With Burning Concern: We Accuse Pope Francis - Part II
An Absurd Whitewash of Islam
Assuming the role of a Koranic exegete in order to exculpate Mohammed’s cult from its unbroken historic connection to the conquest and brutal persecution of Christians, you declare: “Faced with disconcerting episodes of violent fundamentalism, our respect for true followers of Islam should lead us to avoid hateful generalisations, for authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran are opposed to every form of violence.” [Evangelii gaudium, 253]
You ignore the entire history of Islam’s war against Christianity, continuing to this day, as well as the present-day barbaric legal codes and persecution of Christians in the world’s Islamic republics, including Afghanistan, Iran, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates and Yemen. These are regimes of oppression intrinsic to Sharia law, which Muslims believe Allah has ordained for the whole world, and which they attempt to establish wherever they become a significant percentage of the population. As you would have it, however, Muslim republics all lack an “authentic” understanding of the Koran!
You even attempt to minimize outright Islamic terrorism in the Middle East, Africa and the very heart of Europe by daring to posit a moral equivalence between Muslim fanatics waging jihad—as they have since Islam first emerged—and imaginary “fundamentalism” on the part of the observant Catholics you never cease publicly condemning and insulting. During one of the rambling in-flight press conferences in which you have so often embarrassed the Church and undermined Catholic doctrine, you uttered this infamous opinion, typical of your absurd insistence that the religion founded by God Incarnate and the perennially violent cult founded by the degenerate Mohammed are on equal moral footing:
I don’t like to speak of Islamic violence, because every day, when I browse the newspapers, I see violence, here in Italy … this one who has murdered his girlfriend, another who has murdered the mother-in-law … and these are baptized Catholics! There are violent Catholics! If I speak of Islamic violence, I must speak of Catholic violence ...I believe that in pretty much every religion there is always a small group of fundamentalists. Fundamentalists. We have them. When fundamentalism comes to kill, it can kill with the language—the Apostle James says this, not me—and even with a knife, no? I do not believe it is right to identify Islam with violence.
It defies belief that a Roman Pontiff would declare that random crimes of violence committed by Catholics, and their mere words, are morally equivalent to radical Islam’s worldwide campaign of terrorist acts, mass murder, torture, enslavement and rape in the name of Allah. It seems you are quicker to defend Mohammed’s ridiculous and deadly cult against just opposition than you are the one true Church against her innumerable false accusers. Far from your mind is the Church’s perennial view of Islam expressed by Pope Pius XI in his Act of Consecration of the Human Race to the Sacred Heart: “Be Thou King of all those who are still involved in the darkness of idolatry or of Islamism, and refuse not to draw them into the light and kingdom of God.”
A Reformist “Dream,” Backed by an Iron Fist
All in all, you appear to be afflicted by a reformist mania that knows no bounds beyond your “dream” of the way the Church should be. As you declared in your unprecedented personal papal manifesto, Evangelii gaudium (nn. 27, 49):
I dream of a “missionary option”, that is, a missionary impulse capable of transforming everything, so that theChurch’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation….
More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: “Give them something to eat” (Mk 6:37).
Incredibly enough, you profess that the immemorial “structures” and “rules” of the Holy Catholic Church were cruelly inflicting spiritual starvation and death before your arrival from Buenos Aires, and that now you wish to change literally everything in the Church in order to make her merciful. How are the faithful to see this as anything but the sign of a frightening megalomania? You even declare that evangelization, as you understand it, must not be limited by fear over the Church’s “self-preservation”—as if the two things were somehow opposed!
Your gauzy dream of reforming everything is accompanied by an iron fist that smashes any attempt to restore the vineyard already devastated by a half-century of reckless “reforms.” For as you revealed in your manifesto (Evangelii gaudium, 94), you are filled with contempt for tradition-minded Catholics, whom you rashly accuse of “self-absorbed Promethean neopelagianism” and of “feel[ing] superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past.”
You even ridicule a “supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline” because, according to you, it “leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others…” But it is you who are constantly classifying and analyzing others with an endless stream of pejoratives, caricatures, insults and condemnations of observant Catholics you deem insufficiently responsive to the “God of surprises” you introduced during the Synod.
Hence your brutal destruction of the thriving Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate on account of a “definitely traditionalist drift.” This was followed by your decree that henceforth any attempt to erect a new diocesan institute for consecrated life (for example, to accommodate displaced members of the Friars) will be null and void absent prior “consultation” with the Holy See (i.e., de facto permission that can and will be withheld indefinitely). You thus dramatically diminish the perennial autonomy of bishops in their own dioceses even as you preach a new age of “collegiality” and “synodality.”
Targeting cloistered convents, you have further decreed measures to compel the surrender of their local autonomy to federations governed by ecclesial bureaucrats, the routine breaking of the cloister for external “formation,” the mandated intrusion of laity into the cloister for Eucharistic adoration, the outrageous disqualification of conventual voting majorities if they are “elderly,” and a universal requirement of nine years of “formation” before final vows, which is certain to stifle new vocations and ensure the extinction of many of the remaining cloisters.
God help us!
A Relentless Drive to Accommodate Sexual Immorality in the Church
But nothing exceeds the arrogance and audacity with which you have relentlessly pursued the imposition upon the Church universal of the same evil practice you authorized as Archbishop of Buenos Aires: the sacrilegious administration of the Blessed Sacrament to people living in adulterous “second marriages” or cohabiting without even the benefit of a civil ceremony.
From almost the moment of your election you have promoted the “Kasper proposal”—rejected repeatedly by the Vatican under John Paul II. Cardinal Walter Kasper, an arch-liberal even among the liberal German hierarchy, had long argued for the admission of divorced and “remarried” persons to Holy Communion in “certain cases” according to a bogus “penitential path” that would admit them to the Sacrament while they continue their adulterous sexual relations. Kasper belonged to the “St. Gallen group” that lobbied for your election, and you royally rewarded his persistence in error, with the press happily dubbing him “the Pope’s theologian.”
It seems you have little regard for sacramental marriage as an objective fact as opposed to what people subjectively feel about the status of immoral relationships the Church can never recognize as matrimony. In remarks which alone will discredit your bizarre pontificate until the end of time, you declared that “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null” whereas certain people cohabiting without marriage can have “a true marriage” because of their “fidelity.” Are these remarks perhaps a reflection of your divorced and “remarried” sister and cohabiting nephew?
Your preposterous opinion—one of the many you have expressed since your election—provoked worldwide protest on the part of the faithful. In an effort to minimize the scandal, the Vatican’s “official transcript” altered your words from “great majority of our sacramental marriages” to “a part of our sacramental marriages” but left intact your disgraceful approbation of immoral cohabitation as “true marriage.”
Nor do you seem concerned about the sacrilege involved in public adulterers and cohabiters receiving the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ in the Holy Eucharist. As you told the woman in Argentina to whom you gave “permission” on the telephone to receive Communion while living in adultery with a divorced man: “A little bread and wine does no harm.” You have never denied the woman’s account, and it would only be consistent with your refusal to kneel at the Consecration or before the exposed Blessed Sacrament even though you have no difficulty kneeling to kiss the feet of Muslims during your grotesque parody of the traditional Holy Thursday mandatum, which you have abandoned. It would also comport with your remarks to a Lutheran woman, in the Lutheran church you attended on a Sunday, that the dogma of transubstantiation is a mere “interpretation,” that “life is bigger than explanations and interpretations, and that she should “talk to the Lord” about whether to receive Communion in a Catholic Church—which she later did following your evident encouragement.
In line with your scant regard for sacramental marriage is your precipitous and secretive “reform” of the annulment process, which you foisted upon the Church without consulting any of the competent Vatican dicasteries. Your Motu Proprio Mitis Iudex Dominus Iesus erects the framework for a veritable worldwide annulment mill with a “fast-track” procedure and nebulous new grounds for expedited annulment proceedings. As the head of your clandestinely contrived reform later explained, your express intention is to promote among the bishops “a ‘conversion’, a change of mentality which convinces and sustains them in following the invitation of Christ, present in their brother, the Bishop of Rome, to pass from the restricted number of a few thousand annulments to that immeasurable [number] of unfortunates who might have a declaration of nullity…”
Thus does “the Bishop of Rome” demand from his fellow bishops a vast increase in the number of annulments! A distinguished Catholic journalist later reported on the emergence of a seven-page dossier in which curial officials “juridically ‘picked apart’ the Pope’s motu proprio… accuse the Holy Father of giving up an important dogma, and assert that he has introduced de facto ‘Catholic divorce.’” These officials deplored what this journalist describes as “an ecclesialized ‘Führerprinzip,’ ruling from the top down, by decree and without any consultation or any checks.” The same officials fear that “the motu proprio will lead to a flood of annulments and that from now on, couples would be able to simply exit their Catholic marriage without a problem.” They are “‘beside themselves’ and feel obligated to ‘speak up’…”
But you are nothing if not consistent in pursuing your aims. Early in your pontificate, during one of the in-flight press conferences at which you have first revealed your plans, you stated: “The Orthodox follow the theology of economy, as they call it, and they give a second chance of marriage [sic], they allow it. I believe that this problem must be studied.” For you, the lack of any “second chance of marriage” in the Catholic Church is aproblem to be studied. You have clearly spent the past three-and-a-half years contriving to impose on the Church something approximating the Orthodox practice.
A distinguished canonist who is a consultant to the Apostolic Signatura has warned that as result of your reckless disregard of the reality of sacramental marriage:
a crisis (in the Greek sense of that word) over marriage is unfolding in the Church, and it is a crisis that will, I suggest, come to a head over matrimonial discipline and law…. I think the marriage crisis that he [Francis] is occasioning is going to come down to whether Church teaching on marriage, which everyone professes to honor, will be concretely and effectively protected in Church law, or, whether the canonical categories treating marriage doctrine become so distorted (or simply disregarded) as essentially to abandon marriage and married life to the realm of personal opinion and individual conscience.
Amoris Laetitia: the Real Motive for the Sham Synod
That crisis reached its peak following the conclusion of your disastrous “Synod on the Family.” Although you manipulated this event from beginning to end to obtain the result you desired—Holy Communion for public adulterers in “certain cases”—it fell short of your expectations because of opposition from the conservative Synod Fathers you demagogically denounced as having “closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families.”
In a brutal abuse of rhetoric, you likened your orthodox episcopal opponents to the Pharisees, who practiced divorce and “remarriage” according to the Mosaic dispensation. These were the very bishops who defended the teaching of Christ against the Pharisees—and your own designs! Indeed, you seem intent on reviving a Pharisaical acceptance of divorce by way of a “neo-Mosaic practice.” A renowned Catholic journalist known for his moderate approach to analysis of Church affairs protested your reprehensible behavior: “For a pope to criticize those who remain faithful to that tradition, and characterize them as somehow unmerciful and as aligning themselves with hard-hearted Pharisees against the merciful Jesus is bizarre.”
In the end, the “synodal journey” you extolled was revealed as nothing but a sham concealing the foregone conclusion of your appalling “Apostolic Exhortation,” Amoris Latetitia. Therein your ghostwriters, principally in Chapter Eight, employ artful ambiguity to open wide the door to Holy Communion for public adulterers by reducing the natural law forbidding adultery to a “general rule” to which there can be exceptions for people who “have great difficulty in understanding ‘its inherent values’” or are living “in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently… (¶¶ 2, 301, 304)” Amoris is a transparent attempt to smuggle a mitigated form of situation ethics into matters of sexual morality, as if the error could be thus confined.
Your evident obsession with legitimating Holy Communion for public adulterers has led you to defy the constant moral teaching and intrinsically related sacramental discipline of the Church, affirmed by both of your immediate predecessors. That discipline is based on the teaching of Our Lord Himself on the indissolubility of marriage as well as the teaching of Saint Paul on the divine punishment due to the unworthy reception of Holy Communion. To quote John Paul II in this regard:
However, the Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: 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.
Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.” [Familiaris consortio, n. 84]
You have ignored the worldwide pleas of priests, theologians and moral philosophers, Catholic associations and journalists, and even a few courageous prelates among an otherwise silent hierarchy, to retract or “clarify” the tendentious ambiguities and outright errors of Amoris, particularly in Chapter Eight.
A Grave Moral Error Now Explicitly Approved
And now, moving beyond a devious use of ambiguity, you have authorized explicitly behind the scenes what you have condoned ambiguously in public. The scheme was brought to light with the leaking of your “confidential”letter to the bishops of the pastoral region of Buenos Aires—where, as Archbishop, you had already authorized mass sacrilege in the villas (slums).
In this letter you praise the bishops’ document on “Basic Criteria for the Application of Chapter Eight of Amoris Laetitia”—as if there were some duty to “apply” the document so as to produce a change in the Church’s bimillenial sacramental discipline. You write: “The document is very good and completely explains the meaning of chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia. There are no other interpretations.” Is it a coincidence that this document comes from the very archdiocese where, as Archbishop, you had long since authorized the admission of public adulterers and cohabiters to Holy Communion?
What was only clearly implied before is now made explicit, and those who insisted Amoris changes nothing have been made to look like fools. The document you now praise as the only correct interpretation of Amoris radically undermines the doctrine and practice of the Church your predecessors defended. In the first place, it reduces to an “option” the moral imperative that divorced and “remarried” couples “live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.” According to the bishops of Buenos Aires—with your approval—it is merely “possible to propose that they make the effort of living in continence. Amoris Laetitia does not ignore the difficulties of this option.”
As the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared definitively only 18 years ago during the reign of the very Pope you canonized: “if the prior marriage of two divorced and remarried members of the faithful was valid,under no circumstances can their new union be considered lawful and therefore reception of the sacraments is intrinsically impossible. The conscience of the individual is bound to this norm without exception.” This is the constant teaching of the Catholic Church for two millennia.
Moreover, no parish priest or even a bishop has the power to honor in the so-called “internal forum” the claim of one living in adultery that his “conscience” tells him that his sacramental marriage was really invalid because, as the CDF further admonished, “marriage has a fundamental public ecclesial character and the axiom applies that nemo iudex in propria causa (no one is judge in his own case), marital cases must be resolved in the external forum. If divorced and remarried members of the faithful believe that their prior marriage was invalid, they are thereby obligated to appeal to the competent marriage tribunal so that the question will be examined objectively and under all available juridical possibilities.”
Having reduced an exceptionless moral norm rooted in divine revelation to an option, the bishops of Buenos Aires, citing Amoris as their only authority in 2,000 years of Church teaching, next declare: “In other, more complex circumstances, and when it is not possible to obtain a declaration of nullity, the aforementioned option may not, in fact, befeasible.” A universal moral norm is thus relegated to the category of a mere guideline to be disregarded if a local priest deems it “unfeasible” in certain undefined “complex circumstances.” What exactly are these “complex circumstances” and what does “complexity” have to do with exceptionless moral norms founded on revelation?
Finally, the bishops reach the disastrous conclusion you have contrived to impose upon the Church from the beginning of the “synodal journey”:
Nonetheless, it is equally possible to undertake a journey of discernment. If one arrives at the recognition that, in a particular case, there are limitations that diminish responsibility and culpability (cf. 301-302), particularly when a person judges that he would fall into a subsequent fault by damaging the children of the new union, Amoris Laetitia opens up the possibility of access to the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist (cf. notes 336 and 351). These in turn dispose the person to continue maturing and growing with the aid of grace.
With your praise and approbation, the bishops of Buenos Aires declare for the first time in Church history that an ill-defined class of people living in adultery may be absolved and receive Holy Communion while remaining in that state. The consequences are catastrophic.