Today it seems that the condemnation of sin has disappeared from the Church.
We are not saying that it is, or that sin is no longer declared as such; we are simply saying that it is done timidly and sweetly, to appear, even for the Church, not a grave matter. Yes, generally speaking, today it is done so. If an action is still defined as sinful, instantly a work of softening up the accusation begins, so as not to frighten the sinner, so as to make him feel welcome, declaring immediately that mercy triumphs over (everything). However, the mercy of God is understood well only if the complete gravity of the sin has been grasped. Today, sadly, this line prevails in the Church and is disastrous from the point of view of the care of souls - disastrous for pastoral work - as it is typically called today.
It is not only the world that has wreaked the moral havoc of today. It is too easy to blame only those on the outside! It is we who have not spoken anymore with clarity on the gravity of sin – of mortal sin and of the danger to souls who die in a state of final impenitence. It is we who have “trifled” speaking of sin and mercy (almost as if this is a preventive concession in the betrayal of God) and thus not helping souls to mend their ways and live according to God. To live in sin means to lose your life. We no longer say that sin displeases God, that it ruins our existence here on earth and closes Paradise (to us). We no longer speak about the pain of sin, of contrition - and afterwards we are astonished that nobody confesses anymore!
The new line began when the (“modern”) Church started saying that the medicine of mercy is to be preferred to that of condemnation. Yes, even a Council was held in order to declare that [the Church] no longer wanted to condemn error. By authority it was decided , for example, to keep silent about the “religious” evil of the 20th century – atheistic communism with all its errors and horrors.
By contrast, the Church of the past never differentiated mercy from the condemnation of sin! They are both necessary actions in the work of God, in the work of the salvation of souls: the serious condemnation of sin opens the soul to the possibility of that sorrow which saves, and mercy bestows the grace of forgiveness to those who ask for it.
Let us finish with a page from J.H. Newman’s Apologia pro Vita Sua, where in addressing the infallibility of the Church, he presents it in this way:
“And first, the initial doctrine of the infallible teacher must be an emphatic protest against the existing state of mankind. Man had rebelled against his Maker. It was this that caused the divine interposition: and to proclaim it must be the first act of the divinely-accredited messenger. The Church must denounce rebellion as all possible evils, the greatest. She must have no terms with it; if she would be true to Her Master, She must ban and anathematize it. […] The Catholic Church holds it better for the sun and moon to drop from heaven, for the earth to fail, and for all the millions on it to die of starvation in extremest agony, as far as temporal affliction goes, than that one soul, I will not say should be lost, but should commit one single venial sin, should tell one willful untruth, or should steal one poor farthing without excuse.”*
We see how Blessed Cardinal Newman, erroneously considered as a precursor of Vatican II, echoes the great Tradition of the Church, and also on the aspects of morality is of keen and simple clarity. Completely different are the pastoral lucubrations of today, which have produced parishes where the majority of the faithful live in structured, mortal sin.
Let us listen to Newman, let us listen to the Church: Mercy begins with the denouncing of sin, articulating it in all its gravity.
*Chapter 5, Apologia pro Vita Sua
[Editorial: Radicati nella fede, January 2013, bulletin of the Catholic community of Domodossola and Vocogno, Diocese of Novara, Italy - Translation and tip: Contributor Francesca Romana]