Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Sky View: The Pastoral Mandate, Politicians and Religious Liberty

Sky View: The Pastoral Mandate, Politicians and Religious Liberty
The third reason is that when public sinners can sit next to faithful Catholics on your local church pew, when they can stand before the altar and receive the Eucharist, that is, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ (even after St. Paul’s warning about the dangers of receiving such a Sacred Gift unworthily) and when they enjoy the fellowship of Catholics and intermingle with them, it inevitably creates moral confusion. To say it another way, when there is no public distinction made by the bishops between obstinate sinners and repentant sinners- when there is no separation between them –then in the minds of Catholics and other onlookers, there cannot be but little distinction between error and truth, between sin and holiness, and between vice and virtue. Say what you will from the pulpit, say what you will in your pastoral letters and say what you will in the classroom, the ministry of preaching and teaching will be undermined by this indiscriminate mix of faithful Catholics and the unfaithful. And from this indiscriminate mix emerges a division within the Body of Christ, the Church. What is more, a consensus on the most important issues of life and death is much harder to come by.

Church Fathers on correction and exclusion

1. Bishop of Hippo, St. Augustine, said, “[I]f he [the sinner] should still deny the charge he must be confronted publicly with the other witnesses so as to be convicted not by one mouth alone, but by many. And when his guilt has thus been proved he must submit to such punishment as the superior, whose office it is to inflict penalties, may think fit to impose. Should he refuse to perform his penance, and has not departed of his own accord, he must be cast out of your society. Nor is such treatment cruel, but merciful, for many must not be suffered to perish by the pestilent example of one.” (The Rule of St. Augustine)

2. Pope St. Leo the Great told the bishops in the fifth century that "those who refuse to share in our discipline cannot share in our communion." (Letter IV)

3. Pope St. Gregory the Great said, “[T]he pastor who does not eradicate the evil which he observes, comes to that state which his negligence deserves, namely, not even to recognize the sins of his subjects.” (Pastoral Rule)

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