UPDATED WITH ANSWERS.
For each of the following pairs of assertions,
one assertion is a true doctrine of the Magisterium,
the other is a doctrinal error.
Which assertions are doctrinally correct?
You may offer your answers (with commentary, please) in the comments to this post.
A. Some human acts are morally neutral before God.
B. No human acts are morally neutral before God.
B is correct. Although many commentators assert that some human acts are neutral, the Magisterium teaches otherwise:
“Freedom makes man a moral subject. When he acts deliberately, man is, so to speak, the father of his acts. Human acts, that is, acts that are freely chosen in consequence of a judgment of conscience, can be morally evaluated. They are either good or evil.” (CCC, n. 1749)
“no human act is morally indifferent to one’s conscience or before God” (Congregation for Catholic Education)
Every knowingly chosen act (i.e. a ‘human act’) is either moral (at least morally permissible) or immoral (sinful).
The types of acts that some persons suggest are morally neutral are typically either morally permissible acts that are not virtuous (these are neutral as to reward or punishment, but still moral), or acts in the hypothetical, in which the speaker has not given sufficient information to determine the morality of an act. However, the Magisterium teaches that every knowing choice of a human person has three fonts of morality (see Veritatis Splendor, the CCC, etc.). If all three fonts are good, the act is moral. If any one font is bad, the act is immoral.
Acts such as taking a walk, deciding to go to sleep, eating a meal, are all moral acts (morally permissible even if not virtuous).
A. It is sometimes moral to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil.
B. It is never moral to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil.
A is correct. A lesser moral evil can be tolerated, not committed, in order to avoid a greater evil. For example, if another person is sinning, and your act is neither explicit cooperation nor formal cooperation, but only remote material cooperation, then your act is moral despite its toleration for, and cooperation with, the act of the other person. If a government misuses some of the money that you pay in taxes, you may still morally pay taxes, because your act is remote from immoral act of the government.
Also a lesser physical evil (harm or disorder) can be tolerated, or even committed as a means to a greater good. For example, a physician may intentionally amputate a limb (physical evil) in order to save a life.
A. It is possible to know that an act is immoral without taking into account the intention for which the choice was made or the totality of the foreseeable consequences of that act for all persons concerned.
B. It is impossible to know that an act is immoral without taking into account the intention for which the choice was made or the totality of the foreseeable consequences of that act for all persons concerned.
A is correct. Veritatis Splendor teaches that, if we know that the moral object of the act is evil, then we know that the act is immoral, independent of intention or circumstances. This assertion by Veritatis Splendor refutes the claims of certain commentators (Akin, Rhonheimer, et al.) that the moral object is comprised of intention and circumstances.
A. Immunity from error in Sacred Scripture extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God, or of moral and religious matters.
B. Divine inspiration extends to all of Sacred Scripture so that it renders its parts, each and every one, free from every error.
B is correct. A is abject heresy, since several Popes have taught on this issue definitively. And yet A seems to be the majority opinion among Biblical scholars and the faithful.
Seven Words on the Inerrancy of Sacred Scripture
In my understanding, the papal teaching in Providentissimus Deus even falls under Papal Infallibility.
A. A law is only intrinsically unjust if it requires one to commit an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion or euthanasia.
B. A law can be intrinsically unjust merely by permitting an intrinsically evil act, such as abortion or euthanasia.
B is correct. The Magisterium has explicitly taught that laws merely permitting abortion are intrinsically evil laws. Fr. Rhonheimer explicitly teaches the opposite, that laws permitting abortion are not intrinsically evil if they merely allow this wicked sin. His work in moral theology shows an astounding incompetence in that field, as well as a patent disregard for magisterial teaching. So why are his writings so popular? For the same reason. Most of the faithful have gone astray from the teachings of the Magisterium on morality, and his work gives them a theological framework with which to prop up their heresies.
A. It is never licit to cooperate formally in evil, even when acting under duress.
B. It is sometimes licit to cooperate formally in evil, when acting under duress.
Formal cooperation with evil is always a cooperation with an intrinsically evil act in such a way that the cooperative act has, as its moral object, assisting the other act in attaining its evil moral object. Both the act of the perpetrator and the act of the cooperator are intrinsically evil. Although some commentators claim that duress will allow a person to commit an intrinsically evil act without sin, such is not the teaching of the Magisterium. There are no cases in which the Magisterium has allowed that an intrinsically evil may be moral if done under duress, not even if the act is only a venial sin (such as a lie).
A. Christians are not absolutely required to hold as errors, those conclusions of science that are contrary to doctrines of faith.
B. Christians are absolutely required to hold as errors, those conclusions of science that are contrary to doctrines of faith.
B is correct. Many Catholics seem to have more confidence in science than in magisterial teaching. But the teachings of the Faith, even when non-infallible, are more reliable than any science. And the infallible teachings of the Faith cannot be in error, even if it might seem so based on the latest scientific theories.
A. It is impossible that at some time, given the advancement of knowledge, a sense may be assigned to the dogmas propounded by the Church which is different from that which the Church has understood.
B. It is possible that at some time, given the advancement of knowledge, a sense may be assigned to the dogmas propounded by the Church which is different from that which the Church has understood.
A is correct. A dogma is an infallible teaching of the Magisterium. If the meaning of the dogma can change over time, so that, at a later time, it is understood to have a substantially different sense, then the dogma would not be infallible. For a dogma is a teaching, and the foundation of any teaching is its meaning. Dogmas are infallible truth, and so the meaning cannot change. Also, it would be useless for the Church to have a teaching without being able to understand that teaching. The teachings of the Church include her understanding of those teachings.
A. The sinner is able to freely refuse some of the prevenient graces of God.
B. The sinner is unable to freely refuse any of the prevenient graces of God.
B is correct. No one is able at any time to refuse any of the prevenient graces of God. The sinner may refuse to cooperate with subsequent grace. But prevenient grace is first grace. It is the grace that makes us truly free, and truly able to do good by cooperating with subsequent grace, or to do evil by rejecting subsequent grace. Sin is culpable because all sinners, whenever they sin, were offered and actually received the prevenient grace needed to avoid sin. But they freely chose evil over good.
A. The state of grace is absolutely necessary at the moment of death; without it salvation and eternal happiness are entirely impossible.
B. The state of grace is not absolutely necessary at the moment of death; salvation and eternal happiness are nevertheless possible by the mercy of God.
A. is correct. The infallible teaching of the Magisterium is that all who die in a state of grace are saved. They may well spend time in Purgatory before going to Heaven, but they certainly will reach Heaven and eternal bliss. All who die without the state of grace will certainly be sent to Hell forever.
A. An act of love is sufficient for an adult to obtain sanctifying grace, when formal Baptism is lacking.
B. An act of love is not sufficient for an adult to obtain sanctifying grace, when formal Baptism is lacking.
The foundation of a Baptism of desire, even when explicit, is not the desire for the ceremony of Baptism, but the desire for its meaning. And the meaning of any Baptism is to be brought into a state of love of God and neighbor. The person who is in a state of grace has a soul that is continuously ordered toward the love of God above all else, and toward the love of neighbor as self. An act of love, that is to say, a substantial act of true selfless love of God and neighbor in full cooperation with grace is sufficient to obtain a Baptism of desire.
A. At the act of consecration by a priest, the substance of bread is changed in substance into the body of Christ.
B. At the act of consecration by a priest, the substance of bread ceases to exist and is replaced by the substance of the body of Christ.
A is correct. The Magisterium infallibly taught, at both the Council of Florence and the Council of Trent, that the substance of bread and wine are changed into the substance of the body and blood of Christ. B is a heresy asserted by Jimmy Akin here.
A. The Magisterium teaches that the Virgin Mary suffered temporal death and was raised from the dead, prior to her Assumption.
B. The Magisterium does not teach that the Virgin Mary suffered temporal death and was raised from the dead, prior to her Assumption.
In the same Apostolic Constitution that infallible teaches the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Pope non-infallibly teaches that she also died and rose from the dead. Non-infallible teachings of the Magisterium require the religious submission of will and intellect. We are not free to believe whatever we wish when the authentic ordinary Magisterium teaches, though not infallibly. However, the false opinion that has spread among the faithful is that we are to believe whatever we wish about her death. Many Catholics do not believe what the Magisterium teaches, but instead belief whatever is the opinion of the majority of their peers.
A. Speculative theology and philosophy are not relevant to the understanding of faith and the formulation of dogma.
B. Speculative theology and philosophy are important to the understanding of faith and the formulation of dogma.
Liberal Catholics tend to err by treating all questions as if the answers were open to speculation. Conservative Catholics tend to treat no questions as if they were open to speculation. Or, they tend to have scant regard for speculative theology and philosophy. The encyclical Faith and Reason teaches that both are important not only for understanding the teachings of the Faith, but for the very formulation of dogma. For example, the dogma of transubstantiation is based on the philosophical concept of substance.
A. Non-infallible expressions of the Magisterium of the Church should be received with religious submission of mind and will.
B. Non-infallible expressions of the Magisterium of the Church must be received with the full assent of faith.
“With respect to the non-infallible expressions of the authentic magisterium of the Church, these should be received with religious submission of mind and will.” Address of Blessed Pope John Paul II to the U.S. Bishops (Thursday, 15 October 1988)