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Tag Archives: Christopher Ferrara

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.

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

July 29th, 2016

Trumping Hillary

The American Presidential election is becoming more intriguing by the day.  US voters  must  choose between  the unspeakable Hillary Clinton, who wants to ride roughshod over what remains of Christian civilisation, and Donald Trump who’s generally regarded on this side of the Atlantic as a dangerous nut-job. Some choice!

Here is an exchange between Michael Matt, editor of the Trad Catholic newspaper The Remnant, and his columnist Christopher Ferrara, a distinguished Catholic lawyer. It lasts around half an hour, but it’s well worth watching. It helped clarify my thinking on this crucial election, and  I believe it will do the same for you.

 

 

These exchanges between Matt and Ferrara are invariably challenging and stimulating. They usually appear weekly, and can be found by googling Remnant TV.

 

May 31st , 2016

Traddery and Trumpery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In another comment, one Stephen Hand notes:

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

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

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

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

May 5th, 2016

We Must Resist This Wayward Pope

Part IV of a series edited  from The Remnant newspaper.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Concluded

May 2nd, 2016

Black is White—by Papal ‘Fiat’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

April 25th, 2016

Deadly Poison in Amoris Laetitia

As commentary for and against Amoris Laetitia continues to pour in, I thought it might be useful to have a look at one of the most trenchant critiques of this Apostolic Exhortation. It’s by Christopher Ferrara,  pro-life activist and President of  the American Catholic Lawyers’ Association.

The article, in The Remnant newspaper deals exhaustively with Amoris Laetitia which—given the huge length of that document—is surely necessary.  I thought I would take some salient points from it  and spread them over several blogposts.  Mr Ferrara begins with a startling metaphor:

If a world-renowned head chef at a Michelin-starred restaurant served us a cake whose recipe included “1 tsp. cyanide,” we would hardly praise the other wholesome ingredients because of the chef’s prestige. We would throw the thing away and have him arrested.

Where an admittedly subversive “Apostolic Exhortation” is concerned, the faithful have no duty to parse it for acceptable Catholic teaching on marriage and family. Have we not had more than enough of this nonsense? It is not the responsibility of the faithful to “purify” defective papal teaching with defensive post-publication commentaries that “accentuate the positive” while ignoring the negative. It is the Pope’s responsibility to give the faithful teaching whose purity they can trust implicitly in the first place—on every page of every document.

As for those parts of Amoris Laetitia which affirm, however verbosely, aspects of traditional Catholic teaching on marriage and family, we already have that teaching in abundance from innumerable sources of the infallible Magisterium, including  beautifully written landmark encyclicals [such as Casti Connubii] to which faithful Catholics have already given assent of mind and will. As for unfaithful Catholics, they will not even bother to read the thing, but will simply be content with the news, now being trumpeted throughout the world, that Francis has lightened up on all that “adultery” business. And if, at the end of the tumultuous “synodal journey” that Francis insisted upon and stage-managed from start to finish, tradition-minded Catholics are supposed to exult merely because he did not do what he had no power to do anyway—“change doctrine”—then what was the point of the whole “Synod on the Family”?

The answer to this question is now obvious to anyone in possession of his reason. The Synod was merely the delivery vehicle for Amoris Laetitia, wherein Francis…finally arrives at the destination he has arranged from the beginning: admission of “certain” (ultimately all) divorced and “remarried” Catholics, along with other habitual public sinners of the sexual variety, to Confession and Holy Communion without prior repentance and amendment of life. The bare doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage is left untouched—indeed paragraph after paragraph of flowery praise is heaped upon it—while Francis’s plan for ignoring it in practice is finally confirmed. Amoris Laetitia widens to commodious dimensions  the opening for the outcome already created by the infamous paragraphs 84-86 of the final report of Synod 2015.

To be continued.

January 8, 2014

Pope Francis: Disaster of the Year

It has taken me an unconscionably long time to  get around to a full admission that this papacy has been disastrous for the Holy Catholic Church. Out of respect for his office, but partly (I admit) out of human respect,  I have nibbled around the edges of the problem, but now I must swallow the unpleasant truth: the main problem is Pope Francis himself.   If this loses me some readers, I’m sorry but it can’t be helped. My mind was finally cleared by reading the very cogent article by Christopher Ferrara reproduced below, slightly edited. It’s from The Remnant, a publication with which I sometimes disagree quite strongly. I have restored a brief passage from the novelist Dena Hunt, quoted only in part by The Remnant, because I think it greatly strengthens Mr Ferrara‘s argument. I suspect they  may have left the section out because it contains a very favourable reference to St John Paul II—not The Remnant’s favourite Pope.

By Christopher Ferrara

The  title Man of the Year, bestowed by the mass media on a gender-neutral “Person of the Year,” reflects the impact a public figure has had on world events during the year preceding. Thus it was quite understandable, even predictable, that Time, the world’s leading news magazine, and The Advocate, the world’s most prominent homosexualist publication, would both name Pope Francis “Person of the Year” for 2013. 

The world understands, even if most Catholics have forgotten, that the Catholic Church is the last barrier against the terminal civilizational apostasy for which the powers that be have been laboring for almost three centuries. In the crowd-pleasing words, gestures and publicity stunts Pope Francis provides almost daily, which the media promptly trumpet to the detriment of his predecessors and the Church’s image, the makers of world opinion see their last best chance to take the Church out of commission once and for all.  The media recognize that this Pope, whatever his intentions, speaks as if he were determined to complete, per impossible, the ecclesial auto-demolition lamented too late by Paul VI in the midst of the Second Vatican Council’s catastrophically foolish “opening to the world.” 

From the traditional Catholic perspective of this newspaper, however, Pope Francis is Man of the Year for a different reason: the unintended consequences of his increasingly alarming pontificate. That is, the “Francis effect” is finally awakening many Catholics outside traditionalist circles to the awful reality of the post-conciliar revolution in the Church, bringing them face-to-face with a crisis the “normalists” can no longer conceal behind their usual emasculating interpretations of events. This awakening is typified by the mordant commentary of one rightly appalled Catholic, a convert and novelist, in light of Francis’s upcoming encyclical on “climate change,” already being hailed by the media as the next advance for “the Francis revolution.” Under the title “I Am Concerned” Dena Hunt writes:

I regret that our current Holy Father speaks so strongly on topics about which no one expects him to know any more than anyone else. As far as his popular image is concerned, I don’t really care what color shoes he wears, what sort of car he goes about in, or where he chooses to set up housekeeping.

[St. John Paul the Great lived and operated under total political suppression. What made his life as a cardinal in communist Poland so extraordinary was his focus on his responsibility as a religious leader of his people.  Eventually, that steadfast devotion to his duty helped to bring about the downfall of that suppression. He was never unclear or vague about faith and morals—quite the contrary—and he never touted his opinions on matters outside the faith.]

Nothing is more seductive than flattery and applause, especially from a fickle and sensation-hungry press, and nothing is more fatal to our souls than vanity. [Time spent alone on our knees, as Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI are known to have done, can clear up a lot of confusion about what God’s will is, about what our responsibility is, even for the ordinary layperson. St. John Paul wrote every word of his encyclicals in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. But those encyclicals were about faith and morals.] I suppose ‘encyclicals’ on other subjects can be written anywhere, provided one wears shoes of a politically correct color.

As these sentiments would suggest, Francis’s most significant impact is turning out to be, not what the world applauds, but his inadvertent demonstration that the revolution has gone too far, that it is time to return to the point where the Church’s human element strayed from the path of Tradition to pursue an imaginary “renewal,” and that nothing is more urgent now than a recovery of everything that was abandoned during a ruinous experiment in novelty Francis seems determined to pursue to the bitter end according to the “dream” enunciated in his personal manifesto, Evangelii Gaudium:

I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation. 

It is this boundless progressivism, seemingly unhampered by any reverence for what the Church has handed down in her “ways of doing things” through the centuries, that accounts for the “Francis effect” which has earned him the world’s endless adulation.  In less than two years we have already witnessed these “achievements” of the Bergoglian papacy:

  • an unprecedented disdain for traditional vestments, customs and protocols of the papacy, with the result that the media exalt Francis’s “humility” to the detriment of all his predecessors, including canonized saints who honored these traditions as due the sacrality of the office of Vicar of Christ;

  • further ostentatious demonstrations of “humility,” always before the cameras (dining with Vatican employees in the cafeteria, “selfies” with members of the crowd, riding a bus to the annual retreat, carrying his own black bag on the chartered jet, etc.), which the media further exploit as an unfavorable reflection on previous Popes;

  • perversion of the traditional Holy Thursday mandatum, commemorating the institution of the Priesthood and the Eucharist at the first Mass offered by Our Lord, by washing and kissing the feet of non-Catholics, including Muslim women, thus degrading a sacred tradition by subordinating it to his personal desire to display “humility” in a novel way;

  • the infamous declaration “Who am I to judge?” respecting “gay persons” in the Catholic priesthood, creating the impression of an unprecedented new “openness” to “gay people” in the Church, which he has since done nothing to counter but on the contrary has continued to cultivate, as seen at the Synod on “the Family,” which he controlled;

  •  innumerable scandalously confusing and heterodox interviews and conversations with journalists, including the doctrinaire atheist Eugenio Scalfari, which the Vatican publishing house, with Francis’s approval, has recently published in book form, confounding all attempts by his apologists to argue that he was misquoted or misunderstood;

  • constant public attacks on members of the faithful Francis accuses of “feel[ing] superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past,” of seeking an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,” of having  an “ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige,” and of exhibiting a “supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline [that] leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism”—thus rashly misjudging the motives of traditional Roman Catholics who practice the bimillenial Faith of their fathers;

  • the warm embrace of Protestant ministers and televangelists as “brothers” Francis declares he is “not interested” in converting, even as they steal millions of sheep from the Catholic flock entrusted to him, as they have done throughout a Latin America that is less Catholic by the day;

  • the astonishing declaration that it is  “sinning against Christ’s will” to focus on the Church’s doctrinal differences with Protestants because “our shared baptism is more important than our differences”—thus effectively discarding every teaching of the Magisterium and the Church’s infallible anathemas on the errors of Luther and the other Protestant sects;

  • a stubborn defense of Islam, contrary to the entire history of its persecution of Christians which continues today, including Francis’s declaration in Evangelii Gaudium that “authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence—a claim he has absolutely no competence to make;

  • a defense of Islam against the well-founded claim that it inherently promotes violence against “infidels”: “You just can’t say that, just as you can’t say that all Christians are fundamentalists. We have our share of them (fundamentalists). All religions have these little groups”—thus suggesting that Roman Catholic traditionalists or Protestant “Bible-thumpers” are on a par with Muslim fanatics who commit murder, rape and innumerable other acts of violence and persecution against Christians or routinely sentence them to death for “blasphemy” or “apostasy” according to the established juridical frameworks of Muslim countries;

  • the invitation to a Muslim Imam to “pray for peace” in the Vatican gardens, who, quoting the Koran in Francis’s presence, called upon Allah to “grant us victory over the heathen/disbelieving/infidel” (i.e. non-Muslims), following which  there erupted violence of massive proportions in the Arab-Israeli conflict and the savage Muslim persecution of Christians in various nations;

  • the prayer beside a Muslim Imam in the Blue Mosque at Istanbul at the very moment Christians were being hung, burned alive, decapitated, raped, enslaved and driven from their homes in Muslim nations, while the Imam with whom Francis prayed and his counterparts around the world refuse to condemn the atrocities perpetrated by Muslim fanatics;

  • the failure to intervene to plead for the freedom of Mariam Ibraheem Ishag, the pregnant Catholic convert sentenced to death by the Islamic dictatorship of Sudan for “apostasy” from Islam, even though governments, religious leaders and human rights groups around the world militated—successfully—for her release;

  • silence and inaction in the face of written pleas fom Aisa Bibi, sentenced to death for “blasphemy” by the Islamic regime of Pakistan, whereas Pope Benedict XVI had publicly called for the dismissal of all charges against her and even the Russian Patriarch of the Orthodox Church recently issued a formal statement declaring that “our multimillion flock joins their voice to that of the great number of people throughout the world who advocate for saving the life of this Christian woman” and calling upon Pakistan’s president to grant her a pardon;

  • a Synod on “the Family” that quite predictably devolved into an attack on the family, including an “opening” to “gays” and public adulterers in the disgraceful midterm report Francis approved and had distributed to the press before the Synod Fathers had even seen it, prompting a rebellion by bishops and even cardinals against the Synod’s manipulation;

  • the introduction of a “God of surprises” during a jeremiad against “so-called ‘traditionalists’” after the Synod Fathers had rejected the midterm report and failed to adopt language in the final report that also suggested an “opening” to “gays” and Holy Communion for public adulterers;

  • the Francis revolution in general, as reflected in his expressed “fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe…”

For these and innumerable other like reasons, Pope Francis is The Remnant newspaper’s 2014 Man of the Year. Although he certainly did not intend this, Francis is showing the Catholic world the final outcome of a trajectory that began with the Council’s problematical texts—the likes of which no ecumenical council had ever propounded—and proceeded with the destruction of the Roman Rite, the ecclesial paralysis caused by the viruses of  “ecumenism,” “dialogue,” and “interreligious dialogue,” and the introduction of one unheard-of novelty after another, from Communion in the hand to altar girls, all accompanied by a rapid collapse of religious vocations and the spreading apostasy of the lay faithful.

With Francis we appear to be approaching the trajectory’s terminal point: a de facto merger of most of the human elements of the Church with the world to which the Church has been “opened,” the Pope to serve as a respected facilitator of worldly diplomacy, social justice and peaceful relations among men of all religions or no religion, as the Church’s mission of making disciples of all nations is definitively abandoned by those who are divinely commissioned to carry it out. As Obama declared on national television in giving thanks to Francis for helping to broker the “breakthrough” that gave the Communist dictators of Cuba everything they wanted in return for almost nothing, leaving the Catholics of Cuba still firmly under their yoke: “I want to thank His Holiness Pope Francis, whose moral example shows us the importance of pursuing the world as it should be, rather than simply settling for the world as it is.”  Such praise for a Pope from such a man, for such a reason, cannot fail to awaken serious Catholics to the almost apocalyptic gravity of our situation.

And that is precisely why Francis must been seen as our Man of the Year. For as the New Year begins we can have the certitude of faith that God is already drawing immense good from the disaster of this pontificate as more and more Catholics turn away in horror from the destructive revolution it represents, looking once again toward Tradition and the legacy of the great Popes who labored so heroically to defend the Church from what attacks her with reckless abandon today.