“My concern, in writing the “Toying with Evil” piece was to say that, for Catholics, it is forbidden to do evil that good may come of it. This elementary moral teaching is what undergirds Paul’s thinking in Romans 3:8 and it remains an elementary teaching today. And that means, when the Church says “X is intrinsically immoral” our job as Catholics is to see that we bloody well do not make excuses for X.
In short, when the Church says “This is evil” the mind docile to the Church’s teaching says, “Okay, how do I avoid that evil?” The mind looking for legalistic loopholes and a Minimum Daily Adult Requirement standard of obedience says, “Okay, then how do I tiptoe right up to the line of doing evil, but not step over it? How do I figure out a way to say the Church isn’t really saying what it is obviously saying?” It is a question asked by randy teenagers, children trying to steal from cookie jars, and people attempting to figure out just how much suffering they can inflict on somebody before it technically is called torture, or people trying to figure out a way to prove that the Church can’t really have said that torture is intrinsically immoral. It is not a question asked by people who are want to know “How do we treat our prisoner justly and humanely?”
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In short, sin has consequences and virtue has actual rewards. Deliberately embracing what the Church warns is an intrinsic moral evil, particularly when you’ve been warned repeatedly that it is, indeed, an intrinsic moral evil has heavier consequences. That’s not me talking. That’s Christ. The servant who does not know his master’s will and does not do it will be beaten with few blows. The servant who knows his master’s will and does not do it will be beaten with many blows. The larger culture may not know that torture is wrong anymore, blinded as it is by the dictatorship of relativism and Bush agitprop for torture. But we Catholics have no excuse. Nor do we have an excuse for disobey the demand of the Church that prisoners be treated humanely. All we have is the assurance of Christ that if we try to obey him, we shall be rewarded. I don’t know if we will be rewarded in this life. The fear of course, is that we shall doom ourselves to extinction if we do not become as brutal as our enemy. But I cannot avoid the conviction that this is a lie of the Enemy of our souls and that God will hardly permit the extermination of the Church that is trying to obey him. But whether we lose or win temporally, I believe we shall surely win eternally if we try to obey him in this life. And that means, as a bare minimum, treating prisoners humanely.”