The mercy game

The Church, I said yesterday, or strongly implied, is being bought off by moral exhibitionists, of the sort who lead the world not to Heaven’s Gate in Jerusalem Wall, but instead to the Mondawmin Mall in Baltimore. That is to say, we have clerics and apologists like politicians, eager to embrace progressive causes, and posturing on behalf of various political “clients” — the statistically poor, environmentalist neurotics, the sexually disordered, &c. It is a mercy game, in which a rudely unCatholic definition of “mercy” is set into conflict with the most elementary requirements of justice — which, in human affairs, can be determined only case by case, according to laws well established, because long universally subscribed.

“Class mercy” we might also call this: the idea that people should be forgiven for sins not of commission or omission, but with respect to their class, collectively, and whenever possible, in advance; that they should then be cast as “victims,” lionized, subsidized, encouraged and rewarded. For class mercy is progressive mercy. It is “an evolution of society.” What was conceded yesterday is inadequate today; today’s gifts will be inadequate tomorrow.

The correct word for this is “licence,” however; and the result of it, in 100 percent of cases, is the relaxation and confusion of all moral standards. For the recipients of largesse, acquired as if by right and entitlement, will never be satisfied with the amount, and will riot and loot for more, “progressively” — in whatever currency, from cash to new laws.

Our Nanny State was founded on this liberal interpretation of “mercy,” and will invariably reveal its heart, in the prosecution of a “justice” that is false mercy’s flip side. We have a system of politically-organized looting, in which charity has no place at all, and class beneficiaries are appointed to receive the goods of what they view as their class enemies, through invasive and eventually sadistic taxation. Every scheme to relieve “the poor,” or “the planet,” now emanating even from Rome, assumes the proliferation of immense and labyrinthine Kafkaesque bureaucracies to deliver “class mercy,” or enforce “class justice.”

And this a full generation after the fall of the Berlin Wall. The moral exhibitionists in the Church vie to board the bandwagons, and egg the liberal politicians along, in the direction they are already travelling. They speak in empty ideological abstractions (even while using “ideology” as a term of abuse to any who resist them).

But more than anything else they pose, in words and gestures, to show us how humble and selfless they are, how kind and generous, how open-minded and approachable, what “a breath of fresh air.” While inwardly they are ravening wolves, and behind their pretty façades, ruthless.

Fortunately, as I suggested, the Church is not the State. She is not for sale in the same way the State will always be for sale. A generation of vipers will pass, and Christ restores His own again, as He has done on all previous occasions, these last two thousand years — returning the Church to her proper business, in the salvation of souls.

This has always included the care of the poor, the sick, the disabled, the old, the tired, the hopeless, the doubting, the strayed. But all these tasks are one by one, and one on one. For God has created each living man ensouled, not as member of a class, as for example ants and termites, but as a class or universe in himself — each man, in body and soul united, an instance of “special creation.” That is, to my reasonably confident understanding, the teaching of Holy Church through all generations, and it is the reason why all genuinely Catholic eleemosynary institutions required voluntary, not legislated acts.

We, Catholics, all Christians, and verily all people are called to help each other when and where we can, and many of us to devote our lives to some focused service — as, for example, the Catholic sisters who invented and long dominated the profession of nursing. Not cash transfers, but service in kind — addressed to each specific need, and delivered with an absolute minimum of arbitrary and wasteful bureaucracy, and often none at all.

By increments, through the twentieth century, the Church in the West surrendered her most important worldly tasks to the State, or more often had them taken from her. And now, in the twenty-first, our own shepherds forget this magnificent heritage, and rather than try to resume it, they strike empty poses. “The State must do more, the State must spend more, the State must become more committed!”

But all the State provides is abortions, both literally and by analogy in every other field of its enterprise. For take away the motive of charity, which is not a scheme but an animation, and that is what remains: Procrustean “solutions” to everything that passes the State’s way.

Human sin, misfortune and misadventure, has never been a “class problem,” except insofar as all human beings belong to the same class — for all are sinners, and in earthly terms, all come to a bad end in death. The virtues associated with Mercy and Justice are facets of a Christian response — to itemized human sins, and uniquely experienced sorrows.

The cure of souls, as the cure of bodies, can only be done one soul at a time, and without Love it will canker.