The Theology of the Rational Soul

This is a (partly) cranky post, about the theological and philosophical sediment of Pope St. John Paul II’s Papacy. It’s inspired by a post at Just Thomism about a contemporary Catholic theologian’s (?) attempt at theodicy. The author of the post points out that not all divine actions are best explained in terms of love. Some are better explained in terms of intellection.

I attribute the sentimental exaggeration of “love” to Pope St. John Paul II’s so-called “Theology of the Body” (TOB). This “theology” (this usage seems wrong; shouldn’t it be “theological school” or something like that?) seems to place the image and likeness of God primarily in the body. Traditionally, the Church has said this image and likeness resides primarily in the rational soul. Continue reading

Matrimony of Desire and Lifestyle Ecumenism

“For they shall sow wind, and reap a whirlwind, there is no standing stalk in it, the bud shall yield no meal; and if it should yield, strangers shall eat it.” Osee (Hosea) 8:7

Once upon a time, a Feeneyite* writer — Charles Coulombe, I think — made some remark about Baptism of Desire. The remark went something like, “Have you ever heard of Matrimony of Desire? Doesn’t make sense, does it? Neither does Baptism of Desire.” In other words, neither implicit nor explicit desire for a sacrament realizes that sacrament.

Except that is what Pope Francis seems to think. The canon law requirements for sacramental matrimony don’t matter — that’s just legalism. The vast majority of marriages that would pass the canon law definition are actually null, while cohabitations are valid marriages. Why can’t we extend this type of rationalization to any type of relationship at all, heterosexual or not? It’s about grace, not hard and fast definitions, right?

I’ve seen this attitude called “lifestyle ecumenism.” It follows pretty logically from religious ecumenism, the type promoted by all Popes since St. John XXIII. Continue reading


“Put not your trust in princes: in the children of men, in whom there is no salvation.” Psalm 145:2-3 (Douay-Rheims; your version might say this is Psalm 146)

One of the things you have to get used to as a Catholic is how even seemingly very solid Catholic leaders sometimes fail. They fall flat. They say or write something erroneous, or even heretical. They scandalize us. They botch answers to obvious questions. They flee in cowardice when confronted by a hostile argument or an uncomfortable truth.

When I say “seemingly very solid Catholic leaders,” I don’t just mean, “Oh, you know people that *other* people trust, but I know better than to trust.” I mean people you likely trust, and people I would trust, if I still placed all that much trust in other mortals. I’m including myself here, as I have fallen flat myself, in truly embarrassing and avoidable ways.

I’ll give an example (of someone else falling flat, not myself). There is an expanding Catholic radio network, of an orthodox/conservative stripe, not traditionalist by any means. One of their “personalities” is a priest whom most people would regard as “very solid.” I myself have been impressed by some things he’s said, and I’m not all that easily impressed. But I have an anecdote that shows this reputable priest describing one of the most well-known events in the Old Testament in a way that I can’t imagine anyone describing it before Vatican II. I submit that his description reveals a pernicious, extraordinarily widespread, and revolutionary (=mistaken, subversive, and bad) understanding of the relation between the sexes. Continue reading