Category Archives: Religious morality

Pope Francis’ Opens a Door to Sexual Nihilism

I take the liberty of quoting the entire article by Edward Pentin from the on-line edition of National Catholic Register,September 14, 2019. It is evidence that Pope Francis either endorses what I have called “The moral neutrality of sexuality” or is willing to have inconsistent sexual moral theologies taught as authentically Catholic. However, the moral neutrality of sexuality would be the sexual morality taught at the important the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences.

I have pointed out that accepting the moral neutrality of sexuality undercuts traditional Catholic sexual morality. Note that accepting the moral neutrality of sexuality is tantamount to accepting that no sexual acts are intrinsically morally disordered.

Let us pray that the Holy Father knows how to preserve Catholic Christianity as a serious religion if it in principle accepts that under certain conditions, with certain intentions and high probability of beneficial consequences any sexual act is morally permissible. The moral neutrality of sexuality undercuts the religious outlook of Catholic Christianity which views human beings as fallen, needing redemption for our sins, and divine help to avoid sin.

There is nothing like the struggle to be chaste, eg., struggling against temptations to masturbation, to convince us that we are strongly tempted to sin, we cannot avoid sin by our own efforts and we need forgiveness for our sins. Performance of the corporeal works of mercy is necessary for salvation. But they are far easier to perform than, say, practicing natural family planning. At least that has been my personal experience

The Catholic Register article follows.

New JPII Institute Professors Question Church Orthodoxy on Homosexuality, Contraception

Father Maurizio Chiodi and Father Pier Davide Guenzi currently teach moral theology at the University of Northern Italy in Milan, and both are well known for their questioning of moral absolutes.

VATICAN CITY — The latest development in what is becoming increasingly viewed as both a purge and a revolution of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute is the hiring of two moral theologians whose views on homosexuality and contraception contradict the magisterium.
The new professors, Father Maurizio Chiodi and Father Pier Davide Guenzi, both moral theologians at the University of Northern Italy in Milan, will begin teaching at the Pontifical John Paul II Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences as part of its 2019-2020 curriculum announced this week.
Father Chiodi, whom Archbishop Paglia appointed as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life in 2017, is to teach “Theological Ethics of Life” at the institute.
Father Guenzi is to lecture on the “Anthropology and Ethics of Birth.” Both professors, whose appointments follow highly contentious removals of long-serving lecturers in July, are well known for their questioning of moral absolutes.
In 2017, Father Chiodi gave a controversial Rome lecture on Humanae Vitae in which he used Chapter 8 of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia, to justify contraceptive use in some cases.
More recently, he gave an interview to the Italian bishops’ newspaper Avvenire in which he asserted that, while each homosexual person is called to chastity, “under certain conditions” and depending on circumstances, homosexual relationships can be “the most fruitful way” for same-sex attracted persons “to enjoy good relations.”
The interview appeared to suggest that Father Chiodi was open to considering homosexual acts as “objectively good,” according to bioethicist Tommaso Scandroglio, writing in the Italian Catholic daily La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.
Father Guenzi expressed similar views to Father Chiodi in another recent interview with Avvenire. On the subject of whether homosexual acts could ever be licit, Father Guenzi equivocated, saying it depended on the “relationship, between the intention of the individual and the sense of their actions.” In this regard, he added, “they may be deemed ‘imperfect’ as other sexual behaviors are, even within the life of a stable heterosexual couple.”
With respect to homosexual relations generally, he drew on Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8, to assert that every situation has to be discerned differently. In recent years “we have learned that the natural law must be continually rethought,” he said. “There are deep dynamics inherent to each human person which ask to be respected as inherent to the structure of anthropology.”
Fathers Chiodi and Guenzi are two of eight new lecturers to be hired by the institute this forthcoming academic year, all of them Italian, while other incumbent professors including Polish philosophy Prof. Stanislaw Grygiel, a close friend of Pope St. John Paul II, have been sidelined or given their marching orders.
Grygiel has said he believes the institute is being “destroyed” and that John Paul II’s anthropological teaching replaced by “sociological and psychological meanderings.”
Both Professors Chiodi and Guenzi are understood to be close associates of the institute’s grand chancellor, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, and effectively replace Msgr. Livio Melina, a former president of the institute who held the institute’s now-obsolete chair of fundamental moral theology, and moral theologian, Father José Noriega.
The removals in July of Msgr. Melina and Father Noriega, and the way they were dismissed, led to over 200 scholars worldwide, including well-known U.S. academics such as professor Robert George and professor. Scott Hahn, signing an open letter to Archbishop Paglia, and the institute’s president, Msgr. Pierangelo Sequeri, asking they be reinstated.
The personnel changes come two years after Pope Francis issued a decree refounding the institute and giving it a new name.
The Register asked Archbishop Paglia whether he could give reasons for employing Fathers Chiodi and Guenzi to teach at the institute in light of their views on homosexuality and contraception. He has yet to reply.

End of Register article

I authored a book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism Oklahoma City March 11, 2014. Sexual Nihilism is equivalent to the moral neutrality of sexuality. I argue that sexual nihilism leads to total moral nihilism which is frequently labeled moral relativism. See Book Web Page for more 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.

Respect For the Moral Law

In my normative theory of moral harm, I first proposed that moral harm is an ad hoc prescription that harm ought to occur because of a violation of a moral law. For instance, if the moral law is “Thou shalt not bear false witness against your neighbor” and a man perjurers himself by falsely accusing his neighbor of theft, the ad hoc moral prescription is “Harm ought to happen because of this violation.”

Throughout my posts on moral harm, I have usually allowed the ad hoc proposals to be specified in more detail as “Harm ought to happen to perpetrators and accomplices in some proportion to the nature of the violation.” To specify that the harm be to perpetrators etc., helps make my theory closer to common sense.

Nonetheless, once harm is required for violation of a moral law, it remains to ask “For whom?” and “How much?” However, in this post I do not explore the questions of “To whom?” and “How much?” So, feel free to understand these ad hoc prescriptions for harm as demanding punishment to fit the crime for perpetrators. When I discuss collective guilt, inherited guilt and substitutionary atonement it is useful to bring out the separation of the issues of “to whom?” and “how much?”

Here I want to explore the significant enhancement of the theory made in the previous post. The enhancement is that genuine moral thought requires a type of fear. The ad hoc prescription cannot be interpreted simply as a normative statement that harm ought to be done for the violation. As I put it at the end of the previous post on wrath of God.

The major “take-away” from this post is that the prescription in morality that harm ought to happen upon violation of a moral law cannot be regarded as simply the statement of a prescription for harm. It needs to be understood as the expression of a being offended by the violation of a moral law, with the authority to command the harm threatened by the moral law and some capability to bring about this prescribed harm.

Similarly, the basic moral laws are to be understood as the actual commands of a being with the authority to issue the commands. Moral laws are not to be understood as primarily statements of the moral law.

The suggestion that moral laws are primarily statements of what ought and ought not be suggests a distorted picture of morality. It suggests that experiencing what is required by morality is obtained by consulting some moral law book to learn what is required. Now the distortion is not the suggestion of a immaterial moral law book. The distortion is the suggestion that experiencing the moral law is learning the fact that such-and-such IS written in the book. OUGHT cannot be based merely on what IS; not even what is commanded. An ought- an obligation- must be experienced as the reception of a command.

I admit that the suggestion of hearing a command from an immaterial moral authority is no clearer than the suggestion of reading a statement of a moral law in the immaterial law book of an immaterial moral authority. But the analogy to hearing a command corresponds better to the experience of being obligated than to reading a statement of the law.

Unfortunately, any serious discussion of the basic moral concepts will come in conflict with a dominant bias that there is nothing over and above that which can be investigated by the methods of natural science.

Let us return to the main question of this post. Amongst the constellation of concepts for moral thought we have uncovered that in authentic moral thought there is a concept of a type of fear. What is this fear? Like almost all concepts this concept of fearing to violate a moral law is a mixture of cognitive and emotional components: a feeling structured by thoughts. (Sometimes I like to call these thought/feeling complexes attitudes.) There is an emotion of fear but it is structured by thoughts about the moral commands. It’s a fear of the ability and willingness of the moral authority to have the harm which ought to occur upon violation of the law to actually occur. There is this fear about both violating the general moral laws and not having the ad hoc prescriptions for harm not being fulfilled.

I think we can call this fear of violating a moral law RESPECT for the moral law.

(I confess to being influence in selection of this English term for his German term Achtung as the concept characterizing the attitude of genuine moral thought towards moral laws. But I make no pretense of interpreting Kant.)

Why use “respect” which suggests more thought than feeling?

Moral laws are too frequently violated to suggest that people live in terror of the moral authority. Those who try to follow moral laws could be characterized as having a thoughtful fear. Even those of us who think moral laws are commands of God and violations provoke the wrath of God, I think could be characterized by having respect for the wrath of God. We do not expect God to send down fire and brimstone at, say, the many sexual sins. We think that God is offended by what goes on in bathhouses and believe that harm is and will be occurring because of what goes on. But we do not expect anything dramatic to happen. I am personally reluctant to classify the AIDs epidemic as God’s wrath blazing. But maybe I should.

But most of all it must be emphasized that fear of violations of moral laws and prescriptions is not so strong that it overwhelms our free will. Despite fear of violating moral laws, we can, and do, choose to violate them. Yet we can never choose to violate a moral law and have it be a correct choice. “Respect” is a good term for an attitude towards a rule that we know we can violate but can never be right in violating it.

Moral Harm as The Wrath of God

In my previous posts on moral harm, morality has been discussed from a secular perspective. There was no mention of God or divine beings who cared about human morality; let alone created it. I did not take this secular perspective because I do not believe that God cares that humans follow the morality He gives us. I take the secular approach because I want to find the simplest or most basic concepts in our moral thinking. Thinking of a violation of a moral law as simply a violation of a law is simpler than thinking of the violation of a law commanded by God. Finding the simplest concepts in our moral thought enables us to recognize its structure. Recognizing the structure of our moral thinking increases our understanding of what we are thinking when we think morally.

In this post, I want to introduce the concept of moral laws as commands of God. Looking at moral laws as divine commands enables us to think of violations of moral laws as sins. Previously, I proposed from the secular perspective,Revision of Normative Theory of Moral Harm, that moral harm is the addition to morality of a negative prescription that harm ought to be done because of the violation. This negative prescription was characterized as dirt or junk in moral thought because it was something out of place in moral thought. This way of characterizing moral harm makes moral harm something formal or even verbal. However, with moral thought personalized as the thought of God on how humans ought to behave, the prescription that harm ought to occur because of the violation is not simply words. The prescription that harm ought to occur is God’s thought. A thought of God that harm ought to occur because of a violation of one of His laws can be fairly characterized as the wrath of God.

So from a religious perspective common in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, the moral harm produced by simply violating a moral law, is the thought of God that now some harm ought to occur to humans – usually the perpetrator.

Unless God relents what He thinks ought to occur will occur. So, when we add a religious perspective, moral harm seems much, much more harmful than when described merely in secular terms.

The major “take-away” from this post is that the prescription in morality that harm ought to happen upon violation of a moral law cannot be regarded as simply the statement of a prescription for harm. It needs to be understood as the expression of a being offended by the violation of a moral law, with the authority to command the harm threatened by the moral law and some capability to bring about this prescribed harm

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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A Year of Chastity

This is a special appeal to anyone who basically agrees with the stance on sexual morality expressed in my blog post and happens to visit my blog site. (I hope this is not a subclass of the null class.)

Please make some kind of effort to persuade the Catholic Church, or at least the Catholic Diocese in which you live, to declare 2020 or 2021 a year of Chastity as Pope Francis declared 2016 to be a year of Mercy -“talk up” the idea. During this year there would be all sorts of programs and practices to lead people to an understanding of the traditional sexual morality taught by the Church and to guide them towards developing the strength of character to practice it.

A call for a year of chastity is not a call for reaction or revolution. There is no exemplary age of chastity. Oh, conversational style varies. In certain places at certain times conversation has been prudish. At other times and places conversation has been bawdy. But we really do not know what has gone on after sunset throughout the ages. It is unrealistic to expect progressing into a golden age of chastity. The struggle to make ourselves proper human sexual beings will always be difficult. There will be failures. For even if the spirit is willing, the flesh is weak. A year of chastity would be a time to remind ourselves of the rules for proper human sexuality and seek encouragement for living in accordance with them.

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. In my book, I make a philosophical defense of traditional Catholic sexual morality. 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.

Synopsis of Subverting Catholic Sexual Morality

As a member of the Columbus Ohio Downtown Serra Club, one of my assignments as secretary is to write reports of luncheon talks for our newsletter. What follows is a report, using third person, on my own talk I wrote for our newsletter. The text of the full talk is in my previous blog post

A member of our club gave the talk at our first 2019 St. Charles luncheon meeting on January 11. Program chair Dan Tarpy introduced Charles F. Kielkopf with the following remarks relevant to the topic of his talk: “An Assumption in Moral Philosophy which is Subverting Catholic Sexual Morality.”

He was educated in St. Paul, Minnesota by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Corondelet and the Christian Brothers. After military service in the 11th Airborne, he returned to St. Paul and earned a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Mathematics from the University of Minnesota. From 1963 to 2000 he served in the Philosophy department of The Ohio State University. Professor Kielkopf’ s most recent books are: A Declaration of Dependence: A Kantian Condemnation of Atheistic Despair, 1997 and Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism. 2014*.

The assumption subverting Catholic sexual morality is that no sexual act by itself is morally forbidden. Whether or not a sexual activity is morally permissible depends on factors apart from what is done such as the circumstances in which it is done, the intentions of the actors and the consequences of the act. In short, the assumption holds that sexual acts are morally neutral. This assumption contradicts traditional Catholic sexual morality. Catholic sexual morality condemns homosexual acts and masturbation as intrinsically disordered. To say that homosexual acts and masturbation are intrinsically disordered is to say that there are no circumstances regardless of the intentions of the actors and consequences of the act in which homosexual acts and masturbation are morally permissible.

Professor Kielkopf pointed out that the assumption of the moral neutrality of sexual acts has had almost axiomatic status for the past fifty years in the moral theories taught in the major secular universities and some Catholic universities. Such moral theories rationalize the so-called sexual revolution beginning in the sixties. As a result, the moral neutrality of sexual acts is part of the conceptual framework of our culture. If it were not for the moral laws of nature written in the human heart referred to by St. Paul in Rom: 2:15, the assumption would be part of common sense.

The assumption subverts Catholic sexual morality because Catholics are participants in contemporary culture. It takes effort to hold to unfashionable stances and avoid being totally shaped by our surrounding culture.

Professor Kielkopf gave evidence that the language of some high clergy indicate that they may make the assumption.

Kielkopf cited use of “clericalism.” “Clericalism” is used to designate use of clerical status to coerce consent. So, instead of condemning McCarrick’s homosexual acts, he is accused of a misuse of power. Misuse of power is only a circumstance in which his homosexual acts were committed.

At the beginning of 2019 Catholics are rightly anxious about the prospect that moral thought assuming the moral neutrality of sexual acts will become dominant in our Church. If so, our Church will become only a frill in our culture which might occasionally be called upon to support some welfare policy. Our Church will have no basis to demand the dominant culture to pay attention to the meaning of life for individuals.

Secular moral philosophy’s assumption of the moral neutrality of sexual acts is really just part of an assumption of the moral neutrality of every act. Under this broader assumption, the role of moral thinking is to decide how to get the fairest division of pains and pleasures from acts. So, in principle, any kind of act may turn out to be right. If pains significantly outweigh pleasures a life is not worth living. It is right to terminate such lives.

Traditional Catholic sexual morality is part of a larger moral vision which holds that human beings have natural capacities such as sexuality, concern for beauty, concern for community, concern for truth and life itself. There is a good to be realized by each of these capacities. Morally right acts promote these goods. Acts which directly frustrate attainment of these goods are intrinsically wrong. The moral meaning of life for individuals is to form themselves to be the kind of people who promote these goods and avoid the intrinsically wrong acts. The full meaning of life for individuals is to live a morally meaningful life because that is what God created us for.

Professor Kielkopf noted that there is hope for Catholic friendly moral philosophies which can compete with the dominant Catholic unfriendly secular moral philosophies. An example he cited was the new natural law theory started by Germain Grisez.

As a final suggestion, Professor Kielkopf suggested that Serrans think about developing ways to find out the type of moral philosophy taught to seminarians and then try to ensure that they are taught moral philosophy which supports the Catholic vision.

An Assumption in Moral Philosophy which is Subverting Catholic Sexual Morality

A luncheon talk delivered to the Downtown Serra Club of Columbus, Ohio on Jan. 11,2019 at St. Charles Preparatory by club member Charles F. Kielkopf, Professor of Philosophy (Emeritus) The Ohio State University

Why have I asked for the opportunity to talk with you about the philosophical foundations of sexual morality? As Serrans we are concerned with the formation of those in ordained ministries. We pray that they “may be found worthy of the ministry they have received.” Unfortunately, there are indications that ordained ministers, the seminarians they form and the laity to whom they minister have and use a moral theory containing as assumption about sexual morality subverting Catholic sexual morality. As a result, they are not faithful to the ministries they have received.

I have a negative and a positive goal for this short presentation. The negative goal is to specify this subversive assumption, note how it subverts traditional sexual morality, consider how it damages society and offer evidence that it is made by a significant plurality, if not a majority, of Catholics including influential priests and bishops. The positive goal is to remind ourselves that we have the resources to combat this destructive influence on Church teaching and practice. I will highlight the roles of moral philosophy amongst these resources.

What is this subversive assumption? The subversive assumption is that no sexual act by itself is morally forbidden. However, sexual acts can be morally forbidden when non-sexual factors are considered. Whether or not a sexual activity is morally permissible depends on factors apart from what is done such as the circumstances in which it is done, the intentions of the actors and the consequences of the act.

For instance, the moral permissibility of sexual intercourse between two OSU students who have just met at a party depends on factors such as whether they are tolerably sober enough to consent, have harmless intentions such as “just to have fun” and are well protected against the undesirable consequence of pregnancy in this circumstance of being unmarried. Given the subversive assumption this hookup is morally permissible. However, change the circumstances to her being too drunk to consent, it would be morally wrong. Note, though, that the activity is not condemned for any misuse of sexuality. The wrong is using an asset of the girl without her consent.

In my book,* I call this subversive assumption “moral nihilism.” There is nothing in our sexuality which shows us how to use it.

In moral theory, the assumption operates by placing only indirect or conditional moral restrictions on sexual activity. Theoretically the assumption leads to judgments that a sexual act is permissible if the parties involved are capable of giving consent, are informed about the circumstances and possible consequences, actually give consent and the desirable consequences outweigh the undesirable consequences. In daily practice, the assumption rationalizes a consensual sex act which after a quick and careless consideration seems harmless.

Use of this assumption obviously entails that masturbation is morally permissible as well as homosexual relations between consenting adults. It does not require much more thinking to figure out that moral theories using this assumption justify artificial birth control. These entailments clearly subvert Catholic sexual morality. Such theories are frequently thought of as progressive.

I want to emphasize that people using progressive moral theories sincerely believe that their moral judgments are correct. They frequently render severe moral condemnations of public policy and practice with respect to social justice and environment protection. These theories yield judgments consistent with most of Catholic social teaching. They will condemn some sex acts as abusive such as fellatio of a forty year old man on a twelve year old boy even if both enjoyed great pleasure.

Nonetheless, despite good intentions use of this assumption for progressive sexual morality has some undesirable consequences. It is the assumption justifying the sexual revolution and dissent from humane vitae. Dissent from humane vitae has seriously damaged our Church. The December 2018 issue of the Atlantic had an article noting a surprising undesirable consequence of the sexual revolution. Not only is there a decline in marriages but there is a decline in young people having sexual intercourse. They stay home and masturbate fired up by internet porn and play with sex toys. Masturbation is sure and safe sex because there are no worries about getting consent or STDs.

What are some indications that this subversive assumption is operative in the moral thinking of our Church? There has been little attention to sexual morality since dissent from humanae vitae. Presumably, it is not thought that the sexual practice of a large number of Catholics, which match those of the followers of the sexual revolution are not seriously wrong, if wrong at all. I saw a poster of the Ten Commandments outside a PSR classroom. The sixth commandment was written as: Never hurt anyone! St. John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical veritatis splendor was clearly directed against Catholic moral theologians whose underlying moral philosophies make this assumption. The language of high clerics addressing current scandals suggest that they make this assumption. They avoid directly condemning sexual sins as violating sex specific rules or proper use of sexuality. They speak only of general rules of justice as being violated.

Consider the term “clericalism.” “Clericalism” is used to designate use of clerical status to coerce consent. So, instead of condemning McCarrick’s homosexual acts, they accuse him of a misuse of power, Indeed, use of terms such as “abuse” and “cover-up” function to avoid naming and blaming specific sexual act as sexually immoral. If they believed that there were genuine sexual wrongs, preventing cover-ups would be secondary to uncovering the sins covered-up and rooting them out.

As long as this assumption is dominant in our Church we are threatened with corruption. Now for the positive part.

What is a contrary assumption about sexual morality? A contrary assumption is that from contemplation and analysis of the human good to be produced by human sexuality we can uncover what we ought to do to produce that good and of, greatest importance, uncover what we ought not do to frustrate attainment of the good of human sexuality. Articulation of such analyses express the natural law, which St. Paul tells us in Rom. 2, 11-15, is written in everyone’s heart. These articulations are expressed as categorical, unconditional or absolute, prohibitions of certain sexual acts.

For instance, A man must not intentionally seek an orgasm except in sexual intercourse, open to conception, with woman to whom he is committed for life to care for her and any children resulting from their intercourse. (I needed the better part of a book to justify this principle.) All other intentionally sought orgasms are intrinsically wrong. There are no circumstances, regardless of the intentions of the actors or the consequences of doing them which justify them.

Obviously, from this type of moral theory masturbation and homosexuality are intrinsically wrong. I regret to say it: But artificial birth control for a married couple falls on the wrong side of being right.

Why should ordained clergy and influential Catholic laity hold a moral theory which leads to a moral theology supporting traditional Catholic sexual morality? There are two reasons: One theoretical, the other practical. For many judgments, such as condemnation of homosexual acts, we want to hold the strong “You can’t do that because it is wrong.” As opposed to the weak sectarian judgment “You can’t do that because you are a Catholic.” The factual reason is that the Thomistic moral philosophy which supported Catholic moral theology for centuries lost status in the intellectual world. It got too wrapped up in how to make decisions in difficult cases without up-dating the underlying theory. And the theory was poorly defended. It was ridiculed even by many Catholics after humane vitae. Proponents could not quickly answer questions such as: If it is wrong to stop a spermatozoa from reaching an ovum, why isn’t wrong to stop a bead of sweat rolling down your forehead into your eye? After all both are just following nature.

Is there any hope for a moral philosophy which will support traditional Catholic sexual morality? And, of more importance, is there hope for resistance within the Church against the influence of the operative moral philosophy which, if left unchecked, will destroy our Church. The second question comes up because far more than philosophy is needed to defeat the sexual revolution which has snuck into the Church with this subversive assumption.

There is hope for a rigorous moral philosophy which deserves serious consideration in the philosophical world. This is the so-called New Natural Law Theory started by Germain Grisez of Mt. St. Mary Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md. Some proponents are Robert P. George of Princeton and John Finnis of Oxford. It is still not seriously considered in the major secular universities.

Philosophy departments in the major secular universities determine what is to be taken seriously by other secular philosophy departments and Catholic philosophy departments which try to be like them. There is my effort to found a Kantian sexual moral philosophy in line with Catholic thought. I fear that it is a long shot for recognition; let alone acceptance. As a philosophical resource there is St. John Paul II’s theology of the body which can found a sexual moral philosophy with a sensitive analysis of the good of human sexuality

Non-philosophical weapons are available.
1. Millions of Catholics simply will not accept progressive sexual morality. They may not hold any moral philosophy or moral theology but the traditional sexual morality is written in their hearts.
2. The Church has not changed her teachings on sexual morality. And the weight of traditional will most likely prevent any changes.
3. Traditional Catholics have not remained silent when confronted with progressive sexual morality in society and the Church. For instance, we have EWTN, the National Catholic Register, Programs such as TMIY.
4 We have the promise that God will not abandon us. However, we must pray and work not to become in effect abandon by succumbing to a sense of abandonment.

A final suggestion is that perhaps as Serrans we should consider finding a way to exercise concern about the moral philosophy taught in seminaries.

*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. These blog posts are in effect work towards a 2nd edition. I have not changing the basic line of argument in my book. But in these blog posts I am developing better ways of expressing my argument by staying with the language of common sense and removing topics and language which could at best be of interest to professional academic philosophers. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.





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Charles F. Kielkopf
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October 2018: What Catholic Men Need to be Taught About Sex

It is urgent that our bishops, under explicit instruction from Pope Francis, bring it about that all Catholic boys and men be taught that the sexual morality outlined in the 1975 VATICAN DECLARATION ON CERTAIN QUESTIONS CONCERNING SEXUAL ETHICS gives the sexual morality they are morally and religiously obliged to follow. This Vatican document repeats the traditional condemnations of masturbation, homosexual acts, premarital sex and adultery. The condemnations need to be repeated at this time because there is doubt about and outright denial of the immorality of these kinds of behaviors. The reaffirmation of the traditional sexual morality needs to come from Pope Francis to alleviate anxieties, and perhaps for some hope, that the Holy Father intends to remove some of the condemnations of traditional sexual morality.

I have such anxieties.

Far more important than devising elaborate schemes for not covering up abuses is specifying clearly what must not be done sexually. Rules about covering up may be covering up our recalling what is right and wrong.

My book on sexual morality makes a philosophical case for 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. 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.

I Am Anti-abortion; Not Pro-life

Over 40 years ago when the public debate in the USA started to “heat up” those opposed to abortion seemed to reach a consensus that the term “pro-life” was a better label for their position than “anti-abortion.” “Pro-life is positive and matches the positive term “pro-choice” chosen by those supporting a women’s right to abortion.

I disagree with the selection of “pro-life” to label the stance of Christians who oppose abortion. Christians should oppose abortion because it is directly taking the life of an innocent human being. That is murder. Thou shall not commit murder.

There is no doubt that abortion solves some very nasty personal and social problems. Also abortion prevents the living of a life which no reasonable person would choose. Utilitarian morality justifies many abortions, Nonetheless abortion is murder even if for the greatest good for the greatest number.

Opposing abortion from a perspective of being pro-life tempts us to be dishonest by overstating the value of natural life. Natural (biological) simply is not a good condition worthy of being chosen under all natural circumstances. However, we never have a right to take a life, our own or another’s, for the sake of any good – even the good of natural death to relieve suffering. Life is a duty; not a good.

Not only does use of “pro-life” mislead us to the dishonesty of overstating the natural value of being alive in this world it also misleads Christians away from the life which is indeed intrinsically good. The life which is genuinely good is life with God for those who have led a proper natural life.

In effect, the term “pro-life” has misled Catholics into being too worldly. We cannot evangelize the secular world by giving life in this world an extremely high value if not the highest value. Secularists already value life in this world while it is, to reasonable people without religious faith, worth living.

My book on sexual morality makes a philosophical case for traditional sexual morality. It does not focus on abortion because abortion is a crime against justice. 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. 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.

Don’t Worry About the Crimes. Stop the Sins

At this time, August 2018, I am articulating what is quickly becoming conventional wisdom amongst Catholics distressed by the allegations that Cdl. T. McCarrick et al. carried on homosexual activities while serving as a Catholic priests and bishops. This new received wisdom holds that when the clergy sex abuse scandal first broke in the early 2000s, we should have focused on stopping the sexual sins as opposed to focusing on sexual misconduct which was also illegal. We should have emphasized stopping sexual sins instead of emphasizing illegal sexual misconduct. Since sexual sins are a necessary condition for illegal sexual misconduct a focus on sin prevention would also have addressed preventing illegal sexual activity. Adherence to traditional sexual morality is necessary and sufficient for avoiding illegal sexual activity.
The focus on avoiding what is illegal has misled us into thinking that our problems were conforming to civil law rather than the moral law which expresses the unchanging will of God for human behavior. As a result, the bishops missed the opportunity of leading us in a much needed revival of traditional Catholic sexual morality.
There are a variety of explanations why the emphasis was on preventing and remedying illegal sexual conduct. They range from the neutral theory that the illegal sexual abuse of minors was the immediate and salient problem to be solved to the hostile and uncharitable theory that there was a goal of distracting from homosexual conduct amongst adult priests and even bishops. The explanations are issues for sociology. As a philosopher who has no intention of doing the empirical research necessary to test sociological explanations, I will not take a stand on explanations. I have to rely on others for sociology. But I will demand strong evidence for theories which attribute malice to priests and bishops. I fear that such evidence may be forthcoming.
However, I have no hesitation criticizing the bishops policy they should have required preaching of basic traditional sexual morality with a great emphasis on how to avoid occasions of sin.
My book on sexual morality makes a philosophical case for traditional sexual morality. My case does not assume any religious doctrines. I belong to a long Catholic tradition which holds that Catholic morality is simply morality which binds all people regardless of their religion.
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. 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.