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Dear Father Angelo, 

My name is Massimo and I am a catechist. These are my questions: 

1) If the baptism that we receive frees us from original sin, why then do we baptize our children since our parents’ humanity has been healed and reconciled with baptism?  In fact, the CCC at no. 1250 states “Born with a fallen human nature and tainted by original sin, children also need the new birth in Baptism…”  The other thing I don’t quite understand is, if the soul is infused by God why does it have to be sanctified?  Doesn’t God put it already pure into the body?

2) How does the question of monogenism and polygenism currently stand in the Church?  If monogenism is certain, are we all in an incest?  How is this explained?  As a catechist, what are the fixed points that I have to keep? 

Thank you for this great work you are doing and I hope that soon Saint Thomas will be circulated again in the ordinary catechesis of the Church.

Have a nice Sunday

Priest’s answer

Dear Massimo, 

1.  Original sin consists above all in the deprivation of holiness (supernatural and divine life) in our soul.  This holiness entailed a perfect submission of our faculties to the will and a perfect submission of the will to God.  St. Thomas says, “the will, with its estrangement from God, transmitted disorder to all the other faculties of the soul” (Summa Theologiae, I-II, 82, 3). This non-submission is the reason we turn inordinately to transitory goods (Ib.).

 2.  St. Thomas continues, “Broken the bond of original justice, which embraced in a certain order all the powers of the soul, each of these abandons itself to its own impulse, and in a way that is all the more vehement the stronger the power is.  Now it happens that certain powers of the soul, due to the different physical constitution, are stronger in one than in another.  Therefore, that one is more inclined to lust than another is not because of original sin – for in all the bond of original justice is equally broken, and all the lower parts of the soul are left to themselves – but depends on the different disposition of the powers” ​​(Ib., ad 2). 

3.  St. Thomas also says that “original sin cannot in any way reside in the body as in its own subject, but only in the soul… The original sin is seated chiefly in the soul, not the body” (Summa theologica, I-II, 83, 1). 

4.  With Baptism, which instills grace, the soul is sanctified; it receives divine life again. But the body continues to suffer the penalties or consequences of original sin. And this is why the soul, when it is infused, is found to be the soul of a body which transmits it to the original disorder.

5.  The soul is created by God at the same moment in which it begins to animate the body and for this reason it is stained by original sin.  St. Thomas says again,”Infusion, on the other hand, implies relation both to God infusing, and to the flesh into which the soul is infused. And so, with regard to God infusing, it cannot be said that the soul is stained through being infused; but only with regard to the body into which it is infused” (Ib., ad 4).

6.  Although we distinguish between a pure soul and a soul tainted by original sin, in fact, there is no instance in which the soul was pure and then was tainted by original sin.  It is tainted at the same time it is created and infused into the body.

7.  It is still necessary to distinguish between a “pure soul” and a “sanctified soul.” The pure soul is that of the human person not affected by original sin.  In such a soul, all the powers or faculties of man are always well subjected to the will.  The sanctified soul is one which is raised to the supernatural order and placed in communion and friendship with God.  The will of the sanctified soul readily obeys God even if God instills a pure soul, this soul still needs to be sanctified; that is, elevated to the supernatural order of grace.

8.  Monogenism is certain.  St. Augustine observes that, if at the beginning of mankind, the union between brothers and sisters was a necessary condition for the propagation of mankind, with the cessation of this necessity, this union was condemned by religion (De Civitate Dei, 1. XV, chap. 16, n. PL 41, 457-58). Consequently, at the beginning of mankind, the union between brother and sister must not be considered as an incestuous union, having the Creator so disposed for the propagation and preservation of mankind.  Later, incest was forbidden for a double reason, because of the intrinsic need of love which demands to expand and because of the presence of defects in children.  If incest was by need practiced at the beginning of mankind, it does not mean that we come from incest.  One might say that in the meantime a lot of water has passed! 

Thank you for your questions,

I remember you to the Lord and bless you. 

Father Angelo

05 January, 2016 |05 January 2016 | A priest replies – Dogmatic Theology – Creation 

Translation: Marina Nelson

Edited : Peter Nelson