Thomas Sotomon wrote:

Hi, guys —

I was talking to a priest friend of mine on the subject of Catholic moral theology and how a faithful Catholic discerns if something is morally good or bad. Specifically, (coitus interruptus within marriage or masturbation). It is debated among theologians. Some of them say it is intrinsically sinful, but others say it is not a grave offense.

My priest friend says, if there is a debate within the Church, then the faithful could choose, in good faith, one or the other side, without committing a mortal sin.

  • Is this true, and if so, where would I find this directive?

It would seem to me that if such a teaching exists, using it in this context, would be a misuse.


  { If a sex issue is vague, can the faithful choose either side and can intrinsically evil sin not be sin? }

Bob replied:


Your priest friend is in error. He has subjected himself and you to the error of relativism.

The Church has already declared these matters to be of grave sin. (CCC 2352) Don't buy the rubbish that the world and people who are caught up in intellectualism will tell you.

Keep it simple, be chaste, if you fail, go to Confession and start over, but skip the non-sense about sometimes evil isn't evil.


Bob Kirby

Thomas replied:

Thank you, Bob.

Makes sense.

I, personally, don't struggle with self-abuse, but in terms of coitus interruptus, I have since repented upon being made aware of its sinfulness. If I may ask one follow-up question.

My priest friend also made the assertion that if a particular sin has not been dogmatically defined as intrinsically evil (to the level of de fide), then it's possible that it may not be intrinsically evil and thus could be done if weighing out a lesser of two evils.

Once again, this doesn't sound right to me.

  • Do you have any thoughts on this?



Bob replied:


Again, that would be proportionalism, another errant moral system. Sadly, our seminaries have been teaching bogus moral theology for so long, we are seeing the fruits of it played out before our eyes on the world stage.

  • Is it any wonder there are so many scandals when our supposed leaders can’t get basic right and wrong straight?

I don’t know how to fix what has gone wrong in the Church other than to pray, seek personal holiness and virtue, and speak up when something requires it. It is a long game against us, diabolically directed, that seeks to undermine everything about our faith and Church.

Your best path in seeking moral counsel is to consult the Catechism, Councils of the Church, anyone steeped in Thomism, and in reading the New Testament. In other words, go old school.

We live in perilous times morally, and confusion is being sown even from the highest offices of the Church. I personally find the Blessed Virgin (especially through Fatima and her many appearances) is a sure compass — especially in these days. With a strong devotion to her, and praying daily Rosary, we can find great clarity, much more than reading a lot of high theology tomes.

Prayer and pious devotion does wonders, and it doesn't hurt to know a few trustworthy solid scholars that have tangled with the beast a bit. Case in point: There were parts of my Masters program in theology that literally would have had my head spinning if it had not been for the likes of Peter Kreeft and Scott Hahn to help me sort it through. There were so many professors that were off the mark, I went through the list with Kreeft in advance to sort out who was worth studying with, and what I could expect. Unfortunately, that kind of help isn't available to most seminarians/priests and they just get shuffled through the system and are filled with so much intellectual noise, they lose grounding in objective truth. (This is one of the reasons Pope St. John Paul II wrote Veritatis Splendor). We must pray for our priests, the pope, bishops and all our leaders to once again start teaching with charity and clarity, rooted in the faith handed on to us from Christ himself, who never left anyone to speculate.

Sorry this turned into a bit of a rant, but it really presses my buttons when I hear of another priest who has been dis-serviced in his formation.

Nonetheless, your instincts are good and true, so just reinforce them with some good sources to draw from — and then you you will be able to sift through all the dicey issues that are being thrown at us from the world on virtually a daily basis.


Bob Kirby

Thomas replied:

Thanks Bob,

I appreciate the rant!

This gives me a great deal of relief and comfort.


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