Admonish the Sinner

One of the most often-quoted remarks of the reigning occupant of the Chair of Peter is his response to journalists: Who am I to judge? My purpose here is to compare this statement with the traditional teaching of the Church in what are known as the Spiritual Works of Mercy and, specifically, the duty to “admonish the sinner.” Why? We do this with a view towards the judgment that will inevitably face all of us and to prevent, insofar as is possible, the casting into Hell of the unrepentant sinner. It is Charity which motivates us in this endeavor and we must always do it with a spirit of fraternal correction. The spiritual basis for this Work of Mercy comes from the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 18 as follows: “[15] But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother. [16] And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. [17] And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican. [18]”

In admonishing the sinner it necessarily involves making a judgment on what is sinful behavior. IMO this is what is missing from the pope’s response and it is due in large measure to the non-judgmental psychology of Dr Carl Rogers and the influence this non-directive theory of counseling has had on the world in which we live – the “I’m OK; you’re OK crowd.” Of course, Jesus was speaking to his disciples who became the spiritual leaders of the early Church and not to those without jurisdiction but in today’s world, it appears those people are unwilling to fulfill their duty. In the final analysis it is Modernism-101.

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