Monday, January 29, 2018

Plato and the Enlightenment: Truth is More Real than Science

"[Plato] saw himself embroiled in a crisis of the Greek state that was all the more radical because it included also a crisis of the soul, a crisis of humanity itself, which, in many respects, resembled that deep inner restlessness that today affects our whole existence to its very core... Like his teacher Socrates before him, Plato encountered a radical enlightenment, the keen rationality of which had led to the conviction that, strictly speaking, truth as such is in no way accessible to man. Whenever such a rejection of truth occurs, humanity experiences an extreme crisis because conscience becomes meaningless and the only standard that endures in the end is naked power. Such situations occur whenever a sophisticated form of technical knowledge becomes the standard of knowledge as such.

"Granted, with regard to the ultimate questions of who God is or what good is, we can never achieve the degree of certainty we can achieve in the realm of mathematics and technology. But when all knowledge that does not take the form of technical knowledge is declared to be nonknowledge, then we are cut off from the truth. We cannot, for instance, decide whether what Jesus said is true but can only dispute whether or not he said it. But that is ultimately an idle question Our defenselessness before the spiritual demands of dictators and our own inner strife are due to the situation in which we find ourselves today: wisdom--that is, knowledge of truth itself--cannot become scientific in the real sense of the word; but if only scientific knowledge counts as knowledge, it seems to be an unenlightened naiveté even to speak about truth. But if that is the case, then there are no universal values that are binding on all of us. And if that is the case, then there is no law except that which is called law at any given moment--the order imposed by those who have put themselves in power. There is then no qualitative difference between the power exercised in the name of the law and that exercised by him who breaks the law; the concept of a constitutional state becomes empty. That is our situation. It was also the situation created by the 'enlightened' Sophists of Plato's Greece. We might describe it in these worlds: by its exactness, exact knowledge bars the way to wisdom, which asks about the most profound depths of our existence."

Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1982, 359-360 (from an essay written in 1975, the entire volume being comprised of a compilation of articles written by the author during his hears at the University of Regensburg [1969-1977]).

Truth, God's Possession, Can't be Had Without God

Sunday, January 28, 2018

It is Not True to Say that Homosexuality is Not a Sin

Yesterday, in my confirmation class, one of the students said her teacher (of a Catholic High School) said homosexuality is not a sin.

That is not true.

Homosexual activity is always a mortal sin.

Homosexual activism is a mortal sin, viz. scandal.

Any public recognition and promotion of homosexuality is a mortal sin: the sin of scandal.

Homosexual inclination is a mortal sin if willful, if unwillful yet culpable it is a venial sin.

Homosexual inclination (as with any inclination to sin) may be culpable or inculpable depending on whether it was/is caused by one's own willful sins.

Homosexuality, a gravely disordered appetite, is usually a sin. Whether it is a mortal sin or venial sin depends on one's willful involvement in the depravity. If one should have the inclination without any culpability or willfulness then and only then it is not actual sin. But even in the case of an inculpable and unwillful appetite, the disordered sinful appetite itself is ultimately caused by sin--concupiscence--part of the inheritance of original sin.

Therefore, homosexuality is a sin, mortal or venial, actual or original, depending on the above distinctions.

Homosexuality is Bad For Your Health: Mortal Sin Means Mortal Danger

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Priest on the Street with Cassock and Saturno. Clear Creek Abbey.

On a related note, below see an excellent video on Clear Creek Abbey, the monastery where I did my yearly retreat earlier this month. That place is booming! Very young and many vocations. There are more than fifty monks, and many young men coming to see and pray there. Amazing!

"There was a lapse of time, from the time I was ordained until just recently when I encountered the monks, that I realized there was something missing--there was something in our worship. And I think a good deal of it was Gregorian chant."
"What is need in America now is men and women that are committed to prayer."
Most Reverend Edward J. Slattery, Bishop of Tulsa, Oklahoma

Pope Paul VI called on religious orders to keep the Latin in worship.

Beloved sons, 

Your families, dedicated as they are to God, have always held in honour, as an offering from lips that confess to our Lord, the Sacrifice of Praise: that is, the psalms and hymns by which the hours, days and seasons of the year are hallowed with religious devotion, in the midst of which the Eucharistic Sacrifice shines, as it were like the sun, and draws all things to itself. With good reason is it held that nothing should be preferred to so holy a work as this. It is not difficult to perceive how much honor is rendered by it to the Creator of all things, or what benefits it confers upon the Church. You have proved, by following this fixed and unceasing manner of prayer, what importance divine worship has for human society.

Yet, from letters which some of you have sent, and from many other sources, We learn that discordant practices have been introduced into the sacred liturgy by your communities or provinces. (We speak of those only that belong to the Latin Rite.) For while some are very faithful to the Latin language, others wish to use the vernacular within the choral office. Others, in various places, wish to exchange that chant which is called Gregorian for newly-minted melodies. Indeed, some even insist that Latin should be wholly suppressed.

We must acknowledge that We have been somewhat disturbed and saddened by these requests. One may well wonder what the origin is of this new way of thinking and this sudden dislike for the past; one may well wonder why these things have been fostered.

You yourselves know well how greatly We love your religious families, and how we value them. You can have no doubt of this. We have often marveled at the examples of outstanding holiness and the products of deep learning which ennoble them. We think it a happiness if We are able, in any lawful and fitting way, to support them, to comply with their wishes, to take thought for their betterment.

Yet those things that We have mentioned are occurring even though the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council has after due deliberation declared its mind in solemn fashion (Sacrosanctum Concilium §101.1), and after the publication of clear norms in subsequent Instructions. In the first Instruction (ad exsecutionem Constitutionis de sacra Liturgia recte ordinandam), published on 26 September 1964, it was decreed as follows:

In celebrating the divine office in choir, clerics are bound to preserve the Latin language (n. 85).

In the second Instruction (de lingua in celebrandis Officio divino et Missa “conventuali” aut “communitatis” apud Religiosos adhibenda), published on 23 November 1965, that law was reinforced, and at the same time due consideration was shown for the spiritual advantage of the faithful and for the special conditions which prevail in missionary territories. Therefore, for as long as no other lawful provision is made, these laws are in force and require the obedience in which religious must excel, as dear sons of holy Church.

What is in question here is not only the retention within the choral office of the Latin language, though it is of course right that this should be eagerly guarded and should certainly not be lightly esteemed. For this language is, within the Latin Church, an abundant well-spring of Christian civilization and a very rich treasure-trove of devotion. But it is also the seemliness, the beauty and the native strength of these prayers and canticles which is at stake: the choral office itself, “the lovely voice of the Church in song” (Cf. St Augustine’s Confessions, Bk 9, 6). Your founders and teachers, the holy ones who are as it were so many lights within your religious families, have transmitted this to you. The traditions of the elders, your glory throughout long ages, must not be belittled. Indeed, your manner of celebrating the choral office has been one of the chief reasons why these families of yours have lasted so long, and happily increased. It is thus most surprising that under the influence of a sudden agitation, some now think that it should be given up.

In present conditions, what words or melodies could replace the forms of Catholic devotion which you have used until now? You should reflect and carefully consider whether things would not be worse, should this fine inheritance be discarded. It is to be feared that the choral office would turn into a mere bland recitation, suffering from poverty and begetting weariness, as you yourselves would perhaps be the first to experience. One can also wonder whether men would come in such numbers to your churches in quest of the sacred prayer, if its ancient and native tongue, joined to a chant full of grave beauty, resounded no more within your walls. We therefore ask all those to whom it pertains, to ponder what they wish to give up, and not to let that spring run dry from which, until the present, they have themselves drunk deep.

Of course, the Latin language presents some difficulties, and perhaps not inconsiderable ones, for the new recruits to your holy ranks. But such difficulties, as you know, should not be reckoned insuperable. This is especially true for you, who can more easily give yourselves to study, being more set apart from the business and bother of the world. Moreover, those prayers, with their antiquity, their excellence, their noble majesty, will continue to draw to you young men and women, called to the inheritance of our Lord. On the other hand, that choir from which is removed this language of wondrous spiritual power, transcending the boundaries of the nations, and from which is removed this melody proceeding from the inmost sanctuary of the soul, where faith dwells and charity burns—We speak of Gregorian chant—such a choir will be like to a snuffed candle, which gives light no more, no more attracts the eyes and minds of men.

In any case, beloved Sons, the requests mentioned above concern such grave matters that We are unable to grant them, or to derogate now from the norms of the Council and of the Instructions noted above. Therefore we earnestly beseech you that you would consider this complex question under all its aspects. From the good will which we have toward you, and from the good opinion which we have of you, We are unwilling to allow that which could make your situation worse, and which could well bring you no slight loss, and which would certainly bring a sickness and sadness upon the whole Church of God. Allow Us to protect your interests, even against your own will. It is the same Church which has introduced the vernacular into the sacred liturgy for pastoral reasons, that is, for the sake of people who do not know Latin, which gives you the mandate of preserving the age-old solemnity, beauty and dignity of the choral office, in regard both to language, and to the chant.

Obey, then, these prescriptions sincerely and calmly. It is not an excessive love of old ways that prompts them. They derive, rather, from Our fatherly love for you, and from Our concern for divine worship.

Finally, We impart most willingly to you and to your religious, as an earnest of heavenly gifts and as a sign of Our favour, the apostolic Blessing in our Lord.


Dilecti filii,
salutem et apostolicam benedictionem

Sacrificium laudis, hostia labiorum confitentium Dominum, psalmodia et hymnodia, quibus horae, dies, anni tempora religionis sacrantur pietate, Eucharistico Sacrificio quasi medio sole rutilante et cuncta ad se trahente, a vestris Familiis Deo devotis magno semper in honore haberi consueverat. Recto enim consilio tam sancto operi nihil anteferendum esse aestimabatur. Quanta gloria inde omnium Creatori obvenerit, quantae utilitates in Ecclesiam sint profectae, facile intellegitur. Hac certa et assidua precandi ratione per saeculorum decursum docuistis cultum divinum in humana consortione maximi esse momenti.

Ex litteris vero, a quibusdam vestrum et e compluribus nuntiis aliunde datis, comperimus coenobia vel provincias vestras — de iis tantum loquimur, quae ad ritum pertinent Latinum — in sacra Liturgia peragenda dissimiles mores induxisse: alia nempe linguae Latinae retinentissima esse, alia vulgares sermones in chorali officio expetere, alia hic illic cantum, quem Gregorianum appellant, cum cantilenis hac aetate conditis velle commutare. Quin immo a quibusdam est flagitatum, ut lingua latina ipsa aboleretur.

Oportet profiteamur huiusmodi postulationibus non leviter Nos esse commotos et nonnullo maerore affectos, atque oritur quaestio, undenam exstiterit et curnam propagatus sit talis mentis habitus et antea ignotum fastidium.

Vobis certe exploratum est neque in dubitationem potestis vocare, quantopere Familias vestras religiosas diligamus, quanti eas faciamus. Admirationi Nobis saepe sunt insignis pietatis testimonia et ingenii cultus monumenta, quibus nobilitantur. Nostrum putamus esse gaudium, si qua Nobis copia datur, dummodo liceat ac deceat, iis favendi, votis earum obsecundandi, feliciori statui consuendi.

Sed ea, quae supra diximus, fieri contingunt, postquam Concilium Oecumenicum Vaticanum Secundum meditate ac sollemniter hac de re suam edixit sententiam (Cf Const. de sacra Lit. Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 101, 1), et Instructionibus eam subsecutis certae editae sunt normae; in quarum Instructione altera, ad exsecutionem Constitutionis de sacra Liturgia recte ordinandam die XXVI mensis Septembris anno MCMLXIV emissa, haec sunt decreta: «In divino Officio in choro persolvendo clerici linguam latinam servare tenentur» (n. 85); altera vero, quae de lingua in celebrandis Officio divino et Missa «conventuali» aut «communitatis» apud Religiosos adhibenda inseribitur ac die XXIII mensis novembris anno MCMLXV fuit vulgata, praeceptum illud confirmatur simulque ratio ducitur spiritualis fidelium emolumenti et peculiarium condicionum, quae in regionibus obtinent missionali opere excolendis. Donec ergo aliter legitime statuatur, hae leges vigent et obtemperationem expostulant, qua religiosos sodales, filios Ecclesiae carissimos, apprime commendari oportet.

Non autem agitur hic tantummodo de retinendo in officio chorali eloquio latino, sane digno, quod, nedum parvi fiat, alacriter custodiatur, cum sit in Ecclesia Latina christiani cultus humani fons uberrimus et locupletissimus pietatis thesaurus, sed etiam de indemnibus servandis decore, pulchritudine, nativo vigore huiusmodi precationum et cantuum: agitur videlicet de choralt officio, «suave sonantis Ecclesiae vocibus» (Cf S. AUGUSTINUS,Confessiones 9, 6: PL 32, 769) expresso, quas conditores et magistri vestri ac Sancii Caelites, Familiarum vestrarum lumina, vobis tradiderunt. Non parvi pendenda sunt instituta maiorum, quae per diuturna saecula vos ornabant. Haec vero choralis officii ratio una e causis praecipuis fuit, cur Familiae eaedem vestrae firmiter starent laetisque augerentur incrementis. Mirandum ergo, quod, subita commotione excitata, ea nonnullis neglegenda iam esse videtur.

In praesenti rerum condicione quae vox, qui cantus substitui poterit pro catholicae pietatis formulis, quibus usque adhuc usi estis? Perpendendum est et considerandum, ne peior sit conditio, cum gloriosa illa hereditas fuerit abietca. Est enim timendum, ne officium chorale ad inconditam quandam recitationem redigatur, quam vos primo fortasse sentietis inopia laborare ac taedia gignere. Exsistit etiam quaestio, num homines, cupientes sacras pretes percipere, templa vestra sint tam frequentes adituri, si vetus ac nativa illarum lingua, iuncta cum cantu pleno gravitatis ac decoris, ibi non amplius resonabit. Rogamus igitur omnes, ad quos pertinet, ut ponderent, quae dimittere velint, neque fontem sinant inarescere, unde ad praesens usque tempus ubertim hauserint.

Procul dubio lingua latina sacrae militiae vestrae tironibus aliquam et fortasse haud tenuem difficultatem opponit. Haec autem, quemadmodum novistis, talis non est habenda, ut vinci et superari non possit, maxime apud vos, qui, magis abstracti a saeculi negotiis et strepitu, litteris facilius vacare potestis. Ceterum preces illae, antiqua praestantia ac nobili maiestate praeditae, iuvenes in sortem Domini vocatos ad vos allicere pergent, contra, chorus, unde sermo ille, Nationum fines exsuperans et mirabili vi spirituali pollens, atque modulamen, ex animi penetralibus, ubi fedes insidet et caritas ardet, erratum, cantum dicimus gregorianum, erunt ablata, similis erit cereo exstincto, qui non amplius illuminat, non amplius hominum oculos ac mentes ad se convertit. Quidquid est, filii carissimi, postulationes, quae supra sunt dictae, ad tam gravia spectant, ut praesenti tempore, derogando normis Concilii et Instructionum memoratarum, eas concedere nequeamus. Enixe igitur vos hortamur, ut quaestionem tam implicatam omni ex parte pensitetis. Nolumus pro benevolentia, qua vos complectimur, et pro bona existimatione, qua vos prosequimur, id permittere, quod causa esse possit in deterius labendi, non levis detrimenti origo vobis forsitan exsistat et certe toti Ecclesiae Dei aegritudinem ac maestitiam afferat. Sinite Nos, etiam invitis vobis, rem vestram tueri. Ab eadem Ecclesia, quae ob pastorales utilitates, id est in populi latine nescientis commodum, sermones vulgares in sacram Liturgiam induxit, vos mandatum habetis translaticiam dignitatem, pulchritudinem, gravitatem choralis officii, sive quoad linguam sive quoad cantum, servandi.

Itaque animis sinceris et tranquillis praeceptionibus obsequimini, quas non immodicus amor morum veterum suggerit, sed paterna erga vos caritas proponit et divini cultus diligentia suadet.

Caelestium denique donorurn conciliatricem et propensi animi Nostri testem, Benedictionem Apostolicam vobis vestrisque sodalibus libentissime in Domino impertimus.

Datum Romae, apud Sanctum Petrum, die XV mensis Augusti, in festo Assumptionis Beatae Mariae Virginis, anno MCMLXVI, Pontificatus Nostri quarto.


* Notitiae 2 (1966), pp. 252-255

What Women Say After Their Abortion: USA Poll

"I aborted to please others." 58%

"My abortion was not entirely free from outside pressure from others." 74%

"I aborted so my partner would not leave me." 28%

"I believe the fetus was truly a person." 49%

"During the abortion I knew in my heart that I was making a mistake." 66%

"The abortion was the hardest decision of my life." 68%

["I felt emotionally connected to the fetus before the abortion." 33%]

Here is the relevant text from the report in the Winter 2017 issue of the "Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons."

"Concerning potential risk factors for adverse reactions to
abortion, 58.3% of the women reported aborting to make
others happy, 73.8% disagreed that their decision to abort
was entirely free from even subtle pressure from others to
abort, 28.4% aborted out of fear of losing their partner if
they did not abort, 49.2% reported believing the fetus was a
human being at the time of the abortion, 66% said they knew
in their hearts that they were making a mistake when they
underwent the abortion, 67.5% revealed that the abortion
decision was one of the hardest decisions of their lives, and
33.2% felt emotionally connected to the fetus before the
abortion." page 115

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Truth, God's Possession, Can't be Had Without God

"[T]he situation created by the 'enlightened' Sophists of Plato's our situation [today]. We might describe it in these words: by its exactness, exact knowledge bars the way to wisdom, which asks about the most profound depths of our existence.

"Plato accepted the scepticism of the enlightenment, which considered man incapable of truth, only to the extent of saying that truth, in its proper meaning, is an attribute of God alone. But because, despite the prevailing scepticism, he judged man capable of receiving God, he judged him also to be open to truth. According to Plato, man cannot, it is true, actually possess truth, but he can love it and search for it. In Greek, that means: he can be a philosopher. It is there that the limitation and the greatness of man lie: he is not wise, but he is in loving search of wisdom. In this way, Plato gave the word 'philosophy' the noble content that enabled it to become likewise the goal of all those who thought and lived as Christians throughout the ages. As a philosopher, man's place, according to Plato, is between wisdom and the absence of truth. But the content of wisdom is being itself, or even more--the Good and the Beautiful that are beyond being. For man, then, philosophy is a great reaching out for eternal Being, a learning to contemplate truth, a rational effort of the Spirit to find true meaning. Its strength is Eros, that openness of man that compels him to transcend again and again the limits of the merely knowable and to move toward the eternal."

Joseph Ratzinger, Principles of Catholic Theology, San Francisco: Ignatius, 1987, 360.

Manna, Aaron's Rod, Tablets of the Covenant: Hebrews 9:4-5

The manna => the Most Holy Eucharist. Cf. John 6:30ff

Aaron's staff => the Supreme Pontiff. Cf. Matthew 16:18-19

The tables of the covenant => the deposit of faith as transmitted through Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition: Catholic dogma.

Ark of the Covenant => the Mother of God/The Catholic Church

The context of the entire book of Hebrews is the new covenant in the blood of Christ which replaced the old covenant of the blood of animals.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

They Call the Sacred Profane and the Profane Sacred

Just before leaving office Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the heritage of Vatican Council II in which he mentioned the banalization of the liturgy following the theory that "sacrality is a pagan thing, perhaps also a thing of the Old Testament. In the New Testament it matters only that Christ died outside: that is, outside the gates, in the profane world. Sacrality must therefore be abolished, and profanity now spreads to worship: worship is no longer worship, but a community act, with communal participation: participation understood as activity."

This divorce of faith from the Council was also applied to Ecclesiology and to Sacred Scripture: that the Church is simply a matter of politics, a power struggle, and that Sacred Scripture is just a book to been seen only from the historical perspective. The "Council of the media" was a very influential conspiracy in this distortion of the Council of the Fathers. "...[T]he virtual Council was stronger than the real Council...[T]his was the dominant one, the more effective one, and it created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents, banal liturgy...and the real Council had difficulty establishing itself and taking shape

"...But the real force of the Council was present and, slowly but surely, established itself more and more and became the true force which is also the true reform, the true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that, 50 years after the Council, we see that this virtual Council is broken, is lost, and there now appears the true Council with all its spiritual force...[I]t is our work so that the true Council, with its power of the Holy Spirit, be accomplished and the Church be truly renewed. I myself, secluded in prayer, will always be with you and together let us go forward with the Lord in the certainty that the Lord will conquer."

Meeting with the Parish Priests and the Clergy of Rome, Address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, Paul VI Audience Hall, Thursday, 14 February 2013

Monday, January 22, 2018

Duty of the Council to the Whole Man: Body and Soul Together

Principle Duty of the Council: The Defense and Advancement of Doctrine

5. The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously. That doctrine embraces the whole of man, composed as he is of body and soul. And, since he is a pilgrim on this earth, it commands him to tend always toward heaven.

This demonstrates how our mortal life is to be ordered in such a way as to fulfill our duties as citizens of earth and of heaven, and thus to attain the aim of life as established by God. That is, all men, whether taken singly or as united in society, today have the duty of tending ceaselessly during their lifetime toward the attainment of heavenly things and to use, for this purpose only, the earthly goods, the employment of which must not prejudice their eternal happiness...

6. ...[F]rom the renewed, serene, and tranquil adherence to all the teaching of the Church in its entirety and preciseness, as it still shines forth in the Acts of the Council of Trent and First Vatican Council, the Christian, Catholic, and apostolic spirit of the whole world expects a step forward toward a doctrinal penetration and a formation of consciousness in faithful and perfect conformity to the authentic doctrine, which, however, should be studied and expounded through the methods of research and through the literary forms of modern thought. The substance of the ancient doctrine of the deposit of faith is one thing, and the way in which it is presented is another. And it is the latter that must be taken into great consideration with patience if necessary, everything being measured in the forms and proportions of a Magisterium which is predominantly pastoral in character...

7. ...Nowadays...the Spouse of Christ prefers to make use of the medicine of mercy rather than that of severity. She considers that she meets the needs of the present day by demonstrating the validity of her teaching rather than by condemnations...[Men] are ever more deeply convinced of the paramount dignity of the human person and of his perfection as well as of the duties which that implies. Even more important, experience has taught men that violence inflicted on others, the might of arms, and political domination, are of no help at all in finding a happy solution to the grave problems which afflict them...

That being so...[the Church] distributes [to men of today] the goods of divine grace which , raising men to the dignity of sons of God, are the most efficacious safeguards and aids toward a more human life. She opens the fountain of her life-giving doctrine which allows men, enlightened by the light of Christ, to understand well what they really are, what their lofty dignity and their purpose are, and, finally, through her children, she spreads everywhere the fullness of Christian charity, than which nothing is more effective in eradicating the seeds of discord, nothing more efficacious in promoting concord, just peace, and the brotherly unity of all.

[Emphasis in the title is Plinthos']

P.S. What I find important in this text is the service to the whole man, body and soul, the hylomorphism of man, and the defense and advancement of doctrine which is ever ancient and ever new which that entails.
The truth as man experiences it is always one and many. It has many manifestations but itself remains the same.
The new emphasis of Vatican II is the historical element and how the truth of the faith is for all men of every language. The truth in all its integrity is to be presented to and received and appropriated by men of every place and age according to their varying perspective and capacity and it is to be given new life and expression in them. The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us! This is a central element of the Incarnation, the incarnational reality of the truth of the faith which includes dogmas but ultimately is the very Person of the living God made Man, Jesus Christ and His Body, the Church.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Saint Thomas' Three Levels of Speculative Knowledge

Saint Thomas says there are three and only three types of speculative science (speculative meaning that which has the knowledge of the truth as its proper end, as opposed to practical science which has action as its proper end -23): three areas of orthodoxy (as opposed to orthopraxy).

1. fisica = scientia naturalis (natural philosophy)
2. mathematica
3. metaphysica = first philosophy = scientia divina = theologia -268

These different types of speculative knowledge are defined regarding their relation to motion and mutability, viz. regarding the lesser or greater mutability of their proper objects, i.e. the lesser or greater proximity of those objects to matter and movement.

1. The proper objects of natural philosophy are those objects which are inseparable from matter and movement both according to their being and according to the consideration of them (their intelligibility or definition), sensible matter is part of their definition.
2. The proper objects of mathematics are those objects which depend on matter and movement for their being but not for the consideration of them, sensible matter is not part of their definition.
3. The proper objects of metaphysics are those objects which do not depend on matter or movement for their being nor for the consideration of them. -24, -268

All of the references are from Tommaso, Commenti a Boezio, ed. Pasquale Porro, Milano: Bompiani, 2007. (Q. V, art. 1, resp.)

Thomas makes the same division in his Commentary on Artistotle's Physics.
2. ...[T]here are...things which do not depend upon matter either according to their existence or according to their definitions. And this is either because they never exist in matter, such as God and the other separated substances [angels], or because they do not universally exist in matter, such as substance, potency and act , and being itself.
3. Now metaphysics deals with things of this latter sort. Whereas mathematics deals with those things which depend upon sensible matter for their existence but not for their definitions. And natural science, which is called physics, deals with those things which depend upon matter not only for their existence, but also for their definition.
And because everything which has matter is mobile, it follows that mobile being is the subject of natural philosophy. For natural philosophy is about natural things, and natural things are those whose principle is nature. but nature is a principle of motion and rest in that in which it is. Therefore natural science deals with those things which have in them a principle of motion.
Saint Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle's Physics, Notre Dame: Dumb Ox, 1961, 2.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Abortion and the Environment: "There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology."

120. Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties? “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away”.[97]

119. Nor must the critique of a misguided anthropocentrism underestimate the importance of interpersonal relations. If the present ecological crisis is one small sign of the ethical, cultural and spiritual crisis of modernity, we cannot presume to heal our relationship with nature and the environment without healing all fundamental human relationships. Christian thought sees human beings as possessing a particular dignity above other creatures; it thus inculcates esteem for each person and respect for others. Our openness to others, each of whom is a “thou” capable of knowing, loving and entering into dialogue, remains the source of our nobility as human persons. A correct relationship with the created world demands that we not weaken this social dimension of openness to others, much less the transcendent dimension of our openness to the “Thou” of God. Our relationship with the environment can never be isolated from our relationship with others and with God. Otherwise, it would be nothing more than romantic individualism dressed up in ecological garb, locking us into a stifling immanence.

117. Neglecting to monitor the harm done to nature and the environmental impact of our decisions is only the most striking sign of a disregard for the message contained in the structures of nature itself. When we fail to acknowledge as part of reality the worth of a poor person, a human embryo, a person with disabilities – to offer just a few examples – it becomes difficult to hear the cry of nature itself; everything is connected. Once the human being declares independence from reality and behaves with absolute dominion, the very foundations of our life begin to crumble, for “instead of carrying out his role as a cooperator with God in the work of creation, man sets himself up in place of God and thus ends up provoking a rebellion on the part of nature”.[95]

118. This situation has led to a constant schizophrenia, wherein a technocracy which sees no intrinsic value in lesser beings coexists with the other extreme, which sees no special value in human beings. But one cannot prescind from humanity. There can be no renewal of our relationship with nature without a renewal of humanity itself. There can be no ecology without an adequate anthropology. When the human person is considered as simply one being among others, the product of chance or physical determinism, then “our overall sense of responsibility wanes”.[96] A misguided anthropocentrism need not necessarily yield to “biocentrism”, for that would entail adding yet another imbalance, failing to solve present problems and adding new ones. Human beings cannot be expected to feel responsibility for the world unless, at the same time, their unique capacities of knowledge, will, freedom and responsibility are recognized and valued.

136. On the other hand, it is troubling that, when some ecological movements defend the integrity of the environment, rightly demanding that certain limits be imposed on scientific research, they sometimes fail to apply those same principles to human life. There is a tendency to justify transgressing all boundaries when experimentation is carried out on living human embryos. We forget that the inalienable worth of a human being transcends his or her degree of development. In the same way, when technology disregards the great ethical principles, it ends up considering any practice whatsoever as licit. As we have seen in this chapter, a technology severed from ethics will not easily be able to limit its own power.

Pope Francis, Laudato si, 2015

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Pope Francis on Practical Relativism

Below is a citation from Pope Francis' encyclical on the environment which speaks of a relativism which drives our technological culture. "Science" is burdened with an implicit worldview (which is beyond it's competence). It sets itself up as the only standard of value and thus presumes that might is right, i.e. that what is technologically feasible is good. Or, at least, it ignores the entire moral question, which is, however, essential for humanity. Our technology must be humane, and the measure of humaneness must come from morality, from man's nature, necessarily in relation to God: the absolute Good.

Chapter 3: The Human Roots of the Ecological Crisis
     III. The Crisis and Consequences of Modern Anthropocentrism
     Practical relativism

122. A misguided anthropocentrism leads to a misguided lifestyle. In the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, I noted that the practical relativism typical of our age is “even more dangerous than doctrinal relativism”.[99] When human beings place themselves at the centre, they give absolute priority to immediate convenience and all else becomes relative. Hence we should not be surprised to find, in conjunction with the omnipresent technocratic paradigm and the cult of unlimited human power, the rise of a relativism which sees everything as irrelevant unless it serves one’s own immediate interests. There is a logic in all this whereby different attitudes can feed on one another, leading to environmental degradation and social decay.
123. The culture of relativism is the same disorder which drives one person to take advantage of another, to treat others as mere objects, imposing forced labour on them or enslaving them to pay their debts. The same kind of thinking leads to the sexual exploitation of children and abandonment of the elderly who no longer serve our interests. It is also the mindset of those who say: Let us allow the invisible forces of the market to regulate the economy, and consider their impact on society and nature as collateral damage. In the absence of objective truths or sound principles other than the satisfaction of our own desires and immediate needs, what limits can be placed on human trafficking, organized crime, the drug trade, commerce in blood diamonds and the fur of endangered species? Is it not the same relativistic logic which justifies buying the organs of the poor for resale or use in experimentation, or eliminating children because they are not what their parents wanted? This same “use and throw away” logic generates so much waste, because of the disordered desire to consume more than what is really necessary. We should not think that political efforts or the force of law will be sufficient to prevent actions which affect the environment because, when the culture itself is corrupt and objective truth and universally valid principles are no longer upheld, then laws can only be seen as arbitrary impositions or obstacles to be avoided.

P.S. The picture of David with the head of Goliath is an icon (from the reading of today's mass) of the power of God which is greater than that of violence and cold human calculation. God is greater than and owner of all our science.

"And David said to the Philistine: Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, which thou hast defied. This day, and the Lord will deliver thee into my hand, and I will slay thee, and take away thy head from thee: and I will give the carcasses of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air, and to the beasts of the earth: that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.
And all this assembly shall know, that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for it is his battle, and he will deliver you into our hands." 1 Samuel 17:45-47
"And David prevailed over the Philistine, with a sling and a stone, and he struck, and slew the Philistine. And as David had no sword in his hand, he ran, and stood over the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath, and slew him, and cut off his head. And the Philistines seeing that their champion was dead, fled away." 50-51

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Relativism's Many Daughters

Plato's Cave: fiction poses as science

Relativism is a result of the denial of metaphysics and so is manifested in the overreach of the various areas of thought by restricting "truth" to opinion and denying truth to reality itself. Opinion (partial, transitory and inconclusive knowledge) is given the status of ultimate knowledge. The principle of non-contradiction is rejected. And ultimate truth is thereby deemed unattainable.

Relativism's types vary according to the relativizing referent, i.e. whether relativism be considered regarding the perspective of the knowing subject, the knowing system, or the end pursued in knowledge.

  I. Subject: the knowing individual

 II. Knowing systems: cognitive theories
         phenomenalism, criticism
         empiricism, positivism
         idealism, immanentism

III. The purpose of the knowledge
         pragmatism, utilitarianism
         biologism, evolutionism, instrumentalism

"Relativism. It is a meaning of truth in which true knowledge is not in the being as it is in itself but rather is assessed within the process of knowing. For relativism there is no absolute, that is, in being grounded in its own validity, so that the it itself, of itself, in itself is said to be an aspect which can be true for one subject and false for another. One and the same thing and in the same respect can be said
to be true for one subject and false for another.

"There are different types of relativism depending on the point of view from which the "truth" is relativized.

"A first group. Theories let themselves depend upon certain peculiarities of the knowing (individual or supra-individual) subjects. So, from the laws of psychological causes, by which the realization of judgments are effected: psychologism; from those of each historical period and particular cultural situation: historicism; from those of human society: sociologism.

"Insofar as the human knowing capacity can only know a partial area of being as truth laden, likewise the truth is relativized, whose absolute validity claim will always be weighed against the horizon of total being. This is the second relativist group. Theories developed on systems, of the human cognitive faculty restricted to certain areas of objects: phenomenalism, criticism; on the meaningful perception of objects: sensualism; on that through the experience of the knowable circumstances: empiricism, positivism; on the individual under the exclusion of general concepts and laws: nominalism; on the conditions of consciousness: idealism, immanentism.

"The third group of relativists. Theories make the "truth" dependent on a goal to be achieved by it: "truth" is usefulness: pragmatism, utilitarianism; human knowledge comes from the necessity of adaptation to the environment and is true in the whole of its adaptation: biologism, evolutionism, instrumentalism; Thought takes on the conscience of fiction, of feeling its way around the world of appearances (phenomena): fictionalism."
[Plinthos translation]

W. Czapiewski in Lexikon für Theologie und Kirche, volume 8 (Palermo bis Roloff), Freiburg: Herder, 1963, 1159-1160.

P.S. It is safe to assume that Joseph Ratzinger would totally agree with this definition of relativism, published while he was in his prime, and in an encyclopedia in which he made some major contributions. This was the beginning of the years of the Council during which Ratzinger and Rahner (the editor of this 60's edition of the Lexicon) were close colleagues.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

"God loveth a cheerful giver." 2 Cor. 9:7

"You have just given yourself entirely to God. Now don't spend the rest of your life taking that back."

Priestly Generosity

On the day I was ordained to the priesthood, a single statement remained engraved in my memory. Now, years later, I realize it was a hint of the great offering that must be chosen repeatedly in life. The statement did not come from the homily of John Cardinal O'Connor, nor was it any words of my loving parents. After the ordination Mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York City and a period of blessings at side altars, I ventured outside to the sidewalk to find a ride to the seminary in Yonkers, where a luncheon would take place. An older New York priest in his seventies, stocky and short, walked up briskly toward me with his hand extended. I expected a congratulations and a request for a first blessing. He took my hand and gripped it tightly and pulled me down toward himself as he spoke words that have been etched for years now in my memory. "You have just given yourself entirely to God. Now don't spend the rest of your life taking that back." Nothing more, and then he walked away. I am still grateful to hear those words repeated. But they have a different meaning now, years later. An entire offering is a demand whose magnitude I did not see until much later in time.

Father Donald Haggerty, Conversion: Spiritual Insights into an Essential Encounter With God, San Francisco: Ignatius, 2017, 162.

Now this I say: He who soweth sparingly, shall also reap sparingly: and he who soweth in blessings, shall also reap blessings. Every one as he hath determined in his heart, not with sadness, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. 2 Cor. 9:6-7

Plinthos: In the entry for January 7th of Plus' Toward the Eternal Priesthood I just read, under the title "The One Thing Necessary":

...In the midst of a world where so many are agitated and hurried, exhausting their energy to attain passing trifles, let me keep my soul in peace and take a true interest in the realities of the invisible world alone. In the midst of my daily round of duties, keep me ever mindful of the value of things eternal. Make me an apostle of detachment, one who has earned the right to speak authoritatively because of his strict observance of an evengelical life.
You know me. You know that, without exactly going back on my word, I seek comfort by going back to the thousand nothings which I am not strictly forbidden to have but which impair my perfect resemblance to You. Having gone so far as to set out upon a life of renunciation, I do not want it to be renunciation with compensation. Having once given all, I do not want to take it back little by little...
Reverend Raoul Plus, SJ, Towards the Eternal Priesthood, New York: Pustet, 1946, 222.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Knowledge of Faith Truths Too Leads the Magi to Bethlehem

In today's Epiphany homily of His Holiness Pope Francis, based on Matthew's Gospel, there is what I would call a serious rationalist mistake in exegesis.

The Holy Father says, in the context of the Magi's journey in search for the king of the Jews, that they "talk little and journey much. Ignorant of the truths of faith, they are filled with longing and set out." What the Holy Father neglects to say is that what the Magi do say and where they arrive and inquire is all based on divine revelation.

First, the Magi came, not to Bethlehem but to Jerusalem, the center of God's revelation (we would say to the "Holy See" of the day). The star leads them not to Christ but to the "Church" of Christ!, God's holy people: the Law and the Prophets and the Temple. The leaders of sound doctrine!

Second, it is ultimately from the chief priests and Scribes of the people that they learn, through Herod, "in Bethlehem of Judea."

Third, their very question itself is a question which could not possibly have come to them except through faith. They are in search of the newborn king of the Jews. They know of the Jews and they know of the birth of their great king. The Hebrew scriptures, the Septuagint, had already been in the academic language of those lands (i.e. Greek) for hundreds of years. Surely the Persians, etc. (e.g. Cyrus of Persia) had some knowledge of Judaism. Probably they had access to that revelation or at least had heard from people who had heard of it. And they go there in order to worship Him. It is a journey of faith, based on science, but very much enlightened by revelation!

Fourth, who said that pagans from the east did not have faith and doctrines? All of those lands had their own beliefs and religious doctrines. Surely they believe in God, they come to adore him. And on this journey they were following the doctrine of the one true God and the coming of the Messiah as revealed and promised to the Jews.

Thus, the Magi, though they "talk little and travel much" (which we frankly do not know anything about the quantity of their conversation, surely they talked much on the journey, for wise men can walk and talk at the same time! And if they are wealthy kings they are being carried and so have much leisure to do nothing but talk, study and pray along the whole journey), come in search of a truth of revelation which was corroborated by science. They were not, in this fundamental matter, "ignorant of the truths of faith."

What the Holy Father is doing here is the classic error of orthopraxis over orthodoxy. He puts all of the emphasis on doing the journey, don't worry so much about the doctrine. The problem is that without doctrine you can't know were to go or how to go or how to get there, or why even bother with the journey? The will needs the guidance of the intellect in order to know what to bite on!

“An open mind is really a mark of foolishness, like an open mouth. Mouths and minds were made to shut; they were made to open only in order to shut.” (Chesterton, "Illustrated London News," October 10, 1908)

“The object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid.” (Chesterton, Autobiography)

Joseph Ratzinger, in Truth and Tolerance has a section on the logical error of putting orthopraxis over orthodoxy. The Marxist proponents of the primacy of orthopraxis claim that " cannot comprehend the absolute, but one can do it. The question is: How, in fact? Whence do I derive right action if I have no idea what is right? The collapse of the Communist regimes resulted directly from the fact that they had changed the world without knowing what was good for the world and what was not; without knowing in what direction it must be changed so as to be better. Mere praxis gives no light." San Francisco: Igantius, 2004, 124.

Setting out is useless for those who know not where to go or why to go. You "get nowhere," as we say.

That is also where the star comes in. The star itself indicates God to them. The star itself proclaims the fundamental doctrines of faith: that God is real, that He is involved in history, that He guides men to Himself, that He owns and orders the cosmos. This is what the Church calls natural theology.

So the anti-doctrine rationalist bias separating the doctrines of faith from the journey of seeking Jesus Christ is erroneous theologically and philosophically. It is erroneous regarding faith and regarding reason, reason itself reveals doctrines of faith to those who look for God through the stars! Their very search is based on a doctrine of faith: "search for the truth!" That doctrine is based on another doctrine: "there is such a thing as truth!" And another, "you can find it, and it is a most worthy pursuit!" "It is good for man to look for the truth!" Here are an whole host of doctrines of natural faith, all based on the truth of the living God.

"For the invisible things of him, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; his eternal power also, and divinity: so that they are inexcusable." Romans 1:20

Now, if the message is simply that the faith journey is an essential element of faith and that God does reveal Himself to those who go out to find Him, then yes. But "the truths of faith" are essential and not contrary to that experience which itself may add to the "deposit" of faith truths for the individual. God does not cease to reveal himself in small and in great ways to those who journey to find Him. The Christian faith is indeed essentially a Way, a pilgrimage, intelligent, with grace, with and in the Church, and personal.

"Rarely has there been faith like to that of these three Eastern potentates; rarely has faith been so severely tested and so magnificently triumphant. It would be difficult to find faith in the Gospel like to theirs. by their faith they left their homes, by their faith they followed the star, by their faith they consulted the heads of the Jewish religion, and by their faith they recognised in the Babe of Bethlehem the Desired of the Nations, the Saviour of the World. In accepting this child, enveloped in obscurity, poverty and suffering from His birth, as their King and their Lord, they accepted His standards of value, His concept of life, and His principles of action."
Edward Leen, In the Likeness of Christ, New York: Sheed & Ward, 1936, 69-70.

Courageous Pioneer Planting vs. Fear-Filled Famine

“The solution is staring the bishops in the face”
Today I read in the newest number of the Catholic Herald an article about a way to save the Catholic Church in England.
The subtitle:
The solution is staring the bishops in the face
Indeed it is.
The writer presents some cold facts and then gets to it.  Let’s jump in media res with my emphases:
Without denying that church closures are often inevitable, they are not always the only solution to too many churches. Indeed, several dioceses in north-west England are quietly pioneering another model, of which other “church rich, but priest-and-parishioner poor” bishops might well take heed.
The basic model is simple: lift a surplus-to-requirements church out of the normal parish system and give it to a niche group that can do something distinctive with it. Some of the original parishioners will stay and adjust (and be quite happy to do so); others will go off to provide a welcome boost to the numbers of nearby parishes. By allowing this group to spread its wings, and do something distinctive, it can then attract like-minded people from the surrounding area. Perhaps in any one parish there might be only two, or three, or five people for whom this is “their thing”, but over a wide area – especially in a large town or city – those few soon add up.
After all, most people already drive to church and a significant number of Mass-goers frequent a church that is not, strictly speaking, their own. This happens most obviously in places like London (how many of those attending the Oratory do you suppose actually live within its parochial boundaries?). But it is a perfectly common practice throughout the whole country.
Take my own home town of Preston, in the Diocese of Lancaster. Three grand old churches have recently been given over to the traditionalist Institute for Christ the King (St Walburge’s and English Martyrs) and the Syro-Malabar Church (St Ignatius, or rather the Cathedral of St Alphonsa as it is now). While these three are only a mile apart, there are more than a dozen other Catholic churches within a three-mile radius. So there’s no shortage of options for these churches’ original worshippers, looking for what they’re liturgically used to. I have visited St Walburge’s on a number of occasions, and it is genuinely thriving. In fact, they’re now setting up a school. I’ve also been to the Archdiocese of Liverpool’s own experiment in this area: St Mary’s, Warrington, entrusted to another traditionalist order, the FSSP. It too is doing just champion, as we say in Lancashire.
This basic model is, I’ll wager, worth exploring further, and with other groups. If it can work in Preston with both Extraordinary Form (EF) devotees and Keralan-diaspora Syro-Malabars, with whom else might it work? (As a curious side note, while I’ve seen the idea of EF communities criticised for being cliquey and divisive, I’ve never heard the same allegations against dedicated churches for Eastern Catholic groups.)
He goes on to talk about the possibility of reviving ethnic, personal parishes as well as the Ordinariate.
It is staring bishops in the face.  I think there are some bishops who would burn the diocese to the ground and sew the land with salt before they would let a parish go entirely Extraordinary Form.
So, let’s start planning how to starve together rather than growing crops and going fishing.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Love with Abiding Truth is Deadly

"The where we have to learn what omnipotence means. Omnipotence that joins with love without giving up truth. Only because truth remains indestructible, and it cannot and will not be snuffed out by God, there is no compromise, no agreement with what everybody wants. Only because truth abides does love become deadly. Truth without love does not have to die, but only judge; love without truth likewise does not have to die, but only yield. But where the two are together, the Cross comes to pass."
Joseph Ratzinger, Dogma and Preaching, San Francisco: Ignatius, 2011, 95. I have altered the text to better agree with Dogma und Verkündigung, Donauwörth: Wawel, 2005, 110.

The Invisible is the Truly Foundational Reality

When Saint Augustine went from the extreme anguish which he experienced in the interior conflict between his heart's yearning for eternity and the restraints that his passions and his academic skepticism imposed on him to reading the Word of God, turning to it in order to gain light and direction for his life...he realized that the invisible is the true reality that sustains all else.

...[I]t is just the same with us. In our time the pressure of audio-visual stimuli has, if anything, increased. The loudspeakers and the shouting voices [and the images and messages] of this world have reached such a volume that now we are hardly able to perceive the quiet of God. We often fancy that we have grown wiser and more clever because we take visible reality more seriously, but at the same time we must admit that our hearts have lost their keenness of vision, for we are no longer able to see beyond the visible to the invisible and eternal realities apart from which the visible has no being or subsistence...[God calls us to adore and worship Him and thus] to put our trust in the invisible and to acknowledge that it is the truly foundational reality.

Loosely quoted and paraphrased from the 1965 "Sermon for the Feast of Saint Augustine," Joseph Ratzinger, Dogma and Preaching, San Francisco: Ignatius, 2011, 264-265.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Profession of the Immutable Truths about Sacramental Marriage: Bishops' Official Statement on Amoris Lætitia

Full text of Kazakhstan Catholic Bishops statement on Amoris Laetitia (Lifesite)

Profession of the immutable truths about sacramental marriage

After the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris laetitia” (2016) various bishops issued at local, regional, and national levels applicable norms regarding the sacramental discipline of those faithful, called “divorced and remarried,” who having still a living spouse to whom they are united with a valid sacramental matrimonial bond, have nevertheless begun a stable cohabitation more uxorio with a person who is not their legitimate spouse.

The aforementioned rules provide inter alia that in individual cases the persons, called “divorced and remarried,” may receive the sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion, while continuing to live habitually and intentionally more uxorio with a person who is not their legitimate spouse. These pastoral norms have received approval from various hierarchical authorities. Some of these norms have received approval even from the supreme authority of the Church.

The spread of these ecclesiastically approved pastoral norms has caused a considerable and ever increasing confusion among the faithful and the clergy, a confusion that touches the central manifestations of the life of the Church, such as sacramental marriage with the family, the domestic church, and the sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist.

According to the doctrine of the Church, only the sacramental matrimonial bond constitutes a domestic church (see Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 11). The admission of so-called “divorced and remarried” faithful to Holy Communion, which is the highest expression of the unity of Christ the Spouse with His Church, means in practice a way of approving or legitimizing divorce, and in this meaning a kind of introduction of divorce in the life of the Church.

The mentioned pastoral norms are revealed in practice and in time as a means of spreading the “plague of divorce” (an expression used by the Second Vatican Council, see Gaudium et spes, 47). It is a matter of spreading the “plague of divorce” even in the life of the Church, when the Church, instead, because of her unconditional fidelity to the doctrine of Christ, should be a bulwark and an unmistakable sign of contradiction against the plague of divorce which is every day more rampant in civil society.

Unequivocally and without admitting any exception Our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ solemnly reaffirmed God’s will regarding the absolute prohibition of divorce. An approval or legitimation of the violation of the sacredness of the marriage bond, even indirectly through the mentioned new sacramental discipline, seriously contradicts God’s express will and His commandment. This practice therefore represents a substantial alteration of the two thousand-year-old sacramental discipline of the Church. Furthermore, a substantially altered discipline will eventually lead to an alteration in the corresponding doctrine.

The constant Magisterium of the Church, beginning with the teachings of the Apostles and of all the Supreme Pontiffs, has preserved and faithfully transmitted both in the doctrine (in theory) and in the sacramental discipline (in practice) in an unequivocal way, without any shadow of doubt and always in the same sense and in the same meaning (eodem sensu eademque sententia), the crystalline teaching of Christ concerning the indissolubility of marriage.

Because of its Divinely established nature, the discipline of the sacraments must never contradict the revealed word of God and the faith of the Church in the absolute indissolubility of a ratified and consummated marriage. “The sacraments not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it; that is why they are called “sacraments of faith.” (Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 59). “Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1125).

The Catholic faith by its nature excludes a formal contradiction between the faith professed on the one hand and the life and practice of the sacraments on the other. In this sense we can also understand the following affirmation of the Magisterium: “This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age.” (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 43) and “Accordingly, the concrete pedagogy of the Church must always remain linked with her doctrine and never be separated from it” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 33).

In view of the vital importance that the doctrine and discipline of marriage and the Eucharist constitute, the Church is obliged to speak with the same voice. The pastoral norms regarding the indissolubility of marriage must not, therefore, be contradicted between one diocese and another, between one country and another. Since the time of the Apostles, the Church has observed this principle as St. Irenaeus of Lyons testifies: “The Church, though spread throughout the world to the ends of the earth, having received the faith from the Apostles and their disciples, preserves this preaching and this faith with care and, as if she inhabits a single house, believes in the same identical way, as if she had only one soul and only one heart, and preaches the truth of the faith, teaches it and transmits it in a unanimous voice, as if she had only one mouth” (Adversus haereses, I, 10, 2). Saint Thomas Aquinas transmits to us the same perennial principle of the life of the Church: “There is one and the same faith of the ancients and the moderns, otherwise there would not be one and the same Church” (Questiones Disputatae de Veritate, q. 14, a. 12c).

The following warning from Pope John Paul II remains current and valid: “The confusion, created in the conscience of many faithful by the differences of opinions and teachings in theology, in preaching, in catechesis, in spiritual direction, about serious and delicate questions of Christian morals, ends up by diminishing the true sense of sin almost to the point of eliminating it” (Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitenia, 18).

The meaning of the following statements of the Magisterium of the Church is fully applicable to the doctrine and sacramental discipline concerning the indissolubility of a ratified and consummated marriage:

• “For the Church of Christ, watchful guardian that she is, and defender of the dogmas deposited with her, never changes anything, never diminishes anything, never adds anything to them; but with all diligence she treats the ancient doctrines faithfully and wisely, which the faith of the Fathers has transmitted. She strives to investigate and explain them in such a way that the ancient dogmas of heavenly doctrine will be made evident and clear, but will retain their full, integral, and proper nature, and will grow only within their own genus — that is, within the same dogma, in the same sense and the same meaning” (Pius IX, Dogmatic Bull Ineffabilis Deus)

• “With regard to the very substance of truth, the Church has before God and men the sacred duty to announce it, to teach it without any attenuation, as Christ revealed it, and there is no condition of time that can reduce the rigor of this obligation. It binds in conscience every priest who is entrusted with the care of teaching, admonishing, and guiding the faithful” (Pius XII, Discourse to parish priests and Lenten preachers, March 23, 1949).

• “The Church does not historicize, does not relativize to the metamorphoses of profane culture the nature of the Church that is always equal and faithful to itself, as Christ wanted it and authentic tradition perfected it” (Paul VI, Homily from October 28, 1965).

• “Now it is an outstanding manifestation of charity toward souls to omit nothing from the saving doctrine of Christ” (Paul VI, Encyclical Humanae Vitae, 29).

• “Any conjugal difficulties are resolved without ever falsifying and compromising the truth” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 33).

• “The Church is in no way the author or the arbiter of this norm [of the Divine moral law]. In obedience to the truth which is Christ, whose image is reflected in the nature and dignity of the human person, the Church interprets the moral norm and proposes it to all people of good will, without concealing its demands of radicalness and perfection” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 33).

• “The other principle is that of truth and consistency, whereby the church does not agree to call good evil and evil good. Basing herself on these two complementary principles, the church can only invite her children who find themselves in these painful situations to approach the divine mercy by other ways, not however through the sacraments of penance and the eucharist until such time as they have attained the required dispositions” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio etPaenitentia, 34).

• “The Church’s firmness in defending the universal and unchanging moral norms is not demeaning at all. Its only purpose is to serve man’s true freedom. Because there can be no freedom apart from or in opposition to the truth” (John Paul II, Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 96).

• “When it is a matter of the moral norms prohibiting intrinsic evil, there are no privileges or exceptions for anyone. It makes no difference whether one is the master of the world or the ‘poorest of the poor’ on the face of the earth. Before the demands of morality, we are all absolutely equal” (emphasis in original) (John Paul II, Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 96).

• “The obligation of reiterating this impossibility of admission to the Eucharist is required for genuine pastoral care and for an authentic concern for the well-being of these faithful and of the whole Church, as it indicates the conditions necessary for the fullness of that conversion to which all are always invited by the Lord” (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration on the admissibility to the Holy Communion of the divorced and remarried, 24 June 2000, n. 5).

As Catholic bishops, who — according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council — must defend the unity of faith and the common discipline of the Church, and take care that the light of the full truth should arise for all men (see Lumen Gentium, 23 ) we are forced in conscience to profess in the face of the current rampant confusion the unchanging truth and the equally immutable sacramental discipline regarding the indissolubility of marriage according to the bi-millennial and unaltered teaching of the Magisterium of the Church. In this spirit we reiterate:

• Sexual relationships between people who are not in the bond to one another of a valid marriage — which occurs in the case of the so-called “divorced and remarried” — are always contrary to God’s will and constitute a grave offense against God.

• No circumstance or finality, not even a possible imputability or diminished guilt, can make such sexual relations a positive moral reality and pleasing to God. The same applies to the other negative precepts of the Ten Commandments of God. Since “there exist acts which, per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 17).

• The Church does not possess the infallible charism of judging the internal state of grace of a member of the faithful (see Council of Trent, session 24, chapter 1). The non-admission to Holy Communion of the so-called “divorced and remarried” does not therefore mean a judgment on their state of grace before God, but a judgment on the visible, public, and objective character of their situation. Because of the visible nature of the sacraments and of the Church herself, the reception of the sacraments necessarily depends on the corresponding visible and objective situation of the faithful.

• It is not morally licit to engage in sexual relations with a person who is not one’s legitimate spouse supposedly to avoid another sin. Since the Word of God teaches us, it is not lawful “to do evil so that good may come” (Romans 3, 8).

• The admission of such persons to Holy Communion may be permitted only when they with the help of God’s grace and a patient and individual pastoral accompaniment make a sincere intention to cease from now on the habit of such sexual relations and to avoid scandal. It is in this way that true discernment and authentic pastoral accompaniment were always expressed in the Church.

• People who have habitual non-marital sexual relations violate their indissoluble sacramental nuptial bond with their life style in relation to their legitimate spouse. For this reason they are not able to participate “in Spirit and in Truth” (see John 4, 23) at the Eucharistic wedding supper of Christ, also taking into account the words of the rite of Holy Communion: “Blessed are the guests at the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19, 9).

• The fulfillment of God’s will, revealed in His Ten Commandments and in His explicit and absolute prohibition of divorce, constitutes the true spiritual good of the people here on earth and will lead them to the true joy of love in the salvation of eternal life.

Being bishops in the pastoral office, who promote the Catholic and Apostolic faith (“cultores catholicae et apostolicae fidei,” see Missale Romanum, Canon Romanus), we are aware of this grave responsibility and our duty before the faithful who await from us a public and unequivocal profession of the truth and the immutable discipline of the Church regarding the indissolubility of marriage. For this reason we are not allowed to be silent.

We affirm therefore in the spirit of St. John the Baptist, of St. John Fisher, of St. Thomas More, of Blessed Laura Vicuña and of numerous known and unknown confessors and martyrs of the indissolubility of marriage:

It is not licit (non licet) to justify, approve, or legitimize either directly or indirectly divorce and a non-conjugal stable sexual relationship through the sacramental discipline of the admission of so-called “divorced and remarried” to Holy Communion, in this case a discipline alien to the entire Tradition of the Catholic and Apostolic faith.

By making this public profession before our conscience and before God who will judge us, we are sincerely convinced that we have provided a service of charity in truth to the Church of our day and to the Supreme Pontiff, Successor of Saint Peter and Vicar of Christ on earth.

31 December 2017, the Feast of the Holy Family, in the year of the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima.

+ Tomash Peta, Archbishop Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana

+ Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop-Bishop of Karaganda

+ Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana

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