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  #41  
Old 5th August 2012, 12:18 AM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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This next passage is important and fundamental, so I will quote it in full:

"49. A doctrine which dissociates the moral act from the bodily dimensions of its exercise is contrary to the teaching of Scripture and Tradition. Such a doctrine revives, in new forms, certain ancient errors which have always been opposed by the Church, inasmuch as they reduce the human person to a "spiritual" and purely formal freedom. This reduction misunderstands the moral meaning of the body and of kinds of behavior involving it (cf. 1 Cor 6:19). Saint Paul declares that "the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers" are excluded from the Kingdom of God (cf. 1 Cor 6:9). This condemnation -- repeated by the Council of Trent" -- lists as "mortal sins" or "immoral practices" certain specific kinds of behavior the willful acceptance of which prevents believers from sharing in the inheritance promised to them. In fact, body and soul are inseparable: in the person, in the willing agent and in the deliberate act, they stand or fall together."

There are many claims about morality today, from false teachers within the Church, that are examples of this type of error. They dissociate the moral meaning of the act from its bodily dimensions.

They claim, for example, that an act of direct abortion becomes indirect and moral if the intended end is to save the life of the mother. The bodily dimension of this act is that the prenatal is directly killed, making the act (by its moral object) intrinsically evil. But they disregard this bodily dimension of the act, and claim that the act is morally good, based on intention and circumstances.

The Church teaches that certain types of behavior, certain types of acts of the body (as well as interior acts of mind and heart) are inherently immoral, by the very nature of the act. The claim that the very same bodily act becomes moral due to intention or circumstances is contrary to the constant teaching of Scripture and the Magisterium. Certain kinds of acts are always immoral.
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  #42  
Old 12th August 2012, 08:31 PM
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50. The natural moral law expresses and lays down the purposes, rights and duties which are based upon the bodily and spiritual nature of the human person. Therefore this law cannot be thought of as simply a set of norms on the biological level; rather it must be defined as the rational order whereby man is called by the Creator to direct and regulate his life and actions and in particular to make use of his own body

Only in reference to the human person in his "unified totality", that is, as "a soul which expresses itself in a body and a body informed by an immortal spirit", can the specifically human meaning of the body be grasped.

~ The natural law is not based on biology, nor solely on the human person as a bodily creature. Human beings are persons because they have souls, so in order to understand moral truth from natural law, the person must be understood as body and soul, standing before God and our fellow man.
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  #43  
Old 18th August 2012, 06:21 PM
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"51. The alleged conflict between freedom and nature also has repercussions on the interpretation of certain specific aspects of the natural law, especially its universality and immutability.
...
The separation which some have posited between the freedom of individuals and the nature which all have in common, as it emerges from certain philosophical theories which are highly influential in present- day culture, obscures the perception of the universality of the moral law on the part of reason. But inasmuch as the natural law expresses the dignity of the human person and lays the foundation for his fundamental rights and duties, it is universal in its precepts and its authority extends to all mankind. This universality does not ignore the individuality of human beings, nor is it opposed to the absolute uniqueness of each person. On the contrary, it embraces at its root each of the person's free acts, which are meant to bear witness to the universality of the true good."

To be truly free is to seek, know, and live according to the eternal moral law. This law applies to each individual, and yet is also universal, applying equally to all.
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  #44  
Old 3rd September 2012, 11:49 AM
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The moral law consists of two types of precepts: positive precepts and negative precepts.

"It is right and just, always and for everyone, to serve God, to render him the worship which is his due and to honour one's parents as they deserve. Positive precepts such as these, which order us to perform certain actions and to cultivate certain dispositions, are universally binding; they are unchanging." (Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, n. 52)

The positive precepts require us to act: "You shall..." do one thing or another, such as worship God, honor your parents, keep holy the Sabbath, etc.

The negative precepts forbid an act: "You shall not..." do one thing or another, such as commit adultery, murder, theft, etc.

"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. They oblige everyone, regardless of the cost, never to offend in anyone, beginning with oneself, the personal dignity common to all." (Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, n. 52)

When the moral law forbids an act, it is never moral to commit that act. In terms of the three fonts of morality, if an act has (1) a bad intention, or (2) an evil moral object (for intrinsically evil acts), or (3) circumstances in which the act is reasonably anticipated to do more harm than good, then it is always a sin to commit that act -- as long as any one or more of these three fonts is morally-disordered.

But when the moral law requires an act, it is not required constantly. Reason and free will have the task of deciding when and how to fulfill that positive precept. The negative precepts forbid an act always. The positive precepts require an act, depending on circumstances:

"Furthermore, what must be done in any given situation depends on the circumstances, not all of which can be foreseen; on the other hand there are kinds of behaviour which can never, in any situation, be a proper response -- a response which is in conformity with the dignity of the person. Finally, it is always possible that man, as the result of coercion or other circumstances, can be hindered from doing certain good actions; but he can never be hindered from not doing certain actions, especially if he is prepared to die rather than to do evil." (Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, n. 52)
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  #45  
Old 6th September 2012, 08:57 PM
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52. The Church has always taught that one may never choose kinds of behaviour prohibited by the moral commandments expressed in negative form in the Old and New Testaments. As we have seen, Jesus himself reaffirms that these prohibitions allow no exceptions: "If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments... You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness" (Mt 19:17-18).

This teaching by Pope John Paul II from Tradition and Scripture is infallible: there are certain kinds of acts that are always immoral. There are no exceptions. This is the teaching of Jesus and of His Church. And this is the basis for the teaching that follows in Veritatis Splendor on intrinsically evil acts.

An intrinsically evil act is an act that is immoral by its type. The act is inherently immoral, by the nature of the act. In and of itself, the act is morally disordered, regardless of intention or circumstances.
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  #46  
Old 23rd September 2012, 08:33 PM
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"53. The great concern of our contemporaries for historicity and for culture has led some to call into question the immutability of the natural law itself, and thus the existence of "objective norms of morality" valid for all people of the present and the future, as for those of the past. Is it ever possible, they ask, to consider as universally valid and always binding certain rational determinations established in the past, when no one knew the progress humanity would make in the future?"

JP2 rejects this common argument against Catholic ethics. The eternal moral law is not only based on the Goodness inherent to the Nature of God, it is also based on natural law, especially the goodness inherent to human nature, apart from sin.

"...human nature: this nature is itself the measure of culture and the condition ensuring that man does not become the prisoner of any of his cultures, but asserts his personal dignity by living in accordance with the profound truth of his being."

"This is the reason why "the Church affirms that underlying so many changes there are some things which do not change and are ultimately founded upon Christ, who is the same yesterday and today and for ever". Christ is the "Beginning" who, having taken on human nature, definitively illumines it in its constitutive elements and in its dynamism of charity towards God and neighbour."

The Goodness in the Divine Nature and the goodness of human nature meet in the Incarnate Word, who therefore expresses the dual basis for the eternal moral law: love of God in His Divine Nature, and love of neighbor as self, due to the goodness of human nature.

"This truth of the moral law -- like that of the "deposit of faith" -- unfolds down the centuries: the norms expressing that truth remain valid in their substance, but must be specified and determined "eodem sensu eademque sententia" [with the same understanding and the same judgment (or, more loosely, the same application)] in the light of historical circumstances by the Church's Magisterium, whose decision is preceded and accompanied by the work of interpretation and formulation characteristic of the reason of individual believers and of theological reflection."

Notice that the Magisterium's decisions on doctrine are aided by the work of the faithful and particularly of theologians in their understanding and application of the truths of the eternal moral law. We all have the role of assisting the Magisterium in understanding the deposit of faith, in explaining it to each culture and each generation, and in applying that understanding to our lives.
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  #47  
Old 20th October 2012, 05:42 PM
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"54. The relationship between man's freedom and God's law is most deeply lived out in the "heart" of the person, in his moral conscience. As the Second Vatican Council observed: "In the depths of his conscience man detects a law which he does not impose on himself, but which holds him to obedience. Always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience can when necessary speak to his heart more specifically: 'do this, shun that'. For man has in his heart a law written by God. To obey it is the very dignity of man; according to it he will be judged (cf. Rom 2:14-16)".

"The way in which one conceives the relationship between freedom and law is thus intimately bound up with one's understanding of the moral conscience. Here the cultural tendencies referred to above -- in which freedom and law are set in opposition to each other and kept apart, and freedom is exalted almost to the point of idolatry -- lead to a "creative" understanding of moral conscience, which diverges from the teaching of the Church's tradition and her Magisterium. "

Here the holy Pontiff calls the faithful back to the traditional teaching of the Church on morality and conscience. He says to us "do this" (learn the teaching of the Magisterium) and "shun that" (reject the modernist re-interpretation of conscience and morality).

As we will see in the remainder of this document (VS), the conscience must evaluate acts based on three criteria only: (1) intention, (2) moral object, (3) circumstances. Truths on morality are objective; they exist apart from man, because Justice and Truth are inherent to the nature of God. So our conscience must always seen objective truth, and not a creative means to justify sin, or to categorize sin as somehow moral or good.
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  #48  
Old 31st January 2013, 01:27 PM
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'55. According to the opinion of some theologians, the function of conscience had been reduced, at least at a certain period in the past, to a simple application of general moral norms to individual cases in the life of the person. But those norms, they continue, cannot be expected to foresee and to respect all the individual concrete acts of the person in all their uniqueness and particularity. While such norms might somehow be useful for a correct assessment of the situation, they cannot replace the individual personal decision on how to act in particular cases. The critique already mentioned of the traditional understanding of human nature and of its importance for the moral life has even led certain authors to state that these norms are not so much a binding objective criterion for judgments of conscience, but a general perspective which helps man tentatively to put order into his personal and social life. These authors also stress the complexity typical of the phenomenon of conscience, a complexity profoundly related to the whole sphere of psychology and the emotions, and to the numerous influences exerted by the individual's social and cultural environment. On the other hand, they give maximum attention to the value of conscience, which the Council itself defined as "the sanctuary of man, where he is alone with God whose voice echoes within him".102 This voice, it is said, leads man not so much to a meticulous observance of universal norms as to a creative and responsible acceptance of the personal tasks entrusted to him by God.

'In their desire to emphasize the "creative" character of conscience, certain authors no longer call its actions "judgments" but "decisions" : only by making these decisions "autonomously" would man be able to attain moral maturity. Some even hold that this process of maturing is inhibited by the excessively categorical position adopted by the Church's Magisterium in many moral questions; for them, the Church's interventions are the cause of unnecessary conflicts of conscience.'

-- In the above passage, Pope John Paul II describes the erroneous position on ethics of some Catholic authors. My comment is that these types of errors result from attempting to answer questions on faith and morals without using Tradition, Scripture, Magisterium as the three sources of truth. Some authors attempt, not to discern objective moral truth, but to invent an excuse for their sins. It is as if they are taking it upon themselves to decide good and evil.
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