Monday, June 27, 2005

What do you think?

Mat 10:26 "So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. (curtesy of E-Sword)

A Pastor asked his congregation two questions at Mass last week.
Question number 1: "Who thinks that it is correct to post in the local newspapers the names, addresses and photos of all known sex offenders?"

Many in the congregation raised their hands.

Question number 2: "Who thinks that it is correct to post in the local newspapers the names, addresses and photos of all known sinners and a list of their sins?"

Not one hand was raised.

"Who is culpable?"

To Whom It May Concern;
A question arose. Actually it was more like an accusation or a 'judgment'.
It was brought to my attention that a Pastor of a Catholic Church was accused of being pro-choice. This accusation came from within his own parish and was brought to the attention of the Bishop of the Diocese.
The accusation came about because the pastor in question; (to protect the ignorant we will call pastor A), Pastor A allowed a doctor to put an ad in the parish bulletin. The doctor is Catholic and goes to Pastor A's parish for church services and functions.
It was found out that the doctor in question distributes birth control as part of his practice. He is in general practice and this is only a small part of what he actually does as a doctor. But this part of his practice is immoral in the eyes of God and The Church.
A parishioner of Father A's church pointed out, the doctor in question did distribute birth control which goes against church teachings and demanded that Pastor A pull the plug on the doctor's ad.
Pastor A didn't think that was warranted. Because the doctor had many other functions in his practice and this was a small part.
The parishioner who made the complaint to Pastor A started attending another Catholic Parish, this Pastor will be referred to as Pastor B. Pastor B wrote a letter to Pastor A telling him that he was in mortal sin as long as Pastor A allowed the doctor to run the ad in the bulletin. Because of the birth control part of his practice.
Pastor A, in return, invited Pastor B to get together to talk about the issue. Pastor B flatly refused.
Pastor B notified the diocese, at the same time Pastor A contacted the diocese to get a ruling on the situation. The diocese said that, at the time they had no rule for such a situation. So, Pastor A left the ad in the bulletin and pastor B cut off almost all relations with the entire parish of Pastor A.
(I might add during the interim, that is, until the matter was settled, Pastor B would not publish in his bulletin any functions that were happening in Pastor A's parish. On the other hand, Pastor A allowed any advertisement for functions in Pastor B's parish.)
Pastor A, showed me, the letter from the parishioner, from Pastor B to A the first time, from the diocese to A, also,the letter to Pastor B inviting him to a talk and the letter from Pastor B denying the offer for communication.
Pastor A gave me his reasoning. I believe I would have acted differently, but his reasoning is sound.
Pastor A, wasn't running an ad for the local 'abortionist', who only does abortions and abortion related issues in his practice. He was running an ad for a General Practitioner who as a small part of his practice does indeed distribute birth control pills. But, Pastor A's question is this; "If we take out the doctor's ad because a small part of his practice goes against Church Teachings, then how far do we take this idea?"
You may not get my meaning at first; but think about the implications of taking out the doctor's ad for a moment. Suppose we take this 'idea' to it's ultimate conclusion. If we reject everything that has to do with abortion or goes against Church teachings, we might not be able to exist, in our society.
For example: ATT is known to give money to pro-abortion groups, so does Sprint and MCI. The local phone service is Sprint, to my knowledge for both Pastor A & Pastor B's parishes. They both fall into this category of Sprint being their local phone company. So, Pastor B and Pastor A as well as all the parishioners who use the Sprint local service would be in mortal sin if they know that Sprint contributes some of their money to immoral and anti-Catholic activities. Or, for that matter, suppose the Diocese has funds invested in companies that own companies that make part of a drug that could be used for abortion.
I know that this is really knit-picking, but I want you to 'clearly' see where I am going with this. Shouldn't someone, in Church authority say where the 'line' will be drawn. Or maybe every Catholic parish should go on a 'so-called "witch-hunt" or, in this case, "immoral-hunt"? Looking, and delving into every nook and cranny to see when and where a parish ad, parish contributions or parish service, such as the phone company, where we get milk for the children's school from, or where we invest the parish or diocesan money and wherever we uncover the slightest connection to immorality or anti-Catholic sentiment, we crush it immediately!
So, this was Pastor A's point. Like I said, I myself might have handled it differently, but this is a sound argument. He wanted to know from 'higher up' where the line should be drawn.
When the diocese finally made a decision they asked pastor A to take the ad out, which Pastor A did. But, at least to my knowledge, the Diocese has not made any further decision on such matters.

That would actually be the background to the real problem.
To me, the "real" problem, is that the parishioner who stated all this and Pastor B may have committed a sin, (Pride and Jugmentalism for starters), when they said Pastor A was in mortal sin because he had the ad in his bulletin. Certainly what they did was immoral in 'judging' the moral state of Pastor A. In order to make that judgment, they would need to know the 'mind' of Pastor A or they would have had to have an insight from the Holy Spirit (Jn 7:24), in order for the judgment against Pastor A to be accurate. Because, by any normal means, unless pastor A admitted that he knew he was doing wrong, both the parishioner and Pastor B could not possibly have known the 'mind and heart' of Pastor A when he was going through this entire situation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is clear on this type of issue.

CCC 1857 for a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent." 131
So, in order for Pastor A to be in Mortal sin the situation would have to involve 'grave matter', which it did. We know, as Catholics, that abortion, or having anything to do with an abortion is 'grave matter'. So, that condition has been met. But, what of the other two, you need to know that what you are doing is a mortal sin, which in this case, Pastor B and the parishioner, could not have possibly known, about Pastor A.
So, when they accused Pastor A of being in Mortal sin they were making a judgment that they couldn't possibly be aware of without supernatural means!
What the doctor, in question, was doing in handing out the birth control pills was 'grave matter'. I would have to say that, for him, he was 'culpable'.
You might easily say here 'physician, heal thyself'. But, we can judge rightly here, because the teaching on the Church is clear, that if you partake in an abortion knowingly and willingly, as an adult in the Church you must be held accountable on some level. This is so because it is up to you to know Church teachings on grave matter and then to adhere to them. If the doctor actually didn't know the Church's teachings it is up to him as an adult to know Church teachings and to follow it.

But, let's take another look at Pastor A.
He is allowing an ad for a person who is committing a Mortal sin. As long as he is 'pastoring' the doctor and the Diocese had not made a commitment, then, unless you know what Pastor A is thinking, you could not make a moral judgment and say he is Mortal sin without committing a sin yourself.


One reason is the theology of 'culpability'.

WordWeb: Deserving blame or censure as being wrong or evil or injurious.
Catholic Encyclopedia (CE) - (Our Sunday Visitor's)
Culpa is the Latin term for fault or blame. In canon law, culpa refers specifically to negligent or otherwise blameworthy conduct which is considered serious enough for ecclesiastical penalties to be applied.

In the case above I don't see how it can be proved that Pastor A was 'culpable'.

Again, in order to prove culpability you would have to have, information that is only available to God and Pastor A, you would have to be able to read the mind of Pastor A. On the other hand, the doctor can be held culpable because as an adult in the Catholic Church it is his duty to know what concerns grave matter especially in his own field of expertise.

Lastly, we have Pastor B and the lay person, who apparently meant well, but went about it without the love of God in a judgmental way.

CCC 2477
Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty: (The Catechism says that Pastor B and the lay person, are guilty!)
- of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor; (Again, the Catechism says that Pastor B and the lay person, are guilty!)
- of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another's faults and failings to persons who did not know them; (Perhaps, here only the lay person is culpable, because he announced Pastor A's sin on the radio he works at.)
- of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them. ( Again, the lay person, in question because he made known to the public information that was inaccurate and sinful, even though malice was probably not intended.)
2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor's thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way: (Again guilty!)

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another's statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved. (end quote from CCC)

This last part fits in with Pastor B being invited by Pastor A to discussion. If Pastor B is correct in his reasoning, he should have 'shared the truth in love" Ephesians 12:15.
Which did not happen.
So. who would you say is the sinner or sinners here?