What’s Wrong with the World

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

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August 2021 Archives

August 1, 2021

Reception Theory, Binding Law, and Traditionis Custodes

Because Pope Francis’s motu proprio Traditionis Custodes (TC) is highly restrictive and harsh, quite a number of traditional Catholics would like nothing better than a reason to view it as non-binding law. Surprisingly, quite a number of bishops are, at least initially, viewing it with considerable misgiving and some are making noises in the direction of “implementing” it without the full force of law. One attempt to drain TC of any binding force is to employ against it “reception” theory. This theory of law says that in order for a law to be true law – in order for it to be morally binding on its subjects – it has to be “received” by them first. That is, they have to treat it as valid law which binds them. Here is an explanation of this theory, in a nutshell:

The canonical doctrine of reception originated in the statement of Gratian after canon 3 in Distinction IV of his Decretum (circa 1140). He cited Isidore of Seville and Augustine on the establishment of laws, and then wrote: Laws are instituted when they are promulgated and they are confirmed when they are approved by the practices of those who use them. Just as the contrary practices of the users have abrogated some laws today, so the (conforming) practices of the users confirm laws.

I understand the strong inclination to embrace “reception” theory for law, in this case. I really do. But we saw it used 10,000 times by liberals and revolutionaries against perfectly good law, and it was always a bad theory in their mouths. I hesitate to reverse and say it’s a good theory when others use it against a bad law. However, I think there is something a little like “reception theory” that is – perhaps – a valid position about church law, and I want to lay it out. (And in the alternative, there are other ways of understanding the constraints of law, as options to take against TC being binding, that might work instead of reception theory.)

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August 30, 2021

What We Have Learned

The 18 month period since COVID became a world-wide scourge has, for good or ill, taught us a few things that we might not have realized so well before. This is an attempt to run through a few of them.

1. Don’t Trust the Scientists.

(A) Science is important, and it represents one of the most critical fields of human understanding and endeavor. When science is done well, it results in enormous benefits to the human race.

But scientists are not “science”. They are human beings, and like humans everywhere, they have an extremely wide range of motivations and of skill. Many scientists are fantastic in their chosen field, but not so great out of it. Some scientists are only mediocre. Some scientists are trustworthy in conveying the results of their expertise, but some are not. And some are trustworthy in some matters, but not in all. Just because someone is a scientist does not mean their statements are trustworthy.

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