A soul complained to me recently of my “dialectical thinking” on the Pope’s Motu Proprio of July 7, meaning no doubt that I was going backwards and forwards in a confusing way. I replied that what I had said was surely just an application of an old Catholic principle memorably formulated by St. Augustine many centuries ago: “Slay the errors, love the people erring.”
This is because God is Truth, so there is no way that untruth, or error, can get a soul into his Heaven. As error, or false doctrine, leads to sin, so only truth can lead to God. If then I wish to get to Heaven and to help other souls to get there, I must be strict on Catholic doctrine. Many people do not know its truth, but it is knowable (this is what liberals deny), and it is known. For my own salvation and theirs, I must tell it to them without watering or softening it down.
On the other hand I am (in varying degrees) bound in charity to wish to all souls that they get to Heaven, and this is the purpose of telling them the truth. Therefore I will not tell it when telling it will only help them to Hell – Jesus was silent before Herod, and fell silent before Pilate. I may and must, according to circumstances, “temper the wind to the shorn lamb.” I must love both the truth and souls. So I must “Slay error but love those erring.”
In fact the more I love the truth, the more – and not the less – I can afford to have compassion for souls. The more firmly I am attached to the tree on the bank, the more safely I can reach out to souls drowning mid-stream. But woe to me reaching out if I am not firmly attached! Lack of doctrine is why liberals also lack true charity.
Thus the doctrine of Benedict XVI in his Motu Proprio and its accompanying Letter to the Bishops is a confused and confusing mixture of Catholicism and Vatican II, and I cannot cease highlighting the error of that Council’s attempting to reconcile the true Faith with the false modern world. On the other hand the so-called “Tridentine Mass” is loaded with Catholic doctrine, so I can only rejoice that the Motu Proprio both recognizes that it was never properly suppressed and grants a certain freedom to priests to celebrate it. “In the land of the blind” where even “the one-eyed is king,” that recognition and even limited grant are surely major steps forward.