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‘I was raised in a Catholicism which was deeply moral. It took commitment seriously and called sin sin. It was, on most moral issues, brutally uncompromising. It asked you not to betray, not to sin, not to make mistakes. I have no regrets about that. In fact, I feel pain for so many today that are being raised in a moral relativism which excuses too much and challenges too little. However, if the Catholicism that I was raised in had a fault, and it did, it was precisely that it did not allow for mistakes. It demanded that you get it right the first time. There was supposed to be no need for a second chance.

I have seen that mark in all kinds of people: divorcees, ex-priests, ex-religious, people who have had abortions, married people who have had affairs, people who have had children outside of marriage, parents who have made serious mistakes with their children, and countless others who have made serious mistakes. There is too little around to help them. We need a theology of brokenness.

We need a theology that teaches us that God does not just give us one chance, but that every time we close a door, God opens another one for us. We need a theology that challenges us not to make mistakes, that takes sin seriously, but which tells us that when we do sin, when we do make mistakes, we are given the chance to take our place among the broken, among those whose lives are not perfect, the loved sinners, those for whom Christ came. We need a theology which tells us that a second, third, fourth, and fifth chance are just as valid as the first one. We need a theology that tells us that mistakes are not forever, that they are not even for a lifetime. Finally, we need a theology which teaches us that God loves us as sinners and that the task of Christianity is not to teach us how to live, but to teach us how to live again, and again, and again’.

Fr Ronald Rolheiser OMI


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