Friday, June 14, 2002

Who do you think you are: Imus?

A "best of" post until Monday...

More on Forgiveness

Christianity does not want us to reduce by one atom the hatred we feel for cruelty and treachery. We ought to hate them. Not one word of what we have said about them needs to be unsaid. But it does want us to hate them in the same way in which we hate things in ourselves: being sorry that the man should have done such things, and hoping if it is anyway possible, that somehow, sometime, somewhere, he can be cured and made human again.

This needs repetition. Cruelty and Treachery besiege our Church at this very moment, both the deliberate sort done by men such as Geoghan and Shanley, and the more accidental sort done by Law. (Please withold your flames until the end of the blog, at least.) Little needs to be said about the former; they are to be held to account under Man's law, and surely will be under God's. They are to be forgiven, and any who would themselves wish to be forgiven must do so for others.

Law's treachery and cruelty are of a more accidental sort. Please do not suppose that by this I mean he did not know what he was doing: the record and even his own non-denial denials make it clear that he knew what actions he and underlings were taking, and that he and they chose them consciously. I only mean to say that he probably did not mean for the actions to be cruel or treacherous.

So many Catholics these days put Intentionality as the primary determiner of right and wrong (rather than including it as a coequal member of a trinity that also includes the Act itself, and the Consequences), perhaps because when they do so, they claim their Intention is solely to make someone "happy" or were trying to be "nice"--the only two Virutes of our time, happiness and niceness. How ironic, then, that when a nominal conservative seeks to shield himself with Intentions, these same reformers and neotheologizers will have none of it. Law should know better than to seek refuge in Intentionality, the last refuge of most Catholic soundrels, to be sure. But those who have been occupying that space now are unprepared to make room for the Cardinal, nor to vacate it themselves.

Law must be forgiven. That need not mean he must keep his mitre and it does not mean we must not seek for answers nor hold him to account. But the vitriol has grown increasingly unforgiving. His clinging to power when leadership demands that he fall on his sword has surely contributed to it. But we, the Body of Christ, are not supposed to justify un-Christian behavior by the un-Christian actions of others. We are under orders to forgive the Cardinal though we may hate his actions without fear until the Last Day. There are few things in scriputre of theology that require less glossing, less explanation, less textual or contextual exegesis than this. The bloggers and the priests and the editorialists and the Catholics outside the churches on the evening news who fail to understand this fail to understand everything.

When we deny forgiveness, we deny Christ just as plainly and surely as Peter three times did. All the hurt and anger and fear and pain in the world do not now justify the witholding of forgiveness, nor have they ever done so. Penance and repentance are equally due, but we must be as Christ in this and stop hating the Man for what he has done.


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