instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Friday, December 05, 2003


Yesterday I wrote to Mark Shea:
The sentiments [of commenters at his blog who, among other things, would choose damnation over losing a war] make sense if sin is seen as the violation of a rule....

Damnation might even be preferable to an eternity with a god who would damn you for doing the right thing.

So maybe the problem is thinking sins are relative to some arbitrary and ad hoc rulebook, rather than to our very nature and being.
Today I read this, from John Allen's "The Word from Rome":
Nominalism, [Under-Secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith fr. Augustine] Di Noia[, OP,] argued, "let loose a catastrophe on the human race" by separating morality from anthropology... Imagine, he said, a mother cooking dinner who spots her child eating cookies. The mother could say, "eating cookies is forbidden in this house," appealing to her authority. Or she could say, "if you eat those cookies, you’ll spoil your appetite," appealing to a truth about human nature. Nominalism proposes the first kind of morality, Di Noia said, while Thomism proposes the second.

Speaking of nominalism, Di Noia said: "The prevalence of this kind of moral theology gave rise to the intolerable tensions experienced by many Catholics in the face of the moral teaching of Humanae Vitae – and eventually the entirety of Christian teaching about human sexuality – which seemed to impose an outdated moral obligation whose connection with the human good was either denied or dismissed, or more commonly, simply not apparent." ...

Di Noia said the aim of John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor was to resuscitate a natural law approach to morality, one that sees obedience of moral commands "not as the suppression of the human person, but its perfection."
I think Bishop-Elect Fr. DiNoia may be onto something. I suspect, though, that the problem doesn't extend only in the direction of National Catholic Reporter stalwarts.