Jimmy Akin debates the Magisterium

Jimmy Akin has been publishing fake interviews, in which he pretends to interview Pope John Paul II or Pope Benedict XVI. He publishes these fake interviews in what he calls a “Secret Information Club communiqué”, saying things like: “Not a member of Jimmy’s Secret Info Club yet? Join now and get in on all the secret information action.” His fake interviews with Pope John Paul II and with Pope Benedict XVI begin with “Your Holiness, thank you for joining us today.”

Now the word “interview” is in quotes, so Akin is not actually claiming to have interviewed anyone. But the problem is that Akin’s stated views and public teachings are contrary to the teachings of the Popes and the Magisterium. He teaches abject heresy to his readers, with the claim that these heresies are magisterial teaching or at least are in accord with magisterial teaching. These fake interviews make it seem as if Akin’s teachings are in harmony with Papal teachings. Nothing could be further from the truth.

So to combat Jimmy Akin’s attack on the spiritual lives of the faithful, I am publishing this comparison between the heretical teachings of Jimmy Akin and the true teachings of the Magisterium.

On transubstantiation, Jimmy Akin has taught that the substance of bread and wine do not change into anything, they are simply annihilated:

Akin: “In transubstantiation, two things happen: (1) The substances (i.e., the ultimate, underlying realities) of bread and wine cease to exist, leaving only the properties detectable by our senses and (2) the substance of Christ’s body, blood, soul, and divinity become present…. God created all matter out of nothing (Latin, ex nihilo), and he can similarly cause it to return to nothing (ad nihilo = where we get ‘annihiliate’).” [post on 22 April 2011]

Akin continues to assert this false doctrine, since the post making the claim continues to remain on his website. He has not removed the post, nor edited out this claim about transubstantiation.

To the contrary, the Magisterium teaches that transubstantiation involves a change of substance, not an annihilation.

Trent: “by the consecration of the bread and of the wine, a conversion is made of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord, and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of His blood”

Pope Paul VI: “we have to listen with docility to the voice of the teaching and praying Church. Her voice, which constantly echoes the voice of Christ, assures us that the way in which Christ becomes present in this Sacrament is through the conversion of the whole substance of the bread into His body and of the whole substance of the wine into His blood, a unique and truly wonderful conversion that the Catholic Church fittingly and properly calls transubstantiation.” (Mysterium Fidei, n. 46).

Akin also published a different explanation of transubstantiation, one that contradicts his own earlier teaching, while still also contradicting the dogma of the Council of Trent in a new way:

Akin: “because what Jesus says is not ‘this contains my body’ or ‘this is with my body’ or something like that, but ‘this is my body’, and so that implies that the substance has changed. And so the substance of bread and wine, the reality of bread and wine, are no longer present. They have been transformed into the reality of the body and the blood and the soul and the Divinity of Jesus Christ. And so that’s how the Church has understood it. There, that in fact is the infallible teaching of the Church.” (See the Catholic Answers Live audio file (.mp3) in this post, time code 28:50 to 30:45)

So Akin has publicly admitted that his earlier teaching contradicted the infallible teaching of the Church (implying that the earlier teaching is heresy). But he continues to keep that heresy online, and he thereby continues to teach what he himself admits is contrary to the infallible teaching of the Church. But to make matters worse, this more recent statement on transubstantiation is also a heresy. For Akin claims that the substance of bread and wine change, not only into the body and blood of Christ, but into His soul and Divinity also.

To the contrary, the Council of Trent taught that the substance of bread changes only into the substance of Christ’s body, and the substance of wine changes only into the substance of Christ’s blood, and then the rest of Christ becomes present by concomitancy and by the hypostatic union of the human and Divine natures of Christ. Akin’s omission of concomitancy and his claim that the substances of bread and wine change into the whole of Christ is heresy.

Trent: “And this faith has ever been in the Church of God, that, immediately after the consecration, the veritable Body of our Lord, and His veritable Blood, together with His soul and divinity, are under the species of bread and wine; but the Body indeed under the species of bread, and the Blood under the species of wine, by the force of the words; but the body itself under the species of wine, and the blood under the species of bread, and the soul under both, by the force of that natural connection and concomitancy whereby the parts of Christ our Lord, who hath now risen from the dead, to die no more, are united together; and the divinity, furthermore, on account of the admirable hypostatical union thereof with His body and soul. Wherefore it is most true, that as much is contained under either species as under both; for Christ whole and entire is under the species of bread, and under any part whatsoever of that species; likewise the whole (Christ) is under the species of wine, and under the parts thereof.” (Trent, 13th Session, chapter 3).

The teaching of the Council of Trent on transubstantiation is a dogma, and the contrary is a heresy. The Council issued an anathema against anyone who rejects its teaching on transubstantiation.

Trent: “If any one … denies that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood — the species only of the bread and wine remaining — which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls transubstantiation; let him be anathema.”

But Jimmy Akin has repeatedly publicly claimed that all Conciliar anathemas are null and void:

Jimmy Akin: “the penalty of anathema … no longer exists under Church law. This means that nobody today is anathema in the sense that the term is used by councils and canon law documents.” (Source)

On contraception, Jimmy Akin teaches several false doctrines. Akin claims that contraception deprives sexual acts of the unitive as well as the procreative meaning.

To the contrary, the Magisterium teaches that contraception separates the unitive and procreative meanings into different acts, necessarily implying that contracepted sexual acts are unitive, but not procreative.

Akin claims that contraception may be moral in some circumstances:

Akin: “I am sympathetic to the desire to find in recent Magisterial statements a ban on contraception regardless of the circumstances. Indeed, I used to hold that this is what the documents said (in part because I was using faulty translations that rendered ‘coniugale commercium’ as ‘sexual act’ rather than ‘marital act’ or, even more literally, ‘marital congress’ or ‘marital intercourse’). Over time, and in consultation with various Latin experts and experts in moral theology, I came to realize that this view is incorrect and that in its recent statements the Magisterium has limited itself to treating the use of contraception within marriage.”

To the contrary, the Magisterium teaches that contraception is intrinsically evil and that intrinsically evil acts are never justified by intention or circumstances.

“the intrinsic evil of contraception” — Vademecum for Confessors, n. 4.
“intrinsically against nature … a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.” — Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii, n. 54.
“intrinsically immoral” — Pope Pius XII, Address to Midwives.
“intrinsically wrong” — Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, n. 14.
“intrinsically immoral” — Compendium of the Catechism, n. 498.
“intrinsic unlawfulness of contraception” — Pope John Paul II, Speeches, 27 Feb. 1998.
“intrinsically evil acts … something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order” — Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, n. 80.
“intrinsically immoral” — Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, n. 32.

Pope John Paul II: “If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or particular circumstances can diminish their evil, but they cannot remove it. They remain ‘irremediably’ evil acts; per se and in themselves they are not capable of being ordered to God and to the good of the person.” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 81.)

Pope John Paul II: “These are the acts which, in the Church’s moral tradition, have been termed ‘intrinsically evil’ (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that ‘there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object’.” (Veritatis Splendor, n. 80; inner quote is from Pope John Paul II, Reconciliation and Penance, n. 17.)

CCC 1756 “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.”

Jimmy Akin’s claim that contraception is not immoral regardless of circumstances is directly contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium. And yet he tells his readers that the Magisterium has never taught, what She has in fact clearly and definitively taught. And his foolish readers believe him, instead of the Magisterium.

Akin claims that contraception may be moral in some circumstances.

The Magisterium says the contrary:

Pope John Paul II: “Contraception is to be judged objectively so profoundly illicit that it can never, for any reason, be justified. To think, or to say, anything to the contrary is tantamount to saying that in human life there can be situations where it is legitimate not to recognize God as God. Users of contraception attribute to themselves a power that belongs only to God, the power to decide in the final instance the coming into existence of a human being.” (Address on Responsible Procreation)

Akin claims that the Magisterium has never taught that contraception is immoral outside of marriage.

But the Magisterium has taught that contraception is immoral regardless of marital state, for example, in Casti Connubii. The magisterial sources on this point are so numerous that it takes a full article just to explain this one point: The use of contraception outside of marriage.

Akin claims that the use of the Latin word conjugale proves that the Magisterium limits its condemnation of contraception to its use within marriage.

In Casti Connubii, Pope Pius XI uses this same Latin term to refer to sexual relations other than marital intercourse. In addition, a number of magisterial sources condemn contraception without using the term conjugale. And the official Vatican translation of Humanae Vitae does in fact translate conjugale as sexual intercourse, rather than marital intercourse. See my full explanation here.

Akin claims that in some circumstances a married couple might morally use contraception, due to the principle of double effect. But in fact the principle of double effect never justifies an intrinsically evil act; one of the criteria for an act to be justified by the principle of double effect is that the act must NOT be intrinsically evil.

On intrinsically evil acts, Jimmy Akin redefines the moral object of an act so that it is determined by intention and circumstances. As a result an act that is intrinsically evil due to an evil moral object becomes (supposedly) moral with a different intention or in a different circumstance. This contradicts the teaching of the Magisterium on intrinsically evil acts:

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.)

By redefining the object of an intrinsically evil act as part intention and part circumstances, Akin makes all intrinsically evil acts capable of being justified by circumstances or intention.

On the subject of salvation, Jimmy Akin teaches many severe errors. See my article on this topic. Essentially, Jimmy Akin, a former Calvinist, takes the heretical claims of Calvinism and gives them a face-lift to make them seem acceptable to Catholics.

On the subject of Confession, Jimmy Akin rejects the teaching of the Council of Trent on the necessity to confess all actual mortal sin that can be remembered after a diligent examination of conscience. Akin claim that extenuating circumstances can removes this requirement. The Magisterium teaches that confession in kind and number is essential for the validity of the Sacrament. Akin claims it is not.

Therefore, on numbers important matters of faith and morals, Jimmy Akin denies, rejects, contradicts, and misinterprets one magisterial teaching after another. Akin’s teaching is frequently incompatible with the definitive teaching of the Magisterium. So who do you think has won this debate between the Magisterium and Jimmy Akin?

In my estimation, Jimmy Akin has taught abject heresy on numerous points of doctrine, in direct contradiction to the infallible teachings of the Magisterium. He has openly rejected the teachings of the Council of Trent on Confession and on Transubstantiation, thereby falling under the anathema of that Council. But Akin simply claims that all conciliar anathemas are null and void.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic moral theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

This entry was posted in heresies, intention and moral object, Magisterium. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Jimmy Akin debates the Magisterium

  1. John Platts says:

    Akin’s definition of intrinsically evil as consisting of “part intention and part circumstances” cannot be true since there are acts for which all of the following hold true:
    (a) The act has only good moral objects, and is therefore not intrinsically evil.
    (b) The act has at least one bad intention (but might have additional bad intentions, or good intentions along in addition to bad intentions). Morally bad intentions always make any act (including acts that would be morally good if committed with only good intentions) morally wrong.
    (c) The bad consequences of the act outweigh the good consequences of the act.

    Any act for which all of the above holds true is morally evil but not intrinsically evil because of bad intentions as well as the circumstances of the act.

    It is certainly possible for an act to have good intentions and to have good consequences while remaining offensive to God and morally evil. This can occur whenever at least one of the following is true:
    (a) The bad consequences of the act outweigh the good consequences of the act.
    (b) The act is by its very nature ordered towards a morally evil end (intrinsically evil), regardless of the intentions of the person acting and regardless of the circumstances of the act.

    Sacred Scripture and the Magisterium have both taught that certain kinds of acts are intrinsically evil and always morally wrong because of an evil moral object. The Magisterium has taught that contraception, masturbation, homosexual acts, adultery, perjury, blasphemy, murder, and other types of acts are all intrinsically evil acts. The teaching that lying, prostitution, homosexual acts, and other types of acts are intrinsically evil is also found in Sacred Scripture.

    It is always wrong to commit morally evil acts so that good may result. This moral principle is mentioned in Romans 3:8, which says “And should we not do evil, so that good may result? For so we have been slandered, and so some have claimed we said; their condemnation is just.” This principle always forbids the choice of an intrinsically evil act (an act with at least one evil moral object) as a means to a good end, since an intrinsically evil act is by its very nature always morally evil. This principle also forbids the choice of an act whose bad consequences outweighs the good consequences as a means to a good end, since these acts are morally wrong because of the circumstances of the act.

    For an act to be morally good, all three of the following must be true:
    (a) The act must have only good intentions
    (b) The act must have only good moral objects
    (c) The good consequences of the act must outweigh the bad consequences of the act
    If at least one of the above is not true, then the act is morally evil because the act is disordered in at least one of the fonts of morality.

    Here are links to pages describing the three fonts of morality:

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