Sunday, June 25, 2006

"Whopper" Dan Maguire, Examined, and John Paul II on Natural Law and Morality

As noted below, Dan Maguire, a teacher at Marquette University, has authored a pamphlet which was distributed to Congress on the question of Homosex "Marriage."

There are a number of ways in which Dan lies in this pamphlet--so many, in fact, that we now refer to Maguire as "Whopper" Dan. As an example of lies-by-Ommission, lies-by-Commission, lies-by-Insinuation, and lies-by-Arrogation of authority, this document is above average.

As an example of undergraduate writing skills, the document is just average, if that.

As an example of Catholic thinking, it gets an "F."

Let's start at the beginning, shall we? Whopper entitles his fantasy "A Catholic Defense of Same-Sex Marriage." That's Whopper # 1, and it's a biggie. Dan Maguire has no authority to refer to his work as "Catholic," not the least because the adjective "Catholic" may ONLY be applied if a Bishop says so. Then it is demarcated by a duly-granted imprimatur (it may be printed). For those of you who are not Catholic (or have forgotten,) BISHOPS (not theologians) are, by virtue of their office, teachers of the Faith. Others may teach the Faith, but this is with the implied or explicit approval of the Bishop. However, no one may use the adjective "Catholic" to describe their writings or activities without the express approval of a Bishop.

Maguire next describes himself as "..a Catholic Theologian..." which is most likely Whopper #2. While I am not personally acquainted with Maguire's Canonical status in the Church, (e.g., whether he was dispensed from his priestly vows before his first marriage; whether his first marriage was annulled prior to his second), the Archbishop of Milwaukee has issued an email to all pastors in the Archdiocese which declared Whopper Dan a persona non grata in all Parishes--he is not allowed to present speeches in any of them. That fact should tell you something.

In the first graf, Maguire states "The Catholic Church is beginning to rediscover what it once knew; that not all persons are heterosexual..." This is clearly Whopper #3. The Catholic Church has known from earliest times that there are homosexuals--one only has to read Paul's letter condemning "sexual perverts" (i.e., practicing homosexuals) to know that.

STILL in the first graf, Maguire claims that "...[the Church] even had liturgies to celebrate same-sex unions." Whopper #4. His "evidence" is based on a book by someone named Boswell, and the short-story refutation of that work is referenced here. There were, and still are, same-sex friendships which are NOT sexual--the Church blessed those.

First graf again: "...this is the way God made us and we have no right to criticize God." Whopper #5. Maguire would have us believe that criticism of homosexual activity is identical to criticizing homosexuals and that THAT is identical to criticizing God. It's an argument that even Whopper Dan should not accept in an undergraduate's paper.

In the second graf, Dan compares human activity to that of animals by telling us that animals act out homosexual conduct. I'll leave it to Dan to tell us which animal family he belongs to, but Church teaching, based on the Jewish scripture, tells us that men were created "in the image and likeness of God," separately from animals. Whopper #6. In the same graf, Dan-o tries to screw with logic again by declaring that same-sex "attraction" is a "fact" of God's creation, and then cites Acts to propose that we cannot call this "unclean." Whopper #7. In fact, no one calls same-sex attraction "unclean." It is, however, a grave disorder.

He then attempts to conflate "racism" with "heterosexism," and "sexism." Yah, he has a point; it is immoral to judge an individual based on their color, sex, or orientation. But it is NOT immoral to judge one's acts. Big dif.

But he can't write a graf without a Whopper, so here's Whopper #8: "If homosexual persons live out their reality and enter into...relationships full of love and fidelity, we condemn them." Wrong. If they are acting out--committing the grave sin of homosexual activity--then we judge those acts and form an opinion of the individuals accordingly.

Next graf, another one: citing Guindon's approval of 'Christians accepting homosexuals as...brothers and sisters...(a good thing) " he then moves on to cite Mary Hunt (a notorious dissenter) who asks "What could be wrong with...sexual relationships between...male or female partners?" Whopper #9. Again, Maguire conflates persons and actions. Even a 5-year-old knows the difference.

Next Maguire re-defines marriage the way the homosexual lobby wants: "Marriage can be defined as the unique and special form of committed friendship between sexually attrracted persons." Whopper #10 with reservations. Yes, it COULD be defined that way, but has not been in recorded human history. By the way, under Whopper Dan's "definition," something longer than a 2-night stand could also be "marriage."

In the same graf, Maguire asserts the usual red herring--that heterosexual marriages are not necessarily Happily Ever After stories. The best response to that is: So What? Heterosexual marriage does not involve acts which are contra naturam. And as was pointed out in a European study, homosexual "marriage" over there is even less 'permanent' and 'monogamous' than hetero.

Still citing Hunt (which is like citing Luther about fine points of musical theory,) Maguire endorses her absolutely vapid objection that "...homosexuals would have only six sacraments, while all other Catholics have seven." Heh. A two-fer Whopper (11 & 12), and telling. Hunt happens to be a "Wimmin's ordination" fantacist. In reality, female Catholics are NOT eligible for 7 sacraments--it is impossible for them to be (validly) ordained. By the way, no one has a right to ANY sacrament, which is how she manages to hand Dan-o two whoppers.

Maguire then proposes to dismantle opposing arguments, calling them "Objections."

Objection #1: The Bible says all homosexual activity is evil and sinful.

Response: "First of all, this is true." (Good; but all the rest is poppycock, to be polite.) Maguire cites Biblical verses which condone slavery and proscribe eating shellfish, and from these examples wants us to believe that all Biblical injunctions are, ah, time-conditional. Whopper #13. "When we come to the biblical texts on homosexuality we see right away that we could never treat them as rules for our day." (My emphasis.) Don't take MY word for it--recall that Maguire presents this as a "Catholic" response, then read John Paul II:

This reduction misunderstands the moral meaning of the body and of kinds of behaviour involving it (cf. 1 Cor 6:19). Saint Paul declares that "the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers" are excluded from the Kingdom of God (cf. 1 Cor 6:9). Note well: John Paul II did NOT object to Paul's teaching on "sexual perverts (homosexuals.) This tells us that John Paul II, who WAS vested with the highest Teaching Authority of the Church, agrees with Paul's statement. (Veritatis Splendor 49)

In the same "response" Maguire deliberately mis-interprets the Pauline injunction that 'wives should submit themselves to their husbands,' which constitutes Whopper #14, and goes on to FURTHER state that the Church constructed the "submit" text as some sort of bondage/slavery thing, and that only by correctly interpreting Paul's Galatians text stating that "all...are one in Christ Jesus," did the Church save women from fates worse than death.

Good grief.

Whopper #15 arrives when Maguire falsely claims that "The Church today condemns the death penalty." Not true. The Church vigorously objects to imposing the death penalty, but does not condemn it.

Whopper #16 follows closely on the heels of that one, when Maguire states that "...there are many moral questions that are not answered in the Bible. Homosexuality is one of them." Maguire kind of hopes that the reader will confuse "homosexuality" with "homosexual activity."

Whopper #17: "...Catholic and other Christian and Jewish theologians defend same-sex marriages today." A few, perhaps--one can count the "Catholic" defenders of SSM on both hands, and it is risky to use the term "Catholic" when citing these folks.

Objection #2: The Catholic hierarchy condemns all homosexual sex.

Response: That is true.

Dan-o even goes on to cite Cdl. Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI): "Respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions."

Were Whopper Dan to leave it there, he might crawl back into the good graces of Abp. Dolan. But NOOOOOO!

Whopper #18: "In Catholicism there are three sources of truth (or magisteria)...the Hierarchy, the theologians, and the wisdom and experience of the laity..." Wrong, Whopper. The Magisterium is based on two sources: Scripture, and Tradition. "The Magisterium, or teaching authority, is vested in the Bishops, as successors of the Apostles, under the Roman Pontiff...also vested in the Pope, as Vicar of Christ and visible head of the Roman Catholic Church." (Pocket Catholic Dictionary, Hardon, S.J., Image Books) Theologians, Dan-o, are nice, but not really necessary--only the Bishops are teachers, and the Magisterium's sources of truth are Scripture and Tradtion. Period. Finis.

Whopper #19: Maguire speaks of the current controversy over using rubbers to prevent AIDS in married couples, and says "Catholic theology...does not hold that view [which condemns the practice.] As a matter of fact, Whopper, the issue was settled with no changes despite the best efforts of Cdl. Martini, who recently "retired."

Whopper #20: "In and old Catholic teaching called Probabilism we find... [that] ...when there is debate on a moral issue...where there are good reasons and good authorities on both sides of the debate, Catholics are free to make up their own minds."

Except in the cases of sins (like homosexual activity) which are intrinsically evil. There's no debate about those sins, Dan-o, except in a few fevered minds.

Probabilism is the moral system which holds that, when there is question solely of the lawfulness or unlawfulness of an action, it is permissible to follow a solidly probable opinion in favour of liberty even though the opposing view is more probable.

When a prohibiting law is certain, [as in the case of homosexual acts] the subjects of the law are bound to abstain from performing the action which the law forbids, unless they are excused by one of the ordinary exempting causes.
(Catholic Encyclopedia)

We've only covered about 2/3rds of Whopper Dan's text, and have not covered that very thoroughly. Others, far more erudite, may cover this Pack of Lies more thoroughly.

But let's see what John Paul II had to say on the real issue here, which is the Natural Law and its relationship to truth, moral actions and judgments. As I have argued before, the question of Homosexual "Marriage" is intrinsically tied to natural law, and much of what JPII wrote on that topic is germane to the "arguments" of Whopper Dan and his cohort--however many that may actually be.

It has happened therefore that reason, rather than voicing the human orientation towards truth, has wilted under the weight of so much knowledge and little by little has lost the capacity to lift its gaze to the heights, not daring to rise to the truth of being. (Fides et Ratio 5)

Sacred Scripture indicates with remarkably clear cues how deeply related are the knowledge conferred by faith and the knowledge conferred by reason; F&R 16

What is distinctive in the biblical text is the conviction that there is a profound and indissoluble unity between the knowledge of reason and the knowledge of faith. The world and all that happens within it, including history and the fate of peoples, are realities to be observed, analysed and assessed with all the resources of reason, but without faith ever being foreign to the process. (Ibid)

At the same time, however, within the context of the theological debates which followed the Council, there have developed certain interpretations of Christian morality which are not consistent with "sound teaching" (2 Tm 4:3). (Veritatis Splendor 29)

Certain currents of modern thought have gone so far as to exalt freedom to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values. VS 32

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", so much so that some have come to adopt a radically subjectivistic conception of moral judgment. Ibid

Certain tendencies in contemporary moral theology, under the influence of the currents of subjectivism and individualism just mentioned, involve novel interpretations of the relationship of freedom to the moral law, human nature and conscience, and propose novel criteria for the moral evaluation of acts. Despite their variety, these tendencies are at one in lessening or even denying the dependence of freedom on truth. VS 34

...some present-day cultural tendencies have given rise to several currents of thought in ethics which centre upon an alleged conflict between freedom and law. 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. Freedom would thus lay claim to a moral autonomy which would actually amount to an absolute sovereignty. VS 35 [This is the principal philosophical objection to the attempt to make "positive law" abrogate or derogate Natural Law.]

Indeed, as we have seen, the natural law "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".71 The rightful autonomy of the practical reason means that man possesses in himself his own law, received from the Creator.

Nevertheless, the autonomy of reason cannot mean that reason itself creates values and moral norms.72 Were this autonomy to imply a denial of the participation of the practical reason in the wisdom of the divine Creator and Lawgiver, or were it to suggest a freedom which creates moral norms, on the basis of historical contingencies or the diversity of societies and cultures, this sort of alleged autonomy would contradict the Church's teaching on the truth about man.73 It would be the death of true freedom: "But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die" (Gen 2:17). VS 40 [This is the response to Whopper's "today it's different" line...]

The natural law enters here as the human expression of God's eternal law. Saint Thomas writes: "Among all others, the rational creature is subject to divine providence in the most excellent way, insofar as it partakes of a share of providence, being provident both for itself and for others. Thus it has a share of the Eternal Reason, whereby it has a natural inclination to its proper act and end. This participation of the eternal law in the rational creature is called natural law" VS 43

In this context, objections of physicalism and naturalism have been leveled against the traditional conception of the natural law, which is accused of presenting as moral laws what are in themselves mere biological laws. Consequently, in too superficial a way, a permanent and unchanging character would be attributed to certain kinds of human behaviour, and, on the basis of this, an attempt would be made to formulate universally valid moral norms.

According to certain theologians, this kind of "biologistic or naturalistic argumentation" would even be present in certain documents of the Church's Magisterium, particularly those dealing with the area of sexual and conjugal ethics. It was, they maintain, on the basis of a naturalistic understanding of the sexual act that contraception, direct sterilization, autoeroticism, pre-marital sexual relations, homosexual relations and artificial insemination were condemned as morally unacceptable. In the opinion of these same theologians, a morally negative evaluation of such acts fails to take into adequate consideration both man's character as a rational and free being and the cultural conditioning of all moral norms. In their view, man, as a rational being, not only can but actually must freely determine the meaning of his behaviour. This process of "determining the meaning" would obviously have to take into account the many limitations of the human being, as existing in a body and in history. Furthermore, it would have to take into consideration the behavioural models and the meanings which the latter acquire in any given culture. Above all, it would have to respect the fundamental commandment of love of God and neighbour. Still, they continue, God made man as a rationally free being; he left him "in the power of his own counsel" and he expects him to shape his life in a personal and rational way. Love of neighbour would mean above all and even exclusively respect for his freedom to make his own decisions. The workings of typically human behaviour, as well as the so-called "natural inclinations", would establish at the most so they say--a general orientation towards correct behaviour, but they cannot determine the moral assessment of individual human acts, so complex from the viewpoint of situations. VS 47

A freedom which claims to be absolute ends up treating the human body as a raw datum, devoid of any meaning and moral values until freedom has shaped it in accordance with its design. Consequently, human nature and the body appear as presuppositions or preambles, materially necessary for freedom to make its choice, yet extrinsic to the person, the subject and the human act. Their functions would not be able to constitute reference points for moral decisions, because the finalities of these inclinations would be merely physical goods, called by some "pre-moral". [In the instant case, the obvious "functions' of genitalia--insemination and reception--generation and nurturing--fatherhood and motherhood--are replaced by actions which cannot be described here and which are obviously NOT 'what the tools are for." Like using a violin to pound nails--it's unnatural.]

This moral theory does not correspond to the truth about man and his freedom. VS 48

A doctrine which dissociates the moral act from the bodily dimensions of its exercise is contrary to the teaching of Scripture and Tradition. Such a doctrine revives, in new forms, certain ancient errors which have always been opposed by the Church, inasmuch as they reduce the human person to a "spiritual" and purely formal freedom. This reduction misunderstands the moral meaning of the body and of kinds of behaviour involving it (cf. 1 Cor 6:19). Saint Paul declares that "the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers" are excluded from the Kingdom of God (cf. 1 Cor 6:9). VS 49

The natural law thus understood does not allow for any division between freedom and nature. Indeed, these two realities are harmoniously bound together, and each is intimately linked to the other. VS 50

...some authors have proposed a kind of double status of moral truth. Beyond the doctrinal and abstract level, one would have to acknowledge the priority of a certain more concrete existential consideration. The latter, by taking account of circumstances and the situation, 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. A separation, or even an opposition, is thus established in some cases between the teaching of the precept, which is valid in general, and the norm of the individual conscience, which would in fact make the final decision about what is good and what is evil. On this basis, an attempt is made to legitimize so-called "pastoral" solutions contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium, and to justify a "creative" hermeneutic according to which the moral conscience is in no way obliged, in every case, by a particular negative precept. VS 56

In any event, it is always from the truth that the dignity of conscience derives. In the case of the correct conscience, it is a question of the objective truth received by man; in the case of the erroneous conscience, it is a question of what man, mistakenly, subjectively considers to be true. It is never acceptable to confuse a "subjective" error about moral good with the "objective" truth rationally proposed to man in virtue of his end, or to make the moral value of an act performed with a true and correct conscience equivalent to the moral value of an act performed by following the judgment of an erroneous conscience.108 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. VS 63

The teleological ethical theories (proportionalism, consequentialism), while acknowledging that moral values are indicated by reason and by Revelation, maintain that it is never possible to formulate an absolute prohibition of particular kinds of behaviour which would be in conflict, in every circumstance and in every culture, with those values. ...The moral specificity of acts, that is their goodness or evil, would be determined exclusively by the faithfulness of the person to the highest values of charity and prudence, without this faithfulness necessarily being incompatible with choices contrary to certain particular moral precepts. Even when grave matter is concerned, these precepts should be considered as operative norms which are always relative and open to exceptions.

...In this view, deliberate consent to certain kinds of behaviour
declared illicit by traditional moral theology would not imply an objective moral evil. VS 75

These theories cannot claim to be grounded in the Catholic moral tradition. [Sorry, WhopperDan] Although the latter did witness the development of a casuistry which tried to assess the best ways to achieve the good in certain concrete situations, it is nonetheless true that this casuistry concerned only cases in which the law was uncertain, and thus the absolute validity of negative moral precepts, which oblige without exception, was not called into question. [So much for adducing "Probabilism" to THIS question.] The faithful are obliged to acknowledge and respect the specific moral precepts declared and taught by the Church in the name of God, the Creator and Lord. VS 76

Christian ethics, which pays particular attention to the moral object, does not refuse to consider the inner "teleology" of acting, inasmuch as it is directed to promoting the true good of the person; but it recognizes that it is really pursued only when the essential elements of human nature are respected. VS 78

In teaching the existence of intrinsically evil acts, the Church accepts the teaching of Sacred Scripture. The Apostle Paul emphatically states: "Do not be deceived: neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor sexual perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God" VS 81

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. VS

Return to the truth, Dan. Accept the teaching of the Pope. Then you may claim to be a "Catholic" theologian.


Anonymous said...

Would you please post a brief summary of this post.
I fell asleep before I finished reading it.

Dad29 said...


This isn't the comics page. Adults are expected to read.

Neo-Con Tastic said...

Wow, a tad lengthy but quite fulfilling. The problem is - this "Whopper" Dan will never make it through the whole post. Not only will it require complete thought and a college-level reading ability, but rational requirements as well.

Billiam said...

Excellent post, Dad. I'm going to have to go over it a couple more times. There are words in there I need to look up, to better understand the meaning put forth. Makes me wish I'd gone to college. I read at that level, have since 8th grade, but am WAY out of practice at this depth of thinking. Looks like I have homework!

Brother James said...

So, even with an interdict and excommunication, this 'catholic' theologian persists in his heresies, hoping that he'll be vindicated by Pope Joan II? I wonder if one could slap a 'deception in advertising' type suit to make this guy stop telling people that he's catholic, when it's obvious that he has every desire of being an Episcopalien? The University should police its theology department a little better, unless Dan's a proxy for expressing the university administration's dissent.

Can the bishop do anything? The CDF? Anyone?

Anonymous said...

Loved your pithy Bat plane post.