Category Archives: Religious morality

Amoris laitita and Suspension of the Ethical

This post assumes some familiarity with the controversy about Pope Francis’ position in his recent Amoris laetita and the five Dubia of Cardinal Burke et al. See my post A Catholic Layman’s Response to the Five Dubia.The controversy focuses on reception of the Eucharist by Catholics legally divorced from a spouse in a valid Catholic marriage, civilly remarried without a Catholic annulment of the former marriage. A footnote #351 in §305 suggests that under certain conditions in consultation with a priest a person in such a marriage may find it helpful for his or her spiritual life and salvation to receive the Eucharist.

The footnote reads as follows.
In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy.” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium [24 November 2013], 44:AAS105[2013], 1038) I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”(ibid., 47:1039)

The footnote is referenced at the end of the following sentence in §305. “Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity while receiving the Church’s help to this end”

Pope Francis has claimed that his stance in Amoris laetita proposes no change in Catholic moral theology. The Dubia challenge Pope Francis to explain how his suggestion about reception of the Eucharist can be consistent with Catholic moral theology because such a couple are living in a habitual grave sin according to Catholic moral theology and cannot receive sacramental absolution. The Dubia confront Pope Francis with a dilemma:

THE DILEMMA

1.Your footnote requires that you teach a change in Catholic moral theology or teach that on occasion reception of the Eucharist by people in a situation of grave habitual sin may work for the salvation of their souls.

2. If you teach a change in Catholic moral theology you teach contrary to the Catholic faith in footnote #351.

3. If you teach that on occasion reception of the Eucharist by people in a situation of grave habitual sin may work for the salvation of their souls, you teach an interpretation of St. Paul’s, 1 Cor 11:27-30 condition for worthy reception of the Eucharist in conflict with the Church’s constant interpretation of St. Paul’s text and thereby teach contrary to the Catholic faith in footnote #351.

4.Therefore, you teach contrary to the Catholic faith in footnote #351.

GOING BETWEEN THE DILEMMA’S HORNS

In §304 and by his refusal to answer the Dubia Pope Francis goes between the horns of the dilemma. His silence shows that he is not teaching. Teaching requires at least giving instructions. No instructions are given for reception of the Eucharist by people in these irregular situations. Actually, Pope Francis wrote in the previous paragraph §304 that no teachable rules for these special cases should be given. “it must be said that, precisely for that reason, what is part of a practical discernment cannot be elevated to the level of a rule. That would not only lead to an intolerable casuistry…”

If he is not teaching there is nothing more than a suggestion. Of course, a suggestion from the pope is very significant. It is proposed that individuals with a confessor or spiritual advisor can suspend the moral requirements and canonical rules for reception of the Eucharist if they discern in ways that cannot be articulated that they may, or even should, receive the Eucharist

This is a very radical proposal and it cannot be properly appraised by discussions in moral theory about universal laws etc.,.
The Church needs serious discussion of the Eucharist and what God wants to bring about for us by coming to us, Body, Blood Soul and Divinity, as real food –real bread and wine.

I have written a book defending traditional sexual morality. In Chapter VIII on birth control I discuss a similar situation about reception of the Eucharist by Catholics practicing artificial birth control.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Pope Francis’ Nominalistic Defense of Reception of the Eucharist by Catholics Not in a State of Grace

How can Pope Francis’ suggest that some divorced Catholics who have remarried outside the Church might receive the Eucharist? Interpreting Pope Francis as a nominalist explains how he can offer his suggestion. For the interested reader, a brief discussion of the problem of universals is at the end of the post

Cardinals Burke et al. have challenged Pope Francis’ position in his recent Amoris laetita. The controversy focuses on reception of the Eucharist by Catholics legally divorced from a spouse in a valid Catholic marriage, legally married to a spouse in a subsequent marriage without a Catholic annulment of the former marriage. A footnote 351 in §305 suggests that under certain conditions in consultation with a priest a person in such a marriage may find it helpful for his or her spiritual life and salvation to receive the Eucharist.
Pope Francis has claimed that his stance in Amoris laetita proposes no change in Catholic moral theology. The cardinals challenge Pope Francis to explain how his suggestion about reception of the Eucharist can be consistent with Catholic moral theology because such a couple are living in a habitual grave sin according to Catholic moral theology and cannot receive sacramental absolution. The challenge confronts Pope Francis with a dilemma: Change Catholic moral theology or teach that on occasion reception of the Eucharist by people in a situation of grave habitual may work for the salvation of their souls. Pope Francis grasps the dilemma by the horn to admit that reception of the Eucharist by people not in a state of grace can work for their salvation.
How can Pope Francis consistently make such a suggestion? If he offers guidelines for the conditions under which it would be spiritually profitable to receive the Eucharist, these guidelines would be new rules in conflict with present Church rules. Francis has claimed that no rule changes are proposed. The resolution is to give no rules or guidelines. Take a nominalistic stance Rules or guidelines use general terms and combine several individuals into a group as if they formed a class. However, general terms mislead us about reality. In reality there are only separate individuals and there are no similarities combining them into groups. The best language for talking of reality is to use only names; utter no sentence and give no rules. So, when prompted by the Spirit a person just recognizes that the Eucharist is to be received but the recognition cannot be put into words since words always distort reality. Just receive the Eucharist. Talking about it will only distort what is being done.

My book on sexual morality takes a conceptualist position to defend a traditional sexual morality.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Here is my naïve synopsis of the problem of universals. Universals are whatever it is we are talking about when we use common terms. Common terms can be applied to different locations in space and time. They are as simple as the color term “yellow” and as complex as the sophisticated term “justice.” The problem of universals is what if anything outside the mind corresponds to these universal terms? Realists hold that our universal terms when well defined correspond to a universal feature of extramental reality.
For instance, a realist hold that a proper definition of “justice “ presents to us what justice is in and by itself. Realist hold a correspondence theory of truth for definitions of universal terms. Conceptualists hold that we use universal terms as a result of our capacity to think as if something exactly the same is located in different regions of space and time. There is no need to believe that there is anything corresponding to our best definitions of terms which makes them the true definitions. All that is needed is to assume that reality is such that it allows our use of terms to have successful science and daily life. For instance, a conceptualist holds that a “true” definition of “justice” is one which helps construct flourishing communities. Conceptualist hold a pragmatic theory of truth for definitions of universal terms. Nominalists hold that our use of universal terms is fundamentally misleading about the way reality is in itself. In reality, there are only individuals. There are no features which they share with other individuals as realists hold. There are no vague similarities which make it useful to think as if there were shared features as conceptualists hold. Mere names are all that can be said without distorting what is. For nominalists there are no true sentences about extra mental reality – not even a statement of nominalism.

What is Moral Corruption?

This post sketches out a condition of a person’s moral character in which the person needs moral help. The person does not know how to move out of a condition of being in fact in conflict with the moral law, is aware of being in conflict with the moral law, regrets being in conflict with the moral law despite having excusing conditions. He does not feel justified in what he is doing although he feels that he is doing the best under the circumstance.

I frequently wondered why a government in which bureaucrats regularly required bribes for performance of duties which they are paid to perform is called “corrupt.” I associate “corrupt” with rotten meat, wood or some material object ready to fall apart. These so-called corrupt governments or systems last for long periods of time: even centuries. So I needed to develop a concept of corruption which brings to the forefront that it is regular intentional law breaking. Such a concept is proposed in this post. I can focus on moral law. Accepting bribes is in violation of the legal laws of a society and breaking the legal laws, for the most part, is contrary to moral law.

Corruption is a negative feature of a person’s moral character. Particular acts are right or wrong: In compliance with the moral law or in conflict with the moral law. Corruption qualifies the whole of a person’s character even if there is only one kind of moral law being regularly violated. Corruption is not sufficient for making someone a morally bad person

A person has a corrupt moral character if that person knowingly, intentionally, regularly violates a moral law and has no intention to stop the practice. Thus a bureaucrat who regularly takes bribes in a system where that is the practice and who intends to keep his position is morally corrupt. This bureaucrat may be an exemplary person in all other respects; yet he is morally corrupt. A married man who is a womanizer is morally corrupt even if he has the charm and talent to be an otherwise good husband, father and citizen. If he is satisfied with his womanizing he is harden in his moral corruption. The opening paragraphy of this post calls attention to the plight of people not hardened in their corruption. A corrupt person who wishes to get out of the corrupting practice and keeps alert for ways to get out of the practice has weak moral corruption.

Much more could be written to elaborate this notion of moral corruption. But here I want to extend it to apply to Catholic moral marital law discussed in a previous post on controversy about Pope Francis’ hints that certain divorced Catholics could receive the Eucharist. A civilly married Catholic couple, at least one of whom has been divorced from a valid Catholic marriage, is living contrary to Catholic moral law unless they abstain from sexual relations. From the Catholic perspective both are morally corrupt. Pope Francis has suggested that if the corruption in such a couple is weak corruption reception of the Catholic Eucharist may be a spiritual aid for helping them overcome their corruption.

A problem is that there are sacramental laws specifying that people in such a corrupt state ought not receive the Eucharist. We need to be concerned that such married couples and their spiritual advisors not become corrupt with respect to the laws for reception of the Eucharist. This problem of not becoming corrupt by coming in conflict with other laws while trying to heal another type of corruption needs to be discussed in subsequent posts.

My book on sexual morality emphasizes the importance of character formation in sexual morality.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

One Catholic Layman’s response to Dubia of Cardinal Burke et al.

This post assumes some familiarity with the controversy about Pope Francis’ position in his recent Amoris laetita. The controversy focuses on reception of the Eucharist by Catholics legally divorced from a spouse in a valid Catholic marriage, legally married to a spouse in a subsequent marriage without a Catholic annulment of the former marriage. A footnote #351 in §305 suggests that under certain conditions in consultation with a priest a person in such a marriage may find it helpful for his or her spiritual life and salvation to receive the Eucharist. Pope Francis has claimed that his stance in Amoris laetita propose no change in Catholic moral theology. I will state the Dubia from an article in the
National Catholic Register.
Then I give a short answer which could, but do not go into much depth and length. Dubia are to be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” My answers have no standing as Catholic teaching.

Dubia 1] It is asked whether, following the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (§300-305), it has now become possible to grant absolution in the sacrament of penance and thus to admit to holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person more uxorio without fulfilling the conditions provided for by Familiaris Consortio,§84, and subsequently reaffirmed by Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, §34, and Sacramentum Caritatis, §29. Can the expression “in certain cases” found in Note 351 §(305) of the exhortation Amoris Laetitia be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live more uxorio?

My answer to 1] Is a qualified No. First note some important qualifications. The “valid marital bond” should be read as “unannulled Catholic marriage bond”. To more uxorio add “in a legally valid either secular or of some reglious denomination.” It is still not possible to grant absolution in the sacrament of penance and thus to admit to holy Communion . However, the footnote leaves open the possibility of confessors counseling penitents still objectively and subjectively in a sinful condition to receive the Eucharist.

Dubia 2] After the publication of the post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia (304), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, §79, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?

My answer to 2] The simple answer is Yes. The challenge is not precise enough. It should have focused on sexual morality. For all that was written in Amoris leatitia there was no challenge to moral absolutes for other areas, eg. Justice.
The thesis of my answers is that the ambiguity raised by Pope Francis is a call for Catholic theologians to work in sacramental theology on the role the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist can play in bringing sinners still immersed in sin into a sinless life. Hold moral theology constant in these investigations. How can sacraments be medicine in the “field hospital for sinners?”

In Chapter VIII of my book, Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism I investigate similar problems for Catholics practicing artificial birth control.

Dubia 3] After Amoris Laetitia (§301) is it still possible to affirm that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery (Matthew 19:3-9), finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, “Declaration,” June 24, 2000)?

My answer to 3] My answer is Yes even when “a person” is explicitly read as “all persons.” Nothing in Amoris Leatitia changes the conditions for being right with respect to the moral law or the more stringent laws of Catholic moral theology.

Dubia 4] After the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (§302) on “circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility,” does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, §81, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, according to which “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”?

My answer to 4] My answer is Yes because the issue is not about changing what is or is not in accord with the moral law or Catholic moral law. The issue concerns conditions for reception of the Eucharist for people living in conflict with the law!

Dubia 5] After Amoris Laetitia (§303) does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, §56, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?

My answer to 5] is Yes. As noted in my answer to [4] the issue is not about making exceptions to the moral law. The issue is about the role reception of the Eucharist can make in the progress, if any, of people living in conflict with exceptionaless moral laws. Can the Eucharist help people intentionally living in sin gradually grow out of sin. The question is not about gradualism of the law but whether or not there are sacramental means for gradually growing in compliance with the law. Rules are not to be provided for these decisions. See also my post Gradualism of the Law and “Eucharistic” water stops.

I personally struggled with this topic. In my “internal forum” I decided that I should long for reception of the Eucharist but not receive the Eucharist until I was in complete compliance with the traditional teaching of the Church on reception of the Eucharist. I look back on those years of longing for the Eucharist as a period of my richest understanding of this mystery.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $3.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $3.99 plus $3.71 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

A Catholic Examination of Conscience for a Catholic struggling to rationalize voting for Hillary Clinton

Catholic bishops have published pamphlets on making moral choices in voting. They are readily available in churches and Catholic publications. These statements disappoint some Catholics. The bishops bring out several truths of Catholic moral theology and point out that some legislation, such as permission for abortion, is immoral. But they do not tell us how to vote. The bishops tell us that we must form our conscience in light of the statements and then vote in accordance with our conscience. How do we form our conscience?

Pope Francis has said that the confessional should not be a torture chamber. Our conscience during an examination of conscience is and ought to be a torture chamber.

Let me outline an examination of conscience focusing on the issue of abortion only. I won’t focus solely on the act of voting because political activity involves much more than voting. For instance, there is contributing to campaigns and putting up yard signs.

To start, search yourself on whether or not you actually condemn abortion as intrinsically immoral, viz., immoral regardless of the circumstances and consequences. Perhaps you simply do not care whether or not abortions are performed. You might want abortion to be legally available if a family member has an unwanted pregnancy or a diagnosis of a defective child? Or worse, might you not implicitly support pro-choice to reduce the population of certain kinds of people? An examination of conscience can be ugly.

In any event, as a Catholic you have an obligation to act as if you think abortion is intrinsically evil because you have an obligation to form your conscience in conformity with Church teaching. A long term project is working to align your sentiments in accordance with Catholic teaching.
Can you make a contribution to the Democratic National Committee or the Clinton National Committee? The morally safe answer is” No.” These committees represent the Democratic platform as a whole or Ms. Clinton’s views as a whole outlook. As a total outlook these views explicitly endorse the permissibility of abortion. Because you have accepted abortion as an intrinsic evil it cannot be offset by any other part of the programs regardless of how laudable they may be. There is no way to designate your contribution as simply to the laudable planks of the platform.
A “yes” answer would require doing something to mitigate the possible harm by supporting pro-choice programs. Perhaps, it would help if you would donate an equal amount of money to pro-life organizations or women’s centers for alternatives to abortion. Or you could become dues paying member of a caucus of pro-life Democrats called “Democrats for Life.”

The same kind of alternatives present themselves when you consider working in Clinton’s campaign , putting up yard signs or simply trying to persuade family and friends to vote for Clinton. In these cases, though, you have to worry whether or not you are showing other people that an allegedly good Catholic is indifferent to Catholic teaching. Here you should admit to others that you are at least uncomfortable about being in apparent conflict with Catholic teaching. You should not say “I can vote for Clinton with a clear conscience.” You should be visibly conflicted!

Before coming to the last step of voting, we have to consider whether or not it is permissible to compensate supporting a pro-abortion policy by performances of pro-life activities. Is not supporting a pro-abortion policy cooperating in the acts of abortion? It is intrinsically wrong to cooperate in the performance an abortion. I do not think that simply supporting practices under which abortions may, and certainly will, be performed is materially cooperating in the completion of any of those abortions. There can be no specifiable abortion of which it can be said “but for my support that abortion would not have occurred.”

Now we come to the voting booth. If throughout the campaign you have been tormenting yourself with the above kind of examination of conscience, you have not been an enthusiastic participant in this presidential election. I think that in the voting booth, you are entitled to ask yourself the very narrow question: Which of the two serious candidates is most likely to administer the national government most effectively? To me the answer to the narrow question is “Clinton.” That is how I will vote; but not with a clear conscience after I have let my conscience be my guide.

I have plenty of compensatory work to do.

Readers of this post may be interested in my book on sexual morality.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Male Sexuality and the Problem of Evil

In my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism, it is necessary to recognize the enormous amount of evil connected with sexuality; especially male sexuality. I do not use religious beliefs to support my arguments for the fundamental moral principle restricting male sexuality. However, I want my stance on sexual morality to be able to be enhanced by a Catholic Christian outlook. Hence, I would face the question of how there could be evil in the creation of an all-good, all-powerful and all-knowing God. I do not stop to consider the problem in the book because it would be a distraction from my secular argument and of most importance people who want to maintain a religious outlook should not try to solve the problem of evil.

Consider my argument for the above thesis

1.If you think and feel religiously, then you recognize the enormous evil and disorder in the world, cannot understand why it occurs and feel seriously disturbed by its occurrence.

2. If you develop an adequate theodicy, then you can understand why the enormous evil and disorder occurs.
(Theodicy is a name for a theory on why there is evil in God’s creation.)

So (3) If you solve the problem of evil, then you cease to think and feel religiously.

The mysterious of evil is a necessary condition for religious thinking and feeling. Trying to remove the mysteriousness of evil is try to secularize oneself.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Gradualism of the Law and “Eucharistic ” Water Stops

This post builds on an earlier post Gradualism of the Law and Catholic Practice. In that post I proposed using the sacraments of Reconciliation and The Eucharist to help a married man practicing birth control by coitus interruptus to form an intention to stop the practice. He would receive Absolution and be eligible for reception of The Eucharistic without an intention to stop the practice. Under current practice, Absolution is not given without an intention to stop an immoral practice. From my experience as a marathon runner, I would like to suggest a model for rationalizing giving Absolution to someone who is not yet willing to profess having an intention never againto violate the moral law in question.

Frequently in marathon running after fifteen miles or so, the temptation to drop out of the race is very strong. When this temptation arises one might say to himself, or a companion so tempted, that there should be no thoughts of dropping out or completing the race until the next water stop. (Usually water and energy drink stations are at every two or three miles.) You can always make it to the next water stop. Maybe at the next water stop thoughts about the whole race can be entertained. But for now think only of staying on the course until the next stop. On occasion I have completed marathons by going from “water stop to water stop.” I have never dropped out of a marathon and have completed 175 full marathons. Other people have told me that they completed marathons by following my advice to go from water stop to water stop. Don’t think about the whole course.

Here is how this lesson from marathon running could be applied to getting Absolution and receiving the Eucharist. The confessor would ask the man practicing coitus interruptus to refrain from sexual intercourse with his wife until after receiving the Eucharist. Perhaps this would be on the Sunday immediately following Confession on Saturday. He would have the intention not to commit this sin for this short period of time and would leave undetermined what he would do afterwards. Maybe after receiving the Eucharist this Sunday, he would have the strength to refrain another week or day if he were able to attend daily Mass.

This model of having short term intentions to refrain from violating a law with an openness to extending that term after reception of the Eucharist can readily be extended to other cases for gradually practicing Catholic conjugal chastity. But Catholic moral and sacramental theologians would need to investigate the intelligibility and admissibility of such short term and incomplete intentions.

This post augments Chapter VIII on Birth Control in my book Confronting Sexual Nihilism . My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Gradualism of the Law and Catholic Practice

This post applies some ideas from an earlier post : Gradualism of the Law in Sexual Morality. Also it assumes some familiarity with Catholic teaching about eligibility to receive the Eucharist and making a good confession.

I write as a Catholic. However, nothing I write has any standing or authority as Catholic teaching. I am speculating about using the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation to bring penitents gradually to conform to moral laws for correct behavior. The issue confronted is that the priest should not give Absolution if the penitent lacks an intention never again to commit the sins confessed,i.e., a firm purpose of amendment.

Consider a case of a Catholic married man who practices birth control with his wife by withdrawal – coitus interruptus. They think that they have good reason for doing so. They do not intend to stop in the forseeable future. They both know that the Church condemns this practice as gravely wrong. Neither will claim that the Church teaching is incorrect. Nonetheless neither feels that what they are doing is seriously wrong. They doubt that God would condemn them to hell for this practice as they believe He would if they committed adultery without repentance. Still both think and feel that they would be morally and relgiously better off by having unimpeded sexual intercourse and be in conformity with Church teaching. In particular they would like to enjoy receiving absolution in confession and receiving the Eucharistic without doubt that they may be receiving the Eucharist unworthily because either they have not received absolution or not confessed their practice.

Since confession is made individually and obviously the Eucharist is received individually, I will focus on the husband’s problems.

He believes that if he does not confess his practice, the priest’s absolution is ineffective for it does not apply to all his sins. If he confesses doing acts of coitus interruptus but admits that he does not intend to stop the practice, the priest under current rules should refuse absolution. If he lies about his intention to stop, his confession is sacriligious and he has compounded his moral and religious guilt. He finds no way to improve his religious and moral life through the Catholic sacraments of Confession and Communion. The obstacle is his current refusal, or inability, to form honestly an intention to try to conform to the Church’s teaching condemning his method of conception control.

Contrast his plight with a the case of a fifty year old man married to a woman of the same age. He arouses himself with pornography and regularly masturbates. His wife would like more physical contact with him and wonders why he frequently is so indifferent at his relatively young age. He realizes that he is heading towards being a “dirty old man.” He remembers that confession and communion helped him in his struggle for purity when he was a school boy. The sacraments did not totally prevent him from succumbing to temptations. But the sacraments helped him and gave him solace when he failed. Now he would like to shed his sense of decadence by returning to his school boy idealism. He can go to confession tell of his masturbation and porn viewing, genuinely say that he has an intention to stop both. Stopping both has no costs and will bring other benefits. However, both he and the priest realize that he may succumb to temptations despite the good intentions.

The genuine intention needs to involve some plans, explicit or implicit, for avoiding andovercoming temptations. A significant part of these plans might very well be frequent reception of the sacraments of confession and communion.

Here is the main theme of this Blog Post. The sacraments can and ought to be used to help a person gradually live completely in conformity with a law with which he intends to conform. Could the sacraments of confession and reception of the Eucharist be used over a period of time to help a person form an intention to conform to a law? This would be gradulism of the law. In particular, could the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist be used to help this husband practicing conception control by coitus interruptus gradually to form an intention to stop this practice in violation of Catholic teaching? Could current teaching about use of the sacraments allow this use of the sacraments? Could current teachings be slightly altered to accommodate this use of the sacraments to gradually bring people to commit themselves to obedience to the law.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism raises similar considerations in Chapter VIII on Birth Control.

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Reception of the Eucharist by Catholics in an invalid Church marriage

On Oct. 5, 2014, the Catholic church began a special synod on Marriage and the Family. At the beginning of the synod we can not be certain what instructions the synod may give for the improvement of marriage and family life. However, much of the disccusion before the beginning of the synod has focus on the question of whether or not Catholics who meet the following conditions may receive the Eucharist.
The conditions are
1. The couple is married in a valid civil ceremony
2. At least one of the spouses has had a Catholic Church marriage broken by civil divorce but there has been no Church annulment of the validity of that broken marriage
3. They have no intention to discontinue having marital relations.

What do we want to know when we ask whether or not they may receive the Eucharist? If we are asking whether or not they may receive the Eucharist in accordance with Church teaching, the answer is clearly NO. See article 1650 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC). I propose interpreting what is being asked as the following complex question. Are there some Catholics in these conditions who receive the Eucharist despite the current teaching of the Church, commit no sacrilege by doing so but rather receive spiritual graces with their reception? If so, should the Church change her teachings to recognize the validity of these people’s reception of the Eucharist?

I hope that the bishops, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, provide an answer to the first question. My current answer to the first question is that it is possible by God’s grace that someone receiving the Eucharist under these conditions commits no sacrilege but receives graces of the sacrament, amongst which might be the strength to carry out a resolve to refrain from marital relations. However, the Eucharist is also communion which unites us closely with God and others receiving the Eucharist. A person receiving the Eucharist under these conditions has a diminished communion with those receiving the Eucharist fully in compliance with the Church’s rules.

I could try to list several conditions under which I am confident such people would be committing a sacrilege by reception of the Eucharist. For instance, if a man had only three years ago divorced his wife to marry a younger more attractive woman he almost certainly would be committing a sacrilege by receiving the Eucharist. A list of all such necessary conditions for this possibility would be an indefinite list formed by considering indefinitely many particular cases. An indefinite list is no list at all. I could not give a sufficient condition for this possibility unless the bishops change the teaching of CCC 1650. I can offer no sufficient condition for the validity of a sense of a personal revelation from God.

I think that the bishops should recognize the possiblity to which I alluded. After all, with God all things are possible. However, the bishops should not change the teaching of CCC 1650. A change would do nothing to strengthen Catholic marriage and respect for the Eucharist. I suggest, though, that they publish a warning to those in these specified conditions who judge that they may receive the Eucharist without sacrilege. The warning would be along the following lines.

Objectively you are not eligible to receive the Eucharist. Because the sacramental marriage is still valid, in the sacramental order you are living in adultery. However, if after careful thought, prayer and consultation with a Catholic spiritual advisor you decide that you may still receive the Eucharist without sacrilege, do so with the realization that you might be committing a sacrilege. Be especially careful that your reception of the Eucharist does not lead others to lose some respect for Catholic marriage or the Eucharist.

I have had personal experience with this topic of reception of the Eucharist under the above conditions. I discuss my case in a subsequent post. I bring out personal details to show that I have some standing for addressing this issue. I have “paid my dues.” Some of the ideas of this post were brought out in the chapter on birth control in my book on sexual morality

My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Printed copies can be purchased here by credit card for $12.99, plus $3.71 for shipping and handling.





To purchase the printed book by check, send check of $16.70 per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.
Columbus, Ohio 43214
Include your shipping address.

Religious motivation behind gay marriage movement

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Frequently, opponents of gay marriage are accused of trying to impose their religious outlook on society at large. Fundamentally, the dispute over acceptance of gay marriage is a religious dispute. But the religious stances fundamental in the dispute are not the Judaic, Christian and Islamic religions vs. secularism. The religious dispute is between different visions of the civic religions for Western societies.

In my judgment coming out to endorse “gay marriage” is something like being
converted to a religious doctrine and practicing a ritual to declare the belief. Declaration
of acceptance is like an offering of incense to a god of the Durkheimian religion of
Western societies. (See Mary Douglas’ Purity and Danger (1) for an account of how a
society’s civil religion makes sacred the basic structure of the society.) Anecdotal
evidence indicates that switching to support of gay marriage is similar to having a
conversion experience. My interpretation is that heterosexuals who come out for gay
marriage are switching to a progressive stance on sexuality. A progressive stance
changes significant boundaries between males and females. Endorsing gay marriage
sacralizes this new social structure.

In the Durkheimian sense of religion, a new religious outlook is emerging. This
new religious outlook does not fit well with religions of the Judeo-Christian tradition.
We can be told that nothing much will change if there are same sex marriages. So, why
not accept them? Indeed, offering incense to the emperor did little or nothing except
corrupt early Christians who succumbed to threats. Fidelity and honesty requires holders
of traditional sexual morality to speak against and to vote against same sex marriage if they
have an opportunity to do so.

If same sex marriage is not made a public issue, it is best to
keep silence and hope the silliness passes away. I suggest regarding gay weddings as
outrageous “camp.” The seriousness with which some heterosexuals discuss homosexual
marriage is comic. They include the president of the United States whom I otherwise
take seriously. Why classify gay-weddings as comic or “gay theater?”

To gain some understanding of camp in the gay life style, see David Hailperin’s
How To Be Gay.(2) Participating in camp is a way of compensating for a homosexual’s
sense of being marginalized. Dramatic mockery of structures, practices and institutions
taken seriously in the larger society helps in some way to expose the boundaries of
structures marginalizing homosexuals as ultimately not serious. Basically it is all role-playing
in a tragic comedy.

1. Routledge and Kegan Paul London, 1966
2. Belknap/Harvard U. Press, Cambridge MA, 2012. Reviewed by Edmund White, New
York Review of Books , Oct. 25, 2012