Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What Did Schonborn ACTUALLY Say?

Fr. Fessio, a close friend of B-16, begins with a truism.

Perhaps Cardinal Schönborn overestimated the capacity of the invited journalists for a serious academic discussion.

But, but, but.......but they're all college-edyumakated!! Isn't that all one needs?

No. "Journalists" should also have an understanding of their topics--or at least know enough to know what they do NOT know, and ask questions.

Instead, we got some very bad information.

Cardinal Schönborn is a Dominican and a professor. Which means that he has a serious scholar’s grasp of the foundations as well as the conclusions of moral theology, particularly as expounded by St. Thomas Aquinas.

[Schonborn] explained that it is important to avoid the errors of a Kantian moral philosophy, that is, one based on the categorical imperative of duty alone. Thomas Aquinas, inspired by Aristotle, elaborated what scholars would call a eudaimonistic rather than a deontological moral philosophy. That is, a moral philosophy not based on mere duty, but based on the natural desire of all men for happiness.

And of course, in Catholic (and most Christian) lexicon, "happiness" means obtaining heaven.

But that's not how it played out in the IgnoramusPress.

The Tablet, apparently drawing on other published sources, wrote: “Instead of a morality based on duty, we should work towards a morality based on happiness, [the cardinal] continued.” This is in itself accurate. But in the context of the Tablet article, it implied that the Church should change her teaching on homosexual relationships and divorced and re-married Catholics. (Both were mentioned immediately preceding the above quote.)

And 'changing her teachings' is NOT what Schonborn meant.

[W]hat did Cardinal Schönborn mean by the reference to eudaimonism? He tried to explain it to the journalists. The Church attempts to lead men to their ultimate happiness, which is the vision of God in his essence. Moral norms are meant to do that; they have that as their end or purpose. The norms themselves are unchanging. However, our approach to obeying them is gradual and our efforts are a mixture of success and failure. This means that while certain moral norms are absolute, that is, they hold in all circumstances without exception, our approach to obeying them may be halting and imperfect.

This is commonly referred to as “the law of gradualism” and is opposed to “the gradualism of the law,” as if the law itself were somehow variable.

BIG difference.

This is the context for the cardinal’s saying: “We should give more consideration to the quality of homosexual relationships,” adding: “A stable relationship is certainly better than if someone chooses to be promiscuous.” This does not at all mean that the cardinal was advocating or even suggesting that the Church might change her teaching that homosexuality is a disorder and homosexual activity is always a grave evil. It is always grave, but there can be gradations of gravity—or, to call it by its true name, objective depravity.

This is also the context of the Tablet’s statement: “The cardinal also said the Church needed to reconsider its view of re-married divorcees ‘as many people don’t even marry at all any longer’.” This “reconsideration” does not mean a change in the Church’s teaching that a valid marriage is indissoluble, and that someone who is validly married cannot remarry validly. It means that perhaps—but only perhaps, because this is an opinion that does not have the authority of a magisterial pronouncement—the Church should find new ways of leading the weak and confused to the difficult but liberating challenge of Christ’s demands.

Get it?

HT: Jester


Badger Catholic said...

Well, yes, but I think His Excellency has everybody pretty nervous with his "Balloon Mass" and how he disgraced Sr. Restituta Kafka with "artwork" in his Cathedral. I do appreciate the clarification but Cardinal Schönborn has left many scratching their heads wondering what happened to this intellectual giant who shaped the modern catechism.

Badger Catholic said...

err that is to say "His Eminence"... I'm losing it.

GOR said...

Agreed Badger, Schonborn is hard to figure out. On the one hand he seems very orthodox and then he goes and does or permits something which makes you wonder where he is coming from.

Also for one who is touted as being very 'media-savvy', to invite a bunch of editors over for a chat and expect that everything is 'off the record' (his comment on Cdl. Sodano, for instance) strikes me as very naive these days.