Home > Tag Archives: Amoris Laetitia

Tag Archives: Amoris Laetitia

June 20th, 2017

Courage, Clarity and Collegiality

I see that the Four Cardinals, having had no reply to their dubia about Amoris Laetitia have asked for an audience with Pope Francis. I hope he agrees, but I’m not holding my breath.

Fr Hunwicke has a very helpful blogpost, in which he points out that “collegiality” did not wait to be invented by Vatican II.  In the 1950s Pope Pius XII wrote to every Catholic bishop to ask whether he believed in the Assumption of Our Lady, and whether he considered it opportune for the dogma to be defined. The positive response to both questions was overwhelming.

More than a year has passed since the emergence of the divisive and poorly drafted document called Amoris laetitia. In this time, many Bishops and  episcopal conferences have issued guidelines making clear that nothing has changed since S John Paul II in Familiaris consortio, and Pope Benedict XVI in Sacramentum Caritatis, reemphasised the Church’s immemorial discipline: ‘remarried’ divorcees who will not repent of their adultery and undertake either to separate or at least to try, with the help of God’s grace, to cohabit chastely, exclude themselves from the Sacraments during the time of their impenitence.

A few conferences and Bishops have issued statements understood as meaning that the thusly impenitent may, by virtue of Amoris laetitia, receive the Sacraments. Yet other conferences, such as that in England and Wales, have been manifestly unable to agree among themselves. It is clear that the Universal Episcopate is not united behind a ‘German’ interpretation of Amoris laetitia. Very far from it.

In the context of the Unity of the Una Catholica and of the collegial nature of the Universal Episcopate, cum et sub Petro, the time has surely come for this ‘dialogue’ to be moved to a new stage. Manifestly, if we are to persist with the embarrassing notion that we belong to one Church with one Teaching about the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, steps must be taken to move in the direction of coherence, harmony, and united witness. The idea that someone who is excluded from the Sacraments by his own impenitent rejection of the Gospel needs only to walk across the border between Poland and Germany, or from one American diocese to another, to be welcomed enthusiastically as a communicant in good standing, is obviously a profoundly unCatholic absurdity which needs speedily to be resolved.

The time has surely come for the Four Cardinals who intervened last year with their Dubia to revisit the question. And the time for Bishops, Successors of the Apostles according to the teaching of Leo XIII and of Vatican II and not mere vicars of the Roman Pontiff, to speak with courage, clarity and unanimity. And for clergy, laity, and academics to do the same. Remember that, at the height of the Arian Crisis, it was not among the Bishops or even in Rome that the Faith was most conspicuously preserved and defended.

Fr H. adds that parrhesia, boldness in witnessing to the Truth—a virtue which was once  incessantly on the lips of the current occupant of the Roman See—is still an obligation for all faithful Catholics. And as he says,  the more people speak boldly, the more difficult it will be for individuals to be put under unsympathetic pressure.

June 17th, 2017

Papal Purge of Pro-Lifers

In a week when Italian history professor Roberto de Mattei has predicted that  Pope Francis is to “revisit” Pope Paul’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, the Holy Father  has purged the  Pontifical Academy of Life of dozens of  members renowned for their fidelity to Catholic teaching. These include Australian professor John Finnis who had criticised the Pope’s encyclical Amoris Laetitia,  German philosopher Robert Spaemann—a longtime friend of Pope Benedict XVI—Englishman Dr Luke Gormally  who had asked the Pope to remove a problematical section on contraception from the preparatory document for the Synod on the Family,  and three eastern Europeans who were influenced greatly by John Paul II.

[Back in the 1990s Drs Finnis and Gormally spoke at a meeting in Maynooth and criticised in vitro fertilisation. My wife  Stramentaria covered this rather dodgy conference for the old Ballintrillick Review, and editor Doris Manly headlined her article  “Take-Away Babies with Maynooth Sauce”.]

The Pope’s 17 new appointments to the Academy include Nigel Biggar, an Anglican professor of moral and pastoral theology who has expressed support for legalised abortion up to 18 weeks, and qualified support for euthanasia; and  Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, an Italian moral theologian and professor who has openly criticized Catholic teaching on life issues, including Humanae Vitae

Last November the Holy Father  released new statutes for the Pontifical Academy for Life, in which members are no longer required to sign a declaration that they uphold the Church’s pro-life teachings. He also expanded the Academy’s mandate to include a focus on the environment.

According to Professor de Mattei a commission has been nominated by Pope Francis to “reinterpret” Humanae Vitae in the light of his own encyclical Amoris Laetitia . Next year will see the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, which reaffirmed the Church’s condemnation of artificial contraception. The Commission has been ordered to procure from the Vatican archives the documentation on the preparatory work on the encyclical, lasting  three years.  In 1966 the “experts” delivered their conclusions to Pope Paul VI, and suggested  opening the doors to birth control. After two years of wavering, the Pope followed the perennial teaching of the Church and rejected the idea in Humanae Vitae. As the philosopher Romano Amerio said, it was the most important act of his pontificate.

The Commission is to be co-ordinated by Mgr Gilfredo Marengo, who has made it clear in his writings that he supports the view of Pope Francis that  one should “abandon models of of life derived from too abstract and artificially constructed theological ideals”.  Professor de Mattei believes this indicates that praxis rather than doctrine will be followed in this “reinterpretation” of Humanae Vitae. And he wonders whether any Catholic theologian will have the courage to declare “heresy” when faced with this reinterpretation.

 

 

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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 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.

December 7th, 2016

Well, is it Yes or No?

And blessed is he that shall not be scandalized in me.

Matthew 11: 6.

Fr John Zuhlsdorf (“Fr Zed”), one of the best-known orthodox Catholic bloggers, sometimes asks readers to let him know if they heard an outstanding sermon at Mass the previous Sunday, and if so, to  describe it. Well, I heard one that fits the bill, but I’m not going to say where or by whom because I don’t want to be responsible for having Fr X mugged by  the Modernists.

Fr  X began by pointing out that verse six, chapter 11 of St Matthew’s Gospel (above) could really count as one of the beatitudes, even though unlike the other nine it doesn’t occur in the Sermon on the Mount.

Who, he wondered, are those who are scandalized by the words of Our Lord? Those who ask questions, or those who refuse to answer  them? He then turned to the five dubia (questions demanding the answer Yes or No) of Cardinal Burke and his colleagues, and dealt with them one by one. (He didn’t mention the cardinals, or even say who asked the questions.)

l. Does someone who asks if divorced persons living in a new union more uxorio (“having sex”) may be admitted to Holy Communion have a problem with the clear teaching of Our Lord in the Gospels? Or does the person who refuses to answer that question?

2. After Amoris Laetitia, can one still say there are absolute moral norms prohibiting intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions? Is someone who asks that question scandalized by the teaching of Christ? Or is the person who refuses to answer?

3. Similarly, does an habitual adulterer find himself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin? Who is scandalised by Our Lord? The questioner, or the one who won’t answer the question?

4. Again, can one still say, as Pope St John Paul II did in Veritatis Splendor, that circumstances or intentions can never transform an intrinsically evil act into one that is subjectively good? Yes or No? Is it the questioner who is scandalized, or the one who won’t answer?

5. Finally, again taking Veritatis Splendor, was Pope St John Paul right to emphasis that conscience can never be authorized to allow exceptions to absolute moral norms? Is it the questioner who is scandalized by Our Lord, or is it the person who refuses to answer?

 

 

November 25th, 2016

A thoroughly modern Mod’s favourite things

With apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein

This is from the latest Eccles blogpost. He just gets better and better.

Masses with puppets and tambourine jingles,
Long-lasting “kisses of peace”, where one mingles,
Rich German bishops all wrapped up in bling,
These are a few of my favourite things.

 Cardinal Kasper and all his new teaching,
All of Pope Francis’s aeroplane preaching,
Amoris Laetitia, and all that it brings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Wacky professors who’d ordain some females,
People who sit in the Mass reading e-mails,
Paul Inwood’s music, which everyone sings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

traditional Latin Mass

When the priest prays, when the choir sings,
When I meet a “Trad”,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

September 23rd, 2016

Papal ‘Green Light’ for Adultery?

Your Holiness:
The following narrative, written in our desperation as lowly members of the laity, is what we must call an accusation concerning your pontificate, which has been a calamity for the Church in proportion to which it delights the powers of this world. The culminating event that impelled us to take this step was the revelation of your ‘confidential’ letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires authorizing them, solely on the basis of your own views as expressed in Amoris Laetitia, to admit certain public adulterers in ‘second marriages’ to the sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion without any firm purpose of amending their lives by ceasing their adulterous sexual relations.

You have thus defied the very words of Our Lord Himself condemning divorce and ‘remarriage’ as adultery per se without exception, the admonition of Saint Paul on the divine penalty for unworthy reception of the Blessed Sacrament, the teaching of your two immediate predecessors in line with the bimillenial moral doctrine and Eucharistic discipline of the Church rooted in divine revelation, the Code of Canon Law and all of Tradition.

You have already provoked a fracturing of the Church’s universal discipline, with some bishops maintaining it despite Amoris Laetitia while others, including those in Buenos Aires, are announcing a change based solely on the authority of your scandalous ‘apostolic exhortation’. Nothing like this has ever happened in the history of the Church.

Yet, almost without exception, the conservative members of the hierarchy observe a politic silence while the liberals exult publicly over their triumph thanks to you. Almost no one in the hierarchy stands in opposition to your reckless disregard of sound doctrine and practice, even though many murmur privately against your depredations. Thus, as it was during the Arian crisis, it falls to the laity to defend the Faith in the midst of a near-universal defection from duty on the part of the hierarchs.

Of course we are nothing in the scheme of things, and yet as baptized lay members of the Mystical Body we are endowed with the God-given right and the correlative duty, enshrined in Church law (cf. CIC can. 212), to communicate with you and with our fellow Catholics concerning the acute crisis your governance of the Church has provoked amidst an already chronic state of ecclesial crisis following the Second Vatican Council.

Private entreaties having proven utterly useless, as we note below, we have published this document to discharge our burden of conscience in the face of the grave harm you have inflicted, and threaten to inflict, upon souls and the ecclesial commonwealth, and to exhort our fellow Catholics to stand in principled opposition to your continuing abuse of the papal office, particularly where it concerns the Church’s infallible teaching against adultery and profanation of the Holy Eucharist.

In making the decision to publish this document we were guided by the teaching of the Angelic Doctor on a matter of natural justice in the Church:

‘It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Galatians 2:11, “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects.”’ [Summa Theologiae, II-II, Q. 33, Art 4]

We have been guided as well by the teaching of Saint Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, regarding licit resistance to a wayward Roman Pontiff:

‘Therefore, just as it would be lawful to resist a Pontiff invading a body, so it is lawful to resist him invading souls or disturbing a state, and much more if he should endeavor to destroy the Church. I say, it is lawful to resist him, by not doing what he commands, and by blocking him, lest he should carry out his will…’ [ De Controversiis on the Roman Pontiff, Bk. 2, Ch. 29].

Catholics the world over, and not just ‘traditionalists’, are convinced that the situation Bellarmine envisioned hypothetically is today a reality. That conviction is the motive for this document.

May God be the judge of the rectitude of our intentions.

Christopher A. Ferrara, Lead Columnist, The Remnant

Michael J. Matt, Editor, The Remnant

John Vennari, Editor, Catholic Family News

September 6th, 2016

The Spirit of Amoris Laetitia

One of the few consolations of this appalling pontificate is the number of  bloggers who cheer up the hard-pressed faithful by poking innocent fun at some of our Holy Father’s counsels. Take this, for instance, which recently appeared in “Eccles Is Saved”:

Dear Holy Father,

I have been reading your guide Amoris Laetitia a little at a time, and eventually got to Paragraph 226, where it advises married couples to try a morning kiss, an evening blessing, waiting at the door to welcome each other home, taking trips together, and sharing household chores. So this morning I gave my wife Doris a morning kiss, and this evening I gave her an evening blessing. She asked me why I was suddenly behaving so strangely and accused me of having an affair.

I stormed out and went to the Jesuit’s Arms pub for a refreshing pint of Reese and Martin’s Old Peculier. However, Doris did welcome me home with a traditional blow from her rolling-pin when I came back later, so I feel that the Spirit of Amoris Laetitia has entered our home.

I have decided to surprise her tomorrow by sharing the household chores.

Ricky Fathead.

pope reading a letter

“Another satisfied customer!”


 

Dear Sir or Madam,

My husband Ricky Fathead has broken our washing-machine by attempting to wash the cats in it. His excuse was that Amoris Laetitia told him to do it. I am holding you personally responsible.

Doris Fathead (Mrs)

P.S. The cats are fine.

cat in washing-machine

A victim of Amoris Laetitia.


 

Dear Mr Bergoglio,

My wife has now left me, taking the cats with her. I blame Amoris Laetitia. So I have decided to leave the Catholic Church and become a Tablet-reader instead. Ha!

Ricky Fathead.

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: