With Burning Concern: We Accuse Pope Francis - Part III
A “Pastoral Practice” at War with Doctrine
You have approved as the only correct interpretation of Amoris a moral calculus that would in practice undermine the whole moral order, not just the norms of sexual morality you obviously seek to subvert. For the application of virtually any moral norm can be deemed “unfeasible” by a talismanic invocation of “complex circumstances” to be “discerned” by a priest or bishop in “pastoral practice” while the norm is piously defended as unchanged and unchangeable as a “general rule.”
The nebulous criterion of “limitations that diminish responsibility and culpability” could be applied to all manner of habitual mortal sin, including cohabitation—which you have already likened to “true marriage”—“homosexual unions”—whose legalization you have refused to oppose—and contraception, which, incredibly, you have declared is morally permissible in order to prevent the transmission of disease, which the Vatican later confirmed is in fact your view.
Thus the Church would “in certain cases” contradict in practice what she teaches in principle regarding morality, meaning that the moral principle is practically overthrown. In the midst of the synodal sham, but without mentioning you, Cardinal Robert Sarah rightly condemned such a specious disjunction between moral precepts and their “pastoral application”: “The idea that would consist in placing the Magisterium in a nice box by detaching it from pastoral practice—which could evolve according to the circumstances, fads, and passions—is a form of heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology.”
Yet, as you would have it, based on “discernment” by local priests or ordinaries, certain people living in an objective condition of adultery can be deemed subjectively inculpable and admitted to Holy Communion without any commitment to an amendment of life even though they know the Church teaches that their relationship is adulterous. In a recent interviewthe renowned Austrian philosopher Josef Seifert, a friend of Pope John Paul II and one of the many critics of Amoris whose private entreaties for correction or retraction of the document you have ignored, has publicly noted the moral and pastoral absurdity of what you now explicitly approve:
"How should that be applied? Should the priest say to one adulterer: 'You are a good adulterer. You are in the state of grace. You are a very pious person, so you get my absolution without changing your life and you can go to Holy Communion.' And in comes another, and he [the priest] says: 'Oh, you are a real adulterer. You must first confess. You must revoke your life. You must change your life and then you can go to Communion'.”
"I mean, how should that work?.... How can a priest be a judge of the soul [and] say that one is a real sinner and the other is only an innocent, good man? I mean that seems completely impossible. Only a priest who would have a kind of Padre Pio vision of souls could possibly say that, and he [Padre Pio] wouldn’t say that…."
With your praise and approval, the bishops of Buenos Aires even suggest that children will be harmed if their divorced and “remarried” parents are not permitted to continue engaging in sexual relations outside of marriage while they profane the Blessed Sacrament. One casuitical defender of your departure from sound teaching surmises that this means adultery is only a venial sin if one partner in adultery is under “duress” to continue engaging in adulterous sexual relations because the other partner threatens to leave the children unless he is given sexual satisfaction. According to that moral logic, any mortal sin, including abortion, would be rendered venial merely by one party’s threat to end an adulterous relationship if the sin is not committed.
Even worse, it that were possible, the bishops of Buenos Aires, relying solely on your novelties, dare to suggest that people who continue habitually to engage in adulterous sexual relations will grow in grace while sacrilegiously receiving Holy Communion.
You have thus contrived no mere “change of discipline” but rather a radical change of underlying moral doctrine that would effectively institutionalize a form of situation ethics in the Church, reducing universally binding, objective moral precepts to mere general rules from which there would be innumerable subjective “exceptions” based on “complex circumstances” and “limitations” that would supposedly reduce habitual mortal sins to venial sins or even mere faults posing no impediment to Holy Communion.
But God Incarnate admitted of no such “exceptions” when He decreed by His divine authority: “Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and he that marrieth her that is put away from her husband, committeth adultery (Lk 16:18).” Every one.
Moreover, as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under John Paul II declared in rejecting the “Kasper proposal” that has clearly been your proposal all along: “This norm [excluding public adulterers from the sacraments] is not at all a punishment or a discrimination against the divorced and remarried, but rather expresses an objective situation that of itself renders impossible the reception of Holy Communion.”
That is, the Church can never permit those living in adultery to be treated as if their immoral unions were valid marriages, even if the partners in adultery implausibly claim subjective inculpability while knowingly living in violation of the Church’s infallible teaching. For the resulting scandal would erode and ultimately ruin the faith of the people in both the indissolubility of marriage and the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. With your full approval, however, the bishops of Buenos Aires have rejected John Paul II’s admonition in Familiaris consortiothat “if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.”
At this very moment in Church history, therefore, you are leading the faithful “into error and confusion regarding the Church's teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.” Indeed, so determined are you to impose your errant will upon the Church that in Amoris (n. 303) you dared to suggest that God Himself condones the continued sexual relations of the divorced and “remarried” if they can do no better in their “complex” circumstances:
"Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal."
In explicitly approving Holy Communion for select public adulterers in your letter to Buenos Aires you also undermine the ability of more conservative bishops to maintain the Church’s traditional teaching. How can bishops in America, Canada and Poland, for example, continue to insist on the Church’s bimillenial discipline, intrinsically connected to revealed truth, when you have dispensed with it in Buenos Aires on the authority of your “apostolic exhortation”? On what ground will they stand against a swarm of objections now that you have removed the ground of Tradition from beneath their feet?
In sum, after years of artful ambiguity regarding the standing of public adulterers with respect to Confession and Holy Communion, you now just as artfully declare the purported overthrow of the Church’s doctrine and practice by employing a “confidential” letter you must have known would be leaked, sent in response to a document from Buenos Aires you may well have solicited as part of the process you have been guiding since the sham “Synod on the Family” was announced.
As the Catholic intellectual and author Antonio Socci has written: “It is the first time in the history of the Church that a Pope has placed his signature on an overturning of the moral law.” No previous Pope has ever perpetrated such an outrage.
“Exceptions” to the Moral Law Cannot be Confined
Curiously enough, however, your novel moral calculus does not seem to apply to the other sins you constantly condemn while carefully observing the bounds of political correctness. Nowhere, for example, do you indicate that “complex circumstances” or “limitations that diminish responsibility and culpability” would excuse the Mafiosi you have rhetorically “excommunicated” en masse and warned of Hell, the rich you condemn as “bloodsuckers” or even the observant Catholics you ludicrously accuse of “the sin of divination” and “the sin of idolatry” because they will not accept “the surprises of God”—meaning your novelties.
Your entire pontificate seems to have centered on declaring an amnesty for sins of the flesh only, the very sins that,as Our Lady of Fatima warned, send more souls to hell than any other. But what makes you think the moral genie you have let out of the bottle, which you call the “God of surprises,” can be confined only to those moral precepts you deem overly rigid in application? To create exceptions to one exceptionless moral precept is effectively to undo them all. Your novelty attacks the foundations of the Faith and threatens to topple the Church’s entire moral edifice “like a house of cards”—the very outcome you accused observant Catholics of promoting on account of their supposed “rigorism” and attachment to “small-minded rules.”
But you are heedless of such obvious consequences. When asked about your approach to opposition from “ultra-conservatives,” meaning orthodox bishops and cardinals, you replied with the insouciant arrogance that is a hallmark of your governance of the Church: “They do their job and I do mine. I want a Church that is open, understanding, that accompanies wounded families. They say no to everything. I go ahead, without looking over my shoulder.”
In an astonishing display of haughty contempt for the Church of which you were elected head, you have dared to say: “the Church herself sometimes follows a hard line, she falls into the temptation of following a hard line, into the temptation of stressing only the moral rules, many people are excluded.”
Never before has a Pope declared that he will personally remedy the Church’s lack of openness and understanding and her “temptation” to take a “hard line” on morality so as to “exclude” people. Such alarmingly hubristic pronouncements give rise to the distinct impression that your unexpected election represents an almost apocalyptic development.
Ignoring All Entreaties, You Forge Ahead with Your “Revolution”
As you have gone about your work of destruction, you have ignored every private entreaty addressed to you, including innumerable requests that you affirm that Amoris Laetitia does not depart from prior teaching, as well as a document prepared by a group of Catholic scholars who identified heretical and erroneous propositions inAmoris and pleaded with you to condemn and withdraw them. It is evident you have no intention of accepting fraternal correction from anyone, not even the cardinals who have requested that you “clarify” the conformity of your teaching with the infallible Magisterium.
On the contrary, the more alarmed the faithful become, the more boldly you act. Continuing your programmatic loosening in practice of the Church’s moral teaching concerning sexuality, you have authorized the Pontifical Council for the Family to publish the first classroom “sex education” program ever promulgated by the Holy See. One of the associations of lay faithful that has risen to defend the Faith in the face of the hierarchy’s general silence before your onslaught of dissolvent novelties has published a summary of this horrific curriculum, which blatantly violates the Church’s constant teaching against any form of explicit classroom “sex-education”:
• Handing the sexual formation of children over to educators while leaving parents out of the equation.
• Failing to name and condemn sexual behaviors, such as fornication, prostitution, adultery, contracepted-sex, homosexual activity, and masturbation, as objectively sinful actions that destroy charity in the heart and turn one away from God.
• Failing to warn youths about the possibility of eternal separation from God (damnation) for committing grave sexual sins. Hell is not mentioned once.
• Failing to distinguish between mortal and venial sin.
• Failing to speak about the 6th and 9th commandments, or any other commandment.
• Failing to teach about the sacrament of confession as a way of restoring relationship with God after committing grave sin.
• Not mentioning a healthy sense of shame when it comes to the body and sexuality.
• Teaching boys and girls together in the same class.
• Having boys and girls share together in class their understanding of phrases such as: “What does the word sex suggest to you?”
• Asking a mixed class to “point out where sexuality is located in boys and girls.”
• Speaking about the “process of arousal.”
• Recommending various sexually explicit movies as springboards for discussion….
• Failing to speak about abortion as gravely wrong, but only that it causes “strong psychological damage.”
• Confusing youths by using phrases such as “sexual relationship” to indicate not the sexual act, but a relationship focused on the whole person.
• Speaking of “heterosexuality” as something to be “discover[ed].”
• Using [a “gay” celebrity] as an example of a gifted and famous person.
• Endorsing the “dating” paradigm as a step towards marriage.
• Not stressing celibacy as the supreme form of self-giving that constitutes the very meaning of human sexuality.
• Failing to mention Christ’s teaching on marriage.
The same association observes that the curriculum “violates norms previously promulgated by the very same pontifical council.” Another lay association protests that it “makes frequent use of sexually explicit and morally objectionable images, fails to clearly identify and explain Catholic doctrine from elemental sources including the Ten Commandments and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and compromises the innocence and integrity of young people under the rightful care of their parents.” Lay leaders in the Catholic family movement have rightly denounced it as “thoroughly immoral,” “entirely inappropriate,” and “quite tragic.” As one of them declared: “Parents must not be under any illusion: the pontificate of Pope Francis marks the surrender of the Vatican authorities to the worldwide sexual revolution and directly threatens their own children.”
But this radical departure from prior teaching and practice is only in keeping with the novelties of Amoris, which proclaims “the need for sex education” in “educational institutions” while completely ignoring the Church’straditional teaching that parents, not teachers in classrooms, have the primary responsibility to provide any necessary instruction to their children in this most sensitive area, taking care not to “descend to details” but rather to “employ those remedies which produce the double effect of opening the door to the virtue of purity and closing the door upon vice.”
Your “revolution” is hardly confined to matters sexual, however. You have also recently convened a commission, including six women, to “study” the matter of women “deacons,” which was already studied by a Vatican commission in 2002. That commission concluded that the diaconate belongs to the ordained clerical state along with the priesthood and the episcopacy and that so-called “deaconesses” in the early Church were not ordained ministers but only ecclesial helpers with no more authority than nuns, who performed limited services for women, but certainly not baptisms or marriages. The “deaconettes” you seem to contemplate would thus be nothing more than women masquerading in clerical garb, as women cannot possibly receive any degree of the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
As you continue to undermine respect for the utter seriousness and supernatural character of sacramental marriage it seems you are preparing to undermine further an already drastically diminished respect for the male priesthood. What is next? Perhaps a “relaxation” of the apostolic tradition of clerical celibacy, which you have already declared is “on my agenda.”
And now, as your “revolution” continues to accelerate, you prepare to depart for Sweden in October, where you will participate in a joint “prayer service” with a married Lutheran “bishop,” head of the pro-abortion, pro-“gay marriage” Lutheran World Federation, to “commemorate” the so-called Reformation launched by Martin Luther.
It is inconceivable that a Roman Pontiff would dignify the memory of this maniac, the most destructive heretic in the history of the Church, who shattered the unity of Christendom and opened the way to endless violence and bloodshed and the collapse of morals throughout Europe. As Luther infamously declared: “If I succeed in doing away with the Mass, then I shall believe I have completely conquered the Pope. If the sacrilegious and cursed custom of the Mass is overthrown, then the whole will fall.” It is supremely ironic that the arch-heretic you intend to honor with your presence uttered those words in a letter to Henry VIII, who led all of England into schism because the Pope would not accommodate his desire for divorce and “remarriage,” including access to the sacraments.
We Must Oppose You
At this point in your tumultuous tenure as “Bishop of Rome” it is beyond reasonable dispute that your presence on the Chair of Peter represents a clear and present danger to the Church. In view of that danger, we must ask:
Are you not in the least troubled by the scandal and confusion your words and deeds have caused concerning the salvific mission of the Church and her teaching on faith and morals, particularly in the area of marriage, family and sexuality?
Does it never occur to you that the world’s endless applause for “the Francis revolution” is precisely the ill omen of which Our Lord gave warning?: “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for in the same manner did their fathers to the false prophets (Lk 6:26).”
Have you no sense of alarm about the divisions you have provoked within the Church, with some bishops departing from the teaching of your predecessors on the divorced and “remarried,” solely on your purported authority, while others attempt to maintain the bimillenial doctrine and practice you have labored without ceasing to overthrow?
Do you think nothing of the numberless sacrilegious communions that will result from your authorization of Holy Communion for objective public adulterers and others in “irregular situations,” which you had already permitted en masse as Archbishop of Buenos Aires?
Do you even recognize that reception of Holy Communion by people living in adultery is a profanation, a direct offense against “the Body of the Lord (1 Cor. 11:29)” worthy of damnation as well as a public scandal that threatens the faith of others, as both Benedict XVI and John Paul II insisted in line with all their predecessors?
Do you really think you have the power to decree “merciful” exceptions in “certain cases” to divinely revealed moral precepts in order to suit your personal notion of “inclusion,” your evidently benign view of divorce and cohabitation and your false notion of what you call “pastoral charity” in your letter to the bishops of Buenos Aires? As if it were uncharitable to require adulterers and fornicators to cease their immoral sexual relations before partaking of the Blessed Sacrament!
Have you no respect for the contrary teaching of all the Popes who preceded you?
Finally, have you no fear of the Lord and His judgment, which you constantly minimize or deny in your sermons and spontaneous remarks, even declaring—exactly contrary to the Creed—that “the Good Shepherd… seeks not to judge but to love”?
We must agree with the assessment of the aforementioned Catholic journalist concerning your insane pursuit of Holy Communion for people in immoral sexual relationships: “This whole affair is bizarre. No other word will do.” Beyond this, however, your entire bizarre pontificate has given rise to a situation the Church has never seen before: an occupant of the Chair of Peter whose remarks, pronouncements and decisions are blows to the Church’s integrity against which the faithful must constantly guard themselves. As the same writer concludes: “I say this in sorrow, but I’m afraid that the rest of this papacy is now going to be rent by bands of dissenters, charges of papal heresy, threats of – and perhaps outright –schism. Lord, have mercy.”
Yet almost the entire hierarchy either suffers in silence or exultantly celebrates this debacle. But so it was during the great Arian crisis of the 4th century, when, as Cardinal Newman famously observed:
"[T]he body of the episcopate was unfaithful to its commission, while the body of the laity was faithful to its baptism; [and] at one time the Pope, at other times the patriarchal, metropolitan, and other great sees, at other times general councils, said what they should not have said, or did what obscured and compromised revealed truth; while, on the other hand, it was the Christian people who, under Providence, were the ecclesiastical strength of Athanasius, Hilary, Eusebius of Vercellae, and other great solitary confessors, who would have failed without them."
If we are to be faithful to our baptism and our Confirmation oath, we members of the laity, unworthy sinners though we are, cannot remain silent or passive in the face of your depredations. We are compelled by the dictates of conscience to accuse you publicly before our fellow Catholics as demanded by revealed truth, the divine and natural law, and the ecclesial common good. To recall the teaching of Saint Thomas cited above, there is no exception for the Pope to the principle of natural justice that subjects may rebuke their superior, even publicly, when there is “imminent danger of scandal concerning faith.” Quite the contrary, reason itself demonstrates that, more than any other prelate, the Pope must be corrected, even by his subjects, should he “stray from the straight path.”
We know that the Church is no mere human institution and that its indefectibility is assured by the promises of Christ. Popes come and go, and the Church will survive even this pontificate. But we also know that God deigns to work through human instruments and that, over and above the essentials of prayer and penance, He expects from the members of the Church Militant, both clergy and laity, a militant defense of faith and morals against threats from any source—be it even a Pope, as Church history has demonstrated more than once.
For the love of God and the Blessed Virgin, Mother of the Church, whom you profess to revere, we call upon you to recant your errors and undo the immense harm you have caused to the Church, to souls, and to the cause of the Gospel lest you follow the example of Pope Honorius, an aider and abettor of heresy anathematized by an ecumenical council and his own successor, and thus bring down upon yourself “the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.”
But if you will not relent in the pursuit of your vainglorious “vision” of a more “merciful” and evangelical Church than the one founded by Christ, whose doctrine and discipline you seek to bend to your will, let the cardinals who regret the mistake of electing you honor their blood oaths and at least issue a public demand that you change course or relinquish the office they so improvidently entrusted to you.
Meanwhile, we are duty bound to oppose your errors according to our own station in the Church and to exhort our fellow Catholics to join in that opposition, using every legitimate means at our disposal to mitigate the harm you seem determined to inflict upon the Mystical Body of Christ. All other recourses having failed, no other way is open to us.
May God have mercy on us, His Holy Church, and on you as its earthly head.
Mary, Help of Christians, Pray for Us!