Situation Ethics & Objective Truths

There are those who though nominally Catholic insist on putting forth the proposition that there are no objective truths and everything I do is governed by the axiom of “if I didn’t believe an action to be sinful, then there is no sin.” This, of course, flies in the face of what we were taught in the primary grades of Catholic schools in the days when those schools were truly Catholic and the nuns teaching us were themselves truly Catholic. Now, if I remember correctly the nuns told us we were responsible for knowing what acts were sinful and, if we were in any way doubtful, there were the Baltimore catechisms to instruct us (there is also this “ruler” in my hand to help you, wise guy). But, they also told us that the Natural Law was inscribed in the hearts of every human being by Our Lord Himself and therefore we knew certain acts that by their nature (and ours) were sinful such as the taking of an innocent human life.

So, what are we to say about situation ethics or the axiom of everything is determined by the circumstances surrounding the commission of an act heretofore describe as sinful. Well, there is such a thing as culpability which may lessen, I say MAY lessen, the guilt ascribed to a sin but it in no way changes the fact that a sin is, in fact, a sin. In the confessional it is the priest who, acting “in persona Christi,” judges this culpability and gives us the means, via a sentence or penance, to atone for the sin – if in fact a sin has been committed. (Would that this accurately describes the “confessions” of today and the priests who hear them.)

OK, so what do I say to the person who says: “you have no right to tell me what is an objective truth” and my answer is: “you’re right, my friend, but according to the Spiritual Works of Mercy (another item taught to us by those dedicated nuns) I have an obligation to “Instruct the Ignorant” and here is one objective truth you cannot deny – Death will come to us all and there is no doubting that Truth. Some of us in the category of advancing age are more aware of that fact than others. God bless you.

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