A curious lacuna in ‘Misericordiae vultus’, the Bull for the Holy Year of Mercy

From a reader…


Today I was reading Misericordiae vultus and noticed that, in section 15 on the Works of Mercy, [Pope Francis] gives both full lists of 7 works, and then goes on to expand on all 7 of the Corporal Works but only 6 of the Spiritual.

The Spiritual Work he doesn’t expand on is “admonish the sinner.”

I’ve checked the English, Latin, Spanish, and Italian versions online to make sure one clause didn’t just drop out accidentally. Not there in any of them.

Thoughts on this?

Sure.  I have thoughts about this.  But I can only speculate.

It’s a no brainer, for a Year of Mercy, to urge people to practice the all the Corporal and all the Spiritual Works of Mercy.  All of them, and not just the easy ones.  Right?

Perhaps someone should ask Fr. Lombardi.

The moderation queue is ON.

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  1. Joseph-Mary says:

    Well, admonishing the sinner is not easy. Especially in this “politically correct” age of ‘do not judge’ and always ‘tolerate’ where we have lost what the true meaning of tolerance is and it is not to conform or accept bad or immoral behaviors as if they are fine or normal. Sin is still sin. At times it is the greatest love and mercy to point some things our as there are many who do not really know right from wrong these days especially if no one mentions it or always goes along with it. Many parents allow their child to sleep with a girl or boyfriend in their home for example and the young people just know everyone does it so it must be okay. Admonishing must always be done with the good of the soul in mind and with as much charity as possible. The “Traditional Catholic Priest” is in Mexico and writing about how he is pointing out to women about their immodest dress and letting people know about the situations in their lives that are not pleasing to God. No one else is ever telling them so they have the chance to change and so please God.

    Msgr. Pope had a good article on pleasing the sinner the other day and I recommend it:

    Ave Maria!

  2. Jared Clark says:

    Surely it’s better to instruct the faithful on how to admonish than to ignore the topic entirely?

    [To be fair, he did not ignore the topic entirely. He mentioned it as one of the Spiritual Works, but he didn’t elaborate on it.]

  3. cyrillist says:

    Whoa. Every time I think, “That’s the last straw!”… another straw comes along.

    Consistent prayers for our Holy Father, leader of the Church during one of the most perilous times in history.

  4. RJHighland says:

    Predictable really, sad omission by our Supreme Pontiff but no surprise. It is kind of like priests saying that there is no need any longer to say the St. Michael’s prayer after mass, not saying the rosary before mass, the removal of the prayers before the altar at the begining of mass in the new order, removing the tabernacle from the altar, not kneeling and recieving on the tongue or the many other forms of worship that are deemed out dated by the modern church. The good old misinterpretation of “Judge not least ye be judged”. If you admonish a sinner you are judging can’t do that anymore not in the new order. Peace, Love no judgement, no need for confession, you just do what you like, believe what you want and ignore the rest.

  5. Legisperitus says:

    In fact, if I’m remembering correctly, “admonish the sinner” is usually the first one listed in the spiritual works of mercy.

  6. Rachel Pineda says:

    It seems -through my narrow and clouded lens- that perhaps this spiritual work of mercy has fallen out of fashion and/or is severely misunderstood because in order to admonish the sinner, solely out of love for God and one’s neighbor, a person has to be able to sincerely look inside themselves and see their own faults. It is very uncomfortable to admonish the sinner but who should it be more uncomfortable for? Or really, what type of discomfort is good and the other bad? Some people may be hesitant to admonish the sinner knowing full well they are sinners themselves but afraid that this fact will be thrown in their face and that is usually what is done. I think the reaction to being admonished should be one of gratitude and compassion for the one who admonishes out of pure charity. Also it is not really for the admonished person to judge whether the admonish is acting out of sincerity because the real question is whether they are truly at fault. It’s one thing if people are following each other around looking for their brother to stumble and “admonishing” them left and right. It’s another when a person is faced with the uncomfortable fact that they have the duty before God to say or do something that shows their brother they are in danger. How does admonishing the sinner help when hardly anyone thinks they are a sinner? Or they admit they are a sinner in an insincere way? I too would like to hear the Holy Fathers thoughts on all of the works of mercy.

    Why would this be left out? Surely it has to be a mistake as it is very important.

  7. Grumpy Beggar says:

    I’m wondering if perhaps people today have come to think that the word admonish’s meaning has been reduced to connote to give someone **** , or something of that ilk . Maybe that’s what they’re afraid of, so they steer clear of it.

    I dug out an older Oxford dictionary that used to belong to my mother , so we could have a nice objective look at the meaning of the word admonish.

    From The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English, Fifth Edition [third 1969 printing]:

    admonish v.t. Exhort (person to do , that he should do); give advice, warn (of a thing); inform, remind (of a thing, that)

    What’s so scary about that ? . . . Sounds like something a very loving parent would do.

  8. pseudomodo says:

    There is a theological adage that in God, Justice and Mercy are wonderfully intermixed. Remove one of these and it is a disaster.

  9. Chrisc says:

    Its not as if Pope Francis doesn’t like admonishing (certain kinds of) sinners……so we know its not that he thinks it to be unimportant. At least there is that.

  10. kekeak2008 says:

    I find it terribly important that no amplification was given for that Work of Mercy. I have a sneaking suspicion that most Catholics, have trouble with this particular work. I myself find it hard sometimes to admonish a sinner than I know, lest I offend or otherwise annoy said sinner. And more often than not it’s terribly uncomfortable. Some words of encouragement or advice from the Holy Father about this particular work would have really been appreciated. It’s unfortunate. [It may be the hardest of the Works to do well and without pride.]

  11. Supertradmum says:

    I write about this all the time on my blog under the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

    An admonishment saved me.

    Story time: back in 1971, the year I graduated from college, in early October, I sought out a nun, who had been one of my theology teachers in college. For about 18 months, I had been a brat-agnostic, Marxist, heading for the Hillary route by being involved in community action and campus politics. I had been approached by the lawyers of the Chicago 8 to work with them, but had the grace to refuse. Having set aside my Faith, and no longer believing that Jesus was Lord, I became suicidal from months of being away from God. Seeking refuge out of desperation in the retreat house my friend nun ran, (I had learned Ignatian Spirituality from her, and thrown it all out), I told her I was going to shoot myself. This nun looked hard at me and said, “You may as well kill yourself as you are spiritually dead.”

    I knew she was correct. If I died then, I would go to hell.

    She added, “There is a priest downstairs and I shall tell him you are coming down to make your confession.” She left. I sat on the side of the bed in the retreat room knowing it was decision time. I stood up, and decided to go downstairs. I hardly made the decision. It was only a decision of going downstairs, not of perfect contrition. I had been admonished.

    When I stood up, walking to the top of a great set of stairs in this old, grand house, (it no longer exists), I felt a wind at my back and I was virtually carried down the stairs. In seconds, I was making a general confession amidst great tears of sorrow and relief. Then, Christ entered the room, but I was too ashamed to look at Him. I saw His Feet with the wounds of the nails. He spoke to me and said, “Never doubt that I Am God.” To this day, with the grace of God, I have not.

    This nun had the courage to speak the truth to a sinful apostate. Her honesty brought me back to life in Christ and a real appropriation of my adult Faith. What I found out later, is that she had gathered all the, unknown to me, retreatants in the center, and they were in the next room praying for me.

    I admonish sinners. I am not afraid to do so. There is not enough truth in this world and we must save souls, just as Sr. Elizabeth brought about the salvation of my lost soul. May her soul rest in peace and may my conversion and few merits, as well as her own, gain her everlasting life. I am eternally grateful to this nun.

  12. comedyeye says:

    Nice catch, Fr Z! [As you can see from the post, it wasn’t my catch.]
    This is the thing with Pope Francis. He seems to put more emphasis on charity rather than clarity.
    It should be the other way around. So I am actually not surprised by this, I believe it is intentional
    so as to focus more on mercy, welcoming, pastoral, and other things “fuzzy”. And yet, he speaks of Satan at great length. He confuses me.

  13. Gregg the Obscure says:

    I’m not sure it’s missing, it’s just not displayed as explicitly as many of us would prefer. I see it in this section: “This Holy Year will bring to the fore the richness of Jesus’ mission echoed in the words of the prophet: . . . to proclaim liberty to those bound by new forms of slavery in modern society, to restore sight to those who can see no more because they are caught up in themselves, to restore dignity to all those from whom it has been robbed.” [Nope. I don’t see it.]

  14. dans0622 says:

    The use of the word “expand” suggests (to me) more than what he did. He listed all of them and then briefly, in different words, listed them again. Burying the dead was also left out of the repetition. All that being said, admonishing the sinner is indeed not part of the second listing.

  15. jbelleza89 says:

    I checked as well, and I actually don’t think they’re missing.
    “Et ne obliviscamur opera misericordiae spiritualis, quae praecipiunt: dubitantibus consilia dare, ignorantes instruere, peccatores monere, afflictos solari, offensas remittere, molestos patienter sustinere, pro vivis et defunctis Deum orare.” The Spanish has “corregir al que yerra” and Italian “ammonire i peccatori”.
    Perhaps a faithful Fr. Z fan in Rome caught the error and corrected it! [No one said that he left “admonish the sinner” out of the list. He listed them and then does not expand on that Spiritual Work. He does expand on the other six.]

  16. kpoterack says:

    He doesn’t expand upon one of the corporal works of mercy, either: burying the dead. But all of the “expansions” are crammed into one paragraph. It struck me that he was not being very systematic.

  17. everett says:

    “It struck me that he was not being very systematic”

    Indeed, this seems to be the case with much of what he says. I’d try not to read too much into this.

  18. Chrisc says:


    And this is the challenge with Francis. He isn’t systematic….systematically good or systematically bad, I don’t think. At times it is tempting to read him as being a-systematic, that he wants to get rid of law or categories or some such. But I think he is just non-systematic and a rather non-linear thinker. This is a virtue when it comes to being approachable, and it is why, in part, so many wish to seek him out and to have him as a confidant. But it is profoundly negative as a teacher, which explains, in part, the drastic decline in the numbers at Wednesday audiences and the struggle of the faithful to discern what we should listen to amidst the many things we hear from Francis.

  19. Michael_Thoma says:

    Our Holy Father Francis seems to want listeners to only hear what he says, but not read into it further. Unfortunately, it’s entirely normal for any listener – especially non-academic and casual listeners – when left with a vacuum, to fill it with their own preconceived notions. If this is intentional, it would be seem to be a page out of populist politics; if unintentional, something that his closest advisers must make HH aware.

  20. Andrew says:

    Et monere et moneri proprium est verae amicitiae … nullam in amicitiis pestem esse maiorem quam adulationem … levium hominum atque fallacium ad voluntatem loquentium omnia, nihil ad veritatem. Cum autem omnium rerum simulatio vitiosa est (tollit enim iudicium veri idque adulterat), tum amicitiae repugnat maxime; delet enim veritatem, sine qua nomen amicitiae valere non potest. (Cicero: de Amicitia)

    To warn and to be warned is proper for a true friendship … there being no greater pestilence in friendships then flattery … of fickle and deceptive people who always speak in order to please with no concern for the truth. Since all pretense is hateful (since it sets aside and adulterates the recognition of truth), it is most repugnant in friendship; it deletes the truth without which the name of friendship means nothing. (Cicero: on Friendship)

    [Great quote.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  21. Ryan.Beggy says:

    Forgive me if I am out of line but I have often heard theologians cite the various passages where Jesus dines with sinners. They will then point to this event as an example of His mercy. For instance…

    Mathew 9:11-13
    And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
    But when he heard it, he [Jesus] said “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners. Would you please pass the salt.”

    I clearly added that last part as an illustration. However, it is all too often overlooked that at this very moment (which was cited in Misericordiae Vultus) in his life Jesus is both giving it to the Pharisees and not letting the sinners off the hook. His finger need not wag at this point because the guy who just tore off a piece of bread to dip it in olive oil was laughing at the Pharisees only to then realize, awkwardly, that Jesus just called him a sinner who was no better than a tax collector… Do we really think the continuation of that conversation was about the latest football game or could Jesus maybe have used that opportunity to instruct…

  22. New Sister says:

    From Bishop Sheen’s 1932 article, “The Curse of Broadmindedness”

    “We must be tolerant to persons because they are human; we must be intolerant about principles because they are divine. We must be tolerant to the erring, because ignorance may have led them astray; but we must be intolerant to the error, because Truth is not our making, but God’s. And hence the Church in her history, due reparation made, has always welcomed the heretic back into the treasury of her souls, but never his heresy into the treasury of her wisdom.”

    [Great quote]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  23. anilwang says:

    On the plus side, he did mention the spiritual works of mercy. Too often whenever the works of mercy are mentioned, only the corporal works of mercy are mentioned and if the spiritual works of mercy are ever mentioned, they’re downplayed. The whole Catholic Charities scandals and “Nuns on a Bus” are precisely example of this downplaying of the spiritual compared to the corporal works of mercy.

    Unfortunately, the “admonish the sinner” work of mercy is the work of mercy that is most needed this age. When someone is headed off a cliff, it is not merciful to let him go where he wants, even if it will upset or panic him or make us unpopular. How much more is it merciful to admonish someone not to be headed off a cliff into hell. Unfortunately “admonish the sinner” is also tied to “instruct the ignorant” and it’s one reason why many Catholics today don’t know the faith, especially “uncomfortable” topics like contraception except perhaps that it’s a matter of conscience and any “reasonable person” will be “responsible” as the world directs. Teaching necessarily admonishes even if the admonishment is not meant to be directed at any one person.

    Admonishing the sinner is a talent and is worth an encyclical on its own. It must neither be done at the right time with the person being in the right mental disposition. Some prideful people cannot be admonished but will readily admonish themselves when properly lead. Others only care for the truth and will balk or get offended if you sugar coat anything. But even these people will resist if they are approached at the wrong time and the wrong way, as Job’s comforters did to Job. Even if they were right, the way they admonished in the worst possible way.

  24. anna 6 says:

    I recently heard Fr. Raymond de Souza on the radio where he made an important observation about Pope Francis and his predecessors. Popes John Paul and Benedict, he said, used their papacy to teach. Francis, on the other hand, exhorts.
    I agree – which is why it surprises me that he would avoid expanding on the meaning of “admonish” in the context of mercy.
    It really is a missed opportunity.

  25. ThankyouB16 says:

    Thank you to the reader of this blog who posted this question.
    I noticed the same thing, and I was quite troubled.
    Although I am still somewhat confused, I did manage to come to peace with the apparent lack of expansion by noticing that the Holy Father does urge people to practice the sacrament of penance during Lent to “discover a path back to the Lord.” (17). This clearly is a call to sinners to repentance and to return to the Lord. Perhaps the Holy Father deliberately did not expand on the admonishment of sinners because he knew he was going to spend a long section talking about the sacrament of penance. I notice that he does like balance and not over-emphasize things. The sacrament of penance presupposes that sinners have been admonished otherwise how would they know what to confess? This means that a charitable reading of his words includes an implicit and quite lengthy expansion on this so-called missing work of mercy.

  26. Supertradmum says:

    The Pope exhorts sinners in this document. He takes on corruption and this is a huge problem in Italy, Sicily, New Jersey, Illinois, etc. He already excommunicated members of the Mafia. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/pope-excommunicates-mafia-for-adoration-of-evil-in-strongest-attacks-in-20-years-9554617.html
    In the document under investigation here, the Pope states this:
    “The same invitation is extended to those who either perpetrate or participate in corruption. This festering wound is a grave sin that cries out to heaven for vengeance, because it threatens the very foundations of personal and social life. Corruption prevents us from looking to the future with hope, because its tyrannical greed shatters the plans of the weak and tramples upon the poorest of the poor. It is an evil that embeds itself into the actions of everyday life and spreads, causing great public scandal. Corruption is a sinful hardening of the heart that replaces God with the illusion that money is a form of power. It is a work of darkness, fed by suspicion and intrigue. Corruptio optimi pessima, Saint Gregory the Great said with good reason, affirming that no one can think himself immune from this temptation. If we want to drive it out from personal and social life, we need prudence, vigilance, loyalty, transparency, together with the courage to denounce any wrongdoing. If it is not combated openly, sooner or later everyone will become an accomplice to it, and it will end up destroying our very existence.”

    Actually, I think it is merciful to exhort the sinner and most loving, as otherwise the person’s soul is in danger of hell. I have had to tell, in the past, family members not to bring fornicating partners into my house, especially when I was raising a son at home. Some families lie and call such partners, “aunts” and so on when these are not, even legally. This is an exhortation all Catholics can say to a person in sin, and a common one. Same with speaking to women about contraception. Is this not our duty as Catholics to bring people into the light, as people did for us along the way? The Church would be stronger if Catholics would honestly speak with other fallen away Catholics about sin, especially those who are persisting in living in sin. I think many Catholics no longer believe in hell.

  27. jhayes says:

    “Admonish the sinner” doesn’t appear in the list of Spiritual Works of Mercy defined in #2447 of the Catechism as:

    Instruere, consilia dare, consolari, confortare opera sunt spiritualis misericordiae, sicut dimittere et cum patientia tolerare.

    Which, in the official English version is translated as:

    Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently

    In Misericordiae Vultus, consilia dare is presented as as consigliare i dubbiosi and the English translation gets that right as “counsel the doubtful

    In the next paragraph, Francis expands on that in the same order of points as “[We will be asked] if we have helped others to escape the doubt that causes them to fall into despair and which is often a source of loneliness;”

    “Counseling the doubtful” is consistent with Francis’s view that we must “accompany” all people.

    [He mentioned “admonish the sinner” and he did not elaborate on it, as he did the other six spiritual works of mercy. That’s interesting.]

  28. SanSan says:

    Thank you, Grumpy Beggar:
    “admonish v.t. Exhort (person to do , that he should do); give advice, warn (of a thing); inform, remind (of a thing, that)”….
    In my work helping women in crisis pregnancy’s, there comes the time for”that talk”–lovingly and charitably given to– this woman who has been pregnant 9 times and given birth (thank God) to 7 (all adopted–thank God) babies. She needs to hear the truth–that because of her behavior she is in grave danger of losing her immortal soul. Her history informs me as to why she behaves as she does–but to leave her in this state would be grave error on my part. While she’s living with me for the next few months before the birth of baby 9, I pray that the Holy Spirit enflames her soul and that the dark spirial that is her lot, lifts and she finds her way into the arms of her Savior–and not another man.

  29. SanSan says:

    Supertradmum –thank you for posting……powerful.

  30. Kathleen10 says:

    Supertradmum, what an experience, thank you for sharing it.

  31. Supertradmum says:

    SanSan, thanks, it was hard to write.

  32. Paulus says:

    “Admonish” has the Latin “monere” as its root, which means “to remind, advise, warn.” It is literally one of the first Latin verbs taught beginning Latinists. “Ad” of course is translated as “to”.

  33. Rachel says:

    Agreed– that was an amazing and moving story, Suptertradmum!

  34. Rob83 says:

    Perhaps the omission is due to the reality that people can sometimes be a bit over-enthusiastic about admonitions?

    I think it would have been possible to insert something along the lines of “if we have not called upon our neighbors to repent, as we ourselves are called upon to repent” without causing any spittle-flecked nutties.

  35. fionam says:

    Does anyone else find sections 20 and 21 as disturbing as I do in a document issued by the Holy Father? It seems we are heading in the direction of being saved by faith alone, so the lack of reference to admonishment comes as no surprise to me within the entire context of the document.

  36. Rachel Pineda says:

    @ Rob 83 “Perhaps the omission is due to the reality that people can sometimes be a bit over-enthusiastic about admonitions?” Hahaha yes!

    The desert fathers speak about admonishing their brothers properly. I was thinking about this today and while I know their advice is written by monks who largely lived a life of desert solitude, I find the advice can always be applied as it focuses on deep humility.

    One of my favorite stories-besides the story of his life- is of Moses the Black and his refusal to judge but admonish he did! It is the way he did it that is very inspiring. The story states that one of the brothers had committed a fault and Moses the Black was called to a meeting to discuss which penance the brother should have. Moses the Black refused to go to the meeting. When he was called again he brought a leaking jug full of water and carried it on his shoulder to the meeting. When asked why he was carrying the jug he replied, “”My sins run out behind me and I do not see them, but today I am coming to judge the errors of another.” The other brothers forgave the erring monk.

    I wonder how this silent admonishment, or better yet ,the admonishment of a deeply sincere humble act had on this erring monk, if he even heard about it. To be sure it had to of had a profound effect internally.

    Maybe Pope Francis’ silence or lack of clarification on this specific work of mercy is most reasonable people are admonished simply by humble acts. Although some people really need to be knocked upside the head. I should know, my head still hurts.

  37. Clinton R. says:

    Could it be that His Holiness does not expand on “Admonish the sinner” because this pontificate has instead choosen to admonish the traditionalist?

  38. The Masked Chicken says:

    One problem, in today’s world, with the counsel to admonish sinners is that so few people know the proper definitions of either admonish or sinner. How many people think they are admonishing the sinner who doesn’t accept the actions of the gay couple down the street? How many people think that admonishing means sticking their noses in where it doesn’t belong? To admonish truly, rightly, with the right force, at the right time takes a certain degree of Christian maturity I think many people no longer possess. One must admonish sinners with the same solicitude as a servant shows to his master, otherwise, as Christ points out, one winds up strutting one’s admonishment in a holier-than-thou fashion, which isn’t so much admonishment as lording it over the other person. Admonishment is a special action of the Holy Spirit and presupposes that the concomitant virtues of prudence and humility are present.

    Or, you could just take to being an all-purpose curmudgeon. There is something very appealing to being able to say to young whipper-snappers, “Get off my lawn!”

    The Chicken

  39. dans0622 says:

    fionam: I don’t find it troubling and don’t think the Pope is heading in a sola fide direction. Fr. Hunwicke finds the end of paragraph 20 to be very good: http://liturgicalnotes.blogspot.com/2015/04/misericordiae-vultus.html

  40. khw8814 says:

    It seems we have lost all concern for people’s souls for worrying about their feelings being hurt. It also seems to me that the pope would be the person to explain that to us.

  41. KateD says:

    Isn’t it an old trick that to draw attention to the thing you want most examined or is of most importance you single it out by making it markedly different from the rest of the points in a piece of work?

    In a persecuted church we may have to become accustomed to reading the superficial context as well as understanding the intended message beneath.

    Thank you Joseph-Mary for that link to the piece by Msgr. Pope. Item #10 stands out:

    “For what have I to do with judging outsiders?…” 1 Corinthians 5: 12

    In reading all of 1 Corinthians 5, including headings, it begs the question if there wasn’t a deeper meaning intended by the Pope’s response to the now infamous airplane gotcha question.

  42. Grumpy Beggar says:

    @SanSan : I’ll make it a point to pray for you and the souls you work with, but particularly in the coming months, for that one – so wounded, but still a mother, who is currently living with you.

    I have among my materials here the testimony of a woman who actually had 8 abortions with the approval of her husband . With guidance and much prayer from others , she eventually felt God still drawing her gently to Himself. Then, with a little bit of counsel (read “admonishment”) she went to Confession and was reconciled with God. Since then , she not only has her peace back, but she spends her time going to see women who are considering having an abortion and speaks to them. She tells them about her own experience and of the anguish she used to have in her own heart.

    I also personally know more than a few women (and/or their male counterpart) who have directly experienced the abortion of their child – even a lot of the men become more traumatized by it than the media is willing to admit. One woman I knew, God rest her soul, actually had two abortions. When I met her, she had already been reconciled with God through the sacrament of Reconciliation and had become a very pious person, but she would tell me that what still used to bother her periodically was trying to comprehend in her own mind how she could have gone ahead and had that second abortion, after feeling how much the first one had hurt her.

    I’ll try to remember you particularly when praying the Rosary (daily) . No one knows more about the womb than our Blessed Mother. Not only does She have the title in Our Lady of Guadalupe as Patroness of the Unborn , but Venerable Bishop Fulton Sheen says that our Lady also brought each of us forth as her child, in Her suffering at the foot of the Cross. Her eyes see right through the “dark spiral” and can still recognize God in that soul which is so loved, yet so wounded.

    @Supertradmum : Thankyou – Your first 2 posts were most edifying. The first post was awesome – a great reminder that it is our Blessed Lord Himself who waits for us in the sacrament of Reconciliation.

  43. One of those TNCs says:

    “Joseph-Mary” (first reply) – thanks so much for that link to Msgr. Pope! It was an excellent article. It was great for explaining the true meaning of “admonish” and very helpful for anyone who wants to do it in love and mercy, but is not sure how.

  44. Giuseppe says:

    Was ‘admonish the sinner’ in previous catechisms, as it is not in the current CCC?

    Does anyone have a Latin reference for previous catechisms? I’m curious to see if it is in there.

  45. Imrahil says:

    Dear Giuseppe,

    the CCC wasn’t here giving a formal list, apparently.


    its compendium, which is here, http://www.vatican.va/archive/compendium_ccc/documents/archive_2005_compendium-ccc_en.html#B%29%20FORMULAS%20OF%20CATHOLIC%20DOCTRINE does contain it, right at the end in the appendix.

  46. Giuseppe says:

    Amazing catechism from 1899. — free ebook link below.

    The Catechism Explained: an Exhaustive Exposition of the Christian Religion, with Special Reference to the Present State of Society and the Spirit of the Age: A Practical Manual for the Use of the Preacher, the Catechist, the Teacher, and the Family; Made Attractive and Interesting by Illustrations, Comparisons, and Quotations from the Scriptures, the Fathers, and other Writers, from the original of Rev. Francis Spirago, edited by Rev. Richard F. Clarke, S.J. (New York, Cincinnati, Chicago: Benziger Brothers, 1899).

    https://catholicebooks.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/free-ebook-the-catechism-explained-by-francis-spirago-and-richard-clarke/ (click on ‘may be read online’)


    Spiritual Works p.422 #3. To admonish the sinner.

  47. Giuseppe says:

    Summa Theologiae, 2nd part of 2nd part. Q.32 Article 2, Obj. 1
    Article 2. Whether the different kinds of almsdeeds are suitably enumerated?

    Objection 1. …Again we reckon seven spiritual alms, namely, to instruct the ignorant, to counsel the doubtful, to comfort the sorrowful, to reprove the sinner, to forgive injuries, to bear with those who trouble and annoy us, and to pray for all, which are all contained in the following verse: “To counsel, reprove, console, to pardon, forbear, and to pray,” yet so that counsel includes both advice and instruction.

    …scilicet docere ignorantem,
    consulere dubitanti,
    consolari tristem,
    corrigere peccantem,
    remittere offendenti,
    portare onerosos et graves,
    et pro omnibus orare;
    quae etiam in hoc versu continentur, consule, castiga, solare, remitte, fer, ora; ita tamen quod sub eodem intelligatur consilium et doctrina.

  48. Andrew says:


    As far as I can tell – and I looked closely – the spiritual works of mercy are not mentioned in the Roman Catechism at all.

  49. jhayes says:

    Andrew, the Spiritual Works of Mercy are listed in #2447 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church

    That is the source of the lists in Latin and English that I quoted in my April 23 comment, above.

  50. Giuseppe says:

    Thanks, Andrew and Imrahil,

    Why did admonish the sinners disappear from the Spiritual Works of Mercy in CCC 2447? It was in Aquinas. It was in many catechisms. (I show both above.) Versions of it appear in the Appendices of the CCC in different languages, although I cannot find the original Latin version on the Vatican website. Jhayes wrote out the English version in a post above.

    The Italian is below, and ‘admonish the sinners’ seems obvious.
    Le sette opera di misericordia spirituale
    1. Consigliare i dubbiosi.
    2. Insegnare agli ignoranti.
    3. Ammonire i peccatori.
    4. Consolare gli afflitti.
    5. Perdonare le offese.
    6. Sopportare pazientemente le persone moleste.
    7. Pregare Dio per i vivi e per i morti.

    In the Spanish list the closest to ‘admonish the sinners’ is probably ‘correct who errs’ (I think).
    1. Enseñar al que no sabe.
    2. Dar buen consejo al que lo necesita.
    3. Corregir al que yerra.
    4. Perdonar las injurias.
    5. Consolar al triste.
    6. Sufrir con paciencia los defectos de los demás.
    7. Rogar a Dios por vivos y difuntos.

    Finally, how did pray for the living and the dead also drop from CCC 2447 Spiritual Works of Mercy (still in the appendix lists though)?

  51. jhayes says:

    Giuseppe, the Latin text of 2447 is


  52. Grumpy Beggar says:

    I have a hardcover English version of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church , published by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (copyright is 2006). It says that the English version is a translation of the Italian version: “Translation of: Catechismo della Chiesa cattolica. Compendio. Includes index. [etc]”

    Not sure, but it could be the reason why a Latin version might be hard to find. FWIW , the Latin version of the CCC seems to reflect the same incongruity as the other versions:

    “2447 Opera misericordiae actiones sunt caritativae per quas in auxilium nostri proximi venimus in eius necessitatibus corporalibus et spiritualibus. Instruere, consilia dare, consolari, confortare opera sunt spiritualis misericordiae, sicut dimittere et cum patientia tolerare. Opera corporalis misericordiae speciatim consistunt in esurientibus nutriendis, in hospitio carentibus hospitandis, in pannosis vestiendis, in aegrotis et captivis visitandis, in mortuis sepeliendis. Inter haec opera, eleemosyna pauperibus facta unum ex praecipuis testimoniis est fraternae caritatis: eadem est etiam iustitiae exercitium quod Deo placet: ”

    Giuseppe says:

    “. . .Finally, how did pray for the living and the dead also drop from CCC 2447 Spiritual Works of Mercy (still in the appendix lists though)?”

    That’s definitely weird – noticed it a little prior to reading your comment. Considering that a significant part of my day is dedicated to the holy souls in Purgatory, it’s more than weird: It’s unacceptable.
    BTW , it isn’t just a web-based typo. My hardcover version of the Revised Edition of the CCC (printed in 1999 and published by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops) appears to be verbatim.

    I can’t help thinking that whoever were in charge of the actual transmission or committing of text to the final product (in English ) of the CCC , may have messed up in places – whether inadvertent or not.

    Another thing to boot, is that Fr. John Hardon S.J., was asked by St. John Paul II to be a special consultant in compiling the CCC . . . and not too much got by him.

    Even then, the wording for this particular admonition element of the Spiritual Works of Mercy , as it appears in Father Hardon’s Modern Catholic Dictionary is a little unusual , to say the least. The wording there, is : “converting the sinner.”

    SPIRITUAL WORKS OF MERCY. The traditional seven forms of Christian charity in favor of the soul or spirit of one’s neighbor, in contrast with the corporal works of mercy that minister to people’s bodily needs. They are: converting the sinner, instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, comforting the sorrowful, bearing wrongs patiently, forgiving injuries, and praying for the living and the dead. Their bases are the teaching of Christ and the practice of the Church since apostolic times.

    Technically speaking , only God can “convert” a sinner. So it does surprise me that we would find this wording in that particular dictionary – given the sheer intellectual genius of its author on spiritual matters .

    As we have seen in some real-life examples contributed by some members on this topic , admonishing the sinner is often a step which leads a soul towards repentance and/or the sacrament of Confession.

    Then again , “admonishing the sinner” isn’t something which is invariably relevant/present (or at least perceptible) in the conversion experience of a soul. Considering the example Christ gave us of the prodigal son, there doesn’t seem to be any human agent of admonishment so to speak, although , without a doubt, the prodigal son’s brother was more than willing to give it a go – although somewhat belatedly (and I imagine, if he could’ve spoken, the fatted calf would’ve wanted to admonish him too . . . for coming back).

  53. Giuseppe says:

    Grumpy Beggar,

    Your reference to the Prodigal Son reminded me of St. John Paul II ‘s encyclical Dives in Miseracordiae, as that parable is at the center of the work.
    I don’t think he directly mentions the Spiritual or Corporal Works in his essay on mercy.

    As St. John Paul II also was the promulgator of the CCC, as well as the one who instituted Divine Mercy Sunday, his take on the works of mercy would be particularly valuable. Can anyone recommend a good sermon or essay from Pope John Paul II on the works of mercy?

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