Tuesday, February 05, 2008

What's This Got to Do With RCIA

RCIA was where, as a team member, I first ran into the Catholic Updates. And, several times, grew to loath them:

Bulit-in fuzziness: "You'll recall that last month I fisked an egregious Catholic Update written by Xavier University's Ken Oberberg, S.J., that the Franciscans at American Catholic posted to their web page devoted to the 2008 National Prayer Vigil for Life.

Diogenes looks at the same piece and finds a 'built-in fuzziness.' (And take note of John Finnis's clarifying explanation of the operation of moral norms.)

To repeat: consistency in one's ethical commitments is a good thing, and recent popes have given us excellent guidance in defending human life across the board. But too often the 'consistent ethic' language is employed to smother pro-life action even as it pretends to incite it. Far too many progressivist Christians keep mum about abortion and euthanasia for forty month stretches, and then when there's an election underway cram the 'life issue' full of Leftist entitlements in order to stuff it down our throat like a sock. As one specimen among many, here's a forward-thinking Christian ethicist, coaching us in consistency:
If we are consistent, we must speak and act concerning abortion and euthanasia but also concerning welfare and immigration, sexism and racism, cloning and health-care reform, trade agreements and sweatshops, the buying and selling of women for prostitution, genocide and many other issues. Based on our ancient Scriptures and attentive to contemporary experiences, the consistent ethic of life provides an ethical framework for confronting the moral dilemmas of a new millennium. It helps us to promote the full flourishing of all life.

All the key distinctions are blurred here. The built-in fuzziness helps to camouflage the truth that, by their nature, absolute moral norms have priority over moral norms that are not absolute. Moral absolutes, as John Finnis writes
are negative norms (praecepta negativa) which hold good always and on every occasion (semper et ad semper), whereas the many other essential and affirmative moral principles and norms (praecepta affirmativa) hold good semper sed non ad semper -- are always somehow relevant but leave it to your moral judgment to discern the times, places, and other circumstances of their directiveness.

(Via Ten Reasons.)

No comments: