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  #1  
Old 19th November 2009, 04:25 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Default Q & A on morals

If any members have any questions on moral theology, please post them here.

Non-members may e-mail me their questions on this subject, and I'll consider possibly replying in this thread to those questions.

My email address is theologian followed by the at symbol and then catholicplanet dot com
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  #2  
Old 19th November 2009, 11:55 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Question (from an e-mail):

Whether a deceased Catholic politician (such as Sen. Kennedy), who was pro-abortion,
and who therefore was automatically excommunicated, should be allowed to have a Catholic funeral?

Answer:

A Catholic politician who, despite knowing the teaching of the Church,
obstinately doubts or obstinately denies that direct abortion is always
gravely immoral commits the sin of formal heresy; the penalty is automatic
excommunication.

A Catholic politician who votes to legalize direct abortion, or to substantially broaden
access to direct abortion commits the sin of procuring abortion; again, the penalty is
automatic excommunication.

A Catholic who was automatically excommunicated can be given a Catholic
funeral, because the funeral is not a reception by him (the deceased) of a
Sacrament. Excommunication is for the purpose of causing the sinner to
repent and return to the Church. Once that purpose ends with death, so that
the sinner is now judged by God, the excommunication has ended.

The funeral is for the spiritual benefit of the many family and friends of the
deceased. So out of mercy to the surviving family and friends, it
would not be immoral, nor contrary to Canon Law, to give such a person
a funeral. But he should not be praised at the funeral for the very thing that
caused his excommunication.
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  #3  
Old 20th November 2009, 11:26 AM
Joey Joey is offline
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But isn't the funeral Mass also for the benefit of the deceased? Isn't the offering of Holy Mass the best way to expediate Heaven for those in Purgatory?
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Old 20th November 2009, 01:11 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joey View Post
But isn't the funeral Mass also for the benefit of the deceased? Isn't the offering of Holy Mass the best way to expediate Heaven for those in Purgatory?

Yes, the funeral Mass benefits the deceased, if he is in Purgatory.
I did not mean to imply otherwise.
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  #5  
Old 22nd November 2009, 01:00 PM
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There are three infallible statements in Evangelium Vitae:

I. on murder

Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that the direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being is always gravely immoral. This doctrine, based upon that unwritten law which man, in the light of reason, finds in his own heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is reaffirmed by Sacred Scripture, transmitted by the Tradition of the Church and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

II. on abortion

Therefore, by the authority which Christ conferred upon Peter and his Successors, in communion with the Bishops-who on various occasions have condemned abortion and who in the aforementioned consultation, albeit dispersed throughout the world, have shown unanimous agreement concerning this doctrine--I declare that direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder, since it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written Word of God, is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.

III. on euthanasia

Taking into account these distinctions, in harmony with the Magisterium of my Predecessors and in communion with the Bishops of the Catholic Church, I confirm that euthanasia is a grave violation of the law of God, since it is the deliberate and morally unacceptable killing of a human person. This doctrine is based upon the natural law and upon the written word of God, is transmitted by the Church's Tradition and taught by the ordinary and universal Magisterium.
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Old 22nd November 2009, 01:31 PM
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Are these teachings infallible?

Each is said to be taught by natural law, Scripture, Tradition, and the universal Magisterium.

Scripture and Tradition are each infallible, but this type of infallibility is called material dogma. Unless an infallible teaching of Scripture or Tradition is clearly and definitively taught, such as that Christ died for our salvation, it is not an infallible required belief ('formal dogma'), because persons might misunderstand what is taught.

However, truths taught by the the ordinary and univeral Magisterium are both infallible and required beliefs, because the Magisterium has infallibly taught a truth from Tradition or Scripture.

If Catholics disagree about what Scripture or Tradition is teaching, it is not a question of heresy, unless the Magisterium has infallibly taught from Scripture or Tradition on that same point. Then the teaching is infallible and a required belief; and to reject that teaching would be heresy. So each of these three teachings is infallible and a required belief, under pain of heresy and its penalties.

Natural law in one sense is infallible, in that the moral truths inherent to created things and the relationship between created things cannot be false; but we might err in interpreting natural law.

However, speaking in general, there is a theologial problem with the Pope declaring that a teaching falls under the universal Magisterium. Such a declaration by itself does not establish that a teaching has been taught by the universal Magisterium, because a Pope might be expressing a theological opinion that a teaching falls under the UM. On the other hand, if a Pope used papal infallibility to say that a teaching falls under the UM, it would fall under both papal infallibility and the UM.

Also, teachings under the UM are established by a series of non-defining acts. There is no one statement that is by itself infallible, but rather a series of different statements (and perhaps other types of witness to truth) that are issued by many different Bishops, and perhaps by successive Popes, all teaching the same truth, usually in different wording. So no one statement in a papal document can be, by itself, a teaching of the UM.

A further problem occurs because the Pope states that he is teaching in communion with all the Bishops of the world, and that he consulted the Cardinals and all the Bishops. He is not teaching by himself, and so this would indicate that this is not an act of papal infallibility.

Conclusions:
Certainly, the teaching against murder, abortion, and euthanasia is the teaching of Scripture and Tradition, and so is material dogma (it is in fact an infallible teaching). All formal dogmas are first material dogmas, because all the truths taught by the Magisterium are found in Tradition and Scripture.

Certainly, this same threefold teaching is also infallible under the UM, making this material dogma also a formal dogma and a required belief.

The Pope states that he is teaching with the Bishops dispersed through the world, thereby referencing the Vatican II definition of the UM. However, these three statements are not, by themselves infallible under the UM; they can be considered a part of the set of teachings by all the Bishops and the Pope, and by successive Bishops and successive Popes, which together constitute a teaching under the UM.

Some theologians are of the opinion that these statements fall under papal infallibility, but the entire document was written in close consulations with the Cardinals and Bishops, at the request of the Cardinals, and the Pope specifically states in the definition that he is teaching with all the Bishops. So the statements would not fall under papal infallibility.

The third possibility is that each statement falls under that type of infallibility usually exercised by an Ecumenical Council. No Council gathered to write and approve this document. But the statements were issued by the Pope and the Bishops, and as a definition, not as a set of non-defining acts.

My opinion is that these three statements each fall under the infallibility usually found in an Ecumenical Council, but without the formal gathering. The statements are solemn definitions and so must fall under either Papal infallibility or the infallibility of the body of Bishops led by the Pope. The Pope specifically states that he is teaching with the Bishops, so that rules out papal infallibility. There is nothing to require a formal gathering in order for the Pope and the body of Bishops to teach by solemn definition.
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  #7  
Old 15th May 2010, 11:27 PM
alpha5 alpha5 is offline
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Default On dancing

Is it really a sin to go to parties and dance?
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Old 16th May 2010, 02:05 AM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alpha5 View Post
Is it really a sin to go to parties and dance?

It is not intrinsically evil to go to a party or to dance, so the morality of these acts would depend on intention and circumstances.

If you are likely to sin if you go to a particular party, this is called an occasion of sin. People should generally avoid occasions of sin. It would be a sin to go to a party if you knew that there was a likelihood that you would sin seriously. Dancing is generally moral, although some modern forms of dance are not so much dancing as sexually provocative behavior; this type of behavior is immodest and likely to lead one's self or another person into sin.

We will cover occasions of sin in greater depth later, in the threads on the Catechism of Catholic Ethics.
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Old 20th May 2010, 08:09 AM
alpha5 alpha5 is offline
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Default On lost virginity

Ron, I have a question. St Thomas Aquinas stated that someone who had lost their virginity can still, by repentance, be restored to virtue and to the right of the aureola that is due only to the virgins. How is this to be understood?

St Margaret of Cortona lived almost ten years with a man who was not her husband (hence practiced fornication with that man) and even conceived a child with him. Yet, Jesus told her that her sufferings and penances had reintegrated her into the purity of a virgin and that she would be placed among the virgins in Heaven. He granted her also the gift of mystical marriage with Him. Moreover, He told her that St Mary Magdalene had also been placed among the virgins (by the same reason), and that she was one of the greatest virgin saints in Heaven. So this example confirms what St Thomas Aquinas had stated.

But I still don't know how to understand that. I mean, is this to be understood in full generality? How about someone who lost their virginity by practicing unnatural vice with countless sexual partners, for example. Can they still, after a generous repentance, hope for the aureola given only to the virgins, if they practice chastity and celibacy (and penance) for the rest of their lives?
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Old 20th May 2010, 12:06 PM
Ron Conte Ron Conte is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alpha5 View Post
Ron, I have a question. St Thomas Aquinas stated that someone who had lost their virginity can still, by repentance, be restored to virtue and to the right of the aureola that is due only to the virgins. How is this to be understood?

St Margaret of Cortona lived almost ten years with a man who was not her husband (hence practiced fornication with that man) and even conceived a child with him. Yet, Jesus told her that her sufferings and penances had reintegrated her into the purity of a virgin and that she would be placed among the virgins in Heaven. He granted her also the gift of mystical marriage with Him. Moreover, He told her that St Mary Magdalene had also been placed among the virgins (by the same reason), and that she was one of the greatest virgin saints in Heaven. So this example confirms what St Thomas Aquinas had stated.

But I still don't know how to understand that. I mean, is this to be understood in full generality? How about someone who lost their virginity by practicing unnatural vice with countless sexual partners, for example. Can they still, after a generous repentance, hope for the aureola given only to the virgins, if they practice chastity and celibacy (and penance) for the rest of their lives?

This article quotes St. Jerome with a different opinion.
"Virginity is irreparably lost by sexual pleasure, voluntarily and completely experienced. "I tell you without hesitation", writes St. Jerome in his twenty-second Epistle to St. Eustochium, n. 5 (P.L., XXII, 397) "that though God is almighty, He cannot restore a virginity that has been lost." A failure in the resolution, or even incomplete faults, leave room for efficacious repentance, which restores virtue and the right to the aureola."
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15458a.htm

My understanding is that if a person loses his or her virginity, then he or she cannot change that fact by any means. However, virginity includes spiritual purity as well as bodily virginity. So as concerns the soul, certainly any sin can be repented of, and forgiven, returning the soul to pristine purity. So this must have been what Jesus was referring to.

The right of the aureola refers to a type of reward in heaven for virtue in this life, so it applies to spiritual purity, more so than bodily purity. A person who is a virgin by circumstance, not by virtue, does not have that reward, whereas a person who sins, repents thoroughly and does penance, may have that reward. The soul is greater than the body, and so spiritual purity is greater than bodily purity.
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