"When you cannot reasonably expect a person to avoid the moral evil itself," ..."you can counsel them at least to lessen or mitigate the potential damage of their action and can even help them in doing that" - Rev. James T. Bretzke, S.J., S.T.D.
I am of course referring to the second meaning of "casuistry," at least according to Merriam_Websters On-Line Dictionary.
a resolving of specific cases of conscience, duty, or conduct through interpretation of ethical principles or religious doctrine
2 : specious argument : rationalization
Here's a related article from the National Catholic Reporter:
Catholic needle exchange raises moral questionsBy Daniel Burke, Religion News Service (11FEB10)
"In launching its needle-exchange program last week, the Catholic Diocese of Albany, N.Y., said the decision came down to choosing the lesser evil. Illegal drug use is bad, but the spread of deadly diseases is worse.
The medical evidence is clear, the diocese argued on Feb. 1, when it began "Project Safe Point" in two Upstate New York locations through its local branch of Catholic Charities. Public health studies document that exchanging used syringes for new ones can effectively stanch the spread of blood-borne diseases such as AIDS, and even lead drug abusers to treatment and recovery.
"To guide us, the church provides us with the principles of licit cooperation in evil and the counseling of the lesser evil," the Albany diocese said in a statement.
"The sponsorship of Catholic Charities in Safe Point, then, is based upon the church's standard moral principles."
In citing the "lesser evil" argument, the diocese is drawing on a tradition of ethical reasoning that dates to 13th-century theologian St. Thomas Aquinas, said the Rev. James Bretzke, a professor of moral theology at Boston College.
"When you cannot reasonably expect a person to avoid the moral evil itself," as may be the case with some drug addicts, "you can counsel them at least to lessen or mitigate the potential damage of their action and can even help them in doing that," Bretzke said.
But some Catholic scholars question the diocese's moral calculus, and argue that the church should never be involved -- to any degree -- with the sin of drug abuse.
"Enabling someone to do an evil act is, in no way shape or form, ever to help that person," said Edward Peters, a professor of canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. "This is elemental moral theology."
"Regardless of your motives (which might be benign, though quite misguided)," Peters said in an e-mail interview, "you can't engage in action that you know to be evil, and helping drug addicts to do illegal drugs is evil."
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a 1990 statement reprinted in 1997, questioned the morality and practicality of needle exchanges, expressing concern that they may lead to an increase of drug use, the spread of disease through poorly monitored programs, and "send the message that intravenous drug use can be made safe."
Dr. Jon Fuller, a Jesuit priest and medical doctor who treats AIDS patients in Boston, many of whom, he says, became infected through sharing needles, said "It's been 20 years since the bishops' statement. It's time to come to a new reflection."
Catholics who oppose needle exchange programs argue that it could cause scandal, a term of art in Catholic moral theology that essentially means the church is sending a message that might lead to confusion about its stance on an issue -- in this case, that the church sanctions drug use."See the full article at http://ncronline.org/news/justice/catholic-needle-exchange-raises-moral-questions
Jesuit "Father" Bretzke is but the latest in a long line of mostly Jesuit academicians who have allowed intellectual pride to blind them to grave moral error.
Have any of you heard of the
HYANNISPORT SUMMIT IN 1964?
Read what the Wall Street Journal wrote about it:
"In some cases, church leaders actually started providing "cover" for Catholic pro-choice politicians who wanted to vote in favor of abortion rights. At a meeting at the Kennedy compound in Hyannisport, Mass., on a hot summer day in 1964, the Kennedy family and its advisers and allies were coached by leading theologians and Catholic college professors on how to accept and promote abortion with a "clear conscience."
The former Jesuit priest Albert Jonsen, emeritus professor of ethics at the University of Washington, recalls the meeting in his book "The Birth of Bioethics" (Oxford, 2003). He writes about how he joined with the Rev. Joseph Fuchs, a Catholic moral theologian; the Rev. Robert Drinan, then dean of Boston College Law School; and three academic theologians, the Revs. Giles Milhaven, Richard McCormick and Charles Curran, to enable the Kennedy family to redefine support for abortion.
Mr. Jonsen writes that the Hyannisport colloquium was influenced by the position of another Jesuit, the Rev. John Courtney Murray, a position that "distinguished between the moral aspects of an issue and the feasibility of enacting legislation about that issue." It was the consensus at the Hyannisport conclave that Catholic politicians "might tolerate legislation that would permit abortion under certain circumstances if political efforts to repress this moral error led to greater perils to social peace and order."
Father Milhaven later recalled the Hyannisport meeting during a 1984 breakfast briefing of Catholics for a Free Choice: "The theologians worked for a day and a half among ourselves at a nearby hotel. In the evening we answered questions from the Kennedys and the Shrivers. Though the theologians disagreed on many a point, they all concurred on certain basics . . . and that was that a Catholic politician could in good conscience vote in favor of abortion."
(See http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123086375678148323.html for the full WSJ piece)
Whenever I hear Tridentine Catholics pine for "the good old days,"I want to shout that the heresy that now afflicts us was present in many of the leading Catholic institutions of the day - all pre-conciliar!
Finally, of the "Catholic scholars mentioned above, almost all were Jesuit.
Rev. Joseph Fuchs (dead Jesuit)
Rev. Robert Drinan (dead Jesuit)
Giles Milhaven (former Jesuit)
Rev. John Courtney Murray (dead Jesuit)
Rev. Richard A. McCormick (dead Jesuit)
Rev. Charles Curran (ordained for the Diocese of Rochester)