The Seven Stages Of Heresy, by Pat Archbold, has been making the rounds. Here they are in their entirety:

Stage 1

Immoral practice is clearly condemned and anathematized. The eternal salvation of souls is at stake. Some people still do it, but they are understood to be sinners and sometimes socially ostracized.

Stage 2

Immoral practice is still clearly condemned but nobody really talks about it. More people do it, but not considered ideal.

Stage 3

Immoral practice is formally condemned, but such condemnation is rarely taught. Many more people do it, it is just the way life is sometimes.

Stage 4

Immoral practice is still formally condemned, but most clergy look the other way and some even encourage it. Most people do it, what is the big deal?

Stage 5

Immoral practice is still formally condemned, but we must find a way to act pastorally toward all those who engage in practice. Church is seen to be unnecessarily hurting those with its outdated intolerance. To be more pastoral, we encourage more of the immoral practice because our growth has taught us that people’s feelings are more important than their souls.

Stage 6

Immoral practice is still immoral, but those charged with the care of souls and safeguarding the truth say things like “that ship has sailed” or “not that important” or “not relevant” or “we are not obsessed with such matters” or “we need to encounter people where they are” or ultimately “the sensus fidelium has spoken.” Those who don’t do it are considered obsessed wild-eyed intolerant freaks who are ultimately harming the Church’s outreach.

Stage 7

Immoral practice is still immoral and Church still formally condemns it, but the ubiquitous immoral practice has spawned worse ones, so we now have bigger fish to fry. Congratulations! You have a full-blown heresy!!

This has been presented in the context of remarriage after divorce and/or annulment, and Catholics in such situations receiving communion.

It seems to me that with no substantial changes it could also be said of usury, which used to mean charging interest, and used to be a sin. Now charging interest is okay, as long as it’s not too much interest. And of course the origination fee, and the service fee, and the additional overcharge don’t count as interest.


3 Replies to “Heresy”

  1. Two points: annulment would be a different situation than divorce*, and the foundation of usury being sinful is inherently different; divorce is specifically condemned, while usruy was a situational matter of taking advantage of someone whose very survival depended on them borrowing money from you, as opposed to borrowing to take a risk on an investment, or for the risk of transporting the money from city to city.
    I’m reading “seven lies about Catholic History” Diane Moczar and it comes up as an example of the middle ages and their complex reasoning related to justice. On the free side, the Catholic Encyclopedia goes into great detail.

    *”Getting an annulment” is a false friend to “getting a divorce”– divorce is breaking a marriage, the process of an annulment involves finding out if there was ever a valid marriage in the first place. Sadly, given how jacked up the understanding of what being married is about, there are a lot of invalid marriages.

    1. Thanks for the links. Zippy Catholic has written a lot about usury. I can’t rule out to my satisfaction (and I would rather like to) that much of the lending that happens today is as sinful now as it would have been a thousand years ago.

      I hope you’re right about the Church taking entirely different views of divorce and usury.

Comments are closed.