Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church
Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church
Catholics believes that acting morally means acting in accordance with the eternal laws of God, which are written into the human hearts so deeply that even those who know nothing of God can follow the path of morality. According to Cynthia Stewart, Nature law, as this interior marking is called, comes to humans through their capacity to reason, which sparks the conscience to respond to the eternal law. This means that people of other religions or the non religious all have the capacity to act as morally as catholic Christians, it is believes that they will struggle more since they will not have the benefit of the sacraments that opens them to grace to resist sin. Augustine of Hippo (354-430) regarded sin as “…a word, deed or desire contrary to the eternal law.” The church classified sin into two parts, they are: mortal and venial sin. Catholic moral theology divides sin into two parts, primarily on the basis of degree and effect:
What is mortal sin?
According to http://www.catholicdoors.com/faq/qu06.htm : “Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the private of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance of God’s forgiveness, it causes exclusion to make choices for ever, with no turning back. However, although we can judge that an act is in itself a serious offense, we must entrust judgment of persons to the justice and mercy of God.” For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must be met:
Mortal sin is a sin whose object is a serious matter and which is also committed with full intension awareness and deliberate consent. A serious matter is specified by the Ten Commandments Corresponding to the answer to the rich young man:
❖ Do not kill
❖ Do not commit adultery
❖ Do not steal
❖ Do not bear false witness
❖ Do not defraud
❖ Honor your father and your mother
What is venial sin?
According to chrome://newtabhttp//christianityinview.com/catholic/morals.html:
Venial (‘Pardonable’) sin – Positively, this sin does not directly destroy the relationship with God. Rather, it weakens that relationship. Unremitted venial sins can affect the duration spent in Purgatory. Therefore the church encourages confession of these types of sins as well without being strictly necessary. Confession of everyday faults (venial sins) is nevertheless strongly recommended by the church.
Example of venial sin is, selfishness, jealously and anger.
Venial sin involves the disobedience of the law of God in slight (venial) matters. If we gossip and destroy a person’s reputation it would be a mortal sin. However, normally gossip is about trivial matters and only venially sinful. Additionally, something that is otherwise a mortal sin (e.g. slander) may be in a particular case only a venial sin. The person may have acted without reflection or under force of habit. Thus, not fully intending the action their guilt before God is reduced. It is always good to remember, especially those who are trying to be faithful but sometimes fall, that for mortal sin it must not only be,
1) Serious matter, but
2) The person must know it is serious and then
3) Freely commit it as was said previously.
These two categories of sin are explicitly to be found in Sacred Scripture. In the Old Covenant there were sins that merited the death penalty and sins that could be expiated by an offering. This Law was a teacher that prepared the way for the faith (Gal. 3:24). In the New Covenant these material categories are replaced by spiritual ones, natural death by eternal death. There are thus daily faults for which we must daily ask forgiveness (Mt. 6:12), for even the “just man falls seven times a day” (Prov. 24:16), and mortal faults that separate the sinner from God (1 Cor. 6:9-10) for all eternity.
The punishment of sin is also divided into two parts by catholic theology; they are, eternal and temporal. Normally, the eternal punishment for sin can be remitted through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. However, the church maintains that there is still a temporal punishment to be borne, as all sin is an affront to God. This then leads to the idea of Purgatory as a place where unremitted sin can be removed in the afterlife. Temporal punishment can be reduced or removed/ forgiven due to the concept of merit.
Doing more then is required by God can earn an individual merit. The most important merit is Christ himself, this is adequate enough to eliminate temporal penalty for all sin. The Merits of Christ and the saints form a treasury of merit. The Catholic Church maintains that it has the authority to dispense merit because of Christ’s promise to peter in Matthew 16:19. Therefore an Indulgence is simply a way of using this extra merit to reduce or remove the temporal penalty of sin. Indulgences may only be given to those who have no unconfessed mortal sins. According to whether the temporal penalty of sin is partially or fully removed, the Indulgence is called ‘Partial’ or ‘Plenary’ respectively.
Abortion is referred to as any death of a baby in the womb and its expulsion form the mother’s body according to today’s issues and Christian beliefs. Since the first century the church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not change and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the mortal law. It is important to distinguish between direct and indirect abortion:
Indirect abortion occurs when treatment given to save the life of the Mother has the secondary effect of causing an abortion. In certain cases, this is considered permissible. The seriousness of the matter is highlighted by the fact that those who participate in or carry out direct abortions face the penalty of automatic excommunication from the church. The catholic theology teachings that human life begins from the moment of conception and as our entire human the unborn child should be see as a child of God as should therefore be protected. Hence the deliberate abortion of a child is a serious in all circumstances for it the killing of an innocent individual. The views of the religious leader of the Catholic Church have always been against as is proven by the following statements. “Human life is sacred; all men must recognize that fact” Pope Paul VI (Humanae Vitae)
“Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of the conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes” (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes 51)
The bible also gives perspectives on abortion in the following verses: Genesis 1:27 “God created human beings in his own imagine in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them “be fruitful and increase”. Luke 12:6 “Jesus said, “isn’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one sparrow is forgotten by God. Even the hairs of your head have all been counted. “ Isaiah 49:15-16 “so the lord answers, ‘can a woman forget her own baby and not love the child she bore? Even if a mother should forget her child, I will never forget you! I have written your name in the palms of my hand.
Contraception is “any actions which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible” according to Humanae vitae 14. This includes sterilization, condoms and other barrier methods, spermicidal, coitus interruptus (withdrawal method), the pill, and all other such methods.
The Catholic Church has strongly condemned all artificial methods of Contraceptives. Infact the church regards contraception as mortally sinful. The official position is stated in the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae , issued by Pope Paul VI in 1968. Though the Catholic Church rejects contraception, it does encourage a responsible attitude amongst couples in their spacing of births. It permits what is known as Natural family planning (NFP), which is a method whereby intercourse is avoided on those days when a woman is at the most fertile phase of her menstrual cycle. NFP can be taught by a specialist practitioner and success rates of well over 90% are claimed when the method is correctly followed.
The bibles perspective on contraceptive:
Genesis 38:8-10 “ then Judah said Er’s brother Onan , “go and sleep with your brother’s widow, fulfill your obligations to her as her husbands brother, so that your brother may have descendants. But knew the children would not belong to him. So he had intercourse with her, he left his semen spill on the ground so there would be not descendants of his brother, what he did displeased the lord and he killed him also.
Homosexuality refers to elations between men or between woman who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex according to chrome://newtabhttp//www.catholic.com/tracts/homosexuality.
The Catholic view is that all Homosexual acts are morally and intrinsically wrong and thus the church requires people with Homosexual leanings to remain celibate. It also encourages proper respect as human beings for all Homosexual people, being opposed to any form of discrimination and persecution of Homosexuals. The church distinguishes between Homosexual acts and Homosexual leanings – the latter may not be necessarily sinful. In 1986, the church issued its “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons”, explaining this distinction: Although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder. In 2005, the church issued its “Instruction Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in view of their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders”. The policy states that those men with “deeply rooted homosexual tendencies” cannot be ordained under any circumstances.
The rejection of homosexual behavior that is found in the Old Testament is well known. In Genesis19, two angels in disguise visit the city of Sodom and are offered hospitality and shelter by lot. During the night, the men of Sodom demand that lot hand over his guests for homosexual intercourse. Lot refuses, and the angels blind the men of Sodom. Lot and his household escape and the town is destroyed by fire “because the outcry against its people has become great before the lord.” (Genesis 19:13). The incident is not the only time the Old Testament deals with homosexuality. An explicit condemnation is found in the book of Leviticus: “you shall not lie with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them” ( Lev. 18:22:20:13)
To act morally is to follow God’s eternal law which is written deeply in the hearts of every human being despite race or religion. Even thought the ability to act morally is in us as human being we often fall victims to sin. Sin refers to an immoral act considered to be a transgression against divine law, the church divides sin into two categories, Mortal sin, which is an unpardonable sin entailing a total loss of grace. Examples of mortal sin are: adultery, abortion, murder. Venial sin the other types of sin are referred to as a relatively slight sin that does not entail damnation of soul. Example of venial sin is: selfishness, anger, jealousy.
Issues that impact us today are:
❖ Abortion which is refers to as the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy or a miscarriage. The Catholic Church has consistently condemned the act of abortion. Catholics views human life as sacred and maintains that it should be protected by every means necessary as was stated by Pope Paul VI (Humanae Vitae). Biblical prove can also be found in Psalm 127:3 “Truly children are a gift from the lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.”
❖ Contraceptive can be defined as the deliberate use of artificial methods or other techniques to prevent pregnancy as a consequence of sexual intercourse. The Catholic Church has strongly condemned all artificial methods of contraceptives as regards it as mortally sinful. Biblical proof to support this view can be found in Jeremiah 1:5 “I chose you before I gave you life, and before you were born I selected you to be a prophet to the nations.”
❖ Homosexuality is the manifestation of sexual desire towards a member of one’s own sex. The Catholic Church encourages proper respect as human beings even homosexuals although Catholics view are that all homosexual acts are intrinsically and morally wrong and encourages people with homosexual feelings to remain celibate. The bible conforms this in Leviticus 18:22 “thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination” Catholic theology also divides punishment for sins such as those listed above in to two parts; they are eternal punishment which is sins that can be remitted through the sacrament of reconciliation. And temporal punishment which refers to punishment that can be reduce, removed or forgiven due to the concept of merit. Merit is referred to as doing more then is required by God.
University/College: University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 6 October 2016
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