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Thursday, July 03, 2014

Of Fornication and Murder

Traditionalists are at it again. This time they are going crazy because a bishop corrected a priest who compared fornication to murder.

Let's be blunt.
The bishop followed the teaching of Aquinas, the priest did not.

Recall that simple fornication is a sin in significant part because it is opposed to the good of the child that might be born:
Summa Theologiae II-II, 154, 2 
Reply to Objection 4. Simple fornication is contrary to the love of our neighbor, because it is opposed to the good of the child to be born, as we have shown, since it is an act of generation accomplished in a manner disadvantageous to the future child
But, of course, comparing fornication to murder in such a way as to make fornication a sin equal to or greater than murder is explicitly rejected by Thomas himself:
Summa Theologiae II-II, 154, 3
Whether fornication is the most grievous of sins?
On the contrary, Gregory says (Moral. xxxiii, 12) that the sins of the flesh are less grievous than spiritual sins.
I answer that, The gravity of a sin may be measured in two ways, first with regard to the sin in itself, secondly with regard to some accident. The gravity of a sin is measured with regard to the sin itself, by reason of its species, which is determined according to the good to which that sin is opposed. Now fornication is contrary to the good of the child to be born. Wherefore it is a graver sin, as to its species, than those sins which are contrary to external goods, such as theft and the like; while it is less grievous than those which are directly against God, and sins that are injurious to the life of one already born, such as murder. (emphasis added)
This was a commonplace among medieval Christians. This is why Dante places adulterers and fornicators, and all those bound by natural lusts, in the second circle of hell while placing murderers much deeper, in the seventh circle of hell.

If traditionalists had a clue, they would applaud the bishop for following traditional nuances and for correcting a priest who was trying to twist Catholic teaching to suit his own agenda. But, once again, traditionalists seem not to have read done the reading.

So, once again, we have to wonder what is so "traditional" about so many of our celebrated "traditionalists"?


Mike said...

Steve - you might want to try focusing on the fact that ... you and the fake "traditionalists" are both automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church ...

... instead of your fake conflict between the mainline vatican-2 heretics and the "traditionalist" heretics (which makes people think you and the fake "traditionalists are in the Catholic Church).

Abjuration of heresy to become Catholic on Section 19.1 of my site >

Doug Pearson said...

I read the priests statement and did not get the sense that he was comparing adultery to murder but rather comparing a persistent sin to a singular act. The Bishop obviously took exception to the priest's example and the priest could certainly find other examples to make his point

I only read what was linked from your article so I may not have all the information that the good Bishop has.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

"Living together" without benefit of marriage is not a new situation. It happened in Aquinas' time as well. Aquinas was certainly aware of the temporal similarities and differences.

I cannot find the quote, but I remember Aquinas saying that simple fornication is actually one of the least of all mortal sins, because it is ordered to nature and lacks only the vows to make it a virtue instead of a vice.

Certainly Aquinas was aware of the "persistent" nature of fornication versus the "momentary" nature of murder.

Yet murder is much more "persistent" than fornication in its own way. As the great theologian, Clint Eastwood, points out in his film "Unforgiven" - "“Hell of a thing, killin' a man. You take away everything he has, and everything he's gonna have." This fact goes completely unremarked in the blog I linked to, yet Aquinas undoubtedly took that into account in his analysis, as did Dante.

Doug Pearson said...

Any time Clint Eastwood can be quoted in a discussion about morality or theology it is a good thing.