04 Nov Chapter 22: The Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church
Chapter 22: The Moral Teachings of the Catholic Church
Faith alone is not enough for salvation
- Now that we know what the Catholic Church believes, what are we gonna do about it?
- The claim that believing in Jesus and we are automatically saved, is not sufficient.
- In fact, demons believe in Jesus confessing him the Son of God and still are not saved: “You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble” (Jas 2:19).
- The demons believe in God and know exactly who he is, but don’t act on it and don’t submit to his majesty. Therefore, they are not saved.
- Believing in God is the first step; following his commandments is the necessary second step: “Do you want proof, you ignorant, that faith without works is useless?” (Jas 2:20).
- Faith alone without action is dead: “Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jas 2:15-17).
- Faith alone without action creates in our minds the wrong message: “We are saved by believing in Jesus, and so it does not matter what we do.”
- A statement like “I was saved last Sunday when I accepted and confessed Jesus as my savior,” does not imply a secured salvation if I don’t commit to it and act on it.
- In fact, what if I commit a murder today? Then, my accepting Jesus last Sunday does not automatically save after committing a murder today.
Faith is an ongoing dynamic decision to believe in Jesus Christ and apply it in our daily decision until we die
- The Letter to the Romans calls the daily moral decisions “perseverance in good works:” “By your stubbornness and impenitent heart, you are storing up wrath for yourself for the day of wrath and revelation of the just judgment of God, who will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness” (Rom 2:5-8).
- How can someone be saved just by confessing one day that Jesus is their savior if they don’t persevere in good works for the rest of their life?
- The journey of perseverance in acting according to Christ’s will is hard and tiring: “Let us not grow tired of doing good, for in due time we shall reap our harvest, if we do not give up” (Gal 6:9).
- St. John invites his community to express their love of neighbor through action: “Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18).
- The grace of Christ is necessary to help us act according to his will: “This is a still uncertain and fragile journey as long as we are on earth, but it is one made possible by grace, which enables us to possess the full freedom of the children of God” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 18).
‘Faith Alone’ in the Bible?
- ‘Faith alone’ without action is a contradiction because believing is already an action.
- Believing is a free decision to adhere to God.
- When we accept Jesus Christ as our savior, we are making a decision; we are taking an action.
- When the Bible states that we are saved through faith, it is simply emphasizing the essential first step we need to take in order to adhere to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Faith is God’s free gift and our first step without which we cannot be saved: “By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph 2:8).
- We don’t work to deserve the gift of faith because it is free. Faith is not a credit we receive because of our work.
- St. Paul gives an outstanding summary of this theology by teaching that God, “saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began” (2 Tm 1:9).
- When the Bible states that we are saved through faith, it is opposing faith in Jesus Christ to the work of Jewish law (remember all disciples were Jewish at the beginning).
- In opposition to the necessary circumcision according to the Jewish law, the Bible confirms that faith in Jesus Christ without circumcision is enough for salvation.
- Therefore, “Christ is the end of the law for the justification of everyone who has faith” (Rom 10:4).
- By no means is the Bible ignoring the necessary action that should be the result of our faith in Jesus Christ.
- It is just focusing on God’s revelation of Jesus Christ who redeems humanity out of love and not because of works we have done: “But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us…” (Ti 3:4-7).
- Faith alone in Jesus Christ will save us as long as we live it: “All the children of the Church should nevertheless remember that their exalted condition results, not from their own merits, but from the grace of Christ. If they fail to respond in thought, word, and deed to that grace, not only shall they not be saved, but they shall be more severely judged” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 14).
- So this is how it works:
- God offers us the free gift of faith for our salvation inviting us to accept it and put it in practice.
- God who is faithful will fulfill his promise of salvation when we keep our end of the deal.
- Even when we do the absolute best job we can, keep in mind, salvation is still God’s gift and not something we literally earned: “So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do'” (Lk 17-10).
The person acting is a unity of body and soul
- Led by Scriptures, Tradition and the magisterium, the Catholic Church always believed that the human person is a unity of body and rational soul.
- This unity took place at the moment of creation and will be there until the end of time.
- Even though the body is separated from the soul at the moment of death, they will be reunited at the resurrection of the bodies on the last day.
- As a unity of body and soul and only as such, the human person performs all actions while in this world.
- It is false to separate the actions of the body from the actions of the soul.
- What we do in our body involves the soul and determines whether a certain action is good or evil.
- An example of this false separation is when one claims to be in love and full communion with God (action of the soul) when, at the same time, totally justifying committing adultery (as an action of the body) under an excuse of “being in love” or saying “it is natural thing created by God.”
- In this sense St. John wrote: “The way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 Jn 2:3-4).
- St. Paul detects this false separation of body and soul when he teaches: “Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers… will inherit the kingdom of God” (1 Cor 6:9,10).
- St. Paul confirms that God’s revelation imposes on us moral actions that involve the body and soul together: “It is God’s will that … you should avoid sexual immorality ... For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit” (1 Thes 4:3-4; 7-8).
- St. Paul urges the Galatians to be aware that whatever work we sow in our body, we will earn on the day of judgment: “Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit” (Gal 6:7-8).
- As a summary, St. John Paul II teaches that denying the unity of body and soul in performing moral actions “contradicts the Church’s teachings on the unity of the human person … The person, including the body, is completely entrusted to himself, and it is in the unity of body and soul that the person is the subject of his own moral acts … In fact, body and soul are inseparable … they stand or fall together” (Veritatis Splendor, 48 and 49).
Communion of saints and communion of sin: Our acts influence everyone
- St. John Paul II taught that in the Church there is both communion of saints and communion of sin.
- We bring down the entire world with us when we sin.
- Our good actions elevate the entire world to be closer to God.
- Our good actions benefit the whole body of the Church because we are in communion with everyone on earth and in heaven.
- Our good actions perfect our being bringing it to a higher degree of holiness and closeness to Christ.
- Our good actions bring our being to be what God intended it to be at the moment of our creation.
- We are aware of our actions and the consequences they bear on the Church on earth and in heaven: “By submitting to the common law, our acts build up the true communion of persons… When on the contrary they disregard the law… our acts damage the communion of persons, to the detriment of each” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 51).
Our acts influence our eternal salvation In the Old Testament
- In the Book of Genesis, God warns Cain about what he is about to do and the consequences of his actions: “If you do well, you can hold up your head; but if not, sin is a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master” (Gn 4:7).
- In the Book of Genesis, God blesses Abraham because of his heroic action: “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly…” (Gn 22:16ff).
- The Book of Job clearly reveals that God is observing the work of every person in order to judge them according to it: “Therefore he (God) discerns their works; he turns at night and crushes them. For he forewarns no man of his time to come before God in judgment” (Jb 34:25).
- The Book of Wisdom undoubtedly teaches how our work could be a cause for our condemnation: “Court not death by your erring way of life, nor draw to yourselves destruction by the works of your hands” (Wis 1:12).
- The Book of Sirach emphasizes God’s punishment on us when we perform evil deeds: “Great as his mercy is his punishment; he judges men, each according to his deeds” (Sir 16:12).
Our acts influence our eternal salvation in The Gospel of Matthew
- When a young man asked Jesus: “Lord what must I do in order to inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered: “If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19:17).
- Entering life without following God’s commandments is impossible: “In this way, a close connection is made between eternal life and obedience to God’s commandments” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 12).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, the Beatitudes are all about the blessings Christ bestows on those who follow him performing just actions (Mt 5).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus explains how acting on his message is necessary for salvation: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock” (Mt 7:24-25).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus exhorts the disciples to show an example to everyone through their good work: “Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father” (Mt 5:16).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reveals that entering God’s kingdom depends on our righteous acts: “I tell you, unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:20).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus warns us that our actions expressed through words will justify or condemn us: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Mt 12:36-37).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus confirms that every action will receive a reward: “And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because he is a disciple – amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward” (Mt 16:27).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus invites every person to act according to God’s will. A lip service has no value: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven” (Mt 7:21).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus reveals that the final judgment is based on our moral conduct: “For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct” (Mt 16:27).
- In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus expresses the criteria of the final judgement: Whatever we do to his brethren influences our eternal salvation (Mt 25).
Our acts influence our eternal salvation In The Gospels of Mark, Luke and St. John
- In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus comes down hard on the Scribes who, even though endowed with deep faith in God, will be severely judged by God because of their actions: “They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers. They will receive a very severe condemnation'” (Mk 12:39-40).
- In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus invites us to take action in forgiving others. Otherwise, we jeopardize the Father’s forgiveness: “When you stand to pray, forgive anyone against whom you have a grievance, so that your heavenly Father may in turn forgive you your transgressions” (Mk 11:25).
- In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus says to the young man who follows the commandments hoping to enter eternal life: “Do this and you will live” (Lk 10:28).
- In the Gospel of John, Jesus condemns evil works opposing the truth of God: “And this is the verdict, that the light came into the world, but people preferred darkness to light, because their works were evil” (Jn 3:19).
- St. John confirms that knowing Christ and keeping his moral law are inseparable in our journey: “And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him” (1 Jn 2:3).
Our acts influence our eternal salvation in the Letters and Book of Revelation
- The Letter to the Romans clearly emphasizes the criteria of God’s judgment. Our actions definitely influence our eternal salvation: “Eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness” (Rom 2:7-8).
- St. Paul tells the Thessalonians that he “unceasingly calling to mind (their) work of faith…” (1 Thes 1:3).
- St. Paul emphasizes that our labor will be fruitful according to our effort: “The one who plants and the one who waters are equal, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor. For we are God’s co-workers; you are God’s field, God’s building” (1 Cor 3:8-9).
- St. Paul teaches that everyone’s work will be tested with fire on the judgment day: “If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one’s work. If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Cor 3:12-15).
- St. Paul insists on performing good work prepared by God for us to fulfill our Christian vocation: “For we are his handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them” (Eph 2:10).
- St. Paul urges the Colossians to act justly: “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity” (Col 4:4).
- St. Paul presents the rewards of good works to the Colossians: “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ” (Col 3:23-24).
- St. Paul invites the Philippians to realize the necessity of being aware of our work. We need to perform every act as leading us to salvation: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12).
- St. Paul tells Titus that God’s salvation depends on our zeal to perform good actions and abide by God’s way of life to be saved. We are awaiting “… the appearance of the glory of the great God and of our savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people as his own, eager to do what is good” (Ti 2:11-14).
- St. Paul invites the Galatians to understand the rule of life which is “faith working through love” (Gal 5:6).
- St. James compares our actions to our spirit that makes our body alive: “For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (Jas 2:26).
- St. Peter emphasizes God’s impartial judgment on our actions and moral conduct: “Now if you invoke as Father him who judges impartially according to each one’s works, conduct yourselves with reverence during the time of your sojourning” (1 Pt 1:17).
- St. Peter invites his readers to put faith in action as an example to non-believers. Our actions are important in God’s sight on the day of visitation: “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Pt 2:12).
- St. Peter urges his readers to understand the gift of faith they received from him and the Apostles. He reminds them that they need to supply this faith with virtue in order to be saved. Virtue is the habit of acting according to the Gospel: “For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue … For, in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ will be richly provided for you” (2 Pt 1:5a, 11).
- The Letter to the Hebrews shows that God cares about what we do: “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones” (Heb 6:10).
- The Letter to the Hebrews invites us to challenge others to do good works: “We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works” (Heb 10:24).
- The entire Letter of St. Jude is based on the eternal damnation of those who live a perverted moral life (see Jude 1-25).
- In the Book of Revelation, the glorified Lord Jesus warns the Church of Ephesus who fell away from their initial commitment to good work: “Yet I hold this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Realize how far you have fallen. Repent, and do the works you did at first” (Rv 2:4-5a).
- In the Book of Revelation, the glorified Jesus Christ scolds the Church of Thyatira for allowing Jezebel to lure his servants into sexual immorality. Because she refuses to change her course of action, Jesus promises chastisement: “I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am he who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works” (Rv 2:23).
- In the Book of Revelation, those who passed away will always be remembered by their works: “I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Yes,’ said the Spirit, ‘let them find rest from their labors, for their works accompany them‘” (Rv 14:13).
- In the Book of Revelation, they are condemned those who did not change their deeds: “But they did not repent of their works” (Rv 16:11).
- In the Book of Revelation, the Bride of Christ “was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure – for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints” (Rv 19:8).
- In the Book of Revelation, every person will be clearly judged according to their actions: “The dead were judged according to their deeds, by what was written in the scrolls. The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds” (Rv 20:12-13).
- In the Book of Revelation, Jesus promises rewards to everyone depending on their work: “Behold, I am coming soon. I bring with me the recompense I will give to each according to his deeds” (Rv 22:12).
The Grace of Christ and Human Freedom
- There is always an interaction between our freedom and the grace of Christ when we act.
- Christ’s grace is always available to us; yet, we must freely accept it and act on it.
- Accepting Christ’s grace and performing good acts accordingly is a daily commitment.
- Jesus called this process of lifelong commitment to good moral acts “perfection.”
- Perfection consists of following him and submit ourselves to his will: “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to (the) poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me” (Mt 19:21).
- Jesus would have never invited us to be perfect if it wasn’t possible.
- This perfection, however, is in need of Christ’s grace: “Jesus’ conversation with the young man helps us to grasp the conditions for the moral growth of man, who has been called to perfection: the young man, having observed all the commandments, shows that he is incapable of taking the next step by himself alone” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 17).
- Christ is infinitely patient waiting for us to constantly adapt our freedom to his will.
- However, we must not take advantage of his patience: “And consider the patience of our Lord as salvation” (2 Pt 3:15).
False tendencies opposing God’s Law to our freedom
- There are tendencies today advocating that following God’s law limits our freedom. They even oppose them to each other.
- They believe that God’s law imposes limitations on our deliberations stopping us from doing what we wish to do.
- Those tendencies define freedom as the capacity of “doing whatever we want.”
- They advocate that freedom is capable of creating its own values independently from the values already established by God: “These doctrines would grant to individuals or social groups the right to determine what is good or evil. Human freedom would thus be able to ‘create values’ and would enjoy a primacy over truth, to the point that truth itself would be considered a creation of freedom” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 35).
- There is a hidden atheism behind those tendencies because they eliminate the divine revelation of a specific moral code by God.
- They end up imposing on God a false freedom that is opposed to his eternal divine law.
- Therefore, even though those tendencies claim to believe in God, they instead believe in their idea of God, a false god.
- Why is our freedom not suppressed when we follow God’s law?
Our freedom is not suppressed when we follow God’s Law
- The human freedom is real and authentic: “God willed to leave man in the power of his own counsel, so that he would seek his Creator of his own accord and would freely arrive at full and blessed perfection by cleaving to God” (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 17).
- God’s choice to give us an authentic freedom in order to determine our destiny is irrevocable.
- God did decide to create human freedom without ever retrieving this gift.
- Our authentic freedom, however, is naturally oriented to be in total harmony with its Creator.
- Therefore, Jesus revealed that we can’t separate our freedom from God’s truth (or law): “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32).
- Just because God asks us to do this, and avoid that, does not diminish the authentic character of our freedom.
- On the contrary, it reveals its true nature because we are in the image and likeness of God. How is that possible?
- Because we share in God’s eternal wisdom.
- At the moment of our creation God gave us the natural light of reason to instinctively follow his commands and avoid what is contrary to them.
- Because of sin, the natural light of our reason was dimmed and therefore was in need of God’s divine revelation.
- God’s revelation supplies our understanding of the moral decisions: “By forbidding man to ‘eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,’ God makes it clear that man does not originally possess such ‘knowledge’ as something properly his own, but only participates in it by the light of natural reason and of Divine Revelation …” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 41).
- Vatican II emphasizes that our freedom submits to God because he is the Creator. He knows us and the mechanism of our functioning more then we know ourselves: “God has enabled man to share in this divine law, and hence man is able under the gentle guidance of God’s providence increasingly to recognize the unchanging truth” (Dignitatis Humanae, 3).
- Pope Leo XIII described how human freedom and our reason are naturally ordained to God’s divine wisdom by saying: “The natural law is written and engraved in the heart of each and every man … But this prescription of human reason could not have the force of law unless it were the voice and the interpreter of some higher reason to which our spirit and our freedom must be subject … It follows that the natural law is itself the eternal law, implanted in beings endowed with reason, and inclining them towards their right action and end; it is none other than the eternal reason of the Creator and Ruler of the universe” (Libertas Praestantissimum (June 20,1888): Leonis XIII P.M. Acta, VIII, Romae 1889, 219).
Only God establishes what is good and what is evil
- Who are we to establish the criteria of good and evil?
- How can we decide what moral actions are good and which ones are evil?
- St. John Paul II taught that “man … possesses an extremely far-reaching freedom, since he can eat ‘of every tree of the garden'” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 35).
- However, the human freedom is still limited: “But his freedom is not unlimited: it must halt before the “tree of the knowledge of good and evil,” for it is called to accept the moral law given by God” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 35).
- When God asked Adam and Eve not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God established himself as the only one who decides what is truly good and what is truly evil: “With this imagery, Revelation teaches that the power to decide what is good and what is evil does not belong to man, but to God alone” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 35).
Voice of the Conscience
- At the moment of our creation, God gave us an inner voice to obey His commandments. We call it the voice of conscience.
- It is God’s voice in our heart inviting us to do good and avoid evil: “In the depths of his conscience man detects a law … always summoning him to love good and avoid evil, the voice of conscience … For man has in his heart a law written by God” (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 16).
- St. Pope John Paul II calls it “an imperishable spark, shines in the heart of every man” (Veritatis Splendor, 49).
- The voice of conscience is given to everyone. It is “universally understandable and communicable” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 36).
- Those who never heard of Christ and the moral code he established in the Catholic Church, are not totally deprived of the knowledge of God’s law: “When Gentiles who have not the law do by nature what the law requires, they are a law unto themselves, even though they do not have the law” (Rom 2:14).
- St. Thomas Aquinas calls it ‘natural law’ which “is nothing other than the light of understanding infused in us by God, whereby we understand what must be done and what must be avoided. God gave this light and this law to man at creation” (Saint Thomas Aquinas, Opuscula Theologica, II, 1129).
- St. Paul gives no excuse for those who don’t know God’s revealed law because God’s creation is still a loud witness of His natural law: “For what can be known about God is evident to them, because God made it evident to them. Ever since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what he has made” (Rom 1:19-20).
- The role of the conscience is to discern how to apply God’s universally good moral law to particular situations: “But whereas the natural law discloses the objective and universal demands of the moral good, conscience is the application of the law to a particular case” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 59).
Voice of the Conscience needs to follow Divine Revelation
- Because of our fallen nature, the voice of conscience becomes not sufficiently apt to discern all moral actions.
- We still need God’s divine revelation to discern good from evil.
- There should be an absolute harmony between our conscience and God’s revelation: “I speak the truth in Christ, I do not lie; my conscience joins with the Holy Spirit in bearing me witness that I have great sorrow and constant anguish in my heart …” (Rom 9:1).
- God’s divine revelation informs our conscience and perfects the innate tendency to follow the natural law.
- St. Paul tells the Romans his conscience is capable of confirming the truth only “through the Holy Spirit” (Rom 9:1).
- St. Paul confirms that when we fail to adapt our conscience to divine revelation, there will be serious repercussions “on that day when, according to my Gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus” (Rom 2:16).
- St. Paul boasts of his good conscience that justifies his actions in God’s eyes: “For our boast is this, the testimony of our conscience that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially toward you, with the simplicity and sincerity of God …” (2 Cor 1:12).
- St. Paul confirms that clear conscience based on God’s law is not afraid of both human and God’s judgment: “It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal; I do not even pass judgment on myself; I am not conscious of anything against me, but I do not thereby stand acquitted; the one who judges me is the Lord” (1 Cor 4:3-4).
- St. Paul reminds Timothy that his conscience must match with God’s revelation. Otherwise, there will be horrendous repercussions: “I entrust this charge to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophetic words once spoken about you… Some, by rejecting conscience, have made a shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme” (1 Tm 1:18, 20).
- St. Paul urges Timothy to seek and understand God’s law “holding fast to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Tm 3:9).
- The Letter to the Hebrews describes how accepting God’s divine revelation will create a clear conscience in us as we perform good actions: “Pray for us, for we are confident that we have a clear conscience, wishing to act rightly in every respect” (Heb 13:18).
- St. John emphasized the importance of keeping our conscience clear before God’s majesty: “Beloved, if (our) hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him” (1 Jn 3:21).
- It is unfortunate that some people are accustomed to sin because of the lack of educating their conscience.
- They get used to sin that becomes a force of habit in them: “To the clean all things are clean, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is clean; in fact, both their minds and their consciences are tainted” (Ti 1:15).
- This happens because either they don’t know any better (born in a non-religious family) or because they don’t take the time to educate their conscience.
- Throughout the centuries the Church called it erroneous conscience.
Don’t Follow Your Erroneous Conscience
- No one is exempt from seeking the truth with a sincere heart.
- Therefore, Vatican II rightfully teaches that “not infrequently, conscience can be mistaken as a result of invincible ignorance … but this cannot be said when a man shows little concern for seeking what is true and good, and conscience gradually becomes almost blind from being accustomed to sin” (Gaudium et Spes, 16).
- Inadvertently, the human person could consider true and good what is objectively not according to God’s law: “In the case of the erroneous conscience, it is a question of what man, mistakenly, subjectively considers to be true” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 63).
- In this case, just because one claims to follow their conscience, does not make their act good per se.
- The fact that in this sitation someone is committing evil our of ignorance makes them less responsible, but it does not make the act less evil per se: “it is possible that the evil done as the result of invincible ignorance or a non-culpable error of judgment may not be imputable to the agent; but even in this case it does not cease to be an evil, a disorder in relation to the truth about the good” (Veritatis Splendor, 63).
- This is the most disastrous tragedy: Some people, as they commit a horrible moral act against God’s revelation, claim that God himself inspired them to do that act and that they were sincerely following their conscience.
- As an example, a father who, claiming to have prayed to God and received a direct answer from him, forces his daughter to have an abortion.
- False and impossible: God does not contradict himself by asking us to kill a human person.
- An educated conscience becomes for the human person a “witness of God himself, whose voice and judgment penetrate the depths of man’s soul” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 57 and 58).
- An informed conscience becomes a solid foundation for a strong relationship with Christ: “I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built” (Lk 6:47-48).
With knowledge comes responsibility
- Those who don’t know Christ and choose evil are less responsible then those who know Christ and still choose evil: “That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely; and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly” (Lk 12:47-48).
- St. Paul warns the Corinthians about scandalizing the conscience of the weak since they know better what to do and what to avoid: “Thus through your knowledge, the weak person is brought to destruction, the brother for whom Christ died” (1 Cor 8:11).
- In St. John’s Gospel, Jesus confirms that knowledge creates responsibility: “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin … they have seen and hated both me and my Father” (Jn 15:22 and 24).
- Once we know Christ and his moral code, we become responsible for all our actions.
- If we decide to sin and defile our conscience, we must clean it.
Some acts are intrinsically evil
- Some actions are evil no matter what: killing, for example, is against God’s law no matter what the circumstances are.
- So, if a girl gets pregnant through rape, would it be a good action to have an abortion? Never.
- Even though the circumstances are bad and the goal is to help the girl move on, the action in itself is intrinsically evil because it is still a killing: “There are some concrete acts – such as fornication – that is always wrong to choose, because choosing them entails a disorder of the will, that is, a moral evil” (CCC, 1755).
- Some objects of our moral decisions are grave sins and can break our communion with God, such as murder, apostasy (denying the Catholic faith publicly), adultery, fornication, perjury, and deep hatred toward others.
- We need to immediately receive the sacrament of reconciliation if we commit such acts.
- Some objects of our moral decisions are venial and don’t break our communion with God.
- White lies, gossip, imperfect charity, and lustful thoughts are evil but do not hinder us from receiving Communion.
- It is always good to confess them and receive absolution so our communion with God would be more perfect.
- Our actions are either intrinsically good or intrinsically evil, no matter what the intentions or the circumstances behind them are: “Human acts … are either good or evil … It is therefore an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context” (CCC, 1749).
- One might think “I am getting married tomorrow, who do I hurt if I have pre-marital relations with my fiancee the night before?”
- Since premarital relations are against God’s commandments, this relationship is still a sin in itself and it does hurt God.
- Sin is primarily an act against God: “Against you alone have I sinned”(Psalm 50:4).
No culture should control our moral acts
- The argument according to which a culture could totally condition our moral acts, is not valid.
- We are transcendental beings by nature. Nothing outside of us could stop us from choosing the good.
- In fact, all moral norms that were revealed by God are universal and must be applied in the same way to all human beings of all time: “The Church affirms that underlying so many changes there are some things which do not change and are ultimately founded upon Christ, who is the same yesterday and today and for ever” (Vatican II, Gaudium et Spes, 10).
- The fact that cultures are much more sophisticated and advanced nowadays, cannot be an argument against the objective truthfulness of the moral norms established by God from the beginning.
- The moral act takes place in a certain culture but transcends every and all cultures when it is based on God’s divine revelation.
- God is very close to every culture inviting all people of all times to follow his law: “But you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true. Long have I known from your testimonies that you have founded them forever” (Ps 119:151-152).
- St. John Paul II summarizes this theology by explaining that our human nature “… is itself the measure of culture and the condition ensuring that man does not become the prisoner of any of his cultures, but asserts his personal dignity by living in accordance with the profound truth of his being” (Veritatis Splendor, 53).
Between two acts that are both evil, choose the lesser evil
- It is sometimes challenging to make a moral decision because in some instances no matter what I choose will be “evil.”
- For example, my father’s doctor asks me not to tell my father about his heart condition because such a worry might end up causing him a heart attack.
- If my father asks me whether he has a bad heart condition or not, I am faced with two choices: Either I lie to him (lying is evil) or I tell him the truth which might kill him (killing him is evil too).
- Which evil is greater, me telling a lie or him dying? Of course, him dying is a greater evil. In that situation telling a lie is the lesser evil that I must choose.
- In case someone is dying of hunger, I am allowed to steal money to feed them because their death is greater evil then my theft.
The Intention behind our acts
- There is a subjective intention that plays a major role when we act: What we are trying to achieve determines the intention behind our action.
- Such an intention guides the will toward a good to be achieved in our action: “The intention is a movement of the will toward the end: it is concerned with the goal of the activity. It aims at the good anticipated from the action undertaken” (CCC, 1752).
- One intention could stand behind many of our actions. If we act the entire day with the intention to manifest God’s glory, all our actions are guided by that one intention: “Intention is not limited to directing individual actions, but can guide several actions toward one and the same purpose.” (CCC, 1752).
- One action could have several intentions behind it. Helping my brother financially could be inspired by both the intention of alleviate his suffering as well as the intention to be a witness of God’s goodness: “One and the same action can also be inspired by several intentions, such as performing a service in order to obtain a favor or to boast about it” (CCC, 1752).
- Good intention does not necessarily make a moral act good by nature: The end does not justify the means.
- My good intention to protect my sister from her abusive husband does not justify me killing him.
- A good intention to reach a good goal must have a good means to achieve it.
The Circumstances behind our acts
- The circumstances behind our actions have two dimensions: “They contribute to increasing or diminishing the moral goodness or evil of human acts (for example, the amount of a theft). They can also diminish or increase the agent’s responsibility (such as acting out of a fear of death)” (CCC, 1754).
- The circumstances behind our acts cannot change the nature of the act being intrinsically good or evil.
- The circumstances can deter us from doing good in some instances (not being able to console a person mourning death because of being away overseas at that time).
- However, we can always control the circumstances as far as committing evil.
- Saying no to evil could sometimes cost us our life: “It is always possible that man, as the result of coercion or other circumstances, can be hindered from doing certain good actions; but he can never be hindered from not doing certain actions, especially if he is prepared to die rather than to do evil” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 52).
Some dangerous moral convictions in our cultures today
Personal situations cannot change the universality of God’s law
- The present culture focuses on the creativity of the human person as they make decisions based on their situation.
- The culture’s reasoning is based on the fact that specific human situations are so complicated that there is no need to follow the divine moral code.
- In this case, a false exalted human freedom takes precedence over divine revelation enabling its subject to “take care of themselves” and choose what “they think it is good for them” (many call it “follow your heart”).
- Such dangerous approaches entails a hidden atheism in which one declares that they believe in God, yet they place their “conscience” above God’s revelation.
- What is even more dangerous, they wholeheartedly believe that God himself gave them such freedom and wanted them to use it for their own benefit.
- How can God reveal a moral code and then contradict himself by inspiring in them something totally opposite? Ignorance is bliss.
- St. John Paul II believes that many personal situations create a deep crisis that “could legitimately be the basis of certain exceptions to the general rule and thus permit one to do in practice and in good conscience what is qualified as intrinsically evil by the moral law” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 56).
No predestination in the Bible: Our actions count
- Based on the dynamic character of redemption, the concept of “redeemed” in the entire Bible acquires a specific meaning.
- Jesus redeemed the entire human race by his Incarnation, death, and Resurrection.
- The concept of “those who are redeemed” (Book of Revelation; Is 35:8, etc…) does not imply a “special” group of people that God wanted to redeem leaving the rest of humanity behind.
- It rather indicates God’s eternal knowledge of “who” will be saved.
- Predestination does not mean that God has already decided who will be saved; it rather indicates God’s eternal foreknowledge of their fate.
- God gave everyone an authentic freedom to decide their destiny and accept Christ’s salvation.
- The fact that God foreknew what they were going to choose, does not imply that he deprived them of their true freedom.
- The fact that God predestined us to inherit eternal life, does not diminish our decisions to “continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12).
- There would be no morality if our freedom was fake. Quoting the book of Sirach, St. John Paul II teaches: “For God willed to leave man ‘in the power of his own counsel’ (cf. Sir 15:14), so that he would seek his Creator of his own accord and would freely arrive at full and blessed perfection by cleaving to God” (Veritatis Splendor, 34).
Don’t disagree with the Church so quickly
- I invite those who rush into disagreeing with God and the teachings of the Catholic Church, to be more patient and inquisitive.
- The moral teachings of the Catholic Church are guided by Scriptures and inspired by the Holy Spirit.
- That was the promise of Jesus Christ himself that he and the Holy Spirit will abide in the Church forever: “The same Spirit who is at the origin of the Revelation of Jesus’ commandments and teachings guarantees that they will be reverently preserved, faithfully expounded and correctly applied in different times and places” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 27).
Moral Theologians have no right to teach against the Magisterium of the Catholic Church
- Moral theologians should never contradict the moral teachings of the Church’s Tradition and Magisterium: “In particular, note should be taken of the lack of harmony between the traditional response of the Church and certain theological positions, encountered even in Seminaries and in Faculties of Theology…” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 4).
- Moral theologians need to foster the Church’s teachings and explain it in simple terms so the faithful understand it and abide by it.
- Theological reflections on the human act have always been welcomed by the Catholic Church because the theologians’ task is to deepen the understanding of the divine revelation.
- Certainly, the Church’s Magisterium does not intend to impose upon the faithful any particular theological system, still less a philosophical one.
- Nevertheless, in order to “reverently preserve and faithfully expound the word of God, the Magisterium has the duty to state that some trends of theological thinking and certain philosophical affirmations are incompatible with revealed truth” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 29).
Cognitive approach in moral theology
- The approach of the Church is cognitive: she takes the divine revelation (Word of God, Tradition, and the Magisterium) as the point of departure of her moral decisions.
- In the cognitive approach, God’s divine revelation is behind our reasoning for our moral decisions.
- For example, God commands us not to kill. Therefore, killing is evil and is against the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- Regardless of the differences in cultures and nations, the consistency of the Church in following the cognitive approach is inspiring.
Pragmatic approach in moral theology
- People who follow the pragmatic approach place themselves as the source of their moral decisions.
- They themselves dictate what is good and what is evil.
- The reasoning in the pragmatic approach sounds like this: “I think this is right or this is wrong and, therefore, it must be that way.”
- This approach is false and misleading.
- Here people shift the moral action from what God revealed to what they “feel like doing.”
- Here people create their own moral truths basing it on their individual opinions not on what God has revealed to humanity through Jesus Christ.
- St. Pope John Paul II warns the Church against such a pure subjective approaches in which “the individual conscience is accorded the status of a supreme tribunal of moral judgment which hands down categorical and infallible decisions about good and evil” (Veritatis Splendor, 32).
- Also Pope Benedict XVI rejects the modern “subjectivism which, by regarding reason as the only source of knowledge, becomes incapable of raising its ‘gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being'” (Pope Benedict XVI, Dominus Iesus, 4).
- Under the excuse of following the heart and the conscience often contemporary people appoint themselves as judges over the nature of good and evil: “To the affirmation that one has a duty to follow one’s conscience is unduly added the affirmation that one’s moral judgment is true merely by the fact that it has its origin in the conscience. But in this way the inescapable claims of truth disappear, yielding their place to a criterion of sincerity, authenticity and ‘being at peace with oneself…” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 32).
- Pope Benedict XVI teaches that subjective moral decisions have sometimes an implicit, hidden atheism.
- According to him, many contemporaries erroneously but truly believe that they want to improve our world by creating laws they think are better then the laws of the Gospel: “Moral posturing is part and parcel of temptation. It does not invite us directly to do evil – no, that would be far too blatant. It pretends to show us a better way, where we finally abandon our illusions and throw ourselves into the work of actually making the world a better place. It claims, moreover, to speak for true realism: what’s real is what is right there in front of us – power and bread. By comparison, the things of God fade into unreality, into a secondary world that no one really needs” (Jesus of Nazareth, 28-29).
Human nature is not a prisoner of human empirical data ~ against physicalism and naturalism
- Other dangerous tendencies focus on the biological and naturalistic functioning of the human person.
- Instead of acknowledging the superiority of God in establishing a moral code to be followed, these tendencies exclusively observe the collective human behaviors and deduce from them what morality is all about.
- In other words, atheistic as they are, these theories considers the human behavior just a result of a mere biological settings according to which people act: “Consequently, in too superficial a way, a permanent and unchanging character would be attributed to certain kinds of human behavior, and, on the basis of this, an attempt would be made to formulate universally valid moral norms” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 47).
- The consequences of such teachings are horrendous because they implicitly disregard the divine objective laws and reduce the human nature to a place where all experiences are allowed, including sexual exploitation of the human nature.
Bible, Tradition, and Magisterium guarantee the true moral code in human history
- In the Old Testament, the revelation of God imposed a moral conduct on Israel.
- In the Old Testament, God gave Israel the 10 Commandments and other moral rules to follow: “What great nation is that that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? And what great nation is there that has statutes and ordinances so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day?” (Dt. 4:7-8).
- With the New Testament, Jesus Christ established a moral code that is much more perfect than that of the Old Testament.
- Jesus expected a radical commitment and to a life of perfection: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48).
- However, the New Testament does not have all the answers about our moral conduct.
- We have questions arising today that are not answered directly by the Bible such as cloning, contraceptive pills, transgender, etc…
- Entrusted with the teachings of Christ and guided by the Holy Spirit, the Catholic Church has the responsibility of answering those questions.
- The Spirit of Christ from above and the magisterium of the Catholic Church from below, work hand in hand answering the moral challenges of our time: “At all times, but particularly in the last two centuries, the Popes, whether individually or together with the College of Bishops, have developed and proposed a moral teaching regarding the many different spheres of human life … With the guarantee of assistance from the Spirit of truth they have contributed to a better understanding of moral demands in the areas of human sexuality, the family, and social, economic and political life” (St. John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 4).
- Because of the assistance of the Holy Spirit, the moral code revealed by Christ and taught by the Catholic Church is eternal, truthful, and necessary for our salvation.
- The Spirit of Truth will continue forever assisting the Magisterium in applying the moral code to all cultures of all times.
- Because of the human limitations, the safest way to eternal salvation is to follow the truth of the Gospel as transmitted by the Tradition and Magisterium of the Catholic Church.
- No personal situation, no cultural circumstances, no pastoral needs, no exalted human freedom, nothing whatsoever should in any way lead us astray from the supremacy of God’s law.
- God will forgive our past no matter what we have done: The good Lord is infinitely loving and merciful; otherwise, he wouldn’t be God.
- The important thing is today, our present.
- So let us make every choice according to God’s divine revelation taught in the Catholic Church.
- The end is secure because of God’s faithfulness: HEAVEN.
- I entrust all of you who read this book to the maternal care of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
- Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit forever and ever!!!
Capítulo 21: Las Enseñanzas Morales de la Iglesia Catolica
El Código Moral del Antiguo Testamento: Antes del Antiguo Testamento, no había un código moral. El único código moral que existía era la conciencia de la gente. Dios creó a cada persona con una conciencia que es la voz de Dios innata en nosotros para hacer el bien y evitar el mal. Aun antes del Antiguo Testamento, cuando alguien quería matar a alguien, estoy seguro de que la voz de Dios en su conciencia les alarmaba a detenerse.
Con el Antiguo Testamento, la revelación de Dios a Israel fue acompañada también por la revelación de un código moral. Vemos en la historia y la tradición del Antiguo Testamento no solo los 10 mandamientos sino también muchos otros códigos morales que Dios le dio al pueblo de Israel para seguir. Dios fue muy claro acerca de las obligaciones de su Pacto con Israel en términos similares a estos: “mi gente hagan su parte del trato y ustedes tendrán mis bendiciones … Israel haz esto y evita que yo, su Dios, los cuide”.
El Código Moral en el Nuevo Testamento: Con el NT, el código moral de que Jesucristo es mucho más perfecto que el Antiguo Testamento. Nos invita a un compromiso radical y a la perfección (ser perfecto igual como tu Padre celestial es perfecto). Jesucristo invitó a cada persona a actuar de acuerdo con la voluntad de Dios. Su acto perfecciona su ser mientras viajan para compartir el ser eterno de Dios (no aquellos que dicen que el Señor, Señor, entrará en el reino de los cielos, sino aquellos que hacen la voluntad de mi Padre).
Cuando el joven vino a Jesús, le preguntó: “Señor, ¿qué debo hacer para heredar la vida eterna?” La respuesta de Jesús lo invitó a seguir los 10 mandamientos, pero también a ir más allá de ellos a una vida de amor y compasión (la parábola de el misericordioso Samaritano). La invitación de Cristo a cumplir el código moral del Antiguo Testamento y perfeccionarlo en el Nuevo Testamento es una dimensión esencial para la salvación de la persona humana.
La Fe y la Acción Moral: Eso nos llevará a comparar la relación entre la fe y las acciones morales. De la misma manera, el ojo es la facultad de la visión, la fe es la facultad de las acciones. St. James enseñó que la fe sin acción está muerta. La acción cumple con la fe y lleva la fe a buen término. No puedes simplemente creer en Jesucristo y asumir que eres salvo sin actuar en tu fe. La Biblia entera se basa en un código moral en donde Dios nos invita a hacer el bien y evitar el mal. Creer en Jesús es el primer paso, actuar según la voluntad de Jesús nos llevará a una unión con Dios. Jesús confirmó fuertemente que no aquellos que dicen Señor Señor entrarán en el reino de la desesperación; pero los que hagan la voluntad de mi Padre entrarán en el reino de los cielos. Creer en Jesús no significa nada porque los demonios también creen en Jesucristo y no son salvos. Se negaron a actuar de acuerdo con el plan de Dios y, por lo tanto, fueron eternamente condenados.
Cuando las Cartas a los Romanos y a los Efesios declaran que eres salvo por medio de la fe, simplemente están enfatizando el primer paso esencial: adherirse a Jesucristo en obediencia a la fe. De ninguna manera implican que creer en Jesús y no hacer nada acerca de eso sea suficiente para la salvación. La fe en Jesucristo nos salvará mientras lo vivamos.
Tenemos una Libertad Auténtica y un Código Moral a Seguir: “no matar; no cometer adulterio … “Estas son las cosas que Jesucristo le dijo al joven cuando preguntó:” ¿Qué debería hacer para heredar la vida eterna? ” No podemos simplemente creer y asumir que somos salvos sin hacer nada.
Aceptar a Dios es el primer paso porque la obediencia de la fe te abre para entenderlo. Una vez que aceptas a Dios (Padre, Hijo y Espíritu Santo) y la iglesia, entras en la dimensión de vivir el misterio de Cristo. Con el tiempo lo entenderás mejor y mejor.
El segundo paso es poner la fe católica en acción. Eso fue tan enfatizado en la disertación doctoral de San Juan Pablo II. En ese trabajo “The Acting Person”, el Papa enfatizó que nosotros los seres humanos tenemos una dimensión que los animales no tienen: conciencia subjetiva. Cuando actúo, no solo estoy actuando porque soy capaz de actuar, también estoy al tanto de mis acciones (tengo una conciencia subjetiva de que estoy actuando). Además, tengo conciencia de que mi acción tiene un valor.
Nuestras acciones tienen un valor. Nuestras acciones elevan nuestro ser al nivel que Dios creó para nosotros, o nos baja a lo que está en contra del plan de Dios en nuestra vida. Por lo tanto, cada decisión libre debe basarse en la fe. La fe y la acción están casados para siempre. Una vez que basas todas tus acciones en la fe (según las enseñanzas de la Iglesia Católica), tus acciones te mantendrán en el nivel de santidad en tu ser de acuerdo con el plan de Dios. Al final de tu vida, si has realizado cada acción de acuerdo con lo que Dios quiere que hagas, entonces tu ser recibirá la gloria que Dios preparó para ti antes de ser concebido en el vientre. Tu ser será glorificado con Dios y en ese momento ya no tienes que hacer nada. Justo aquí y ahora es la única oportunidad que tenemos para actuar en nuestra fe.
Enfoques Cognitivos y Pragmáticos en la Teología Moral: Invito a todos los que se apresuran a estar en desacuerdo con Dios y las enseñanzas de la Iglesia Católica a ser más pacientes e inquisitivos. Las enseñanzas de la Iglesia Católica en los últimos 2000 años son inspiradas por el Espíritu Santo. El Espíritu Santo desde arriba y la iglesia desde abajo continuarán explicando la revelación divina y el código moral hasta el fin del tiempo. Esa fue la promesa de Jesucristo.
Cuando tenemos preguntas morales hoy en dia que la Biblia no responde directamente (clonación o píldoras anticonceptivas …), la Iglesia Católica tiene la responsabilidad de responder estas preguntas. El Espíritu Santo desde arriba y el Magisterio de la Iglesia Católica desde abajo seguirán respondiendo a los dilemas morales de nuestro tiempo.
En la teología moral hay dos enfoques: Cognitivo y pragmático. El enfoque de la iglesia es cognitivo. Este enfoque toma la Tradición de la Iglesia (Palabra de Dios y Magisterio) como el punto de partida de su decisión. Un ejemplo: Dios dice “no matar”, por lo tanto, cualquier asesinato va en contra del Evangelio de Jesús y el plan de Dios. En el enfoque cognitivo, comienzas con la Revelación Divina como tu razonamiento y tus decisiones morales.
En el enfoque pragmático, no aceptado por la iglesia, te pones a ti mismo como la fuente de las decisiones morales. Dices “Creo que esto está bien o mal y, por lo tanto, debe ser así”. Las personas crean sus propias verdades morales. La verdad en el enfoque cognitivo se basa en la revelación divina de Dios. La verdad en el enfoque pragmático, que se aplica en nuestra cultura, se basa en opiniones individuales que a veces son falsas. ¿Quién eres tú para establecerte a ti mismo como el criterio de lo que es bueno y lo que es malo? ¿Cómo puedes decidir qué acciones morales son buenas y cuáles son malas?
De una vez por todas, invito a todos los Católicos a darse cuenta de que Dios, de una vez y por medio de Jesucristo, reveló un código moral que debe seguirse. Las enseñanzas morales de Cristo son eternas y verdaderas. El código moral Católico se perpetúa en la iglesia a través de las acciones del Espíritu Santo que ayudan al Magisterio a continuar enseñando las decisiones morales correctas.