"Abstract Moral Principles"

People understood the moral principles at work in the abuse crisis in Ireland
"People struggle to understand abstract moral principles."

So said Archbishop Diamuid Martin today in the Synod Hall. His Grace also said other things that can be read his intervention here.

Taking up further the post by Fr Ray Blake today, there are a couple of things worth unpacking here.

For instance, do we really believe that people "struggle to understand" the Church's teaching on, for example, the sinfulness of homosexual acts?

I ask this because I think that ultimately, people are not morally illiterate. They may not share your morality - they might reject it, but not 'understanding'?

Oh no, they understand alright.

The Irish people didn't "struggle to understand" the immorality of the abuse and cover up of abuse within the Irish Church, nor did they consider it to be an 'abstract moral principle'. The Irish were angry, very angry, indignant at the betrayal (and sensed some hypocrisy) that the Irish Church had committed.

Like all peoples, and every person, the Irish are interested in morality. It is knitted into everyday existence for all people, from our selfishness to our pride, to our neglect of others, to our habitual vices. The Irish may have succumbed to the spirit of our age on homosexuality - the acceptance of which, as a lifestyle, has cruised the Western world over. Yet, even then, in Ireland,  a majority have accepted it but I think 40% have not, at least, accepted 'same-sex marriage'. Reading the Archbishop's intervention, however, you could be forgiven for thinking those who voted against it were backward types who held intolerant views.

This poor individual does not 'understand' our 'abstract moral principles'...

Some of the comments made in the Synod Hall today from various prelates on the Church's language which were, basically saying, 'Let's rewrite/burn/bury the Catechism' are infuriating and do a serious disservice to the Church and the World. For me, personally, they are infuriating because the Catechism of the Catholic Church was an inestimable guide in leading me to accept the Church's position on sexual morality and all the Teachings that the Catholic Church upholds, at least, when you open a book.

"People struggle to understand abstract moral principles."

The more I read that statement, the more crass it becomes, to me. Perhaps they do but that is not what the Church teaches. The Church teaches the commandments of God and repentance for the forgiveness of sins. Does His Grace think the Irish are stupid people, so stupid that they could never "understand" that sodomy is wrong, a sin against God and nature or that fornication, sorry, sex outside of marriage, or that masturbation, or pornography use, is wrong? Does a single militant homosexualist ever say, "I hate the Catholic position on what it deems to be my "sin" because I simply cannot understand it?" It is precisely because the teaching is understood that it is widely despised. Do we really have to be a Catholic intellectual to understand the Penny Catechism which, I think, fell out of favour among the Irish and English Hierarchy moons ago?

And what is 'abstract' about the Church's language and position on homosexuality? Nothing! The very opposite is true. The vociferous gay lobby, for instance, despise the Church's position on homosexuality - no matter how you say it - because the Church opposes what homosexuals do. It isn't abstract. It's something very 'close to home'. In opposing homosexual behaviour the Church does the homosexual a favour the World is no longer prepared to do for him and that is to tell him the truth and, in my honest opinion, with great tact and courtesy.

Can the Catholic Church really teach right and wrong and the difference between the two without using the words 'sin', 'wrong', 'morally wrong', morally disordered, intrinsically disordered or even 'grave depravity' because, I see that the world gets on just fine and dandy using these terms, for example, when a priest rapes a child or a nun beats up an orphan, a masked gunman holds up a post office, or a banker defrauds his investment company to the tune of a million pounds, or when a judge sentences someone who goes around getting his kicks from killing prostitutes and storing their bodies in deep freeze, or when a man gets it on with a goat.

"People struggle to understand abstract moral principles."

No. That is an insult to Our Lord and His Church and also to mankind. The Church's teachings are not abstract moral principles. Not now, not ever. Not everyone is going to accept the Church's message of Salvation. Christ told us that many, in fact, will not. That's a deeply unfortunate and sad fact of this life, but here's the thing: In order to convince people of the message of Salvation, Bishops have to first be convinced that it is the Truth. They have to accept that they, we, all people, are sinners in need of repentance. Christ can save us, Jesus wants to save us, but we have to want His Salvation, on His terms, not on ours. If Bishops and Cardinals, Archbishops and Popes are not for teaching unpopular truths that - far from being 'abstract' moral principles - are in fact the "lived reality" of habitually sinning against God, then they are depriving people of the Salvation that Christ wishes to give mankind. The Devil need not work so very hard against Christ, indeed, if Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals and Popes are doing it all for him. The Archbishop goes on:

"But simply repeating doctrinal formulations alone will not bring the Gospel and the Good News of the Family into an antagonistic society."

Readers, you can finish off this blogpost for me. As for my opinion...

"Doctrinal formulations..." 
"Doctrinal formulations??????" 
Is that all they are?!

...ditto all the above. Just repeat.

Ann Barnhardt explains rather well how by the way they speak about the Commandments of God, you can tell what they really think of them.

This Synod is showing us, really quite embarrassingly, for the whole Church to see, which prelates are for Christ and which prelates are against Him. Even the most saccharine of interventions cannot hide their real opinions. 

The most shameful thing about this blogpost is that I shouldn't focus on the Irish Archbishop, really, because could have chosen any number of prelates speaking today. 

Can the great irony really be lost on these Bishops that the very method of teaching about family - about God today that they think 'alienates' people is the very method that they never try or, even, never tried?

Comments

Yes indeed - well said. If they think that the Commandments are merely "abstract moral principles" then these pagans are at the root causes of the problem and have nothing to offer as a cure.

It makes sense of the abuse crisis, however. If its just an abstract moral principle why wouldn't you move a paedophile around from one parish to the next, and why would you hand him over to the police?
Lepanto said…
What on earth is abstract about 'Don't do this, or that, or you run a great risk of going to hell'? I understood that kind of language when I was in primary school 60 years ago. (Thank you to my teacher Mrs. Callaghan RIP).
philipjohnson said…
What do you think the archbishop would say about the Ten commandments!! These weasels are Apostates and Heretics-simple.Lord save us.Your writings are brilliant and i look forward to them.Well done for calling these men for what they are.God bless.
Left-footer said…
First rate! Thank you, and God bless!
Simon Platt said…
This is a very good post. It is important that we hear what our bishops are saying, and what they believe, and hold them to account.

Apropos of what bishops believe, I fear that Ann Barnhardt has the answer.
Alex A. Biral said…
I don't really know the archbishop mentioned. But I think it might have been a case where he choose the words badly. There isn't anything abstract about comdemning sodomy directly. But the issue is that most modern people have a different idea of what makes an action morally bad or good.

It is easy for them to see why murder would be wrong, they only need to use a bit of empathy. But if they even believe in God, they tend to think it would be silly for Him to concern himself with something like that, and some even believe that if He did, he would be wrong!

So, this principle is "abstract" to them because they can't see who would be hurt by it. Many of them can't feel (feel being important here) there is anything wrong with it, and a few actually feel guilty for having any kind of revulsion to the act. I think the issue here is that many bishops don't want to recognize that we live in a world that is almost pagan again. The bishop is right that they won't hear if we simply repeat traditional Church teaching, for the very simple reason that they aren't in the Church, nor care about it. The church needs to convert these people back first!

By the way, in case it isn't clear (English isn't my first language), I am not disagreeing with you. I just think that the Bishop's error might be wanting to not face this reality. I might be wrong here, but I have a feeling that a few priests at least are actually faithful to their offices, but try to walk on eggshells hoping that by not offending the modern world, a great conversion will eventually happen.

I think
torchofthefaith said…
What people struggle to understand is the abstraction that men who were ordained as bishops in the Catholic Church appear not to have the Divine and Catholic Faith.

The abstraction of men who refuse to defend the Holy Sacrament of Matrimony.

The abstraction of men who speak like politicians instead of priests.

The abstraction of men who allow babies to be aborted in their so-called Catholic hospitals.

The abstraction of men like this being hand-picked to lead groups in a Synod about marriage.

By God's grace, what people DO understand is that all of this is evil and that repentance is needed as urgently as possible.

It is time to stop offending God.

To all hireling bishops who are harming the Church - Repent for the time is at hand!
John L said…
Here is an example of an abstract moral principle: "Act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law." This is Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative. The idea that Catholic moral teachings are like this is, as you say, absurd.
ActUp said…
Many are now calling for bishops to walk out of the synod. To me, I wonder why people don't walk out of the VC2 sect. You write well, but how many posts can you write like this before it just becomes obvious that the reason there are devil statues and all going up all around the world is because of what is being preached by these bishops? The time to oppose them is now w/everything we have. We don't need anymore evidence. We need to act like we know what we know. And believe me, not many would be praying w/Obama etc. yet they continue to pray w/Francis, Danneels, and the devil you're writing about.
Jacobi said…
I have a copy of the Penny Catechism (1971)and have ensured my offspring at least have it also. Marvelous little book. It says 98% of what we need to know.

Having said that, and while deploring the drive by Modernists to dismiss the very concept of sin, I get a bit fed up with this current obsession with "sanctity" on the part of orthodox Catholicism.

Fallen Human Brings are rarely saints. I can think of perhaps three I have personally come across.

Most of us whether plumbers, research scientists, actors, or waiters in coffee bars, just do our best, look to the Church for guidance and go to Confession when we slip up.

The trouble over the last fifty years or so is that the Church has ceased to offer any guidance.
Reminds me of the comment by the former Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, one Kieron Thomas Conry, that young people nowadays don't understand salvation and so we shouldn't talk to them about it.
In my opinion Archbishop Diarmuid Martin is one of the slipperiest of them all. It is hard to pin him down. In Ireland the only evil he condemns publicly are those things that other secular opinion leaders have condemned recently prior to that, and which are widely regarded in society as being "bad" - e.g. gangland crime after a particularly bad streak of murders, white-collar crime after a Irish Bernie Madoff-type case that had been discussed for weeks beforehand in the press and public sentiment was clearly disapproving of; homelessness after a very poignant and high-profile death of an indigent person etc.

He did nothing to ward off a "Yes" vote in the sodomite so-called marriage referendum. He was all for the Lisbon referendum which superseded our national Constitution with its wonderful prayer to the Holy Trinity, with the Lisbon Treaty which avoids mentioning God. I heard a rumor that he is gay himself, which I am relaying here because it is newsworthy in the context of the current synod. He is useless, absolutely useless. His background is working as a Church representative in the UN. He is frightening precisely because he is so subtle.

Admittedly his smooth approach placated the Irish public somewhat in the aftermath of the child abuse scandals, but at the end of the day the Irish people were left in the dark as to the connection between those crimes and homosexuality. In the Irish psyche homosexuality is a good, the abuse of children (correctly) is an evil and never the twain shall meet. Martin's whiny but darkly serene words added to this ignorance.

The type of language highlighted in this article is typical of what he uses all the time - i.e. you can't say obviously - "Hey, that's not orthodox! You heretic!". He is a sneaky, low, spineless, rotten man, deeply respected by the anti-Church Irish media. I hope he changes before he expires.
Liam Ronan said…
"Abstract Moral Principles"?

"I know of thy doings, and find thee neither cold nor hot; cold or hot, I would thou wert one or the other. Being what thou art, lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, thou wilt make me vomit thee out of my mouth. " Rev 3:15-16
Roy said…
Unfortunately Red Biretta placed on head incorrectly. Raised ridge should be over right ear not the left !!
Roy Spears said…
Red Biretta placed on head incorrectly.
Liam Ronan said…
@Roy,

Indeed there seems to be a problem with the Archbishop's ears. Perhaps if he'd pin them back he might more readily hear the Word and resolve all those abstract moral principles with which he is confounded.
John Maguire said…
John Maguire : I'm dismayed at the statement Archbishop Diarmuid Martin gave to the Synod. His statement reeks of equivocation. Separately it rejects outright the concise and easy to understand principles of marriage as stated in the gospels contained in the New Testament.

Irish Catholics need to start publicly voicing their disapproval of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin's presentation to the Synod.
By contacting the Archdiocese of Dublin Office, those who object to Martin's comment can use this link to contact same
http://www.dublindiocese.ie/archdiocese-overview/diocesan-curia/diocesan-offices/

I am sick and tired of weak kneed Irish clergy trying to change church teaching to suit the world.
Nicolas Bellord said…
But there are people who have difficulty understanding abstract moral principles. Archbishop Martin springs to mind as one of them.