I rarely plunge into the world of religious doctrine (the Christian Brothers cured me of any interest) but an article caught my eye about a lady by the name of Marie Collins. See the Guardian article here.
The article covers Marie Collins' resignation from a Vatican commission into clerical child abuse and, reading it, I was unsurprised by the situation Collins described. However, when I had a look at Marie Collins' website, I found a section which described the church doctrine of 'Mental Reservation' and I found it hugely interesting.
In simple terms, this doctrine allows churchmen (this is the Catholic Church) to wilfully mislead without 'lying' and it goes like this: You come to my door and ask if X is at home. I know that X is at home but I say to you, "No X is not at home" and in my mind I add the rider, "to you." In this way, it would seem, churchmen can mislead, lie in my book, without lying. Fantastic! Brilliant! As if 'confession' wasn't enough (Bless me father because I have sinned, I have been pulling the choirboys pants down and sucking them off - Say three 'Hail Marys', light ten candles and go in peace my son.) now they have a mechanism which allows them to lie without lying. Why bother with confession at all?
And that made me think about Trump's Attorney General and his denial of having had any contact with the Russians. What happens if the AG subscribes to the doctrine of 'mental reservation'?
Interrogator - 'Mr AG, did you have any contact with the Russians?'
Mr AG - 'No sir, I did not as far as you are concerned.' (The mental reservation in italics.)
Referring to another blog, Ronald L Conte Jr (a Catholic theologian) states that there are two types of strict mental reservation:
1. The direct and deliberate assertion of a false statement, qualified by the addition of words, in the mind only, that would make the statement true.
2. The direct and deliberate assertion of a false statement, qualified by the addition of an interpretation, in the mind only, that would make the statement true.
From where I stand, mental reservation looks, in effect, like lying, deception or a deliberate effort to mislead but, in the rarefied world of Catholic theology, its a way of getting out of a tight corner. And now I wonder if other organisations practice the same sort of evasion. Republicans, Democrats, Socialists, Conservatives, Free Masons, etc etc etc.
50 shades of grey seems like an underestimate.