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?

 

 

Here’s Hoping the Darkness is Dispelled!

Whoa!  Whoa!  Whoa!  What in the heck is happening?!  I’m sure that most of you saw the news but if you didn’t, here it is.

Fr. Weinandy’s note of explanation:

At the end of this past May I was in Rome to attend a meeting of the International Theological Commission, of which I am a member.  I stayed at Domus Sanctae Marthae.  Since I arrived early, I spent most of the Sunday afternoon prior to the meeting on Monday in Saint Peter’s praying in the Eucharistic Chapel.  I was praying about the present state of the Church and the anxieties I had about the present Pontificate.  I was beseeching Jesus and Mary, St. Peter and all of the saintly popes who are buried there to do something to rectify the confusion and turmoil within the Church today, a chaos and an uncertainty that I felt Pope Francis had himself caused.  I was also pondering whether or not I should write and publish something expressing my concerns and anxiety.  On the following Wednesday afternoon, at the conclusion of my meeting, I went again to St. Peter’s and prayed in the same manner.  That night I could not get to sleep, which is very unusual for me.  It was due to all that was on my mind pertaining to the Church and Pope Francis.  At 1:15 AM I got up and went outside for short time.  When I went back to my room, I said to the Lord: “If you want me to write something, you have to give me a clear sign.  This is what the sign must be.  Tomorrow morning I am going to Saint Mary Major’s to pray and then I am going to Saint John Lateran.  After that I am coming back to Saint Peter’s to have lunch with a seminary friend of mine.  During that interval, I must meet someone that I know but have not seen in a very long time and would never expect to see in Rome at this time.  That person cannot be from the United States, Canada or Great Britain.  Moreover, that person has to say to me in the course of our conversation, “Keep up the good writing!”

So, does ANYONE have a problem with his worry and actions thus stated?  I’m not sure a day has gone by in the last few months that someone in my Catholic world hasn’t asked, “What is going on?!?!?!?!”

So many times we just have to act on a wing and a prayer, and much more often than not we simply have to pray to the Holy Spirit and hope we get it right.  Quite frankly, I’m going to have to remember to put in some seriously detailed requests for validation after reading this.  Probably won’t get a sign like this, but you never know. Maybe I should have a little more faith that I will! Now, “Who is the sign really from?” will likely be the next question asked by those who don’t like Fr. Weinandy’s letter.  Whatever.  Again, all we can do is throw up a prayer and hope we got it right and I think that is what Fr. Weinandy did.

The next morning I did all of the above and by the time I met my seminarian friend for lunch what I had asked the Lord the following night was no longer in the forefront of my mind.  However, towards the end of the meal an archbishop appeared between two parked cars right in front of our table (we were sitting outside).  I had not seen him for over twenty years, long before he became an archbishop.  We recognized one another immediately.  What made his appearance even more unusual was that because of his recent personal circumstances I would never have expected to see him in Rome or anywhere else, other than in his own archdiocese.  (He was from none of the above mentioned countries.)  We spoke about his coming to Rome and caught up on what we were doing.  I then introduced him to my seminarian friend.  He said to my friend that we had met a long time ago and that he had, at that time, just finished reading my book on the immutability of God and the Incarnation.  He told my friend that it was an excellent book, that it helped him sort out the issue, and that my friend should read the book.  Then he turned to me and said: “Keep up the good writing.”

Asked for a sign, and taking him at face value, he got it!

In the light of Jesus fulfilling my demanding “sign,” I want to make two comments.  First, I decided to write Pope Francis a letter, which I intended then to publish unless he adequately addressed the issues I raised.  Almost two months after having received my letter, I did receive an acknowledgement from Vatican Secretariat of State informing me that the letter had been received.  This was simply an acknowledgement and not a response to my concerns.  Second, I find it significant that not only did the Lord fulfill my demand for a sign, but also did so in, what I believe, a very significant manner.  He accomplished it through an archbishop.  By utilizing an archbishop, I believe, that Jesus’ fulfillment of my request took on an apostolic mandate.

I have no way of validating whether he got the sign right or wrong, and neither can you or anyone else, for that matter.  It’s really between him and God.  I’m glad he gave the reason he made the decision, but really, those who are willing to accept the method he employed will. Those who hate it won’t accept it and will likely label his interpretation demonic, which is kind of ironic since I’m not too sure some of those folks actually believe in Satan.

On to the actual letter:

Fr.Weinandy’s letter to Pope Francis:

Your Holiness,

I write this letter with love for the Church and sincere respect for your office.  You are the Vicar of Christ on earth, the shepherd of his flock, the successor to St. Peter and so the rock upon which Christ will build his Church.  All Catholics, clergy and laity alike, are to look to you with filial loyalty and obedience grounded in truth.  The Church turns to you in a spirit of faith, with the hope that you will guide her in love.

So, to the people trying to paint this as a Lefebvre situation, don’t.  Nobody is saying anything or anyone isn’t valid.  Like Burke, Brandmueller, Caffara, and Meisner, they all recognize and respect Pope Francis as Pope Francis and only he can fix it.  They all appealed to the Pope to use his authority to bring clarity.  They aren’t trying to start a parallel Church and usurp authority they don’t have.

Yet, Your Holiness, a chronic confusion seems to mark your pontificate.  The light of faith, hope, and love is not absent, but too often it is obscured by the ambiguity of your words and actions.  This fosters within the faithful a growing unease.  It compromises their capacity for love, joy and peace.  Allow me to offer a few brief examples.

Let’s pause. It is his pontificate and there is great confusion.  There is no denying it, and while it’s not always his ambiguity that causes that (we also can’t say that the liberals paraphrase him crazily on a regular basis and most of the time out of context), he’s not offering correction and clarification to most who are doing that.  This has ZERO to do with me being a “hater” and everything to do with being a simple fact.

First there is the disputed Chapter 8 of “Amoris Laetitia.”  I need not share my own concerns about its content.  Others, not only theologians, but also cardinals and bishops, have already done that.  The main source of concern is the manner of your teaching.  In “Amoris Laetitia,” your guidance at times seems intentionally ambiguous, thus inviting both a traditional interpretation of Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce as well as one that might imply a change in that teaching.

Just as I can’t tell you whether or not Father Weinandy’s sign is genuine, I can’t tell you whether the Holy Father is intentionally ambiguous.  I really don’t need to know his intentional, or unintentional and there most definitely have been traditional interpretations as well as those that imply a change in Church teaching.

Now, there can be no denial that there are disputes and there is confusion, although I’ve heard some try.  They say that everything is crystal clear and the problem is with those who think there is confusion.  What???  When you’ve got two bishops with dueling interpretations on a crucial issue, there’s confusion.  When you have a boatload of them duking it out on the barque, it’s mass confusion.  That’s where we are.  Can we deal with reality, people? THERE IS CONFUSION.

There are many different opinions on why there is confusion.  Great.  I have mine, you have yours, etc.  The finger pointing is endless.  Personally, I don’t care.  I simply want clarity, and I REALLY don’t think that it’s wrong to ask for it.  I mean, how many of us pray for ambiguity and confusion?  I’ve appealed to the Vatican for situations in my locale and I got help.  This is a Church-wide issue today.  Appeals for clarity are necessary.

As you wisely note, pastors should accompany and encourage persons in irregular marriages; but ambiguity persists about what that “accompaniment” actually means.

Yes. Yes, it does.  We’ve heard the diverging interpretations of “accompaniment”. We just want to know which one is correct, and we want EVERYONE to know which is correct.  There can’t be two correct interpretations. Some of us have families and need to have teaching to be clear for our children, grandchildren, etc.!  If wanting our kids to have correct teaching is “rigid”, color me rigid!

To teach with such a seemingly intentional lack of clarity inevitably risks sinning against the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth.  The Holy Spirit is given to the Church, and particularly to yourself, to dispel error, not to foster it.  Moreover, only where there is truth can there be authentic love, for truth is the light that sets women and men free from the blindness of sin, a darkness that kills the life of the soul.  Yet you seem to censor and even mock those who interpret Chapter 8 of “Amoris Laetitia” in accord with Church tradition as Pharisaic stone-throwers who embody a merciless rigorism.

Pope John Paul II had people coming after him all the time.  He didn’t go after them with ad hominem attacks.  There was no name calling of anyone.  Neither was there with Pope Benedict XVI.  If there was a problem, they took “legal” action and at least tried to speak in filial language.  They didn’t use the media to call out their “enemies.”

This kind of calumny is alien to the nature of the Petrine ministry.  Some of your advisors regrettably seem to engage in similar actions.  Such behavior gives the impression that your views cannot survive theological scrutiny, and so must be sustained by “ad hominem” arguments.

I’m always wondering what the heck the “advisors” are telling the Holy Father that he would throw out such monikers.  I know the Holy Fathers have all lived in somewhat of a bubble as soon as they assume the papacy.  However, I’d like to think with the dawn of the internet they wouldn’t be so insulated, but we really see Pope Francis scanning the blogs?  Nah.  Now, one could say he picked the kind of advisors he wanted.  Who knows?  I’m not really sure how the heck you can keep the stupidity of some of the appointees a secret.

Second, too often your manner seems to demean the importance of Church doctrine.  Again and again you portray doctrine as dead and bookish, and far from the pastoral concerns of everyday life.  Your critics have been accused, in your own words, of making doctrine an ideology.  But it is precisely Christian doctrine – including the fine distinctions made with regard to central beliefs like the Trinitarian nature of God; the nature and purpose of the Church; the Incarnation; the Redemption; and the sacraments – that frees people from worldly ideologies and assures that they are actually preaching and teaching the authentic, life-giving Gospel.  Those who devalue the doctrines of the Church separate themselves from Jesus, the author of truth.  What they then possess, and can only possess, is an ideology – one that conforms to the world of sin and death.

Well, doctrine is truth and the truth will set you free.  I think I’ve heard that somewhere.

Third, faithful Catholics can only be disconcerted by your 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.  What scandalizes believers, and even some fellow bishops, is not only your having appointed such men to be shepherds of the Church, but that you also seem silent in the face of their teaching and pastoral practice.  This weakens the zeal of the many women and men who have championed authentic Catholic teaching over long periods of time, often at the risk of their own reputations and well-being.  As a result, many of the faithful, who embody the “sensus fidelium,” are losing confidence in their supreme shepherd.

THIS!  But, again, what’s more is that some of us have families to protect and some of these bishops are trying to lead our kids astray.  Do you know how many emails I get from families who are trying to get their kids to live the chaste life and carry their crosses only to have bishops like Bishop McElroy negate that message???  I’m in the mom zone.  I hear from people like trying to raise their kids in this world.  It is painful.  All we want is for our kids to get to heaven and we’re exhausted from fighting Satan on a daily basis in the secular world, and now we have to fight some of our own bishops for the souls of our children?! My main job is to get my family to heaven so if anyone wants to throw a rude nickname my way, go ahead.  I’ve got far more to worry about than that.  I’ll gladly accept Catholic Cyber Militia.  Think that bothers me?  Heck, I’ve already had it slapped on a t-shirt!  I DON’T CARE! That said, fear of being branded will likely silence the less activist minded people who have been dealing with bad bishops for years.  That saddens me because they have children too and they’re being beaten to silence by the ad hominem attacks.

Fourth, the Church is one body, the Mystical Body of Christ, and you are commissioned by the Lord himself to promote and strengthen her unity.  But your actions and words too often seem intent on doing the opposite.  Encouraging a form of “synodality” that allows and promotes various doctrinal and moral options within the Church can only lead to more theological and pastoral confusion.  Such synodality is unwise and, in practice, works against collegial unity among bishops.

Moral relativism does this, too, which is what priests like Martin, Cupich, and McElroy love and promote.

Holy Father, this brings me to my final concern.  You have often spoken about the need for transparency within the Church.  You have frequently encouraged, particularly during the two past synods, all persons, especially bishops, to speak their mind and not be fearful of what the pope may think.  But have you noticed that the majority of bishops throughout the world are remarkably silent?  Why is this?  Bishops are quick learners, and what many have learned from your pontificate is not that you are open to criticism, but that you resent it.  Many bishops are silent because they desire to be loyal to you, and so they do not express – at least publicly; privately is another matter – the concerns that your pontificate raises.  Many fear that if they speak their mind, they will be marginalized or worse.

They’re definitely losing jobs left and right.  Thanks to those who continue to speak up on behalf of our families.  We’re tired of our children being used like chips in a high stakes poker game of who will fold first.

I have often asked myself: “Why has Jesus let all of this happen?”  The only answer that comes to mind is that Jesus wants to manifest just how weak is the faith of many within the Church, even among too many of her bishops.  Ironically, your pontificate has given those who hold harmful theological and pastoral views the license and confidence to come into the light and expose their previously hidden darkness.  In recognizing this darkness, the Church will humbly need to renew herself, and so continue to grow in holiness.

The premise that God decided to give us a period of very clear light and dark is probably a really good guess.  We’d have to be naïve to think that these forces weren’t around during the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  They were but they were much subtler. I’m glad they’re out there for all to see, I just wish they didn’t occupy a position of authority, which makes it much easier for them to lead people astray by offering them exactly what they want to hear instead of exactly what they need.  I’m hoping this is paving the way for a very strong pope who will take on filial correction as an art form.

Holy Father, I pray for you constantly and will continue to do so.  May the Holy Spirit lead you to the light of truth and the life of love so that you can dispel the darkness that now hides the beauty of Jesus’ Church.

Sincerely in Christ,

Thomas G. Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap.

July 31, 2017

Feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola

Apparently, Fr. Weinandy is no longer at his job at the USCCB and it’s being framed as political and a pre-VII vs. post-VII thing.

November 1, 2017

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has issued the following statement on the nature of dialogue within the Church today.

Full statement follows:

“The departure today of Fr. Thomas Weinandy, O.F.M., Cap., as a consultant to the Committee on Doctrine and the publication of his letter to Pope Francis gives us an opportunity to reflect on the nature of dialogue within the Church.  Throughout the history of the Church, ministers, theologians and the laity all have debated and have held personal opinions on a variety of theological and pastoral issues. In more recent times, these debates have made their way into the popular press. That is to be expected and is often good.  However, these reports are often expressed in terms of opposition, as political – conservative vs. liberal, left vs. right, pre-Vatican II vs Vatican II.  These distinctions are not always very helpful.”

Uh, where does Fr. Weinandy mention any of those things???  Until yesterday, I had never heard his name (maybe I should have) so I Googled.  I didn’t see one put down by Fr. Weinandy of Vatican II.  In fact, I saw him quoting docs from it.  And, really, who in the world would work for the USCCB who took the pre-Vatican II stance?  I’m reasonably sure he would have been gone long ago.

Christian charity needs to be exercised by all involved. In saying this, we all must acknowledge that legitimate differences exist, and that it is the work of the Church, the entire body of Christ, to work towards an ever-growing understanding of God’s truth.

I agree, but it doesn’t seem like you’ve exercised by this missive.

As Bishops, we recognize the need for honest and humble discussions around theological and pastoral issues. We must always keep in mind St. Ignatius of Loyola’s “presupposition” to his Spiritual Exercises: “…that it should be presumed that every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor’s statement than to condemn it.” This presupposition should be afforded all the more to the teaching of Our Holy Father.

This, of course, is just a partial quote. Let’s look at the whole thing.

It should be presupposed that every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor’s statement than to condemn it. Further, if one cannot interpret it favorably, one should ask how the other means it.  If that meaning is wrong, one should correct the other person with love; and, if this is not enough, one should search out every appropriate means, through which by understanding the statement in a good way, it may be saved.

Dubia, letters, dubia, letters.  Anyone? Bueller? This has been attempted on many occasions by many people.  They’re trying to solve the problems with Amoris Laetitia by seeking clarification, but they have gotten repeatedly kicked in the face for it!

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is a collegial body of bishops working towards that goal. As Pastors and Teachers of the Faith, therefore, let me assert that we always stand in strong unity with and loyalty to the Holy Father, Pope Francis, who “is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful” (LG, no. 23).”

Where is the lack of loyalty coming from?  Is it coming from all the letter and dubia authors???  Puh-lease!  Doesn’t he understand that bishops’ conferences all around the world are coming up with different interpretations of Amoris Laetitia???  How well does that work for unity?  For heaven’s sake, how about we read Lumen Gentium in its totality?  This is why so many of our clergy are appealing to the pope.  I’m sure for every query sent to the Holy Father there are thousands we haven’t seen.

This statement from Cardinal DiNardo is really, really weird in general and I’m kind of shocked it was made by him.  By all means, good cardinal, let’s discuss dialogue in the Church today but maybe we could not slander a seemingly good priest while we’re doing it because what he wrote and his characterization of it are completely different things.

Update:  Within hours of this going up I had more than one person who has knowledge of Fr. Weinandy say they were totally shocked that he wrote this and that he’s not really considered a staunch conservative when it comes to the Faith.  Like I wrote above, I couldn’t find anything showing a disposition portrayed by Cardinal DiNardo.