The Catechism of Catholic Ethics / = causing scandal?

Hello all,

I hope you didn’t quickly misread the title as “Catechism of the Catholic Church” as causing scandal; however, if you did, that kind of proves the point here:

On these forums today I found multiple references (over different times and posts) that the website, named “The Catechism of Catholic Ethics” is actually an un-authoritative, potentially hazardous resource run by a layperson, Ronald L. Conte, who has (at best) extremely questionable beliefs and teachings on a variety of subjects (especially in regards to eschatology). He also runs the website with similarly problematic (but less mistakable as authoritative) resources and statements. It seems a large part of his goal is to sell books on Amazon, as there are a great deal of links to them on his sites. Not to mention the REAL catechism prohibits the production of other catechisms

I have been referring to that site unawares, thinking that it was an official church resource, especially on sexual ethics, for probably 5+ years and am sort of freaking out about this revelation today.

That site comes up as the top search result on an innumerable amount of Catholic related Google searches, and to think that there are people out there (like myself, for 5+ years!!) that are referring to this as a source of truth from the Church is staggering.

Although admittedly I should have probably taken more diligence in assessing the resource years ago,** it is set up in a remarkably similar style and format to the real catechism** and also very subversively named (hopefully unintentionally?), not to mention that search results that show up at the top of Google are usually very reliable in general.

Certainly, people not as familiar with Church resources could be even more easily confused.

On top of that, I feel like the author has (hopefully unintentionally) really dropped the ball in keeping a disclaimer up there on the site; he signs his posts as “Roman Catholic theologian and Bible translator.” Also he calls his site/work: “The Catechism of Catholic Ethics is a comprehensive explanation of Roman Catholic teaching on the basic principles of ethics, including…” which is also misleading.

I feel scandalized thinking about some of the struggles I’ve had in my heart based off the conflict of information from that site (that I’ve unknowingly trusted as an authority from the Church) and some (now I realize) significantly better resources from other authors and places. I feel like I have to now “un-learn” some things, especially in regards to Catholic sexual ethics teaching. It has truly been an honest mistake on my part to refer to this for so long unawares.

I have personally learned my lesson to examine resources more thoroughly (which I should have done before this) and will do so with significantly more time and prudence in the future. I think this was one of those things from a long time ago that I trusted when I was younger (and less savvy, being not the most practicing Catholic until a couple years ago) and then never really questioned again until today.

However, that said, if I was so easily misled then I would assume there are others being equally misled, which is confirmed in a lot of responses I found in this thread on Reddit. as well as here on the Catholic Forums like this thread and this other thread (see posts by nodito in particular) (just to name a couple!).

Most concerning is this post I discovered where supposedly Colin B. Donovan (now Vice President for Theology at EWTN) spoke about it, but I am unable to find the original unquoted resource unfortunately.

What should be done about the situation, balancing charity with the gravity of what’s going on? This is actually a huge deal with the website’s prevalence ( in search results across the internet. As a web designer, I cannot understate the significance of it turning up so high in search results as being a massive problem when its authority cannot be established. I cannot count the number of times I have personally referred to it unawares. At very best, this is misleadingly authoritative when it is not.

My goal is not at all to cause scandal but rather to hopefully help prevent it. I’d hope a moderator would delete this post if this causes an issue; however, this is a sincerely heartfelt concern

TLDR: In short, is there perhaps a way to get an official statement from an apologist on Catholic answers or preferably something with even more authority about Ron Conte’s and how to handle it, as it has personally caused me some scandal and might be harming others (especially those who are not familiar with Catholic authoritative resources)?

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It is* not *an authoritative Catechism. Such must be approved by the Catholic Church (Can. 827 §1). It is not.

Can. 827 §1. To be published, catechisms and other writings pertaining to catechetical instruction or their translations require the approval of the local ordinary, without prejudice to the prescript of ⇒ can. 775, §2.

You do right to avoid it.

This is pretty disturbing. I have never come across that site before myself, but I can see how that could be a big problem.

Do you know if that Ronald L. Conte Jr. is [user]Ron Conte[/user] here on CAF?

I believe one and the same. Certainly the site reflects the same mistaken approach to marital intimacy as contained in his many posts here.

Dear dshix,

Yes, they are one and the same.

It is best to avoid this individual and his misleading works like the plague.

He also runs a blog named Improperium Christi which is full of questionable material.

Indeed. Though on this forum, perhaps the best course of action is not to avoid him but to make sure that his unorthodoxy is immediately and thoroughly countered whenever he posts it.

What “officially” needs to be said, and why does it need to be “handled”? He is a guy who has produced a website(s), and while he claims expertise, he does not actually claim authority to represent the Church. I have referenced his site, and seen others do so in moral theology discussions, but never as an authoritative reference. In the ensuing discussion, some might agree with Conte, others might disagree.

If his actions (which are quite public) are in conflict with Canon Law - I imagine that is a matter for the relevant Bishop.

It would be a mistake to assume everything he writes is “wrong” or even unorthodox. He should be viewed as another lay poster, albeit with some theological training.

When did I say “everything he writes” is wrong?

Read my post again. I said that his unorthodoxy needs to countered. I said nothing about when he’s not unorthodox.

I was referring to the general attitude of “avoiding this individual and his misleading works like the plague” (with which you concurred in post #6).

That led to my statement - which did not purport to be quoting you.

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The fact that it is written by a layperson is not the cause of concern.

The work does not have the approval from the Church that is needed for a work of that kind to be published. And I do not foresee such approval forthcoming given some its contents.

Stick to works from approved Catechisms and known completely orthodox theologians and writers.

There will likely be no Church response at all. Such is not in vogue these days. Politician Catholics have been known to do worse with impunity.

I am not referring to any response. The Author is to submit it the authorities – and it be approved…before it is published. If it was submitted - it was not not approved.

It has not been approved - it should not have been published. Can. 827 §1.

NOT really a source to go to or use etc.

I understand. Take my point as a further observation.

One though that is not germane here…

(and the Church has reasons for not the prudential decisions it makes in how to confront particular Politicians while avoiding making matters worse)

I think it arises naturally, particularly noting we have a charge of scandal bring levied against the one who published with no permission, contrary to church law.


They may report it to the Bishop.

It will be the prudential judgment of the Bishop what to do then.

In any case it is not an approved catechism …not a reliable source.

Fair enough, though you say you did not purport to be quoting me when you did, in fact, make your statement after literally quoting me. I don’t see how anyone could expected to not think you were referring directly to my words.

I do understand your intent now, however, so no worries. :slight_smile:

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