LIBERA ME, Domine, Iesu Christe, ab omnibus iniquitatis meis et universis malis,
fac me tuis semper inhærere mandatis et a te numquam separari permittas. Amen.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Judge Not . . .

The Crescat recently had a post discussing the tendency of some Catholic bloggers to be judgemental about the attitudes, tastes, or opinions of others (and yes, it’s something I recognize in myself, at least sometimes) : and it raised the question of what happens if by one’s judgemental attitude one is responsible for driving a soul away from God ?

Well, at first sight the answer is obvious : no sincere Catholic blogger wants to be responsible for driving even one soul away from God. What, I’m sure, we are all hoping to do is to bring souls to God . . . to stimulate, inform, challenge, or whatever . . . but to attract souls to the glory of our Faith, that they may be saved thereby.

On that level, then, it’s a good point : and we should all be very careful never to say anything which might drive a soul away from God.

At the same time, it does seem to me that there is another angle to it; which is the question of how one approaches matters where people hold opinions on which there is simply no possibility of giving way . . . the absolute sanctity of the unborn child, for instance, and the absolute sinfulness of abortion.

Are we to say that we must not say this plainly and unmistakably because we might, by doing, so, drive someone away from the Church ? I don’t think so, I’m afraid.

Of course, we must make it quite clear that what we are condemning is the sin, not – and never – the sinner; that we sympathize with the problems which lead women to do this dreadful thing, and that the Church (if not we personally) both can and will do whatever support is necessary to ensure that they are spared the guilt of murdering their unborn children . . . but that doesn’t mean that we can even suggest that abortion is ever an acceptable solution in God’s eyes; even if there are times when human beings may find it so.

We have God’s authority for judging the sin, and finding it atrocious : as for the sinner, that is in God’s hands, and can safely be left to a good and holy Confessor, who will know how to bring the confidence of God’s love to someone who has done something – anything – which the Church condemns because God condemns it.

So, it seems to me that whilst driving a soul away from God would be a great tragedy, and the possibility certainly requires us to ensure that we are quite definite in our comments about such issues so that our readers understand very clearly that it is the sin which we condemn, not the sinner (and, as a corollary, that we do not condemn as sinful something which is merely a matter of personal opinion) . . . but we have no authority to suggest that something which we know to be a sin is not, simply to avoid upsetting anyone . . .


  1. I think St Paul says something about speaking the truth in love, not that I'm one to quote scripture. It's always seemed to me that our first thought, before speaking out, is to ask - do I love?

  2. 'Credidimus caritati' is a good motto for all of us - 'we have believed unto charity.' It would make a great episcopal motto for a great bishop, perhaps?

  3. The biggest problem I've observed is the tendency to actually slam others, be they other sinners, bishops, priests, sisters, etc. It is quite popular in some blogging circles to spend time in glorifying oneself by making others look as bad as possible. This technique doesn't win souls, but turns them away. It also differs from speaking strongly for moral positions and presenting the truth in a passionate way. There is a line, and I think many don't realize they cross it. I know when I wrote on this topic I got a ton of private emails and commenters asking not to be published as they tried to "set me straight". Most of them had missed the point entirely and thought I was advocating "wishy-washiness". I wasn't. Nor are you!