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Fr. Wathen on a serious error in the Baltimore Catechism

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GiftOfGod:
From Fr. James F. Wathen's book Who Shall Ascend:

--- Quote ---Who Shall Ascend?Page 250
This [Liberal] attitude has given rise to the nice and easy maxim, "If you don't know something is a sin, then you're not guilty." The Baltimore Catechism puts the matter differently, but the practical result is the same:1

54. Question: What is mortal sin?
Answer: Mortal sin is a grievous offence against the law of God.

56. Q.: How many things are necessary to make a sin mortal?
A.: To make a sin mortal three things are necessary: a grievous matter, sufficient reflection, and full consent of the will.

57. Q.: What Is venial sin?
A.: Venial sin is a slight offence against the law of God in matters of less importance, or in matters of great importance it is an offence committed without sufficient reflection or full consent of the will. 1

Students are told that reflection is an act of the mind. Thus, if they do not know that an act is a mortal sin, or, though knowing, they commit the act without full advertence to its moral, or rather, immoral, nature, they are guilty of venial sin only. Such explanations leave very much to be desired. We propose the following revision for the Catechism, after which further comment will be necessary.

______________________

1 A Catechism of Christian Doctrine, No. 2; "Originally issued by the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore in 1885." Pp. 13, 14. Some may take exception that we suggest a correction in the venerable Catechism, from which millions of American Catholics learned the elements of their Faith. Compared to what the Modernists have replaced this text with, it is good. All the same, it is to be hoped our readers are not so fragile, that they cannot be told that the main production of the Baltimore Catechism was supervised by Cardinal James Gibbons (1834-1921), Archbishop John Ireland (1838-1918), and Bishop John L. Spalding (1840-1916), all of whom were regarded as Liberal in their day-which they were.




Part One - Chapter Seven Page 251
54. Question: What is mortal sin?
Answer: Mortal sin is a grievous offence against the Law of God.

56. Q.: What is venial sin?
A.: Venial sin is a lesser offence against the Law of God. (It is not good to teach children-and grown-ups-that venial sin is a "slight" offence; next to mortal sin, it is the worst thing that can happen to them.)

57. Q.: What is guilt?
A.: Guilt is the degree of accountability a person has for the sins he has committed.

58. Q.: What determines the guilt which a person incurs through sin?
A.: One's guilt is measured by the gravity of his sin, and by the extent of his knowledge, advertence, and willfulness with respect to the sin.

59. Q.: What is the moral law?
A.: The moral law is the duty imposed upon us by God of doing what is good and avoiding what is evil.

60. Q.: What is the meaning of the term, moral responsibility?
A.: Moral responsibility means that we each have a duty to know what is good and what is evil, as we must answer to God for all our acts.

61. Q.: What is moral irresponsibility?
A.: Moral irresponsibility is failure or refusal to try to and out whether an act is a sin or not.

62. Q.: How does moral irresponsibility determine one's guilt?
A.: The less one tries to know what is right and to do it, one's guilt increases; the more one tries to know what is right and to do it, one's guilt decreases.

63. Q.: What is another name for moral irresponsibility?
A.: Another name for moral irresponsibility is sloth.

All of the above introduces us to the subject of ignorance and moral responsibility. We seek to refute the pseudo-doctrine that "what you do not know (about your moral obligation), cannot hurt you." To begin with, the Sacred Scriptures are very clear and repetitive about the fact that one is bound to know one' s duty, and ignorance is an evil to be avoided, as, without knowledge, it is impossible to fulfill the law, our primary moral duty, for we are God's creatures, and owe Him obedience.
--- End quote ---

Fr. Wathen expounds upon this error in a video interview found here: https://www.bitchute.com/video/fB5f9QAp2LwC/


I'd like to thank Stubborn for showing me the video last year. At the time, this was my response:

--- Quote ---Wow, this is excellent! Fr. Wathen made an excellent point (about mortal sin) that I think every trad would agree with, assuming that they are using their brains and not just parroting the Catechism. I wonder how many souls have been lost by this error in the Baltimore Catechism.
--- End quote ---

GiftOfGod:
Previous discussion on this:


--- Quote from: Non Nobis on January 18, 2021, 03:04:50 AM ---
--- Quote from: GiftOfGod on January 17, 2021, 11:35:09 PM ---
--- Quote from: Michael Wilson on January 16, 2021, 10:33:44 AM ---G.O.G. Stated:
--- Quote ---Probably the best example: the Baltimore Catechism. There are a few errors in there, one of which I cannot discuss on this website without risking a ban but another error is how it says that "three things are necessary" to qualify a sin as a mortal sin when in reality, the only qualification is grievous matter. See Fr. Wathen's Who Shall Ascend for further explanation.
--- End quote ---
What about a man that goes hunting and thinks that he is shooting at a deer and instead kills a man? This is grievous matter; but there is no sufficient knowledge or full consent of the will; did he commit a mortal sin?

--- End quote ---

The Baltimore Catechism Stated:

--- Quote ---Q. 283. What do we mean by "grievous matter" with regard to sin?
A. By "grievous matter" with regard to sin we mean that the thought, word or deed by which mortal sin is committed must be either very bad in itself or severely prohibited, and therefore sufficient to make a mortal sin if we deliberately yield to it.
--- End quote ---

--- End quote ---

Grievous matter is sometimes said to be materially mortal or objectively mortal, without knowing anything about the subject who committed the sin. But if God knows the subject was innocently ignorant or did not give full consent there is not a formal mortal sin that removes grace from the soul. An objective mortal sin is forbidden and hideous and should be condemned. We should judge the act, although the world absurdly thinks that is not being "nice". But we (outside the confessional) can't judge the state of a man's soul.

Ignorance can be sinful and those who deliberately cause ignorance by lies or neglect are committing great sins. But not every person ignorant about something is in sin; as in Michael's example.

--- End quote ---

--- Quote from: Michael Wilson on January 18, 2021, 11:02:26 AM ---G.O.G:
--- Quote ---Q. 283. What do we mean by "grievous matter" with regard to sin?
A. By "grievous matter" with regard to sin we mean that the thought, word or deed by which mortal sin is committed must be either very bad in itself or severely prohibited, and therefore sufficient to make a mortal sin if we deliberately yield to it.
--- End quote ---
Thank you; the last sentence demonstrates that full consent of the will is also necessary and therefore before full consent can be given "sufficient knowledge" must be had; therefore there are three components to a Mortal Sin as the Church teaches unanimously; not one. Also, Fr. Wathen is not an expert, does not possess any special authority in moral theology; his testimony is only as good as the sources he cites.
In the example I gave, there is grievous matter, but there is no Mortal Sin; the man did not mean to kill another, he mistakenly thought he was shooting at game.

--- End quote ---
What do you think?

revival2029:
I will just give my perspective but not here to argue.

Lets take masturbation for example, its disordered, its grave no matter what, but at some point if someone goes to confession over and over and still cannot quit is it really mortal at that point?  I would say obviously its up to the individual priests in confession to decide but I think a lot of cases it passes a point where the chemical addiction or mental ailment is too strong to qualify it as mortal post a prior confession, and its simply gravely disordered and the person isnt necessarily on the path to hell but has some serious shortcomings with their relationship with God, or some serious pride issues or something that needs to be worked on besides the actual sin itself for God to relieve them of this sin.

A grave sin is not always mortal and the priests in confession should have some say in whether or not it is mortal. 

Some people its a detriment to the their faith walk to think that if they die they are going to hell.  It would be better for their faith walk to say, well I am on the path to heaven but I am riddled with grave sin and I need to work on my relationship with the Father and strive to be less prideful and more humble.

ChairmanJoeAintMyPrez:

--- Quote from: revival2029 on October 19, 2021, 10:10:15 AM ---I will just give my perspective but not here to argue.

Lets take masturbation for example, its disordered, its grave no matter what, but at some point if someone goes to confession over and over and still cannot quit is it really mortal at that point?  I would say obviously its up to the individual priests in confession to decide but I think a lot of cases it passes a point where the chemical addiction or mental ailment is too strong to qualify it as mortal post a prior confession, and its simply gravely disordered and the person isnt necessarily on the path to hell but has some serious shortcomings with their relationship with God, or some serious pride issues or something that needs to be worked on besides the actual sin itself for God to relieve them of this sin.

A grave sin is not always mortal and the priests in confession should have some say in whether or not it is mortal. 

Some people its a detriment to the their faith walk to think that if they die they are going to hell.  It would be better for their faith walk to say, well I am on the path to heaven but I am riddled with grave sin and I need to work on my relationship with the Father and strive to be less prideful and more humble.

--- End quote ---

Psychological addiction isn't the error in question.  The error in question is ignorance.

And as it regards masturbation, no one can be said to be ignorant because masturbation is a natural law violation, and the natural law is written on the heart of every man.

(Hint:  If one's opinion requires him to disregard the opinions of multiple Church doctors, he should consider revising that opinion.)

Stubborn:
Snip from a sermon by Fr. Wathen entitled Beware. Personally, I look at what he says here as kind of a supplement to the OP....


"...Our Lord in today’s Gospel speaks with a very few words of something most serious and it is truly a formidable message. He begins by saying: “Beware”, and we know very well what this means when someone says “beware”, he means to caution us against danger.

When Our Lord says it, He is cautioning us with regard to nothing less than hell fire, the loss of our souls. When He says “beware”, He is putting us on our guard against a mortal danger.
 
 And He says “beware of false prophets,” and we understand therefore that there are two kinds, the true prophets and the false. The true prophets are not those who predict the future accurately, the prophet in the scriptures is not always one who does tell us what God has warned or God has revealed about the future. The prophet is mainly the spokesman for God, he is God’s mouth piece. And Our Lord here is saying that you are going to be confronted; He is saying this of course, not only for the ears of his listeners but for all generations afterward.

 He is saying that ‘you are going to have to deal with false prophets as well as true ones’, and ‘you are going to have to distinguish between the two kinds’ and the reason he says beware, is because of the next line, that the false ones will come in the clothing of sheep. Which is to say they will appear as good as the true ones.

 He is saying there will be a problem of distinguishing, and He is saying that the false prophets will have a very winning appearance, they will have the appeal and they will sound very knowledgeable, they will be likable and you will be taken with them. That is why there is a real danger here. It is not as if you could easily distinguish, on the very contrary.

 I’m sure all of you have seen on television or heard on the radio enough protestant ministers to recognize that some of them are very personable; some of them give the impression of great learning. There is no doubt that they are likable. Someone must like them because someone, more than one someone, send them thousands and thousands of dollars to make sure that they continue, and therefore all these donors must be impressed.

There are two elements that must not be missed in this. The first is that the false prophets are deceivers. By their good appearance, by their affableness, and by the convincingness of their message they are a danger, and the other element is that people listen to them hungrily. Whatever they say, the people enjoy hearing.

Now this is the question.

Who is guilty? Is it the false prophet or is it those who listen?

If it is only the false prophet who is guilty, why is there any need to “beware”? Which is to say why is there any need to “beware” if God is not going to blame those who listen, those who are taken in by the falsehoods by the erroneous doctrine. The problem here is that you have heard all your lives that you cannot commit a mortal sin unless you have full knowledge and willingness, full consent.

 Here Our Lord is saying you can be deceived, and you can listen and you can accept that which is erroneous, that which is deceptive, and if you do, even if you have good intentions, that is why there is danger. And Our Lord therefore says that being deceived is your fault. You can lose your soul by being deceived.

 And He is saying your good intention is not enough because presumably, people do not listen to liars, deceivers or heretics, with a bad intention, or do they? – That is the question! They must! Because somewhere there is a sin, and the sin is in the evil in the heart.

 Now we have to presume that sometime the heretical preacher has good intentions because he also is deceived, after all he learned his belief from some other false prophet and presumably he listened with what he thought was a good will, but he is deceived, and now he is passing his heresy and his scandal onto those who also are deceived.

We have to presume therefore that there is an evil will beneath the sincerity, which is to say those who give out with that which is erroneous; that which is false and that which is destructive, are guilty of doing it even if they imagine that they have good will.

And those who listen to that which is erroneous, you will remember that Our Lord uses the same expression in His parable, his allegory of the Good Shepherd, you remember that He says that the wolf enters among the sheep and he kills and he scatters.

The wolf is the false teacher, the heretical preacher, the false prophet. And he introduces into the Church destruction and disunity because his doctrine is false there is bound to be disagreement among the Lord’s flock as what is the true doctrine and what is the false..."

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