From the America magazine article: “St. Augustine wrestled with the issue of whether and how to correct sinners and heretics. “It is a deep and difficult matter to estimate what each one can endure,” he wrote. “And I doubt that many have become better because of impending punishment…. If you punish people, you may ruin them. If you leave them unpunished, you may ruin others. I admit that I make mistakes…. What trembling, what darkness” (Letter 95.3). Every church disciplines its members, penalizing those whose conduct is judged unsuitable for disciples of Jesus. For Anglicans, Methodists and Presbyterians, as well as Catholics, discipline is the hard edge of discipleship.”
At a recent committee meeting, our priest expressed his extreme frustration with a parishioner of long-standing who has developed into a gossipy control freak who has recently caused a long-standing church ministry to implode. Our priest has been personally attacked in this mess and is frustrated at the damage done. His comment was “X needs to find a new place to go to church.”
His bitterness made some people uncomfortable, that it wasn’t charitable. Here’s my question: where does charity begin and end when it involves the health of the parish or the church-at-large? At what point does willful disobedience and willful antagonism result in rightly being invited out of a parish or a faith?