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EWTN Disappoints

April 30, 2009
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Update:  For those interersted, Commonweal has created a transcript of the remarks under question.

Many have been outraged at Father Sirico of the infamous Acton Institute giving his blessing to Torture on EWTN.  (See the 7:55 mark for the remarks on torture, euphemistically called enhanced interogation.)  The 9:45 mark features joking about waterboarding.  We also learn that one must be a pacifist to oppose “enhanced interrogation” techniques.

EWTN’s website is a mixed bag on this issue.  Here, we see torture improperly addressed.

First of all, the first quote from the Catechism refers to those who perpetrate crime by kidnapping or hostage taking and then torture their victims. Second, I am not certain, but it occurs to me that the enemies of the state, or people who have already perpetrated heinous crimes against the innocent, are already people who are despicable, so if they refuse to cooperate with a just government, is torturing them a sin? I cannot answer that, but it is clear that without all the facts, nobody can suggest that torture is intrinsically evil.

Here, EWTN addresses it properly more properly.  I would read the which clause as descriptively rather than restrictively.

David, Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions,to punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or to satisfy hatred is contrary to the respect for a person and for human dignity, and is a sin against the 5th. Commandment.

I do not receive EWTN, so I cannot offer comprehensive commentary on their programming.  I am apprehensive of people treating EWTN as an alternative magisterium.

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44 Comments
  1. April 30, 2009 10:27 pm

    Oh, I think many people think EWTN is an alternative Magisterium. And Fr. Sirico.

  2. blackadderiv permalink
    April 30, 2009 10:39 pm

    As with Hudson, Father Sirico analogizes to the Just War criteria (I wonder if he reads Deal’s blog). You would think that just watching the video they played over the discussion would give people pause.

  3. April 30, 2009 10:51 pm

    I don’t know anything about this Fr. Sirico.
    I do know that EWTN is far more reliable than, say, the National Catholic Reporter.
    I’d hardly call it an “alternative Magisterium,” since it would have to teach something different than the Magisterium to be “alternative.”

    And one particular interview is hardly a network position.

    The other two citations are from their “expert” forums and have about as much weight as “Dear Abby.” You can search the archives far enough and find contradictory answers from experts on any number of debatable topics.

    Judie Brown’s response is noncomittal. She’s refusing to make an absolute statement on the subject, and she is a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, so she has some authority on the subject.

    Fr. Levis is a good priest, but his absolute statement is based more upon his own pacifist beliefs than upon evidence.

    Interesting: Judie Brown cites the Catechism, says there’s no clear teaching there, and refuses to make a definitive statement without knowing what the Magisterium says.
    Fr. Levis takes it upon himself to make an absolute declaration, without reference to the Catechism (in which he is most certainly an expert), or any other document.

  4. April 30, 2009 10:52 pm

    You know, I’ve never liked EWTN, but I’ve never been more disgusted that with this. First off, and let’s get this out of the way, the reasoning of this Judie Brown character is abominable.

    I am deeply disappointed by Sirico, who clearly should know better. He even defines intrinsic evil, and moves on to torture, never acknowledging that the Church deems it an intrinsic evil, and instead talks about torture being OK depending on competent authority (I guess that means Americans can waterboard, Khmer Rouge can’t), or in case of ticking bomb scenarios (embracing consequentialism).

    This is very very serious. We are way past EWTN cheerleading the American military and never criticizing the Iraq war. This is dissent, pure and simple. What is the status of EWTN? Are they answerable to any episcopal authority? They should be shut down.

  5. April 30, 2009 10:56 pm

    JC has it exactly backwards. Levis paraphrases the Catechism. His answer is fine, if simplistic. Brown quotes the Catechism, but distorts it for evil ends, the tactic of the evil one.

  6. April 30, 2009 11:05 pm

    ‘This is very very serious. We are way past EWTN cheerleading the American military and never criticizing the Iraq war. This is dissent, pure and simple. What is the status of EWTN? Are they answerable to any episcopal authority? They should be shut down.”

    Shut Down? Good Grief shut down the discussion by fiat. I find that a weird attitude from of the major contributors to VOX NOVA that needless to say offers quite a few to say the least challenging and out the box posts

    For the record MM I hope no one shuts you down

  7. April 30, 2009 11:06 pm

    “Oh, I think many people think EWTN is an alternative Magisterium. And Fr. Sirico.”

    I suspect 99 percent of American Catholics don’t know who Fr. Sirico is

  8. Policraticus permalink*
    April 30, 2009 11:33 pm

    I suspect 99 percent of American Catholics don’t know who Fr. Sirico is

    True, and that is a good thing.

  9. April 30, 2009 11:39 pm

    Ugh.

    I suspect 99 percent of American Catholics don’t know who Fr. Sirico is

    I hope you’re right!

  10. Policraticus permalink*
    April 30, 2009 11:42 pm

    I noticed that Raymond Arroyo lumped moral opposition to torture into the ad hoc category of “prudential judgment.” Then Fr. Sirico begins to chide pro-choice Catholics for their poor formation, despite his own ignorance of the Church’s position on torture.

    Fortunately, we have the legacies of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI to kill off this harmful influence on American Catholics.

  11. Michael Hudo permalink
    May 1, 2009 12:46 am

    I appose torture, but where does the Church define exactly what constitutes torture?

    • M.Z. permalink
      May 1, 2009 12:53 am

      There are other resources to address what constitutes torture. The UN definitions and the Geneva conventions are binding in this country. The prohibition on torture isn’t sourced in the doctrinal deposit specifically, so there would be no need for an appeal to magisterial authority on what does or doesn’t constitute torture. As a doctrinal matter, that which is torture is proscribed.

  12. May 1, 2009 1:09 am

    Morning’s Minion, “This Judie Brown character”????

    Calling Judie Brown, the woman who has probably done more than anyone else for the authentic pro-life movement, the leader of one of the *only* groups in our country to oppose the abomination that is legalized contraception, and a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life an agent of the devil for simply saying she doesn’t know the answer to a question?????

    Go to the National Catholic Reporter website, and you’ll see Richard McBrien, John Allen, Joan Chittister and Bishop Gumbleton (who has written of his shame the seminaries discouraged homosexual relationships among seminarians) as regular colunists, and you’re not calling for that piece of satanic, pro-contraception, pro-homosexuality, anti-marriage trash to be shut down.

    I’ve watched the video. It seems a bit hypocritical of this Fr. Sirico to rightly condemn assimilationism in one context and then engage in it a few minutes later, but, again, I don’t see what’s so wrong with what says, per his own standards he’s established.

    I don’t agree with him, but, as a traditionalist, I have to agree with what he and Judie Brown are both saying: the language in the Catechism implies the kinds of “prudential judgements” or “pastoral approaches” which Paul VI insisted were the proper way of interpreting Vatican II.

    There has never been a dogmatic condemnation of torture by a Pope or a Council,and, to do so, as Judie Brown points out, would necessarily create a contradiction in Holy Mother Church herself.

    As *I* point out, condemning torture, and this post-Vatican II cult of “respect for the body” create an inherent contradiction to the long standing practice of the use of “torture” in the spiritual life. And look what’s happened to our religious orders since they moved away from using flagellations.

  13. May 1, 2009 7:35 am

    We don’t have to appeal to Church officials or documents to answer the moral question of torture. The personalistic principle, for example, gives us reasons never to torture. That said, given the division among Catholics on this issue, it might be helpful for bishops or even the pope to repeatedly clarify the Church’s teaching and the reasoning behind its teaching.

  14. M.Z. permalink
    May 1, 2009 8:13 am

    Giving this additional thought, let me put it another way. Among international authorities, the acts under consideration are considered torture. If a member of Falun Gong would request amnesty on the grounds that he received the treatment we attempted to defend, I believe we would readily grant amnesty.

  15. Katerina permalink
    May 1, 2009 8:47 am

    Mark Shea has some thoughts on this same issue:

    http://markshea.blogspot.com/2009/04/boy-do-i-get-sick-of-having-to-say-same.html

  16. Policraticus permalink*
    May 1, 2009 9:35 am

    I appose torture, but where does the Church define exactly what constitutes torture?

    Because torture has several different modes and those who torture never cease to invent new modes, there is no “exact” definition of torture in its matter (unlike, say, abortion). However, the Church defines torture formally (i.e., what makes an action torture):

    1. violation of human dignity in the form of
    2. intentional mental and/or physical harm in order to
    3. use a human person as a means (or instrument) for some producible end
    4. against that person’s will.

    These are the essential features of torture, and any material action with this form is torture. And it does not take any meticulous reasoning to figure out which material acts bear this essential form.

    Church sources: Veritatis Splendor 80, Gaudium et spes 27.

  17. May 1, 2009 9:52 am

    JC, I’ve never heard of Judy Brown before, but I repeat: her answer is abominable. It’s at least as bad as Biden and Pelosi telling the Church that abortion is not an open and shut. Dear God, this woman is suggesting that it may be licit to torture “despicable” people who “refuse to cooperate with a just government”. You know, I am sure the Khmer Rouge leaders considered themselves a just government, and considered those who opposed them as despicable”. Likewise the Gestapo. Likewise the WW2-era Japanese.

    This brings me to the question of trying to dodge the moral question by questioning the definition of torture. Of course, nobody questions it when the Khmer Rouge, or the Gestapo, or the WW2-era Japanese are doing it, but when the Ameicans do it, well, it must embody some virtue, right?

  18. May 1, 2009 9:58 am

    Yes, I noticed that Sirico (or Arroro) lumped torture as a “prudential judgment”. This is cafeteria Catholicism on the right, exactly the same as those who reject the teachings underpinning Humanie Vitae on the left.

    The Church says very clearly that torture is instrinscially evil. This was reiterated in the USCCB Faithful Citizenship document. Pope Benedict said that the prohibition on torture “could not be contravened under any circumstance”. Of course, for the Sirico-Arroya circuit, the greater moral issue is Obama speaking at Notre Dame. Depraved.

  19. Kurt permalink
    May 1, 2009 10:08 am

    I don’t know anything about this Fr. Sirico.

    Oh, contact me privately!!!!!

  20. Michael Hudo permalink
    May 1, 2009 10:12 am

    1. violation of human dignity in the form of
    2. intentional mental and/or physical harm in order to
    3. use a human person as a means (or instrument) for some producible end
    4. against that person’s will.

    Could this not also include incarceration? I ask this because I have a friend that used to be an interrogator, and he said that he had to undergo every technique they employed. In fact, he had to do this regularly, and never actually used the “torture” on others because it was in the 80’s, and they never had prisoners to use them on.

    So, if he underwent these “tortures” with no physical or psychological harm, I fail to see how one can avoid doing anything to a person in custody without it, conceivably, being considered torture; monotonous diet, wearing a uniform, denial of free movement, work in the sun, isolation, fear from loud noises, exposure to homosexual advances…things that happen in every prison in the world.

    So, again, if the guidelines in the Church are vague, how can a secular organization hope to find the “truth” regarding what constitutes “torture”?

    Everyone here seems to SURE. I’m always nervous when people are so certain about things that seem so subjective.

  21. Policraticus permalink
    May 1, 2009 10:13 am

    the language in the Catechism implies the kinds of “prudential judgements” or “pastoral approaches” which Paul VI insisted were the proper way of interpreting Vatican II.

    This is definitely not the case with respect to torture.

  22. M.Z. permalink
    May 1, 2009 10:17 am

    In some cases, a lack of suredness on a matter is because the authorities are not sure. In other cases, a lack of suredness on a matter is because the author has not sought to avail himself of resources to have sure knowledge.

  23. Policraticus permalink
    May 1, 2009 10:18 am

    Could this not also include incarceration?

    Generally, incarceration is a mode of retributive justice that seeks to treat the wrong-doer as an end, not a means (on this, see Thomas Aquinas, ST II-II q. 46, 66, I-II q.87, among others). Thus, just incarceration does not have the features of #1 or #3. Torture, by definition, is not retributive justice.

    So, if he underwent these “tortures” with no physical or psychological harm, I fail to see how one can avoid doing anything to a person in custody without it, conceivably, being considered torture; monotonous diet, wearing a uniform, denial of free movement, work in the sun, isolation, fear from loud noises, exposure to homosexual advances…things that happen in every prison in the world.

    If there is no physical or psychological harm for purely instrumental means, then there is no torture. Some of the particularities of incarceration you list (e.g., diet, uniform) would not be violations of human dignity insofar as they are not 1) unreasonable (e.g., force-feeding prisoners cow feces or forcing prisoners to go nude) or 2) intended to inflict suffering. Other particularities you list (e.g., confinement, work, isolation) are contingent modes of discipline within the scope of retributive justice. Finally, other particularities you list (e.g., loud noises, exposure to homosexual advances) are not themselves constitutive of incarceration and can be eliminated without essentially changing incarceration.

  24. M.Z. permalink
    May 1, 2009 10:34 am

    I should apologize for being a little short above. Having seen this debate for over 2 years now, I keep forgetting there are some folks new to the debate. Certainly asking what is torture is valuable for increasing one’s personal understanding. This should not be confused with the question, “Are the actions undertaken by the US torture?” That question is not under debate internationally. When applied to the actions of other governments against their people, it isn’t really a debate in our country. Arguing to some person’s satisfaction that a given act is torture is a fool’s errand when the opinion of authorities is manifest.

  25. May 1, 2009 10:44 am

    Actually, it’s far more crucial to me that you claim you’ve never even heard of Judie Brown, which indicates a very serious lack of knowledge of the pro-life movement. I don’t regularly read Joan Chittister, but I know who she is and what she thinks.

    I’ll grant the Sirico-Arroyo thing, but I don’t get the judgement of Judie Brown (except as a chance to “get” her when she is otherwise 100% in line with the Magisterium). She’s just said *she* doesn’t know. And the question is in relation to voting for a particular candidate, and I really think there are too many issues to be considered in *that* regard (e.g., How much knowledge does the voter have about what’s going on? What is McCain’s particular position?)

    As for “what constitutes torture?” I think that *is* a valid question. And I really don’t care what the UN thinks or what _Faithful Citizenship_ (a document by an organization with no canonical authority that conveniently ignores contraception and divorce) says.

    Policraticus,
    It is if there is no pre-Vatican II dogma nor a post-Vatican II ex cathedra statement declaring torture intrinsically evil.

    The problem that I have on this issue, as a traditionalist, is not the condemnation of US torture: it’s the implicit condemnation of the Inquisition or of the use of corporal punishments by parents or religious superiors.

    Does spanking constitute torture? Flagellation? I should certainly think flagellation does, since the whole point is to emulate Christ’s sufferings.

    Yet flagellation is not intrinsically evil, but a practice that 1960 years of Catholics found conducive in fighting their own personal sins.

  26. M.Z. permalink
    May 1, 2009 10:50 am

    And I really don’t care what the UN thinks [and presumably what our treaty obligations are under the Geneva Conventions.]

    This is a deficit on your part. It belies your previous sentence indicating resolution of the question was important.

  27. David Nickol permalink
    May 1, 2009 11:15 am

    It is if there is no pre-Vatican II dogma nor a post-Vatican II ex cathedra statement declaring torture intrinsically evil.

    JC,

    Do “traditionalists” reduce Catholic thought and teaching to dogma and ex-cathedra statements? That would be throwing out an awful lot, it seems to me.

  28. Policraticus permalink*
    May 1, 2009 1:39 pm

    The problem that I have on this issue, as a traditionalist

    Of course, we are not arguing over people’s religious preferences. Your being a traditionalist no more changes the objectively intrinsic evil of torture than my being a “Vatican II” Catholic.

    It is if there is no pre-Vatican II dogma nor a post-Vatican II ex cathedra statement declaring torture intrinsically evil.

    First, why would there have to be? A dogmatic declaration, which can occur any time (think Immaculate Conception), only affirms what is already true. Thus, whether or not there is a dogmatic or infallible pronouncement on the matter prior to 1965 is irrelevant to the question of the moral status of torture. Second, it is important to note that there is no official teaching that contradicts the prohibition of torture at Vatican II and by Pope John Paul II, which means that a traditionalist can launch no objection that the current teaching is inconsistent with previous teaching. Third, the Church’s teaching on torture follows logically from its teaching on the dignity and value of human life.

    it’s the implicit condemnation of the Inquisition or of the use of corporal punishments by parents or religious superiors

    The Church’s teaching on torture is not a condemnation of the Inquisition itself. For that to work, the Inquisition would have to be torture and nothing else, which is not the case. Now, it is a condemnation of torture acts, so the acts of torture that were performed under the authority of the Inquisition are, indeed, condemned. And I think that any one who supports torture in the Inquisition is either a bit depraved or unreasonable (Aquinas most certainly dropped the ball on this one!).

    As for punishment, please note the difference between retributive justice (e.g., incarceration, spanking of children), which aims to heal and treats the wrong-doer as an end, and torture, which always treats a person merely as a means or instrument and never as an end. Thus, the condemnation of torture IS NOT equivalent to a condemnation of discipline or punishment insofar as the latter aim to proportionally heal and aid the wrong-doer.

  29. May 1, 2009 2:08 pm

    What does the word “traditionalists” mean? I honestly don’t know.

  30. Policraticus permalink*
    May 1, 2009 3:33 pm

    What does the word “traditionalists” mean? I honestly don’t know.

    I am not sure, myself. In my experience, those whom I have met in person who describe themselves as “traditionalist” tend to espouse a medieval conception of the Church and liturgy, with the Council of Trent sort of being the signal bearer of the faith. In that respect, I think the title “traditionalist” is a misnomer, since Trent really is the furthest deviation in practice from the ancient Church of all the Ecumenical Councils. I consider myself “traditionalist” in that I look to the entire tradition, including the Apostolic Age. Vatican II in many respects began our return to those more apostolic roots.

  31. M.Z. permalink
    May 1, 2009 3:44 pm

    As far as traditionalists go, I think there are three kinds:
    1) Those that like the old mass for acestical purposes but love war and America. (Boy is it tempting to name names here.)
    2) Those that need to disagree with the bishops that don’t want to be perceived as liberals. They also generally love America, but aren’t as enthusiastic about her wars. They are really into “free market” economics.
    3) Those that like the old mass and have issues Nostra Aetate in particular. The generally have no gross affection for America. Often there are monarchist tendencies.

  32. May 1, 2009 5:33 pm

    How can “traditionalists” justify theologically their participation in full communion with the Church as seen by Vatican II?

  33. May 1, 2009 7:23 pm

    Dear Friends and Foes, Torture of prisoners can be approved in some cases when there are specific reasons for doing so, but my belief is that in the case of torture, we have to examine first and foremost the case of the innocent preborn child. His limbs can be ripped off and noone calls that torture. His head can be crused with forceps and noone calls that torture.

    There are many other examples I could provide but I think you get the picture.

    When you write about torturing someone guilty of murdering innocent soldiers, civilians and the like and you compare that with what is being done to preborn babies under cover of law, I have to say … no contest.

    As for the Catechism, this might interest those of you with a logical thought process:

    2297 Kidnapping and hostage taking bring on a reign of terror; by means of threats they subject their victims to intolerable pressures. They are morally wrong. Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity. Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity. Except when performed for strictly therapeutic medical reasons, directly intended amputations, mutilations, and sterilizations performed on innocent persons are against the moral law.

    Judie Brown

  34. Michael Enright permalink
    May 1, 2009 11:58 pm

    Katerina,

    This seems like a side discussion, but I thought I would put in a few thoughts. You seem to assume that “traditionalists” are somehow opposed to Vatican II. There certainly are some who reject it outright. However, others contend that many traditions and traditional ideas that went out of fashion after the Council were not opposed to it. Unless of course you actually think Vatican II caused a rupture with the past.

  35. May 2, 2009 12:08 am

    M.Z., it is a deficit on my part that I don’t accept the UN as arbiter of the Natural Law, since the United Nations supports a great many things that are opposed to the Natural Law? I am strongly opposed to the United Nations, as such.

    David Nickol, not exactly. But we do to Vatican II: John XXIII said Vatican II was not supposed to be a “dogmatic Counsel,” but a pastoral Council, and Paul VI emphasized the same thing. The Council documents themselves emphasize that only what has been previously defined by a Council or papal declaration could be considered “infallible” in their teachings, and that anything other than that was merely prudential judgement/pastoral advice.

    Policraticus,
    Yes, it does. My question, to which you have provided the most direct answer, is whether the current teaching of the Church on this subject contradicts the previous teaching of the Church. To most people who emphasize being “Vatican II Catholics”, there’s no problem with that.

    I am a traditionalist in the sense that I believe in the hermeneutic of continuity (liturgy-wise, I prefer the Novus Ordo in Latin to the TLM–in short, the liturgy as it is handed down to us by Rome and not the local innovations). So, my problem with the anti-torture argument is *not* its content but its apparent novelty and apparent criticism–even in the Catechism itself–of previous Church practice.

    Immaculate Conception does not count: it is an ex cathedra declaration. For a doctrine to be binding on all Catholics, it must be declared by a dogmatic Council or by an ex cathedra statement from the Holy Father. Otherwise, there is room for discussion.

    While I don’t *agree* with Fr. Sirico or Raymond Arroyo (and, again, I don’t think Judie Brown counts, as she’s shooting from the hip), and I’ve always thought Raymond Arroyo is a jerk, I don’t see how what they’re saying is necessarily heretical. Just stupid and compromising.

    But you have mostly answered my basic questions on this issue. That was what I was hoping for. In fact, the very argument about “how we train our soldiers” is a good example to my question concerning corporal punishment in the spiritual life, as it is a voluntary thing.

    I don’t agree with the Inquisition’s use of torture–which is itself vastly over-exaggerated in the popular mind (the reality was that torture, while used, was far rarer in the Inquisition than in any other ecclesiastical or secular court of the day)–I just agree with the Inquisition itself.

    M.Z.(again), I don’t know whose names you were going to name, but I fall somewhere between categories 2 and 3–Aquinas’s _Treatise on Kingship_ is my political manifesto. :) (As for the basic problems of traditionalists with Vatican II, don’t forget the “responsible parenting” innovatino of _Gaudium et Spes_, which introduced Malthusianism into the Church).

  36. Policraticus permalink
    May 3, 2009 12:05 am

    So, my problem with the anti-torture argument is *not* its content but its apparent novelty and apparent criticism–even in the Catechism itself–of previous Church practice.

    The prohibition of torture, taken in complete isolation and considered as formula, is novel. But within the context of the Church’s consistent official teaching on human dignity and life it is a clear implication, which means it really is not novel at all. As for timing, the prohibition was issued at the same time as the development of “intelligence agencies” in the West and in Russia. The “enhanced interrogation” techniques became more prominent in the quest for intelligence after WWII, so I see the prohibition as a necessary crystallization of a principle that has always been part of the Church’s tradition (typically, clearly defined doctrines, be they of faith or morals, are issued when most relevant).

    Immaculate Conception does not count: it is an ex cathedra declaration. For a doctrine to be binding on all Catholics, it must be declared by a dogmatic Council or by an ex cathedra statement from the Holy Father. Otherwise, there is room for discussion.

    I am not sure this is right. For instance, where has the Church ever said that something that is not declared infallibly by Council or Pope is open for discussion? Infallible teaching is not equivalent to binding or authoritative teaching, but is instead a subset of the latter. For instance, the Church’s teaching on contraception was not pronounced ex cathedra or by an Ecumenical Council, and yet it is binding on all Catholics. How about masturbation or pornography? These were never dogmatically prohibited, but the Church’s teachings on them are most certainty binding.

    My point, however, with the Immaculate Conception was simply to illustrate that official declarations (whatever sort they may be) of the Church on faith and morals do not invent truth but confirm what has always been true no matter when they are issued.

  37. May 3, 2009 1:02 am

    There is a clear teaching on contraception going back to the Bible (including all the condemnations of “witchcraft” in the Bible, since “witchcraft” meant “making of potions,” and that, in turn, referred to “love potions”–witchcraft is almost always listed as a sexual sin in the Bible) and the Didache.

    I know there’s discussion of whether Paul VI used ex cathedra formulation in _Humanae Vitae_, but the main reason he did not is that it was already a defined doctrine of the Church before him.

    Again, most of these are questions I’m asking intellectually, because, as you say, a new definition must have grounds in existing teaching, something that ways already there.

    But, like with teh Immaculate Conception, and the two great Doctors who opposed it (while the guy who supported it–Bl. Duns Scotus–has never been canonized, and his name has come to be associated with an idiot: the “dunce”), the question is whether certain subjects have been defined to a degree that all discussion is out of the question.

    I know this issue has hit me out of left field. It’s not that I don’t think it’s wrong. It’s just that I never gave it any thought before. I took it for granted.

    I think a lot of people are understandably still grappling with all this, at several levels.

    All this said, I’ve been pondering CCC 2297 since this thread started, and, speaking as a writing instructor, it’s vaguely worded. It has the flaw of all Vatican II-era literature: instead of just saying “mortal sin,” it says, “gravely wrong.”

    I mean, I think that what Steven Colbert does is “gravely wrong” and “contrary to human dignity.” Those terms can mean a wide range of things, and the wording opens the paragraph up to misinterpretation.

    It’s listing, in summary form, three crimes–kidnapping, torture, and mutilation–but without a topic sentence, so it could be read as “kidnapping” is the topic sentence, as it might be by a busy person shooting off a quick message to an internet question on a subject she’s never really considered.

    Oh, BTW, 2297 is a canon I’ve cited quite a lot myself, as I’m one of those who believe that it prohibits body piercings and tattoos.

  38. Joe Hargrave permalink
    May 3, 2009 2:33 am

    I’m an FSSP traditionalist :)

  39. Kurt permalink
    May 3, 2009 11:57 am

    JC,

    My mother also insisted it was against the Catholic religion to get a tattoo when any of her children suggested the idea. Once in the supermarket when I asked if we could get some cookies, which were shaped in zodiac signs, she said no because astrology was against the Catholic religion and told me to put a box of the cheaper brand in the shopping cart.

    In my adulthood, I sometimes wonder if she had other agendas. :)

  40. Deacon Eric Stoltz permalink
    May 4, 2009 12:21 am

    JC said “For a doctrine to be binding on all Catholics, it must be declared by a dogmatic Council or by an ex cathedra statement from the Holy Father. Otherwise, there is room for discussion.”

    Really? Are you f###ing kidding me?

    Can you provide the ex cathedra statements that bind us to the Golden Rule, The Great Commandment, The Beatitudes, the Ten Commandments, Matthew Chapter 25, The Sermon on the Mount, Paul’s Hymn to Love in 1 Corinthians, the Mandatum of the Last Supper, or basically all of scripture and tradition?

    I am aghast. According to what you say, all of scripture and tradition is up for grabs unless some part of it has been juridically encoded by the Bishop of Rome. That is a total caricature of the Catholic Faith.

    If this is what we have become, God help us all.

  41. Policraticus permalink
    May 5, 2009 2:04 pm

    Can you provide the ex cathedra statements that bind us to the Golden Rule, The Great Commandment, The Beatitudes, the Ten Commandments, Matthew Chapter 25, The Sermon on the Mount, Paul’s Hymn to Love in 1 Corinthians, the Mandatum of the Last Supper, or basically all of scripture and tradition?

    Of course he can’t. This is his own contrived hermeneutic that he applies extraneously to Catholic doctrine to suit his personal taste. Armed with this sort of thinking, he makes himself the adjudicator of which teachings are authoritative for him and which are “up for discussion.” Hence, he casts doubt on Vatican II and the subsequent pope’s teaching on faith and morals (he even minimizes the force of Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae by claiming erroneously that the Bible is the real authority on this matter, perhaps in its account of Onan, and that the Bible condemns all forms of contraception).

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  1. For the Folks At EWTN… « Vox Nova
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