I’ve been a member at Catholic Answers Forums (CAF) since Apr 23, 2005, that is, for 13+ years. My Stats are as follows: 1.3k days visited, 2.5k topics viewed, 12.0k posts read, 266 topics created, 3.7k posts created, 298 likes received. Today I receive a suspension for one month: “This user is suspended until Sep 14, 2018 12:00 pm.” The reason will be explained in this post. The suspension was given to me by an unknown moderator or administrator, by means of an email which did not identify the sender. The email is quoted in full at the end of this post. Most of the e-mail is quotes from what I posted in the discussion group CAF, under a topic in the Moral Theology forum.
My reason for discussing the suspension here is my belief that the suspension was NOT due to a violation of forum rules. Rather, it is one of many attempts by one or more moderators or administrators at CAF to prevent certain teachings of Saints, Doctors of the Church, and the Magisterium from being known and understood by readers, and to promote a popular but gravely immoral view which is contrary to those teachings.
The email explaining my suspension states the reason:
“Defaming CA Apologist; Messages posted to this board must be polite and free of personal attacks, threats, and incendiary, divisive, crude . . . language.”
“In short, you misrepresent the Church’s teaching, including re: Pius XII and foster contempt for Catholic Answer Trent Horn in particular.”
“Bringing one’s wife to conjugal fulfillment when organically connected with the marital act is not gravely sinful. You thus erroneously convict CA Apologist Trent Horn with promoting grave sin.”
In fact, I made no threats and used no incendiary or crude language. And I did not make a personal attack. What I did write was a simple disagreement with the theological position of CA Apologist Trent Horn for his approval of the use of unnatural sexual acts in marriage.
The moderator who wrote the e-mail claims that I misrepresented Church teaching by Pope Pius XII on which sexual acts are permitted and which are gravely immoral within marriage. The moderator assumes that his own interpretation of Pius XII’s words is correct, and mine is erroneous. Moreover, he treats his own opinion as if it were identical to Church teaching.
This presents a problem for members of CAF. If the moderators’ opinions and interpretations are treated as if identical to Church teaching, then they have usurped the Magisterium. The result is that contrary opinions can be claimed to “misrepresent the Church’s teaching” and any member can be suspended or otherwise rebuked for a legitimate theological opinion sincerely held as a Catholic — at a Catholic discussion group. Certain theological opinions are then imposed on the members as if these were dogma.
Is my position incorrect? I hold the same views on this subject of marital sexual ethics as Saint Alphonsus Liguori, Doctor of the Church. My views are in complete accord with all of the magisterial teachings on this subject, as explained at length in my books: Roman Catholic Marital Sexual Ethics and The Catholic Marriage Bed. Furthermore, the teachings of Pope Pius XII at issue are found in his Address to the Second World Congress on Fertility and Sterility and in his Address to Midwives. The former is now available in English because I translated it from the French and Latin.
Moreover, the ordinary and universal Magisterium has taught many times that each and every sexual act in a marriage must be unitive and procreative. The sexual acts promoted and approved by Trent Horn (use of sex toys and other means to bring the wife to climax outside of the marital act) are inherently non-unitive and non-procreative. Therefore, Trent Horn’s position is heresy. He directly contradicts the infallible teaching of the ordinary and universal Magisterium, as well as the unanimous position of every Saint and Doctor who has written on this topic. But an anonymous moderator at Catholic Answers Forums defended Horn’s heresy, and removed me from the forums for teaching what the Magisterium, and in particular what Saint Alphonsus Liguori and Pope Pius XII taught.
My explanation of the teaching of Pope Pius XII is based on considerable study of the topic of ethics in general and marital sexual ethics in particular. My position is dogma; it is a statement of the infallible teaching of Tradition, Scripture, and the Magisterium. Trent Horn’s position is heresy.
The anonymous moderator claims that I was suspended for defaming and fostering contempt for Trent Horn. I said nothing about Trent Horn that was personal or derogatory. I simply stated that his view is contrary to the teaching of Pope Pius XII, Saint Alphonsus Liguori, and the Magisterium, which it is, as a matter of fact. And my assertion is supported by my extensive work in this area. But I made no negative personal remarks about Trent Horn. The charge of defamation and fostering contempt is solely based on the assumption that Horn’s theological position is above criticism or disagreement, and that my position — which is literally identical on each controversial point to that of Saint Alphonsus Liguori — is supposedly erroneous.
The final part of the moderator’s explanation for the suspension is this:
“Bringing one’s wife to conjugal fulfillment when organically connected with the marital act is not gravely sinful. You thus erroneously convict CA Apologist Trent Horn with promoting grave sin.”
The moderator is saying that when a husband uses an unnatural sexual act to bring his wife to climax outside of the natural marital act, but at about the same time, his act is not gravely immoral. This assertion is directly contradicted by the teaching of Saint Alphonsus Liguori here and by the teaching of Pope Pius XII here and by many magisterial teachings of essentially the same doctrine: that each and every sexual act must be unitive and procreative. Humanae Vitae also specifically condemns the idea that a set of acts can be justified when only one or a few are procreative. Horn’s claim is also contradicted by the teachings of the Magisterium on the basic principles of ethics regarding intrinsically evil acts.
On the basis of this incorrect assertion by the moderator, he or she concludes that I “erroneously convict” Trent Horn of “promoting grave sin”. Well, I can’t deny that Trent Horn is promoting grave sin and heresy. But my assertion is not erroneous and it not a personal attack. The moderator quotes me accurately as writing:
Ronald L. Conte Jr.: “Those claims by Popcak and Trent Horn are acts condemned as gravely immoral by Saint Aquinas and Saint Alphonsus Liguori. They are also acts condemned by Pius XII.”
My statement is correct. The specific types of acts which the moderator asserts to be “not gravely sinful” are in fact condemned as mortal sins by Saint Thomas and Saint Alphonsus. The latter Saint is very specific on this point, going into detail as to the exact types of sexual acts that are prohibited. And Pope Pius XII does condemn what the moderator approves: the husband bringing his wife to sexual climax outside of the natural marital act. The holy Pontiff condemns this grave sin, even when it occurs immediately after the natural marital act, by its interruption.
So, while I did not exactly say that Trent Horn promotes grave sin by approving of this type of act, he does and I am saying it now. Furthermore, the moderator’s attempt to silence anyone at CAF who condemns the use of unnatural sexual acts in marriage is similarly a promotion of gravely immoral sexual acts. This claim by the moderator: “Bringing one’s wife to conjugal fulfillment when organically connected with the marital act is not gravely sinful.” is a grave moral error, as is clear from the teaching of the Saints and the Church. So the moderator also sins gravely by attempting to silence the true teaching of the Saints and the Church on marital sexual ethics.
The Grave Moral Errors of Trent Horn
Trent Horn’s opinion on this subject is here: What’s Okay for Married Couples to Do (Sexually)? I’ve listened to the podcast. I will briefly state his position on a few questions, and why his answers are gravely immoral and contrary to magisterial teaching.
First, Trent Horn states that he agrees with the idea expressed by Gregory Popcak, a concept often called the “One Rule”. Horn explains this rule — which I stress does not come from the Church, nor from sound moral theology — that the “sexual behavior of the husband and wife, no matter how it starts, what it must end, must end with the husband ejaculating into the woman’s vagina.” Everything else that happens is said to be justified, as long as one natural act occurs at some point.
This claim, that the spouses can do whatever they wish, as long as it all ends with the normal performance of the act, this “One Rule”, is contrary to magisterial teaching. Pope Pius XII, as an act of the Magisterium in Address to Midwives (n. 68), rejected the idea that “the normal performance of the act itself” (the husband completing the act in the natural manner) could justify “all the rest, in whatever way it is done,” including acts of foreplay (acts done “in the preparation”).
“This anti-Christian hedonism too often is not ashamed to elevate itself to a doctrine, inculcating the ardent desire to make always more intense the pleasure, in the preparation and in the performance of the conjugal union, as if in matrimonial relations the whole moral law were reduced to the normal performance of the act itself, and as if all the rest, in whatever way it is done, were justified….”
The basic principles of ethics also make such a “Rule” false. It is never the case, in any area of human life, that a set of acts can be justified by being followed or preceded by one moral act. Each deliberate knowing choice must be moral, on its own merits, under the three fonts of morality. So it is false to say that spouses can do whatever they both find acceptable, as if the moral law does not apply to marital sex or to marital foreplay. And this is especially true when the acts in question are intrinsically evil sexual acts.
Next, in the same podcast, Trent Horn approves of “oral stimulation” and “other sexual behaviors that lead up to vaginal intercourse” as long as they occur within the “context of the marital act”. This assertion by Horn is a grave error. The Magisterium has taught that gravely immoral sexual acts remain gravely immoral, even when climax is lacking. So renaming oral sex with the phrase “oral stimulation” does not change the essential moral nature of the act. It is still an inherently non-unitive and non-procreative sexual act, and therefore it is intrinsically evil and gravely immoral.
But the worst false teaching in that podcast was stated by Trent Horn in answer to this question:
“Is it wrong for a female to finish outside of the actual act? To put it bluntly, either before or after my wife and I have penetrative sex, I will help her to orgasm herself using manual, oral, or artificial stimulation.”
In answer, Trent Horn approves of all these acts as long as they occur about the same time as natural marital relations. Here is what he says:
“So, yes, it is acceptable, as part of the marital act, as part of vaginal intercourse, to use manual, oral, or artificial stimulation, and, I’m not sure exactly what you mean by that, but if it means putting on something like a vibrator tool on a person’s finger, so that they are able to more deeply stimulate their wife to help her to reach orgasm, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that as long as it’s done as part of the marital act itself.”
This teaching by Trent Horn is directly contradicted by the teaching of the Roman Catholic Magisterium.
First, in his Address to the Second World Congress on Fertility and Sterility, Pope Pius XII clearly states that any acts which bring the wife to sexual climax outside of the natural marital act, even immediately after the interruption of the natural act, are “contrary to nature and intrinsically evil.” (n. 25, cf. n. 23).
Second, the Holy See has condemned sodomy in marriage, by the husband or the wife (Denzinger 3634). This can be understood as condemning any unnatural act (oral, anal, manual, sex toys). In addition, since sodomy is condemned for the wife, just as for the husband, no type of sodomy can be used on the wife to climax.
Third, oral or manual stimulation of the wife to climax is nothing other than a completed unnatural intrinsically evil sexual act. And it is never the case, in any area of morality, that an intrinsically evil act can be justified by an intention, such as to have natural marital relations later, or by a context, such as that natural marital relations already occurred. You cannot justify the commission of an intrinsically evil act by saying that it is related to a good act which occurred about the same time.
Fourth, the stimulation of the wife to climax, before or after natural marital relations, was condemned by Saint Alphonsus Liguori as a mortal sin. His explanation is clear and unequivocal here.
It is shameful for a Catholic teacher to approve of acts which have been explicitly condemned by Pope Pius XII, the Holy See, and a Saint and Doctor of the Church, with so little justification and explanation as is given by Trent Horn. It is also disturbing that Horn does not mention contrary teachings by Saints and Doctors of the Church, or even the views of present-day orthodox priests and theologians. And his ignorance of specific magisterial teaching on this subject is inexcusable.
Trent Horn’s false teaching on marital sexual ethics is harming the souls of spouses, harming the Sacrament of holy Matrimony, and is gravely offensive to our Lord Jesus Christ. Trent Horn also errs by his false claim that the holy Pontiff approved of these acts of grave depravity. In fact, as I explain in this article — John Paul II on Marital Sexual Ethics — the Pope taught the opposite of what Horn claims.
Back to the original topic of this post.
This suspension is part of a series of actions by one or more moderators at CAF to silence members who explain and promote the teaching of the Saints and of the Church on marital sexual ethics. They delete or lock closed threads on this topic, especially when it seems that the correct teaching, that of Saint Alphonsus Liguori, is winning the day. They show bias in favor of members who promote unnatural sexual acts in marriage, and against those who condemn that sin. The use of a false claim of violating the forum rules is a thin veil over the misuse of power in a Catholic organization in order to promote the approval of popular grave sins, and silence orthodox teaching.
Below is the full email I received from Catholic Answers Forums
Note: I’m not sure why the moderator’s quoted text sent to me by email contains the member name “LittleFlower”. It may be that I was replying to that member’s post.
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You have been suspended from the forum until September 14, 2018, 4:00pm.
Defaming CA Apologist; Messages posted to this board must be polite and free of personal attacks, threats, and incendiary, divisive, crude . . . language.
In short, you misrepresent the Church’s teaching, including re: Pius XII and foster contempt for Catholic Answer Trent Horn in particular.
Bringing one’s wife to conjugal fulfillment when organically connected with the marital act is not gravely sinful. You thus erroneously convict CA Apologist Trent Horn with promoting grave sin.
Those claims by Popcak and Trent Horn are acts condemned as gravely immoral by Saint Aquinas and Saint Alphonsus Liguori. They are also acts condemned by Pius XII.
The basic principles of ethics teach that any act, whether sexual or not, cannot be deemed moral just because it has a moral purpose (such as to prepare for natural relations). And labeling such acts as normal, healthy, foreplay, etc. do not make them moral.
Pius XII, in Address to Midwives, condemns the idea that, as long as the couple perform one natural act, they can do whatever else they like by way of foreplay (acts done “in the preparation”).
“This anti-Christian hedonism too often is not ashamed to elevate itself to a doctrine, inculcating the ardent desire to make always more intense the pleasure, in the preparation and in the performance of the conjugal union, as if in matrimonial relations the whole moral law were reduced to the normal performance of the act itself, and as if all the rest, in whatever way it is done, were justified…”
So it is not true that the intention to prepare for natural relations, and the context of these acts make them moral. They are intrinsically evil because they are contrary to nature, non-unitive, and non-procreative.
CCC 1756 It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context . There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it.
The context of marriage and the intention to prepare for the natural act do not justify inherently non-procreative and non-unitive acts.
The link above to an EWTN Q and A contains this claim: “Pope Pius XII put it in this way: “Marriage is a mutual commitment in…” But the quote in question is not from Pius XII but from British analytic philosopher GEM Anscombe.
Pius XII condemned a common false claim on this subject, he condemned the idea that the wife may reach climax deliberately outside of the natural marital act. He taught that even if this is done by manual touches, or immediately after the interruption of the natural marital act, that it is intrinsically evil. And he taught this in the Address which the EWTN page mistaenly cites as the source of the Anscombe quote.
Pope Pius XII in his Address to the Second World Congress on Fertility and Sterility:
“By the force of this law of nature, the human person does not possess the right and power to the full exercise of the sexual faculty, directly intended, except when he performs the conjugal act according to the norms defined and imposed by nature itself. Outside of this natural act, it is not even given within the matrimonial right itself to enjoy this sexual faculty fully. These are the limits to the particular right of which we are speaking, and they circumscribe its use according to nature…”
“What has been said up to this point concerning the intrinsic evil of any full use of the generative power outside the natural conjugal act applies in the same way when the acts are of married persons or of unmarried persons, whether the full exercise of the genital organs is done by the man or the woman, or by both parties acting together; whether it is done by manual touches or by the interruption of the conjugal act; for this is always an act contrary to nature and intrinsically evil.”
So the wife may not reach climax outside of natural relations, not even if this occurs just before or after natural relations. That idea is condemned by the Magisterium as “contrary to nature and intrinsically evil”.
He’s condemning any completed sexual act (i.e. to climax) by the husband or the wife outside of the natural act, even if it occurs immediately after. More than a few present-day authors ignore this teaching of the Church and approve of onanism on the wife to completion outside the natural act. But it is clear from what Pius XII says that acts committed just before or just after the natural act are not all part of “one act”.
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