A reader sent in the following comment on a previous post, but it is highlighted here for greater visibility. [[My preliminary comments.]]:
- “Father, I’ve heard several Catholic radio show hosts and journalists talk about “collective guilt” as if it is a Catholic teaching. [[I’m happy not to listen to or read such things! And I would guess some rather important personages have pushed this in whatever way… right?]] One person went so far as to say that “whites” should go to confession and confess their participation in white supremacy! I let fly a couple of “cazzos” myself when I read that. [[That demand is pretty much demonic. That’s what hell would be like. Sorry, but to follow suit, that kind of F***ery has to stop, and stop now.]] How abhorrent & divisive that comment is. [[Yes.]] Is this a thing? [[Sure hope NOT!]] If it is, then should Jewish people ask for forgiveness for the crucifixion of Jesus? [[Yes, they should, like each person who has ever existed, for we, all of us, together, will gaze upon Him whom we have all pierced through with original sin and whatever rubbish sin of our own. No one is exempt.]] Should all priests get down on their knees because of the sexual abuse scandals? [[In reparation for the sins of others if not their own, yes, of course, but not because as a category of people they are automatically guilty.]] Should every Church leader beg for forgiveness because some moved these predators from parish to parish? [[Those who have not done this can express their regret, which is different from saying they were personally guilty of such stupidity.]] I don’t believe so (well, maybe except for the last one…where’s the McCarrick report??). [[I would surely like to know who knew what when and why it is that we haven’t heard a thing… and the whole China thing…]] Can you discuss in detail in your next posting?”
So, some more general comments of my own:
- Back in my seminary days, in moral theology class, or “pastoral theology” class [whatever that is… still haven’t figured that out…], it was common to hear statements always ambiguous, non-sensical in nature (error never makes sense), about societal sin, or collective guilt as it is now being called, I guess. I didn’t understand it then. I don’t understand it now. Not on this level. No one is forced to sin because “everyone is doing it” or “I’ll be thrown in the ovens if I don’t throw others in the ovens.” You can always chose to do what is right, and go to heaven.
- Meanwhile, original sin, the just consequences of which chosen with the sin are suffered by all, throws upon us a collective guilt, not in the sense of a personal sin as if we were directly identified with Adam himself in his personal choice which affected all of us, but in the effects of not being able to correctly appreciate God and love Him as we ought and therefore guilty of sin in not loving God as we ought. But original sin, irony of ironies, is rejected outright by the same people that promote collective guilt for the actions of an individual who we never even heard about before.
- In the midst of the collective guilt of all for the offenses dreamed up by those who are narcissistically entitled to accuse, the same people promoting that nonsense hold themselves to have been immaculately conceived and are still absolutely sinless, everyone except, of course, the Immaculate Conception herself, Jesus’ good mom. No, really.
- Saint John Paul II did apologize as the Vicar of Christ on earth for sins against the Jews that were wrought by whomsoever, taking such guilt on himself, even though he was never ever anti-Jewish and was not at all in solidarity with those were truly guilty. Many were quite upset with him because of doing this as the Pope. He went on to explain that it is only right for Jesus’ own vicar to do this not because he is guilty, but because he is not. He held himself to be guilty because he was in solidarity with Jesus being in solidarity with us. A bit convoluted, you say? Let’s take a look:
- God so loved the world that He sent His only Son to take our place, the Innocent for the guilty, to take on the justice we deserved – death – for the worst we could give out: death. Death is the just comeuppance of sin, of a creature shaking his fist at his Creator. In standing in our place, not only because of Adam’s sin, but for all sins of all individuals, something horrifying and marvelous at the same time takes place. Imagine yourself going to Confession, confessing any and all sin that mankind can and does commit, but now replace yourself with Christ Jesus, so that He is confessing your sin as if it were His own. Yes. That is what He has done for us, accusing Himself of our sin. And He is given a penance, to be ripped to shreds and crucified, the baptism in blood which He so desired to accomplish for our sake… for… us…
- But that doesn’t mean that “whites” should apologize to “blacks” for the abuse meted out by one “white” individual over against a “black” individual. No, that’s just stupid political correctness which sets up all the wrong dynamics of bullying and kowtowing, mob rule. Also, talk is cheap. Let’s see – if need be anywhere – training upgraded, etc.
- What we must uphold is a Constitutional Republic with the rule of law, with any democratically elected officials of whatever party upholding that Constitution and the rule of law.
- Due process for all is to upheld. If not, we descend into entitlement to lie for the money or “power” over others that accusation equated with automatic guilt brings in its wake.
Finally, stare at that drawing above. Gaze upon Him whom we have all pierced (see Revelation 1:7) even as He took upon the collective guilt of us all. Tears come to my eyes. I am reminded of the words of a Psalm: “To You all flesh will come with its burden of sin.”
It may be that someone or other will mock me or even commit some sort of violence against me for holding that forgiveness is necessary, saying that I don’t have standing in the matter, or that such is self-serving. I answer by saying that a lack of forgiveness will rot the soul of anyone and everyone. Lack of forgiveness never helps the wronged person, the true victim. Lack of forgiveness only brings hate and violence in its wake, a self-loathing, a self-destruction.
- Holding out forgiveness doesn’t mean you can tell someone you forgive them, as they might just kill you, saying they have nothing for which to be forgiven.
- Holding out forgiveness doesn’t mean the other person can ever take this in, but that’s irrelevant to you holding forgiveness out to them, at least spiritually, even unknown to them.
- Holding out forgiveness doesn’t meant that the crime, the sin wrought wasn’t important and can be dismissed as if it were nothing.
- Holding out forgiveness is not an invitation for someone to commit the crime or sin again.
- Holding out forgiveness does an infinite amount of good to the one who holds out the forgiveness… regardless…
- Holding out forgiveness means that one is freed from just being in reaction to someone else, to the perp criminal sinner. This is soooo beneficial to the person who is the victim. And, if the truth be known, it heaps burning coals on the head of the one who is guilty, frustrating them because they no longer have power over you. Maybe they will come round to Jesus.
A little bit challenging all of that? Sure, as much as staring at that picture above…