Mortal vs. Venial

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I have a case where I have to continue a lie that started a couple of years ago and will havbe to be continued for 8 more years. It is a lie of both commission and omission.

Our 10-year-old grandson is autistic. His other grandparents are his legal guardians and his sister lives with her parents. If this lie was found out or admitted to, it would result in none of us being able to ever again see our granddaughter, which would be terrible. It would be even worse because I provide her religious training.

Here is the situatuation. “Johnnie” has been rejected by his parents, especially his father, who cannot accept that he has an abnormal child. He does not have much to do with him, even when he is home or home on leave.The parents and other grandparents live in the same city when not stationed (military) elsewhere. He and his wife confide in her parents (and to us to a much lesser degree) and so the whole situation is known by them, the rejection, the abuse and neglect (to the point of family services intervening), etc. Nana and Poppop have promised not to tell/pass on these secrets but have no intention of keeping that promise in relation to us because we are needed to support and help them and share the burden, and we want to do so. So neither they nor we can reveal it because it would destroy the support system we have put in place to help “Johnnie” and give him the proper upbringing and meet his special needs. Also we would be kept from seeing his sister and we all would no longer know the truth about things. It is a heavy burden to keep this a secret and so far nothing has come up that we would have to deny/admit knowing all that has been going on. “Johnnie’s” best interests come first and he needs all 4 of his grandparents’ full support. He is in an excellent special needs school and also gets additional special camps and therapies. All 4 of us work together to do what’s best for him and help him meet his full potential. Would this be considered a mortal sin?
**I’m confused…:confused: I’m not sure just what the “secret” is…Does Johnnie believe that his grandparents are his parents? **

This is a obviously a terrible burden for you. Have you spoken to anyone about it…Perhaps a priest, or someone else you trust? Taking this situation to the Sacrament of Penance may help…

**Someday the “truth”…whatever it is…will come out…It always does. Maybe it would be better for it to come out in a way that you can control, or at least prepare for. **

Wish I could be of more help…
General moral theology says that a wrong cannot be done (committed or omitted) so that good may come of it.
From whom are you keeping the secret? It seems to me that the guilty party, the father and mother, (I assume your son and daughter in law?), are the ones keeping the secret.

The question I would ask if you have considered is this – do you want your granddaughter to be raised in an environment in which perfection is the only acceptable outcome? You probably have, and if it is therefore an impertinent question, please accept my sincere and heartfelt apologies.

This terrible burden that has been placed upon your heart and soul is emotional blackmail. I do wonder if family services would leave a child in the custody of parents who are deliberately abusing or abandoning a disabled child. It is something you may wish to consider, if you haven’t already done so.

Would any of you be in a position to raise both grandchildren rather than only the one?

Please accept my prayers and condolences on your incredibly difficult situation. God be with you and see you through. Your love for your grandchildren is evident to God and He will stand by you in your trouble. God Bless you for what you have done to protect those little ones. You have my unending sympathy and prayers for you and your grandchildren.
We grandparents are having to keep secret the fact that all of us know everything about the situation, and if the parents ever find out that we know, not only will we never be told anything again, but our granddaughter would be kept from us. So this is a burden if you will that we take upon ourselves willingly in the best interest of our grandson Johnnie. His interests must always be first. He needs us since his own parents have rejected him, and our granddaughter needs us too, especially for things missing from her upbringing such as religious training and to counteract the neglect. Hope that clarifies.
We grandparents are having to keep secret the fact that all of us know everything about the situation,
I still am having a hard time understanding what the sin would be.

Are you simply trying to say that the sin is not telling the parents that you have full knowledge? I don’t see that as a sin. There are a lot of things I choose not to say to my parents or my children. I am not required to tell anyone all that I know.

I don’t even see this an using an evil means to a good end, because the means do not seem evil.

Even if you had to say something deliberately untruthful right to the face of the parents, it would still seem to be venial, at most. Your terrible fear for the welfare of your grandchildren would seem to prevent a full consent of the will to be a mortal sin.
I would recommend confessing this. Remember that a priest is bound by the Seal of Confession, and that he cannot reveal even the slightest knowledge of what you tell him to anyone else. This would allow you to explain the entire situation to him without fear. He would be able to give you spiritual guidance in this matter far better than anyone here might be able to. If you decide to do this, I would recommend scheduling a time for confession outside of a normal Saturday (or whenever your parish has it), as it might take some time and would be unfair to the other penitents.
Am I missing something? To whom do you feel you have a moral duty to reveal your understanding and knowledge of the past events? And why is it that you feel you have a moral duty to reveal it?

I cannot construct a moral duty to tell the child what you know (and I wouldn’t be surprised if he already figured it out). If it is the child you are supposedly withholding information from, I can understand a feeling that you need to tell him. But feelings are poor reasons to make that decision.

A moral duty to tell the parents? Don’t you think they already have a clue that you can put 2 and 2 together and come up with a logical answer? And if them, why your impulse to “spill all”?

A moral duty to tell Children’s Protective Service? If the child is stable and in a good environment now, and not likely to change in the near future, again, what duty?

Who else has a need to know? that gets down to the level of gossip; nothing good is coming of it, and the sin is not in the “not telling”, but in the telling.

It doesn’t look to me that you have any identifiable moral duty to tell anyone, as I can not identify who has a moral right to know. It sounds more like an emotional compulsion to unload.

Please, I hope I do not sound unkind; I simply do not have enough information to identify who it is you feel you are not telling, who has a right to know.
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