The Preferential Option for the Poor Sinner

Any alert Catholic paying attention over the past 60 years well knows the familiar slogan of this article’s title. Well, almost. That last word in the title was never an original part of the slogan. Therein lies a story—and a lesson.

In the raucous wake of the ending of the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) a significant number of the theological bien pensant executed a doctrinal coup d’état. Under the banner of aggiornamento, they masterminded a tectonic shift in the raison d’être of the Roman Catholic Church. No longer was the Church’s mission “saving souls”; respectable Catholics now spoke of “social justice.”

In fact, from the ’60s to this very day, a Catholic would be hard put to find mention of “saving souls” in any sermon or part of the voluminous Catholic mainstream academic literature (used in Catholic colleges, universities, seminaries and various houses of formation) accumulated since Vatican II. So thorough was the revolution that the mere mention of the phrase “saving souls” today in well-heeled circles is met with arched eyebrows or awkward embarrassment.

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