Who’s converting whom?

Because the Church’s essential mission is calling people to conversion, to a change of mind and heart, a one-sided focus on “non-judgmentalism” tends to sap that mission.

(us.fotolia.com/ ZoneCreative)

Guillaume de Menthière is a French priest and theologian whose recent writings have focused on conversion, not in the sense of changing one’s religion but in turning from sin and to God which, when you consider it, are but two sides of the same coin.

He quotes the French poet Charles Péguy, who wrote: “In Christianity’s system, the saint extends a hand to the sinner. The one who doesn’t extend a hand is the one who isn’t Christian.” Péguy’s observation tallies with spiritual experience great and small, from de Menthière’s noting how a grandmother’s persistent prayers may have saved many a soul to the experience of mystics bearing vicarious sufferings on behalf of others who might otherwise break under temptation. Think Sr. Emanuela Kalb, a Kraków nun, describes in her writings how she agreed to bear the doubts of a young nun tempted to leave her order. Christ revealed to Kalb that the nun would be lost if she did. By bearing her doubts, the young nun stayed, but Kalb admitted the suffering she underwent on the other’s behalf was great.

“In Christianity’s system, the saint extends a hand to the sinner.”

How the Church “welcomes” people will be a major focus in the run up to this fall’s Synod on Synodality. I’ve previously written about what ecclesial “welcome” means: sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ that our broken humanity can be repaired by metanoia—changing one’s heart and mind, under the action of God’s grace—to give up our ways, truths, and lives in favor of His Way, Truth, and Life. That welcome reckons with humans’ basic flaw—sin—and offers the Good News of the Gospel about healing from sin. Healing from sin, of course, involves God’s grace to acknowledge, repent, and resolve to turn away from sin.

To do all that—to share that Good News of conversion and healing, to change one’s way of thinking and living, to “extend a hand to the sinner”—necessarily implies knowledge of two essential things: what is holy and what is sinful.

That’s conversion.

That’s how the Church has always understood conversion.

I fear that is not how many people are understanding it today.

Conversion as described above is hard. Modern, ersatz versions of conversion truncate that process by omitting essential elements. It’s been suggested that priests should absolve even if it’s unclear the sinner is repentant or acknowledges he’s sinned. We are told that “mercy” and “pastoral care” means ignoring practical application of hitherto normative Church teaching and practice, reducing them to aspirational goals which, through some form of magical pastoral clericalism, can be dispensed with in the lives of concrete people. We’re urged to “take people as they are” which, while true as a starting point, becomes false if we leave them there. (We Poles have a saying, tak mnie stworzyłeś, tak mnie masz—“that’s how you made me, that’s what you’ve got”—which is less a nostrum of “toleration” than an expression of sloth).

We’re told that identifying sin is itself “judgmental,” perhaps “unmerciful.” At a bare minimum, it’s “unwelcoming.”

The problem with false teaching is usually that there’s a kernel of truth to it. Something’s overstressed, something else is omitted.

Some might say that, in human life, saint and sinner are often not as starkly separate as perhaps a first reading of Péguy might suggest. In one sense, that’s true. But, in a more basic sense, it isn’t: sin, understood properly as to what it is in its true and proper vileness—mortal—cannot coexist with sanctity. That would be Lutheran simul justus et peccator, not Catholicism.

There is a qualitative difference between the state of grace and the state of sin, when we understand sin as mortal. Grace and venial sin can coexist, albeit in a competitive spiritual conflict; grace and mortal sin cannot. Churchmen’s disinclination to use those terms ill serves Catholics.

So, an awareness of life choices that sanctity entails or prohibits is not “judgmentalism.” Properly understood, it’s connaturality. That similarities attract and opposites repel is not just a law of magnetism: it is a basic law of the spiritual life, as St. Ignatius makes clear in his Exercises, relevant to discernment of spirits. The person living in a state of grace draws back from sin not because he is “judgmental” but because it is incompatible with his life. Likewise, the one who “dwells in darkness” (Jn 3:19-21) evades the light.

Because the Church’s essential mission is calling people to conversion, to a change of mind and heart, a one-sided focus on “non-judgmentalism” tends to sap that mission. The Church must welcome the sinner, but not the sin: an exaggerated focus on “welcome” or “non-judgmentalism” often conflates that distinction, at least by silence.

And, in that regard, a Church called to be a “church of mercy” cannot forget that among the classical “spiritual works of mercy” are “admonishing the sinner” and “counseling the doubtful.” With a humble awareness that we are all sinners, the call to “admonish” nevertheless cannot be passive or silent, because it will be unnoticed and ineffective. “Admonishing the sinner” need not and should not be condemnatory but it should make clear that what one is doing is incompatible with the name of Christian.

Consider Christ’s own teaching: start by correcting a brother with the discreetness of eye-to-eye encounter, but if that doesn’t work, multiply the witnesses. If that still doesn’t yield results, “treat them as you would a pagan or tax collector” (Mt 18:16-17). Even the Church’s Founder makes clear that, in view of the overarching call to conversion, there may be situations where someone’s behavior is so incompatible with that call as to “unwelcome” him. And should we treat Christ’s teaching as empty exhortation: there might be instances where we have to unwelcome somebody but, gee whiz, we really can’t imagine what they might be.

Likewise, one cannot “counsel the doubtful” if one is unsure what the Church teaches, even on such basic realities—like sex—that implicate everyday people’s everyday lives. To equivocate is not being “nonjudgmental.” It is leaving a brother in confusion, which is hardly merciful.

One other New Testament episode may be relevant to the ethos in which the upcoming Synod is occurring. In the lead up to the Synod, there is much talk about the “Spirit” leading (converting?) the Church in ways that, in some cases, arguably contradict the Church’s received teaching. We might profitably reflect on the situation Paul describes in First Corinthians, especially chapters 5-6.

Corinth was a port city, with the moral laxity associated with ports. Having been converted by Paul, the Corinthians took the notion of “freedom in the Spirit” exaggeratedly, believing their “spiritual freedom” raised them above the moral law. In I Cor 5:1, Paul attacks the Corinthian Christians for tolerating a man living in an incestuous union. Against their “freedom in the Spirit,” Paul responds by saying even pagans do not do such things. Not only does Paul ask why the Corinthians tolerate this situation, but he bluntly tells them “not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother or sister but is sexually immoral (or greedy, an idolater or slanderer or swindler)” (5:11). Paul takes this teaching to its logical end in chapter 6: he counsels this “non-inclusive” model of Church not out of “judgmentalism” but because it is incompatible with the Church’s mission: salvation (I Cor 6:10-11).

No doubt there will be those who will argue about what Paul meant specifically in that catalog but, of relevance to current synodal discussions, one cannot deny that his catalog explicitly includes four sex-related situations.

Christian “life in the Spirit” does not exempt one from the morality that governs that compositum humanum called man, who has one foot in the world of the spirit and the other firmly in the physical. We cannot pretend that spiritual discipleship is so much “above” or “deeper” than “mere” sexual morality, or that the Church’s sexual ethics are still in their infancy, as if an institution charged with leading people to salvation could stumble around on fundamental questions that have implicated people in their normal lives for every day of the past two millennia. The Church must and has taught in this area, and does so with authority.

And because this area so profoundly affects most people, it also is an area where the Church must proclaim a Gospel of conversion, a way of life that is distinctively Christian, normative, non-negotiable and, ultimately, keeping with man’s deepest dignity.

A one-sided emphasis on “non-judgmentalism” to the exclusion of the Gospel of conversion (which requires knowing what one needs to convert from as well as to) defeats that Gospel. It may yield a Church of Nice but not the Church that was mandated to teach and baptize all nations, challenging them with the Good News of salvation through conversion.

Indeed, that one-sided focus leads to problems we see in the various dialogues and syntheses leading to this fall’s Synod: there is a subtle shift from the Church as herald of conversion to the Church as object of conversion. No doubt proponents will speak of the Ecclesia semper reformanda and insist that the current process is just the latest step in that ongoing reform. Arguably, however, the Church’s reform must primarily occur in its members, who are called to an ever deeper holiness.

Today’s “reform” is different: it calls for reform of teaching, disciplines, and norms that previous generations recognized as the indices by which human reform was measured. This inversion poses an existential question for the Church, her identity, and mission, one which demands a clear answer: who’s supposed to be converting whom?

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About John M. Grondelski, Ph.D. 8 Articles
John M. Grondelski (Ph.D., Fordham) was former associate dean of the School of Theology, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey. He publishes regularly in the National Catholic Register and in theological journals. All views expressed herein are exclusively his own.


  1. More fundamental questions for discerning what mission is: Is it to build walls or to build bridges? Admonish, “repent” or greet, “welcome”? Grondelski here is showing he’s more of a wall builder favoring admonishment.

    • Oh, good grief. How about actually thinking with the mind of the Church? The mission is to proclaim the Gospel, which is rooted in Christ’s declaration: “Repent, the Kingdom of God is at hand!” All are welcome to respond; but repentance and conversion are essential, as Christ, His Apostles, and His Church teach. The language of “bridges” and “walls” is cute, but it’s not helpful many times because it’s clearly not about the essential Gospel message, but about changing Church teaching and manipulating perceptions.

      Some words to ponder:

      Jesus’ call to conversion and penance, like that of the prophets before him, does not aim first at outward works, “sackcloth and ashes,” fasting and mortification, but at the conversion of the heart, interior conversion. Without this, such penances remain sterile and false; however, interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance.

      Interior repentance is a radical reorientation of our whole life, a return, a conversion to God with all our heart, an end of sin, a turning away from evil, with repugnance toward the evil actions we have committed. At the same time it entails the desire and resolution to change one’s life, with hope in God’s mercy and trust in the help of his grace. This conversion of heart is accompanied by a salutary pain and sadness which the Fathers called animi cruciatus (affliction of spirit) and compunctio cordis (repentance of heart).

      The human heart is heavy and hardened. God must give man a new heart. Conversion is first of all a work of the grace of God who makes our hearts return to him: “Restore us to thyself, O LORD, that we may be restored!” God gives us the strength to begin anew. It is in discovering the greatness of God’s love that our heart is shaken by the horror and weight of sin and begins to fear offending God by sin and being separated from him. The human heart is converted by looking upon him whom our sins have pierced: “Let us fix our eyes on Christ’s blood and understand how precious it is to his Father, for, poured out for our salvation it has brought to the whole world the grace of repentance.”

      Since Easter, the Holy Spirit has proved “the world wrong about sin,” i.e., proved that the world has not believed in him whom the Father has sent. But this same Spirit who brings sin to light is also the Consoler who gives the human heart grace for repentance and conversion. (CCC, 1430-33)

      And, a brief note from John’s first epistle:

      Little children, let no one deceive you. He who does right is righteous, as he is righteous.

      He who commits sin is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.

      No one born of God commits sin; for God’s nature abides in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God.

      By this it may be seen who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not do right is not of God, nor he who does not love his brother.(1 Jn 3:7-10)

      • Excellent article and response to the bridges/walls post. As a first year high school Theology teacher, I have found my students are very familar with Christ’s first statement to Mary Magdalene about his non-condemnation of her. They are quite unfamilar with his admonition to her to go and sin no more.

      • Dr. Olsen: The commentator to whom you are responding demonstrates the rightness of Josef Pieper’s teaching. If a common understanding of the meaning of words can be destroyed, a culture will find its foundation crumbling beneath it. How terrifyingly lonely, the stuff of nightmares, is a world in which individual persons do not possess a common language.

    • Dear Ayala Agranat:

      Alas, Islam isolates itself. It builds walls that confine the Muslim. He will be ostracized or perhaps killed if he renounces Islam.

      People tend not to join Islam. Islam grows because of large families not because of its persuasiveness or declared peacefulness. People want to leave Islamic states because they want tranquility and to have a good living. Aside from oil rich Islamic states, who wants to emigrate to an Islamic country?

      Jesus Christ welcomes all Muslims. Come and explore for God of the Bible wants all men to be saved.

      John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

      Colossians 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

      Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

      Psalm 119:165 Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.

      John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

      God bless you as you consider these matters,


      • Corrections to Protestant Brian Young’s Declaration:

        From his woefully inadequate Protestant perspective, Brian writes:

        “Jesus Christ welcomes all Muslims. Come and explore for God of the Bible wants all men to be saved.”

        Correction: Jesus Christ welcomes all Muslims to give up their false beliefs and become members of His One True Church: the Catholic Church. He never invites people to come and explore as if they are shopping among many possibilities.

        God is not limited to simply being the God of the Bible, but Protestants use this phrase as part of their inane Sola Scriptura heresy. Moreover, all Protestant bibles leave out many things, and so their “God of the Bible” is an incomplete and inaccurate picture of God.

        Lastly, God offers salvation to all who follow Him on His terms, but Protestants like Brian insist on dictating to God how they will “follow” Him.

        • @DocVerit:

          Your response deserves a reply. We believe in God and when we need direction why not ask Him to show us the way? His words are trustworthy and if I can understand them others will have no difficulty.

          However, you may want to add essential points that you feel should be noted.

          Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

          John 16:13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.

          Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

          Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

          2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

          Romans 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

          Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

          God bless you,

          Brian Young

        • @DocVerit:

          Perhaps easier to break this up into two parts (at least for me).

          To consider the words of Jesus we must hear them. It may take a person time to reflect and contemplate what is being said. Yes, there are some “hard sayings” of Jesus, yet for us to understand we need to develop humility. It is something I struggle with, nevertheless the Holy Spirit abides with us. God not only saves us, He conforms into His image. Jesus invites us to come as He finds us and He is reliable and faithful to His word.

          Matthew 11:28-30 Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

          Titus 3:5 He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,

          Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,

          2 John 1:9 Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.

          God sets out works in advance for us to do so that we know we are in His will and be a blessing to others.The good works that we do, honour God and remind us He is with us. BXVI had comforting words on God’s grace and plan for the believers life!

          God bless you,

          Brian Young

    • Yo Ayala,
      Yea verily, in those final days it came to pass that all of the parables of Christ were edited to “bridge” into the postmodern and post-Christian world…

      The unrepentant (!) Prodigal Son invited his prostitute consorts into his father’s house for a barbecue.
      The wedding guest without a wedding garment (!), and who was cast out, was then “welcomed” from the periphery and blessed in the groupie marriage parody.
      The merciless millstone collar (!) was recalled to the factory and fragmented into party confetti.
      Then Magisterium itself (!) was wormholed into a parallel universe of pastoral anti-truth, especially the edited Familiaris Consortio (1981) and throw-away Veritatis Splendor (1993).
      The “hierarchical communion,” among bishops and the papacy (Lumen Gentium), was “converted” (!) into a synodal commune without walls (“a ‘change’, but not a ‘revolution’”!).
      And, the ninety-nine sheep (!), not in a synodal relationship, were fed to wolves in sheep’s clothing—whilst some of the shepherds frolicked elsewhere with the “lost” one-percent sheep, and the natural law and moral theology sheep-dipped under foot.

      And, any still walking the narrow road were derided as remnants of a “backward” era from before the wide-path freeway culture. And, as for BRIDGES, behold, Bobbleheads & Co. bought the Brooklyn Bridge for a dollar, or the price of a doughnut at a synodal “continental” breakfast…

      Butt, THEN the trumpet sounded, echoing Ezekiel Chapter 34:1-8, beginning: “And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! [e.g., think the mandatory German church tax] [….]”

      How, then, to “bridge” between mercy and truth, both?

    • Karl Barth once observed that the difference between Protestantism and Catholicism is the former is “either/or,” the latter “but/and.” Perhaps it’s a question of what kind of bridge you want to build. This New Jersey boy, from a state with lots of rivers and different means of transportation, is used to drawbridges: they turn and pivot, allowing or starting traffic. Historically, they were also protective: you pulled up the drawbridge because your home did not have an open door to everyone, friend and barbarian, whether in Hunnish skins or the sleek barbarians in Gucci shirts and power suits. My point is the Church stands for something: “welcome” starts from what the Church believes, not what reaction it might elicit from market testing.

    • Jesus welcomed, but on HIS terms. You’re welcome, but if the Eucharist is a “hard teaching,” well, He even asked the Twelve: “do you want to go, too?” You’re welcome, but if you want to be perfect, give away your riches and follow me: He lamented the rich young man’s leaving, but didn’t redefine perfection to “accompany” him at a higher poverty level. He welcomed the Samaritan Woman but didn’t acquiesce in her marital situation. He welcomed the woman caught in adultery, but made clear “do not sin any more.” Was Jesus building bridges or walls?

      • Dear Dr Grondelski:

        Thank you for these important reminders. We do well to consider them in our lives!

        You mention “the Eucharist is a “hard teaching,””. Yes, it has been perplexing for people over the centuries!

        In John 6:61- 64 Jesus speaks to the apostles. How do you read the verses?

        Blessings as you strive to serve the Lord and proclaim His majesty and grace,


        • Proudly Protestant Brian Young:

          In your message to Dr. Grondelski, you should have been forthcoming enough to point out how you do not follow Jesus on HIS terms as accurately set forth by Dr. Grondelski.

          You should have also honestly pointed out how you reject Catholic Church teaching on the Eucharist, and so you are among the perplexed people who do not follow the true teaching on the Eucharist.

          As he is a faithful Catholic, I am confident that Dr. Grondelski wisely reads the verses you ask him about in accordance with how Christ’s One True Church reads and also teaches about those verses as well as all other verses in legitimate Catholic bibles. Any biblical interpretation that does not square with Catholic teaching is simply wrong.

          May the Blessed Virgin Mary ask her Son to give you the grace needed to unharden your proud Protestant heart so you can fully serve Him as a member of His One and Only Church: the Catholic Church.

          • A man of Grondelski’s intellect and training would have no difficulty ascertaining what is between the lines!

            The point he raised invites elucidation. It would be educational to have his perspective. Hopefully time will allow a response

            God bless you.

    • Dear Ayala Agranat:

      There have been a number of responses in respect to your comments. It would be good to have your further perspective!

      Thank you for your earlier remarks.

      God bless you and yours,


      • This thread confirms not only the commenters’ – especially the author’s -favored side in the contrasting understanding of mission but also, if I may add, of differing church cultures: exclusion or inclusion; and in the light of Pope Francis’ preferred vision of the Church: fortress or (the Pope’s) field hospital.

        • This essay simply restates what the Catechism clearly expresses in its section on Christology:

          Everyone is called to enter the kingdom. First announced to the children of Israel, this messianic kingdom is intended to accept men of all nations.251 To enter it, one must first accept Jesus’ word …

          Jesus invites sinners to the table of the kingdom: “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” He invites them to that conversion without which one cannot enter the kingdom, but shows them in word and deed his Father’s boundless mercy for them and the vast “joy in heaven over one sinner who repents”. The supreme proof of his love will be the sacrifice of his own life “for the forgiveness of sins”.260

          546 Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic. (CCC 543, 545, 546)

          Do you believe in the necessity of conversion? Do you believe that Jesus asks us for a radical choice? Do you think that words are enough, or are deeds required?

        • Yes a “fortress” against what is not correct and a “field hospital” for those who long for Christ’s comfort and salvation.

          Psalm 144:2 He is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and he in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.

          Psalm 91:2I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

          John 8:32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

          Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

          Job 35:10-11 But none says, ‘Where is God my Maker, who gives songs in the night, who teaches us more than the beasts of the earth and makes us wiser than the birds of the heavens?’


        • I think your hard distinctions do disservice to the question. But if I have to comment on them, I must say I have little sympathy for Francis’s “field hospital,” because (1) REAL field hospitals do not lock their doors to patients in the middle of a battlefield, as the Church did for a year, with the Vatican enforcing distancing rules that were frankly ludicrous given its sovereignty and the interior space in St Peter’s Basilica; and (2) real field hospitals perform post-crisis critiques of their performance, whereas the Church has steadfastly refused to have anything like the freewheeling Synodal discussions when it comes to what bishops did during COVID. So, sorry, Francis’s 4077 M*A*S*H left a LOT to be desired.

    • Dear Ayala Agranat:

      As I reflect, I confused Ayala with Ayla which is a Muslim name. My apologies, yet it is hoped that the words “penned” to you will have an influence on a Muslim reading them!

      Once again, God bless you,


  2. We read: “We cannot pretend that spiritual discipleship is so much ‘above’ or ‘deeper’ than ‘mere’ sexual morality…”

    Indeed! Forget about the intramural adventurism of Germany’s der Synodal Weg. Already old hat! Now, non-judgmental accommodation of polygamy and open marriages, surely pastorally and only in rare cases (!), are just around the corner. A higher spirituality even beyond disembodied LGBTQ/gender theory!

    All it takes is a minority report or only a nuanced footnote under the now deconstructed/ polyglot synodal structure, in October 2023. Or a soapbox event outside on the sidewalk as Hans Kung orchestrated at Vatican II–the “spirit of the Council”. Under such disinterred Manichaeism, moral theology and innate natural law are being painted as a “backward” mindset.

    Where is St. Augustine when we need him?…Of his own self-divided moments before his conversion he confides to God:

    “…it is no monstrous thing partly to will a thing and partly not to will it, but it is a sickness in the mind. Although it is supported by truth, it does not wholly rise up, since it is heavily encumbered by habit. Therefore there are two wills, since one of them is not complete, and what is lacking in one of them is present in the other [….] Therefore [the whole will] is rent asunder by grievous hurt as long as it prefers the first because of its truth but does not put away the other because of habit” (Confessions, Bk 8, Chs 9, 10).

    Butt, no need in modern and synodal times to personally turn around, just “walk together” non-judgmentally!

  3. “I fear that is not how many people are understanding it today”. Grondelski’s fear, for many Catholics, some highly credentialed encompasses the Vatican. Francis insisting on radical inclusion. Radical because it logically follows contrary to the traditional norm of repentance.
    As warm, affable, lovable our Pontiff often appears [there’s also the unapologetic authoritarian, angry, insult hurling image], as often as he’s entirely orthodox – there’s the anomaly of blatant heterodoxy. What can, what must we make of it? Kindest, is the impression of his intent to soften doctrine somewhat for sake of becoming a warmer, sinner friendly Church. Darkest, is deception, that repentance is unnecessary, that, in his own words, “the only garment required for entry into the Church is faith”. That mercy is unconditional. If, as a relevant hypothetical, one were determined to supplant the intent of Christ in instituting the Church, with its commandments required for salvation would not this be the effective modus operandi for accomplishing it? For sake of a perceived greater good?
    Grondelski, I’m confident, is aware and says as much without naming. That’s understandable. Although, does such a form of messaging by Francis have appeal, leading many to surrender the traditional interpretation of Christ’s revelation to be understood as a new, epochal, revelation of God’s infinite merciful love?

  4. “With a humble awareness that we are all sinners”. A Protestant once told me this line. I invited the Protestant to go down to any Catholic Church on a Saturday afternoon, in order to see people with no sin on their souls walking out of a Catholic Confessional.

    Divine Mercy in My Soul, 1448
    Tell souls where they are to look for solace; that is, in the Tribunal of Mercy (the Sacrament of Reconciliation). There the greatest miracles take place (and) incessantly repeated. To avail oneself of this miracle, it is not necessary to go on a great pilgrimage or to carry out some external ceremony; it suffices to come with faith to the feet of My representative and to reveal to him one’s misery, and the miracle of Divine Mercy will be fully demonstrated. Were a soul like a decaying corpse so that from a human standpoint, there would be no (hope of) restoration and everything would already be lost, it is not so with God. The miracle of Divine Mercy restores that soul in full. Oh, how miserable are those who do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy! You will call out in vain, but it will be too late.

    Jesus has a solution for the prideful, arrogant, unrepentant wicked, who ‘do not take advantage of the miracle of God’s mercy’, and it is not to “build a bigger tent”.

    Divine Mercy in My Soul, 965
    Jesus looked at me and said, Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy. If they will not adore My mercy, they will perish for all eternity. Secretary of My mercy, write, tell souls about this great mercy of Mine, because the awful day, the day of My justice, is near.

    John 5:27
    “The Father has given over to him power to pass judgment because he is Son of Man; no need for you to be surprised at this, for an hour is coming in which all those in their tombs shall hear his voice and come forth. Those who have done right shall rise to live; the evildoers shall rise to be damned.”

    Revelation 22:12
    “Remember, I am coming soon! I bring with me the reward that will be given to each man as his conduct deserves. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End! Happy are they who wash their robes so as to have free access to the tree of life and enter the city through its gates Outside are the dogs and sorcerers, the fornicators and murderers, the idol-worshipers and all who love falsehood.”

    • Dear Steven:

      Sin. Problematic for mankind. Alas, even as i confess my sins, others soon pop into my mind! We have an intercessor in the Lord Jesus as well as the Holy Spirit. What an awesome God we serve.

      Ecclesiastes 7:20 Surely there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and never sins.

      Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

      Isaiah 53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

      1 John 1:8-10 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

      James 3:2 For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body.

      As I consider your work on CWR, it causes me to wonder if there is a filial connection with the able Thomas Merton? Perhaps you are nephew!

      God bless you and thanks for the Scriptural references you provide.


      • Revelation 7
        ‘Do not damage the land or the sea or the trees until we put the seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked from every tribe of the Israelites:…
        …Then one of the elders spoke up and said to me, ‘Who are these wearing white robes, and where did they come from’? I said to him, ‘My lord, you are the one who knows.’ He said to me, ‘These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’.

        John 20:20
        At the sight of the Lord the disciples rejoiced. “Peace be with you,” he said again. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive men’s sins, they are forgiven them; if you hold them bound, they are held bound.”

        Hello Brian,
        Only in the Catholic Church do we have Christ’s Power to bind and loost sins. You agree with this, right? Scripture indicates that Jesus will Rule on earth, with and through His Church, the Catholic Church, using the ‘Sword of Christ’s Mouth’, which is the ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ which is Jesus’ lips binding and loosting sins, which is the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation and Catholic Anathema. So, Archangel Michael’s, ‘Thrusting into hell’ all evil doers, would have to be Archangel Michael using Jesus’ lips binding to sin all evil doers, Catholic Anathema, to do so. The Revelation 10 Angel of the Apocalypse, reading the ‘small scroll’, is an Apostolic Successor, or Apostolic Successors, reading a list of Catholic Anathemas, which once read, enthrones Jesus as King and Ruler of the world. It is Catholic Apostolic Successors, putting Jesus Laws into enforcement on earth, using Jesus’ ‘Keys to the Kingdom’, which enthrones Jesus as King and Ruler of the world. Jesus will Rule on earth, with and through His Church, the Catholic Church, using the ‘Keys to the Kingdom’ which is Jesus’ lips binding and loosting sins on earth.

        So Brian, you can see where the Protestants are going to be in deep doo doo when Jesus Second Coming Comes, because they do not have any defense, of the Catholic Church absolving Protestants of their sins, ahead of the time of Christ’s Second Coming arrival? The Protestants’ whole defense structure is to carry their whole life’s sins with them into Judgement Day before Jesus, and then count on Jesus’ forgiveness, due to their having, ‘accepting Jesus as their personal Savior’. While Christ’s ‘Elect’ are going to be Catholics ‘washed in the blood of the Lamb’, through the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation, which is Jesus lips loosting Catholics of their sins, which puts Catholics in a State of Grace.

        Can you see how, Catholics ‘washed in the Blood of the Lamb’ through the Catholic Sacrament of Reconciliation, would see Protestants bearing their whole life’s sins on their souls, entering into Judgement Day before Jesus Christ, as a complete Spiritual Death catastrophe?

        Revelation 1:16
        A sharp, two-edged sword came out of his mouth, and his face shone like the sun at its brightest. When I caught sight of him I fell down at his feet as though dead, he touched me with his right hand and said: “There is nothing to fear. I am the First and the Last and the One who lives. Once I was dead but not I live– forever and ever. I hold the keys of death and the nether world.”

        Isaiah 11:4 The Rule of Immanuel.
        He shall strike the ruthless with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.

        JOB 4:9
        By the breath of God they perish, and by the blast of his wrath they are consumed.

        Revelation 19:15 The King of kings.
        Out of his mouth came a sharp sword for striking down the nations. He will shepherd them with an iron rod; it is he who will tread out in the winepress the blazing wrath of God the Almighty. A name was written on the part of the cloak that covered his thigh: “King of kings and Lord of lords.”

        Psalms 2:8
        Ask of me and I will give you the nations for an inheritance and the ends of the earth for your possessions. You shall rule them with an iron rod; you shall shatter them like an earthen dish.”

        Revelation 12:5
        She gave birth to a son–a boy destined to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod.

        Revelation 2:27
        He shall rule them with a rod of iron and shatter them like crockery; and I will give him the morning star.

        • Thank you Steven for taking the time to respond. You cover a lot of ground and for the agnostic, some of the verses you offer should give a fuller perspective. We never know who is reading and considering the words of the Lord that give life and hope! Continue to do so and share your testimony for it aids people.

          The binding and loosing will consequently be to established precepts that are in Holy Scripture. When we add or take away, we find ourselves rebuked and wandering sheep, so to speak. The Keys to the Kingdom are always according to Christ and must honour Him correspondingly.

          The fundamental question is who saves us! Are we relying on Christ and His work on the cross or do we bring our own inadequate self-righteousness into play? For me personally, it is my belief that the Lord has the ability and desire to save all believers completely and without spot or blemish. His work is the defining principle. What I bring is my belief and the confession of my sin. He is upright and I accept His atoning sacrifice on the cross for the remission of my sins. You know scripture, can you suggest anything that is contraindicated?

          The points you make are worthy of discussion and perhaps we can address them. However, it is easier to go one step at a time, at least for yours truly.

          Looking forward to your thoughts.



        • Thank you Steven for taking the time to respond. You cover a lot of ground and for the agnostic, some of the verses you offer should give a fuller perspective. We never know who is reading and considering the words of the Lord that give life and hope! Continue to do so and share your testimony for it aids people.

          The binding and loosing will consequently be to established precepts that are in Holy Scripture. When we add or take away, we find ourselves rebuked and wandering sheep, so to speak. The Keys to the Kingdom are always according to Christ and must honour Him correspondingly.

          The fundamental question is who saves us! Are we relying on Christ and His work on the cross or do we bring our own inadequate self-righteousness into play? For me personally, it is my belief that the Lord has the ability and desire to save all believers completely and without spot or blemish. His work is the defining principle. What I bring is my belief and the confession of sin. He is upright and I accept His atoning sacrifice on the cross for the remission of my sins. You know scripture, can you suggest anything that is contraindicated?

          The points you make are worthy of discussion and perhaps we can address them. However, it is easier to go one step at a time, at least for yours truly.

          Looking forward to your thoughts.



  5. Admonishing the sinner is the censure of vice which is a form of the virtue of vindication (i.e. punishment). And this is why both Jesus Christ and St. John the Baptist were murdered. Of course, such admonishment requires the ability to communicated (e.g. no blocking) and actual communications.

    However, nowadays, virtue is almost always punished while vice typically wins. While a person will likely not be put to death, he may find himself “unemployable” due to the malicious actions of “King Herods” (e.g. CEOs). As far as I can tell, refusing to hire someone unemployed under certain circumstances is on the scale of attempted murder (e.g. attempted starvation). And the evil is worse than an actual physical, violent attempt on the life of another, because it is pretty much totally unrecognized and/or not publicized.

    • Would John the Baptist find a welcome in the Catholic Church of Germany (even if he paid his Kirchensteuer)?

  6. I know of and often encounter fellow Catholics who stand for strict observance of the church’s moral teaching and demand this from others too. Meanwhile, these same persons ignore the demands of the church’s social teaching? I have the feeling that John Grondelski’s reasoning reinforces this stand for strict observance of the church’s moral teaching yet it encourages the disregard of its social teaching.

    • “… I have the feeling …”

      Is that an argument?

      I think you’re making assumptions and jumping to conclusions based on, well, emotions. Not good.

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