Catholic Theology Q&A

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36 Responses to Catholic Theology Q&A

  1. Christine says:

    The believers in the Old Testament received Sanctifying Grace through a Mystical Baptism.
    When the people of the Old Testament died, did they experience a ‘Particular Judgment’ by the eternal Son of God?
    When did this ‘Particular Judgment’ mission by the eternal Son of God begin?
    5:22 The father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son.
    5:27 and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man.

    The Old Testament people, like us, either went to Heaven or to Hell. To Heaven, via some time in Purgatory, where we learn to love the right way, become purified and learn eternal truths about God.

    In your document (Mystical Baptism and Limbo, Oct. 24. 2006), you indicated that the people who died,did not have to wait for centuries. I love and respect your theological opinion when you said, “the gates of Heaven have always been open, for they were opened by Christ beyond Time.”
    How do we explain then: CCC 637, ” In his human soul united to his divine person, the dead Christ went down to the realm of the dead. He opened heaven’s gates for the just who had gone before him.”
    Also Ron, the ‘Bosom of Abraham’- is that another name for Heaven?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Bosom of Abraham is the limbo of the Fathers. Everyone receives the particular judgment after death, even those who died before Christ.

  2. Jonathan says:

    The council of Florence decreed,

    “But the souls of those who depart this life in actual mortal sin, or in original sin alone, go down straightaway to hell to be punished, but with unequal pains.”

    In a previous article you wrote that those who die as adults without receiving a mystical baptism are guilty of the sin of omission. If they are guilty of the sin omission, then who is the council of Florence referring to by those who die in original sin alone if not infants?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Pope Pius IX, in the encyclical Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, taught that no one is punished eternally, unless they have committed a deliberate sin: “Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.”
      Therefore, those who die in original sin alone must be guilty of deliberate sin for dying in that state, and that guilt is the sin of omission.

  3. Jonathan says:

    “The sin of dying in a state of “original sin alone” is nothing other than the actual mortal sin of omission of never having found sanctifying grace in life (by any of the three forms of baptism), despite ample opportunity.”

    Under your theory no one actually does in original sin alone, which patently contradicts what is taught by the council of Florence.

    There is no logical reasons why the council would include those who die in original sin alone as a distinct class from those who die with actual mortal sin.

    • Ron Conte says:

      “Under your theory no one actually does in original sin alone”
      No, there would be possibly a large number of person who die in that state: Unbaptized adults who live lives that are self-centered, with many venial sins, but no actual mortal sins (largely due to ignorance). These would die in original sin alone, since venial sins are not punished eternally.

    • Marco says:

      “Unbaptized adults who live lives that are self-centered, with many venial sins, but no actual mortal sins (largely due to ignorance).”

      I think it’s pretty far fetched to assume that ignorance can prevent you from committing a single mortal sin in your entire life.

      If that were true, it would be better to Baptize everyone and avoid to teach them, so that they would not commit any kind of mortal sin and they would not put their souls in danger.

    • Marco says:

      What I meant is that i think that the theoretical possibility of an ubaptized adult who never commits actual mortal sin and dies in original sin alone is just that: a theoretical possibility, not a practical one.

      If an adult were to die in original sin alone the logical conclusion would be that baptizing someone and avoiding to teach him faith and morals would give him the smoothest way to salvation, and under this view evangelization would actually be harmful.

      When an adult commits an actual mortal sin he can repent with perfect contrition before death, and be saved, but if the claim that an adult can die in original sin alone were true, the consequences would be devastating.

  4. emgrav725 says:

    Hi Ron. I recently heard a recording in which a conservative priest talked about effeminacy and referred to definitions which he attributed to St. Thomas Aquinas. He was probably referring to question 138 in the second part of the second part of ST.

    The speaker went on to assert that most men are effeminate today: that habitual impurity, lack of formation in enduring pain and responsibility from a young age, and overuse of technology have led many men to lack various virtues (such as perseverance, prudence, and meekness) and to fail in the duties of their states in life (as priests or husbands) and especially, as husbands and fathers, to fail to exercise proper authority in their homes. He argues that even a lot of men who look and act tough are effeminate, e.g. men who work out at the gym but do it mostly for appearance, professional athletes who are tough on the field but can’t control their anger or scream if you take their phone away, etc. He also believes that many conservative Catholic husbands and fathers would count as being effeminate (for various reasons that I won’t get into here).

    The speaker says “most” men are effeminate, but his comments should probably be understood as referring to English-speaking American culture (and some other similar Western cultures). Within this context, the comments sound plausible.

    My question for you, Ron, comes from the speaker’s terminology for the men who have the vice of effeminacy. He says that these guys are not men. In his terminology, the word for an adult male is “guy”. Guys who have the vice of effeminacy are “not men.” Guys who are not effeminate are “men.”

    The speaker uses this vocabulary very effectively. It touches a nerve in his listeners, obviously. And it also provides him with a way to guide his listeners to a better understanding of what a real man is. For example, he is able to clarify that some typical American ideas of real manhood (which, for example, might suggest that it’s manly to be domineering or promiscuous, etc.) are wrong, and that the true real man is chaste, self-sacrificing, etc., and that Christ is the ultimate Man.

    It’s powerful rhetoric, but I wanted to ask you, Ron, from your knowledge of the Bible, do you see any scriptural basis to divide adult males into “men” and “non-men”. I don’t recall much in the Bible about guys who are not men. There’s the famous Psalm verse “Ego sum vermis et non homo” but this is usually interpreted as referring to the humiliation of Our Savior. Elsewhere in the Psalms and Proverbs, bad men are described in terms of their sinfulness, as unjust or wicked, or as fools, adulterers or lechers, but I don’t remember reading that they “aren’t men” or that there’s a specific subset of sinful adult males who “aren’t men” do to the vice of effeminacy while other sinful males are “men” despite their sins.

    It’s also possible that I’m overlooking some relevant passages or I just never read them. For instance, maybe there are exhortations by military leaders in the OT that may inform this discussion.

    May you please use your knowledge of the Bible to clear up this topic a bit.

    I just think it’s important to understand how much the rhetoric of “men” vs “effeminate guys” can be understood in continuity with Scripture, because I think we’re going to see an increase in this rhetoric as conservative priests continue to make new efforts to stimulate men to strive for virtue and give their sons better formation

    • Ron Conte says:

      do you see any scriptural basis to divide adult males into “men” and “non-men”.
      No, I do not. The speaker was exaggerating the errors of modern society, and thereby reaching a false conclusion, that certain sinful men, or men influenced by sinful secular society, are not true men. They are obviously men, but are harmed by sin and the sinful world. Also, the sin of effeminacy differs from effeminate behaviors; those are two very different uses of the word. See my article:

  5. Matt says:

    One thing I should mention is that in your article saying birth control has anti-implantation effects and kills more prenatals than abortion, there is a huge factor that I don’t know if you considered.

    You say there is a 20 percent chance of break through failure and a 20 percent chance of CONCEPTION from natural intercourse. Given there is a 4 percent chance of conception per month, we would expect 0.48 babies to be conceived per year per woman using birth control but also having sex. You then say that since there are only 0.09 PREGNANCIES per woman per year using the pill, the difference must be abortion.

    Here is the question:
    Did you take into account that there is a large loss rate naturally? Therefore, while 0.48 conceptions could still occur on the pill, how do you know that many of those babies did not just die naturally in the first few weeks of pregnancy? The 0.09 pregnancies mentioned would then be from the babies that survived BOTH the abortion effect and the NATURAL LOSS EFFECT. This would be true if the studies showing 9 percent failure were woman reporting the failures after they realized that they were pregnant (which typically occurs 5 weeks after conception). This does not exclude that an abortion effect could still exist. I’m just saying if you don’t consider this factor, then you potentially massively over estimate the abortion effect.

    I reiterate, if the 0.09 failure rate is measured when a woman REALIZES that she is pregnant (I don’t know if it is, I’m just throwing it out there), and not also right after CONCEPTION, then we are not comparing apples to apples. Even if 0.09 babies per woman were still alive immediately after implantation, you still have to take the natural loss of failed implantation into account (whatever this number is, and I recognize you gave multiple estimates in other articles). Are you sure your calculations take natural losses into account?

  6. Jonathan says:

    “Pope Pius IX, in the encyclical Quanto Conficiamur Moerore, taught that no one is punished eternally, unless they have committed a deliberate sin: “Because God knows, searches and clearly understands the minds, hearts, thoughts, and nature of all, his supreme kindness and clemency do not permit anyone at all who is not guilty of deliberate sin to suffer eternal punishments.”

    There isn’t an eternal punishment for infants in limbo, but rather a natural happiness devoid of any pain of sense (poena sensus). Pope Pius was clearly discussing Hell in the traditional and strict sense of poena damni and poena sensus–“where the worm dieth not.”

    • Ron Conte says:

      The CCC teaches that the chief punishment of Hell is the deprivation, which is exactly what is claimed for infants in limbo. So they would receive eternal punishment, if that view were correct.

  7. Paul M. says:

    There seems to be growing momentum for the formation of either a group of Catholic lay persons or an independent organization to be tasked with investigating and potentially policing Catholic bishops pertaining to the sexual abuse scandals. Is such an approach compatible with the Catholic understanding that authority has a structure of headship to it?

    In other words, would a lay movement or even a movement of priests or victims to exercise authority over bishops (who MAY be guilty of cover-ups and/or negligence on a massive scale) be canonically possible or (arguably) even the will of God?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Well, only the Pope or a Council could oversee the Bishops on doctrine or require changes in discipline. I see no reason that the Pope cannot permit and authorize an independent organization within the Church to provide correction to Bishops on complaints that pertain to violating the laws of society, covering up grave sins and crimes, and the like. So it is possible.

      I don’t think such an organization would ultimately work. It’s too easy for Bishops to cover up events and stonewall outsiders. What we need is more persons of conscience disclosing publicly these crimes and coverups. And perhaps we need help from secular society, with new laws that make Bishops accountable in criminal courts as accessories to crimes.

  8. Jonathan says:

    In so far as there is loss of supernatural happiness, it is a punishment in a restricted sense. If you were to inherit 2 million dollars, but for some reason you only received one million dollars, it could be considered “punishment” as you did not obtain your highest good. That’s different than instead of getting 2 million dollars you’re sent to prison. The punishment differs in kind, not merely degree, which is why the Church calls it “Limbo” and not “Hell.”

    • Ron Conte says:

      There is one version of this idea called the limbo of Hell. The other idea is limbo as a third final destination and purely natural happiness, but in both cases, there is no state of grace and therefore no love, faith, hope, or other virtues, no love of neighbor, friendship, worship of God, joy, peace, kindness, mercy, wisdom, knowledge, etc. So I don’t see how a human person, created to be in a state of grace, can be happy without that state and all that it entails. And they cannot be ignorant of what they are lacking, due to the particular judgment and the general judgment.

  9. Matt says:

    I’m attempting to post the following on Catholic Answers. I just created a new account. I don’t know if I will be banned.

    Catechism (CCC) 1749: “Human acts, that is, acts that are freely chosen in consequence of a judgment of conscience…” Acts are deliberate exercises of the will (judgements of a person’s conscious). Therefore, acts are human CHOICES. A sex session is not one “marital act,” but rather made up of many different choices, each of which are marital acts subject to the moral law. Since each choice to use different body parts (intercourse, oral, anal, etc), are distinct exercises of the will (one does not just go from using one set of body parts to another without willing it), all the choices in a sex session are separate acts. Therefore, each must be, in and of itself, ordered to procreation.

    CCC 1753, 1754, 1757. Simply, future acts must be circumstances of a prior act. A future act cannot make a prior act moral in the object of the prior act. Therefore, if oral stimulation is moral followed by intercourse, then it must also stand alone and be moral if followed by no sex acts. Is oral stimulation followed by no sex really ordered to procreation? (Humane Vitae 11, each act must be ordered to procreation). If uncompleted sex acts were moral, why are gay people called to “chastity” (in the Catechism) and not just to “uncompleted oral?” Furthermore, in USCCB Create in Me a Clean Heart: “Masturbation, which is deliberate, erotic stimulation OFTEN to the point of orgasm…” Why OFTEN? If uncompleted sex acts were moral, then masturbation would be moral if not done to completion. This contradicts church documents, such as the one above, that define this uncompleted act as still the intrinsically evil sin of masturbation.

    Find one other example (only one, just one), where a completed act is intrinsically evil, but the uncompleted act is not also intrinsically evil. Is uncompleted theft okay if you get caught before you walk away with the money? Is uncompleted murder okay? Is uncompleted rape okay? It seems incredibly counterintuitive, that sexual morality is the one exception: uncompleted acts = okay, completed = evil in itself.

    Sex cannot be adulterous (or non-unitive and selfish) for the first 5 minutes, and then be justified by marital sex (unitive sex) for the last 10 minutes. So why can sex be non-procreative (oral) for the first 5 minutes, and then procreative (intercourse) for the last 10 minutes? And given Catholics care about the procreative dimension of sex just as much as the unitive and marital dimensions, is this not further proof that ALL sexual choices must be procreative? (not just the existence of some choice in the whole set of acts, but the same as how the marital/ unitive dimensions are judged).

    Is this my isolated opinion? NO!!!

    Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church, perhaps the most influential theologian of all time, disagrees vehemently with unnatural “oral stimulation.” In St. Liguori’s own words: “The reason is that this manner of his sexual act (even without climax) is truly sodomy, whether or not it is consummated, just as an act of copulation in the natural orifice of another woman is truly fornication, even if there is no climax.”

    Saint Augustine ‘On the Good of Marriage’: “But, when the man shall wish to use the member of the wife not allowed for this purpose, the wife is more shameful, if she suffer it to take place in her own case, than if in the case of another woman.”

    Also, Saint Thomas Aquinas in his most famous Summa Theologica: “Lastly comes the sin of not observing the right manner of copulation, which is more grievous if the abuse regards the ‘vas’ than if it affects the manner of copulation in respect of other circumstances.” In the letter of Barnabas: “Thou shalt not be like to those whom we hear of as committing wickedness with the mouth…”

    If uncompleted sex acts were okay, this would reduce the Catholic sexual principle of “openness to life” to the mere misdirection or spilling of seed. But according to St. Augustine, it is the “member” (vagina) not being used for its natural purpose, not merely the misdirection of seed, which makes an unnatural act unnatural, and therefore intrinsically evil. For Saint Barnabas around 100 AD, the sin involved WICKEDNESS with the MOUTH, not misdirection of seed. How could St. Thomas Aquinas be so wrong to think that unnatural acts were crimes against the body parts used, the “vas” (vagina), in Aquinas’s own words, when they were really just the misdirection of seed all along!!! If the “one rule,” the seed must end in the vagina was correct, how can one possibly explain that Denzinger, a Compendium of Church teachings from Pope Pius IX, complied by an Office of The Holy See, stated that artificial instruments (sex toys) are not permitted? This flatly and utterly disproves the “one rule.” Oral foreplay is unnatural, just like sex toys are. The description of acts come from the object they are inherently directed towards, and don’t change with time. Encyclopedias show sodomy, derived from Catholic ethics, was defined as anal or oral sex. There was no distinction for completion, and most certainly not “semen spilled.” Furthermore, countless Saints and theologians detested sodomy, (defined for the first 1900 years as non-intercourse sex, not spilling the seed): St. Basil the Great, St. Theodore of Tarsus, St. John Chrysostom, and Clement of Alexandria to name a few.

    Fr. Jone’s work in 1920 redefining sodomy as a different act depending upon ejaculation is riddled with error after error. Most importantly, intrinsically evil acts don’t change their object with time!!!!!!! This error is cited in Gregory Papcak’s Holy Sex, in Christopher West’s Good News About Sex and Marriage, by Janet Smith, and by countless others. This proliferates error to the faithful. In St. JP II’s words, procreation is written into the design of man and woman, and therefore is not dependent on marital status. Intercourse may produce a baby regardless of marital status. Unnatural acts violate PROCREATION, not marital status. Not only is Fr. Jone wrong, he is as far from the truth as one can possibly be: if the acts were indeed different acts for married couples than for unmarried couples, then to be consistent with early church teaching, we would conclude these unnatural acts within marriage would be even WORSE (not moral). In the early church, the penance for unnatural acts with one’s wife (with no distinction for completion), were often HARSHER than bestiality for an unmarried man!!! Doctors of the Church such as Aquinas DETESTED crimes against the ‘vas,’ precisely what Jone is approving.

    Why use Natural Law logic in the Catechism, all the while attempting to twist it to come to different conclusions? If you don’t like St. Thomas Aquinas, don’t pretend to use and defend his teachings!! Throw them out, or better, get on board!! It is not okay to sodomize your wife (and not spill the seed)!!! CATHOLICS ARE RIGHT ABOUT EVERYTHING!!!

    • Ron Conte says:

      Good luck. (They do not like to be told they are wrong.)

      I don’t see it. What title did you give the post?

    • Matt says:

      I posted the first 3200 words of it as “Unnatural Acts in Marriage are Intrinsically Evil.” (This is not even false. They redefine “unnatural,” but even Catholic Answers agrees unnatural acts with completion are evil. I didn’t put “foreplay” for a reason, but the post was still deleted).

      I was going to post the rest, but then was immediately flagged and my account was suspended. “Temporarily.” It’s still suspended with no reason why, and I’m starting to think it’ll be indefinite. I’m frustrated with Catholic Answers. I think I’ll leave and never post there ever again.

      I understand how saying things like “sodomy is an act of grave depravity” is something people don’t like, but my first 3200 words (refer to above) did not use any language of sin. And it’s true to say Sodomy is a detestable sin!!!

      1. The first comment on my post implied morality was between him and his priest. THE MORAL LAW APPLIES TO EVERYONE!!! Was he suspended for making false claims? Or is Catholic Answers a hypocrite?

      2. The next two responses said:
      “sounds like a post from Ron Conte’s website”
      “He was just banned you know”
      “Interesting, right?”

      I did take the quotation on Alphonsus Ligouri and sex toys from your website, but all the words were my own!!! I used multiple other websites such as an encyclopedia’s definition of sodomy a few hundred years ago, the Epistles of Barnabas, and multiple sources showing Saints such as St. John Chrysostom were against sodomy. The interpretation was entirely my own!!! So they were falsely accusing me of being you (maybe they need to be told that I am not you)?

      At the present moment, I take it they were so cowardly to just delete my comment I spent quite awhile working on, without giving me any reason. I purposefully did not include any Pope Pius quotes, since that caused them to ban you (my post cut off after the Thomas Aquinas quote). Did I get Aquinas wrong? Did Aquinas not refer to the “vas?” (Generarative faculty), and not misdirection of seed? All my other quotes were from the Catechism, so why in the world would I be suspended?

      Even if a future act could be in the object of the present act. That still doesn’t address the most important point: the act of sodomy in the past was not defined based on future acts (like a future act of intercourse), or spilling the seed!!!!!!! “Sodomy” always included oral and anal sex itself with no distinction for completion.

      (From what I understand, “sodomy” may have expanded from 30 AD to 1000 AD to refer to other non-intercouse acts, but oral and anal were always acts of “Sodom”!!!)

      WE MUST BE CONSISTENT WITH THE PAST!!! We cannot redefine the object of an act with time.

      WHY CANT CATHOLIC so called “ANSWERS” answer this question:

      Find one Saint, Doctor of the Church, Church Document, or Pope in the first 1500 years of our church (30 AD to 1500 AD) who even remotely suggested the “one rule?”

      Our situation is VERY bad. People who claim to be faithful Catholics outright refuse to pursue TRUTH. They refuse to use Catholic morality. They refuse to put their “desires” above God, all the while claiming to not be heretical. And I should ask Catholic Answers why they have “Answers” in their name, if they obviously ban people when they can’t provide them. Perhaps that is why we are seeing declining Church attendance: Catholics are unable to defend our true faith with prayer, faith, logic, and reason. One might ask: if I can throw away Church teaching in some areas, why not just throw away more of it? And pretty soon society will be filled with atheists.

      MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: I am very unhappy with people who “claim” to defend our Catholic Faith. What can we do to win over Satan and get the TRUTH out there??!!!

    • Ron Conte says:

      As I said in reply to someone else’s comment, it’s not just the subject of marital sexual ethics. Other grave errors are promoted at CAF, and at different conservative Catholic online magazines, like NCRegister. They don’t seem to be able to distinguish doctrine from error. Your post was good, and had points beyond what I have said, so it was your own good work. There was no reason for them to delete the post or ban the username.

  10. Matt says:

    Contraception is “any action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act [sexual intercourse], or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible.”

    1. The birth control pill while anticipating intercourse is an “action in ANTICIPATION” of the conjugal act. It is taken every day at the same time.
    Imagine a wife takes hormonal birth control in the morning at the same time every day, NOT ANTICIPATING INTERCOURSE. But one day had sex in the evening and it was a “heat of the moment thing,” where the wife did not anticipate it in the morning while taking the pill. Forget the abortion effects for a second, did an act of contraception occur (does it require “anticipation”)?
    2. Imagine, for the sake of a thought experiment, a wife was infertile because her ovaries were removed. Furthermore, she took a birth control pill (for whatever reason) while anticipating intercourse. Although an egg cannot be released (she doesn’t have ovaries), would an act of contraception occur from taking the birth control pill? It appears to me yes, because the attainment of the end of the pill (to stop an egg from being released) does not make the act contraceptive to non-contraceptive in its object (inferring the object from the definition).
    3. How exactly can we use reason to work out what “stimulation” means in defining a “sex act?” My definition is: stimulation of the generative faculty (either the penis or vagina). That is why breasts are not included. The “who,” “what,” “where,” and “when” can potentially make at act into a different act. For example, “what” includes the body parts used and distinguishes intercourse from oral sex.

    Can purely the “what” (the motions in three dimensional space) distinguish the sex act of masturbation from a medical treatment? Because a medical exam/ treatment, from purely what movements were performed, say applying medical cream for genital warts, may appear very similar to the bodily movements in masturbation. Can one use purely “what” to distinguish sex acts from these medical treatments? The “who,” might help? Just like contraception can include “anticipation” as part of “who,” the fact that a doctor is performing the exam can help distinguish this. But just look at the news, doctors have abused their power, so how exactly can we differentiate the different touching? (It is a VERY grey area). I don’t think “medically unnecessary touching” works here. This seems to be a slippery slope, because liberals will claim all sorts of things are “medically necessary,” based on trying to use pro-ported health benefits of masturbation (like stress relief), to claim it is necessary for a medical purpose. Therefore, I don’t want to use that definition: “medically necessary touching.”

    Perhaps “knowledge,” of the perpetrator of the act? It is important to note, that the intended end is a goal. Therefore, knowledge/ anticipation, in the definition of an act, are NOT INTENTIONS. I am not putting intentions into the object of the act.

    MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION: how can we use “knowledge” or “anticipation” to distinguish sex acts from medical treatment? Is it “anticipation of arousal,” “anticipation of ejaculation,” “medically necessary touching,” “knowledge of a potential medical benefit,” or so on that distinguishes the exam from a sex act? (Note, I’m trying to be very careful to not use the font of intentions when deducing the object of the act).

    I just ask these questions because if it was “anticipation of arousal,” which made a sex act, a sex act, then any medical exam where the patient anticipated getting an erection would be a sex act.

    Perhaps we can define “medically necessary” to just include treatments that are VITAL, so that we somehow include cancer screening (which may arouse a woman) as inherently moral, but not include “stress relief” or “masturbation reduces risk of cancer XXX” as “medically necessary.” I still say the definition of necessary is hard to pin down.

    Let me know your thoughts!!! This will be my last comment for awhile. (I will get very busy with grad classes, so I might not be here for awhile). But these are the last questions I’m still trying to resolve. And one final thing. I hope posting my comment on CAF, didn’t cause them to suspend you indefinitely. Thanks for answering!!!

    • Ron Conte says:

      No, you were not the cause of my indefinite suspension. They’ve been wanting to kick me out for years. They just had to wait for the right pretext.

      You are getting too hung up on the exact wording. What matters is the moral object of the act: the deliberate choice of an act that deprives sex of its procreative finality. In the first example, the woman decided to take a contraceptive and then decided to have contracepted sex. Anticipation is not necessary, as HV makes clear by having anticipation be only one of a few examples of how contraception works.

      “Medically necessary” does not justify intrinsically evil acts.

      “she took a birth control pill (for whatever reason) while anticipating intercourse.” No, that is not contraception because her act is not inherently ordered to deprive sex of its procreative meaning (she is infertile and the pill was taken, let’s say, for a medical reason). No deprivation means no intrinsically evil act.

      #3 I have no idea what you are talking about. Why don’t you learn what the Church teaches, and what moral theology teaches, and use that as your starting point. Too many Catholics think they can start from scratch in ethics, with just their own thoughts, and somehow exceed the Saints, the Magisterium, and every generation of priests and theologians.

    • Matt says:

      I think this just raises way more questions than it answers.

      1. First, I disagree profoundly that an infertile couple can use contraception while anticipating intercourse. The birth control pill, by its very nature, deprives intercourse of its procreative finality, by being ordered to interrupting the process of procreation: an egg being released. Just like “infertile sex” is still ordered towards procreation, so too, “infertile contraception” is ordered towards depriving sex of its procreative meaning (regardless of if is actually stops the egg from being released).

      “No deprivation means no intrinsically evil act” is just flat out wrong: an act of contraception is still contraception even if it fails to achieve the object it is ordered towards, and a woman still ovulates. In other words, IT IS STILL CONTRACEPTION EVEN IF IT FAILS TO DEPRIVE ACTS OF PROCREATIVE FINALITY!!! In the same way, an act of contraception is still contraception if a woman is unable to ovulate. The fact that the pill will, or will not, attain the end of stopping ovulation with coinciding intercourse, does not impact its inherent ordering: you’ve said this many times!!!

      2. I disagree profoundly that a woman on the pill but anticipating abstinence, is, in your words, having “contraceptive sex” if she had unanticipated sex in the night. You say it is a different act than just “intercourse” by committing the same error that people who support foreplay commit. You’re failing to understand that acts are (CHOICES) and are not contingent in the object by future or prior acts that occur hours apart. The only exercise of the will that caused the deprivation of procreation, was the act of taking the pill in the morning each day. But the object of the act of taking a birth control pill, while anticipating abstinence, is moral!!! It is obviously not contingent upon the future act of intercourse that happens in the evening!!!

      You say it is an act that deprives SEX of its procreative finality. If the act happened prior to sex, the best we can have is “anticipation,” and future acts are circumstances. Simply, the object of intercourse in the evening is not continent upon the prior act of taking the pill that happened in the morning. Furthermore, in the case of the pill, even if it stopped an egg from being released, having intercourse with or without ovulation is still moral!!! (Otherwise you attempt to make NFP wrong as “contraceptive sex.”)

      And to reiterate, the prior act cannot be in the object of a future act to make it “contraceptive sex,” and the “egg” is neither controlled by the women, nor interior to the act of intercourse: it is EXTERIOR and independent of the will!!!

      3. Regarding the saints, they knew nothing about cancer screenings and modern medical treatments. I go to the National Catholic Bioethics Center A LOT, and professors like John Finnis, and your website, but there are errors in so many theologian’s works that it is SAD!!! And Aquinas would have written nothing about say direct versus indirect contraception or abortion, for example. So how on earth would they have any answers? The best I can find is Robert George of Princeton, John Finnis of Oxford (a genius), and Germain Grisez, who butcher Catholic ethics by attempting to solve the logical problem (that I don’t know if you see), by putting intentions into the object of the act.

      The logical problem is: to define an act of contraception, we must define it in terms of, not a future act, but of anticipation of a future act. So things COMING FROM THE MIND of the actor, “anticipation,” (I referred to it as “knowledge,” must be in the object of the act). They wrongly call this “intentions.” As you say, using intentions conflates the fonts of morality. But they still recognize the issue which I see as well.

      I’m asking a similar question to you: how do you separate medical genital touching, from the genital touching we define as “masturbation.” Given they may, in certain situations, involve VERY similar “types of touching,” just which accomplish different things. A doctor may feel around the genitals, looking for cancer, but from an alien looking from outer space, the touching might look nearly identical to masturbation. “The mind of the actor” is relevant to the object of this act!!! This is the only way to distinguish between the act and masturbation. I am trying to not commit the error of using intentions (which are not part of the object). I am asking you to try to solve this logical problem (you say reason can solve it, without specifically outlining how).

    • Ron Conte says:

      I’m not reading any of these very long comments all the way through. I hope you all realize that. First of all, Evil is by definition a deprivation. So if there is no deprivation in the object, then the act is not intrinsically evil. I did not say or imply that the object the evil must be attained. The question is whether the act is ordered toward that deprivation. So you misunderstood me.

      An infertile couple cannot use condoms to prevent disease transmission, for the reason that you gave. But if a woman is past her childbearing years, post menopausal, she can take hormones to treat a medical disorder because they have no contraceptive or abortive ordering or effects.

      “how do you separate medical genital touching, from the genital touching we define as masturbation.”
      The deliberate knowing choice in the act of masturbation is sexual, while the medical touching (examination) is not sexual. The difference is in the ordering of the act toward its object, but the act is not only the exterior action (body of the act), but also the deliberate knowing choice of the person (soul of the act).

      “putting intentions into the object of the act” is heresy. If you want me to discuss this with you at greater length, try shorter comments, and we will take it one point at a time.

      Yes, it is not the attainment of the object that makes the act intrinsically evil, but the deliberate knowing choice of the act ordered toward that end.

    • Matt says:

      1. Why does menopause not change the object of sexual intercourse (it is still procreative in its object), but somehow, it does change the object of contraception? Is there any rational for this apparently arbitrary flip, or just “because it is?”

      2. How can “contraceptive sex” be defined in its object by a prior act of taking a birth control pill (I thought this is why foreplay is wrong: future, or prior acts are not part of the object). And isn’t it moral to have sex, regardless of whether an egg is released, because that is exterior to the sex act itself?

      3. You keep using circular reasoning: a sex act is defined in terms of deliberate stimulation of the generative faculty. And stimulation is defined in terms of sexual?

      MOST IMPORTANT: What is sexual? Is sexual imply stimulation, and stimulation imply sexual so we just go around in a circle forever?

    • Ron Conte says:
      1. See Address to Midwives n. 51
      menopause does not change the object of contraception, since using condoms would still be wrong. But hormones are prescribed after menopause to relieve symptoms caused by the changes in hormones at that time. This act is not ordered to deprive sex of its procreative finality; it is ordered toward healing. It is not the same dose or type as in contraception.
      2. “How can “contraceptive sex” be defined in its object by a prior act of taking a birth control pill”
      At the time of taking the pill, that act at that time is ordered to deprive sex of its procreative finality. Similarly, poisoning some food that will be eaten later is an act of murder. Setting up a time bomb that will kill 10 years later is an act of murder. The act at the time is ordered toward the evil object, even if the object is attained later.
      3. “(I thought this is why foreplay is wrong: future, or prior acts are not part of the object).”
      An object is not an act; it is the end that the act is ordered toward. Two distinct acts: each must be evaluated on its own merits. Some foreplay is wrong, and other foreplay is moral.
      4. “And isn’t it moral to have sex, regardless of whether an egg is released, because that is exterior to the sex act itself?”
      Sex is moral when it is marital, unitive, procreative, and has no evil in any of the three fonts. The act is ordered toward the procreative meaning, even when that object is not attained. It’s the ordering, not the attainment.
      5. “You keep using circular reasoning….”
      A per se sexual act is the deliberate knowing use of the generative faculty. Stimulation without climax is still a per se sexual act. This is true because the Magisterium has said or implied as much. USCCB document on porn defines masturbation as such even without climax. The Holy See has condemned amplexus reservatus, which is natural intercourse minus climax.

    • Matt says:

      I will ignore question 3. I never said uncompleted sex acts were not sex acts. Also, I think you’re trying to misunderstand me: when I said “foreplay” implicitly I meant “foreplay that is a sex act.” And for Q3, I want definitions. We’re talking in circles… lets leave this question.

      1. Yes, I should have said “hormonal contraception changes its object with menopause?” I still don’t see how the quote you gave me explicitly answers this question? “… are not equally primary, but are much less superior to the primary end, and essentially subordinated to it. This is true of every marriage, even if no offspring results, …” However, I can answer my own question. Dose of contraception, type of hormones, and acting as a replacement of hormones present in other women, but not a particular woman, might explain this. In contrast, taking the pill before menopause is not replacing a natural deficiency in that hormone. Any of these could be why the object changes.

      2. The act of murder is NOT dependent upon FUTURE acts. In you case of a bomb that would go off in 10 years, it is murder. A better example than yours is that it is still murder even if an act in 10 years is needed to initiate the final process, but this act never occurred. In the same way, taking the pill in the morning is not part of the object of the act of sex in the evening. So calling the sex with the pill: “contraceptive sex,” is a mistake.

      The object of a future act cannot be part of the prior act. In the case of a bomb that goes off in 10 years, the object of the act 10 years ago was evil regardless of future acts or time. However, CONTRACEPTION WHILE ANTICIPATING ABSTINENCE IS NOT EVIL. You want to somehow allow contraception when abstinent, but then allow unanticipated sex, or A FUTURE ACT (FAILURE TO BE ABSTINENT), to be part of the object of the prior act!!! As you know, by your own logic on SEXUAL foreplay, this cannot be part of the object of the prior act of contraception to make it “deprive sex of its procreative finality.”

      Thanks, and I think we have discussed this enough, that we are no longer making progress.

    • Ron Conte says:

      I think you have badly misunderstood me. I never said or implied: “allow contraception when abstinent, but then allow unanticipated sex”. I woman who is not having sexual relations can take an abortifacient medication to treat a medical disorder. If she later decides to have sex, on the spur of the moment, she sins because she knows that the choice has an abortive and contraceptive end.

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