The post that was quoted here has been removed"John calls to the parish priest to make a complaint about the behaviour of one of his curates. The parish priest sees him coming but does not want to see him because he considers John to be a troublemaker. He sends another of his curates to answer the door. John asks the curate if the parish priest is in. The curate replies that he is not.
[b]This is clearly untrue but in the Church's view it is not a lie
because, when the curate told John that the parish priest was not in, he mentally reserved to himself the words "to you"
This is an example of a broad
mental reservation and the Catholic Church has always condemned this as a form of deception and a sin. Since John does not know there is a reservation and cannot infer that there is a reservation, he is deceived by the parish priest. This constitutes a lie and a mortal sin. Only a strict
mental reservation is morally acceptable. In a strict mental reservation, the listener can infer that the words are reserved. An example would be when a telemarketer calls you and you say 'I am busy'; your interlocutor understands that this is just a polite way of saying 'I do not want to speak to you'. Since no deception has occurred or was ever intended, the mental reservation is not sinful. Another example is the confessional. If someone asks a priest 'Did that man commit murder?' the priest may answer 'No' even if the man did commit murder. Knowing that the priest is bound absolutely by the seal of confession, the person will understand that by 'No' he means 'No, as far as I know with secrets aside.' There is no deception since I understand that the speaker is a priest and that certain words must be reserved.
"In 2003, Mr Madden was invited to meet Cardinal Connell. In the course of an informal chat Cardinal Connell did apologise for the whole handling of the Fr Ivan Payne case. [b]He was however at pains to point out to Mr Madden that he did not lie about the use of diocesan funds in meeting Fr Payne's settlement with Mr Madden.
He explained that when he was asked by journalists about the use of diocesan funds for the compensation of complainants of child sexual abuse, he had responded that diocesan funds are
not used for such a purpose; that he had not said that diocesan funds were
not used for such a purpose. By using the present tense, he had not excluded the possibility that diocesan funds had been used for such purpose in the past. According to Mr Madden, Cardinal Connell considered that there was an enormous difference between the two." Ibid
This is not even a mental reservation, let alone a strict mental reservation. It is pure equivocation. He is being deliberately ambiguous in using the present tense which suggests that it has always been the case when in fact he means that it is only current. The words are deceptive and since they have been intentionally used that way, it too is a sin.
The 'mental reservation defense' is nothing but an attempt to apportion blame elsewhere. The Cardinal's comments are deliberately deceptive. There is no justification from the side of traditional Catholic moral theology.