What are we to think of anti-Catholics who were otherwise moral paragons?


John Jay for example. He was a devout Christian, one of the Founding Fathers of the U.S. and deeply opposed slavery; but at the same time, he attempted to legislate a prohibition of Catholics from holding office.

What do you think of these types of people?


I think that otherwise ‘good’ people who perform evil actions are for the most part victims of prejudice, often not fully culpable for their actions; that I cannot know their reasons which may be indeed multiple and even unconsious or subconscious on their part, and that God knows their hearts and souls and judges them justly.


People are not generally “good” or “bad”. We’re not supposed to judge people holistically that way. Often, a person who performs many good acts may have a very dark side to his character, be steeped in some particular, habitual sin, etc.

Ignorance might explain an action of the type you cite but even if the man has a skewed, incorrect view of Catholicism through no fault of his own it would seem it would take some real malice to do what he did.

(People often define “right” in their own terms. So, this man might have really believed that keeping Catholics out of office was a “good” thing, just as Hitler believed ridding the world of certain peoples was “good”; that does not justify anything, though, for the true moral law is written on all hearts.)


Well, first, there’s the whole reason St. Augustine speculated the existence of Limbo.

It’s like the question, “Can a person be a good person and not a Christian?” C. S. Lewis answered that question by pointing out, firstly, that a Christian’s definition of a “good person” is going to be different, anway.

So, I think it’s pretty hard to find someone who’s not Catholic who’s “perfectly virtuous” in all respects (barring religion).

Speaking of C. S. Lewis, as noted above, this is the kind of thing where individual conscience comes in: where ignorance, invincible ignorance or insurmountable prejudice may overwhelm the person’s culpability for rejecting the Church.

And, hey, we admire people like Aristotle and Plato.


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