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By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

7/8/2013 (9 months ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Gathering all these pieces together, we can say that the encyclical points out that there is an indissoluble link between faith and our ability to see the natural moral law, to use practical reason, and to follow the natural moral law as a means for overcome selfishness and being able to enter into a true dialogue with God.

Article Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

7/8/2013 (9 months ago)

Published in Year of Faith

Keywords: Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei, faith, common good, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, Andrew M. Greenwell


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - In his first encyclical entitled Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis focused on the theological virtue of faith.  It is apparent that Pope Francis sees the Catholic faith (and disbelief in the Catholic faith) as having deep social (as well as eternal) consequences. 

The Catholic faith is part of the "common good."  (LF, Nos. 50-51, 55)  It follows that disbelief in God and the concomitant relativism in ethics that follows in its wake are not part of the "common good." 

Disbelief in God, which leads to moral relativism, is not a common good.  People do not flourish when they do not believe in God and believe that good is relative.  In the "absence of the light" of faith, "everything comes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil," and we find ourselves apace on "roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere."  (LF, No. 2)  "When faith is weakened, the foundations of humanity also risk being weakened."  (LF, No. 55)

In the encyclical, Pope Francis teaches that there is a link, no an inextricable bond, between faith and morals.  There is an important connection, the encyclical points out, between faith and the Ten Commandments. 

Faith in the living God allows us to see that the Ten Commandments are "not a set of negative commands."  Rather, they are "concrete directions for emerging from the desert of the selfish and self-enclosed ego in order to enter into dialogue with God, to be embraced by his mercy, and then to bring that mercy to others."  (LF, No. 46)

Because there is an intimate connection between faith and the Ten Commandments, it necessarily follows that there is an intimate connection between faith and the natural moral law. 

After all, the Ten Commandments are merely "a privileged expression of the natural law."  CCC § 2070.  Though the Ten Commandments were revealed by God to Moses, their content is "accessible to reason alone."  CCC § 2070.  In his Summa Theologiae, St. Thomas equated the Ten Commandments with the natural moral law.  S.T. IaIIae, q. 100, art. 1, c.

Gathering all these pieces together, we can say that the encyclical points out that there is an indissoluble link between faith and our ability to see the natural moral law, to use practical reason, and to follow the natural moral law as a means for overcome selfishness and being able to enter into a true dialogue with God.

Now, one of those Ten Commandments, the Sixth, is "You shall not commit adultery."  (Ex. 20:14; Deut. 5:18)  CCC Part III, Sec. 2, Chap. 2, art. 6.  The Church has always understood this commandment as "encompassing the whole of human sexuality."  CCC § 2336.

Both reason and revelation tell us that God created us male and female.  Both reason and revelation tell us that this sexual complementarity between the sexes is ordered toward "the goods of marriage and the flourishing of family life." CCC § 2333.

Both reason and revelation also tell us that all men and women are called to chastity.  Anyone who is curious about that can, as anecdotal evidence, read St. Jerome's treatise Against Jovinianus, where he cites to multiple examples of how chastity was revered among the pagans.

"Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of his bodily and spiritual being.  Sexuality, in which man's belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman."  CCC § 2337

Chastity is a human, natural moral virtue, not an exclusively Christian one (though Christians may enjoy chastity as a grace).  That is why right reason sees its value, though often (because of our fallen nature or wicked customs) individual persons and even whole cultures have failed, in various ways, to see its moral importance. 

One of the more serious offenses against chastity is homosexuality, defined as sexual relations between men or between women.  Both right reason and revelation find homosexual acts to be acts of great depravity. 

"Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.'"  CCC § 2357.  They are, in addition, "contrary to the natural law," and therefore apparently evil even to unaided reason.  Id.

Because faith and morals are so intertwined, the loss of faith can lead to a collapse in morals.  Conversely, chronic living in sin can lead to the loss of faith.

The support by many Catholics of homosexual sexual activity and same-sex "marriage," which shows a wholesale disregard for the Sixth Commandment, is a sign of the collapse of faith among those Catholics. 

In a poll by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), the majority of Catholics polled favored same-sex "marriage."  In a recent poll by Quinnipiac University, it was suggested that perhaps as much as 54 percent of Catholics support same-sex "marriage."  Granted, the polls may be subject to criticism and the figures overstated, but the fact that any substantial percentage of Catholics support homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle and seek its normalization, even legal protection, in same sex "marriages" indicates a collapse of faith.

It ought not to surprise us that the loss of belief in God, the only God with a face--that is God the Creator, the same God as the God of Israel and the God of Jesus Christ--has led to this moral capitulation to the godless.  The Catholics who, in violation of the precepts of the Sixth Commandment, support homosexual activity and same-sex "marriage" have, it would seem, built for themselves faceless gods--idols, and these idols have put us on the path of moral dissolution.

St. Paul links homosexual activity to a disbelief in God the Creator.  "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against ungodliness and wickedness of men."  (Rom. 1:18).  Rejection of God leads to idolatry, the exchanging "the glory of the immortal God for images resembling man or birds or animals or reptiles."  (Rom. 1:23)

The exchange of faith in God who is outside of our control for false faith in the idols of one's own making results in the collapse of sexual morality.  Invariably, lust raises its head, which leads to impurity, and which leads to the acting out of dishonorable passions, including homosexuality, where "women exchange natural relations for unnatural," and men "likewise give up natural relations with women are consumed with passion for one another."  (Rom. 1:27)

Catholic support for the homosexual agenda at any level shows a collapse of the faith, a collapse in morality.  Those who support such things have "exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images," for false gods without a face. 

Be not fooled by lukewarm complacency: if you do not see the morally aberrant nature of homosexual activity, you do not have the faith. 

Be not trapped by the conventional lies of the day: if you do not see the moral viciousness of same-sex "marriage" and how detrimental it is to marriage and to human society, you do not have the faith.

In his encyclical, Pope Francis calls these Catholics, as well as others who have given their life to idols, to conversion, a conversion of heart and mind and life to the one and only true God.

"Faith, tied as it is to conversion, is the opposite of idolatry; it breaks with idols to turn to the living God in a personal encounter.  Believing means entrusting oneself to a merciful love which always accepts and pardons, which sustains and directs our lives, and which shows its power by its ability to make straight the crooked lines of our history." (LF, No. 13)

"Faith" the Pope continues, "consists in the willingness to let ourselves be constantly transformed and renewed by God's call.  Herein lies the paradox: by constantly turning towards the Lord, we discover a sure path which liberates us from the dissolution imposed upon us by idols."

The lines of our country's history are crooked, they must be made straight.  The paths we are on lead nowhere; we need to find the sure path.

It is only by smashing our idols, accepting whole and entire the faith once delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3), the faith proposed to us by the Magisterium of the Church, the faith which is the subject matter of Pope Francis's encyclical Lumen Fidei, and boldly insisting that it is part of the common good, that hope will rise in turning the tide of practical atheism and relativism, where there is no such thing as Truth, and no such thing as Good.

Lumen Fidei is nothing less than an expansion of this Scripture: "If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land."  (2 Chr. 7:14)

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Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

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Pope Francis calls for your 'Prayer and Action'


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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women:
That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.



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