Monday 6th April 2020

Home » Frontpage » Currently Reading:

Sometimes Mercy Is Cruel

March 17, 2016 Frontpage 1 Comment

By JOHN YOUNG

There is a tendency to see justice and mercy in opposition, as though the application of mercy involves a weakening of justice, and vice-versa. The assumption is then made that mercy should be followed rather than justice. But this attitude leads in practice to a lack of mercy.
Take the question of euthanasia. It is called mercy killing, with the assumption that it is merciful to put people to death in some cases of severe suffering. This may appear reasonable from a narrow perspective, but only if essential elements are overlooked. The most essential truth ignored is that no one has the moral right to take an innocent human life — not even the person whose life it is.
This means that if the person agrees to be put to death he is, objectively speaking, consenting to an extremely evil action, an action that could put him into Hell. It is not merciful to encourage a decision which could lead to that appalling result.
A further consequence when this so-called mercy killing is sanctioned by the law is that some elderly or sick people feel they owe it to their families not to make themselves a burden, and will reluctantly agree to suicide — or feel guilty for not doing so.
Another consequence is that relatives or governments will have people killed against their will. There will also be a general cheapening of the value of life, with the “merciful” solution to suffering promoting callousness instead of mercy.
Consider another example: the contention that if a marriage fails the couple should be allowed to remarry. Rather than keep rigidly to a harsh law, it is argued, compassion should be shown, particularly to the innocent party.
But this attitude ignores the social consequences of divorce with the right to remarry. It leads to couples taking their marriage vows lightly, knowing they can get a divorce and marry again if things don’t work out. It leads to couples not persevering when things get difficult. Marriage breakups result in unhappy children. So what looks like a compassionate stand turns out to be one that will bring immense misery.
Henry Hazlitt wrote a very perceptive bestseller called Economics in One Lesson, first published in 1946. The “one lesson” he drives home throughout the book is that we must look past the immediate consequences of proposed economic solutions and see their more remote consequences. In that way it often becomes clear that what looked like a good solution will in the long term lead to disaster.
The same applies in all moral questions. The whole issue has to be seen, not just the immediate consequences of acting in a particular way. But the temptation is to opt for what seems the compassionate or charitable solution, while overlooking the further ramifications.
Now if we go deeper, we see that moral laws are based in human nature and that their violation therefore leads to unhappiness. Compare them to physical laws: If I jump off a high building I will die, because I have disobeyed a physical law by doing something detrimental to my bodily nature.
Now, suppose a doctor finds I have cancer, but he is a very compassionate man and doesn’t want to upset me, so he tells me I’m healthy. Clearly his compassion is misplaced, because for the sake of a brief period of contentment he is condemning me to future suffering or death.
Of course no doctor would do that. But the equivalent happens all the time where the moral law is involved, as in the instances just cited. We are currently faced with this fallacy in the controversy about whether the Catholic Church should relax the law forbidding a married Catholic receiving Holy Communion if he or she is living in an adulterous relationship.
An example is given of a Catholic woman whose marriage has broken up through no fault of hers, and who now has children with a new partner. She may be willing to give up sexual relations with him but he tells her he will leave her if she does. That would result in a life of poverty for her and her children, with the added suffering for the children of being deprived of their father.
So it is now being claimed that the merciful solution is to allow the woman to receive Holy Communion while continuing in the adulterous relationship. She should first discuss her situation with a priest, should perhaps have a period of penance, then be admitted to Holy Communion.
If the Church were to allow this, some bishops and theologians are saying, she would be following the merciful Christ who welcomed sinners and opposed the legalistic Pharisees with their inhuman regulations. But we should argue, on the contrary, that the suggested solution is not merciful.
The first thing to note is that these relationships are intrinsically evil, because sexual relations are only morally lawful within a valid marriage, and marriage is for life. That is not a pharisaical ruling; it is the teaching of Christ. When the Pharisees asked Him about this He was adamant: “What God has joined together, let not man put asunder (Mark 10:9). The disciples were so startled at His teaching that they suggested it would be better not to marry (Matt. 19:10).
It follows, therefore, that in the cases we are discussing these individuals (engaging in sexual relations outside a valid marriage) are doing something which is intrinsically immoral. Their behavior is mortally sinful, objectively speaking. So how could the Catholic Church allow them to receive Holy Communion?
The response given by those bishops and theologians who want the law changed is that many of these people are not in a state of mortal sin, either because of ignorance or because of psychological pressure that excuses them from sin, or at least from mortal sin. But regarding the possibility of ignorance, wouldn’t ignorance be removed by the process of discernment proposed by the revisionists?
As for pressure so great that it excuses them, so that they are not in a state of mortal sin: This can’t be assumed, for we have free will and God offers us His grace. By allowing Holy Communion on the assumption that such a person is not in a state of sin, not only would the Church be taking a grave risk that she is occasioning profanation of this most holy sacrament, but would also be reinforcing the delusion in these persons that they are doing nothing wrong by having sex outside of marriage.
Then there is the devastating effect this official change would have on those Catholics whose marriage has broken down and who are living in a sinful relationship, yet who refrain from going to Holy Communion because they know it would be sacrilegious to receive Communion. Witnessing others in their situation going to Communion with the sanction of the Church, they would be strongly tempted to do the same even though they know they are in a sinful state.
Again, what of other sinful relationships? To be consistent surely the Church should extend this “merciful solution” to some people in other sinful relationships, including some homosexuals.
Further, the proposed concession would send a wrong signal — a very powerful signal. It would be interpreted to mean that the Church no longer sees sexual relations outside of marriage as always gravely wrong, and no longer sees a consummated Christian marriage as absolutely indissoluble.
Whatever the intention of those who push for allowing Holy Communion for Catholics in an illicit relationship, the result would be cruelty disguised as mercy. Perhaps the cruelest aspect would be an increased danger of these people going to Hell, because the proposal of Walter Cardinal Kasper and those who support him is that the Catholics in question be instructed in the Church’s teaching about marriage before they decide whether they should receive the Eucharist.
But this presumably would remove the excuse of ignorance and place these people among those St. Paul speaks of: “Whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord” (1 Cor. 11:27).
Most of us fall far short in our practice of mercy; but in our confused secular society it is easy to mistake a cruel solution for a merciful one.

Share Button
  • Margaret Moen

    John Young’s commentary on mercy is very helpful to those fighting against assisted suicide measures.

2019 The Wanderer Printing Co.

Twitter Feed

On this painful Palm Sunday I pray that we can all cling to the joy that the Lord Jesus is keeping His Promise, He is still with us. It is excruciating not to receive Him in Communion but He awaits us “in the room next to us” May Spiritual Communion place us in His Real Presence

Load More...

Covid-19: First Catholic bishop dies of coronavirus

Ethiopia’s Apostolic Vicar, Bishop Angelo Moreschi, has died. He is the first Catholic Bishop to succumb to the coronavirus pandemic. By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ Italian missionary and Apostolic Vicar to Ethiopia’s Gambella Vicariate, Bishop Angelo Moreschi, SDB, died on…Continue Reading

Catholic church offers curbside confessions during coronavirus outbreak

STILLWATER, Minn. — Drive-thrus, curbside pick-up, contactless methods. We’re becoming best buds with terms like these as we try our best to stay home, and flatten the curve of the coronavirus outbreak. However, today, we’re not talking about food or…Continue Reading

All priests, half of seminarians at traditional Catholic order infected by coronavirus

OPFENBACH, Germany, March 20, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Almost all priests and roughly half of the seminarians currently at a German seminary of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), a traditionalist community of priests and seminarians, have been infected by…Continue Reading

Catholic Herald US to shut down offices

The Catholic Herald’s U.S. edition is shutting down its offices in Washington, D.C., after less than two years of publication, people familiar with the matter told the Washington Examiner. The magazine, which claims to be “America’s only national Catholic weekly…Continue Reading

Middle school hangs LGBT flag in cafeteria, bans flag of traditional family

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, March 6, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A small town Minnesota school has become a center of controversy because of a LGBT pride flag hanging in its cafeteria. Following several weeks of parental and community concern, packed school board meetings, and…Continue Reading

Pope cancels visit with Rome priests for ‘slight’ illness

ROME – Pope Francis is sick and skipped a planned Mass with Rome clergy across town on Thursday, officials said. The Vatican said the 83-year-old pontiff had a “slight indisposition” and would proceed with the rest of his planned work…Continue Reading

Rush has lung cancer. Catholics owe him BIG TIME. Wherein Fr. Z rants. ACTION ITEM!

Rush Limbaugh has advanced lung cancer.  He made the sad announcement yesterday. ACTION ITEM: Please pray for a complete, swift, durative miraculous cure for him, perhaps through the intercession of Ven. Augustus Tolton. Every reader here, every committed conservative, faithful…Continue Reading

Catholic parish will not host Episcopalian consecration

Richmond, Va., Jan 17, 2020 / 11:30 am (CNA).- The Episcopal Diocese of Southern Virginia will no longer hold a bishops’s consecration at a Catholic parish in Williamsburg, after an internet petition objecting to the event drew national attention. “It…Continue Reading

Cardinal Dolan conducting ‘Vos estis’ investigation into Brooklyn’s Bishop DiMarzio

New York City, N.Y., Jan 18, 2020 / 09:05 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Timothy Dolan is conducting an investigation into Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, following an allegation of sexual abuse. The investigation is being conducted under the provisions of Vos estis lux…Continue Reading

Theodore McCarrick has moved from Kansas friary

Denver, Colo., Jan 7, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- The disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick has moved from the Kansas friary where he had been living since 2018. A spokesman for the Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Conrad told CNA…Continue Reading

Vatican Archbishop: those who say Judas is in hell are ‘heretics’ and priests may ‘accompany’ assisted suicides

ROME, December 11, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In a statement difficult to reconcile with Scripture and Tradition, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, has claimed on behalf of the Catholic Church that anyone who says Judas Iscariot is in…Continue Reading

Buffalo’s Bishop Richard Malone resigns after year of scandal

Vatican City, Dec 4, 2019 / 04:01 am (CNA).- Pope Francis Wednesday accepted the resignation of Buffalo’s embattled Bishop Richard Malone. The Diocese of Buffalo will be administered by Albany’s Bishop Edward Scharfenberger until a permanent replacement for Malone is…Continue Reading

Untitled 5 Untitled 2

Attention Readers:

  Welcome to our website. Readers who are familiar with The Wanderer know we have been providing Catholic news and orthodox commentary for 150 years in our weekly print edition.


  Our daily version offers only some of what we publish weekly in print. To take advantage of everything The Wanderer publishes, we encourage you to su
bscribe to our flagship weekly print edition, which is mailed every Friday or, if you want to view it in its entirety online, you can subscribe to the E-edition, which is a replica of the print edition.
 
  Our daily edition includes: a selection of material from recent issues of our print edition, news stories updated daily from renowned news sources, access to archives from The Wanderer from the past 10 years, available at a minimum charge (this will be expanded as time goes on). Also: regularly updated features where we go back in time and highlight various columns and news items covered in The Wanderer over the past 150 years. And: a comments section in which your remarks are encouraged, both good and bad, including suggestions.
 
  We encourage you to become a daily visitor to our site. If you appreciate our site, tell your friends. As Catholics we must band together to rediscover our faith and share it with the world if we are to effectively counter a society whose moral culture seems to have no boundaries and a government whose rapidly extending reach threatens to extinguish the rights of people of faith to practice their religion (witness the HHS mandate). Now more than ever, vehicles like The Wanderer are needed for clarification and guidance on the issues of the day.

Catholic, conservative, orthodox, and loyal to the Magisterium have been this journal’s hallmarks for five generations. God willing, our message will continue well into this century and beyond.

Joseph Matt
President, The Wanderer Printing Co.

Untitled 1

Interview With Cardinal Burke . . . Discriminating Mercy: Defending Christ And His Church With True Love

Cburke3

  By DON FIER (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, Patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta and Founder of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in La Crosse, Wis., graciously took time out of his busy schedule to grant The Wanderer a wide-ranging interview during a recent visit to the Shrine. Included among the topics…Continue Reading

Developing Lives Of Peace After The Heart Of Mary

By RAYMOND LEO CARDINAL BURKE (Editor’s Note: His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke delivered the address below at the 32nd Annual Church Teaches Forum, “The Message of Fatima: Peace for the World,” Galt House, Louisville, Ky., July 22, 2017. The address is reprinted here with the kind permission of Cardinal Burke. All rights reserved. This is part one of the…Continue Reading

Catechism

Today . . .

See What the End Shall Be – A Homily for Palm Sunday

The Passion, which we read in the liturgy for Palm Sunday, is too long to comment on in detail, so we will only examine a portion of it here. It may be of some value to examine the problems associated with the more moderate range of personalities involved. The usual villains (the Temple leaders, Judas, and the recruited crowd shouting, “Crucify him!”) are unambiguously wicked and display their sinfulness openly. But there are others involved…Continue Reading

Vatican theologian: Pandemic is God’s chastisement for ‘infidelity’ of top Catholic shepherds

April 3, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Italian priest and theologian Nicola Bux has identified both the sins within the Church as well as the sins of the world as the root of the current pandemic and its effects on the daily life of Catholics. Like Archbishop Viganò and Bishop Schneider, the former consulter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith characterized COVID-19 as a chastisement from God. In a lengthy statement published as a video on YouTube March 24,…Continue Reading

John Paul II embraced his suffering with love: Cardinal reflects 15 years after saint’s death

jp2

Vatican City, Apr 2, 2020 / 11:00 am (CNA).- Pope St. John Paul II embraced suffering with love, even during his illness, a cardinal and the archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica said on the 15th anniversary of the saint’s death. The spread of the coronavirus pandemic, and the growing number of infected and dying people “has fallen on an unprepared society, highlighting the spiritual emptiness of many people,” Cardinal Angelo Comastri told Vatican News April…Continue Reading

A votive Mass “in time of pandemic” and a new prayer for Good Friday

The Congregation for Divine Worship adds an intention to the Solemn Intercessions during the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion and proposes a votive Mass taking into consideration the crisis in which the world is living By Vatican News The Congregation for Divine Worship has issued a votive Mass for this time of pandemic, and a new intention for the Solemn Intercessions during the Celebration of the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday. The new liturgical texts…Continue Reading

IN THIS TIME OF CRISIS . . . A STATEMENT FROM BISHOP JOSEPH STRICKLAND OF THE DIOCESE OF TYLER, TEXAS

bishstrick

On Sunday, March 29, 2020, the Fifth Sunday of Lent, I offer this statement concerning the “Statement on Scarce Healthcare Resources” issued by the Texas Conference of Catholic Bishops” on March 27, 2020.  I offer it out of prayer and with a sincere heart. I appreciate the effort of my brother Bishops in Texas to apply sound bioethical principles, as well as their concern that health care professionals are not held to an impossible standard…Continue Reading

Advertisement3

But What Is The Real Answer? Trump Warns Of Drugs, Depression, Suicides

By BILL DONOHUE (Editor’s Note: Catholic League President Bill Donohue commented March 30 on remarks made by President Trump on the social effects of coronavirus.) + + + In his March 29 briefing on coronavirus, President Donald Trump alluded to the social consequences of not taking seriously the threat it poses. He mentioned the “massive”…Continue Reading

The Power Of For

By DONALD DeMARCO One of the most agreeable phrases in the English language is, “This is for you.” A certain brewery has capitalized on the expression with the words, “This Bud’s for you.” A most welcomed phrase for me is “There is mail for you.” It brings to mind that the entire postal system is…Continue Reading

Is The Pandemic Killing Biden’s Bid?

By PATRICK J. BUCHANAN “This is the question that is going to dominate the election: How did you perform in the great crisis?” So says GOP Cong. Tom Cole of Oklahoma in the March 31 New York Times. GOP National Committeeman Henry Barbour of Mississippi calls the crisis “a defining moment. . . . The…Continue Reading

Prayer In Times Of Collective Crisis

By LAWRENCE P. GRAYSON Pope Francis said in his weekly angelus message on Sunday, March 22, that he would deliver a special “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) blessing that Friday evening, March 27 as a response to the coronavirus. Normally given only at Christmas and Easter, his decision to give this…Continue Reading

Bishop Strickland . . . The Return Of Proportionalism Threatens The Church

bishstrick3

By MOST REV. JOSEPH STRICKLAND I have been discussing Catholic Moral Teaching in the last two columns. The authentic Magisterium of the Catholic Church affirms that there are intrinsically evil acts which can never, ever, ever be chosen. A clear summary of this teaching is found in paragraph 80 of the encyclical letter of Pope…Continue Reading

Advertisement

Our Catholic Faith (Section B of print edition)

Dutch Cardinal . . . Only Orthodox Teaching And Worthy Liturgy Will Attract Catholics

By JEANNE SMITS (LifeSiteNews) — The French-based association for the promotion of the Traditional liturgy of the Latin Church, Paix Liturgique (“Liturgical Peace”), recently published an interview in French with Willem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht in the Netherlands regarding the future prospects of the Church in that deeply secularized country. Cardinal Eijk spoke frankly about the decline of…Continue Reading

Catholic Replies

Editor’s Note: We are in the process of reducing our supply of books and are offering them to interested readers at a substantial discount. The books available, all in mint condition, are Catholic Replies, Catholic Replies 2, All Generations Will Call Me Blessed, Who Do You Say That I Am, Catholicism & Reason (Apologetics), Catholicism & Scripture (Salvation History), and…Continue Reading

A Leaven In The World… A Chance To Strengthen Catholic Identity

By Fr. KEVIN M. CUSICK Never let a crisis go to waste. This is true for cynical politicians and unscrupulous business types. Should it be true for the Church as well? I think so. Weeks ago, dioceses nearly worldwide, in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, have ordered public Masses canceled. Bishops have stipulated that these not be replaced by…Continue Reading

The Meekness And Humility Of The Lord

By FR. ROBERT ALTIER Palm Sunday (YR A) Readings: Matt. 21:1-11 Isaiah 50:4-7 Phil. 2:6-11 Matt. 26:14-27:66 Today we remember the remarkable change of perspective that took place among the people between the time Jesus came into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and the attitude of the people only five days later as they called for our Lord’s crucifixion. However, in…Continue Reading

The Stations Of The Cross… Follow The Final Earthly Journey Of Christ

By FR. EDWARD McNAMARA (Editor’s Note: Following is a question on whether or not stations of the cross are liturgical or not, answered by Legionary of Christ Fr. Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy and dean of theology at the Regina Apostolorum university. (Fr. McNamara writes the “Liturgy Q-and-A” column for ZENIT News Agency, which provided this text in 2016. All…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes . . . St. Magdalena Of Canossa

By CAROLE BRESLIN There is a palace overlooking the Adige River that twists through Verona, Italy — about 75 miles east of Venice. In 1527 the Marquises of Canossa commissioned Michele Sanmicheli to build it, and it still stands today, having had such prominent guests as Alexander I of Russia, Napoleon Bonaparte, and Francis I of Austria. Although you cannot…Continue Reading

Catholic Heroes… St. Anselm

By CAROLE BRESLIN St. Anselm was born in France near the Swiss Alps around 1033. At the age of 15, he wished to enter religious life by joining a monastery. Sadly, his influential father was so against it that the monastery refused to accept him. This so discouraged the youth that he drowned his sorrows in worldly pursuits. He deeply…Continue Reading

Advertisement(2)