Judas, of course, refused. But he does not refuse because Jesus tempts him to betray him. Judas' own sin leads him to evil, not Jesus. Jesus' every effort is ordered toward salvation, not temptation. An example of the former is seen in a recent FBI sting on a child porn ring in which the FBI actually wound up running a website that offered this filth to consumers. On the one hand, you can see what they were trying to do, of course: nab bad guys. That's not me talking, that is the victims themselves:.
One of those children — a girl whose father shared images of her being abused that has since become widely shared online — put it more bluntly in a statement to the court filed last year. And when you think about it, that's perfectly true. Indeed, to deny it is to completely deny the need to arrest people distributing and downloading this stuff at all.
If we try to argue that the child is only harmed by the person who photographs them and not by the person s making their images available to others and to those who download those images, then we are saying the whole project of destroying porn distribution rings is a waste of time and we should solely focus our energies on the manufacturers of those images, not their distributors and consumers, which is nonsense. The truth is every one of those people is guilty of exploiting those children. But that must, therefore, include the FBI agents who take over distribution of those images.
A classic case of doing evil that good may come of it. These schmoes who would never have thought to blow up anything, nor known how to do it if they had till the FBI recruited them, egged them on, held their hands and helped them do it. And while this farce was happening, the FBI was diverting support and resources to this foolish program instead of looking for actual terrorists. Our tax dollars at work. A final point to consider: In addition to the dangers of soul law enforcement officials face, there is an even greater danger posed when private citizens internalize the ethos "Cops lie, so therefore I can too.
This turnabout on the tactics of some in the prolife movement shows where this tactic will inevitably lead as the culture wars escalate. It will not be all that long before somebody shows up in, for instance, your confessional, Father, offering some outrageous false confession of some horrible crime in order to record your response on their cell phone, edit it who knows how, and then publish it to the internet with who knows what charge that you are by observing the Seal of the Confessional complicit in aiding and abetting some heinous crime.
This popular embrace of the culture of surveillance and deceit is, I believe, no small reason why it is dangerous to appeal to undercover work by police as a sure-fire argument for the moral legitimacy of lying for the greater good. It think the wiser approach is to evaluate what is done in light of Jesus Christ.
And, by the way, I am skeptical it is always the case that even undercover cops "lie for a living". I suspect a good number of them find ways to do their work without it, precisely because they sense the corrosive effect of embracing lies as a way of doing life. But the bottom line is this: it is Jesus, not the police, who is our model for this as for all moral behavior. Pope Francis, when he was head of the Jesuits, asked one of his priests to lie pretend to be sick so he could take his place and have a conversation with the Argentine junta leader. I had not heard of the details of this till Jimmy Akin mentioned this here at the Register a couple of weeks ago and had, I thought, an interesting and balanced take on it.
I don't know that Cdl. Bergoglio's example, as reported, particularly means something in terms of evaluating the Church's teaching though.
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It was neither a papal act, nor an infallible one. Just a judgment call made by a good man who is not a perfect man. I think perhaps St. Thomas' approach to the Hebrew midwives is the best one. He acknowledges with Scripture that God rewarded their good intentions, but discreetly remarks that their lies were "not meritorious". In this, I think he takes the wise route of not trying to sit in judgement of obviously good and virtuous people.
I think the same approach is best as a rule of thumb. So, for instance, it should be noted that Thomas also says that while all lying is a sin, it is not always—nor, I would add, usually —a mortal sin. Indeed, I suspect that in a huge number of cases it is barely culpable such as when, say, a big brother takes the rap for his little sister getting in the cookie jar.
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This is something I would particularly like to emphasize since, in my sometimes intemperate remarks on the question intemperance I deeply regret , I fear I have given the impression that I think white lies to be gravely evil, or given people the impression that, say, a teacher who lied to save children at Sandy Hook Elementary School was anything other than a hero of blessed memory. I think nothing of the kind. As a general rule, I assume circumstances are often such that the person telling a lie is barely culpable if at all, and is doing the best they can, as for instance, were the Hebrew midwives or the teacher at Sandy Hook.
Caught flat-footed in such a situation I strongly doubt I would have done any differently. The point here is not to sit in judgment of people doing the best they can in extreme sudden death situations, nor indeed to sit in judgment of anybody, but to think about what we should do as we make considered moral decisions. This is true particularly in situations where the temptation is to lie, not to save lives from maniacs, but in our own ordinary lives.
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Thomas' model with the Hebrew midwives seems to me like the batting coach confronted with a hitter who has a bad stance, but who nonetheless knocked one out of the park. He merely says that the bad stance did not help that happen. He refrains from such a judgment. Instead he basically says to us, "Imitate their grip, their swing, their eye, their power, but not their stance.
That didn't help them get that hit. Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. One of the greatest problems of the early church was that within one generation, she had lost the vision of the Beatitudes. She became worldly. As Paul puts it, even Christians with spiritual gifts began to act, think, and react like the men of the world 1 Cor. When the old, carnal, Adamic nature rules in Christians, the Beatitudes have no place in their hearts.
But when the new life of Christ dominates, the Christian becomes a walking Sermon on the Mount, salt and light. Let me now bring to you the main characteristics of the Beatitudes:. The Beatitudes Are the Way to Happiness. There are nine "Blesseds" or "Happy are yes" in the eight Beatitudes. Jesus came to bring us a formula for happiness. Wife, what is it like to continually live in the presence of a happy husband?
Parents, what is it like to live with ever-cheerful children? Pastor, what is it like to have a sanctuary full of happy parishioners every week? If Holy Ghost Christianity has taken hold of us, then that is the way it will be, and that is the way it was in the early church. The early church lived in praise, in joy, and in abundant thanksgiving despite all kinds of persecutions and material shortcomings. Jesus gave us the Beatitudes so that we might be the happiest people in the world. Nothing attracts people more than a happy man. When the Holy Spirit came upon the first believers, they were so happy that the world thought they were drunk, and multitudes were attracted to Christ.
They were not attracted to church programs, to religious entertainment, to loud and lively music, or to good speakers, seminars, and Bible programs. They were attracted to happiness that was out of this world. Next, let us consider what is the genius in the eight Beatitudes. Jesus offered a happiness detached from the things of the world, the affairs of the world, and the events of the world. I say to you again, if you live the Beatitudes, the physical circumstances surrounding you will no longer influence your moods, your attitudes, and your responses.
Jesus tells us here that if a man follows the Beatitudes, he can be just as happy when he has little as when he has much. The size of his house, the quantity and quality of his furniture have nothing to do with true happiness.
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How much or how little he has in his bank account has nothing to do with it. Whether he drives an expensive car or a rusty, rattling, old junker has nothing to do with it. I have seen people with ecstatic joy who had absolutely nothing of the world. But they had everything of God. In Matthew 5, Jesus taught us that only the fulness of his life brings blessed happiness, not the things of this world. I have seen many, many Christians lose their happiness when they got cancer or diabetes or when they lost a limb.
If you lose your happiness through the loss of things, of health and money, and fortunes, and favor in the world, then your happiness was a worldly happiness. This happiness does not leave you when the job is lost, when the car breaks down, when the house is washed away by a flood, or when your friends leave you. Yes, should there not be a happiness that cannot be diminished by physical, external events? A philosopher once said that if I can conceive something in my mind, then it must exist.
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Since I can conceive God in my mind, he must exist. Well, for many ages, man has conceived of the possibility of an artesian well of joy and of a perpetual motion machine, therefore they must exist. Most Christians that I know bless and praise the Lord when they are blessed materially, when they have good health, and they say they are happy in the Lord. Yet most of them, when their circumstances become worse, only find out that their happiness was not in the Lord but really in the things that the Lord had provided them.
When God created the Christian, he created a superman. Stop thinking about yourself in the natural. If Christ is in you, you have "this treasure in earthen vessels" 2 Cor.