An examination of Archbishop Fernández’s erroneous positions on sexual morality

A 2006 essay demonstrates at least four areas where the Prefect-elect’s commitment to Catholic moral teaching is severely compromised; here is a close analysis of two of those areas.

Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández, pictured here in 2014, is the archbishop of La Plata, Argentina. He will take up his new post as prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith in September 2023. / Daniel Ibanez/CNA

Argentine prelate Víctor Manuel Fernández, prefect-elect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, should either recant his erroneous positions on sexual morality or resign his post at the DDF. A calm, competent, and clear-eyed analysis of Fernández’s 2006 essay entitled “The Trinitarian Dimension of Morality” shows that this statement is not only entirely warranted but an appropriate expression of concern for the welfare of the Church.

Fernández’s essay demonstrates at least four areas where his commitment to Catholic moral teaching is severely compromised: (i) his rejection of the Church’s prohibition of the use of contraception in marriage; (ii) his disregard for the teachings of Veritatis Splendor and Catholic moral doctrine on intrinsically evil acts and absolute moral norms; (iii) his departure from the traditional understanding of conscience and his shuffling between objective and subjective guilt/imputability in regard to those who choose acts of grave matter; and (iv) his implicit adoption of the condemned moral theory known as proportionalism.

This article engages the first two. The latter two are saved for future essays.

Fernández’s ethical method

Early in his 2006 essay, Fernández introduces “fraternal charity” as the central and determining concept of his wider ethical method. Fraternal charity is nothing more, he says, than “self-transcendence” toward one’s neighbor, which empowers the virtues with a “dynamism of ‘going out of oneself’”; this going-out-of-oneself-in-love is what he thinks constitutes the Trinitarian dimension of morality; and he refers to it as the “central hermeneutical criterion” of ethical decision making (pp. 145, 148). A hermeneutic is something that helps us evaluate or judge something else. Love of neighbor, then, (“fraternal charity”) is the central standard for evaluating and judging ethical questions.

From the perspective of the Gospel, this, of course, can sound reasonable. But it is important to see that Fernández provides no unifying standard, much less a traditional Catholic standard, for determining whether or not an act really is charitable. He even denies that a single standard exists in morality—“there is not a single rationality (racionalidad) in ethics”— arguing that “the hermeneutical criterion of fraternal charity applies differently in one or another of these various [ethical] rationalities” (p. 148). Lacking a consistent standard, however, people tend to rely on intuitions or inspirations of what feels right; but when the intuitions and inspirations of different people conflict, as happens frequently, especially in matters pertaining to sex, this approach leaves them with no way to determine whose are reliable and whose are not.

We see this confusion in Fernández’s treatment of “some questions of sexual morality” that concern how to apply the love-of-neighbor principle to the use of “sexual abstinence” in marriage (p. 150). Fraternal charity, he says, helps us to recognize that a spouse’s “incapacity for sexual abstinence” usually implies a “subjugation of the [other] spouse’s freedom, making one’s own pleasure prevail over the happiness of the other.” Doubtless this is correct. Spousal love requires husbands and wives to be able to abstain from sexual relations when necessary. An overly exhausted young wife and mother whose husband insists on conjugal relations during fertile periods because he can’t control his urges knows quite personally that his urges are taking precedence over her own and the family’s well-being. Lacking self-restraint is not an expression of fraternal charity.

Fernández’s statement on condoms

Fernández then considers a situation where he believes the exercise of sexual abstinence in marriage can contradict fraternal charity. He does not, as we might expect, elaborate a scenario where a spouse refuses to render the marital debt for non-grave reasons—for reasons, say, that are petty, self-centered or vindictive. Rather, he sets forth a scenario where a wife adopts abstinence as a means of upholding the moral law:

We cannot close our eyes, for example, to the difficulty a woman faces when she perceives that family stability is put at risk by subjecting her non-practicing husband to periods of continence. In this case, an inflexible rejection of all use of condoms would make compliance with an external rule take precedence over the grave obligation to care for loving communion and marital stability that charity more directly demands (p. 150).

Her “non-practicing” [no practicante] husband is resolved to use condoms and insists on having sex. Fernández says that under these circumstances a wife’s refusal to engage in condomistic sex could be a violation of a grave obligation. In the terminology of moral theology, a “grave obligation” is one that the moral law requires us to keep under pain of mortal sin. So, the DDF prefect is asserting that it is sometimes mortally sinful for a faithful Catholic spouse, usually a wife, to refuse to use condoms—or cooperate in her husband’s use of them—because such principled rejection would be gravely contrary to married love.

A wider conversation

In the first decades of the 20th century, there was some disagreement among theologians as to whether a wife could engage in licit cooperation with a spouse who illicitly engaged in withdrawal with ejaculation. All were agreed, however, that to tolerate her husband’s use of condoms was illicit cooperation.

In 1916, the Sacred Penitentiary contributed to the debate. It responded in the affirmative to a question of whether a husband resolved to use condoms should be “equated with a rapist” by his wife and opposed by her with “the resistance which a virgin must offer to an attacker” (see Noonan, Contraception, p. 433).

In 1930, Pope Pius XI settled the question in his great encyclical Casti Connubii, addressing whether it is licit for a woman to permit her husband’s “perversion of the right order”. The English translation on the Vatican website reads:

Holy Church knows well that not infrequently one of the parties is sinned against rather than sinning, when for a grave cause he or she reluctantly (non vult) allows (permittit) the perversion of the right order. In such a case, there is no sin, provided that, mindful of the law of charity, he or she does not neglect to seek to dissuade and to deter the partner from sin. (No. 59).

This translation would appear to permit a wife without sin to allow her spouse to use condoms so long as she is reluctant and makes a good faith effort to “dissuade” him from sinning, which sounds close to the Fernández scenario.

“Reluctantly”, however, is a bad and misleading translation of the Latin “non vult”, which literally means “does not will”. Reluctancy connotes internal struggle, an emotional disinclination to do something that can be overcome for good reasons, such that one ends up willing to do the thing despite one’s reluctance. But this is surely not what the authoritative Latin text means to communicate. The Vatican Italian translation is better: she “permits but does not consent to” (alla quale pure non consente) her husband’s sinful action.

A clearer translation is:

Holy Church knows well that not infrequently one of the parties is sinned against rather than sinning, when for a truly grave reason she permits but does not will—does not consent to—the perversion of the right order. In such a case, there is no sin … (CC, 59, emphasis added).

Casti Connubii says she permits but does not will his “perversion of the right order”. The perversion to which Pius is referring is, of course, the husband’s choice to deliberately frustrate the generative power of a conjugal act. Avoiding these acts is necessary to “preserve the chastity of the nuptial union” (56). Pope Pius affirms (as do Vatican II, Popes Paul VI, John Paul II and Benedict XVI) that sex acts that are not open to the transmission of life do not respect the full truth of marital self-giving, in the words of John Paul II, are a “falsification of the inner truth of conjugal love” (FC 32, see also GS 51, HV 12-14, CCC 2363, 2366, 2369-2370). Morally speaking, they are non-marital acts.

For sex to be marital—meaning for it to be the kind of sex sufficient to “consummate” a marriage—it must be a “conjugal act which is suitable in itself for the procreation of offspring” (CIC, Can. 1061 §1). In the Fernández scenario, the husband’s choice for condomistic sex has ensured that the act is non-consummative and so non-marital.

Disputed question

We might ask whether it is possible for the wife to will marital intercourse despite the fact that her husband wills a condomistic act. Some otherwise sound moralists have thought so. They have argued that in cases where one spouse wishes to engage in intercourse open to new life and the other wishes to engage in a sexual act not open to life, the former can and may engage in sexual intercourse open to life—i.e., in licit marital intercourse—with her spouse despite that spouse’s choice to engage in an act not open to new life (Aertnys, Damen, and Visser, Theologia moralis, ed. 18, vol. 4 [Turin: Marietti, 1969], pp. 266-69).

This conclusion, however, cannot be sustained. Since marital intercourse is a unitary act in which the spouses freely become one-flesh, marital intercourse cannot take place unless both spouses mutually engage in that unitary act. Since the husband’s use of a condom renders that act non-marital, her act cannot be marital intercourse and for that reason cannot be licitly willed.

She may, however, licitly tolerate her husband’s non-marital sexual advance by not resisting it in the hope that her husband will be placated. This puts the wife, who is a true victim, in a very difficult situation. While she may allow her husband to do what he is set on doing, it would be gravely wrong for her willingly to engage in his illicit act—and the offending husband surely wants not just her reluctant toleration but her willing cooperation.

Of course, even if she engages in sexual behavior, it may be that her fear prevents her from giving deliberate consent; and if she did consent, it may be that her confusion about what she could rightly do prevents her from realizing the grave wrongness of consenting. But neither of these considerations can justify advising the wife to cooperate willingly with her husband’s illicit act, much less show that she is morally obliged to do so.

Any husband who places his wife in this compromising situation tempts her to sin. We can apply to husbands Pope Pius’s fearful warning to priests who by “approval or guilty silence” confirm spouses in the sin of contraception: “let him be mindful of the fact that he must render a strict account to God, the Supreme Judge, for the betrayal of his sacred trust” (CC, 57).

A correct interpretation of Casti Connubii

The “truly grave reason” that Casti Connubii, 59, seems to be envisaging, is a situation analogous but not identical to the 1916 Sacred Penitentiary, where the husband stands in the position of an aggressor. Pius moderates the Penitentiary’s conclusion about the resistance the wife is obliged to offer by teaching that so long as she does not consent to her husband’s immorality, she guiltlessly permits his violation. Her welfare is at stake, harm could come to her if she refuses, so she tolerates his behavior but withholds consent. This is not reluctantly engaging in a marital act with one’s spouse, as a wife may do when her husband abruptly wakes her from deep sleep in the middle of the night with his urgent request. This is refusing to participate in—not willing—her husband’s act. That act, his act, is a non-marital sex act. It follows, as I said before, that the wife may not will but only tolerate her husband’s illicit act. If this is what she does, then neither her intended end or means, strictly speaking, will be to have sex with her husband. She intends to defend herself by an act—non-consensual toleration of his sexual aggression—that placates her husband.

This behavior is not conjugal, for it does not realize the good of marital unity. It does not bring about a personal one-flesh union, for it unites the spouses neither as free agents cooperating with each other nor as bodily selves. The husband’s act is no more an act of unitive intercourse than if he perpetrated against his wife an act of anal penetration.

Moreover, if she is justified and even morally obliged to engage in condomistic sex, as Fernández argues, it is not clear why the choice of other kinds of non-marital sexual acts in marriage for the sake of realizing the perceived goods of “loving communion” and “marital stability”, e.g., mutual masturbation, anal sex, other forms of contraception, could not also be justified and even morally obligatory.

The Vademecum for confessors

In 1997, during the pontificate of John Paul II, Cardinal Trujillo, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, published a pastoral guide for confessors that seems to contradict the teaching of Casti Connubii.  Raising the problem of a spouse who intentionally renders sex non-procreative, the guide says (concerning the innocent spouse), “cooperation [with the spouse’s sin of contraception] can be licit when the three following conditions are jointly met”: first, “when the action of the cooperating spouse is not already illicit in itself; second, “when proportionally grave reasons exist”; and third, “when one is seeking to help the other spouse to desist from such conduct”.

Trujillo overlooks the fact that whereas the wife might be able to cooperate only materially with the sin of contraception, her material cooperation would inevitably be wrongful because she could only tender it by making the intrinsically immoral choice of engaging in non-marital sex.  Said another way, she could choose to have sex with her husband without intending as an end or means his choice precisely as contraceptive; but, as stated above, since consummative marital intercourse is a unitary one-flesh act, it cannot take place unless both spouses engage in it.  Since the husband’s contraceptive choice renders the act un-“suitable in itself for the procreation of offspring” (CICCan. 1061), she could not choose to engage in that unitary act without choosing a non-consummative and so non-marital act.

Trujillo was so focused on the issue of material cooperation with contraception that he overlooked the fact that sex under these conditions would be non-marital, and if the wife engaged in it, she would be violating the first condition.  So, strictly speaking, I do not disagree that if the three conditions were met, the cooperation could be licit.  The problem is that the first of those conditions can never be met.  It is important to note, however, that a document signed only by a Cardinal on behalf of a pontifical council has little or no magisterial weight, while Casti Connubii, which the pastoral guide seems to contradict, is an encyclical promulgated with a high degree of ecclesiastical authority.

The Prefect’s errors

Fernández obviously does not follow Casti Connubi’s moral teaching. His scenario does not envisage a wife withholding consent from her husband’s illicit act, but rather freely consenting to condomistic intercourse for the sake of “loving communion” and “marital stability”.

But for a wife who is sinned against in this way to be acting in an objectively upright way, she must either refuse him entirely or only tolerate his imposition of condomistic sex. In the latter case, she would be engaging in an act of self-defense against her husband’s aggression, but such an act cannot realize “loving communion” and “marital stability”. It is one intended to minimize harm inflicted on herself.

The Prefect’s casuistical error seems to be rooted in a more deeply flawed conception of morality. He says the wife who refuses to participate in her husband’s condomistic sex is guilty of “an inflexible rejection” of the use of contraception. But does not Veritatis Splendor and Catholic moral doctrine teach that Christians and all people of good will are called always and everywhere to reject intrinsically evil acts “because the choice of this kind of behavior is in no case compatible with the goodness of the will of the acting person, with his vocation to life with God and to communion with his neighbor” (no. 52, also 78)?

The problem would go away if there were no intrinsically evil acts, which seems to represent Fernández’s conviction. It is hard to reconcile his conclusion concerning a wife’s participation in her husband’s condomistic sex with an affirmation that his sex is intrinsically evil.

He illustrates his moral misconceptions further when he says the wife’s principled rejection of condom use “would make compliance with an external rule take precedence over the grave obligation to care for loving communion and marital stability”. The external rule to which he is referring is the central moral norm articulated in Humanae Vitae 14 prohibiting “any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.”

We might ask what this norm, according to Fernández, is external to? The prelate replies quite plainly: external to the demands of “loving communion and marital stability”; external to love of neighbor.

By arguing that conformity to the norm against contraception is contrary to neighborly—and so marital—love, Fernández has turned Catholic morality on its head. He has done an end-run around Veritatis Splendor and the entire Catholic moral tradition, by maintaining that classic negative moral norms are binding only within the framework of a conception of neighborly love relativized by his so-called “trinitarian dimension of morality”.

But according to Catholic tradition, all the unchanging norms of the natural law—which includes the central norm taught in Humanae Vitae—are intrinsically related to human good and human flourishing. Veritatis Splendor teaches unambiguously that it is not possible to obey God and thus love God and neighbor, without respecting these precepts (see VS 4, 13).

In particular, the norms of sexual ethics arise precisely from a consideration of what unconditional respect for the goods of marriage require: at a minimum, a firm rejection of all intrinsically evil actions (see VS 90). Moral norms prohibit condomistic sex because it is bad for marriage. A firm adherence to these norms testifies to the intrinsic relationship between moral norms, human goods, and human flourishing, indeed, testifies to what an actual respect for fraternal charity demands.


Fernández’s defense of condom use in marriage cannot be reconciled with Casti Connubii’s treatment of a wife who is “sinned against rather than sinning”. Fernández envisages a scenario where family instability is threatened by a wife’s adherence to the norm prohibiting all intentionally contraceptive acts, an adherence that he wrongheadedly refers to as “compliance with an external rule”, that he caricatures as “inflexible”, and that he believes would violate the requisites of marital charity.

He is wrong on all fronts. A husband who disregards his wife’s grave conscientious moral objections by demanding condomistic sex has already undermined family stability. A wife’s resistance to her husband’s immorality is not “an inflexible rejection” but rather a principled refusal to do evil, a decision made not on the basis of an extrinsically imposed rule, but in reverent conformity to moral truth, a firm commitment to conjugal chastity, and respect for her husband whose sin she refuses to compound through formal cooperation. It also expresses a mother’s love towards her children who would be harmed by their parents’ sin. If, however, the husband forces himself on her against her will, she does no wrong to defend herself by permitting but not willing his evil act. The husband who does this, however, harms his wife and doing so severs marital communion. The idea that by yielding to his unjust demands to engage in condomistic sex she nurtures “loving communion and marital stability” and so realizes the demands of neighborly love is naïve and preposterous.

Fernández’s defense of a wife’s contraceptive cooperation in her husband’s condomistic sex and reliance on a flawed understanding of the mutuality of marital intercourse, together with his not-so-subtle and strategic disregard for the teaching of Veritatis Splendor and Catholic moral doctrine on intrinsically evil acts and absolute moral norms, demonstrates that in the absence of a recantation of his errors, the Cardinal-elect is unfit to serve as the Church’s chief defender of doctrine.

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About E. Christian Brugger 7 Articles
Dr. E. Christian Brugger is a moral theologian living in Front Royal, Virginia.


  1. I can’t imagine Francis elevating anyone unless he was unfit. They are both boring unimaginative products of the seventies, well actually the whole of history since the first sin in the Garden, whenever a soul decides to call evil good and pretend cowardice is courage.

  2. Now that the coup d’état appears to be complete, at least one can easily recognize the hierarchy of the counterfeit anti Christ Church attempting to subsist within The One Body Of Christ, as “It is not possible to have Sacramental Communion without Ecclesial Communion, due to The Unity Of The Holy Ghost (Filioque)..

    “For the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might make known new doctrine, but that by His assistance they might inviolably keep and faithfully expound the Revelation, the Deposit of Faith, delivered through the Apostles. “

  3. It is the soft spoken lie of socialism and the resultant ascendancy of the ‘people of God’ oxymoron that: it is by loving you that I love God.
    No, in truth It is by loving God that I love you.
    Love of God must be Supreme. “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers.”
    Putting fraternal love primary to love of God is the great subtle lie of Socialism. “Ye shall be as gods”. This is why socialism is inevitably anti theistic. God may not be secondary and live for another that is not primarily based upon a love of God will always be a vain and false love ala the “you complete me” trope.

    • Excellent comment!
      This is, indeed, the fundamental error of our times: the belief that love for neighbor is on the same level as love for God.
      Jesus says that love for God is “the first and the greatest commandment”.
      He does not say the same about love for neighbor.
      God and My Neighbor are related, but are not the same, and are not interchangeable.

  4. Keep pounding the rock Brother Brugger. Your work is most helpful.

    Fernández is Hell-bent on upending Catholic morality. His appointment is a thousand year storm. The Dicastery for the Doctrine of Fernández will implement the Amoris Laetitia blueprint to bypass Catholic doctrine to tolerate heteropraxy. The first statements of Fernández defended himself for his bad practices instead of the Faith! Pathetic.

    The DDF will demand that the Perfect God modify His rigid, unlivable Commandments. God told us to do the opposite if we want to love. (John 14:15)

    Long before 2006, Fernández disqualified himself from the priesthood. Can anyone of good will justify interviewing scores of teens about how they make out and then writing soft porn about it? Secular instance companies recommend we report this activity! No Saint would ever wrote like this. There is no evidence Fernández believes that God’s grace is sufficient to heal. So he teaches other ways..!? The emperor has no clothes. (Ew) This is more than a mess. And it is worse than Paglia’s fresco – at least they appear to be adults.

    And yet we all recognize that it is unrealistic to expect Fernández to resign, when he has spent his entire career enabling others to avoid responsibility.

    • “Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many; then call on the name of your god, but put no fire to it.” So they took the bull that was given them, prepared it, and called on the name of Baal from morning until noon, crying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no answer. They limped about the altar that they had made. At noon Elijah mocked them, saying, “Cry aloud! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened.” 💋

  5. What a pessimistic and dreary imagery Archbishop Fernandez brings to the marital bed. I am weary just untangling all of this, and if I had to live it again, might consider solitary cave dwelling. In short: Absent an authentic committed Faith life, replete with Sacramental and sanctifying grace, Holy Matrimony devolves into civil marriage, at best and companion “coupling,” at worst, likely doomed to separation. We need to inspire our fellow Catholics, from a young age, to aspire to sainthood to prepare for whatever path God chooses for them. Chasteness is an ideal in all states of life, however. Of course, many will stumble and fall—hopefully only temporarily—but embedded Truth can be the beacon that redirects persons restore genuine love, body and soul. In the meantime I think I will reread Dr. Paul Thigpen’s recent soul consoling book, “The Life of St. Joseph As Seen By The Mystics which should be a must study for marriage prep.

  6. One is tempted to say in regard to this actor “beneath contempt” has rarely been more applicable, but it is belied by the company Tucho keeps.

  7. Not even McCarrick wrote like this or bragged about interviewing a “thousand.” Fernández was a Pastor when he wrote this! He claims he had no experience so to research “I chatted at length with many people who have abundant experience in this area, and also with many young people who learn to kiss in their own way.” How is that not grooming? Read it for yourself. I’m sure we will get some who defend this as orthodox. What a farce:

    Here are some choice bits from Cardinal-elect Fernández’s book: Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing

    Depending on how it is done, it [the kiss] is usually also called “a peck”, “a hickey”, “a penetrating kiss”, etc.

    Come down my dear
    before you awaken
    someone desperate
    with a terrible hickey.
    How was God
    so cruel
    as to give you that mouth…
    There is no one who resists me,
    hide it.
    That’s why you don’t ask
    that it happens to my mouth.
    Kill me already
    with your next kiss,
    bleed me to death,
    Give me back my peace
    without mercy (Tucho).

    But this way of thinking, carried to the extreme, is not characteristic among the followers of Freud, but among the Jansenists, disciples of a certain Jansen. For them, anything that has not been done for the love of God is “sinful concupiscence” that disguises itself, that deceives us. And these Jansenists came to put forward as an example of great perfection the case of St. Louis Gonzaga, who avoided kissing his mother for fear of “disguised concupiscence”.

    Because they understand this, many prostitutes lend themselves to all kinds of sex play, but they do not let themselves be kissed by anyone. However, for Freud and the Jansenists, the kiss is something completely secondary, and it hides the most important thing, what comes afterwards. So they kill all poetry; love dies, the personal aspect of the couple’s relationship dies, the magic dies, the respect for others, the tenderness.

    Just remember that many couples break up because they have always directly sought the sexual act without dedicating a good amount of time to cultivating the sublime art that sustains love: the kiss.

    Because deep down, the one who knows how to kiss like that also knows that what could come after is not more than the kiss, since a kiss can be the most sublime and wonderful expression of love. Moreover, for many, the kiss may be the deepest need of their soul.

    In total, the survey covered about a thousand people, but I only write down a few opinions:
    • “What I like the most is the kiss of peace at Mass. That was the first kiss with the hottie I have now.”
    • “I love covering the whole of the other’s lips with tiny kisses.”
    • “I love kissing his fingertips. It gets more affectionate than anything else.”
    • “I once went crazy with the pleasure I was given from being kissed on the eyes. But I didn’t say this because it’s going to leave me blind.”
    • “Kissing on the ear is very arousing, and it intimidates the men.”
    • “It seems to me that when you start kissing with the tongue it is very possible to lose control, and you want to take hold of your hottie, you lose respect. But it’s also on her, if she knows what she wants…”
    • “The penetrating kiss is when you suck and slurp with the lips. The penetrating kiss is when you stick in your tongue. Watch out for teeth.”
    • “My boyfriend gets a hard mouth when he kisses me. He hasn’t yet learned how to loosen his lips. Lovely!”
    On the other hand, the one who kisses well experiences that his life is saved in every kiss, as if in each kiss he were entering into a holy place, of pure life, of redeeming grace. The only one who is fully happy is the one who enjoys himself, but in feeling that the kiss is building something permanent and eternal.

    • God’s Fool writes that “…we will get some who defend this [Heal Me With Your Mouth] as orthodox.”

      Fernandez himself labeled the book a “catechesis”! He claimed his inspiration from a Church Father, so yeah, that made it all right to write. Fernandez claimed his intention in writing it was to “reach” young people. His words reek (even here across the pond of the Atlantic) of perfidy. A theology like Fernandez’ begs to be silenced, not promoted.

      Fernandez also claimed that the book “no longer exists”!! He may just as well say that aborted children (or Jesus himself) no longer exist since Amazon does not sell or deliver them.

  8. Thank-you for your excellent analysis which leaves me both encouraged that we have voices such as yours capable of stating the truth with intelligence and charity but also depressed that this is so troublingly lacking in Church leadership. What is to be done? If the Magisterium contradicts itself, which is absolutely where Pope Francis is steering her, the Church cannot be the Church as we’ve taught and believed for the past 2,000 years. We will have no home, we will be orphans. Can the Lord Jesus permit this?

  9. Well reading this affirms a long held belief, so called liberal men are always the most misogynistic. So it is the woman’s fault, if her husband fails to respect her wishes? He sounds decidedly creepy.

  10. Agree that he should resign. He won’t recant from his “erroneous positions” because he sees nothing wrong with these ideas, it appears. When I discovered that a Catholic Cardinal had written a book entitled “The Art of Kissing” and defends it I realized that he is hardly the one to be teaching our Faith to anyone and that he was appointed to the DDF is also inexplicable.

  11. Thank you, Dr. Brugger, for your clear, thoughtful and thorough dismantling of the pleasant-sounding errors of this pope’s diabolical prefect-elect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

    I am theologically unschooled and so cannot completely trust my own instincts. I rely on transparent, well-grounded, logical thinking like yours to guide me in these matters.

    In decades past, I was able to implicitly trust our pontiffs who were clearly being led and protected by the Holy Spirit.

    This pope and his Dark Vatican? Not so much.

    My instincts were telling me that this Argentine-kissing archbishop was not being inspired by the Holy Spirit, but rather cozened by the unholy one.

    Your concise exploration of his thinking confirms that this is indeed the case. Thank you for helping to guide us in these very daunting times.

    Mary, Queen of Peace and guardian of our Faith, pray for us…

  12. Yours truly is not a theologian, but does have some things underlined. So, speaking to the first point (“dynamism of ‘going out of oneself”)…is this the ghost of Karl Rahner?

    Commenting on Rahner’s very similar wording, Ratzinger (the following is only fragmentary) does NOT conflate, but finely distinguishes crucially between (Rahner’s) “self-transcendence” from going out/being taken out of oneself…Under Rahner, “man is, in fact, self-transcendent being” (Ratzinger’s words). On the grand level, then writes Ratzinger, “a synthesis that combines being and history [historicism] in a single, compelling logic of the understanding becomes, by the universality of its claim, a philosophy of necessity, even though this necessity is then explained as a process of freedom.”

    Ratzinger goes on: “[….] man does not find salvation in a reflective finding of himself but in being-taken-out-of-himself that goes beyond reflection—not in continuing to be himself, but in going out from himself [….] Man finds his center of gravity, not inside, but outside himself [….]” (“Principles of Catholic Theology”, Part I, “Salvation and History”).

    Fernandez has been described as skilled in harmonizing divergent positions, but is his ethical method, sometimes or instead, one of sanding down genuine contradictions? His and Rahner’s “going out of oneself” and Ratzinger’s “being taken out [!] of oneself,” finally, are these not at all the same thing…that is, oneself’s going out as non-identical with God’s being taken out?

    St. John Paul II defends truly radical and radically true human freedom similarly: “Man receives from God [!] his essential dignity and with it the capacity to transcend every social order so as to move toward truth and goodness” (Centesimus Annus, n. 38).

  13. I do not see how the given writings meet the standard outlined by St. Paul.

    ‘ 22 Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, 23 and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, 24 whereas our more presentable parts do not need this. But God has so constructed the body as to give greater honor to a part that is without it, 25 so that there may be no division in the body, but that the parts may have the same concern for one another. ‘

  14. Archbishop Fernandez, as in Amoris Laetitia [the assumed ghost writer] always weighs moral justice in favor of the offender of the ‘rule’. Christian Brugger offers an excellent account of Pius XI’s encyclical Casti Connubi, pointing where the Archbishop favors omitting the rule for sake of familial harmony. It’s the precise modus operandi of Amoris.
    Evidently, it’s all part of the great push to normalize intrinsically evil moral acts. Mitigation, primacy of conscience are the levers for diminishing the permanence of ‘absolute moral norms’. However, such norms have no measure of applicability, because, unlike acts that have a measure, calumny, physical injury to another – manifest murder, homosexual acts, false witness, adultery are always intrinsically evil. If Fernandez has his way, his appointment by Francis to the DDF indicates he will certainly try, Catholicism will become a Church that voices moral behavior without giving account for compliance. Although clearly contradictory, the sell is the doctrine of a merciful god who discounts his own crucifixion.

    • Perfectly stated father. You should be pope. This is not a frivolous remark. I am mystified as to why those steeped in faith cannot make the moral distinctions you clearly make in a couple of paragraphs. Even other would-be good popes would feel the necessity to write a lengthy encyclical to refute bad thinking that few would read to try to affect clarity.
      Certainly, there is a need to make clear that moral truth does not Imply moral condemnation of the perpetrator of an evil act. But a decision to leave it at that is evil, a compounding immorality. Recognizing mitigated culpability is not everything. Victims matter. The bulwark of the papacy used to be a refuge against the crazy theologians of the sixties and seventies who appeared to treat guilt feelings as the only evil that stems from moral evil, and the purpose of moral theology was to “rethink” evil acts to construe some obscure benevolence. I’ve spoken previously in this CWR forum how reading of junk theology in the Church delayed my conversion when I was young. Now that the sophist mindset is at the very head of ecclesiology it is hard to imagine what damage might be occurring.

      • Dear Edward J Baker,

        The agony you express over the current corruption of genuine Catholicism is shared by so very many of us.

        Yet, God in Christ is always at work & has good plans covering all circumstances.

        There are still many faithful priests & nuns & deacons & lay people, as we can all read in so many great articles & insightful comments in CWR.

        If the accumulating failures of our hierarchs stir-up good Catholic men & women to pray more, live daily in the Apostolic testimonies of The New Testament, and to greater service & evangelism of others, then good will come out of the evil.

        As Pope, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, etc. fail in their responsibilities to faithfully represent The LORD Jesus Christ, we will see many ordinary Catholics step up to take responsibility for the Truth that has been handed down to us from The Apostles. Let’s pray this will be a time when the gifts of The Holy Spirit will flourish among humble, ordinary Catholics. Let God be glorified in all things!!!

        Always seeking more faith, hope & love: blessings from marty

  15. Great work CWR. How encouraging it is to read so many prophetic comments.

    As Saint Paul exhorted all of the faithful:

    “Pursue love & strive for the spiritual gifts, & especially that you may prophesy.”

    In our Daily Missal in Australia, for St John Vianney on 4 August, we read The LORD’s exhortation, through Ezekiel 3:

    “Whenever you have a word from ME, warn them in MY NAME. If I say to a wicked man: ‘You are to die!’ and you do not warn him; if you do not speak & warn him to renounce his evil ways & so live, then he shall die for his sin, but I will hold you responsible for his death. If, however, you do warn a wicked man & he does not renounce his wickedness & his evil ways, then he shall die for his sin, but you yourself will have saved your life!”

    We seem to have no obedient prophets in our largely anti-Apostolic Australian Church, so it cheers one immensely to find so many faithful American Catholics alive in The Holy Spirit and boldly prophesying the Word of GOD to Pope Francis & the current crop of malfeasant policymaker which he’s engineered into the curia.

    Keep watching & praying you’ll. Don’t ever dream of bailing out! No matter how rotten the egg Francis is hatching, the Body of Christ needs you to stand strong.

    Ever in the love of THE LAMB (who is with us always); blessings from marty

    • Well said, estimable marty.

      You’re right. We need to stand strong against sin, hold firm on the eternal truths of our faith and never dream of bailing out.

  16. “Would you refuse to acknowledge My rights? Would you condemn Me, that you may be justified?” (Job 40:8) “And: thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled!” (Job 38:11).
    “Fear not! Stand your ground and you will see the victory the Lord will win for you…. The Lord Himself will fight for you, you have only to keep still” (and trust in Him) (Moses, Ex 14)

  17. On the topic of contraception –

    Perhaps Fernandez has framed the context too narrowly trapping the subjects inside the problems.

    Perhaps they have been stressing on “rigid” and “narrow” etc. so much they “patented” the meaning.

    “The wife is allowed to sin for the sake of dialogue and then divorce for the sake of purity.” That’s it? “Because sometimes it is okay for the man to use a condom; however, later the divorce will be his fault.”

    It’s true that it puts the priest in a difficult spot right at the start.

    But if you do not address sin to the spouses you are leading temptation and sin and ignorance.

    There is another aspect to this -for both priests and spouses. True wisdom is already available. Being roundabout on it is more leading temptation and sin.

  18. Excellent analysis. Sadly, it doesn’t matter. The Pope likes and defends this Archbishop and agrees with how he thinks (personnel is policy…he also ghost wrote for Francis). That’s it. You might be right but it doesn’t matter when the man in charge says otherwise. So now what? Are we now in the bizarre situation of defending orthodoxy from the Pope and institution commissioned to guard it? What does that say about these institutions? You can trust them and they are infallible except when they aren’t? Well then what good are they? The whole situation is insane. We are now approaching a time when Catholics will be persecuted by the Church for believing what the Church taught them in the first place. It’s an overused term, but that is what they call “gaslighting”. I don’t quite know what it is but I feel as though Catholicism is broken somehow (I think it might have something to do with the hyper-papalism rooted in Vatican 1 and accelerated since Vatican 2…I’m still trying to work it out).

    • Dear ‘Anon’, thanks for your cry-from-a-true-Catholic-heart. You speak for hundreds of millions of us, around the world.

      Our Eternal King, The LORD Jesus Christ, is reported by beloved Apostle John (in John 16:2-4) to have instructed us to persevere in such iniquitous circumstances as you mention; such as are now facing The Catholic Church & other Christian churches:

      “They will expel you from the churches, and indeed the hour is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are doing a holy duty for God.”

      “They will do these things because they have never known either The Father or Me!”

      “But I have told you this, so that when it occurs you will remember that I told you.”

      The New Testament has plenty of other, supporting instructions, warning us not to rely upon organizations or their apparatchiks, but only on Christ Himself, who is with us always.

      People ask: “Of what use then is The Church, when it’s administrators become enemies of the Apostles’ teaching? Surely, the clerks are making a lie out of our world-wide creedal profession -‘We believe in one holy, catholic and APOSTOLIC Church . . ?'”

      It helps if we turn again to Saint John (recalling that he is especially trustworthy as Apostle beloved of Christ & greatly honored guardian of Our Lady). In 2 John 9 he clearly shows there are both (1) godly & (2) ungodly people in The Church:

      “Everyone who does not abide in the teaching of Christ, but goes beyond it, does not have God; whoever abides in the teaching of Christ has both The Father and The Son.”

      We have been forewarned & should not be flummoxed when we notice those of our fellow Catholics [including the current Pope] revealing by their anti-Apostolic teachings, actions & allegiances that they do not have God.

      As godly, Apostolic Catholics we need to double down on what Christ by The Holy Spirit gave the Apostolic authors of The New Testament. The New Testament is our unfailing Light guiding us safely through the heretical smog emitted by ungodly apostates.

      Without the continuing blessings of Almighty God no one can succeed. In the Church, it’s the godly Catholics who attract those necessary divine blessings.

      Simple godly Catholics are more important that they realize; for if bullying by the ungodly causes the godly to give up, then all blessing is lost in both Church & world.

      In other words: let us PERSEVERE not just for our own soul’s sake but for all!

      By God’s grace & mercy, always in Jesus Christ; love & blessings from marty

  19. The long and short of Brugger’s analysis is that Fernandez is a heretic. As such, he cannot be a Catholic, much less a cardinal serving as prefect of a Vatican dicastery for the defense of the faith, and his actions and opinions as such must be refuted and rejected, which Brugger has done very well. If the foregoing is true, the pope who presumed to appoint a heretic as prefect of a Vatican dicastery for the defense of the faith necessarily brings into question his own status as a heretic. What am I missing?

    • Dear Paul, don’t think you are missing anything.

      There’s elucidation in The Word. Psalm 146 (Messianic version) puts it concisely: “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.” . . . “Happy are those whose God is the God & Father of our LORD, Jesus Christ.”

      Over the last two millennia The Church has had numerous inspired & inspiring, godly lay people, sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, bishops, archbishops, cardinals, & popes. But it is not true that all lay or all clergy have been godly. Far from it!

      Our LORD, Jesus Christ emphatically instructed us to always be watching and praying (see Mark 13:33-37; Luke 17:3-4; 21:36). Godly Catholics simply cannot hand that responsibility over to another, no matter how eminent they may be in the hierarchy. This is also common sense; it’s obvious that no hierarch can answer for the complex lives of another individual, let alone hundreds or thousands of individuals. At Judgement we each come face to face with Christ in Glory – no one stands between us!

      In one way, the current sickening immoralities, abuses, & apostacies wracking The Church are serving a good purpose in alerting every serious Catholics to their personal responsibility to listen to Jesus, lovingly obey Him, and follow where He leads, whatever the cost (see John 10:27-30 *verses worth memorizing).

      Where clergy have taken up the cross of that responsibility, they are worthy of our respect and emulation. We hardly need to say that those clergy who have not, are not worthy. The seal of godly authenticity for them (as for lay) is knowledge of & faithfulness to the Apostolic teachings of The New Testament.

      Hope this is helpful, dear Paul.

      Ever in the amazing love of The Lamb; blessings from marty

  20. Dr. Brugger is a very good scholar, and I highly recommend his book on the indissolubility of Marriage at the Council of Trent:

    In the article under discussion, Archbishop Fernández does refer to acts of premarital sex and contraception as “objectively evil” (objetivamente malo). It seems, therefore, that he does accept the teaching of Veritatis Splendor that there are objectively evil acts. He wishes, though, to stress that every act that is objectively evil does not necessarily lead to the loss of sanctifying grace because of subjective factors that diminish culpability. Here is the passage that caught my attention in this regard:

    —“No hay duda que el Magisterio católico ha asumido con claridad que un acto objetivamente malo, como es el caso de una relación prematrimonial, o el uso de un preservativo en una relación sexual, no necesariamente lleva a perder la vida de la gracia santificante, de la cual se origina el dinamismo de la caridad. Por ello, en medio de esa actuación sexual, si no implica una culpabilidad subjetiva, puede realizarse un valor subjetivo –con densidad teologal y trinitaria– en la medida que sea expresión del dinamismo extático del amor que imprime la gracia santificante.”

    Here are two other passages from the same article in which he wishes to stress that there can be “a situation of objective sin” (una situación objetiva de pecado) or “objective depravity” (objetiva maldad) without the person being “subjectively culpable” (subjetivamente culpable):

    —“Este dinamismo trinitario que refleja la vida íntima de las divinas Personas, puede realizarse también en una situación objetiva de pecado siempre que, debido al peso de los condicionamientos, no sea subjetivamente culpable.”

    –“El mismo Evangelio, que nos invita a corregir al hermano (Mt 18, 15) por su pecado (basándonos en la objetiva maldad de un acto), nos indica también que no debemos juzgar al hermano (sobre su culpabilidad o maldad subjetiva) ni condenarlo (Mt 7, 1; Lc 6, 37); y más bien nos invita a ser benévolos intentando excusarlo (Lc 23, 34) porque la medida que usemos con él se usará con nosotros (Mt 7, 2; Lc 6, 38). ”

    Archbishop Fernández, of course, is correct that it’s possible that there can be cases in which a person does something that is objectively wrong without full culpability. The Catechism of the Catholic Church recognizes this when it discusses the necessary conditions for committing a mortal sin (nos. 1857-1860).

    I think, though, we need to recognize that mortal sins are committed in the sexual realm. A balanced perspective on objective evil and subjective culpability with regard to sexual sins was given by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its 1975 declaration, Persona Humana, on sexual ethics. I believe this is the perspective to follow:

    “It is true that in sins of the sexual order, in view of their kind and their causes, it more easily happens that free consent is not fully given; this is a fact which calls for caution in all judgment as to the subject’s responsibility. In this matter it is particularly opportune to recall the following words of Scripture: “Man looks at appearances but God looks at the heart”[1 Sam 16:7]. However, although prudence is recommended in judging the subjective seriousness of a particular sinful act, it in no way follows that one can hold the view that in the sexual field mortal sins are not committed”(no. X).

    • Dr. Fastiggi, you are a talented theologian. Over 20 years ago, while teaching for the Holy Cross Order at St. Edwards, Bishop Aymond of Austin, sent you as his theologian to talk to a young person protesting Catholic healthcare organizations in the Diocese. This person was publicly demanding these hospitals, etc., stop sending young women into Planned Parenthood for abortions. You tried to convince this young person to cease this embarrassing pro-life witness. “The situation is complex. Do not be inflexible. The referring organizations are housed within Seton Hospital, but technically no longer owned by them. How can you know every circumstance? Their intention?” All the young person had to defend this was a conscience saying: Stop this killing. Do you remember? I do!
      Because we ignored the both of you and stayed in our inflexible, non-Synodaling, dogmatically rigid, public, embarrassing, RINO hunting, lay driven politics – By the grace of God abortion is outlawed in Texas.
      With friends like you, who needs enemies.

      • Dear God’s fool,

        I think you’re operating on false information. I left my postion at St. Edward’s University in Austin, TX in 1999 to begin teaching at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. Bishop Aymond did not come to Austin, TX until 2000. I was never sent as his theologian to talk to a young person in Austin because I was no longer there. Around 1996, I wrote to the Congregation to the Doctrine of the Faith expressing my concerns about the takover of the Municipal Breckinridge Hospital by the Daughters of Charity who were then running Seton Hospital. My concerns were over the continuation of “reproductive services” (contraception, direct sterilizations, and abortion referrals) at the newly created Seton Breckenridge Hospital. I know my concerns were received by the CDF, but I’m not at liberty to say more. I kindly ask you to stop spreading false information about me.

        • Very good Dr. Fastiggi, I was mistaken to say that the meeting was for Bishop McCarthy. You are correct, Aymond was made co-adjutor shortly after. At least now we all know why the meeting was called. It was being handled in private. Good for you! Maybe, the protesters should have just let y’all handle it behind closed doors. That has been such a fruitful Church policy.
          Anyway, sounds like we need a joke. If I’m not mistaken again, it was Wilde who said: “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.” So here goes:
          I actually also had a similar tête-à-tête with a Bishop about Chelsea Clinton giving a political speech inside a Catholic Church for her mother’s campaign during the 2016 Presidential election. Eventually, you can appreciate, the Bishop insisted I shut up my protests and “Let me handle it!” But you see, we were on friendly terms, so I said: “What are you going to do about it, call an Inquisition? (Perhaps I was thinking of an earlier experience?;) He grinned and said, “No, you fool, I’m going to take off my Bishop ring and stick it in my back pocket. Then, I’m gonna make you kiss it!” Sorry to say, I passed. Kissing like that it only for Cardinals.💋

          • Thank you for the clarification and for the funny story. I liked Bishop John McCarthy of Austin as a person, and I was on his diocesan theological commission to review the first draft of the Catechism of the Catholic Church around 1990. I think he found out that I had written to the CDF about the problems with the Seton-Brackenridge Hospital arrangement in the mid-1990s. After that, our relationship became a bit strained. May Bishop McCarthy rest in peace.

        • Agreed, it was for McCarthy, not Aymond. My bad.
          You might convince one that details are wrong, but it is harder to convince someone is your friend when you know otherwise.
          Regardless, we can all agree that teaching orthodoxy is not always the same thing as encouraging orthodox practice. Any one of us who teach orthodoxy can be tempted to encourage heteropraxy, like say, tolerating concubinage.
          Synodaling is a joy. But no worries, I’ll finally shut up now.

    • Incomplete.

      The priest has to be able to say that doing a thing “A” is wrong without being required to condition it. This has to do with teaching and probity.

      Again, you can’t be

      a) adapting individual guidances to arrive at “conditional universalized precepts” or
      b) insisting on the guidance aspect as a pedagogy and denying scrutiny of the adapting and its conclusions and consequences/implications or
      c) always necessarily backgrounding or downgrading or postponing or relativizing the moral precept(s) so involved.

      Plus why immerse the inquiry into a display of erotic materials and with excerpts of your own personalized poetry that is impliedly not erotica?

      I haven’t read Brugger’s book you mentioned. Is it fair to compare it to Fernandez’s work?

      To note Fernandez’s work is a proof of what we are saying had been developing through the ’70’s, ’80’s and ’90’s -taught, received, nurtured, composed.

    • Dear Dr Fastiggi, you’re aware, I’m confident, that John Paul II corrected the ambiguous language of the 1975 Persona Humana document. Persona Humana advised special regard should be given to stable homosexual relationships. Although it recognized sin as you note, it suggested such relationships may not be seriously sinful. Card Ratzinger in conjunction with John Paul II addressed this issue in a CDF statement. To repeat that document today citing “it in no way follows that one can hold the view that in the sexual field mortal sins are not committed”, suggests such unions may not be sinful. John Paul II in conjunction with Card Ratzinger declared otherwise.
      “Considerations Regarding Proposals To Give Legal Recognition To Unions Between Homosexual Persons. 11. The Church teaches that respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions. The common good requires that laws recognize, promote and protect marriage as the basis of the family, the primary unit of society. Legal recognition of homosexual unions or placing them on the same level as marriage would mean not only the approval of deviant behavior, with the consequence of making it a model in present-day society, but would also obscure basic values which belong to the common inheritance of humanity. The Church cannot fail to defend these values, for the good of men and women and for the good of society itself” (Josef Ratzinger CDF June 3 2003).

      • Furthermore, we must keep in mind that while sexuality between a man and woman, due to its nature may not always be fully assented to, such acts [except for sodomy] are within the realm of the natural order, whereas homosexual activity is a violation of the natural order. And as such intrinsically evil.

      • Dear Fr. Morello,

        Thank you for the points you raise. Perhaps you know more about the views of John Paul II and Benedict XVI on homosexuality than I do. We must remember, though, that St. John Paul II approved the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which cites Persona Humana, 8 in no. 2357 when teaching that “homosexual acts are intriniscally disordered.”

        I think what Persona Humana, 8 teaches about homosexual acts and pastoral care towards homosexual people remains valid, especially these lines:

        “In the pastoral field, these homosexuals must certainly be treated with understanding and sustained in the hope of overcoming their personal difficulties and their inability to fit into society. Their culpability will be judged with prudence. But no pastoral method can be employed which would give moral justification to these acts on the grounds that they would be consonant with the condition of such people. For according to the objective moral order, homosexual relations are acts which lack an essential and indispensable finality. In Sacred Scripture they are condemned as a serious depravity and even presented as the sad consequence of rejecting God.[18] This judgment of Scripture does not of course permit us to conclude that all those who suffer from this anomaly are personally responsible for it, but it does attest to the fact that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of.”

        • Dr Fastiggi, I agree with you insofar as the excellent moral tone and appreciation of the difficulties of the homosexual phenomenon as expressed in Persona Humana. The section I referred to contained a nuance of approbation [special consideration] for men who are living together with fidelity to their relationship, and who practice social decorum. It’s basically the argument espoused today by Card Hollerich, Archbishop Fernandez. It seemed to many that John Paul intended to clarify the position of our faith.
          Aside from our personal interpretation of that particular text of Persona Humana, and perhaps Archbishop Fernandez’ reasoned difference of interpretation of the contraceptive issue – I believe we’re on the same doctrinal page.

          • Thanks, dear Fr Peter,

            Dogmatically enlightening to read your dialogue with Robert Fastiggi.

            Yet surely, we’d all want to situate all subsequent magisterial cogitations & corrections in the unshakeable context of Apostle Paul’s original dogma:

            1 Corinthians 6:9-11 – “Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers – none of these will inherit The Kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of The LORD Jesus Christ and in The Holy Spirit of our God.”

            In plain English: The Holy Spirit speaks through Paul to firmly instruct us: “Whatever caused you to sin, STOP IT, for you are now a new creature in Christ!”

            It’s not a surprise that the spirit of this world denies such godly dogma, assiduously fossicking-out cracks in the authenticity of Church dogmatists.

            Yet, for everyone, the choice is stark: stop sinning or continue sinning! For every Christ-follower in this world our choice to stop sinning always brings a cross & that’s an honor not a shame.

            If only this were taught. Our leaders must stop trying to make Catholics indistinguishable from the worldly. How can they, mealy-mouthed, urge us to ‘evangelize’? The Good News is all about reform & becoming a new person in Christ. But they want us to bring in more paying members; all sorts of obdurate sinners are fine with them. This is a betrayal of Gospel Truth and very bad news indeed.

            When bad news is represented as The Good News, it surely speaks about our times.

            Ever in the grace & mercy of Jesus Christ; love & blessings from marty

    • Google Translate’s Version of Fastiggi’s Fernandez’:

      “There is no doubt that the Catholic Magisterium has clearly assumed that an objectively evil act, as in the case of a premarital relationship, or the use of a condom in a sexual relationship, does not necessarily lead to the loss of the life of sanctifying grace, from which the dynamism of charity originates.”

      “This Trinitarian dynamism, which reflects the intimate life of the divine Persons, can also be realized in an objective situation of sin provided that, due to the weight of conditioning, it is not subjectively guilty.”

      “The same Gospel, which invites us to correct our brother (Mt 18:15) for his sin (on the basis of the objective evil of an act), also tells us that we should not judge our brother (on his guilt or subjective wickedness) or condemn him (Mt 7:1; Lk 6:37); and rather invites us to be benevolent trying to excuse him (Lk 23:34) because the measure we use with him will be used with us (Mt 7:2; Lk 6:38). ”

      If you care to parse the above, we’re allears, querido profesor.

      • Dear Merion,

        Thank you for these translations, which basically correspond to the way I read the passages. I really don’t think there’s much to decipher. Archbishop Fernández recognizes that some acts (e.g. premarital sex and contraceptive use) are objectively evil. He also recognizes that subjective circumstances can mitigate full culpability. Sanctifying grace, therefore, remains because mortal sin has not been committed. Here he is only articulating what the Church already teaches in CCC, 1857–1860 (see also Aquinas ST I-II, q. 88, a. 6 and John Paul II, Reconciliatio et paenitentia, 17).

        Yes, the Word of God calls us to shun fornication and live chastely according to our state in life. Pastors of souls, though, also need to be mindful that sometimes people engage in objectively sinful acts without full culpability.

        I have known (and perhaps you have known) people who have left the Catholic Church and have become Eastern Orthodox or Protestant Evangelicals. Acts of schism involve grave matter, and those who break communion with the Catholic Church put their eternal salvation into jeopardy (cf. Lumen Gentium, 14). Some people, though, leave the Catholic Church without the full knowledge that communion with the Catholic Church was made necessary by Christ for salvation. Have all these people committed mortal sin and lost sanctifying grace? I am not prepared to say. Or take the case of Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre. By ordaining bishops without papal mandate, he committed what John Paul II called a “schismatic act” (cf. JP II’s 1988 motu proprio, Ecclesia Dei). I agree with John Paul that Archbishop Lefebvre’s act was objectively schismatic. I would not, however, presume to judge the Archbishop’s subjective culpability. Because all the conditions for a mortal sin might not have been present, Archbishop Lefebvre might still have continued to live in a state of sanctifying grace until the day he died.

        Let us pray for each other, for Archbishop Fernández, and Pope Francis.

        • But, since we cannot “presume to judge the Archbishop’s subjective culpability,” should Pope John Paul II then have judged for un-culpability, and then, moreover, even accommodated and blessed Lefebvre’s objective schism? something like the retrograde, double-speak theology of Marx, Batzing, McElroy, Hollerich et al?

          In the cited 1988 motu proprio, Lefebvre was in fact excommunicated from the Catholic Church for consecrating four bishops against the express prohibition of Pope John Paul II. Likewise, the LGBTQ demographic multiplies like rabbits, but mysteriously not biologically. So, to hell with smokescreen culpability (or not), the question on the table is less theological than it is–which of the cardinals, if any, still wear pants?

          Yes, surely, “let us pray for each other,” butt without being preyed upon.

        • Veritatis Splendor has (paragraph 63): “It is possible that the evil done as the result of invincible ignorance or a non-culpable error of judgment may not be imputable to the agent; but even in this case it does not cease to be an evil, a disorder in relation to the truth about the good. Furthermore, a good act which is not recognized as such does not contribute to the moral growth of the person who performs it; it does not perfect him and it does not help to dispose him for the supreme good. Thus, before feeling easily justified in the name of our conscience, we should reflect on the words of the Psalm: “Who can discern his errors? Clear me from hidden faults” (Ps 19:12). There are faults which we fail to see but which nevertheless remain faults, because we have refused to walk towards the light” (cf. Jn 9:39-41).

          Natural law and right reason inform even the pagan what behavior is wrong and what is right. When Catholic Church officials and pastors balance mercy with mercy, when they fail to teach as Christ taught, they neglect justice due to God and to their fellow men. True and Good Love would have us all in the light.

          Presumably pastors of souls know subjective states only because a person bares his soul in spiritual direction or in confession. A pastor of the PUBLIC church owes God the justice He would have them teach. The pastor in love with the Lord should proclaim objective truth from the rooftops as well as behind a confessional screen, subjective inculpability notwithstanding.

          He who dares to speak of the Trinity reflected in the sin of objective evil (in a soul where subjective non-culpability also resides) denies God and his brothers their due portion of truth and God’s salvation. Such dereliction of Christian duty is a scandal. Quoting Catechism paragraphs in support of half truths pertaining to God’s mercy dishonors God’s Perfect justice.

          God’s justice will out in the end.

    • Persona Humana also quotes scripture. Some have compared the words of scripture to be like 2-edged sword. Slicing and dicing, the Word is no fool and does not play foul. Persona Humana quotes the clear teaching of the Magisterium of Christ:

      “Among you there must not be even a mention of fornication or impurity in any of its forms, or promiscuity: this would hardly become the saints! For you can be quite certain that nobody who actually indulges in fornication or impurity or promiscuity – which is worshipping a false god – can inherit anything of the Kingdom of God. Do not let anyone deceive you with empty arguments: it is for this loose living that God’s anger comes down on those who rebel against Him. Make sure that you are not included with them. You were darkness once, but now you are light in the Lord; be like children of light, for the effects of the light are seen in complete goodness and right living and truth.” (Ephesians 5:3-8; cf. 4:18-19).

  21. Ships passing in the night. Fastiggi labors the obvious while missing the point…

    The question of personal culpability is one thing and nothing at all new (i.e., grave matter, plus full will, plus knowledge); another, the clever conflation of such personal culpability (or not) with the flow of aggressive LGBTQ lifestyle-politics—through signaling, photo ops, strategic silences, off-the-cuff deceit (“Who am I to judge? God made you that way”), and worse.

    Connect the dots. Take, for further example, the combined weight of the silence response to the dubia, mainstreaming of the radical “LGBTQ” insignia under Vatican letterhead (surely synodism), the uncorrected sabotage of Cardinal Hollerich (his “sociological-scientific” alchemy aimed at upending the “teaching” [!] itself, and to which Dr. Fastiggi still makes straight-faced appeal), zero mention of Courage International ( And now, the harmonizing Fernandez as the head of the DDF whose mandate is to fully insulate/decapitate so-called “discipline” from doctrine (the superseded natural law and, therefore, the in-the-closet [!] Catechism and Veritatis Splendor). The death of the thousand cuts and, with Fernandez, literally the “kiss” of death.

    Personal culpability can be minimized by, say, invincible ignorance or addictive weakness of will, but who will be held accountable to the God of truth, for accommodating—not correcting—this acquired and uninformed delusion, under the clericalist pretense of driving no one away?

    The mask of the two-faced life, for company-men both in collar and not, there inside the layered bubble. More fashionable than the millstone promised later.

    • Thank you CWR. It’s such a privilege to be able to read the keen Catholic minds of Peter D. Beaulieu and of Robert Fastiggi, at work on matters of central interest to all Catholics.

      I’d only dare to add that the power of human words & affirmations (for good or for evil) needs to be brought into the equation.

      When a baptized Catholic or other Christian states, of their own free will: “I am a lesbian”, “I am a gay”, “I am a bisexual”, “I am a transexual”; “I am a queer”; etc., they are already rejecting the God & Father of our LORD Jesus Christ, the Apostolic teachings of the New Testament, and two millennia of Catholic magisterial definitions. When Church leaders do not correct them or even encourage them to profanely state that: “God made me like this!”, and then welcome them, unrepentant, into Eucharistic communion with obedient Catholics, they are iniquitous shepherds.

      The foundation of all sin is denial of Almighty God’s right to instruct us.

      As a neurobiologist, one asserts with confidence that human brains are enormously plastic. What a person affirms about themselves is powerfully formative. That is, of course, the main reason for traditional Catholic emphases on good Catechetics, the sacraments, and a life seeking for sanctification in Christ.

      Catechesis, the sacraments, & sanctification cannot be built on a foundation of denial of God’s perfection and God’s right to instruct us & correct us in our personal beliefs and morality.

      When Pope, Cardinal, Archbishop, Bishop, Priest, Nun, Deacon, Brother, and lay leaders fail to fearlessly teach: “The wrongdoers will not inherit The Kingdom of God”, then it’s time for faithful lay Catholics to teach the truth to all who desire to be part of Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 nicely summarizes what is lovingly taught to all who desire incorporation in God’s eternal realm:

      “Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers – none of these will inherit The Kingdom of God. And this is what some of you used to be. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of The LORD Jesus Christ and in The Holy Spirit of our God.”

      The spirit of this world denies such godly instruction. For everyone, the choice is stark. For Christians in this world there is always a cross and that’s an honor not a shame.

      Keep praying for Church leaders that they’d bravely carry their cross daily and lead as The Apostles, abjuring the world spirit.

      Ever seeking the obedience of Christ Jesus; love & blessings from marty

      • Dr. Rice, you write: “As a neurobiologist, one asserts with confidence that human brains are enormously plastic. What a person affirms about themselves is powerfully formative.”

        With reference to “alcoholism,” for example, and OTHER addictions: One modern addiction–overindulgence in digital and virtual reality games–is found to produce corresponding neuro-chemical and possibly CELLULAR changes in the brain itself (e.g., dopamine which is responsible for reward-driven behavior)….AND, a recent study completed at University College London and using MRI technology (magnetic resonance imagery) strongly implies that a habit of lying tends to suppress the part of the brain (the amygdala) that responds emotionally to a “slippery slope” pattern of small and then larger lies (Neil Garrett, Dan Ariely and Stephanie Laxxaro, Nature Neuroscience Journal, October 24, 2016; reported by Erica Goode, New York Times, October 25, 2016).

        Not a smart or even compassionate thing, then, to tell committed gay persons that it was “God [who] made you that way.”

        And, the self-anointed “sociological-scientific” expert Cardinal Hollerich, too, would do well to recognize the emerging field of epigenetics which demonstrates that intergenerational factors–not hereditary DNA (confirmed by genome research)—account for aberrant sexual practices. The case is made that the DNA is like the hard-wire computer, while epigenetics (higher than genetics) is the plastic software that then tells the DNA what do to. Epigenetic programming is written by such externalities as environment, behavioral reward hormones, the trauma of parental divorce, and other childhood traumas, getting locked-in by early experimentation (the bi-sexual Andre Gide speaks of this), etc.

        For example, a 1989-90 interview of 1,001 homosexual and bisexual men found that 37% were lured into sex before the age of nineteen, 94% of these with men, the median age of the victims 10 years old, the median age difference 11 years, of the total 51% involved force, and overall some 93% were classified as “sexual abuse.”

        Pope Francis is ill-informed (by his handlers?) to suggest that these influences are “God”; and the Hollerich tribe self-nominates itself for millstone neckties for counseling likewise. Unlike the hard-wire DNA, the “software” epigenetics can be rewritten, i.e., by intelligent and real spiritual leadership, by the never-mentioned Courage International (–and NOT by Hollerich’s signaled endgame of overturning the God-given moral truth about ourselves (of which the Church is “neither the author nor the arbiter”—Veritatis Splendor).

        I am not a theologian, nor am I a neuroscientist—and neither are the participants in the Synod. Butt, surely someone there can turn the lights on (with more than a dispensable minority report). A SYNODALIZED WORLD AWAITS A NEW GALILEO, NOT THE SODOMIZED COSMOLOGY OF COURT JESTER JAMES MARTIN.

        • Thanks, dear Peter Beaulieu,

          Such a cogent, rational consonance between contemporary scientific understandings and the eternal Apostolic witness.

          This is an example that all Catholic educators could learn from. There IS a Narrow Way if we, in faithfulness to Christ’s New Testament, work and pray for consonance with reliable scientific insights. *

          The Father will give us more of The Holy Spirit of wisdom if we ask.

          Polarization in the Church warns us of a general deficiency of desire for submission to The Beloved Counsellor, The Spirit of Truth.

          It requires a life lived in both faith and understanding to keep from slipping off the Narrow Way down into the lefthand abyss where faith fuses with a simplistic, convenient view of science. Others trip into the righthand abyss where faith distrusts the relevance of science & distorts it for its own ends.

          As you show, there’s no need to distort either faith or science.

          So many, who should know better, slide down one slope or the other. Currently, how many appointed to leadership are careering down the lefthand slope of a weak & erroneous scientific justification of anti-Apostolicity.

          Is it possible for CWR to sponsor a ‘Brains Trust’ of Catholic thinkers to cooperate in systematically responding to the damaging errors of those who teach that faith must bend to (their version) of science?

          Thanks again for your excellent response.

          Ever under The Beloved Anointing Holy Spirit; blessings from marty

          * my baby steps towards that goal – free on the web –
          “Ethical Ontology Harmonizes Science Revelation and Human Lives . .”

    • Upon reflection, I find that in my first paragraph, the overreaching term “off-the-cuff deceit” should be replaced by something more nuanced, less inadvertently accusing, and more just…like maybe only “off-the-cuff deception,” or simply “misleading” or “misinformed,” or “unthinking,” or even “misplaced lightheartedness.”

      The broad communication issue, and illustrated in another context and assuming no ill-will, we have the case of “unconditional surrender”–and the urgings upon President Truman (by religious journals and even tentatively by the New York Times!) to explain BOTH what the slogan meant, AND WHAT IT DID NOT MEAN. Likewise in moral theology, if there still is a moral theology. The irreducible difference between personal culpability and objective morality to be defended by the successors of the apostles.

      So, a discernment exercise for the well-formed high riders at the Synod on Synodality: “For want of a nail, a horse was lost….”

  22. If he’s sorry something was wrong but if not then it’s all okay? Could be the antithesis of the parable of the dishonest steward.

    Last time I was in Detroit, I walked into a pharmacy and bought a little cell phone with tiny buttons and a phone credit altogether US$40. I got all my work done with it, in calls and texts 8 days. I brought it home and the next year my mother traveled with it to Florida where she topped up credit purchased from a pharmacy and put it to further good use, eventually leaving it behind with acquaintances there. Never stopped giving.

    Well, Christ wants disciples not just people who fill up at the counter and bag their portion. Therefore the priest has to be able to place forward what comes next and gauge what should be done on the new scale. In other words moral answers mustn’t be boxed in to the moment.

    And why be satisfied with less. Why does the work render Christianity paultry.

    Getting tangled up in evils and loss of freedom is precisely what Humanae Vitae warned would happen with contraception. HV and Veritatis Splendor are crucial markers to Modernism. Modernism allows everyone, unmarried, married, priest, Pope and Church, to “adopt useful objective positions” and justify from this base; tempting them upon their states.

  23. Fastiggi they have been very supportive of you on this page. Without diminishing what the writers have offered you -I retain some doubts that you can be as open as they allow for you.

    Two men can not be a “a relationship of fidelity” and “struggling” with homoerotic impulses. Don’t be ridiculous.

    Fernandez committing all kinds of other errors on contraception and poetry and youth and basic sexuality, etc., is not a channel for coming to terms with the problem of “two men working through a relationship of fidelity”.

    Don’t be MORE ridiculous.

    The cause for “marriage” coming into the matter of “homosexualism” ….. IS THE DEVIL. They have no other connection whether in thought, morality, logic, reasoning, grace, understanding, bodily integrity, human relations, law, common sense, or what have you.

  24. Dear Elias, I get your emotion but would caution the reasoning.

    You write homosexuals: “. have no other connection whether in thought, morality, logic, reasoning, grace, understanding, bodily integrity, human relations, law, common sense, or what have you.”

    I’m sure that sociological and psychological research would contradict that. Sexual aberrants sometimes seem, & certainly claim, to have most of all that.

    In the same way that research would contradict any proposition that vile criminals have no proper relationships, status, or satisfaction in this life.

    The Apostolic instructions of The New Testament never proscribe sins because they are disordered psychologically and socially. Sins, such as fornication, lesbianism, adultery, incest, homosexuality, pederasty, etc. are proscribed because God has revealed they are offenses against righteous holiness.

    God calls every human being into deeply intimate, holy relationship, even as Father & child; even as incorporated in the Sacred Body & Precious Blood of our LORD, Jesus Christ; even as being filled with The Holy Spirit of God.

    THAT is the reason we all should be interested to have revelation on what is sinful; then energetically seek to avoid sins; & rapidly repent & seek forgiveness if we fail.

    It is not because sins harm our worldly life; though they may do so.

    The awfully wounded Body of our crucified LORD and the sufferings of our numerous holy martyrs inform us that righteousness is not linked to bodily & social well-being. Our rewards are in another place (As perfectly expressed in the 48 verses of Matthew 5).

    Thanks for your many great comments, dear ‘Elias Galy’.

    Ever in the prevailing love of Jesus Christ; blessings from marty

    • All I can say is you need to revise all that, Dr. Rice. The proponents of “homosexual relationship” are the ones who blur what needs to be said; and it serves only the Devil.

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