We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, he draws us to himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Exposing deception. When (c)atholics play loosely with doctrine, Canon law(yer Dr. Ed Peters) comes to the rescue.

During times of upheaval when the Church should be a refuge for repentant sinners wherein they, having fled the cotton candy and poison which the secular world offers, can enjoy a diet of orthodox teaching for the preservation of spiritual health, the same repentant sinners must now contend with priestly wolves among the sheep and cardinal foxes in the henhouse who are serving up a mixed diet of "pernicious stuff".

The eminent canonist Dr. Edward Peters, JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap., has posted yet another authoritative and insightful piece at his blog In The Light of the Law from which faithful Catholics may safely drink in order to retain their sanity, sustain hope and from which they may draw strength and wisdom to defend Holy Mother Church.
https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2016/10/19/taking-a-page-from-the-proportionalist-playbook/

Apropos of nothing in particular—but I suppose of several things in general, like the continuing turmoil over Amoris laetitia, the Buenos Aires directives, the Roman diocesan protocol, and a torrent of commentary (including some by orthodox writers), that, in my view, just doesn’t get it yet—may I offer the following take?

You know how—long story made short—the “proportionalist school” of moral theologians took the Fourth Criterion from the traditional “Principle of Double Effect”* (the criterion that calls for weighing the good to be accomplished by a given choice against the concomitant harm to be caused by the choice) and basically presented said ‘proportionality’ as if it were the sole criterion for upright moral decision-making? Pernicious stuff in that proportionalism, using terms admittedly found in orthodox decision-making schemes and seemingly simple to apply in concrete cases, justifies choices being made that are directly opposed to the good.

Well, I think a similar ploy, that of pulling one consideration from a rule book and presenting it as if it were the only consideration relevant to a certain choice, is being used to justify admitting typical divorced-and-remarried Catholics to holy Communion. (Don't be surprised if the same prevaricators of the selective reading cohort try to amend or remove laws which inhibit their agenda. Enter, then, the Holy Spirit to smack down the heretics in our midst.) By invoking a phrase redolent with ecclesiastical tradition, the “internal forum”, one criterion among several that, in a few cases among many, might contribute to making possible the reception of holy Communion by someone in an irregular marriage situation, (cafeteria (c)atholics such as) Kasper et al present the “internal forum” as if it could be, at least in some cases, the sole criterion authorizing one’s being given holy Communion. As I and others have argued many times, however, there is considerably more to it than that.

In a way, though, this presenting of the “internal forum” as if it could be, even sometimes, the ultimate dispositive factor in whether holy Communion should be given to an individual is actually worse than what the proportionalists do above, because, while ‘proportionality’ is almost always a factor to be considered in making moral choices, the “internal forum” is almost never a factor to be considered in making Communion-distribution decisions!

A recipient’s assessment of his or her own situation in the “internal forum” IS relevant in his or her deciding about whether to approach for holy Communion (see c. 916); but a minister’s decision about giving the Sacrament to an individual is NOT controlled by the recipient’s subjective conscience (well-formed or otherwise); instead, a minister’s decision to distribute is controlled by—again, long story made short—Canon 912 (that sets out a general obligation to administer the Sacrament) and Canon 915 that requires a particular withholding of the Sacrament from people who are known to fall within certain OBJECTIVELY established conditions. It is a simple, but absolutely crucial distinction, this distinction between a recipient’s approaching and a minister’s distributing which, however often the two acts happily coincide, sometimes must be painfully honored, which is being blurred by the pious invocation of the “internal forum” in a context in which it has virtually zero relevance.
I say again, the minister of holy Communion is always bound by law and is never bound by a recipient’s conscience.

*On the “Principle of Double Effect” see e.g.: Judie Brown (citing John Hardon) or the New Revised Catholic Encyclopedia.

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