Duomo Press: Featured Book

Excerpts: Recreating Tradition: Moralsnext

















quoteThe trust of the faithful in the hierarchy’s authority to define sin collapsed in the time after Vatican II, and especially after Pope Paul VI’s birth control encyclical Humanae Vitae. Since that time, huge numbers of faithful have gone their own way not only on birth control but on all things sexual. The faithful have shaped their own attitudes on divorce, a married clergy, women’s ordination, reproductive technology, and homosexuality, evidencing an almost complete lack of reception on the part of the faithful of the hierarchy’s stands on these matters. This breaking of trust has also primed the faithful to ignore the hierarchy on other issues, and has fueled the virtual demise of the sacrament of Reconciliation. This is no small problem for an institution charged with providing moral guidance to its people. For the moral authority of the Church, Humanae Vitae has been an unmitigated disaster. ... How did Humanae Vitae get it so wrong? If you take a simplistic reading of natural law and add to it the power of the papal juggernaut—the unspoken requirement that all previous papal pronouncements be perpetuated—you have your answer.


How does Humanae Vitae fail based on the way Aquinas thinks of natural law? It fails on three accounts. First, Humanae Vitae uses the vocabulary of natural law but not its method. ... Second, Humanae Vitae puts forth an argument that is circular. ... Third, Humanae Vitae puts forth an argument that is inconsistent.


The Church is in need of an honest application of natural law uncorrupted by the papal juggernaut. ... The argument about the reform of Humanae Vitae is an argument we need to have, unencumbered by oaths of fidelity, oaths of obedience, mandatums, threats of job loss, sanctions, and shady doctrinal investigations. It is a wound in the life of the Church that needs to be lanced, cleaned, and healed. It is key to the recreation of the moral authority of the institutional Church.