Category Archives: Catholic Sacraments and Sexual Morality

Fn 351 of Amoris laetitia Applied to Me

Pope Francis welcomes adulterers to reception of the Eucharist. That is what several writers allege when they accuse Pope Francis of writing in such a ambiguous way about the reception of the Eucharist. For an example, follow the link in the Aug 22, 2017 passage below titled: Francis’s Amoris Laetitia & Tolerated Concubinage. · Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez who the Vatican expert Edward Pentin says is the “ghostwriter” of Amoris Laetitia and one of the Pope’s closest advisers according to Crux’s aid: Francis’s Argentina letter is a “authoritative statement” that says adulterers can receive Holy Communion while not living as brother and sister.
Francis Welcomes Adulterers to Communion .

I object to use of the words “adultery” and “adulterers” by critics of Pope Francis. I read the notorious footnote 351 in Amoris Laetitia as permitting on some occasions reception of the Eucharist by a Catholic in the following circumstances. He or she had been in a valid Catholic marriage, that Catholic marriage was legally ended by a civil divorce, his or her spouse is still living, he or she remarried in a civil ceremony and they are living a normally moral life while participating as much as they can in the life of a Catholic community..

For several years, before my first marriage was annulled, I was such a person. I regret having fornicated as a young man but I have never committed adultery. I have always been faithful to the two women to whom I have been married; perhaps due more to God’s providence than my moral character. In my darker moments, I push away entertaining myself with the thought that if dueling were still in fashion, I would be entitled to challenge any man who called me an adulterer.

After 25 years, my first wife deserted me and five our young adult children. She had renewed acquaintance with her old high school boy friend. Completely at odds with her character, she left to live with him. For two years I refused to take any action to end our marriage. I told her that she could return anytime and we would work at rebuilding our family. The state of Ohio allows one party to ask for a dissolution of a marriage if they have lived apart for two years. After two years, she asked for a dissolution of the marriage. On the day of the dissolution I begged her to forget about a dissolution and come home with me. She proceeded with the dissolution process.

For several months after the dissolution I continued to wear my wedding ring. I told myself that I was still married to her. My wearing the ring seemed weird to a colleague. Looking at myself from her point of view, I seemed like a stalker in claiming that I was married to a woman who was another man’s wife. My sense of being married vanished. The sense of being unmarried was heightened by the facts that my former wife moved far away and because of her outrageous conduct she was socially dead. No one even spoke of her.

If a man is recognized as unmarried in a community and does not eschew the company of women he must be prepared for development of that special bonding of the sexes. His intentions are not honorable if he has no intention of ever forming a marital union. As a full professor at the Ohio State University in my early fifties it would be very easy to fall into the scandalous practice of having a relationship which you say is only a friendship but on occasion slip into spending the night at the house of one or the other. A Catholic man in such a relationship could easily deceive himself into thinking that he intends not to have sexual relations, confess his fornication and be eligible for reception of the Eucharist. My friendship with my present wife developed normally to the point where we desired a complete male and female union.

On the basis of natural moral law*, I was fully justified in remarrying. Indeed we had reached a stage at which by natural moral law we ought to marry. With the full support of our Catholic families we married each other in a civil ceremony presided over by a Unitarian minister.

I rationalized a reconciliation of my remarrying with my Catholicism. I read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church 1650-51 that I was still in good standing with the Church. Somehow I overlooked CCC 1665 which specified that I was not eligible for reception of the Eucharist. I interpreted the exception in Matt. 19:9 “Whoever divorces his wife, except on the ground of fornication [sex outside of the marriage], and marries another commits adultery. as excusing me. I did not divorce my wife. She divorced me. She committed adultery; let alone fornication.

Underlying my rationalizations was an erroneous assumption that all sins are violations of natural moral law. It is true that all violations of natural moral law are sins. That is because all sins are contrary to the good God wills for us. Life in accordance with natural moral law is a good God wills for us. However, God wills a greater good for us than the natural good of a life in accordance with the moral law. God wills for us an everlasting spiritual good which is living in accordance with a pattern above and beyond morality which pattern He teaches through His Church.

For a few years after the marriage, I continued to receive the Eucharist at Sunday Mass and weekday Masses during Lent. I was uneasy with my rationalization and I was not going to the sacrament of penance at least once a year. Then I read somewhere that in Familiaris Consortio Pope John Paul II wrote that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics positively could not receive Holy Communion, for two very profound reasons.

I read Familiaris Consortio no. 84

“However, the church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon sacred scripture, of not admitting to eucharistic communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the church which is signified and effected by the eucharist. Besides this there is another special pastoral reason: If these people were admitted to the eucharist the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.”

I accepted John Paul II’s reasoning. Notice that he does not talk of adultery. I stopped receiving the Eucharist at Mass. Living together as “brother and sister” was not a healthy choice. I participated fully in parish life. There were some challenges. It frequently seemed that I was the only person in the church not getting up to receive communion. I participated in the perpetual adoration program. My reverence for the Eucharist was the greatest in those years. I longed to receive the Eucharist once before I died.

After several years, my pastor urged me to apply for an annulment. I was, and still am, convinced that my first marriage was valid. At 22 years of age, I was fully aware of what a life long commitment entailed. In my written statement, I told the diocesan court that I had no doubt that my first marriage was valid. Nonetheless I humbly accepted the annulment. It was a humiliation to be informed that due to immaturity the marriage was not valid. With only one other witness our pastor presided over our remarriage. Benedict XVI was still Pope. The pastor in question is a good and holy man whom I respect.

My pastor encouraged me to receive the Eucharist while the annulment appeal was in process. With reluctance I followed my pastor’s recommendation. What my pastor recommended to me is exactly the pastoral practice Pope Francis endorsed in footnote 351. I suspect that Pope Francis was well aware that such a practice was widespread amongst priests. The point of fn. 351 was to send a signal to priests that he was not going to interfere with such a practice. However, Pope Francis was asked to make a doctrinal statement on the issue. He couldn’t and wouldn’t. The ensuing controversy has serious damaged Pope Francis’ credibility as a leader in teaching the faith. The damage is unnecessarily exacerbated by shallow thinkers who accuse Pope Francis of admitting adulterers to reception of the Eucharist.

It has taken me a long time to realize that I sinned by remarrying after the divorce before receiving an annulment and that I sinned in another way in the reception of the Eucharist before a valid remarriage. It is very misleading to call my sins adultery. Such talk leads away from seeking a spiritual diagnosis.

I was doing something spiritually wrong by receiving the Eucharist between the time of my second marriage and the annulment of the first.. My pastor erred by encouraging me to receive the Eucharist while the annulment was pending. Pope Francis should not have so-to-speak, winked at the practice in fn. 351. Reception of the Eucharist as I did before the valid remarriage was a serious disorder in the spiritual realm which is more fundamental than the moral realm. We can call this spiritual realm the Kingdom of God or the Communion of Saints. Jesus came to tell us how to know love and serve him by living in this Communion of Saints. Trying to understand what this disorder is helps us understand what God wants us to do in order to be in his Kingdom. Merely noting that there is a formal similarity based on lack of some type of valid marriage between the acts of womanizers, married men with mistresses and a divorced Catholic remarried in a civil marriage leads to no investigation of spiritual conditions. We can say that on this topic of fn. 351 talk of adultery induces spiritual blindness. Jesus cannot be accused of shallow thinking in Matt. 19:9. The context makes it clear that he is talking about marriage in the spiritual realm – the kingdom of God. Unfortunately, Jesus’ hyperbolic use of “adultery” has led to the superficial thought that all invalid marriages and the ensuing marital acts are cases of sexual immorality. Some are sins of the spirit; not the flesh.

What was the spiritual disorder in my married life between the civil marriage and the small Catholic wedding ceremony? The place to begin is with the first reason John Paul II gave for why Catholics in my situation should not receive the Eucharist. Here are my articulations of some of the insightpacked into his single sentence.

In Matt:9 and elsewhere. 19, Jesus laid out, as the church teaches, the pattern for proper attainment of the spiritual good of natural marriage. The spiritual good of marriage can be attained only by a life long monogamous marriage open to the possibility of conception with each marital act. From the natural point of view, the spiritual good may not be recognized. Nonetheless, the spiritual good outweighs natural goods. So, in the spiritual realm there is a categorical prohibition of divorce and remarriage while both spouses live. In the kingdom of God divorce and remarriage is intrinsically wrong; not so in the natural moral order.

But what is so wrong with reception of the eucharist by Catholics invalid marriages. According to John Paull II, the Eucharist symbolizes the marital act of Christ with His bride – the Church. This act is a genuine act of love in which the partners are in perfect harmony with one another. So when Catholics receive the Eucharist they, as the Church, are signifying that they are in harmony with the spiritual pattern set out by Christ. So when those of us who receive the Eucharist while in spiritually invalid marriages we lie to ourselves, the others and to Christ that we are in harmony with the pattern He has set out for our spiritual good, which is the only good we have for eternity.

In conclusion, I propose a few suggestions for a pastor accompanying a Catholic in an invalid marriage.

1. Warn him that for all that the Church can say, if he were to die in his present condition he would be eternally separated from God. He is not eligible to enter into the Kingdom of God apart from the natural world.
2. Advise him to participate as much as possible in parish life and this includes fervent prayer for guidance.
3. Advise him not to receive the Eucharist.

* I have written a book on natural 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. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





To receive a free book, send check of $3.75 for shipping and handling per copy. Send to:
Charles F. Kielkopf
45 W. Kenworth Rd.

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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.

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.