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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
            Wednesday, Movember 5 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

The quality of mercy

The loose end in Monday's entry was the question of when mercy may be appropriate and in what measure someone who has been convicted of something as odious as possessing child pornography can be forgiven. Circumstances will vary, of course, depending on the involvement of the persons in a position to forgive. The church, especially in its administrative apparatus, which serves both as the surrogate family and the employer of the priest in question, will have mixed feelings about how far to go in either the direction of punishing, and forgiving, the offense. We've considered the church pedophilia scandals somewhat in some earlier Jonal entries so I won't delve the details more here.

But for the lay members of the church and assorted acquaintances of the convict, I think their best course is to be as merciful, forgiving, and supportive of their tarnished leader as they can find in their hearts to do. I've made the point at least twice in passing that our civic duty and our personal obligations are not identical. If called to serve as jurors, we should serve our society in that capacity and work at doing our job well.

But in our private Christian life, which is our focus now, we are called upon to be nonjudgmental and reconcilers. And of course I stress in this that we're not talking about a child abuser here, but a user of child pornography The latter offense is wrong, and part of the reason it's wrong is that the state assumes that if there were no market for such photographs fewer children would be abused, a valid point. But, after the punishment has been meted out, whether your acquaintance is now serving time, out on probation, or considered to have paid his debt, what do you do? My two-cent answer: do your best to be a reconciling agent. One of the acts of charity enjoined upon us in the Gospels is visiting the prisoners; here's a chance to work on that ministry.

Pats on the head or any direct or even indirect approbation is not required. Being a friend, a brother, sister, father, or mother to sinners doesn't require condoning specific sins. But neither does our reaching out to be "charitable" to a convicted sinner absolve us for any of our own sins. Likewise, the priest's (former priest's?) wonderful works for his parish mentioned on Monday are not unworthy, but neither are they a pass into Heaven. Lest some think I'm preaching Proetstant doctrine here, I read it in the past week in the emailed "Catholic Questions" I subscribe to: Works are evidence of our salvation, but not the means of our salvation, the author of that feature quotes from the Catholic Catechism. Justification (having our sins blotted out) by works rather than God's grace is Pelagianism, a heresy in all Christian communions.

The ministry of reconciliation, healing the wounded, raising up the fallen, even being instruments of the grace of God to those we'd rather judge and avoid, is commissioned on us all.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Fun facts (or "facts," so it says, but take with a grain)

Almonds are members of the peach family.

All 50 states are listed across the top of the Lincoln Memorial on the back of the $5 bill.

—Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

The fact is that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can.

— Richard Cushing
Sent by Judy Rose 

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