This is really nothing new, as we already know that Vatican II sees non-Catholic religions as having value in the order of salvation, indeed as means of salvation, which is an explicit heresy.
What is interesting about Bergoglio’s statement, however, is that he openly approves of freedom of conscience, that is, the right to choose whatever religion you want and to practice it.
In order to respect diversity, dialogue must seek to promote every person’s right to life, to physical integrity, and to fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of conscience, of thought, of expression and of religion. This includes the freedom to live according to one’s beliefs in both the private and public spheres. In this way, Christians and Muslims – as brothers and sisters – can work together for the common good.
What Bergoglio states here was solemnly condemned by Pope Pius IX in Quanta Cura. What is significant, however, is that he repeats not only Vatican II’s call for the freedom to practice one’s religion, but also freedom of conscience.
Conscience is none other than man’s intellect in the act of determining the morality of an act to be done here and now. Conscience is not a faculty which discovers the truth, but instead is merely the application of the law to a determined act. Consequently the conscience is not free to choose what it pleases, but is necessarily bound to the law which it must apply to the acts we perform.
Freedom of conscience is therefore an impious doctrine, since it releases the intellect from its duty to know the law of God and to apply it. Man has no right to freedom of conscience. Why? Because
God has revealed a religion and a law, and all consciences must accept and obey this religion and this law.
The Catholic Church does not exclude, provided there be serious reasons which justify it, a toleration of false religions, but it can in no way condone the tenet that one has a right to a false religion. For all right is based in God and emanates from God. Right is a moral faculty — ability — to posit an act which is morally correct, that is, which is in conformity with God’s law. The very thought that God would posit a right in someone to defy Him by embracing a false religion is blasphemy.
In a recent letter commenting on clerical sex abuse, Ratzinger said that the cause of it was the sexual revolution of the 1960’s.
This is a stunning statement. Why? Because it is the mission and purpose of the Church to resist moral corruption, and especially to protect the clergy from it. The clergy should practice mortification of their sexual passions, devoted as they are — and canonically obliged — to celibacy and perfect chastity. One could just as easily say: “The monks are all fat because of the eating revolution.” Are they not supposed to practice mortification? It would be the equivalent of saying that the Titanic sank because there was an iceberg in front of it. The reality is that the Titanic sank because the crew was recklessly speeding at 22 knots (at that time very fast for an ocean liner) through “Iceberg Alley” in the springtime when icebergs are most commonly seen. The crew had also committed gross negligence in ignoring the warnings of ice by other ships.
On the Fatima Centerwebsite, Mr. Ferrara attacked the sedevacantists for what he calls self-contradiction, a “fatal ﬂaw” in their thinking. He first accurately sums up the sedevacantist position:
So, according to sedevacantist thinking, one cannot legitimately recognize yet resist a true Pope because while not every papal magisterial act is infallible, every papal magisterial act is (1) authoritative, (2) binding on consciences, (3) safe to follow, and (4) free from pernicious error. [emphasis added]
He then proceeds to attack this position as containing a contradiction.
What the sedevacantists are really saying, then, is that a Pope who errs in his teaching on a matter of faith and morals, even once, ceases to be Pope (or never was Pope) because every exercise of the papal magisterium must be free from error.
Notice that the word pernicious has disappeared. In leaving this word out, Mr. Ferrara has manifested that he does not understand the whole point of the sedevacantist argument.
There has been a good deal of outrage recently about the very liberalized abortion laws which were passed in New York and Virginia, permitting the child to be murdered even as it is in the process of being born. In Virginia the governor said that, even if the child survived the abortion, the parents and the abortionist “would have a discussion,” implying very clearly that if the parents did not want the child, the abortionist would kill it.
I do not understand the outrage, since all of the logic for performing the heinous crime has been with us since Roe vs. Wade in 1973. In fact, it has been with us since the legalization of artificial contraception.
The Catholic doctrine is that sexual intercourse has a single purpose, which is the procreation of a human being. Notice that the word is procreation and not creation, since the prefix pro means that the parents are accomplishing the creation of a child for God. This means that the parents are given a role in the production of a human being, in which they provide the flesh, whereas God provides the immortal soul. The result is a human being, who has, on the one hand, a body, like that of the animals, but on the other hand, an immaterial and immortal soul, like the angels. This soul is what makes human beings different from animals, possessing as it does an intellect and will. These faculties enable the soul to know immaterial things, and to freely choose to do good things. Animals choose their good things by being programmed by God through instinct, and their choices are not free.
Hence the Catholic doctrine sees the child as primarily and essentially the work of God the Creator, and as something which is rightfully God’s. The parents have a merely vicarious role in the order of creation, permitted as they are to provide the material part of the child. Consequently, the entire reproductive process is under God’s direct control, and must be ordered according to God’s law, which is the natural law.
God the Creator has attached pleasure to the reproductive act in order that human beings be motivated to propagate the human race. The pleasure is therefore something entirely subject to the use of sexual activity according to the rules of nature.
Pope Pius XI, in his encyclical Casti Connubii, said that the parents act “as ministers, as it were, of the Divine Omnipotence.”
Listen to the same pope in the same encyclical:
Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offense against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.
To sum up: (1) Sexual intercourse is is essentially ordered to reproduction; (2) the pleasure associated with it is essentially ordered to reproduction, and exists only to promote reproduction; (3) the entire reproductive act, from conception to birth, is completely under the control of God, and must be carried out in accordance with the natural law; (4) the child, from conception to birth, is God’s child primarily, and continues to be God’s child forever; (5) The parents have a merely vicarious role in the creation of a child inasmuch as God permits them to partake in His creative process; (6) it is therefore the role of the parents to conceive according to nature, and to protect the unborn child until birth, and thereafter to rear the child both in regard to his or her spiritual needs and temporal needs.
The atheistic/materialistic/secularistic/evolutionistic view is the complete opposite. Human beings are essentially animals, having evolved from gorillas or gorilla-like animals. They have no immaterial or immortal souls. Their intellects and free wills are functions of their material brains. There is no judgment after death, no reward for virtue, and no punishment for moral depravity. Like animals, human beings exist to have pleasure, and the most pleasurable thing is sex. Reproduction is a side effect of the pleasurable sex act. The conception and bearing of children is completely under the control of the woman, who bears a child as a part of her own body. It is entirely her possession and she makes all the decisions concerning its conception, and its survival after conception.
So it is evident that contraception is at bottom the cause of abortion. If reproduction is entirely under the control of the woman, and if we are merely animals, then what is the harm in terminating the life of the child, either through contraception or by abortion? Why should there be any limit on the time of abortion? Indeed, what stops a mother, in this macabre logic, from ordering the death of her child even when it has exited the womb, and has become physically independent from her? How would it differ from putting a litter of unwanted puppies to death?
The only reason why some are horrified by these new abortion laws in New York and Virginia is that a late term abortion seems more grotesque and monstrous. The steely liberal logic, however, puts its blessing upon it.
Much has been said recently about women who have suffered from the sexual assaults of men.
It is true that the conduct of some men is deplorable in this regard, but it is also true that the conduct of some women is deplorable as well.
The 1960s produced a sexual revolution unheard of in the history of the world, which in turn caused a revolution in family life from which we are still reeling, and the end of which is nowhere in sight.
The trend began over one hundred years ago, and gained momentum in World War I. Before the war, for example, women covered their entire bodies with clothing. After the war, the hemlines came up and the necklines came down.
Never in the history of women’s dress, up to about 1918, did women wear skirts above their ankles. It was considered immodest. Even in the eighteenth century, where the necklines were low, women covered their arms to at least three-quarter length, and wore skirts to their ankles. To show one’s bare arms or to wear a skirt higher than the ankles was a sign of a prostitute.
By the 1920s women’s clothing had undergone a radical transformation. So did their behavior. With the advent of the cinema, and especially that of Hollywood, the “glamor girl” look became fashionable, as well as the flirtatious activity which accompanied it. Nevertheless the average respectable woman wore a dress that came to mid-leg length, and was otherwise modest in clothing. The skirts gradually made their way higher during the 1940’s and 1950’s, but in general a woman’s dress was within the norms of modesty.
I say “in general,” because even the 1930s saw the dawn of tight-fitting dresses on women, which were immodest inasmuch as they were too revealing. Later this gave way to a full skirt in the 1950’s, much more modest. But the 1960’s saw the return of the tight dress, and with it the miniskirt, something that the human race had never seen on decent women since the dawn of mankind.
Hollywood became extremely immodest in both dress and behavior in the 1950s. It was the prelude of the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Marilyn Monroe was a typical example of this degenerate tendency.
Up to about 1965, most women were married, not divorced, had five or six children, at times more, and were devoted to their homes. With the appearance of the birth control pill in the 1960s, the role and attitudes of women would change radically, and with these changes, family life would suffer immeasurably.
“Freed” from the burden of having and raising children, and urged on by the radical feminists such as Betty Friedan, women left their homes and went out into the workplace. This change was concurrent with the general attitude of sexual freedom in the 1960s, by which people abandoned the inhibitions of previous times, and felt no restraints in pursuing the inclinations of their lower nature. Movies and television took ever greater liberties in this regard. This decline in morals could easily be seen if one were to trace, little by little, the modesty of television in the 1950s to the immodesty of television in our own time. The doses came in small spoonfuls, just as Vatican II did. Little by little decent people were asked to tolerate more and more immodesty.
The effect of all of this revolution in sexual mores, as well as the role of women, is that men and women have been thrown together into situations which are very dangerous. Women are daily interacting with men in the workplace. In many cases they are dressed in such a way as to be immodestly attractive to men. The inevitable result is that, unless the men in the office are very vigilant about the virtue of chastity and fidelity to their wives, some very bad things take place.
The reason why there was, in past times, so much modesty in women’s dress, and the reason why women stayed mostly in the home, is precisely that men have a very hard time controlling their sexual desires.
Although men are principally guilty, the women are partially if not equally guilty. In many if not most cases their dress is sexually enticing, and their conduct with men often invites sexual advances.
Most of these assaults upon women are seen in show business, an environment which is notably loose and never known for its observance of chastity and fidelity. Most of the “victim” ladies in these cases look like lascivious women, and probably did much to cause the assault.
Other cases of assault occur in situations in which men enjoy much power and influence. Sports figures are often guilty of this as well as politicians. There seems to be an aggression that occurs in men as they advance in power and/or fame. Women should not be close to any environments such as these.
While women should not look odd by returning the mode of dress in 1912, they should nonetheless take all the steps necessary, even difficult, expensive, and inconvenient, in order to avoid being an occasion of sin to men, and thereby inviting upon themselves outrages by unscrupulous males.
Saint John Chrysostom, who died in 404, summed it up:
You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not, indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment. When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent Tell me, whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body but the soul. And it is not to enemies you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity, nor provoked by injury, but out of foolish vanity and pride.
As a result of my recent blog posting, entitled “Judging the Judge,” I received a good deal of complimentary comments, but was inundated by very critical comments.
I would like to answer those who criticized what I said. First I will give some explanations of things that may have been unclear.
In moral theology there are certain reflex principles which are used in order to resolve a doubt. In the case of two testimonies which are contradictory, i.e., “he said, she said,” the doubt is resolved, all things being equal, by taking the word of the superior. Judge Kavanaugh is the superior in this case, not because he is a man, but because he is a federal judge, and a very renowned one at that. He has stronger credibility, according to this moral principle, than his opponent.
I say “all things being equal,” since it is possible that the word of an inferior could be more credible than that of a superior, for various reasons. But when both seem credible, presumption must be made in favor of the superior. Perhaps my critics disagree with this principle, but nonetheless it is Catholic moral theology.
By saying that the immoral actions of a seventeen year old, especially while drunk, should not affect his qualifications later in life, should not be taken as an absolution or a condonation of the immoral behavior of teenagers. It is simply to say: if he repents of his immoral actions, and if this repentance is accompanied by the amendment of his moral habits, these actions should not disqualify him in the future from responsible and honorable positions in society. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said “Penance is second innocence.” There is the outstanding example, as well, of Saint Augustine, who led a morally dissolute life as a young man, but who converted from it and went on to become a great saint and one of the greatest doctors of the Church.
It is a mortal sin to get drunk. Inebriation, however, does reduce the culpability of a sin, inasmuch as the excessive alcohol impairs the use of reason, as well as moral inhibitions, with the result that people do and say things while drunk that they would never do or say while sober. This is Catholic moral theology. If you do not accept this, your argument is with both Catholic moral theology and even common sense, because everyone knows that this is true.
I do not believe, however, that Judge Kavanaugh is guilty of the aggressive behavior of which he is accused, because I do not find the testimony of Dr. Ford to be credible, owing especially to the many memory lapses concerning the circumstances of the event.
This is my conclusion. It was also the conclusion of the FBI. Others may find her credible. I do not impose my conclusion on them, and they should not impose their conclusion on me.
But this is exactly what my critics did. I received about thirty hate emails, many of them interspersed with vulgar and filthy language, such as the S-word and the F-word, but nearly all of them accusing me of condoning sin, of being a child abuser, of being non-Catholic, and of other horrid things. One of them said, “You are a pig, Bishop.” Another said, “How many young boys have you f****d?” These were not isolated cases. Only two of the thirty emails that I received were civil and balanced, although they expressed disagreement.
First, let me say that attacking your opponent with anger, hate, insult, and filth does much to detract from your credibility. People who are confident of their positions are able to defend them with rational arguments, not F-words.
Second, to express my opinion about the credibility of Dr. Ford’s testimony, or that of any witness, is entirely my right, and I should not be harassed or preyed upon by Leftists who disagree with me. Abusive language and false accusations are themselves a form of violence.
The Leftists have turned their political views into religious dogma, and they are ready to burn at the stake anyone who disagrees with them.
The recent weeks have been dominated ad nauseam by the accusations against Judge Kavanaugh. Here I will give my reflections on this case and provide some moral principles.
In the first place, I have no knowledge of the judge’s political views, and am quite indifferent regarding his approval. Although he comes highly recommended in conservative circles, the fact that liberal neocon George W. Bush supports his nomination is disquieting. On the other hand, the hatred that the Leftists have for him is reassuring.
What is of particular concern is the manner in which he is being accused.
In the first place, I found Dr. Ford’s testimony against him to be very unreliable and inconsistent. The prosecutor who interrogated her published these inconsistencies in a report to the Senate.
Secondly, I find it hard to believe that she would have said nothing about the incident to anyone for thirty-six years.
Be these things as they may, what should we think about Judge Kavanaugh?
Moral theology — indeed the law of God — requires us to not think any evil of him beyond what is evident. If there is insufficient evidence to make a certain judgement of guilt, then we must hold him guiltless. If there is sufficient evidence to cause suspicion of guilt, then we may lawfully suspect him. To think evil of someone without sufficient evidence is a sin of rash judgement, and it is a mortal sin if the matter is serious. This matter is certainly serious.
In this case, however, it is Judge Kavanaugh’s word against Dr. Ford’s word. Moral law requires us, in that parity of contradictory testimony, to take the word of the superior, which in this case would be that of Judge Kavanaugh.
Furthermore, the testimony of Dr. Ford is weakened severely by the fact that she was not cross-examined. The purpose of cross-examination is precisely to test the truthfulness of the witness. Cross-examination by a good lawyer would have demonstrated the many contradictions in Dr. Ford’s testimony, as reported by the prosecutor who questioned her.
As well, it is a general principle in both civil law and moral law that the accused has the right to face his accuser. This right was denied to Judge Kavanaugh.
The fact that the Leftist senators kept the information secret until the last minute also seriously taints the integrity and honesty of the senators who oppose Judge Kavanaugh. For if they had really believed the information to be true, it is of such a nature that it should have been brought forth immediately.
I therefore conclude that Dr. Ford’s testimony should be discounted for all of the reasons I have stated above.
Even if, however, one should accept Dr. Ford’s testimony as true, I do not believe that the qualifications of any human being should include actions which he or she performed when seventeen years old. Teenagers do many imprudent, foolish, stupid, and sinful things, but in many or even most cases they recover from these bad actions or habits and act like responsible adults. Furthermore, what the judge is accused of is not even a complete act. It was not a rape. Even as it is reported, the prosecutor said that it is not actionable even from the point of view of prosecution as a crime. Furthermore, Judge Kavanaugh is supposed to have performed this act while drunk, according to his accuser, which would reduce culpability, if the incident did indeed occur.
If Judge Kavanaugh had done something like this in more mature years, then I would say that there would be reason to block his nomination.
I would like to find out from both the accuser and from the senators some of their activities during their teenage years.
What is most lamentable about the whole matter is the absolutely deplorable manner in which these hearings took place, with no regard for the most fundamental rules of evidence, or even of human decency.