The Poisonous Fruits of Silence
Our Holy Father having declined to clear up the confusion caused by Amoris Laetitia, one can only assume that this confusion is deliberate. He seems quite happy some bishops are teaching that it’s OK to give Holy Communion to unrepentant adulterers.
The Catholic Church hasn’t been in such a mess since around the time of the Council of Nicaea in the fourth century. Here’s how Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman described the situation that obtained then:
…the body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission … at one time the pope, at other times a patriarchal, metropolitan, or other great see, at other times general councils, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth … I say, that there was a temporary suspense of the functions of the Ecclesia docens. The body of bishops failed in their confession of the faith. They spoke variously, one against another; there was nothing, after Nicaea, of firm, unvarying, consistent testimony, for nearly sixty years …
Faced with the appalling thought that, barring the Second Coming, the present chaotic situation may continue for half a century or more, what are the faithful laity to do? Knowing that the Church will return to sanity eventually, even if most of us don’t live to see it, I suppose we just have to keep praying, praising—and protesting as well. To put it in a purely secular context, remember the words of Winston Churchill, and “just keep buggering on”.
Cardinal Raymond Burke, at a recent conference on Fatima in Buckfast Abbey, excoriated the failure of the Church’s leaders to live up to their calling:
The teaching of the Faith in its integrity and with courage is the heart of the office of the Church’s pastors: the Roman Pontiff, the Bishops in communion with the See of Peter, and their principal co-workers, the priests. For that reason, the Third Secret is directed, with particular force, to those who exercise the pastoral office in the Church. Their failure to teach the faith, in fidelity to the Church’s constant teaching and practice, whether through a superficial, confused or even worldly approach, and their silence endangers mortally, in the deepest spiritual sense, the very souls for whom they have been consecrated to care spiritually. The poisonous fruits of the failure of the Church’s pastors is seen in a manner of worship, of teaching and of moral discipline which is not in accord with Divine Law.
Fr John Hunwicke has told readers of his blog he is sure there is a providential purpose in all this, “and I pray that I may be enabled ever more profoundly to embrace the humiliations permitted by the Divine Will”. He suspects that the Buckfast Conference, and not least Cardinal Burke’s powerful address, may go down in history as one of the significant moments in the recovery, the “fight-back”, of orthodoxy.