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There Are Exaggerations
in Your Pictures of the Week

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Dear Tradition-in-Action Folks,

First, let me say I am one of your many grateful readers and thank you for the wealth of information provided.

I hope you will take the following criticism in the spirit it is meant and humbly consider the possibility of a correction being called for re: the page titled "Church Revolution in Pictures".

There are many photos and their captions that have no business being held up for criticism or ridicule next to the real and shocking abuses today. It nearly replicates the sensationalist headlines of The National Enquirer...

"JP II's EXPOSED KNEE TOUCHES NAKED KNEE OF UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN ! BOTH CAUGHT WEARING SHORTS!!" [click here] (they were probably asked to scoot together for the camera shot).

Other examples of absurd and misplaced outrage...Pope Benedict wearing sunglasses; JP II wearing hiking shorts on a hike; JP II clearing blessing a young mother's forehead, "not caressing her"; both Popes amiably donning hats (or a Hawaiian lei) presented to them at public events; characterizing JP II as clowning or being a showman from a snapshot only; suggesting carnal significance if a Pope so much as pats a lady's cheek.

View a sample of these photos here:

Benedict XVI wearing sunglasses
Cardinal Wojtyla hiking in shorts
The Kissing Pope
The Caressing Pope
The remarkable intimacy of JPII with women
Benedict XVI takes up JPII’s habit of caressing women
Benedict XVI being funny
John Paul II jokes with the symbol of his office
JPII as Showman at the Vatican
Benedict XVI wears Hawaiian leis

None of these things are, in themselves, sinful nor heretical and no Christian has a right to sling such reckless calumny. It does an injustice, also, to the credibility of Tradition-In-Action as a right-thinking advocate of the True Church.

     M. K.
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The Editor responds:

Dear M.K.,

Thank you for your kind introductory words.

You can be sure that we at TIA certainly consider the possibility of being wrong, and if shown to be so, would apologize for any mistake in interpreting or applying Catholic Doctrine.

Regarding your observations, they seem to me quite subjective. It seems that everything that shocks you personally, you consider evil; everything that you accept, you consider legitimate according to the Catholic Morals. Doing this, you make your own feelings the compass of Catholic Morals.

1. Is Catholic Morals objective or subjective?

Let me consider the degrees of acceptance that can occur using a subjective criteria like yours:

  1. If your sensibilities are shocked by John Paul II receiving the Offertory gifts for his Mass from an almost naked woman [click here], you consider this bad and approve our comments on the case. However, if JPII is wearing a fishnet-shirt that bares his chest and shorts that show his legs and, further, is touching knees with a young woman [click here], you consider this normal. As a consequence, you try to justify his action, dispute our comments, and label our criticism as a calumny.

  2. If your reasoning is correct, then why wouldn’t those who are not shocked by JPII with the naked women also be correct? In fact, we have received several protests on that posting from persons who don’t see anything wrong with the Pope with a naked woman in that situation. Therefore, they try to justify JPII, and claim that our comments reflect sick minds, sinful judgments, etc.

  3. Further, we are receiving complaints from homosexuals about our criticisms of their vice against nature [click here]. They consider that there is nothing wrong in their behavior; consequently, for them we lack objectivity and charity, we have sinful minds, etc. Could you explain why they should not be considered correct as you imagine you are? They also think, as you do, that their opinions are reflecting Catholic Morals.

  4. So, if Catholic Morals relied on subjective opinions, there would be no barrier to prevent you from eventually falling – sooner or later – into subsequent erroneous opinions that you might still condemn today.

  5. If Morals followed this path, it wouldn’t be long before we would even see a justification of Satanism. Actually we have received letters stating that Voodoo is a very good thing, and therefore our criticisms [click here] calling it Satanist are ignorant, bad-intentioned, and so on.
What is wrong with this process is that you and other objectors of our picture commentaries base yourselves on the false idea that Catholic Morals is subjective. It is not. Those who defend this position have been condemned. The method that supports this fallacious thinking is known as Subjective Morality or Situation Ethics, and it was condemned [click here].

Catholic Morals is an objective ensemble of principles emanating from the wisdom of the Church during her 2,000 year of existence. We must know and follow these principles. We must subjugate our bad tendencies to fit Catholic Morals rather than the opposite, that is, subjugate Catholic Morals to adapt to our own situations and opinions.

Very often modern Catholics do not care about objective Catholic Morals and its consequences because they have become deeply influenced by Subjective Morality.

2. Does Catholic Morals condemn the behavior of the Conciliar Popes?

You affirm that there is nothing sinful or heretical in the innovative actions of John Paul II and Benedict XVI because most probably they agree with your mentality and way of living. It seems to me, however, that you are a bit hasty in this conclusion.

A. Condemnations of members of the Clergy or Hierarchy touching women

Let me analyze the case you highlighted: Wojtyla touching knees with a woman.
a. When St. Thomas studies chastity he distinguishes it from purity. The first is the virtue that pertains to abstinence from sexual acts; the second is the virtue that avoids external acts of sensual pleasure such as impure looks, kisses, and touches (II, II, q. 151, a. 4). Therefore, purity guards chastity.

b. Until Vatican II, the wise rule of never touching a woman was in force for all the High and Low Clergy. This rule was called regula tactus – the rule of touching. There were many provisions regulating the application of this rule, as well as indicating what kind of fault a priest would commit against purity should he break it. This ensemble of norms was the fruit of centuries of prudence exercised by the Church to safeguard the purity needed to protect chastity in the clergy.

Now then, Cardinal Wojtyla, and then John Paul II, simply flung away the remnants of this wise rule that Vatican II and its aggiornamento still had not managed to destroy. In fact, according to objective Catholic Morals, his kisses, caresses, and touches of women of all ages, primarily young ones, constituted a constant scandal for the Catholic faithful.

We are taking scandal in its moral sense: “a word or deed of one which, by its command, inducement or example, occasions the spiritual downfall of another” (II, II, q. 44, a. 1).

Even though one can pretend that JPII did not sin against chastity, it is not at all clear that he did not sin against purity. Further, insofar as he deliberately transgressed an old, established tradition of the entire clergy, he gave obvious scandal. It is quite difficult to find JPII not guilty of sin in this regard. In either case, his action, which profoundly shocks Catholic Morals, demands criticism.

c. At this point, you could object: You are exposing his photos; therefore, you are the ones who are making scandal.

This conclusion is faulty. We are exposing the scandal to demonstrate the error of JPII in his Progressivist orientation. Indeed, St. Thomas teaches: It may be necessary to expose scandals “in order that they who are reproved may be made manifest” (II, II, q. 43, a. 2, ad 1).

d. Studying the virtue of modesty, St. Thomas analyzes whether moral problems can arise from the outward movements of the body. He answers that “it is evident that a moral virtue is concerned with the direction of these movements” (II, II, q. 168, a. 1). The general rule regarding this topic is given by St. Augustine who says: “In all your movements let nothing be done to offend the eye of another, but only that which is becoming to the holiness of your state” (ibid., ad 3). Then, St. Thomas concludes: “If they [the outward movements] be in any way inordinate, this should be corrected” (ibid., ad 4). Both Saints are giving orientation to lay people. How much more rigorous would they be, should a Cardinal or a Pope manifest such behavior!

It seems quite clear that Cardinal Wojtyla wearing shorts and a fishnet shirt, shamelessly exposing his open legs and touching the knee of a woman, did not follow the Catholic rules of modesty regarding public behavior. Certainly one can discuss if there is sin in this behavior. In any circumstance, according to Catholic Morals, it should be criticized.
You can see, dear M.K., that when you affirmed that Card. Wojtyla’s action was not a sinful one, you greatly simplified the matter. Catholic Morals is more rigorous than the liberal mainstream feelings you seem to have adopted to make your judgments.

We think that these principles apply not only to the many situations in which JPII is pictured in casual dress or touching women, but also to the “blessings” that include collateral caresses which Benedict XVI is giving to young women. According to the mentioned regula tactus, no priest, Bishop, Cardinal, or Pope should touch women unless it is to administer the Sacraments or sacramentals. When you examine these rites there is nothing that asks the ecclesiastic administering them to give caresses or fond touches to the women receiving them. Therefore, whether Benedict gives such blessings or not – it is not clear in the mentioned photos that this is what he is doing – he is making innovations that go against the spirit of purity. Inasmuch as this occurs, he should be criticized.

B. Condemnation of Popes lacking respect for the dignity of their office

Regarding either JPII or Benedict XVI wearing clownish masks or posing with clowns, wearing funny hats, or placing themselves deliberately in irreverent positions, the principles that apply concern the sanctity of the role of Pope.

The role of the Pope in the Church and the respect one should have for it is part of the virtue of Religion. This virtue is the one that regulates the honor, praise, and glory due to our Creator, as well as reverence for sacred persons, places, and objects.

The Pope is a sacred person as a Bishop who has the plenitude of Holy Orders and as the Vicar of Christ. As such, his role must be respected not only by others, but mainly by the very person who is invested with such dignity. Any sin against sacred things is included under the heading of sacrilege. What kind of offense is considered sacrilege? St. Thomas answers: “Whatever pertains to irreverence for sacred things is an injury to God and comes under the head of sacrilege” (II, II, q. 99, a. 1).

Sacrilege is irreverence toward Our Lord Jesus Christ or the two other Persons of the Holy Trinity; it is also irreverence toward those sacred persons in charge of the worship of God, mainly the Pope, who is His Vicar on earth. Now then, the Pope does not have the right to dishonor the sacred things he represents because, as St. Thomas says, “although the possessions of the Church belongs to him as dispenser in chief, they are not his as master and owner” (II, II, q. 100, a. 1, ad 7). St. Thomas also considers that the Pope can sin against Religion “like any other man, since the higher a man’s position the more grievous is his sin (ibid).

Therefore, if someone slaps the Pope in the face, like Sciarra Colonna did to Pope Boniface VIII in 1303, he commits a sacrilege. If someone takes the Pope as prisoner as Napoleon did with Pius VI in 1797, he commits a sacrilege. But also, if someone mocks the Pope, treating him like a clown, he commits a sacrilege. Therefore, if the Pope himself treats the Papal dignity of which he is invested with irreverence, he commits a sin that would come under the genre of sacrilege, because St. Thomas teaches, “By whatever kind of sin a man acts counter to the reverence due to sacred things, he commits a sacrilege formally, although his act contain various kinds of sin materially” (II, II, q. 99, a. 2, ad 2).

So, M.K., you see that there are very serious matters involved in the new, irreverent and joking attitudes of the Conciliar Popes that show a lack of due reverence for the Papal dignity. Those things are not always as funny and casual as you seem to imagine.

When TIA presents comments on this or that photo of recent Popes for their lack of reverence for the Papacy, we do not need to make a complete demonstration like this one to show that they transgress Catholic Morals. We simply make some quick observations in order to awaken the Catholic sense, often asleep in many faithful. This sensus fidelium [sense of the faithful] normally encompasses all the richness of Catholic Morals.

Unfortunately there are more and more Catholics who have lost the integrity of their sensus fidelium. They have become accustomed to the revolutionary modern customs and egalitarian ways of being that are against Catholic Morals. They have assumed bad principles from Liberalism and Progressivism into their criteria of judgment that undermine their Catholic sense and lead them astray.

For these reasons, once in a while it is good for us to offer a more complete analysis of what is wrong with the apparently innocent actions and attitudes of the religious authorities we have criticized in our photo commentaries. It helps Catholics to restore their healthy criteria of judgment.

In this sense, your strong, broad criticism of TIA’s position produced a good fruit.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to clarify these points.


     A.S. Guimarães, Editor

Blason de Charlemagne
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Posted July 20, 2006

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