Watered-down doctrine will not attract a larger flock

Dear Editor, Since the inception of Pope Francis’ pontificate, there has been a well-intentioned attempt to restore the attractiveness of the Gospel for those to whom it has lost its sheen.

However, this has played out as the soft-pedalling of the gravity of moral doctrine on human sexuality in a post-Vatican II spirit of Jesuitical casuistry, in the sheep’s clothing of personal compassion.

This has come to a head in the interim report of the recent synod, causing much confusion. Mercy is rightly to be shown to the person, a subject, as shown by Jesus’ words to the woman caught in adultery “neither do I condemn you”, but it does not come at the expense of justice to the seriousness of the objective act – “go and sin no more”.

A denial of the justice on which mercy is founded is not mercy at all, but cruelty. It has given rise to the euphemistic horrors of terms like ‘mercy-killing’, ‘no-fault divorce’ and ‘pro-choice’.

I believe the Christ-centred approach involves a love of the person that implies a hatred of the spiritual cancer, the sin that may be destroying them.

The Magisterium of the Catholic Church has spoken clearly to the objective realities in the past and the truly merciful thing would be to clearly explain the teaching in the context of the errors and confusion of the time, leaving the pastoral application to the local level of one-on-one personal encounters. Instruction of the ignorant is a spiritual work of mercy.

Finally, if you think the watering-down or the shelving of difficult doctrines for the age is supposed to be a part of a successful pastoral strategy for gathering a larger flock for Christ, you might want to check with an Anglican first, if you can find one.


Yours etc.,

Mark Hickey,

Sandymount,  Dublin 4.