What’s a Catholic to Think?!

Well, that was a fun week in Catholicism. I’ve been very quietly sitting in my corner (or as quietly as I can) taking in all the commentary on the “heresy letter.” Dun…dun…dun!

First, let me say this. If you are a “Live Catholic or Die!” type of Catholic, you probably find Pope Francis, how should I say, problematic on most days. I’m sure “Ugh!” has gone through our minds on several occasions when hearing those lovely in-flight interviews, when a new document drops, or when we hear about “the Great Accuser.” It doesn’t mean that we are “alt-right” Catholics. (By the way, “alt-right” has now become synonymous with “Move along, people! Nothing to see here!”) In short, many have serious concerns. Generally, the people who are thinking “Oh, no!” on a regular basis are people of good will, whether or not you declare the pope a heretic.

So now this letter drops. Most of the people who just want to be Catholic without conflict at every turn are wondering what the heck they’re supposed to do with it. Do you ignore? Do you beg to sign it, too? Do you condemn the authors? Etc., etc., etc. Honestly, there are not simply two sides to this one, there are as many as the stars. It’s really complex and yet amazingly simple. For us, we need to educate ourselves as much as possible and follow our conscience. Form it and follow it.

To start, I would like to deal with some of the ridiculous opinions on this that I’ve seen. I suppose everyone wants to be on a team and have that team win and then they become super–fan-like. As a mom, it would just be nice to send them all to their rooms and tell them not to come out until they can get along.

“These are just a bunch of cranky Catholics who don’t like the Pope.” Really? Can it really be that simple? I’m pretty sure they are Catholics worried it might take years to undo the mess of ambiguity. Many are likely people with children and grandchildren and they worry about their suffering from the debacle the clergy, particularly the German bishops and many Jesuits, are making right now. Again, we might want to give people the benefit of the doubt that they are Catholics of good will. The things the authors point out may or may not amount to heresy, but they are super concerning at the least. I’ve had interactions with and like some of them. Sounds like everyone likes Fr. Aidan Nichols. The ones I’m familiar with aren’t those to simply be written off as fanatics who were bored.

“Those canon lawyers and theologians who say that the Pope’s actions don’t canonically constitute heresy are just being legalistic.” Uh, Canon Law is kind of important, people. You’d probably be the type that usually throws out a canon or two in defense of your position, anyway, so you’ve lost me with this argument. If it “technically” doesn’t amount to heresy, then it “technically” is not. Sigh. If you are championing a letter declaring heresy, defend it without whining, please. Also of note, most of the aforementioned canon lawyers and theologians are not cheerleading for Pope Francis. They still have great concerns. They’re just calling it as their Canon 212 duty tells them.

Following on that… ”The bishops who don’t back this letter are just worried about their jobs!” Again, really? Or could it be that they simply don’t believe it canonically meets the standards for heresy? Seems like just another hyperbolic argument. I’ve seen many bishops speak up for the dubia, the Vigano letters, the Weinandy letter, etc., yet they didn’t sign the “Easter Letter” and all of those previously held as heroes have been notably absent on backing the letter, too. Are we to assume they’re just worried about their jobs, as well? Or might they have the same take many others have?

“You’re going to hell if you’re wrong about this.”  I’m so glad you know the mind of God here.  Sigh.  Would somebody care to tell St. Vincent that? He literally picked the wrong pope to follow.  Yes, it’s a serious position to take and I’m glad I don’t feel compelled to take it but, geez!  You might, at least, wait until somebody’s excommunicated for something before you go there.

“Those who argue against this letter are trying to hide behind ignorance.” That’s my favorite. Yeah, all those people who argue against it are soooooo undereducated. Just deserves one more “Really?!” I wish I could think of something more clever but that’s usually my go to when people are just debating poorly.

Now what is my position on the actual letter instead of the hype around it?  Again, I think the authors of the letter had the best of intentions. They probably thought long and hard about it and they firmly believe it to be in accordance with the teachings of the Church. They did what their conscience dictated. Others have done the same and come to a different conclusion. Quite frankly, and this might run counter to others’ thoughts, but right or wrong, I think that the letter will only have a positive impact on the overall Church.

After reading and watching MANY commentaries on it, I feel that the canon lawyers who say it’s not heresy are probably right. This and this are probably the closest to my thoughts, although imperfect representations of them.

Why do I feel this way? Because I’ve read Pastor Aeternus (excerpt below, but please read it in its entirety) and Canon 212 many times. 

Pastor Aeternus
“And since, by the Divine right of Apostolic primacy, the Roman Pontiff is placed over the Universal Church, We further teach and declare that he is the supreme judge of the faithful, [12] and that in all causes, the decision of which belongs to the Church, recourse may be had to his tribunal, [13] and that none may re-open the judgment of the Apostolic See, for none has greater authority, nor can anyone lawfully review its judgment. [14] Therefore, they stray from the right course who assert that it is lawful to appeal from the judgments of the Roman Pontiffs to an Ecumenical Council, as if to an authority higher than that of the Roman Pontiff.

 

Canon 212

Can. 212 §1. Conscious of their own responsibility, the Christian faithful are bound to follow with Christian obedience those things which the sacred pastors, inasmuch as they represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith or establish as rulers of the Church.

  • 2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

  • 3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

Nobody in this current debate ever seems to mention Pastor Aeternus. I feel Raymond Arroyo took the position of that document when he said the next pope is the one who will judge Pope Francis, which is exactly how it’s always been done in times of papal turmoil. That’s why I’m not going to get my knickers in a bunch over this or feel like I have to get entrenched on a “side.” Yes, we could get to a point of Fr. Fessio’s “What if…?” but let’s really hope it doesn’t come to that. It’s bad enough now.

Regardless of who is right or wrong (and even some saints have been wrong for parts of their lives), as Fr. Fessio pointed out, this letter is important because it shows the seriousness of the situation in our Church. It’s chaos. NOBODY can deny it. And as many have said, it should not be ignored, although I fear it will be, just as all the letters, corrections, dubias and testimonies so far. The old sticking fingers in ears and saying “lalalalalalalala!” seems to be their way.

So what am I going to do? I’m going to keep expressing my concerns in light of Canon 212 and my knowledge, competence and prestige (not that I have any of that). I’m also going to keep up my prayer of “May God open their eyes or close them.” I hope you will join me in this!

 

 

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Theologian Deathmatch: Round 2

And the fun never stops…

https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/11/02/open-letter-father-weinandy-his-predecessor-amoris-laetitia-and-pope-francis

Dear Father Weinandy,

You may remember me as your predecessor as executive director of the Secretariat for Christian Doctrine at the U.S.C.C.B. You replaced me in January 2005.

Do I detect a note of snark? 

I am writing this open letter to you in response to your open letter to Pope Francis in which you address what you describe as a “chronic confusion” that seems to mark his pontificate.

According to Sandro Magister’s introduction to your letter, you had asked Jesus for a sign as to whether you should write your letter, you received that sign and thus “no longer had any doubt that Jesus wanted me to write….” I cannot enter into the subjective conditions that inspired you to write, but I need to note that “Amoris Laetitia,” toward which you express great concern, was the fruit of two synods and broad consultation throughout the church, is widely recognized as an act of ordinary Magisterium, and thus enjoys presumption as having been guided by the Spirit of the Lord.

Stop right here.  I have to wonder if you also prayed for a sign before writing this, or if you simply wrote out of anger, Monsignor?  By the way, Father, if you’ll note, the dubia and Fr. Weinandy’s letter are simply seeking clarity.  Do you really have a problem with this?  Can you deny that there are divergent interpretations of the infamous chapter 8 footnotes? Still, you are framing this as something it’s not.  Fr. Weinandy isn’t rejecting ordinary Magisterium anymore than the four cardinals were when they put forth the dubia.  I also think that you might be tugging at the heartstrings of the people in the pews by saying that Fr. Weinandy is rejecting something by seeming to suggest “ordinary Magisterium” a little more, well, ordinary than it actually is.  Not quite that simple.

http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2016/04/12/the-slow-decline-of-the-ordinary-magisterium/

But, that said, most of “what’s in” Amoris, or at least most of the controversial passages of Amoris, are not ‘magisterial’ because most of those of Amoris, and most of ‘those passages’, seem to address (if sometimes ambiguously) pastoral practices (not propositional points), or they indicate how the pope perceives (accurately or otherwise) pastors coming across to people in irregular unions (and so at most are empirical surmises), or they urge a given demeanor with persons as Christ would relate to them, and so on. In other words, while Amoris is quite capable of contributing to the ordinary papal magisterium based on its authorship, audience, and circumstances, and while it does contribute to that magisterium in some respects, most of Amoris is, in fact, not ‘magisterial’ in content. Just as most utterances that popes and bishops use to contribute to the ordinary magisterium are mixed in with many non-magisterial comments having no teaching value, so Amoris mixes several, rather minor, uncontroversial ‘magisterial’ comments on Scripture and marriage with a few controversial, but not magisterial (because they are not propositional, and are instead exhortatory) comments on pastoral approaches. And, no, I do not think that this is to read Amoris the way I would prefer to read it; I think it is to read Amoris the way the Church reads her teaching documents.

So, it sounds a little like you’re trying to get people to think that every last letter of Amoris Laetitia is an exercise of ordinary Magisterium.  Is that correct?

Your first concern is centered on Chapter 8 of “Amoris Laetitia.” You maintain that the Holy Father’s “guidance at times seems intentionally ambiguous.” I believe that the vast majority of bishops and theologians do not agree.

I might actually agree with you when it comes to the word “intentionally”, as I stated in my last post.  There’s little to no way of knowing what the intention was.  Regardless, it was ambiguous.  How do we know this?  Duh.  There are two very distinct interpretations of it.  If it was clear, this would not be the case.  And, while I can’t say “intentionally”,  I also don’t really believe you can say “vast majority of bishops and theologians.”  If wishes were ponies… 

The pope does indeed open the door to the possibility that some divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can be admitted to the sacraments after careful discernment. Rocco Buttiglione, one of the foremost interpreters of the teaching of St. John Paul II, sees no contradiction, but rather continuity between “Familiaris Consortio”and “Amoris Laetitia.” And most recently Cardinal Gerhard Müller stated that there are conditions which open the way for those in second marriages to receive sacraments.

First, does anyone remember the Holy Father saying, “Being integrated into the Church does not mean ‘taking Communion.’”? Anyone?

Next, Cardinal Muller can’t seem to make up his mind on much of anything in the past year.  (Anyone else think that?) He might be having the same problem as many of us.  He’s just another reason clarification is needed, because he’s also said this

There have been different claims that Amoris Laetitia has rescinded this (previous) discipline, because it allows, at least in certain cases, the reception of the Eucharist by remarried divorcees without requiring that they change their way of life in accord with Familiaris Consortio 84 (namely, by giving up their new bond or by living as brothers and sisters).

The following has to be said in this regard: If Amoris Laetitia had intended to rescind such a deeply rooted and such a weighty discipline, it would have expressed itself in a clear manner and it would have given the reasons for it. However, such a statement with such a meaning is not to be found in it [Amoris Laetitia]. Nowhere does the pope put into question the arguments of his predecessors. They [the arguments] are not based upon the subjective guilt of these our brothers and sisters, but, rather, upon the visible, objective way of life which is in opposition to the words of Christ.

Let’s actually look at Familiaris Consortio https://www.ewtn.com/library/papaldoc/jp2famil.htm, because I’m betting Msgr. Strynkowski’s banking on you not.

4. Daily experience unfortunately shows that people who have obtained a divorce usually intend to enter into a new union, obviously not with a Catholic religious ceremony. Since this is an evil that like the others is affecting more and more Catholics as well, the problem must be faced with resolution and without delay. The synod fathers studied it expressly. The church, which was set up to lead to salvation all people and especially the baptized, cannot abandon to their own devices those who have been previously bound by sacramental marriage and who have attempted a second marriage. The church will therefore make untiring efforts to put at their disposal her means of salvation.

Pastors must know that for the sake of truth they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations. There is, in fact, a difference between those who have sincerely tried to save their first marriage and have been unjustly abandoned and those who, through their own grave fault, have destroyed a canonically valid marriage.

Finally, there are those who have entered into a second union for the sake of the children’s upbringing and who are sometimes subjectively certain in conscience that their previous and irreparably destroyed marriage had never been valid.

Together with the synod, I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the church, for as baptized persons they can and indeed must share in her life. They should be encouraged to listen to the word of God, to attend the sacrifice of the Mass, to persevere in prayer, to contribute to works of charity and to community efforts in favor of justice, to bring up their children in the Christian faith, to cultivate the spirit and practice of penance and thus implore, day by day, God’s grace. Let the church pray for them, encourage them and show herself a merciful mother and thus sustain them in faith and hope.

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 convenant 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.”[180]

Similarly, the respect due to the sacrament of matrimony, to the couples themselves and their families, and also to the community of the faithful forbids any pastor for whatever reason or pretext, even of a pastoral nature, to perform ceremonies of any kind for divorced people who remarry. Such ceremonies would give the impression of the celebration of a new, sacramentally valid marriage and would thus lead people into error concerning the indissolubility of a validly contracted marriage.

By acting in this way the church professes her own fidelity to Christ and to his truth. At the same time she shows motherly concern for these children of hers, especially those who, through no fault of their own, have been abandoned by their legitimate partner.

With firm confidence she believes that those who have rejected the Lord’s command and are still living in this state will be able to obtain from God the grace of conversion and salvation, provided that they have persevered in prayer, penance and charity.”

So, do two footnotes in Amoris Laetitia negate what’s very clearly stated in Familiaris Consortio AND what some bishops around the world are holding their flock to?  This is why the dubia is so important.  We have two opposing sides (or none at all) when it comes to admitting divorced and civilly remarried couples to Communion.  Again:

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 convenant 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.”[180]


Like Fr. James Martin, SJ, says, I am not a theologian.  All I can do is give you my view from the pew and say that clarification is needed big time, since we should never be forced to judge moral decisions based on footnotes. That would certainly be lacking in charity. I think all of the “theologians” sometimes miss the fact that the vast majority of members of the Church are people like me.  They need to come down from their ivory towers and understand that if we’re saying that we need clarification, we need it. I’m thankful to those members of the clergy who are willing to represent us in these affairs, because, clearly, they are sticking their necks out.

Back to the “open rant”:

Your second concern is that the pope’s manner “seems to demean the importance of Church doctrine.” I would note, first of all, that the Holy Father’s homilies, based on the Gospel, call us to a discipleship that is rigorous and uncompromising. Second, I interpret his criticism of those who make doctrine an ideology as a challenge for us to never isolate doctrine from its source in the mercy of God revealed in Jesus Christ.”

So, it’s your interpretation that, because Fr. Weinandy feels that it’s important not to demean Church doctrine, he isolates doctrine from mercy?  Your proof for that is?????

Your third concern is the Holy Father’s “choice of some bishops, men who seem not merely open to those who hold views counter to Christian belief but who support and even defend them.” Unless you are willing to name these bishops and the views counter to Christian belief that supposedly they tolerate, this remains a gratuitous assertion and damages the unity of the church.

Oh!  Me! Me! Me! I’ll name them.  Elevating Cardinal Cupich, Cardinal Farrell, Cardinal Joseph Tobin (not, not, not Bishop Thomas Tobin), and appointing Bishop McElroy were all nightmares. Then there’s the Fr. James Martin, SJ, appointment. And that’s just in the U.S. 

And now you want me to name the views counter to the Church?  OK.  When Bishop Paprocki told priests that gays and lesbians in same-sex marriages should not receive Communion or be given Catholic, Cardinal Cupich said that wasn’t his policy. Martin just admitted he can’t say what he really thinks because he’s a priest.  Bishop Joseph Tobin – how about we just look at what New Ways thinks of him:

But Cardinal Tobin’s welcome to Mass on May 21 has been the most significant of such recent gestures, because of the symbolism of a cardinal welcoming a group of gay Catholics, some of whom were married to same-sex spouses, to participate in the Sacrament of Holy Communion at the center of a cathedral, no questions asked. 

Pretty much sounds like he didn’t give ANY instruction on the reception of the Eucharist.

Bishop McElroy has adopted the same stance as Cupich in regard to the Paprocki order.  Ross Douthat does a good job here of dissecting his recent “synod” in San Diego.   Besides this, McElroy also has a super deformed idea of “internal dialogue” and “primacy of conscience” 

Bishop Farrell?  Well he and Archbishop Chaput directly contradicted each other on Communion for those in irregular circumstances.  https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/popes-new-point-man-on-family-rips-abp.-chaputs-amoris-guidelines-on-commun

Your fourth concern is the pope’s encouragement of a “‘synodality’ that allows and promotes various doctrinal and moral options within the Church.” Here, again in an open letter to the pope, it would have been more responsible to specify what these various options have been. To do anything less is to foster suspicion of bishops and theologians by some circles in the church.

Let’s look at what synodality is: https://www.catholic.com/qa/what-is-synodality

Synodality is related to collegiality. Collegiality refers to the individual authority of each bishop as a successor of the apostles. Each bishop is essentially autonomous and equal (with the exception of the Bishop of Rome). On matters of local governance, one bishop cannot tell another bishop how to run his diocese.

Synodality refers to groupings of bishops. An example would be the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. According to canon law, national episcopal conferences can set certain laws and practices for their regions above and beyond what an individual bishop can do. However, because these groupings of bishops have no authority outside of each individual bishop’s authority, the group needs to have its authority specifically declared by Church law. Otherwise it carries no weight other than encouragement.

Both methods of Church governance have practical pros and cons.

That said, we can’t have doctrine subject to synodality.

I also have to laugh at your proposal that a lack of specifics can cause suspicions.  Sounds a little like “Pot meet kettle.”  It seems like you keep asking for specifics but then don’t even come close to doing so yourself.  I don’t know, maybe it’s just me.

Your fifth concern is that bishops feel that the pope is not open to criticism and indeed resents it. What is your source for this? Indeed, there has been much criticism of the pope, but he has remained silent. I am not aware of anything that he has said in public to indicate that he resents criticism.

Really?!  The “change of jobs” for Muller, Burke, Father Samir Khalil Samir, etc., by the Holy Father himself, not to mention a myriad of replacements by the liberal fan club is kind of telling.  And then there are all of those labeled as Pharisaical, rigid, etc. for their worries.  My gosh!  There is a whole website full of them papal insults.  Fine, it’s his prerogative.  I’d probably expect some resentment.  Quite frankly, I enjoy some of them because they’re sometimes funny and creative, kind of like Shakespeare’s.  That said, you can’t say they’re not happening. 

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, urged that dissent from ordinary Magisterium should be disclosed privately to church authority—see “Donum Veritatis” (No. 30). In a world and even an ecclesial environment of sound bites and facile partisanship, that becomes even wiser advice.

Fraternally yours in Christ,

Msgr. John Strynkowski

As you say, specifics would be nice.  Maybe you could tell us who is dissenting from what?  You asked Fr. Weinandy for specifics, now I’m asking you for some.  Fair’s fair!  Is style now considered “ordinary Magisterium?”  Fr. Weinandy’s letter talked of ambiguity and flame throwing.  It didn’t talk of doctrine other than to say “There’s so much ambiguity nobody can discern what we’re talking about when it comes to the indissolubility of marriage and the liberals are running away with it.” 

This isn’t the first time Catholics have had a problem with “papal style.”  Anyone remember St. Catherine of Siena?  She chastised not one but two popes about everything from where they lived to controlling their tempers.  Are we going to say she was a dissenter???

For those who haven’t bothered to read the dubia yet, please at least read this excerpt:

Most Holy Father,

Following the publication of your apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, theologians and scholars have proposed interpretations that are not only divergent, but also conflicting, above all in regard to Chapter VIII. Moreover, the media have emphasized this dispute, thereby provoking uncertainty, confusion and disorientation among many of the faithful.

Because of this, we the undersigned, but also many bishops and priests, have received numerous requests from the faithful of various social strata on the correct interpretation to give to Chapter VIII of the exhortation.

Now, compelled in conscience by our pastoral responsibility and desiring to implement ever more that `synodality to which Your Holiness urges us, with profound respect, we permit ourselves to ask you, Holy Father, as supreme teacher of the faith, called by the Risen One to confirm his brothers in the faith, to resolve the uncertainties and bring clarity, benevolently giving a response to the dubia that we attach the present letter.

May Your Holiness wish to bless us, as we promise constantly to remember you in prayer.

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra

Cardinal Joachim Meisner

Despite the spin, clarification, not rejection is the name of the game for the dubia authors and Fr. Weinandy. They are not dissenting. If they were, why would they appeal to the Holy Father for clarification at all?

 

 

Cardinal Maradiaga’s Big Obsession

I kind of knew this was coming, but it took me a couple days to get around to reading it. Now that I have, I have to say it was far more entertaining than I thought it would be.

https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2017/05/19/cardinal-watch-maradiaga-bashes-burke-benedict-lauds-sarah/

Two prominent and sometimes controversial cardinals, both seen as conservatives, recently have drawn stinging criticism in one case and a stirring defense in another, and both have come from extremely high-ranking sources.

American Cardinal Raymond Burke was recently dismissed as a “disappointed man” upset over the loss of his power by fellow Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras, coordinator of Pope Francis’s “C9” council of cardinal advisers.”

OK, this made me chuckle.  If Cardinal Burke is such a sad, disappointed, pretty much retired guy –  basically a has-been in the Catholic world (all Maradiaga’s insinuation, not mine) – why is Maradiaga talking about him every five seconds?  I mean, look at the people I write about.  Do I do so because they are inconsequential?  Some are but some are very influential, and that is a big problem.  I’ve got to give Cardinal Maradiaga points for attempting to verbally pat Cardinal Burke on the head, but I think he picked the wrong guy.  Cardinal Burke is the mouthpiece for millions of Catholics around the world, especially the ones who actually attend Mass regularly.  Maradiaga, Cupich, Marx, etc.?  They’re the ones who represent the Catholics who follow the Church’s teachings only when it’s comfortable to do so.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, head of the Vatican’s liturgy department, was praised by Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI as someone with whom the liturgy is in “good hands.”

Do you think Maradiaga’s going to try getting away with patting Cardinal Sarah on the head, too?

<snip because we all know about the dubia by now>

In the new interview, Maradiaga comes out swinging.

“That cardinal who sustains this,” Maradiaga said, referring to the criticism of Amoris, “is a disappointed man, in that he wanted power and lost it. He thought he was the maximum authority in the United States.”

Seriously?!  Cardinal Burke is from Wisconsin.  I realize that readers outside of the country might not have a clue about Wisconsin, but it’s not really known for power-hungry, maniacal people.  It’s WISCONSIN, for goodness sake! I know a lot of people who know him personally, and he sounds like he’s exactly what you’d expect from Wisconsin.  He’s a kind and compassionate man who will take time to talk to anyone and everyone he can.  People always seemed to be amazed that he remembers them from brief encounters, and they’ll all swear he’s a deeply caring man who cares about the Church, the faithful, and people in general.  He’s truly a fatherly type of guy.

“He’s not the magisterium,” Maradiaga said, referring to the authority to issue official teaching. “The Holy Father is the magisterium, and he’s the one who teaches the whole Church. This other [person] speaks only his own thoughts, which don’t merit further comment.

“They are the words,” Maradiaga said, “of a poor man.”

Maradiaga also criticized conservative schools of thought in Catholicism, of which Burke is often seen as a symbol.

“These currents of the Catholic right are persons who seek power and not the truth, and the truth is one,” he said. “If they claim to find some ‘heresy’ in the words of Francis, they’re making a big mistake, because they’re thinking only like men and not as the Lord wants.”

Irk.  Let’s just stop right here, Cardinal Maradiaga.  I’m reasonably sure you know quite well, despite your innuendos, that Cardinal Burke has never declared Pope Francis a heretic.  Let’s just look at this to put an end to the silliness:

http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Item/5292/Cardinal_Burke_No_I_am_not_saying_that_Pope_Francis_is_in_heresy.aspx

CWR: Some critics say you are implicitly accusing the Pope of heresy.

Cardinal Burke: No, that’s not what we have implied at all. We have simply asked him, as the Supreme Pastor of the Church, to clarify these five points that are confused; these five, very serious and fundamental points. We’re not accusing him of heresy, but just asking him to answer these questions for us as the Supreme Pastor of the Church.

<snip rest of lengthy q&a>

CWR: Just to clarify again, are you saying that Pope Francis is in heresy or is close to it?

Cardinal Burke: No, I am not saying that Pope Francis is in heresy. I have never said that. Neither have I stated that he is close to being in heresy.

What the what?  But Cardinal Maradiaga said… 

Now, let’s just juxtapose these two gentlemen, shall we?

First, you’ve got Cardinal Maradiaga, who seems rather fond of making fun of people who are in the “Catholic right.”  He makes his fellow Catholics and fellow Cardinals to be rather pathetic.  He’s a huge fan of talking about all these people who are always so mean (even though he probably can’t back it up with fact).  I’m glad he knows so much about what the Lord wants for those of us in the Catholic right.  I mean, thank you, Cardinal Maradiaga, because I really thought it was to follow and defend the faith of the Catholic Church.  Silly us.

Last time I checked (as shown just a smidge above), Cardinal Burke said he finds no heresy in the Pope and the Pope says he doesn’t see Cardinal Burke as an enemy, yet Cardinal Maradiaga stands right in the middle intent on stirring the pot of uninformed Catholics spreading rumors and falsehoods. 

Then you’ve got Cardinal Burke, who could likely spew volumes on the likes of Cardinal Maradiaga but does not (clearly a better person than I).  He has not made one personal attack on him, the Holy Father, or any of his other critics.  In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen Cardinal Burke utter Cardinal Maradiaga’s name.  He goes straight to the issues every time, and nobody anywhere can point to something that would lead us to believe that he is not well within his right and duty to present a dubia to the Holy Father.

“What sense does it have to publish writings against the pope, which don’t damage him but ordinary people? What does a right-wing closed on certain points accomplish? Nothing!”

Writings against the Pope?  When did “Holy Father, we ask you to clarify a teaching” become a hit piece???  Oh, the horrors.  And really, again, if these people are just has-beens why are they on your lips every other sentence?  I mean, shouldn’t you just let them wander off into oblivion?  The answer is, they’re not.  They are very important to the faithful and I think what they do is to stymie the liberal spin on Catholic teaching.  

One would have to wonder what Cardinal Maradiaga thinks of St. Paul.  If he’s having this much trouble with four bishops asking questions for the pope to clarify then he really must have a problem with Saint “I Withstood Him to the Face!” Paul.

But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. (Galatians 2:11 for people who are unfamiliar.)

 

“Ordinary people are with the pope, this is completely clear,” Maradiaga said. “I see that everywhere.”

Uh, define “with the pope.” Define ordinary people.  I am quite ordinary and I consider myself “with the pope,” but I still would like the clarifications made to save the likes of people like me who might be led astray by people like you who twist ambiguities into pretzels and feed them to the hungry.  This doesn’t have anything to do with trying to take down a papacy.  It has everything to do with my kids understanding clearly what is being taught.

“Those who are proud, arrogant, who believe they have a superior intellect … poor people! Pride is also a form of poverty,” he said.

I find it sooooo ironic that he’s saying this about Cardinal Burke and the “Catholic right.”  Sometimes looking into a mirror might be helpful. 

“The greatest problem, however, is the disorientation that’s created among people when they read affirmations of bishops and cardinals against the Holy Father,” he said.

Oh my gosh!  Maradiaga is “Cardinal Disorientor of the Faithful,” not Cardinal Burke!  I mean, that’s his standard method of operation!  Why do you think he’s got trouble with someone askng for clarification on Amoris Laetitia?

Maradiaga called his fellow cardinals to loyalty.

“I think that one of the qualities we cardinals [should have] is loyalty,” he said. “Even if we don’t all think the same way, we still have to be loyal to Peter.”

The accusations are rampant!

Whoever doesn’t offer that loyalty, he said, “is just seeking attention.”

Again, where’s the disloyalty? And, really, just who is seeking attention?

While such public clashes between cardinals are rare, they’re not unprecedented.

During the Benedict years, for instance, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna publicly suggested that Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who served as Secretary of State under St. John Paul II, had blocked an investigation of sex abuse charges against Schönborn’s predecessor, Cardinal Hans Hermann Gröer.

In that instance, Benedict called in both cardinals for a fence-mending session, among other things reminding them that “when accusations are made against a cardinal, competency falls exclusively to the pope.”

So, let me get this straight.  When Cardinals are chastising other cardinals (please make a note, Cardinal Maradiaga!), the pope is the only competent judge???  And what did the pope already say again?  Oh yeah, that he did not consider Cardinal Burke an enemy, so maybe, just maybe, it is you, Cardinal Maradiaga, who usurps a little too much authority. 

Maradiaga also appeared to suggest that Burke may have been disappointed in the outcome of the conclave of March 2013 that elected Francis.

“The papal candidates others wanted remained in place, while the one the Lord wanted is the one who was elected,” he said, “so the dissent is logical and understandable, [because] we can’t all think the same way.

“However,” Maradiaga said, “it’s Peter who leads the Church, and therefore, if we have faith, we must respect the choices and the style of the pope who came from the end of the earth.”

Some days don’t you feel you’re seeing the high school rumor monger?  How sad is this coming from a cardinal? 

This is not the first time Maradiaga has attacked a fellow cardinal seen as being a conservative.

In 2014, he called on the head of the Vatican’s doctrine office, German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, to “be a bit more flexible” during an interview with Koelner Stadt-Anzeiger, a German newspaper.

Maradiaga said Müller “see things in black-and-white terms,” adding that “the world isn’t like that, my brother.” Maradiaga also accused the German cardinal of only listening to his group of advisors, not hearing “other voices.”

Well, in your world it might not be like that, but in the real world, the Truth is found in the teachings of the Church, not in your world of moral relativism.

Sarah, meanwhile, who was appointed by Francis as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments in November 2014, has drawn fire in more progressive quarters for his fairly traditional views on the Church’s worship.

In April, for instance, Sarah gave a talk on the 10th anniversary of Benedict’s document Summorum Pontificum, authorizing regular celebration of the older Latin Mass, in which Sarah spoke of a “serious, profound crisis” in the Church caused in part by liturgical changes after the Second Vatican Council in the mid-1960s.

“Even today, a significant number of Church leaders underestimate the serious crisis that the Church is going through,” Sarah said, including “relativism in doctrinal, moral and disciplinary teaching, grave abuses, the desacralization and trivialization of the Sacred Liturgy, [and] a merely social and horizontal view of the Church’s mission.”

One liberal commentator derided Sarah for nostalgia for a bypassed “golden age.”

One person’s “nostalgia” is another’s reality of the Tradition of the Church.

“Yet in a new afterword to a book by Sarah, Benedict XVI says the liturgy is in “good hands” with the Guinean cardinal, and praises Sarah for his prayer life.

Sarah, Benedict writes, speaks “out of the depths of silence with the Lord, out of his interior union with him, and thus really has something to say to each one of us.

“We should be grateful to Pope Francis for appointing such a spiritual teacher as head of the congregation that is responsible for the celebration of the liturgy in the Church,” Benedict writes.

The afterword’s last line is, “With Cardinal Sarah, a master of silence and of interior prayer, the liturgy is in good hands.”

The book is The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise, published by Ignatius Press.

Benedict’s vote of confidence is all the more striking given that when he resigned the papacy in February 2013, Benedict vowed to remain “hidden from the world,” and has rarely broken his silence since. The fact that he chose to do so now, many observers believe, reflects both his passion for the liturgy and also his support for Sarah.

Despite this, I’m reasonably sure Cardinal Maradiaga will get around to publicly lambasting Cardinal Sarah at some point.  Don’t think he’s likely gotten over Cardinal Sarah’s take on Caritas International: 

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/as-caritas-identity-is-refined-new-slogan-called-unrealistic/

http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/issues/march-11th-2016/the-unstoppable-rise-of-cardinal-sarah/

http://www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.cfm?storyid=9349

Dubious or Dubia?

This was a rather disappointing read from Crux.  https://cruxnow.com/analysis/2016/12/11/anti-amoris-critics-cross-dissent-church-must-move/

The anti-Francis revolt spearheaded and legitimated by four mostly retired cardinals has acquired a newly vicious tone. A line has been crossed.

Anti-Francis?  Says who?  Let’s say my kids say something to the effect of “Dad, you said x.  Bobby thinks it means this and I think it means that.  Which is it?” Does this mean that they are anti-Dad?  Please.  Can we just admit that there is some big-time confusion?  You’ve got bishops saying “Come, active sinners, to Communion!” and others saying “We long for you to fully embrace the teaching of the Church and to repent so you can receive Communion!”  Two very different interpretations and only one of them can be right.  My money is one that supports the permanency of marriage.

I don’t just mean the line of good manners and respect. That was crossed some time ago, when the four cardinals made public their letter challenging Francis’s apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, and threatened him with a kind of public censure. Since then the tone of disrespect and contempt of some writers who back them has plumbed shocking new lows.

Bitter much?  How about we actually look at the text of the 4 Cardinals’ letter and the dubia which is so woefully absent.  I will actually dissect this down below to just to make sure people see it.  It’s not really all it’s been portrayed to be, which is probably why some have so much trouble quoting it. http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/full-text-and-explanatory-notes-of-cardinals-questions-on-amoris-laetitia

But far more important than tone, the critiques have crossed a frontier into a territory marked “dissent”.

Whoa there, buddy!  That is a HUGE accusation.  Again, let’s back it up with some quotes.

Dissent, to be clear, is not the same as disagreement. Catholics often disagree with this or that decision or statement of a pope, object to his theology, or don’t share his priorities. And pope Francis is not only relaxed about disagreement, but positively encourages it.

Dissent is different. Dissent is to disagreement what disbelief is to doubt.

Dissent is, essentially, to question the legitimacy of a pope’s rule. It is to cast into doubt that the development of the Church under this Successor of St. Peter is a fruit of the action of the Holy Spirit.

And, again, look at the dang text.  For you to put words into the Cardinals’ mouth that they didn’t utter (and actually dispelled) is quite, well, awful.

Dissent is nothing new. At the time of the Second Vatican Council, the dissenting party set its face against its pastoral direction, as well as key developments in liturgy, religious freedom and ecumenism.

Under John Paul II, on the other hand, the dissenters were convinced he had betrayed the Council. They argued for women priests, an end to mandatory celibacy and an opening in areas such as contraception.

Now, under Francis, the dissenting party opposes the synod and its major fruit, Amoris Laetitia.

PROVE IT!

Because dissenters almost always end up looking and sounding like each other, the four cardinals and their supporters look every day more like those lobbies under the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict XVI calling for liberal reforms.

Oh yeah.  Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Cupich are two peas in a pod.

Catholics know that going against the pope is a serious matter, and so when they dissent they adopt a regretful, pained tone that stresses conscience and the impossibility of betraying whatever they have absolutized – their idea of unchanging tradition, say, or their version of the Second Vatican Council.

Or…  Maybe they are pained at the confusion flying about ALL OVER THE PLACE!  Please.  Are we really going to say that every “dubia” put forth was done by a bunch of dissenters?  Here’s an earth shattering bomb shell.  Dubias are not uncommon and they certainly don’t equal dissent. http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/commentandblogs/2016/11/24/submitting-dubia-is-a-standard-part-of-church-life-its-not-unreasonable-to-expect-a-clear-answer/

What they have in common is that they are almost always lay, educated and from the wealthy world or the wealthy parts of the developing world. They are mostly intellectuals and lawyers and teachers and writers who put great store in their reason.

Wait! “It’s a bunch of rich, educated white dudes!” is really your argument, Mr. Ivereigh?  Personally, I put a great store in all of these men.  Do you have some evidence of why we should feel the contrary?  Just conjecture, huh?

What to them seems entirely self-evident – arguments, logically developed from absolute first principles, backed by a few emeritus bishops, building to a case that cries out to be answered – almost always meets with silence from Rome. At this point there is a reaction of anger and stupefaction which over time coagulates into suppurating resentment.

Projecting much?

Some will break off, claiming the one true Church lies elsewhere or nowhere, but most resentfully stay, “clinging onto my faith by my fingertips” as they like to say, or “still a Catholic – despite the pope’s best efforts to drive me out.”

Wouldn’t it be best to wait to see if that happens, rather they to pre-accuse some of schism?

Clinging to the pain of their betrayal, they take refuge in their progressive or traditionalist liturgies and incandescent websites, firing off letters and petitions from lobbies and associations, vainly demanding, as “faithful Catholics” that the pope do this, that, or the other.”

Oh those nasty bitter clingers!  Who is this guy?!  Obama? I’ve never seen any of these gentlemen play the martyr card and at least one of them probably could.  Still, they are men who know their history and have spoken about the ills of schism.  In fact, I know of at least one who has said he will have no part in it. 

But even as they insist that there is a debate to be had, a case to answer, a matter to be settled, the train is leaving the station, and they are left on the platform, waving their arms.

Yeah, you might want to pay a little more attention to Catholic news.  They’re hardly being left behind.  They’re right in the thick of it and many are making the clarifications to their own diocese that these bishops are asking the Holy Father to give to the universal Church.

The Second Vatican Council set the Church on a path of pastoral conversion. John Paul II united the Church around an understanding of the Council based on a hermeneutic of continuity. In both cases, there was strong resistance, but most Catholics recognized the development as legitimate, as Peter acting for the good of the Church, as a doctrinally faithful response to the signs of the times.

The same is true now. Most Catholics understand the synod, and Amoris Laetitia, as an inspired response to our times, a means both of rebuilding marriage and of helping to bandage those wounded by the failure of marriage.

How are priests running around telling divorced and re-married couples to decide for themselves if they can receive communion when they are still considered married by the Church (or the complete misrepresentation of “internal forum”) a good thing for them, the teaching on the permancy of marriage, etc.?

This is why Francis can no more respond to the cardinals’ dubia than Benedict XVI could answer a petition to ordain women as deacons: because the Catholic Church has its own mechanisms of development, based on consultation and spiritual discernment.

Well, there’s apples and oranges if I ever saw it.

Put another way, whether it is a conclave or a synod, the Catholic Church likes to lobby-proof its deliberations, precisely to allow the Holy Spirit space to breathe.

Oh tell me, Amazing Carnac, how is it that you are so sure that the presentation of a dubia is not inspired by the Holy Spirit?  Hmmmm…  And as far as “lobby-proofing” deliberations goes…  Did you notice what in heaven’s name happened at the actual synod???

Francis cannot answer the cardinals directly  – although he has done indirectly countless times – without undermining that action of the Holy Spirit present in the most thorough process of ecclesial discernment since Vatican II.

I love the omniscient tone he’s taking.

As he last week told the Belgian Christian weekly Tertio, everything in Amoris Laetitia – including the controversial Chapter 8 – received a two-thirds majority in a synod that was notoriously frank, open and drawn out.

Um, no.  I knew this must be somehow Cardinal Cupich related!  Please, the 2/3 is not exactly true, as Edward Penten points out:  http://www.ncregister.com/blog/edward-pentin/synod-fathers-rejected-communion-for-remarried-divorcees :

Controversial passages never passed

But defenders of the Dubia argue that Cardinal Cupich’s comment that the controversial propositions in question were “voted on by two-thirds of the bishops” is especially problematic.

It is often forgotten, they point out, that despite the strenuous efforts by the Synod secretariat and others to manipulate and jostle the synod fathers into accepting the most controversial propositions (allegations detailed in my book The Rigging of a Vatican Synod?), none of the three most controversial propositions managed to obtain a two-thirds majority during the first, Extraordinary Synod on the Family, in October 2014. 

One of them was a proposition relating to the “Kasper proposal” of admitting the divorced and remarried to holy Communion after a period of penitence. That failed to pass, and only a proposition calling for “careful reflection and respectful accompaniment” of remarried divorcees made it through.

Back to Ivereigh:

Roma locuta, causa finita, as Catholics used to say. And the case is even more closed this time, because it is the universal Church which has spoken, not just the pope.

To respond to the cardinals would be tantamount to rewinding the clock, to refuting the very process of the synod, in order to rehash arguments that the synod settled, if not resolved.

And now we have to go back to the fact that dubias come about all of the time.  Are they “turning back the clock?”  No!  They’re asking questions.  Again, read the dubia!  What is so horribly awful about these questions? Do you think the Holy Spirit has a problem with clarity?

And as far as “Roma locuta, causa finita” goes…The problem is with the interpretation some are giving.  GET A CLUE!

Let’s remember what happened. At the start of the two-year synod process, there were two groups wanting to resolve the question of access to the Eucharist for the divorced and remarried one way or the other.

One group wanted to open up an Orthodox-type pathway back to the sacraments, the other wished to restate and reaffirm the teaching and discipline of Familiaris Consortio (John Paul II’s 1980 exhortation, which on that topic calls for discernment of different situations, but precludes any return to the sacraments unless the couple promises to live together as brother and sister.)

So, you think it right that a couple not lawfully married in the eyes of the Church should… what? A) Conform to the teachings of the Church regarding marriage and the Eucharist or B) not integrate into the Church and receive Communion without guilt?  When did Familiaris Consortio become a bad thing and are we saying that Amoris Laetitia is opposed to it???

Faced with that yes/no question, of precisely the sort that the cardinals have put to Francis, the synod rejected a yes/no answer.  The synod affirmed the general principles of FC but developed John Paul’s teaching on the discernment of situations while refusing to impose the same blanket ban on readmission in all cases.

What the what???  We’re changing the teachings on the permanency of marriage and the sin of adultery? 

The synod decided, by a two-thirds majority, that they wanted both to preserve the doctrine of indissolubility in the current discipline of the Eucharist while at the same time creating sufficient pastoral latitude in the application of the Church’s law to allow pastors to respond to situations where there was a subjective lack of culpability.

OK, I think we’ve already shown the 2/3 angle is a crock.

Which situations? AL doesn’t specify, which has allowed the four cardinals and their supporters to claim the document is ambiguous and confusing. But how could it spell it out, without becoming a manual of casuistry?

The whole point is that there is no new law, no new doctrine, no new norms, because the synod determined that there should not be. “There is no general norm that can cover all the particular cases,” as Cardinal Christoph Schönborn says, adding: “The general norm is very clear; and it is equally clear that it cannot cover all the cases exhaustively.”

So nothing is new but we have a whole lot of priests and Cardinal Cupich followers out there claiming there is.  I mean, they don’t even have the definition of “internal forum” correct.  This is all the cardinals want.  Clarity.  

And that’s the heart of the matter. The synod kept the law – how could it not? It’s the law of Jesus – but defended a latitude in its application, recognizing, as did Jesus, that the law is necessary but insufficient, and has to be applied in such a way that respects the particularity of each person’s story.

First, I believe he’s equating the synod with the confusion surrounding the document that came out of it.  The Church has, on many occasion, clarified when there is confusion.  Heck, even further documents have come from such confusing times, such as Humanae Vitae.

Amoris Laetitia took the synod’s settlement – forged, by all accounts, in the white heat of the German group – and asks the Church to create mechanisms of accompaniment that will allow for this discernment.

It says: Let’s hear this particular couple’s history and see where sin has created blockages and wounds, and where God’s grace is needed.

And on the way, what will happen? It might mean ending a relationship and returning to a valid marriage; it might lead to an annulment; in some cases it might lead to re-integration into a parish, but not the sacraments; in some cases it might require living as brother and sister, and a return to the sacraments.

Does Mr. Ivereigh seriously think this is what’s being put forth by Cardinal Cupich, Bishop McElroy, half of the Germans, etc., etc., etc.?  Holy cow, man!  Where are you living?  I know you’re British but you can’t honestly think this is what’s being put forward as integration and “internal forum,” can you???  Please, walk among the liberal dioceses and publications like America or NCR and see what’s going on and why the dubia was so needed!  It has nothing to do with “correcting the Pope” and everything to do with correcting the idiots saying that people can live as man and wife in invalid marriages!  Do you think there’s a problem between the Cardinals and your three proposed outcomes???

And in some, rare cases it might lead, yes, to being admitted to Communion where the lack of subjective culpability is beyond doubt, where, for example, an annulment is impossible, where the marriage is irrecoverable, where there are children by a new union, where a conversion has taken place in a person that creates a new state, and where the notion of ‘adultery’ simply fails to capture a reality. (Father Thomas Reese has suggested the kinds of distinctions Pope John Paul II had in mind in Familiaris Consortio.)

Fr. Reese, SJ???  I really, really should have known!  If this is what the Holy Father is saying, why are we not quoting him?  I mean, he gave a pretty lengthy answer on a plane and failed to mention it: http://www.catholicnews.com/services/englishnews/2016/fresh-start-pope-calls-for-integration-of-divorced-into-church-life.cfm

One bishop in South America whom I recently interviewed, when I asked about Chapter Eight of Amoris in an interview, kindly but firmly cut me short. “I can’t talk about that,” he said. “Every case is different.”

There speaks a pastor. There speaks the synod. There speaks the pope.

Wait!  You seem to assume that this bishop agrees with the Pope.  What if he’s actually disagreeing with him?  Again, this is why the dubia.  I guess I need to say it repeatedly.

The one message I’ve had from other bishops and cardinals I have spoken to this year in preparation for a new book is that what AL calls for can only be grasped by a pastor.

Only one who understands the complexities of the workings of sin and grace in a person’s life grasps the paradox: that to insist on the universal, equal application of the law in all circumstances is to contradict God’s supreme law of mercy, which puts the individual before – not above, but before – the law.

Bahahaha!  What?!

The four cardinals, with their heavily loaded binary questions carefully crafted to exclude precisely that paradox, reject the synod’s settlement of this question, and in so doing they reject the validity of the Holy Spirit’s action.

They are trying to return to the logic of the liberal media and the hysterical pro-family groups who descended on the first synod to defend Christian teaching on marriage. Yet the synod rejected that logic in favor of an ancient tradition of pastoral theology.

Oh brother.  Not too many mischaracterizations here. Possibly slander? Defamation? And a whole big dose of “Who the heck are you?!”

To the four cardinals, three of whom wrote a book prior to the first synod insisting that nothing could change, this of course looks like capitulation. (Cardinal Burke, it is worth remembering, was removed as head of the Vatican’s highest court because he rejected any reform to the annulment process – a reform sanctioned by the synod – on the grounds that it would undermine marriage).

And they will continue to see it that way.

He seems very insistent on putting words into peoples’ mouths.

So, too, will the lay elite intellectuals and journalists who continue to scream that the entire edifice of Catholic teaching on indissolubility will unravel as a result, and construct elaborate arguments that AL cannot possibly say what it says.

Um, first of all, no, it can’t unravel.  What it can be is ignored, twisted, and simply lied about by liberals.  Silly me.  When has that ever happened?!  I mean, it’s not like that’s happened to the Church’s teaching on birth control or anything. 

It is not easy for young converts fleeing the Anglican doctrinal muddle in search of rock-like objectivity, and who saw the synod through that prism. Nor is it easy for the culture warriors, who are all too happy to look away from the pain of people’s shattered marriages to focus on the defense of the institution of marriage faced with divorce and the hook-up culture.

Hello????  I think you misunderstand why we’ve been having mass Anglican conversions as of late.  They’ve come because their hierarchy has muddied the waters and they like clarity and tradition.

Next, who is looking away from shattered marriages?  In fact, I’d have to say this is exactly what the four Cardinals are trying to prevent.  It’s not one or the other.  You can try to defend the institution AND help those already harmed by the nightmare one or both spouses have brought to the marriage or the failure of the liberal Church to equip the couples to survive life by teaching them beauty and permanency of marriage and sexuality.  Does Ivereigh really think simply continuing the clean up after the disaster is sufficient?

And it is not easily grasped by those Pope Francis calls the “doctors of the law” in whom fear of being swamped or contaminated by a world of relativism and sin is so great that it becomes the single driving focus of their attention.

They suspect that Amoris undermines the affirmation of objective truth in Veritatis Splendor (which it doesn’t, but it certainly shifts the focus away from the defense of truth to the defense of the way Grace works in a soul.)

OK, if anyone says relativism isn’t a problem in the Church of today, I’d say they are the ones not quite in grasp of reality.  Ivereigh seems to continue to insist that he knows what’s driving the four Cardinals despite the fact they have never said anything of the like.

Many are good people, clever people, faithful Catholics, who want to defend the Church and promote the Good and the True. Some I consider friends. And as their friend, I have to tell them that in their anxiety and fear they have been tempted down the road of dissent, rejecting a Spirit-filled process of ecclesial discernment.

Wow!  Thanks, dude.  Clearly you are far more in tune with God’s wishes than any of us.  You are really in touch with the Holy Spirit and the rest of us are just completely lost! (Sarcasm alert.)

(They argue, naturally, that the synod was ‘manipulated’ or ‘steamrolled’, and therefore merely political. But these are not arguments, but stories dissenters need to tell each other.)

Thousands of people he’s never met but he know their needs.

More importantly, as their friend, I have to warn them: the train has left the station, the Church is moving on. And they will end up like the betrayed progressives of the John Paul era, locked into a kind of resentment that made them poor heralds of the Gospel.

MMMmmm… probably not because they know history and they know popes come and they know popes go.  They know the gates of hell cannot prevail but they will do as much as possible to help people through confusing times.

Just last week, the Congregation for the Clergy released a comprehensive new format for seminary formation. The priest of the future, formed by Amoris Laetitia, will learn to walk with people “with a disposition of serene openness and attentive accompaniment in all situations, even those that are most complex, showing the beauty and demands of Gospel truth without falling into legalistic or rigorist obsessions.”

I’ve been busy and honestly, I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about but I have googled the whole quote, parts of the quote and I can only find it from that article.  Feel free to shoot me a link and I’ll comment more. I’m sure it must be out there because he used quotes and all.

Long after the cardinals’ dubia are no more than a footnote in the history of this papacy, long after Ross Douthat’s predicted schism from the columns of the New York Times has failed to materialize, the next generation of priests will be applying the magnificent teaching of Amoris Laetitia, and the noisy, angry strains of dissent will have faded into a distant memory.

I  have to admit, I like this guy’s style.  He just waves a verbal wand and “Poof!” it’s a reality.  People are irrelevant and dissenters!  I mean, I half expected him to say something like “Arent’ they cute?!” or some other smarmy comment.  Somehow, however, I don’t see the four cardinals bowing to the pat on the head he’s giving them.  He might have wanted to start with someone a little closer to his league, albeit still out of his league.  But seriously, an A for effort!

I, personally, think the clergy will be much better off with clarity.

Francis expected protest, especially from this quartet of red hats, and is saddened by it.  But he is not alarmed or shocked. He sees it, as Father Antonio Spadaro told Crux, as the outworking of a Spirit-filled process.

Wait! I thought he was already punishing these guys.  Which is it?  They’re not relevant enough to think about or they’re the biggest of scoundrels?

He knows that the dissenters have dug their trench, and many will stay firmly in it, glowering while the rest of the Church develops a new pastoral strategy for marriage and family. But Francis also knows that this is their choice, which is the choice of every dissenter.

You mean this rest of the Church? https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2016/12/11/lincoln-bishop-says-no-communion-divorcedremarried/

http://www.ncregister.com/blog/msgr-pope/catholic-teaching-on-marriage-and-communion-is-unambiguous

http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/michael-w-chapman/us-bishops-guidelines-no-communion-sexually-active-divorced-remarri-0

http://www.sj-r.com/entertainmentlife/20160715/bishop-thomas-john-paprocki-catholics-marriage-and-holy-communion

https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2016/09/22/bishop-says-amoris-doesnt-permit-communion-divorcedremarried/

https://cruxnow.com/global-church/2016/09/17/no-simple-path-communion-divorceremarried-canadians-warn/

https://www.dioceseoftyler.org/news/2015/10/final-synod-document-strongly-backs-church-teaching-beauty-of-family-life/

Oh, yeah.  I guess these guys are just a sampling of all the bitter clingers who missed the train.

And he knows that, in order to be faithful to the Holy Spirit’s action, his own choice can only be to ignore the cardinals and press on.

“Make it so Number One!”  Sigh.

OK, I’m posting the text of the dubia in its entirety since so many people are flapping their gums without bothering to quote a dang bit of it.  Prepare for debates and give it a good read.  If you’ve read it, go ahead and get to wrapping those Christmas presents!

  1. A Necessary Foreword

The sending of the letter to His Holiness Pope Francis by four cardinals derives from a deep pastoral concern.

We have noted a grave disorientation and great confusion of many faithful regarding extremely important matters for the life of the Church. We have noted that even within the episcopal college there are contrasting interpretations of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia.

The great Tradition of the Church teaches us that the way out of situations like this is recourse to the Holy Father, asking the Apostolic See to resolve those doubts, which are the cause of disorientation and confusion.

Ours is, therefore, an act of justice and charity.

Of justice: With our initiative, we profess that the Petrine ministry is the ministry of unity, and that to Peter, to the Pope, belongs the service of confirming in the faith.

Of charity: We want to help the Pope to prevent divisions and conflicts in the Church, asking him to dispel all ambiguity.

We have also carried out a specific duty. According to the Code of Canon Law (349) the cardinals, even taken individually, are entrusted with the task of helping the Pope to care for the universal Church.

The Holy Father has decided not to respond. We have interpreted his sovereign decision as an invitation to continue the reflection and the discussion, calmly and with respect.

And so we are informing the entire people of God about our initiative, offering all of the documentation.

We hope that no one will choose to interpret the matter according to a “progressive/conservative” paradigm. That would be completely off the mark. We are deeply concerned about the true good of souls, the supreme law of the Church, and not about promoting any form of politics in the Church.

We hope that no one will judge us unjustly, as adversaries of the Holy Father and people devoid of mercy. What we have done and are doing derives from the deep collegial affection that unites us to the Pope, and from an impassioned concern for the good of the faithful.

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra

Cardinal Joachim Meisner

 

  1. The Letter of the Four Cardinals to the Pope

To His Holiness Pope Francis

and for the attention of His Eminence Cardinal Gerhard L. Müller

Most Holy Father,

Following the publication of your apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, theologians and scholars have proposed interpretations that are not only divergent, but also conflicting, above all in regard to Chapter VIII. Moreover, the media have emphasized this dispute, thereby provoking uncertainty, confusion and disorientation among many of the faithful.

Because of this, we the undersigned, but also many bishops and priests, have received numerous requests from the faithful of various social strata on the correct interpretation to give to Chapter VIII of the exhortation.

Now, compelled in conscience by our pastoral responsibility and desiring to implement ever more that synodality to which Your Holiness urges us, with profound respect, we permit ourselves to ask you, Holy Father, as supreme teacher of the faith, called by the Risen One to confirm his brothers in the faith, to resolve the uncertainties and bring clarity, benevolently giving a response to the dubia that we attach the present letter.

May Your Holiness wish to bless us, as we promise constantly to remember you in prayer.

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller

Cardinal Raymond L. Burke

Cardinal Carlo Caffarra

Cardinal Joachim Meisner

 

Rome, September 19, 2016

  1. The Dubia

It is asked whether, following the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (300-305), it has now become possible to grant absolution in the sacrament of penance and thus to admit to holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person more uxorio without fulfilling the conditions provided for by Familiaris Consortio, 84, and subsequently reaffirmed by Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 34, and Sacramentum Caritatis, 29. Can the expression “in certain cases” found in Note 351 (305) of the exhortation Amoris Laetitia be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live more uxorio?

After the publication of the post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia (304), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 79, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?

After Amoris Laetitia (301) is it still possible to affirm that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery (Matthew 19:3-9), finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, “Declaration,” June 24, 2000)?

After the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (302) on “circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility,” does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 81, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, according to which “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”?

After Amoris Laetitia (303) does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 56, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?

  1. Explanatory Note of the Four Cardinals

CONTEXT

Dubia (from the Latin: “doubts”) are formal questions brought before the Pope and to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith asking for clarifications on particular issues concerning doctrine or practice.

What is peculiar about these inquiries is that they are worded in a way that requires a “Yes” or “No” answer, without theological argumentation. This way of addressing the Apostolic See is not an invention of our own; it is an age-old practice.

Let’s get to what is concretely at stake.

 

Upon the publication of the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia on love in the family, a debate has arisen particularly around its eighth chapter. Here specifically, Paragraphs 300-305 have been the object of divergent interpretations.

For many — bishops, priests, faithful — these paragraphs allude to or even explicitly teach a change in the discipline of the Church with respect to the divorced who are living in a new union, while others, admitting the lack of clarity or even the ambiguity of the passages in question, nonetheless argue that these same pages can be read in continuity with the previous magisterium and do not contain a modification in the Church’s practice and teaching.

Motivated by a pastoral concern for the faithful, four cardinals have sent a letter to the Holy Father under the form of dubia, hoping to receive clarity, given that doubt and uncertainty are always highly detrimental to pastoral care.

The fact that interpreters come to different conclusions is also due to divergent ways of understanding the Christian moral life. In this sense, what is at stake in Amoris Laetitia is not only the question of whether or not the divorced who have entered into a new union can — under certain circumstances — be readmitted to the sacraments.

Rather, the interpretation of the document also implies different, contrasting approaches to the Christian way of life.

Thus, while the first question of the dubia concerns a practical question regarding the divorced and civilly remarried, the other four questions touch on fundamental issues of the Christian life.

THE QUESTIONS

Doubt No. 1:

It is asked whether, following the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (300-305), it has now become possible to grant absolution in the sacrament of penance, and thus to admit to holy Communion a person who, while bound by a valid marital bond, lives together with a different person more uxorio without fulfilling the conditions provided for by Familiaris Consortio, 84, and subsequently reaffirmed by Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 34, and Sacramentum Caritatis, 29. Can the expression “in certain cases” found in Note 351 (305) of the exhortation Amoris Laetitia be applied to divorced persons who are in a new union and who continue to live more uxorio?

Question 1 makes particular reference to Amoris Laetitia, 305, and to Footnote 351. While Note 351 specifically speaks of the sacraments of penance and Communion, it does not mention the divorced and civilly remarried in this context, nor does the main text.

Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 84, already contemplated the possibility of admitting the divorced and civilly remarried to the sacraments. It mentions three conditions:

The persons concerned cannot separate without committing new injustices (for instance, they may be responsible for the upbringing of their children);

They take upon themselves the commitment to live according to the truth of their situation, that is, to cease living together as if they were husband and wife (more uxorio), abstaining from those acts that are proper to spouses;

They avoid giving scandal (that is, they avoid giving the appearance of sin so as to avoid the danger of leading others into sin).

The conditions mentioned by Familiaris Consortio, 84, and by the subsequent documents recalled will immediately appear reasonable once we remember that the marital union is not just based on mutual affection and that sexual acts are not just one activity among others that couples engage in.

Sexual relations are for marital love. They are something so important, so good and so precious that they require a particular context, the context of marital love. Hence, not only the divorced living in a new union need to abstain, but also everyone who is not married. For the Church, the Sixth Commandment — “Do not commit adultery” — has always covered any exercise of human sexuality that is not marital, i.e., any kind of sexual relations other than those engaged in with one’s rightful spouse.

It would seem that admitting to Communion those of the faithful who are separated or divorced from their rightful spouse and who have entered a new union in which they live with someone else as if they were husband and wife would mean for the Church to teach by her practice one of the following affirmations about marriage, human sexuality and the nature of the sacraments:

A divorce does not dissolve the marriage bond, and the partners to the new union are not married. However, people who are not married can under certain circumstances legitimately engage in acts of sexual intimacy.

 A divorce dissolves the marriage bond. People who are not married cannot legitimately engage in sexual acts. The divorced and remarried are legitimate spouses and their sexual acts are lawful marital acts.

A divorce does not dissolve the marriage bond, and the partners to the new union are not married. People who are not married cannot legitimately engage in sexual acts, so that the divorced and civilly remarried live in a situation of habitual, public, objective and grave sin. However, admitting persons to the Eucharist does not mean for the Church to approve their public state of life; the faithful can approach the Eucharistic table even with consciousness of grave sin, and receiving absolution in the sacrament of penance does not always require the purpose of amending one’s life. The sacraments, therefore, are detached from life: Christian rites and worship are on a completely different sphere than the Christian moral life. 

Doubt No. 2:

After the publication of the post-synodal exhortation Amoris Laetitia (304), does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 79, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions?

The second question regards the existence of so-called intrinsically evil acts. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 79, claims that one can “qualify as morally evil according to its species … the deliberate choice of certain kinds of behavior or specific acts, apart from a consideration of the intention for which the choice is made or the totality of the foreseeable consequences of that act for all persons concerned.”

 

Thus, the encyclical teaches that there are acts that are always evil, which are forbidden by moral norms that bind without exception (“moral absolutes”). These moral absolutes are always negative, that is, they tell us what we should not do. “Do not kill.” “Do not commit adultery.” Only negative norms can bind without exception.

According to Veritatis Splendor, with intrinsically evil acts no discernment of circumstances or intentions is necessary. Uniting oneself to a woman who is married to another is and remains an act of adultery, that as such is never to be done, even if by doing so an agent could possibly extract precious secrets from a villain’s wife so as to save the kingdom (what sounds like an example from a James Bond movie has already been contemplated by St. Thomas Aquinas, De Malo, q. 15, a. 1). John Paul II argues that the intention (say, “saving the kingdom”) does not change the species of the act (here: “committing adultery”), and that it is enough to know the species of the act (“adultery”) to know that one must not do it.

Doubt No. 3:

After Amoris Laetitia (301) is it still possible to affirm that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery (Matthew19:3-9), finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, “Declaration,” June 24, 2000)?

In Paragraph 301, Amoris Laetitia recalls that: “The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations.” And it concludes that “hence it can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.”

In its “Declaration,” of June 24, 2000, the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts seeks to clarify Canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law, which states that those who “obstinately persist in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy Communion.” The Pontifical Council’s “Declaration” argues that this canon is applicable also to faithful who are divorced and civilly remarried. It spells out that “grave sin” has to be understood objectively, given that the minister of the Eucharist has no means of judging another person’s subjective imputability.

Thus, for the “Declaration,” the question of the admission to the sacraments is about judging a person’s objective life situation and not about judging that this person is in a state of mortal sin. Indeed, subjectively he or she may not be fully imputable or not be imputable at all.

Along the same lines, in his encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 37, St. John Paul II recalls that “the judgment of one’s state of grace obviously belongs only to the person involved, since it is a question of examining one’s conscience.” Hence, the distinction referred to by Amoris Laetitia between the subjective situation of mortal sin and the objective situation of grave sin is indeed well established in the Church’s teaching.

John Paul II, however, continues by insisting that “in cases of outward conduct which is seriously, clearly and steadfastly contrary to the moral norm, the Church, in her pastoral concern for the good order of the community and out of respect for the sacrament, cannot fail to feel directly involved.” He then reiterates the teaching of Canon 915 mentioned above.

Question 3 of the Dubia, hence, would like to clarify whether, even after Amoris Laetitia, it is still possible to say that persons who habitually live in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, such as the commandment against adultery, theft, murder or perjury, live in objective situations of grave habitual sin, even if, for whatever reasons, it is not certain that they are subjectively imputable for their habitual transgressions.

Doubt No. 4:

After the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (302) on “circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility,” does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 81, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, according to which “circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice”?

In Paragraph 302, Amoris Laetitia stresses that on account of mitigating circumstances “a negative judgment about an objective situation does not imply a judgment about the imputability or culpability of the person involved.” The Dubia point to the Church’s teaching as expressed in John Paul II’s Veritatis Splendor, according to which circumstances or good intentions can never turn an intrinsically evil act into one that is excusable or even good.

The question arises whether Amoris Laetitia, too, is agreed that any act that transgresses against God’s commandments, such as adultery, murder, theft or perjury, can never, on account of circumstances that mitigate personal responsibility, become excusable or even good.

Do these acts, which the Church’s Tradition has called bad in themselves and grave sins, continue to be destructive and harmful for anyone committing them in whatever subjective state of moral responsibility he may be?

Or could these acts, depending on a person’s subjective state and depending on the circumstances and intentions, cease to be injurious and become commendable or at least excusable?

Doubt No. 5:

After Amoris Laetitia (303) does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 56, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?

Amoris Laetitia, 303, states that “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.” The Dubia ask for a clarification of these affirmations, given that they are susceptible to divergent interpretations.

For those proposing the creative idea of conscience, the precepts of God’s law and the norm of the individual conscience can be in tension or even in opposition, while the final word should always go to conscience that ultimately decides about good and evil. According to Veritatis Splendor, 56, “on this basis, an attempt is made to legitimize so-called ‘pastoral’ solutions contrary to the teaching of the magisterium, and to justify a ‘creative’ hermeneutic according to which the moral conscience is in no way obliged, in every case, by a particular negative precept.”

In this perspective, it will never be enough for moral conscience to know “this is adultery,” or “this is murder,” in order to know that this is something one cannot and must not do.

Rather, one would also need to look at the circumstances or the intentions to know if this act could not, after all, be excusable or even obligatory (Question 4 of the Dubia). For these theories, conscience could indeed rightfully decide that, in a given case, God’s will for me consists in an act by which I transgress one of his commandments. “Do not commit adultery” is seen as just a general norm. In the here and now, and given my good intentions, committing adultery is what God really requires of me.  Under these terms, cases of virtuous adultery, lawful murder and obligatory perjury are at least conceivable.

This would mean to conceive of conscience as a faculty for autonomously deciding about good and evil and of God’s law as a burden that is arbitrarily imposed and that could at times be opposed to our true happiness.

However, conscience does not decide about good and evil. The whole idea of a “decision of conscience” is misleading. The proper act of conscience is to judge and not to decide. It says, “This is good.” “This is bad.” This goodness or badness does not depend on it. It acknowledges and recognizes the goodness or badness of an action, and for doing so, that is, for judging, conscience needs criteria; it is inherently dependent on truth.

God’s commandments are a most welcome help for conscience to get to know the truth and hence to judge verily. God’s commandments are the expression of the truth about our good, about our very being, disclosing something crucial about how to live life well. Pope Francis, too, expresses himself in these terms, when, in Amoris Laetitia, 295: “The law is itself a gift of God which points out the way, a gift for everyone without exception.”

Translation provided by the cardinal signatories