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May 31st , 2016

Traddery and Trumpery

There has been quite a rumpus recently in Traditional and Conservative Catholic circles about an article in the American Trad newspaper The Remnant by Ann Barnhardt,   describing  Pope Francis as “personally responsible for the most loss of human souls to eternal damnation, above Luther, above Mohammed, above Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), above Paul VI Montini”.

Well, I think most readers, even those most critical of the present pontificate,  would agree that such language is more than a little over the top. And Miss Barnhardt goes on to insist that the Pope  must be “deposed and anathematised for being a heretic” by  what she describes as “those bishops remaining who still hold the Catholic Faith”, called together in an “imperfect Ecumenical Council”.

Whoa! In the first place she can’t possibly know how many—if any—souls have been lost because of the Holy Father’s admittedly destructive polices and heterodox utterances. In the second place, it is not our business as lay people to advocate what would amount to a schism.

All the same, I can’t go along with John Médaille, (a theology teacher, a retired businessman and a Distributist more or less on the lines of Belloc and Chesterton) who bitterly attacks The Remnant‘s editor Michael Matt for carrying Miss Barnhardt’s piece at all. He insists that Mr Matt is just trying to  increase his circulation by appealing to the worst passions of his audience and saying the most outrageous things—thus becoming “the Donald Trump of Catholic Traditionalism”.

Now, every editor wants to increase his circulation. But I’ve met Michael Matt on several occasions, and I’m sure his motives are worthier than that. I think he felt that Ann Barnhardt’s voice was one that should be heard, and I think—despite the  hysterical tone of the piece—that he was probably right. You can read John Médaille’s critique on www.ethikapolitica. org. In the appropriate  combox on that site you will find dozens of entries arguing for and against Mr Matt’s decision to carry the article. Mr Médaille concludes:

And who can fail to note the irony that on the eve of the five-hundredth anniversary of Luther’s famous 95 Theses that split the Church apart, some Traditionalists, with their own theses, want to do the same? And to make the irony complete, they seem to want a council to overrule the Pope, which sounds a lot like the conciliarism they pretend to oppose.

Christopher Ferrara, distinguished pro-life lawyer and Remnant columnist retorts:

And who can fail to note the irony that Francis is going to Sweden next year to commemorate the 500th anniversary of that same “Reformation”, including participation in a joint liturgy with faux Lutheran “bishops” who condone abortion, contraception, divorce, the “ordination” of women and practicing homosexuals, and who would be viewed as worthy of the flames by Luther himself? Surely we Catholics have not lost the capacity to recognize this kind of thing as simply insane. There is more to the Remnant‘s position than the rhetoric and tone of one column.

And in a separate comment,  Mr Ferrara says: “No Pope in Church history has received the world’s praise like this Pope. That is a very bad sign, as Our Lord himself made clear.”

In another comment, one Stephen Hand notes:

Just weeks before the Irish same sex referendum in which Ireland was lost to the Catholic Church for the first time since St. Patrick, Francis appointed the notorious gay advocate, Fr. Timothy Radcliffe, as Consultor to the Vatican’s Peace and Justice Commission. What a sly signal to the Irish in that critical hour. And that appointment also illustrated that Francis, unlike JPII and BXVI has been driving a sly wedge between Church praxis (works of mercy) and traditional Catholic doctrine. The former must ever be the “fruit” of orthodoxy, sound doctrine, never a substitute for it.

I would agree with John Médaille that no matter how bad things get, schism is never the answer. Perhaps our best course  would be to heed the advice of Cardinal Raymond Burke:

I think of so many faithful who express to me their profound concerns for the Church in the present time, when there seems to be so much confusion about fundamental dogmatic and moral truths. In responding to their concerns, I urge them to deepen their understanding of the constant teaching and discipline of the Church and to make their voices heard, so that the shepherds of the flock may understand the urgent need to announce again with clarity and courage the truths of the faith and to apply again with charity and firmness the discipline needed to safeguard the same truths.

Both Mr Matt and Mr Médaille were at last year’s symposium of the Roman Forum in Gardone on the Italian lakes. I hope they’ll both be there again.

May 24th, 2016

Do We Need Spluttering Expletives?

Do you recall my noting a month or so ago ago that some ultra-Traditionalists  were accusing Cardinal Raymond Burke of pussy-footing around  because he doesn’t yell abuse at Pope Francis?  Hilary White of the blog What’s Up With Francis-Church went so far as to suggest that the Cardinal had thrown his most loyal supporters under the bus. And all because he has confined himself to noting that Amoris Laetitia is not part of the magisterium. Well, Fr Hunwicke has recently defended Cardinal Burke in much the same terms as myself—only with wit and learning, as you would expect:

Cardinal Burke has made himself quite unpopular in some Traddy circles by not denouncing  Amoris Laetitia ut Leo rugiens* from his Maltese housetops. There are fierce people around who feel that, for a top lawyer simply to say that the document has no Magisterial authority, is just not nearly angry enough. Spluttering expletives, apparently, are called for. Raymond Leo Burke, they say, should put a lot more work into his spluttering techniques.

I must declare an interest here. When AL emerged, my own first comment (April 9) was to observe immediately that an Apostolic Exhortation  is “not doctrinally constitutive nor juridically legislative”. Burke … and I! … are exactly right. That is why we do not splutter.

Some critics have claimed that AL must be magisterial because Bergoglio is on record as saying “I wrote an encyclical … and an Apostolic Exhortation, I’m constantly making statements, giving homilies. That’s magisterium.”

If this Pope really does imagine that his Petrine Magisterium extends to Apostolic Exhortations, to “statements”, and even to his endless homilies, then this is quite a serious and worrying misunderstanding on his part of his own office.

But however much this apparent claim may impress the hyperultrapapalists who surround the Holy Father but have never read Pastor aeternus of Vatican I, it should be an irrelevance to those of us who know better.

Apostolic Constitutions are way above the pay grade of Apostolic Exhortations. And the principle that “remarried” divorcees should not receive Holy Communion is embodied in the Catechism, which rests upon the authority of the Apostolic Constitution Fidei Depositum of S John Paul II. Moreover, it was given to the Ordinariates as our doctrinal norm in the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum coetibus of Benedict XVI.

This is the Catholic Faith which we have received.

It is the duty of every Catholic, high and low, to guard and hand on the Deposit of Faith which we have received, sancte et fideliter. Vatican I, unsurprisingly, took the view that this is especially the duty of the successor of S Peter (Denzinger 3070).

I still share that view, even if some of Bergoglio’s closest associates do not.

*like a roaring lion. 1 Peter 5: 8.

Now, if you’d like to see some real foam-flecked spluttering about the Holy Father, here is some:

May 17th, 2016

Nasty and Dirty

I am delighted that so many people are strongly criticising the Pope’s latest apostolic exhortation. As you might expect, one of the best comments comes from Fr John Hunwicke:

 Many people very much more holy and learned than I am have spoken of the great riches and beauties which are to be found in Amoris Laetitia. Since, we are told, portions of it were added at the request of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I see no reason why this should not be true. But I think footnote 329 is thoroughly Nasty and Dirty. It is dealing with the idea that “remarried” divorcees might live together as brother and sister. But, in the course of doing this, it quotes Gaudium et Spes. Since the Conciliar Document is referring ad locum to the SPACING of families by married couples, this misrepresents the Council. It is always Nasty and Dirty to tell lies, particularly when it is a case of radically misrepresenting the teaching of an ecclesiastical organ … an Ecumenical Council … to which Christian people might feel they owed a duty of respect.

And, finally, this footnote appears to accept by implication the proposition that the Grace of God is not able to give Christian people the strength to live in accordance with His will. That is Nasty and Dirty. The Church has always taught that Chastity is within the reach of those who live in God’s grace. Millions of Christians have found this to be true.

Indeed, this repulsive little footnote really does draw back the lace curtain on the Nastiness and the Dirt to be found inside the Holy Father’s House of “Mercy”. Some people, we are informed, point out that if “remarried” divorcees live together without sex, one or both of them will be in danger of cheating on their new quasi-spouse. Surprise, surprise! One, at least, and perhaps both, have almost certainly already cheated on another and lawful spouse; is there really any reason why they should not cheat on a new and unlawful “spouse”? Go on: be realistic! Isn’t it what we should expect? And this footnote does not even put into the mouths of the “couple” the sentiment If we try to live as brother and sister we shall probably fall, and end up in bed together. That, at least, would be human and honest. And it could be given a gentle and understanding pastoral answer. But No! Footnote 329 says it is the “fidelity” of the new quasi-marriage which will be endangered. In other words, Cardinal Marx’s “remarried” divorcees are making the threat You’ve got to let us have sex together because if you don’t we’ll have sex anyway … BUT WITH OTHER PEOPLE!! So there !!!  A seedy lot, both the Cardinal and the adulterers he so enthusiastically sponsors.

However, since a new relationship has, by producing children, created new obligations, this situation should, we are often told, be accepted. If it is true that quasi-union II can do this, why should quasi-union III not do the same? The idea that Adultery can, as it were, be regularised by the emergence of a new economic unit, a second family, has endless ramifications!

Paradoxically, we should, I think, thank God for the very open Nastiness and Dirtiness of Footnote 329. At least we know where we are, and the sort of people we are dealing with.

 *************************
Talking of Nastiness and Dirtiness, I don’t suppose you knew that today is the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, for some reason shortened to IDAHOT. I don’t know what they mean by Biphobia. It literally means fear of the Number Two.
Anyway, an informant tells me that IDAHOT sent out fliers on social media to various worthy and not-so-worthy organisations asking them to become its “allies”. An official of one outfit which must remain anonymous announced on Twitter that they were an ally. Now, on Twitter there are no spaces in the #hashtags, so this person wrote  #IDAHOT#AnAllyTodayAndEveryDay. But
it’s worse in lower case… anallytodayandeveryday…

May 14th, 2016

Pandaemonium and Priestesses

Pope Francis has promised a group of elderly progressive nuns that he’s going to look into the question of “ordaining”  women deacons (something definitively ruled out by Pope St John Paul II). The possibility of Communion for unrepentant adulterers and now this! Pope Francis certainly doesn’t let the grass grow under his feet.

Can anyone doubt that women deacons are merely a stalking horse for priestesses? Pope Francis may not think so , but you may be sure those nuns do.  The blog Ignatius His Conclave imagines how C.S. Lewis’s devil Screwtape might react:

 

73668_palace_vicen_lg

The Pandaemonium Club
666, Pall Mall
London, SW1Y 5EP

Your Holiness,

May we at the Pandaemonium Club express our heartfelt admiration at the progress of your pontificate?  We had not hoped for so much in so short a time. Yours is a ministry of surprise and spontaneity, which we at the Club can only applaud.

Doctrine in the Catholic Church has always seemed to Club members to be weighed down by tradition and overly concerned with consistency. Your Holiness, in throwing caution to the winds and speaking from the heart without fear or premeditation, has opened a new era in relations between the Holy See and our own scarcely less venerable Society.

After ‘The Joys of Sex’, the ordination of women deacons! Things are certainly on the move.

I have been asked by the Committee, to offer you Life Membership, as a sign of our apprectiation.

Should you honour us by your acceptance, a chair by the fire will be reserved in the smoking room for your sole use, where I am sure you will feel completely at home.

Jeremy Huntingdon Screwtape, KCMG
Chairman.

 

May 10th, 2016

Amoris Laetitia Is Unmerciful

John Smeaton,  CEO of the Society for the Protection of  Unborn Children, England and Wales, has denounced  the papal exhortation Amoris Laetitia for its failure to speak out clearly on adultery. Mr Smeaton  said this  failure showed a lack of mercy, because it  denied Catholics the truth about right and wrong.

I believe Mr Smeaton’ s appeal to Pope Francis is so important it should be read by all concerned Catholics. So here it is, in full.

Your Holiness,

With reverence and with attention to common advantage and the dignity of persons, and as a husband and father, I consider that the section of Amoris Laetitia entitled “The Need for Sex Education” seriously fails parents at a time when parental rights regarding sex education are under serious and sustained attack in many nations of the world, and at the international institutions. This section spans more than five pages without making even one reference to parents, albeit parental rights are mentioned earlier in another context. On the other hand there is reference to “educational institutions”. Yet sex education is “a basic right and duty of parents” which “must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them” as your predecessor, Pope John Paul II, taught the faithful in Familiaris Consortio, Number, 37.

Your Holiness, Catholic Bishops’ Conferences around the world, including in Britain, are collaborating with our anti-life opponents in the birth control and sex education lobbies, in helping to impose corrupting sex education programmes on primary and secondary schoolchildren. Such programmes, including in Catholic schools, involve providing our children with access to abortion and contraception. Thus, Holy Father, the Bishops’ Christ-given authority, which we the faithful hold in such reverence, is being instrumentalised to scandalise and cause terrible harm to our children. Amoris Laetitia will serve to make this terrible situation even worse.

Holy Father, I believe, as all Catholics believe, that the Pope is Peter, the rock Christ chose on which to build His Church. The Pope serves the unchangeable truth of Christ’s teaching. However, Your Holiness, the Pope is not the master but the servant of the truth.

Your Holiness, once again with reverence and with attention to common advantage and the dignity of persons, as well as with my authority as a husband and father, I note that there are references to public adultery in the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia which fail to point out the intrinsic evil of adultery. I consider that such references will result in scandalising little ones in the way contained in Jesus Christ’s warning in verse 92, chapter 9, of the Gospel of St Mark.

Even worse, Holy Father, Amoris Laetitia, the Apostolic Exhortation, at the very least, raises the possibility that adulterous sexual acts may be justifiable. This shows a lack of mercy because it denies Catholics the truth about right and wrong. It denies Catholics the knowledge they need to exercise true freedom, freedom from sin. It also shows a lack of mercy because it sends children the false message that marriage is not indissoluble. Arguably, Your Holiness, the most effective way of destroying children is to destroy marriage as an indissoluble lifetime union of a man and a woman.

Holy Father, The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that certain actions are “intrinsically evil”—such things as adultery.

I believe, Your Holiness, as all Catholics believe, because Jesus Christ Himself taught, that marriage is indissoluble and, Jesus taught, if someone divorces or puts away their spouse and marries another, he or she commits adultery–which is considered a mortal sin, the kind of serious sin by which one cuts oneself off from God’s love. (Matthew, 19)

I believe, as all Catholics believe, because Jesus Christ Himself taught, that in going to Holy Communion we receive the body of Jesus Christ, God Himself: we receive life and the promise of eternal life. (John, 6:54)

Finally, Holy Father, I believe, as all Catholics believe the teaching of St Paul that if a person eats and drinks the body and blood of Jesus Christ unworthily, we don’t receive life or grace, we eat and drink judgement to ourselves “not discerning the body of the Lord”. (Corinthians: 1,11.29)

Holy Father, I know lots of ordinary Catholics both in my family life and through my work. I know women and men who’ve been deserted by their spouse for another person and either left alone with children or left alone without their children. If that deserted spouse were then to see their wife or husband with a new partner, receiving the Body of Christ in Communion, that sends the message to everyone, including the children, that marriage is not indissoluble after all. This is destructive of the truth about marriage. It’s also damaging psychologically and spiritually, not least for the children.

Holy Father, with reverence and with attention to common advantage and the dignity of persons, I appeal to you to recognise the grave errors in the recently published Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, in particular those sections which will lead to the desecration of the Holy Eucharist and to the harming of our children, and to withdraw the Apostolic Exhortation with immediate effect.

Yours sincerely in Christ,

John Smeaton

May 6th, 2016

Becoming a Bad Rad Trad

          Better that only a few Catholics should be left, staunch and sincere in their religion, than that they should, remaining    many, desire as it were to be in collusion with the Church’s enemies and in conformity with the open foes of our faith.St. Peter Canisius.

          You must not abandon the ship in a storm because you cannot control the winds….What you cannot turn to good, you must at least make as little bad as you can.St Thomas More.

I recently received the latest (September-October 2015) issue of The Brandsma Review,  which proves, reassuringly,  that editor Peadar Laighléis is still struggling manfully to overcome his ongoing production problems.   The layout, I am sorry to say, is still dire, but there are some excellent and up-to-date articles—notably, as one would expect, by Joe McCarroll and David Manly on the Eighth Amendment and abortion. However, one glaring and regrettable omission is any mention  of what seems to be becoming one of the  most serious  crises the Church has ever faced.

I refer, of course to the Holy Father’s ongoing  attack on the Church’s Tradition, most notably in regard to matters of sexual morality, in Amoris Laetitia.  I have referred before to this failure to face facts  as “tiptoeing around the Argentine elephant in the living room”. If  The Brandsma Review is not going to face squarely up to this problem, then what other Irish outlet will?

Is Stramentarius  morphing into a Bad Rad Trad? Well, if so, that’s regrettable, but I really don’t see how it can be avoided.

May 5th, 2016

We Must Resist This Wayward Pope

Part IV of a series edited  from The Remnant newspaper.

After expressing astonishment that a Pope should reduce the precepts of the natural law to the equivalent of a set of traffic regulations, Christopher Ferrara concludes that—just as at the time of the Arian heresy—the number of bishops  refusing to repudiate the teaching of their own Church will be very small indeed:

Finally, in paragraph 305 we encounter the poison pill the entire document and the entire “Synodal process” were clearly designed to administer to the Church: authorization for the admission of public adulterers, and by implication any sort of habitual public sinner, to Confession and Holy Communion in “certain cases.” This means, in short order, every case. For as Francis revealed last November to his trusted friend, the militant atheist Eugenio Scalfari, in another interview whose contents neither Francis nor the Vatican denied: “This is the bottom line result, the de facto appraisals are entrusted to the confessors, but at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask will be admitted.

Reaching the crescendo of his three-year-long demagogic assault on the Church’s imaginary pharisaical “rigorism,” including that of John Paul II, Francis now announces: “a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives.” Quoting his own previous eruption of ire at the conservative prelates who dared to stand up to him during Synod 2015, Francis opines that merely to apply moral laws would “bespeak the closed heart of one used to hiding behind the Church’s teachings, ‘sitting on the chair of Moses and judging at times with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families’.”

What a strange accusation to hurl at the very prelates who opposed Francis’s relentless drive for a neo-Mosaic return to the Old Testament dispensation respecting divorce, but rather defended its perpetual abolition by Christ, whose vicar Francis is supposed to be. But then Francis has spent much of the past three years doing exactly what he condemns in the members of his flock—above all, publicly deriding observant Catholics he deems inadequate, almost every day, while railing against judgmentalism on the part of others.

Francis will have none of this “hiding behind the Church’s teachings”, for by “thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God.” Yes, the Roman Pontiff has actually promulgated a document whose very theme is the slogan of the empty modern mind: “Well, you see, not everything is black and white.” No, there are many shades of grey—probably at least fifty.

And then the outcome the faithful have been dreading since the “synodal journey” began. With little fanfare and a buried footnote, the synod train at last reaches its destination. Paragraph 305 declares: “Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin… a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.

And what does Francis mean by the “Church’s help”? He means Confession and Holy Communion, as fateful footnote 351 states. In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium [24 November 2013], 44: AAS 105 [2013], 1038). I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (ibid., 47: 1039).

The phrase “prize for the perfect” is taken directly from the intervention by Cardinal Kasper with which Francis began the whole charade of a “Synod on the Family”: Kasper’s speech  to the consistory of February 2015 in which he unveiled the “Kasper proposal”—the only address Francis permitted, which he later hailed as “ beautiful and profound.” The circle of manipulation is completed as Francis finally reveals that the “Kasper proposal” was his proposal all along.

Leaving no doubt of the matter, Cardinal Lorenzo (“the book thief”) Baldisseri and the other Modernist subversives Francis tapped for the occasion made this clear even to the most obtuse observer at the press conference where they presented Amoris Laetitia to the public.

Co-presenter Cardinal Schönborn, continuing the systematic misrepresentation of the teaching of John Paul II on “discernment” in Familiaris consortio 84, put the matter thus in his presenting speech: “Pope Francis reiterates the need to discern carefully the situation, in keeping with St. John Paul II’s Familiaris consortio (84) (AL 298). ‘Discernment must help to find possible ways of responding to God and growing in the midst of limits. By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and of growth, and discourage paths of sanctification which give glory to God” (AL 205)’…In the sense of this ‘via caritatis’ (AL 306), the Pope affirms, in a humble and simple manner, in a note (351) that the help of the sacraments may also be given ‘in certain cases’. But for this purpose he does not offer us case studies or recipes, but instead simply reminds us of two of his famous phrases: ‘I want to remind priests that the confessional should not be a torture chamber but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy’ (EG 44), and the Eucharist ‘is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak’ …” 

So, the confessional is a “torture chamber” unless some—meaning ultimately all—unrepentant public adulterers are, at least eventually, allowed to enter without repentance, avoid any commitment to amendment of life, and leave with a declaration of absolution for a continual mortal sin they will simply continue committing because their “weakness” is now being “integrated”. Otherwise, everything would be “black and white”.

Is this for real? Indeed it is. And now we know from Francis himself just how real. During the in-flight press conference on his return from the trip to Greece, Francis was pressed on whether, contrary to those who say nothing has changed, Amoris Laetitia authorizes “new concrete possibilities for the divorced and remarried that did not exist before the publication of this exhortation.” Punctuating the answer with an emphatic hand gesture and a nod of the head, he replied: “I can say Yes. Period” (“Io posso dire sì. Punto.”) He also recommended that everyone read Schönborn’s presentation in which “your question will have an answer.” And Schönborn answer is: “the Pope affirms, in a humble and simple manner, in a note (351) that the help of the sacraments may also be given ‘in certain cases.’” So Francis told the reporter to consult Cardinal Schönborn concerning what Francis affirms in his own document—a runaround and a passing of the buck one would expect from a politician, not a Pope.

Consider the moral catastrophe Francis has just unleashed: A public adulterer in a second “marriage” is admitted to Holy Communion as part of a process of “discernment” that allows “integration” while he “gradually” moves toward an acceptance of Church teaching that may never come. Yet once he is made aware by the priest conducting this “discernment” that the Church teaches that his condition constitutes adultery—as if he didn’t know this before!—how can he continue to claim inculpable ignorance of the moral law? Of course he cannot. But, as we saw above, Francis has the answer: even those who know the law are now to be excused from compliance by way of pastoral “discernment” because they find it “very difficult to act differently (302)” on account of “mitigating factors (301-302).”

This logic obviously leads to the de facto elimination of mortal sin as an impediment to Holy Communion on the part of any and all habitual sinners who find it “very difficult” to change their behavior. In which case, as Fr Schall wonders, why would anyone need to go to Confession at all? “If this conclusion is correct,” he writes, “we really have no need for mercy, which has no meaning apart from actual sin and its free recognition….Therefore, there is no pressing need to concern oneself too much with these situations.”

So, there we have it: Francis calls for an unprecedented new regime of “pastoral discernment” that would bizarrely presume subjective inculpability in the face of endemic conduct objectively constituting public and habitual mortal sin, but now suddenly reduced to mere “irregularities.” In a pair of strategic footnotes sacramental absolution and the Holy Eucharist are recommended to “integrate” and “help” these objective mortal sinners without a prior amendment of life —but only in “certain cases,” as if that constituted a real limitation.

On the other hand, as the new “discernment” is supposedly discretionary with local priests acting under the authority of local bishops, outcomes would vary from parish to parish, region to region, and nation to nation. To recall Robert Royal’s assessment: “In concrete terms, around the globe, what looms ahead is chaos and conflict, not Catholicity.”

BUT NOTE WELL: Nothing in Amoris Laetitia indicates that Francis would extend his amnesty for sexual sinners to the other sorts of sinners he never ceases to denounce, including Mafiosi, arms traders, greedy capitalists, polluters of the environment, opponents of uncontrolled immigration, supporters of the death penalty and, lest we forget, the “rigorist” Catholics who oppose his notion of “mercy.” Would Francis, for example, tell the pastors of the Church that because of “various cognitive or psychological conditions” that make it “very difficult to act differently” greedy billionaires, wealthy arms dealers or “rigorist” Catholics are subjectively guiltless and cannot be expected to change their ways in conformity to “the ideal”? The question answers itself.

So this entire years-long, dismal affair comes down to an “amnesty” extending only to sins of the flesh. But, as Our Lady of Fatima warned, these are the sins that send more souls to Hell than any other. We are reminded that Sister Lucia of Fatima warned Cardinal Caffarra, one of the foremost opponents of the Kasper proposal, that “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family.” Did she know that a Pope would be leading the enemy forces?

Every Catholic worthy of the name has a duty to resist this attempted overthrow of the perennial Magisterium by a wayward Pope who clearly has no respect for the teaching of his own predecessors—having misrepresented the crucial contrary teaching of one of them, along with other sources—and who descends to demagoguery by appealing to a “mercy” that would be the worst kind of spiritual cruelty. It is unthinkable that the leadership of the Church, as a pastoral programme no less, could leave souls at risk of damnation in the very condition that places them at risk, even encouraging them to compound their guilt by sacrilegiously partaking of Holy Communion while they consider whether they will cease their continuing adultery or fornication.

This is madness never before seen in the history of the Church. And where are the members of the hierarchy to lead us in the midst of this madness? As it was during the time of the Arian crisis, when Saint Athanasius was almost alone among hierarchs publicly defending the faith, so will it be today: the prelates who stand fast and refuse to repudiate the teaching of their own Church will be very few in number, perhaps so few they can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

Concluded

May 2nd, 2016

Black is White—by Papal ‘Fiat’

Part III of a series, edited from an article in The Remnant.

After stating that Pope Francis’ novel “pastoral discernment” approach ignores objective conduct in favour of a presumption that people living in a continual state of public adultery are subjectively blameless for a myriad of reasons, Christopher Ferrara points out that Amoris Laetitia then declares that a well-formed conscience which knows what the “general rule” requires can still claim an exemption from the “rule” if it “honestly” decides God does not require full compliance at the moment:

The Catholic mind staggers before the spectacle of a Pope who, for rhetorical convenience, reduces the moral law to “rules” from which one can be excused if he does not appreciate their “value” or his “concrete situation” supposedly makes compliance impossible—as if the precepts of the natural law were a set of traffic regulations. Saint Paul infallibly teaches that “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it (1 Cor. 10:13).”

Francis, however, apparently doesn’t agree with the word of God on this particular point. Neither did Martin Luther, whose launching of the “Reformation” Francis  will be celebrating next year in Sweden, including a joint liturgy with Lutheran ministers whose churches reject the indissolubility of marriage, condone contraception and abortion, ordain women and practicing homosexuals as “priests” and “bishops,” and support the legalization of “same-sex unions” that Francis has consistently failed to oppose. Perhaps this is just a coincidence.

Evidently hoping to forestall or mitigate what he knew was a coming disaster, the retired curial Cardinal Walter Brandmüller issued a statement only days prior to the publication of Amoris Laetitia (since repeated in substance) which, in keeping with the Catechism and the Church’s invariant teaching, declares that one “who, in spite of an existing marriage bond, enters after a divorce into a new civil union, is committing adultery” and “cannot receive either absolution in Confession nor the Eucharist (Holy Communion) [if he] is not willing to put an end this situation…” Obviously there can be no “exceptions” for certain individuals because “What is fundamentally impossible for reasons of Faith is also impossible in the individual case.” The Cardinal concluded: “The post-synodal document, Amoris Laetitia, is therefore to be interpreted in light of the above-presented principles, especially since a contradiction between a papal document and the Catechism of the Catholic Church would not be imaginable.”

For Francis, however, the contradiction is quite imaginable. He apparently believes he can make it a reality by his own fiat, without the least regard for the contrary teaching of his predecessors—indeed, without regard for truth itself, which the casuistic reasoning of Amoris Laetitia has already twisted repeatedly to get this far. Francis deems it sufficient that during his own minutely stage-managed sham of a Synod “many Synod Fathers”—including those with whom he stacked the proceeding—were of the view that “[u]nder certain circumstances people find it difficult to act differently,” so that “while upholding a general rule, it is necessary to recognize that responsibility with respect to certain actions or decisions is not the same in all cases.” (302)

According to Francis’s moral theory, then, every moral precept would be a “general rule” admitting of exceptions under “difficult” circumstances. The theory is founded on nothing more than his own opinion, quotations from his own documents and ad-libbed homilies, a misleading reference to the teaching of Saint Thomas, and whatever appreciation for situation ethics Francis might have imbibed during his studies and ecclesiastical career.

Leaving no doubt of the magnitude of his theological coup attempt, Francis even declares that a well-formed conscience, which knows what the “general rule” requires, can still claim an exemption from the “rule” if it “honestly” decides God does not require full compliance at the moment.

Believe it or not, the following is the opinion of a Roman Pontiff: “Naturally, every effort should be made to encourage the development of an enlightened conscience, formed and guided by the responsible and serious discernment of one’s pastor, and to encourage an ever-greater trust in God’s grace. Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal. 

It seems impossible to believe that a Roman Pontiff would promulgate a document declaring that even a well-formed conscience is excused from obedience to the moral law it knows if less than obedience is what the actor deems sufficient “for now,” and that God would approve this departure from “the ideal.” How is this passage alone anything other than a sign of an apocalyptic turn of events in the Church?