Thursday, September 24, 2009

Calling out lies.



"Stop lying to one another." - Col 3, 9
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St. Paul makes that appeal more than once in his Letters. Today we experience great doubt in a culture which seems to subsist upon lies. Recently a politician disrupted the President's speech, calling him a liar; while in Europe, Pope Benedict is being accused of lying about what he knew concerning the Nazi sympathies of a bishop of the SSPX. That perhaps figures well with those who accuse the Pope of having been a Nazi because of some sort of mandatory involvement in Hitler Youth. (A fact, if memory serves me, an ill-informed Vatican spokesman mistakenly denied as well.)
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Of course we also have the situation of an Internet rife with accusations of lying and deceit by all types of persons and institutions - to the extent that one has to wonder if it is the lies that are so destructive to the common good, or the mistrust, uneasiness, and doubt they generate. Surely they go hand in hand in a corrupt society - the cause and the effect.
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We also have the experience in the U.S. of Catholic bishops dissimulating and covering up for deviant priests, and themselves at times, at great expense to the faithful - not simply monetarily, but morally and mortally as well. This is the result of scandal, and why good bishops and priests and Catholic laity must point such things out; clarifying Catholic teaching - the truth - as in the case of Archbishop Burke, offering solid catechesis regarding the Kennedy funeral discussion.
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Nevertheless, lying seems to be getting the better and best of us, and is all pervasive, which is why the exhortation from St. Paul is always relevant. We must stop lying to one another.
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Politically correct language, diplomatic language, legal terminology, philosophical and theological loopholes, and even socially polite niceties or exaggerations, contributes to an atmosphere of moral ambiguity - especially for the unsophisticated and under-educated. As St. Francis De Sales said, "plain dealing" is always best and is the responsibility and duty of the children of light.
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"Your language should be frank, sincere, candid, and honest. Be on guard against equivocation, ambiguity, or dissimulation. While it is not always advisable to say all that is true, it is never permissible to speak against the truth." - Introduction to the Devout Life, Part III: 30

9 comments:

  1. So Cardinal O'Malley.. lied?

    I don't get where you're going with this.

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  2. Thom - not at all - in fact my initial phrasing of this read as if I were saying that, which you may have noted - but I changed it.

    Nevertheless I did have in mind the arguement that the Archbishop and others protest too much over such things, and therefore I mentioned Burke's setting the record straight as to what canon law states - since it is definitely part of his job to clarify the truth in such matters. (Fr. Z has a good post on the subject here: http://wdtprs.com/blog/2009/09/canonist-ed-peters-on-archbp-burke-on-the-kennedy-funeral/ I'm not qualified to address it directly, although I have an opinion.)

    Where I am really going, or more precisely coming from on this is the disparity amongst bishops and cardinals regarding matters of faith and morals and Church teaching which results in all of these debates, which confuse and scandalize the faithful.

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  3. Oh - and to be sure - I would have to say that many things certain bishops say and do contain an element of equivocation, ambiguity, and dissimulation.

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  4. Fr. Z's commentary and E. Peters' explanation are excellent.
    Ed Peters was my Canon Law prof and I have the highest opinion of his expertise.
    He's not infallible, but excellent:<).

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  5. I would say that differences of opinion, even profound differences, are not a modern condition. Rather, this has been throughout the entire history of the Church. All of the Bishops all of the time have not always been in agreement. But as for this particular instance, Sean Cardinal O'Malley has jurisdiction- not Abp. Burke. Certainly Burke may talk (as we have seen that he likes to do), but he does so at the risk of scandalizing/further scandalizing more of the faithful.

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  6. Terry - this is an excellent post. For me to say otherwise would be a lie.

    I can't count the number of times I've been victimized by lies, or the times I've betrayed the trust of others by my own. Lord have mercy.

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  7. Thanks Larry. I suppose now's the time to tell you that I'm a big liar too - Cathy is not really insane.

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  8. Terry:

    Amen, Amen, and Amen!

    Unfortunately, the people who don't get to read this are the ones who say the rest of us "take things SO seriously" ... a good many who do read this post have, by God's grace, come to terms with their own responsibility to be honest, and pray daily for the grace to courageously and lovingly speak the truth -- which can make the hearers "uncomfortable". Thank you.

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  9. Terry - I kinda figured that about Cathy.

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