Volume 3, Part 4

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Intrinsic evil cannot be justified! The fundamental choice is not about right versus left in political terms – it is about right versus wrong, good versus evil, in moral or ethical terms. Where intrinsic evil is involved, there are no shades of gray!

Evil is generally understood as the absence or lacking of a good that should be present, i.e., some trait that perfects or completes a thing's being. Blindness is an example of physical evil. Moral evil concerns the disordered nature or defect of a deliberate and voluntary action, i.e., some action that fails to correspond to the Will of God or proper human fulfillment. The fact that the evil doer subjectively perceives some good in the action is no excuse; objectively, the "good" is deficient and therefore the action is simply evil. The greater the deficiency, the greater the evil; some acts are worse than others.

To understand intrinsic evil, one must understand goodness. In Catholic moral tradition an act is morally good when it is good in all three of its aspects: when the object (act or behavior) is good; when the intention (reason or purpose) is good; and, when the circumstances (context) are good. That which is intrinsically evil is evil in its object, the act or behavior itself, regardless of intent or circumstances!

"It is ... an error to judge the morality of human acts by considering only the intention that inspires them or the circumstances (environment, social pressure, duress or emergency, etc.) which supply their context. There are acts which, in and of themselves, independently of circumstances and intentions, are always gravely illicit by reason of their object; such as blasphemy and perjury, murder and adultery. One may not do evil so that good may result from it. (CCC n. 1756)."

Actions that are intrinsically evil may never licitly be performed; they are never morally permissible!

Deacon Joseph B. Gorini, Mechanicsburg PA  <///><  [First Published September 16, 2012]

Category: Volume 3

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