Thursday, June 11, 2009

"remote cooperation"

(For background, go to and listen to 20:00 to 25:30.)

We spoke on the radio earlier this evening, when I called with a question about pharmacy ads in parish bulletins & contacting the apostolic nuncio. While I cannot envision any pastor allowing Planned Parenthood ads to appear in his bulletin, plenty are allowing ads from pharmacies which sell contraceptives & abortifacients - even Plan B! This can result in an unintentional mixed message about our pro-life commitments, as well as the Church's teaching about the sanctity of conjugal relations in marriage.

In addressing my concerns to pastors, I have encountered some tragic ignorance. Even to one good, holy, absolutely-prolife priest, I needed to explain what the "morning after pill" is! I believe that there are also some serious deficiencies in regard to the understanding of moral theology.

Without a comprehensive understanding of the situation, you emphatically declared that what I described would indeed be "remote cooperation." You did not give me the opportunity to clarify or follow-up. I believe that you should have provided a much more thorough explanation of "cooperation" to your audience. As per the Pontifical Academy for Life,
  • "we need to recall briefly the principles assumed in classical moral doctrine with regard to the problem of cooperation in evil, a problem which arises every time that a moral agent perceives the existence of a link between his own acts and a morally evil action carried out by others....

    "The first fundamental distinction to be made is that between formal and material cooperation. Formal cooperation is carried out when the moral agent cooperates with the immoral action of another person, sharing in the latter's evil intention. On the other hand, when a moral agent cooperates with the immoral action of another person, without sharing in the intention, it is a case of material cooperation.

    "Material cooperation can be further divided into categories of immediate -- direct -- and mediate -- indirect -- depending on whether the cooperation is in the execution of the sinful action per se, or whether the agent acts by fulfilling the conditions -- either by providing instruments or products -- which make it possible to commit the immoral act.

    "Furthermore, forms of proximate cooperation and remote cooperation can be distinguished, in relation to the 'distance' -- be it in terms of temporal space or material connection -- between the act of cooperation and the sinful act committed by someone else. Immediate material cooperation is always proximate, while mediate material cooperation can be either proximate or remote.

    "Formal cooperation is always morally illicit because it represents a form of direct and intentional participation in the sinful action of another person. Material cooperation can sometimes be illicit -- depending on the conditions of the 'double effect' or 'indirect voluntary' action -- but when immediate material cooperation concerns grave attacks on human life, it is always to be considered illicit, given the precious nature of the value in question.

    "A further distinction made in classical morality is that between active -- or positive -- cooperation in evil and passive -- or negative -- cooperation in evil, the former referring to the performance of an act of cooperation in a sinful action that is carried out by another person, while the latter refers to the omission of an act of denunciation or impediment of a sinful action carried out by another person, insomuch as there was a moral duty to do that which was omitted.

    "Passive cooperation can also be formal or material, immediate or mediate, proximate or remote. Obviously, every type of formal passive cooperation is to be considered illicit, but even passive material cooperation should generally be avoided, although it is admitted, by many authors, that there is not a rigorous obligation to avoid it in a case in which it would be greatly difficult to do so"

As per the Pontifical Academy for Life, "even passive material cooperation should generally be avoided, although it is admitted, by many authors, that there is not a rigorous obligation to avoid it in a case in which it would be greatly difficult to do so."
  • I cannot envision how it would be "greatly difficult" for a pastor to remove advertisements for a provider of abortifacients & contraceptives.
  • There seems to be a genuine risk of scandal from accepting money for such advertisements and seeming to condone such grievously sinful matters.
  • If a pastor knowingly allows advertisements for a provider of abortifacients and contraceptives, the situation certainly seems to merit intervention by the diocese.

I will certainly follow your counsel & contact the bishop directly, before contacting the apostolic nuncio.

The Beatitudes from "Jesus of Nazareth"


Use of Emergency So-Called Contraceptives in Catholic Hospitals for Those Reporting Rape

Book & Film Reviews, pt 1

Book & Film Reviews, pt 2

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About Me

I am an enormously blessed husband and dad. In regard to my Catholic theological background, I have a certificate in social ministry & a master's degree (moral theology concentration), as well as a catechetical diploma from the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Clergy (Nope, I am not now - nor have I have ever been - a seminarian, deacon, or priest.). I feel particularly proud to have a mandatum. I also have a doctorate in Christian counseling psychology.

And yup, that's me!

And yup, that's me!
(from page 1 of the NY Sun, 3/22/04)

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12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

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