Theology Q and A

Ask a question on a topic in Catholic theology.

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37 Responses to Theology Q and A

  1. Matt says:

    I don’t know if my comment submitted, so I’m sending it again to be sure. I’ve been thinking A LOT about the Church’s teaching on direct vs indirect contraception. Let’s look a look first at direct vs indirect sterilization (I’ll use two acts called act A and act B).

    Act A: “removing a cancerous uterus” is not intrinsically evil. The church states the deprivation of procreation is a consequence, and is not in the object.
    Act B: “removing a non-cancerous uterus” is intrinsically evil regardless of intentions, because it is direct (even if a future pregnancy could be deadly).

    Where this comes an issue is comparing it with the birth control pill. In the acts A and B above, it’s obviously the case that when removing a cancerous uterus, it is NOT that the act causes the treatment, but rather that the act IS the treatment. The act IS removing a uterus and the uterus IS cancerous. Therefore, removing the cancer (the act itself) is proximately the treatment, while infertility comes from the act itself (no uterus) then indirectly causing subsequent sex acts (not proximate) to be “closed to life.” However, in the case of birth control for a medical benefit, the act itself of putting the pill in one’s mouth is not the treatment, but rather the act causes the treatment. Moreover, it is the hormone estrogen that is causing BOTH the medical benefit (ex: no ovarian cysts) and the contraception (no egg being released). So BOTH are caused by the same thing (estrogen), and BOTH are obvious proximate effects.

    This is why I am confused: acts that share the same inherent proximate ends have the same objects and may be of the same species/ class of acts. But like above, an act can have multiple proximate/immediate effects, so which proximate end is part of the object seems to become both sides saying “because it is.” In the case of birth control for a medical benefit while anticipating sex you say: the treatment is an intention/ circumstance (but the treatment itself, or anticipating a treatment/ knowledge of a treatment, are not intentions, I must add)!! Others say: No the treatment is the object. The contraception is not in the object, it is a circumstance. What I say: if ALL proximate effects are part of the object, then you’re both wrong!!! Both the treatment and contraception are part of the object, but since both constituents of the object must be moral, the act is intrinsically evil by it’s very nature!!! However, if SOME proximate effects make up the object, then please give a set of principles to determine which proximate effects are the object!!! This is better than just stating the object is one of the potentially many proximate ends of the act, “because I say so.” This is what is driving me crazy. I want to know what God says, and since I truly believe the Church is right about everything its ever said, I’m inclined to go with the traditionalists, typically. So I’m on your side!!!

    I’ve been doing A LOT of reading. From the CDF in 1975 I see: “Any sterilization which of itself, that is, of its own nature and condition, has the ***SOLE immediate effect of rendering the generative faculty incapable of procreation, is to be considered direct sterilization.”

    I just want to figure out why not ALL proximate effects make up the object. I’ll conclude with my most important question (please answer this).
    MY MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: why is the word above ***SOLE and not ANY, are not ALL proximate/ immediate effects part of the object of the act?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Many acts have more than one moral object. If one object is evil, and the other object(s) is (are) good, then the act is still intrinsically evil. So even if you were correct — and I don’t want to get into along explanation on that point, but you have not correctly identified the act — one evil object makes the act intrinsically evil, even if there is another good object, such as treating a disease.

      Example: natural marital relations open to life has three good moral object: the marital, unitive, and procreative meanings. Deprive the sexual act of any one good, such as the marital meaning, the other two good objects are retained, as happens in pre-marital sex without contraception. But the act is intrinsically evil, despite having two good objects. Marital sex with contraception has the marital and unitive meanings, but a deprivation of the procreative meaning. So it has two good objects, and one evil object. Even so, the act is intrinsically evil. All the objects must be good for the second font to be good.

      Similarly, if an act has three intended ends, and one intended end is bad while the other two are good, the act is a sin due to a bad first font (bad intention). The two good intended ends do not outweigh the other bad intended end.

      To be moral, all that is intended must be good, and everything in the object of the act must be good, and then the bad consequences must not outweigh the good. With chemical contraception, the bad consequence of killing prenatals already makes the act a sin under the third font. And then the bad objects of the contraceptive and abortive ends makes the act intrinsically evil. And this makes the second font bad as well, even if there is a good object of treating a disorder.

  2. Joshua says:

    If there is a limbo of hell, would there also be a limbo of heaven? Like a place where certain saved souls enjoy the beatific vision, but do not have any of the “treasures” stored up by a life of virtue? (e.g., a man who lived a gravely immoral life, but repents before he dies and gets baptized?)

    • Ron Conte says:

      No. The beatific vision is given to all in Heaven, so they love God, and all in Heaven love one another. There are varying degrees of merits, but nothing that would make for a limbo or fringe of Heaven.

  3. Tom Mazanec says:

    I read of a case where Jews hiding from Nazis smothered a crying baby. Was this a sin?

    • Ron Conte says:

      If it was done on purpose, it was the sin of murder.

    • Marco says:

      I think i have already mentioned this, but i remember the case (i can’t find the link unfortunately but i’m sure i’ve read it) of a very beautiful jewish woman who managed to save herself own husband and sons by sleeping with multiple nazis soldiers.

      Now, according to the doctrine of intrinsically evil acts she still committed a sin, but how is that possible when we know that killing another human being in self defence is not considered a sin?

      For example, allow me to quote this articlw written by you https://ronconte.wordpress.com/2011/01/02/killing-in-self-defense-intention/

      “Indirect killing is not murder because the deprivation of life is in the circumstance, not in the moral object. So if the military in a just war attacks a military target, but reasonably anticipating that there will be some civilian deaths, the deprivation of life of those innocents is in the circumstance, not in the moral object. So the act is not intrinsically evil.”

      Now, i would say that the woman wanted to save her own family, she didn’t want to commit adultery directly. She was forced to do it because otherwise her family would have died.

      “ Nevertheless, all three fonts must be good for an act to be moral. So the reasonably anticipated good consequences of such an act must outweigh the reasonably anticipated bad consequences.”

      In the case mentioned above, didn’t the good consequences of her acts outweigh by far the reasonably anticipated bad consequences? Weren’t those acts of adultery, in that particular circumstance, one of the greatest act of selfless love that a person can commit?

      “Self-defense is not murder because the person who is killed is not innocent. The chosen act is inherently ordered toward the good end of preserving the life of the innocent victim of the attack. “

      In the case i mentioned above, the act chosen by the woman was ordered toward the good end or preserving the life of her innocent husband and children, who were about the be killed for the sole reason of being Jews.

      “ The death of the attacker is a bad consequences in the circumstance; for the loss of any human life, even a guilty person, is a bad consequence.”

      Even her infedelity towards her husband was a bad consequence in the circumstance (even though i would argue that there was, paradoxically, a lot of fidelity in that “physical” infidelity). She had to choose between letting her family die or give herself physically to other men for the sake of her loved ones. How can that be a sin?

      Ron, i’m asking you these questions because, the more i think about it, the more the doctrine of intrinsically evil acts seems inherently Pharisaical to me, in that it seems to value more the external acts than the heart of the person who commits them, the circumstances in which he/she commits them and the intention behind said acts.

      The more i think about it, the more it seems absurd. I’m asking you how i can reconcile my reason with these doctrines, because it’s very hard to accept something which seems preposterous to my reason.

      Furthermore, in the aforementioned article you wrote

      “However, physical evil may be intended as a means to a good end, if the bad consequences of that means are outweighed by the good consequences of the end. ”

      And, in the example i made above, the physical evil of marital infidelity is intended as a means to a good end, the actual good consequences of which far outweigh the bad consequences of that means. How on earth when it comes to sexual morality (I’ve made the real life example -i really wish i could find the link- of the adulterous woman for the sake of her family but i could have invented many more hypotheticals involving other acts which are considered intrinsically evil. I’ve talked about that because it seemed more compelling, being a real life story) all these subtleties are thrown out of the window?

    • Ron Conte says:

      The woman saved her husband by means of the acts of adultery. So the saving of life is not the proximate end (the moral object) of the act. This is similar to abortion to save the life of the mother. The mother’s life is only saved by means of the abortion, so the saving of her life is not proximate and is not in the object. The abortion is the proximate end (the deprivation of life of an innocent prenatal). The object is not the intended end. She intends to save her husband’s life. (I don’t recall sons in the version of the story I heard from Lisa Sowle Cahill.) The intention is not the object.

      The basic teaching on intrinsic evil, in Veritatis Splendor by JP2, is that acts have a moral nature and it is always wrong to choose an act which has an evil moral nature. The object of the act determines its nature. Once you start justifying intrinsically evil acts, there is no end. If a venial lie is justified, then so is abortion, adultery, genocide, anything. You end up with a system where a good intention and difficult circumstances allows a person to do horrific evil and call it good.

    • Marco says:

      “The woman saved her husband by means of the acts of adultery. So the saving of life is not the proximate end (the moral object) of the act. This is similar to abortion to save the life of the mother. “

      I don’t think so. In the case of abortion we have two innocent lives at stake, in the case mentioned above we have the evil of physical infidelity which is a far lesser evil than letting your husband die when you can save him.

      Also, i have a problem with qualifying acts solely by their physical nature. For example, the act of that woman, while being physical adultery, is a tremendous act of loyalty and fidelity, because it was done not for the sake of adultery but for the sake of her husband’s life.

      “She intends to save her husband’s life. (I don’t recall sons in the version of the story I heard from Lisa Sowle Cahill.) The intention is not the object.”

      The intention is not the object but i don’t think that it should be divorced altogether from the qualification of the object.

      Also, thanks for having reminded me that there were no sons, i misremembered having read the story a long time ago, and thanks for having given me the name so i can check it again.

      “The basic teaching on intrinsic evil, in Veritatis Splendor by JP2, is that acts have a moral nature and it is always wrong to choose an act which has an evil moral nature.”

      So for a mother it would be always wrong to have sexual acts with other men even if it’s the only way to save her sons. So i’m asked to believe that the right thing to do would be letting her own sons die so that she doesn’t commit the “intrinsically evil act” of not having sexual relations with other men.

      If that is true, how come that there is not a single mother on this earth that would agree with this? If this morality is true, how come that nobody would do that?

      You may mention our fallen nature which doesn’t allow us to fully understand the requirements of the moral law, but our nature is not totally depraved so we should still be able to understand its requirements and see the good in them.

      “The object of the act determines its nature.”

      That’s the teaching, yes. And i don’t understand it. It seems completely divorced from people actual lives and situations, and it also implies some aberrant paradoxes

      “If a venial lie is justified, then so is abortion, adultery, genocide, anything.”

      That’s the aberrant paradox i’m talking about. If a venial lie is never justified, than we would be asked to believe that God wants us to let our loved ones or other innocents die even if we could have saved them.

      Back to the topic of abortion to save the life of the mother

      https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/abortion-and-double-effect

      “As the doctor, you now have two patients—the mother and her unborn child. Your duty and desire is to preserve the life and health of each of them. What do you do? If you do not remove the mother’s cancer, she will die very soon. At this stage in the baby’s development, it is entirely dependent upon the mother for life. If the mother is not treated and dies, the baby will die, too. You will lose both patients. But the only way to save her life is to remove her uterus, home to a developing person who will die as a result of the operation. This is a tragic situation to which a moral solution must be found. If the doctor believes that the mother can survive long enough to carry the baby until it is viable—that is, until it can live on its own outside the womb with medical assistance—then the mother may choose to risk her own life to save the life of her child. Even though it may mean decreasing her chances of survival, she may choose to postpone treatment of her cancer. If the progression of the cancer will not allow for that option, and the mother needs surgery immediately if she is going to live, you, as her doctor, have only two choices: You can allow both patients to die or you can save one and lose the other. The moral choice is to save the mother. The principle of double effect applies: (1) Your intention is to perform a good—to save the mother’s life by removing her cancerous uterus. The evil effect of causing the death of the baby is not desired. It is a very sad and unfortunate result of the good act. (2) The evil effect does not cause the good result. You are removing a diseased organ that is killing the mother, not performing an abortion. The baby will die during or shortly after the operation, but the purpose of the operation is not to kill the child. (3) Two very grave matters must be weighed against each other. Saving one person is better than allowing both to die through inaction, even though it means the death of one.”

      That’s what i was thinking. Why on earth when it comes to sexual acts two very grave matters are never weighed against each other and all we are left with is a kantian categorical imperative which is completely divorced from people’s lives, hearts and intentions?

      Even in the case mentioned above the desired effect is the salvation of the husband, and the evil effect of pshysical adultery is not desired in and of itself. She didn’t intend to betray her husband, she was forced to do it in order to preserve the greater good, which is his life. How can that be regarded as actual adultery if, even if the physical act of adultery is performed, it is done out of loyalty and love towards the husband?

      How can we believe that God would have wanted her to let her husband die?

      Even worse, following the doctrine of intrinsically evil acts her adultery would not have been justified even if the nazis had threatened her to kill her child (i’m making an hypothetical here) after days of unbearable tortures.

      How can this moral doctrine be true when there isn’t a single mother and father on this earth who would agree with it? Again, our nature is fallen, is not depraved. It’s not impossible for us to follow and understand the true requirements of the moral law. And yet, you won’t find one parent in this world who would agree that letting his own child die (and even his/her wife/husband for that matter) is the right thing to do instead of saving him by committing adultery or lying (as you correctly said, the doctrine of intrinsically evil acts teaches that even a venial lie is never justified).

    • Ron Conte says:

      I think you are exaggerating in your claim that no one would agree with this teaching. But that is the teaching, and it is confirmed by the ordinary and universal magisterium: intrinsically evil acts are always immoral, regardless of intention or circumstances. It is dogma and required belief.

    • Marco says:

      I accept it even if it doesn’t make sense.

      As for the first part, do you think that there is even a single parent on this earth who would agree that letting his son die when he could have saved him with a venial lie or with adultery is the right thing to do?

      Do you think that there is a single parent on this earth who thinks that God wants that?

      I don’t know how to square this required belief with the other required belief that God is loving. A God who would prefer that i let my son die instead of saving him by committing the physical act of adultery or by telling a lie doesn’t seem loving at all, to be honest.

    • Ron Conte says:

      The adultery case differs substantially from the venial lie case. Good morals is poorly understood in the world today. There certainly are Saints who would not commit adultery for any reason. Jesus and Mary, Saint John the Baptist and Saint Joseph, they would not commit a sexual sin in order to save lives. Everyone dies at the end of their life, and they live in the afterlife with God, if they died in His grace. So it is not so horrific if a good person dies. But when a good person commits grave sin, it is horrific.

      If someone tells a venial lie, to save many lives, they commit a small sin. If they refuse to lie, even to save lives, they do something better, teaching an important moral truth that saves many lives (by teaching that abortion, euthanasia, and other types of murder are always wrong). I don’t think God minds if a person refuses to lie, and lives are lost, as no lives are lost to Him. But if they decide to tell a venial lie, God is not very offended. They remain in His friendship. Refusing to lie is the better choice, as it does more good in the long term, and all sin is avoided.

      I don’t know what I would do in that situation. I might tell the venial lie, despite it being a venial sin. I know that I am not a Saint. On the other hand, it is far worse to justify that venial lie, calling it moral or good or not a sin or not a lie. That false teaching causes very grave harm, as I’ve discussed previously in the case of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    • Marco says:

      “The adultery case differs substantially from the venial lie case. Good morals is poorly understood in the world today. There certainly are Saints who would not commit adultery for any reason. Jesus and Mary, Saint John the Baptist and Saint Joseph, they would not commit a sexual sin in order to save lives. “

      They would make a miracle and they would convert the murderer.

      Other than that, i don’t think that a person in this world would let his son undergo horrific torture just to avoid a sexual sin. You could make a survey and i think that you wouldn’t find a single parent in this world who would say otherwise.

      “Everyone dies at the end of their life, and they live in the afterlife with God, if they died in His grace. So it is not so horrific if a good person dies. But when a good person commits grave sin, it is horrific.”

      Nothing is as horrific as not protecting your loved ones, to me. And here we are talking about torture. Good luck at finding a person who would let his son die after horrific torture just to avoid a sexual sin.

      “If someone tells a venial lie, to save many lives, they commit a small sin. If they refuse to lie, even to save lives, they do something better, teaching an important moral truth that saves many lives (by teaching that abortion, euthanasia, and other types of murder are always wrong).”

      This really seems absurd to me. So Oscar Schindler would have been a better man if, while he was in the position to save those Jews, he had just allowed them to die like animals?

      And God would have liked that? A loving God? Sorry but i really don’t
      understand what’s loving about all this, my bad.

      “I don’t think God minds if a person refuses to lie, and lives are lost, as no lives are lost to Him. “

      In other words, you think that if I have the chance to avoid that many innocents go through horrific torture and an early death and i don’t do it, God “wouldn’t mind”.

      Well… ok. I still fail to see what’s loving about that. It seems the exact opposite of loving. No lives are lost to God? Yeah, so letting a child undergo torture and murder when you could save him it’s no big deal to God, actually it’s the best thing to do.

      All of this, while at the same time we are also required to believe (under the pain of mortal sin) that God is all loving. Wow….

      And never mind, he could do something about it, he could convert the assailants or he could at least make the innocents die painlessly before they undergo torture, but no, he doesn’t do nothing, and he requires me to do nothing, and i do something i commit a sin.

      Damn….

      “Refusing to lie is the better choice, as it does more good in the long term, and all sin is avoided.”

      More good in the long term?

      “On the other hand, it is far worse to justify that venial lie, calling it moral or good or not a sin or not a lie. “

      I meant that two grave matters should be weighed against each other.

      Let me quote again from the topic i linked about abortion

      “Two very grave matters must be weighed against each other. Saving one person is better than allowing both to die through inaction, even though it means the death of one.”

      But, apparently, telling a lie is worse than letting an innocent die after tremendous torture through inaction. Actually, watching my son being dumped into a meat grinder while alive without lying or committing adultery to save him would make me a better person, maybe even a Saint.

      Because in this case there are not two grave matters that must be weighed against each other, apparently. How is any of this supposed to make even sense, i really don’t know.

  4. Shane Hogan says:

    Hi Ron! I recently watched the film ‘Risen”, which I found very valuable with some beautiful scenes that support our faith. One scene shows Jesus healing a leper. This occurs during the 40 days between Resurrection and Ascension. It made me wonder: Did Jesus carry out miracles during the time He was resurrected but still on earth? Or was this a sort of intermediate time when He was passing His healing power to His Mystical Body, The Church? I don’t think there is any biblical reference to healing miracles at this time. Thank you again for all your work. Shane

    • Ron Conte says:

      Jesus is God, so He never lacks miracle healing powers. There are no reports of Jesus healing during that period of time, as far as I know. I could not find anything in the writings of Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich on that point. She does say that Peter healed during that time. He may have preferred that Peter and the other Apostles heal, so that people would now look to the Church for help. But it is not the case that He was unable because he gave away his healing powers.

  5. Matt Z. says:

    Veritatis Splendor, St.John Paul II says we may not commit an evil act that good may come of it. The ends do not justify the means. Who is to say that even committing the sin of lying or adultery would save lives? Actually, it may even make the situation worse.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Yes, it is simplistic to assume that one little lie will save many lives. On the other hand, the teaching is that intrinsically evil acts are immoral regardless of the consequences. So, even if it were true that the lie saves lives, it would be a venial sin.

    • Marco says:

      “Who is to say that even committing the sin of lying or adultery would save lives?”

      I think it depends on the situation. In the real life example made above of the woman and her husband during WWII it certainly saved a life.

    • Marco says:

      @Matt Z.

      And it’s not like that woman had other choices, she could have only watched her husband die if she hadn’t done that.

      The thing is that we can’t always choose between good and evil, sometimes unfortunately we have to choose between two evils.

      From here https://www.catholic.com/magazine/print-edition/abortion-and-double-effect

      ““As the doctor, you now have two patients—the mother and her unborn child. Your duty and desire is to preserve the life and health of each of them. What do you do? If you do not remove the mother’s cancer, she will die very soon. At this stage in the baby’s development, it is entirely dependent upon the mother for life. If the mother is not treated and dies, the baby will die, too. You will lose both patients. But the only way to save her life is to remove her uterus, home to a developing person who will die as a result of the operation. This is a tragic situation to which a moral solution must be found. If the doctor believes that the mother can survive long enough to carry the baby until it is viable—that is, until it can live on its own outside the womb with medical assistance—then the mother may choose to risk her own life to save the life of her child. Even though it may mean decreasing her chances of survival, she may choose to postpone treatment of her cancer. If the progression of the cancer will not allow for that option, and the mother needs surgery immediately if she is going to live, you, as her doctor, have only two choices: You can allow both patients to die or you can save one and lose the other. The moral choice is to save the mother. The principle of double effect applies: (1) Your intention is to perform a good—to save the mother’s life by removing her cancerous uterus. The evil effect of causing the death of the baby is not desired. It is a very sad and unfortunate result of the good act. (2) The evil effect does not cause the good result. You are removing a diseased organ that is killing the mother, not performing an abortion. The baby will die during or shortly after the operation, but the purpose of the operation is not to kill the child. (3) Two very grave matters must be weighed against each other. Saving one person is better than allowing both to die through inaction, even though it means the death of one.”

      If saving one person is better than allowing both to die through inaction, even thought it means the death of one, i really fail to see how committing a sexual sin or lying isn’t better than letting your husband die like an animal.

      Yes, it is simplicistic to say that in every situation one little lie or another sin saves many lives, but there are certainly situations where you can’t do good without committing another sin in the process, case in point the woman i was talking about or Oscar Schindler who certainly couldn’t have done what he did without lying.

      Anyway, if i have to accept under the pain of excommunication that those people have still committed a sin, i will.

      I just hope that nobody asks me to accept that they were probably guilty of actual mortal sin as well (even the woman, even if adultery is graver than lying i think that she had more than enough mitigating factors in that situation to make sure that she wasn’t guilty of actual mortal sin) because that would be the final nail in the coffin.

      Accepting that she still sinned is hard enough to swallow, thinking that she would have been sent to Hell where she would have been severely tormented for ever and ever with the pain of loss and the pain of sense because she didn’t want to let her husband die, well this i can’t believe it.

  6. Matt Z. says:

    Is the beatific vision given after death or at the second coming? If after death,will the beatific vision be enhanced at the second coming and the resurrection of the body?

    • Ron Conte says:

      It is given after death and the particular judgment, per the dogmatic teaching of Pope Benedict 12. The happiness of the faithful changes in quality at the general resurrection, but I don’t think it increases per se.

  7. Matt says:

    I’ve found a woman who is Orthodox, and I love talking to her. What is Coptic Orthodox? Also, I’ve read that the Orthodox religion is closer in faith to Catholics, than Protestants are to Catholics. Would the differences between a Catholic marrying an Orthodox be easier to manage than a Catholic marrying a Protestant? Could compromises be made on attending mass (we attend both services. I’ve heard some Orthodox have a valid eurchasist, is this true). What compromises could be made raising kids, so I’m still Catholic.

    ***Also, are the Orthodox on board with Catholic teaching on masturbation, premarital sex, marriage lasting for life, no contraception? I’ve heard that the Coptic orthodox is “more conservative” is this true?

    • Ron Conte says:

      I don’t know anything about Coptic Orthodox. It seems to be closer to Catholicism that Protestantism, based on a quick look at wikipedia. I think the Orthodox have 7 valid Sacraments, though I don’t know of any specific declaration on that point about the Coptic Orthodox. You would have to ask your bishop if she could receive Communion. I don’t know what their beliefs are, why don’t you ask her?

    • Matt says:

      We have just known each other for a few weeks, and have mostly talked about church history (which I don’t know much about). We might start dating, but we are a long way from marriage. I’m just asking to know before anything serious happens.

      From reading online, it says Catholics accept some of their sacraments under certain circumstances, but not vice versa. Catholics allow marriage with Protestants, but Coptics only allow marriage if you have had their sacraments. She has just said: Coptic is important to her, and I should be open to it, but it seems harder for a marriage? Even though they are similar, they reject papal infallibility. And It appears Coptics don’t accept Catholic sacraments (even though we accept their sacraments). The Coptics right out excommunicate if someone gets married in a Catholic Church. And they must marry a confirmed Orthodox. And I don’t know what this means: could I still be Catholic while marrying (or does accepting their sacraments mean converting and rejecting Catholicism). This seems insane if there is no way to marry.

      Let me know if you have any thoughts? This will inevitably come up if we start dating, but I don’t want to fall in love, then be expected to choose between my religion and the person I love seems like a situation I’d like to avoid. Thanks!!

    • Ron Conte says:

      From what you are telling me, you can’t marry her without departing from the Catholic faith, due to their beliefs and requirements.

    • Marco says:

      “Also, are the Orthodox on board with Catholic teaching on masturbation, premarital sex, marriage lasting for life, no contraception? I’ve heard that the Coptic orthodox is “more conservative” is this true?“

      You can hardly be “more conservative” than our Church on these matters. I mean, unless they forbid marriage altogether. But everything is else is verbotten, if someone marries at 40 he has to live in absolute complete abstinence until that age, which means at least 27 years of abstinence.

      I don’t know you, but this seems very conservative to me.

    • Marco says:

      @Matt

      Maybe you meant that the Coptic orthodox are more conservative than the “mainstream” orthodox, now that i think about it.

      In that case, it may be true, since the Orthodox Church is more liberal than our Church on various issues http://restlesspilgrim.net/blog/2016/02/25/orthodoxy-and-contraception/ (not to mention their position on second marriages, even when it comes to premarital sex they consider such acts as sinful but not worthy of eternal punishment, if i remember correctly).

      But if you meant that the Coptic are even more conservative than our Church, that’s basically impossibile unless you talk about some Christian groups who fall into full-blown Catharism.

      This article and the comments below, i think, are a good summary http://www.prayerandperspective.com/2013/08/is-the-catholic-faith-too-hard-to-live/ , expecially the following comment http://www.prayerandperspective.com/2013/08/is-the-catholic-faith-too-hard-to-live/#comment-1479

      “I think the Catholic Church’s rules regarding sexual behavior are in fact very, very hard to live out, especially in today’s society where marriage is delayed and there is no-fault divorce. Most Catholics don’t even attempt to follow them, or even know all of them.1. Despite being in the full flood of reproductive hormones, young people are to refrain from sexual activity of any kind, for many years after puberty. Difficult, though not unique to Catholics.2. Even within marriage, sexual activity is restricted. No sexual activity to ejaculation is allowed other than vaginal intercourse. Most folks don’t know that, but it is true and it is restrictive. I don’t know if it is unique to Catholics, but it might be.3. No contraception, of course. Nearly universally ignored in the USA, and I suspect most everywhere else.4. If a Catholic has the misfortune of being divorced after contracting a valid marriage, he or she is condemned to a life of involuntary celibacy. It’s right out of the Gospel, but somehow (I have no idea how), every other sect and church of Christianity I know of allows remarriage. Does the difficulty make Catholic rules on sexual matters wrong or incorrect? No. But don’t belittle the difficulty”.

      And this http://www.prayerandperspective.com/2013/08/is-the-catholic-faith-too-hard-to-live/#comment-1492

      “At least there is admission that the Catholic faith is too hard to live out unless there is supernatural assistance. It is *uniquely* hard, even among Christian sects and churches. The fact that you have to buy into the magisterial authority of the church for some of them to make any sense at all only makes it harder.”

      And, as a matter of fact, Cody has to talk about some heresies like catharism, Manichaeism and the like to find out teaching more restrictive than the teaching of our Church when it comes to sexual ethics http://www.prayerandperspective.com/2013/08/is-the-catholic-faith-too-hard-to-live/#comment-1512

  8. Tom Mazanec says:

    I am reading Summa Theologica.
    Why does Aquinas make assertions of physical science as doctines of faith, such as declaring that light is instantaneous, or that celestial bodies are incorruptible?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Can you give specific citations? The teachings of the faith sometimes overlap with science. Faith teaches that God decided to create humanity, it was not the result of random chance, and that humanity began with Adam and Eve. In some cases, Aquinas may have misunderstood scientific points (such as the biology of conception) and other times he may have misunderstood the line between faith and science.

    • Tom Mazanec says:

      Summa theologiae, I, q. 67, a. 2, co:

      The second reason is from movement. For if light were a body, its diffusion would be the local movement of a body. Now no local movement of a body can be instantaneous, as everything that moves from one place to another must pass through the intervening space before reaching the end: whereas the diffusion of light is instantaneous. Nor can it be argued that the time required is too short to be perceived; for though this may be the case in short distances, it cannot be so in distances so great as that which separates the East from the West. Yet as soon as the sun is at the horizon, the whole hemisphere is illuminated from end to end.

    • Ron Conte says:

      Light was believed to be instantaneous by scientists for many centuries after Aquinas. So he erred in that respect. I don’t see why a book on theology can’t include some science. My book on Adam and Eve, on the Flood, and on contraception and abortion each has some science along with the theology. Not sure why this is a problem.

  9. Matt Z. says:

    A wife rejects her husband the marital debt 29 out of 30 days a month. It’s possible that since her rejection of her husband is many times, and for a good amount of time, and for not good reason, the wife could be sinning every time the husband is rejected. Does the husband continue even to request the marriage debt although he knows the wife will most likely reject the marriage debt?

    • Ron Conte says:

      That would require a judgment of the circumstances, it is not inherently wrong to ask, even if she will likely say No. She may be sinning gravely by refusing him for no serious reason. But if he cannot convince her, he may have to learn to live in continence.

  10. Tom Mazanec says:

    Perhaps this critique of the Five Ways would be a good topic for an article:
    http://www.vorpal.us/2007/10/the-five-ways-of-st-thomas-aquinas-are-all-dead-ends/

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