Michael Sean Winters: Fanboy


You have to see this riveting video of Cardinal Cupich

He talks of scandal, adult spirituality and libertarianism

Nov 13, 2017

by Michael Sean Winters Opinion

Last week, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago participated in a conversation with journalist E.J. Dionne at the University of Chicago’s Institute for Politics. The entire exchange was riveting, and I will deal with some of the things Cupich said presently. You can see the video here.

Well, if you consider “riveting” to mean “you can’t help but look when there’s a traffic accident”, I might agree.  However, this is just more of the same old thing from Cardinal (I still can’t believe I have to use that title) Cupich.

But, if you go to minute 24, you see the most important thing that Cupich said. Dionne began by asking about the controversy surrounding Fr. Tom Weinandy’s letter to Pope Francis, in which the former director of the bishops’ doctrinal committee suggested that the faithful were scandalized by Pope Francis. Cupich replied: “I don’t think that people are scandalized by the pope. I think they are being told to be scandalized. I think there is a difference.” To use a Catholic word: Bingo!

Yeah, that’s it.  You people who are scandalized – you’re all simply brainwashed.  You engage in group think and you don’t have a thought of your own in your head.  You’re being told by whoever that you must be scandalized.

Seriously? Does this really work with his readers? I’m reasonably sure that most of the people who are frustrated at this point are still “defend the Pope first” type of people.  In fact, the majority of the ones I see are ones who still put out the papal tweet of the day.  There might be a gleeful batch of “everyone’s wrong all the time” people out there, but most are just like me.  We want to be the “Rah-rah Pope!” types but are having trouble mustering the enthusiasm to do so and wish he would reverse on his stance on taking interview questions ahead of time.  The majority of us aren’t calling him the anti-Christ but instead find ourselves taking up the position of St. Vincent of Lerins, as Dan Hitchens points out here. (An uplifting read for those who are depressed over the state of the Church today.)  We’re the types who pay enough attention and do enough research to actually get upset when we see people twisting Church teaching (Ahem! Michael…), but yeah, we’re the ones who blindly obey when we are told to be scandalized.  Do I sound like someone who says “Yes, master!” in a zombie-like fashion? Gag.

I have complained about the thin agenda for this week’s U.S. bishops’ conference meeting. Here is something they need to discuss: How is it that people, who are in some sense on the bishops’ payroll or working at organizations with clear links to the church, are leading such a noisy opposition to Pope Francis and seem perfectly willing to break down the unity of the church in voicing that opposition?

I might point out that you are on the National catholic Reporter’s dole.  What, again, have you been doing for years over there?  Just because “United in dissent!” is your motto doesn’t mean that you are uniting the Church in any fashion.  Seriously (or, rather, more seriously) your publication declares itself right on the home page as “The independent news source.”  Unity hasn’t exactly been NcR’s goal, unless unity means uniting people in your dissenting way of thought.

So, just for fun I went to NcR and searched for Pope Benedict.  What was interesting to note is that John Allen, Jr., wrote about 95% of the articles on Pope Benedict. In short, it seemed the goal of NcR writers at the time to hide in their blanket forts and pretend Benedict XVI wasn’t even elected. Let’s see what some of the other “uniters” had to say:

https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/peace-pulpit/sept-17-2006-twenty-fourth-sunday-ordinary-time : But there’s another short passage that Jesus proclaimed, that it seems to me if Pope Benedict had been thinking about this, he would have been much more careful in what he said.


https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/where-i-stand/franz-where-are-you-when-we-need-you : The world has been debating for over a week now whether Pope Benedict XVI simply forgot that he was a universal pastor and international politician as well as past professor or simply didn’t care to attend to all three roles at one time. Whatever the case, in one university speech all three facets of this current papacy came into play.

In this speech, universal pastoral sensitivity, as well as the political responsibilities that come with the papacy, seem to many to have been abandoned. In their place, his long-time identity as professor — meaning someone who has the luxury, indeed, the responsibility to pursue abstract ideas free of the social consequences of their implications — had free rein.



And I think of another quite extraordinary example too. One that I think is really noteworthy. It’s something that Pope Benedict is about to do. In October of this year, he is going to beatify an Austrian peasant, Franz Jägerstätter. Probably most of us never heard of him. But Franz grew up not very far from where Joseph Ratzinger grew up. Joseph Ratzinger went into the Nazi army, became a soldier. Franz Jägerstätter refused to serve in the army, refused to kill. And of course he paid a price for it. He was beheaded on Aug. 9, 1943. But now he’s going to be proclaimed before the world as one who faithfully followed Jesus.

And it’s such a contrast and I think there’s great courage on the part of Pope Benedict. Because it’s so easy to see the difference. Joseph Ratzinger now our Holy Father followed Hitler’s orders went into the army, prepared to kill. Franz Jägerstätter refused and now is proclaimed a saint, one for us to imitate and to follow. (I’m throwing this one in because it’s supposed to show some sort of great divide between these two men in their actions against Hitler when there was more similarities than differences.  Maybe Bp. Gumbleton doesn’t know how to Google but it’s weird because he fancies himself the expert on Blessed Franz Jägerstätter.


https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/peace-pulpit/third-sunday-lent : “Even recently, Pope Benedict rewrote the prayer for Good Friday in which, in those long petitions that we use, we pray for the Jewish people, God’s chosen people. It was revised after the Vatican Council because the prayer before that was very insulting to Jewish believers. But now the Pope has revised it again and now it’s offensive.


https://www.ncronline.org/news/us-bishops-great-inertia :  Whole thing. Too much to copy.

In short, Michael, you live in a big ol’ glass house.  Stop playing with rocks.

The bishops know that EWTN and the National Catholic Register both regularly highlight any and all news stories about resistance to the pope. It seems that, some weeks, if Cardinal Raymond Burke sneezes, Edward Pentin has to write a story about it — and always the same story: It was a truly orthodox sneeze, conformed to the unchangeable and irreformable intrinsic nature of a sneeze, a sneeze worthy of St. John Paul II. Yet there is Bishop Robert Barron doing ads for the Register and saying it presents “the Catholic perspective” — not “a Catholic perspective” but the Catholic perspective. Does the good bishop read it?

Well that deserves a few “Pinocchios.”  Please, people, check out National Catholic Register yourself. Don’t let yourselves be brainwashed into believing the misrepresentation posted by Winters. (See what I did there? To use a Catholic word: Bingo!) Go ahead, I dare you!  I double-dare you!  It’s the last thing Winters wants.

First of all, Michael, are you really going to complain that the Register wants to report THE Catholic perspective as opposed to your “independent” Catholic perspective?  I wouldn’t think you would want to draw attention to this little disparity.

Next, I just scanned the front page of articles by Register staffers (see center column), and guess what?  One article on the Pope praying for earthquake victims, and ZERO articles on Cardinal Burke.  Yes, I understand that’s today and tomorrow could change, but I’m reasonably sure Cardinal Burke sneezed and I’m a tad bit disappointed no Pentin!  You got my hopes up,Michael!

By the way, I believe it’s your publication that has 3 different articles today on your perceived resistance.  Oops.

In years past, the bishops would look into “problems” if LifeSiteNews or the American Life League accused someone, somewhere, of not upholding their interpretation of a Catholic’s civic obligations. Remember the review of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development? Why was that necessary? Remember the kerfuffle over Catholic Relief Services? And the perpetual campaign against Catholic Charities? Will the bishops now concede that groups like LifeSiteNews and the American Life League and the Lepanto Institute can — and should — be ignored? That perhaps it might even behoove the bishops to make clear that these organizations do not speak for the Catholic Church.

OK, for those of you who don’t know, Catholic Relief Services passes out birth control.  Gee!  No reason to comment there.  Google, people.!  I’m perfectly fine with you checking the veracity of LifeSiteNews, American Life League, Catholic Whoever, but if there’s a problem with the story, how about you report what the problem is, Michael, rather than merely suggesting they are “not upholding their interpretation of a Catholic’s civic obligations.”  I think we’re actually obliged, as Catholics, not to cooperate with evil. Don’t you? Oh, wait, your group actually DOES want to cooperate with evil: https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/grace-margins/laudato-si-should-have-lifted-ban-contraception (Please note, NcR has no trouble being critical if it doesn’t jive with their thoughts.)

Catholic Campaign for Human Development and Catholic Charities?  They have similar skeletons.  Mr. Winters also forgot to mention the Bellarmine Foundation, which has done extensive work undermining the Church.  Here’s a link to help him with his list of organizations he feels should be investigated just on his say-so.  https://bellarmineforum.org/2015/09/12/why-not-give-to-the-catholic-campaign-for-human-development/

Again, Mr. Winters, how about you support your accusations with some facts on CCHD, Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services to rebut these “evil organizations” reporting on them.  What?  You can’t?  Please note this, people.  Mr. Winters’ accusations are the epitome of the saying, “Big hat, no cattle.”  You’re adults, verify yourselves.

Another thing Cupich said in the discussion is worth repeating. When discussing why some people are upset about Francis, Cupich said: “He’s calling people to have an adult spirituality, rather than being infantilized in their spirituality.” He noted that people who like telling other people what to do have trouble with the sense of responsibility to which Francis is calling us all.

Oh, yeah.  That would upset people like Cardinal Burke to no end.  No, seriously, he doesn’t believe in adult spirituality?!?  (insert rolling eyes)  Please.  And what is with “people who like telling other people what to do?”  In my world, we call that parenting, and it’s all about responsibility.  What Cardinal Cupich is really trying to say here is, “Those big old meanies who try to teach you what is right and what is wrong, don’t listen to them! I’m the only one you should listen to because, well, me!”

The codification of ecclesial practice and norms was a leitmotif of the pontificate of St. Pope John Paul II: He authorized the catechism, he updated the universal code of canon law, he issued a compendium of the church’s social doctrine. There is always a need for such codification: No society exists without laws and rules. But, that codification is there to serve the church’s essential mission of proclaiming Jesus Christ, our risen savior; it is not there for its own sake. As St. Paul wrote to Timothy, “the Word of God is not imprisoned.”

Babbling.  Translation: Just don’t worry about all those rules.  They’re so judgey.

As Pope Francis likes to say, “The Word still wants to take on flesh.” Rules and codes can imprison the Spirit if they replace the kerygma as the central focus of ecclesial life. The Lord said to Nicodemus, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.” That is not a vision of certainty or even clarity, and some people crave certainty and clarity.

As far as what “Pope Francis likes to say”,  I’ll have to take your word for the quote because I can’t find it anywhere but this article.  A link would have been nice. Anyone?  Regardless, it almost seems like we’re just going to throw a whole bunch of random thought, add a bible story and see if the confusion sticks.

One of the most constant refrains among the complaints against Pope Francis is that he sows confusion. Only if you have placed law or ideology at the heart of ecclesial life is his approach to governing the church confusing. He is calling to maturity. He calls for discernment, not libertinism, and discernment is always done with and within the church.

Huh?  Did he really use the word libertinism there?  Yes, I think it was it was a typo based on the title of the article but kind of funny.  Seems like that’s what the likes of Cupich, McElroy, and Martin are pushing for.  For the record, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone from “my side of the fence” put down discernment, and I’d put money on the fact that Michael Sean Winters probably couldn’t find anything to back this up.  Of course, what does Mr. Winters and club want us to discern?  Whether we can thwart the teachings of the Church and still be worthy of Heaven?  Good luck with that.

As Jesuit Fr. Jim Martin pointed out in responding to the Weinandy’s strange account of how he came to the conclusion that Jesus wanted him to write to the pope: “If one’s idea of discernment is seeking signs like this, then why would one trust, say, a divorced and remarried Catholic to consult his or her conscience about whether it is permissible to receive Communion? It is no wonder that discernment seems so arbitrary to some people. And so frightening.”

Let’s see.  Father Weinandy asking for a sign from God whether or not he should write a letter is the same as discerning whether or not someone living in sin should double-down on a mortal sin?  Yeah, that’s totally comparable.  For the life of me I cannot see why people act like Fr. Weinandy is mentally ill for asking for a sign.  How many saints have done the same?  Are they always given?  No, but some have been quite clearly given the signs they’ve asked for, which is a special gift.  I do think it funny, though, that the NcR crowd frowns on Fr. Weinandy’s “discernment” when we are told that Pope Francis wants us to discern.  Make up your mind.  Oh, I get it!  We’re just supposed to discern in a manner that brings us to the same conclusion as Cardinal Cupich, Bishop McElroy, Fr. Martin, and, I guess, Michael Sean Winters.  Got it.  That kind of discernment is just peachy.  No scoffing if you come to their conclusion.

By the way, I’ve got to laugh at the severe over use of discernment.  There’s not one in the bunch that can say “judgement”, which is what discernment actually means.  The “j” word, however, has been dumped on by this crowd so many times they’ve got to dance around it.

Cardinal Cupich’s conversation with Dionne contained other gems, such as his criticism of libertarianism. Dionne joked that the press had their headline: Cupich criticizes libertarianism at University of Chicago! His comments about abortion were very strong, which is always a bit of a risk in a secular venue. I encourage everyone to watch this video. Cupich is, par excellence, a bishop for the era of Francis: engaged, sympathetic, compelling. If only the rest of the body of bishops would follow his lead.

Drooling much?   I mean, the keyboard is probably pretty soggy at this point. Somebody’s getting a “Cardinal Cupich Fanboy” shirt for Christmas.   Well, as usual, Mr. Winters doesn’t fail to disappoint when it comes to linking to quotes, Church teaching, and facts, but hey, he hit the jackpot in conjecture, say something until it’s true and slander. Same old, same old.





I, Me & the Papacy

I’ve been doing a lot of reading trying to get back to the blogosphere after a nice vacation.  I don’t often have a chance to plow through everything listed on Catholic headline sites. I usually just pick what jumps out at me, so after subjecting myself to just about every story in today’s headlines, I’m a little depressed.  Looks bleak these days for the Faith, despite knowing the end of the story. 

So much jumped out at me it’s hard to know what to tackle first.  Maybe the vacation was just a little too long!  This, however, is the article that kept gnawing at me.  

Those who read me know that I usually don’t comment much on Pope Francis.  My main reason for not doing so is that I just don’t believe in spitting into the wind.  I’ve got a wide variety of friends – both in my personal life and in the blogosphere – who hold every opinion on him, everything from questioning his validity to thinking he is the savior.  I think I probably hold the opinion of many in the middle: on some days I’m happy, on others I’m befuddled, but this one struck me in the most negative of ways. Why?  I just got the sense that it was all about him. “I, me, I, me, I, me…” and that’s not really a feeling I want to have about our Pope.  I want to feel like the Pope is the guardian of the Church and not treating it as his personal sandbox and these comments don’t help.  To be fair, the question was on his interviews, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many I’s and Me’s coming from the person who is supposed to represent the Church, not himself.  From the very first quote:

I know this can make me vulnerable, but it is a risk I want to take,

I wanted to yell, “This isn’t about you, it’s about souls! People with evil intentions are using your interviews to prey on those souls!” To be fair, the quotes they expound on are often totally out of context, misquotes, etc. However, fool me once shame on you, fool me repeatedly and I might actually be the fool or so “rigid” in my ways that I can’t see that my ways might be a problem and require another tactic.

I might as well just go over all the quotes.  Next:

“The Lord ‘interviews’ the disciples who are walking discouraged,” he said. “For me, the interview is part of this conversation the church is having with men and women today.”

OK, but does anyone remember what happened after the “interview”?  There was a complete and utter smackdown for not getting it.

25 Then he said to them, Too slow of wit, too dull of heart, to believe all those sayings of the prophets! 26 Was it not to be expected that the Christ should undergo these sufferings, and enter so into his glory? 27 Then, going back to Moses and the whole line of the prophets, he began to interpret the words used of himself by all the scriptures.

He didn’t say, “Oh, you missed everything that you’ve been taught but that’s just fine.”  Where is the response Christ gave, the clear delineation of where they ditched all that had been taught?  That’s what we hope comes out of the dialogue, but it never quite seems to happen.  We want Pope Francis to be a true father and then break bread with the children.  As a parent, that’s what I want to see from my pope for my children.  Sure, meet them on the Road to Emmaus when they are struggling and confused, but then give them the Truth and remind them what Christ did for them and what He left for them – the Church and her Sacraments.

“The interviews and Q&A sessions “always have a pastoral value,” Pope Francis said, and are an important part of his ministry, just like inviting a small group of people to his early morning Mass each day.”

I’d quibble here.  They COULD have pastoral value.  I don’t think it means they always do, especially when the responses are not clear.  I mean, the Holy Father picked the Road to Emmaus story.  After Christ’s “interview,” he reiterated EVERYTHING they had been taught about the Christ from “Moses and the whole line of prophets.” 

The chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, where he lives, “is, let’s say, my parish. I need that communication with people.”

I don’t think ANYONE has a problem with him communicating with people.  The problem people find is his lack of clarity.  That’s kind of what the whole dubia thing was about.  The four cardinals REALLY had communication with their flock, their priests, other cardinals, bishops, etc.  They deserved the “dialogue” that the Holy Father speaks of, because they represent a HUGE number of Catholics, despite the Spadaro spin.

“There, too, on those trips, I like to look people in the eye and respond to their questions sincerely,” he wrote. “I know that I have to be prudent, and I hope I am. I always pray to the Holy Spirit before I start listening to the questions and responding.”

Cannot fault the method at all, but the problem is it’s been a problem more than a few times now.  It seems like when it’s gone awry so many times, it might not be prudential to do it again and again.  That said, who knows if the chaos that results ever gets back to him.  You’d think yes since it’s the topic of the interview, but who the heck really knows anymore.

This one really got me:

His favorite interviews, he said, are with small, neighborhood newspapers and magazines. “There I feel even more at ease,” the pope said. “In fact, in those cases I really am listening to the questions and concerns of common people. I try to respond spontaneously, in a conversation I hope is understandable, and not with rigid formulas.”

Oh, how I wish that were true all the way around.  A couple comments on that. First, he should ALWAYS be on guard. Next, the press represents the common people?!  And then we’re back to “rigid.” Was Christ being “rigid” when he laid out every word spoken about him by the prophets?  I just wish he understood that clarity is good, clarity is not rigidity.

“For me,” he said, “interviews are a dialogue, not a lesson.”

Anything jump into anyone’s mind?  How many times did the disciples call Christ “teacher?”  I don’t remember him being called “dialoguer.”  Honestly, I want him to be the ultimate pope.  I want him do things like pay his own hotel bill and call “gender theory” a nuclear weapon, but these quotes didn’t bring me there.

Even when the questions are submitted in advance, the pope said he does not prepare his answers. Watching the person ask the question and responding directly is important.

OK, you’ve got the questions in advance.  They’re not going to change, but one can’t prepare a well thought out response that might be less easily twisted and still listen and respond directly to the question???

And finally…

Yes, I am afraid of being misinterpreted,” he said. “But, I repeat, I want to run this pastoral risk.

Why would anyone want to run the risk of being misinterpreted and run the risk of souls being led astray???  Look, I’m only human but I just don’t get it.  If my child comes to me with a weighty question, you’d bet I’d take the question in advance if I could get my hands on it!  If I had the opportunity, I wouldn’t go with, “I’m trying to be a genuine, authentic parent and have a genuine, authentic dialogue with my child, so I’m going to pass on the opportunity to be prepared and take a parental roll of the dice!”  That’s really what we’re talking about here. I’m not going to play craps when a soul is at stake.  Would I be “rigid” or loving with my want of clarity for the soul of a child I carried and raised?  My kids would probably go with rigid.  Ha!  That said, my children, just like the rest of us, don’t always want the truth, right?  We want the nice cushy road.  I don’t understand why the truth can’t be given with the love surrounding it like a halo.  Like so many, I just don’t get the logic of Pope Francis some days. 

The article on papal interviews wasn’t the only story that caught my eye.  In fact, this story hit the very same day.

Now, Pope John Paul II visited a prison (and the guy who shot him), and Pope Benedict XVI visited a prison, but Pope Francis decided to invite 20 prisoners out of prison to lunch. Guess what?  Two prisoners of unknown and possibly dangerous convictions escaped.  I cannot help but see this incident as symbolic of what’s going on in the Church today.  The Holy Father wants to extend what he thinks are new and improved overtures of kindness to some who are sure to feel “marginalized” (the Jesuits’ favorite word!), and some of the more nefarious “inmates” in the Church decide to run wild (ahem, Fr. Martin!).  Now, do I think these overtures are anything but genuine and done out of love?  My guess is that they are. (I’m sure some of you are about to throw “naïve” and “pollyana” at me.  Get your own blog!) That’s really not the point.  That said, I can very well say that prisoners escaping is not a good outcome.  People with evil ideas will do what they are going to do, but it doesn’t mean we have to make it any easier on them to do so.  My feeling is “no.”

When I was wondering what other papal interviews looked like, I came across this interview of Pope Benedict.  When he says “I” and “Me” he’s putting himself in the role of the faithful, not the Pope.  I’m throwing it in because it was great and touches on what we need from the Church and some of the topics of this week like Luther.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying the pope is a heretic (not in my job description).  I’m not saying he’s got evil intentions (out of my purview).  I’m not speaking to anything doctrinal or canonical the Pope may or may not have done (well, well above my pay grade).  I am speaking to this article and the Holy Father’s remarks expressed in it, and they concern me and I’m betting it concerns some of you.  I’m just here to say I feel your pain and you totally have reason to feel like you look like a confused German shepherd these days.  This too shall pass.

confused shepherd

For those feeling a bit, let’s be honest, annoyed, cheer up!  We’re either in end times as some have said, or we’ve got miles to go.  Either way, pray for the Church and pray for the world. Avail yourself of the sacraments and let’s pray that the Holy Father gives some clarity to our own personal “dubias” as well as those already stated.  I can’t imagine anyone having a problem praying for clarity (well, except for those who ascribe to the “confound and confuse” method) no matter what your feelings on the Holy Father.


Top Things Wrong with America’s Top 5

America Magazine, that is. Fr. James Martin, SJ, (because what other order would put out this level of hooey?) has spoken.  Not surprisingly, he has produced an odd little video starring the editors of America.  I’m thinking they might not have actually read Amoris Laetitia, but regardless, this video has little to do with the actual document and it’s got this really annoying disco soundtrack, to boot.  Let go of the 70s, Fr. Martin!  You can do it!

Besides the editors of America, I’m guessing more than a few nominal Catholics haven’t actually read the document, nor will they.  They’ll just take the Fr. Martin and ilk paraphrasing of it as the fifth gospel.  Wonder why the editors of America actually don’t encourage you to read it???  Try “Let’s just keep the flock ignorant and tell them what we think it means.”

First, we all need to give a big thanks to One Mad Dad who, through his technical wizardry, captured the transcript so we don’t have to actually listen to the background music. If you want to watch it, just google the title and Fr. James Martin, SJ and it’ll pop right up.

Here we go! 

Top 5 – Amoris Laetitia

Fr. Martin kicks off this comedy of errors: Pope Francis’ groundbreaking new document, Amoris Laetitia, “The Joy of Love,” asks the Church to meet people where they are, consider the complexities of people’s lives and respect people’s consciences when it comes to moral decisions. The apostolic exhortation is mainly a document that reflects on and encourages families, but it is also the Pope’s reminder that the Church should avoid simply judging people and imposing rules on them without considering their struggles. His goal is to help families, in fact, everyone, experience God’s love. All this may require what the Pope calls “new pastoral methods.” So, let’s look at the top five takeaways from Amoris Laetitia.

First thing, please don’t use these “5 takeaways” as the document.  That would be plain silly.  If you want to start by taking these sheeples’ comments and using “ctrl f” to search the document, you won’t find any of the “takeaways” accurately quoted in the document.  Can you say “spin,” Fr. Martin?  It should be relatively easy, since you are the master of it.  Let’s just go over some of the ridiculous.

Right off the bat, Fr. Martin uses that catchy phrase proponents of moral relativism love: “Meet people where they are.”  Quite frankly, this has always been just a fluffy way to state the obvious.  Where else do you meet people?  Of course, they’re not going for the “greet” version of meet.  They’re talking more about “coming down to their level.”  What Fr. Martin doesn’t say is that he pretty much wants the Church to stay down at that level.  This annoys me to the hilt, because I am a mother and a teacher and have been encouraging people to “grow up” instead of staying at some stunted plateau.  Does anyone really think the Holy Father wants us to remain spiritually stunted?  Well, I suppose those who think sin is determined merely by what we think it is are hoping that’s what he wants.  However, if you take the document in its entirety, how could anyone in good conscience say that?  Internal forum, maybe?

Really, the phrase “internal forum” needs to be discussed before moving on.  The dissenters from Church teaching would have you believe this means you can have a discussion with yourself and decide if you think your sin is really a sin.  “So what do you think, self?  Do you really think that God thinks sleeping with someone outside of marriage is a sin?  Nope?  OK, we’re good.  Bring on Communion!”  Seriously, people actually believe this, and the Fr. Martins of the world aren’t going to do a darn thing to dispel that error.  Let’s just look at what it really means, because that ain’t it.  

It’s all about marriage and the family in Amoris Laetitia, so let’s go with these explanations: http://itsjustdave1988.blogspot.com/2005/05/internal-forum-solution-instead-of.html



Thanks, gentlemen!  You notice that they actually back up their definitions with Canon Law and previous popes?  Fr. Martin can’t actually do that, because it would undermine his argument. 

Next, Fr. Martin says the Holy Father asks us to “respect peoples’ consciences when it comes to moral decisions.”  Not so much.  We should take them into consideration, and more often than not, there’s the directive for pastors to help rightly form consciences.  Fr. Martin consistently ignores the latter and distorts the former as “we must respect peoples’ actions based on their consciences.”  Would Fr. Martin say that about a murderer?!?!?  My guess is not so much.  He doesn’t want you to think about applying this theory across the board.  He only wants you to apply it to his pet sins.

Not to be outdone by Father Martin, Associate Editor Olga Segura continues:

The Church needs to understand families and individuals in all their complexity. The Church needs to meet people where they are, so pastors should avoid judgments that don’t take into account the complexity of various situations. In other words, one size does not fit all and black-and-white thinking is not helpful. People are encouraged to live by the Gospel, but they should also be welcomed into a Church that appreciates their struggles and treats them with mercy. Overall, Pope Francis calls for an approach of accompaniment.

Actions can be judged regardless of the situation, Olga.  What cannot be judged is the culpability of a person.  That’s what Amoris Laetitia says starting on paragraph 303.  It doesn’t say that “irregular situations” are good.  Irregular situations are never good, but the culpability in the situation may mitigate the person committing the act.  This is and has always been Church teaching.  So, when Olga says, “In other words [OMM: you know there’s going to be trouble with this] one size does not fit all and black and white thinking isn’t helpful,” she is flat out wrong.  The “rules” DO fit us all.  The only thing that isn’t a one size fits all is our culpability based on how one’s conscience is formed.  Is it formed well?  Is it poorly formed? And what’s the pastoral remedy put forth by the Pope for all of this?  HELPING PEOPLE TO RIGHTLY FORM THEIR CONSCIENCES! 

Olga goes onto say that people should live by the gospel, “but they should be welcomed into a church that appreciates their struggles and treats them with mercy.”  Wouldn’t we all say “Duh!” to that?  Sadly, that’s really not where the America crowd is headed.  Their idea of mercy is to rubberstamp all sorts of immoral behavior.  The Pope urges the Church to accompany sinners NOT THE SIN.

Executive Editor Tim Reidy adds:

The role of conscience is paramount in decision-making. Individual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church’s practice. In other words, the traditional belief that conscience is the final arbiter of the moral life needs to be recovered. The Church is supposed to form consciences, not to replace them, says the Pope. And while it is true a person’s conscience needs to be formed by Church teaching, our conscience does much more than just follow rules. Conscience also recognizes with a certain moral security what God asks of us.

Um, hello? When did it get lost and who lost it? I’m reasonably sure that was Tim, not me.  The problem with his statement is that he doesn’t now nor did he ever understand this traditional belief.  I’m thinking he missed this:


Authority in this case, the Magisterium, may well speak of matters moral, but only in the sense of presenting conscience with material for its own deliberation. Conscience would retain, however, the final word. Some authors reduce conscience in this its aspect of final arbiter to the formula: conscience is infallible.

Nonetheless, at this point, a contradiction can arise. It is of course undisputed that one must follow a certain conscience or at least not act against it. But whether the judgment of conscience or what one takes to be such, is always right, indeed whether it is infallible, is another question. For if this were the case, it would mean that there is no truth—at least not in moral and religious matters, which is to say, in the areas which constitute the very pillars of our existence. For judgments of conscience can contradict each other. Thus there could be at best the subject’s own truth, which would be reduced to the subject’s sincerity. No door or window would lead from the subject into the broader world of being and human solidarity. Whoever thinks this through will come to the realization that no real freedom exists then and that the supposed pronouncements of conscience are but the reflection of social circumstances. This should necessarily lead to the conclusion that placing freedom in opposition to authority overlooks something. There must be something deeper, if freedom and, therefore, human existence are to have meaning.

 Managing Editor Kerry Weber:

Divorced and remarried Catholics should be more fully integrated into the Church. Divorced and remarried people are not excommunicated. Rather, they are members of our Church. We can help them feel more welcome in the Church in a few pastoral ways, says the Pope: by looking at the specifics of their situation, by having priests counsel them privately in what’s called an “internal forum,” and by respecting that the final decision about their level of participation in the Church is ultimately left to their conscience.

Oh, honey, does what you said sound like this? 

http://w2.vatican.va/content/dam/francesco/pdf/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20160319_amoris-laetitia_en.pdf 299.

I am in agreement with the many Synod Fathers who observed that “the baptized who are divorced and civilly remarried need to be more fully integrated into Christian communities in the variety of ways possible, while avoiding any occasion of scandal.  The logic of integration is the key to their pastoral care, a care which would allow them not only to realize that they belong to the Church as the body of Christ, but also to know that they can have a joyful and fruitful experience in it.  They are baptized; they are brothers and sisters; the Holy Spirit pours into their hearts gifts and talents for the good of all.  Their participation can be expressed in different ecclesial services, which necessarily requires discerning which of the various forms of exclusion currently practised in the liturgical, pastoral, educational and institutional framework, can be surmounted.  Such persons need to feel not as excommunicated members of the Church, but instead as living members, able to live and grow in the Church and experience her as a mother who welcomes them always, who takes care of them with affection and encourages them along the path of life and the Gospel.  This integration is also needed in the care and Christian upbringing of their children, who ought to be considered most important”.

Again, “internal forum” doesn’t mean what you propose it means. 

Associate Editor Ashley McKinless:

We should no longer talk about people “living in sin.” In a sentence, [OMM: a drastically altered sentence with some fancy omissions] reflecting a new approach, the Pope says, “It can no longer simply be said that those living in ‘irregular situations’ are living in a state of mortal sin.” Other members of non-traditional families, like single mothers, need to be offered understanding, comfort, and acceptance. When it comes to these people, the Church needs to stop applying moral laws as if, in the Pope’s vivid words, “they were stones to throw at a person’s life.”

Whoa!  Whoa!  Whoa!   Young lady, by altering just a few words, you not only misquoted the pope, you completely changed the meaning of the statement the Pope made.  Let’s look at what he ACTUALLY said (emphasis will show what this babe did):

301. For an adequate understanding of the possibility and need of special discernment in certain “irregular” situations, one thing must always be taken into account, lest anyone think that the demands of the Gospel are in any way being compromised.  The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations.  Hence it is 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.


305. For this reason, a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in “irregular” situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives.

Are America followers really that gullible? Nowhere did it say the Church cannot apply moral laws, yet that is what the America staff would like you to believe.  It says it’s not enough to simply apply the laws.  Again – DUH!  Honestly, I’m not sure what the Pope dealt with in his country, but I can’t remember the last time I heard of a priest saying, “You are sinning.  Go away!” 

And, really, single moms?!?! What the heck was that?  What Ashley and the other editors really wanted to say was homosexual couples, but they knew that analogy would never fly, so they threw out the most sympathetic red-herring they could find. 

Editor-in-Chief Matt Malone, SJ:

Traditional teachings on marriage are affirmed, but the Church should not burden people with unrealistic expectations.

Errrrrk!  Stop right there.  Can anyone show me where that is in Amoris Laetitia?  I didn’t remember reading it.  Went back and did a search and cannot find it anywhere.  Last time I checked, all things were possible with God, not unrealistic.  Does America really think the Church is asking us to do an impossible thing?

Father Malone continued:

As the Church has always taught, marriage is between one man and one woman, marriage is indissoluble, and same-sex marriage is not considered. At the same time, the Church has often put upon people what Francis calls an artificial theological ideal of marriage that is removed from people’s everyday lives. At times, these ideals have been a tremendous burden. And to that end, priests need to be better-trained to understand the complexities of people’s married lives.

And the actual statement?

36. We also need to be humble and realistic, acknowledging that at times the way we present our Christian beliefs and treat other people has helped contribute to today’s problematic situation.  We need a healthy dose of self-criticism.  Then too, we often present marriage in such a way that its unitive meaning, its call to grow in love and its ideal of mutual assistance are overshadowed by an almost exclusive insistence on the duty of procreation.  Nor have we always provided solid guidance to young married couples, understanding their timetables, their way of thinking and their concrete concerns.  At times we have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families.  This excessive idealization, especially when we have failed to inspire trust in God’s grace, has not helped to make marriage more desirable and attractive, but quite the opposite.

Again, ask yourselves why there are so reticent to accurately quote Amoris Laetitia. Also note that the Pope’s writing has nothing to do with same-sex marriage, and the attempt to tie it to that is nothing more than dishonest.  Nice try, America editors!  Nice try!

Want to see what it actually says about same-sex marriage and same-sex “union”?

  1. No one can think that the weakening of the family as that natural society founded on marriage will prove beneficial to society as a whole.  The contrary is true: it poses a threat to the mature growth of individuals, the cultivation of community values and the moral progress of cities and countries.  There is a failure to realize that only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman has a plenary role to play in society as a stable commitment that bears fruit in new life.  We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage.  No union that is temporary or closed to the transmission of life can ensure the future of society.  But nowadays who is making an effort to strengthen marriages, to help married couples overcome their problems, to assist them in the work of raising children and, in general, to encourage the stability of the marriage bond?

“…de facto or same-sex unions …may not simply be equated with marriage.”  Wait, didn’t you try to do exactly that, Fr. Malone? You just slid it right in there.  In fact, Father, same-sex unions are not only “not considered,” as you say, they are not considered marriage.  Period.  End of story.  The Holy Father does not equate it with marriage.

Aaaaand Fr. Martin brings it all home for those not likely to read the document:

Overall, Amoris Laetitia asks the Church to help families of every sort and people in every state of life. They need to know that, even in their imperfections, they can be homes for God’s love, as well as places where people will experience that love. The new apostolic exhortation offers a vision of a pastoral and merciful Church that welcomes and encourages families and all people to experience the joy of love.

You know what, Father Martin? You’re doing what you always do.  You make these statements, but you never suggest how.  We can only find joy of love in TRUTH.  Yes, there is reality in our imperfections, but there shouldn’t be satisfaction in them.  This doesn’t lead us to the truth.

Moms are always going to go back to the analogy of what happens when you touch a hot stove.  If you touch it, it’s going to burn you.  In your reality, editorial staff of America, it’s only going to burn you if you think it’s hot.  This isn’t the Truth.  It’s going to burn you no matter how you perceive it.  Now, do we need to teach our children this by letting them get burned? Do we tell them they should just never attempt cooking and to stay out of the kitchen? Not if we are a loving parent.  We explain it over and over again, if necessary.  That is the loving course of action.  Just letting our fellow Catholics “touch the hot stove” to form their conscience isn’t the loving way to go.  It could end up as a minor injury or it could end up as a permanent, painful scar. We must explain the reality of what will happen over and over again.  Is a parent judgmental to give that “homily” time and again?  Nope.  They are protective.  That’s how our pastors should be.  They should teach us over and over again until we understand, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us.  They should help us rightly form our consciences so we can understand the truth that brings us true joy.