Papal ‘Green Light’ for Adultery?
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