The two letter-writers make arguments consonant with their respective traditions. Catholic theology ­proposes a different view. St. John Paul II, remembered for dialogue with Jews and non-Catholic Christians, confirmed Catholic tenets on baptism. Despite some objections that have reemerged within recent weeks, the pope chose to beatify Pius IX. A beatification does not endorse every political decision of the blessed. It does, however, preclude the view that Pius IX was an unrepentant sinner committed to violations of the natural law. John Paul II further chose to carry over into the 1983 Code of Canon Law provision for the licit baptism of a child in danger of death, even against the will of non-Catholic parents.

    If Catholics are to respond effectively to David Kertzer’s allegations in The Kidnapping of Edgardo ­Mortara, which two upcoming films will soon popularize, they might strengthen their grasp on certain facets of the question that did not require full treatment in my review of Mortara’s memoirs. One involves the facts of the case: Evaluation of Pope Pius IX’s actions in regard to the Mortara family, and of the family’s as well as Edgardo’s ­reactions, should be based on the most accurate detailing of the facts that political, legal, and religious history can provide. A second is the Catholic doctrine of baptism, especially its emphasis on the regenerative quality of the sacrament and its possible domestic and political implications, which the Church continues to acknowledge in her codified counsel regarding near-death situations, as well as in her use of the Pauline privilege, which allows for the dissolution of a marriage between two non-­baptized persons if one of them should subsequently receive baptism. A third and final facet of the question relates to the possible forms that distributive justice can take in Catholic confessional states, which Dignitatis Humanae admits may differ legitimately from the shape that ­distributive justice typically assumes in liberal regimes.

    My review of a book that reports the story of a man who died in 1940 does not in any way purport to compromise what, in 1965, Blessed Paul VI set down in Nostra Aetate, especially no. 4: “In her rejection of every persecution against any man, the Church, mindful of the patrimony she shares with the Jews and moved not by political reasons but by the Gospel’s spiritual love, decries hatred, persecutions, displays of anti-Semitism, directed against Jews at any time and by anyone.”


    • One should not judge Pius IX harshly, but see what he did in the light of the probable “conditionings and mitigating factors” of his historical situation. (Cfr. Amoris Laetitia, Chapter Eight). That does not, however, make what he did defensible in itself, or make of it an example of the correct application of pastoral principles which should be used as an example to hold before the men of our generations and future generations.


  13. Fr. Carl, you write, “There is a way of thinking according to which grace is mere stuff, the coin of God’s kingdom, which sometimes is indulged in by traditionalists and integralists.” That would indeed be a horrible way to think about grace. Perhaps there have been some integralists who have thought that way. But the Church’s greatest teacher of grace, St. Augustine, the least Pelagian of all theologians, who really understood that that grace is the gratuitous gift of participation in the life of Him who is more interior than my inmost part, seems a lot like what we would now call an integralist.


  14. “I would like to say just one word to be clear. When I speak of war, I speak of real war, not of a war of religion, no. There is war for interests, there is war for money, there is war for the resources of nature, there is war for the domination of peoples: this is war. Someone may think: ‘He is talking about a war of religion.’ No. In all the religions, we want peace. Others want war. Do you understand?”

    Pope Francis on flight to Poland for World Youth Day, July 28, 2016


    • This quotation is indicative of what I would call True Integralism, an Integralism which improves on the current version of integralism.

      1. It implies a meaningful idea of True Religion. It doesn’t quite give you a formal definition of True Religion, but it gives you a necessary property and sign of True Religion: True Religion promotes peace.

      2. This implies an internal connection between religion and a just social order. True Religion could not imply the promotion of peace without it being an essential property of True Religion that it be linked to the promotion of a just social order.

      Religion is essentially something interior, but it is NOT something interior in the sense that it can or does ignore expression in the promotion of a just social order.

      True religion promotes a just social order and therefore is opposed to things like kidnapping kids from their parents, which are intrinsically wrong and thus do not promote a just social order.

      This does not say everything there is to say about True Religion, but it at least gives you something substantive.

      Which makes it different than the basically vapid, unhinged and false interpretation of the truth that the Catholic Church incarnaties the One True Religion (or in the words, of the truth of the dogmatic formula of Lumen Gentium, that the True Church of Christ, vessel of True Religion, subsists in the Catholic Church): the interpretation according to which the fact that the unicity of True Religion can be transmuted, hastily, into the absurd dismissal of the other World Religions as False Religions, and thus not religions at all.

      Things are, thank goodness, more complicated.

      I don’t know if Charles de Koninck would have been happy with what Pope Francis affirms here about the relation between true religion and the cause of peace, but I think he should have been.

      If one can talk about True Religion one can also talk about true religions, as Pope Francis does.

      I have the idea that Father Edumund will not be in agreement with that.

      That he will say that talking about true religions implies the negation of the idea of One True Religion.

      I would say that it does not.

      One just has to think a little bit more, and wrestle with the complexity of things.

      I think we have here another example of the intelligent and deep things that Pope Francis has said on airplanes, indicating that he is a man of profound philosophical and theological preparation, as Pope Benedict has said of the reigning Pontiff in his recent letter.


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