Rorate Caeli

Mercy begins with denouncing of sin

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]


I am not Spartacus said...

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.

The Treaty of Metz was arrived at so we Catholics could get a few Orthodox Priests to come to our Council at the cost of our silence about Communism.

And then, after the Council, putative Saint-to-be, Pope Paul VI welcomed Tito at the Vatican and praised him as a man of peace.

Jeanne Holler said...

Sad but TRUE: sin is not talked about at the local parish .
No one is preaching on the effects of sin...Why sin is even denounced by most people .
One mortal sin can and will send us to the fires of hell , but oh no, God would never send anyone to hell!
That is the first mistake : God will send us to hell if we do not repent and amend our lives.
God does not send us to hell , we send ourselves to hell..because we say NO to Him and to HIS WAYS, HIS CHURCH and HIS TEACHINGS!

Tom said...

"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."

Vatican II's Gaudium et Spes referenced Pope Pius XI's Encyclical Divini Redemptoris, which, in turn, had condemned communism.


21. "In her loyal devotion to God and men, the Church has already repudiated (16) and cannot cease repudiating, sorrowfully but as firmly as possible, those poisonous doctrines and actions which contradict reason and the common experience of humanity, and dethrone man from his native excellence."

Footnote 16 referenced Divini Redemptoris.


Matt Talbot said...

At confession some weeks ago the question of sin came up. The parish Priest told me that "nothing and I repeat, nothing should stop any person from receiving Holy Communion at Mass.
When i said to him - What about mortal sin Father! He laughted and said - you know it is virtually impossible for a person to commit a mortal sin.

Fidus et Audax said...

Since none or few of the priests in my area will speak about sin or the four last things, I just read the Cure of Ars serrmons. If all those dangers existed in that simple peasant town back then, what would the good Cure tell us today?

Anonymous said...

Good points Jeanne and Tom. The author is shining a light on something that very much needs exposed. Just wish he/she had left the whole "the new line began" paragraph out. I love the title!

Matt, that is sad. I pray you have one of the few bishops who truly care enough about souls to do something about that priest.

Barbara said...

A foot-note Tom? It seems you are grasping at straws...

It cannot be easy for priests to have a right balance between severity and mercy before the sinner. They need the heart of Our Lord for that - and unless they are men of prayer - the sappy human respect stuff - or the heavy-handed judge - are what the penitent receives -

I have a great confessor - severe and warm-hearted at the same time -Loves God and souls above all else - a true man of prayer - I have to travel quite far to go to confession though - but it's worth it. Confession is never easy - but it is a miracle of the Church!

truthseeker said...

Newman was most definitely a "precursor of Vatican II". He put fealty to the Pope and Papal authority above all else, and that is exactly what was required for the "reforms" of Vatican II to be so widely,easily and quickly implemented. What evidence is there to support the contrary?

The Rad Trad said...


You think a footnote reference to an encyclical is enough to say an Oecumenical Council made a bold and concise condemnation of Communism? You should consider the legal profession, if you are an American and not already in that field.

Sadly, this article rings true. Even at the most liturgically and theologically conservative parishes I visit there is never any mention of sin from the pulpit or even in the confessional at churches with long lines for the Sacrament. Knowledge of sin only seems to persist in devout laity who organize daily Rosaries or chaplets in their churches, at least that is my experience. And I have never, ever heard any discussion of hell.

Beefy Levinson said...


That happened to me a few years ago when I was a brand new convert. The priest told me it was virtually impossible to commit a mortal sin so long as I was still interiorly committed to following Christ. Even to my freshly converted ears that struck me as rank heresy so I went home and googled. That was how I learned about the "fundamental option." That in turn led me to learn about Modernism and all of the chaos and confusion besetting Holy Mother Church for the last fifty years.

Ironically, that erroneous priest set me on the path of Traditionalism!

MarvinDante33 said...

"Mercy is for the contrite and stupid."

--Fr. Chad Ripperger

Meaning, that mercy is obtained when one is either ignorant or repentant.

Culex Contra Vanitates said...

Aye, the Church must denounce sin, but her members must always be careful to do so without sinning themselves. It is easy to err in this regard.

Janet said...

It is astonishing how many ways modernism can hide its face and show its --- well, hmm. Every time the Holy Father talks about the cross of Our Lord and the love it demonstrates for us, which he does often, I have to think about a comment of an SSPX bishop I heard point out that the message of the cross is look what sin cost, not look what love did. I'm paraphrasing wildly but that was the point. Because as Pascendi warned, I just got done reading, modernism knows the human brain will reassemble that little shift of emphasis into an apologia for his particular sin of choice and argue that Christ loves him so much he'll surely overlook this one little thing. They fight dirty, with cheap poetry.

Luisa Abrahamson said...

Just as the Church began liturgical reformations in V.C. II, I think she is beginning this work also for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. I would think that the problem isn't just that sin and hell aren't spoken of but conversion is missing. The heart of apostolic preaching has always been of converting and the kerygma. Perhaps a Protestant mentality has entered into the Church which seems that as long as you believe in Christ and profess His name you are fine. The Catholic Church however doesn't teach this. We are all in continual conversion and the priest is able to help through confession especially to help us enter into conversion. Maybe by cutting from some friends who bring us into sin or leaving a job that brings us down, however. Until the Sacrament of Reconciliation is renewed, the last things will rarely be spoken of on any profound level.