Ask a Theological Question (Q&A closed)

One question per comment, three comment-questions per person. Please do not ask long complex multipart questions.

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19 Responses to Ask a Theological Question (Q&A closed)

  1. Matt says:

    1. If someone shot a gun at what they thought was a human (with the intent to kill), but it was actually a target dummy which looked like a human, did they commit the intrinsically evil act of murder? If someone used a condom, but the man’s wife perforated it unknowing to him, did the husband only have an evil contraceptive intention when he performed the act, or did he commit the sin of contraception in the object of the act? If someone gave alms to a person they thought was poor, but it turned out they were really rich (unknown to him), did they really perform an act of giving alms (determined by the object of the act)?

    2. If a police officer stops someone and the person pulled over told the police officer: “I am going to kill you.” Then the police officer obviously has the right to defend himself. But if the officer pulled out a gun and shot and killed the person (after only receiving a death threat), is it merely non-prudential in the circumstances (because he could have defended himself in a way that did not result in death), or did the police officer commit murder on the objective level?

    3. The National Catholic Bioethics Center (NCBC) is debating the permissibility of Opportunistic Salpingectomy, the same procedure performed in ectopic pregnancies, which results in a sterilization effect, but also prevents cancer, since once the cancer is discovered it is often too late. According to the article, there does not have to be an existing pathology in the organ, for the act to be ordered towards prevention of the cancer. But if it is only a “moderate risk of cancer” the NCBC still states it is likely a direct sterilization. How high does the cancer risk have to be for it to be ordered towards prevention and not direct sterilization?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Bilateral opportunistic salpingectomy is not justifiable, even in cases of elevated risk of ovarian cancer. The contribution to cancer risk of the tubes is limited, and so the benefit is reduced by that fact. The moral weight of sterilization is high, and the benefit is low, so the act is immoral under the circumstances. IN addition, the act is intrinsically evil, as the person does not have cancer, and so the act is not ordered toward treatment of that disease. It is not moral to sterilize someone in order to obtain a benefit, as the evil is the means to the good. This means that the act is sterilization per se. The sterilization is not merely in the circumstances.

      2. The act was ordered toward self-defense, but may be sinful under the circumstances, if he could have defended himself with lesser force.

  2. Matt says:

    Answer whichever question you want from before. I just realized you changed the directions to one comment, not three paragraphs like usual.

  3. Joshua says:

    Thank you for responding to my previous question concerning circumcision, but I’m still having trouble with one particular sentence from Cantate Domino; “…to cease entirely from circumcision, since, whether or not one places hope in it, it cannot be observed at all without the loss of eternal salvation.” It seems to me that The Church is saying that circumcision is a mortal sin no matter what (unless maybe it was necessary to remove the foreskin if it became diseased). Wouldn’t that include circumcision as it is done in modern day America? And has The Church had anything to say about circumcision in our modern times? And would this ban on circumcision fall under the category of dogma or discipline? I’m very concerned about this issue because I don’t want to disobey The Church in any way. Thank you again.

    • Ron Conte says:

      No, it does not say no matter what. The text is very clear that circumcision is only a mortal sin when done by Christians who place hope for salvation in it. If it were a mortal sin, the Church would have warned us. But the Church does not object to circumcision for medical purposes. It is dogma that circumcision does not save.

  4. Do you still have to make some act of Penance on Fridays (not necessarily abstaining from meat except in Lent) or is it optional?

  5. Matt Z says:

    Is it intrinsically evil for a non practicing baptized Catholic to marry an athiest outside the Church? Would their sexual relationships after the invalid marriage be fornication?

    • Ron Conte says:

      A Catholic can validly marry an atheist with permission from the Church. It would be a natural marriage, and the sexual relationship would be moral. Without permission, and for a baptized Catholic who has not formally left the Church, it would seem to be an invalid marriage, making the sexual acts fornication.

  6. Alex says:

    Ron, could you please address the issue of Extraterrestrial life? Not just hypothetical could it exist somewhere very far away, but also the reports of already done hidden contact with extraterrestrials since WW2. If I have to add any “proof”, I think Reagan’s UN speech about alien threat, and Medvedev’s interview on TV are enough, besides the countless sightings of UFO. How can we discern who is good and who is bad among the ET, when maybe soon they appear in public?

    • Ron Conte says:

      There could be intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. I can’t speak to any of the examples you gave. I don’t believe we will have contact with ETs in our generation. Maybe in the distant future.

  7. Does the Parable of the talents and the three servants imply that one third of humanity goes to Hell?

  8. Paul M says:

    Considering the Church’s teaching on intrinsically evil acts – especially the act of lying – what are the implications for faithful Catholics who may work in government positions that intersect with policies regarding espionage?

    • Ron Conte says:

      It is still a sin to lie in police or govt undercover work. A Catholic who is striving for holiness can’t take a job that requires lying.

  9. Paul M says:

    Ron, following from my previous question, are we to believe that international diplomacy and strategy, even during wartime, is feasible without engaging in espionage? Is Catholic teaching idealistic, yet impractical beyond the personal level?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Not all espionage involves lying: eavesdropping on communication, light official cover, questioning witnesses, etc. If we ever reached a point in society where no one was willing to lie, we would also not have any grave sins to worry about.

  10. Could a computer AI or robot or android be made by means other than sexual reproduction that had a soul?

    • Ron Conte says:

      God creates the soul directly and miraculously. I don’t think AI can progress beyond a glass ceiling that requires free will in order to reason abstractly. Free will and abstract reason are of the soul only. So, I don’t think God would give a soul to an artificial intelligence.

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