The Catechism on Current Events

On June 12, 2016, a gunman murdered 49 persons at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Discussions of terrorism and new gun control laws have followed. Below are teachings from The Catechism of the Catholic Church:

On Murder & Terrorism (CCC 2268, 2297)

The fifth commandment forbids direct and intentional killing as gravely sinful. The murderer and those who cooperate voluntarily in murder commit a sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance.

Terrorism threatens, wounds, and kills indiscriminately; it is gravely against justice and charity.

On Persons with Same-Sex Attractions (CCC 2357-2359)

Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.

Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

On Government Authority (See CCC 1897-1927)

Every human community needs an authority to govern it. … Its role is to ensure as far as possible the Common Good of the society. The authority required by the moral order derives from God… (see Romans 13:1-2.) [Authority] must not behave in a despotic manner, but must act for the Common Good as a moral force based on freedom and a sense of responsibility. A human law has the character of law to the extent that it accords with right reason, and thus derives from the eternal law. … If rulers were to enact unjust laws or take measures contrary to the moral order, such arrangements would not be binding in conscience. In such a case, “authority breaks down completely and results in shameful abuse.” (Pope St. John XXIII) The Common Good consists of three essential elements: respect and promotion of the fundamental rights of the person; development of the spiritual & temporal goods of society; and the peace & security of society and its members.

On Legitimate Self-Defense (CCC 2263-2264)

The legitimate defense of persons and societies is not an exception to the prohibition against the murder of the innocent that constitutes intentional killing. “The act of self-defense can have a double effect: the preservation of one’s own life; and the killing of the aggressor. … The one is intended, the other is not.” (St. Thomas Aquinas)

Love toward oneself remains a fundamental principle of morality. Therefore it is legitimate to insist on respect for one’s own right to life. Someone who defends his life is not guilty of murder even if he is forced to deal his aggressor a lethal blow: “If a man in self-defense uses more than necessary violence, it will be unlawful: whereas if he repels force with moderation, his defense will be lawful. … Nor is it necessary for salvation that a man omit the act of moderate self-defense to avoid killing the other man, since one is bound to take more care of one’s own life than of another’s.” (St. Thomas Aquinas)

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