Lisa Fullam, D.V.M., Th.D, teaches at the Jesuit school of theology at Santa Clara University. SCU is a Catholic university. None of Fullam’s degrees are from Catholic colleges or universities: A.B., Cornell University; D.V.M., Cornell University; M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School; Th.D., Harvard Divinity School. And yet: “As Assistant Professor of Moral Theology, Dr. Fullam teaches courses such as Fundamental Moral Theology, Sexual Ethics, Catholic Social Teaching and Virtue Ethics.”
So-called ‘virtue ethics’ is a way of circumventing traditional moral teachings of the Church that certain kinds of acts are intrinsically evil, and therefore always immoral. The idea that ethics should be based on the virtues that are allegedly being exercised in a particular act not only is used to justify intrinsically evil acts, but also to justify acts done with an immoral intention, or in circumstances where the reasonably anticipated bad consequences outweigh the good consequences.
Here is a quote from one of Fullam’s articles on virtue ethics:
“Christian ethical reflection on sex has tended to focus on what makes individual sex acts morally right or wrong. This view of sex that looks at acts objectively and tends to regard anything sexual as probably sinful has resulted in a rule-focused sexual morality generally expressed as lists of don’ts: Don’t masturbate. Don’t have sex before marriage. Don’t use contraception when you have sex in marriage. Don’t have sex outside marriage. Don’t have sex with someone of your own sex. Don’t abuse others sexually. I’m not dismissing these don’ts out of hand: some don’ts are of great value, some are less valuable, and some are grounded in bad biology, bad psychology, or bad theology and should be discarded.”
Fullam, ‘Thou Shalt: sex beyond the list of don’ts’
Her claim that some of these don’ts are bad theology and should be discarded is heresy. All of the don’ts that she lists are acts that the Church condemns as intrinsically evil and always gravely immoral.
And on the subject of the abortion committed at a Catholic hospital in Phoenix, she claimed “the moral question hinges on the intentions of all involved in the particular circumstances, not on the specific procedure performed.” (Olmsted is at it again) The title of her post shows contempt for Bishop Olmstead, the local ordinary of the diocese in which that hospital is located. But more importantly, her statement succinctly summarizes her own rejection of the infallible teaching of the Magisterium that certain kinds of acts, including abortion, are intrinsically evil and therefore always immoral, regardless of intention or circumstances. The claim that the morality of abortion does not depend on the nature of the act itself, but only on intention and circumstances is abject heresy.
Pope John Paul II: “Consequently, circumstances or intentions can never transform an act, intrinsically evil by virtue of its object, into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice.” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 81.)
“The negative precepts of the natural law are universally valid. They oblige each and every individual, always and in every circumstance. It is a matter of prohibitions which forbid a given action semper et pro semper, without exception, because the choice of this kind of behaviour is in no case compatible with the goodness of the will of the acting person, with his vocation to life with God and to communion with his neighbour. It is prohibited — to everyone and in every case — to violate these precepts. They oblige everyone, regardless of the cost….” (Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, n. 52).
“It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.” (CCC, n. 1756).
Although Fullam disputes that the nun who approved the abortion was in fact excommunicated, as Bishop Olmstead asserted, Fullam is herself automatically excommunicated for the sin of heresy. She is also guilty of the grave sin of teaching heresy. And yet she has a position at a Catholic university teaching moral theology.
Human Embryonic Stem Cells (section added 6 Jan 2011)
In this post of 11 Oct 2010, Lisa Fullam promotes the use of human embryonic stem cells (HESC) in research and as treatments. Although she is a moral theologian teaching at a Catholic university, she is mainly concerned with whether the HESC research has the same scientific integrity: scientists might not report negative results because the company’s stock might drop. She show no concern whatsoever for the deaths of innocent prenatals that occur in this type of research.
Fullam states: “Catholics who hold to the magisterial instruction to respect embryos as persons will be in a difficult spot if these therapies prove successful.”
She misrepresents the doctrine of the Church against embryonic stem cell research, and the doctrine that life begins at conception, as if these were not truths on matters of faith and morals. She calls the Church’s teaching a mere ‘instruction to respect embryos’ as if they were persons. Her position on the subject is thinly-veiled. She does not believe that life begins at conception; she does not believe that the deaths of these human embryos is a type of murder, and she does not oppose embryonic stem cell research. To the contrary, she is promoting ESCR and promoting the view that this research is ethical.
Lisa Fullam’s position on the topic of embryonic stem cells, that the research is moral and that the deaths of these embryos is not the direct and voluntary killing of innocent human persons (which is the moral definition of murder from Evangelium Vitae), is an heretical position. Furthermore, her public statement of this position is the grave sin of scandal. And her promotion of ESCR is formal cooperation with the intrinsic evil of murder.
According to Canon Law, as a heretic and as someone who is guilty of manifest unrepentant grave sins, she should not be permitted to receive holy Communion. Heresy carries the penalty of automatic excommunication.
1983 CIC 915. Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.
Fullam’s repeated public rejection of Catholic doctrine on abortion (the killing of human embryos is a type of abortion) also makes her unfit to teach theology, let alone ethics (!!!), at a Catholic University. See Ex Corde Ecclesiae.
Sexual Ethics (section added 6 Jan 2011)
In this post, Fullam rejects the teaching of the Magisterium on sexual ethics. She begins by describing a list of theologians, each of whom rejects magisterial teaching on sexual ethics, in an very positive manner: “Folks like Lisa Cahill, Margaret Farley, James Keenan, and of course Michael Lawler and Todd Salzman are opening up a richly humanistic and profoundly Catholic approach to sexual ethics.”
Lisa Cahill: has taught that no act is always immoral, not contraception, not abortion, not adultery, etc.
Sister Margaret Farley: argues that direct sterilization is not always immoral, rejects the teaching that contracepted sex is intrinsically evil, claims that masturbation is morally-neutral, claims that NFP separates the unitive and procreative meanings, suggests that premarital sex might be moral, etc. etc.
Michael Lawler: publicly claims that couples who live together and have sex prior to marriage are not necessarily sinning.
Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler wrote this book: “Two principles capture the essence of the official Catholic position on the morality of sexuality: first, that any human genital act must occur within the framework of heterosexual marriage; second, each and every marriage act must remain open to the transmission of life. In this comprehensive overview of Catholicism and sexuality, theologians Todd A. Salzman and Michael G. Lawler examine and challenge these principles.” No, they do not merely ‘challenge’ these principles, they reject them. They promote the idea that premarital sex should become a formal part of the process of marrying. They reject Catholic teaching against homosexuality.
Fullam’s unequivocal approval of the work of these heretics is the grave sin of scandal and the grave sin of formal cooperation with heresy. As her post continues, Fullam rejects the magisterial teaching that contraception is intrinsically evil. And this rejection is itself the sin of heresy.