In Mercy: What Every Catholic Should Know, Fr. Daniel Moloney covers a broad range of topics regarding mercy that are prevalent for our society today. Beginning from an unexpected perspective in the first half of the book, Fr. Moloney approaches mercy from a political point of view, explaining how mercy is in fact truly and intimately interwoven with politics and power. Through this lens, he touches upon pertinent topics such as legal punishments, the death penalty, and self-defense. He also assesses the clergy scandals, laying out why they occurred, what went wrong in how they were dealt with, and how the Church can improve moving forward for the greater glory of God. He eloquently explains how mercy is not synonymous with leniency, but is an act of responding to a privation, a lack of something which ought to be there. Sometimes the road to this may have to be tough love for the good of all involved.
Fr. Moloney invites the reader to wrestle with the supposed contradiction of God saying that he is merciful, yet killing and punishing his creation. Moloney ultimately resolves this apparent contradiction by highlighting God’s identity as the loving Father, explaining how, similar to good earthly fathers, sometimes the most loving route to take in truly loving your children and bringing them to their ultimate good is through the course of tough love. God is always good and loving, and his justice and mercy go hand-in-hand.
Fr. Daniel Moloney, PhD, a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston, is the Catholic chaplain at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before his ordination in 2010, he earned a doctorate in Philosophy from Notre Dame, worked at think tanks in Princeton, Washington, D.C., and New York, and served as the associate editor of First Things.