April 19, 2018, 07:54:44 PM


Love God, serve God: everything is in that. --St. Clare of Assisi

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Dogma & Doctrine / Cdl. Burke's talk on the limit...
Last post by Geremia - April 16, 2018, 02:05:14 PM
In memory of Card. Joachim Meisner
           Before entering into the heart of my topic, in this context of grateful and affectionate remembrance of the late Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, and of ardent desire to continue his work of selfless and total love for Christ and His Mystical Body, the Church, I would like to say a few words to honor the memory of Cardinal Joachim Meisner. From the beginning of the good fight to defend and promote the fundamental truths about marriage and the family, he was completely united with Cardinal Caffarra, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller and myself. As a true pastor of the Lord's flock, he considered it his first duty to present tirelessly the teaching of Christ in the Church. I remember two moments, in particular, in his final battle to serve Christ and the Church.
           After Cardinal Walter Kasper's inaugural address during the Extraordinary Consistory of February 2014, as we left the Synod Hall, Cardinal Meisner approached me and expressed his concern about the false direction in which the address would have led the Church, if an adequate and swift correction were not given. He added, "All of this will end in a schism." From that moment on, he did everything possible to defend Christ's word on marriage.
           The last time I had the pleasure of seeing Cardinal Meisner was on March 3 of last year, when I visited the Archdiocese of Cologne for an academic presentation in which he also participated. Cardinal Meisner was truly happy to be able to express to me in person all of his support for the work done to obtain a just response from the Holy Father to the dubia raised by the Post-Synodal Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. While he was clearly and deeply concerned about the present state of the Church, he did not fail to express all of his trust in the Lord who will not fail to sustain His Mystical Body in the truth of the faith.
           Today, in honoring the memory of the great Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, let us also honor, as I am sure Cardinal Caffarra would have liked us to do, the memory of Cardinal Joachim Meisner, who, together with Cardinal Caffarra, in the words of Saint Paul, fought the good fight of faith, finished the race of his episcopal mission for the good of countless faithful, and, with fidelity and generosity, kept the faith.[1] Requiescat in pace!
           In one of the open discussions during the session of the Synod of Bishops held in October of 2014, the Synod Fathers were debating about the possibility of the Church permitting those living in irregular matrimonial unions to receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist. At a certain point, one of the Cardinals, thought to be an expert in canon law, intervened with what he judged to be a definitive solution to the difficulty. Making reference to the dissolution of marriages in favor of the faith, he strongly asserted that we have not at all begun to comprehend the extent of the plenitudo potestatis of the Roman Pontiff. The implication was that the fullness of power which is, by divine law, inherent to the Petrine Office could permit the Holy Father to act in contradiction to the words of Our Lord Himself in chapter 19 of the Gospel according to Saint Matthew and the Church's constant teaching in fidelity to the same words:
QuoteAnd I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for unchastity, and marries another, commits adultery; and he who marries a divorced woman, commits adultery.[2]
The Cardinal's quite shocking affirmation made me think again about something which the Holy Father himself had said, at the beginning of the 2014 session of the Synod, to all of the Synod Fathers.
           He told the Synod Fathers: "It is necessary to say with parrhesia all that one feels."[3] He then concluded: "And do so with great tranquility and peace, so that the Synod may always unfold cum Petro et sub Petro, and the presence of the Pope is a guarantee for all and a safeguard of the faith."[4] The juxtaposition of the classic words which describe the power of the Pope, such that all things in the Church must be with Peter and under Peter, and the presence of the body of the Pope in a meeting risks a misunderstanding of the authority of the Pope which is not magical but derives from his obedience to Our Lord.
           Such magical thinking is also reflected in the docile response of some of the faithful to whatever the Roman Pontiff may say, claiming that, if the Holy Father says something, then we must accept it as papal teaching. In any case, it seems good to reflect a bit on the notion of the power inherent to the Petrine Office and, in particular, on the notion of the fullness of power (plenitudo potestatis) of the Roman Pontiff.
The fullness of power in the Tradition
           The history of the terminology, plenitudo potestatis, to express the nature of the jurisdiction of the Roman Pontiff is succinctly described in a contribution of Professor John A. Watt of the University of Hull to the Second International Congress of Medieval Canon Law, held at Boston College from August 12th to 16th of 1963.[5] The term is first used by Pope Saint Leo the Great in 446. In his Letter 14, he writes about the authority of the Bishop with these words: "Thus we have confided to your charity our duties, such that you are called unto a share of solicitude, not unto the fullness of power."[6] In his customary crystalline Latin, Pope Saint Leo the Great expresses the relationship of the Roman Pontiff with the Bishops. While both the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops share the solicitude for the good of the universal Church, the Roman Pontiff alone exercises the fullness of power, in order that the unity of the universal Church be effectively safeguarded and promoted.
           The term, fullness of power, is found extensively in treatises on papal authority, especially in the canonical literature. Gratian includes the dictum of Pope Saint Leo the Great along with two others canons among his decrees. These decrees emphasized "papal primacy as expressed in the supreme appellate jurisdiction and the reservation of all major issues."[7] Saint Bernard of Clairvaux contributed greatly to the reception of the term, so that "by the time of Huguccio it had reached a high level of development."[8]
           Pope Innocent III, grounding the term theologically in the reality of the Papal office as the Vicar of Christ on earth (Vicarius Christi), emphasized the position of the Roman Pontiff "supra ius" and "as iudex ordinarius omnium."[9] Regarding the term, supra ius, "over the law," it was clear that the Roman Pontiff could dispense from the law or interpret the law only for the purpose of serving the proper end of the law, not to subvert the law. The description of  the exercise of the fullness of power as the action of Christ Himself, through His Vicar on earth, was made with "the qualification that the pope must avoid decreeing anything that was sinful or might lead to sin or subversion of the Faith."[10]
           Cardinal Henry of Susa, called Hostiensis, an illustrious canonist of the 13th century, treated amply the notion of the fullness of power of the Roman Pontiff, using the term in 71 individual contexts in his writings: the Summa, the Apparatus or Lectura on the Gregoriana, and the Apparatus on the Extravagantes of Innocent IV. In Appendix A of his article, Professor Watt provides a representative list of legislative texts of Pope Innocent III in which he uses the term, fullness of power, while in Appendix B of his article, he provides a list of all 71 usages of the term, fullness of power, by Hostiensis.[11]
           Hostiensis introduced a distinction of two uses of the fullness of power: the Pope's "ordinary power," 'potestas ordinaria' or 'ordinata' when by virtue of his plenitudo officii ["fullness of office"], he acted according to the law already established," and "his absolute power, 'potestas absoluta' when by virtue of his plenitudo potestatis ["fullness of power"], he passed over or transcended existing law."[12] The adjective, absolute, must be understood in the context of Roman Law and its service to the development of canonical discipline, not according to the secular understanding of Machiavelli or of a totalitarian dictators.
           In Roman Law, it signified a dispensation from a law and supply of a defect in a law. In the words of Professor Watt,
QuoteDispensation was a use of the absolute power to set aside existing law; suppletio was an act of absolute power to remedy defects that had arisen either through the non-observance of existing law or because existing law was inadequate to meet the particular circumstances. In both cases the absolute power, the plenitudo potestatis, stands revealed as a discretionary power over the established legal order, a prerogative power to act for the common welfare outside that order, if, in the pope's judgment, circumstances made this necessary.[13]
In other words, the fullness of power was not understood as an authority over the very constitution of the Church or her Magisterium but as a necessity for the governance of the Church in accord with her constitution and Magisterium. Hostiensis describes it as a necessary tool so that "curia business could be expedited, delays shortened, litigation curtailed,"[14] while, at the same time, "he considered that it was a power to be used with great caution, as a power in the Pauline phrase 'unto edification and not for destruction,' a discretionary power to maintain the constitution of the Church, not to undermine it."[15]
           It is clear that the fullness of power is given by Christ Himself and not by some human authority or popular constitution, and that, therefore, it can only be rightly exercised in obedience to Christ. Professor Watt observes:
QuoteIt was axiomatic that any power which had been given by Christ to His Church was for the purpose of fulfilling the end of the society which He had founded, not to thwart it. Therefore the prerogative power could only be exercised within these terms. Therefore "absolutism" (solutus a legibus) was not licence for arbitrary government. If it was true that the will of the prince made the law, in the sense that there was no other authority which could make it; it was also true as a corollary that, where this will threatened the foundations of the society whose good the will existed to promote, it was no law. The Church was a society to save souls. Heresy and sin impeded salvation. Any act of the pope in quantum homo which was heretical or sinful in itself or might foster heresy or sin threatened the foundations of society and was therefore void.[16]
In other words, the notion of fullness of power was carefully qualified.
           It was understood that it did not permit the Roman Pontiff to do certain things. For example, he could not act against the Apostolic Faith. Also, for the sake of the good order of the Church, it was a power to be used sparingly and with the greatest prudence. Watt observes:
QuoteIt was unfitting to depart from the ius commune too frequently or to do so sine causa. The pope could do so, but he should not, for the exercise of the plenitudo potestatis was to further the utilitas ecclesie et salus animarum and not the self-interest of individuals. The setting aside of the ius commune must therefore always be an exceptional act impelled by grave reasons. If the pope did so act sine causa or arbitrarily, he put his salvation in danger.[17]
Since the notion of fullness of powers contains the just-described limitations, how is the violation of the limitations judged and corrected?
           What is to be done if the Roman Pontiff so acts? Hostiensis is clear that the Pope is not subject to human judgement. "He should be warned of the error of his ways and even publicly admonished, but he could not be put on trial if he persisted in his line of conduct."[18] For Hostiensis, the College of Cardinals, even though they do not share in the fullness of power, "should act as a de facto check against papal error."[19]
           Hostiensis recognized the need of the exercise of the fullness of power at certain times, in order to "rectify the imperfections of the established order or thwart those who were manipulating it for private ends,"[20] but he also "thought as a general rule the pope should be slow to depart from the common law and he also thought that he should take the fraternal advice of his appointed advisers before doing so."[21] Apart from public admonition and prayer for divine intervention, he does not offer a remedy for the abuse of the fullness of power. If, a member of the faithful believes in conscience that a particular exercise of the fullness of power is sinful and cannot bring his conscience to peace in the matter, "the pope must, as a duty, be disobeyed, and the consequences of disobedience be suffered in Christian patience."[22]
           Time has not permitted me to examine the question of the correction of the Pope who abuses the fullness of power inherent to the primacy of the See of Peter. As many will know, there is an abundant literature on the question. Certainly the treatise, De Romano Pontifice of Saint Robert Bellarmine, and other classical canonical studies must be examined. Suffice it to say that, as history shows, it is possible that the Roman Pontiff, exercising the fullness of power, can fall either into heresy or into the dereliction of his primary duty to safeguard and promote the unity of faith, worship and practice. Since he is not subject to a judicial process, according to the first canon on the competent forum in the Code of Canon Law ("Prima Sedes a nemine iudicatur"),[23] how is the matter to be addressed?
           A brief preliminary response, based upon the natural law, the Gospels and canonical tradition, would indicate a two-fold process: first, the correction of a supposed error or dereliction made directly to the Roman Pontiff himself; and, then, if he fails to respond, a public declaration. According to natural law, right reason demands that subjects be governed according to the rule of law and, in the contrary case, provides that they have recourse against actions in violation of the rule of law. Christ Himself teaches the way of fraternal correction which applies to all members of His Mystical Body.[24] We see His teaching embodied in the fraternal correction of Saint Peter by Saint Paul, when Saint Peter dissembled regarding the freedom of Christians from certain ritual laws of the Jewish faith.[25] Finally, the canonical tradition is summarized in the norm of can. 212 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law. While the first section of the canon in question makes clear that "the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.,[26] the third section declares the right and duty of the faithful "to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons."[27]
           To conclude this too brief examination of the development of the notion of the fullness of power from the time of Pope Saint Leo the Great, it must be observed that the contribution of the medieval canonists constitutes a deepening of the understanding of the Church's faith regarding Petrine Primacy. It, in no way, pretended to offer doctrinal novelty. Professor Watt summarizes the matter thus:
QuoteThat the concept of ecclesiastical sovereignty expressed by this particular term had been formulated before Hostiensis wrote, is clear from Innocent III's decretals and the early commentary thereon. Examination of the decretist background to early decretalist work makes it clear that no novelty of doctrinal essence was here involved. The decretals register a crystallization of terminology; sure mark of the maturity of the canonist understanding of the notion in question. The Professio fidei known to the Second Council of Lyons was but a more solemn acceptance of a position held generally much earlier, not least among canonists, expressed now with the help of a term which the canonists had made a technical one. In the form adopted at Lyons, plenitudo potestatis represented two things, both of which corresponded exactly to its canonistic history: the principle of jurisdictional primacy as such, in all its judicial, legislative, administrative and magisterial aspects, and more narrowly, the principal that prelates derived their jurisdiction from the pope.
There was, however, a third level of interpretation of the term: the plenitude of power in its purest juristic form. This was the level at which the canonists were most deeply engaged, in that it concerned the practical applications of supreme authority and considered its relationship to law already in being and an ordo iuris already established. In short, a problem of developed legal theory, the concept of the power of the sovereign over law and the juridical order.
Progress was made with some simple distinctions about the nature of this power. The pope's jurisdiction was said to be exercised in a two-fold way. There was an exercise which had a recognized and regular place, established by existing law and translated into practice by existing procedures: his ordinary power. There was further his extraordinary power, inhering him personally and alone, by which - manifestation par excellence of sovereign authority - existing law and established procedures might be suspended, abrogated, clarified, supplemented. This was the prerogative power of the pope supra ius; the plenitude of power seen in its most characteristic juristic form as the right to regulate established legal machinery. Solutus a legibus, the absolute ruler might redispose any of the mechanisms of law. In the doing thereof, the plenitude of power was deployed in its most practical form.
Once the plenitudo officii had been distinguished from the plenitudo potestatis and the potestas ordinaria from the potestas absoluta (and with these distinctions Hostiensis seems to have made his most individual contribution to the common stock of canonist ideas on papal power), it followed logically that the circumstances in which this power was used extra ordinarium cursum should be examined.[28]
In fact, the ever-deepening understanding of the fullness of power of the Roman Pontiff during the medieval period has led to the ongoing study of the primacy of Peter and of the power connected with it. Any discussion of the matter would be incomplete without taking into account the essential work accomplished by canonists during the Middle Ages.
Plenitudo Potestatis in the Magisterium
           The term, fullness of power, was used in the definition of papal primacy at the First Vatican Council. Chapter Four of the Dogmatic Constitution Pastor aeternus, on the Church of Christ, promulgated on July 18, 1870, reads:
QuoteFurthermore, with the approval of the Second Council of Lyon, the Greeks professed that "the holy Roman Church possesses the supreme and full primacy and authority over the universal Catholic Church, which she recognizes in truth and humility to have received with fullness of power from the Lord himself in blessed Peter, the prince or head of the apostles, of whom the Roman pontiff is the successor. And, as she is bound above all to defend the truth of the faith, so too, if any questions should arise regarding the faith, they must be decided by her judgment.[29]
The dogmatic definition makes it clear that the fullness of power of the Roman Pontiff is necessary if the Apostolic Faith is to be safeguarded and promoted in the universal Church.
           Later on in the same chapter of Pastor aeternus, the Council Fathers declare:
QuoteFor the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that they might disclose a new doctrine by his revelation, but rather that, with his assistance, they might reverently guard and faithfully explain the revelation or deposit of faith that was handed down through the apostles. Indeed, it was this apostolic doctrine that all the Fathers held and the holy orthodox Doctors reverenced and followed, fully realizing that this See of St. Peter always remains untainted by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord and Savior made to the prince of his disciples: "But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren"[Lk 22:32].
Now this charism of truth and of never-failing faith was conferred upon Peter and his successors in this chair in order that they might perform their supreme office for the salvation of all; that by them the whole flock of Christ might be kept away from the poisonous bait of error and be nourished by the food of heavenly doctrine; that, the occasion of schism being removed, the whole Church might be preserved as one and, resting on her foundation, might stand firm against the gates of hell.[30]
Following the constant understanding of the Church down the centuries, the Council Fathers taught that Petrine Primacy and the corollary fullness of power of the Roman Pontiff, instituted by Christ in His constitution of the Church as His Mystical Body, are directed exclusively to the salvation of souls by the safeguarding and promoting of the solid doctrine and sound discipline, handed down in an unbroken line by means of Apostolic Tradition.
           Chapter 22 of the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council likewise used the term, fullness of power. Describing the relationship of the College of Bishops to the Roman Pontiff, the Council Fathers declare:
QuoteBut the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope's power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is, as vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman pontiff has full, supreme, and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power. The order of bishops, which succeeds to the college of apostles and gives this apostolic body continued existence, is also the subject of supreme and full power over the universal Church, provided we understand this body together with its head, the Roman pontiff, and never without this head. This power can be exercised only with the consent of the Roman pontiff. For our Lord placed Simon alone as the rock and the bearer of the keys of the Church [cf. Mt 16:18-19] and made him shepherd of the whole flock; it is evident, however, that the power of binding and loosing, which was given to Peter [Mt 16:19], was granted also to the college of apostles, joined with its head [cf. Mt 18:18; 28:16-20].[31]
The distinct office of the Roman Pontiff with respect to the College of Bishops and indeed to the universal Church is described in the following number of Lumen Gentium with these words: "The Roman pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation for the unity of the multiplicity of both the bishops and the faithful."[32]
           In an earlier part of the same Dogmatic Constitution, the Council Fathers explain:
QuoteThis sacred synod, following in the steps of the First Vatican Council, teaches and declares with it that Jesus Christ, the eternal pastor, set up the holy Church by entrusting the apostles with their mission as he himself had been sent by the Father (cf. Jn. 20:21). He willed that their successors, the bishops namely, should be the shepherds in his Church until the end of the world. In order that the episcopate itself, however, might be one and undivided he put Peter at the head of the other apostles, and in him he set up a lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion.[33]
After the symposium entitled "The Primacy of the Successor of Peter," organized by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from December 2nd to 4th of 1996, the Congregation published certain considerations regarding the subject of the Petrine Office and the power conferred upon it.
           Regarding the relationship of the Petrine Office to the office of Bishop, the document declared:
QuoteAll Bishops are subjects of the care of all the Churches (sollicitudo omnium Ecclesiarum) inasmuch as they are members of the Episcopal College which succeeds to the college of the Apostles, of which the extraordinary figure of Saint Paul was a member. This universal dimension of their episkopè (oversight) is inseparable from the particular dimension relative to the offices entrusted to them. In the case of the Bishop of Rome - Vicar of Christ in the proper manner of Peter as Head of the College of Bishops - , the care of all the Churches acquires a particular force because it is accompanied by full and supreme power in the Church: a truly episcopal power, not only supreme, full and universal, but also immediate, over all, both pastors and other faithful. The ministry of the Successor of Peter, therefore, is not a service which reaches each particular Church from outside, but is inscribed in the heart of every particular Church, in which "the Church of Christ is truly present and acts", and by this carries in itself the opening to the ministry of unity. This interiority of the ministry of the Bishop of Rome to each particular Church is also an expression of the mutual interiority between the universal Church and the particular Church.[34]
The Petrine Office is therefore in its proper essence and in its exercise different from offices of civil government.
           The document of the Congregation goes on to explain how the Roman Pontiff carries out his office as a service, that is, in obedience to Christ:
QuoteThe Roman Pontiff is - as are all the faithful - submitted to the Word of God, to the Catholic faith and is the guarantee of the obedience of the Church and, in this sense, is the servant of the servants (servus servorum). He does not decide according to his own will, but gives voice to the will of the Lord who speaks to man in the Scriptures lived and interpreted by the Tradition; in other terms, the episkopè of the Primate has the limits which flow from divine law and the inviolable divine constitution of the Church contained in Revelation. The Successor of Peter is the rock who, contrary to arbitrariness and conformism, guarantees a rigorous fidelity to the Word of God: the martyrological character of his Primacy follows from this.[35]
The fullness of power of the Roman Pontiff cannot be properly understood and exercised except as obedience to the grace of Christ the Head and Shepherd of the flock in every time and place.
Canonical Legislation
           The fullness of the power of the Roman Pontiff is expressed in can. 218 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which reads:
QuoteThe Roman Pontiff, who is the successor of St. Peter in the primacy, possesses not only a primacy of honor, but supreme and full power of jurisdiction in the entire Church in matters which belong to faith and morals as well as in those which pertain to discipline and the government of the Church throughout the world.
This power is truly episcopal, ordinary and immediate over all and each of the churches and over all and each of the pastors and the faithful, and is independent of every human authority.[36]
What is important to note initially is that the fullness of power is required by the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, which is not merely honorary but substantial, that is, it is required for the fulfillment of the supreme, ordinary, full and universal responsibility of safeguarding the rule of faith (regula fidei) and the rule of law (regula iuris).
           Can. 331 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law contains substantially the same legislation. It reads:
QuoteThe bishop of the Roman Church, in whom continues the office given by the Lord uniquely to Peter, the first of the Apostles, and to be transmitted to his successors, is the head of the college of bishops, the Vicar of Christ, and the pastor of the universal Church on earth. By virtue of his office he possesses supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.[37]
The power of the Roman Pontiff is understood from the adjectives which modify it.
           It is ordinary because it is stably connected to the office of primacy by Christ Himself. It is part of the ius divinum. It is a divine disposition.[38] It is supreme, that is the highest authority within the hierarchy and not subordinated to any other human power, while it remains always subordinate to Christ alive in the Church through the Tradition guarded and transmitted by the rule of faith and the rule of law. It is full in that it is equipped with all the faculties contained in the sacred power to teach, to sanctify and to govern. It is thus connected with the exercise of the infallible magisterium and with the authentic non-infallible magisterium (cann. 749 § 1, and 752), with legislative and judicial power, and with the moderation of the liturgical life and divine worship of the universal Church. It is immediate, that is, it may be exercised over the faithful and their pastors wherever and without condition, and it is universal, that is, it extends to the entire ecclesial community, to all the faithful, to the particular Churches and their congregations, and to all of the matters which are subject to the jurisdiction and responsibility of the Church.
           What is evident in the canonical legislation is that "the Pope does not exercise the power connected to his office when he acts as a private person or simple member of the faithful."[39] Evidently, too, given the supreme character of the fullness of power entrusted to the Roman Pontiff, he does not have an absolute power in the contemporary political sense and, therefore, is held to listen to Christ and to His Mystical Body the Church. In the words of the considerations offered by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1998:
QuoteTo listen to the voice of the Churches is, in fact, a proper characteristic of the ministry of unity, also a consequence of the unity of the episcopal Body and of the sensus fidei of the entire People of God; and this bond appears substantially endowed with greater force and certainty than juridical instances - a moreover inadmissible hypothesis because of lack of foundation - to which the Roman Pontiff would have to respond. The final and binding responsibility of the Roman Pontiff finds its best guarantee, on the one hand, in its insertion in the Tradition and in fraternal communion and, on the other hand in the assistance of the Holy Spirit Who governs the Church.[40]
As one canonist comments on the fullness of the power of the Pope:
QuoteWithout doubt, the end and the mission of the Church indicate well articulated limits which are not of easy juridical formulation. But, if we would wish juridical formulations, we could say that these limits are those that the divine law, natural and positive, establishes.
Above all, the Pope has to exercise his power in communion with the whole Church (c. 333, § 2). Wherefore, these limits stand in relationship with the communion in the faith, in the Sacraments and in ecclesiastical governance (can. 205). The Pope has to respect the deposit of the faith - he holds the authority to express the Credo in a more adequate manner but he cannot act contrary to the faith - , he has to respect all and each of the Sacraments - he cannot suppress nor add anything that goes against the substance of the Sacraments -  , and, finally, he has to respect the ecclesial rule of divine institution (he cannot prescind from the episcopate and has to share with the College of Bishops the exercise of the full and supreme power).[41]
           It is my hope that these reflections which are initial in character and require much further elaboration will help you to understand the necessity and the subtlety of the fullness of the power of the Roman Pontiff for the safeguarding and promoting of the good of the universal Church. According to Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, the Successor to Saint Peter has power which is universal, ordinary and immediate over all the faithful. He is the supreme judge of the faithful, over whom there is no higher human authority, not even an ecumenical council. To the Pope belongs the power and authority to define doctrines and to condemn errors, to make and repeal laws, to act as judge in all matters of faith and morals, to decree and inflict punishment, to appoint and, if need be, to remove pastors. Because this power is from God Himself, it is limited as such by natural and divine law, which are expressions of the eternal and unchangeable truth and goodness that come from God, are fully revealed in Christ, and have been handed on in the Church throughout time. Therefore, any expression of doctrine or law or practice that is not in conformity with Divine Revelation, as contained in Sacred Scripture and the Church's Tradition cannot be an authentic exercise of the Apostolic or Petrine ministry and must be rejected by the faithful. As Saint Paul declared: "There are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be anathema."[42]
           As devout Catholics and servants of the Church's discipline, we must in all things teach and defend the fullness of the power with which Christ has endowed His Vicar on earth. At the same time, we must teach and defend that power within the teaching and defense of the Church as the Mystical Body of Christ, as an organic body of divine origin and divine life. I conclude with the words of Gratian in his Decretals:
QuoteLet no mortal being have the audacity to reprimand a Pope on account of his faults, for he whose duty it is to judge all other men cannot be judged by anybody, unless he should be called to task for having deviated from the faith.[43]
Raymond Leo Cardinal BURKE

[1] Cf. 2 Tm 4, 7.
[2] Mt 19, 9.
[3] "Saluto del Santo Padre Francesco ai Padri Sinodali, 6 ottobre 2014", La famiglia è il futuro. Tutti i documenti del Sinodo straordinario 2014, ed. Antonio Spadaro (Milano: Àncora Editrice, 2014), p. 118. English translation: Francis PP. II, "Pope Francis' invitation to the Synod Fathers at the opening of the General Congregation: With honesty and humility," L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition in English, 10 October 2014, p. 6.
[4] Ibid., p. 118. English translation: Ibid., p. 6.
[5] Cf. J. A. Watt, "The Use of the Term 'Plenitudo Potestatis' by Hostiensis," in Stephen Ryan Joseph Kuttner, ed., Proceedings of the Second International Congress of Medieval Canon Law, Boston College,12-16 August 1963 (Città del Vaticano: S. Congregatio de Seminariis et Studiorum Universitatibus, 1965), pp. 161-187. [Watt].
[6] "Vices nostras ita tuae credidimus charitati, ut in partem sis vocatus sollicitudinis, non in plenitudinem potestatis." [Ep. 14, PL 54.671], quoted in Watt, p. 161.
[7] Watt, p. 164.
[8] Watt, p. 164.
[9] Watt, p. 165.
[10] Watt, p. 166.
[11] Watt, pp. 175-187.
[12] Watt, p. 167.
[13] Watt, pp. 167-168.
[14] Watt, p. 168.
[15] Watt, p. 168. Cf. 2 Cor 13, 10.
[16] Watt, p. 173.
[17] Watt, p. 168.
[18] Watt, p. 169.
[19] Watt, p. 169.
[20] Watt, p. 174.
[21] Watt, p. 174.
[22] Watt, p. 173.
[23] Cf. can. 1404.
[24] Cf. Mt 18, 15-17.
[25] Cf. Gal 2, 11-21.
[26] "Quae sacri Pastores, utpote Christum repraesentantes, tamquam fidei magistri declarant aut tamquam Ecclesiae rectores statuunt, christifideles, ... christiana oboedientia prosequi tenentur." Can. 212, § 1. English translation: Canon Law Society of America.
[27] "... sententiam suam de his quae ad bonum Ecclesiae pertinent sacris Pastoribus manifestent eamque, salva fidei morumque integritate ac reverentia erga Pastores, attentisque communi utilitate et personarum dignitate, ceteris christifidelibus notam faciant." Can. 212, § 3. English translation: Canon Law Society of America.
[28] Watt, pp. 172-173.
[29] "Approbante vero Lugdunensi Concilio secondo Graeci professi sunt: 'Sanctam Romanam Ecclesiam summum et plenum primatum et principatum super universam Ecclesiam catholicam obtinere, quem se ab ipso Domino in beato Petro Apostolorum principe sive vertice, cuius Romanus Pontifex est successor, cum potestatis plenitudine recepisse veraciter et humiliter recognoscit; et sicut prae ceteris tenetur fidei veritatem defendere, sic et, si quae de fide subortae fuerint quaestiones, suo debent iudicio definiri'." Heinrich Denzinger, Compendium of Creeds, Definitions, and Declarations on Matters of Faith and Morals, ed. Peter Hünermann with Helmut Hoping, English edition ed. Robert Fastiggi and Anne Englund Nash, 43rd ed. (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012), p. 614, n. 3067. [Denzinger].
[30] Denzinger, p. 615, nos. 3070-3071.
[31] "Collegium autem seu corpus Episcoporum auctoritatem non habet, nisi simul cum Pontifice Romano, successore Petri, ut capite eius intellegatur, huiusque integer manente potestate Primatus in omnes sive Pastores sive fideles. Romanus enim Pontifex habet in Ecclesiam, vi muneris sui, Vicarii scilicet Christi et totius Ecclesiae Pastoris, plenam, supremam et universalem potestatem, quam semper libere exercere valet. Ordo autem Episcoporm, qui collegio Apostolorum in magisterio et regimine pastorali succedit, immo in quo corpus apostolicum continuo perseverat, una cum Capite suo Romano Pontifice, et numquam sine hoc Capite subiecutm quoque supremae ac plenae potestatis in universam Ecclesiam exsistit, quae quidem potestas nonnisi consentiente Roman Pontifice exerceri potest. Dominus unum Simonem ut petram et cavigerum Ecclesiae posuit [cf. Mt 16:18-19], eumque Pastorem totius sui gregis constituit [cf. Io 21: 15-19]; illud autem ligandi ac solvendi munus, quod Petro datum est [Mt 16:19], collegio quoque Apostolorum, suo Capiti coniuncto, tributum esse constat [Mt 18:18; 28:16-20]." Denzinger, pp. 880-881, no. 4146.
[32] "Romanus Pontifex, ac successor Petri, est unitatis, tum Episcoporum tum fidelium multitudinis, perpetuum ac visibile principium et fundamentum." Denzinger, p. 881, no. 23.
[33] LG, no. 18.
[34] "89. Il Primato del Successore di Pietro nel Mistero della Chiesa", Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede, Documenti (1966-2013) (Città del Vaticano: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2017), pp. 480-481, n. 6. [CDF];
Communicationes 30 (1998), 210-211, n. 6.
[35] CDF, p. 481, n. 7. Communicationes 30 (1998), 212, n. 7.
[36] "Can. 218. - § 1. Romanus Pontifex, Beati Petri in primate Successor, habet non solum primatum honoris, sed supremam et plenam potestatem iurisdictionis in universam Ecclesiam tum in rebus quae ad fidem et mores, tum in iis quae ad disciplinam et regimen Ecclesiae per totum orbem diffusae pertinent.
§ 2. Haec potestas est vere episcopalis, ordinaria et immediate tum in omnes et singulas ecclesias, tum in omnes et singulos pastores et fidelis a quavis humana auctoritate independens." English translation: John A. Abbo and Jerome D. Hannan, The Sacred Canons: A Concise Presentation of the Current Disciplinary Norms of the Church (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co., 1952), Volume 1, p. 281.
[37] "Can. 331  Ecclesiae Romanae Episcopus, in quo permanet munus a Domino singulariter Petro, primo Apostolorum, concessum et successoribus eius transmittendum, Collegii Episcoporum est caput, Vicarius Christi atque universae Ecclesiae his in terris Pastor; qui ideo vi muneris sui suprema, plena, immediata et universali in Ecclesia gaudet ordinaria potestate, quam semper libere exercere valet." English translation: Canon Law Society of America, Code of Canon Law: Latin-English Translation, New English Translation, Washington, D.C.: Canon Law Society of America, 1998. [Hereafter, CLSA].
[38] Cf. cann. 131 § 1, and 145 § ; and Nota Explicativa Praevia of Lumen Gentium.
[39]"... el Papa no ejercita esta potestad aneja a su oficio cuando actúa come persona privada o como simple fiel." Eduardo Molano, "Potestad del Romano Pontifice," Diccionario General de Derecho Canónico, Vol. VI (Cizur Menor [Navarra]: Editorial Aranzadi, SA, 2012), p. 304. English translation by author.
[40] CDF, p. 483, no. 10. Communicationes, 213.
[41] Molano, p. 306.
[42] Gal 1, 8.
[43] "Huius culpas istic redarguere presumit mortalium nullus, quia cunctos ipse iudicaturis a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprehendatur devius; pro cuius perpetuo statu uniuersitas fidelium tanto instantius orat, quanto suam salutem post Deum ex illius incolumitate animaduertunt propensius pendere". Decretum Magistri Gratiani. Concordia Discordantium Canonum, 1a, dist. 40, c. 6, Si papa; Item ex gestis Bonifacii Martyris. Gratian, Decretals, 1a, dist. 40, c. 6, Si papa; ex Gestis Bonifacii martyris.
Dogma & Doctrine / Table of Marriage Validity & L...
Last post by Geremia - April 12, 2018, 10:30:41 AM
Quote from: Mithrandylan on November 09, 2017, 10:19:10 AMThis is not an authoritative source, but merely a table of possible spousal combinations and places/conditions of marriage, along with a corresponding note of validity and lawfulness for each scenario.  The table itself was initially designed by Geremia here and I filled it in.  The version hosted here contains the same content, but has been reformatted for much easier readability.  I intend to post a .pdf version eventually, too.


[1] [Civil Marriage] "Marriage between unbaptized persons is subject to the civil power, and in the case of these marriages the civil law has the right to determine the condition of the validity as well as the liceity of these marriage contracts.  However, the civil power is bound to respect the divine law on marriage, and all civil laws which contradict the divine law are necessarily null and void" (Woywod vol. 1, p. 647 1957 ed.).
[2] [Marriage outside the Catholic Church] Canon 1094: "General Principle: Church Law requires for the validity of marriage that it be celebrated in the presence of the pastor or Ordinary of the place, or of a priest delegated by either of these, and at least two witnesses...

..."The Following Persons are obliged to observe the form above prescribed:

1) All who are baptized in the Catholic Church or who have been converted to it from heresy or schism, even though the former or the latter may later have left the Church, whenever the contract marriage among themselves;

2) The same persons above mentioned, if they contract marriage with non-Catholics, either baptized or not baptized, even after obtaining a dispensation from the impediment of mixed religion or disparity of cult" (Bouscaren and Ellis, 1946, C. 1094, p. 516).
[3] [Civil Marriage between two Catholics as Valid and Licit] "If the civil law demands it, the Church does not censure parties for appearing even before a non-Catholic minister who is acting merely as an official of the government, provided that their purpose is solely to comply with the civil law and to get civil recognition of their marriage" (Woywod., p. 704).
[4] [Civil Marriage between two Catholics as Valid and Licit]
"Also note that Canon 1098 provides for Catholics who, if their pastor is unavailable to witness their marriage for the foreseeable future (a month), they are allowed to validly marry before witnesses only, and the canon does not require that these witnesses be Catholic.  So in such a situation, a civil ceremony would suffice" (Woywod p. 705). [Also see "Regarding Canon 1098" at the end of the notes].
[5] [Civil Marriage between two Catholics as Invalid and Illicit] It would be invalid and illicit, taking into account the principles from [2] and the details of canon 1099, if the couple forewent the religious ceremony in favor of the civil ceremony.  Note that the civil officiation of the marriage does not make it valid or licit, but only under certain conditions simply makes it allowable, provided that canon 1094 is followed.
[6] [Marriage by two Catholics in the Catholic Church without the Bishop's Permission] Does not seem possible; the bishops permission is not required except inasmuch as the couple are to be married in front of their pastor who is deputed by the bishop to act on his behalf.  So in the rare and unusual instance that a couple, though free to marry, are for some reason forbidden by their pastor from marrying (something he does not, to my knowledge, have the power to do), and they go and get married in a different parish, one might perhaps face this instance.  But it would still seem valid and lawful.
[7] [Marriage between two Catholics outside the Catholic Church with Bishop's Permission] Does not seem possible at all.
[8] [Marriage between two Catholics outside the Catholic Church without Bishop's Permission as invalid and illicit] See Note [2].  Also, regard later notes re: C. 1098
[9] [Civil Marriage between a Catholic and a non-Catholic as invalid and illicit] It depends on whether or not the baptized non-Catholic was baptized in the Catholic Church.  See note [2] and notes [3-5]

[10] [Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic in the Catholic Church with the Bishop's Permission as valid and licit] The impediment of mixed religion may be dispensed from, rendering the marriage lawful and valid.  Note that mixed religion never (by itself) renders a marriage invalid (Woywod, p. 670).  The conditions for the dispensation to be granted is moral certainty on the part of the bishop that the non-Catholic party will at least not interfere with the upbringing of Catholic children and will not interfere with the Catholic life and duty of the family.
[11] [Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic in the Catholic Church, without the Bishop's permission as valid and illicit] "Canon 1060. The Church everywhere most severely forbids the contracting of marriage between two baptized persons of whom one is a Catholic whereas the other is a member of a heretical or schismatical sect; and if there is danger of perversion for the Catholic party and the children, the marriage is forbidden also by the divine law itself" (Bouscaren and Ellis, p. 458 ).
My comment: without a dispensation (i.e., the permission of the ordinary), the marriage would be unlawful.
[12] [Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic outside the Catholic Church with the Bishop's permission as valid and licit] This would require not only a dispensation from the impediment but also a dispensation to the Catholic party to dispense them from observing the Catholic form of marriage.
[13] [Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic outside the Catholic Church without the Bishop's permission as valid and licit] Theoretically lawful and valid according to canon 1098.  [See also note [4] and "Regarding Canon 1098" at the end of the notes].

[14] [Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic outside the Catholic Church without the bishop's permission as valid and illicit] Theoretically valid but unlawful according to canon 1098 depending on why the bishop's permission was not given-- was he appealed to?  Could he be appealed to?  etc. This note is not substantially different from the previous note.  It's a very complicated situation. [See also note [4] and "Regarding Canon 1098" at the end of the notes].
[15] [Marriage between a Catholic and a baptized non-Catholic outside the Catholic Church, without the Bishop's permission as invalid and illicit] Without any extenuating circumstance (such as one which would make canon 1098 applicable), the marriage would be invalid for wont of form and the lack of dispensation allowing the Catholic to marry elsewhere.
[16] [Civil Marriage between a Catholic and a non-baptized as valid and licit] This is the impediment of disparity of cult (C. 1070), which renders a marriage invalid unless dispensed from (Woywod p. 712, see note [17]).  So if this couple marries civilly without sufficient reason/dispensation, it is an invalid marriage.  If, however, a dispensation is granted and the marriage before civil authorities is simply to gain civil benefits and recognition while the couple intend to or already have married in the Church with the proper dispensation and form, see note [3].
[17] [Marriage between a Catholic and a non-baptized without the Bishop's permission, regardless of place] Marriage between a person baptized in the Catholic Church, or received into the Church from heresy or schism, and an unbaptized person is null and void" (Woywod p. 712, C. 1070)

[18] [All marriages where both parties are not baptized] The Church's law does not govern infidels.  Such persons are capable of contracting natural marriages that are valid and lawful inasmuch as they meet the conditions established for validity and liciety according to whatever governing body to whom they answer.

Regarding Canon 1098: Canon 1098 is, in my opinion (so take it for what it's worth), a law which dispenses parties from the requirement to observe the proper form of marriage, i.e., it dispenses from the requirement to marry in front of one's pastor under pain of invalidity.
My opinion is based on the fact that the canon itself makes no requirement regarding the quality of witnesses (that is, it does not require them to be Catholic), nor have I ever read any commentators who require such a thing--indeed, most who write about the canon presuppose that this is not the case (i.e., when a couple to whom canon 1098 applies decide to marry in front of a civil official).
If that is the case, and I believe it is, then as a general (though exceptional) rule given the current ecclesiastical crisis, we can view the marriages between Catholics who marry outside the Church, and between Catholics and the baptized non-Catholics who marry outside the Church, as valid.

This study goes into great detail on the matter and echoes my own view about it.
Presumption of Validity: To bolster that contention, I would point out that marriage is a unique sacrament because it enjoys the favor of the law.  That means that regardless of the type of doubt which may occur after the attempted contracting of marriage, marriages are presumed valid until and unless they are proven invalid.
Baptized in the Catholic Church: This term causes some confusion.  It is not a colloquial expression, but a technical term in canon law.  In principle, it has nothing at all to do with the actual minister or even the place of baptism but with the intent of the person who is seeking baptism (or in the case of infants, the intent of the parents who seek to secure baptism for their child).
Here is Woywod on the term:
Quote"The term 'baptized in the Catholic Church' creates some difficulty, especially in cases of baptism administered by lay persons.  In the first place, if the father and mother, or at least one of them, are Catholics and adhere to the Church, the infant baptized at the request of the Catholic party by a non-Catholic doctor or nurse in a case of emergency may still be considered baptized in the Catholic Church, for there is but one baptism, and whether the reception of that baptism means the joining of the Catholic Church or of some non-Catholic denomination depends on the will of the person who has the right and duty to care for the welfare of the infant.  If neither parent adheres to the Catholic Church (i.e., if both are Protestants or apostate Catholics), but one of them consents to have the infant baptized by a Catholic priest, one must know whether some guarantee was given of the Catholic education of the child; if so, the child was by the will of the parent legitimately enrolled in the Catholic Church.  If such guarantee was not given, no Catholic priest or layman had the right to baptized the child, and it was not legitimately enrolled in the Church Church, except in urgent danger of death... The Committee for the Authentic Interpretation of the Code declared on April 29, 1940, that persons born of non-Catholics and baptized in the Catholic Church, but not raised as Catholics, are subject to the impediment of disparity of cult according to Canon 1070 when they marry unbaptized persons" (Woywod p. 713-14).

Again, "baptized in the Catholic Church" is not a "common sense" term, not a general colloquialism, or anything of the like.  It is a technical term with an intended legal meaning and legal consequences in this context.  Apostates, for instance, would be "baptized in the Catholic Church" and despite their current-non-membership and rejection of the Church, they would be bound by this law.  The Church normally governs only members in the sense that most of her laws apply only to members, but by divine right she has jurisdiction over all the baptized, and it is her jurisprudential prerogative to decide the extent to which she imposes her laws on them.

Purpose of Table: This is all my own opinion based on the sources provided.  It's not uncommon for questions about marital validity to pop up around the forums, so I thought having this table would be useful.  The table itself was designed by Geremia and posted on CI a while back, with a request for someone to fill it in.  I am more than happy to receive any corrections or additions to the table if I've got something wrong.

Please also note that when I reference a marriage as lawful, that doesn't necessarily mean that either party attempting the marriage is free of all guilt.  For instance, while I believe that the marriage between two Catholics in front of a Lutheran minister can be lawful, I do not mean to imply by this that the parties necessarily act with all moral uprightness in so marrying, only that the marriage itself is not unlawful.  Other Catholic and moral principles that are distinct from marriage law still apply to all individuals.

Furthermore, a note of validity assumes that parties are free to marry and that there are no other impediments which would render the marriage invalid.  In cases where other diriment impediments are present, those can of course render a marriage null regardless of who the parties are and where (and in front of whom) they marry.
Dogma & Doctrine / St. Robert's «De Matrimonio» (...
Last post by Geremia - April 12, 2018, 10:26:55 AM
St. Robert's De Matrimonio treatise is in De controversiis tome 3 (DjVu pp. 779ff.  or here).

Ryan Grant of Mediatrix Press plans to translate all of De controversiis, so he'll get to the De matrimonio at some point.

English translations of parts of St. Robert's De Matrimonio exist in Cormac Burke's The Theology of Marriage:
Quote from: De Matrimonio ch. 2 (Burke p. 38n19)Marriage could not signify that [the union of Christ and the church], unless between husband and wife, over and beyond the civil contract, there were also a spiritual union of souls. ... If God joins man and woman for this purpose, that by their spiritual union they should signify the spiritual union of Christ and the Church, he then doubtlessly gives them the grace without which they could not achieve that spiritual union.
Quote from: De Matrimonio ch. 5 (Burke p. 84n29)[Matrimony] is a union that consecrates and sanctifies souls [unio sacrans, et sanctificans animas].
Quote from: De Matrimonio ch. 6 (Burke p. 34n6 & Pius XI's Casti Connubii §110)The sacrament of matrimony can be regarded in two ways: first, in the making, and then in its permanent state. For it is a sacrament like that of the Eucharist, which not only when it is being conferred, but also while it remains, is a sacrament; for as long as the married parties are alive, so long is their union a sacrament of Christ and the Church.
Quote from: De Matrimonio ch. 6 (Burke p. 200n47)The third end is that marriage be a remedy against concupiscence [Tertius finis est ut sit coniugium in remedium contra concupiscentiam].
Quote from: De Matrimonio ch. 7 (Burke p. 7n8)The Council [of Trent] does not acknowledge any difference between Matrimony in ancient times, whether before or after the sin of Adam, and Matrimony as it is a Sacrament of the new law, insofar as concerns the rite. It places the distinction in that the latter is a cause of grace, while the former was not. According to the Council of Trent therefore, the matter, form and minister of the Sacrament of Matrimony are the same as they were in the Marriages of the ancients, which were not Sacraments.
Quote from: De Matrimonio ch. 14 (Burke p. 9n14). St. Robert summarizes the erroneous claim of Melchior Cano, O.P., that a priest's blessing constitutes the form of matrimonyif matrimony is truly a sacrament, then, besides the civil contract, it should have some sacred form, as well as an ecclesiastical minister.
Theology / St. Thomas's ordering of the s...
Last post by Geremia - April 11, 2018, 12:30:52 PM
St. Thomas ordered the sacraments this way (Summa Theologica III q. 65 a. 1 c.):
Quote from: St. ThomasWe may likewise gather the number of the sacraments from their being instituted as a remedy against the defect caused by sin.
  • Baptism is intended as a remedy against the absence of spiritual life;
  • Confirmation, against the infirmity of soul found in those of recent birth;
  • Eucharist, against the soul's proneness to sin;
  • Penance, against actual sin committed after baptism;
  • Extreme Unction, against the remainders of sins---of those sins, namely, which are not sufficiently removed by Penance, whether through negligence or through ignorance;
  • order, against divisions in the community;
  • Matrimony, as a remedy against concupiscence in the individual, and against the decrease in numbers that results from death.
For the first ordering above, he gives this reason (ibid. a. 2 c.): "those sacraments which are intended for the perfection of the individual naturally precede those which are intended for the perfection of the multitude". Also, Holy Orders and Matrimony are last ∵ they are "intended for the perfection of the multitude" and "Matrimony is placed after order, because it has less participation in the nature of the spiritual life, to which the sacraments are ordained." He says Eucharist could be placed before Confirmation, too, because nourishment causes growth. Baptism is so important! Everything is rooted in it!

He also pairs the sacraments with specific virtues (ibid. a. 1 c.):
Quote from: St. ThomasSome, again, gather the number of sacraments from a certain adaptation to the virtues and to the defects and penal effects resulting from sin. They say that
  • Baptism corresponds to Faith, and is ordained as a remedy against original sin;
  • Extreme Unction, to Hope, being ordained against venial sin;
  • Eucharist, to Charity, being ordained against the penal effect which is malice.
  • order, to Prudence, being ordained against ignorance;
  • Penance to Justice, being ordained against mortal sin;
  • Matrimony, to Temperance, being ordained against concupiscence;
  • Confirmation, to Fortitude, being ordained against infirmity.
Philosophy / Why were many saints medical m...
Last post by Geremia - April 11, 2018, 08:58:28 AM
There are several examples of saints defies medical understanding:
Padre Pio's body temperature was feverishly high, yet he was healthy. St. Catherine of Siena didn't eat for years, yet she was healthy. St. Teresa of Ávila could not be exactly diagnosed. Etc.

St. Thomas seems to explain why this so when discussing why astrology, which seems to be the ancient analogue of today's evidence-based medicine (EBM) that views "disease as statistical associations at a population level" (Chin-Yee 2014 p. 921), oftentimes makes accurate predictions (Summa Theologica II-II q. 95 a. 5 ad 2):
Quote from: St. Thomas Aquinasastrologers not unfrequently forecast the truth by observing the stars...because a great number of men follow their bodily passions, so that their actions are for the most part (in pluribus*) disposed in accordance with the inclination of the heavenly bodies: while there are few, namely, the wise (sapientes) alone, who moderate these inclinations by their reason. The result is that astrologers in many cases foretell the truth, especially in public occurrences which depend on the multitude (ex multitudine).
*Today we would use a statistical term like "on average".
Thus, the wise (sapientes), the saints, are outliers in modern medicine.
Catholic Resources / Sts. Gregory of Nyssa & Ambros...
Last post by Geremia - April 09, 2018, 10:40:13 AM
I'm astounded the recording of St. Gregory of Nyssa's De Virginitate has 124,664+ views!

And, despite the lewd cover art of St. Ambrose's De Virginitate, it has 68,518+ views!

Deo gratias!
Theology / "Saint Thomas Aquinas in the A...
Last post by Geremia - April 07, 2018, 08:27:44 PM
     Serge-Thomas Bonino O.P., "Saint Thomas Aquinas in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia," trans. Dominic M. Langevin O.P., The Thomist: A Speculative Quarterly Review 80, no. 4 (2016): 499-519.
     Saint Thomas Aquinas in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia1
     Serge-Thomas Bonino O.P.
     THE EXERCISE to which I will dedicate myself--namely, the study of the "presence" of Saint Thomas Aquinas in a pontifical text--is a perilous one for a Catholic theologian. It is perilous first of all from the methodological point of view. According to what criteria, indeed, can one identify the presence or influence of St. Thomas in a document such as the postsynodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (March 19, 2016)? I have chosen to limit myself to the explicit references to St. Thomas.2 But it is clear that this method is reductionistic, for it leaves in the shadows everything in the document that springs from the profound fertilization of general Catholic culture and magisterial teaching that has transpired through many centuries of symbiotic activity with Thomism.
     This exercise is additionally and particularly perilous from the point of view of its ends. Indeed, three temptations lie in wait for the Thomist theologian presented with a pontifical text. The first, the mildest, is the effect of a professional deformation on the part of the historian of doctrine. It consists in evaluating the interpretation and use of Thomistic texts by [End Page 499] the Magisterium from the sole point of view of the historical-critical method. Now, while it is undeniable that a magisterial document should show itself attentive to the demands of an exact, scientific exegesis of texts, its end is not to recreate Thomistic doctrines in their most perfect or pristine form. Its purpose is rather to draw upon certain of these doctrines in order to represent the teaching of the Word of God for the benefit of the life and holiness of the Christian people.
     The second temptation is to judge the content of a pontifical document in the light of Thomism, that is to say, according to its conformity or not to the teaching of St. Thomas. In a very un-Thomist way, this ignores the fact that a theologian's authority--no matter how great it may be--does not lie at the same level as the Magisterium's authority, for theology receives its object from the Tradition as the Magisterium teaches it. Nevertheless, if the Magisterium has the authority to discern and "declare" the Tradition, it does not create the Tradition ex nihilo. The Tradition has a preceding, intrinsic objectivity. If one can use a comparison taken from Aristotelian philosophy of nature, the Magisterium gives the Tradition its form and makes of it a living Tradition, the norm for the faith of today's believers. But the Magisterium informs a matter that is not a pure potentiality, malleable according to its own will, but rather a matter that already presents dispositions such that it is not apt to welcome just any form. The Magisterium cannot simply claim, as is attributed to Pius IX, "I am the Tradition." The logic of Tradition is thus bipolar: it is necessary to discern what truly constitutes the Tradition by the light of the current Magisterium, but it is also necessary to interpret the teaching of the current Magisterium according to the data of the Tradition. Now, the theology of St. Thomas as a scientific elaboration of the Tradition, an elaboration whose high worth has been recognized by the Church herself, is an important witness of this Tradition. Conformity to the teaching of St. Thomas is therefore not without importance when one tries, as one should, to interpret the teaching of the Magisterium by the light of the Tradition. Such conformity is a criterion, among others, [End Page 500] that allows one to test and confirm continuity within the living Tradition of the Church.
     The third temptation for Thomists falls under the banner of ecclesiastical sociology. It consists in reading the texts of the Magisterium while "counting points," that is to say, searching within the uses that the current Magisterium makes of the texts and theses of the master from Aquino for a confirmation of his theological authority. Related to this temptation is one found among other persons--interested very little in Thomism but aware of his authority in the Church--a temptation, also entirely "political," of paradoxically using this authority in order to fool others about their discontinuous reading of pontifical teachings. In placing apparent "novelties" under the patronage of that paragon of orthodoxy, St. Thomas, they think that they can protect themselves against the reproach of promoting a hermeneutic of rupture.
     I will attempt to avoid these various temptations by holding to a very limited objective: to identify and analyze the Thomist doctrines referred to explicitly by Amoris Laetitia in order to receive them as an invitation to deepen, as a theologian, those aspects of St. Thomas's thought that seem to possess today for the Magisterium a particular relevance for the life of the Church.
     I have therefore identified within Amoris Laetitia eighteen explicit references to St. Thomas Aquinas.     
Location in Amoris Laetitia
Kind of reference
Source text
Chap. 4, para. 99
Brief quotation in the main text with citation in a footnote (108)
STh II-II, q. 114, a. 2, ad 1
The virtue of affability
Chap. 4, para. 102
Brief quotation in the main text with citation in a footnote (110)
STh II-II, q. 27, a. 1, ad 2
Generosity within charity
Chap. 4, para. 102
Brief quotation in the main text with citation in a footnote (111)
STh II-II, q. 27, a. 1
Generosity within charity
Chap. 4, para. 120
Citation in a footnote (115)
STh I, q. 20, a. 1, ad 3
The unitive nature of love
Chap. 4, para. 120
Brief quotation in the main text with citation in a footnote (116)
STh II-II, q. 27, a. 2
Love as affective union
Chap. 4, para. 123
Brief quotation in the main text with citation in a footnote (122)
ScG III, c. 123
Conjugal love as the highest friendship
Chap. 4, para. 126
Paraphrase in the main text with citation in a footnote (127)
STh I-II, q. 31, a. 3, ad 3
Joy as an expansion of the heart
Chap. 4, para. 127
Brief quotation in the main text with citation in a footnote (129)
STh I-II, q. 26, a. 3
The price of the loved person
Chap. 4, para. 134
Quotation in the main text with citation in a footnote (135)
STh, II-II, q. 24, a. 7
The infinite increase of charity
Chap. 4, para. 145
Citation in a footnote (140)
STh I-II, q. 24, a. 1
The moral neutrality of the passions
Chap. 4, para. 148
Citation in a footnote (144)
STh I-II, q. 32, a. 7
Chap. 4, para. 148
Latin quotation and citation in a footnote (145)
STh II-II, q. 153, a. 2, ad 2
The worth of conjugal sexual pleasure
Chap. 4, para. 162
Citation in a footnote (172)
STh II-II, q. 27, a. 1
Generosity within charity
Chap. 8, para. 301
Paraphrase in the main text with citation in a footnote (341)
STh I-II, q. 65, a. 3, ad 2
Difficulty in exercising an infused virtue
Chap. 8, para. 301
Citation in a footnote (341)
De Malo, q. 2, a. 2
Difficulty in exercising an infused virtue (?)
Chap. 8, para. 301
Quotation in the main text with citation in a footnote (342)
STh I-II, q. 65, a. 3, ad 3
Difficulty in exercising an infused virtue
Chap. 8, para. 304
Quotation in the main text with citation in a footnote (347)
STh I-II, q. 94, a. 4
Action deals with contingent realities
Chap. 8, para. 304
Quotation in a footnote (348)
VI Nic. Ethic. lect. 6
Norms and practical discernment
     Eleven of the explicit references are "quotations" of varied length (from two or three words to four or five lines). Eight of [End Page 502] these quotations appear in the main text and three in the footnotes. To these quotations must be added seven cross-references. These eighteen explicit references concern a total of twelve paragraphs in the apostolic exhortation (out of 325), but they are concentrated in two chapters: chapter 4, entitled "Love in Marriage" (thirteen references, or almost three-quarters), and chapter 8, entitled "Accompanying, Discerning and Integrating Weakness" (five references). They draw especially upon the Summa theologiae (fifteen references), but three other texts of the Thomistic corpus are also called upon: the Summa contra Gentiles, the Sententia libri Ethicorum (Commentary on the "Nicomachean Ethics"), and the Quaestiones disputatae De malo.
     The texts of Saint Thomas to which Amoris Laetitia makes reference come especially from the treatise on the passions in the Prima secundae (four references) and the treatise on charity in the Secunda secundae (five references). In the light of this survey of the material, one can already identify the three Thomist themes that are drawn upon in the teaching of Amoris Laetitia and that will constitute the three parts of this article. The first, the most original, is the theme of the passions, whose importance for anthropology as well as moral theology is strongly emphasized by Amoris Laetitia. The second is the analysis of love in its different realizations, from sensible passion to the theological virtue of charity. One can already find several references to the Thomist psychology of love in the preceding apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, which also mentions the third Thomist theme that emerges from Amoris Laetitia: the necessity of taking account of subjective conditionings in the moral evaluation of a human act in view of a just discernment.
     I. The Passions
     In the presentation of the apostolic exhortation to the press that he gave on April 8, 2016, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn rightly drew attention to the theme of the passions. [End Page 503]
QuoteI think it is important to indicate one aspect: Pope Francis speaks here, with rare clarity, of the role of the passiones, passions, emotion, eros and sexuality in married and family life. It is not by chance that Pope Francis reconnects here with St. Thomas Aquinas, who attributes an important role to the passions, while modern society, often puritanical, has discredited or neglected them.3
Indeed, in a section entitled "The World of Emotions" (143-46), Amoris Laetitia highlights the decisive role of the passions within human existence and especially within the relationships that constitute marriage and family life.
QuoteDesires, feelings, emotions, what the ancients called "the passions," all have an important place in married life. . . . It is characteristic of all living beings to reach out to other things, and this tendency always has basic affective signs: pleasure or pain, joy or sadness, tenderness or fear. They ground the most elementary psychological activity. Human beings live on this earth, and all that they do and seek is fraught with passion.
Paragraph 144 underlines the extent to which the Lord Jesus himself, within the truth of his humanity, assumed this "passionate" dimension of the human condition. Saint Thomas is then explicitly referenced in paragraph 145 for his Aristotelian thesis concerning the moral neutrality of the passions, opposed to the Stoic thesis that holds that every passion is in itself morally disordered.5
QuoteExperiencing an emotion is not, in itself, morally good or evil [footnote 140 here refers to STh I-II, q. 24, a. 1]. The stirring of desire or repugnance is neither sinful nor blameworthy. What is morally good or evil is what we do on the basis of, or under the influence of, a given passion.
     (145) [End Page 504]
Along the line of this integration of the passions within an anthropology and an ethic that are fully human, Amoris Laetitia highlights "the erotic dimension of love" (150-52), since conjugal love has the vocation of uniting synthetically, while also arranging in a hierarchy, the different aspects of the affective life of the spouses: sensuality, feeling, and will. Within this context, it is understandable why, in paragraph 148, Amoris Laetitia makes reference to question 153 of the Secunda secundae (STh II-II, q. 153, a. 2, ad 2), where St. Thomas--in a statement that was not routine in the general context of medieval theology--teaches that the sexual act between spouses may be without sin (and even meritorious) since sexual pleasure experienced within the fully human relational context of marriage does not in any way contradict virtue: "the exceeding pleasure attaching to a venereal act directed according to reason, is not opposed to the mean of virtue."6 Nonetheless, in the same paragraph 148, another reference to St. Thomas draws attention to how an excess harms pleasure itself. In question 32 of the Prima secundae (STh I-II, q. 32, a. 7), a question consecrated to the causes of pleasure, St. Thomas explains that likeness--even though in itself it is a cause of pleasure--can accidentally corrupt the proper good of the subject. For example, even though food may be a source of pleasure for a person due to the fact that it is consistent with the demands of that person's bodily life, an excess of food can corrupt the body's good and consequently destroy the pleasure of eating.
     Joined to this attention to the "passionate" or incarnate dimension of human relations, there is the need--one central to the spirituality of Pope Francis--of incarnating love in gestures and attitudes imbued with tenderness. The "passions" therefore have the vocation of giving flesh to moral forms of acting. The very first reference to St. Thomas in Amoris Laetitia, found in paragraph 99, concerns precisely the social virtue of affability [End Page 505] (amicitia seu affabilitas), which St. Thomas treats in question 114 of the Secunda secundae as a virtue annexed to justice. In article 2, response to the first objection, of this question, St. Thomas in fact draws attention to how--insofar as pleasure, exactly like truth, is necessary for social life--there is a moral duty to procure pleasure and joy for others within social relationships rather than to sadden them through a crabby attitude.
     II. Love
     For St. Thomas, love is the source of the passions; it is found at the root of all of our other affective movements.7 Chapter 4 of Amoris Laetitia, consecrated to "love in marriage," could therefore only profit from the reflections on love and friendship (e.g., its nature, causes, effects) that St. Thomas develops with great psychological finesse both in the treatise on the passions and in his study on charity considered as a form of supernatural friendship.8 In fact, in paragraph 123, Amoris Laetitia refers to Summa contra Gentiles, book 3, chapter 123, within which St. Thomas, in order to justify the indissolubility of marriage, assembles a whole series of arguments (as he has the custom of doing in the Summa contra Gentiles). One of these arguments asserts that the conjugal bond is "the highest of friendships." Saint Thomas explains that the man and woman "are united not only in the act of fleshly union, which produces a certain gentle association even among beasts, but also in the partnership of the whole range of domestic activity (conversatio)."9 Now, "the greater that friendship is, the more solid and long-lasting will it be." Therefore, the highest form of friendship necessarily must also be the longest lasting.
     The reflections of St. Thomas on love and friendship are thus one of the sources that enliven the meditation of Amoris [End Page 506] Laetitia on conjugal love. Love is presented as a "unitive force" (vis unitiva), with reference being made to Pseudo-Dionysius and St. Thomas (AL 120, n. 115). Conjugal love is, in fact, a "unio secundum affectum" (AL 120), of the sort that it is by itself a source of unity between the spouses. Already in Evangelii Gaudium, the same reference was given to underline how, in love, the other constitutes but one with oneself.10
     The reflections of St. Thomas on the love of friendship, adopted by the apostolic exhortation, highlight some of its remarkable characteristics. In question 26, article 3 of the Prima secundae, St. Thomas sets out to clarify the nuances of the diverse vocabulary of love, such as amor, dilectio, and caritas. With respect to caritas, which he connects etymologically with carus (precious), he indicates that one of the characteristics of love is to "exalt" the loved person in the sense that the lover recognizes the price, the value, of the beloved. "The love of friendship is called 'charity' when it perceives and esteems the 'great worth' of another person" (AL 127). This text of Aquinas was already quoted in Evangelii Gaudium in order to affirm, against any ideological instrumentalization of the option for the poor, that authentic love for the poor man is recognizable to the extent that one ties it to that man's very person.11 In Amoris Laetitia, this same text serves, from an analogous perspective, to oppose authentic love against various forms of instrumentalizing another.
     Amoris Laetitia also refers two times to a single text of St. Thomas in order to underline another characteristic of the love of friendship: the primacy, from a certain point of view, of its active, self-offering dimension over its passive, receptive dimension (AL 102 and 162). In question 27, article 1 of the Secunda secundae, St. Thomas explains that charity consists more in [End Page 507] loving than in being loved. The point is illustrated by an example taken from the Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle and reused by Amoris Laetitia: a mother who accepts to confide her infant to a wet nurse shows by this very fact that she is ready, through love (i.e., for the good of her infant), to renounce, redamatio, the return love that she would have the right to expect via the presence of her child. Pope Francis applies the principle to the wife who dedicates herself to her sick husband (AL 162), and he shows how this demand of love finds its source and realization in the mystery of Jesus, who gives his life for his friends.12
     A third remarkable characteristic of the love of friendship, at least under the supernatural form that it assumes as charity, is its capacity to grow to infinity, as St. Thomas explains in question 24, article 7 of the Secunda secundae. Here on earth, there are no limits to growth in charity, participation in the infinite love that is the Holy Spirit. Amoris Laetitia 134 applies this theme to conjugal love, which should always be developing. Conjugal love entails a love that is properly human, and because of this it cannot possibly always develop except by a distant analogy. But, insofar as conjugal love is informed by charity, it participates to some degree in this indefinite growth.
     Finally, in a document entitled Amoris Laetitia, it was fitting to invoke St. Thomas in its etymology of laetitia (entirely Isidorian but suggestive) via question 31 of the Prima secundae (STh I-II, q. 31, a. 3, ad 3). Laetitia (joy) comes from latitia (breadth) since one of the effects of delectatio is to expand the heart (AL 126).
     III. Moral Discernment
     Chapter 8, which is at the center of the controversies that surround the reception of the apostolic exhortation, refers five [End Page 508] times in two paragraphs (301 and 304) to the Common Doctor in order to introduce two fundamental theses of his teaching concerning a human act and its moral evaluation. The first thesis concerns the eminently concrete character of all human action. The action of a human person is localized within the concrete, which is marked by singularity and a certain contingency, of a sort that general moral norms do not suffice for regulating the action. The second thesis is that it is necessary to take account of subjective conditionings in the moral evaluation of an act. Let us begin with this second point.
     A) Taking Account of Subjective Factors in Moral Evaluation  Simplifying matters to an extreme, one can say that St. Thomas knew, in his time, how to bring about a balanced synthesis between the objective aspect and the subjective dimension in the evaluation of the concrete, moral action of a person, a synthesis that passed into the common teaching of the Church. The humanism of the twelfth century, which, particularly with Peter Abelard, rediscovered the place of subjectivity, understood that the moral action of a person could not be evaluated solely from the exterior, that is to say, according to its "material" conformity (or lack thereof) to a norm. But the danger--which Abelard did not perhaps always avoid--was to reduce the norm of morality solely to subjective intention.13 As for St. Thomas, he wished to uphold the subjective factor while also recognizing the determinative place of the objective truth of the act.
     From a strict Thomist point of view, therefore, it is entirely legitimate to take account "in pastoral discernment" (and already in moral theology) of "mitigating factors," as does Amoris Laetitia in paragraphs 301-3. The voluntary character-- and thus the imputability--of an action can be extremely [End Page 509] diminished by various factors that moralists traditionally designate "enemies of the voluntary" (e.g., violence, ignorance, fear). From this accounting for mitigating circumstances, Amoris Laetitia believes that it is possible to deduce that "it can no longer simply be said that all those in any 'irregular' situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace" (AL 301). To support this thesis, the exhortation envisages two cases that, from a Thomist perspective, prove to be rather different from each other. Mitigating circumstances, which limit the voluntary and thus the moral responsibility of someone who performs an objectively bad act, can in the first case be pure and simple ignorance of the norm or just the intellectual difficulty (sometimes considerable) of assimilating this norm due to an unfavorable sociocultural context that spontaneously induces ways of thinking that are objectively contrary to moral truth. But Amoris Laetitia adds a second case, that of a person who, even though knowing the norm, can "be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently [meaning: to act otherwise than by contravening the norm] and decide otherwise without further sin" (AL 301). This is a question no longer of a factor that limits the voluntary or the subjective capacity to decide (which we ordinarily understand as a mitigating circumstance) but of a situation that limits the "objective" choice and that forces the person to choose, between two (moral) evils, the evil that seems to him to be the lesser. Thus, this situation rather resembles what St. Thomas calls perplexitas (a moral dilemma). A person is placed in conditions such that it seems--no matter what he does or abstains from doing--that he cannot avoid sin. Now, on this point, St. Thomas seems rather to judge that there cannot exist such a "true" (simpliciter) moral dilemma that would oblige a person to do an objectively evil act or, as the saying goes, to choose the lesser evil. Or rather, the dilemma exists, but it is caused by an earlier framework of sin that the person can and ought to renounce.14 [End Page 510]
     In order to support the existence of "'factors . . . which limit the ability to make a decision'" (AL 301), Amoris Laetitia invokes a thesis of St. Thomas that had already been featured in Evangelii Gaudium 171:15
QuoteSaint Thomas Aquinas himself recognized that someone may possess grace and charity, yet not be able to exercise any one of the virtues well; in other words, [End Page 511] although someone may possess all the infused moral virtues, he does not clearly manifest the existence of one of them, because the outward practice of that virtue is rendered difficult: "Certain saints are said not to possess certain virtues, in so far as they experience difficulty in the acts of those virtues, even though they have the habits of all the virtues."
     (AL 301) 
Amoris Laetitia, as did previously Evangelii Gaudium, explicitly refers to question 65 of the Prima secundae (STh I-II, q. 65, a. 3, ad 2), in the Summa's treatise on the virtues, and more curiously, to question 2, article 2 of the disputed questions De malo ("Whether sin consists only in an act of the will"), where, salvo meliori iudicio, I have found nothing that directly concerns the problem at hand. Question 65 of the Prima secundae is consecrated to the connection between the virtues. In article 3, St. Thomas defends the thesis according to which, because all the virtues are connected in charity, "which binds everything together in perfect harmony" (Col 3:14 in the RSV), the person in the state of grace, who therefore possesses charity, cannot but possess all of the moral virtues, if not in second act then at least in first act (i.e., in the state of habitus: in habitu). Nonetheless, there is a crucial difference between the acquired moral virtues and the infused moral virtues. The acquired virtues are put in place by the progressive elimination within the subject of dispositions contrary to the virtuous act in such a way that these, over time, disappear. By contrast, the infused virtues can coexist with dispositions contrary to the virtuous act, dispositions inherited from the past life of sin. This renders much more difficult the exercise of virtuous acts. The infused moral virtues therefore do not always have the ease of the acquired virtues. Supposing that a Don Juan has been miraculously touched by grace and justified by it, he would immediately possess the infused virtue of chastity, but it is probable that he would face difficulties in exercising it due to the contrary psychological and even corporeal dispositions that remain etched in him. As Evangelii Gaudium 171 well summarizes, "the organic unity of the virtues always and necessarily exists in habitu, even though forms of conditioning can hinder the operations of those virtuous habits." From this we see the necessity of a great patience toward oneself and others in the [End Page 512] course of moral growth in the Christian life. One will immediately note that this thesis of St. Thomas in no way signifies that the state of grace can coexist with an act that is gravely contrary to a virtue (a mortal sin) but only that it can coexist with a difficulty in actively exercising a virtue. The converted alcoholic probably does not experience, at least initially, any pleasure in sipping an orange juice, but through his infused virtue of temperance he does not thereby abstain any less resolutely from getting drunk. Whatever otherwise may be the case concerning the question of a possible coexistence between, on the one hand, the life of grace, and, on the other hand, voluntary acts that objectively are of a gravely sinful nature (such as adulterous sexual relations) but that may not be mortal sins due to subjective conditionings, this is not directly what the thesis of St. Thomas intends to express.
     B) General Norms and Concrete Action  In any case, based upon what Pope Francis himself has said, the essential thesis of Aquinas with respect to moral and pastoral discernment is rather the following:
QuoteI earnestly ask that we always recall a teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas and learn to incorporate it in our pastoral discernment: "Although there is necessity in the general principles, the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects. . . . In matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only as to the general principles; and where there is the same rectitude in matters of detail, it is not equally known to all . . . The principle will be found to fail, according as we descend further into detail (Et hoc tanto magis invenitur deficere, quanto magis ad particularia descenditur)."
     (AL 304) 
Amoris Laetitia refers here to the very important question 94 of the Prima secundae, consecrated to the natural law, and more precisely to article 4, which discusses the unity and universality of the natural law. In this article, St. Thomas begins by elaborating a difference between the object of speculative reason and the object of practical reason. Speculative reason bears upon a necessary object: the (common) principles are necessary, as are the (proper) conclusions. In contrast, practical [End Page 513] reason bears on an object (human action) that must fit within a reality marked by contingency. The principles, then, possess a certain necessity, but the more one gets down to the conclusions (i.e., the more one approaches the concrete action, which alone is real), the more "play" and contingency there are.
     The determination of the practical truth of an action (veritas vel rectitudo practica) must integrate a double "relativity" or contingency: subjective and objective. First of all, the objective truth may not be subjectively perceived, for the moral judgment of the subject can be distorted either (1) by the passion that makes the subject see things as he would like them to be or (2) by bad customs, that is to say, by a sociocultural context marked by "structures of sin" that present objectively erroneous moral comportments as normative or indifferent.
     But the objective truth of an action can itself vary, certainly not at the level of the first principles of the natural law but at the level of conclusions or applications, which must integrate concrete circumstances, as St. Thomas illustrates with the classic example of the restitution of a weapon to its ill-intentioned owner. The conclusion thus is not true except in the majority of cases (ut in pluribus).16 [End Page 514]
     It is therefore clear that the application of general moral norms to action, which is always contextualized, admits a certain flexibility. The prudent man does not govern his actions by contenting himself with mechanically applying general, common rules. Such is the important Thomist thesis that Amoris Laetitia has chosen to retain.17 In contrast, Amoris Laetitia [End Page 515] leaves in the shadows the distinction that, within this context, St. Thomas makes between positive norms and negative norms, a distinction that is at the heart of the teaching of Veritatis Splendor on intrinsically evil acts.18 Indeed, St. Thomas teaches several times that the positive precepts (for example, "Honor your father and your mother") can be realized in multiple ways as long as the subject keeps in mind the intention of the end. They do not oblige always and in every circumstance (semper et ad semper). In contrast, the negative precepts (for example, "You shall not kill [the innocent]," or "You shall not commit adultery") oblige always and in all circumstances, without any exception, because the prohibited act is directly opposed to the end.
QuoteWhile the negative precepts of the Law forbid sinful acts, the positive precepts inculcate acts of virtue. Now sinful acts are evil in themselves, and cannot become good, no matter how, or when, or where, they are done, because of their very nature they are connected with an evil end . . . wherefore negative precepts bind always and for all times [semper et ad semper]. On the other hand, acts of virtue must not be done anyhow, but by observing the due [End Page 516] circumstances, which are requisite in order that an act be virtuous; namely, that it be done where, when, and how it ought to be done.19 [End Page 517]
The last reference to St. Thomas in Amoris Laetitia is found in footnote 348 at the end of this same paragraph 304. In the heart of paragraph 304, after having quoted question 94, article 4 of the Prima secundae, we see two points meant to balance each other out: (1) "general rules . . . cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations," and (2) "what is part of a practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level of a rule." We turn, then, to footnote 348:
QuoteIn another text, referring to the general knowledge of the rule and the particular knowledge of practical discernment, Saint Thomas states that "if only one of the two is present, it is preferable that it be the knowledge of the particular reality, which is closer to the act": Sententia libri Ethicorum, VI, 6
     (ed. Leonina, t. XLVII, 354). 
It is important to interpret correctly this remark of St. Thomas. In no way is it a question of giving preference to the exception to the norm, as opposed to the norm itself. In reality, St. Thomas does not compare here two norms but two types of knowledge of a norm: (1) general, "abstract" knowledge of the one, universal norm and (2) the proper knowledge of a particular application of this norm in the concrete. This particular knowledge implicitly contains the general norm, in such a way that he who possesses it can get by without explicit knowledge of the general norm. The example given by St. Thomas, which comes directly from Aristotle,20 allows us to understand this better:
QuoteAction has to do with singulars. Hence it is that certain people not possessing the knowledge of universals are more effective about some particulars [i.e., better qualified for action] than those who have universal knowledge, from the fact that they are expert in other particulars. Thus if a doctor knows that [End Page 518] light meats are easily digestible and healthful but does not know which meats are light, he cannot help people to get well. But the man who knows that the flesh of fowls is light and healthful is better able to effect a cure. Since then prudence is reason concerning an action, the prudent person must have a knowledge of both kinds, viz., universals and particulars. But if it is possible for him to have only one kind, he ought rather to have the latter, i.e., the knowledge of particulars that are closer to operation.21
The person who only possesses particular knowledge does not in any way contradict the general principle that light meats are easy to digest and thus procure health. But he knows by experience that the flesh of fowls procures health without necessarily knowing that this property results from the fact that fowl is a meat easy to digest.
     Thus, irrespective of the question whether Amoris Laetitia can be labeled "Thomistic," it is clear that this document opportunely directs our attention to several teachings of St. Thomas that would merit nowadays to be better emphasized. The profound anthropological realism and great finesse of the psychological analysis that characterizes St. Thomas's approach to the human passions and especially to love, and the way in which for the evaluation of a concrete act, he puts together the objectivity of a norm, the consideration of concrete details, and the accounting for subjective factors--all of this most definitely constitutes a major resource for contemporary theological reflection and the pastoral practice that results from it. [End Page 519]
     Serge-Thomas Bonino O.P. Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum)
     Rome, Italy
     1. This article's French original was translated by Dominic M. Langevin, O.P. 
     2. I am using "explicit reference" for two possibilities: (1) any quotation, short or long, indicated by quotation marks, coming from a text of St. Thomas, and accompanied by a reference to the source text; and (2) any explicit referral to a passage in a work of St. Thomas. 
     3. English translation by the Holy See Press Office in its "Bollettino" of April 8, 2016, "Conferenza Stampa per la presentazione dell'Esortazione Apostolica post-sinodale del Santo Padre Francesco Amoris laetitia, sull'amore nella famiglia" (https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/it/bollettino/pubblico/2016/04/08/0241/00531.html). (Trans.: One correction has been made via recourse to the original Italian.) 
     4. Translations of Amoris laetitia (AL) are from the translation on the Vatican website (https://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia_en.pdf). 
     5. See STh I-II, q. 24, a. 2; III, q. 15; Paul Gondreau, The Passions of Christ's Soul in the Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie und Theologie des Mittelalters, n.f., 61 (Münster: Aschendorff, 2002). 
     6. "Abundantia delectationis quae est in actu venereo secundum rationem ordinato, non contrariatur medio virtutis." Quotations from the Latin of the Summa are taken from the Leonine edition. English translations come from Summa theologica, 3 vol., trans. The Fathers of the English Dominican Province (New York: Benziger, 1947-48). 
     7. See, for example, STh I-II, q. 28, a. 6. 
     8. STh I-II, qq. 26-28; and II-II, qq. 23-27. 
     9. English translations of ScG III are from Summa contra Gentiles, Book 3, trans. Vernon J. Bourke, 2 vols. (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975). 
     10. Pope Francis, apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium 199, n. 166. 
     11. Ibid. 199, n. 168: "The poor person, when loved, 'is esteemed as of great value' (STh I-II, q. 26, a. 3), and this is what makes the authentic option for the poor differ from any other ideology, from any attempt to exploit the poor for one's own personal or political interest." (Translation taken from the Vatican web site: https://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium_en.pdf.) 
     12. AL 102: "Saint Thomas Aquinas explains that 'it is more proper to charity to desire to love than to desire to be loved'; indeed, 'mothers, who are those who love the most, seek to love more than to be loved.' Consequently, love can transcend and overflow the demands of justice, 'expecting nothing in return' (Lk 6:35), and the greatest of loves can lead to 'laying down one's life' for another (cf. Jn 15:13)." 
     13. See Marie-Dominique Chenu, O.P., L'Éveil de la conscience dans la civilisation médiévale, Conférence Albert-le-Grand 1968 (Montreal: Institut d'Études Médiévales; Paris: Vrin, 1969); and Theo G. Belmans, O. Praem., Le sens objectif de l'agir humain: Pour relire la morale conjugale de Saint Thomas, Studi Tomistici 8 (Vatican City State: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1980), chap. 2 ("La doctrine d'Abélard"). 
     14. See St. Thomas Aquinas, II Sent., d. 39, q. 3, a. 3, ad 5: "Simply, no one is in a dilemma [perplexus] absolutely speaking; but for a man in a certain place, it is not absurd that, where he is standing, he will be somewhat in a dilemma; for, standing there with a bad intention, whether he does the act that he ought to do according to precept or whether he does not so act, sin is incurred; similarly, even standing there with an erroneous conscience, whatever he may do, sin is not avoided. But man can lay aside an erroneous conscience just as he can lay aside a bad intention; and thus, simply, no one is in a dilemma." See also M. V. Dougherty, Moral Dilemmas in Medieval Thought: From Gratian to Aquinas (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011). According to Dougherty's analysis, St. Thomas thinks that there indeed exist moral dilemmas but that they are all relative (secundum quid). Absolutely speaking, every case of a dilemma is, in the final analysis, the consequence of an earlier action that involves a certain culpability. The Thomist tradition considers therefore that no moral dilemma is legitimately unsolvable, such that a person is never constrained to choose (the lesser) evil. It is clear that the objective complexity of the situation, the fear of consequences, etc., can have an impact on the subjective perception of what concretely should be done. The person may be incapable of seeing how concretely to escape from the dilemma, which could indirectly limit the voluntary character of his evil action. Within the context of Amoris laetitia 301, it seems that what is being envisaged is the existence of a moral dilemma that is (objectively?) unsolvable in the case of the "divorced and remarried." If they renounce properly conjugal acts (which are objectively adulterous), they would destroy the psychological, affective balance of their "new family," which would constitute an injustice with respect to children born of this common-law union. They would thus be constrained to choose the lesser evil. Among other difficulties, this reasoning seems to hold as certain that it is impossible for the "divorced and remarried," even with the grace of God, to live in continence in a humanly balanced way. 
     15. Evangelii Gaudium 171: "Only through such respectful and compassionate listening can we enter on the paths of true growth and awaken a yearning for the Christian ideal: the desire to respond fully to God's love and to bring to fruition what he has sown in our lives. But this always demands the patience of one who knows full well what Saint Thomas Aquinas tells us: that anyone can have grace and charity, and yet falter in the exercise of the virtues because of persistent 'contrary inclinations' (STh I-II, q. 65, a. 3, ad 2). In other words, the organic unity of the virtues always and necessarily exists in habitu, even though forms of conditioning can hinder the operations of those virtuous habits. Hence the need for 'a pedagogy which will introduce people step by step to the full appropriation of the mystery.' Reaching a level of maturity where individuals can make truly free and responsible decisions calls for much time and patience."   
     16. STh I-II, q. 94, a. 4: "Now the process of reason is from the common to the proper, as stated in Phys. i. The speculative reason, however, is differently situated in this matter, from the practical reason. For, since the speculative reason is busied chiefly with necessary things, which cannot be otherwise than they are, its proper conclusions, like the universal principles, contain the truth without fail. The practical reason, on the other hand, is busied with contingent matters, about which human actions are concerned: and consequently, although there is necessity in the general principles, the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects. Accordingly then in speculative matters truth is the same in all men, both as to principles and as to conclusions: although the truth is not known to all as regards the conclusions, but only as regards the principles which are called common notions. But in matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only as to the general principles: and where there is the same rectitude in matters of detail, it is not equally known to all.
     "It is therefore evident that, as regards the general principles whether of speculative or of practical reason, truth or rectitude is the same for all, and is equally known by all. As to the proper conclusions of the speculative reason, the truth is the same for all, but is not equally known to all: thus it is true for all that the three angles of a triangle are together equal to two right angles, although it is not known to all. But as to the proper conclusions of the practical reason, neither is the truth or rectitude the same for all, nor, where it is the same, is it equally known by all. Thus it is right and true for all to act according to reason: and from this principle it follows as a proper conclusion, that goods entrusted to another should be restored to their owner. Now this is true for the majority of cases: but it may happen in a particular case that it would be injurious, and therefore unreasonable, to restore goods held in trust; for instance, if they are claimed for the purpose of fighting against one's country. And this principle will be found to fail the more, according as we descend further into detail, e.g., if one were to say that goods held in trust should be restored with such and such a guarantee, or in such and such a way; because the greater the number of conditions added, the greater the number of ways in which the principle may fail, so that it be not right to restore or not to restore.
     "Consequently we must say that the natural law, as to general principles, is the same for all, both as to rectitude and as to knowledge. But as to certain matters of detail, which are conclusions, as it were, of those general principles, it is the same for all in the majority of cases, both as to rectitude and as to knowledge; and yet in some few cases it may fail, both as to rectitude, by reason of certain obstacles (just as natures subject to generation and corruption fail in some few cases on account of some obstacle), and as to knowledge, since in some the reason is perverted by passion, or evil habit, or an evil disposition of nature; thus formerly, theft, although it is expressly contrary to the natural law, was not considered wrong among the Germans, as Julius Caesar relates (De Bello Gall. vi)."
     17. It is curious that the apostolic exhortation does not allude to the theme of epikeia or equity (aequitas). See STh II-II, q. 120; and V Nic. Ethic., lect. 16 (Leonine ed., vol. 47/2: 321-25). Epikeia is the virtue that renders a person apt to choose that which is just even when the just thing in question is contrary to the letter of a law that cannot take into account all circumstances. But this "equitable" transgression of a particular law is always made with reference to a higher law: the intention of the legislator and, in the final analysis, the intention of God manifested in the natural law (which is why the natural law is never "dispensable" in its first principles). See V Nic. Ethic., lect. 16 (Leonine ed., 47/2:323): "It is true that what is equitable is one kind of just thing and, however, is better than another just thing. For, as was noted before, the justice which citizens practice is divided into natural and legal. However, what is equitable is better than what is legally just, but is contained under the naturally just. Consequently, it is not said to be better than the just thing as if it were some other kind of norm distinct from the genus of just things" (translation modified from Commentary on the "Nicomachean Ethics," 2 vol., trans. C. I. Litzinger, O.P. [Chicago: Henry Regnery, 1964]; the translation has been slightly edited and brought into greater accord with the newer Leonine edition of the Latin text). 
     18. The distinction between positive norms and negative norms plays a fundamental role in the teaching of Pope John Paul II's encyclical Veritatis Splendor. See paragraph 52: "The negative precepts of the natural law are universally valid. They oblige each and every individual, always and in every circumstance. It is a matter of prohibitions which forbid a given action semper et pro semper, without exception, because the choice of this kind of behaviour is in no case compatible with the goodness of the will of the acting person, with his vocation to life with God and to communion with his neighbour. It is prohibited--to everyone and in every case--to violate these precepts. They oblige everyone, regardless of the cost, never to offend in anyone, beginning with oneself, the personal dignity common to all." See also paragraph 67: "In the case of the positive moral precepts, prudence always has the task of verifying that they apply in a specific situation, for example, in view of other duties which may be more important or urgent. But the negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behaviour as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception. They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the 'creativity' of any contrary determination whatsoever. Once the moral species of an action prohibited by a universal rule is concretely recognized, the only morally good act is that of obeying the moral law and of refraining from the action which it forbids" (translation from the Vatican web site: http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_06081993_veritatis-splendor.html). 
     19. STh II-II, q. 33, a. 2: "Sicut praecepta negativa legis prohibent actus peccatorum, ita praecepta affirmativa inducunt ad actus virtutum. Actus autem peccatorum sunt secundum se mali, et nullo modo bene fieri possunt, nec aliquo tempore aut loco: quia secundum se sunt coniuncti malo fini, ut dicitur in II Ethic. Et ideo praecepta negativa obligant semper et ad semper. Sed actus virtutum non quolibet modo fieri debent, sed observatis debitis circumstantiis quae requiruntur ad hoc quod sit actus virtuosus: ut scilicet fiat ubi debet, et quando debet, et secundum quod debet." See also De Malo, q. 7, a. 1, ad 8: "The will of a rational creature is obliged to be subject to God, but this is achieved by affirmative and negative precepts, of which the negative precepts oblige always and on all occasions, and the affirmative precepts oblige always but not on every occasion" ("Uoluntas creature rationalis obligatur ad hoc quod sit subdita Deo, sed hoc fit per precepta affirmatiua et negatiua: quorum negatiua obligant semper et ad semper, affirmatiua uero obligant semper set non ad semper"; translation from The "De Malo" of Thomas Aquinas, trans. Richard Regan [Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001], 483; the Latin original of De malo comes from the Leonine edition, vol. 23 [Rome: Commissio Leonina, 1982]). See also Aquinas's Super Rom., c. 13, lect. 2 (¶ 1052): "[The Apostle] enumerates negative precepts, through which someone is prohibited from inflicting evil on his neighbors. This is the case for two reasons. First, indeed, because negative precepts are more universal, both with respect to times and with respect to persons. Indeed, with respect to times, because negative precepts oblige always and for all times [semper et ad semper]. For at no time is there to be stealing or the committing of adultery. However, affirmative precepts oblige always but not for all times, but according to a place and time; for man is not held such that at all times he honor his parents but according to a place and time. Moreover, with respect to persons, because no man is to be harmed, for we are not self-sufficient such that one man can serve all men. Secondly [i.e., why the Apostle enumerates negative precepts], because it is more manifest that, through the love of neighbor, the negative precepts are fulfilled than the affirmative ones" ("Enumerat autem praecepta negativa, per quae aliquis prohibetur malum proximis inferre. Et hoc duplici ratione. Primo quidem, quia praecepta negativa sunt magis universalia, et quantum ad tempora et quantum ad personas. Quantum ad tempora quidem, quia praecepta negativa obligant semper et ad semper. Nullo enim tempore est furandum et adulterandum. Praecepta autem affirmativa obligant quidem semper, sed non ad semper, sed pro loco et tempore; non enim tenetur homo, ut omni tempore honoret parentes, sed pro loco et tempore. Quantum ad personas autem, quia nulli hominum est nocendum, non autem sufficientes sumus, ut unus homo possit omnibus hominibus servire. Secundo quia magis manifestum est quod per dilectionem proximi implentur praecepta negativa quam affirmative"; Latin original in Super epistolas S. Pauli Lectura, 8th ed., ed. Raphael Cai, O.P. [Turin: Marietti, 1953]). See also Super Gal., c. 6, lect. 1 (¶ 343): "Some sins consist in commission and some in omission. And the first is more grave than the second, because the former are opposed to negative precepts which bind always and at every moment; whereas the latter, being opposed to affirmative precepts, since they do not bind one at every moment, it cannot be known definitely when they do bind" ("Quaedam peccata consistunt in transgressione, quaedam vero in omissione. Graviora autem sunt prima secundis: quia illa opponuntur praeceptis negativis, quae obligant semper et ad semper, haec vero opponuntur praeceptis affirmativis quae cum non obligent ad semper, non potest sciri determinate quando obligant"; English translation in Commentary on Saint Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, trans. F. R. Larcher, O.P. [Albany, N.Y.: Magi, 1966], 188). 
     20. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics 6.7.1141b14-20. 
     21. VI Nic. Ethic., lect. 6 (Leonine ed., 47/2:354): "Actio autem est circa singularia. Et inde est quod quidam non habentes scientiam universalium sunt magis activi circa aliqua particularia quam illi qui habent universalem scientiam, eo quod sunt in aliis particularibus experti. Puta, si aliquis medicus sciat quod carnes leves sunt bene digestibiles et sanae, ignoret autem quales carnes sint leves, non poterit facere sanitatem; sed ille qui scit quod carnes volatilium sunt leves et sanae, magis poterit sanare. Quia igitur prudentia est ratio activa, oportet quod prudens habeat utramque notitiam, scilicet et universalium et particularium; vel, si alteram solum contingat ipsum habere, magis debet habere hanc, scilicet notitiam particularium, quae sunt propinquiora operationi." 
Theology / «Amoris Lætitia» cites St. Tho...
Last post by Geremia - April 07, 2018, 08:26:49 PM
In Amoris Lætitia, Francis mentions St. Thomas Aquinas by name 14 times and cites St. Thomas's Summa Theologica by name 13 times (excluding "ibid." citations of it), his Summa Contra Gentiles once, and his De Malo once, and his commentary on Aristotle Nichomachean Ethics twice. This would seem to be the most Thomistic of Francis's writings so far, and certainly more Thomistic than John Paul II or Benedict XVI have ever been. (Also, he cited Pope Pius XI's 1930 encyclical on marriage Casti Connubii only twice, and there are indeed many citations to "Theology of the Body".)

Here are the citations in their associated context, plus my comments in []:
  • Quote from: ch. 4 "Love in Marriage," § "Our daily love," § "Love is not rude," ¶99As an essential requirement of love, "every human being is bound to live agreeably with those around him".*

    *Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 114, art. 2, ad 1. ["Whether this kind of friendship (affability) is a part of justice?"]

    Quote from: ch. 4 "Love in Marriage," § "Our daily love," §§ "Love is generous," ¶102Saint Thomas Aquinas explains that "it is more proper to charity to desire to love than to desire to be loved";* indeed, "mothers, who are those who love the most, seek to love more than to be loved".**

    *Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 27, art. 1, ad 2. ["Whether to be loved is more proper to charity than to love?"]
    **Ibid., q. 27, art. 1.

    Quote from: ch. 4 "Love in Marriage," § "Growing in conjugal love," ¶120Our reflection on Saint Paul's hymn to love has prepared us to discuss conjugal love. This is the love between husband and wife,* a love sanctified, enriched and illuminated by the grace of the sacrament of marriage. It is an "affective union",** spiritual and sacrificial, which combines the warmth of friendship and erotic passion, and endures long after emotions and passion subside.

    *Thomas Aquinas calls love a vis unitiva (Summa Theologiae I, q. 20, art. 1, ad 3 ["Whether love exists in God?"]), echoing a phrase of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (De Divinis Nominibus, IV, 12: PG 3, 709). [The previous citation is to a page-length, extended quote of a Martin Luther King Jr. sermon!]
    **Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 27, art. 2. ["Whether to love considered as an act of charity is the same as goodwill?" Also, Francis's next citation is to Casti Connubii.]

    Quote from: ch. 4 "Love in Marriage," § "Growing in conjugal love," §§ "Lifelong sharing," ¶123After the love that unites us to God, conjugal love is the "greatest form of friendship".*

    *Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles III, 123 ["That matrimony should be indivisible"]; cf. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, 8 ["Friendship"], 12 (ed. Bywater, Oxford, 1984, 174). [This is quite good and true; cf. this Christendom college prof.'s lecture: "Friendship of Man and Woman According to Aristotle and St. Thomas."]

    Quote from: ch. 4 "Love in Marriage," § "Growing in conjugal love," §§ "Joy and beauty," ¶126Saint Thomas Aquinas said that the word "joy" refers to an expansion of the heart.*

    *Cf. Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 31, art. 3., ad 3. ["Whether delight differs from joy?"]

    Quote from: ch. 4 "Love in Marriage," § "Growing in conjugal love," §§ "A love that reveals itself and increases," ¶134The very special form of love that is marriage is called to embody what Saint Thomas Aquinas said about charity in general. "Charity", he says, "by its very nature, has no limit to its increase, for it is a participation in that infinite charity which is the Holy Spirit...Nor on the part of the subject can its limit be fixed, because as charity grows, so too does its capacity for an even greater increase".*

    *Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 24, art. 7. ["Whether charity increases indefinitely?"]
    bsp; [li]
    Quote from: ch. 4 "Love in Marriage," § "Passionate love," §§ "The world of emotions," ¶145Experiencing an emotion is not, in itself, morally good or evil.*

    *Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 24, art. 1. ["Whether moral good and evil can be found in the passions of the soul?"]

    Quote from: ch. 4 "Love in Marriage," § "Passionate love," §§ "God loves the joy of his children," ¶148Excess, lack of control or obsession with a single form of pleasure can end up weakening and tainting that very pleasure* and damaging family life. A person can certainly channel his passions in a beautiful and healthy way, increasingly pointing them towards altruism and an integrated self-fulfillment that can only enrich interpersonal relationships in the heart of the family. This does not mean renouncing moments of intense enjoyment,** but rather integrating them with other moments of generous commitment, patient hope, inevitable weariness and struggle to achieve an ideal.

    *Cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 32, art.7 ["Whether likeness is a cause of pleasure?"].
    **Cf. Id., Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 153, art. 2 ["Whether no venereal act can be without sin?"], ad 2: "Abundantia delectationis quae est in actu venereo secundum rationem ordinato, non contrariatur medio virtutis" ["The exceeding pleasure attaching to a venereal act directed according to reason, is not opposed to the mean of virtue."].
    Quote from: ch. 4 "Love in Marriage," § "Passionate love," §§ "Marriage and virginity," ¶162A wife can care for her sick husband and thus, in drawing near to the Cross, renew her commitment to love unto death. In such love, the dignity of the true lover shines forth, inasmuch as it is more proper to charity to love than to be loved.*

    *Cf. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, q. 27, art. 1. ["Whether to be loved is more proper to charity than to love?"]

    Quote from: ch. 8 "Accompanying, Discerning, and Integrating Weakness," § "Mitigating factors in pastoral discernment," ¶301Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any "irregular" situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace. [!!!] More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. ... Saint Thomas Aquinas himself recognized that someone may possess grace and charity, yet not be able to exercise any one of the virtues well;* in other words, although someone may possess all the infused moral virtues, he does not clearly manifest the existence of one of them, because the outward practice of that virtue is rendered difficult: "Certain saints are said not to possess certain virtues, in so far as they experience difficulty in the acts of those virtues, even though they have the habits of all the virtues".** [Being in the state of grace means having the freedom to exercise the virtues? This quote of St. Thomas seems to be a non sequitur; it appears he quotes the greatest theologian of the Church to rationalize living in sin!!]

    *Cf. Summa Theologiae I-II, q. 65, art. 3 ["Whether charity can be without moral virtue?"] ad 2; De Malo, q. 2, art. 2 ["Whether sin consists only in the act of the will?"].
    **Ibid., ad 3.

    Quote from: ch. 8 "Accompanying, Discerning, and Integrating Weakness," § "Rules and discernment," ¶304It is reductive simply to consider whether or not an individual's actions correspond to a general law or rule, because that is not enough to discern and ensure full fidelity to God in the concrete life of a human being. [St. Thomas says that conscience is the act of applying abstract principles (e.g., "Thou shalt not commit adultery") to concrete situations in one's life (cf. Summa Theologica I q. 79 a. 13 c.). Thus, Francis says conscience "is reductive;" it's something we need to move beyond!] I earnestly ask that we always recall a teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas and learn to incorporate it in our pastoral discernment: "Although there is necessity in the general principles, the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects... In matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only as to the general principles; and where there is the same rectitude in matters of detail, it is not equally known to all... The principle will be found to fail, according as we descend further into detail".* It is true that general rules set forth a good which can never be disregarded or neglected, but in their formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations. [So, God has called us to do the impossible by giving us the "general rules" of the Ten Commandments (natural law)‽ God does not "suffer us to be tempted above that which we are able" (1 Cor. 10:13), as the Council of Trent reiterated in its Doctrine on the Sacrament of Matrimony.] At the same time, it must be said that, precisely for that reason, what is part of a practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level of a rule. That would not only lead to an intolerable casuistry, but would endanger the very values which must be preserved with special care.**

    *Summa Theologiae, I-II, q. 94, art. 4. ["Whether the natural law is the same in all men?"]
    **In another text, referring to the general knowledge of the rule and the particular knowledge of practical discernment, Saint Thomas states that "if only one of the two is present, it is preferable that it be the knowledge of the particular reality, which is closer to the act": Sententia libri Ethicorum, VI, 6 ["Wisdom, the Principle Intellectual Virtue," ¶1194] (ed. Leonina, t. XLVII, 354.)
He quotes some excellent, relevant passages from St. Thomas, but do they support his views, esp. in #8 and #9 and most esp. the Summa question "Whether the natural law is the same in all men?," which is probably the most relevant Summa article in today's world of ubiquitous denial of natural law.
Dogma & Doctrine / Utrum sciverit Logicam?
Last post by Geremia - April 05, 2018, 11:22:04 AM
St. Albert even asks if she knew logic (q. 102, p. 161)!
Philosophy / St. Thomas on the "butterfly e...
Last post by Geremia - April 02, 2018, 04:30:42 PM
The "butterfly effect" appears to be a modern variant of the ancient philosophical axiom "Parvus error in principiis, magnus in conclusionibus" or "Parvus error in principio, magnus est in fine":
QuoteA small error in the beginning (or in principles) leads to a big error in the end (or in conclusions).
See St. Thomas Aquinas De Ente et Essentia, proemium, which references Aristotle De Cœlo bk. 1, specifically 271b:
Quote...the least initial deviation from the truth is multiplied later a thousandfold. Admit, for instance, the existence of a minimum magnitude, and you will find that the minimum which you have introduced, small as it is, causes the greatest truths of mathematics to totter. The reason is that a principle is great rather in power than in extent; hence that which was small at the start turns out a giant at the end.
Upon which St. Thomas commentates (In De caelo lib. 1 l. 9 n. 4 [97.]):
Quote...one who makes a slight departure from the truth in his principles gets 10,000 [i.e,. many] times farther from the truth as he goes on. This is so because all things that follow depend on their principles. This is especially clear in an error at the crossroads: for one who at the beginning is only a slight distance from the right road gets very far away from it later on.* And he gives, as an example of what he is talking about, the case of those who posited a smallest magnitude, as Democritus posited indivisible bodies. By thus introducing a least quantity, he overthrew the most important propositions of mathematics -- for example, that any given line can be cut into two halves. The reason for this effect is that a principle, though small in stature, is nevertheless great in power, just as from a small seed a mammoth tree is produced. Hence it is that what is small in the beginning becomes multiplied in the end, because it reaches unto all that to which the power of the principle extends, whether this be true or false.
*St. Thomas's example here is exactly that of Chaos: A Mathematical Adventure, ch. 2 "Vector Fields", 9:10ff.; see also ibid. ch. 7 "Strange Attractors & the Butterfly Effect".
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