27 August 2021

Revisiting "Moral Injury" in Light of "Traditionis Custodes"

A discussion of the stress and stress-related illnesses that can be brought on by being ordered to do or not do something you feel strongly about.

From Fr Z's Blog

It seems like just a moment ago that I revisited the topic of Moral Injury.

But now we have Traditionis custodes.

Originally Published on: Jun 9, 2020 

From a reader…

I am a physician and have had the opportunity to work with several burnt out priests over the years. I am concerned about the emotional well being of priests during the current situation because of a stressor being called moral injury.

This injury comes from a situation when a person cannot take an action that he feels to be morally right, or is forced to do something morally wrong, by the order of a superior. I am concerned that priests are experiencing this as there bishops have prohibited the sacraments.

I am keeping this in prayer but I am hoping by alerting you to this condition it might be get into some hands who are in a position to work with priests with moral injury to at least recognize this reality.

This is very interesting.  I am grateful for the information and tip about “moral injury”. Since I received this, I’ve done some reading and thinking about moral injury.  For example, good starting point summary of main points HERE

Consider this:

Moral injury can lead to serious distress, depression, and suicidality. Moral injury can take the life of those suffering from it, both metaphorically and literally. Moral injury debilitates people, preventing them from living full and healthy lives.

The effects of moral injury go beyond the individual and can destroy one’s capacity to trust others, impinging on the family system and the larger community. Moral injury must be brought forward into the community for a shared process of healing.

In the context of a soul, with respect to the diversity of beliefs and religious perspectives held by those involved with moral injury, consider this:

Moral injury is damage done to the soul of the individual. War is one (but not the only) thing that can cause this damage. Abuse, rape, and violence may cause similar types of damage. “Soul repair” and “soul wound” are terms already in use by researchers and institutions in the United States who are exploring moral injury and pathways to recovery.

One writer defines moral injury as resulting from a betrayal of what is morally right by someone who holds legitimate authority and in a high stakes situation.

For example, priests who really believe in the cura animarum, and who are ordered, bullied, threatened by authority above them to go against what they believe is right and good for themselves and their people.   Application: being virtually forbidden to provide the sacraments to the faithful during the COVID-1984 lockdown.


In many cases tradition-inclined priests have been treated savagely by their bishops and other priests.  Traditional Catholic have been too.  They have been for years, even for decades, prevented by authority (usually through bullying) from doing what their consciences tell them is the right thing to do.  They are forced, year in and year out, to do what they think is, if not outright wrong, at least inferior to what could be done with a little leeway and compassion.   They are in a perpetual bind, caught between the desire to be a good member of the presbyterate and one with the bishop, while knowing that they can’t stand your “rightful aspirations”, as John Paul II called them.


I’ve been in contact with priests who are ready to take early retirement if their bishops clamp down on the TLM.  Let the bishop figure out how to replace him in the parish when there are hardly any vocations.  Watch the contributions dry up.

I’ve been in contact with seminarians, and prospective seminarians, who are really anxious, because they think that they are going to be denied their heritage that they have grown up in, many of them, or have come to love.

I’ve been in contact with lay people, parents of young families, who are really concerned about what they are going to do, are worried about their priests.

So much pain for nothing.   Moral injury for nothing.  Particularly because, I suspect, Traditionis custodes is going to fail in the long run.

Who is it again who is causing division?  At least the Motu Proprio made who is on which side clearer.

The fact is only a tiny fraction of Catholics who desire Tradition have any sort of serious qualm about Vatican II or doubt the validity of the Novus Ordo.  This is an artificial problem only in the fever-swamp imagination of progressivists, modernists who think that their goal might be in sight: turn the Church into an NGO.

I invite you all, please, to take part in this Custodes Traditionis project.    HERE

Please give that some prayerful consideration.

Today I read about a US bishop who has forbidden priests to say the Traditional Mass PRIVATELY.


When you lack the sort of power that bishops have to inflict whatever they want, will to power, you have to use those vectors of power that are open to every believer: prayer, fasting, works of mercy for the sake of opening the hearts of those who are imposing their unnecessary restrictions, so very contrary to the spirit of the Church’s interpretation of law.

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