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Of Scandal and Catholic Schools

This past year saw a number of media conflagrations over Catholic schools that terminated teachers discovered to have been either pregnant out of wedlock or gay. I will not be commenting on any of these particular cases.

Indeed the problem with most commentary on such cases is that we usually lack knowledge of the relevant details to make a wise judgment. Just as hard cases make bad law, so does lack of sufficient knowledge of details hamper attempts to say something helpful. Prudent judgments usually require a greater sense of the relevant context than we get from the news.

So, for example, we would need to know (which we usually don’t) whether the pregnant, unmarried teacher in question was openly defiant of Church teachings. An unwed pregnant woman (teacher or student) might end up being the source of good lessons to the community, depending upon the situation. And judgments must be made in such cases, for example, whether Catholic schools that exile unwed mothers may be helping forces of evil that pressure women into having abortions.

I have known far too many cases of young girls from conservative, pious Catholic families, for example, who have opted for abortion simply because their shame was too great to reveal the truth to their parents. In several situations, moreover, ostensibly “good” Catholic parents or siblings have looked the other way while they suspected an abortion was taking place. “Problem” solved. Scandal avoided. No need to go before the Church community as one of those parents: someone who raised a pregnant, unwed daughter.

As for the Catholic parents of boys who impregnated girls, well, that tended to be no problem at all. The answer was simple: have him stay in school, act as though nothing has happened, and disavow any responsibility.

For these reasons, among others, kicking pregnant women out of school, whether they are teachers or students, seems to me generally a bad idea.

And yet, if I were a poor father trying to help my children out of poverty to a better future, I imagine that I wouldn’t be all that comfortable sending my daughter to a school where dozens of girls had gotten premaritally pregnant and in which, for various reasons, unwed pregnancy had become socially “acceptable” – sort of a “rite of passage.” Like your first kiss, your first date, or your first prom, now you have your first baby out of wedlock. That’s a problem. But so too is a school that exiles young girls, when they become pregnant, but makes no effort to hold the young man involved accountable. The context in which such judgments are made is crucial.

"Youth" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1893)
“Youth” by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1893)

In a similar vein, it’s one thing to have a person living chastely with his or her same-sex desires teaching at a Catholic school; it’s another thing entirely for a person to be openly disobeying Church teachings.

But then again, that goes for everyone at a Catholic school. A Catholic school that would fire a chaste gay man, faithful to the Church’s teachings, or an unwed pregnant woman, but would never consider firing a nun who repeatedly bad-mouths the Magisterium, is guilty of bad faith. Is premarital pregnancy or an admission that one has homosexual desires the only reasons for which a Catholic teacher can be fired? If so, we have a problem.

It would be no more inappropriate for a person with same-sex attractions who is honestly living with the struggle of authentic fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium to be teaching at a Catholic school than it would be for a person struggling to be faithful to the Church’s moral teaching when it comes to pornography or lust or consumerism or greed or anger or, well, a host of other vices and sins. If Catholic schools could only hire people without sin, the schools would be empty, and I wouldn’t have a job.

I know several men and women who have been very open about their same-sex attractions and have written eloquently about how they live faithfully in accord with the teachings of the Church. One of them is married with a wife and three beautiful children. I would be proud to have any one of them as a colleague in my Catholic university. Indeed, any one of them would be preferable to colleagues who check the box “Catholic,” but hate the teachings of the Magisterium with the sort of deep-seated passion that only an angry child can show to despised parents. Why such people settle on a job at a Catholic university remains a mystery to me.

Schools should pay less attention to who checks the box “Catholic” and a lot more attention to what is called “mission fit”: those who honestly and earnestly supports the mission of the school. As for terminating people simply because they might “cause scandal” (a sure road to hypocrisy), let’s remember, these days simply being Catholic is scandalous enough. In this culture, an authentically “Catholic” school simply is a school for scandal. It has often been thus in history.

In most of these disputes, there is a judgment call to be made. There are different “goods” to be sought and “evils” to be avoided. When such cases become sideshow acts in the great media circus, there is too often a rush to judgment, one side condemning school officials as though they were hate-filled bigots, the other rushing to vindicate the school as though they were defending Mother Church Herself.

St. Paul warns about “keeping busy, not becoming busybodies.” He condemns “idlers, going about from house to house. . .gossips and busybodies, saying what they should not.”

The media make their money peddling polemic. We owe our fellow Catholics patience and prudence. We need to protect the sheep without joining the ranks of the barking wolves outside the gate.

Randall Smith

Randall Smith

Randall Smith is the Scanlan Professor of Theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Texas.

  • Paul Vander Voort

    Randall,

    If a priest, brother, nun, teacher, janitor, student or any one else isn’t “mission fit” shouldn’t they be in the public school system? By “mission fit” I assume you mean trying to live according to the official teaching of the Catholic Church. Now if some one has made a mistake and still wants to be part of the community you give them the help they need. If they make a mistake but don’t want to be part of the community you help them find another situation not just kick them to the curb. If this isn’t done you could lose another generation.

  • John Willson

    Is this a straw man? Isn’t the real pressure nowadays, and the real problem, the forced acceptance of all sorts of behavior? I had a high school classmate, many years ago, who was not allowed to graduate with our class because she was pregnant with a child who later gave her several grandchildren, by a man to whom she was faithfully married for several decades. I would much rather we were still dealing with such injustices than being forced to accept sodomy (for example) as just one more alternate “lifestyle.”

    • WSquared

      Perhaps one of the reasons why we’re dealing with being forced to accept anything and everything under the sun is because enough American Christians, not including a few Catholics, weren’t good at dealing with the injustices under discussion here. We also have a culture that disses celibacy, which, if we’re going to be talking about being forced to find sodomy acceptable, does matter: Fr. Robert Barron once observed that when he explained priestly celibacy for CNN, he met with a highly negative response, coming mostly from fundamentalist Christians and from militant secularists. And as Mark Shea once acutely and wryly observed, “scratch an atheist, find a fundamentalist.” Both also read the Bible the same way, only they differ in cherry picking which parts to take literally. For the Catholic, that way of reading Scripture is inexcusable. Moreover, who is the only body in American society that not only accepts celibacy, but respects and reveres it, believing it not at all contrary to loving and being loved in the fullest sense? That would be us: the Catholic Church. And when Catholics pick up what the culture throws down, they hurt the Church’s witness.

      Why should anyone think that the Church’s teaching on human sexuality is about love when all some non-Catholic Christians and Catholics do is to make that teaching all about bourgeois “respectability,” “reputation,” and what “nice” and “good” boys and gals do and don’t do? To emphasize love and mercy isn’t to compromise Church teaching or justice, not if you know how the two are related. The trouble is that many Catholics don’t how the two are related: they assume that good catechesis is reducible merely to content, when good catechesis also means thinking and praying with what one has given in order to see how it’s all coherently related. But then, if we have Catholics who assume, like the larger culture, that faith is about something airy-fairy and emotional called “religion,” and that faith and reason are separable, what do we expect? Professor Smith is spot on: a “strict Catholic” is not necessarily an orthodox one.

      Nature sure hates a vacuum, and we’ve already ceded way too much ground. We have a culture that sees no middle ground between Puritanism and pornography, for Heaven’s sake, which should tell us something about not wringing our hands when we have our work cut out for us– in good part because many Catholics not only ignored “Humanae Vitae,” but did the flipside, too: whatever they read, if they read it at all, they read mostly legalistically, and boiled it down to “the Church sez ‘no,’ and ‘no’ means ‘no,’ dagnabbit.” The bad fruits of ignoring “HV” aren’t just contraception, abortion, fewer children, and fewer vocations: they also include a ton of shallowness, and missed opportunities. What does it say when Catholics are largely ineffectual at answering any silly “war on women” rhetoric, when the teachings of their Church actually CAN, and could not only wipe the floor with “war on women,” but take that rhetoric to the woodshed? We have essentially dropped the ball when we don’t communicate that the Church loves smart women, whether they stay home full time or work, in whatever combination, and that Church teaching can form holy, profound, and *brilliant* ones. We drop the ball when we forget that the vocation of women is to take the Church out into the world, and that radical feminism is best challenged with living Ephesians 5 everywhere, none of which can be done effectively without any sense of respect for chastity in general, and for virginity and celibacy in particular.

      It took me years and finally becoming acquainted with Pope Benedict to realize how beautiful “Humanae Vitae” is. Before I read it, I was afraid, because I’d swallowed the culture’s assumptions hook, line, and sinker with virtually no Catholics disabusing me of those assumptions because they themselves either weren’t well catechized, or didn’t know much beyond the Baltimore Catechism (nothing wrong with the latter; everything wrong with what is commonly the case: Catholics who may “know” the basics from the Baltimore Catechism, but who can’t join the dots). When you’re groping to find your way home, the last thing you need is someone who keeps telling you that you’re in the dark without offering you any way out, and that worst of all, it’s all your fault, look at how stupid you are, so just give up, already: that’s what people who condemn the sin, but who won’t then move forward from there, sound like, because they are, for whatever reason, wholly incapable of talking about how sin only makes sense as being contrary to love of God and neighbor. That’s not what the Church’s Magisterium does, but what many ill-catechized Catholics nonetheless do– all they do is say that “a sin is a sin, because it’s a sin,” which makes little to no sense as only a clashing gong can. I prayed, took a breath, read it, and ended up falling in love with “HV.” I make no excuses for my own neglect of the faith prior to that; I’m just glad to be home, and that anyone away from the Church is just one good confession away from being a practicing Catholic again. But it’s nonetheless fair to say that after Vatican II, we had a moment that can only be categorized by doctrinal and dogmatic laxity plus moral strictness: “pray, pay, and obey” plus “kumbayaa.” That’s a lethal combination and a recipe for disaster, and the more we stay stuck in that moment, taking sides and expecting the Pope to endorse “our” side, because we wanna “win,” the less effective we’ll be at evangelizing.

      • Joyfully

        Pretty much agree with everything you said in all your posts here today. Keep up the New Evangelizing, of course if they’ve made it this far…

      • Thomas Sharpe

        Excellent. Thank you.

  • givelifeachance2

    How about those who are incest-attracted and not afraid to say so? Cannibalism-attracted? Murder-attracted? Can’t we keep these attractions to ourselves while trying to stay chaste? To speak of them out loud in neutral terms does have the effect of legitimizing the behavior.

    As for the pregnant teen, is it such a bad thing to leave the school for a maternity home while pregnant, then seek adoption for the child? (-There are many couples waiting for such an opportunity to adopt…many of them might otherwise resort to IVF) Not all shame is bad…shame exists to warn of imminent danger to the soul, just as pain warns of imminent danger to the body. It might give the next couple pause before “hooking up”, if they saw the wages of sin.

    You seem to be advocating that the school take on the shame label for “discriminating” against these behaviors. But just as the mother wrongly seeks to avoid public shame by getting an abortion, the school might unwarrentedly try to avoid public leftist-shame by compromising Church teaching.

    • WSquared

      Who said anything about compromising Church teaching out of trying to avoid public leftist-shame? The issue is how a loving God both chastises a person who has done wrong, and how He restores that person if he or she is contrite. Catholicism is not a religion of perfectionism. As for the pregnant teen, we’re talking about trying to find ways in which she can finish school, while also holding accountable the boy who impregnated her. It does, after all, take two to tango. Why does the boy get off scott free, while the girl is shamed? Is the principal of the school going to talk to both them and their parents that marriage is an option, because now they have a child to think about? What are the demands of love in truth and truth in love in that situation?

      And related to that: why is it that so many people, whether they oppose or embrace Catholic teaching on human sexuality, can’t seem to be able to explain that teaching other than in ways that boil it down to bourgeois “respectability” and “reputation,” and some form of “God hates sl*ts” (and ‘God hates f*gs”)? That’s not why the Church’s teaching on human sexuality exists, and the larger culture is pretty clueless when it comes to chastity, period. Chastity is about way more than just “saving yourself for marriage,” wearing some sort of cutesy “promise ring,” and hanging on, white knuckled, until that ring is on your finger and it’s “go time.” It’s about the holistic integration of one’s sexuality within one’s self and identity as a human being. A person who cannot openly discuss chastity outside of marriage will have a hard time doing so inside of marriage, and it won’t matter that the couple or person(s) involved have all the “right” nice things, including a middle-class lifestyle and house in the ‘burbs. They’re still living a lie. And Catholics therefore should not pick up what the larger culture throws down, even if it may yield the “right” results on the surface. Catholics who think with that culture will not think with the Church, and the price that we pay is fewer Catholics who can explain the Church’s teaching in terms of God’s love for us.

      This comment and the original post reminds me of something that Ven. Fulton Sheen once said: that the Devil first tries to convince us that this or that sin is no big deal. Then, after we’ve committed it, he tries to convince us that it is absolutely unforgivable. To what extent, then, do tick-all-the-right-Catholic-boxes Catholics contribute to that unforgiving atmosphere? And note that I’m talking about everybody, not just regard to certain political leanings. The way we confound absolutely everybody, regardless of political stripe, is to be truly counter-cultural. Because belief in the Incarnation demands nothing less.

  • Donald Grant

    Randall
    After the the war when churches were overflowing a large percentage of Catholic marriages were formed when a girl got pregnant The couple’s went on to have good marriages and large Catholic families very often with the children attending Catholic schools. There is something else going on in today’s Catholic culture. It is in many ways less forgiving

    • Caddie

      I remember that time well. Then a normal pregnancy was expected to be nine months except in some cases the first one might be shorter. Usually there was little comment and as you say, the marriages went forward.

      • Bro_Ed

        I remember it too. The people in my would area would say: “A baby takes 9 months, but that first one can come anytime.” This is obviously a thought provoking article. Well done. I’d like to read more of these and fewer of the ones that seem to say “I have all the answers; do it my way and be saved.”

  • Ellen Fielding

    I’m with you.In most cases nowadays, the unwed teen who is pregnant is being pushed not only by this anonymous thing called the culture but also by her friends, perhaps mentors like teachers, often family members, and quite often either tacitly or explicitly by the baby’s father to solve the problem by aborting. However, the sin was not being pregnant but engaging in sex outside marriage. Many of those same friends, etc. are committing the sin but without, one way or another, having to deal with the “evidence” of pregnancy. If we are prolife, what does that mean? That we tell an unwed teen she must carry the baby to term but only under the kind of conditions that bring home to her that she is a pariah? Even though a number of the people occupying that classroom she is being kicked out of are having sex too and will draw from her case only the lesson that they’d better use effective contraception/abortifacients and/or be prepared to have an abortion if those fail? How well is that line likely to work?

    And in the case of homosexuals attempting to be chaste, again, these are fellow Christians needing support, because they sure aren’t getting it from the gay culture at large. They are not unique in presenting special concerns in relation to working with youth–for example, people who are struggling to abstain from addictions to alcohol and drugs may present special considerations for certain categories of employers too, but that is different from demonizing people according to the specific temptations they are attracted to and the disorders they struggle with. As you note, most of the harm to the faith in Catholic school settings is caused by the seemingly problem-free Catholic-in-name-only Catholics who convey the secular mindset and agenda to their students.

    I agree with Donald Grant that in some ways our Catholic culture is less forgiving now, perhaps for some because they understandably feel so threatened by the toxic general culture, perhaps for others because they have absorbed some of that general culture’s intolerance. Ambitious and upwardly mobile kids can be very unforgiving, for example, of unwed fellow high schoolers or college students, not because they consider them immoral but because they consider them “stupid.”

    • WSquared

      Ellen, this is a very astute comment. All of it. Joseph Ratzinger once wrote (and I paraphrase) that justice without mercy is a form of cruelty, and mercy without justice is meaningless. Those two things aren’t separable, but the culture separates them. Especially bang on is the last paragraph where you note that in some ways, our Catholic culture is less forgiving now, because on the one hand, some Catholics who consider themselves orthodox feel more threatened, and because others have absorbed the general culture’s intolerance.

      But there’s something else going on, too, that’s related to what you’ve written here: a lot of Catholics who style themselves “liberal” or “conservative,” “traditionalist” or “progressive” both pick up (often without any questioning or self-awareness) assumptions and false dichotomies that the larger culture throws down. Some of the big ones are separation of faith from reason, and matter from spirit, which unsurprisingly also leads to a separation between “doctrinaire” Catholics from “social justice” ones, because they’ve essentially separated the Corporal Works of Mercy from the Spiritual Works of Mercy, and “lex orandi, lex credendi” from “lex vivendi.” “It doesn’t matter what you believe, so long as you’re a ‘nice’ person” is simply one common and popular form of the latter separation, as is bad liturgy that reduces spirituality to emotionalism, because the larger culture reduces theological matters that have philosophical implications to the fuzzy category of “religion.” “Spiritual, but not religious” is also not an option for an incarnational faith. Catholics should not pick up what the culture throws down.

      Tellingly, you’ll find that “liberals” and “conservatives” agree very closely on all of the hot-button issues, in that they will largely concur on a rather materialistic worldview, only they will oppose each other on whether they lean either too strict or too lax: one side can be counted upon to zig while the other zags. Moreover, many (but not all) of those styling themselves “conservative” are really primitivists, which is the flipside of progressivism: one side presumes to reinvent the wheel all the time, while the other side presumes to go back to a “purer” time in the Church. Both will also baptize whatever which way they lean in Catholic language. Both ways of thinking are hardwired into the Protestant ethos, which American Catholics often pick up without due awareness because it’s in the air that we breathe, but which mitigates against any real sense that Church doctrine can still develop organically while remaining truly itself. The thing is, if we believe that Christ is God, standing outside time, and is alpha and omega, beginning and end, past, present, and future, then progressivism and primitivism are nonsense. Catholics should not pick up what the culture throws down.

      Just about everything that Pope Francis says that upsets Catholics in some quarters can just as easily apply to their opponents. Enough of those Catholics, I suspect, also claim to love (or even hate) Pope Benedict, often for highly truncated reasons, when from what they say and write, it’s quite clear that they have read very little to none of Joseph Ratzinger’s work (to say nothing of the fact that he is loving, gentle, and warm while losing none of his penetrating profundity in a way that many of his “fans” as well as detractors just aren’t: to almost always be reducing Ratzinger to the liturgy is to truncate him, and he doesn’t deserve that). Many Catholics, whether they lean “liberal” or “conservative,” whether they like the idea or not, expect the Pope and the Church’s Magisterium to “tell them what to do,” and treat the Catechism and encyclicals the way fundamentalist Protestants treat the Bible: as some sort of operation or instruction manual. They are confused and frustrated when they find anything but “a list or rules,” and then either resort to legalism or laxness. Almost every discussion about women, family size, NFP, and human sexuality in Catholic circles tends to follow predictable patterns that may as well be classified as ruts: look at those discussions carefully, and you’ll find that enough of those Catholics essentially agree with the larger culture– that the only viable, “realistic” options available to couples are Providentialism or the Pill. For those reasons, many to most discussions of NFP almost never mention God’s grace, which actually makes the chastity needed for self-control, sound discernment, and prudent generosity possible. Moreover, we have Catholics who can’t effectively answer and challenge any “war on women” rhetoric, even though the teachings of their Church actually *can*. There’s a truly impoverished sense that the Catholic imagination does matter, not just in literature and the arts, as with J.R.R. Tolkien, Evelyn Waugh, Chartres Cathedral, or the music of Palestrina, but also in everyday life and mundane, even “practical” matters (one of the real go-to saints for the Catholic imagination in the everyday is St. Therese of Lisieux). Catholics should not pick up what the culture throws down.

      “As you note, most of the harm to the faith in Catholic school settings
      is caused by the seemingly problem-free Catholic-in-name-only Catholics
      who convey the secular mindset and agenda to their students.”

      And to their children. Because that’s what happens when Catholics pick up what the culture throws down– that “being in the world, but not of it” gets interpreted as either assimilation or ghettoization, as opposed to walking the Strangest Way.

      And for all of the above reasons, thank God for TheCatholicThing.org.

    • WSquared

      “However, the sin was not being pregnant but engaging in sex outside
      marriage. Many of those same friends, etc. are committing the sin but
      without, one way or another, having to deal with the “evidence” of
      pregnancy.”

      Because the real “sin” in their minds is nature and ontology reasserting themselves, when engaging in an activity that can, in fact, lead to a child. They.. “didn’t sign up for this.”

  • Fr. Tom Bartolomeo

    Virtus in media stat, “virtue stands in the middle” as we distinguish the sinner from the sin or the temptation from the sin. Who among us would cast the first stone? Not I. It is all a matter of repentance and forgiveness even seven times or seven times seventy. Randal Smith raises an important issue how the Church, you and I, should embrace all its sinners, you and I, and not our sins. Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen (who I met as a teenager) said that we should be tolerant of every person but intolerant of every evil or sin). Imagine the possible virtuous witness of a repentant pregnant girl in high school who admits her failing and the support others would offer. For a time it may be “a mess”, so to speak, as Pope Francis recommended but ultimately a strengthening of virtue for everyone in that school without hypocrisy or disregard of our faith and morals.

    • Joyfully

      I agree. If I were in an assembly of people and a person stood before us and professed contrition and grave fault that they had failed to call on grace to see them through a temptation that would possibly change the face of the earth – as every new life does – and that person asked me to forgive them and help them grow in virtue as they continue on their journey to Heaven then “yes to the mess”!

      This is when you “change hearts” not laws.

      It really could be an wonderful experience for the parish-family that embraced a member in such a condition. How wonderful it would be to hear someone say, “I’ve done wrong and I need all of you to help me repair the damage I have done. Thank you for understanding.”

      I can’t see it happening though.

    • Thomas Sharpe

      I’m sorry, but there are scandals at “catholic” schools worse than those mentioned in this article….

      “catholic” high schools in my neighborhood charge between 10K and 16K per student, are focused on getting students into the “be$t” schools, and are limited to upper middle class with one or two children, who may or may not be catholic, and who commonly use contraceptives and abortifacients. I have asked many times if the schools teach Humanae Vitae, only to be rewarded with a blank stare and quizzical look from the school administration.

      The schools have become private schools for the upper middle class with one or two children; a strange mix of lay clericalism and a contraceptive mentality. The schools may teach social justice, but they have become socially unjust. They may say they are catholic, but they are not. And I believe it is this scandal, that is at the root of all others…

  • CadaveraVeroInnumero

    Can be a “gay” Catholic (as in “gay” is more than the desire of sodomy – i suppose), lead a chaste live (absolutely n overt acts of homosexual sins to confess, yet, still, advocate for homosexuality (in what, these days, is called Queerness) as a special state of human existence with its own gifts (with its own unqiue participation in God’s Life). That sort of thing. Would that very much – in his personal lfe – chste “gay” Catholic be a proper instruction at said school? Or, would you conisder said instructor to be one of those Catholic who snub the teachings of the Church – though his personal ife is blameless.

    There are very faithful, obedient Catholics who hold their so-called “gay identity” in ireserve, as something to be kept for the future when the Church will change its teaching to honor the full spectrum of human experience. In the meanwhile, they very willingly – and joyfully – act in full obedience to the teachings of the Church as presently promulgated, yet see themselves in a prophetic role, – as a spirituall vanguard elite – when the Church will recognize the vessel their homosexual idenity truly is in ferrying the love and life of God.

    They carry thier homosexual idenity – untainted by acts of sodomite sin – with great confidence that, someday, their wilderness voice will ring as a doctrrinal call to open wide the gates of God’s Life to the fullness of the human condition. FOr now, they are missionaries, of sorts, translating the language of the Church according to the lexicon of Queer Theory.

    SUch folks exists: in Catholic schools – and the backwaters of Synod Halls.

    Your see, it is not the stray orthodox, faithful Catholic teacher who bravely (but not heroically) struggles with his homosexual desires through confession, repentance, and godly fellowship with others. Such, are welcomed – and, here’s my kid, teach him. I fear more – with honest dread – the orthodox, faithful Catholics who sees himself as vanguard elite in all things Queer. (That is, Queer Theory, within the Church, programed in steps and stages. The first step being: Be honorable and faithful to the Church’s teaching as it presently is, for we – in our special knowing of the gift of homosexuality – carry the promise of full flouishing in the Life of God, etc & etc.)

    Regarding that fellow, hand him a pink slip, tell him to find Spiritual Friendship elsewhere,

    • eddie too

      one thing we can all be certain of is that Jesus taught us, all of us, that human sexual activity is only rightly ordered when it occurs within a permanent and exclusive relationship between one man and one woman.
      so, anyone holding their breaths for that to change is going to have to find another savior, because Jesus Christ the Savior of the World has made His teachings on human sexuality clear during His life her on earth.

  • nosidam

    Such confusion! The devil is having a fieldday.
    1Peter 5:8 “Be alert and sober of mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour”.

    Matt 7:15 “Beware of False Prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves”.
    Pope Francis said that Christians must always guard against the deceit of the devil.
    en.radiovaticana.va:
    http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/undefined
    I think we are losing discernment and are becoming slack. Guess we are forgetting the deep abiding intimate relationship we must nurture with Jesus.
    Check out Fr. Riccardo, in Michigan and his parish program “Alpha”.
    We need a revival! God bless.

  • Robert A Rowland

    Considering the basic nature of man. how fortunate we are that we have a loving and merciful God. But it appears that we need to concentrate a great deal more in schools on how important it is to do God’s will to ensure not having to face His condemnation for ignoring it. Be very careful to leave all judgment to God.

  • Alley Upta

    “Hard cases make bad law.” Exactly. And that is why one should not attempt to strictly apply established law to hard cases.

    If the teen errs and sins and repents, then not only should she be forgiven, she should be openly supported to live as a mother to her child, even though, on the face of it, this appears to contradict church teaching and gives the impression that it is after all acceptable to rear children out of wedlock.

    It isn’t acceptable under normal circumstances, but the difficulty arises when the teaching is applied without reference to the historical circumstances of a case. Normally, when forgiveness for sin is extended, it is done so on the understanding that what reparations for the consequences of sin that can be made are made. However, not all consequences of sin are themselves sinful, or are such that any attempt to remedy them would in itself lead to further harm. Under such circumstances the consequences should be accepted as part of the forgiveness, and the teen mother should be supported and not ostracized by her school or anyone else.

    Take also the case of a man and a woman who legitimately marry. After a time their marriage “grows cold” and they part; after further time they both “contract second marriages” that over further time “appear to demonstrate” all the benefits of marriage, including lovingly reared offspring. Now this man and woman may sincerely repent their earlier sinful laxity with respect to their legitimately contracted marriage obligations. Nevertheless, as things stand in the Church, unless these older, wiser, more spiritually mature man and woman renounce and repudiate the “arrangements” of these “second marriages,” they can never be forgiven and restored to “full communion.” They are to be branded as adulterers stained with mortal sin and surely bound for hell.

    Clearly this is an inadequate way of thinking about sin, repentance and forgiveness, and there is a question here for all of us: are we prepared to stand with Francis and acknowledge the inadequacy and at least explore ways of overcoming it, or are we to continue to bury our heads and pretend there is no problem?

    • FreemenRtrue

      nothing needs to be done except teach the words of Christ. Christ gave communion to
      Judas. Judas condemned himself. I have never seen a person refused communion. A person must decide how to resolve their situation with Christ if they have been abandoned in marriage or if they ‘murdered’ their own marriage. It is what people do everyday. The only reason to stir up this issue is to conform the Church to no fault divorce. That would anger Christ IMHO.

  • eddie too

    wow, a voice of reason on the internet. thank you for this article. we all need to be reminded occasionally about proper perspective before we jump.