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Response to “Father Jenkins is a disgrace”

| Wednesday, November 14, 2018

I am saddened by Law student Deion Kathawa’s letter published Nov. 12 in The Observer. Both his tone and his content suggest that his understanding of Catholic teaching is very limited. There is more to the Church than the Church Militant. Fr. Jenkins has withheld a decision to revoke former Cardinal McCarrick’s honorary degree until he is found guilty by a canonical court. That is his prerogative. He further cautioned about describing any sinner a monster. He avers that all matters of culpability are complex.

Kathawa, on the contrary, makes no distinction between sin and sinner, positing that anyone who sins is, therefore, him or herself intrinsically evil and demonic. There is nothing in Church teaching or scripture to justify this position.  Quite the contrary. I rather doubt that Kathawa knows the interior life of McCarrick, or even if McCarrick has confessed any sin of which he is accused. What McCarrick is purported to have done is indeed monstrous. As Pope Francis has said, “when it comes to sin, there are no ‘compromises’”.

However, the Pope goes on to say, “God’s mercy is not afraid to reach out and touch our sins in order to forgive them.”

Who would disagree with Kathawa’s strong condemnation of sexual abuse and cover-up? But if priests are to imitate Christ and “care for others, accompany them in their joys and sorrows, witnessing as Christ to them and protecting them” as Kathawa writes, then beyond the duty to fight evil with all our strength we also have the sacramental duty of making known God’s mercy toward the sinner. I find no sense of this in Kathawa’s letter.

Fr. Steve Newton

Nov. 12

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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