Rorate Caeli

The Temptation of the Church: reading between the lines

No difficulty can arise that justifies the putting aside of the law of God which forbids all acts intrinsically evil. (Casti Connubii, 61)

Furthermore, an intention is good when it has as its aim the true good of the person in view of his ultimate end. But acts whose object is "not capable of being ordered" to God and "unworthy of the human person" are always and in every case in conflict with that good. Consequently, respect for norms which prohibit such acts and oblige
semper et pro semper, that is, without any exception, not only does not inhibit a good intention, but actually represents its basic expression. (Veritatis Splendor, 82)
Satan did not know at first who the Son of Man truly was, thereby believing it was possible to tempt that man who was special and holy, but who seemed to be, in the end, only a man.

Satan still tries to convince the world and "Catholic dissenters" that it is possible to tempt the Church; that Holy Mother Church* is merely a human organization, with no supernatural component. After having lost the battles of contraception and female ordination, though emboldened by a few apparent victories in the field of the liturgy (with the prevalent anthropocentric perception of contemporary worship), the Satanic hosts have to force their way through with "extreme cases".

And then we come to the Martini discussion with Communist Senator-elect and doctor Ignazio Marino (the full Italian text is available here), a discussion which the malicious and ill-intentioned have even called "fascinating". Apart from some truisms** used to blur the understanding that an immoral law is always iniquitous, it is an interview whose intent is to cause doubt and scandal among the faithful, and to please the always-titillating secular press.

May it be clear: the world does not care about the Church's position on any issue, much less if Catholic couples should use contraceptive devices to "prevent infection"; it could not care less about the fate of our smallest brethren, the embryos. The intention of the forces from Hell is to see the Church proclaim: "It IS licit to do evil that good may come of it".

Similarly, dissenters do not care if "remarried" people receive Holy Communion or not. The intention of the forces from Hell is to see the Church proclaim: "Mortal sin has no consequences whatsoever: there is no such thing as a state of sanctifying Grace".

*"Exactly because he was a man of God, Saint Ignatius was a faithful servant of the Church, which he saw and venerated as Spouse of the Lord and Mother of the Christian faithful." (Benedict XVI, Speech to the members of the Society of Jesus in pilgrimage to the Tomb of Saint Peter, April 22, 2006)

**For instance, "...the law [liberalizing abortion] has contributed to reduce and gradually eliminate [clandestine abortions]", which is obviously the case when abortion is legal and there remains no such thing as a "clandestine abortion".


  1. Cardinal Martini's remarks reflect an attempt to theologically consider the aspects of human nature most vitiated by original sin, without accepting the call of Jesus to do penance, practice mortification, and live abstemiously.

    We were not reborn in baptism to live in or of this world, but for the world to come; unless we live as Jesus said, not only by observing the commandments, but also by a life of penance, penitence, mortification of the flesh, and an abstemiouslife, we will not have the clarity of mind to judge moral circumstances correctly, and will as so many of our contemparies be deceived by the Spirit of this age, who is so hell-bent on damning souls.

  2. I hold no particular brief for Cardinal Martini, but having read some of the articles posted by American Papist, I'm not sure this can be written off as a simple case of disloyalty to the magisterium. The question of whether a married couple in which one partner is HIV-infected can licitly use condoms during sexual relations would seem to be a quaestio disputata even among theologians of undoubted fidelity to the magisterium and the Holy See. The Catholic teaching on double effect is clearly engaged here, so it is not simply a case of "doing evil that good may come."

    The analysis of Fr. Guevin and William May may be correct (and I suspect it is), but this is something which is still clearly a matter on which the Magisterium has not ruled and therefore an area of open discussion among theologians. And as a Jesuit, Cardinal Martini is on good historic grounds in following the doctrine of "probabilism".

  3. His comments did not refer only to this matter; among other opinions, he affirmed he could not be sure of the moment in which life begins.

    And, yes, I do believe it is as simple as that. Why do we keep this anachronistic view of history??? Weren't there terrible venereal diseases in all times? In Casti Connubii, couldn't Pius XI have provided for specific measures related to such diseases?

    Let us stop with this casuistry which only brings harm and shame to the Church.

  4. the Savage,

    The case you mention is easily solved, and does not represent a point wherein legitimate disagreement is allowed: because every Sacrament is ordained to the perfection of charity; and every violation of the procretivity of the conjugal act is in and of itself contrary to the Divine Order, that is the Divine Will, which is perfect Charity. Hence, not even the remedial aspect of the exchange of the marital debt so as to avoid concupiscence which would lead to mortal sin, outside of such an exchange, is sufficient to justify the use of contraceptive means, because there are other means other than the conjugal act for adverting these consequences. All the more, since HIV can be spread by more means than just a conjugal act, the entrance into which by one who is so affected, presents a clear and immediate occasion for the transmission of the disease by other means (e.g. saliva). Any spouse with true charity is not going to risk killing the other spouse merely becasue he or she wants to exhange the martidal debt. Nor is such a spouse going to be in any way willing to risk the transmission by other means. Hence true charity requires both that contraceptive methods not be used, and that communicable diseases not be spread.


    Therefore Cardinal Martini is clearly using causistry to attack the pereniall teachings of the Church on this matter.

    As for all cases in which procreation is not possible naturally, and the use of the condom is argued so as to prevent HIV infection; it is clear that such a use is still immoral, not of itself, but as a means to an immoral end, for sex without the possibility of procreation is always immoral, outside of the case of a married couple who because of age are no longer capable of conceiving.

    Finally, the use of a condom esentially transforms the act, from one of natural procreativity, when the act is natural and procreation is at least formally possibile, to one of mutual self abuse, which is always immoral.

    Ergo, the use of a condom is alway immoral in all cases.


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