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fundamental option heresy
Question from markie marie on 10/10/2002:

Dear staff,I am a Baptized, Confirmed ,Married Catholic who Joined a local RCIA as a way to get to know people and get involved in my new community,The Catechism Teacher Gave us a book to use Called "IN HIS LIGHT" by Rev.William A.Anderson published by Brown-Roa. This book teaches The "Fundamental Option" theory in determining the seriousness of sin.I wrote to another forum on EWTN and was told this is a heresy.I know after reading " THe Splendor of Truth" By THe Holy Father, That he is against this teaching.I asked everyone how they can use such a book in light of this fact( THe Teacher,Pastor,Chancellor at the Bishop"s office,The director of Catecheses of The Archdiocese of Chicago) All of who told me That "EWTN is Narrow minded and Conservative in their views,and that all opinions are welcome in the Catholic Church."I Fear for the People Considering coming into the church,of being taught crucial errors regarding truth.What can I do about this? Thanks,Markie Marie

Answer by Catholic Answers on 10/11/2002:

Dear Friend,

The "fundamental option" theory may seem to some to be a compassionate and pastoral way of loving the sinner while hating the sin. The problem is that it is too easy on the sinner because it denies his freedom to sin. This does no one a service because it denies the truth. Historic Catholic theology would say that those sins which do not change our fundamental option are venial sins and that those sins which do change it are mortal sins. Whenever a person commits a mortal sin, he has changed his fundamental option and chooses to be against God; he loses the state of grace.

The matter comes into focus when one realizes that those who espouse the "fundamental option" theory typically claim that one can commit acts such as adultery, homosexuality and masturbation, which the Church has always regarded as mortal sins, without changing one's fundamental option or orientation toward God. Some go so far as to imply that no single act of sin one commits changes one's fundamental option; only a prolonged pattern of sinful behavior can do so.

Certainly, all opinions may be welcome in the Catholic Church, but not all of them are accepted as the truth by the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul II in his encyclical "Veritatis Splendor", as you mentioned, has condemned the fundamental option. Certainly, your pastor, Archdiocesan Chancellor, and Archdiocesan Director of Catechesis should know this. I know that your Cardinal does and is most faithful to the Magisterium.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.



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