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According to its contesters, the positions expressed in such documents — as those likewise clearly taught in Veritatis Splendor — would represent a very legalistic vision of the Christian life, which would neither take into account the complexity of situations nor mercy.
In that context the German Cardinal indicated the road to follow was the principle of epikeia. At the same time however, we need to leave the dynamic of slogans and actually see how things stand. In particular, it is worthwhile to focus on the problematic use of the principal of epikeia.
At the same time, it must be said that, precisely for that reason, what is part of a practical discernment in particular circumstances cannot be elevated to the level of a rule. That would not only lead to an intolerable casuistry, but would endanger the very values which must be preserved with special care.
It is a virtue which permits living according to the good indicated and protected by the law, wherever this results defective on the grounds of its universality.
The law, in fact, is by definition, universal: Thus, unforeseen situations may be presented by the legislator, in which, in order to maintain faithful to the mens of the law which is the goodit [may] be necessary to act contrarily to the letter of the law. From what has been said, even if necessarily brief, it results clearly that epikeia: In these cases the principle of epikeia, would have no sense, as in the transgression of the letter of the law, the moral good would also be inseparably transgressed.
These are those acts which the moral tradition of the Church defines as intrinsece malum: They remain "irremediably" evil acts; per se and in themselves they are not capable of being ordered to God and to the good of the person.
It is somewhat singular that this article by St. Thomas alone is referred to in the text of the Exhortation [A. In his Comment to the Letter to the Romans c.
Under no circumstance in fact, can one rob or commit adultery. In the Summa Theologiae just after the article cited in the Exhortation, Thomas explains why an appeal to epikeia cannot be made regarding absolute morals: We have to be careful moreover trotting out the virtue of prudence, as if this was a virtue which enables finding exceptions: But the negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behaviour as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception.
They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the "creativity" of any contrary determination whatsoever. Once the moral species of an action prohibited by a universal rule is concretely recognized, the only morally good act is that of obeying the moral law and of refraining from the action which it forbids.
It is this principle that has brought many to martyrdom, rather than commit an evil act. In our case, the moral act of having sexual relations outside matrimony, always comes within the moral category of adultery or fornication. There are no situations or circumstances which can modify the moral category.
Acta Philosophica, 5,fasc. A sexual type of relationship is intrinsically bound to the donative and procreative dimension and therefore requires the context of matrimony. If I authorize thinking that, in certain situations, for a good end, adultery loses it evil connotation, I am implicitly using this reasoning: In contrast, the correct position is the following: This is why there is no sense in appealing to epikeia and the virtue of prudence, since it would be like saying that in certain cases, a little bit of injustice can be admitted or a little bit of lust etc.
And this is why the search for some exceptions reveals in reality a moral system of a very legalistic setting which paradoxically, is precisely the one that is meant to be rejected! Therefore, the search for some situations in which to free people from the moral law, that for them would be oppressive — appears — falsely — like an act of mercy.
For those who are divorced-remarried and cannot for grave reasons separate, continence is not a praiseworthy goal, but the only modality to attain their own good and the good of the person with whom they live.PHL 5 (Theo) - Principle of Epikeia.
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