(Continuation of Fast Food Helping Thirty-Six)
Consider a person intentionally withholding from another person with whom he or she is going to engage in consensual sex the fact that he or she has AIDS, and then engaging in unprotected sexual relations with that other person. Is the withholding of this critical piece of information moral? Is it a grave evil? If that other person dies of AIDS because of those sexual relations, is the person who withheld the knowledge about having AIDS guilty of murder? Is the person who withheld this important truth from the other guilty of a grave evil independent of whether the other contracted AIDS or not?
This is a comparable situation to what has been taking place in the Constantinian Churches for a long, long time under the explicit direction of the hierarchy of those Churches and by the willing acquiescence and implementation of the lower ranks of clergy. Critical truth that a person has a right to and need of to make a decision is withheld from the person in order to manipulate by deception him or her into making a decision that they otherwise may not make—a decision that carries the gravest of potential consequence for that person’s physical, mental and spiritual life.
Mark Twain writes, “Among other common lies, we have the silent lie — the deception which one conveys by simply keeping still and concealing the truth. Many obstinate truth-mongers indulge in this dissipation, imagining that if they speak no lie, they lie not at all.” Nearly ten years of brutal human slaughter in Iraq and Afghanistan—hundreds of thousand dead, millions maimed for life—executed mostly by American and British Christians. Meanwhile, the Catholic Bishops of the United States, with one exception, have yet to say their first public word on how it is or is not in conformity with faithful discipleship to the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, or on how this war is or is not in conformity to the required jus ad bellam and jus in bello moral standards of Catholic Just War Theory, since the day on which the United States initiated the war on March 19, 2003.
Worse still, although young Catholics are being sent 7,000 miles from the United States to do this killing and maiming—and of course to be killed and maimed themselves—there has not been the slightest uptick in Catholic elementary school, secondary school or parish religious education programs in teaching Catholic youngsters about the Nonviolent Jesus and His Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies or in teaching them Catholic Just War Theory. And, this in the face of Catholic children, who were merely ten years old in 2003, and who are now in Iraq and Afghanistan killing and maiming Iraqis and Afghans with no more of an idea in their heads about the Nonviolent Jesus or the actual standards of Catholic Just War Theory, than those Catholic young men and women who started killing and maiming over there and being killed and maimed on March 19, 2003. In fact they are over there now with no more of an idea of the Nonviolent Jesus or the actual standards of Catholic Just War Theory than ninety-nine percent of the Catholics have ever had when they went forth to slaughter other human being for the same hoary bromide, “God and Country.”
And, why do they not know today any more on this subject, that is essential to a properly formed Catholic conscience not only for someone who is going to engage in war, but also to someone who must make a decision whether he or she should engage in it or whether his or her Catholic faith and moral tradition forbid it? The answer: Because those whose responsibility it was to care for their immortal souls and hence to properly inform them and inform their consciences—their bishops— were grossly derelict in obeying their commission from Christ.
The attitude that permits this is the same attitude as the person with AIDS has who does not inform the other party of the truth of his or her condition because they know that then they might not get the decision they want from the party from whom they are withholding critical information. The Catholic bishops want their young Catholic people to go to war when the local big financial and political kahunas say, “Go to war,” and not to start judging for themselves according to the standards of Jesus in the Gospels or the Catholic Just War Theory whether going to war is morally permissible for them. And, while the bishops’ refusal to properly and thoroughly communicate well the only two moral options that a Catholic has before him or her—Gospel Nonviolence or Catholic Just War Theory—may get the person killed or maimed for life, and may involve the person being engaging in the intrinsically grave evil of murder, at least the person will go to heaven, since his or her bishop has spiritually protected him or her by a manufactured blameless ignorance, a manufactured non-culpable ignorance.
The radical spiritual problem with this whole approach to loving others by withholding truth that a person has a right to and need of is that it is engaging in that form of communication called lying. The Kingdom of God cannot be built up or reached via the lie. Why? Because the “father of lies” is Satan, and a person is neither going to build up the Kingdom of God nor reach the Kingdom of God nor bring others into the Kingdom of Go by the way of Satan.
If a person is aware that, by concealing information to which another has a right and for which the other has a need, he or she is deliberately fostering a misconception in the other person’s mind, then he or she is outright lying. Lying by intentional omission is deception, designed to hide, or manipulate, or circumvent the truth, and so it is as evil as lying by intentional commission.
Those who with premeditation lie by silence, by withholding truth to which a person has a moral right, deceive themselves into believing that their deceptions by omission hurt no one, when the evidence is easily seen and overwhelming that their silence is causing untold grief and misery. Lies of commission and lies of omission are both lies, both have the same origin and both reap the consequences that the father of lies intends for them to reap once they are chosen over the truth.
Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth Part II: The Apostle Paul “did not preach an ‘a la carte’ Christianity, organized according to taste, he did not preach a Gospel according to his own preferred theological ideas”. Priests “must announce the will of God entire, including the ‘more difficult’ will, … the themes they may least like personally“.
John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor: Genuine understanding and compassion must mean love for the person, for his true good, for his authentic freedom. And this does not result, certainly, from concealing or weakening moral truth.
How long, O Lord, how long?