Sinful Secular Society has influenced Catholic Moral Theology

A couple of recent Gallup polls show that Catholics in the U.S. have largely lost their moral compass. Newsweek reports that 55% of non-Catholic Christians support legalized same-sex marriage. What about Catholics? It’s 65% for Catholics. We have the teaching of the Magisterium in addition to Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, and yet we have gone further astray than Protestants.

Another Gallup poll, featured in this Crisis Magazine article, found that 91% of Americans find contraception morally acceptable. The country is about 24% Catholic. That means most Catholics accept contraception as if it were moral. And many forms of contraception are actually abortifacients, so this gravely immoral decision is not only an acceptance of contraception, but also acceptance of a common type of abortion.

First point, Catholics are influenced by the culture in which we live. The culture widely accepts contraception as if it were not only morally acceptable, but a right and even, seemingly, a virtue. And as a result, many Catholics approve of contraception and abortifacient contraception, and many use it. Countless innocent prenatals have been killed by Catholics, including many Mass-going Communion-receiving Catholics. And nothing is being done about this grave problem.

Second point, Roman Catholic moral theologians are not immune to the influence of culture, nor to the influence of the immoral majority of Catholics who accept certain grave sins. As a result, many moral theologians, as well as many Catholic authors, speakers, bloggers, and online commentators, have found clever ways to approve of contraception, abortifacient contraception, direct abortion to save the life of the mother, certain grave sexual sins, and more.

Intrinsically evil acts exist because God is inherently good. The acts of God are good not merely due to His good intentions or the good consequences of His acts. The acts of God are inherently good, in and of themselves, because God is inherently good, by His very nature.

We are made in the image of God. We have (or at least can have) the state of grace, which is the state of loving God and neighbor, in our souls. And we can cooperate with grace in our acts. And, like God who gives us His grace, our good acts are not merely good due to our good intentions or the good consequences of our acts. Our good acts are inherently good, in and of themselves.

Are all our acts good? Certainly not. Grave sin exists in this fallen sinful world: genocide, murder, rape, child abuse, robbery, adultery, abortion, slavery, and many other evil acts. These acts are not merely bad due to intention or consequences, they are inherently evil acts, because they are acts incapable of being ordered toward God who is inherently good. These acts are called intrinsically evil, because the moral nature of the act is nothing other than its ordering toward evil, rather than toward God, who is perfect goodness. If no acts are intrinsically evil, then no acts are intrinsically good, not even the acts of God.

Intrinsically evil acts are therefore never justified by a good purpose or intention, nor by the context or circumstances or consequences of the act. They are inherently immoral acts, which can never be knowingly chosen without being sinful. For they are contrary to the inherent goodness of the Nature of God.

But due to the influence of sinful secular society and the influence of the majority of Catholics (who approve of certain intrinsically evil acts), many moral theologians have developed theological rationalizations, in order to approve of the more popular intrinsically evil acts.

The problem is that all intrinsically evil acts work the same way, from the least venial lie to the worst sins of violence and sex. The intrinsically evil act is inherently immoral, regardless of intention or circumstances. But every one of these theological rationalizations is just a clever way to approve of whichever intrinsically evil acts are popular. If those rationalizations were true, then they would also apply to every intrinsically evil act, including genocide, slavery, euthanasia, adultery, child abuse, blasphemy, and the murder of Christ by the Romans and Pharisees.

But somehow these unfaithful theologians have divided intrinsically evil acts into two types — they have done so implicitly, not openly — such that their clever excuses for sin somehow only apply to popular sins. A non-contraceptive non-abortive good intention supposedly justified the use of abortifacient contraception while sexually active, despite the deaths of innocents. But no intention is said to justify the unpopular sins. Well, as more and more grave sins become socially acceptable (even adultery is increasing in acceptance), these false teachers will gradually extend their rationalizations to those sins also.

How long will it be before these false teachers extend their perverse version of Catholic moral theology so as to justify genocide? That has already happened. Abortion is genocide. Over one billion prenatals have been killed by surgical abortions. And very many more have been killed by abortifacient contraception. Any Catholic priest, theologian, author, and anonymous online commentator, who justifies abortifacient contraception, is complicit in the worst genocide in the history of humanity. And that genocide is very thoroughly accepted by sinful secular society, based on the supposed right to kill prenatals in the womb. And it is becoming increasingly accepted in the Church, by Catholic moral theologians! The saying “blind guides” is too mild for such an insane irony, Catholic moral theologians who approve of abortifacients.

Germain Grisez goes so far as to justify direct abortion to save the life of the mother, including partial birth abortions where the physician crushes the skull of the child as he or she is being born. He mentions in passing that the Magisterium has condemned this type of abortion, but he justifies it all the same. And Janet Smith has written articles justifying abortifacient contraception, calling the deaths of the prenatals that result a “risk so small that the risk would be acceptable”, and justifying direct sterilization [read my post].

Abortifacient contraception is so commonly used that hundreds of millions of prenatals have likely lost their lives as a result. And yet there is a large set of Catholic “teachers” who promote the alleged morality of using abortifacient contraception, by radically reinterpreting the teaching of the Church on intrinsically evil acts and by severely distorting the teaching of Humanae Vitae. These wicked false teachers have decided that contraception (including abortifacient contraception) has not been condemned by the Magisterium when it is used outside of marriage. To the contrary, the Church teaches that contraception and abortifacients are intrinsically evil and ALWAYS gravely immoral. Yet they have radically reinterpreted Humanae Vitae so as to restrict that teaching to marriage. And then, even within marriage, they allow abortifacient contraception for a good intention or in a difficult circumstance.

This radical reinterpretation of the dogmatic teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium on morality is a gravely harmful heresy, which not only tells Catholics that intrinsically evil mortal sins are good, but also justifies the deaths of prenatals by abortion and abortifacients.

And how did this happen? Sinful secular culture decided that contraception, abortifacient contraception, and abortion are goods and rights. Then the Catholic laity were influenced by the culture to accept these sins. And next many Catholic teachers told their audience what they wish to hear.

[2 Timothy 4]
{4:3} For there shall be a time when they will not endure sound doctrine, but instead, according to their own desires, they will gather to themselves teachers, with itching ears,
{4:4} and certainly, they will turn their hearing away from the truth, and they will be turned toward fables.

But in truth, if so much as a single venial lie — which is a small sin but still intrinsically evil — is justified by intention or circumstances (or in some other clever way), then every other intrinsically evil act would also be so justified. For all intrinsically evil acts work the same way; they are all acts that are intrinsically evil due to the moral object, regardless of any other factor. If lying is justified by intention or circumstances, then genocide would be justified also. To be clear, neither genocide, nor lying, nor any other intrinsically evil act, small or great, is ever justified at all. But who would call themselves a Catholic Christian, and then openly justify the genocide caused by abortions and abortifacients? Many popular conservative Catholic teachers and authors do so. They justify lying, and they justify the genocide that is abortion and abortifacient contraception.

And what is the response of conservative Catholics, who are supposedly faithful to the Magisterium? They openly embrace and praise these wicked false teachers, who ease the consciences of their audience by giving them a theological rationalization for their favorite grave sins.

Sinful secular society has had a profound effect on the teachings of Roman Catholic moral theologians, so much so that now most accept and teach a perverted form of moral theology which radically reinterprets the infallible teaching of the Church on intrinsically evil acts. And no one seems to notice.

We are living in a time similar to the time of the Arian heresy. That heresy was very widely accepted and approved within the Church. But there is no safety in numbers.

{23:2} You shall not follow the crowd in doing evil. Neither shall you go astray in judgment, by agreeing with the majority opinion, apart from the truth.

How did Janet Smith become so thoroughly accepted by conservative Catholics? She wrote and spoke against contraception. As a result, she obtain some notoriety and acceptance among faithful Catholics. Then, at some point in time, she decided to depart from the teaching of the Church that intrinsically evil acts are always immoral, including contraception. And now she has received a second wind of popularity, by giving sinful Catholics excuses for their sins: contraception, abortifacient contraception, direct sterilization, unnatural sexual acts in marriage, and lying have all been approved by her, in contradiction to the dogmatic teaching of Veritatis Splendor against all intrinsically evil acts. And no one seem to have noticed that Janet Smith, once a leading speaker against contraception, is now a cheerleader for a new and perverse form of moral theology that justifies contraception, abortifacient contraception, and many other intrinsically evil acts.

The Arian heresy was on a matter of Christology, not ethics. The Arians, as sinful and misguided as they were, did not justify abortion; they did not pervert one of the cornerstones of Catholic ethics, that some acts are always wrong to knowingly choose. So the current doctrinal crisis is worse. And few have noticed. It is as if a long line of people is advancing toward a cliff, and as each one steps off the edge and falls to his death, the next persons in line do not notice. They continue advancing. Many Catholics have fallen under the influence of these false teachers, who have radically revised the fundamentals of Roman Catholic moral teachings so as to approve of the genocide of abortion. And this is occurring rather openly, yet there is no organized opposition. Only a few teachers and authors, scattered here and there, have opposed this heresy. And most do so rather mildly, as if the difference were small or only academic. Meanwhile millions of Catholics are led into very grave sins and millions of innocent prenatals are killed by Catholics who choose to use abortifacient contraception — with the approval of popular Catholic teachers. [See my past posts].

What would Christ say?

{18:6} But whoever will have led astray one of these little ones, who trust in me, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck, and to be submerged in the depths of the sea.
{18:7} Woe to a world that leads people astray! Although it is necessary for temptations to arise, nevertheless: Woe to that man through whom temptation arises!

{18:10} See to it that you do not despise even one of these little ones. For I say to you, that their Angels in heaven continually look upon the face of my Father, who is in heaven.

What would Mary say?

At La Salette: “5. ‘The leaders, the guides of the people of God have neglected prayer and penance, and the demon has obscured their intelligence; they have become these wandering stars that the old devil will drag along with his tail to make them perish. God will permit the old serpent to place divisions among rulers, in all societies and in all families; physical and moral pains will be suffered; God will abandon men to themselves, and will send chastisements which will follow one after another for more than thirty-five years.’

“6. ‘Society is on the eve of the most terrible scourges and of the greatest events; one must expect to be ruled with an iron rod and to drink the chalice of the wrath of God.’ ”

At Fatima: “More souls go to Hell because of sins of the flesh than for any other reason.”

What do I say?

Pray for poor sinners being led astray by false Catholic teachers, while the Bishops watch silently. For teachers will have the stricter judgment (James 3:1).

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

Please take a look at this list of my books and booklets, and see if any topic interests you.

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3 Responses to Sinful Secular Society has influenced Catholic Moral Theology

  1. Tom Mazanec says:

    intrinsically evil mortal sins

    Is there any mortal sin which is not intrinsically evil? If not, why the qualification?

    • Ron Conte says:

      There are three fonts of morality. If any one or more fonts is gravely disordered, then the act is an objective mortal sin. An act can be a mortal sin due to an evil intention, or due to grave harm in the consequences, or due to an evil moral object.

      Some intrinsically evil acts (bad moral object) are venial sins and others are mortal sins.

  2. Mark P. says:

    It is truly embarrassing that we, as Catholics, can tout the fact that we have Scripture and the Magisterium to guide us, yet we as a whole are so far off from the understanding of God’s revealed law that it seems many denominations of Protestants, despite the lack of the fullness of the sacraments, have a better grasp of key moral issues. And here we are not talking about some more difficult theological issues, like whether or not divorced and remarried folks may receive communion, where it can be understandable if some Catholics diverge on opinion. No, we are talking about the governance of human nature, a sacrament spelled out within the first few pages of Genesis and reinforced in the Gospels.
    One of the reasons is that it seems here in America, the Church’s emphasis on social justice issues (such as immigration rights, access to healthcare, just wages, etc.) is emphasized over the moral teachings of the church. And here in America, those same social justice issues are tied with the political left, which also supports abortion, unnatural marriage, contraception, etc. So the average Catholic cannot separate the two, and many times makes a false connection between some issues and others. Not helping the matter at all is that our shepherds – priests, bishops, RE leaders – do not correct these issues or teach the truth. Almost every homily I hear can be summed up to “love they neighbor.” Yes, this is true. Yes, this is part of the Gospel message, but not the entire Gospel message. Whether it is the Sermon on the Mount or the Olivet discourse, somehow the priest in his homily seems to give the same message: love thy neighbor. There is scarcely any talk of heaven or hell, right vs. wrong, sinful secular vs. the truth, etc. There is no discussion of logic or natural law, or advice on how the flock can stand up for the truth of the faith against these attacks. Instead, they roll over, join the sinful secular crowd, and go against the teachings of the Church. BUT, these things must be “taught.” If not from the pulpit, then where?

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