Dangerous Synod Proposal: “New Language” for Natural Law
On June 26, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldiserri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops, released theInstrumentum Laboris (Working Document) for the upcoming Extraordinary Synod scheduled for October, 2014.
As spotlighted in last month’s CFN, the document contains good points, major deficiencies and frightening proposals. The three most radical proposals are:
- A new alleged “pastoral solution” to allow divorce and remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion;
- A new “pastoral approach” that permits the baptism of children from same-sex couples, thus indirectly legitimizing these unions;
- A proposed recasting of natural law in “new language”, which threatens to undermine our entire foundation of true morality.
We dealt with the first two points at length last month. In this issue we will focus on the Working Document’s worrisome treatment of natural law, starting with one of the most bizarre statements ever to appear in a post-Conciliar document.
Paragraphs 20 to 30 of the Working Document deal with the issue of natural law. The final paragraph of this section contains the heading: “A Call for Renewal in Terms of Language”.
We then read, “The language traditionally used in explaining the term ‘natural law’ should be improved so that the values of the Gospel can be communicated to people today in a more intelligible manner. In particular, the vast majority of responses and an even greater part of the observations request that more emphasis be placed on the role of the Word of God as a privileged instrument in the conception of married life and the family, and recommend greater reference to the Bible, its language and narratives. In this regard, respondents propose bringing the issues to public discussion and developing the idea of biblical inspiration and the ‘order of creation,’ which could permit re-reading of the concept of natural law in a more meaningful manner in today’s world (cf. the idea of the law written in the human heart in Rm. 1:19-21; 2:14-15). Moreover, this proposal insists on using language which is accessible to all, such as the language of symbols utilized during the liturgy. The recommendation was also made to engage young people directly in this matter.” (#30)
This is one of the most baffling statements to be uttered since the time of the Council, and hardly speaks about natural law in a “more intelligible manner”.
In short, the statement is a mess. I consulted some of the best 20th Century works on Thomistic Ethics (i.e., Father Thomas Higgins Man as Man, Father Celestine Bittle’s Man and Morals, Father Michael Cronin’s The Science of Ethics, Msgr. Paul Glenn’s Ethics: A Manual of Moral Philosophy), and none of these works present natural law in such a confused manner. None of them mishmash the solid philosophical science of Ethics (where the teaching of natural law is rightly placed) with an approach that relies on Scripture, or with some sort of proposal to explain natural law using “the language of symbolism utilized during the liturgy,” whatever that means.
This is because Ethics is a philosophical science – a true science – that relies primarily on human reason for its scientific conclusions. Theology, by contrast, relies on Divine revelation. Thomistic philosophy and theology complement and support one another, but they are two distinct disciplines: one based on reason, the other based on revelation.
The above-quoted Paragraph #30 of the Working Document is already a departure from the traditional approach to natural law. Its muddying of this crucial issue could not be more unpastoral.
Worse, the Working Document does not call for a return to the true Aristotelian/Thomistic teaching on natural law found in the systematic Science of Ethics, in which we find the precision of language from the greatest scholastic minds of all time, proven by the wisdom of the centuries (which is the only true answer). Rather, the document calls for even more new new language that is likely to further confuse the issue, weaken our defenses, undermine our entire foundation of ethics, and present novel language that will distort traditional morality.
Natural law starts with the truth that man has a nature, and that what he ought to do – his rule of behavior – must conform to his nature, otherwise his acts are contrary to reason.
Natural law especially comes into play with moral acts, since natural law judges an act by its natural end, the final purpose incorporated in its design.
Suicide, for example, is condemned by natural law, since the most basic natural good is to preserve one’s life. The direct taking of one’s life is contrary to this fundamental principle.
It is natural law that proscribes lying. If we look at the nature of speech – what is its “end” (what is its ultimate purpose) – we understand that speech is for the sake of communicating truth. If speech is employed to communicate untruth, it is against the nature of speech, it is unreasonable, it is immoral.
Another obvious argument from natural law concerns the sexual act. The sexual act is primarily for the transmission of life. This is obvious from every aspect of its design – of its nature. All other goods associated with it are inducements to the act, but nature’s primary end of the act is for conception and begetting of a “new live man”.
You’ll notice that none of our natural law examples invoke Scripture. Man can arrive at these truths even without the help of Divine Revelation. This is one of the reasons why we say natural law arguments are based on reason. As Thomist Professor Dr. Raphael Waters often insisted, “The end [final purpose of the act] is principal in moral matters”.
Traditional natural law teaching on marriage also debars any thought of “same-sex” marriage. Thomist Professor Edward Feser explains, “According to natural law theory, marriage is a natural institution. That means it has a nature, an essence, just like Euclidean triangles, dogs, cats, lead, gold, and other natural substances have. Therefore it isn’t something we can change just by changing a legal definition, any more than a legislature or a judge could decide that cats by name ought to have five legs or that the Pythagorean theorem ought no longer to apply to right triangles. Moreover, according to natural law theory, given the nature or essence of marriage, it is inherently heterosexual.”
None of this is terribly difficult to understand. None of this is beyond the grasp of “modern man”. In fact, I have found that well-meaning Catholics of our time actually thrill when you give them solid arguments for Catholic morality based on reason.
Yet I attended 12 years of Catholic school (graduated in 1976) and never once heard the term natural law, let alone any kind of explanation of the term. This is the experience of every Catholic I know from the period (even to the present).
If today’s Catholics have little or no concept of natural law (as the Working Document rightly laments in #s 20 through 29), it is because Catholics were not taught true natural law theory. This is due to the fact that our leaders now swoon to the writings of dreary radicals such as Congar, Chenu, Haring, Rahner and their progeny. Our leaders heeded von Balthasar’s call to tear down the Catholic bastions that protected Catholics against the hordes of modernist invaders. The barbarians, now inside, have vandalized Church structures ever since, starting with a fierce attack on Thomistic philosophy – an attack that was underway even prior to Vatican II.
In fact, the deafening silence on natural law is actually due to the triumph of the subjectivist, anti-Thomist “new theology” at Vatican II, and the triumph of the theologians of the “new theology” from the time of the Council. One of the results of this triumph was the scrapping of the magnificent systematic, scholastic textbooks that presented Thomistic philosophy, dogmatic theology and moral theology in organized, logical structure from A to Z.
The answer to today’s widespread ignorance of natural law is not to create “new language” according to the non-Thomistic system that produced the chaos in the first place (which is exactly what the Working Document proposes). Rather, the solution is a comprehensive return to the full program of Scholastic philosophy and theology. This also demands the disciplining of theologians, teachers and seminary professors who depart from this true approach.
Such a proposal is nowhere found in the Working Document. We can only expect the result of this expensive, time-consuming Synod to be more confusion, more scandal, and a further breakdown in Catholic moral teaching.
Progressivists Hate Natural Law
The correct concept of natural law has always stood in the way of the “new morality” that attempts to justify immorality. As Professor Roberto de Mattei noted, Father Bernard Haring is considered the “Father of the New Morality,” a system that substitutes the concept of nature as the supreme norm of morality, with the concept of the person. De Mattei explained, “The [true] ethic, founded on the absoluteness of the natural law, is replaced by an evolutionary ethic founded on the person … The ethical rule is no longer objective and rational but instead subjective, personal and existentialist.” Individual conscience becomes the “sovereign moral norm of morality.”
The true concept of natural law is now considered “problematic”.
Case in point: Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, retired auxiliary bishop of Sydney, Australia, gave a lecture at the “Catholic” homosexualist New Ways Ministry National Symposium, From Water to Wine: Lesbian/Gay Catholics and Relationship. In this February 2012 talk, Bishop Robinson – a “bishop in good standing” – attacks natural law and advocates the Catholic Church accept the “moral goodness” of homosexuality.
“If [Church] teaching on homosexual acts is ever to change,” said Robinson, “the basic teaching governing all sexual acts must change.
“If the starting point [as in current Church teaching] is that every single act must be both unitive and procreative, there is no possibility of approval of homosexual acts,” continued Robinson.
The New Ways Ministry newsletter goes on to report that Bishop Robinson “proceeded to question that natural law argument, especially as laid out by recent popes, and to suggest that a more nuanced relaxing of divine commandment in scripture and of Jesus’ teaching would lead to a different set of moral norms – starting with a change in Church teaching that every sexual act or thought that falls outside a loving conjugal act open to procreation is a mortal sin because it is a direct offense against God himself in his divine plan for human sexuality.”
Bishop Robinson, who has been not been publicly reprimanded by Pope Benedict XVI or Pope Francis for these statements, attacks natural law, and calls for a more nuanced reading of Scripture in order to undermine traditional moral teaching.
The point: though Sacred Scripture is necessary, it can only serve the full truth when presented in full union with traditional Catholic doctrine and scholastic philosophy. Otherwise, we can face a massive misuse of Scripture.
In fact, we already suffer this perversion of the Bible’s true message.
The late Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, an infamous radical, a darling of modernists, and alleged scriptural scholar, developed a “more nuanced,” approach allegedly based on Scripture, that opens the door for acceptance of homosexuality.
In his last public interview, Martini said, “The Bible judges homosexuality with strong words. The background to this problematic practice in the ancient world, when men would have boys and male lovers alongside their families. Alexander the Great is a famous example. The Bible wants to protect the family, the wife, and the children’s space.”
Martini never speaks of the objective sinfulness of the act, but claims the Bible only spoke against homosexuality as a kind of injustice to the wife and children of a man who would engage in homosexual acts. What about homosexuals who are not married? Is homosexuality permissible for them, since they invade no one’s “space”?
After mentioning how various other denominations deal with homosexuality – citing, among others, the liberal stance of many Protestant groups and the conservatism of some in Orthodox Judaism – Martini said, “We are seeking our way through this diversity. The deepest concern of the Holy Scriptures, however, is the protection of the family and a healthy space for children – something now seen in homosexual couples.”
Martini misplaces the primary emphasis from the homosexual’s soul in relation to God to the homosexual’s relation to his wife and family, something important but secondary. He also slips in an alleged positive claim that homosexual couples provide a “healthy space for children”.
He also implies, by the way he structures the argument, that the Catholic Church should take the various attitudes of false religions into account when constructing its own teaching on this matter, to “seek our way through this diversity,” implying that all of these diverse viewpoints have value.
Martini continued, “As a result, I am already leaning toward a hierarchy of value in these matters and basically not towards equality. I have now said more than I should have said. Let us proceed together respectfully along different paths, but we must not come to blows because of those different paths. I have already mentioned the boundaries drawn by the Bible.”
Yet the “Biblical” boundaries, according to Martini’s framing, only seem to bar homosexuality from men who are husbands and fathers.
This same Cardinal Martini, who complained that the Church is 200 years behind the times, who spoke favorably about the German and Austrian bishops’ dissent from Humanae Vitae, who said “our rites and our dress are pompous”, who propounds a slippery “Scriptural” approach that appears to favor homosexuality, was publicly praised by Pope Francis. On the first anniversary of Martini’s death, Pope Francis trumpeted unqualified adulation of his fellow Jesuit, calling Martini “a “prophetic figure,” a “man of discernment and peace,” and “a father for the whole Church.”
“The Gallery Owners”
Since the time of the Council, the Jesuits’ pro-homosexual slant is as scandalous as it is notorious.
One of the first works by a priest that tried to promote homosexuality as a legitimate loving Christian relationship was by a Jesuit: Father J.J. McNeill’s 1975 book The Church and the Homosexual, though he ran into difficulties at that time with Paul VI’s Vatican.
In 1977, the same Jesuit Father McNeill contributed to a report from the Catholic Theological Society of America entitled Human Sexuality: New Directions in Catholic Thought. The report contained “a Scripture survey that owed much to McNeill” that tried to present homosexuality in a positive light. Human Sexuality goes on to say, “solidly provable opinion can be invoked in favor of permitting a homosexual freedom of conscience and free access to the sacraments … a homosexual engaging in homosexual acts in good conscience has the same rights to the sacraments as a married couple practicing birth control in good conscience.”
Though the Vatican forced the Jesuits to expel Father McNeill in 1987, his spirit lives on in that once great order. Jesuit Universities are now well known for their pro-homosexual leanings.
In 2005 I practically got sunstroke protesting the “Second Annual Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Conference for Jesuit Colleges and Universities” held at the [Jesuit] Canisius College in Buffalo, NY from June 9 to 12.
In fact, “Advocate”, a Campus group at the Jesuit Loyola College that espouses “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer” issues, boasted on its website that its members attended the Canisius GLBT event.
A few other examples among many:
•The Georgetown Voice, from the Jesuit’s Georgetown University, ran a student editorial entitled “Something Queer Afoot in the Vatican” that said, “the fact that homosexual behavior is still considered sinful by the Church is sad in and of itself … Progressive Catholics can only hope that this foolish ban will be left behind.”
• Many Catholic colleges are now springboards for advocacy for the legalization of same-sex marriage, for support of homosexual adoption and for homosexuals to serve openly in the military. “Kara Suffredini, a graduate at [Jesuit] Boston College Law School and now the legislative attorney for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, which advocates same-sex marriages and strives ‘to build political power for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community’; told an alumni gathering of Lambda Law Students that ‘I want to begin by saying that everything I know about Queer Activism, I learned at Boston College [Jesuit] Law School’.”
Jesuit Father Paul Shaughnessy bluntly states the problem of homosexual-friendly campuses can be traced to Jesuit leadership itself. He notes that some of the most prestigious posts at universities – such as university administrators and presidents – are generally filled by Jesuit priests unofficially known as the “Gallery Owners”.
These Jesuits, skilled at fund-raising, are described by Father Shaughnessy as “discreet, well-spoken, well-dressed gay priests in their fifties and early sixties.” In his article “Are the Jesuits Catholic?”, Father Shaughnessy goes on to explain:
“Where the older Jesuits are notable for the heat of their anti-papal passions, the Gallery Owners display a nearly complete apathy toward religion in all its forms. Conventionally liberal, they support condoms and women priests less as a matter of fact than a fashion statement – rather like wearing a baseball hat backwards … The teachings of the Church, being largely an irrelevance, has minimal importance in shaping the opinion of the Gallery Owners, who tend to regard orthodox Catholicism – like boxing or heterosexuality – as one of the coarse amusements of the working class.”
Last month, Robert Mauro detailed other aspects of the pro-homosexual strain within the modern Jesuits, including the “Who Are We To Judge?” video featuring Father James Martin SJ, produced by the JesuitLoyola Productions, that celebrates the homosexual, bisexual, transgender lifestyle. 
In the face of this onslaught, the Church needs the full bulwark of Thomistic philosophy and theology to counter these false teachings by means of reason and revelation, and presented in a systematic, organized structure. Tragically, this Thomistic solution is not in the cards dealt us by the Synod’s Working Document.
“Ways to Love”
This takes us back to Australia’s Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, who is a keynote speaker at a pro-homosexual symposium in Rome on October 3. The gathering, called “Ways to Love,” is an international group of homosexual, bisexual, transgender people “to discuss about how to renew the pastoral care with a view of fully including LGBT people, and same-gender couples and families.” The purpose of the symposium is to lobby the Bishops at the October Synod for what they call “appropriate pastoral care of LGBT people.” Father James Alison, a “Catholic” priest theologian, and Sister Antonietta Potente an Italian Dominican nun (both in “good standing” with today’s Vatican) will address the “Ways to Love” symposium, along with Bishop Robinson and various non-Catholics. 
Yet the confusion on sexual morality goes back even further than the present malaise. Professor Timothy C. Potts, writing a pro-homosexual essay in the 1997 book Modern Catholicism, credits Vatican II with opening the door to what he hopes will be Church’s future acceptance of homosexuality.
“The central issue,” writes Potts, “is whether every kind of sexual activity that is not potentially reproductive is wrong, either on philosophical or on theological grounds. Vatican II, by dropping previous insistence on reproduction as the primary end of sexual intercourse (Gaudium et Spes 48-50), seemed to open the way to justification of certain non-reproductive uses of sexuality, but so far it has been left to individual theologians to explore this avenue.”
We see that Vatican II, which was cast in the non-Thomistic “pastoral language,” effectively departed from the natural law argument regarding the primary end of marriage, and opened the door for unprecedented confusion.
The Synod’s call for even more new language on natural law, under the cover of a “pastoral approach,” will only accelerate the present downward spiral, and leave us bereft of the Thomistic precision the Church desperately needs.
(Published in the September 2014 edition of Catholic Family News.)
 At the February 2014 Consistory, Cardinal Kasper stunned the gathering by arguing for the possibility of admitting divorced and remarried to Holy Communion. An unspeakable scandal followed the next day when Pope Francis publicly praised Kasper for his toxic proposals in front of all the other Cardinals of the Consistory, 85% percent of which, it is reported, sharply disagreed with Kasper’s recklessness. “I found deep theology and serene thoughts in theology,” rhapsodized Francis over Kasper, “This is what I call doing theology while kneeling. Thank you, thank you.” For a summary of Kasper at the Consistory, see Catholic Family News, April 2014 pp. 6 & 7 (articles by Father Brian ison and Professor Roberto de Mattei, respectively); and the conclusion of “Traditional Catholics and Noah’s Nakedness,” pp. 16-17 of the same issue, for Pope Francis’ praise of Kasper.
 Once again, we give this helpful thumbnail definition of natural law (also referred to as the natural moral law): Natural law is “the universal, practical, obligatory judgments of reason knowable by all men as binding them to do good and avoid evil, and discovered by right reason from the nature of man adequately considered [i.e., adequately understood]”. It is “the sharing in the eternal law by the rational creature; the dictates of right reason concerning the necessary ordering of human nature.” Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy, Bernard Wuellner, S.J. [Milwaukee: Bruce, 1955], pp. 68-69.
 Please note, this is not to deny the value of Romans 1:19-21; 2:14-15. Rather, it is merely to insist that natural law should be primarily taught from where it has always been presented, the Thomistic philosophical sciences.
 This is why the Church always taught that the primary end of marriage is the begetting and education of children. It is based on natural law. As Dr. Raphael Waters taught, “Man’s whole physical structure, physiological activity and psychological tendencies are complementary as found in man and manifest in the intention of nature, namely that they are ordered by nature towards reproduction of the species.” (“Ethics Study Aids,” p. 36 – unpublished). Of course, the natural law arguments, to be fully understood, must not be studied in isolation, but within the context of the entirety of Thomistic Ethics.
 LifeSiteNews interview with Dr. Edward Feser, August 19, 2010.
 Except for those who attend traditional (or very conservative) Catholic schools, or use a traditional Catholic homeschool curriculum.
 For example, see “Where is the New Theology Leading Us?” by Father Reginals Garrigou-Lagrange, originally published in 1946, English Translation, Catholic Family News, August, 1998; “Thomism and the New Theology” by Father David Greenstock, The Thomist, October, 1950; “Thomism and the Council” by Father Anthony, from the book Vatican II: The Theological Dimension, [Washington: Thomist Press, 1963].
 Father Henrici, SJ, a disciple of the New Theology, boasted that his system won the day at Vatican II: “Our allegiance is that tradition in the line of the ‘new theology’ of Lyons [cradle of de Lubac’s theology] which insists on the non-opposition between nature and super-nature, that is, nature and super-nature are really identical things (and consequently) between faith and culture, and which has become the official theology of Vatican II”. Fr. Henrici in his interview with 30 Days of December 1991, quoted from Si Si No No, “They Think They Have Won,” Part VIII. The Angelus, October, 1994.
 Professor de Mattei also points out that Father Bernard Haring, the “Father of the New Morality” was the Secretary responsible for the drafting of the Vatican II document Gaudium et spes. All of this is contained in “Vatican II: The Primacy of Pastoral over Doctrine,” Professor de Mattei, Catholic Family News, May, 2014.
 See www.catholic-hierarchy.org/bishop/brobinson.html
 Bondings 2.0, Newsletter of New Ways Ministry, “Bishop, Governor and Theologian Highlights Symposium’s Second Day,” March 17, 2012 (emphasis added).
 At the time of Cardinal Martini’s death, the Boston Globe ran a glowing obit with the headline, “Italy Hails Liberal Cardinal Martini who wanted Catholic Church to Change,” Sept. 4, 2012.
 Night Conversations with Cardinal Martini, The Relevance of the Church of Tomorrow, Interview of Cardinal Martini with Father George Sporschill [Mahwah: Paulist Press, English Translation 2012; original Italian published in 2010], p. 98. [emphasis added].
 All of this is documented in “The Martini Pope,” John Vennari, Catholic Family News, January, 2014.
 Modern Catholicism: Vatican II and After, Edited by Adrian Hastings, Chapter 11G: “Homosexuality,” Timothy C. Potts [New York: Oxford University Press, 1991], p. 277.
 Bishop Edward Kmiec, then-Ordinary of Buffalo, did not try to stop the conference, nor did he prevent the “Gay Men’s Chorus” from performing at Buffalo’s Blessed Trinity Catholic Church two months earlier.
 http://www.luc.edu/orgs/rainbow/about.htm [webpage now defunct].
 Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education, Anne Hendershott, [New Brunswick: Transaction Publications, 2009], p. 157.
 Ibid., pp. 151-152. (Emphasis added)
 “Are Jesuits Catholic?”, Paul Shaughnessy, The Weekly Standard, June 3, 2002. Quoted in Status Envy, p. 83.
 “Jesuit Pro-Homosexual Positions Influence Pope? Worried Signals Regarding Upcoming Synod,” Robert Mauro, Catholic Family News, August, 2014.
 Though the homosexual-friendly clergy problem is notorious within the Jesuits, it is systematic within many other religious orders and “Catholic” universities as well, as documented in Dr. Hendershott’s Status Envy. A few examples among many: Chicago’s DePaul University was voted in 2006 one of the “Top 100 Best Campuses” for homosexual students, who were especially pleased with the University’s October “Queer Kiss-In”, its annual “Coming Out Ball”, its “Springtime Drag Fest”, and its support services for students “transitioning from male to female, or from female to male.” (Status Envy, p. 141). Notre Dame celebrated “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Questioning Awareness Week” in 2006 by constructing a large “closet” in the center of the campus, encouraging students to “come out” and proclaim their sexual proclivity. Notre Dame also hosted a Queer Film Festival in 2005 and 2006, and allowed the production of the obscene V… Monologues on its campus. (Ibid., p. 157).The University of San Diego’s campus is a hotbed of homosexual advocacy, including its “Rainbow Visibility Project”. The project includes a syllabi of homosexual books, films, and discussion topics for students. A component of the Irving Rainbow Visibility Grant includes “Education” tools that falsely teach the Bible does not address (and thus does not condemn) “lifelong sexual orientation or adult, loving homosexual relationships as we understand them today.” (Ibid., p. 148)
 In other words, a return to the full Thomistic system in Catholic seminaries and universities that comprises Metaphysics, Cosmology, Philosophy of Human Nature and Ethics; as well as to the great systematic textbooks of Theology, such as produced (now out of print) by Father Adolph Tanquerey and Father Dominic M. Prümmer, OP. We hope to say more about this in future issues of CFN. A superb introduction to Thomistic thought can be found in: The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism by Dr. Edward Feser. In fact, this terrific book presents Thomism in full battle dress. This too will be further discussed in future issues of CFN.
 “LGBT Advocates Will Explain ‘Ways to Love’ to Synod Bishops,” Bondings 2.0, New Ways Ministry Newsletter, August 3, 2014.
 Modern Catholicism: Vatican II and After, Edited by Adrian Hastings, Chapter 11G: “Homosexuality,” Timothy C. Potts [New York: Oxford University Press, 1991], p. 279.
 As noted last month, Archbishop Lefebvre foresaw the inherent problems of “pastoral language” even before the Council opened. In a meeting of the Preparatory Commission, Archbishop Lefebvre proposed that Vatican II produce two sets of documents: one set in the precision of scholastic language for the theologians, and the other in more simple (pastoral) language for the average man. The precise scholastic texts would serve as the official interpretation of the pastoral texts. This proposal was immediately shot down by the progressive element present at the proceedings. Archbishop Lefebvre saw through this ruse: "Liberals and Progressives like to live in a climate of ambiguity. The idea of clarifying the purpose of the Council annoyed them exceedingly. My proposal was thus rejected.” I Accuse the Council, Marcel Lefebvre, rev. ed. [Kansas City: Angelus Press, 2009], p. 4.
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