"Fundamental Option"
Revived in Rochester Diocese?


The following is a letter written by Mr. Likoudis to the editor of "The Catholic Courier", the Rochester Diocesan paper, issue of 9/18/2003, objecting to an article by Sr. Patricia Schoelles published by that paper in its 9/4/2003 issue.

September 12, 2003

Letter to the Editor
Catholic Courier
1136 Buffalo Road
Rochester, NY 14624

Dear Editor,

Sr. Patricia Schoelles' column "Sin reflects a state of life, not an act" (9/4/03) expresses a view that is not in conformity with Catholic moral teaching. Sr. Schoelles believes that "Sin is less about individual pieces of behavior, individual acts, as it is a matter of 'being', or a condition of the whole person." This is a rehash of the false theory of "Fundamental Option" that decried Catholic morality as being "too act-oriented". This theory has raised havoc in modern religious education and especially with regard to the area of sexuality, and has therefore been specifically censured by the Church as undermining its traditional doctrine of mortal sin.

The fact is that it is not a fundamental orientation of a person's entire life but one's free choices expressed in grave acts against the moral law of God and the teachings of the Church which determines our basic response to God, our very moral identity, and our eternal destiny. This "Fundamental Option" theory which held that "individual actions [against the moral law of God] are not sufficient to constitute mortal sin" was reprobated in the Church's "Declaration on Certain Problems of Sexual Ethics" - no. 10 (1975). It was also repudiated in Pope John Paul II's "On Reconciliation and Penance" (1984) wherein the Pope noted:

"Care will have to be taken not to reduce mortal sin to an act of 'fundamental option' as is commonly said today - against God, intending thereby an explicit and formal contempt for God and neighbor. For mortal sin exists also when a person knowingly and willingly, for whatever reason, chooses something gravely disordered... [One's] fundamental orientation can be radically changed by individual acts." (no. 17)

If the "Fundamental Option" theory is indeed being favored in the moral theology given in the diocese, it should be a matter of concern as leading to the loss of the sense of sin and the deadening of consciences that Pope John Paul II has repeatedly deplored.

Sincerely yours,
— James Likoudis,
P.O.Box 852,
Montour Falls, NY 14865

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