In the wake of the recent paedophile scandals affecting all Christian denominations, it has been disconcerting to read in letters to Catholic journals, and even hear from the pulpit, oblique references to "not casting the first stone", etc, and that we should exercise unconditional compassion and love towards these offenders, so as to practise "true" Christianity!
I feel that we have totally lost the plot here. There is a marked difference between committing a sin between two consenting adults (adultery) - to which Jesus was referring when He made that famous remark - and references to leading others astray (one in Matthew and one in Luke), which were about children, in particular.
Matthew's account (ch 18) reads: "Anyone who welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But anyone who is an obstacle to bring down one of these little ones who have faith in me would be better drowned in the depths of the sea with a great millstone around his neck. Alas for the world that there should be such obstacles! Obstacles indeed there must be, but alas for the man who provides them" (Jerusalem Bible).
Luke's account ( 17:1-3) reads: "He said to his disciples 'Obstacles are sure to come but alas for the one who provides them! It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone around his neck than that he should lead astray a single one of these little ones. Watch yourselves!'"
I find those two statements quite clear, every bit as clear in their context as the woman taken in adultery. Why then for the past 30 years or so have we become so paralysed with fear in mentioning this - or any of the other tough things that Jesus said? Have we totally convinced ourselves that He said nothing that might be offensive to our collectively delicate feelings?
What we can surely judge is a person's actions and if warranted he or she should answer for them to the religious, judicial and social authorities. With these words of Jesus in mind, only God knows all the secrets of the human heart. He, and He alone, is the judge of it.
MAUREEN FEDERICO (MRS)