“Ask a Priest: Are Some People Evil?”

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Q: How should we respond to people who have different views from what the Catholic Church teaches? I have some family members who say that certain politicians are evil. My question is, are some people evil? And what should our attitude be toward them? These family members respond with anger and criticism, but I don’t know if this makes the members any better off. Thanks and God bless. – O.G.

Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC

A: There seem to be different types of questions here.

The first seems to revolve around political differences, if I read your e-mail correctly.

The Church doesn’t back any particular political party or candidate. Catholics are free to debate public policies and the competence of politicians, though ideally this should be done charitably.

You ask whether some people are evil. People are created in the image and likeness of God. As such, they are good. If they misuse their free will and choose evil, that is another case. Their behavior might be evil, but they themselves, as human beings, are not evil.

If we see someone engaged in objectively evil behavior, we can pray for them and perhaps offer fraternal correction in we are in a position to do it well.

As for people who disagree with Church teaching: we can pray for them, and try to explain why the Church teaches what it teaches.

To do that well, we might need to do research. There are plenty of resources that can help, including the Catechism, the Compendium of the Catechism, and apologetics websites such as Catholic Answers.

Arguing a point rarely brings a person to embrace a Catholic teaching. It is vital to show the person charity, to pray for him or her, and to ask the Holy Spirit for guidance.

We can show the reasonableness of a Church teaching, but our own example of charity does more to open a heart than the force of an argument.

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