When Sin Is Defined By Geography

For the first time in the history of the Catholic Church, sin is now a factor of geography.

In the forty-some years since the BBC launched the political satire Yes, Minister ­– said to have been Margaret Thatcher’s favorite show – its relevance has only grown. Anyone who watches Sir Humphrey describe the Church of England (“The Bishop’s Gambit”) may think he is watching a historical documentary, not a comedy. There are laughs aplenty, but there was – and is – a sting in it for Anglican leaders.

“It’s interesting, isn’t it, that nowadays politicians want to talk about moral issues, and bishops want to talk politics,” observes Sir Humphrey, cynically adding that “theology is a device for allowing agnostics to remain with the church.”

Jim Hacker, the cabinet minister (and later prime minister) who is Sir Humphrey’s ostensible political master, tries to be less cynical – at least until political forces overwhelm his weak will and confused conscience. In another episode (“The Moral Dimension”), Hacker protests overseas corruption, while Humphrey justifies it as simply how business is conducted abroad.

“Sin is not a branch of geography,” Hacker sternly replies, reproving Humphrey.

These days, for Catholics, sin is very much a branch of geography in 2024.

On 18 December last year, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández made his “declaration” – with papal approval – encouraging blessings for “irregular and same-sex couples.” The fallout has been amply addressed in these pages and everywhere else.

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