Intrinsically Disordered?

Or…Objectively Disordered?

I’m not sure if this is the correct section to ask this question, but since this phrase has been in the news quite a bit in the last few weeks because of the Synod, I’ll try here.

Does anyone know who specifically created this phrase “intrinsically disordered” in relation to the Catholic church?

And **where, when, and how **it began to be put into use? What is the history of this phrase within the church?

And…besides same-gender attraction, is there anything else considered “intrinsically disordered” in Catholic church teachings?



Ooops…i see the threads here must start with a news article link.
I tried to delete this, but it didn’t work…

I’ll find the right place to put it!

I don’t know the history of the specific phrases, but any inclinations, desires, passions, or acts that are contrary to human nature or divine law are considered disordered–they are contrary to the order willed by God. All of us, due to original sin, have disordered inclinations, etc.–this general disorder is called concupiscence.

Just a quick google search of the Catechism, all sorts of things are considered intrinsically disordered, from lying and calumny, to masturbation and contraception use.

Again, I don’t know the history of the phrases, but it seems to me they would be as old as the word “order.”

I should add, disordered inclinations and passions only become a sin when the intellect and will consents to them.

Interesting question. A quick Google site search for the phrase on the Vatican website yielded 19 hits, almost all referring to homosexuality. Most were simply referring to the Catechism, which uses the phrase in a quote the 1975 CDF document Persona Humana. That CDF document used the phrase twice, once to describe homosexual acts and once to describe masturbation.

As Genesis315 mentions (the poster, not the Bible verse :p), the Catechism also uses the phrase to describe lying and calumny.

So it isn’t used exclusively to describe homosexual acts, but it does arise more often in that context. And I haven’t found it used prior to 1975.

Of course, given that Church documents, by and large, are not composed in English, I’m not sure what role translation plays in it.

In Persona Humana - Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wrote in 1975:

[quote=]Whatever the force of certain arguments of a biological and philosophical nature, which have sometimes been used by theologians, in fact both the Magisterium of the Church - in the course of a constant tradition - and the moral sense of the faithful have declared without hesitation that **masturbation is an intrinsically **and seriously disordered act.[19]

Emphasis mine.

If you look at the citation (“19”), it refers to: Cf. Leo IX, letter “Ad splendidum nitentis,” in the year 1054 DS 687-688, decree of the Holy Office, March 2nd, 1679: DS 2149; Pius XII, “Allocutio,” Oct 8th, 1953 AAS 45 (1953), pp. 677-678; May 19th, 1956 AAS 48 (1956), pp. 472-473.

It would be interesting if someone could get a copy of the translation of Leo IX’s letter to see if “instrincially disordered” appears in Ad splendidum nitentis with regards to masturabation. The letter I quoted above (from 1975) does use the phrase also in reference to homosexual acts.

The Catechism uses both phrases (emphasis mine):

CCC 2357 Chastity and homosexuality

Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity,[sup]141[/sup] tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”[sup]142[/sup] They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

CCC 2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
__________141 Cf. Gen 191-29; Rom 124-27; 1 Cor 6:10;* 1 Tim* 1:10.
142 CDF, Persona humana 8.

The following is a link to a page from a book titled "The Essential Aquinas: Writings on Philosophy, Religion, and Society. Unfortunately, the couple pages prior to this page are not shown, so I don’t know which Aquinas work the author is quoting. It is not from the Summa Theologica as far as I could determine. If the translation is literally accurate, then it would appear “intrinsically disordered” was in use at least back as far as Aquinas.±homosexual&source=bl&ots=4c7JVM5ofP&sig=KIjAmWjl2Q9-dBnnPAwHaAa4CRQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=rB_DUZ2JJoea9gSG34H4Bw&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=fornication%20%22intrinsically%20disordered%22%20-homosexual&f=false

(For any who may be interested:
In all my googling around on this subject, trying to find where Hosea 1:2 appeared in the Summa, I came across this great site called "Index of Scripture References" for the Summa Theologica)±homosexual&source=bl&ots=4c7JVM5ofP&sig=KIjAmWjl2Q9-dBnnPAwHaAa4CRQ&hl=en&sa=X&ei=rB_DUZ2JJoea9gSG34H4Bw&ved=0CD4Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=fornication%20%22intrinsically%20disordered%22%20-homosexual&f=false

In reading some of the Summa Theologica with my children today, I noticed a difference in the translations which answers your question precisely!

In this older version of the Summa, the translation reads: “One of these is ‘sin,’ which is opposed to virtue in respect of that to which virtue is ordained: since, properly speaking, sin denotes an inordinate act; even as an act of virtue is an ordinate and due act:…”

In my “newer” (1941) version, these words are replaced with “ordered” and “disordered.”

The meaning if the word is (possibly) illuminated by reading the entire linked article, but overall, to be ordered, the thing or act must be in accord with its nature which includes its “end,” (goal or purpose).

As an example, sometimes I want to remove a screw and don’t feel like looking for a screwdriver so I use an old dinner knife. Now, that is not what the knife is meant for: unscrewing things is not its “end.” Using it that way could damage it–leave knicks on the tip and even twist or weaken it as it is not designed to absorb the torque or rotary pressure the way a proper screwdriver is.

I would never do this with, say, an antique silver dinner knife from a set which has been handed down intact through several generations (aside from the fact I don’t have a set like that ;)).

So “ordered” and “disordered” are in themselves neutral words. However, disorder in humans makes them more important, because humans are more important.

As to intrinsic, it too is a neutral word in and of itself: it just means inherent, or an essential part of. A screwdriver is intrinsically able to absorb the torque of removing and replacing screws.

Good ole’ masturbation.

I think enough is enough already.

Master Bates is getting pretty old.

Good news and bad news. The bad news: do you see the abbreviation “cf.” before the reference to Ad splendidum nitentis? That means “confer.” In my experience, when that word (or abbreviation) precedes a citation, it usually means that the exact words are not used in the cited work, but rather the idea is there. The good news: do you see the abbreviation “DS 687-688” that follows immediately after the reference to Ad splendidum nitentis? The DS stands for Denzinger, which is a collection of dogmatic material from Church History. Since the reference to Denzinger follows immediately upon the reference to Ad splendidum nitentis, it looks probable to me that the relevant portion of the latter is translated in the English version of Denzinger. In the past, some forum members have posted quotations from Denzinger, so somebody here could probably just look it up.

This link may lead to google book pages with a translation of Ad Splendidum Nitentis. I can’t read google books on my device.

That appears to be the correct document, but it seems to be very short, roughly one page. And the phrase “intrinsically disordered” does not appear to be in it, nor anything else that I can construe as an alternate translation.

This does not come from the Summa but from St. Thomas’ book “De Malo” Question 15 Article 1.

I found a complete translation of the whole book by Richard Regan here. This translation was published in 2003. Here is a comparison of how the relevant sentences are translated:

“The Essential Aquinas” translation
“These acts are intrinsically disordered and are not wrong merely because they process from disordered desires.”

Richard Regan’s translation
“[Some] acts…are of their very selves disordered and not only because of the disordered desires from which they spring.”

“The Essential Aquinas” translation
“Now disordered desire means performing an intrinsically disordered action for the sake of pleasure.”

Richard Regan’s translation
“For it belongs to disordered desire that, because of a desire for something pleasurable, one does something intrinsically disordered.”

“The Essential Aquinas” translation
“This is intrinsically disordered, not only because of the inordinate desire that precedes the act, but also because it is related to the vice of stinginess, as the philosopher makes clear…”

Richard Regan’s translation
“[This] is disordered as such and not only because the product of disordered desire. And both of these sins belong to the vice of lack of generosity, as the Philosopher makes clear…”

In short, Richard Regan uses three constructions: “of their very selves disordered,” “intrinsically disordered,” and “disordered as such.” “The Essential Aquinas” uses “intrinsically disordered” all three times.

It looks like the citation to Denzinger is incorrect—at least compared to any version I can find. DS 687-688 does refer to a document from Pope Leo IX, but it is his letter In terra pax hominibus: On the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff. :shrug:

The other citation to DS 2149 looks fitting, though. It’s from a document from the reign of Innocent XI on Various Errors of Moral Subjects (March 4, 1679). That paragraph contains the condemned view: “Voluptuousness is not prohibited by the law of nature. Therefore, if God had not forbidden it, it would be good, and sometimes obligatory under pain of mortal sin.” In other words, it condemns the idea that certain things are arbitrarily immoral because God said so rather than inherently immoral.

I think you may be looking at an older edition of Denzinger, which doesn’t always line up with the new ones. Here’s the current edition.

Unfortunately it’s only in Latin or French online. 687 to 688 is from St. Leo IX’s letter responding to St. Peter Damian’s Book of Gomorrah.

Possibly. I know the numbering doesn’t always match up. The version I have electronically in Verbum lists both the old and new numbering and I checked in both places. But there could be some other alternate numbering (or alternate edition) that I am overlooking.

Actually, now that I take a look at my edition and compare it to the Latin one you posted, I appear to be missing DS 687–690. Mine goes from 686 to 350 in the other numbering. I was assuming that 350–353 was the other number for 687–690, but my edition does not show both numbers for those paragraphs and your website shows 350–353 after 690.

So it appears my copy is missing some paragraphs or perhaps is some alternate edition that does not include them for some reason. :hmmm:

Sorry for getting so far afield. :blush: It is related to tracking down references to Church documents for the OP, though. :o

Thanks dmar.

And I noticed I gave the wrong link for the “Index of Scripture References”. It should have been:

Regardless of the history of the phrases the theology from which it springs is at least Aquinas.

The phrase seems to have a number of equivalent alternatives, “intrinsically evil” , “intrinsically disordered” etc and refers to “human acts”.

Now an intrinsically evil human act is one which is very bad regardless of circumstance, intent or lack of consent. This is a complicated way of saying that the objective “matter” of the act (what is performed) is gravely disordered and no good intention can change that.

A person who wilfully and knowingly engages in such “grave matter” commits mortal sin and is cut off completely from God’s sanctifying grace.

However, because a mortal sin requires three conditions to be fulfilled (grave matter, full consent, full understanding) one can still engage in objectively “grave matter” without committing a mortal sin if full consent is lacking. We say the sin is not imputable.
The action of course is still objectively, gravely and intrinsically disordered. It may also be called a grave transgression all the same.

The Commandments are understood to be such examples of grave matter.

I wouldn’t say* the “sin” is not imputable*; altho one would not be guilty of sinning mortally if one of the conditions is not present, one is very likely to be sinning venially. All 3 conditions are not necessary for venial sin. Guess it would be better to qualify “sin” and say a “mortal sin” is not imputable.

Nita “the sin” I was discussing, from context, is a “mortal sin” isn’t it?
But thanks for explicit actingthis.

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