Choose a topic from Vol 4:

Religion - Yes or No

Necessity of Religion
Reality of Religious Experience
Religion and life
Religious statistics
Nature of religion
Necessity of worship
Neglect of religion
Religion and history
Conversion of mankind

The Christian Church

Nature of the Church
Necessity of the Church
Visible organisation
Hierarchical constitution
Papal supremacy
Perpetuity of the Church

"This Shall Be the Sign"

Notes of identification
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolic succession
"Roman" but not "Roman Catholic"

Dogmatic Authority of the Church

Authority in religion
Catholic Church infallible
The Pope infallible
Papal definitions
Dogmatic spirit of the Catholic Church
"Religion of the spirit"
Individual freedom
Re-stating Christianity
Athanasian Creed
Meaning of faith
Faith and reason
Faith and science
Religion and education
Religion and morals
Catholic countries backward
Universities and religion
Natural Moral Law
Christian principles of morality
Catholicism versus the world

The Power-Complex Illusion

Legislative power of the Catholic Church
Coercive power of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church and political ambitions
Divided allegiance of Catholics
Rome and totalitarianism
Aim of the Catholic Church in America
Catholic Action
Political freedom of Catholics
Catholic infiltration of civic life
Catholicism anti-democatic
Rival totalitarianisms, Rome and Moscow
Catholic attitude to Protestants
Spanish Inquisition
Church and State
Federal Union or "One World State"

Life-Or-Death Social Problems

Social reform necessary
Socialism
Trade unions
Communism
Protestant Churches and Communism
Capitalism
Social apathy of Churches
Catholic social teaching
Marriage
Family life
Primary purpose of marriage
Religion and marriage
Form of marriage
Mixed marriages
Birth control
"Catholic birth control"
Divorce and re-marriage
Catholics and civil divorce
Nullity decrees
Therapeutic abortion
Euthansia or mercy-killing
War

Those Exclusive Claims

Divided Christendom
Do divisions matter?
The "Only True Church" claims
Cause of sectarian bigotry
Reunion Movement
Catholic non-cooperation

Religious Liberty

Religious freedom
Catholic intolerance
Protestants and the principles of religious liberty
Rome and the "Four Freedoms"
Heresy and heretics
Religious rights of Protestants
Religious persecution
Anti-semitism
"Rome's historical record"
Protestant missionaries in Spain
In Italy
In South America
Conditions in Colombia

Are Only Catholics Saved

"Outside the Catholic Church no salvation"
Beliefs of Catholics
Salvation of Pagans
Salvation of Protestants
Why become a Catholic?
Duty of inquiry
Salvation of apostate Catholics
Test at the Last Judgment
Obstacles to conversion
Truth of Catholicism

Christian principles of morality

583. Is there a religious as well as an empirical, social and psychological basis of ethics?

There is. And any merely empirical, or merely social, or merely psychological basis of ethics is simply left in mid-air, and devoid of any solid foundation without it.

584. If so, what is this basis?

The only sound and ultimate basis is the Will of God, whether known naturally by analysis of the rational nature with which God has endowed man, or known supernaturally by divine revelation.

585. Why must there be such a basis?

Because morality of its very nature supposes a duty to do one thing rather than another. If there be no duty, if one ought not to do this or abstain from doing that, then there is neither morality or immorality. The choice would not be a matter of conscience at all. But once we raise the question of duty the problem arises: Duty to whom? In the end we come to the Will of God that the moral law should be observed, or there is no sufficient reason for morality. I cannot here explain and refute all substitute foundations suggested by men who say they want morality without God. I can but state the reason why God must be the ultimate basis— and that means a religious basis—if morality is to stand at all. The same thing holds for sin. Sin is an immoral act. It is defined as any voluntary offense against the Will or Law of God in thought, word, deed or omission. The Law of God, of course, covers duties to Himself personally, duties to ourselves in our own individual conduct, and duties to our neighbors in social conduct. But once the idea of God and the religious basis of ethics are abandoned, the word sin loses its meaning. That is why irreligious men quite logically end by denying that there is any such thing as sin.

586. What is your definition of right and wrong?

That is morally right which is in conformity with the Will of God, The Will of God is manifested in three different ways. Firstly, by the natural moral law. Thus things are right if they are in accordance with the true purpose of our rational human nature. Things are morally wrong if they are opposed to the true good of the rational nature God has given us. Secondly, over and above this natural moral law which a well-trained reason can formulate for itself, God has given us additional laws of conduct by revelation. It is morally right that we should observe these also, and morally wrong to violate them. Thirdly, God has instituted the Catholic Church, giving that Church authority to legislate in His name. Thus Christ said to the Apostles: "Whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound also in Heaven; and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed also in Heaven." Matt., XVIII, 18. It is morally right, therefore, to obey the Will of God as manifested by the legislation of the Catholic Church; morally wrong to violate it. To justify the claims of the Catholic Church to speak with the authority of God I must refer you to earlier chapters in this book.

587. To my mind morality should not be based on any alleged divine "fiats".

That God imposes moral obligations upon us both by the natural moral law and by His positively revealed law is not merely an allegation. There is more than sufficient evidence for the manifestation of divine authority, and it is not so easily swept aside as you imagine. In the meantime, if morality is not based upon the authority of God as the Author of the moral law, then there is no real foundation for morality at all.

588. It should be based upon an enlightened humanism and an intelligent appreciation that certain actions are anti-social, injurious to health, and ungentlemanly.

Those considerations do not explain why there should be any morality I t0 at all, based on anything. Nor will they pass muster as tests of morality. IL By the time you have defined what you mean by "enlightened humanism" I j| you will find multitudes who regard it as neither enlightened nor human. | Your talk of an intelligent appreciation that certain actions are anti-social j invites the retort that morality often demands the stand of an individual | against what may be socially expedient. Expediency, whether individual or social, is no necessary indication of what is morally right. Nor is the | health of an individual or of a nation a reliable test of morality, as if that only was morally wrong which is deleterious to health. As for making the "ungentlemanly" the test of what is morally wrong, you there appeal to variable conventions which can afford no sound guidance as to what is or is not right in itself. According to the accepted standards of a cannibal tribe, it might not be in the least "ungentlemanly" to murder and ! eat your rival in love. Yet objectively such conduct is not morally justifiable. Those who reject the authority of God cannot explain the fact of moral obligation experienced by men; they cannot give any sound reason why men should heed their'sense of moral obligation; and they cannot declare with any certainty what should be regarded as morally right or morally wrong. The logical result of ethics without God is simply the absence of morals.

589. It all comes to this, that the basis of right and wrong lies in conduct towards one's fellows.

Social relationships are not the basis of morality. They afford one field in which morality must be exercised. The basis of morality must be sought elsewhere. And it is to be found in the natural moral law antecedent to all social organization—a natural law which is the Will of God for man both as an individual and as a social being. Without that basis there is no sound foundation for morality at all, and the suggestion that a man ought to be moral is meaningless.

590. The moral sense or conscience is the outcome of social relations, themselves the outcome of the need of living.

Social relations are the outcome of the need of living, in so far man's very nature impels him not only to live but to live as a social being. Man did not give himself that nature. He was given it by the God who made him. But besides this physical and psychological law of our being, God has imposed a moral law, manifested by conscience and dictating proper behavior in our personal lives and in our social relationships. Proper social relationships are the outcome of the moral sense, which is therefore antecedent to social relationships of its very nature. The ultimate criterion of moral conduct cannot be merely social expediency. Were it so it would be quite moral for a man to murder his aging parents as sdon as he decided that they were no longer of use to society.

591. Where there is no society there can be no sin.

Surely you can see the falsity of that. For society is merely a multitude of human beings. Morality cannot be based on the mere fact of multitude. It is based on the fact that human beings make up that multitude. And it is due to the human nature possessed by each of the individuals concerned.

592. A man spending his entire life without social contact could only be un-moral, never immoral.

Do you really mean that such an isolated individual would be subject to no moral law at all, and that nothing he did or omitted to do would be virtuous or vicious, morally right or morally wrong? You would probably not be impressed by my referring to any religious duties to God, though I maintain that he would be obliged to fulfill those. But what of the, moral law dictating duties towards his own rational nature? It would be immoral for your isolated individual to take his own life by suicide. But even short of that, would you maintain that it would not be immoral for him to ruin his health by gluttony or drunkenness? Previously you said that conduct deleterious to health would violate morality. Or again, would you admit that your isolated individual could sin by yielding to lust, solitary vice, or even bestiality? Your theories really will not bear rational analysis.

593. I would say that the happy man is the one whose sense of duty or conscience - his inner ethical guide - runs smoothly on the lines of the old-fashioned virtues, with or without religion.

n a sense that is true. But even to speak of ordinary civic and Christian virtues as "old-fashioned" is a sad admission of the moral breakdown in modern society. That moral breakdown has followed upon the driftage from religion and has arisen from it. Dr. Alexis Carrel says, in his book, "Man the Unknown," that unbelief is destroying civilization. And he Writes: "Unintelligence is becoming more and more widespread in spite of the courses given in the schools, colleges and universities. Strange to say, it often exists with advanced scientific knowledge. The moral sense is almost completely ignored by modern society." That is the fruit of irreligion, fostered by only too many agnostic university professors.

594. If a school of ethical research were established on a basis of a reasoned approach to the subject it might remove the objections of critical philosophy to the system of Christian morals.

A school of ethical research should examine the teachings of modern critical philosophy, expose its moral bankruptcy and its logical fallacies, and establish sound principles of moral science. There is no reason why we should uncritically accept the verdict of destructive modern philosophers who happen to be popular in a degenerate age. Such a school should establish the truth that not hedonism, or pleasure-seeking; not utilitarianism, or mere expediency; but the right, the honest and the good as approved by right reason, constitute the true and natural criterion of moral conduct. And it should refute the nonsense that sound moral philosophy is necessarily or in any way opposed to the Christian religion.

595. The world today seems to have reached an all-time high for licentiousness and moral indifference; and a large section has grown up in total ignorance of the law of God.

That could possibly be admitted as regards the revealed law of God; but I do not think total ignorance of the natural moral law could be admitted. Every human being has at least a natural conscience and is made conscious in some things that he is violating the moral law, however inadequate may be his knowledge of all that should be classed as immoral.

596. Pope Pius XII said in a recent broadcast that perhaps "the greatest sin in the world today is that men have begun to lose their sense of sin." But if they lose their sense of sin, they cannot distinguish between right and wrong.

If the Pope meant merely that men are losing their sensitiveness to sin, so that they just do not care whether a thing be right or wrong, it would not follow that men could not distinguish between right and wrong. In that case they could, but would not bother trying to do so; and that would mean bad faith on their part. If, however, the Pope meant that men are losing their knowledge of what is right and wrong, then in the degree in which people do lose that knowledge they would be unable to distinguish between right and wrong. But the Pope's words certainly do not mean that people are entirely without such knowledge.

597. If people are unable to distinguish between right and wrong, then they are not responsible for their actions.

That would follow if it were through no fault of their own that they were unable to distinguish between right and wrong. It would not follow, if they themselves were to blame for arriving at such a state. There is such a thing as guilty ignorance. People cannot escape responsibility for their actions against the moral law on the plea that they did not know their actions to be morally wrong if the moral law was one which they could have known and should have known. If they do not know such actions to be morally wrong, it is because they have deliberately chosen to be ignorant lest knowledge of the law should interfere with what, in their bad will, they have determined to do. That this is blameworthy before God is evident from Holy Scripture which declares: "Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter." Is., V, 20.

598. In deciding between right and wrong, philosophy, which wants everything proved by reason, is naturally antagonistic towards faith

Some professors of philosophy who have no faith may be antagonistic towards it; but genuine philosophy is not. The methods of philosophy and faith differ, in so far as philosophy requires the demonstration of its conclusions by reason whilst faith accepts what God reveals because God has revealed it. But reason and faith are in no way antagonistic. They complete each other. In fact, without the help of revelation, fallible human reason often goes astray in its own field; and it is always inadequate without religion which directly relates us to the God who made us. The subject matter of ethics, therefore, is common both to philosophy and religion, the one contributing truth as discovered by reason, the other contributing truth as made known by revelation.

599. How can one distinguish between God's laws and man's laws?

God's laws are known, either by a study of the natural moral law, or by a study of divine revelation. All laws apart from those could be called man-made laws. But man-made laws can indirectly be God's laws also, in so far as God Himself sanctions the authority of human legislation within its own proper limits. Thus, indirectly, children obey God's law when they obey their parents in the home; citizens when they obey civil authorities in social life. If, however, any human being commands us to do what we know God positively forbids, then we have a man-made law which has no authority and which we are bound to ignore. In such cases we must obey God rather than man.

600. As regards the observance of the moral law, religion introduces the dogma of original sin.

The Catholic Church certainly teaches that our first parents sinned against God's express commands, and earned for themselves and their posterity a legacy of inherent unruliness and disorder. This doctrine of inherited original sin means that we are a guilty race, needing redemption, and constantly needing the help of divine grace if we are to overcome the additional difficulties our warped human nature finds in its efforts to observe the moral law.

601. I maintain that all children are born good.

They are certainly born without any personally acquired bad habits. But to maintain that children are born with human nature as it ought to be, and without any innate tendency or liability to perversity, is to maintain a theory quite opposed to experience. The fact is that everybody, with growing consciousness, finds all kinds of desires opposed to reason awakened and making rebellious demands. As soon as a child is capable of choice it again and again ^finds itself choosing evil rather than good. G. K. Chesterton was right in retorting to a friend who denied original sin: "Well, old man, the only thing you know about original innocence is that you never had it."

602. Man's innate tendency is to do the right thing.

That is not his only innate tendency. He also has a tendency to do the wrong thing. St. Paul wrote: "I see another law in my members fighting against the law of my mind." Rom., VII, 23. His experience of the existence in himself of the two laws, the law of good and the law of evil, is the experience of every man. The pagan poet Ovid bore testimony to the fact when he wrote: "I see the better things and approve of them; yet I do the worse."

603. Man is more and more coming to realize that badly regulated conduct is not morally evil or sinful, but simply stupid.

Not man, but some men who have abandoned religion in favor of sheer materialism try to persuade themselves and others that no conduct is wicked, but at worst only a mistake. That, however, is their form of wishful-thinking. There is such a thing as morally evil conduct. Men frequently and deliberately choose such conduct, under the influence of temptations from the devil, or from other evil men, or from their own unruly passions and desires. And they know that they are guilty in making such a choice, however they may try to deceive themselves into believing otherwise.

604. To account for evil, side by side with the dogma of original sin, the mediaeval Church invented the existence of a devil running riot in our midst.

The New Testament was not composed by the mediaeval Church. It was written in the first century. It records the assertion of Christ Himself, again and again, that the devil is an existent evil personality. It records St. Paul's warning to the Ephesians to put on the armor of God in order to resist the wiles of the devil; and also St. Peter's warning: "Your adversary the devil goeth about seeking whom he may devour." You may refuse to believe in this teaching of Christ and the Apostles; but you are not justified in treating it as an invention of the mediaeval Church.

604. I have read that the idea of torturing people in the Inquisition was to cleanse them of their sins.

You may dismiss that as so much nonsense. In fact you should dismiss as false about 90% of anything you read about the Spanish Inquisition in novels, and at least 50% of what you read in history books written in the Protestant tradition. More imaginative rubbish has been written about the Spanish Inquisition than about any other theme in history, Putting aside all exaggerations, we have to get down to the basic facts. They will often seem in these days ugly enough, and there is no need either to whitewash them or attempt to justify them. But there is need to try to understand them and make sure that we do not distort them.

605. Will you agree with the definition of immorality and sin as the inflicting of suffering on others to gain one's private ends?

No. It is of course immoral and sinful to inflict suffering on others in order to gain one's private ends. But that is an instance of immorality and sin, not a definition. To define immorality and sin you must say what those things are in themselves. It is useless to offer as a definition: "I think this thing is immoral," or "I think that action is sinful." If I am asked to define crime I would say that crime is the violating of the law of the land. All deliberate violations of the law of the land, in varying degrees, come under that. But I would not have defined crime by saying: "I define crime as the robbing of a taxi-driver." Of course, if I thought that robbing a taxi-driver was the only possible form of crime, then my definition would be adequate; but I would in fact be wrong. The infliction of suffering on others to gain one's private ends is not the only possible form of immorality and sin. To tell a deliberate lie is immoral, although far from being prompted by cruelty it could be prompted by kindness. To indulge in solitary personal vice is a sin, even though it inflicts no suffering on others in order to gain one's private ends. Sin is a deliberate violation of God's Law in thought, word, deed or omission.

606. Must a sinner intend consciously to flaunt his proposed act in the face of God before it can be a sin?

No. It is enough that a person deliberately and knowingly decides to do what his conscience tells him to be morally wrong. He has not consciously to resolve to offend God. Most people, when they sin, are thinking of the wrong thing they intend to do, not precisely of the wrong they; are doing to God.

607. The Catholic Church still promotes the lowest form of morality by teaching the old type of heaven and hell mythology.

Heaven and hell are not "mythology." If they are, then Christianity is merely another mythological religion, for the doctrines of heaven and hell are woven into its whole fabric. If they are mere fables then Christianity itself is a mere fable. If they are false doctrines, then Christianity is false; and to maintain that would require the wholesale denial of historical evidence. Nor is it the lowest form of morality to do good and avoid evil in view of a promised heaven or a threatened hell. For those doctrines reflect God's supreme approval of good and His supreme disapproval of evil. And motives relating to God are higher than any on a lower level.

608. This reward and punishment motive is a most dangerous incentive even as regards morality itself.

It could be, if Christianity offered it as the only motive of one's conduct. For then one would be fostering only mercenary selfish desires and fears. There would be no love of goodness for its own sake, and one would remain evil at heart. But that the heaven and hell motive is not the only motive does not mean that heaven and hell should be denied, nor that one should refuse to take them into consideration. God is both Eternal Love and Eternal Justice. Our conduct towards Him must be regulated by both considerations. If men omit the thought of God's Love, they degrade Christian standards. If they omit the thought of God's Justice, they soon begin to interpret His Love as weakness and softness, as though He does not mind what they do. No one with any real understanding of Christ could accuse Him of offering dangerous incentives with His exhortations: "Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven" (Matt., V, 12), and said: "I will tell you whom to fear; fear ye Him who hath power to cast into hell." (Lk., XII, 5). The trouble is that, in an irreligious and material age, people do not like the thought of another world at all. They want to live for this world without any uncomfortable thoughts of responsibility beyond it^ But heaven and hell exist, and it is not morality but folly to ignore them.

609. Why is it that the experience of the centuries has shown that theological reprobation, even the fear of hell, is a pitiably feeble deterrent from sin?

The experience of centuries has not shown that. Sins and crimes without number have been prevented by the fear of hell, What the experience of centuries has shown is that people who believe in hell can become so absorbed by present visible and tangible realities that they fail to advert to the significance of the invisible realities in which they believe but which are not an immediate prospect to be encountered here and now. Under a present obsession they can dismiss the thought of them for the time being. But when they recover from their obsession, the fear that is the beginning of wisdom reasserts itself and leads them to/repentence, which in turn prepares them for higher motives. Meantime, if temporary forgetfulness of hell leads to occasional lapses amongst people who believe in it, much worse results occur amongst those Who repudiate all belief in hell and think they can do any evil with impunity, provided they are clever enough to escape human justice.

610. Does this not mean that the fear of death provides the chief motive for Christian morals?

No. The fear of death is a natural and instinctive fear which can exist equally in people with or without religion and morals. But the motive of Christian morality is an intelligent conviction of the existence of God, of our dependence upon Him, and of our duty to Him, together with a love for Him in our hearts and the will to conform to all that is just and good and pleasing in His sight.

611. You claim absolute authority for the teachings of the Philosopher of Galilee as to what things are just and good and pleasing to God?

You may intend your reference to Christ as the Philosopher of Galilee as a compliment; but if so it is one that borders on insult and blasphemy. Christ was not just another wise man; He was and is God. He spoke, not in the name of human philosophy, but with the authority of God. He gave us a divine revelation and a supernatural religion, not merely a system of human thought on the purely natural level.

612. Research into the ethical principles of all religions will discover that, in all lands and all faiths, the emphasis is upon those taught by Christ in Palestine 1954 years ago.

That is not true, The natural moral law can, of course, be known by reason, although reason left to itself has never succeeded perfectly in deciphering it. Whilst philosophers and religious teachers have sometimes rightly discerned its requirements and emphasized them, at other times they have fallen into gross errors concerning jit. On the other hand, without rejecting any part of the natural moral law but including it, Christ gave the higher precepts of a supernatural religion; and the things He most emphasized were not only not emphasized by other religions, but were simply unknown to them. At most those other religions can be said to have emphasized some of the principles of the natural moral law which are equally valid for all men everywhere, whether they be Christians or not.

613. To this extent most people would be willing to respect the moral teachings of Christ.

We cannot accept the suggestion that the teachings of Christ are to be regarded as acceptable because some of the things He taught were also taught by founders of other religions. His teachings are not to be regarded as right in so far as they agree with those of others, instead of their teachings being regarded as right in such points as happen to harmonize with His doctrines. The teachings of Christ are not to be tested by comparison with those of others. All other teachings are to be tested by comparison with His. His authority is divine, and supreme for all who profess to be Christians,

614. One point. Christ said: "Return good for evil." Confucius said, with a better ethical sense and 600 years previously: "If you return good for evil, what will you return for good? Is it not better to return good for good, and justice for evil?"

From the ethical point of view the opinion you attribute to Confucius is less perfect than the teaching of Christ. The answer to the question: "If you return good for evil, what will you return for good?" is easily perceived. One must return good for good also. The fact that you have treated a man well who has treated you badly does not make it impossible for you to treat a man well who has treated you well! The teaching that it is better to return good for good and justice for evil is not as noble an ethical standard as that of Christ who bids us rise above mere justice to forgiveness and generosity. I say "to rise above justice," for the Christian ideal is in no way against justice. Justice does not insist that we must always press our own rights; nor does it forbid our forgiving injuries and exercising generosity by bestowing favors on others who have so little deserved them. There is a magnanimity or greatness of soul suggested by the teaching of Christ which is absent from that of Confucius.

615. To my mind the teachings of Christ do not fit in with modern psychology.

If that be true, so much the worse for modern psychology!

615. Again and again, when discussing the matter with non- Catholics who throw the argument at me I have to admit my ignorance on the subject.

That ought not to disturb you. For you can be sure that if you do not know much about it, nor do they. Ask them when and by whom it was established, what was its constitution and mode of procedure, what were its terms of reference, what the particular nature of its jurisdiction and for how long it flourished, and you will find them floundering and compelled to admit their own ignorance.

616. According to the gospels He taught that not what enters a man from without can defile a man, but the things that come out of his heart, if his heart be evil, defile him.

Christ gave that teaching, stressing the fact that a man's goodness depends upon his inner character. If a man has mastered his evil tendencies, he is a good man. If he has let them master him, he is an evil man.

617. He even said, according to Mark, VII, 21-23, "From within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within and defile the man." Yet the very opposite of all this happens to be true.

You are quite mistaken.

618. Modern psychology tells us that it is unhealthy to prevent the natural outcome of our instinctive life.

Sound modern psychology does not tell anybody that. If any particular form of psychology does so, then it is a quack psychology, not worth the paper on which it is written.

619. The opinion of Christ, of course, probably reflected the ideas of his time.

Far from reflecting ideas current at the time, He was refuting the ideas then held by the Scribes and Pharisees, although on another subject altogether from the one to which you wish to apply His words.

620. If impulses are not allowed out of a man by self-expression, but are consciously repressed, they are driven down into the sub-conscious life, to become a buried-complex doing more harm to a man than ever.

You have quite wrong ideas on this subject. Sound modern psychology i§ in no way opposed to resisting any conscious desire. When it speaks of repressed and buried complexes, it means impulses and desires of which we are not conscious at all. The psychiatrist has to try to get them up from the sub-conscious to the conscious level, precisely that we may be able to deal with them. Resisting an evil conscious desire never did anyone any harm yet. And it is necessary to resist such evil desires if we are to come to any good at all.

621. Anti-social impulses, of course, must be restrained, such as inclinations to commit murder, or to steal, because they affect others. But personal psychological and physiological needs which affect oneself only, or which satisfy the needs of other individuals with no anti-social consequences, are better fulfilled than denied.

Your carefully chosen words cannot conceal your plea for a permissible solitary or promiscuous immorality. You are, of course, illogical. For according to your own principles the repression of impulses even in the direction of anti-social sins such as murder or theft would warp a man's character, creating buried-complexes in his sub-conscious life. But people overlook logic when their main purpose is to justify immorality by indulging in sins of the flesh. And it is chiefly on behalf of that form of self-indulgence that a few modern quack psychologists urge their views.

622. They are the wrong ideas inherited from Christian teachings such as those I have suggested which have caused most of the distress of neurotic people.

You mean, of course, that if people are disturbed in conscience when they do what they believe to be wrong, the road to peace of mind is to be found, not in ceasing to do wrong, but in getting rid of conscience. But that will not work for anyone who retains a trace of Christian faith. I go farther and say that it will not work for any reasonable human being, faith or no faith. Conscience may be ignored, but it cannot really be reduced to utter silence. Even if a man accepted your theory intellectually, his conscience would have none of it. With every indulgence in immoral impulses, his conscience would protest against such defilement, paying no attention to the new psychology. It would vindicate the teaching of Christ that evil things from within an evil mind and heart defile a man as often as they are allowed to have their way. Such a man may have hardened himself into paying no attention to the voice of conscience; but he knows quite well that if he listened to it, it would condemn his conduct.

623. If Christ has given us principles according to which we must regulate our conduct, what exactly and in detail are those principles?

It would take too long here to go through them all in detail. In general, He said: "If thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments" (Matt., XIX, 17). In the Sermon on the Mount, and in various parables, He insisted on the necessity of practicing the virtues of faith, hope and charity,, which are known as the theological virtues; and also prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance, which are known as the cardinal virtues. He also insisted upon our obligation to observe the laws of the Church He established, to which He gave the power to legislate in His name when He said: "Whatsoever you bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven" (Matt.,;i XVIII, 18). Our immediate guide as to what we are to do, religiously and morally, is the Catholic Church. In Catholic doctrines and precepts we will find the truth to be believed and the way to be followed, as prescribed by Christ.

624. Broadly speaking, people have turned to three places of authority to find out what is right and wrong, to the Bible, or to Conscience, or to the Church.

That is an over-simplification, for the Catholic at least believes in the authority of all three, Bible, Conscience and Church. The Catholic knows; that he must be true to his conscience. But he knows also that his conscience will be a right conscience, and not a mistaken one, if it is in harmony with the authoritative teachings of the Catholic Church. That the teachings of the Catholic Church contain the authentic interpretation of the natural moral law and of the revealed law of God as set forth in the Bible he knows with all the certainty of divine faith.

625. The Protestant Reformation substituted an infallible book, the Bible, for an infallible Church.

It is true that the first Protestant reformers, having rejected the infallible teaching-authority of the Catholic Church, declared that henceforth the Bible only, as the infallibly-inspired Word of God, was to be their guide.

626. Although I am a Protestant, I see the weakness of this claim. The Bible itself cannot speak to us, and on many issues it has to be wrestled with, if it is to be understood. Its guidance is not quickly and easily found, and it needs an interpreter.

During the 400 years since the Reformation Catholics have been saying precisely that, only to meet with heated denials from Protestant controversialists who insisted that any person had but to read the Bible for himself to get all the guidance he needed. The result has been, of course, all the conflicting views among Protestants, together with widespread moral confusion. It is good to hear that you yourself realize the insecurity of relying on the Bible alone. As you say, it needs an interpreter. But whilst the Catholic has an official and reliable interpreter in the infallible Catholic Church, you can offer nothing of that kind. What you have to offer we shall discuss later

627. I find similar difficulties when people say that Conscience is our guide. It may be merely the echo of mob opinions amidst which we live.

An enlightened conscience is our guide but it is of course no sound test of morality to say that, just because others around us do a thing, it must be right for us to do it also. If a practice be in itself sinful, it does not cease to be sinful merely because it has become popular and widespread.

628. Again, the so-called "Inner Light" may be nothing more than a reflection of our own desires.

That is certainly true. People can persuade themselves that wrong things are right just because they want to do them. By such self-deception they attempt to save their self-respect whilst having the unlawful object of their desires. There are hosts of people proficient in this science of feeling good whilst being bad, distorting conscience to suit their conduct instead of conforming their conduct to the demands of a true conscience.

629. History shows that some of the world's darkest deeds have been done by men who believed they were following their conscience.

Again one must agree, although this supposes a sincerely mistaken conscience, not a deliberately distorted one. The conclusion is that conscience, unless rightly educated, is not a safe guide as to what is right or wrong.

630. I feel that this conscience business needs much more thought than is usually given to it. What do people mean when they say that conscience is the voice of God?

What they should mean is that the sense of right and wrong in general, and of the obligation to do what is right and avoid what is wrong, has been implanted in man's very nature by God, and to that extent is a manifestation of His will.

631. Does conscience dictate what is right and wrong?

No. It dictates that what is morally right ought to be done, and what is morally wrong ought to be avoided. It does not dictate precisely what actions are morally right and what actions are morally wrong. Thus people often wrongly imagine a thing to be good whereas it is not good, or think a thing to be evil when it is not evil. Man needs a moral guide other than himself to teach him the moral law. That moral law conscience bids him observe.

632. If conscience is the voice of God it should be the same for everybody. Why does it say one thing in some people, yet quite another in other people?

Conscience is not the voice of God in the sense that it is God telling us that whatever we happen to think right at any given moment is certainly right. It is the voice of God in general, in so far as our conviction of a moral obligation implies a moral law we did not make, and which in turn implies a Supreme Lawgiver, God Himself. All people know that what is morally right ought to be done, and that what is morally wrong ought not to be done. But in judging whether a particular action is right or wrong conscience needs education; and it is here that people with an ill-informed conscience are liable to judge differently from those with a well-informed conscience. A little child may be excused for thinking it right to do a thing which every normal adult knows to be wrong. But although an ill-instructed child might be mistaken as to whether some particular action is right or not, the child is not mistaken in thinking that it ought to do what is right. And it is that conviction which is the voice of God.

633. Contradictories cannot be equally true.

I agree. It follows, therefore, that if some people have right ideas of what conscience requires in certain particular actions, those who contradict them have wrong ideas on the subject. In other words, it is possible to have an erroneous conscience where it is a question of the practical application of the moral law in particular cases.

634. Can it be said that there is anything right or wrong when people so differ in their judgments about it?

The very fact that people differ in their judgments as to what is right or wrong shows that they are at least convinced that there is such a thing as right, as opposed to what is wrong. They would not argue about it otherwise. All men know that there is a difference between right and wrong. The two words exist in every language. And they do not mean merely what is convenient or inconvenient. The right thing to do is not always the pleasant or useful thing to do. And the wrong thing is not; always inconvenient. Often there is every inducement to do things every normal person would brand as morally wrong.

634. Will you be frank enough to admit that if the State did recognize any Church officially in our country, you would want it to be the Catholic Church and no other?

Naturally I would wish that, since I believe the Catholic Church to be the true Church. But with the people in our country so divided religiously, and the majority of them non-Catholics, official recognition of any individual Church is not practicable as being the Church of the Nation. The problem, therefore, can be postponed until we Catholics have succeeded in persuading our fellow citizens to embrace the Catholic religion. There is no immediate prospect of that; and it certainly will not come in the lifetime of this present generation, nor of many generations yet to come.

635. The confusion is so great that many people do not bother asking whether a thing is right or wrong, but just go ahead with whatever they feel inclined to do.

Conscientious people do not act like that. They feel an obligation to do what is right; and that makes them think out beforehand, in all serious matters, where what they contemplate doing is morally justified or not. All men have a conscience which makes them uncomfortable when they realize that they are doing wrong. If some people, who have hardened themselves against its protests, boast that conscience never makes them uncomfortable, you can be quite sure that it did at one time, and that it will again in the future. It is possible to drug one's conscience into a temporary state of coma. It is not possible to silence it permanently.

636. Would you say that we are answerable to God for our conduct only in proportion to what we believe our conduct ought to be?

Yes, provided the belief be absolutely sincere and, if mistaken, the mistake be through no fault of our own. A person must be able to say that what he did, he did in all good faith. St. Paul says: "All that is not of faith is sin." Rom., XIV,23. He meant that all that is done with a bad conscience is sin. What is done with a good conscience is not sin for the person doing it, even though the thing done, in itself, be actually opposed to the objective moral law.

637. So a person's conscience can work correctly only provided it has been rightly trained?

In many aspects of moral conduct thai is true. For whilst everybody's conscience declares in general that good ought to be done and evil avoided, not everybody's conscience is safe in judging what is the good thing to be done and the evil thing to be avoided in all particular cases. To say that conscience is always to be obeyed is not to say that conscience is always right. One can have a mistaken conscience. The truth is, then, that conscience must not only be obeyed, but that it must be educated and enlightened. No one surely would deny that children must be taught their moral obligations, that when they do wrong things not knowing them to be wrong parents and teachers who know better must correct them, and instil right ideas on the subject. Catholics, of course, know that the teaching-authority of the Catholic Church is their ultimate guide to the true requirements of Christian morality; and that they are sure of doing the will of God if they conform their judgment to the standards put before them by their Church. People who refuse to accept the authority of the Catholic Church, on the other hand, are left to their own resources; and whilst in many things, owing to the lingering influence of a Christiance tradition, they may happen to hit on the right thing, in many others they either arrive at positively wrong conclusions, or remain in a state of perplexity, unable to say what is morally right or morally wrong.

638. People who have had the wrong training, or none at all would not be responsible in that case for the evil they do.

They would not be morally responsible if they had never had any reason to suspect that what they had been taught was not right; or, granted no teaching, if they did not suspect, through their own lack of knowledge, that they might be doing a morally wrong thing about which they should have made inquiries of better-informed people. Granted a doubtful conscience, they would be guilty if they took no steps to solve their doubts before acting. The will to risk doing a morally wrong thing is already an evil will. Where morality is concerned, we are obliged to make sure as far as we can that we have a right conscience before we act. People who do whatever they feel inclined to do, and then pretend to themselves that it was only the right thing to do because they wanted to do it do not escape responsibility in the sight of God.

639. It looks to me as if it is a case of where ignorance is bliss, it is folly to be wise.

That is not true. For, firstly, if people really want to do the will of God, they do not want to do the wrong thing through ignorance. If they really do not want to do the will of God, their dispositions are already bad, apart from the particular matter involved. Secondly, as I have already explained, there can be a guilty ignorance which does not excuse from guilt. People who suspect that what they want to do might be wrong, yet deliberately neglect to make any effort to enquire about it for fear that they might find that it is indeed wrong, are not acting in good faith. They are responsible for their own ignorance. They are not excused from guilt. And for them it is folly "not to be wise."

640. The Bible and Conscience both being unsatisfactory guides, the suggestion remains that we turn to the Church for instructions on moral conduct. But there are great difficulties in the way of regarding the Church as an unfailing guide.

Not for one who has right ideas of the Chqrch as founded by Christ and as described in the New Testament; and who also knows both by reason and faith that the Catholic Church is that Church. I admit that there are great difficulties in the way of regarding any of the non-Catholic Churches as unfailing moral guides. For not one of them even claims to be an unfailing guide, whilst all of them are in a state of confusion themselves as to what is morally right or morally wrong. Thus, in his book, "The Christian Way," published in 1950, a Protestant clergyman named the Rev. S. Cave says, on p.5, "Outside the Roman Church there is now no consensus Of opinion in regard either to the method or the content of Christian ethics."

641. To begin with, the divisions of the Church make it rather difficult to know which must be followed.

You are thinking of all the different and conflicting religious denominations which claim to be Christian as constituting "The Church." But that cannot be. Protestantism began by the breaking away from the Catholic Church of the various Protestant sects; and they could not break away from the Church and still belong to it. There are no divisions in the Catholic Church, which outnumbers all the different and conflicting Protestant sects taken together. An Australian Methodist clergyman, the Rev. Alan Walker, recently returned from a trip to America and said sadly that there are no less than ,265 different Protestant sects there. Later, speaking at the N.S.W. Methodist Conference, when pleading for more discipline and authority in his Church, he said that "American Methodism worked with a unity unknown in Australia." Yet under the heading "Methodist Bodies" the "World Almanac" lists 19 different denominations in U.S.A., all claiming to be Methodists!

642. The teaching of the various Churches is varied, even contradictory.

Had you said: "Of the various Protestant Churches," you would have done justice to the situation. And this confusion and conflict amongst non-Catholic Churches, as contrasted with the unity and consistency of the Catholic Church, removes rather than creates a difficulty in knowing which Church should be followed. Catholics have every reason to trust their Church as an unfailing guide in matters of faith and morals. But non-Catholics have no grounds for reliance upon any one of the hundreds of conflicting Protestant denominations.

643. The inevitable conclusion seems to me to be that we are wrong, in our moral perplexity, in looking for a set of rules and regulations such as were given us as children at school.

Much here depends on the school at which people were taught such rules and regulations. Catholic children in Catholic schools are taught the ten commandments of God and also the precepts of their Church; and they know they are not mistaken in doing all they can to live up to such teaching. In public schools, committed as they are to secular education, it would be difficult to find any definite set of rules and regulations for moral conduct. All my own early education, in my Protestant childhood, was done in public schools; and it was only with a vague "Boys be Brave: Girls be Good" code of ethics that we left school and faced life!

644. God did not make His world to run by rules.

But that is just what He did do. God is the God of order, not of chaos. He appointed physical laws for the regulation of the visible universe, and moral laws for us to observe in our conduct.

645. God has made us free, with minds to search out the truth, and with hearts to be obedient.

God has made us physically free, so that our destiny may be in our own keeping. But He has not left us morally free to do evil. And if, as you say, He has given us hearts to be obedient, to what are we to be obedient? Obedience supposes precepts of some kind, or rules and regulations. Nor is it true to say that we are to search and find out for ourselves what the right rules and regulations should be. Both in the Old and in the New Testaments God has revealed His precepts, commanding His people to observe and teach them to their children. Moreover—and we have to keep coming back to this—Christ established His Church, commanding it to teach all nations and giving it authority to legislate in His name.

646. The very perplexity, the very struggle to find what is right is to my mind part of morality.

Do you really mean that it is part of morality to struggle to find the right yet not to find it, so that one may remain suitably perplexed? Are We to say that that is right which leaves you perplexed as to whether it is right or not? It is true that morality does impose upon us an obligation to do our best to find out what God's law requires of us. But that does not mean that to be perplexed and not to know is part of morality. It does not mean that there are no rules and regulations which we are bound in conscience to observe. It does not mean that God has made us free to ignore any obligations save those we think out for ourselves and are willing to impose upon ourselves.

647. This brings us to the heart of the question: How does one know what is right? Finding and doing what is right is not obeying a set of rules, but consists in following a Person; the Person of Jesus of Nazareth.

Love of the Person of Jesus and the desire to follow Him may be the motive of our wanting to do what is right; but it does not solve the problem as to the right thing we must do and the wrong thing we must avoid because of that motive.

648. It is in His mind and example and life that we find the right.

I can only ask you where we are to go to find His mind and example and life? If you say that we find them described in the New Testament we are back again at the Bible which you have already rejected as a sufficient guide, declaring that the Bible itself needs an interpreter! All who reject the teaching-authority of the Catholic Church are doomed to wander around in such circles.

649. nowing moral truth is impossible without knowing Jesus. He Himself said: "1 am the way, the truth and the life."

It is not true that it is impossible to know any moral truth without knowing Jesus. Confucius lived centuries before Jesus set foot in this world, yet be certainly showed a knowledge of moral truth when he declared lies, theft, dishonesty of any kind and hypocrisy to be of their very nature evil things. But that is by the way. Taking your own thought, tfre fact that Jesus declared Himself to be the way, the truth and the life does not solve the problem of right and wrong for the perplexed person who wonders what way he should follow, what truth he must believe, and what kind of a life he must live in order to make Christ Our Lord his way and truth and life. The need for interpretation still remains.

650. Has God ever given any instructions about the laws of interpretation? If so, what are they?

In the New Testament we are told three very important things. Firstly, we are told that it is a wrong principle to rely on one's own private interpretation of Scripture (II Peter I, 20), and that many through doing so have made shipwreck of the faith (II Peter III, 16). Secondly, we are told that Scripture must be interpreted in accordance with divine traditions handed down in the Church (II Thess., II, 14). Thirdly, we are told that authoritative decisions of the Catholic Church are to be accepted as our official guidance to the right understanding of divine revelation.

651. How, amongst such a welter of conflicting opinions, can any man have certainty that any proposed line of conduct is right?

In very many cases only by accepting divine revelation, which receives its authentic interpretation in the official teachings of the Catholic Church. By supernatural revelation, given us gradually through the Prophets of old, and finally through the Apostles, God has told us of many things we ought to have learned from our study of the natural moral law, and also of other things beyond those we could discover for ourselves; things to do not only with our duties connected with life in this world, but also things connected with our eternal destiny in the next world. The true and full meaning of that divine revelation can be known with absolute certainty only by those whose faith in the Catholic Church brings into their lives the blessing of her definite and consistent guidance. There is no other way to certainty.

652. On several occasions you have contrasted the definiteness of Roman Catholic guidance in moral matters with the nebulous character of that given by Protestant Churches.

I have. And surely the contrast is evident to every, thinking man who has devoted any attention to the matter. In 1948, during the Lambeth Conference of Anglican Bishops, the London "Daily Express" stressed the contrast in an editorial under the caption: "Who Lacks Leadership in Britain?" It declared that certainly "Roman Catholics" did not, saying, "Their values and standards of conduct are those of Christendom, out of which most that is good in our civilization was evolved. They are not easily seduced by the men who scoff at things of the spirit, and who built their dream-worlds on envy, greed, and ambition." Thus even this secular newspaper felt impelled to pay its tribute to the definite guidance the Catholic Church offers its members as contrasted with the Anglican Church. And other Protestant Churches are even more confused than the Anglican Church where moral theology is concerned.

653. You have said that the Protestant Churches are very weak in moral theology, implying that they are incompetent. What grounds have you for such a statement?

I could quote many of their conflicting utterances in support of my contention. But for the moment I will content myself with quoting the words of Bishop Kirk, Anglican Bishop of Oxford, in his book, "Conscience and its Problems." He there writes: "Not Anglicanism alone, but all the reformed Churches, lost their grasp upon these time-honoured rules of prudence. To that fact may be attributed, in part at least, the steady and ever-increasing failure of these societies to guide their members in the recurring particular problems of the Christian life in any manner which the ordinary man could appreciate."

654. How do you know that candidates for the Protestant ministry receive inadequate training in moral science, as you asserted on one occasion?

Again I could point to many of the peculiar opinions Protestant ministers have expressed on various moral problems. I quoted one case recently in which a Methodist minister expelled a Sunday-school teacher for buying an ice-cream for a child on Sunday! However, take the general verdict of Dr. Hensley Henson, Protestant Bishop of Durham. Writing in his book, "The Group Movement," he deplored the excesses of the Buchmanites in their public "sharing" of sins at their houseparties. He declared that the better practice is for Anglican clergymen to hear confessions privately. But on that subject he added: "We must indeed sorrowfully admit that the English clergy are, in too many parishes, ill-qualified for the difficult and delicate work of hearing confessions. Their training has not included any sufficient preparation for the work."

655. You even said that there is no Anglican text-book of moral theology, and that ministers have to have recourse to Roman Catholic text-books.

In his book, "Christian Morals," Canon Lindsay Dewar, Principal of an Anglican Clergy College, says: "It so happens that the study of moral theology has been for the most part carried on by theologians of the Roman obedience. . . In recent years an attempt has been made to study the subject from the standpoint of Anglican theology." That book was published in 1945. In 1947, Dr.; R. C. Mortimer, Regius Professor of Moral Theology at Oxford, published a book entitled, "The Elements of Moral Theology." In his Preface he writes: "I have been told more than once by persons responsible for the teaching of ordination candidates that there is great need for a book of this sort. . . There is no Anglican manual of moral theology. I hope this book may afford a starting point for the compilation of an Anglican manual. I have necessarily made great use of Roman manuals, especially of Prummer and of Merkelbach."

656. Commenting on Bishop Barnes' support for euthanasia, contraceptive birth control, suicide and abortion, our local Anglican spokesman, The Rev. W. J. Coughlan said that because these are new problems the clergy are still working out the question of their moral or Christian significance.

If the four problems mentioned are new to Anglican clergy, then there is something very wrong with a training for the ministry which sends out clergy unable to give definite guidance to their people on such vital issues! "We're still working it out" is not very helpful to people applying for advice to their ministers. None of the problems mentioned is new to Catholic priests. Every Catholic text-book of moral theology deals with all four problems; .and there is not a Catholic priest in the world who could not at once give the definite reply concerning them required by Christian principles.

657. Did not the Puritan Movement aim at even stricter standards than those of the Catholic Church?

The Puritan Movement arose in England during the reign of Elizabeth I. During her reign many Englishmen who had fled to the Continent during the time of Mary, came back full of Protestant ideas drawn from Calvinism and Lutheranism. These argued that Elizabeth Avas not going nearly far enough in the direction of Protestantism. And they aimed, so they said, at "purifying" the new Church of England, making it more Protestant than it already was. They not only waged war on surviving Catholic ideas of worship, but adopted John Calvin's grim and gloomy outlook, condemning jesting, dancing, sport, and the most innocent forms of recreation and amusement, seeking to prevent others from doing what they did not want to do, and showing intolerance towards all views except their own. As Lord Macaulay put it: "The Puritans hated bear-baiting, not because it gave pain to the bear, but because it gave pleasure to the spectators." Many of the Puritans, despairing of making the Church of England what they wanted it to be, abandoned it and founded independent Congregational Churches. But others remained in the Church of England, hoping to influence it from within, and forming a Low Church Party of Anglicans. The extremely narrow views of the early Puritans have, of course, been greatly modified; but their influence still lingers on amongst many good Protestants in the form of an unreasonable intolerance of things; not evil in themselves, but against which they happen to be prejudiced. Strangely enough, whilst stressing things that really do not matter, things, not morally evil in themselves, they shut their eyes to seriously wrong, things such as those advocated by Bishop Barnes, and are silent about them; or they even go so far as to express positive approval of them.

658. You accuse Protestants of being too strict on some things and too lax on others, but they make exactly the same charge against the Catholic Church which permits amusements on Sundays, and sees no harm in card-playing, drinking, Bingo and other forms of gambling, and all kinds of worldly pleasure.

Not all kinds of worldly pleasure. Pleasures which are definitely sinful the Catholic Church absolutely forbids; and she always forbids excess and abuse even in things otherwise lawful. But she refuses to com: demn indulgence with due moderation in things not sinful in themselves* whilst neglecting "the weightier things of the law." Christ Himself spoke of "blind guides who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel." Matt.,XXIII,24^ That condemnation certainly cannot apply to the Catholic Church. Puritan ethics are not taken seriously by the world today, but the insistence of the Catholic Church on the things that really do matter draws upon herself a bitter and undying hostility.

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