Tag Archives: Synod on the Family

Amoris laetitia 351 Unrepentant, active prostitutes, absolution,Communion?

Update: There is some pretty heavy interest in high places right now over some of the more controversial posts I’ve put up about the past couple of Synods. If I had to write an apologia about this, I would just say that my opinions are on behalf of those who suffer much in this world, who are marginalized and kept suffering it seems to me on purpose. That unnecessary suffering really just needs to stop, and stop now.

peep show

It seems that paragraph 49 refers to prostitution to avoid poverty. Communion for active prostitutes has been part of pastoral praxis by some for decades and a continuous side debate for some of the liberation theology / arm-chair moral theology crowd. So:

49. Here I would also like to mention the situation of families living in dire poverty and great limitations. The problems faced by poor households are often all the more trying.36 For example, if a single mother has to raise a child by herself and needs to leave the child alone at home while she goes to work, the child can grow up exposed to all kind of risks and obstacles to personal growth. In such difficult situations of need, the Church must be particularly concerned to offer understanding, comfort and acceptance, rather than imposing straightaway a set of rules that only lead people to feel judged and abandoned by the very Mother called to show them God’s mercy. Rather than offering the healing power of grace and the light of the Gospel message, some would “indoctrinate” that message, turning it into “dead stones to be hurled at others”.37

36 Cf. Relatio Finalis 2015, 15.
37 Concluding Address of the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (24 October 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 26-27 October 2015, p. 13.

I mean, what does that mean in light of footnote 351 other than to provide, say, Communion for active prostitutes? The solution, it seems to me, isn’t to argue for decades about Prostitutes going to Communion, but rather to open safe houses which can immediately set about finding jobs and shelter and education.

Who throws dead stones of doctrine at anyone? Is the reference to priests like me?

Does this throwing stones reference (coming not long after paragraph 27 in which the adulterous woman of the Gospel of John is mentioned) mean that Jesus was a fool damned by our Heavenly Father for telling the adulterous woman to “sin no more,” Himself stoning this woman into marginalization from the faith by His damnable indoctrinated doctrine-stone of “sin no more”? That’s not what the document says about Jesus, instead reporting in paragraph 27 that, “alone with Jesus, she meets not condemnation but the admonition to lead a more worthy life (cf. Jn 8:1-11).” In other words, the Gospel lies that Jesus told her to “sin no more,” which would inescapably imply that she knew she had in fact sinned (both objectively and subjectively), and that the condemnation is only avoided by taking in the forgiveness with repentance and a firm purpose of amendment. All that, for the document, is simply a heap of indoctrinated stones to throw. So, instead, the document insists that Jesus said that she is to live a more worthy life, inescapably implying that her life was already worthy, but just needed to be, you know, more worthy.

And that leads us back to paragraph 49, where the worthiness of adultery by prostitution, while not as worthy as a life which doesn’t include prostitution, is nevertheless so worthy that it is to be rewarded by such casuistry with, say, Holy Communion.

Look: Just open a safe house. I’ve worked in such places, offered confessions and Holy Mass in such places, given Holy Communion to prostitutes galore in such places. I’ve even ended up in a wheelchair and crutches because of such places. Really, I’ve been there, done that. Just get them the help they need. Don’t just say have a nice day with Holy Communion at a street Mass in the red-light district and not provide for them. Do provide for them both physically and spiritually.

Just call me the dumpster priest. But don’t try to make me take up a program that will keep prostitutes in prostitution. To hell with that.

And, by the way, you know all those people steeped in Tradition, that is, those Legion of Mary people? You have to know that I’m one of them, and you have to know that they started out by evangelizing at brothels.

Or is this really about thinking that prostitutes can’t repent? A prostitute once told me that a clergy guy (Episcopalian I think) would walk into her room for quick sex, first taking his clergy collar off, then unzipping himself, as if the collar in the back pocket would make what he was doing out front somehow moral. When she asked him about his visits to herself later (after she was converted from prostitution), he said that he didn’t think that people like her could possibly ever convert. Is that the message that we have here?

I would like to ask someone, but it seems that speaking with parrhesia isn’t to be met with answers of parrhesia. But if I’m wrong on that, I sure would appreciate an answer.

And, oh, by the way, this paragraph 49 cannot refer to something like thievery either for the mom or the boy, can it? We have better theology of private property than that.

I mean, I just can’t believe that this paragraph was written or published. Prostitutes are always in grave danger of disease, damage, dismemberment, and death by physical force or despair along. Get them out of the situation immediately. Don’t argue about their subjective guilt. If you want a lack of mercy and hurling stones, THAT kind of sophistry that keeps them in their prostitution is example number one.

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Correcting Pope Francis’ Correctors (3) Is Pope Francis pimping “The Whore” or is he waiting for attractive writing?

whore-of-babylon-martin-luther

The Whore of Babylon printed in Martin Luther’s expression of rebellion.

You’ll remember Correcting Pope Francis’ Correctors (1) and then (2) which had a link to Amoris laetitia 351 gradualism casuistry. A comment about the big picture needs to be made amidst all the flurry of questions and dubia and, for some, accusations and bitterness…

Here’s the deal: Pope Francis does know what an infallible statement is. He does know what the Scriptures have for us. He does know Canon Law. People can spout those things off to him until they are blue in the face and that will not change the fact that he already knows those things. People think he rejects all of that. Maybe so. I don’t know that for a fact. I don’t think for a second that he’s pimping “The Whore of Babylon” on purpose. What I do know is that he has called for dialogue in the opening paragraphs of Amoris laetitia, especially paragraphs 3-4. Dialogue is what it is, messy, full of ambiguity and whatever rubbish people bring to it. That’s what it is. But it prepares for something else.

It’s true: We have heard from those who do reject the clear teaching of Christ, from those who seem to mock the Holy Scriptures’ inspiration by the Holy Spirit, from those who seem to be holding themselves up to be God himself. They have been eloquent in their own way merely because of their obnoxious flurry of bullying. They have artistically represented what error manifests. Some, of course, have been most sincere.

But it’s also true that from the traditional side of things, that is, from those who would at least like to think that they are with Sacred Tradition, with Sacred Scripture, with the Sacred Magisterium of the Church, we have heard precious little. The objection is that we have the example of Tradition, that we have those brief sayings in Scripture, that we have Familiaris Consortio and that we even have the absolutely clear dubia. “That’s enough!” they say. And that’s all good and is way more than sufficient for the believer, but it’s not enough for others, for those who don’t know how to believe because there is no one to walk them through it all. Pope Francis does not believe that those other things are enough. Neither do I. People unfamiliar with Tradition, unfamiliar with Scripture, unfamiliar with Familiaris Consortio and the dubia are in need of preaching and catechesis. Saint Paul mentions this:

“How then can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone to preach? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:14-15).

Is Pope Francis waiting a really long time? Yes. For a reason and, I think, a good reason. He hasn’t heard from the beautiful side of things and desires to hear this. Pope Francis has been begging non-stop for that which is written in a beautiful way, an inviting way, an attractive way, a positive way, a comprehensive way. Where is it? Perhaps Pope Benedict’s Deus Caritas Est? Not even that. And yes, I know, there are surely tens of thousands of tracts and pamphlets and books and films and what-not flooding the market. But we need something that profoundly reflects the beauty of Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterial interventions precisely in the face of the challenges we find with Amoris laetitia. Let me repeat that: Precisely in the face of those challenges. Was the book sent to all the participants of the Synod enough? No, it was not. It was good. It was technical. But we need beautiful answers to the agonizing difficulties. And if beautiful means the glorious but tortured wounds of Christ in the midst of his wedding with his Immaculate Bride the Church, then it’s about those wounds we must write in a way comprehensible not just to some Cardinals, some canon lawyers, some exegetes, some moral theologians, but also to everyone. Let’s get to work.

I, for one, after finishing commentary on the “Dog-Woman” (see: 2018 Bishops Synod: young people and vocational discernment: no rigidity), intend to start in on the description of marriage in the first chapters of Genesis. Some might think that the younger John Paul II’s work on the Theology of the Body is enough and that I should shut up, but even the older John Paul II himself admitted that he did not give enough consideration and balance to ToB because of almost entirely ignoring the effects of original sin. I’ll not insult the great saint by ignoring his protestations. I’ll take a hint and try to fill in the lack, and that, by the way, will make it all the more beautiful as it will put us face to face with those glorious wounds of Christ Jesus. But I have little talent for writing and, at any rate, am very much unknown. So, we all need to get to work. So, let’s get to work!

george-david-byers-john-paul-ii

Just before Christmas Day, 1985

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Correcting Pope Francis’ Correctors (II)

PROMETHEUS

It seems that those at Santa Marta in the Holy See are having some late night discussions about my original post on:

Correcting Pope Francis’ Correctors

It seems that it was directed that that a link to said post be sent up North to the “Bergoglio of Italy,” +Mattheo Maria Zuppi by name, and another, +Angelo Scola by name. It seems the latter then took a gander at another post. If there were any ambiguity about where I myself stand on Amoris laetitia, this other post will make it crystal clear about what I think about the power of the grace of the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception:

Amoris laetitia 351 gradualism casuistry

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Correcting Pope Francis’ Correctors

pope-francis-cardinal-burke

Respect and joy in the Lord

I love and respect both Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke.

You have heard that it was said by the latter:

“My position is that ‘Amoris laetitia’ is not magisterial because it contains serious ambiguities that confuse people and can lead them into error and grave sin. A document with these defects cannot be part of the Church’s perennial teaching. Because that is the case, the Church needs absolute clarity regarding what Pope Francis is teaching and encouraging.”

This Missionary of Mercy says in response:

  • Amoris laetitia cannot yet be spoken about as if it were a document already published by the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, for it is not.
  • Amoris laetitia, even if published as is, is not an Apostolic Constitution or even an Encyclical, but simply an Apostolic Exhortation, whose author, mind you, goes way, WAY out of his way in articles 3-4 of Amoris laetitia to assert that Amoris laetitia is simply a conglomerate of opinions for the sake of encouraging more dialogue on the matters at hand. Pope Francis completely disowns this having anything whatsoever to do with any kind of Magisterial intervention of the Church whatsoever, whether ordinary or extraordinary. If it’s published as is in the Acta, well, that just doesn’t make any difference, to wit:

“Since ‘time is greater than space’, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13), until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does. Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs. […] The various interventions of the Synod Fathers, to which I paid close heed, made up, as it were, a multifaceted gem reflecting many legitimate concerns and honest questions. For this reason, I thought it appropriate to prepare a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation to gather the contributions of the two recent Synods on the family, while adding other considerations as an aid to reflection, dialogue and pastoral practice, and as a help and encouragement to families in their daily commitments and challenges.

  • To say that Amoris laetitia would be part of at least the ordinary Magisterium of the Church (see “perennial teaching”) if anyone might like to agree with its contents but that it cannot be part of at least the ordinary Magisterium of the Church (see “perennial teaching”) if anyone might like to disagree with its contents seems to me to be saying that the Pope has no authority to teach on matters of faith and morals to the universal Church as the Successor of Peter. That, of course, would be quite wrong. Amoris laetitia is not part of any teaching of the Church whatsoever not because of anyone’s opinion, however well founded, but because Pope Francis himself denies that it is part of any teaching of the Church whatsoever, insisting as he does on dialogue, etc.

A question might be asked as to whether Pope Francis has a good understanding of Papal Infallibility. Let’s analyze his extensive statements on the matter, and then compare that with what Scripture has for us. This is from Pope Francis’ speech on October 17, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the Institution of the Synods of Bishops:

On the eve of last year’s Synod I stated: “For the Synod Fathers we ask the Holy Spirit first of all for the gift of listening: to listen to God, so that with him we may hear the cry of his people; to listen to his people until we are in harmony with the will to which God calls us”.(14) The Synod process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, who is called to speak [chiamato a pronunciarsi=called to pronounce (a word used for ex-cathedra statements)] as “pastor and teacher of all Christians”,(15) not on the basis of his personal convictions but as the supreme witness to the fides totius Ecclesiae, “the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church”.(16)

The fact that the Synod always acts cum Petro et sub Petro — indeed, not only cum Petro, but also sub Petro — is not a limitation of freedom, but a guarantee of unity. For the Pope is, by will of the Lord, “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful”.(17) Closely related to this is the concept of “hierarchica communio” as employed by the Second Vatican Council: the Bishops are linked to the Bishop of Rome by the bond of episcopal communion (cum Petro) while, at the same time, hierarchically subject to him as head of the college (sub Petro).(18)

14) FRANCIS, Address at the Prayer Vigil for the Synod on the Family, 4 October 2014.

15) FIRST VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus (18 July 1870), ch. IV: Denz. 3074. Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 749, § 1.

16) FRANCIS, Address to the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 18 October 2014.

17) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 23. cf. FIRST VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Prologue: Denz. 3051.

18) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 22; Decree Christus Dominus (28 October 1965), 4.

Impressive. This makes us wait for an infallible pronouncement by:

  • The Bishop of Rome precisely as the Successor of Peter
  • pronouncing on a matter or many matters of faith and/or morals
  • especially deciding a matter or many matters of controversy
  • directing the instruction to the entirety of Christ’s faithful.

Just to say the obvious: This has not happened to date (this being written on December 9, 2016), and, just to repeat, Amoris laetitia has been excluded from any consideration of it as any kind of teaching of the Magisterium of the Church by the indications of Pope Francis himself.

Meanwhile, I do believe I understand what Pope Francis is doing in not answering various theologians and Cardinals, to wit, he is trying to emphasize Matthew 18:18 (the voice of some of the laity and some of the Synod members) more than Matthew 16:19 (the lone voice of Peter, the Rock), at least for the moment. He is interested in the richness of dialogue, but we see from that October 17, 2015 speech cited above, he is also interested in what can be provided by infallible Peter. Let’s analyze these passages and see some surprising take aways:

Let’s review Matthew 16:19 in utterly pedantic translation

“Whatever you may bind at any given time (second person singular subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in the heavens.”

What do the verbs mean in this context?

  • Second person singular subjunctive aorist active – The second person singular refers to Peter alone. The subjunctive here is not so much a kind of conditional or wishfulness, but rather depicts the state of actually choosing an option; from the perspective of the actor, there is freedom to the choice: “Whatever you may bind at any give time.” The aorist time frame, whatever delusion your introductory Greek grammars insist on providing to you, is literally “without borders”, that which can happen in the past, present or even future (as is the case here: see below), though usually something which itself happens in a defined time frame, such as the choice to bind. Active simply refers to something actually being accomplished.
  • Third person singular indicative future middle – The third person singular refers to any given object of the action, its state of being. It will simply be what it is (indicative) at that time (future). The middle voice is here used to indicate the status quo to which the actor is also subject, that is, retroactively to his decision to bind something, the truth of that which is described by the following verb, which this singular indicative future middle (“will”) helps to describe.
  • Nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive: The nominative neuter singular refers to the object which is being bound (passive), that is, in an ongoing fashion (participle) in a perfect manner (perfect); mind you, in Greek, “perfect” never refers to a perfectly accomplished action at one point in time, but rather to an action which is perfectly ongoing in a perfect manner since its inception: it always was and will be this way, perfectly, with no change: “already have been made to be perfectly standing in that way.” This “perfect” action structures the capacity of the actor, Peter, to act subjunctively, preempting all choices of Peter except for the one which is consonant which the truth which has always been this way in the heavens. Whatever he may choose to bind at any given time will already have been the case, is the case, and will always continue to be the case in the heavens. Peter cannot choose anything which is not already perfectly established in the heavens. What is in heaven is not an affirmation of what Peter might pronounce; what is in heaven simply is what it is, absolute truth, so to speak. If Peter is wrong about what he intends to pronounce upon, he simply will not be able to pronounce upon it.

Indeed, the part of this equation that people always forget about when trying to figure out the tenses, is that there is a part of this equation which is utterly expendable: Peter. If he is going to get it wrong, he will either die or be incapacitated, but he will not be able to work against what is in heaven already. Being the Successor of Peter isn’t so much an honor as it is a service that may involve laying down his life, for, after all, what do we know? The Orthodox or any others should never be envious of infallibility.

The bit about loosing is exactly the same, verbatim:

“Whatever you may loose at any given time (second person singular subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in the heavens.”

Let’s review Matthew 18:18 in utterly pedantic translation

“Whatever ye may bind at any given time (second person plural subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be things perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in heaven.”

And then:

“Whatever ye may loose at any given time (second person plural subjunctive aorist active) upon the earth will (third person singular indicative future middle) already have been made to be things perfectly standing in that way (nominative neuter singular participle perfect passive) in heaven.”

There are some differences besides the plural heavens and singular heaven. Matthew 18:18 is addressed also to the laity about any number of things that may be under dispute. But the verbs and their meanings are exactly the same. But the context removes any infallibility from this other crowd. Let’s see how:

Firstly, in Matthew 16:19, where Peter alone among the Apostles is addressed, only Peter is given the keys of the Kingdom of the Heavens. There is no reference at all to such keys for anyone else in Matthew 18:18. That they have the same access to the understanding of the faith as does Peter is contingent for them in agreeing with Peter, for, as we see in context, the process of a dispute will bring them right back to the Church, that is, as differentiated from Christ’s faithful in general so as to refer to Peter in particular. They are not infallible, he is.

What if Peter is wrong? He can’t be wrong. That’s the point. But say that it could happen, that wouldn’t mean that we ignore him, correct him, unseat him, burn him at the stake, say that he’s not a nice guy or something like that; that would mean that there is no such thing as the Church at all. It can’t happen. Period. Is “dialogue” among the faithful expected by our Lord? Yes. He explicitly speaks of it. But then there is a process to follow. But there is a richness to be expected among so many. That richness is not to be ignored, calling the faith provided to the faithful useless, thus insulting the Holy Spirit.

Pope Francis knows this. He respects it. After Matthew 18:18 we go to Matthew 16:19. We are still in the Matthew 18:18 phase.

Might Pope Francis choose to go to Matthew 16:19, to pronounce in an infallible way on the matter? Sure. That is yet to be seen. He surely has set up a scenario in which it seems he truly wants to pronounce an infallible statement. He surely has prefaced this with a great deal of dialogue. To the degree that he is insisting on dialogue, that is the degree he may be incisive in pronouncing an infallible statement.

Have some perhaps jumped the gun? Perhaps. Can it be said that all involved may well be filled with Apostolic charity, that is, both the four Cardinals and the Holy Father? Yes. Are they merely asking him to move from Matthew 18:18 to Matthew 16:19? Perhaps. Again, I don’t like the statement of one of the Cardinals who said: “My position is that ‘Amoris laetitia’ is not magisterial because it contains serious ambiguities…” His opinion is not why Amoris laetitia is not magisterial. It is not magisterial because Pope Francis said it is not magisterial. Otherwise, how many popes do we have? So…

We pray. That is to be expected and desired by all involved, right? Yes. We pray.

Does my having written this article mean that I don’t have my own concerns which happen to be well stated in the five dubia? No, it doesn’t mean that. Does the present non-answer of Pope Francis mean that he doesn’t agree with the intent of the five dubia? No, it doesn’t mean that. What it all means is that we haven’t yet moved from Matthew 18:18 to Matthew 16:19. That’s all. Might I say to Pope Francis that I sure do hope for the good of the Church that our Lord’s desire that our present dialogue with Matthew 18:18 will move to Matthew 16:19? Sure. But the timing is the judgment call of Vicar of Christ, not mine or anyone else for that matter. Again, might we ask him politely to move to Matthew 16:19? Sure, and I think everyone has been polite, although, again, that bit of one of the Cardinals about why he thinks Amoris laetitia is not magisterial is, I think, out of place. And in view of that, I must defend the fact of the papacy itself. Might that make me lose many friends. I suppose. That saddens me. But I am also filled with fortitude. Hier stehe ich and all that. Amen.

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Amoris laetitia: Prodigal son’s father

PRODIGAL SON

I admit it. Early on in life I was a self-absorbed Promethian neo-Pelagian idiot living a life without salvation (ζῶν ἀσώτως) as Luke 15:13 has it, taking advantage of the gifts given to us by our Heavenly Father and going off with to party with, well, you know, those living a life without salvation just like me. I’ve crucified the Son of the Living God with my sins. That’s what I’ve done. One might fill in the blanks with what that means in all the particularities, but probably, in that case, with all one’s own sins projected onto me, kind of like the elder brother’s mentions of prostitutes – πορνῶν. And, by the way, I don’t care who we are – pope, bishop, priest or laity – we’ve all crucified the Son of the Living God with our sins, original sin and whatever other kind of living life without salvation that we’ve all accomplished. Among other things, I’ve been known to confess impatience, pride, arrogance, being judgmental of others in the sense of putting them down only so as stand on top of them… Not good, that.

In more recent decades of my life, I’ve been coming to know Jesus’ great love, even if just the tiniest smidgen of what His wounds mean, His love for me. And that’s everything. The Promethean neo-Pelagian self-absorbed mind games come to an end with Jesus’ love cutting through those mind games of self-referential, self-congratulation, He grabbing me by both shoulders and shaking me gently, getting me to look up into His eyes, thankful, awestruck that He takes me seriously. I mean, how could He? I’ve sent Him in my callous aloofness to His death. And yet, there He is. Here He is, with me. Now. Strongly. I have nothing to brag about. It’s all Him. It’s all about Him.

PRODIGAL SONI have greatly appreciated the priests who have taken me by the hand with great patience and brought me to Jesus, not condemning me, though judging in confession that what I did was in fact in need of absolution. That’s not the judgement of condemnation; that’s the judgement of salvation. I must say that they (1) accepted my repentance, (2) received my confession of sin, (3) judged my contrition to be appropriate, (4) judged my firm purpose of amendment to be adequate, (5) gave me a penance to do so as to put into action in whatever way the humble thanksgiving into which the grace of the sacrament brings us, (6) pronounced the absolution and (7) sent me off to receive Holy Communion. Did they know that they might see me again with similar sins, despite all my protestations of repentance, contrition and firm purpose of amendment? Yes. That’s still true today. It doesn’t mean that my protestations of repentance, contrition and firm purpose of amendment were insincere. No, not that. But we can sin again. But we trust that Jesus will grab our hearts and souls and minds in such a way that the strength of our own inadequacy will fade into insignificance before the strength of His love for us: just look at those wounds of His… for me… for you… This is an event of love, not a process of a mind-game, that is, even if there is a fall. But, let’s see how this works with the prodigal son. There are two ways of looking at this the conversion of the prodigal.

(1) Repentance minus atrition, contrition, amendment

The prodigal comes back with repentance without out any atrition, contrition, or even purpose of amendment. This comes from copyists’ error in a wide variety of otherwise even very excellent manuscripts throughout the early centuries in which the planed confession of the prodigal while out with the pigs is the confession he gives verbatim before his father. When he “comes to himself”, he does precisely that, for he himself has no wherewithal for conversion, just more selfishness. His plan is to get the bread of his father’s servants by admitting that he sinned before heaven and his father and no longer deserves to be called the father’s son. Even though he is taken in by his father as a son, this doesn’t change the attitude of the prodigal, who is simply happy to have the bread. He has worked his way into his own salvation, worked his own way into heaven, disregarding the love of his father for himself. He doesn’t care. He is utterly unimpressed with the love of his father. It has no effect on him whatsoever. “Just go ahead and treat me like the servants,” he says. This, it seems to me, is what Pope Francis wants to promote among confessors, having them be like the father in this scenario, providing absolution for someone who is repentant without any atrition, contrition or any kind of purpose of amendment. Indeed, in this scenario, the prodigal could easily take off again. See: Torture chamber confessionals nixed. Pope Francis: contrition, amendment? Instead: I think, therefore I am saved. As an example, see: Amoris laetitia 351 Unrepentant, active prostitutes, absolution,Communion?

(2) Repentance with atrition turned contrition & amendment

PRODIGAL SONI have demonstrated at great length elsewhere, that is, with a quite exhaustive treatment of copyists’ behavior with all known manuscripts reporting this section of Luke, that is, also in view of the actual physical copying and location of the words and letters of the planned and then (partially) given confessions in the papyri and codices (a tell-all sine qua non for this exercise)… demonstrated that the confession given before the father does NOT entirely repeat the planned confession of the prodigal when he was out with the pigs: he does NOT say, “Treat me like one of your hired servants.” His attrition when out with the pigs amounts to an analogy to fearing the loss of heaven and gaining the pains of hell when he realizes that he is starving to death but could be eating from the good will of his father. He is not sorry for having hurt his father. He is merely stating the facts of the sin and its consequences. This is good enough for him to go back. It is the judgement of the Church that this is enough for a sinner to go to confession in expectation of receiving an absolution. There is a true respect for the goodness of the father, even if this not up to level of being sorry for having offended the father’s love. The purpose of amendment is evident at least in his wanting to stay with the servants in the desire to eat the bread of his father. That this is different from the scenario above (1), is seen with the fact that he does not have an attitude that will resist the actions of his father which will bring him to full contrition. Unbeknownst to himself, he is open to having a sorrow for having hurt his father such that he will be happy to be once again the son of his father. In this scenario (2), when he goes back, his father demonstrates the love of a father for a son such that the prodigal cannot go on with the coldest part of his planned confession, that is, regarding the request to be treated like the servants. He realizes he is a son and does not want to re-offend against the love of his father. This is where the father finds him, as the father says. The son is overwhelmed with the love of his father. This is consonant with the other two parables in chapter 15 of Luke: the coin and the sheep did nothing to be found. Neither did the prodigal. The love of the father is everything in bringing the son to contrition and purpose of amendment. This is an event, not a mind-game, a provision of grace, not a mind-game, a finding of the son, not a mind game, a drawing one into the love of God, not a mind game.

PRODIGAL SONHere’s the deal. The Holy Father has all along been condemning Promethean neo-Pelagian self-absorbed, self-referential, self-congratulations. All of that came from some copyists’ errors in manuscripts as outlined in (1) above, commentary about which gave rise to Pelagianism. In the wake of all that, Saint Augustine developed a theology of grace taken up by Saint Thomas Aquinas. After Aquinas developed Augustine’s theology of grace, it was in turn taken up in the Council of Trent. The work of the saints and the councils is consonant with the proper transcription of the prodigal son parable (2). Pope Francis has somehow analogously followed the work-your-own-way-into-an-absolution-and-Communion interpretation. The ironies and the epic sweep of history in all this is mind-boggling.

All the same, the Lord Jesus will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen. Or are we so hateful of the prodigal’s true conversion that we condemn the father as does the elder brother?

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Torture chamber confessionals nixed. Pope Francis: contrition, amendment? Instead: I think, therefore I am saved.

torture chamber

Torture chambers…

For the umpteenth time, on 30 April in Saint Peter’s Square, the Holy Father has again commanded priests in no uncertain terms not to make their confessionals into torture chambers and interrogation rooms. This was the lead story on 1 May 2016 in l’Osservatore Romano.

interrogation room

Interrogation rooms…

Since this has become one of the most frequent themes of the pontificate of Pope Francis, one would think that he actually thinks that all priests do make their confessionals into torture rooms and interrogation rooms. Since priests who make their confessionals into torture chambers and interrogation rooms belong immediately in the lowest reaches of hell, perhaps one might think in an unthinking way that the Holy Father ought to have mercy before that judgment is brought down upon them, to the effect that a new Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition be set up to discover which priests are so very lacking in mercy (all of them), so they might be brought by means of whatever it takes to understand what mercy is all about, with whatever it takes including torture and vicious interrogation. I mean, heaven and hell are for eternity, right? Whatever it takes is O.K., right? Remember, this bit about torture and interrogation really is a constant theme of Pope Francis. Is his constant attack on the priesthood, his constantly kicking priests in the face justified? Perhaps. In thinking about this not in an unthinking way, I think I’ve figured out what the Holy Father is thinking about this, whether he is doing that in a thinking or unthinking way I do not know. But, let’s think about this…

Methinks that this constant reference to the torture chambers and interrogation rooms of priests right around the world is meant to get priests to think about the quality of the conditions they lay on people prior to their reception of an absolution in confession. I think the Holy Father thinks that confessors right around the world think that any sign of repentance in and of itself brings in its wake also contrition and a purpose of amendment, and I think that that is what the Holy Father thinks is absolutely intolerable, as intolerable as any torture or vicious interrogation. I think that he’s not accusing anyone of wittingly going about torture and interrogation, only that he thinks that all priests have a totally insufficient theology regarding repentance, a theology which must be reformed, a theology which will not be reformed unless he makes all priests so angry that they will actually think about what he has to say. Clever. Again, let’s think about this.

The Holy Father does think, by the way, that a sign of repentance is a necessary condition for absolution in the confessional, enough to deny absolution if it is not there (as he told us Missionaries of Mercy on Shrove Tuesday 2016). This is from 30 May:

“Dio non si rassegna mai alla possibilità che una persona rimanga estranea al suo amore, a condizione però di trovare in lei qualche segno di pentimento per il male compiuto.” “God is never resigned to the possibility that a person remains foreign to His love, on the condition, however, to find in this person some sign of repentance for the evil done.”

I think the Holy Father thinks that this repentance does not at all necessarily have to bring in its wake contrition and a purpose of amendment, at least not right away, as repentance, for the Holy Father, is more about a process, a path, than an event. I think the Holy Father thinks that priests right around the world are oblivious to his understanding, blindly thinking, therefore, in his opinion, that repentance brings in its wake contrition and some purpose of amendment. This take on what Pope Francis thinks would be entirely consonant with Amoris laetitia in every way. Here’s my translation of more of that Saturday audience:

prodigal son

From l’Osservatore Romano

“May no one remain far from God because of obstacles put before them by men! And this goes also — and I say this underlining it — for confessors — it is valid for them –: please, do not put obstacles in front of people who want to reconcile themselves with God. The confessor must be a father! He takes the place of God the Father! The confessor must receive those who come to him to reconcile themselves with God and start them out on the path of this reconciliation that we are making [in other words a path of repentance merely in one’s mind but without the immediate contrition and purpose of amendment which would complete the path, those almost impossible conditions of the love which may perhaps come later (in Pope Francis’ mind)]. It is such a beautiful ministry: it is not a torture chamber nor an interrogation room. No. [Contrition? Amendment? Don’t ask. Don’t tell. Just be beautiful in your own mind, get absolution and to to Communion.]. He is the Father who receives and welcomes this person and pardons. Let us be reconciled with God! All of us! May this Holy Year be the favorable time to rediscover the need of tenderness and of the closeness of the Father [step one, which is what he thinks the prodigal son did when out with the pigs] so as to return to Him wholeheartedly [step two, the reversal of what actually happens in the parable of the prodigal son, who is instead found (but we will get to that in a future post, but note that this is the central mistake of Pope Francis)].” [In other words, this is all a repeat of footnote 351 in Amoris laetitia.]

True repentance without contrition and without some purpose of amendment is simply not possible. That would be a repentance which is not repentant at all. Or better, since repentance = rethinking (metanoia), such repentance without contrition and without some purpose of amendment would be no more than a mind game, that which is Promethean, neo-Pelagian, self-absorbed, self-referential, self-congratulatory. This is totally lacking in love, totally lacking in mercy. I think, therefore I am saved. It makes the sacraments a joke. It makes a joke of Christ’s faithful. It makes a joke of the priests who want to bring people into Christ’s love, not simply into some mind-game. Once entered into, how is it that one can extract someone out of such a mind-game? Is it not the same way that one might present at the very beginning of the “process”? Is it not all about Jesus and His love which is stronger than death? Yes. Repentance comes with contrition, an act of love, and purpose of amendment, an act of love. Repentance without contrition and purpose of amendment is not simply atrition, sorry for the loss of heaven and the pains of hell (which is good in and of itself and sufficient to bring one to confession and receive absolution if there is also a repentance with purpose of amendment). Instead, repentance without contrition and purpose of amendment is, again, simply a mind-game which has no respect for the one who would provide pardon. It makes one into the elder brother of the prodigal. It is self-righteous, loving only of self specifically apart from God.

Holy Father, I love you to pieces, but you are wrong. Why do you torture your priests and Christ’s faithful with that which is less than love? I’m sure you want a more profound theology about all this. I will provide that with a future post on the prodigal son. It will be sure to knock your black shoes off! Stay tuned.

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Amoris laetitia: Epistemology of love: Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, Catherine of Siena

saint catherine of siena

Jesus Himself fulfilled the vocation of Isaiah, to blind eyes, stop up ears, harden hearts, and remove all understanding lest people turn to the Lord to be saved. Good! We are not to pretend that just because we have eyes and ears and hearts we can turn to the Lord under our own power like some Pelagian work-your-own-way-to-God knucklehead. We must allow ourselves, by God’s grace, to be turned to the Lord, to be brought up into His mercy.

We hate any demand to give up control over ourselves, even of our spiritual lives, even to the Lord Himself. This is our fallen human condition. It is a crucifixion of our fallen spirits simply to watch the Lord bringing us to Himself. If people want to have a work to do in the spiritual life, it is this, to be crucified by watching the Lord bring us to Himself. When we have our eyes fixed on Him, our ears listening in obedience, our hearts able to love whatever the cost of a pierced heart, this will then be our greatest joy, a proof of the resurrection of the Lord in our lives, for we cannot be led by a dead god in this way, but only in friendship with the Living God.

There is a passage of The Divine Doctrine in which Christ’s words are particularly incisive and ironic. Catherine is relating her report of what our Lord is dictating to her. Jesus is speaking about Saint Paul’s interpretation of the key of knowledge, by which we see what the eye cannot see, hear what the ear cannot hear, and understand in our hearts what otherwise cannot arise in the heart of man. We cannot do this, but the Holy Spirit can effect this in us.

Saint Paul, in 1 Corinthians 2:9, does interpret Isaiah 6:4-10 – cited in Matthew 13:15, Acts 28:27, et al. – by saying it is by way of the love of God, by way of the crucified Lord of glory, that we see and hear and understand. Paul is accurate, says our Lord – as Saint Catherine relates – so much so that “questo parbe che volesse dire Paulo,” so much so that “this seems to be what Paul wanted to say,” that is, as if it were Paul’s revelation, Paul’s knowledge, Paul’s very own desire. In other words, Paul was so transformed by grace, that it was as if Paul spoke on his own authority. Yet, in this passage, the most erudite of all academic Pharisees himself happily admits that he is speaking by the power of God and the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Jesus was not conjecturing about what it seems to Him that Paul wanted to say, as if Jesus were Paul’s student: “In my opinion it seems to me that Paul wanted to say this…” Jesus was rather confirming just how correct Paul’s words were, for they were actualized in Paul’s life with the grace of Jesus, the power of God, and the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Paul was perfectly attuned to the grace of God that opened his eyes, unstopped his ears, pierced open his heart.

It is a sign of the times that the Spiritual Theology guru of our day, a consultor for multiple episcopal conferences on the spiritual formation of seminarians, called me into his office one day (some time ago in a far distant land), in order to mock this passage of Saint Catherine, laughing at her “revelations”, saying how stupid it is that she would think that Jesus could only have a personal opinion as to what Paul might possible mean, his eyes and ears and heart ironically entirely closed off to the meaning of this passage about how eyes and ears and heart can be entirely closed off to the revelation of God’s grace. I told him that I was going to publish my take on all this, that instead Paul was the perfect teacher of the power of grace, that is, in his very person. I was told that I was never to do this, that this would be the worst possible thing to say. He followed this up with threats of vindictive revenge (he has a lot to say about who does or doesn’t get published). He so much wanted to be (breathlessly) the first to publish about this with his mockery. Nevertheless, every year or two after that, I would again gently tell him my intention and he would again forbid me with his threats. This dispute became quite public and others would ask him why he was so severe with me, stunned at this out-of-character pretense to control the free speech of others. He would simply become speechless with anger.

Jumping forward until today, looking at Amoris laetitia, I see this same closing off of the eyes and years and heart to what should otherwise be the clear love of Jesus for His Bride the Church. The infamous chapter eight provides eyes and ears and heart closed off to the transforming love of Jesus, replacing His love with mere expediency, mere casuistry, mere rewarding of people who say they are in a difficult situation with the Eucharist, mere self-absorbed Promethean neo-Pelagianism, all self-referential, all self-congratulatory: We’re turning to the Lord under our own power! Well, one might think so, but that doesn’t make it true. This is about God’s love, not fierce individualism.

Either sanctifying grace shines through us as much as it did in Paul, or it doesn’t shine through us at all. There is a difference between mortal sin and grace, between adultery and faith filled matrimony, between ignoring Jesus and being in awestruck reverence before Him. Either our eyes and ears and hearts are closed or they are open. Either we are against Isaiah and Jesus and Paul and Catherine, or we are with them. Either our epistemology of love is merely the imposition of ourselves on reality, making it ideology, or the epistemology of love that we embrace inasmuch as it is given to us is the love given by God. He will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

Post script: Is all this an attack on the Holy Father, something that Catherine would severely condemn? No. Being a faithful son in not abandoning him, just trying to provide some insight, is not an attack. I love the Holy Father to pieces.

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Amoris laetitia: The comment of Bishop Athanasius Schneider

The paradox of contradicting interpretations of «Amoris laetitia». “Amoris laetitia”: a need for clarification in order to avoid a general confusion. The paradox of the contradictory interpretations of “Amoris laetitia.”

The recently published Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris laetitia” (AL), which contains a plethora of spiritual and pastoral riches with regard to life within marriage and the Christian family in our times, has unfortunately, within a very short time, led to very contradictory interpretations even among the episcopate. Continue reading

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Assessing authority of Amoris laetitia

don bosco dream barque of peter

Saint John Bosco’s dream of the Barque of Peter, the Eucharist and Mary

You will remember that the Most Rev Bernard Fellay, superior of the Fraternité sacerdotale Saint-Pie-X has waxed poetic about Amoris laetitia being – if we can read between the lines – a magisterial document:

“This is an apostolic exhortation that bears the title ‘The joy of love’, but it makes us cry. It is the summary of two synods on marriage. It is very long, there are many things that are correct, that are beautiful, but after building a beautiful boat, the Pontiff dug a hole in the hull under the waterline. You all know what happens then. One may say that we made the hole with all possible precautions, one may say that the hole is small, but the boat is sinking.”

I hope that quote is accurate. It was put up by a friend at Gloria.TV who knows something of Tradition. I’m sure the context has more nuance, but forgive my use of this most intriguing image. What I’m afraid of is that people will use such a thing as an excuse to throw themselves into sede-vacantism or sede-privationism or to leave the Church.

His Eminence, Cardinal Raymond Burke, meanwhile, in ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and the Constant Teaching and Practice of the Church over at the National Catholic Register, says that Amoris laetitia has a “personal, that is, non-magisterial, nature”, and then insists: “a post-synodal apostolic exhortation, by its very nature, does not propose new doctrine and discipline, but applies the perennial doctrine and discipline to the situation of the world at the time.”That doesn’t mean it’s going to be successful, by the way. The Cardinal is upset with those who propose that Amoris laetitia is “a revolution in the Church, as a radical departure from the teaching and practice of the Church, up to now, regarding marriage and the family,” upset because Amoris laetitia, note well, simply doesn’t have the capacity, considering the kind of document it is, to make any departure from anything. It is what it is. Even if it is wrong in parts, that makes no difference. He concludes that “While the Roman pontiff has personal reflections that are interesting and can be inspiring, the Church must be ever attentive to point out that their publication is a personal act and not an exercise of the papal magisterium.”

As you’ll remember, I defended the Cardinal. There is a reason for that and I want to entrench a bit with that reason. I think it is necessary to deepen our understanding of the vocabulary which, up to this time, we really did not have to do. But now it is a necessity. As good old Wikipedia says: “Studies of the Sami languages of Norway, Sweden and Finland, conclude that the languages have anywhere from 180 snow- and ice-related words and as many as 300 different words for types of snow, tracks in snow, and conditions of the use of snow.” Amoris laetitia is like a type of snow that needs a new description by the Sami. This is not word play. It is what it is and we have to deal with it according to the constant teaching of the Church as the Cardinal says. That is our key.

But first, lets go back to Saturday, 17 October 2015 in the Paul VI Audience Hall, to the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the institution of the Synod of Bishops, and to the address of his Holiness Pope Francis. The Holy Father says strong things with extremely technical language and with citations having stunning sources. Back in the day, I cited this numerous times as that which pointed to an upcoming decision that would be at least an infallible act of the ordinary magisterium of the Church:

“The Synod process culminates in listening to the Bishop of Rome, who is called to speak as “pastor and teacher of all Christians”,(15) not on the basis of his personal convictions but as the supreme witness to the fides totius Ecclesiae, “the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church”.(16)

“The fact that the Synod always acts cum Petro et sub Petro — indeed, not only cum Petro, but also sub Petro — is not a limitation of freedom, but a guarantee of unity. For the Pope is, by will of the Lord, “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful”.(17) Closely related to this is the concept of “hierarchica communio” as employed by the Second Vatican Council: the Bishops are linked to the Bishop of Rome by the bond of episcopal communion (cum Petro) while, at the same time, hierarchically subject to him as head of the college (sub Petro).(18)

15) FIRST VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus (18 July 1870), ch. IV: Denz. 3074. Cf. Codex Iuris Canonici, can. 749, § 1.

16) FRANCIS, Address to the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 18 October 2014.

17) SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 23. cf. FIRST VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Prologue: Denz. 3051.

18) Cf. SECOND VATICAN ECUMENICAL COUNCIL, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 22; Decree Christus Dominus (28 October 1965), 4.

Meanwhile, a friend at Rorate has posited and insisted upon an opinion that not only is Amoris laetitia a teaching document of the magisterium, but one that from which one can hardly withhold one’s assent. Citing the above paragraphs after I have done so, so many times, Rorate has it that:

“NOTHING in Amoris Laetitia takes back or reverses this statement of intent. Now, the fact that Francis intended to pronounce authoritatively on the matters of discussion taken up by the Synod does not, by itself, make his pronouncement automatically “magisterial”, but it also means that it is highly unlikely that this lengthy document was written in such a way that it can be dismissed as a mere expression of papal opinion.”

Meanwhile, in Amoris laetitia itself, as Cardinal Burke points out, Pope Francis had this to say, cancelling out what he said previously:

3. Since “time is greater than space”, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13), until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does. Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs [“can seek solutions better suited”=no imposition]. For “cultures are in fact quite diverse and every general principle… needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied”.3

3 Concluding Address of the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops (24 October 2015): L’Osservatore Romano, 26-27 October 2015, p. 13; cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, Fede e cultura alla luce della Bibbia. Atti della sessione plenaria 1979 della Pontificia Commissione Biblica, Turin, 1981 [This has +Bruno Forte written all over it]Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 44; John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio (7 December 1990), 52: AAS 83 (1991), 300; Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 69, 117: AAS 105 (2013), 1049, 1068-69.

4. I must also say that the Synod process proved both impressive and illuminating. I am grateful for the many contributions that helped me to appreciate more fully the problems faced by families throughout the world. The various interventions of the Synod Fathers, to which I paid close heed, made up, as it were, a multifaceted gem reflecting many legitimate concerns and honest questions. For this reason, I thought it appropriate to prepare a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation to gather [“gather”=just some Synod Fathers] the contributions of the two recent Synods on the family, while adding other considerations as an aid to reflection, dialogue [“reflection, dialogue” which preempt imposition] and pastoral practice, and as a help and encouragement to families in their daily commitments and challenges.

Back to that post on Rorate: “The theme that the cardinal developed at some length and the conclusion he intended readers to draw was that the document ‘doesn’t count’ as real teaching (magisterium) which would impose an obligation of assent on Catholics.”

I agree with that sentence of Rorate. But know this: ex-cathedra teaching is ipso facto authentic. The same cannot be said of “an aid to reflection, dialogue.” It is authentic if it is consonant with Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and Magisterial interventions such as Trent throughout the ages. The Holy Father specifically refrained from that. That’s important.

I pick on the word authentic because this is a word which obliges someone to give their assent even to the teaching of their local bishop. But if that teaching is not authentic, then there is no obligation. Hey! It can happen! If the Bishop of Rome says that there is no obligation, he is saying that dialogue is possible. Get it? Are there authors that anyone in the world can cite who intimate that anything and everything that the Holy Father teaches is going to be authentic? Yes. But that’s just sycophantic, absurd ultramontantism.

Look, forms of presentation change, sometimes with extreme consequences for the viability of the Church if these changes of forms of presentation are dismissed out of hand. I’ve written on this at great length elsewhere on AEternus ille caelestium, what would have been an ex-Cathedra statement if there ever, ever was one. But it is not. And then Bellarmine tried to burn all the evidence of this misdeed of the now conveniently dead pope right around Europe. Take note.

But Rorate entrenches, saying, “It is makes no sense for Cardinal Burke to say it is ‘non-magisterial,’ or merely ‘personal.'” Sure it does, but let’s back off for just to a moment now to look at the vocabulary. As I said, we’ve not had much occasion to refine the word magisterial, but now we do. So, let’s have at it.

penafortThere’s the Roman Curia which in its various dicasteries puts out all sorts of documents, some better than others, some worse than others. Is all of that the magisterium? In a way, yes. Is it papal magisterium if those documents are provided with an introductory speech given to, say, the Diplomatic Corps, as was the 1993 paper of the Biblical Commission on Interpretation of the Scriptures in the Church (with the caveat that Paul VI ripped the Commission away from the Holy Office so that it is only under its grouping but not part of its teaching authority)? Well, it is the Pope who provides that introductory speech, but even Cardinal Ratzinger at the time attacked the sycophantic ultramonist idea that this had to be given religious assent.

The objection is that a presentation of some bishops’ thoughts by the Holy Father is instantly obligatory for religious assent. No. Does it come forth from the machinery of the bureaucracy? Yes. Is Pope Francis presenting it? Yes. But if it is not presented as infallible, and in fact it is specifically NOT presented that way, then it is fair game for people to decide as to whether it is authentic teaching, the dialogue thing and all that, right? Authentic means in line with Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the great Magisterial interventions such as Trent right throughout the centuries. If it is authentic, then one is obliged to take it on board. If it is not authentic, one is not obliged to take it on board. In fact, if it is non-authentic and it is hurtful, one is obliged to dissent from it. In this dissent, one is not dissenting from the Church, but one is rather being obedient to the Church, indeed, to the Holy Father in particular. This does not mean sede-privationism or sede-vacantism, nor is it an excuse to do the Hans Küng thing. People say that such responsibility for examining the teaching of whoever is not fair. Yes, well, grow up. Judas betrayed Jesus, and I’m sure Judas made statements all the time. Peter denied Jesus, and I’m sure Peter made statements all the time. Was Judas always right? Was Peter always right? And you want something better for yourselves?

“The Church has never been so close to dropping into hell as it is now,” exclaimed Saint Robert Bellarmine to, if I remember correctly, Father Andrew, his secretary. And to that observation of Bellarmine my answer is this: times never change, and so what’s the big deal with hanging over hell? Isn’t Christ Jesus our Savior? Isn’t He going to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire? Yes. He is. Thank God. Amen.

penafort-In summary: Yes, O.K., fine, Amoris laetitia is a document put our by the Roman Curia and the Holy Father and it does purport to do some teaching, but in a non-impositional, encouragement of dialogue manner. Call it magisterial all you want, but if it is non-authentic, you are not obliged to follow it. You can cherry pick good stuff, but really the good should be interpreted in view of the bad. You can attack the bad stuff despite whatever else good there is.

Finally: If we are bidden to interpret the document in view of the constant teaching of the Church, it seems to me that we must do this with an eye to a decision regarding authentic or inauthentic. You know why? Because that’s the will of the Holy Father! HE wants us to do that. Don’t blame me. I’m not being rebellious. It just is what it is. And still, I love the Holy Father to pieces. He really delegated heavily for this one. I don’t agree with the extremity of the delegation, but it is what it is.

Finally, I do think I understood something of what Cardinal Burke was trying to do. I hope I put it across in some way people can understand.

Meanwhile, Bishop Athanasius Schneider has made a statement on Amoris laetitia. More on that after a bit. English here.

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Amoris laetitia: If you’re a sinner, you’re ignorant and lacking will power

house

I pass by this poor house during Communion calls. It’s on one of the highest mountains in the Eastern United States right here is Western North Carolina. Some consider those who live in such dwellings to be ignorant and lacking in will power, you know, those poor creatures who through no fault of their own find themselves to be in the conditions they are in, you know, because they are inherently ignorant and lacking in will power.

This is another theme of Amoris laetitia: if you are an adulterer, or any kind of sinner, you are ignorant and lacking in will power. Better: if you’ve sinned, you haven’t really sinned because you can’t, because you’re both ignorant and a sinner. Let’s see this in action:

311 […] We put so many conditions on mercy* that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance. That is the worst way of watering down the Gospel. It is true, for example, that mercy does not exclude justice and truth, but first and foremost we have to say that mercy is the fullness of justice and the most radiant manifestation of God’s truth. For this reason, we should always consider “inadequate any theological conception which in the end puts in doubt the omnipotence of God and, especially, his mercy”.365

* Conditions like the love of Jesus bringing one to repentance, contrition, amendment.

365 International Theological Commission, The Hope of Salvation for Infants Who Die Without Being Baptized (19 April 2007), 2.

Sounds nice, right? Not so quick. The “mercy” that is being provided (actually withheld) rejects the love which draws one into repentance, contrition, amendment. This is done for the precise reason that God’s mercy will just power through all that rubbish about a love which draws one into repentance, contrition, amendment. Why do I say that? Because, well, look at the footnote! The ghost writers didn’t have to cite this, but they did. They went and got the document about kids who die without baptism. That’s because the ghost writers think you are stuuuuuuuppiiiiiiiiiiidddd.

Aborted kids, still-born kids and infants dying without baptism didn’t commit any personal sins did they? No! Because they were both ignorant and couldn’t exercise their wills. Adult adulterers are here compared to aborted kids, stillborn kids and infants, that is, saying that these adults are totally ignorant and can’t exercise their wills anyway.

The condescension (objectively speaking of course) is crushing. As I say, I grant the ghost writers their sincerity, but this is evil (objectively speaking of course). Jesus wants us to use our brains and our wills to assent to His love if we can do this. To declare that sinners really aren’t sinners anyway because they are all ignorant and lacking in will power makes Jesus into a fool for standing in our stead, laying down His life so that He might have the right in His own justice to have mercy on us. If we cannot sin because we are stupid and lacking in will power, there was no reason for Jesus to die for us. Jesus is not a fool. God will not be mocked.

As I say, even “and” and “the” are misleading in this document. Looking for error is like looking for a drop of water in the ocean.

But anyway, for the ghost writers, you’re too stuuuuuuuuuppiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiidd to know that! Don’t you feel affirmed and nice all over? The ghost writers also know that you are ultramontanists and won’t ever complain.

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Amoris laetitia 351: demonic priests who follow a demonic Jesus?

schonbornFor Amoris laetitia note 351, let’s let Cardinal Schönborn answer as to whether priests are the enemy. After all, it’s on this very point of note 351 that Pope Francis directed us to the Cardinal for an authentic interpretation. The Cardinal instructs us that the statement is, in fact, to be read in the context of the document. He himself cites for us 308 so as to bring in 311. From the Cardinal’s words:

[T]he 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” (EG 47).

Is it an excessive challenge for pastors, for spiritual guides and for communities if the “discernment of situations” is not regulated more precisely? Pope Francis acknowledges this concern: “I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion” (AL 308). However, he challenges this, remarking that “We put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance. That is the worst way of watering down the Gospel” (AL 311).

Reacting to straw men of one’s own creation on the same playing field as one’s opponent is to stay on the same playing field with the straw men of one’s own creation. I don’t know how to say that in a simpler way. I say straw men because…

  • I’ve never met a priest who makes the confessional a torture chamber.
  • I’ve never met a priest who makes the Eucharist a prize for the perfect.
  • I don’t know any priest who puts any conditions on mercy.

Let’s review:

  • Have I been tortured in the confessional? Sure. But not be any orthodox priest, only by priests who make up some invalid absolution. THAT tortures me. I am tempted at that point to think very evil, very dark thoughts with terrible cynicism and anger and bitterness. It’s happened to me a lot. I used to carry printed cards of the absolution for priests to read. Those were the days of Jesus’ instruction to me of how bad things are and what torture people go through with “nice” priests.
  • I have seen liberal priests and bishops turn the Eucharist into a doggy treat, holding the Host up high, out of range of the kneeling communicant, not as a prize for their holiness, but bait to make them compliant with the wish that communicants stand to receive.
  • There are plenty of saints who have delayed or denied absolution. This is because the person does not want Jesus’ mercy. Wanting mercy is a condition for receiving mercy. Is this hard to understand? Complex?

Here’s the deal: Mercy is always available to the sinner who is repentant and contrite and, therefore, wants to follow Jesus. This is not making the Eucharist a prize. This is about the love that Jesus provides, the love which is accepted by the sinner:

  • Repentance is about Jesus’ love.
  • Contrition is about Jesus’ love.
  • A firm purpose of amendment is about Jesus’ love.

But if love is mocked by mocking repentance and contrition and amendment as a flood of conditions by which to “empty mercy of its concrete meaning and real significance,” “the worst way of watering down the Gospel” (AL 311), well then, that is mockery of Jesus’ love.

Saying that Jesus in the Eucharist is a “powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” while rejecting repentance and contrition and amendment as demonic “conditions” is not to treat Jesus as the Way, but rather to trod Him under foot. I say demonic because it is said that such matters of Jesus’ love are the worst way of watering down the Gospel: “worst.” “Worst” is hard to beat, even for Satan. Worst means unbeatably worst.

To be clear: Mercy fills a need. If the person doesn’t admit to having a need, how can if be filled? If the person says: “I can see!” how will they allow you to provide them with sight? I mean, can you think of any statements of Jesus about this? Any?! Tell me: is Jesus being damned as demonic here? Jesus leads people into the right conditions, if they want these, does He not? Well, “condition” is a casuistic term beating people over the head. The conditions of Jesus’ good love are true, but one leads people into such a state of love, insisting on the love. This gets people, every time, right? They expect casuistry. A good confessor should instead supply the love, and insist on the love that brings one repentance, contrition and amendment.

The sacrament of confession is for the forgiveness of sins. The sacrament of the Eucharist is to celebrate the life provided in confession.

I pray for the Holy Father. I offer Mass for him frequently.

And, no, Jesus is not demonic. Priests who follow Him are not demonic.

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Ignatius Press enlists priest-bloggers: Eleven Cardinals book @ divorced and remarried receiving Communion?

ignatius press

You’ll remember that Ignatius Press published the famous book – ‘Remaining in the truth of Christ’ – just before the 2014 Synod on the Family, and that copies intended for the Synod participants came to a nefarious end before delivery. It’s that good. It’s that clear. It’s that much of a must read in the battle for the integrity of pastoral practice regarding the sacraments of Holy Matrimony, the Most Blessed Sacrament and Confession, indeed, in the battle for the eternal welfare of the souls who have been thrown into confusion.

Although canonists such as Cardinal Burke and other theologians insist that no doctrine has changed with the publication of Amoris laetitia, it is nevertheless true for a number of reasons that confusion reigns in the Church and the world, not the least of which is Pope Francis proclaiming that plenty of things have changed while on his trip back from Lesbos. In the Eleven Cardinals book, Willem Jacobus Cardinal Eijk writes a chapter that seems to speak prophetically in some way to what Pope Francis calls new. Cardinal Eijk entitles the chapter: Can divorced and Civilly remarried persons receive Communion? He is as clear as a bell.

Ignatius Press has decided to enter the fray once again, this time offering free digital publishing of this most incisive chapter of this most feared book on the personal blogs of priests and bishops and cardinals, starting with this most insignificant of tiny blogs: a little yeast, and watch it grow. This helps to consolidate the Catholic identity.

Beginning with an email for Father Fessio, this was arranged with Ignatius Press for Arise! Let us be going! and other priest-bloggers with the aim of sharing a more widely a reasoned evangelization that has not yet been sufficiently brought to the attention of those in the pews. As you might imagine, there are some ground rules:

  • The chapter, and only this chapter, may only be published on the blogs of select clerical bloggers, only five in number, to begin with. That number can certainly be re-evaluated. Arise! Let us be going! will vet the requests to reprint this chapter on their blogs. All you have to do is request the perfect quality PDF produced of this chapter by Ignatius Press for this purpose in the comments box of this post. I will NOT publish your request, or your name or email address. Use your real email address in the comments form so that I can be in touch with you. Tell me your real name and provide the real URL of your blog where this chapter will be published. Then, no problem!
  • However easy it is to digitally steal anything on the internet, resorting even to screen shots, there is a copyright prohibition of doing that, so that the distribution of the chapter is to remain on those select blogs only. That, of course, presents somewhat insurmountable technical problems. The internet is what it is, right. I have to assume in this case that trying one’s best is O.K. We will see who respects that, and also who doesn’t, so that any possible future projects will take this into account.
  • We live in times which are especially dangerous regarding the eternal salvation of souls. This is about guiding people to the truth and goodness and kindness of Jesus.
  • I will be publishing the PDF of that chapter in an upcoming article. This may take a few days. Have patience. Meanwhile, say a Hail Mary that this project may be taken up by many dozens of clerical-bloggers right around the world. Share this post with your favorite clerical bloggers (clerical meaning: deacons, priests, bishops, cardinals…).

For those who don’t have the entire book (worth its weight in much more than gold): Eleven Cardinals Speak on Marriage and the Family

eleven cardinals book

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Amoris laetitia: objectively malicious with consistency of malice

death star

An analogy of Amoris laetitia. Because Jesus always wins.

The more I drill into Amoris laetitia, the more I am convinced that there are no inconsistencies whatsoever. I think that those who think that there are inconsistencies are simply afraid to see what’s really, horrifically, actually there. I believe that it is terribly consistent, with the best of the best parts having to be read in view of the worst of the worst parts. O.K. Fine. Read the worst of the worst parts in view of the best of the parts and you’ll come up with the same thing. The document really is very, extremely clever, clever with purpose, objectively malicious. By that I mean that I grant, of course, subjective sincerity of niceness to the ghost writers, but what they present, objectively, is a full attack on the Church.

WHISKEY

Whiskey

For instance, I think those who say that note 351 can be read in an orthodox way are wrong, not because they are mistaken about their ultra-refined argumentation which effectively absolutely zero percent of the Catholic population of the earth will understand – but because the note is to be read with the rest of the document to which it is a note. That context also has, say, the sophistry of note 329 [Look it up.], which even those making the most fantastical apologia admit they cannot wrap their minds around. Note 329 belongs to paragraph 298 [Look it up.] which has a reference to the wonderful nature of “Christian commitment” to an adulterous relationship. That has a certain insanity of consistency with note 351 [Look it up.]. It’s all apiece. You’ll excuse me if I refrain from continuously repeating that I think it is a piece of… I mean, look, note 329, outrageously maliciously (objectively speaking) ripping citations out of context [Look them up. Seriously. Do it.] and turning them upside down and inside out, back to front, inescapably encourages adulterers to Force niceness upon each other with Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Yep. After all, if you’re an Amoris laetitia fan you wouldn’t want alienation of affection for adulterers would you? “Alienation of affection” refers not only to companionship, but also to carnal marital relations. Saint Paul speaks of this. [Look it up!] All that supplies only one very unorthodox possibility for the true contextual reading of note 351, that is, that unrepentant sinners who have zero purpose of amendment are to be absolved of a sin they don’t even think is a real sin for themselves because, you know, they are so special and the only ones in history with special circumstances, thus sending them off to receive Communion. Sure, there are all sorts of guidelines to stop scandal and to help whoever along, but the absolution and Communion are always, sooner or later, to follow, no matter what, since, you know, no one is to be condemned forever. See the immediately preceding paragraph 297 [Look it up!].

TANGO

Tango

Back in the 1990s, I had long discussions with a particularly influential Cardinal and surely close friend of Father Bergoglio, and who was near the very top of the Roman Curia, about the 1993 paper on Interpretation of the Bible in the Church put out by the Pontifical Biblical Commission. At one point I said that I was at the point of cross-referencing paragraphs throughout the document from memory. I started to explain that I was noting consistency of argument throughout the document but with conclusions that I thought were dreadful. But he cut me off abruptly with my reference to cross-referencing paragraphs in different sections while looking for consistency, insisting rather roughly, I must say, that I must never do that, never look for consistency (he knew where I was going!), for this would not be of service to the Church. He continued to try to form me into accepting a mentality of how such documents are to be written[!], that each bit had to be simply a stand-alone paragraph or section and nothing more, that that was the only way forward. I hope that frightens you, for it is THE POLICY OF AMBIGUITY. I was scared to death.

I realize that Cardinal Burke has recommended making the attempt to read this document in light of Sacred Tradition, but I think there is a preliminary step to be made before that, for me (I know he’s done that), which is simply to read the document in light of itself. Once we know what it says, avoiding reading into it what may not be there, then we can do a comparison in attempt to understand it a little better. I’ve been having trouble getting past the first step. I am devastated at the evil that I see there. I am overwhelmed. This is not the Gospel. It is casuistry. It is the encouragement of self-absorption, far from reverence for the wounds upon the dearest and divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, Christ Jesus. It’s all about confessors being Promethean providers of the ways of neo-Pelagian self-congratulations. Such mind-games, so very far from love and mercy, are not of Jesus.

FOXTROT

Foxtrot

I won’t have any part of it. If you want to know just what kind of mercy this Missionary of Mercy exercises if not that of Amoris laetitia, just what kind of mercy any priest should exercise according to the Lord Jesus, stay tuned for long planned articles on the prodigal son and the adulterous woman. And if you think that the pictures of this article have any significance, say, in regard to military alphabet code, well, you would be right. I only mention that because the more liberal crowd will surely respect that they have hurt my feelings in publishing such an objectively malicious document. And because they know I have hurt feelings, they will be nice to me, right? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

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Amoris laetitia 351 gradualism casuistry

the-place

“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism” (Martin Luther King Jr.).

isis killing christians

It is said that there is no gradualism of the law but that there is a law of gradualism in following the law, so that, in such a self-referential vortex, the the law itself admits of an inherent gradualism.

That vortex admits that disrespect for others is O.K., you know, kind of, like, if there is, say, coercion of circumstances to be disrespectful to others, you know, like feelings and emotions and stuff like that there.

Mind you, feelings and emotions and stuff like that there are a cross to carry, and crosses are meant to torture people to death, in this case, death to self so as to live for Christ Jesus, love for whom carries us along. We carry the cross, but follow Him.

Oh, did I use the word torture? Like “torture chamber”? Sigh…

If Jesus took us deadly seriously in being tortured to death for us (Yes. Tortured. To. Death. There. I used the word “torture”; and I feel good about it.), we are obliged by the law of love to take Him deadly seriously instead of ourselves. We follow Him, not ourselves. This is about Him. His love. His goodness. His kindness. He loves us enough to want that we die to ourselves to live for Him, and with the most tender solicitation for our welfare, will permit that we be tortured to death by the Cross of fallen feelings, fallen emotions and fallen stuff like that there, so that we will live only for Him. Living only for Jesus is not cold and sterile and cruel. No. He is life-giving.

If we look at the cross and take ourselves way too seriously, no longer looking to Him who bears the wounds of slaughter upon His risen body, but only saying, “Woe is me! Look at my feelings and emotions and stuff like that there…” well, then, in that case, we will sin.

But, here’s the deal: there is forgiveness of sin, and any presumption (a sin against the Holy Spirit) must also be confessed, all with repentance and a firm purpose of amendment. The sanctifying grace, the re-establishment of the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity within us, making it so that there is no room for the guilt, which is forgiven, and making it that that sanctifying grace will provide us with great opportunities between one confession and the next for a humble thanksgiving which is an active friendship with the Son of the Living God… that, my friends, is mercy.

It is not mercy to say that mercy simply overlooks sin and presumption and disrespect for others as that which is negligible in the face of, you know, the coercion of feelings and emotions and stuff like that there, as if real sin could never be forgiven, so let’s just make excuses. But that is what is being done.

It is thought that sin cannot be forgiven unless it is not sin, that is, that whatever sin can be forgiven is not really sin because there are so many excuses, circumstances and what not that that is why someone can be forgiven. You see, this is about rationalization, mind-games. This is not about what is should be about, which is love. Love makes for true repentance and a firm purpose of amendment, not excuses extending into the future with no repentance no purpose of amendment.

It is thought in a neo-Pelagian way that unless and until someone becomes the perfect man with the cross of wild feelings and emotions and stuff like that there all under control, then all bets are off, as it is impossible, then, it is thought, for grace to build on a weak human nature. We are bidden to be perfect so that the grace of Jesus will be redundant. That’s simply wrong. All the saints were trained up amidst their weakness consequent to original sin and whatever other sin they had. To say that carrying the cross is actually impossible until they are perfect human beings and no longer have a cross is both stupid and anti-Christian. It is the height, or rather depth of self-referential neo-Pelagianism. Weakness is NOT sin. It is a cross which we can carry with Jesus. If we are forgiven and carrying that cross, we are holy, radiating the life of Jesus.

Oh… and the analogy picture of ISIS about to decapitate Jesus’ martyrs? Yep. It’s just that serious in the battle for souls. Your normal, run of the mill crowd, can be martyrs for Jesus, just like that. Remember the little kids getting hung and burned and decapitated and shot? They were asked if they were going to renounce Jesus and they said that they will continue to love Jesus. Just like that. Little kids. Hey! I bet they had feelings and emotions and coercion and stuff going on. But they stuck it out with Jesus, not mind games of rationalization. They are our witnesses, our martyrs.

We in the “west” live a disgusting, soft, pandering fear of that which in any way would not take on board the self-referential self-congratulating feelings and emotions and stuff like that there of those caught up in the same. But people long to be freed from such a way of going about things, and would we offer them sophistry to stay in the same trap, the same slavery, the same not being enthralled with Jesus? How very, very disgusting. There is condemnation, and it will come from underneath the altar in heaven, where we find the martyrs asking for vengeance (Rev 6:10-11).

What’s the answer? To take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism of the law? No. The answer is to help people be enthralled with the dear Son of Mary, the Divine Son of the Immaculate Conception, who bears the wounds of slaughter upon Himself, who loves us, and does give us the grace to love Him, for He knows so very well that He will come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire. But He wants us in heaven. Amen.

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Amoris laetitia 351: sin certificate

admit ticket

Amoris laetitia, footnote 351, is a kind of resurrection of the German Catholic bishops policy regarding their government’s idea, some years ago, which was that if a woman wants to have an abortion, she has to get some sort of counseling first, even religious counseling, at the completion of which, if she still wants to have an abortion, she is to be given a certificate, an admission ticket, if you will, to be handed in to the ticket master at the local abortion mill. So, the bishops, incredibly, jumped on the idea, and had “counselors” all lined up ready to hand a woman her abortion admission ticket, thus formally participating in her abortion instead of actually seriously trying to make the rescue. And they did formally cooperate. And the image of Jesus was put to death. The Holy See finally put a stop to this abuse of the German bishops amidst the protests for and against in the highest levels of the Roman Curia.

communion in the hand

A ticket to… what…?

But here we are again, with Amoris laetitia, footnote 351, in paraphrase: if you really can’t stop yourself, go ahead and go to Communion, and use that as a kind of admission ticket to do whatever it is that “forces” you to be unrepentant and not to have a firm purpose of amendment, regardless of which I’ll just go ahead and absolve you of your sin, which, anyway, isn’t really sin, but just the sign of a worthy life which just needs to be, you know, more worthy, but we’ll work on that.

Or is it all just ambiguous and I’m reading into it? If that were the case, it would certainly be deadly ambiguity. Deadly ambiguity, as deadly as it is, is deadly, and that’s not good, is it? It basically says amidst all the ambiguity, and, indeed, because of the ambiguity, that people are stupid, have no moral capacity, are determined by their circumstances, and that the person of our Lord, His grace, has no power to save, no power to bring someone into love, no power to convert the most hardened sinner.

But, be of good cheer. There is also this:

I love that. Whatever is going on, there is one constant, it’s all about Jesus.

We want Jesus! Because Jesus wants us!

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Amoris laetitia: irreversible?

nuclear explosion

There are those who have been involved in the Synods on the Family and Amoris laetitia who have said with a great deal of triumphalism that it is all irreversible, that they have done it, accomplished it, provided it, and no one will take it out of their hands.

This reminds me of the statements about that Titanic, that not even God can sink such a ship. And then they found out. Our measly efforts regarding the truth are NOTHING compared to Jesus, who IS Truth Incarnate, the very Word of the Father. Amoris laetitia is not a document by which Jesus will judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Jesus will judge us regarding our charity as held up by the truth which itself sanctifies us. If anyone thinks that their efforts can replace the infused faith, Sacred Tradition, they are sorely mistaken. Jesus is the standard of truth. Through Him, with Him and in Him, we are to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. We are to pray always. How can we do that if we are so busy congratulating ourselves that our own efforts are irreversible?

I’ve seen this all before regarding textual criticism and the manuscripts of the bible. The Pontifical Council for Ecumenical getting along gave away the farm in having others judge what is in the Bible instead of the Holy Father. They said that it was all irreversible. Rubbish. It seems to me that the mockery of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the Magisterial interventions of the Church that are considered infallible (whether ordinary or extraordinary) has gone on long enough.

Anyway, part of the claim for Amoris laetitia being irreversible is surely that it is quite predictable what a state the Church will be in right around the world, so messy, that it will be thought that following our Lord our Lord’s way will never be possible again. No.

People hear the voice of Jesus and follow Him.

Oh, and the picture of the irreversible nuclear explosion up top? Remember that during the nuclear bombing of Japan, a church was virtually unhurt near the epicenter, with the priests inside calmly praying the Fatima rosary. Nothing is impossible with God.

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Amoris laetitia 351: priests’ obligation? Missionary of Mercy wants to know.

ambiguity

Queritur: Are priests obliged to follow the recommendations of Amoris laetitia in any case in the Confessional, footnote 351?

  • The sacraments mentioned in the note cannot be baptism, confirmation, marriage, holy orders or, all things being equal, anointing. The plural is used, so the sacraments mentioned here are both Confession and Holy Communion, the one not meant to be a torture chamber, the other not meant to be a reward.

Answer: No, because no one knows what it means, and multiple attempts to get the Holy Father to give an answer about 351 have failed. The law of the Church hasn’t changed, and yet, the intent of the note is clear. And yet, the law forbids it. And yet… blah blah blah… It’s ambiguous. It being that it is ambiguous, what is it that priests would be obliged to follow? There is no answer to this from the Holy Father. So: IT MEANS NOTHING.

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Pope Francis and Holy Communion

pope francis youtube

This is the moment, 24:08, when Pope Francis says this:

“The great preoccupation of the majority of the mass media: ‘Ah, the divorced and remarried can go to Communion’ [said with sarcasm], and I, I not being a saint, this gave me a bit of irritation, but then, a little dissidence. Because I think that that [mass] media [outlet] which says this, this, this, does not understand that that is not the important problem.”

He goes on to explain what the big problems are with the family, like lack of work.

Holy Father, dearest Holy Father… As a Missionary of Mercy I would like to have the opportunity to interview you about Jesus Christ in the Eucharist, as you might find the solutions to all the problems you speak about with Him, who will come to judge the living and the dead and world by fire. Please, Holy Father. Have mercy.

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Meanwhile: demons & Amoris laetitia

SAINT GEORGE SLAYING THE DRAGON Unterlinden Museum Colmar

Holy Mother Church looking askance at the efforts of the spear makers, or is her expression one of disappointment about the white horse who’s running away?

I just got a note from an Australian reader wondering whether exorcism is always a good response for what seems to be a haunted house. My answer is “No, not always.” Let’s do some discernment. Let’s call to mind an anecdote.

Let’s say a fair dinkum Catholic marriage is broken up the wife, who, without any declaration of nullity for this marriage, runs off and civilly marries a young lad who “makes her feel young again.” As the years go by, she gets advanced stage four cancer, repents of her sin, and asks forgiveness of the bloke to whom she was, in the eyes of the Catholic Church, still bound by the sacrament of matrimony. When she had left him, he had told her, “Go to hell!” He had regretted this terribly, had never remarried, and, in fact, had kept a picture of her on a table in her old sewing room. When, towards the end of her life, she showed up in a car out front of his house (their house) with great difficulty so as to make her apology in person before returning to the ministrations of her home care nurse, he didn’t listen and again shouted out from his house to the car: “Go to hell!” That was the last he ever saw of her. In the alienation of affection, he himself had grown bitter.

After she died, he started to notice what seemed to be the acts of a poltergeist in his house, with her picture face down, or inexplicably standing up again, with the sewing table moved here and there. This scared him, and he called in an exorcist who thought that this might be herself in purgatory, asking for his prayers. But, no.

  • The holy souls in purgatory are, in fact, holy souls, filled with sanctifying grace and the indwelling of the Most Holy Trinity. They are being purged of their earthly hesitation to get to know whence our Lord called them, so that they might have the great joy of thanking our Lord in heaven, knowing why they are thanking Him. We hesitate, but, by our prayers, those in purgatory are brought face to face with the truth of it all. They are grateful for our prayers which give them God-speed, as it were, to know the extent of the love of our Lord. These holy souls would never frighten us.
  • So, could it be a damned soul, trying to make the survivor despair so as also to go to hell? No. The damned are utterly cut off from the earth or anyone on this earth. They are in hell forever. Check out the Angelic Doctor of the Church, Saint Thomas Aquinas on this one.
  • So, could it be fallen angels, trying in this way to make the survivor despair so as also to go to hell? Yes. But, discernment is needed…
  • Could it be the delusion of the survivor, who, in a kind of delirium mixture of bitterness and regret and love and scorned love, makes his way into the sewing room and gently places her picture face down, sobbing uncontrollably, leaning against the table, moving it, lurching then, out of the room to calm down, suppressing that trauma, only to go again later into the room, not want to admit to himself why the picture was face down, then putting it back up and rearranging the table, only to repeat this umpteen times? Sure, that’s also very possible. What’s needed is healing.

This anecdote underlines something for us that we need to consider in our assessment of Amoris laetitia and how we put that assessment into practice, that is, with the constant teaching of Sacred Scripture, Sacred Tradition and the highest interventions of the Magisterium of the Church, such as the canons and decrees of the Council of Trent. That teaching underlines the sinful nature of adultery for a reason:

The spouse who is betrayed is, in fact, betrayed, cast into the darkest of existential peripheries, mocked, especially if they remain faithful to their marriage vows, despised in their faithfulness, perhaps especially by those who want them to celebrate the pseudo-marriage of their betrayer with that betrayer receiving Holy Communion. The aggressor is not the faithful person who was betrayed and hurt so very badly. There. I said it. Should that be obvious? Yes. Such a person, however appearing to be strong, is, of course, as weak and fragile as all the rest of us, and can be terribly tempted to bitterness and despair. Are we to help those who have sinned to be found by Jesus? Yes. But I also think that we are to take care of those who have been kicked in the face and betrayed.

Are there very many talking about comforting those who in the darkest of existential peripheries, who are upset about the mania surrounding helping out the Judas spouses even while they are shoved into the margins all the more? Not many.

Remember, Jesus married His Bride the Church with His wedding vows at His Wedding Feast, the Last Supper which was completed on Calvary: My body betrayed for you… My blood poured out for you in sacrifice… He’s deadly serious in His redemption of marriage. He’s deadly serious about being in solidarity with a spouse who is betrayed. He knows what it means to suffer. He will come to judge the living and the dead and the world by fire. Amen.

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Amoris laetitia and Cardinal Burke

cardinal burke lourdes

I took this picture in the Immaculate Conception “Upper” Basilica in Lourdes when I was a permanent chaplain there for a couple of years, when Cardinal Burke was on pilgrimage with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest in 2009. I suffered terribly in the days of yore, trying to facilitate such Masses.

I’ve had quite a number of extended conversations with Cardinal Burke over the years, one of which was quite recent. I’ll tell you this: he is the utmost gentleman, the most humble parish priest who has no “airs” about him at all, except the brightness of a spirit of unstoppable humble reverence before the Lord Jesus. But there are those who are upset with him, I think, precisely for this reason. It makes them nervous.

Those who are upset with Cardinal Burke the most are the traditional-ism-ists. Don’t they know that they are only proving in this manner whatever it is that Pope Francis is trying to say about charity toward others? I know a number of the pseudonymous crowd, but they literally run away and hide (really) when I ask for them over the phone after they’ve published things without a name. Otherwise, in safer times, they’ll buy me lunch. Or, alternatively, attack me as best they can. I’ve known some for decades, and have suffered terribly for some of them, perhaps unbeknownst to them. But there’s no real talking with them. Very quickly everything turns to: “It’s a conspiracy of the Jews!” and then whatever else makes them breathless for the day, living on the adrenaline of mystery, the whole pen-name thing.

Cardinal Burke has been their hero until now. He’s said something they don’t like. He’s taken away their thunder. He has correctly said that the most recent intervention of Pope Francis is his own personal opinion, which is correct, both because that is what Pope Francis himself said, and because that’s the kind of document it is. That’s it.

I suggest that those who think they know better than Cardinal Burke start to read some history about the Church being, as Saint Robert Bellarmine said, “never closer to dropping into hell than at this time.” That statement is always true, and is always true because of, get this, your sins and mine. And Jesus did descend into hell, the Church in hell, if you will, to preach to the damned spirits. But the Immaculate Bride of Christ is saved from hell always and at every moment, because Christ Jesus is our Savior. Our savior is not our own cleverness, not our ad hominem attacks on mere men. We are at war with the fallen angels. We need to help each other out of respect for Christ crucified. Cardinal Burke had to make this preliminary statement. I’m sure he will have more to say. Give him a chance! But you can see how difficult the battle is. There is mutiny for the sake of mutiny. Attack for the sake of attack. People letting bitterness turn them into cynics.

Do I have questions about, say, I don’t know, casuistry for our Holy Father? Yes, I do. Would I present those questions to him with the utmost respect for his person and with the utmost reverence for his office as the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter? Yes, absolutely. I’ll give some background to those questions in articles to come about the prodigal son and the adulterous woman.

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Filed under Amoris laetitia, Mercy, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis, Synod on the Family, Year of Mercy