Keep in mind as you read this blog post that the new Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) released in 1992 is not infallible. There are significant errors in the CCC, including the constant flip-flopping of the death penalty as I discussed in yesterday’s video. In fact, Pope John Paul II never claimed it was infallible upon its release. He simply said it was a “sure norm.” But he still released a highly-defective catechism.
On the other hand, Pope Clement XIII said that the 16th century Roman Catechism of Trent (RCT) contains “that teaching which is the common doctrine of the Church, from which all danger of doctrinal error is absent.” No other catechism released by the Church has ever been said to be free of all “doctrinal error.”
The death penalty in the new CCC is a big problem. But by far, the most destructive line in the new (non-infallible) CCC is #2352:
CCC 2352 By masturbation is to be understood the deliberate stimulation of the genital organs in order to derive sexual pleasure. “Both the Magisterium of the Church, in the course of a constant tradition, and the moral sense of the faithful have been in no doubt and have firmly maintained that masturbation is an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” “The deliberate use of the sexual faculty, for whatever reason, outside of marriage is essentially contrary to its purpose.” For here sexual pleasure is sought outside of “the sexual relationship which is demanded by the moral order and in which the total meaning of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love is achieved.” To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.
Do you see what is wrong in that paragraph? It says masturbation (or self-abuse) is not a mortal sin if it becomes a habit.
Now, even I admit that there are certain chromosomal disorders (like Trisomy-18, as if the child were to live long enough to do some odd form of self-abuse, or even traumatic brain injuries, aka TBIs) that could certainly reduce culpability in committing a major sin like masturbation. On this recent video, I even discussed how children who have been trafficked may have greatly reduced culpability for otherwise-major sins they commit (especially after having been raped 20,000 times before their 13th birthday.) Of course, this might even include the sin of self-abuse.
But hard cases make bad law.
The problem is that there is currently an entire mountain of flabby Catholic men in America who have been told by their priests they can now receive Holy Communion without confession because they have an addiction to pornography and self-abuse. If you ask the men why they do that, they will tell you that their priest said they can do those sins and receive Communion without Confession. If you ask the priests why they say that, they point to CCC 2352 on masturbation: “Force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors… lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.”
That line is totally destructive to souls when compared with true traditional Catholic moral theology. If CCC 2352 were only applied to those with Down Syndrome, then perhaps I might be open to a discussion. But it’s applied now to thousands of Catholic men in this country with full use of their faculties. Yes, technically, CCC 2352 is correct in a minority of cases, but it is misleading in the majority of cases. This reveals the purposeful weaponized-ambiguity of all post-Vatican-II documents, including the new CCC that endangers all souls of people struggling with online addictions.
How do I know that I am right and the new CCC is wrong? First, as I explained in the first paragraph of this blog, the new CCC never even claimed to be infallible. Second, all saints and Popes of the Catholic Church have always and everywhere taught that masturbation is a grave sin. Full knowledge and full consent immediately make it a mortal sin. And remember that “full knowledge” is never excused under fallible ignorance, only infallible ignorance. (Watch this video if you need a short reminder on the difference between those two.)
However, let’s say a liberal Catholic were reading this post and decided that CCC 2352 explaining “force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors… lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability” was the theology they wanted to hang their salvation on much more than all saints and Popes before Vatican II on that topic of self-abuse. Here’s what I would say to that person:
If CCC 2352 is correct, then masturbation once a week is a mortal sin, but masturbation three times a day is only a venial sin, as it carries “force of acquired habit.” So, by the very theology of the new CCC, the best way to go from mortal-sin to venial-sin is to… start. masturbating. more. Just connect the sentences on CCC 2352 and you will see that that is the only conclusion in considering that “force of acquired habit” in self-abuse automatically reducing culpability. (See why the CCC is not an infallible document or even a good idea to imbibe into your spiritual life as much as an old catechism?)
How could the notion of obtaining a disgusting habit possibly be a healing-remedy inspired by Jesus Christ the Savior of our souls and bodies? It’s not. Therefore, it’s just one more reason the CCC is not an infallible document or even a good catechism. In fact, that line in the new CCC is endangering the souls of countless priests, laymen (and a growing number of women struggling with such online addictions.) Hundreds of American priests are telling thousands of Catholic adults, teens and even children in the confessional that they can go to Holy Communion after self-abuse without confession. Why? Again, because they have “reduced culpability” due to “force of acquired habit” of that mortal sin of self-abuse.
That theology is so sick, but it comes right from the CCC.
Catholic women, I do not suggest you go snooping about on this topic, but I guarantee if you went about asking, you would find at least one Catholic man in your life who has been misled by a priest quoting 2352 in the confessional. That’s why it’s not an exaggeration when I say this has befell hundreds of priests and thousands of Catholic men in this country. In fact, it’s probably endemic to women now, too, considering how many are struggling with similar internet addictions. Such misleading theology is absolutely preposterous.
Here is what is at the core of this: Too many uniformed Catholics are looking for a legalistic-loophole to free them from their sins instead of the blood of Jesus. When you realize the cross of Jesus goes deeper than any addiction, you can just go to confession and actually be forgiven of pornography and masturbation. That alone can free you, not a priest playing games on reduced culpability. Ironically, such modernistic-legalism is tied to the pride found in the hearts of Pharisees and scribes.
But Jesus Christ offers something better: Confess your sins without excuses of “reduced culpability due to habit,” and then Jesus can free you not only of sin, but of sin-ning. How can you ever be freed from an addiction if you are told it’s not a sin but “just a habit”? Such a game of loopholes is ironically inimical to the true Gospel of mercy. Excuses like CCC 2352 can never permanently heal you, but the blood of Jesus can.
See why I hang my hat of salvation on the infallible RCT, and not the error-pocked CCC? (This is one reason why I offer you a whole video series on the RCT online for free with no patreon or premium subscriptions.) In any case, please choose the catechism you believe will get you to heaven. I have chosen mine, because I believe in a Jesus of infinite mercy, not Pharisaical games of legal-loopholes.
Post-production edit: St. Alphonsus says if a person confesses the same mortal sin three times in a year, he should be denied absolution while the priest coaches him on how to overcome both the sin and the near-occasion of sin. Even if penitents out there think this is too extreme, realize that it is better to refrain from both Holy Communion and Confession until one can make a good confession with firm-resolution of amendment. Yes, it’s hard to explain to your spouse why you may be refraining from Holy Communion, but one can charitably say, “It’s none of your business.” And that is true in Church history: One’s decision to receive Holy Communion or not is primarily between the Catholic and God Himself. In any case, remember that it’s better to wait to go to confession until you can really go with a concrete plan to at least do your best to avoid mortal sins in the future.