Amoris Laetitia 273: Proposing Values

amoris laetitia memeWrapping up the theme of patience in the ethical formation of the young:

273. In proposing values, we have to proceed slowly, taking into consideration the child’s age and abilities, without presuming to apply rigid and inflexible methods. The valuable contributions of psychology and the educational sciences have shown that changing a child’s behavior involves a gradual process, but also that freedom needs to be channeled and stimulated, since by itself it does not ensure growth in maturity.

Some believers remain skeptical of psychology, but like all tools, this science can be mishandled. I think we’ve never had a better understanding of the physical and psychological influences on human behavior. We can make the tools of psychology work well for us.

Situated freedom, real freedom, is limited and conditioned. It is not simply the ability to choose what is good with complete spontaneity. A distinction is not always adequately drawn between “voluntary” and “free” acts. A person may clearly and willingly desire something evil, but do so as the result of an irresistible passion or a poor upbringing. In such cases, while the decision is voluntary, inasmuch as it does not run counter to the inclination of their desire, it is not free, since it is practically impossible for them not to choose that evil.

A distinction between freedom and choice:

We see this in the case of compulsive drug addicts. When they want a fix, they want it completely, yet they are so conditioned that at that moment no other decision is possible. Their decision is voluntary but not free. It makes no sense to “let them freely choose”, since in fact they cannot choose, and exposing them to drugs only increases their addiction. They need the help of others and a process of rehabilitation.

For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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