Cathleen Kaveny regrets Catholicism's over-reliance on "intrinsic evil":
Some Catholic commentators have claimed that the certainty we have about the wrongfulness of intrinsically evil acts means that we should give their prevention priority over other acts, which may or may not be wrong, depending upon the circumstances.
Their argument seems to run like this: the church teaches that abortion, euthanasia and homosexual acts are always wrong, but not that war or capital punishment is always wrong. Therefore, good Catholics ought to focus their political efforts on preventing acts they know to be wrong, and remain agnostic about the rest. One commentator has suggested that the church gives us “wiggle room” on issues that do not involve intrinsically evil acts.
This way of understanding a Catholic approach to the morality of human action is deeply mistaken. The church teaches that acts can be wrong because of their object, motive or circumstances. If a particular act is not wrong by reason of its object, we have a duty to consider motive and circumstances before performing it or endorsing it, particularly if the consequences might bring great harm to other people (as, for example, collateral damage in war).
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.