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January 31st, 2017

Francis Twists Words of John Paul

I must share with you this piece from The Remnant newspaper, written by its star correspondent Christopher Ferrara. The article is rather long, but even if you never  read anything elseabout the catastrophic pontificate  of Francis, you will be well enough informed  from now on. These days, I’d recommend The Remnant  without reserve.              

     Purely from the standpoint of ecclesiastical history, the Bergoglian pontificate is a fascinating anomaly. Never before has the Church witnessed a Pope fanatically devoted to the overthrow in practice of universally applicable, exceptionless negative precepts of the natural moral law, beginning with Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery.
     It is easy enough to show that the rest of this pontificate is merely a continuation of the trajectory established during and after the Second Vatican Council, which provided the decisive opening for the neo-Modernist uprising that has convulsed the Church ever since. As I have noted on these pages before, Pope Bergoglio’s rampant ecumenism, his disdain for liturgical tradition, his demagogic attacks on “rigorists,” his religious indifferentism, his pursuit of endless, fruitless “dialogue” with the Church’s implacable foes, and his preoccupation with social and political issues beyond the purview of the Magisterium differ from the line of immediate predecessors, if at all, only in intensity.
     But as I also noted on that occasion (may the reader forgive me for quoting myself):
     “There is one truly substantial difference between Francis and the other conciliar Popes, that being his astounding, relentless attempt to subvert, in the name of “mercy,” the Church’s teaching and sacramental discipline concerning marriage, family and sexual morality generally. It is Francis alone—dismissing the contrary teaching even of his two immediate predecessors—who has launched the “final battle” of which Sister Lucia of Fatima, speaking in light of the Third Secret, warned Cardinal Caffarra… It is here, with Francis, that we encounter something really new and terrifying, even in the midst of what Cardinal Ratzinger admitted is a ‘continuing process of decay’ since the Council.”
     This new and terrifying Bergoglian innovation reduces to a single subversive pseudo-doctrine, which now joins the others (e.g. “dialogue,” “ecumenism,” “collegiality”) that have proliferated in the Church since the Council. Like the other pseudo-doctrines, it in turn is reducible to a single operative word with immense but never openly explicated consequences: “discernment.”
     Having plucked the word from its context in John Paul II’s Familiaris consortio, n. 84—which reaffirms the Church’s constant teaching that public adulterers in “second marriages” cannot be absolved or admitted to Holy Communion without an amendment of life—Bergoglio has, with the promulgation of Amoris Laetitia (AL), broadened its meaning into a practical framework for the introduction of situation ethics into the Church’s moral theology and praxis, thereby flatly contradicting John Paul. But Bergoglio’s—one must say it—mendacious abuse of his predecessor’s terminology allows him to claim “continuity” with the very Pope whose teaching he seeks to negate.
     Whereas John Paul II spoke of “discernment” in the context of dealing pastorally with those who, on account of their divorce and remarriage, cannot be admitted to the sacraments but are in differing degrees of fault respecting their situation, Bergoglio twists the concept into a pastoral program precisely for their admission to the sacraments while continuing to engage in adulterous sexual relations. With his letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires, confirming that they are correct in interpreting AL to allow precisely for this outcome—under the illusory restriction of “more complex circumstances”—Bergoglio has left no reasonable doubt of his intention.
     Hence the Four Cardinals’  Letter and the dubia it presents in a direct challenge to Bergoglio’s attack on the moral order. For as the cardinals recognize, AL involves much more than “a practical question regarding the divorced and civilly remarried,” but also “questions [that] touch on fundamental issues of the Christian life.”
The full implications of “discernment” are set forth with artful ambiguity in ¶¶ 303-304 of AL:
     “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. In any event, let us recall that this discernment is dynamic; it must remain ever open to new stages of growth and to new decisions which can enable the ideal to be more fully realized.
     “It is reductive simply to consider whether or not an individual’s actions correspond to a general law or rule, because that is not enough to discern and ensure full fidelity to God in the concrete life of a human being.”
     For the first time in Church history, a Pope dares to propose that a negative precept of the natural law is merely “a general rule or law” representing merely an “objective ideal” for human conduct, and that fidelity to God is not inconsistent with disobedience to the precept—e.g. Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery—given the “concrete complexity of one’s limits” and the “concrete life” of each individual as “discerned” by a local pastor or bishop. In short, for the first time in Church history, a Pope advocates the pastoral practice of situation ethics: What is adultery for John may not be adultery for Sarah; it all depends on the “complexity” of their respective “limits,” which must be “discerned” in each particular situation.
     Accordingly, the four cardinals wish Francis to answer Yes or No to the following question, among the five they have presented to him:
     “After the publication of the Post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation ‘Amoris Laetitia’  (cf. n. 304), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s Encyclical ‘Veritatis Splendor’ n. 79, based on Sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?”
     Bergoglio’s silence in the face of this question is a thunderclap that will echo in history until the end of time. He cannot answer the question because the answer, if given honestly, would condemn him as a heretic. Bergoglio really does think, and wishes the Church to think, that moral laws are merely rules from which one can be exempted based upon circumstances. This is just another way of saying that he really does not believe there is any such thing as mortal sin—at least when it comes to sexual behavior. For him, there are only variously excusable departures from “the general rule” and the “objective ideal.” Seen Bergoglio’s way, the negative precepts of the natural law would become benchmarks, not divine commands admitting of no exceptions. They would cease to have the character of true and binding law. The prohibitory Commandments would be obrogated, if not entirely abrogated, by a Bergoglian gloss on the Gospel.
     As he continues to attempt to hide his nefarious scheme behind a wall of silence while his subordinates attempt to implement it, Bergoglio’s co-conspirators confirm the object of the conspiracy. One example suffices—that of his closest Jesuit confidant, Antonio Spadaro. As Spadaro revealed during a Q & A with Religion News Service. “He realizes that the problem at the core of Amoris Laetitia is not a dogmatic problem. Which it’s not – it’s not a dogmatic problem.
     “The problem is that the church must learn to apply the practice of discernment better and more deeply and not just apply rules in the same way for everyone. The church must be attentive to people’s lives, to their journey of faith and to the way in which God works in each person. So a pastor can’t be a pastor by applying general rules to individual people. The church has to grow in discernment. That would be also one of the most important topics of the next synod….
     “I don’t know if they [the four cardinals] are critics of the discernment. I just know that the pope has said that life is not black and white. It is gray. There are a lot of nuances, and we have to discern nuances.
     “This is the meaning of the Incarnation – the Lord took flesh, which means we are involved with real humanity, which is never fixed or too clear. So the pastor has to get into the real dynamic of human life. This is the message of mercy. Discernment and mercy are the two big pillars of this pontificate.”
     There we have it from the Pope’s “mouthpiece” (a description Spadaro denies even as he performs the function). According to Bergoglio “the church must learn” from him—for the first time in 2,000 years! —that she cannot “apply rules in the same way for everyone,” that a priest “can’t be a pastor by applying general rules to individual people” and that “life is not black and white. It is gray.” That is, the Church must learn to practice situation ethics, applying the negative precepts of the natural law differently to different people based on “discernment” of their circumstances.
     With rhetoric about as subtle as the blandishments of a used car salesman, Spadaro dares to root Bergoglio’s error in the Incarnation, risibly asserting that God Incarnate represents a humanity “that is never fixed or too clear,” meaning that the application of Christ’s moral teaching is “never too fixed or clear.” Bergoglio relies on this ecclesiastical con man, replete with Twitter account, to dupe the faithful into accepting blasphemy and moral relativism as a teaching of the authentic Magisterium.
     What is this but yet another revival of the Gnostic heresy that has arisen in one form or another throughout Church history? It is the Gnosticism of the Pharisees, who claimed special knowledge— “discernment,” at it were—concerning the application of God’s law to “complex circumstances” such as divorce and purported remarriage.     
     The Pope who ceaselessly condemns Pharisaism—on the part of those who defend our Lord’s teaching against the Pharisees’ toleration of divorce—turns out to be the leader of a Neo-Pharisaic movement. The adepts of this movement purport to “discern,” based on their superior insight, which adulterers, which cohabiters, indeed which practitioners of sodomy in “homosexual unions,” are in the state of grace and may be allowed to receive the Holy Eucharist, and which of these objective sinners, on the other hand, must continue to be denied the Sacrament. But what are the criteria for this “discernment”?
     There are none. There is only the gnosis of the discerner, who is in the know.
     The new age of “discernment” has been revealed—so the neo-Pharisees tell us—by a “God of surprises” very much like the God who never failed to tell the Pharisees exactly what they wanted to hear. It is the God of the keepers of the ever-evolving gnosis, who always know better than the simple faithful what God requires “today,” denouncing their orthodox Catholic opposition as “rigorists” and accusing them of being exactly what they themselves are.
      As Bishop Athanasius Schneider has observed of these neo-Pharisees (without naming their leader), they “try to legitimize their infidelity to Christ’s word by means of arguments such as ‘pastoral need’, ‘mercy’, ‘openness to the Holy Spirit’. Moreover, they have no fear and no scruples to pervert in a Gnostic manner the real meaning of these words labeling at the same time those who oppose them and defend the immutable Divine commandment and the true non-human tradition as rigid, scrupulous or traditionalist. During the great Arian crisis in the 4th century the defenders of the Divinity of the Son of God were labeled ‘intransigent’ and ‘traditionalist’ as well.
     The “God of surprises” is simply the God of the silent apostasy, of that time when the people “will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables (2 Tim 4:3-4).” And the author of these fables, as always, is man masquerading as God.
     But who could have imagined that the chief fabulist would sit on the Chair of Peter? Who could have foreseen that there would one day be a Pope who observes a stony silence—broken only by petty invective against his questioners—when asked if he really intends to bring about the collapse of the moral order? Who could have thought that a Pope would relentlessly engage in threatening to end the Church’s salvific mission by having her consent to be nothing more than yet another religious organization that has died the death of the sexual Zeitgeist?
     In an article on the rising Catholic opposition to his insane designs, Bergoglio is reported to have admitted to the members of his inner circle that “It is not to be excluded that I will be remembered in history as the one who split the Church.” With Bergoglio, by his own admission, we are confronted with a possible realization of the hypothetical scenario of a schismatic Pope as discussed by the great Suarez and other theologians, or at least a Pope who is the cause of schism. There is certainly no sign that Bergoglio wishes to avoid the schism he is already provoking, or that he has any intention of changing the course that would earn him that shameful place in history. He seems, rather, to be proud of the effect he is having on the Church, a testament to the power of his vainglorious “vision” or “dream” of a “Church of Mercy” he actually seems to think did not exist before his arrival from the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, which he left in shambles.. (Is it some ironic heavenly twist that Bergoglio has the same number of syllables and rhymes perfectly with orgoglio, the Italian word for pride?)
     Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, one of the four presenters of the dubia, has rightly and courageously declared that “Whoever thinks that persistent adultery and the reception of Holy Communion are compatible is a heretic and promotes schism.” The man from Argentina may well succeed in being the Pope who split the Church, although not even a Pope can defeat her. Should it happen, the Church will recover from the Bergoglian Schism as the Holy Ghost infallibly secures the promises of Christ through the intercession of the Mediatrix of All Graces.
     But this much must be said of Pope Bergoglio lest we unjustly attribute to his predecessors his own unique contribution to the post-conciliar crisis: No document of the Council, nor any Pope since then, has so much as intimated a practical elimination of the distinction between right and wrong in the natural moral law that is written on the heart of every man. In propagating the heresy of “discernment,” Jose Mario Bergoglio stands alone among all the Roman Pontiffs. Alone in the singularity of his disgrace.

January 25th, 2017

The Ungainly Brent Goose

A few days ago, taking my daily walk in Kilbogget  Park just across the road from our flat in Cabinteely,  south Co. Dublin, I was intrigued to come across a flock of more than 100 dark geese cropping the grass near a rugby pitch. I couldn’t identify the variety till I got home and did a little research. With small white patches on their throats, they must have been Brent geese.

They allowed me to get within about 15-20 yards, but when I approached closer each one turned its back and began shuffling away in the opposite direction. T.A. Coward, whose The Birds of the British Isles and Their Eggs (Warne, 1920) has been my ornithological mainstay for the past 70 years, describes  Brent geese as “walking gracefully ”. I can’t agree with him: these moved more like old ladies  badly in need of hip replacements.

Their voices are not particularly inspiring, either. When she heard this clip from the other end of the flat, Stramentaria called out, “What’s that you’re listening to? The Hitler Youth?”

These shots were of geese on water, so how come the ones I saw were cropping grass in the park? With a little more research, I discovered via the BBC that the Brent goose’s main diet consists of a kind of seaweed called eel grass, which gives them all the vitamins, etc. that they need. But around now the supply of eel grass runs out, so they have to move a bit inland and survive on ordinary grass instead, even though it’s not nearly as nutritious. Quite soon they will fly to their summer grounds in northern Canada; but the younger ones, if they make it,  will be so exhausted by the long flight and the previous inadequate diet that  they won’t be able to breed until next year.

 

January 19th, 2017

O Worship the Pope!

If you haven’t yet chosen the blog Eccles Is Saved as one of your favourites, as I have suggested you should, you will have missed this post. Warning: depending on your temperament, the video may induce intense anger, a strong desire to vomit, or a fit of howling maniacal laughter.

We strongly recommend this video by Emily Clarke, which has been produced in honour of Pope Francis, due to visit Ireland next year in order to see whether there are any Catholics remaining there. It shows the best of modern Catholicism, pushing aside Jesus Christ in favour of an unqualified adoration of the Holy Father. According to the lyrics, “The Lord kept his promise to us and sent us a treasure to see us safely home.” This treasure being, er, the pope.

Papa Francis 1

Shine, Francis, Shine!

Of course the pope, being a humble and modest man, has angrily written to sister Emily to tell her to delete her video, which anyone but the most arrogant of people would find rather embarrassing. Luckily we still have some screen captures to see us safely home.

Papa Francis 2

A quick change of dress mid-song, and we pose in front of the Tabernacle.

Actually, dear Emily may not have changed her dress in the middle of the song; it may be a trick of the light, like that ambiguous dress which, according to the Daily Mail, has “baffled the Internet” because nobody is sure what colour it really is. And nobody really cares.

Papa Francis 3

The first ascent of the north face without ropes. And another change of dress.

According to the song, the pope was chosen by God, as a leader for our times. Well, it was either God or the St Gallen Mafia, and we still haven’t sorted out all the contradictions in the apostolic exhortation Austenis Iveria. But let’s be charitable and suppose that the Holy Spirit spoke through Cormac Murphy-O’Connor when Francis was chosen.

Papa Francis 4

Very dignified. Very tasteful. Oh, and the dress – what there is of it – is red.

Well, thank you very much, Emily. We’ll let you know.

For those whose collection of Pope St Francis memorabilia is still not complete, we have another exhibit.

Santo sùbito! A miraculous medal.

Well, that’s enough papalistic adoration for now. In fact, the medal I was given says “Insult us” on the back, and that does seem to be a more likely prospect.

However, we can report that the crisis involving the Knights of Malta seems to have been resolved. You will recall that it had reached an impasse, with the conversation reduced to “You have no authority to judge us.” “Oh, yes we have!” “Oh no, you haven’t!” etc. Finally, following my personal intervention, we have a solution.

pope squares up to Fra' Matthew Festing

Pope Francis and Fra’ Matthew Festing decide to settle things by sumo wrestling.

January 17th, 2017

Maltese Bishops Murder Marriage

Australian theology professor Fr Brian Harrison has written a devastating condemnation of the Maltese bishops who have used Amoris Laetitia to “inflict sudden death on Catholic marriage in their jurisdiction”. As he says (in the blog One Peter Five)  from now on there will be no enforceable limits whatsoever on the right of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion in the islands of Malta and Gozo. His post is so important and  so compelling that I am reproducing it here in full.

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recently published a widely circulated commentary on the recent fall-out from Amoris Laetitia entitled, “The End of Catholic Marriage”. In it, he argued persuasively that if Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on marital love comes to be generally interpreted and applied as liberally as it has been in the Diocese of San Diego, California, it will in effect mean the death of this sacrament as the Gospel of Christ and the Catholic Church have always presented it: a sacred covenant whose indissoluble character means that remarriage after divorce constitutes adultery – a violation of the Sixth Commandment that excludes one from sacramental absolution and Eucharistic communion.

Almost as if to corroborate the accuracy of Douthat’s warning, the two bishops of a Mediterranean island nation have descended like birds of prey to inflict sudden death on Catholic marriage in their jurisdiction. Malta has been famous as a bastion of fervent and orthodox Catholicism almost since St. Paul evangelized it in the first century. No more. For in one fell swoop, Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna of Malta and Bishop Mario Grech of Gozo have avoided superficial flesh wounds and darted straight in for the jugular. They do admittedly try to disguise their death-blow with the standard bland rhetoric about the need for a sincere search for God’s will, serious prayerful discernment, “humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching”, etc. But their bottom line is that in Malta there will now be no objective and enforceable limits whatsoever on the right of (non-continent) divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the Holy Eucharist. Priest confessors are being told they may no longer be deciders in such matters, only ‘accompaniers’; for access to the sacraments for all persons in these illicit unions will ultimately depend entirely on their own subjective decision of “conscience”.

How and when did this revolution occur? On January 13, the two aforesaid bishops made public an eight-page pastoral letter to Maltese priests entitled Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia. (It is dated January 8, 2017, Solemnity of the Epiphany.) Here you can read the full text.

I have no inside information as to whether Pope Francis had prior knowledge of this document, but in any case the Pontiff’s predictable failure to censure it will signify his assent to its content; indeed, that message has already been spread abroad by the instant publication of the Maltese letter in the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano.

Apart from noting two articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church about factors that can diminish personal culpability for objectively sinful acts, this letter contains no references to any pre-Francis magisterial teaching. So in Malta the year 2017 has started off looking like Orwell’s 1984, wherein inconvenient history simply vanishes down the memory hole. This is papal positivism with a vengeance: the very pontiff who constantly berates traditional Catholics for “seeing everything in black and white” is now being turned into a Superpope whose authority trumps that of all his predecessors if he chooses to call white what they called black.

Let’s take a look at the text of the document. Its general approach is clearly established right from article 1, wherein relationships that the Gospel and the Catholic Church call adultery and fornication are soothingly sociologized under the term “complex family situations”. Indissolubility is nowhere mentioned in this letter, and even an initial nod given to our Lord’s teaching on marriage reads like lukewarm lip-service. Before the two bishops turn to the manifold merciful mitigations of God’s law that really warm their hearts, they write, “As priests, we have the duty to enlighten consciences by proclaiming Christ and the full ideal of the Gospel” (art. 1). Ah, yes. Gospel teaching on lifelong marital fidelity is now just an ideal, no longer a grave obligation imposed on all spouses by Christ himself.

The same disingenuous airbrushing of Jesus’ demanding teaching is apparent when the Maltese bishops come to discuss continence on the part of invalidly remarried couples in cases where there are serious reasons for them not to separate. In article 9 we read (with emphasis added here):  “Throughout the discernment process, we should also examine the possibility of conjugal continence. Despite the fact that this ideal is not at all easy, there may be couples who, with the help of grace, practice this virtue without putting at risk other aspects of their life together.”

In this passage, note first of all the word “conjugal”: the bishops are whitewashing an adulterous relationship with an adjective that refers to true marriage. Next, continence is again described as a mere ideal, not a binding obligation. Indeed, the bishops depict this “ideal” as virtually unattainable by commenting coyly that there “may be” couples who actually observe it! In fact, their existence is far from hypothetical, as most experienced pastors are aware. Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke told me several days ago (January 14th) that, in speaking to the faithful who attend his Masses and lectures in various countries, he very frequently meets divorced and remarried couples who tell him they are practicing that demanding self-discipline – and finding peace and happiness in doing so. (His Eminence was in St. Louis visiting St. Mary of Victories Church, of which I am the rector, to celebrate Mass at the invitation of ‘Juventutem’, the international young adults’ organization that promotes the traditional Latin liturgy.) The Maltese bishops go on to imply that even those invalidly married couples who “may be” able to “practice this virtue” (i.e., continence) should do so only if this doesn’t “put at risk other aspects of their life together”. In plain language: Go ahead and practice vice instead of virtue – adultery instead of chastity – if that’s what it takes to safeguard “other aspects of [your] life”. The good end will justify the evil means.

Yes, it’s frightening to see Successors of the Apostles uttering such pernicious doctrine – especially by appealing to a papal document. But it gets worse. In the next sentence all pretence of seriously advocating a ‘brother-sister’ commitment for these couples is dropped. For the bishops continue thus: “On the other hand, there are complex situations where the choice of living ‘as brothers and sisters’ becomes humanly impossible and gives rise to greater harm (see AL, note 329)”. “Humanly impossible”, Your Excellencies? Have you forgotten that the Council of Trent has anathematized as heresy the view that, even with the help of sanctifying grace, compliance with God’s commands can sometimes be impossible? (Cf. canon 18 on justification, Dz 828 [DS/DH 1568].) And how could obeying a divine command ever “give rise to greater harm” than disobeying it?  Would it not be blasphemous to suggest that our loving Father could ever command us to do something that is to our real detriment, not our benefit?

It is all too easy to foresee the conclusion that will naturally be drawn from this paragraph (art. 9) by invalidly remarried Maltese Catholics: “Our official teachers of the faith are clearly telling us that sex between divorced and civilly remarried couples is not always gravely sinful; for they’re saying that the ‘brother-sister’ option is no longer a prerequisite for receiving the sacraments. And their rationale is that continence is not only humanly impossible for most couples but will in any case usually do more harm than good.  So why we should even attempt to live according this so-called ‘ideal’ when our bishops are saying that if we find it too burdensome we can go to Communion anyway?”

The coup de grâce for the perennial doctrine on marital fidelity and sacramental integrity comes in the succeeding paragraph of the letter. Article 10, in full, reads as follows:

“If, as a result of the process of discernment, undertaken with ‘humility, discretion and love for the Church and her teaching, in a sincere search for God’s will and a desire to make a more perfect response to it’ (AL 300), a separated or divorced person who is living in a new relationship manages, with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that he or she are [sic] at peace with God, he or she cannot be precluded from participating in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (see AL, notes 336 and 351).”

Please note the inclusion of “separated” persons above. Our two Maltese falcons (unleashed, it must be remembered, by the chief Falconer in Rome) have not only pried open the sacramental doors for those in bigamous unions that enjoy civil recognition. Their sharply logical beaks have simultaneously ripped out and discarded the need for divorce – so often a stressful, time-consuming and expensive process. Thus, Catholics in Malta who are cohabiting with one partner while still legally and sacramentally married to another will henceforth have access to the sacraments on the same basis as the divorced and remarried. Note also the ominous word “cannot” in art. 10. The island nation’s priest confessors are being told they not only may, but must, grant absolution (and thus, access to Communion) to unrepentant adulterers provided only  that the latter insist they have “manage[d], with an informed and enlightened conscience, to acknowledge and believe that [they] are at peace with God”. What, then, of the priest whose own “informed and enlightened conscience” tells him he may not comply with this revolutionary diktat? Once again Orwell’s scenario springs to mind: in Malta, it seems, all Catholic consciences may (perhaps) be equal, but some are now clearly “more equal than others”.

As if all this were not bad enough, more is in store a little further down the road. In article 3 of the letter, the bishops say that before treating their main topic (those who are “separated or divorced” from a true spouse), they “would like to address the situation of those who cohabit or who have only married civilly”. That is, Catholics who have never been validly married. While this paragraph rightly recommends a pastoral approach that would encourage these couples to move toward true marriage, it is silent about whether or not they can ever approach the sacraments in their present condition. However, the bishops hasten to emphasize, in accordance with AL #294, that among such couples “the degree of moral responsibility is not the same for all cases”, i.e., that they are not necessarily in mortal sin. So it is not hard to see what conclusion about sacramental reception will be drawn from art. 3 by many unwed sexual partners whose “informed and enlightened consciences” also tell them they’re “at peace with God”. Indeed, they will be able to tell themselves that, if anything, they should have a greater right to receive Communion than the divorced and remarried. For as simple fornicators in God’s sight, they cannot be accused of the graver sin of adultery, which violates the cardinal virtue of justice as well as that of temperance.

An explicit authorization for these folks too to approach the sacraments is probably just round the corner; and, since logical conclusions have a way of stubbornly following from their premises in practice as well as on paper, a similar permission for same-sex couples who find themselves “at peace with God” will surely not lag far behind. Not to mention corresponding concessions to polygamists all over Africa, as the orthodox Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban has recently warned us.

All in all, 2017 seems to be shaping up pretty well for Protestants as they celebrate (with more than a little encouragement from our Catholic leaders) the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  For if little Malta turns out to be a canary in the coal mine – an indicator of impending death for indissoluble marriage on a wider international scale – then our separated brethren will surely rejoice that we Catholics are finally seeing the light that Luther received five centuries earlier when he boldly relativized the Gospel’s stern teaching on this matter. Whether that ‘light’ really comes from Christ, who sent His Blessed Mother to appear at Fatima 100 years ago, is of course another matter. Among other things, she warned us then that “sins of the flesh” are those which most frequently send souls to Hell.

January 14th, 2017

From Foot-Washing to Coprophagia

The website LifeSite News has done us all a great favour by cataloguing the main eyebrow-raisers perpetrated by the Holy Father during 2016. I’m reproducing them here. You should be able to access most of the sources by clicking on each item.

January 18, 2016

Pope: Catholics who say “it’s always been done that way” have a “closed heart,” “will never reach the full truth,” and are “closed to the surprises of the Holy Spirit.”

January 21, 2016

Pope Francis changes Holy Thursday foot-washing ritual to include women. Christ washed the feet of his all-male apostles at the Last Supper.

February 8, 2016

Pope calls Italy’s foremost abortion promoter one of nation’s ‘forgotten greats’In an interview with Corriere Della Sera Pope Francis praised Italy’s unrepentant leading abortionist and proponent of abortion, Emma Bonino, as one of the nation’s “forgotten greats,” comparing her to great historical figures such as Konrad Adenauer and Robert Schuman.

February 18, 2016

Pope Francis’ uncorrected remarks on contraception interpreted worldwide as a shift in Church teachingOn his return flight from Mexico Pope Francis was asked about “avoiding pregnancy” in areas at risk of Zika virus transmission. “Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape,” he said.  After reiterating that abortion is never morally justified, he said, “On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”

Vatican confirms that Pope Francis was approving use of contraceptives and condoms in grave cases. (However, to do so would contradict the clear teaching of previous popes.)

March 2, 2016

Pope changes Vatican protocol to allow for Catholic Heads of State in irregular marital unions to be able to meet the Pope along with their partner.

April 8, 2016

Pope issues apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, creating an ongoing storm in the Church.

April 14, 2016

Pope Francis warns against those who resist the Spirit with “so-called fidelity to the law.”

April 16, 2016

Pope visits migrants on Greek island of Lesbos, then takes 3 Muslim families back to the Vatican, but no Christian families.

April 29, 2016

Pro-abortion U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Vatican event on adult stem cells.

May 3, 2016

Archbishop close to Pope says Pope wanted to conceal his support for communion for remarried divorceesArchbishop Bruno Forte, the Special Secretary for the synods on marriage and family, claims publicly that Pope Francis said, “If we speak explicitly about communion for the divorced and remarried, you do not know what a terrible mess we will make. So we won’t speak plainly, do it in a way that the premises are there, then I will draw out the conclusions.”

May 12, 2016

Pope says the Church should study ordaining women as deacons.

May 16, 2016

Pope Francis compares radical Islam to Catholic evangelization: “It is true that the idea of conquest is inherent in the soul of Islam. However, it is also possible to interpret the objective in Matthew’s Gospel, where Jesus sends his disciples to all nations, in terms of the same idea of conquest.”

May 29, 2016

Pope Francis gives award to Hollywood pro-abortion, anti-marriage advocates Richard Gere, George Clooney, and Salma Hayek.

June 2, 2016

Pope laments too much focus on Christ’s words to adulterous woman “go and sin no more”: “Sometimes I feel a little saddened and annoyed when people go straight to the last words Jesus speaks to her: ‘Go and sin no more’. They use these words to ‘defend’ Jesus from bypassing the law.”

June 9, 2016

Pope Francis: “Rigid… this or nothing” Catholics are “heretical” and “not Catholic.”

June 17, 2016

Pope Francis: Cohabitations are “real marriage” and “have the grace of real marriage.”

June 21, 2016

Pope Francis says there’s an absolute ban on the death penalty: “The commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ has absolute value and applies both to the innocent and to the guilty…. One sign of hope is that public opinion is manifesting a growing opposition to the death penalty, even as a means of legitimate social defence… It is an offence to the inviolability of life and to the dignity of the human person; it likewise contradicts God’s plan.”

Pope says all of Amoris Laetitia is sound doctrine: “For your own peace of mind, I have to tell you that everything that is written in the exhortation [Amoris Laetitia] – and here I refer to the words of a great theologian who once was a secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Schönborn, who presented it [Amoris Laetitia] – everything is Thomistic, from the beginning to the end. It is sound doctrine.”

June 26, 2016

Pope Francis misrepresents the Catechism on homosexualityOn the return flight from his visit to Armenia, Pope Francis said Catholics should apologize to gays. “I repeat what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: that they must not be discriminated against, that they must be respected and accompanied pastorally,” said the Pope. “The problem is a person that has a condition, that has good will and who seeks God, who are we to judge? And we must accompany them well…this is what the catechism says, a clear catechism,” the Pope added. The Catechism’s teaching on homosexuality is given in three paragraphs comprising just over 220 words. The Pope’s response references only 20 words from the middle of the second paragraph, ignoring the numerous passages warning against the harmful sexual behaviour.

July 7, 2016

Pope Francis named Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich to serve as a member of the Congregation for Bishops.

Pope Francis distances himself from ‘very conservative’ bishops.

July 18, 2016

Vatican issues quick dismissal of Cardinal Sarah’s call for Mass facing East.

July 26, 2016

Pope: Martin Luther’s intentions were not mistaken, he was a reformer.

July 27, 2016

At World Youth Day, Vatican releases teen sex-ed program that leaves out parents and mortal sin and includes sexually explicit photos and films.

August 2, 2016

Pope’s deaconess commission includes women’s priesthood supporter.

August 23, 2016

Leaked e-mails show George Soros paid leftist groups to influence Pope’s USA visit. The e-mails name key papal adviser Cardinal Maradiaga as a potential contact.

September 1, 2016

Pope Francis: Go to confession for not recycling, repent of excess plastic and paper, ecological conversion and new works of mercy.

September 9, 2016

Pope: There’s “no other interpretation” of Amoris Laetitia than allowing communion for divorced/remarried in some cases.

Pope Francis: “Division is the weapon the devil employs most to destroy the Church from within.”

September 29, 2016

Report reveals that some of the 45 signatories are feeling the heat over their letter urging clarification of ‘Amoris Laetitia’.

October 1, 2016

Pope Francis says it is a “very grave sin” to try to convert the Orthodox: “There is a very grave sin against ecumenism: proselytism.”

October 2, 2016

Pope Francis calls woman with sex-change operation a “man” and calls partners “married”.

October 6, 2016

Pope: True doctrine is not a rigid attachment to the Law, which bewitches as ideologies do.

October 9, 2016

Pope to replace Cardinal Sarah for speech at John Paul II Institute’s inauguration, and the Cardinal is not permitted to speak at another event.

In “seismic shift” Pope appoints very liberal Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich and 2 more U.S. progressives among 17 new cardinals. He also appoints the liberal Belgian Jozef de Kesel as cardinal.

October 13, 2016

Pope receives a statue of Luther in the Vatican and gives a new definition of “lukewarm.” Pope Francis told pilgrims to the Vatican “it is not licit” to “convince [non-Christians] of your faith.” “You must give testimony of your Christian life; it will be your testimony that will stir the hearts of those who look at you,” he added. And he concluded: “It will be the Holy Spirit that moves the heart with your testimony – that is way you ask – and regarding that you can tell the ‘why,’ with much thoughtfulness. But without wanting to convince.”

In that meeting, the pope also offered a novel definition of “lukewarm,” which according to Pope Francis is when Christians “are keen to defend Christianity in the West on the one hand but on the other are averse to refugees and other religions.”

October 24, 2016

Pope Francis said ‘…beneath rigidity there is something hidden about a person’s life. Rigidity is not a gift of God.

October 28, 2016

Pope Francis again elevates Church progressives in a complete overhaul of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship.

November 1, 2016

Pope proposes ‘new beatitudes for a new age’.

November 8, 2016

Pope Francis again welcomes visit from Italy’s leading abortion advocate.

November 10, 2016

Pope: Pontifical Academy for Life members no longer required to sign pro-life declaration.

November 11, 2016

Pope Francis on the young who like Latin Mass: ‘Why so much rigidity?’ Pope Francis said he wonders why some young people, who were not raised with the old Latin Mass, nevertheless prefer it. “And I ask myself: Why so much rigidity? Dig, dig, this rigidity always hides something, insecurity or even something else. Rigidity is defensive. True love is not rigid.”

In an interview Pope Francis said, “What we want is a battle against inequality, this is the greatest evil that exists in the world.

Eugenio Scalfari reports Pope Francis’ response to a question, “It is the Communists Who Think Like Christians“. The Vatican, as usual, does not issue any clarification.

November 18, 2016

In wake of 4 Cardinals letter, Pope Francis rebukes ‘legalism’ of Amoris Laetitia critics.

Vatican expert: Sources say Pope Francis ‘boiling with rage’ over Amoris criticism.

November 27, 2016

Pope publicly uses the scatalogical terms coprophagia and coprophilia.

December 21, 2016

Pope launches an investigation of the Knights of Malta after they fired top official over condom scandal.

In his annual Christmas address to the Roman Curia, Pope Francis says that ‘malicious resistance’ to his reforms that ‘takes refuge in traditions’ is from the devil.

January 9th, 2017

Daft Ecumenical Games

Following the Christmas festivities, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity will soon be upon us. Fr Hunwicke has some profound thoughts on the subject:

The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, invented by Anglican Papalists and originally, admirably, known as the Chair of Unity Octave, starts on Wednesday January 18; which, in the Old Calendar, was the Feast of the Chair, the Cathedra, of S Peter. This year the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity in collaboration with some Ecumenical Partners, has set out quasi-liturgical formulae for use. These forms constitute successful attempts to scale heights of risibility which have not to my knowledge previously been attempted. This is your real hard-core Guinness-book-of-records rubbish.

The central ritual involves the moving of stones. But, because carrying real stones might be a bit like hard work for the aged biddies of each sex who are likely to be symbolising their second childhoods by taking part in these events, the ‘stones’ will in fact be shoe boxes covered with packing paper. No, I’m not making this up. Twelve of them. With labels. Labels naming ‘things that divide’. The ‘stones’ will be built up to make a ‘Wall of Division’ which will then be dismantled and formed into a Cross. (What happens if the officiants disagree about the neatest way in which twelve empty shoe-boxes can be arranged into a Cross, and end up in a melee of fisticuffs, is a rubrical detail which these curial nut-cases have not catered for.)

At least two things worry me here.
(1) Some of the names on the stones involve non-statement, since they imply a tautology. How helpful is it, for example, to say that Division Divides?
(2) The Divisive Factors selected by the PCCU, of course, imply a specific (and distinctly narrow) mindset. I can best illustrate this by telling you some of the things which will not be written on any of the shoe boxes. ‘Heresy’ is not included. Nor is ‘Disobedience to the Commandments of God’. No mention of  ‘Divergence from Holy Tradition’. Or of ‘Failure to Worship God as He has commanded’. Try guessing what, in the Spirit of the Zeitgeist, these Ecumenists have come up with, then turn to the Vatican Website and discover how close you have got to analysing accurately the Spirit of the Age. And, No: ‘Following the Spirit of this Passing Age’ does not claim the dignity of a shoebox.

Nor does ‘Encouraging grown men and women to play daft games with shoe boxes’.

This ritual is  all there on the Vatican’s official website. In our efforts to be Ecumenical with a capital E, we have become as batty as any liberal Protestant sect.