We at BFD have always thought that in order to survive as members of the human race with some modicum of acceptance and success that ultimately, we must conform to all laws, all of the way up to and inclusive of the Hot Dog Law. It goes like this:
First we must conform to the law of the household.
Then we must conform to the law of our immediate neighbors.
Then we must conform to the law of our teachers.
Then we must conform to the law the jungle.
Then we must conform to the law of our social institutions.
Then we must conform to law of our local governing authorities.
Then we must conform to the law of our national governing authorities.
And then, ultimately, as was expressed in this classic 30-second spot in 1975, we must conform to the laws of a Higher Authority.
Apparently that last, ultimate Higher Authorithy does not pertain (in their minds) to members of the Catholic ministry. Instead they are using a 700 year old doctrine referred to as “mental reservation” to justify their breaking of the 9th Commandment of the Old Testament (interpreted as the 8th Commandment by Catholics), You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Despite the fact that the Catechism that every Catholic learns from an early age, that is inculcated in to young and old minds by those very same priests and the nuns, gets thrown out the door of the temple of morality, when a priest or nun makes the deliberate decision to lie in order to “protect the church from scandal” as described in a recent article headed Lawyers grapple with Catholic doctrine in the Los Angeles Times.
This mis-use of doctrine is affirmed by one of their own:
The doctrine has been used in modern times to “claim that it is morally justifiable to lie in order to protect the reputation of the institutional church,” said Thomas P. Doyle, a Virginia priest who is an expert in canon law and has been widely consulted by lawyers for people who say they were victims of abuse.
It has been misused “to justify lying,” Doyle said last week. The doctrine is “not accepted church teaching” but has been widely discussed by scholars and moral theologians, Doyle said.
The Times article implies that the use of the mental reservation doctrine seems pervasive, throughout the church to justify continuing to withold the truth. An example of the egregiously skewed logic that is calling on the doctrine as justification for lying is this statement taken from Robert H. Brom, Bishop of the San Diego diocese during a deposition, as he described a “hypothetical”:
“Let’s assume we were in Nazi Germany. Let’s assume I was harboring a Jewish family in my church. Some Nazis came and knocked on the door and asked me if there were Jews here. In invoking the doctrine of mental reservation, I would be able to say no, which would be a lie and a sin.
“By reserving unto my own mind that the real complete answer would be ‘No, not here at this point in time,’ or ‘No, not standing here in this room.’ With that qualification in mind, I’m not lying and I’m not a sinner.”
There is something really, sinfully, wrong when a priest, an educated man, has such a skewed moral compass, that he can equate in his mind that the shielding of Jews certainly marked for death by Hitler is comparable to shielding the members of the church and members of the public from the truth that his brothers in the priesthood have committed crimes of sexual assault against their parishioners. Then compounded his sin by trying to cover it all up by not turning over this knowledge to the civil authorities, but instead sending the same, sexual predators off to new parishes, where they will likely continue their crimes.
This whole disgusting history of abuse and subsequent cover-ups and denial of responsibility by the leaders of the Catholic church has exposed the fallacy that it is a church of the people, here to minister to the people, here to teach the people, hear to succor the people, instead the modern Catholic church has evolved to exist solely as an entity on to itself, solely to propagate its power, influence and treasure, seemingly above the laws of God.