Saturday, July 28, 2018

SOME RAMDOM THOUGHTS ON THE LACK OF THE USE OF THE THEOLOGICAL TERM "MORTAL SIN" AS IT CONCERNS THE FORMER CARDINAL MCCARRICK

I don't know how progressive, and let's just call him McCarrick was. But I do know that he was left of center especially on moral issues but who knows what else.

So my question is, which is worse, a cardinal abuser of minors and seminarians and young priests under his authority and pastoral care who nonetheless upholds authentic Catholic teaching and is very orthodox or the cardinal abuser who abuses the actual moral and doctrinal teachings of the Church, watering these down and undermining them along with abuse of minors and vulnerable adult men?

I ask, you answer.

But I have to say that I am appalled by the lack of the use of the term "mortal sin" and how inimical any sin, but especially mortal sin is to God.

We are moved more by legal terms like crime, murder, theft, abuse and so on than we are by two simple words, mortal sin, which in its variety of manifestations is an abomination to God.

We know that for a mortal sin to be a mortal sin, the person has to know that a particular act is seriously wrong or immoral, in other words it is grave "matter". The person must then commit the sin with full consent of the will and usually with much forethought and actual planning.

To simply this, a mortal sin is 1) grave matter; 2) the sinner knows that it is wrong and 3) the person commits the sin with full consent of the will.

I presume everything that McCarrick did in the sexual realm fulfilled what is truly a an abomination before God and thus endangered the eternal salvation of his immortal soul.

I will give him the benifit of the doubt that he confessed these abominable mortal sins. But penance in this life and in the next life will be needed, be it actual criminal prosecution and imprisonment or some kind of canonical punishment like the loss of the red hat and laicization. Of course an even greater punishment would be a canonical trial to determine if his ordination as a deacon, then as a priest and then as a bishop was valid or not, an "annulment" the Sacrament of Holy Orders--it is possible but I don't know if it has ever been used in modern Church history.

Many would say that an annulment of Holy Orders, meaning the man was never validity ordained because of a grave impediment raises other questions---his sacraments, in particular ordinations of others, confessions and so on.

But I do believe there is a doctrinal solution to that, that the Church supplies what is lacking in these unanticipated situations.

What do you think about an actual canonical trial to annul the Sacrament of Holy Orders of someone who could not enter into a valid ordination because of certain moral, psychological and criminal impediments? 

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

That McCarrick should never have been ordained to any of the three degrees of sacramental orders is a given; as to whether or not he was validly ordained I think there can be no question that he was. He obviously abused the grace of Orders and his episcopal authority but to suggest that any of his sacramental actions as priest and bishop may not be real and true would overturn the centuries understanding of sacramental grace conferred ex opere operato. No amount of “ecclesia supplet” could turn a non-ordained man into an ordained one.
I believe that you, Father, are traversing a dangerous theological road with greater implications that you may not fully realize.

Dan said...

I understand sin and human weakness.

I cannot understand how those who claim to be shepherds can so gleefully lead the flock astray by promoting, teaching, affirming (or remain silent as other shepherds do so) practices and ideas that are contrary to the faith.

The mess by the German bishops, the lack of response by the Vatican, the CONSTANT criticism of Catholics who actually believe, heck let's just say it... the ENTIRE Francis papacy, bothers me much more.

Because of Francis, I have much less reason to think that the future of Catholic Church will even be Catholic. I figure we'll be hearing how "the REAL presence is really in the people of God, and only silly old-fashioned, rigid neo-pelagians, with their limited conceptual framework, believe otherwise."

I think bad shepherds, not badly behavior by otherwise good shepherds, are destroying my faith.

Anonymous said...

Well, Father, if you are indeed “traversing a dangerous theological road with greater implications than you may realize” may God bless and keep you as He always has done. You are one of the few (but increasing, thank God) clerical voices who have always sought and tried to spread truth in the Church, and only the truth will set us free. Well done, good and faithful servant. If you are on a path that some may question (ecclesial martyrdom?), you are probably on the right path...come what may. Please do continue. Our pastors MUST continue to teach about mortal sin lest we all perish.

Anonymous said...

"Our pastors MUST continue to teach about mortal sin lest we all perish."

If a person perishes and spends eternity in hell, it will be 100% due to that person's sin, not because a priest (or anyone else) didn't teach about mortal sin.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Since knowledge that something is grave matter is one of the these things necessary for grave matter to be a mortal sin, you comment suggests it is morally acceptable for the clergy not to teach the laity what is a mortal sin. So, what about these clergy who themselves commit mortal sin by their silence which leads Catholics into an immoral lifestyle albeit out of ignorance. But keep in mind the sinner who is let off the hook is still committing a vein all sin and they must seek forgiveness in one way or another for their genial sins.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Venial sin not vein all si, darn that auto correct!

Anonymous said...

"So, what about these clergy who themselves commit mortal sin by their silence which leads Catholics into an immoral lifestyle albeit out of ignorance."

On the one hand you assert with the Church that a person must KNOW that his/her action is mortally sinful. So far, so good.

Now, you turn around and assert, contra the Church, that a person can be ignorant of the mortally sinful nature of his/her "immoral lifestyle", and still be sinning mortally.

Which is it?

"I never told my child it was wrong to rob a bank, so, when he/she does so, I am responsible for his/her action..."

No.

George said...


Of acts which contravene the Law of God, it can be said there exists two principal aspects. One is in the subjective nature, in which is manifested to a lesser or greater degree the personal culpability of the sinner. The other is in the objective nature which is manifested in the act itself and its effect, whether interior to the sinner,or outwardly to the observer. In the one the sinner does harm to his spiritual condition by offending God; in the other, the act in and of itself goes against what God desires and requires us to do, and so is an offense against His Divine Holiness and Goodness. Though the first aspect of sin may be diminished or even absent, the other is always present.

God did not set up His Holy laws just a as a way for us to demonstrate our allegiance to Him,though our obedience to Him gives evidence of that. Rather,it is that these laws flow from His very Holy and Divine nature which we, with the help of His grace, will recognize and so be impelled to give Him honor and not offense.

There is the objective reality of an evil act and its effects which cannot be dismissed and must be addressed. I speak of acts which are always objectively gravely wrong because they stand in opposition to the what God desires.

Many things are done which offend God, even if those who do these things are not aware of this. If they are not aware, then it is up to those who can, and are in the position to do so, to make them aware. We can at least pray for them, if nothing else. Consider for example, those who dispose of toxic substances on the ground with little or no effort or process of remediation. Even if no intention exists to pollute the enviroment, by their action they have done so anyway. Even if It was not their subjective intention to do so, objectively they have done so. Damage has been done. So likewise by an objective action, even if not subjectively sinful, something which goes against what God desires has been done and this has consequences. There are things which are objectively evil and have their consequential effect, whether or not the transgressor considered what was done to be seriously wrong.

John Nolan said...

Assuming (as we must do) that when he ordained McCarrick in 1958 Francis Spellman had the intention of so doing, and used the correct form, then McCarrick's Orders cannot be annulled, regardless of his behaviour. He can, of course, be laicized, but that's not the same thing.

The thousands of priests who left the priesthood and contracted marriage are not, in fact, validly married since Holy Orders constitute a diriment impediment to matrimony.

Of course, if the person ordained turned out to be a woman (not inconceivable in these days of transgendered individuals) then the ordination would be ipso facto invalid.

Eight years ago Fr Kit Cunningham, rector of St Etheldreda's in the City of London for 32 years and widely respected for his philanthropy, conviviality and liturgical sensibility, died. The ink was scarcely dry on his obituaries when accusations emerged that in the early 1960s he and others had abused boys at a school in Tanganyika. Eminent Catholics who were close friends of his were inclined to disbelieve them, but it transpired that before he died he had publicly acknowledged his actions to his superiors in the Rosminian Order, apologized in writing to the victims, and returned his MBE (for services to the community) to the Queen.

'The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interrèd with their bones.'

I never met Fr Kit, but recall that thirty years previously I had mentioned his name in passing to a traditionalist acquaintance, who had pulled a face and remarked 'he's a pervert'. So there must have been rumours.

However, there is no evidence that for fifty years he led a double life and deceived those who knew and loved him. In all likelihood he repented and received the grace (and the time) to amend his life. Theodore McCarrick still has time.

Misereris omnium, Domine, et nihil odisti eorum quae fecisti, dissimulans peccata hominum propter poenitentiam et parcens illis: quia tu es Dominus Deus noster. (Introit, Ash Wednesday)

Anonymous said...

“If a person perishes and spends eternity in hell, it will be 100% due to that person's sin, not because a priest (or anyone else) didn't teach about mortal sin.”

Well, of course it is personal sin that judges us in eternity. No one with half a brain/conscience thinks otherwise. The critical variable is (and always has been) how the conscience is formed. Do we rely on self, or do we look to the trained professionals to advise and guide us. Just as in physical medicine we rely on proven experts to guide us, so we must look to trained experts in spiritual “medicine” to guide our way.

Anonymous said...

“If a person perishes and spends eternity in hell, it will be 100% due to that person's sin, not because a priest (or anyone else) didn't teach about mortal sin.”

Well, of course it is personal sin that judges us in eternity. No one with half a brain/conscience thinks otherwise. The critical variable is (and always has been) how the conscience is formed. Do we rely on self, or do we look to the trained professionals to advise and guide us. Just as in physical medicine we rely on proven experts to guide us, so we must look to trained experts in spiritual “medicine” to guide our way.