Any suggestions for throughful explanation of cooperation in evil actions?

I found this:
vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/encyclicals/documents/hf_jp-ii_enc_25031995_evangelium-vitae_en.html
“In order to shed light on this difficult question, it is necessary to recall the general principles concerning cooperation in evil actions. Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. Such cooperation occurs when an action, either by its very nature or by the form it takes in a concrete situation, can be defined as a direct participation in an act against innocent human life or a sharing in the immoral intention of the person committing it. This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it. Each individual in fact has moral responsibility for the acts which he personally performs; no one can be exempted from this responsibility, and on the basis of it everyone will be judged by God himself (cf. Rom 2:6; 14:12).”

What i am uncertain about is the cooperation in actions, which are in some part or in some formal way evil and in some not.

Even greater problem, i have no realy good example.

Maybe an example is arresting people. If the only law of the land is “Persons not acknowledging the godhood of the dear leader are to be arrested and punished etc.” working in official function and arresting people is formally cooperating in evil. But what if there is a second law “Murderes are to be arrested and punished etc.” and the person doing the arresting is not and cannot be aware whether he is arresting someone defying the injust law (which would be evil) or some plain murderer (which would not be evil and actually a police officers natural duty). Formal cooperation in evil, yes or no?

A different example,hopefully better:

A considers either having an abortion or going to a crisis pregnancy center to obtain there the necessary help to take properly care of her child/get sufficient legal assistance vs the childs father pressuring her to have an abortion/etc.
She has not yet made up her mind, but since crisis pregnancy center and abortion clinic are next to each other, she asks B to take her there telling him, she will decide upon arrival whether to have an abortion or not. Due to her bad timing B is her last chance to get an abortion within the legal time limit. And also because of her serious problems in respect to the undeisred pregnancy she is in dire need of help, if she wants to keep the child (just mentally fill in here something creative, please).

So when B takes her along, B does not and cannot know, whether he/she is just helping A to get an abortion on the last ditch or to receive the help she is in need of.

So is he/she sinning in taking her to the abortion clinic/crisis pregnancy center or not?

(Further assume, that B does not think he/she can influence As decision in any direction.)

I think maybe this chart is better suited to explain my problem:
archphila.org/HHS/pdf/CoopEvilChart.pdf

Going down the right branch, on has on second level the options (slightly changed format)

"Providing the material that is necessary for the immoral act to occur
-> Guilty of the immoral act

Providing the material not necessary for the immoral act to occur
-> May be guilty of the immoral act"

What if material is provided that is necessary for the immoral act to occur is also necessary for a moral act to occur and at the time of providing it cannot be known, whether the material will be used for the immoral or moral act, just that the immoral act is not completely unlikely (e.g. 50-50 as in the second example above)?

Modern Catholic Dictionary:

CO-OPERATION IN EVIL. The concurrence with another in a sinful action. This concurrence may be done in several ways: by acting with another in the same sin, as when a person joins another in perpetrating a robbery; by supplying a person what is helpful in performing a sinful action, such as providing a gun or other deadly weapon; and by commanding or suggesting that one do something sinful, by encouraging him or her or suggesting means of carrying it into effect.

That definition does not adress the problem of lacking knowledge whether the action being helper can either be sinful or not sinful.

See above example:
“A considers either having an abortion or going to a crisis pregnancy center to obtain there the necessary help to take properly care of her child/get sufficient legal assistance vs the childs father pressuring her to have an abortion/etc.
She has not yet made up her mind, but since crisis pregnancy center and abortion clinic are next to each other, she asks B to take her there telling him, she will decide upon arrival whether to have an abortion or not. Due to her bad timing B is her last chance to get an abortion within the legal time limit. And also because of her serious problems in respect to the undeisred pregnancy she is in dire need of help, if she wants to keep the child (just mentally fill in here something creative, please).”

Driving someone to an abortion clinic can be cooperation in evil. Driving someone to a pregnancy crisis center is not cooperation in evil.
Driving someone to both an abortion clinic and a crisis center, without certain knowledge, where she will go in the end, is cooperation in evil or not?

just bumping it up, i have no idea how the uncertainess, if some help might be both be used in a sinful action and in non-sinful action, with the helper being aware that neither is unlikely, effects the cooperation in evil issue.

Here is a good online explanation from a Catholic hospital:
Principles of Formal and Material Cooperation

Formal cooperation and explicit cooperation are always immoral. Material cooperation is sometimes moral, if your act is sufficiently remote from the sin of the other person.

I would explain the principles of cooperation with evil in terms of the three fonts of morality. You will need to understand the three fonts first, otherwise, the principles of cooperation will never be clear to you.

ronconte.wordpress.com/2010/12/04/ethics-101-the-three-fonts-of-morality/

A takes B to the shared parking space of an abortion clinic and a crisis pregnancy center. B might head to crisis center or to abortion clinic with equal probability, at least to As knowledge.

(1) intention,

As intent is that B goes to crisis pregnancy center to get help. Intent good.

(2) moral object,
A uses his car to take B somewhere. Offering someone a ride is neither evil nor good.

(3) circumstances.
“The circumstances are the good and bad consequences of the chosen act, in so far as these can be reasonably anticipated by the person at the time that the act is chosen. If an act can be reasonably anticipated to have bad consequences which morally outweigh any good consequences, then the choice of that act is a sin. If the reasonably anticipated good consequences morally outweigh any reasonably anticipated bad consequences, then the font of circumstances is good.”
Well, thats deep water, i would say. 50% chance the child gets killed vs 50% chance the mother gets the help to solve the problems, which in her eyes form the reasons to consider killing the child. Outweigh?

How about this as an example of cooperation in evil…
It recently came to light regarding the US Government’s definition of legitimate “combatant” targets of US drone killings by youngsters in air conditioned army offices. Namely,

combatant = “all military age males killed in a strike zone . . . unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent” (like blowing up a western camera crew…oops!)

Its great, even if you are complicit in evil, this will only ever be known for sure after you have done your job - no need for Catholics to bother thinking about moral issues of poor target identification on this job!

Would the act of accepting such a definition itself be formal cooperation in evil?

Why would A take B to that parking lot? If B has deceived A, then A does not sin, as he reasonably anticipates that the drive will result in crisis counseling. If A knows that the location includes an abortion clinic, and that B perhaps intends abortion, then he cannot morally take her there, as he anticipates the danger to the life of the child.

The weight of the circumstances takes into account the moral weight of the consequences. A cannot take a 50% risk of the death of an innocent, on the chance that crisis counseling will result instead. The bad consequence of the death of an innocent outweighs the good of counseling. So a 50% chance does not mean the moral weight is equal.

Circumstances can be difficult to judge. We must always try to do as much good and as little harm in our acts as possible.

Merely accepting an incorrect definition related to morality would not be formal cooperation, and it might not be an actual sin, if you are sincerely mistaken.

Your formal cooperation always relates to the intrinsically evil act of the other person. Killing an innocent, by an intentional and direct act, is intrinsically evil. However, if an innocent is killed as an unintended consequence of a moral act of just war, the killing is indirect, and so the moral object is good. (It might still be immoral under an evaluation of the circumstances of the act.)

If you are the drone pilot and you know that an innocent is directly targeted, and you commit the attack, I would say that you are the perpetrator of that grave sin, not merely someone who formally cooperates.

Because otherwise C will take B along to that place and A knows that C will try to talk B into having an abortion, while A intends to dissuade B from having in abortion, wherein A expects that with C driving B the chance the child will be killed will be closer to 75% instead of the 50% A expects if he drives B. (A arrives at those values by a combination of experience with women considering an abortion and guessing.)

So A would do it to double the childs chance of survival.

How did you arrive at that conclusion?
I am not saying its wrong, i just cannot see any reasoining, it more sounds like guesswork e.g. 99.9% counseling chance and 0.1% abortion chance is ok, 50% is not.

Note: “cooperation” can be difficult at times to work out. Some cases in this world even will often require consultation with say orthodox Catholic Moral Theologians etc.

Now if I worked in a gun store and a person came in saying I need to buy a gun to go and shoot my wife – am I going to sell him a gun? No. I am going to notify the authorities.

Now lets take the sell of a hammer. If I work in a hardward store and a person comes in and buys a hammer. He could be intending to take it and wack someone on the head with it or he could be using it on nails. I do not know. It is a hardward store so I sell him the hammer assuming the later not the former.

Now if I know the man -say he is a friend- and he was just talking with me the night before that he has been having thoughts of going and going buying a hammer to use on his wife’s head – that reality is going to change what I do here and now.

The evaluation of the circumstances is based on knowledge of the past (B is pregnant and has said she wants an abortion), and of the present circumstances (C is ready to take B to an abortion clinic), and of the reasonably anticipated good and bad consequences of our actions.

We cannot act with disregard for the reasonably anticipated harm that our actions might cause, nor can we claim no knowledge at all of the likely outcome of our actions. But we also cannot be certain of future consequences. So the evaluation of this font is based on our reasonable anticipation of consequences, based on whatever knowledge we may have.

Perhaps A judges that B might be persuaded to change her mind. If she has a way to get to the abortion clinic anyway, then A does not sin by taking her to that parking lot, shared by a pregnancy crisis clinic. He knows that if he does not do so, she will go to the abortion clinic with someone who will support her decision to get an abortion. Even if there is only a 10% chance that she will change her mind, A is choosing between a near zero percent chance if C takes her, and a 10% or better chance if A takes her there.

In this case, though, A’s act is not formal cooperation because he is not involved directly in the act itself, but in a circumstance. So his act is not directly related to the moral object of abortion, but to the form it takes in a concrete situation.

By comparison, paying for her abortion, encouraging or pressuring her to get an abortion, voting for a law that legalizes abortion, voting for a politician specifically because he is pro-abortion, are all gravely immoral; they cannot be justified as remote material cooperation.

“Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law.” (Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, 74)

What if an act is directly related to the moral object of a sinful action AND also directly related to something else, which is perfectly fine?

So action X is directly related to sin Y and also directly related to desirable non-sin Z.

If B wants Y, then A providing X is sinning.
If B wants Z, then A providing X is not sinning.

Is that correct so far?

And now B wants either Y or Z, which B will decide later upon, then A providing X is?

The point is, if A would know, what B would decide, then he could determine whether providing X is ok or not. But he doesnt know, he only knows that if B decides for sin Y, he provided what would be essential for Y, and if B decides for desirable non-sin Z then he also provided what is essential for desirable non-sin Z.

(Lacking a good example.)

The use of letters has become confusing and too abstract. So let me give an example that speaks to your question.

A married couple have natural marital relations open to life; they do not sin. Their act has three good moral objects: the procreative, unitive, and marital meanings.

Another married couple uses contraception; they sin. Their act has an evil moral object: the thwarting of the procreative meaning. But it still has two good moral objects, the unitive and marital meanings.

When an act has more than one moral object, even one bad object makes the act intrinsically evil.

Similarly, an act needs three good fonts to be moral. If it has one bad font, and two good fonts, it is nevertheless a sin.

Any good in any act does not justify anything sinful in that same act. Nor can one good act justify a different bad act.

Problem is that the problem i try to solve, does not fit nicely to most of the usual examples.

And it doesnt fit here, the couple knows beforehand that their act will certainly include the thwarting of the procreative meaning. Even modifying the example (“She takes medicine that maybe contraceptive/abortifican”) does not change that, because i aim at the consequences of the lack of knowledge about whether someone will make use of the aid offered to sin, when that sinning is not unlikely, but also far from certain.

The best description seems to be:

If B wants to sin, then A providing crucial help for that is also sinning.
If B wants to act morally, then A providing crucial help for that is not sinning.

If then B is before a decision to either sin or act morally, is A then in providing help, that both is crucial for sinning and for acting morally, acting sinful?

A has only good in his intention; first font is good. A good intention means that any cooperation in evil is not explicit.

A chooses an act with only good in the moral object. A’s act is therefore not intrinsically evil and also not formal cooperation (which is itself always intrinsically evil).

A realizes that his act will have some good and bad consequences. He is only responsible for those consequences that could be reasonably anticipated at the time that the act was chosen. He cannot choose an act if he reasonably anticipates that the act will do more harm than good (bad consequences outweigh the good). He evaluates the consequences based on whatever knowledge he has available to him. He is not responsible for things he did not know, nor for outcome that he could not have anticipated.

The evaluation is not based solely on whether the act of A is “crucial”. It is based on the totality of the foreseeable consequences.

You are right, and I believe this is one of the reasons the world is in the state it is currently. Too many so called catholics/ christians simply let immoral things go on all around them, many of them are current laws (mans laws) and I think this is the reason why no action is taken, people are too concerned with civil disobedience and worried about how this will effect their own lives. If you look back at biblical times, the church and civil leaders then were always at odds with each other, usually over laws and their beliefs about what is right, but in todays world, it is common to see most cities and their police forces get along pretty good with local parishes…?? This tells me the church may not be doing what it is supposed to in many instances, in actuality, a parish who is always at odds with the city/ local police force would probably be one that is standing up for what it believes and actively trying to stop injust things from taking place, even if these things are current laws of man.

It seems to me most catholics/christians today are ‘fair weather believers’. they will go to mass every sunday and in general good people, but if it comes down to them doing anything illegal (in mans eyes) for the greater good or in the process of following Gods laws,or really any type of civil disobedience, they are not willing to go this far. I think they are referred to as ‘being on the fence’ or lukewarm in Gods eyes.

You misunderstand, its not has some good and bad consequences, its either good or bad, depending upon Bs yet unknown decision. It could all turn out fine or it could all turn out horribly wrong, with no third possibility.
edit: That means the consequences are as foreseeable for A as the result of the toss of a dice.

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