Let me try and explain for the lay person the dangers of gradualism and how it is being misunderstood by commentators, bloggers, journalists.
First of all, the road to perfection begins with the initial conversion to "Go and sin no more". One cannot be in the state of mortal sin and attain any of even the most primary steps of perfection.
The first step is orthodoxy, not heterodoxy. The first conversion is a radical acceptance of Jesus Christ as one's Lord, Savior, and as the Second Person in the Blessed Trinity. Part of this first conversion is a total acceptance of the teaching of Christ.
There is a second conversion which involves a detachment from venial sin. Again, a person cannot even be holding on to habits and knee-jerk reactions to venial sin and follow the road to perfection. I have reiterated this many times in my series. quoting the great mystics, Doctors of the Church, and, of course, Garrioug-Lagrange. This second conversion breaks the ego's reliance on the predominant fault. In other words. one has endured the long or short, but intense suffering of the Dark Night of the Soul in order to experience the purification of the senses and the spirit. Without this purification, to which we are all called, there is no Illumination State or State of Unity.
Suffering provides the means to this purification and one can either suffer in martydom, as did the Apostles, or in the daily walk of a virtual purgatory on earth, like St. Pope John Paul II. We are aware of his faults and mistakes in his papacy and we are also aware how God allowed him to suffer publicly for many years in order to purify him, as those closest to him have attested.
Gradualism is a heresy which denies several necessary components to the walk towards perfection.
It assumes that people need and should be allowed a long time to convert in that first conversion and it denies the real purgative power of suffering.
Gradualism denies the love of God, a real burning flame which cannot be resisted. Gradualism denies free will and assumes people cannot make a decision to be holy. It smacks of Pelagianism and Noe-Pelagianism.
God works with us only if we are in sanctifying grace. God does give actual grace and prevenient grace, but if a person insists on, for example, living in adultery or fornication, only the surgeon's knife of a complete break of mortal sin will enable that soul to grow in holiness.
There is NO growth in the soul is one is in mortal sin. Mortal sin kills the life of the soul and separates the person from God FOREVER. Only Confession and absolution, plus the complete turning away from serious can lead a person into the life of God again, which is sanctifying grace.
One of the great flaws of gradualism is the denial of mortal sin as killing the life of God in the soul.
One cannot even begin step one on the road to holiness if one is living in sin, or has even committed one unforgiven, unrepented mortal sin.
One unrepented moral sin sends us to hell. A person who chooses to live in sin, such as in fornication, which is an obvious example, cannot receive sanctifying grace until that person repents, This is the meaning of conversion, of metanoia.
Those who are pushing for gradualism in the Synod and in the media are following an idea of Protestantism which denies the need for the sacraments, as the only gifts from God which impart sanctifying grace (usually), and also the damage that mortal sin does not only to the soul but in relationships.
Christ never taught gradualism nor did the early Church. A lack of knowledge of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church and the Teaching of the Church from Christ on has caused this confusion, which is not new, by the way, and was condemned.
I shall quote some passages of Scripture and continue this discussion in the next post. Church discipline demands excommunication, which happened immediately in the Early Church, for the sake of the soul of the unrepentant sinner.
Two quotations from 1 Corinthians 5 and 2 Corinthians 5 starting with the latter: