In his magisterial history The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon identified the loss of civic virtue as the “secret poison” that undermined this sprawling global empire and inevitably led to its demise. The Catholic Church is not about to disintegrate in the same fashion as the Roman Empire, but its unity, grounded in the infallible papal magisterium, seems to be unraveling, and its eternal doctrines are no longer safe from radical revision.
We can probably isolate several such poisons in the Church that undermine the deposit of faith, but there is one that is particularly insidious. It involves a departure from what liberal theologians regard as a “sexophobic morality,” and it accounts for profane documents such as Fiducia Supplicans. As everyone knows by now, this declaration from the Dicastery of the Doctrine of the Faith sanctions the blessing of same-sex couples and those in other irregular relationships, so long as those blessings are not liturgical and do not convey the impression of marriage.
Fiducia Supplicans directly flows from principles and premises articulated in the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. Following the decadent path of moral theology of the 1970s, Amoris Laetitia misconstrues God’s authoritative commands as “rules” that express “ideals” to which we should all aspire. It ignores the fact that some of these commands, such as the divine prohibition against adultery, allow for no exceptions. On the contrary, these rules are subject to exceptions, excuses, and mitigating circumstances.
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