The Synod Path held its first Assembly from January 30 to February 1, 2020. The aim was to discuss the content of the four themes of the synod forums and to select the subjects to be treated. Cardinal Reinhard Marx president of the German Episcopal Conference (DBK) and Professor Thomas Sternberg, president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) appeared to be satisfied.
The Synodal Assembly meeting uses an instrumentum laboris (working document) which brings together several working documents. These texts, which are to serve as a basis for discussion, have been developed in the forums. Our previous article presented the first document, the most important in terms of ecclesiological content. This article is devoted to the second forum document which deals with sexual morality.
The text produced by this second forum is particularly troublesome and revolting. But evidently, due to a certain divide among the participants, two parallel series of proposals were approved. One represents “the majority in action”—in a proportion that is not indicated—and the other, a certain conservative minority, probably large enough to make itself heard.
The General Context
The document opens with general considerations explaining the chosen methodology, which can be summarized as follows: the practices of contemporary society in sexual matters are a theological cause; to which is added the human sciences which constitute a second. These two points are contested by the minority position.
The text thus affirms: “The normative postulates of current Catholic sexual morality contradict the conclusions of the human sciences on the multiple dimensions of human sexuality. They also contradict the life experience and feelings of believers…Current sexual morality (for example on artificial contraception, homosexuality, the divorced and remarried) contradicts what believers perceive as a significant development of sexuality.”
This leads, even within the Church, to an appreciation of Catholic morality as a “morality of prohibition.” The recent scandals have increased this perception, clerics being regarded as Pharisees, i.e., not living up to “their own high moral standards.” This gap must be filled by re-building the moral doctrine on a new basis.
Finally, we must put an end to “Augustine’s” pessimistic vision of sexuality which unfortunately still has effects on doctrinal declarations: in particular Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae vitae on artificial contraception and the Catechism of the Church Catholic. We must take up the line of the Second Vatican Council and its “holistic personal understanding of marriage.”
Basic Principle of This Reconstruction
The text posits a completely biased principle: “The ideal of sexuality based on love is today deeply rooted in the minds and hearts of people. The fundamental values of the sexual morality of the Church are shared by many (love, fidelity, exclusiveness, parental responsibility). But… in a society founded on the Christian principle of freedom of conscience, the ways of man are individualized and pluralized.”
The minority have no difficulty in emphasizing “that there is an obvious gap between the understanding of fidelity associated with Christian marriage and the understanding of fidelity of many people. The majority of people consider fidelity to be of great value, but only as long as the two partners love each other: for many this is limited fidelity. This obvious inconsistency in the understanding of fidelity must be corrected.”
This reservation does not prevent the majority from expounding that: “The norms of the sexual morality of the Church must be revised with regard to the principles of moral values” and their communication. Moreover, the Church has “often been guilty concerning believers because of the way in which it has transmitted its sexual doctrine, often giving priority to coercion rather than free motivation.” This is why it is perceived as “a moral agency.” And they underscore with satisfaction the German bishops’ mea culpa on this point, during the autumn 2015 Synod on the Family.
Principles of a Renewed Sexual Ethics
On the basis of such rather exaggerated generalities, the revolutionaries claim to have transformed the morality of the Sixth Commandment.
“Sexuality must be understood as a capacity given by God to shape intimate human relationships ...Human scientific discoveries on human sexuality (psychology, sociology, anthropology) help to broaden the anthropological basis of Catholic sexual ethics.” In particular, they make it possible to move from “a strong structure of prohibition, which sees sexual activity exclusively in marriage, strongly oriented towards reproduction,” to “an enhancement of the multiple functions of human sexuality which determine its meaning.”
And again: “The results of the human sciences prove that the concept of what is natural is too narrowly defined; human sexuality reduced exclusively to reproduction draws its normative conclusions on a far too narrow anthropological basis.” Indeed, “sexuality is used not only to reproduce, but also to acquire pleasure, to cultivate relationships, to find and to ensure one's identity… Marriage is not the only legitimate place for sexuality.”
In other words, the movement initiated by the Second Vatican Council on the ends of marriage, and pursued by the new Code of Canon Law (1983) has arrived at its end: the secondary end of marriage—the mutual support of the spouses—has definitively taken precedence over the primary end—the procreation and education of children. The reversal is complete, as confirmed by the rest of the text.
This exposes “the current point of view of moral theology” which consists of two elements: responsible human sexuality that “requires the integration of all values”; but this is only required “for the partnership in its entirety and not for each individual action.” This is why “sexual acts remain morally valid, even if they do not take into account all the factors at the same time.”
The minority recalls, by the way, that any “fault” takes away the good: it must be integral to claim to be good. To use the vocabulary of the text, all the “factors at the same time” are necessary, otherwise we are in the presence of evil. It only takes one defect to spoil a work.
The Morality of Sexual Acts
Anything can be justified with such principles. “Not every sexual act must remain open to procreation… Family planning, even by means of artificial contraception, is not a hostile act, but supports the right of a couple to make a responsible joint decision on the number of children, the intervals between births, and the concrete means of family planning.” It’s the complete integration of Malthusianism.
Then comes the justification for what is unnatural: “The joyful experience of one’s own body (self sex) can also mean a responsible approach to one’s own sexuality. Homosexual acts also realize positive meaningful values, insofar as they are an expression of friendship, reliability, loyalty, and support in life.” How can we measure the infamy of such statements, which praise particularly ignominious and grave sins?
Consequences for Marriage
Marriage is only “the best framework” compared to other situations for optimal development of human sexuality and personal development. But “because of the many vagaries of life, it is not possible for everyone to enter this superior form of partnership relations,” and “to remain abstinent in such life situations, which are often not freely chosen, is an undue hardship for many people who are affected by it.” This is purely and simply the negation of the virtue of chastity and the help that comes from the grace of God.
Hence the proposition: “the relationship of unmarried persons, provided that their bond is permanent and exclusive, is a modern form of clandestine marriage (sic); in this perspective, the common sex life of these couples must be appreciated positively, provided that they do not harm anyone, respect each other, and treat each other as partners.” This is the outright destruction of marriage, which is no longer a true contract.
Evaluation of Homosexuality
It only remains to find a way of justifying the worst, namely the union between people of the same sex: “relationships in which values such as love, friendship, responsibility, fidelity, and reciprocity are lived during each others lifetime, deserve moral recognition and respect, regardless of their sexual orientation.” With such principles, the mafia deserves recognition and respect ... because one can find there friendship, loyalty, reciprocity, etc.
“This approach applies to same-sex spouses as well as to divorced and remarried couples,” says the text. This is why “it is necessary to unconditionally recognize homosexual partnerships and to renounce morally disqualifying the sexual practice which results from it…The liturgical appreciation of these values must also be considered.” This is where such principles lead ...Justifying the sins of sodomites by going so far as to offer them God’s blessing.
The work could not be completed in the forum, the German bishops produced a text in which they acknowledge the naturalness of homosexuality.
Intrinsically bad actions may be mitigated. Theology uses these terms to designate moral acts which are never and under no circumstances justifiable. For our iconoclasts, this category has not been abandoned: “there will always be actions that cannot be approved in any case. These acts concern life and physical integrity (such as murder, torture, or ill-treatment). As far as homosexual acts are concerned, this discourse must be overcome.” As if moralists were free to change the nature of things, to “reclassify” vices into virtues, to call good evil and evil good (cf. Isaiah 5:20).
Another consequence is the rejection of “the old doctrine of the matrimonial goods, which saw in fidelity a remedy for concupiscence.” Because “sexuality serves to satisfy a fundamental human need, namely to build a protective space of intimacy and reliability; it transmits basic existential experiences such as security, self-confidence, and the capacity to take responsibility and dedicate oneself to others.”
This is why “people should not only have the right to say no to sexual acts they do not want, but also the right to say yes to sexual acts they do want and to be allowed to choose whom they love,” regardless of sexual orientation, or partnership.
What Remains of Catholic Morality?
Nothing. Nothing remains of Catholic morality in these texts. There, evil is called good and good is swallowed up by evil. The fact that the German bishops have authorized its publication, that they decided to discuss them in an assembly which wants to be a synod is already a sin in itself. That they can contemplate that these points might be adopted and then they continue to walk on this path of darkness is simply diabolical.
And that the Roman authorities, in particular the Pope, who have had these texts in their hands for several months, have said nothing, neither condemned, nor attempted to stop this insane process, is nothing more or less than madness or complicity.