Most non-Catholics will take up the fashionable cry, “Who are you to judge?!” whenever anyone disapproves of anything these days. If the prevailing philosophy in our society is relativism, then “Who are you to judge?!” is the logical response to make. If there is no such thing as truth then there is no such thing as right or wrong. If there is no such thing as right or wrong, then we may do as we like and you are not to judge me and I am not to judge you. Live and let live.
Catholics insist that we can make judgements. We make an objective judgement about an action but we do not make a judgement on the person or on the eternal destiny of their soul.
This is the distinction that many secularists and Protestants fail to make. They think that if you judge an action to be wrong, that you must therefore judge the person, condemn the person, isolate and finally eliminate the person.
Catholics should be able, however to step back from judging the person and separate out the action from the individual.
Consequently, Catholics are able to make judgements about much more thorny moral issues with objectivity and a shrug of the shoulders because while we judge an action we do not judge the person’s guilt. We do not make a definitive judgement on the person’s guilt because we do not know al the circumstances and motivation.
Most non-Catholics do not understand these distinctions and therefore misunderstand Catholic judgements in two destructive and opposite ways.
Firstly, when they hear us make a judgment about the objective right-ness or wrong-ness of an action they think we are making a judgement on the culpability of the person, and not just the person’s culpability, but also their worth as a person, whether they are a nice person or not or whether we like them or not. So if I say, “Living together before marriage is wrong.” All they hear is a personal judgement and rejection of the person. No matter how much I make the statement objective and non judgmental they hear otherwise.
Secondly, when we do not make a judgement of the person they accept it as condoning the action–which we might very well wish to condemn. So when Pope Francis rightly said he did not judge the gay person the world heard him saying that he did not condemn homosexual actions. Wrong response. He was simply being Catholic in not judging the gay person’s culpability, but if anyone had said, “So Hoy Father does that mean you approve of gay sex?” He would have immediately corrected them.
So can we judge? Yes. We can judge whether an action is objectively right or wrong. We do so not out of our own personal opinion, but based on natural law and divine revelation.
Do we judge the guilt of the person, rejecting or accepting them because of their decision? No. That’s not for us to do either in this world or in the next.
God’s the judge.
Read his entire piece. It's beautiful stuff. Enlightening stuff.
Stuff that ought to be inwardly digested by every thinking and sincere believer yet likely to be ignored by every non-thinking relativist... and sadly, lots of folks who are simply misinformed and care little about changing that state.
Pass it on. Do a good deed.