Throughout his life, Fulton Sheen was renowned as a theologian and philosopher, but was most iconic for being a rarity in the realm of Catholic preaching. As a host on nighttime radio and television programs, “the golden-voiced Fulton J. Sheen, U.S. Catholicism’s famed proselytizer,” had weekly audiences of up to 30 million.
The Fulton Sheen Program, his final television program, ran for 7 years starting in 1961 and featured Venerable Sheen speaking to the camera and discussing moral issues of the day.
One of his most celebrated sermons, and to some – controversial, was “False Compassion,” given on the show in 1964 which prophetically addresses an issue so prevalent today.
“False compassion, which is gradually growing in this country, is a pity that is shown not to the mug, but to the mugger; not to the family of the murdered, but to the murderer.”
In his sermon, he relates the Parable of the Good Samaritan to illustrate the correct form of compassion: true compassion. He then discusses its opposite: false compassion, where the perpetrator is pitied, but not the victim.
“Social slobberers insist on compassion to the mugger, the dope fiend, the throat-slashers, to the beatniks, to prostitutes, to homosexuals, to the punks, so that today the decent man is practically off the reservation. This is a false compassion. It started in literature. It was in the work of William Saroyan and John Steinbeck, for example, where pity was extended through their novels to the good-natured slob, to every kind of pervert and degenerate.”
Sheen goes on to say that as false compassion has risen, so has crime risen.
“Clemency of a false kind is shown to criminals. Part of the blame for this crime picture has to be laid at the door of all of those who committed and have shown false compassion.”
Watch Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen’s full sermon on False Compassion below: