Thursday, May 7, 2009

'No one is held to do the impossible' A Fundamental Principle of Church Law

Obligations of Communion
Canon 209 §1. The Christian faithful are bound by an obligation, even in their own patterns of activity, always to maintain communion with the Church

Some legal duties are common to all Christians, including that of maintaining communion (c. 333, §2 even specifies it for the pope). Other legal duties are singled out in the law in terms of one’s standing in the Church (e.g., cc.273-289 for clergy and cc. 662-672 for religious), position (e.g., c. 145, §2 on duties to be specified for any office), or existential situation (e.g., c.226, §2 for duties arising from parenthood, or c. 225, §1 on evangelization responsibilities in special circumstances). The law also admits that the binding force of some legal duties can be suspended at times depending on a person’s actual location (see cc. 12-13) or can vary with the person’s age (see c.97) and mental state (cc.99; 1323-13254). No one is held to the impossible.

Support of the Church 
Social Justice & Charity

Canon 222 §1. The Christian faithful are obliged to assist with the needs of the Church so that the Church has what is necessary for divine worship, for apostolic works or charity, and for the decent sustenance of ministers.

Who Is Bound
The canon speaks directly of the Christian faithful, in a context of duties and rights common to all the faithful. None are exempted – whatever their position in the hierarchy – whether laity, religious or clergy. However, elsewhere in the law some qualifications are introduced. Clergy, for example, are encouraged to give to the Church or to works of charity what is surplus from their church income (c. 282, §2), although this does not exempt them from supporting the Church from other personal income. Professional members of religious institutes do not have personal administration of their goods. Unless the proper law of their institute determines otherwise, however, they are able to determine what is to be done with income from their goods (c. 668, §1), and to the obligation of canon 222, §1 would seem to apply when they make this determination prior to profession.

Although the canon does not include any qualifications to aid in this interpretation, those that were proposed in the De Populo Dei version may be understood here, namely, the obligation is according to each person’s possibilities, since no one is held to the impossible, and family obligations are to be taken into account, since the family is the domestic church, and as such is the most fundamental unit of ecclesial as well as secular society. Family resources must be safeguarded.

Rev. Francis A. Sullivan, who teaches at Boston College and specializes in questions of teaching authority.

"Catholics are obliged to do their honest best to conform their judgment with the official judgment of the church," he said. "If they cannot, I think one has to fall back on a fundamental principle of church law: 'No one is held to do the impossible.' "  Read more 

No one is held to do the impossible 

After faithfully following the necessary requirements in the formation of one’s conscience, which involved a thorough and comprehensive study of the facts related to sexual orientation, gender identity and human sexuality from the credible sources of both the medical and mental health professionals, it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that not only is it impossible for LGBT people to subject themselves to such antigay, erroneous gender identity teachings of the Vatican but to do so is seriously harmful to their well-being. LGBT people are free in good conscience to exempt themselves from such harmful teachings of the Vatican and Benedict XVI regarding sexual orientation, gender identity and human sexuality by following a fundamental principle of church law: “No one is held to do the impossible.” 

Moreover, according to Part IV. Erroneous Judgment in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, PART THREE LIFE IN CHRIST, CHAPTER ONE - THE DIGNITY OF THE HUMAN PERSON, ARTICLE 6 - MORAL CONSCIENCE those who would insist that LGBT adults and children are to be subjected to these harmful teachings of the Vatican regarding human sexuality are responsible for the harm they cause to these innocent adults and children.  It is the personal responsibility of each individual in the formation of his or her conscience.  To use the phrase "I was only following orders" is not a valid excuse for harming innocent lives, especially children worldwide.   



1783 Conscience must be informed and moral judgment enlightened. A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. The education of conscience is indispensable for human beings who are subjected to negative influences and tempted by sin to prefer their own judgment and to reject authoritative teachings.

1784 The education of the conscience is a lifelong task. From the earliest years, it awakens the child to the knowledge and practice of the interior law recognized by conscience. Prudent education teaches virtue; it prevents or cures fear, selfishness and pride, resentment arising from guilt, and feelings of complacency, born of human weakness and faults. The education of the conscience guarantees freedom and engenders peace of heart.

1785 In the formation of conscience the Word of God is the light for our path,54 we must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. We must also examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church.55 


1790 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience. If he were deliberately to act against it, he would condemn himself. Yet it can happen that moral conscience remains in ignorance and makes erroneous judgments about acts to be performed or already committed.

1791 This ignorance can often be imputed to personal responsibility. This is the case when a man "takes little trouble to find out what is true and good, or when conscience is by degrees almost blinded through the habit of committing sin."59 In such cases, the person is culpable for the evil he commits.

1792 Ignorance of Christ and his Gospel, bad example given by others, enslavement to one's passions, assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgment in moral conduct.

1793 If - on the contrary - the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgment, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience. Read more 

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