Leon J. Podles :: DIALOGUE

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Judging or Banning?

March 5th, 2013 · 12 Comments

John Allen wrote about the papal election:  “No matter what happens, the church almost certainly won’t reverse its bans [my emphasis] on abortion, gay marriage or women priests.”

Ralph McInerney, who should have known better, also referred to the Church’s “ban” on contraception.

The use of the words “ban” or “prohibition” are profoundly misleading, since these words refer to an act of the will.

However, the magisterium of the Church is not an act of the will, but of the intellect. It is matter of judgment. That is, the Church through its various organs, councils, synods, popes, and theologians, makes a judgment about a matter of the moral law. This judgment is guided by the Holy Spirit into a gradual attaining of the truth. At certain points the judgment becomes infallible – that point is sometimes a matter of debate.

The Church has not “banned” contraception or abortion; it has made a judgment that these actions are intrinsically wrong and contrary to the structure of reality that God has created.

Similarly, although it is matter of the sacramental order rather than the moral law, the Church has decided that only bread made from wheat (not rice) and only wine made from grapes (not cherries) can be made into the Body and Blood of Christ at Mass. Any attempt to use other materials would not work, as it is contrary to the sacramental structure. In the same way only a male can be ordained a priest; a woman cannot be ordained a priest; any attempt to ordain a woman would not work. Nor, for example, can a person be baptized with rose petals, as some liberal Protestant churches occasionally do.

This does not say that rice is inferior to wheat, or cherries to grapes, or women to men, but that in the structure of sacramental reality only certain things are possible. It is a matter judgment about the structure of sacramental reality.

Of course some people disagree with the judgment, and we must weigh the relative authority of those making the judgment.

Underlying the use of words like “ban” is a voluntarist conception if law– that the Church or the Pope makes the moral law, and can change or dispense from it. An over-emphasis on obedience, or rather on what the Jesuits all “corpse obedience” as opposed to Dominican “rational obedience” contributes to this misunderstanding.

Tags: Catholic Church · Moral Theology · Voluntarism

12 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Mary // Mar 5, 2013 at 9:38 am

    The “Judgements” have a Scriptural basis and the ones mentioned above do.
    A cousin’s son attended Villanova over a decade ago. His tongue began to swell upon returning from Communion. He ran straight to the men’s room , spit the host in the toilet and washed out his mouth with water. His throat was closing but he managed to survive. He has severe peanut allergies. He called his parish priest back home asking if he committed a blasphemy. The priest told him inot to worry it was not Transubstantiated.
    If you are a Believer ,does it not make sense to wonder about the theft of Sanctifying Grace and it’s effects upon the Faithful?
    Again I ask this..if a man enters the seminary either by recruitment due to his same sex preference by a rector of the same orientation, which we know happens or, because he desires to be in the close company of others of like gender , how can he have the Proper Intention required to receive the Sacrament of Ordination?
    What are the effects of the the loss of Sanctifying Grace upon the world and the Church? I believe we are wittnessing and living it.

    Another question to ponder is the Judgement against Modernism ? How does that relate to the New Order of the Mass ,which in many parishes is a debased form of religious entertainment ?

    So while M Voris promotes being RealCatholic via Opus Dei and makes the false blanket declaration that the disordered clerics “..hate the Tridentine Mass”, he also planned a Lenten cruise retreat to the Carribean with another online priest! How does feasting on a cruise in lavish surroundings make sense for a Traditionally bent “REAL CATHOLIC” during Lent?
    While contraception ,abortion, proper matter and the male priesthood all fall into bona fide Church teaching ,it appears that opus dei funds and makes some very questionable judgements concerning Catholicism.
    A church led by dysfunctional clerics and lay “apostles” of various Movements all add to the chaos.
    Isn’t anyone just Catholic anymore? Have they all died?

  • 2 TheAltonRoute // Mar 5, 2013 at 11:38 am


    Have you ever met this Michael Voris? I wonder what the deal is with him. His affiliation with Opus Dei leads me to question his intentions. In my opinion he seems to be a slighlty more “conservative” version of the EWTN/NCRegister goons. His talk about Catholic monarchy and only real Catholics being allowed to vote is ridiuclous. Traditi0ninAction unfortunately also falls into similar obsessions with monarchy. I don’t doubt that some monarchs have been decent people but Voris’ praise of monarchy fits in well with the whole SMOM, Legatus, Sepulchre oddballs.

  • 3 Anonymous // Mar 5, 2013 at 12:21 pm

    Another John Allen article aboutthe chaotic craziness going on in Rome .

  • 4 Joan // Mar 5, 2013 at 1:47 pm

    Michael Voris mentioned this author’s book also in one of his videos. I do not think he read it though. By following this writer’s research it is one way of getting a bigger picture of the problems faced by society and the Church.

  • 5 Tony de New York // Mar 5, 2013 at 3:28 pm

    I think he is using ‘ban’ for his fans in the NCR.

  • 6 Father Michael Koenig // Mar 5, 2013 at 4:57 pm

    Mary, I’m with you on the “just Catholic” idea. What a crazy situation we’re in.

    Do you know for sure that Vorris is Opus Dei? I’ve not heard him mention it though I know he’s friends with an Opus Dei priest stationed here in Canada.

  • 7 Mary // Mar 5, 2013 at 8:49 pm

    No and neither do I care to.
    Voris has been inducted into the Order of St Michael of the Wing as was Richard Salbato and Carlos Evaristo .moaning now….
    Tradition and Action seems to extensively quote the writings of Plinio de Olivera of S America who founded the TFP and authored the book about Nobility.
    I dined with Prince Henrie de Bourbon Parma by invitation back in the nineties and discovered that an entire Monarchist Movement exists in Europe which attached itself to the Tridentine Mass Movement also.
    It is my own opinion that Jesus Christ founded a Church seperate from earthly politics. We prefer to worship by attending the Divine Liturgies of either Sts John Crysostom or Basil and to avoid all the signs and wonder healers, rock star , stage speaker and television personality clerics.
    That said, we do not care for the politics of Catholic’s who believe the Church was at a zenith during the Midieval Age and the Crusades.We avoid all Movements since so many have abysmal track records akin to cult behavior.
    Catholicism predates the romanticism of the nobles and knights of yore.
    Besides, the majority of us would still be part of peasantry as we are now , even those with Degrees in Theology because there are just too many of them!
    It’s fun to play pretend and feel special .That is why Renaissance Fairs became a popular form of entertainment .
    St Vincent of Lerins gave the best description in third or fourth century of what it is to remain Catholic during a time of confusion.

  • 8 Mary // Mar 6, 2013 at 11:54 am

    Just one example Alton of the lies used in “catholic” politics that I abhor .The Church was established to promote Christianity and I do not think lies were part of Christ’s teachings.
    Opus Dei credits one of it’s own yet again and pushes for his canonization.

    “RE : I understand that you and Catholic pediatrician Dr. Jacques Coureur and other concerned French Catholics have prepared and filed letters and documents with the postulator for the cause of beatification of Dr. Lejeune at the Vatican, concerning the events surrounding your discovery of the cause of Down syndrome. Has the evidence you have submitted to the Congregation for the Saints been acknowledged yet?”

    P16 of “Virtuous Leadership: An Agenda for Personal Excellence”…….

    The agenda that surrounds the Opus Dei praises and crediting Lejeune as one of their own…….
    The Founder of Opus Dei: The Life of Josemaría Escrivá p 493

  • 9 Mary // Mar 6, 2013 at 12:16 pm

    IMHO A mark of a great teacher is to encourage his student’s to read, think compare and draw their own conclusions and judgements.
    “I recently completed another article for Studia et Documenta which has not yet been published, about the honorary doctorates conferred by the University of Navarre while St Josemaria Escriva was its Chancellor. Four of St Josemaria’s ten public speeches were given at the four academic ceremonies for these conferrals.
    What were the other six speeches?
    In chronological order, they were given on the following occasions: his own honorary doctorate conferred by the University of Saragossa, October 21, 1960; the official transformation of the Estudio General de Navarra into the University of Navarre, just four days later, October 25, 1960; the bestowal of the title “Adopted Son of Pamplona” on him by the Mayor of Pamplona on the same day, October 25, 1960; the conferral of honorary doctorates by the University of Navarre on Juan Cabrera and Felipe and Miguel Sancho Izquierdo, November 28, 1964; the inauguration of the Centro ELIS in Rome, November 21, 1965; the bestowal of the title “Adopted Son of Barcelona” on him, October 7, 1966; the conferral of honorary doctorates by the University of Navarre on Professors Guilherme Braga da Cruz, Willy Onclin, Ralph M. Hower, Otto B. Roegele, Jean Roche and Carlos Jiménez Díaz, October 7, 1967; the honorary doctorates bestowed by the University of Navarre on Professors Paul Ourliac, Juan de Contreras y López de Ayala and Erich Letterer, October 7, 1972; the honorary doctorates bestowed by the University of Navarre on Professors Franz Hengsbach and Jérôme Lejeune, May 9, 1974; and the bestowal of the Barbastro Gold Medal on St Josemaria, May 25, 1975.”

  • 10 TheAltonRoute // Mar 6, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    TFP looks odd; I have seen a few websites declaring it a cult. Regardless, Atila Sinke Guimarães’ writings are very good in my opinion. I just ignore some of Tradition in Action’s overly simplistic praises for past societies. The group’s political ideas in general are far from the most informed or sophisticated. TIA is valuable for its writers’ theological and liturgical insights into Vatican II.

    Some (most?) of the monarchist TLM fanatics look very strange to me, considering that more than a few of the monarchist types are heavily into the occult. According to a review, Craig Haimbichner’s book Blood on the Altar contains information about occult interest in the TLM. I haven’t read the book but it looks interesting.

    I don’t doubt that some monarchs and nobles were truly devout and holy people. However, the glorification of all monarchy strikes me as strange. Voris can talk all he wants about medieval knights. And maybe these knights really were heroes, but their modern descendants probably aren’t.

  • 11 TheAltonRoute // Mar 6, 2013 at 4:38 pm

    Very good sermon: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0qQ7aAjzZI&feature=youtu.be

  • 12 Mary // Mar 6, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    Fr Michael,
    Mr Voris claims for the record he is not a member but at the same time stated it is one way to know you are a “Real Catholic”. Oddly, people in this Movement allegedly are said to be told to be quiet about it.Cooperators, I am told, are technically not members in the same sense as Supernumeraries and Numeraries.

    “Voris’s work soon received an endorsement from then-Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke of the St. Louis.[5] By early 2008 Voris’s programs expanded into markets from Ontario to the Philippines, and from California to New York.[5] On September 1, 2008 he partnered with RealCatholicTV.com, which is owned by Marc Brammer (a business developer for Moody’s) who lives in South Bend, Indiana and is a member of Opus Dei.”

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