How Bad is Bad?

How we love to play the game of comparisons. Whose team is more successful, whose salary is higher, whose home is nicer, whose parish is more active, and so on. We also compare negative things, and modern culture reinforces bad news. So when the H-name gets brought up, and the h-word trotted out, we can be assured the triple-dog-dare has ended the negotiation/comparison stage of the ritual. It’s time to nod sagely, even if we think some step of playground protocol has been vacuated.

For your consideration: the hierarchy of crimes presented by Archbishop Charles Chaput:

Here’s a simple exercise in basic reasoning. On a spectrum of bad things to do, theft is bad, assault is worse and murder is worst. There’s a similar texture of ill will connecting all three crimes, but only a very confused conscience would equate thieving and homicide. Both are serious matters. But there is no equivalence.

The deliberate killing of innocent life is a uniquely wicked act. No amount of contextualizing or deflecting our attention to other issues can obscure that.

In American jurisprudence … or realcrimetv, take your pick … shoplifting gets you an embarassing beep at the Gap front door and a stern parental talking-to, assault a year or two in prison and maybe a future encounter with street justice, and murder a tidy twenty-to-life.

Except for two things.

In secular law, stealing, beating, and killing treat material aspects on which the general public mostly all agrees: property, physical well-being, and life. Okay so far.

These aspects also have a context in individual cases. A citizen might injure or even kill a home invader, but this sort of killing doesn’t result in conviction. Sometimes it is even celebrated. The grieving loved ones might be less sad. Or as sad as an unjustified death. But there you have it.

One Catholic blogger took issue with one Catholic archbishop who advised caution on the one-issue front. In other words, sin is sin, and please don’t remind us that …

While commerce in the remains of defenseless children is particularly repulsive, we should be no less appalled by the indifference toward the thousands of people who die daily for lack of decent medical care; who are denied rights by a broken immigration system and by racism; who suffer in hunger, joblessness and want; who pay the price of violence in gun-saturated neighborhoods; or who are executed by the state in the name of justice.

Mr Jacobs states his bother:

Resurrecting his predecessor’s “seamless garment” argument, Cupich indicates there’s a moral equivaluence between aborition and other moral issues.

I don’t see it. I see a pastor suggesting the path of sin is a bit wider, maybe even more insidious than previously thought.

It wasn’t long before the blogosphere took note.

Of course it wasn’t. This is the era of francisbishops promoting the francismorals of francischurch. Everything is suspect. Accuse a person of any crime–shoplifting, murder, and in between–expect denials to follow.

Did I mention two things? The more important of the two is that Jesus and the Church are concerned with more than material possessions. Maybe you’d need to watch Canon Law and Order, but the Church would view one crime as worse than murder: deliberately killing the spirit of faith in another person.

A lot of Catholics instinctively know this. It’s why the sense of the faithful is so strong when we’ve encountered the crimes of sex abuse and cover-up.

I think when consciences get poked, complaints follow.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to How Bad is Bad?

  1. FrMichael says:

    Cupich is a uniquely poor bishop: took his diocese into bankruptcy, banned his priests and seminarians from praying outside abortion mills, and then basically wrecked the vocations effort in Spokane. The idea that this man is the Archbishop of Chicago, following Cardinal George, is hard to swallow.

    • Todd says:

      Well, lots of bishops take their sees into bankruptcy. Usually the predecessor bears a lot of blame. JP2 also discouraged clergy from political activity and protest. I might agree with him that protesting is a lay apostolate, and that ordinarily, clergy have no business involving themselves in such affairs. Let them staff their office and church and there receive people for mercy instead of protesting against them.

      That people with whom I’m inclined to disagree dislike the archbishop gives me pause to take a serious second look at him. Especially when they are obstinate in misreading his words.

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