4 February 2018

The current crisis about orthodoxy: what does it all amount to? (1)

During the Arian Crisis, one word was the flag, the symbol, of Orthodoxy: HOMOOUSIOS. The Son is Consubstantial, or of one Substance, with the Father. Now ... imagine somebody during that crisis putting forward a Creed or Profession of Faith which sounded perfectly OK ... indeed, if it had been put forward fifty years previously, everybody would have received it joyfully. But, after the Church had defined the Dogma of the Co-equal Divinity of the Son by the word Homoousios, if somebody then put forward a new Creed which deliberately omitted this one word, he was seen to be a heretic. All the more so, if he put out a version of the 'Nicene' Creed with Homoousios eliminated from the text, he condemned himself as a heretic.

In our present crisis, the gravest since the Reformation if not since the Arian Crisis, the phrase, the Battle Standard around which the conflict is raging, is INTRINSECE MALUM*, "intrinsically evil". This means that there are acts, so described, which are of themselves evil. Always; in all circumstances. Under no circumstances can they be right. Not even if ...

This doctrine has been under fire since the 1960s or earlier, when various dodges were dreamed up to get round it. The implication of all these dodges was that the rules of Catholic morality were generally good guides, but there were unusual circumstances in which it might be OK to break them. I remember a popular book of Moral Theology which actually, laughably, but with a straight face, gave the following example.
Fornication is wrong. But suppose one is a spy working for the West, and one knows that a certain spy working for SMERSH, i.e. the Evil (Russian) Empire, possesses a crucial secret ... the Plan, let us say, for a new ICBM warhead or an ultrasuperhypermarvellous submarine or spacecraft ... then (if fornication would extract the all-important Plan from the enemy agent who, in those carefee days, was always of the opposite sex) the greater Good of the Survival of Civilisation As We Know It, would justify the fornication.

Yes; a 'serious' theologian could be so influenced by the light-hearted 1960s adolescent sexual fantasies concerning Commander James Bond, R.N., M.A. Cantab., that he did propound such risible codswallop.
To be continued.

*In-TRIN-se-chey MUL-um is how the phrase is pronounced, with the U as in tub. Not MAH-lum, because that would mean 'an Apple' ... but I suppose one might be going for prelapsarian typology ...

19 comments:

Tom Forde said...

Exactly. Thanks for the Latin pronunciation I now know I've saying wrong. Probably safer to say it in english.

Pontiacprince said...

So according to Cardinal Marx we are to celebrate sodomy and I suppose any other sins 'of the flesh' that previously were 'intrinsically evil"? Seems this new theology has also caught on in California and in certain areas of Canada.We are liberated!!

Amateur Brain Surgeon said...

Malum in se bye bye

John Nolan said...

So it's 'sed libera nos a 'mulo'? A slight lengthening of the vowel would have us be delivered from the mule. Latin was always pronounced according to the standards of the language in current use; this still applies in the liturgical Latin of Italy and Germany. Do Italians make much of a distinction between short and long 'a's, particularly when singing?

Admittedly, English pronunciation had become so wayward as to justify a reformed pronunciation of Latin at the beginning of the 20th century, although one has a sneaking sympathy for Mr Chips who objected to 'Kickero' and 'we kiss 'im' for 'vicissim'.


GOR said...

Though my Moral Theology studies were in the 60s, I was fortunate to have more orthodox teachers than the one you quote. These used earlier theologians and their writings including the Fathers and Doctors of the Church and, more recently, Noldin and Jone rather than Schillebeeckx and Rahner.

However, I would quibble on the pronunciation of malum being more influenced by Italian usage than so-called ‘classical’. Further, if the typology is prelapsarian wouldn’t ‘malum’ have been non-existent?

Banshee said...

To be fair, I think the theory about the Bond novels being intentional allegories of battles against each of the Seven Deadly Sins has been pretty well proven. But neither Spenser nor Fleming was a Doctor of the Church, nor did they mean to be -- even if they followed St. Prudentius' lead.

Bond was portrayed as trying to be good, but also as a great sinner and a bit of a sociopath. He was not set forth as a moral example to be followed, except perhaps in his willingness to fight evil and protect the good. (He also thinks he's a roving sex therapist for troubled women, just like Captain Kirk and a lot of other pop culture heroes of the day.)

Also, the novel From Russia with Love is pretty clear on the fact that even Bond, who will sleep with just about any woman, feels that there is something very wrong about sexual quid pro quos. Spy novels of the day were very big on admitting that a practice could be useful without being at all moral; their spies were big kids who were well aware they were playing dirty, albeit for queen and country. So it's weird to see a theologian wanting to avoid knowing that useful sin is still sin.

Fr. VF said...

Does that mean that what I feel for Bergoglio is mulice?

Ashley Ritchie said...

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Randolph Crane said...

I'm not a Latinist, but some liturgical books from 1960 and prior, have set rules how to pronounce Latin. It's basically Italian all the way. They way I have been taught Latin in school was ugly. "Kee-ke-ro" and "Kay-sar". Disgusting. I like "Chi-che-ro" and "Che-sar" much better. The German way of pronouncing Latin feels like the language is being butchered: "qui es in tselis", "adveniat rek-noom". The "Italian way", though maybe not historically correct, sounds much more elegant and worthy. But that is just my opinion. I will stick to my liturgical books telling me to pronounce Latin in an Italian fashion.

Liam Ronan said...

I have a friend who was once a police officer and did undercover work in the vice squad. Members of the unit would have to sample cocaine from drug dealers or patronize 'massage' parlors and 'cat houses' in order to obtain sufficient evidence to make arrests for narcotics trafficking or prostitution or 'lewd and lascivious' behavior.

Would a Catholic police officer be required to forgo any work in in vice?

Liam Ronan said...

Incidentally, my aforementioned undercover police officer friend was expected to repeatedly lie to drug traffickers, et. al. insofar as it was infinitely healthier to conceal his real identity and intent.

Elizabeth said...

You may never do evil so that good may follow. Jesus' temptation in the desert: to bring about his kingdom using evil means.

Sir Watkin said...

Ah, but when Latin is pronounced more Romano (of which Pius XI in 1928 said that he had "the keenest desire that all bishops in every nation shall endeavour to adopt it when carrying out the liturgical ceremonies") the length of a vowel (as it is in Italian) is governed solely by whether the syllable containing it is stressed or unstressed. Thus the nominative and ablative singular of a first declension noun become indistinguishable to the ear, and likewise only the sense tells us whether when we pray "libera nos a malo" we are asking to be delivered from "evil" (or the Evil One) or from the apple (Eve's??).

Of course the position of the stress accent is not unrelated to vowel length in the Classical language, but that is another matter ....

Cherub said...

It is NOT PRONOUNCED “Moluccan”! It is “mahlum”, the same with “malo” in the Lord’s Prayer. In the more than 20 years I have been a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life I have never heard anyone pronounce “malum “ in the way you suggest. Ecclesiastical Latin follows the Italian pronunciation with some variations in particular countries. It is simply risible to advise such a pronunciation.

Cherub said...

I think Fr Hunwicke may be confusing one view of how you might pronounce malum, ie a classicist view, with ecckesiasticL Latin.

RichardT said...

Liam Ronan said:
"I have a friend who was once a police officer and did undercover work in the vice squad. Members of the unit would have to sample cocaine from drug dealers or patronize 'massage' parlors and 'cat houses' in order to obtain sufficient evidence to make arrests for narcotics trafficking or prostitution or 'lewd and lascivious' behavior."

Alan Herbert, the last MP for Oxford University, argued very amusingly in several of his spoof legal cases that the police should not be doing such things, whether the officers are Catholic or not. He regarded such entrapment as unBritish and immoral.

Henry Luxembourg said...

Westminster School has a special dispensation to sing prayers in Latin, on the grounds that it is in this caseca language perfectly « understanded of the people ». It is still pronounced as it was before the 19th century got its hands on it. Thus: Lie-beret noss ay maylow.

Sir Watkin said...

Alan Herbert, the last MP for Oxford University, argued very amusingly in several of his spoof legal cases that the police should not be doing such things, whether the officers are Catholic or not. He regarded such entrapment as unBritish and immoral.

And so, generally speaking, does the law in Britain, which takes a much stricter view of entrapment than does that of the U.S.A. British police (regardless of religious affiliation, or lack thereof) are not allowed to do the sort of thing that Liam Ronan mentions in order to obtain evidence.

Matthew Roth said...

The English public school pronunciation is fairly contrived as well, just so y'all know. (Noveritis!)