Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Truth about Lying

In the recent post - Creative Minority Report: Live Action, Lying, and the Catechism: Why a Good Catholic Can Support an Undercover Apostolate - we have the worst sort of sophisty at work.

The author of this post writes,

The truth is this: the Magisterium permits a faithful Catholic to embrace either the Augustine/Aquinas view (lying is always wrong)—a view that is referred to as the “common teaching of Catholic theologians”—OR the less rigorous view proposed by other saints, bishops, and theologians (that permit lying in special cases). A good Catholic can accept either one of these views.
In fact, the Magisterium does NOT allow "a good Catholic" to take either of these positions.  For the Magisterium consists not merely in the Extraordinary Magisterium, which speaks through Councils and Encyclicals and ex cathedra pronouncements, but in the Ordinary Magisterium, which speaks through the continuous and uninterrupted teaching of the Church.

So that when the Ten Commandments tell us that we are not to "bear false witness", when Jesus says that the devil is a liar and "the father of all lies," when Jesus tells us that He is truth, when St. John says that "no lie is of the truth" (meaning of God), when St. Augustine writes at length about the immorality of lying, when the Angelic Doctor says the same, when the Catechism of Trent says

But the evil consequences of lying are not confined to individuals: they extend to society at large. By duplicity and lying good faith and truth, which form the closest links of human society, are dissolved; confusion ensues; and men seem to differ in nothing from demons.

... when you have all of these things, and when the modern Catechism of the Catholic Church condemns lying as intrinsically evil and renounces it in no uncertain terms, then what you have - even in the absence of concilliar documents or encyclicals - what you have is the weight of the Ordinary Magisterium of the Catholic Church.

The case is closed.  A good Catholic may not lie.  (This, parenthetically, is why we're all bad Catholics.)

This was argued exhaustively several years ago here and at other blogs.

And only a fraction of the participants were willing to argue in good faith, without a prejudiced agenda.  That still seems to be the case.


And after months of arguing this out the last time it came down to this: GO AHEAD AND LIE IF YOU WANT TO, and may your conscience give you rest.

Because the Magisterium of the Church won't.


Anonymous said...

Amen to this (I I snarkily note that the referenced post at CMR is one of the few (the only?) I've ever seen there that doesn't allow comments. Hmm.

But the whole argument about whether lying is always wrong, or rather "only" almost always wrong, obscures the related fact that even under the moral vision of those who claim that there is an opening in Catholic teaching for lying in some cases, the specific actions of Live Action are still clearly wrong.

First, because there is no pressing urgency to their lies (no Jews hiding in their basement). They are trying to swing a public policy debate that has evolved and will evolve over years.

Second, because in addition to lying the Live Action agents are clearly and unambiguously tempting the relevant Planned Parenthood staffers to commit mortal sin - which is also always and everywhere to be condemned.

Anonymous said...

Can I take it therefore that undercover police operations which in any way depend on deception are also condemned and if not why? An undercover cop, or an informant pretend to be a would-be hit man willing to accept payment from someone wanting to off his wife, business partner, neighbor etc. They can't role play the part of the hit man as that would violate sound moral teaching? Operations of this type, are quite common both for the crime I referenced, and others such as selling stolen goods, setting up major drug dealers etc. If the Live Action operation is banned by moral teaching are these police ops also suspect, and if not why not? CC