A gift that keeps on giving…

Correction Reactions:
Chronicling the Chaos following the Correctio Filialis

The Background

Remember the “Synod on the Family” in 2014? That’s when all the talk about “communion for the divorced-and-remarried” started. At the time, there was no end to hearing about the “October Synod”. When the first synod document was released, the so-called Relatio Post Disceptationem (“Report after Discussions”), all hell broke loose, although the usual Novus Ordo apologists were still trying to save the baby. Mr. John Zuhlsdorf (“Fr. Z”), for example, told his readers to beware of media distortions, warning of a “Synod of the Media”.

But truth is stranger than fiction, and the media could never come up with the kind of nonsense Novus Ordo bishops are capable of devising: It was at the October 2014 Synod that the course was set to adopt the Vatican II “ecclesial elements” heresy and apply it to morality. From now on, “virtuous elements” were to be identified in immoral sexual relationships, just as Vatican II had found “ecclesial elements” in false religions. For the final document, Francis directly intervened to ensure it would contain passages discussing the reception of “Communion” by adulterers and the “pastoral accompaniment” of sodomites, even though the synod fathers had rejected inclusion of these paragraphs in the final vote.

Then we were told there would be another synod a year later to complete the work of the 2014 gathering. And so it happened: The October 2015 Synod arrived and took almost three weeks to complete. Everyone was excitedly waiting to see what decision Francis would render at the end: Would he side with the liberals or the conversatives? But Francis being Francis, he avoided making a clear pronouncement so that both liberals and conservatives were able to claim victory — sound familiar?

Then everyone was waiting for the post-synodal “Apostolic Exhortation” that Francis was going to issue. Surely Francis would make a decision then: “Communion” for unrepentant adulterers — yes or no? When it finally arrived, it was called Amoris Laetitia, and we’re still living that nightmare today. In an effort to once again pacify his panicking readers, Mr. Zuhlsdorf had declared prematurely that “we have dodged a bullet”, revealing what his expert analysis is really worth. The teaching of the Bergoglian exhortation is so ridiculous that the best way to summarize it is to look at these hilarious memes illustrating its absurdity.

Amoris Laetitia has set a new standard in post-conciliar Novus Ordo drama. Approximately three months after the infernal exhortation’s publication, 45 Novus Ordo scholars wrote an open letter to the college of “cardinals”, including a theological refutation of as many as 19 heresies and other errors found in Francis’ Amoris Laetitia — predictably, with no effect whatsoever. The same result was achieved by the 30-minute Plea to the Pope video issued by numerous life and family leaders a short time thereafter.

On Sep. 19, 2016, four Novus Ordo cardinals submitted five precise questions (“dubia“) to Francis that demand a clear “yes” or “no” answer from the “Supreme Pontiff”. When it became clear that Francis had not the slightest interest in answering them, the “cardinals” made their dubia public. This is when everything irrevocably hit the fan.

Since the public release of the dubia, things have been happening in rapid succession. Support for and criticism of the dubia was accompanied by endless discussions about what Francis did and didn’t say, did and didn’t mean, will or won’t do. Various reports about Francis from “behind the scenes” (such as this one and that one) have fanned the flames further.

Interestingly enough, some bloggers and journalists even began to drop their reluctance to using the word “schism” in connection with the drama about Francis and Amoris Laetitia. In fact, a report appeared according to which Francis allegedly said: “It’s not impossible that I will go down in history as the one who split the Catholic Church”. And while the Kazakh “Bishop” Athanasius Schneider introduced an entirely novel concept of “schism”, one which he said he sees already realized in the [Novus Ordo] Church, a Colombian academic, politician, and television personality publicly denounced Francis as a heretical Antipope.

Towards the end of 2016, “Cardinal” Raymond Burke rocked the boat when he announced that if Francis doesn’t answer the dubia, then there will be a “formal act of correction”. To this day, we’re still waiting for that very thing.

In June of 2017, it was revealed that one of the four authors of the dubia, “Cardinal” Carlo Caffarra, had had his request for an audience effectively denied — an audience in which he wanted to discuss the concerns regarding Amoris Laetitia. Francis’ refusal to grant the audience was only consistent, since he had been going out of his way to avoid giving the “cardinals” any opportunity to confront him on the issue.

Aug. 11, 2017, marked another milestone in the drama: 62 Novus Ordo scholars issued a 25-page Filial Correction concerning Propagated Heresies (“Correctio Filialis De Haeresibus Propagatis”) against Francis, accusing the papal pretender of seven heresies found in Amoris Laetitia. Naturally, Bergoglio’s response has been to continue his deafening silence, with a slight exception when speaking to Jesuits during his trip to Colombia. Due to Francis’ continued silence, the “filial correctors” decided to release the full text of the Correctio to the public, which they did on Sep. 23.

What follows now is a chronicle of the reactions to this initiative.

Initial Reactions to the Correctio Filialis

One of the very first reactions to the Correctio Filialis came from the retired Novus Ordo bishop Rene Henry Gracida, who on Sep. 24 asked that his name be added to the list of signatories, throwing his full support behind the document. This made Gracida the first — and, as of the time of this writing, the only — “bishop” in the Vatican II Sect to officially accuse Francis of heresy (more on that here).

Francis admirer Stephen Walford wasted no time in accusing the filial correctors of “hypocrisy” for mimicking Martin Luther by rejecting magisterial teaching while at the same time accusing Francis of Lutheranism. A few days later, he followed up with another, more elaborate article, in which he argues that the correctors themselves do not adhere to all pre-Francis teaching and have, in a quote from Vatican I’s dogmatic constitution Pastor Aeternus, strategically omitted a crucial portion that contradicts their position. Protestants, of course, are having a field day with this because they see their own positions vindicated as Novus Ordos try to make sense of the Francis “papacy”.

At Medias-Presse.info, Christian Lassale warned that the Correctio is an “antidote injected by an infected syringe”, whereas the Resignationist blogger Louie Verrecchio pointed to a curiosity: Several of the Correctio signatories now accusing Francis of heresy had claimed earlier in the year that despite all its flaws, Amoris Laetitia did not contain any denial of dogma; in particular: “Fr.” John Hunwicke, “Fr.” Linus Clovis, and Dr. Claudio Pierantoni. In contrast to these individuals, The Remnant editor Michael Matt finds himself still unable to accuse Francis of denying dogma in Amoris Laetitia, even after 62 filial correctors, including his own columnist Chris Ferrara, have identified as many as seven “heresies and errors which an unbiased reader, attempting to read Amoris laetitia in its natural and obvious sense, would plausibly take to be affirmed, suggested or favoured by this document” (Correctio Filialis de Haeresibus Propagatis, p. 9).

On Sep. 25, reports started surfacing that the Vatican had blocked its computers from accessing the web page that allows one to add one’s signature to the Filial Correction, something promptly denied by the Vatican. Indeed it would not make much sense for the Unholy See to block that one page while allowing access to the text of the Correctio. In any case, the kerfuffle over the Vatican computer block ended up benefiting the filial correctors since it drew additional attention to the initiative.

The same day, Vaticanist Marco Tosatti observed that the initial reactions had been of two kinds (1) those that belittle, label, and marginalize; and (2) no reaction at all — silence. A day later, the heretical “Cardinal” Müller suggested that Francis appoint a group of “cardinals” to begin a “theological disputation” with the filial correctors, something seconded by the Secretary of State, “Cardinal” Pietro Parolin. Should Francis take up this suggestion, which we are very certain he will not do, then it is to be expected that any such debates will go where the Vatican’s talks with the Society of St. Pius X have gone: exactly nowhere.

Speaking of the SSPX, it was surprising to see that the head of the Lefebvrists, Bp. Bernard Fellay, also signed his name to the Filial Correction, a move he explains here. Fellay, whose second 12-year term as Superior General ends next year, after what may perhaps be called an initial indiscretion has kept relatively quiet about the never-ending heresies, outrages, blasphemies, and impieties perpetrated by the “Pope.” At the Sodalitium Pianum blog, Sean Johnson provides his own hypothesis on why Bp. Fellay has decided to join the other signatories in accusing the “Pope” of heresy.

As far as mainstream coverage of the whole initiative goes, Filial Correction spokesman Dr. Joseph Shaw expressed his happy surprise at the positive and fair journalism he experienced.

Mudslinging, Translation Issues, and more Confusion

The first high-profile defense of Francis against the Correctio came from the infamous “Archbishop” Bruno Forte, who played a prominent role at the 2014/2015 Synods on the Family and is one of the very few “bishops” once invalidly consecrated by none other than Joseph Ratzinger. Not surprisingly, Forte’s defense was filled with rhetoric but entirely devoid of theological substance. Another Roman pseudo-theologian accused the correctors of “anti-papal manipulation” and complained that their understanding of grace wasn’t “dynamic” enough, while a Modernist professor from Salzburg accused the correctors of “dirty campaigning.”

Dr. Robert Fastiggi (who once debated a sedevacantist bishop) and Dr. Dawn Eden Goldstein attempted to blame it all on a mistranslation of the official Latin text. How convincing that argument is, people can evaluate for themselves in light of this reply, this one, this one, and that one. But of course Fastiggi countered with a rejoinder to these arguments. Some other attempts to refute the theses of the Filial Correction on theological grounds were downright idiotic, such as the one by David Mills of Ethika Politika.

Dr. Jeffrey Mirus mistook the Filial Correction of the (supposed) papal Magisterium with the fraternal correction of personal papal behavior given by St. Paul in Gal 2:11-15, a very common error refuted here (scroll down to “Appendix”). The same mistake was made by Dr. Michael Sirilla of Franciscan University of Steubenville, who argued for the moral permissibility of issuing the Filial Correction. Of course the case of Pope John XXII is frequently invoked by many as supposedly providing historical precedent, but this is something we have succinctly debunked here.

Then there was a big fuss over names showing up as signatories to the Correctio without people’s knowledge or consent, in an apparent attempt to discredit the initiative.

On Sep. 28, the official spokesman for the Filial Correction appeared on EWTN’s flagship program The World Over with Raymond Arroyo. The video is available here:

The same day, an extensive interview with “Cardinal” Muller was published, in which the former head of the Novus Ordo “Holy Office” weighed in on Amoris Laetitia, the dubia, and related issues. Robert Moynihan of Inside the Vatican summarized the ten most salient points in a newsletter he emailed out a day later.

Then, the news broke that Francis himself had reacted to the Filial Correction: The apostate Jesuit rag La Civiltà Cattolica published a transcript of Francis’ meeting with fellow-Jesuits when he visited Cartagena in Colombia back in August. During this conversation, he brought up some people’s criticism of Amoris Laetitia. The essence of his “response” was that the document needs to be read from beginning to end and that it’s Thomistic. That solves it! We mopped the floor with Francis’ remarks here.

A Cacophony of Corrections and Correctors

Of course, just as a public correction like the Correctio Filialis triggers counter-corrections, so counter-corrections engender further rejoinders by the original objectors, and this is exactly what we got. On Sep. 29, Dr. Shaw published a brief rejoinder to Stephen Walford, Robert Fastiggi, Dawn Eden Goldstein, and Jacob Wood, but this was only the beginning.

The same day, the Novus Ordo cult Opus Dei weighed in. The order’s Vicar General, “Mgr.” Mariano Fazio, said the correctors are “attack[ing] the Pope” and faulted them for voicing their disagreements in public, thus “scandalizing” others — something to which Dr. Shaw responded a few days later. It is unfortunate that Mr. Fazio did not comment on the fact that the first name on the list of the 62 original signatories is that of Dr. Gerard J. M. van den Aardweg, who is linked to Opus Dei.

After being fired from his teaching position in Granada, Spain for signing the Filial Correction, Austrian philosopher Dr. Josef Seifert complained of a “persecution of orthodoxy” under Francis — as though orthodoxy hadn’t already been under persecution since Vatican II. Resignationist Louie Verrecchio chimed in on this, commending Seifert for his desire to fight for truth and justice but urging him to please “identify the real enemy”. Another philosopher who contributed to the discussion over Amoris Laetitia, the Filial Correction, and Dr. Seifert’s firing is the German Dr. Robert Spaemann, who accused Francis of “splitting” the church with his “apostolic exhortation”.

The Italian philosopher Rocco Buttiglione, on the other hand, did not take kindly to the Correctio. In a lengthy interview given to La Stampa, Buttiglione responded to each of the seven accusations of heresy against Francis and accuses the correctors of “judging the Pope”. Not surprisingly, it did not take long for Buttiglione to find himself being corrected, by Novus Ordo canon lawyer Dr. Edward Peters, who contradicted him on several points. The Italian Vaticanist Sandro Magister observed that now “even the philosophers are ‘correcting’ each other”, referring to a “duel” between Buttiglione and Pierantoni.

On Oct. 1, Aaron Seng published a very readable post entitled, “Subsistit Ad Nauseam: ‘Full’ Church Heading for ‘Partial’ Marriage”, in which he argued that if we can, as Vatican II says, have “ecclesial elements” in other religions, why not have “matrimonial elements” in other relationships? This, of course, is exactly the argument that was proposed at the Synod in 2014, and was adopted by “Pope” Francis in Amoris Laetitia (n. 292). In the meantime “Cardinal” Francesco Coccopalmerio has even suggested applying the notion of elements to the validity of sacraments! Unfortunately, it must not have occurred to Seng that the true Roman Catholic Church cannot teach such nonsense. It is regrettable to see him simply declare that the Vatican II Sect is wrong, not just on ecclesiology but now also on marriage: “There is no partial marriage, because there is no partial Church.” Why anyone should take seriously — much less convert to or remain in — a church that cannot even get its own nature right, is not answered in the post.

Fastiggi and Goldstein returned a short while later to charge the filial correctors with failing to follow the guidelines for faithful theological discourse laid out in Donum Veritatis, the Vatican instruction “on the ecclesial vocation of the theologian” issued in 1990 by “Cardinal” Ratzinger, when he was head of the Congregation for the Destruction of the Faith. Fastiggi and Goldstein were not the only ones to make this argument. Dr. Shaw did not fail to respond, publishing “A Challenge for Fastiggi and Goldstein”. The two authors so challenged were happy to reply, and Dr. Shaw presented and evaluated their arguments in this post.

The Remnant‘s chief polemicist, Christopher Ferrara, decided to join the debate as well and took Fastiggi and Goldstein to task, not once but twice. When Fastiggi decided to respond to his critic, The Remnant published a third reply.

Additional Contributions to the Debate

Shortly after the release of the Filial Correction but independent of it, “Cardinal” Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation of Bogus Bishops, gave a speech that found fault with both the “alarmist” and the “permissive” interpretation of Amoris Laetitia — a microcosm of the battle over Vatican II. Perhaps one day it will occur to these master interpreters that the perpetual wars over the “correct” interpretation of this or that “papal” document could be avoided altogether if the pretend-Pope in Rome could simply express himself in a clear and unambiguous way. “But let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of evil” (Mt 5:37).

The infamous über-Modernist “Fr.” Thomas Reese, S.J., from 1998-2005 editor of the Jesuit rag America, happily welcomed the 62 signatories of the Correctio to the magisterial cafeteria: “The truth is all Catholics are cafeteria Catholics. Conservative Catholics were quite willing to ignore John Paul’s and Benedict’s strong statements on justice and peace, and progressive Catholics are happy to ignore Francis’ opposition to women priests.” This is the conundrum you eventually get when you accept manifestly heretical pretend-popes as Vicars of Christ, but that’s another subject.

In the battle over Amoris Laetitia and the Correctio Filialis, there were also a few contributions that can only be labeled “doozies” — one of a kind. Matthew Sewell published one such.

Blogger Steven O’Reilly saw the Filial Correction also as a challenge to Resignationists (those who believe Benedict XVI’s resignation was invalid and he is still Pope), whereas a blogger at Non Veni Pacem had a slightly different — but no less interesting — take.

Conservative Novus Ordo historian Roberto De Mattei provided an initial reflection on the significance and impact of the Correctio Filialis before offering “a first appraisal” of the reaction jungle on Oct. 4. Meanwhile, mainstream Novus Ordo web sites had begun cranking out posts of the “What is a Catholic to think of the Filial Correction?” type. Among them one by Matt Hadro and one by Jacob Wood.

By the way, Andrea Tornielli is one of the few people who remembered that a Novus Ordo “Pope” being accused of heresy is by no means a new phenomenon, although he forgot the most significant example of all: the Books of Accusation issued by Fr. Georges de Nantes (1924-2010), commonly known as the “Abbé de Nantes”. This French priest, who was not a sedevacantist, produced three thoroughly-documented Libri Accusationis: one against Paul VI, one against John Paul II, and one against the author of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church. And guess what: None of this accomplished a thing!

A “tangential observation” on the whole controversy was provided by “Fr.” Hugh, by the way, a Novus Ordo Benedictine.

Semi-Traditionalist Atila Sinke Guimaraes contributed his two cents by making the apt observation that the Filial Correction is flawed at its root because, among other things, it “exonerates from blame both Vatican II and the five other conciliar Popes who should be included in the same accusation directed against Francis.”

Guimaraes’ thesis was unwittingly underscored by Rorate Caeli, where someone had the glorious idea of digging up an old Ratzinger quote from the 1960s against the papal Magisterium, apparently oblivious to the fact that the man who later became “Pope” Benedict XVI is one of the greatest Modernists of all time and has denied, among other things, the Catholic dogma of Papal Primacy proclaimed at Vatican I.

Speaking of Benedict XVI, Sedevacantist Tom Droleskey noted that in three instances, the Correctio damns Ratzinger just as much as it does Francis, and pointed out in two follow-up articles that this Filial Correction itself stands in need of a correction (here and here).

What will happen if Francis doesn’t correct the errors that have now been pointed out to him so forcefully? “Schism” is the answer given by one of the signatories to the Correctio. Too bad that one professor of philosophy in Rome has now even raised his own dubia on the Filial Correction itself.

What a madhouse!

You ain’t seen Nothin’ yet

It is important to understand that because of the false principles it contains in an inchoate manner, Amoris Laetitia will wreak havoc on “Catholic” theology for generations to come. It provides the putatively magisterial foundation for the Novus Ordo version of situation ethics and will inevitably lead to the utter breakdown of what is left of Catholic morality in the Vatican II Sect. So, fasten your seatbelts, because “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet”!

Already Francis’ mouthpiece and fellow-Jesuit apostate “Fr.” Antonio Spadaro is arguing that we can no longer hold everybody to the same moral standard: “It is no longer possible to judge people on the basis of a norm that stands above all”, he said at a conference in Boston. In other words, whether or not people are permitted to commit adultery now depends. We suspect, however, that when it comes to issues that are truly dear to their Modernist hearts — such as recycling, racism, and capital punishment –, these people will quickly remember the absoluteness of moral laws. No “accompaniment” there!

The Filial Correctors: Even if they win, they lose

Back in August, sedevacantist Bp. Donald Sanborn had pointed out that the idea of a formal “act of correction” of the Pope, as “Cardinal” Burke envisions it, would be contrary to Catholic teaching and, if successful, would make matters worse rather than better. On Oct. 18, Bp. Sanborn published his reaction to the Filial Correction and hit the nail on the head:

A “correction” implies two obvious problems: (1) that we cannot trust the teaching of the pope; (2) that we should trust the teaching of the correctors.

What is the purpose of a pope if he is subject to correction by a self-appointed Board of Correctors? Who assists the Board of Correctors? The Holy Ghost? Where in Sacred Scripture or Tradition is a Board of Correctors mentioned?

To set up a system of “correction” of heretical “popes,” done by self-appointed “correctors,” implies that it is quite possible that a Catholic pope promulgate heresy to the entire Church, and quite normal that self-appointed “correctors” come to the rescue.

It means that the infallibility of the Church rests with a board of self-appointed correctors.

In such a case, why do we need a pope? Why not just have the Board of Correctors?

(Bp. Donald Sanborn, “Correctio Filialis”, In Veritate, Oct. 18, 2017)

The theological freak show about Amoris Laetitia we are now witnessing is the natural result of two sides that are diametrically opposed to one another but united in the same error: the idea that Jorge Mario Bergoglio is the Pope of the Catholic Church. That is the linchpin that holds the entire madhouse together.

Remove it, and everything will fall into place.

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19 Responses to “Correction Reactions: Chronicling the Chaos following the “Correctio Filialis””

  1. bartmaeus

    “Synod on the Family”. A bit passe. That title should be changed to reflect the current diversity of kinds of relational configurations that are to be found today. A description, more reflective of the times in which we live, is to be found in the title of the upcoming “World Meeting of FAMILIES” in Dublin next year.

    Yes, that’s more like it – famiLIES of all kinds are to be welcomed in the ancient city that believed itself to have achieved liberation from the British in 1922, but, in reality, is as free from the Old Enemy (and the occult groups that really control the London government) as Moscow is from the Bolsheviks.

    The arts of deception – what fun!

    In short, things are going swimmingly.

  2. Eric H

    The “situation ethics” condemned by the Holy Office (link) says that each man should decide for himself what is right or wrong, according to an inner light. Sounds like what the serpent promised to Eve: “you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” In practice it amounts to doing what is objectively wrong in pursuit of a good end.

    Mortal and venial sin are both wrong. By teaching that venial sin is less serious and does not sever a person from God’s friendship, the Church doesn’t say that venial sin is good at all. It’s a commonplace in devotional books that no imaginable good could ever justify one venial sin. For example:

    [E]ven were we certain that, by committing a single venial sin of the lightest description, we should be able to convert the whole world, and save all who should come into being till the end of time, — even though we could convert all the devils in hell, and raise them to the highest pitch of sanctity, — even in such case we should be forbidden to commit that sin; nor would the pretext of promoting God’s glory in any way plead our excuse, because that glory, which, by means of a slight fault, we could give to God, it does not belong to us to give Him; on the contrary, we are even strictly bound not to offer that which a God of all holiness is not willing to receive from us. (link)

    Consider first, that although there be no manner of comparison between the guilt of a mortal sin, and that of a venial sin; as there is no manner of comparison between a mote and a beam, Matt. vii. 3.; yet the guilt of even the least venial sin, considering that it is an offence of a God, infinitely great, and infinitely good, is so displeasing in his sight, that no soul that is stained with it, can ever be admitted into his presence till this guilt be purged away; and no man living can be allowed, by any power in heaven or in earth, to commit any one venial sin; no not to save a kingdom, or even to save the whole world: because the offence of God is a greater evil than the loss of the whole world: and we are not to do any thing that is evil to save the whole world. (link)

    You may find it helpful to read McHugh & Callan’s Moral Theology (link) on NFP. It’s n. 2622.

  3. Pascendi

    If the apostates occupying Vatican City (especially Jorge) were truly the hierarchy of the Catholic Church then they would be correct in their criticism of a Correctio. No one has the authority to correct the Vicar of Christ when he teaches on a matter of faith and morals.
    However, the defenders of the philosophy (I won’t call it theology) contained in Amoris Laetitia are a collection of hypocritical buffoons. These are people who believe that every doctrine and dogma may be changed or abrogated. If that’s true then by default it must include the teachings regarding infallibility and obedience. Sorry Jorge, but you don’t get to throw out nearly all the doctrines of the Church while retaining only the ones that require everyone else to submit to you.

  4. Novus Ordo Watch

    Certainly Catholic ethics and situation ethics have similarities in certain *accidental* characteristics such as taking cognizance of circumstances and what not. But the *essential* distinction between the two is that Catholic ethics has absolute moral standards where situation ethics has none.

  5. Eric H

    It sounds like you don’t have the background to be criticizing “moral theology nowadays”. Which, if any, moral theology books have you studied?

    When the Church teaches, our duty is to believe first, then to understand insofar as we are able. The distinction between mortal and venial sin is ancient, is of faith, and is quite reasonable. From the Catholic Encyclopedia (link) (emphasis added):

    The distinction between mortal and venial sin is set forth in Scripture. From St. John (I John v. 16-17) it is clear there are some sins “unto death” and some sins not “unto death”, i. e. mortal and venial. The classic text for the distinction of mortal and venial sin is that of St. Paul (I Cor. iii. 8-15), where he explains in detail the distinction between mortal and venial sin. “For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid; which is Christ Jesus. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble: every man’s work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it; because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work burn, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.” By wood, hay, and stubble are signified venial sins (St. Thomas, I-II, Q. lxxxix, a. 2) which, built on the foundation of a living faith in Christ, do not destroy charity, and from their very nature do not merit eternal but temporal punishment. “Just as”, says St. Thomas, [wood, hay, and stubble] “are gathered together in a house and do not pertain to the substance of the edifice, so also venial sins are multiplied in man, the spiritual edifice remaining, and for these he suffers either the fire of temporal tribulations in this life, or of purgatory after this life and nevertheless obtains eternal salvation.” (ibid.)

    The suitableness of the division into wood, hay, and stubble is explained by St. Thomas (iv, dist. 21, Q. i, a. 2). Some venial sins are graver than others and less pardonable, and this difference is well signified by the difference in the inflammability of wood, hay, and stubble. That there is a distinction between mortal and venial sins is of faith (Counc. of Trent, sess. VI, c. xi and canons 23-25; sess. XIV, de poenit., c. v). This distinction is commonly rejected by all heretics ancient and modern. In the fourth century Jovinian asserted that all sins are equal in guilt and deserving of the same punishment (St. Aug., “Ep. 167”, ii, n. 4); Pelagius (q. v.), that every sin deprives man of justice and therefore is mortal; Wyclif, that there is no warrant in Scripture for differentiating mortal from venial sin, and that the gravity of sin depends not on the quality of the action but on the decree of predestination or reprobation so that the worst crime of the predestined is infinitely less than the slightest fault of the reprobate; Hus, that all the actions of the vicious are mortal sins, while all the acts of the good are virtuous (Denz.-Bann., 642); Luther, that all sins of unbelievers are mortal and all sins of the regenerate, with the exception of infidelity, are venial; Calvin, like Wyclif, bases the difference between mortal sin and venial sin on predestination, but adds that a sin is venial because of the faith of the sinner. The twentieth among the condemned propositions of Baius reads: “There is no sin venial in its nature, but every sin merits eternal punishment” (Denz.-Bann., 1020). Hirscher in more recent times taught that all sins which are fully deliberate are mortal, thus denying the distinction of sins by reason of their objects and making the distinction rest on the imperfection of the act (Kleutgen, 2nd ed., II, 284, etc.).

    You may find it very helpful to read the entire encyclopedia article on Sin (pp. 4-11).

  6. Eric H

    >>> Is there anything else in moral theology that says you can do x if you have y but you can’t do x if you don’t have y?

    Yes, there are various things one can do in urgent or extreme necessity that are not ordinarily lawful. Have a look at the passages marked in the book linked below that mention “extreme necessity”. Canon Law also makes many exceptions from normal procedure for cases of urgent necessity. The need for such exceptions is common sense.

    Slater, A Manual of Moral Theology, 1925, vol. 1 (link)

    • RTHST



      No, I don’t have much depth and I am unqualified in moral theology but there in is the problem. Moral Theology is for a layman it is supposed to be how one is supposed to act morally. Therefore is should be simple straight forward and easy to understand. When God gave moral theology it is always that way 10 commandments and Love of God and of they neighbors is the key to all.

      No, in the link about grave necessity I don’t see how any of that would be an x if y. if one is starving one could steal food but it would be a venial sin still and doesn’t make it not a sin. A Priest in schism is still a Priest so of course if one is dying would could ask for last rights from him. What St. Thomas Aquinas taught was that a sin is a sin even if we did it out of necessity. As Sede for Christ pointed out above if you had decided to use NFP when getting married to avoid all kids it would make the marriage invalid. That means doesn’t it that it must be a sin against the 6th of 7th commandment in that use? How does the same thing go from sinful to non-sinful? I don’t have much understanding that is why I’m asking questions.

      Canon Law doesn’t violate if self when it suppressed itself because the highest law is the salvation of souls. Also parts of Canon Law are changeable, so of course it would allow exceptions.

      “Pope Francis” in the “Joy of Love” is not saying there is no moral absolutes he is saying there are situation in which people are put in that removes their culpability so they are not culpable and not sinning. Now if the above linked book with passage marked is saying that staving would remove all sin from stealing than it would have just done what he did, would it not?

      I rewrote my post a couple of times and I removed the part were I said I coming from Novus Ordo/RR moral theology so, this might be why I see moral theology nowadays as clouded with unnecessary questions. I removed it because I still see that kind of thing in the NFP discussion.


      • Eric H

        Moral theology isn’t simple, straight forward, and easy to understand. Very bright people have to study it for years to become experts. St. Alphonsus Liguori’s celebrated Moral Theology text runs about 2000 pages.

        Taking food to keep from starving is not a venial sin. It is no sin at all. Slater p. 252 (link):

        In order that a sin of theft may be committed, the owner of the property must be unwilling that it should be thus dealt with by the thief; there is no theft committed by using another’s property if the user knows that the owner would not object. Moreover, he must be reasonably unwilling, and so a man who is in danger of dying from starvation, or who is in extreme necessity of any other kind, may take or use what is necessary to save life, even if the owner be unwilling that he should do so. The reason of this is that, by the primary intention of our Creator and Lord, material things were created for the preservation of human life, and no rights of ownership can prevail against the higher claim of one who is in extreme necessity.

        I think it would be better for you to study some good pre-Vatican II moral theology books than for me to try to answer all your questions. There is too much background info that you are missing.

      • Sede for Christ

        There is a difference between knowing what is right and wrong (even if not a natural law item) and being able to decide the conclusion to a complex moral question. Moral theology is interested yes, in the former, but more importantly in the later (if considered as a science). Yes, it does not take a math degree or actually anything but a brain to know 2+2=4. That does not mean that everyone is qualified to offer advice on calculus or advanced computation. I think that’s why some questions haven’t been answered, because we just don’t know and the Church wasn’t comfortable making a decision. For instance, in the pdf from CUA you linked to, it actually mentions if you read towards the end that Pius XII specifically left the question open on whether immoderate use of rhythm was a mortal sin and when. I’m paraphrasing badly, but you get the idea. He deliberately left the question open. Why? Maybe because he didn’t even know; the Pope is infallible, not omniscient.

  7. Sede for Christ

    I’m assuming when you say NFP, you simply mean the use of the rhythm
    method. If that is what is meant (I’m trying to make sure we understand
    the term the same way to avoid confusion), then obviously there is
    nothing wrong with it. The problem is when NFP is used as an excuse to
    limit the number of children or to exclude children altogether, while
    trying to have moral plausible deniability, “I’m not positively doing
    anything to prevent conception, but I still like sex without
    consequences”. In fact, if you read McHugh & Callan’s Moral Theology
    on NFP n. 2622., you will find that if, at the time of the exchange of
    vows, your intent is to exclude children by the use of NFP/rhythm
    method, that would actually render the marriage invalid, due to defect
    in intention. So, the thing is simply that married people have a duty
    vocational and to the common good to procreate; therefore it is an
    injustice to society to not do so if able.

    But the other side of
    the coin is: those who condemn NFP/rhythm absolutely, have a problem
    that is inevitable. You essentially posit the principle that married
    people have the OBLIGATION to use the marital right ONLY during fertile
    periods, which would bind under pain of sin. But the Church has never
    taught this, ever, anywhere. It simply teaches that if the marital right
    is used, it must be used for procreation, not simply for pleasure, even
    though not during the fertile periods. BTW, I just summarized what can
    be read in the above link. Hope that helps. In closing, I really recommend reading McCalln at the above link and number. I read it and it was explained very well and cleared up my questions.

    • Eric H

      Keep in mind that a Josephite marriage is perfectly lawful.

      I think the key to understanding the morality of NFP is that the couple’s actions and circumstances must be taken as a whole. The lawfulness of a particular act depends on its place in a habitual way of acting. To make an analogy, it’s not inherently wrong to throw food in the trash, but something is wrong if you’re routinely and intentionally throwing 95% of your food in the trash.

      • Sede for Christ

        Yes, obviously, assuming it’s consensual. But NFP is obviously only involving married couples using the marital right, which is a right, not obligation if consensual abstinence is agreed upon. And, yes, it’s the whole that is important here, an isolated single use of NFP is moral, constant or exclusive use of such could or definitely is a problem. Totally right and agree with you.

    • RTHST

      Sede For Christ,


      Did you even read McCalln at the above link and number you just said what they said was wrong. They say”Concretely the proponents of this theory regard four or five children as sufficient to satisfy the obligation in such a way; a) that the use of rhythm to limit the family to this number is licit provided the couple is willing and morally able to practice it” Meaning that it is okay to limit family size with NFP.

      Are you sure the Church has never taught NFP wrong. Here is a link:(http://cdn.theologicalstudies.net/23/23.4/23.4.3.pdf)
      “St. Augustine’s Teaching and Influence Among the Fathers of the Church St. Augustine is the only one we have found who explicitly speaks of the morality of periodic continence. He was disputing against the Manicheans. According to their peculiar doctrine, sexual intercourse was bad enough, but intercourse resulting in children
      was still worse, because bringing a child into the world meant harnessing a soul to a body of flesh; and the flesh, of course, was evil. Augustine upbraids them:
      Are not you the ones who think that bearing children is a worse sin than intercourse itself, because souls are thus imprisoned in flesh? Aren’t you the ones who used to warn us that as far as possible we should take note of the time when a woman, after menstruation, was capable of conception, and abstain from intercourse at that time, lest a soul be immersed in flesh? Whence it follows that you are of the opinion that a wife is not for the procreation of children but for the
      satisfaction of lust. But marriage, as the very marriage laws proclaim, unites male and female for the sake of procreating children; therefore, whoever says it is a worse sin to have children than to have intercourse excludes marriage, and makes a woman not a wife but a harlot—one who, by reason of certain endowments
      which are hers, has connections with a man to satisfy his lust. For if she is a wife, it is matrimony. But it is not matrimony where means are employed that she may not be a mother; therefore, not a wife.2
      The Manicheans were incorrect in their estimate as to which days were fertile and which sterile, but this error is immaterial in the discussion of the morality of the practice. The severity of the terms in which Augustine condemned periodic continence as practiced by the Manicheans is a strong reason for believing that he considered it not merely sinful but gravely sinful. And at least as far as a permanent or systematic avoidance of conception is concerned, there is little doubt that he would have considered it a gravely sinful practice for Christians, as excluding from marriage the principal thing that makes marriage marriage. But it would be a mistake to think that today, in this matter, we can find practical norms for the faithful in the works of Augustine, or even in the works of the great Scholastics of the classical period. If we were to follow Augustine’s views on the ethics of conjugal intimacy, we would have to tell
      married couples that intercourse during pregnancy is at least venially sinful; that to use marriage after the menopause or in old age is venially sinful; that to use marriage in order to flee temptation and avoid fornication (in other words, to use it as a remedy for concupiscence when procreation is impossible) is at least venially sinful. That is what Augustine taught. And he was followed by the writers of the widely-used penitentials of premedieval times, and by the great Scholastics of the Middle Ages.3” This was from Catholic University of America so we should not be surprised by “But it would be a mistake to think that today, in this matter, we can find practical norms for the faithful in the works of Augustine, or even in the
      works of the great Scholastics of the classical period”. Also, would like to know what “Catholic University of America” means by explicit when referring to Augustine as the only one.

      There is also another quotes from Catholic Answers Forum link.
      (https://forums.catholic.com/t/is-the-church-wrong-about-nfp/264861) which quotes an essay that the link is died are all those quotes wrong and is Catholic University of America wrong about what Augustine, or the works of the great Scholastics of the classical period said? St. Thomas Aquinas from the Catholic Answer forum “In any simple interpretation of Aquinas, the intentional use of “the safe period” is sinful, because it is *directly purposed *to discharge semen in a way that generation is *known to be impossible *in itself: “The emission of the semen then ought to be so directed as that both the proper generation may ensue and the education of the offspring be secured.” A summary quote of the essay from Catholic Answers Forum “Some Fathers of the Church, such as Jerome and Clement of Alexandria, condemned sexual intercourse with a menstrual women as a major sin. Others, such as Augustine as a venial violation. St John Chrysostom repeatedly condemned it without explanation or commentary. None explicitly allowed it. The early medieval penitentials generally treated it as a venial sin.
      Medieval scholars, such as Aquinas and Duns Scotus, universally disapproved of menstrual intercourse, though their condemnations varied in gravity. The more common opinion was that sex during menstruation was a mortal sin.” It seems like if the quotes are accurate the Church taught against it if the above information is correct.

      Again you say agreed with Eric H “actions and circumstances must be taken as a whole” but take no note of couple using NFP are making a conscience choose to avoid the act when it can produce children because they don’t want to produce children. This in subverting the primary purpose of marriage to be a remedy for sin. Even in the McHugh & Callan’s Moral Theology they says the Church is saying it is an extreme remedy for sin. So, is the marriage act now an extreme remedy for sin? Also, if NFP is really open to life like people claim doesn’t that mean you are open to life in your circumstances meaning that you should not need to use NFP?

      My main problem with NFP is if we go back to the Garden(Even though Adam and Eve never consummated their marriage in the Garden(I believe this is the teaching of all the fathers)). Adam and Eve in the garden would Adam have ever used the marriage act with Eve for any other purpose other than trying to conceive. I keep coming up with no. Do you think it would be a yes?


      • Sede for Christ

        I’m sorry, but this is really ridiculous. I didn’t read Callan? No, I think you didn’t and if you did, it doesn’t sound like you understood it.

        First, you use the same tactic that the R&R uses: you quote against up-to-date sources with sources from hundreds of years ago or the Church Fathers? I don’t know what St. Augustine meant, but St. Augustine is not the source to go to for something like this. Catholics do not consult the Church Fathers for answers to complex moral questions. Why not consult pre-v2 theological manuals, which the Church has approved for the use of the Faithful and priests to understand what is right and wrong. This is how the feenyites are the way they are: they look at something a Church Father said or a Council said IN ISOLATION and ignore everything since, in context and the fact that the Church has clarified things which at one time you could have a legitimate debate about and hold opposing and legitimate opinions on and which now, cannot be debated because the Church has settled the issue. Why do we have to go the Church Fathers for answers to complex moral questions, when we can simply go to moral theology manuals and do the same? It doesn’t make any sense. I know it’s probably not your intention, but it is a favorite tactic of the modernists: to prop up the ancient in opposition to the recent. Think new mass. You cannot do that.

        “My main problem”?? Seriously, this is not a question of ice cream flavors. You do not have a right to have ‘problems’ with what the Church teaches, nor do I, or anyone else.

        There was no marriage in the Garden of Eden in the same way we have marriage today. Why? Because the third purpose of marriage is to relieve concupiscence. Obviously not necessary when man possessed the preternatural gifts. Man was incapable of committing a sensual sin; only intellectual sins, such as pride. So marriage is different between Adam and Eve and everyone else. Not a nice thing, but nonetheless true. So you cannot make up an anecdote from the Bible to oppose catholic moral teaching.

        Again, if you oppose NFP/rhythm you have to say that it is moral obligatory for couples to use the marital right ONLY during the fertile periods, any other time would be mortally sinful. Please give me chapter and verse from a pre-v2 catholic approved moral theological which claims this? Obviously it’s a rhetorical question because there isn’t one, because the Church has never taught such an outrageous thing. It obligates the impossible, as the quote you have above concerning the error about how to determine fertile periods. Obviously knowledge not available to all peoples of all times.

        I know Catholics are disgusted with the sexual immorality of the culture and perhaps even close family, and rightly so, but going to the other extreme is not helpful. The key is what the Church teaches, and not what is the supposed “hard-line” position.

        In Closing:

        No one is saying that NFP is “catholic birth control”. That’s not the issue. For instance, is a married couple with a few children (3+) allowed during a infertile period to use the marital act, and then a few months later or a year later (assuming no conception takes place, which is not even 75% guaranteed) during the fertile period to use the marital act again to have another child? If you condemn NFP as sinful or even gravely sinful, then the couple in the example is in mortal sin? Do you seriously believe that and based on what?

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