The Father William Most Collection
Dissent from The Splendor of Truth
[Published electronically for use in classes taught by Fr. Most and for private theological study.]
Robert Friday, Professor at the Catholic University of America, and head of the national Bishops' office for Diocesan Directors of Religious education has written a best seller, Adults Making Responsible Moral Decisions. It considers the case of an imaginary girl, Sarah, whose marriage has broken up. There seems to be no hope of an annulment. But yet Friday takes us through a course of reasoning winding up by saying that it is all right for Sarah to remarry. She will not be in sin if she does so. She can receive Holy Communion too, but best to do it where she is not known, and similarly not teach CCD in her present place -but both only until we can educate people to the new way of making responsible moral decisions. For Vatican II says we should not be just sheep who follow. The very title of his work says we must be responsible. To do it the old way would be irresponsible, is the implication. And it would be childish, not adult.
We see there is need for the new moral Encyclical, which is aimed chiefly at such things as this work.
Jesus teaches dramatically here: He says: Why do you ask me about good? One is good, God. He did not mean to deny He was good, or even to deny His divinity. But He wanted to say that if we use the same word, good, to apply twice, that is, to God and to all others, there is something the same in the two uses, but the difference is far greater.
So God the Good, the source of all Good is also the standard. We could say He is the form. We speak of things as being true to form. If a man is true to the divine form, the pattern to which he should conform, then the man is, to that extent, good. From the start of our race, people have wanted to be their own standard. So Eve believed the tempter saying she would be like God - that is, able to determine for herself what is good or evil. She said in effect: God may know what is right part of the time. But right now, I can just see that this fruit is good.
God gave us commandments to tell us what is good in itself and good for us. Hence Jesus told the young man: Keep the commandments. God gave these commandments not out of a love of exercising authority, nor to gain. He could not gain anything, not even glory. For His glory consists in giving benefits to us.
But the reasons why He gives commands are two: 1) He, who is good, loves all that is good: goodness says creatures should obey the Creator, children their Father. So His holiness, i.e., love of all that is right, wants them to do that; 2) He wants to give us good - He wants glory only through doing that. But it is useless for Him to give if we are not open to receive. His commandments tell us how to be open. At the same time, they steer us away from the evils that lurk in the very nature of things. For example, getting really drunk will bring a hangover, and - though not so many notice the connection - much premarital sex brings a high danger of a loveless marriage. The reason is this: in premarital sex the two are not really interested in the well-being of the other for the other's sake (that is the definition of love). Rather, they are using each other for sensory pleasure. That means they are putting each other into a state such that if death happened along, they would be wretched forever. That is more like hatred than like love. For, as we said, to love is to will good to another for the other's sake. Further, it is obvious that real love can hardly develop in such a framework. But it will seem like love, for the chemistry is the same whether love is or is not really present (love lies in the spiritual will, which wills good to the other for the other's sake). Yes, the chemistry gives feelings of warmth, closeness etc. But it is only chemistry, not love. So then they may marry thinking they have a lot of love - when really all they have is chemistry. When that chemistry subsides, they wake up to find themselves locked in the same house with someone they do not really love. No need to tell the rest of the story.
So, the Ten Commandments really are a gift, the means to benefit us. Hence Moses told the Israelites (Dt. 11:26-28) he was putting before them a blessing and a curse. A blessing, if they obeyed; a curse if they did not. He said (Dt. 4:8) that other nations would say: "This great nation is really a wise and intelligent people." For the Law is Wisdom, in that it leads us to what is really good in itself, really good for us.
Jesus in His reply to the young man focused first on the commandments that deal with love of neighbor. He did not mean to rub out the vertical for the horizontal, like a friend of mine who said: "If I were alone on a desert island I could have no relation to God - I can have that only through people."
Yet if we look closely, we will see that love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable. It comes about this way. We said that to love anyone other than God is to will good to the other for the other's sake. But when we turn to love God, we cannot, as it were say to Him: "I hope you are well off, that you get what you need". - No, even our "service", even service to a heroic extent and degree does Him no good at all. Yet Scripture pictures Him as pleased if we obey, displeased if we do not. Why? There are two reasons as we said above: He loves what is good in itself, and objective goodness says creatures should obey their Creator; and He loves to give us good things - which is in vain if we are not open to receive. His commandments tell us how to be open to receive. Hence they are really a gift from Him to us.
So it is clear, since to love God is to obey Him, as His Son said: "He who obeys the commandments, he is the one who loves me" (John 14:21) -- then when we love God we will that He may have the pleasure of giving to neighbor. But that is also, in one and the same act, both love of neighbor, and love of God, for we are willing that neighbor obey Him, and so receive His benefits, which it so pleases Him to give.
How far should we go in loving neighbor? As far as Jesus went, for He said, "Love one another as I have loved you. He loved even to death, death on the cross. Such love makes us like Him, and so also like the Father, for He and the Father are one. But as we said, God is the pattern to which we should conform, and in doing that we are what is best for us. So we have freedom among other benefits.
This love includes being like Him in interior attitudes. St. Paul told the Philippians (2:6): "Let this attitude be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not think equality with God something to be grasped, but He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, and became obedient even to death, even to death on the cross." As we said, obedience is love of God, so He lived supremely the love of the Father. On entering into this world as the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us (10:7): He said: "Behold, I come to do your will O God." This was love of the Father, or God, and simultaneously love of us, for it was for our eternal happiness that He went so far as to take the form of a slave, and obey even to the cross.
We said in this lies true freedom. We can see this in the mysterious chapter 20 of the Apocalypse. It tells of two resurrections, and in between them, a reign of the just with Christ on this earth for a thousand years. Then the second resurrection. St. Augustine proposed an interpretation which has won widespread support. He said the first resurrection is rising from sin. To reign on earth is to be kings, rather than slaves to sin and vices -for as we explained in part, sin promises a happiness it cannot and does not give, and it brings us the evils that lurk in the very nature of things. The reign is for the 100 years, which stands for all the time from His ascension until His final return at the end. Then the second resurrection is the physical one, from the graves to eternal happiness.
St. Paul says the law was our pedagogue, that is, it prepared the way for Christ. It told us the commandments which Christ told the young man who asked what he needed to attain eternal happiness. But there is something higher and better. For St. Paul insistently proclaims that now that the service of the pedagogue is finished, we are sons, and free, free from the law. Of course Paul did not mean we may sin without fear. No, Paul also warns (1 Cor 6:9-10), after enumerating the chief great sins and sinners:"
Those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Grace makes us children of the Father. Children as such, have a claim to inherit. Children know well that they did not earn what they inherit - though they could have earned to lose it. So a student of mine once summed it up by saying about salvation: "You can't earn it, but you can blow it."
So St. Paul told the Galatians, that they must not use their freedom from the law for the flesh, so as to follow the flesh. If so, they would not be able to inherit the kingdom. Rather, they should follow the Spirit of Christ. That Spirit, leads us to do what He did, in the way in which He did it. But He did not violate the law, so we also do not violate the law in following the Spirit of Christ. We need not even think of the law if we live by the Spirit, for, as we said, that Spirit leads us to do as Christ did, in the way in which He lived. But if we followed the flesh instead of the Spirit, then we would be under the law, or as Paul told the Corinthians, we would not inherit the kingdom. So Paul gave the Galatians two check lists, by which they could see whether they were following the flesh, or the Spirit.
But to follow the Spirit needs the grace, the strength of the Spirit. That Spirit tells us interiorly what we should do, and gives us the strength to do it. (This is the work of what we call actual grace). This makes us like the only one who is really Good, with the result that se are then good, and it also frees us from slavery to sin. Hence it really makes us free.
Experience of people shows us that to know clearly the will of God, to know how to be like Him, needs revelation. Hence He gave the Commandments. those people who do not have that revelation depend on the law written in their hearts, of which St. Paul spoke in Romans 2:14-16. They can really know the law in that way. But, as we said, experience shows that that law on the hearts can become dim, it becomes dimmer every time a person sins, because then he turns his gaze from the image of the only one who really is Good.
But even with this revelation, it is highly desirable to have a further help, namely, a Church to interpret God's law for us. In His love for us, Christ gave us such a Church. Vatican II said (DV §10): The task of authoritatively interpreting the word of God, whether written or handed on [Scripture or Tradition] has been entrusted exclusively to the living teaching office of the Church, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ."
At the start of this encyclical the Pope observed that sadly, so many refuse to use this divinely provided help. So there is dissent from the teaching of the Church, extensive dissent, even on the part of those whose duty is to teach what the Church teaches. They remind us again of Eve, who wanted to be her own standard of right and wrong, to be like God, knowing good and evil.
No wonder there is so much violence in the world today and in the U. S. Each one thinks he is the standard of good and evil: "As long as I think it is all right, it is all right." Because of our courts, public schools for long have been forbidden to teach any religion or morality. So many Catholic schools have failed too. No wonder!
But God does not excuse sins done in good faith. In Leviticus chapter 4 He gave many rules for sacrifices to be offered in case someone violates a law of God without knowing he is doing so: he must offer a sacrifice to make up for it. Even the leftish New Jerome Biblical Commentary on this passage says that God wants the objective order righted for even unwitting violations. Scripture shows so many examples where He acted because of such things. Abraham had told the Egyptians his wife Sarah was his Sister. And so the King's agents took her to the king. The king was very pleased, and sent Abraham rich presents. But then Genesis 12:17 reports that God struck Pharaoh and his household with severe plagues because he had Abraham's wife - even though he was in good faith!
In pagan Rome, everything was permeated with religion, even if it was a false religion. They at least saw the need of a higher power. That was less evil than official godlessness, with a government that promotes and favors the worst immorality.
The Church has grown in penetration into the deposit of truth once given it at the start. This includes also deeper understanding of moral principles. This does not mean anything has been reversed; all has been under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who can be patient with slow development, but will never permit the gates of hell to prevail by letting the Church teach false doctrine.
As we said, some whose assignment is to teach true doctrine have deviated, have dissented form the Church. On the way to Jerusalem, St. Paul at Miletus (Acts 20:17-35) warned Bishops and Priests (v . 30):"Out of your own number some will come, distorting the truth and leading astray those who follow them." And we think too of the terrible warning in Second Timothy 4:3: "There will come a time when they will not accept sound doctrine, but with itching ears, will accumulate teachers for themselves. They will turn aside their hearing from the truth, and turn to fables."
God had warned Ezekiel (3:17-18) that he had been appointed watchman, to warn the wicked. If he failed to warn them, the wicked one would die for his sin, but God would hold the false watchman responsible for the death of that sinner. And Wisdom 6:7 warns: "The lowly may be forgiven in mercy, but the mighty will be mightily tested."
Now the Pope goes into the heart of his message in this Encyclical, and becomes specific about the moral errors that are abundant today. He notes that some so exalt freedom and to make it the absolute standard - but that means there is no real standard of good and evil, and so there is chaos, leading logically to atheism.
Those in error have in common this mistake: they exalt conscience above all, even above the law of God. Now it is true, that we are obliged to follow conscience, and to violate it is at least subjectively sinful. Suppose, for example, a man was convinced that to eat a banana was mortal sin, and in that belief, did eat one. He would sin mortally, not by eating the banana, which is harmless, but by doing what he believed was mortally wrong. But this does not mean "as long as he thinks something is all right, it is all right." No, as we saw, God punishes even unwitting violations of His law. So at the outset, we have the obligation to align our conscience with the law of God as taught by His Church. Otherwise there is no law, each one would be his own standard. And violence would be the result, as indeed it is today.
Oddly, in an age that adores freedom, we find psychologists, such as B. F. Skinner, who say we have no free will. He experimented much with training pigeons, and thought we were much the same as pigeons. Of course Martin Luther, in his major work, The Bondage of the Will also taught that we have no free will. It is not strange Luther fell into so horrendous an error: he too wanted to be his own standard of what is good and evil, rejecting the Church for Scripture alone - though he did not know how to prove which ancient books were part of Scripture, so if he had been logical, he would have never appealed to Scripture at all. In that same book he also taught something most Lutherans probably do not know about. He said a human being is like a horse. Either God or satan will get on and ride, and accordingly we do good or evil. But we have nothing to say which one rides, and hence, nothing to say about whether we go to heaven or hell!.
Existentialism has been a fertile source of moral and other errors. For an Existentialist thinks there are no general truths, only things that happen to happen. So if you ask him: Is adultery wrong, he must say: I don't know. Give me a case. When he gets the case, on what principles does he decide it? On no principles, for it is a matter of principle for an Existentialist to have no principles - principles are general truths, under which many things fall. But he is committed to thinking there are no general truths. So he must not say adultery is right - a general truth - nor may he say adultery is wrong - another general truth. He can only say: Give me a case. Here is indeed a so-called freedom that swings like a weathervane. Existentialists also say the world does not make sense. No wonder, to have no principles keeps one from making sense of anything.
Still others have tried to distinguish the ethical order from the moral order, with a moral order for this world only. Of course, they might as well have no principles, like the Existentialists.
Similarly, some say a general or universal norm in morality is not adequate for circumstances vary so much. Now it is true that there are variations ion circumstances, and that subjective disposition on the part of the person who acts can vary much. But hat does not destroy the more basic fact that there are some things which by their very nature, independently or anyone who does them, independently of the disposition of any who do them, are morally wrong. The great Greek philosopher Aristotle tried to find a basis for morality in the mean, we would say, the golden mean. For example, he said that the virtue of courage is between the extremes of cowardice, and rashness. That happens to be true in a general way. and there are similar sets of three positions in many moral virtues. But Aristotle in spite of all of that saw and said that there are some things which are such that we do not look for a golden mean: murder, adultery, theft. So we do not tell someone: Please do not commit adultery too often, but do not avoid it altogether - do just the right amount of adultery. Aristotle knew this was and is wrong. Adultery is simply wrong in itself, regardless of the intention of the doer and other interior dispositions, and regardless of circumstances. So there are universal norms, that hold in spite of the variations of intention, in spite of variable circumstances.
Remarkable too is the insight of another great Greek philosopher, Plato. In his Theatetus 176 he said:
"We should fly away from earth to heaven as fast as possible; to fly away means to become like God, so far as this can be done; and to become like Him, is to become holy, just and wise... God is... perfect righteousness, and the man who is most righteous is most like him." In other words, God is the supreme model of Goodness, and that man is best who is most like God.
Another moral aberration is that of the fundamental option. It says that it is almost hard to commit a mortal sin. Some authors would say that if they must decide about the spiritual state of a couple practicing contraception, they should first inquire about their life in general. If they are good in general, then their fundamental option is good - and so when they contracept, they do not really mean to break with God! But the Epistle of St. James says, 2:10-11 that if a man violates one commandment, he violates them all. The reason is that in violating one, he is implicitly denying the authority of the lawgiver.
The Pope of course rejects this notion of the fundamental option. To knowingly and willing commit any thing that is a mortal sin does entail a definite break with God, and hence, if one dies in that state, eternal ruin. This false notion was condemned by the Doctrinal Congregation in its Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, of Dec. 29, 1975 §10. Of course, many theologians rejected that declaration then. So now the pope restates it. Sadly they are even now rejecting the teachings of this new Encyclical.
Probably the most serious dissenters are the consequentialists and the proportionalists. The Encyclical (in §75) describes them thus: "The former [consequentialism] claims to draw criteria of the rightness of a given way of acting solely from a calculation of foreseeable consequences deriving from a given choice. The latter [proportionalism], by weighing the various values and good being sought, focuses rather on the proportion acknowledged between the good and bad effects of that choice, with a view to the 'greater good' or 'lesser evil' actually possible in a particular situation." The imaginary Sarah of whom Father Friday spoke, whom we mentioned at the start, works this way.
To make the matter clearer, we must review the fact that there are three things that determine the morality of a particular concrete action: the object, that is, the nature of the action in itself, regardless of who does it, the purpose, in the mind of the doer, and the circumstances. Friday and the consequentialists and proportionalists manage to blur the object and the intention rather fully. Friday says that to kill is wrong. We might think of killing a mosquito, a turkey, or a human. Killing is wrong in all three cases. But there is a greater good to be had in the case of killing a mosquito or a turkey, not to be found in killing a human being. So Sarah can come to think that we should not so stick to one rule as to damage the effects of others. She thinks that there is a greater good to be had if she remarries than if she does not. So it is all right for her to remarry, and she will not be in a state of sin if she does so, she can receive Holy Communion, and can continue to teach CCD - the latter two should be done elsewhere to avoid shocking those who do not understand the new and "responsible" way of acting. Yes, Sarah may be uncomfortable, and at risk. But this is worthwhile for an adult decision. There is a greater good.
How is it possible to ignore the essential, morality of the object, the nature of the thing done. Some say that it is only a premoral, not a moral evil. Or they call it an ontic evil, an evil in the order of being, not in the order of morality.
One of the chief dissenters is Richard McCormick, S. J. He wrote a key article, "Veritatis Splendor and Moral Theology" in America of October 30, 1993, pp. 8-11.
McCormick says the poor Pope simply does not understand the proportionalists, for there is a problem of defining the object in concrete cases: "Just as not every killing is murder, and not every falsehood is a lie, so not every artificial intervention preventing or promoting conception in marriage is necessarily an unchaste act."
McCormick says it is not easy to decide which elements are part of the definition of the action in itself, the object. So, he says that in the case of killing, the object includes not just the mere physical act, but al, so the reason, the purpose. So killing in a just war is permissible. Similarly in the case of lying: we may lie in diplomacy. Hence if we define sexual self-stimulation correctly, we will see that masturbation to obtain a sample for fertility testing is permitted. And then also, contraceptive intercourse in marriage should be so defined that it may be permitted when the reasons are good enough.
His reasoning is clever, and will deceive many. But we need to take a closer look.
What is wrong with killing? It is not the mere physical taking of life, but the violation of the rights of God, the only Lord of life that makes murder wrong. In a just war, God not only does not object: in the Old Testament He positively ordered some wars, and praised David for always doing His will. At times God even ordered the killing of all in a pagan city, even children. Some today say that is immoral. They do not correctly define murder. Murder is a violation of the rights of the only Lord of life. When that Lord orders a killing for His own reasons, it is not wrong, it is obedience. In the case of the destruction of cities, God ordered it because He knew that Jews would be apt to fall into idolatry if the pagans still remained around. Actually, the destruction was not complete enough to have the desired effect. The Jews often did fall into idolatry.
He also said that it is all right to lie for the sake of diplomacy. Again, we need a closer look. The best definition of a lie I have seen is this: A lie is any action or statement, which, when properly interpreted, is known by the speaker to be false. This means that the meaning of a statement must take into account not only the dictionary meaning of the several words, but also the context. We normally do, and should, take into account context. Without it we would fail to grasp the meaning intended by the speaker. Hence if a mother sends the child to the door to say to the salesman that she is not at home, if the salesman understands the context, the sense is obvious: Maybe she is here, maybe not, but for sure, she doesn't want to see you.
A powerful example in the matter of diplomacy is our having in place intercontinental missiles which would produce mass destruction, doing far more than could be warranted by the principle of the double effect. Under that principle it is at times permitted to bomb a military target even though that will cause the deaths of some noncombatants. Their deaths are not intended. If the destruction of the military target is important enough to outbalance that unfortunate side effect, it may be done legitimately. But we return to the intercontinental missiles. They would surely do far more than the double effect principle could justify. How is it that we can have them in place? We would not be allowed to use them even for retaliation. To have them in place amounts to a statement to other nations: If you do this, we will do that. Now Pope John Paul II sent a special message to the United Nations on precisely this subject, on June 11, 1982. In it he said: "The teaching of the Catholic Church in this area has been clear and consistent. It has deplored the arms race, called none the less for mutual and progressive and verifiable reduction of armaments, as well as greater safeguards against possible misuse of these weapons.... In current conditions 'deterrence' based on balance, certainly not as an end in itself, but as a step on the way toward a progressive disarmament, may still be judged morally acceptable. Nevertheless in order to ensure peace, it is indispensable not to be satisfied with the minimum which is always susceptible to the real danger of explosion."
How can this be justified? As we said, having them in place amounts to a statement: If you do this, we will do that. But as we said, all statements must be understood in their proper context. What is the proper context here? The context of a nation at war or in danger of war is such that no one in his right mind would expect the nation to disclose its secrets. So the proper interpretation of this statement, made by having missiles in place is: Zero. No message. Hence it is not a lie.
We come back now to contraception, which McCormick thinks can be morally right in view of motives. Is this true? No. McCormick again has not found the right definition of the object. The real reason why contraception is wrong is that it is a violation of the rights of God, who has established this means to continue our race. We must respect His rights, and so contraception is wrong. Is Natural Family Planning wrong too then? No. For in it the couple are not going against God's plan, but are rather using the principles God Himself has given for proper regulation of births. Of course, this must be used rationally, not just for selfish purposes. There must be a suitable reason for using the infertile periods for a long time or for the rest of one's life. But given those conditions, it is not a violation of God's plan, rather is making use of the means He Himself has provided, it is working within His plan.
We conclude, the Pope is not guilty of failure to understand, as McCormick charges. Rather, it is McCormick who lacks understanding.
And so Friday and Sarah similarly lack understanding. They are not at all adult and responsible.
What we have just said shows also the error of those who say that the teaching of the Church on contraception is merely making a rule out of physical nature. But, they continue, we have improved nature in so many ways. Why not in this way? We reply: 1) What we do now does not really change fundamental nature, but changes some applications of natural things. We can also notice this: if a man who is an expert on machinery comes to see a new machine, he can tell from the way it is built what it is supposed to do. Similarly, one examining the sexual powers of the human race can see that they were designed by the Creator for continuing the race, not as a means of selfish entertainment. And in deed, masturbation and homosexuality are selfish: the race can never continue because of those actions! 2)More basically, the real reason why contraception is wrong is what we said, namely, that it violates the rights of God who has set up this means of continuing the race.
The Pope adds that there is a need of pastoral work, really, of evangelizing people all over again, for so may lack the basics of the faith, thanks in no small part to the tragic failure of our so-called Catholic schools for a long time to convey the faith.
He notes that only morality can bring peace, and an end to violence. The old pagan Roman poet Horace saw this well when he wrote: What good are laws? they are empty without a sense of morality. - So we can multiply police, and jail sentences, and teachers in our schools - but without teaching morality based on the will of God, violence will increase, not stop.
The laity can help here, by showing the success and beauty of a life lived by God's rules - that is, if they really do that. Some so-called Catholic politicians have turned St. Paul inside out. Paul said in Romans 12:2: "Do not be conformed to this world." These false leaders say: We must not be different. They even take the lead in the false "values" of this world. Incidentally, that very word "values" is dangerous. It implies subjectivity: I value this, and you value that. Rather we need to talk about objective morals in obedience to God.
But especially the Pope calls for the help of moral theologians. Many of them have been taking the lead in fighting against the Church, in promoting disobedience to God. They have often said, as we saw in the case of the imaginary Sarah, that the Church has not given any definitions on moral matters, and if there is no solemn definition, a thing is free matter.
Their ignorance is tragic. There are three or four levels of Church teaching (depending on how we group them), and every one is binding. First is of course the definition. The second is given by Vatican II in LG §25: "Even though individual Bishops do not have the gift of infallibility, they can still teach Christ's doctrine infallibly, provided that, maintaining the bond of unity among themselves and with the Successor of Peter, they present one teaching as the one to be held definitively." So even the day to day routine teaching of the Church throughout the world, when it says definitively something is a part of our faith, is infallible. This is all the more so when the Bishops are assembled in a General Council. Thirdly, when Ecumenists were straining at papal teaching, Pius XII in 1950 wrote in Humani generis: "Nor should we think that the things taught in Encyclicals do not require assent, on the plea that in them the Popes do not use the solemn teaching authority. These things are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, in regard to which it is also correct to say: 'He who hears you, hears me.'" Then he continued, specifying the conditions in which this would hold: If the popes in their Acta deliberately take a position on something currently being debated in theology, it is removed from debate. And then it falls under the promise "He who hears you, hears me." Of course that promise cannot fail, so such teachings are infallible.
Finally, Vatican II presented the fourth level in LG §25. Canon 752 of the new code made it very clear: "Not indeed an assent of faith, but yet a religious submission of mind and will must be given to the teaching which either the Supreme Pontiff, or the college of Bishops pronounces on faith or on morals when they exercise the authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim it by a definitive act." - So even things not presented as definitive, and so not as infallible, call for even internal belief. They forbid taking to the press as Curran has done and contradicting even in public.
We note the assent to this fourth level is based not on the virtue of faith as the first three are, but on religion - since it is admitted there is a chance of error. However the experience of the centuries shows that track record of the Church on this level is far better than that of criminal courts, in which the judge commonly instructs the jury that to declare the man guilty, they must find it proved "beyond reasonable doubt." In other words, they need not exclude every tiny doubt. Or when we eat food from a can, we do not send it to a lab to check for Botulism, a deadly poison, not likely to show up in routine opening of a can. -How can we believe something that could be wrong? We do, practically, believe when we open a can, or when we hear a decision in a criminal court. They are far more fallible that the Church even on this fourth level.
Near the end, the Pope calls on the Bishops to check on the soundness of doctrine taught in Catholic institutions, and tells them if the doctrine is false, they should remove the right of that institution to call itself Catholic. Imagine what would happen if the Bishops really followed this!
At the very end, he calls on the help of the Blessed Mother. It is often said, rightly, that she has crushed all heresies. This was especially evident in the early centuries. For to hold that she is Mother of God implies that He is God, and that He has both divine and human natures - she could not be Mother if He were only divine, and if only human, she would not be the Mother of God.
So here is a remedy for all the moral evils of our world, if only Catholics, especially moralists, will comply. Sadly, they have already begun to not only not accept, but to fight against this great document.