Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago is all for clarity. It has been a consistent theme, as when in September of 2017 he issued a decree banning guns in all parishes, schools and other facilities across the archdiocese “so there would be absolute clarity on our position.” His official statement put “clarity” in italics. When he was bishop of Rapid City, he called for “civility and clarity” in discussing legislation that would limit abortion, but he was somewhat unclear in explaining that the law “must recognize both the suffering of the unborn children in abortion and the suffering of the pregnant women in dire circumstances.” The bill was defeated 55 percent to 45 percent. As bishop of Spokane, he spoke clearly in prohibiting the use of the traditional Latin liturgical books in the Paschal Triduum. He made very clear his disapproval of seminarians and priests demonstrating against Planned Parenthood: “Decisions about abortion are not usually made in front of clinics.” In 2012, his pastoral letter on a state referendum to legalize same-sex “marriage” said: “I also want to be very clear that in stating our position the Catholic Church has no tolerance for the misuse of this moment to incite hostility towards homosexual persons or promote an agenda that is hateful and disrespectful of their human dignity.”

Clarity requires effort because it requires honesty, which can be a costly commodity. So George Orwell said: “The great enemy of clear language is insincerity. When there is a gap between one’s real and one’s declared aims, one turns as it were instinctively to long words and exhausted idioms, like a cuttlefish spurting out ink.” Clear expression issues from clear thinking, which in turn requires conforming thought to reality. This was a primary concern of the Master in his holy agony, for he prayed to the Father that his Church never fudge the truth: “Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth” (John 17:17).

The Superior of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, seems wary about the unclear tenor of Christ’s teaching about marriage (Matt. 19: 3-9), because “no one had a recorder to take down his words.” Consequently, what Christ said must be “contextualized,” because human reality “is much more nuanced” and “never black and white.” Jesus did say, without the benefit of recorders other than the Evangelists: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). There is nothing nuanced about that, but Jesus was not a member of the Society of Jesus.

Read more at Crisis Magazine.