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Lying liars who lie lie lie – UPDATED June 1, 2012

Posted by Tantumblogo in Abortion, Basics, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, persecution, religious, Saints, scandals, Society, Virtue.

I have seen that some Catholics in the blogosphere are again exercised over Live Action’s undercover expose techniques with respect to Planned Parenthood.  Some, including Pope Shea, are really going ballistic, claiming that not only Live Action, but even those who support them or give encouragement to their actions, are the worst of sinners (literally, he made comparisons to torturers and various totalitarian dictators), if not actually excommunicate.  Go figure.  But the truth is, having read through the current Catechism, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, and a few other sources, it is true that Live Action is engaging in a subterfuge that is, most probably, sinful to some degree.

But I can’t condemn it.  Just as I can’t condemn most of the 40 Martyrs of England and Wales, who did the

St. Robert Southwell

exact same thing that Live Action is doing.  Most of these martyrs – from St. Edmund Campion to St. Ralph Sherwin and St. Robert Southwell and  many more – were either clandestine Catholics in England or converted, who then fled to France, went to Douai College in Reims where they were trained to be Jesuit priests, and then re-entered England under assumed identities in order to support and sustain the still many faithful Catholics in Elizabethan England.  Thus, to the Elizabethen authorities, and especially the truly Machavellian William Cecil and his secret police, these priests had to lie about who they were and what they were doing, in just the same manner that Live Action is lying about its activities to Planned Barrenhood.  I have not noted any condemnations of these subterfuges engaged in by these many priests and others who tried to support and sustain the Faith under a horrific persecution in England. 

St. Edmund Campion

In more modern times, Jesuits and others did the same in Communist and Czarist Russia.  Again, these priests had to hide their identities, lie to the authorities about who they were and what they were doing, in order to be able to carry out their mission.  Servant of God Walter Ciszek, of With God in Russia and He Leadeth Me fame, did all the above, and is up for canonization.  Many of the priests of the persecution during the Cristiada in Mexico also engaged in subterfuge and used false identities in order to carry out their apostolate.

The point being, there seems to be some leeway given in the Magisterium or mind of the Church, if you will, with regard to this kind of subterfuge for certain purposes.  Does this only apply in times of speciric, anti-Catholic persecution?  I suppose one could argue that the Church is being persecuted now, and that in fighting Planned Barrenhood, Live Action is dealing with life and death issues.  Some might say that the priests and others in the persecutions above had no choice – it was impossible to conduct their mission in any other way.  But how else can Live Action expose the real, day to day evil of Planned Barrenhood?  Just waltz in, say, “Hi, we’re doing an undercover sting to try to discredit your organization, won’t you please cooperate and operate as if we were just a regular customer?” Please.

 To me, this issue really comes down to the Live Action actors and their confessors, and I pray they have very good ones.  It could even involve the responsible bishop, should Live Action or the bishop choose to involve the Magisterium at that level.  So while there are many scandals afflicting the Church that deserve and even demand coverage and discussion, I don’t feel that the actions of Live Action rise to the level of condemnation.  I guess the issue for me is…….please explain how what Live Action is doing is different from what the martyrs and others did above.  If someone can show a concrete difference, I might change my mind.


UPDATE: Dr. Jeff Mirus, with whom I sometimes disagree, appears to be on roughly the same page as I.  I also received some confirmation from a priest whose opinion I value greatly, offline.  Mirus said this:

I wanted to add another vote of confidence for those who are working so hard to expose Planned Parenthood, [he refers here to Live Action] but that would have involved a careful critique of the incomplete treatment of lying in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and a reminder that catechisms are conveniences, not definitive statements of the Magisterium.

Thank you.  The Catechism, any catechism, no matter how good, no matter produced by whom, cannot contain all aspects of this magnificent, glorious, simple Faith of ours.  Our Faith is very simple, but humans are very complex, and our behaviors and interactions cause an infinite variety of circumstances which cannot be addressed in any one book – even a book 1000+ pages long.  For that, we have to turn to Tradition, Scripture, and the Magisterium in toto, which is why I made the reference to the involvement of the local bishop above.


1. Raul De La Garza III (@raul_delagarza) - June 5, 2012

It still seems to me that what LA is doing is more in the area of ‘doing evil that good may come of it.’ There are other methods that can be employed here to end abortion than those tainted with sinful behavior. At least in the examples you noted, those folks had recourse to no other action and were, like the early Christians in Rome, forced to go underground or even more recently, like my brothers in sisters in Mexico in the 1920s. Were they sinning by hiding their identities from the government? Certainly. However, those in this latter category certainly had far less culpability attached to their subversive activities than those in the former can claim.

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