Thursday, December 12, 2013

UPDATED: Is The Archdiocese of Toronto More Concerned About Saving Paper Than Saving Souls?

UPDATE: March 13, 2018

The Archdiocese is now promoting its Lenten Day of Confessions - March 11-17, 2018.  And once again, the analysis that appears in this posting from 2013 is 100% applicable.

Although concerns have been expressed a number of times to the Archdiocese, no reply has ever been received and no change made to its promotion of the event. The addition of one document, a more robust Exam of Conscience, to the Archdiocesan online presentation on the Sacrament would indicate an appropriate level of concern and responsibility, but remains omitted.  

UPDATE: November 20, 2015

It's that time of year. Although this posting is dated two years ago, the Archdiocese of Toronto is once again promoting its Day of Confessions, set for December 13-19. And once again, the analysis that appears in this posting from 2013 is 100% applicable.

Nowhere on the Archdiocesan site is there any indication whatsoever of the pervasiveness or dangers of contraception, listed as intrinsically evil behaviour (a mortal sin) in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, although the Archdiocese notes in its FAQ #17 the following:

17. If I forget to confess a mortal sin, is my confession still valid and my sins forgiven?  
Yes. If one through bad memory or nervousness forgets to confess a mortal sin, the person’s confession is valid and all his or her sins will be forgiven. The person should, however, mention that forgotten sin in the next confession to receive advice and a proper penance. If this is a routine occurrence, it is probably an indication that one is either confessing too infrequently or not fully aware of the true horror that is a mortal sin, because one should not forget mortal sins easily. If, on the other hand, a penitent deliberately refuses to mention a mortal sin in confession, none of the person’s sins will be forgiven, the person will remain in the dangerous state of mortal sin, and will be guilty of the additional sin of sacrilege. 
Think of it. It is common knowledge that up to 90% of Catholics dissent from the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Church and approve of artificial "birth control." Read the posting below and you tell me if the gymnastics in thought of the Archdiocese are anything short of hypocritical, even schizophrenic. Such is the reality of Canadian Catholicism, as advanced by pseudo-catholic Bishops, who must repent publicly or resign.


A Day of Confessions

Yesterday, the Archdiocese of Toronto held its Day of Confessions, tweeting out a link to its Facebook page. On the Facebook page I noticed a link to the Archdiocesan website page featuring full details of this very special event.

Reading through the questions on the FAQ page, I found them to be very well prepared and answered. I especially liked FAQ #10 and thought the question of mortal sin was handled exceptionally well:

10. What is a mortal sin?
A mortal sin involves an action whose object is grave matter that is committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent. Grave matter is generally understood to be something that violates the Ten Commandments. Full knowledge means that one is aware that God or the Church he founded considers the act sinful (even if one doesn’t totally understand why it is sinful). Deliberate consent means a consent sufficiently intentional to be a personal choice (CCC 1857-1859).

What I especially like about this answer was the clause in brackets, “even if one doesn’t totally understand why it is sinful”. In fact I tweeted out my enthusiasm:

Enthused about Mortal Sin?

Why would I be enthused about that clause? Because it co-opts the thinking that some Catholics use in order to excuse themselves or others when it comes to commission of mortal sin. How so? Often they will say (or imply) that, since mortal sin has three rather strict requirements, not many Catholics actually commit mortal sin, or, at least, it’s difficult for someone to commit mortal sin.

Consider the following definition of mortal sin and notice the difference. 

    Mortal sin is a sin of grave matter
    Mortal sin is committed with full knowledge of the sinner
    Mortal sin is committed with deliberate consent of the sinner

The stickler is the second clause. For example, in this instruction, we are told that, “The person must know that what they’re doing or planning to do is evil and immoral”. Examples are then given. But the bottom line is that this leaves quite a lot of room for the person evaluating his/her sin to say that they don’t believe (or understand) that what they’re doing is evil or immoral. Therefore that condition is not met and no mortal sin has been committed.

The guidelines provided by the Archdiocese of Toronto, rightly informed by Catholic teaching, have clarified the matter for Catholics. Full knowledge means that one is aware that God or the Church he founded considers the act sinful (even if one doesn’t totally understand why it is sinful). Bingo! So you don’t really have to totally understand why it’s sinful. You just have to know that God or the Church considers the act sinful. This is an awesome explanation, in full accord with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, but rarely expressed in such simple terms. After all, if you know that the Church considers the action sinful and, instead of bringing yourself up to speed on the nature of said sin and why it’s so awful, you decide to continue on in that sinful action, you have only yourself to blame for your stubbornness.

So where did these guidelines come from?

At the bottom of the webpage listing these guidelines to Confession I noticed the following statement:
"These materials have been adapted from the Diocese of Fall River’s “Be Reconciled to God” Initiative in 2009, with permission of Fr. Roger Landry."
So I went on over to the Diocese of Fall River to take a look. Apparently they hosted a similar day at their Diocese and named it “Reconciliation Weekend”. There I saw the master copy of the FAQ About Confession and, sure enough, the info on the Archdiocese of Toronto site is practically identical. The Diocese of Fall River also offered an Adult Exam of Conscience, which is a two page pamphlet and an excellent survey to prepare oneself for Confession. It references not only a general statement of the meaning of each of the Ten Commandments, but explores specific applications of each Commandment from Church teaching. This little pamphlet is a great expression of the various considerations to be included in a proper Examination of Conscience (subject of which was covered by the Archdiocese of Toronto in its FAQ #5).

Archdiocese of Toronto dilutes Exam of Conscience

Whereas the Diocese of Fall River chose to provide a comprehensive guide to permit the parishioner’s examination of conscience, the Archdiocese of Toronto provided a much reduced version which was centred very briefly on the general meaning of each of the Ten Commandments. Two examples dealing with comparable passages will suffice to demonstrate the huge gap in education between the two:

Fall River document:

"Remember to keep holy the Sabbath Day." (Ex 20:8)
Did I miss Mass on Sunday or a Holy Day of Obligation through my own fault?
Have I fully, consciously and actively participated in Holy Mass or just gone through the motions?
Have I given my full attention to the Word of God or have I given in easily to distractions?
Have I arrived at Mass late due to carelessness?
Have I left early without a serious reason?
Have I kept the Eucharistic fast before Holy Mass?
Have I received Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin?
Did I do work on Sunday that was not necessary?
Have I used Sunday just as part of the “weekend” or as a day for acts of love toward God, my family and those in need?

Archdiocese of Toronto document:

Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day.
Do I go to Mass every Sunday (or Saturday Vigil) and on Holy Days of Obligation (Jan. 1; Dec. 25)? Do I avoid, when possible, work that impedes worship to God, joy for the Lord’s Day, and proper relaxation of mind and body? Do I look for ways to spend time with family or in service on Sunday?

Fall River document:

"You shall not commit adultery." (Ex 20:14)
"You shall not covet your neighbor's wife." (Ex 20:17)
Have I remembered that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?
Did I willfully entertain impure thoughts or desires?
Did I deliberately look at impure TV programs, computer sites, videos, pictures, or movies?
Did I commit impure acts with myself (masturbation) or with others through adultery (sex with a married person), fornication (premarital sex) or homosexual activity?
Have I been faithful to my husband or wife in my heart and in my conduct with others?
Have I sinned through the use of contraception, contraceptive sterilization, or in-vitro fertilization?
Have I touched or kissed another person in a lustful way? Have I treated others, in my deeds or thoughts, as objects?
Have I been an occasion of sin for others by acting or dressing immodestly?
Am I married according to the laws of the Church?
Did I advise or encourage anyone to marry outside the Church?

Archdiocese of Toronto document:

You shall not commit adultery.
Have I respected the physical and sexual dignity of others and of myself?

You shall not covet your neighbour’s spouse.
Have I honored my spouse with my full affection and exclusive love?

Why point out these differences?

It is important to ask a few questions after observing the contrast in information provided by these two dioceses.

First, if the Archdiocese of Toronto wants to help souls find forgiveness and reconciliation with God, it is vitally important to provide sufficient information by which to arrive at a conclusion about one’s sin (or lack of). It is commendable that the Archdiocese sponsored such a special event in order to call people back to God through Confession. However, the Examination of Conscience is a decisive factor in determining whether a Catholic leaves the confessional with all sins confessed, and, more importantly, in the case of mortal sin, whether he/she leaves in a spiritually safe and secure condition. If, through laxity, routine, or indifference, a soul fails to account for mortal sin present in their life, repentance is doubtful and the absolution given is not sufficient for forgiveness. See FAQ #17 to evaluate the risks. That penitent remains in very serious danger indeed. To illustrate my point, when I first heard of the Day of Confession on Twitter I immediately had a concern for the 82% of Catholics who take issue with the Church on contraception. Here’s what I tweeted:

Secondly, there is a crisis today in our society in relation to sexual sin and impurity in general. Catholic leaders are often criticized for their lack of attention to this devastating reality. Why not take a direct approach to helping souls deal with these sins by way of a detailed Examination of Conscience such as the Diocese of Fall River provided? Why dilute the examination to vague generalities which really leave people guessing and still paralyzed by the contamination which invades their thinking from the world, the flesh and the devil? Be direct, be specific, suggest possibilities. In particular, Toronto Catholics were denied consideration of at least two grave and pervasive sins which drag down their souls in today's society: "Have I sinned through use of contraceptives?" and "Have I received Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin?"  I tweeted my concern to the Archdiocese:

Their response?

This is quite a ridiculous answer in my opinion. Is the Archdiocese trying to conserve paper? Are they trying to keep to a certain small size of brochure that they pass out to parishioners? I thought the goal was to get souls to the confessional and to God and to do it in the most effective, soul cleansing, God glorifying way. Curtailing the examination of conscience is not the way, for reasons cited! The size of a brochure will obviously be a consideration but whether there’s an additional column or two (or three!) is hardly going to make a significant difference. I couldn’t help but tweet back:

After all, even if the Archdiocese had a shortage of paper, they could have published the comprehensive format of the Fall River Examination on their website for all to read, couldn’t they? But they didn’t. Also, it’s worth noting that the Fall River Diocese didn’t even offer a diluted version of the Exam. Obviously it didn’t make sense to them to offer a "fast and easy" guide.

I never got a reply back from my last tweet to the Archdiocese.

Why do I bother?

It’s not too difficult to see that my blog focuses on abortion and what I consider to be its root causes. I have pointed out many times that Catholic Bishops, especially, have neglected to properly teach and warn the souls under their charge in regard to keeping themselves pure before the Lord. The sins of contraception and sacrilege are rife among Catholics and contraception is the evil twin of abortion. The failure of Bishops to address this crisis is what fuels the abortion holocaust. If the Bishops wish to move beyond the very serious charges levelled against them they must take clear decisive action. 

In light of the Day of Confessions at the Archdiocese of Toronto, I believe there is serious room for a charge against the Archbishop of failing in his duty to rescue the thousands of Catholics in Toronto who might have availed of the event, attended confession, and walked away with absolution only to resume an objectively evil practice in short order. And of course the risk of sacrilege in partaking of the Eucharist while in that state of mortal sin is very real. Keep in mind that depending on the poll taken, a HUGE proportion of Catholics openly dissent from Church teaching on contraception. (50% or more are in support of some degree of legal permission for abortion!!) Don’t these staggering numbers warrant serious steps be taken to defeat this evil?

I say the Archbishop of Toronto, Defender of the Faith and Guardian of the Moral Law for Toronto, failed to do his complete duty in planning for the Day of Confessions. And, in all likelihood, souls will be lost to Hell because of it. And the killing of precious nascent human life in Canada has not been stemmed.   

P.S. Is the Blog page of the Archdiocese any indication of the emphasis that the Archbishop places on a right Catholic understanding of the grave sin of contraception? Out of over 500 blog postings and 590,000 page views, only one article in 2008 on Humanae Vitae, and that was not an article with a prominent Toronto Catholic’s name attached. It was a reprint from an article in the Irish Independent. What lost opportunities to help cleanse the Catholic soul of an insidious evil.

P.P.S. I blogged previously about some of Archbishop Collins' statements and activities. You might find them somewhat relevant to this post. 

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