Telling the truth and risking consequences from an incompetent authority.greenspun.com : LUSENET : Catholic : One Thread
In different times in history, there have been situations where people who have been in authority who have gone aganist moaral and natural law.
Take the Nazi's for example, they were in a position of authority. If you were hiding a jewish family in your house and the SS came to your door and asked if there were in your house any Jews there would you be obliged to tell the truth or not? I don't think so, in fact I think that the Church has spoken out on this, does anyone know references?
If I recall correctly, the truth must be told only to competent authority and must be reserved from those who will use such information to do moral harm.
-- Joseph Carl Biltz (email@example.com), February 26, 2003
In such a situation, I wouldn't bother splitting hairs - just flat out LIE and rely on God's mercy and understanding. :-)
-- Christine L :-) (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 26, 2003.
It isn't Church Law, but a good rule of thumb can be seen through St. Thomas' "Three font principle". I would encourage anyone to look this up.
-- Jake Huether (email@example.com), February 26, 2003.
You mean, like Ariel, Times New Roman and Wingdings?
-- Emerald (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 26, 2003.
Forgive the cut & paste, but:
Theologians divide law into two broad categories:
(1) Divine law This in turn is divided in to eternal law (God's reason and will), the natural law (the knowledge of good and evil written on every man's heart), and the divine-positive law (the Old and New Testaments).
(2) Human law, which is divided into ecclesiastical law and civil law.
(Church law, therefore, falls under the heading of human law.)
By definition all law is directed toward the common good. In the case of ecclesiastical law, says the theologian Merkelbach, the specific "common good" the Church intends is "the worship of God and the supernatural sanctification of men."1 This is the overall aim or goal of all the Church's laws.
When discussing the general principles of church law, moreover, all the great Catholic moral theologians and canonists stress that specific laws are supposed to work justice - not just legal justice (strict conformity to the letter of the law), but natural justice (what we truly have a moral right to do).
The great canonist Cicognani (later a Cardinal) therefore says that applying the law is "the art of all this is good and equitable." This art, he says, "ought to consist in a correction of the strict letter of law that works an injury, or when a positive human law is not in harmony with the principles of natural justice, or again when it is in itself so deficient that what is legally right becomes morally wrong."
Like other authors, Cicognani points out a problem: "A human lawgiver is never able to foresee all the individual cases to which a law will be applied. Consequently, a law, though just in general, may, taken literally, lead in some unforeseen cases to results which agree neither with the intent of the lawgiver nor with natural justice, but rather contravene them. In such cases the law must be expounded not according to its wording but according to the intent of the lawgiver and according to the principles of natural justice."
-- jake (email@example.com), February 26, 2003.
LOL, Emerald! ;-)
-- Christine L. :-) (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 26, 2003.
Such a situation is covered by the principle of " the lesser of two evils". When there is no possibility of making a morally good (or morally neutral) choice in a situation, and all possible choices available to you are morally negative, then you must choose the option which is the least evil of all possible choices. In the situation you described, there are two possible choices: (1) tell a lie; or (2) be responsible (even though indirectly) for the murders of innocent people. In such a case, lying is your moral obligation.
-- Paul (PaulCyp@cox.net), February 26, 2003.
The question is whether the authorities are incompetent but evil. Even the United States, a beacon of democracy and the rule of Law sometimes punishes those who tell the truth. How many people who entered the USA illegally from nations like Saudi Arabia, Iraq, ...and so on that were asked to report themselves are in danger of being deported for breaking their visa stay.
Lyng to protect yourself is common in the Bible. Abraham lied to Pharoah about Sarah, his wife. Moses lied to Pharoah about his real intentions, that is, to take the Israelites out of Egypt. David lied and pretended he was crazy to escape the Phillistines (Samuel Ch. 21).
I think the passage that really goes with your topic is this. It is in Chs. 21-22 of Samuel. The priestly family who supported him were executed by king Saul, even though they claimed they didn't know David was now an enemy of king Saul.
In conclusion: doing good has or could have a sever penalty against us by those in power. Lying is also permitted. I think the hardest part is cursing God to save yourself. I could save myself in this life, what about the other?
-- Elpidio Gonzalez (email@example.com), February 26, 2003.
OK, how about this situation, Say you are a DRE in some parish and you notice that there are many abuses going on: the priest is giving communion to protestants, openly practicing homosexual people, changing the words of the creed to female references, and other things. You write the bishop a letter and concerning these abuses and it gets back to the priest for whom you work that someone wrote a letter and the bishop wants the priest to get his act together.
If the priest asks the DRE if he or she sent the letter, is the DRE obliged to say "yes"?
-- James patrick (one @onesuite.com), February 27, 2003.
Did the DRE sign the letter or send it anonymously? (I assume the latter.)
Either way, since this isn't a matter of life or death, but of protecting yourself from criticism, I think you would have to tell the truth. If you are going to write something like that, you should be prepared to accept the consequences, however unpleasant.
-- Christine L. :-) (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 27, 2003.
What if the DRE looses her job? Why does she have to say "yes" to an authority which is harmful to the Church and may put in danger her family by firing her. I dissagree, I think that she doen't have to say the truth.
-- J.pat (email@example.com), February 27, 2003.
James P., what do you mean by DRE? I knew Dr. Dre = Andrew Young at Dominguesz High School in Compton in 1980. He was my friend for a while. He was normal then, before he joined the Wrecking Crew, which later became NWA, the "bad boys".
-- Elpidio Gonzalez (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 28, 2003.