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
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