by Peter Amos Cohen

10 February 17

“Rigid thinking is not divine because Jesus assumed our flesh, which is not rigid except at the time of death.” Pope Francis

Circumstances and Analogies: Nazis did not just flee to Argentina after WWII, they brought their existentialist philosophy with them and spread it to the Argentinians. The roots of Francis’ moral heresy are found in his German existentialism.

The statement by Francis has many terms which are redefined in ways that are incompatible with the faith as articulated and transmitted in Catholic tradition. The statement can be compared in two ways to a priest who wears Hawaiian shirts around the Church, instead of his clerics: first, its purpose is to reach or connect with unformed people; second, it uses the Church’s place in the world to connect with people in a way that does not, ultimately, build up the kingdom of God because it fails to dispose the people it connect with to understanding the Christian faith. It is, therefore, an example of an effort to be pastoral by emptying the faith of its content.

Background for the analysis of the statement by Francis.

As any essence of a physical being, human nature includes both matter and form. A physical being is formed matter. The matter of a physical being is constantly changing, but the form is fixed and immutable (i.e. rigid) so long as a being still exists. For instance, although I have undergone many changes since my youth, I remain a human being and, substantially, the same human being (I remain myself) throughout the changes. While remaining substantially the same, the form itself undergoes modifications (accidental changes), insofar as it contains potentialities which are being actualized virtuously or viciously. For example, my mind moves from not knowing (i.e. a blank slate) to knowing. Amidst all the changes, substance is necessary to account for existential stability — that being remains itself (the same being) throughout the changes.

It is knowledge of a being’s substance or nature (especially the form) that enables one to determine what is good and bad for human beings, so that what is good for a rational animal differs from what is good for a canine. Since this nature remains the same, regardless of circumstances, there are things that remain bad for it, regardless of circumstances. These things are called intrinsically evil. Furthermore, there are things that remain good for it regardless of circumstances, and these are called intrinsically good. The existence of the natural law does not depend on a knowledge of human nature; the knowledge of the natural law, however, is based on an understanding of human nature. If you deny the unchanging parts of human nature, you necessarily have no fixed basis within the human being from which to abstract and derive moral norms. Hence, one is forced into a situational ethics and a proportionalism or consequentialism.         

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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