Are People Basically Good or Basically Evil?

Are People Basically Good or Basically Evil?

When asked what differentiates a Catholic perspective from a Protestant perspective on the world, many people today are inclined to say that it lies in the way we see human beings. Protestants, they’ll generalize, see human beings as basically evil, while Catholics see human beings as generally good. But this characterization, wide-spread as it is, especially among Catholics today, is a gross distortion. It’s also an ancient heresy called Pelagianism, after an Irish monk who

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Is Humanae Vitae Irreformable?

Is Humanae Vitae Irreformable?

I was recently asked if the teaching of Humanae vitae is per se irreformable—that is, whether it constitutes an ex cathedra pronouncement.  My answer to this question is twofold in the spirit of a well-trained scholastic thinker: yes and no. First, let’s be clear that Paul VI employed a teaching instrument not normally associated with the very highest levels of authority in the Church: an encyclical letter rather than an apostolic constitution.  That doesn’t tell

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Epiphanius on the Assumption

Epiphanius on the Assumption

August 15 is the traditional date on which the Roman Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Under various names and on various dates, this feast is celebrated in nearly every church of apostolic origin. We don’t know precisely when and where this feast first emerged, but we know for sure that it can be found as early as the sixth century.  The explosion of feasts celebrating distinct events

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The Sexual Revolution vs. Humanae Vitae

The Sexual Revolution vs. Humanae Vitae

The Sexual Revolution, fueled by hormonal contraception, has basically turned the Judeo-Christian understanding of sexual responsibility on its head.  As Pope Paul VI had noted in his encyclical letter, Humanae vitae, by “freeing” the conjugal act from its connection to pregnancy, contraception separates the act from any implication of a long-term commitment.  This move changes the way we think about responsibility in the arena of human sexuality, not just a little bit, but fundamentally. In

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Humanae Vitae: Consumerism in Relationships With Others

Humanae Vitae: Consumerism in Relationships With Others

If you’ve never read Martin Buber’s pivotal work, I and Thou, you should.  It’s basically about the spiritual disposition described in the Judeo-Christian tradition by the phrase, “purity of heart,” and his point in the book is in fact identical to the point being made by Christ in his affirmation, “Blessed are the pure of heart; they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8). Buber says that the only truly appropriate way to perceive the most essential

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Humanae Vitae: The Human Person as a New Creation Event

Humanae Vitae: The Human Person as a New Creation Event

According to Catholic teaching, each and every distinct human person is a something wholly and entirely new in the cosmos.  Obviously, in the world as we know it, this isn’t an assertion about our bodies.  Babies derive nutrients from their mothers to grow and develop in the womb, and later, while nursing.  Throughout life, we eat to replace dying bits and pieces of our bodies and to build new tissue out of the pre-existing stuff

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