The Deliquescent Hermeneutic of Moral Mensheviks

Today’s neo-conservatives in the Church — also called “neo-Catholics” — are the doctrinal, moral, and theological equivalent of Russia’s revolutionary Mensheviks. As Solzhenitsyn often said, Mensheviks prepare the field for Bolsheviks (as did the Girondins for the Jacobins).

Dr. Jeffrey Mirus is one such. He has recently declared that there is room for considering what he calls “the Kasper Proposal,” because it is not, after all, a question of dogma, but one of “sacramental discipline.” This deliquescent notion of church discipline would reduce capitulations in fundamental areas of the divinely revealed Moral Law to matters the Church can legislate with her human ecclesiastical law. That’s wrong full stop.

“Proper distinctions” must be made, after all, between Church discipline and Church doctrine says Dr. Mirus. But he writes as if the mere fiat of the ecclesiastical legislator is all that is needed to make something right, even when that thing contradicts the contents of the Deposit of the Faith.

Apparently assailed by objections to his initial piece, Dr. Mirus expressed his frustration that readers drew the obvious horrible ramifactions from what he wrote — “I confess I am astonished that any reader could suppose I was unaware of so obvious an argument.” Because of this, his follow-up piece had a twofold purpose: 1) to explain that there are three conditions for a sin to be mortal, and 2) to draw profoundly expansive conclusions from that truth.

Just as there is a very important distinction between discipline and doctrine, there is also a very important distinction between objective grave matter and subjective culpability for mortal sin.

Having catechized his readership about these fundamentals, Dr. Mirus proceeds to explain that people who are objectively living in gravely immoral cohabitation might be subjectively innocent of the sin. For such people, the Church could allow for the “Kasper proposal.” (In justice to Dr. Mirus, it must be said that he does not like the proposal.)

In this Kasperite marriage, which is not a sacrament, the non-husband and non-wife may live in a simulacrum of Christian matrimony while also living a fully sacramental life in the Church. They are, in fact, not married, but because they did not have sufficient reflection in the intellect or full consent in the will when they entered into this relationship, they are not in mortal sin.

Some questions come to mind:

  • So that the couple can preserve its presumed state of innocence, in the careful pastoral process of discerning whether they are fit for a Kasperite marriage, will the Church be careful to keep them ignorant of the fact that adulterous cohabitation is grave matter?
  • How can the Church do so without failing in her mission to teach the truth about Matrimony, Penance, and the Eucharist?
  • Will pastors advise the couple not to give the full consent of their will to what they are, in fact, doing — namely, living in an habitual state that their conscience is already telling them is serious enough to keep them away from the sacraments?
  • Or, since that is psychologically impossible, will the Church’s pastors simply lie, and tell the couple that living in adulterous cohabitation is not a sin?
  • How will the Church discern that the two subjective aspects of mortal sin do not exist in the cases of both man and woman without letting the cat out of the bag with the couple? (Because, remember, for a sin to be mortal, there have to be both 1) sufficient reflection in the intellect and 2) full consent in the will in addition to grave matter. As long as grave matter persists, at least one of these other two have to be kept permanently suspended. Ignorance is probably the best solution, which may explain the state of present day catechesis.)
  • Will this logic be extended to others who habitually commit grave matter? (Say, homosexual men who are not “ready” to separate or live as “brother and brother,” but feel compelled to continue to commit unnatural acts of lust? Remember, the same faction that are campaigning for Kasperite marriage also tell us that the Church values what is good in these unnatural unions.)
  • If the Church will not extend this principle to other areas of habitual grave matter, why not? It’s all a matter of “discipline” after all, and not “doctrine.”
  • Applying this to the sin of onanism, should we not simply give a sacramental pass to couples using forbidden chemicals or contraptions to separate the two ends of matrimony? (This is, in fact, done by many priests, but does Dr. Mirus approve?)

My old friend John Zmirak is correct in his observation that entitles his article on the subject: “No Marriage, No Papacy: If The Pope Endorses Polygamy, That Spells The End of Catholic Claims.”