Can the Catholic Church change moral theology? Examples please

Tomdstone #12
So there are circumstances under which the white male European colonial slavemaster can morally enslave young African women and young American Indian women? Can you tell us why circumstances should determine the morality of enslaving these innocent young women of color?

The reality is that the teaching hasn’t changed. The Church has always condemned unjust servitude while maintaining that “just” servitude is not contrary to natural or divine law.

The Church revolutionised the status of the slave long before there could be any thought of abolishing slavery. The inalienable rights of the slave to marriage and then family were safeguarded from the first by the precepts of the Church, and were later secured by legal enactment in the Theodosian code, which was later revised and classified by Justinian (A.D. 527-565). The law followed where the Church had led. The granting of religious equality to slaves was a silent but tremendous revolution – emancipated slaves were often raised to the priesthood and even to the very Chair of St Peter, Pius I and Callistus I in the second and third centuries. [Sir Arnold Lunn,* Is The Catholic Church Anti-Social?, Burns & Oates 1946, p 187].
[Also See: *The Victory of Reason, Rodney Stark, Random House, 2005, p 30].

Here is an excerpt from the papal bull Romanus Pontifex written in 1455 by Pope Nicholas V:
“…weighing all and singular the premises with due meditation, and noting that since we had formerly by other letters of ours granted among other things free and ample faculty to the aforesaid King Alfonso – to invade, search out, capture, vanquish, and subdue all Saracens and pagans whatsoever, and other enemies of Christ wheresoever placed, and the kingdoms, dukedoms, principalities, dominions, possessions, and all movable and immovable goods whatsoever held and possessed by them and to reduce their persons to perpetual slavery…”
It does not sound to me like a condemnation of slavery.

Why are they opposite sides? Pope John Paul II is not saying the death penalty is not permitted.
The Church teaches it is permitted. This teaching has not changed.

The local Catholic newspaper contained an article on the death penalty and it stated that Christians cannot support the death penalty.

Tomdstone #22
an excerpt from the papal bull Romanus Pontifex written in 1455 by Pope Nicholas V:
….It does not sound to me like a condemnation of slavery.

You were given the answer in September 2013, but you seem oblivious to reality.

Pope Nicholas V’s apparent endorsement of slavery is easy to reconcile.
The Muslims were persecuting Christians every where they could and enslaving them, or force converting them or executing them for not conforming in an unjust war of conquest and assimilation. They were beyond war criminals and the west was well within its just right to kill them and repel them as a just response. In these times it was the practice to execute wounded soldiers captured or if coming from wealthy families to ransom them back for booty or to enslave them for perpetual work until they perished. Nicholas was authorizing under a just war doctrine a more generally merciful condition of life long imprisonment as slaves rather than just and rightful execution for committing war crimes against the Christian Nation. That’s really merciful considering that these were deserving of execution as this particular enemy was unrelenting and radically opposed to Christianity and sworn to kill Christians at every opportunity. To even imprison such individuals was a risk since an escape could put more innocent lives at risk. This is why society still justly executes some prisoners – because some individuals are so violent and hardened to evil that they will not hesitate to kill again if given the opportunity to escape incarceration. There were no elaborate and well constructed frontier prisons in the day and it was a considerable risk to even take prisoners – not to mention the cost of guarding and feeding etc. So in this context even taking prisoners and putting them to the punishment of slavery for their crimes is VERY just – especially for the harshness of this period of time. Also, the pope’s letter was not a universal teaching for all places – only a limited area of conflict.

So he did not condemn slavery. Were these slaves given a fair trial to determine whether they were innocent or guilty.

The Church has always condemned slavery, but some never seem to learn.
There existed the practice of various types of slavery before the 15th century. However, it was not until the 15th century, and with growing frequency from the 16th to the 19th centuries, that racial slavery as we know it became a major problem. It is this form of servitude that is called to mind when we think today of the institution of slavery, and is the type which was to prevail in parts of the New World for over four centuries.

The Magisterium condemned from the beginning the colonial slavery that developed in the newly discovered lands.

Fr Joel Panzer:
“The pontifical decree known as The Sublime God has indeed had an exalted role in the cause of social justice in the New World. Recently, authors such as Gustavo Gutierrez [liberation theologian] have noted this fact: 'The bull of Pope Paul III, *Sublimis Deus *(June 2, 1537), is regarded as the most important papal pronouncement on the human condition of the Indians.’ It is, moreover, addressed to all of the Christian faithful in the world, and not to a particular bishop in one area, thereby not limiting its significance, but universalizing it.”

“Eugene IV and Paul III did not hesitate to condemn the forced servitude of Blacks and Indians, and they did so once such practices became known to the Holy See. Their teaching was continued by Gregory XIV in 1591 and by Urban VIII in 1639.”

‘Sixty years before Columbus “discovered” the New World, Pope Eugene IV condemned the enslavement of peoples in the newly colonized Canary Islands. His bull *Sicut Dudum *(1435) rebuked European enslavers and commanded that “all and each of the faithful of each sex, within the space of fifteen days of the publication of these letters in the place where they live, that they restore to their earlier liberty all and each person of either sex who were once residents of [the] Canary Islands . . . who have been made subject to slavery. These people are to be totally and perpetually free and are to be let go without the exaction or reception of any money.”

‘A century later, Pope Paul III applied the same principle to the newly encountered inhabitants of the West and South Indies in the bull *Sublimis Deus *(1537). Therein he described the enslavers as allies of the devil and declared attempts to justify such slavery “null and void.” Accompanying the bull was another document, Pastorale Officium, which attached a latae *sententiae *excommunication remittable only by the pope himself for those who attempted to enslave the Indians or steal their goods.

‘When Europeans began enslaving Africans as a cheap source of labor, the Holy Office of the Inquisition was asked about the morality of enslaving innocent blacks (Response of the Congregation of the Holy Office, 230, March 20, 1686). The practice was rejected, as was trading such slaves. Slaveholders, the Holy Office declared, were obliged to emancipate and even compensate blacks unjustly enslaved.

‘Papal condemnation of slavery persisted throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Pope Gregory XVI’s 1839 bull,* In Supremo*, for instance, reiterated papal opposition to enslaving “Indians, blacks, or other such people” and forbade “any ecclesiastic or lay person from presuming to defend as permissible this trade in blacks under no matter what pretext or excuse.” In 1888 and again in 1890, Pope Leo XIII forcefully condemned slavery and sought its elimination where it persisted in parts of South America and Africa.’

It is high time to face reality.

According to Luis M. Bermejo, S.J. |title=Infallibility on Trial |year=1992 |publisher=Christian Classics, Inc. |isbn=0-87061-190-9 |page=315:
In 1488, Pope Innocent VIII accepted the gift of 100 slaves from Ferdinand II of Aragon, and distributed those slaves to his cardinals and the Roman nobility

Elizium23 #6
Since the death penalty and its application is a matter of prudential judgement and is not intrinsically evil or good, it is not necessary for one or the other to “win”, because they are both correct in applying Catholic moral principles to the question.

Spot on.

#7 Re Tomdstone
And it has been tirelessly pointed out that many of those examples you give are discipline, not doctrine, and therefore the field of moral theology need not apply. Red herring alert!

Spot on. All his other suppositions are in error as shown in 2013.

“….moral theology is concerned with the ethical imperatives of Catholic doctrine and how they are to be lived out in practice. Some authors also carefully distinguish moral from ascetical or spiritual theology, on the score that there are two levels of God’s manifest will to humankind, one of precept and the other of counsel. Assuming the distinction, moral theology would then cover only the divine precepts, whether directly revealed or as taught by the Church with divine authority. Since the Second Vatican Council, however, the tendency is to include the whole spectrum of divine expectations for the human race under the single discipline of moral theology, not excluding the pursuit of sanctity.”
Modern Catholic Dictionary by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

The Church’s teaching in dogma and doctrine on faith and morals is infallible when made to the whole Church:
**Answer by David Gregson of EWTN to me on Nov-22-2002: **
“You are correct in stating that **the Pope exercises his charism of infallibility **not only **in dogmatic definitions **issued, ex cathedra, as divinely revealed (of which there have been only two), but also in doctrines definitively proposed by him, also ex cathedra, which would include **canonizations **(that they are in fact Saints, enjoying the Beatific Vision in heaven), **moral teachings **(such as contained in Humanae vitae), and other doctrines he has taught as necessarily connected with truths divinely revealed, such as that priestly ordination is reserved to men. Further details on levels of certainty with which the teachings of the Magisterium (either the Pope alone, or in company with his Bishops) may be found in Summary of Categories of Belief.” [My emphasis].

There is no question of the Catholic Church “changing moral theology”.

What is the unchangeable teaching of the Catholic Church on the morality of torture?

Show us the article and the official Church document that supports this claim.

The Catholic Church teaches that the death penalty is permitted and nothing has changed.
The Church DOES NOT teach that Christians may not support the death penalty. That is nonsense.

Is this a contest? I have both documents. You say I am in error. If I knew I was in error, I wouldn’t have said anything. Maybe you could tell me what is the error in my thinking. It would be helpful to me and to all readers if you condescended to cite the exact points in those documents that you are referring to.

According to a news article on selecting a jury in Boston:
“Potential jurors in bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s trial must be able to impose the death penalty or a life sentence with no possibility of release. That standard eliminates Catholics who heed the catechism of the Catholic Church, which says a death sentence is not to be used when “non-lethal means are sufficient to defend and protect people’s safety from the aggressor.” Cases warranting the death penalty “are very rare, if not practically non-existent,” according to the catechism, because government has other means to keep the public safe from convicts.”
How would this allow the burning of Bruno at the stake? What did he do to violate people’s safety?

The CCC does NOT say the death penalty is banned. It also is up to the government to decide if other means are justified.
Catholics are free to oppose or support the death penalty and Catholics on jury service are not required to vote against the death penalty.
I really don’t know where you get this idea from.
Please show me a Church document that supports your claim.

And citing the exact points in those documents wouldn’t actually answer the question regarding the difference between Canon Law and the CCC. The first part in the error of your thinking is your assumption that Canon Law is somehow equal with the CCC in regards to morality and the teachings of the Church.

a less controversial example would be Church teaching on usury. The Church used to teach that charging anyone at interest, no matter how much, was a mortal sin. This was eventually changed to allow for economic growth, then only making it sinful if interest rates were unreasonable.

(In my opinion, they should’ve kept it that way. I’ve taken a corporate finance class, and it was one of the most awful experiences of my life. I now see why Wall Street breeds people like Jordan Belfort and Bernie Madoff). :rolleyes:

The way I heard it, Canon Law is binding on all the faithful, down to the lowliest layman, while the CCC was actually a guide for bishops.

That would be their usage, not their function. Everything in the CCC applies to all Catholics; this is not the case for Canon Law. Canon Law is a legal system based upon the teachings of the Church and how the Church is to function. The CCC is the teachings of the Church (presented in a from so that it can be used like an instruction/teaching manual).

Both Aquinas and StJPII behold the concept of capital punishment within the purview of the States duty to ‘the common good’. What has to be served by human justice is the common good. Aquinas defense of CP reflects the believed necessity at that time to keep the community safe, to serve as a deterrent to others and to redress the disorder to peace ie. to serve the common good.

StJPII’s call to abolish it today reflects its damaging effect on a culture already too ignorant of the value of human life. Two significant differences exist today. One is that we have a much more secure and reliable penal system and two, we are culturally numb to the inviolability of human life as witnessed by things like abortion, euthanasia, suicide and drug use.

In this environment using the death penalty adds to the cultural numbness regarding the inviolability of human life and therefore adds to the disorder rather than redressing the disorder.

One saint defends it… the other opposes it but both speak with regard to its service to the common good which is the goal of human justice.

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