Whatever Happened to Sin, Part 2

Whatever Happened to Sin, Part 2

In Part 1 of this essay, I noted that the Catholic hierarchy is attempting to straddle two incompatible views: the modern pagan view that denies the existence of sin, and the Catechism view that affirms it. I added that they cannot have it both ways, and that their attempt to do so will only lead more Catholics to leave the Church.

Part 1 documented that claim in detail. However, the significance of the hierarchy’s “straddling” is much greater than one brief essay could make clear, so I will expand on it here, beginning with why the hierarchy is behaving this way. Catholic history suggests at least two reasons.

The first reason is that they feel required to guard the Church from public scandal, which entails preserving the image of the Church that their predecessors cultivated for centuries as an institution singularly blessed by God to be free from error. That task was difficult enough in the first millennium of its history. Later the Reformation and subsequent challenges to Catholic teaching increased the difficulty. Moreover, the Church’s continuing tendency to reinforce the image of perfection rather than modify it made matters worse. That tendency was best exemplified by claims like “Outside the Church there is no salvation” and that when “Rome has spoken, the matter is closed,” as well as by approving the controversial Doctrine of Infallibility.

The second reason for the hierarchy’s embrace of incompatible views about sin is more recent. During the last few decades, it at first seemed possible to embrace “progressivism” without contradicting Catholic teaching. There were in fact movements within the Church that were themselves progressive. Notable examples were “Liberation Theology and Social Justice,” which stressed valuing the poor and the downtrodden and loving our neighbors as ourselves. This progressive perspective in Catholic thought was especially attractive to members of the hierarchy whose parents had raised them to trust liberal Democrats and distrust conservative Republicans. This bias led them to applaud the good intentions behind Democrats’ programs while ignoring the harmful consequences they often produced. This habit of mind blinded them to the changes progressivism was causing in the Democrat party’s philosophy, changes that increasingly are opposed to Catholic teaching.

I believe the more philosophically adept members of the Catholic hierarchy are, at very least, uncomfortable in simultaneously affirming and denying the reality of sin, and would like nothing more than to extricate themselves from this untenable situation. However, the only way they can do so is to admit that have been wrong in their assessment of progressivism; and they cannot see a way to do this without undermining the long-cultivated idea that the Church is incapable of error. I believe this dilemma explains why many members of the hierarchy have remained silent about progressivism’s destruction of Western Civilization and culture.

Each passing day offers proof of the irresponsibility of the hierarchy’s silence as absurdities metastasize around the world. Fentanyl is allowed to flow into this country and kill thousands of adults and children. Millions of people have been encouraged to violate the nation’s borders and rewarded with financial and other support at the expense of tax-paying citizens who are not eligible for that support themselves. Dangerous criminals are released from prison to continue endangering citizens, while those who disagree with the practice are threatened with incarceration. The free speech that is supposed to be every citizen’s birthright is reserved for the supporters of elected officials. Grade school students are taught how to perform sex acts on one another and encouraged to consider changing their gender from male to female. Doctors and hospitals provide the chemical and surgical procedures to accomplish such changes. High school and college students are brainwashed to believe that all people of color are victims and all white people are villains. Parents who complain to school boards that such practices are hidden from them are arrested for interrupting board meetings. Government officials propose taking money from people who never had slaves and giving it to people who have never been slaves, all in the name of justice.

On and on it goes, each day’s news adding more absurdities to the growing list, most if not all of them sinful and many gravely so. And each day the Catholic hierarchy remain silent. Now and then a bishop or cardinal in this or that diocese will take a bold stand from the pulpit or in an essay, and God bless those who do. But we need much more than that. We need to see and hear all members of the hierarchy publicly speaking out, individually and in concert, in firm and full-throated condemnation of the evils that have engulfed us. Doing this will show their respect for all of us and fulfill the profound obligation of leadership that came with their anointing as shepherds of Christ’s followers.

Finally, and just as importantly, the Catholic hierarchy should stop worrying about the scandal that would befall the Church if their imperfections were revealed. The scandal is already present in their silence and the way to overcome it is to acknowledge their mistakes and find the humility and courage to lead the battle to preserve our Faith and Civilization.

Copyright © 2023 by Vincent Ryan Ruggiero. All rights reserved

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Vincent Ryan Ruggiero