Catholics/loneliness

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Question
QUESTION: Hello!
How come so many people are lonely/lonesome (and alone) in a world with that many people in it? This is a scary thought/question, indeed.
These people try so many things but they're not able to find the right relationships and other things needed in life. It's really sad and frustrated. What does the Church say about this?

ANSWER: You are right, it is sad and frustrating. However the problem you mention isn't something the Church would formally comment on.  The problem of loneliness is more a psychological/sociological issue.  

This does not mean the Church cannot get involved in this issue.  Many Catholic parishes have different outreach to parishioners who are home-bound, elderly, sick, or otherwise lonely.  There are people from the parish who might visit them or bring communion to them.  The pastor or assistant pastor of the parish also would visit with them. The parish might start a social group, etc.  Many parishes try to meet the social needs of their parishioners by having different parish activities for them.  

In answer then, the Church would leave the theorizing about this matter to the psychologist or sociologist.  In terms of how to more practically meet the needs of lonely people parishes tend to adopt some kind of outreach to those people.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: yeah, you're right Father.
Some people say that their extremely lonesome/lonely and that nobody needs them (even if they have facebbok friends). Then you could argue that if someone is lying in bed all day (sounds really sad) and have a really good heart is really doing something important for the world. As long as you have a good heart  you're helping the world. This would be a little more difficult if you take, for example, a murderer. Let's say his a good person with a good hear that only is a murder  due to psychological issues. Is he helping the world due to him having a good heart...
I know this question might come off as bit strange but I often think about this.
What is the Catholic view on this?

Answer
First you have to remember that one can only commit Sin and be held accountable for that Sin if one is freely engaging in the sinful act.

One who murders someone in cold blood--and does so with all their faculties intact commits a heinous Sin and should be held accountable for that act. One who murders because one has a psychological issue and cannot control their actions does not commit a Sin.

I happen to believe psychologists are all too ready to dismiss Sinful actions as psychological disorders. They are all too ready to blame Sin on some "disorder" and thus the person avoids being held fully accountable for their actions. I do not mean to say that there are no psychological disorders, I am simply suggesting that in the world we live in today people want a magic pill that will make everything alright and doctors are all to ready to play into the hype.  

There is no such magic pill that will cure Sin. I think most people are more in control of their actions than some psychologists want to admit or allow and most people do have control over their actions---even if circumstances might be such that their culpability for an action is lessened.  

I read an article (Don't ask for the citation because I forget where I read it--so take this with a grain of salt) that suggested studies indicate that those who are drunk are still fully in control of their actions.  The reason they might act out is not because they cannot control themselves--but that alcohol causes them not to care about the consequences of their actions.

All people are fundamentally good.  Actions are evil or good and people do good or bad actions but persons at their fundamental level are good.  Even Satan (the devil) in his nature is fundamentally good. What he DOES is bad but HE on the order of being is good.  We have all been created by a God who is totally good and for that reason no person is bad.  Sinful actions corrupt but do not make us evil.  

In any case--the Church would agree with psychologists about the fact of psychological disorders and would also agree that due to these disorders they can totally mitigate or lessen the guilt of a sinful action.  At the same time I think the Church would caution people to understand that while there are real disorders that mean people cannot control their actions or cause them to do evil things, at the same time we have to be careful of a tendency to reduce all evil to psychological disorders. People are more free than some psychologists would have us believe.  

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Father Dave Bechtel

Expertise

I am a Catholic priest in good standing and in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton PA. I can answer most any question about the Catholic Faith, however my area of specialization is Systematic Theology. Systematic Theology is a branch of theology that focuses on the fundamental tenants of the Faith and the Dogmas of the Faith. I have specialization on the Reformation and Catholic vs. Protestant theology/issues and answering Protestant challenges to the Faith.

Experience

I was ordained in June of 2008. Since that time the thrust of my ministry has been specialized. In my first assignment I was an assistant pastor. A year later I was sent to work in education. I spent six (6) years in education and have now assumed my first pastorate. While education was the thrust of my ministry, nevertheless I continued to have a hand in parish ministry, hospital chaplaincy and prison chaplaincy. Now that I am out of education I will obviously be focusing more on parish work than specialized ministry. I have two years of formal Clinical Pastoral Education and prior to ordination I successfully pursued Board Certification for health care ministry through the NACC. My certification needs to be renewed and I plan to seek dual certification in health care ministry (NACC and APC) when I renew my certification. I have a breadth of experience working with Protestant ministers and collaborating with them to achieve the goals of hospital pastoral care and chaplaincy. These ministers run the spectrum from the liberal to the conservative.

Education/Credentials
Bachelors of Science-- University of Scranton PA Masters of Arts Theology--- Saint Mary's Seminary and University Baltimore MD Masters of Divinity--- Saint Charles Borremeo Seminary Philadelphia PA Board Certified Chaplain (up for renewal)

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