Cooperation with Evil--A Case Study

I'm teaching a course this semester on complicity with evil--looking at it from a legal, philosophical, and theological perspective. The past couple of weeks we have been dealing with the doctrine of cooperation with evil--a Catholic casuistical framework that helps us evaluate when, and under what circumstances, it is morally permissible for one person to contribute to another's wrongful act. Case studies are essential--and can be fun to talk about in class.The moral theologian Germain Grisez has a whole book of cases of "Difficult Moral Questions"--some of which deal with cooperation with evil. And my class spent some time talking about question 36. "Should the family of someone marrying invalidly participate in the wedding?"A mother is writing on behalf of her husband and eldest daughter, saying that Irene, the second daughter was marrying a man who had been married in the Church but who had not gotten an annulment. The couple is going to get a Protestant minister to perform the ceremony, but have no intention of leaving the Catholic Church. Irene wants mom and dad and sis to do the whole expected thing--pay for the wedding, maid of honor, etc. Should they do so?Grisez says no. They shouldn't go to the wedding, or pay for it, or help celebrate it. Nonetheless, they shouldn't disown her, and should treat her as their daughter/sister. If they do get married, "Treat Irene with familial affection, keep in touch with her, and welcome her calls and visits. " But don't treat them as a married couple--don't give them a common bedroom in your house. Treat him as a friend.Now many students in my class, which runs from liberal to conservative, disagreed with this advice, on two grounds. 1) They didn't think that participating in the wedding constituted an endorsement of the whole deal--it was essential familial support, the duty of a parent to a child; and 2) they thought Grisez was being highly unrealistic in thinking the family could maintain any sort of relationship with the couple or the children if they went this route. "She'll hate them. He'll hate them. The grandkids will never see them."A generational difference? Any thoughts?

Cathleen Kaveny is the Darald and Juliet Libby Professor in the Theology Department and Law School at Boston College.

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