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*Image: The Triumph of Riches by Hans Holbein the Younger, c. 1532-34 [Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, England]

By Stephen P. White, The Catholic Thing, March 18, 2021

Stephen P. White is executive director of The Catholic Project at The Catholic University of America and a fellow in Catholic Studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.


Stephen P. WhiteThere is no such thing as a private sin. Our moral failings – whatever they may be – have consequences that extend out far beyond our own personal guilt or innocence. My own moral failings have consequences for my wife and children, for my friends, and so on. My failings cause others to suffer, often in invisible ways. My sin breeds sin and stymies virtue, in myself and in others. How much better off would those around me be if I were a saint?

Sometimes, we are only just able to glimpse the moral filaments that connect our actions to the lives of those arounds us. At other times, the consequences of our sins are all too apparent. Every father who has caught his own uncharitable words in the mouth of one of his children knows the power of his own bad example. Sometimes sins we foolishly hoped would remain secret are drawn into the light for all to see, to our own horror and humiliation. …