The Immaculate Conception was formally declared as a dogma of the faith by Bl. Pope Pius IX in 1854 by a Solemn Definition with his document “Ineffabilis Deus“. Some people have gotten the idea that this came out of the blue, as it were, and elevated an old dispute into an article of faith, or created the liturgical celebration of it. This is actually not the case. Continue reading
We all knew this Synod was going to be bad. I have warned people privately that it would be a watershed moment of Francis’ pontificate. Lately I’ve been given to creating similes to correctly encapsulate Francis, and this latest one I think is the most apt, as we shall see. “Francis is to the Church, what Yoko Ono was to the Beatles.”
It was clear from the beginning that this synod was rigged to produce the effect that Francis wanted. A source I have, who is actually in Rome, told me that the African Bishops as a block loudly protested many of the Synod proceedings, but were shut down Ottaviani style. There is little better that I could say than what Chris Ferrara has said on the Synod:
Let us call this Synod what it is: a secretive, manipulated, progressive-dominated cabal, led by septuagenarian and octogenarian diehards of the conciliar “renewal,” who are rushing to finish their “work”—so rudely interrupted by Pope Benedict—lest death release the Church from their clutches before they are quite done.
So where are we at now? Let’s look at what is a synod, what this document actually is, its contents and then consider where all this is going.
What the heck is a synod?
A Synod is a gathering of bishops to discuss matters of faith or discipline, which can range from advisory to being part of the ordinary magisterium, such as some early synods. They fall short of an ecumenical council in their substance, and their authority is more or less what a Pope chooses to give them. Historically it was an easy way to discuss difficulties without recourse to an ecumenical Council, which in the early Church were called by the emperor, or by the Pope who then pushed for the Emperor’s consent, as was the case with Pope St. Leo the Great, who pushed the Roman empress Pulcheria for an ecumenical council at Chalcedon. Since Vatican II, however, the Synod has been little more than a mini-council continuing Vatican II, where all the Bishops get together and pat themselves on the back for what a wonderful job they are doing in the Church [sic]. Michael Davies, I think, correctly described this process as the abandoning of the Ecclesia Docens (Teaching Church) for the Ecclesia loquens (talking Church).
Typically after a Synod, the Pope commissions a document to more or less summarize what took place, and then writes a post synodal exhoration, like Pope Benedict’s Charitas in Veritate.
What is the document making the headlines?
The current document which we are talking about is the Relatio post Disceptationem, literally, the report after the debate, although, per what Pope Francis declared prior to the Synod’s opening, the original is Italian rather than Latin, which leaves me reading with my dictionary since my Italian, though decent, is not pitch perfect. However, I have noticed that the Vatican translators have done a good job, showing that when a document is to their liking, they will happily and promptly translate, unlike in Benedict’s pontificate. It is not infallible, nor is it an official act of the magisterium. It does, however, reflect the Pope’s thinking, and constitutes the direction which he would like to go. Which, moreover, begs the question, how did a 6,000 word document get written by 6 men and get translated very well into multiple languages that quickly? Unless, as many analysts reckon, it was preplanned.
Liberal groups are hailing this document as a wonderful step forward, while conservative and pro-life groups, even the head of the Polish Bishop’s conference, have called this document a betrayal. These are strong words against the document from groups that normally eschew the slightest criticism of the Pope, and we shall see why.
The Relatio, declares:
From the moment that the order of creation is determined by orientation towards Christ, it becomes necessary to distinguish without separating the various levels through which God communicates the grace of the covenant to humanity. Through the law of gradualness (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 34), typical of divine pedagogy, this means interpreting the nuptial covenant in terms of continuity and novelty, in the order of creation and in that of redemption. (no. 13)
What is this “Gradualness”? It would appear, the Relatio is saying juxtaposing two entirely contrary things. Continuity, and Novelty, which do not go together, at least in the same respect. How can marriage be interpreted in terms of both continuity (i.e. faithfulness to God’s commands) and novelty (changing them to suit man?). One might argue it means dealing with new novelties, but the next paragraph makes it abundantly clear that they mean novelties to suit man.
Jesus Himself, referring to the primordial plan for the human couple, reaffirms the indissoluble union between man and woman, while understanding that “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning” (Mt 19,8). In this way, He shows how divine condescension always accompanies the path of humanity, directing it towards its new beginning, not without passing through the cross. (no 14., my emphasis)
Notice the demonic inversion. They take what, in the clear meaning of the Gospel, is a rebuke against the Pharisees, and they turn it into “understanding”. Tolerance. This is just an act of poisoning the well, for, they are positing as a starting point the “tolerant”, “non-judgmental” and “pastoral” Jesus, like unto that creature we call the average post Vatican II bishop (at least the ones who don’t get fired, or receive Apostolic Visitations!). Moreover, no. 13 above quotes John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, itself a document following a family synod. Let’s see what his notion of “Gradualness” is:
Married people too are called upon to progress unceasingly in their moral life, with the support of a sincere and active desire to gain ever better knowledge of the values enshrined in and fostered by the law of God. They must also be supported by an upright and generous willingness to embody these values in their concrete decisions. They cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. “And so what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with ‘gradualness of the law,’ as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations. In God’s plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness, and this lofty vocation is fulfilled to the extent that the human person is able to respond to God’s command with serene confidence in God’s grace and in his or her own will.” (Familiaris Consortio, no. 34).
So you see, what the manipulators of this Synod have done, before we even get to the troubled sections on homosexuality, is to twist the previous teaching of John Paul II, to make it look like they have a saint in their camp. This is for the obvious reason that the goals outlined by the “Synod Party”, as I have called them, are explicitly contrary to John Paul II.
There is a lot of irony in this. It is Francis who canonized John Paul II, and now it is he and his regime who are discarding the late “sainted” Pontiff’s teaching, because it is inconvenient to the “new Gospel”. What was the point in canonizing JPII except to baptize his personalist and phenomenological writings? Well, that gets sticky as well. The point of canonizing JPII had nothing at all to do with the glory of the Church, or his sanctity, or any other consideration. It was purely a canonization of Vatican II, whose spirit, according to Cardinal Kasper, is alive and well at the Synod.
So the “official” Synod language has moved to gradations of following God’s commands. Just as was declared in the first week “We must not talk about living in sin, that is harsh language.” The teaching of John Paul II, on that rare occasion it was clear, namely on life and family issues, is cast aside for the emotive feeling of those who disobey Christ’s commands, amplified by the media presentation and the pet beliefs of the minority of cardinals handling these things.
What I want to do, however, is avoid the scandalous passages on homosexuality. There are numerous other websites doing that. Anyone with a clear sensus catholicus knows there is a great difference between treating homosexuals with respect in a civil and public sphere, and at the same time to welcome them into our homes and communities as though their behavior were perfectly acceptable in light of the Gospel.
The real problem is that no one is talking about the fact that the “homosexual identity” is a completely modern creation. People who engaged in homosexuality in antiquity, or the middle ages, or the renaissance, did not identify as “gay” or anything like it. They were often married (to women), and homosexual acts were something they engaged in on the side in limited circumstances. This is more or less how sodomy occurred, and its enforcement historically was sporadic based on how public the business became, not only in Europe, but even in Medieval Islamic societies. There was no such thing as a “gay identity”. The emergence of that said identity, apart from any question of the orientation (which the Catechism teaches in unity with the tradition are disordered) has been something totally different from how homosexual activity affected society in the past. The “identity” has arisen with an animus against western tradition, the institution of marriage and the Church.
What is clear about the “homosexual passages” of the Relatio, is that the man who wrote the document, Cardinal Edö, is scrambling to show how he didn’t write it, didn’t know anything about it! Maybe that’s true, but there is someone who did know something about it, and approved it, as he approved the 6 commissioners who wrote the document, that is Pope Francis himself. Anyone who would do anything but lay the blame for this debacle at the feet of the Pope is simply delusional. Those responsible for the Relatio, are canonically speaking modernists. They are actually trying to harm the Church. As some have noted, the purpose of the homosexual clauses are not to force them into the final document or make them binding somehow. The clear majority of the Synod will not allow it. What they want to do is wound the Church’s unity, and push the majority who are opposed to them on the defensive. This is exactly the tactic followed at Vatican II in the rejection of the preparatory schema. For, all opposition to those passages in the Relatio document (a novelty because usually you don’t release anything until the end) will be read in light of what already came out, and appear reactionary or damage control. The spirit of the world has already seen the first, and it will be treated as doctrine when it has as much weight as a fart during a sermon. (Sorry for being crass, but the analogy is nice given the contents of this document).
Moreover, not only will they put pressure on the Synod Fathers, but it will aid in overlooking the debate on communion for the divorced and remarried (i.e. those who, by the words of Christ Himself, are committing adultery), or to be used to force a concession on the matter. The fact is this synod is an act of manipulation, and a very obvious one at that.
Demonization of Africa
In any other context, the attack on Africa and Africans would be held as racist, unacceptable, immoral, etc. But when it is coming from the Cardinal patron of homosexual and the divorced and remarried, namely Kasper the friendly wolf, it is perfectly acceptable.
Indeed, in an interview today, Cardinal Kasper said:
Cardinal Kasper: The problem, as well, is that there are different problems of different continents and different cultures. Africa is totally different from the West. Also Asian and Muslim countries, they’re very different, especially about gays. You can’t speak about this with Africans and people of Muslim countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo. For us, we say we ought not to discriminate, we don’t want to discriminate in certain respects.
ZENIT: But are African participants listened to in this regard?
Cardinal Kasper: No, the majority of them [who hold these views won’t speak about them].
ZENIT: They’re not listened to?
Cardinal Kasper: In Africa of course [their views are listened to], where it’s a taboo.
ZENIT: What has changed for you, regarding the methodology of this synod?
I think in the end there must be a general line in the Church, general criteria, but then the questions of Africa we cannot solve. There must be space also for the local bishops’ conferences to solve their problems but I’d say with Africa it’s impossible [for us to solve]. But they should not tell us too much what we have to do. (Source)
If that is not one of the most arrogant and condescending remarks from a Churchman, I don’t know exactly what is. Further, it is proof that what the modernists most criticize they are the most guilty of. You have seen it in Francis, warning people not to be obsessed with themselves, then he goes out of his way to get a biography of himself published. He lashes out about not judging, and judges all the time! The modernists criticize the pre-Vatican II Church for being closed minded, unwilling to look at other opinions, and though this is false, it is exactly true of the modernists post-Vatican II. Why must the Africans “shut up”? Because they are more orthodox and faithful to the gospel, at the very least on these points.
The Francis regime and their manipulators knew that coming in. This is why the beginning of the Relatio declares:
Some cultural and religious contexts pose particular challenges. In African societies the practice of polygamy remains, along with, in some traditional contexts, the custom of “marriage in stages”. In other contexts the practice of “arranged marriages” persists. (Relation, no. 7)
Now, is that strictly true? Is it true amongst Christians in Africa? Here I know several people from Nigeria and Kenya, who are in a position to know about a lot of these issues. The fact is amongst Christians in Africa, this is a minority problem. Polygamy in particular, is more of a problem among the Muslims, since it is permitted by their religion. Many African cultures have a latent cultural Islam left over from the middle ages, even though they are pagan rather than Islamic.
Nevertheless, it is a preemptive strike against African bishops. You can’t tell us what to do, you have these problems! This should shatter the myth of openness and inclusion.
I could go on, but this has already exceeded what I intended, and it is probably wearisome. I have several other posts coming on these topics soon. To wrap it up however, it is worthwhile to revisit prophecy. Bishops will oppose Bishops, and Cardinals will oppose Cardinals. Here we are.
“And the church more or less shrugs and say, “Look, we don’t take our agenda from the polls. We don’t take our agenda from what the world is saying. Our agenda is given to us by the God who made us, and we must be faithful to him instead of what we’re– what we’re hearing’ from the world.””
-Cardinal Timothy Dolan (source)
Michael Voris, you can love him, or you can hate him, and some people do hate him. I would put down good money that the hierarchy does not care for him all that much. Yet recently, he kicked off a bit more of a response from defenders of the bishops’ failed leadership and policies.
For the record, I do not care all that much for Voris’ style. It speaks to some people and is probably good for them, but I don’t have time for bullet points, even when he’s right. I’m a theologian, I look up propositions in the manuals, in St. Thomas, trace their reasoning and source, and apply it to today’s problems. In this case, however, I feel he was right on the money, and his response is something that, frankly, every Catholic should feel. I am talking about Voris’ response to Archbishop Timothy Dolan’s decision to continue supporting and even lead the St. Patrick’s day parade, when that same parade has decided to allow practicing and proud homosexuals to march and display their banners, ostensibly in honor of St. Patrick.
In response to the decision, Dolan noted:
“I have no trouble with the decision at all,” Cardinal Dolan said at an evening news conference announcing his appointment as grand marshal. “I think the decision is a wise one.” (Source)
There are many other things we can note about Dolan, but Voris does it well himself:
Now, Voris uses some strong language, which is rather offensive to the church of NICE. He tells Cardinal Dolan that he is “in the grip of the devil”, and “wicked”. Well, strong as it is, it is not far off the mark. I think myself that it has come time to call out the type of things that are going on the Church for what they are, they are evil.Meet Timothy Cardinal Dolan
I recall the first time I became aware of who Cardinal Dolan was during his installation in Milwaukee after that godly loving sodomite, Archbishop Weakland, had produced so much destruction there. Dolan gave his first sermon wearing a cheese head.
Dolan came from the St. Louis diocese, and for a while was in charge of the North American College in Rome, until he was elevated to become the Archbishop of Milwaukee to replace good ol’ Rembert, known for his cathedral wreckovation and squandering hundreds of thousands of dollars of diocesan money to keep old boyfriends quiet. At first Dolan appeared to step into the mold of his predecessor, but then appeared more conservative. I suppose many breathed a sigh of relief that he wasn’t gay. While from all appearances he attempted to help abuse victims while in Milwaukee, and we should not doubt his legitimate charity and concern for them, there are a number of anomalies.
Not to take a story exclusively from the New York Times, I instead am going to what is available of documents that have been released. Interestingly, as the diocese filed for bankruptcy, Dolan at the same time asked for and received permission to move over $57 million dollars to a cemetery trust fund to hide it from victims. Thus in one courtroom they are arguing that they are bankrupt, and in another that they are not. When groups criticized Dolan for this he dismissed it as old falsehoods. Yet, how false was it? The documents proved this was true. Now, to be fair, if we were to put ourselves in Dolan’s shoes, we might look at the situation this way. The diocese has obligations to retiring clergy who did not commit horrible crimes, to charitable works, payment of staff, health insurance, and the legal obligation to maintain cemetaries? We want to protect that don’t we? Why should everyone else suffer on account of these monstrous clergy. Such an argument has its merits, if that is in fact the reasoning, but in light of what went on the demands of justice require it be set aside.
For, if it is a matter of paying diocesan obligations, one could require Weakland to start recuperating the vast sums he spent on his boyfriends, pinch pennies, eliminate waste, the types of things bureaucracies hate doing. It should be simple, indeed, to realize that those who have in fact been abused by priests deserve some kind of compensation, as a modicum of justice. There is one diocese in this country that never had these sorts of problems and that is Lincoln, Nebraska. The reason is, Bishop Flavin, who was extremely progressive btw, heard that two of his priests had abused children. He investigated it, found out it was true, defrocked them and handed them over to the civil authorities. Then he went to the families and said, ‘what can we do to make this right?’ No shuffling priests around, or ignoring victims, or hiding money in trust funds. And… Lincoln Nebraska has never had a sex abuse lawsuit.
While that logic seems ineluctable to us, it is a bit much for a post-Vatican II bishop, as is seen in conservative and liberal bishops alike. There are other irregularities.
Dolan claimed many times that he was not aware of any cash payments for clergy to get them to leave without fighting their laicization. Yet he was present in diocesan meetings when they talked about doing just that. (Source) Again, this is not the MSM attacking the cardinal, maybe some of their spin is, but the documents show he was aware, which is a bit reminiscent of Cardinal Law claiming he knew nothing about the commission set up in the wake of the Rudy Koss scandal, even though he chaired it. Again we have to put ourselves in the bishop’s shoes for a moment. Here is an easy solution, give the priests money up front to get out of town, and we can take care of this faster. After all, we are canonically responsible for providing for these priests. Yet let’s back track, just a bit.
While Canon law requires dioceses to materially support their priests, this does not hold to priests who are under serious penalties, or are in the process of being laicized. Moreover, the bishops have shown themselves quite willing and able to cut off priests whom they suspend for other reasons. While it could be Dolan, or whoever made the decision, thought it was more expedient, it ignores two things: a) Priests who rape children deserve a hefty pyre where they will meet a fiery end to this life, before a fiery beginning to the next, not hush money, b) the perception will be, and in fact is, that they are being given some type of bonus. If it weren’t for the very strange statute of limitations on child rape, they would be transitioning to a jail cell anyway, so the concern should be with making this right however much they can with the victims, not helping priests who are guilty of the most monstrous crimes against children find funding as they “transition to a new life”.
As the Cardinal Archbishop of New York and the most recent president of the USCCB, Dolan is remembered for leading the fight against the HHS mandate and re-iterating the Church’s opposition to civil unions. He has acquired a reputation as a jolly bishop, happily leading the Church along. Curious stains on that particular legacy are that the Archidocese of New York, under his leadership, actually paid for contraception coverage and had complied with state law (under protest), though it was now fighting the same requirement on the national level, and that he had established a homosexual parish, St. Francis Xavier Parish in Manhattan, while he is preparing to close down one of New York’s more beautiful Churches, also being the only one where a daily Traditional Mass can be found, namely Holy Innocents. (Source)
We might also add that as Dolan is leading the fight against Obama, he happily invites him to the Al Smith dinner and allows photos having fun with the most anti-life President in years. He could have done, as Pope Benedict did when Nancy Pelosi, met with him, to forbid photographs to at least avoid the appearance of scandal. Yet he did not.
What all of these things show about Dolan, is that he is a company man. Of course he is more concerned with paying out pedophile priests than victims, or using Obama’s assault on the Church to bolster the Bishops’ “authority” even though his own Archdiocese does the same thing. Like Bernadine, Weakland, Law, Grahmam, and many other of the most disgraceful bishops to ascend to the office, Dolan is a team player, though it must be admitted his crimes are nowhere near the stench of the Bishops named before him. The problem is team USCCB is not always team Jesus, particularly where Catholic moral considerations are concerned.
It is also well known that a significant number of Bishops are gay, or sympathize with active homosexuality, and what is worse a large number of priests are gay. So again, Dolan doesn’t want to rock the boat. At least O’Connor, though he was no paragon of conservative Catholicism, had the backbone to oppose active homosexuals appearing in the St. Patrick’s day parade as a self-identified group. Not so Dolan, the team player, which probably is part of the reason he said “Bravo” to an openly gay football player on Meet the Press (which is linked at the top). Go along with the world even though it is entirely at odds with the Gospel. This is the career that Dolan has displayed, behind the jolly veneer. He is not satan in disguise, he is not malicious (it would appear) or evil, he is a fallible man who is doing wicked things.
The authentic Catholic uprising
Enter Voris, with a stern, serious and loud defense of what a Bishop should be doing. He wasn’t the only one. While Dolan has previously organized the so-called “fortnight for freedom” and other defenses of so-called “religious liberty”, Monsignor Charles Pope, a priest who dared to criticize Dolan was silenced, even though his piece dealt with issues much wider than Cardinal Dolan. So much for religious freedom. Its all fine and good when utilized to make people vote Republican, but as soon as someone in any position of authority takes a second look at our Catholic leaders, it is shut down. Likewise anyone appearing to have any sway. Therefore it is no surprise that the lapdogs of the Bishops should take aim at Voris, who is not a priest, and not employed by a diocese. They managed to shut down Mother Angelica in the 90’s but today the technology has made control impossible.
Now Voris’ comments, while appearing to be a bit histrionic, are what any Catholic 100 years ago would have said about such a spectacle. I think he is exactly right, not because Dolan is having tea with the devil between 4 and 5, but rather, because in his desire to be a company man and please everyone, he has forgotten the role of a Catholic Bishop (especially one in his position as a prince of the Church) and has given scandal. Moreover, he has rejected the same criticism from sources he declares to be charitable.
Thus we should look at the work of one Deacon who particularly took Voris’ appraisal amiss. Deacon Ditewig, PhD, offers the following appraisal:
Where to begin? While reasonable people might certainly disagree with the actions of any bishop, just as one might with any leader, one must certainly stop there, without going on to try to infer motivation or motive. I am sure that if Cardinal Dolan were asked about these things, he would completely and fully reject all of these assertions, and with good reason. To lump together, as Mr. Voris does, sexual orientation and sexual activity is to miss an important distinction made in the teaching of the church. Nowhere has Cardinal Dolan ever sanctioned sinful behavior by anyone, nor does the record indicate that he has ever given anyone a “free pass” on sin of any kind. There is no substantiation of any kind for a claim that the Cardinal has lost his faith, or that he is not striving to provide for the cura animarum of the people of New York — all the people. To spring from a criticism of certain decisions into a full blown attempt to characterize another person’s intentions and motivations — much less that state of that person’s soul — is not only fatally flawed logic, it is seriously deficient in Catholic morality. (Source)
This is a bit shocking, actually, coming from a PhD. Firstly, Voris is not equating the sinful behavior with the orientation. Cardinal Dolan is fully pleased with being the grand marshal of a parade that will now include out and proud practicing homosexuals marching under their own banner, just as he has already approved Masses for the same. At this point we are beyond any question of orientation vs. behavior. Second, while in truth it is not a sin to “be gay”, so to speak, that is to have such an orientation, the said orientation is in fact disordered. That is why we must have compassion and prayer for homosexuals, not persecution. Yet, it doesn’t follow that we must approve of their behavior, particularly when they celebrate their behavior. I don’t think anyone would countenance the association for employers who defraud laborers, or the association of those who abuse orphans and widows celebrating their sins in a parade ostensibly made to honor St. Patrick. Why do we tolerate that for the other sin crying to heaven for vengeance?
What the good deacon here misses, is that the decision to allow out and proud homosexuals to march under their own banner in the parade, constitutes a celebration of their sins, not a mere acknowledgement of the fact that these people suffer under such inclinations. I knew a fellow that was gay in college, and we talked and he knew I wasn’t of the type that would hate him or judge him for having such inclinations. He was a pretty bright guy, but he suffered with it. I prayed with him, I didn’t judge him, as others might have, and he struggled a lot. That is not the type of person who is to be marching in the St. Patrick’s day parade. Rather it will be the type of people who need reproof for their behavior, not the tacit support of the Cardinal Archbishop of the diocese. That is just the problem. By continuing the parade, in all its normal debauchery, with this added, is in fact to give a tacit approval of this behavior. It would be different if it was a chapter of Courage, founded by the late Fr. Harvey, of Catholics, or anyone else, suffering under such an affliction hoping to overcome it. That would constitute not the slightest scandal or offense. Nevertheless, the good deacon continues. [my comments in red]
The last point I wish to highlight is the claim made in the crawler at the bottom of the video. It is an advertisement for a paid subscription to the site, which professes to be “100% faithful to the Magisterium.” I must confess that when I first saw that claim, while watching the video and its assertions about Cardinal Dolan and other “wicked bishops,” I laughed out loud. How a person could claim to be completely faithful to the teaching authority of the Church while at the same time denigrating those men whose ministry includes being authoritative teachers of that Magisterium is simply nonsensical. [Being authoritative teachers like when they approve Gay parishes to have Masses for practicing homosexuals! Even Alexander VI didn’t stoop so low!]
What are we to make of all of this? Let’s review some basics.
The Magisterium is not simply a “who”; it is a “what.” Magisterium refers to the teaching authority of the Church, a Church we believe guided by the Holy Spirit [Not absolutely, but rather protected in solemn definitions in faith and morals. There is nowhere in Catholic doctrine where we teach that the Church is guided in all her doings by the Holy Spirit, or was Pope Alexander VI guided in the banquet of chestnuts but I digress…]. Every person, in some way or another, and in the broadest sense of the term, participates in this teaching authority, constantly learning and sharing this faith. Think of parents, for example, teaching and forming their children in faith, as they are charged at baptism; they are part of the magisterium in this broad sense. [A very broad and non-theological sense! This is one of the biggest stretches I have ever seen, and it entirely confuses the Ecclesia docens with the Ecclesia discens, to the point where the proposition is incorrect…] But in a very specific and particular way, the highest human teachers in the Church are the College of Bishops, always in communion with each other and with the head of the College, the Pope [This particular formulation is problematic, because its ultimate conclusion is erroneous at best if not in fact heretical. He equates the college of Bishops with the Papacy itself, as though the Pope were merely a first among equals. The Pope is the highest human teacher, with or without the Bishops. After his personal office then come the college of Bishops, when they teach on a matter of faith and morals whether together or dispersed throughout the world. This is the great problem with post-Vatican II ecclesiology, it hopelessly pales in comparison to the careful and clear explications of pre-Vatican II tracts De Ecclesia]. Unless and until an authoritative judgment is made by the College (always in communion with the Pope), or by the Pope himself, that a bishop is no longer part of that College, then the bishop in question remains an authoritative teacher. [An authoritative teacher is different than the magisterium, but I’ll go into that later] It is not within the competence of someone else (like Mr. Voris, or myself) to judge when a bishop is no longer teaching authentic or faithful doctrine. [Actually it is, when said Bishop departs from what has always and everywhere been believed by the Church, if it is demonstrable and public]. In fact, I will go further and suggest that, if there should be a presumption of veracity and accuracy in presenting the Church’s teaching, that presumption goes to the bishops, not to anyone else. Put simply, Mr. Voris is neither qualified nor competent to make the judgments he is attempting to make.
It may or may not be the case that Voris is competent to make the claims he makes, but nevertheless, the Deacon is quite out in left field. Firstly Voris is criticizing prudential determinations, and calling on the Cardinal to step down. He is not declaring him a heretic or deposed. What Deacon Ditewig is setting up is a supremacy of the Bishops, quite contrary to the mind of the Church and the tradition. For, both in the Theological manuals, and in Vatican II’s document Lumen Gentium, #25, the Bishops are part of the Church’s infallibility when they teach together or are dispersed throughout the world in unison on an issue of Faith and morals. One Bishop’s prudential determinations do NOT make him a voice of the magisterium, not even under Vatican II. In fact, a Bishop’s role in the magisterium individually is very limited. Let’s continue with Dolan’s faithful defender.
Am I saying that bishops never make mistakes? Of course not! Bishops make mistakes just like the rest of us, and they also deserve the benefit of fraternal correction. Some bishops commit crimes and should be held accountable under civil, criminal and canon law [Like Cardinal Law, who committed purgery in a court of law (against the 7th commandment), and was rewarded with a nice job in Rome for it!]. But no one has appointed any of us to take the place of God in judging us all for our sins [Whatever Voris is doing, that is not it. This smacks too much of the infamous “who am I to judge?”]. Alone we will stand before God and take responsibility for the way we’ve lived our lives.
Let’s take just one example from the litany of complaints made by Mr. Voris, and analyze just how wrong he is. He condemns Cardinal Dolan for not publicly condemning Islam as “a heresy and a false religion”. While this may be what he believes, it is NOT what the Catholic Church teaches [Really?] (remember the claim that he is 100% faithful to the Magisterium?). What DOES the Magisterium of the Church teach about Islam?
Here’s some truly authentic magisterial teaching, found in Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution [please note that well — it is a DOGMATIC text, dealing with the most fundamental issues of faith and church] on the Church (Lumen gentium), #16: [I have to interject here, Pope Paul VI inserted a Nota Praevia to Lumen Gentium, making it clear that nothing was dogmatically defined unless otherwise noted. So, while we might remark on the novelty of a “dogmatic contitution” not declaring anything dogmatic, there is nothing from the extraordinary magisterium that binds Catholics to belief].
But the plan of salvation also includes those who acknowledge the Creator. In the first place amongst these there are the Mohamedans, who, professing to hold the faith of Abraham, along with us adore the one and merciful God, who on the last day will judge mankind.
Later, this thought is developed in the same Council’s Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions (Nostra Aetate), #3:
The Church regards with esteem also the Moslems. They adore the one God, living and
subsisting in Himself; merciful and all- powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, who has
spoken to men; they take pains to submit wholeheartedly to even His inscrutable decrees, just as
Abraham, with whom the faith of Islam takes pleasure in linking itself, submitted to God. Though
they do not acknowledge Jesus as God, they revere Him as a prophet. They also honor Mary, His
virgin Mother; at times they even call on her with devotion. In addition, they await the day of
judgment when God will render their deserts to all those who have been raised up from the dead.
Finally, they value the moral life and worship God especially through prayer, almsgiving and fasting.
Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual
understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.
In fact, even earlier — when talking about religion in general, the bishops of the Council (that “episcopal college” mentioned above) taught at #2:
The Catholic Church rejects nothing that is true and holy in these religions. She regards with sincere reverence those ways of conduct and of life, those precepts and teachings which, though differing in many aspects from the ones she holds and sets forth, nonetheless often reflect a ray of that Truth which enlightens all men.
When a person claims to speak with complete faithfulness to the Magisterium, then, we should expect that this person would be echoing these teachings, which Cardinal Dolan has certainly done. The Church does NOT teach what Mr. Voris teaches: that Islam is “a heresy and a false religion.”
Well, where to start? We could talk about the fact that he ignores all previous Church pronouncements, both through the unanimity of theologians and even former conciliar declarations concerning Islam, but we’ll stick with what Islam is and the philosophy of God. I will say that I have personally known Muslims who are good people. That is not the issue here. All Trads have issues with Vatican II, and I am no exception, but for the sake of argument I’m going to leave that behind. Vatican II says nothing here that contradicts what Voris is saying. The Church can indeed note those elements of the Islamic religion that are praiseworthy, in the realm of philosophy, but none of that changes the reality that nowhere does the Church acknowledge Islam as a true religion. That is the problem. If it is not a false religion, then it must be a true religion, because of the law of non-contradiction, two contrary positions cannot be true at the same time and in the same respect. Thus in the Qu’ran, Ibrahim (the Arabic spelling for Abraham) takes Ismael up to the mountain to sacrifice, while in the Bible Abraham takes Isaac up to the mountain to sacrifice. They might both be false, but they cannot both be true. Muslims may indeed worship one God, but that does not mean that their philosophy of God is the same as ours. In point of fact, if you look at the Qu’ran, Muhammad’s mother is depicted as a whore, Jesus’ mother is revered. Jesus is glorified more than Muhammad, and Jesus will judge all on the last day. Most of what Muhammad got into the Qu’ran is in fact from Christian heresy, and it is not without reason that St. John Damascene, a doctor of the Church, characterizes Islam as a Christian heresy.
“There is also the superstition of the Ishmaelites which to this day prevails and keeps people in error, being a forerunner of the Antichrist. They are descended from Ishmael, [who] was born to Abraham of Agar, and for this reason they are called both Agarenes and Ishmaelites… From that time to the present a false prophet named Mohammed has appeared in their midst. This man, after having chanced upon the Old and New Testaments and likewise, it seems, having conversed with an Arian monk, devised his own heresy. Then, having insinuated himself into the good graces of the people by a show of seeming piety, he gave out that a certain book had been sent down to him from heaven. He had set down some ridiculous compositions in this book of his and he gave it to them as an object of veneration.” (source)
St. John Damascene is just another self-righteous crusader ignoring the magisterium of course! The fact is the Church does not teach what the Deacon here is proposing, that Islam is not a heresy and a false religion. In the comment box, several people pointed out similar things to the deacon, and he remonstrated that he was simply worried about Voris’ threatening language. Yet, he makes this a primary point of questioning Voris, that he is not faithful to the magisterium, and uses this as part of his example. The fact is that Voris is exactly right when he says that Islam is a heresy. It would be a heresy for a baptized person to embrace, and in its doctrines it is a false religion. That doesn’t mean that the Church can’t make common cause with Islamic countries at the UN, for instance, to oppose population control and birth control measures. It doesn’t mean that we can’t point to what is true in Islam. But it doesn’t make Islam a true religion. If it is not a false religion, it must be a true religion, and if so, what in the world are we doing in the Church? It may be that Dolan’s earthly prudence is justified or it may not, but it certainly doesn’t have a basis in Islam being a true religion.
Nevertheless, let’s look at where the attack on Vorris is going, which I have seen on a few other websites too:
Finally, I want to return to the threatening language used by Mr. Voris when he refers to punishment that he thinks may happen to Cardinal Dolan after he dies, “or even before you die,” and when he issues his call for an “authentic Catholic uprising. I would refer Mr. Voris and anyone else who is interested to the following canons from the Code of Canon Law:
Can. 1372 A person who makes recourse against an act of the Roman Pontiff to an ecumenical council [note: such as Vatican II] or the college of bishops is to be punished with a censure.
Can. 1373 A person who publicly incites among subjects animosities or hatred against the Apostolic See or an ordinary [note: such as Cardinal Dolan] because of some act of power or ecclesiastical ministry or provokes subjects to disobey them is to be punished by an interdict or other just penalties.
It would be interesting to hear the opinion of a canon lawyer with regard to these canons as they might apply in this instance.
Now we need to make important distinctions. Firstly, I don’t know what the deacon is taking about with his reference to Canon 1372, since Vorris is not making an appeal to Vatican II against all the bishops of the world, gathered together or dispersed throughout the world. It is a total non sequitur. This canon is talking about those who engage in private judgment attempting to challenge authoritative acts of his magisterium or jurisdiction on the basis of a council. This is based on much older laws, originating in the debates of Renaissance humanists who wanted to reform the papal court on the basis of the Council of Constance, the provisions of which were not entirely accepted by subsequent Popes. 1373 is a bit more pertinent. Now, in 1373, the Canon is envisioning someone who incites subjects to disobey their bishop, or to actually hate him. What Vorris has done, by contrast, is to call on Catholics to oppose bad decisions of their bishop, and to refuse to cooperate with his bad actions. I’ll readily grant he could be more clear about the “Catholic uprising” he is calling for, but his words are clearly in the realm of the necessary opposition that Catholics can have to bad members of their hierarchy. An authentically Catholic uprising by its very nature would suggest something non-violent, prayerful, etc.
Again, Dolan is not evil because he is in secret liaisons with the devil, or because he has palmist readings, or writes meditations on tarot cards like Hans Urs von Balthasar, but because he has chosen human respect above his divine calling as a bishop. We should support Voris’ call for a Catholic uprising, by telling our shepherds we will not tolerate any more wishy-washy compromise, watered down doctrine and assaults on our liturgical tradition. We do need any more “Bravo’s” to the world. Nay, we need another bravo: Bravo Michael Voris!
Last night I discovered the reason I got off of facebook with glee a few years ago, I made a simple remark on an academic question, and then the whole thing, by another response which I thought was rather insignificant, turned into a long and ranging debate, with none other than Mark Shea chiming in by means of his usual unhelpful way. I will get to him in a moment however.
The argument turned initially on reactions to the Unity of the Church. The whole thing is long and laborious, which I link here. First some preliminary notes.
I wrote an article for Faithful Answers last year, to which I am finally going to wrap up part ii (I feel like an Ent at times, it takes forever to do anything!), which sketched out the principles of what Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus means, based on the Church’s theological tradition, from St. Thomas through Pius XII, with a number of translations of the manuals on the subject, though by no means exhaustive. The point of this was to illustrate:
There is only one Church
That Church is one in its Western and Eastern Rites
Outside of it there is no salvation, which means:
a) The ordinary means of salvation, by which we can have good hope of the salvation of a member of the Church who dies with the sacraments
b) Some hope for those who die outside the visible boundaries of the Church, based on God’s justice, true Charity, etc., since grace does indeed work outside the Church’s visible boundaries.
The argument on facebook came through the question of whether the Orthodox are in the Catholic Church, to which I argued (with the tradition) no, and two interlocutors argued yes. Thus it goes in this way.
Torquemada Tequila Noah, not just an Eastern Orthodox narrative of the Council. It’s also a traditional Eastern Catholic one too. I strongly believe that’s a good thing.
In fact, the one break from previous councils (including Trent and Vatican I) at Vatican II that I find myself reluctant to agree with is the fact Vatican II does not appear to have invited the Eastern Orthodox bishops as full participants. Fortunately, the Melkites stood up and–in the words of the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople at the time–acted as the voice of the Eastern Orthodox at the council.
So God looked after the situation.
Ryan Grant My problem with that is that the Eastern Orthdox are not of the same faith. There are serious issues of ecclesiology that are at variance. The Eastern Catholic Church is the Eastern Church, and the Orthodox need to be converted. Of course, my Orthodox friends say the same thing – about us!
Torquemada Tequila Um, Ryan, if you disagree that the Eastern Orthodox and Catholics share the same faith, then I am not sure we are able to continue this conversation. Not only are they Christian, but they are fully-initiated Christians with a valid hierarchy and with whom we share all seven sacraments and a common Apostolic Tradition.
What faith do you propose the Eastern Orthodox belong to? Islam? Judaism? Mormonism? Dawkinism?
Ryan Grant Well, the Eastern Orthodox fall into that section of the catechism of St. Peter Canisius (doctor of the Church) which is given in the category of “heretics”, same as they call us. Simple fact is, their sacramental initiation is irrelevant. They don’t believe in the same notion of Church as we do. They believe in a Church where every bishop is equal (autocephalos), and there is no concept of primacy. This is contrary to the constitution Dei Filius of Vatican I. The Church has never maintained that those who adhere to teachings she has declared to be false are in fact part of her.
Ryan Grant This is what I find odious in modern “theology”, they treat it as though baptism makes you a Christian no matter what, and they do not admit what all the Fathers, doctors, manuals and councils clearly taught, that one can leave the Church in spite of his baptism. As St. Robert Bellarmine taught, “If the sacramental character is what put one in the Church, then the baptized in hell would be part of the Church.”
Noah Moerbeek Your article does say that ““Although those who were baptized in infancy among heretics and nourished among them in false doctrine, after coming to adulthood, they might not sin against the catholic faith for some time, as long as it is not proposed sufficiently, that they should be obliged to embrace it; nevertheless after the Catholic faith is sufficiently proposed, and the obligation of embracing and renouncing contrary errors, if they might still persevere in them, they will be heretics.”
Torquemada Tequila Ryan, your argument sounds more fundamentalist than traditionalist. Catholics and Orthodox have never been comfortable with the split, and have always recognized that each is lacking without the other. If what you argue were strictly true, then Rome contradicted itself at Trent and the First Vatican Council by inviting all of the Eastern Orthodox bishops as full participants.
In many ways it is like the division between Judah and Israel in the Old Testament. Certain arguments applied to surrounding nations are not applied to each other.
Ryan Grant Mark, its not a question of grace, but as membership. God gives enough grace for every person to be saved, that has been taught by the Church since the council of Orange. God gives grace, but that doesn’t make them members. They need to profess the faith that Christ commanded the Apostles to teach, and that is in the Roman Catholic Church. If not, what are we doing? Why waste time if we are some unity and diversity.
Mark Shea It’s a question of the Traddy habit of always always always searching for a way to minimize the reach of grace, to seek ways of making sure as many people as possible are excluded and of hoping, always, for as many human beings as possible to be damned. Sacraments are always, in this mindset, reducing valves designed to limit access to God’s grace, not as sure encounters with God.
Ryan Grant @Torquemada: Where can you find such a position in any papal pronouncement prior to 1965? It is not even that there is an absence, there is the opposite. Now, no, I’m not comfortable with the split, but it is one. The Orthodox and us do not share the same faith about the Pope, ecclesiology, the Trinity and even some sacraments, depending on which Orthodox or which member of which Orthodox church you are talking too. There are still many orthodox who re-baptize Catholics, for instance. Now the Orthodox can indeed be saved, particularly if we are talking about the average guy praying who is largely ignorant of these issues. But the de fide teaching of Councils, Popes and the unanimity of Fathers and Theologians is that one cannot knowingly reject what the Church has taught, as the Orthodox have. How that comes down at judgment Christ will figure out, but, theologically, there is no basis for saying Catholics and Orthodox are the same Church. Both historically and present said they are not.
Ryan Grant Mark, find me in scripture and tradition where one can reject what the Christ and the Magisterium He put in place have consistently taught. I’m sorry everyone, we already have an Eastern Church, it is the 18 sui juris Chruches of our Eastern Rite. The Orthodox need to get into those.
Torquemada Tequila But again, the position is in the actions of the Popes. They never took the same hard line against Eastern Orthodox than they did against Protestants. Actions of pre-conciliar popes between the years 1300 and Vatican I included gifting Eastern Orthodox patriarchs and bishops with chalices, inviting them as full participants to every ecumenical council, sharing seminaries, etc.
Ryan Grant Then read Cardinal Billot on the subject. “Non ergo impedit salutem, quod quis ignoranter ad quamcumque falsam sectam adhaereat, dummodo sit in ea animi dispositione de qua mox dictum est, et aliunde a justificationis via unicuique praeparata sese non avertat. Nonne huic veritati attestatur, quod etiam extra Ecclesiae fines, ut cum Augustino loquar, sacramenta largiter emanant? Et id quidem ex positiva Dei voluntate qui ad ipsorum sacramentorum validitatem potuisset eam conditionem apponere, ut nonnisi a legitimis ministris conficerentur. Nunc autem, si extra Ecclesiae fines sacramenta emanant, nonne ea intentione ut prosint iis qui in bona fide versantes, ab ipsius Ecclesiae visibili communione sunt de facto separati? Et non solum sacramenta, sed doctrina quoque et praedicatio undequaque foras erumpit, ut sit Ecclesia sal terrae et lux mundi, etiam respectu eorum qui magisterium ejus non agnoscunt, sed ejus influxum variis et miris modis, quamvis non advertentes, recipiunt. Ac per hoc, ab alto cathedrae ecclesiasticae, directe vel indirecte, sive per intentionem sive per occasionem, descendit et spargitur veritatis lumen, pervenitque ad multos etiam extraneos notitia divinae revelationis, saltem quantum ad fundamentales articulos qui necessario debent esse explicite crediti, ad hoc ut possit homo per charitatem perfectam se ad Deum convertere, et sic ad justificationis gratiam extra sacramentum pervenire. Quamquam nec indigeat Deus humano quocumque ministerio, ut fidem quae justificationis est initium et radix, inspiret homini sese per gratiae auxilium omnibus oblatum disponenti…
“Quapropter calumniantur nos quicumque axioma nostrum: extra Ecclesiam nulla salus, sic interpretari affectant, quasi diceremus damnari de facto eos omnes qui de facto extra visibilem communionem corporis Ecclesiae moriuntur. …Huic quaestioni, donec veniat judicii dies, nulla patet solutionis possibilitas, quia de solis mediis generalibus atque communibus facta est nobis revelatio, non autem de modis diversissimis et in secreto Providentiae alte reconditis, quibus ad singulos quosque adultos provenit salutis possibilitas.” -De Ecclesiae Sacramentis,, pg. 120-123
Ryan Grant Highly respected theologian and cardinal who taught in Roman Universities and wrote numerous textbooks. How about this one from Cardinal de Lugo:
“Quamquam qui in infantia baptizatus apud haereticos et apud eos in falsa doctrina nutritur, postea factus adultus possit aliquamdiu non peccare contra fidem catholicam, quamdiu non ei proponitur sufficienter, ut obligetur ad eam amplectendam; postquam tamen ei fides catholica sufficienter proponitur, et obligatio eam amplectendi et relinquendi errores contrarios, si adhuc in iis perseveret, erit haereticus.” Quoted in Franzelin, De Ecclesia Christi, pg. 404.
Noah Moerbeek You could just read what the current Catechism says:
“Outside the Church there is no salvation”
846 How are we to understand this affirmation, often repeated by the Church Fathers?335 Re-formulated positively, it means that all salvation comes from Christ the Head through the Church which is his Body:
Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it.336
847 This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church:
Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation.337
848 “Although in ways known to himself God can lead those who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men.”338
Noah Moerbeek “He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it”
Ryan Grant St. Robert Bellarmine, doctor of the Church: ““Respondeo igitur, quod dicitur, extra Ecclesiam neminem salvari, intelligi debere de iis, qui neque re ipsa, nec desiderio sunt de Ecclesia, sicut de baptismo communiter loquuntur theologi. Quoniam autem catechumeni si non re, saltem voto sunt in Ecclesia, ideo salvari possunt.”
Ryan Grant St. Peter Canisius, doctor of the Church: “At length, what might be a simple, short and upright rule of faith, by which Catholics are distinguished from heretics.
It is this, they confess the faith of Christ and the full authority of the Church; and it behooves them to hold that as certain and fixed, which the Shepherds and Teachers of the Catholic Church have defined must be believed. The others, who do not listen to the Church, should be to you, as Christ himself said “As a heathen and a tax-collector.” Indeed he who refuses to have the Church as a mother, will not have God as Father.”
-Parvus Catechismus Catholicorum
Hugh McDonald “Eastern Christians who are in fact separated in good faith from the Catholic Church, if they ask of their own accord and have the right dispositions, may be admitted to the sacraments of Penance, the Eucharist and the Anointing of the Sick. Further, Catholics may ask for these same sacraments from those non-Catholic ministers whose churches possess valid sacraments, as often as necessity or a genuine spiritual benefit recommends such a course and access to a Catholic priest is physically or morally impossible.” (from Vat II)
Ryan Grant @Torq, okay, let’s back up. I said if what I am proposing to you is Latin fundamentalism, rather than what it is, the magisterial teaching of the Church, then the Church would have to have been fundamentalist for her whole tradition, because this is what she has always taught.
Ryan Grant Now, let’s back up further. I asked you for a single word from the Church’s magisterium that says that the Orthodox Church are perfectly in union and are of the same faith from any Father of the Church, Doctor of the Church, Manualist, Council or Pope, and you have failed to pony up.
Ryan Grant You have also misconstrued my position. By defending what the Church has always and everywhere believed, I am not saying that everyone who is not catholic is damned. There are many people who are ignorant and in good faith, and in those cases, provided they do not commit a mortal sin, or at least have perfect contrition for it, it is possible they can be saved. But that is outside of the visible boundaries of the Church, so we cannot have the same hope as those who die in the faith.
Ryan Grant And where does Vatican II say its doing that?So, I’m cutting it there. From this we can derive a few things about Mark Shea. I would argue that in reality he is an angry “Rad-Con” (radical conservative) who is hostile to anything but the conservative response to the liberal craziness that permeated the Church after Vatican II, especially those who try and recoup the Tradition (Trads).The method of this angry rad-con is two-fold:Ignore evidence contrary to his own position and never answer questionsInject emotional invective against into the argument to cause the person he is arguing with to get angry and lash out (which I did not do, but simply tried to focus back onto antiquity and authority), that way he can turn around and say “Angry trad subculture! See the violence inherent in the system!”Mark Shea has obviously been hurt by trads of some stripe before. He doesn’t need you to go to his site or facebook and tell him why you don’t like him. I am therefore offering the Trad-subculture with love challenge to all of you:
Pope Pius XI
Meeting and meal with assortment of Protestant ministers
Of all the silly things Pope Francis has said in his pontificate, this one really takes the cake. Principally, in the realm of prudence, but also because it raises questions about what he believes. In terms of magisterial teaching, it is null, so we don’t need to worry about that.
The greatest difficulty is in this: if you are an apologist, if you are laboring amongst evangelicals, or, whatever you like, working to convince them to return to the Catholic faith, whether you are a priest or a laymen, you may now be greeted with this: “But the Pope said we did not need to convert!” and “Who are you to judge!”
There are many reasons why this statement is fraught with all sorts of problems, but the biggest is that it is contrary to what the Church has always and everywhere believed. It also evinces a lack of the virtue of hope, and a lack of the virtue of charity.
There is a lack of hope, in as much as the Pope has already written off the work of the Holy Ghost, “We’ll never agree anyway.” No, never? What was St. Peter Canisius doing laboring away in Germany and Switzerland? Oh, they’ll never believe anyway, why bother. What was St. Francis de Sales doing, writing tracts and sticking them under doors, and fasting and praying for the conversion of the Calvinists? Oh, we’ll never agree anyway! Not at all. There is another matter, which is the virtue of charity. If the Catholic Church is the true Church, and, at least with respect to the ordinary means of salvation that we can see and know from revelation, there is no salvation outside the Church, then how is it charitable to say “I don’t want to convert you.” That’s like saying “I don’t love you.” It is a false charity to withhold from a man his salvation.
But is this some random statement from the Pope, off the cuff and without notes? Actually no, this is precisely what he believes. In 2010, a dialogue was published between then Cardinal Bergolio and Jewish Rabbi Abraham Skorka, titled On heaven and earth, on a wide range of issues. In that, Francis said the following [My emphasis in bold]:
“When I speak with atheists, I will sometimes discuss social concerns, but I do not propose the problem of God as a starting point, except in the case that they propose it to me. If this occurs, I tell them why I believe. But that which is human is so rich to share and to work at that very easily we can mutually complement our richness. As I am a believer, I know that these riches are a gift from God. I also know that the other person, the atheist, does not know that. I do not approach the relationship in order to proselytize, or convert the atheist; [!] I respect him and I show myself as I am… I do not have any type of reluctance, nor would I say that his life is condemned, because I am convinced that I do not have the right to make a judgment about the honesty of that person; even less, if he shows me those human virtues that exalt others and do me good.” (Pgs. 12-13).
Hence the Scalfari interviews. The curious thing about those, of course, is the Vatican Press office is more or less claiming that Scalfari is changing the Pope’s words, yet the Pope goes to Scalfari again and the Vatican website still promotes the interview. But the Pope’s words are being changed.
More problematic is the unqualified way he speaks of these things. It strikes your feelings, yeah we want to treat people with respect, which then eviscerates truth from your dealings. It is one thing to respect the people in your society, and treat them courteously. It is another, to be entirely unconcerned with their eternal salvation, as though God blesses unbelief. What is the Vatican II mantra, always going back to Scripture? That is largely just a vehicle to discard the Tradition. Congar’s argument is that all Tradition is contained in Scripture, so therefore Scripture has the sufficiency and the Tradition is at best an appendage which we don’t need to worry about, because its all in Scripture. It is also a good argument for discarding the Tradition, once one has judged that it is not in Scripture. But then Scripture itself is cast aside when it doesn’t fit in with the Vatican II meta-narrative, or the religion of feelings and good intentions. What does it say in Scripture?
“Si autem tu annuntiaveris impio, et ille non fuerit conversus ab impietate sua, et a via sua impia, ipse quidem in iniquitate sua morietur: tu autem animam tuam liberasti.
Sed et si conversus justus a justitia sua fuerit, et fecerit iniquitatem, ponam offendiculum coram eo: ipse morietur quia non annuntiasti ei: in peccato suo morietur, et non erunt in memoria justitiae ejus quas fecit, sanguinem vero ejus de manu tua requiram.”
If, however, you will have declared to the impious, and he will not have converted from his iniquity, and his impious life, truly he will die in his iniquity, and you however acquitted your soul.
But even if the just man will have been turned from justice, and committed evil, I will place a stumbling block in his presence, he will die because you will not have preached unto him, and he will die in his sin, and the just things which he did will be forgotten, but I will require his blood at your hand. EzechielIII: 19-20 (All translations from the Vulgate are mine)
Et accedens Jesus locutus est eis, dicens: Data est mihi omnis potestas in caelo et in terra:
Euntes ergo docete omnes gentes: baptizantes eos in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti:
Docentes eos servare omnia quaecumque mandavi vobis: et ecce ego vobiscum sum omnibus diebus, usque ad consummationem saeculi.
And coming, Jesus spoke to them, saying: “All power in heaven and earth has been given to me; going therefore, teach all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; Teaching them to keep all things whichever I commanded you, and behold, I am with you all days, even to the end of the age.”
Matthew XXVIII: 18-20(My emphasis)
Et dixit eis: Euntes in mundum universum praedicate Evangelium omni creaturae.
Qui crediderit, et baptizatus fuerit, salvus erit: qui vero non crediderit, condemnabitur.
And he said to them: Going into the whole world, preach the Gospel to every creature. Whoever will have believed and been baptized, he will be saved, but whoever will not have believed, he will be condemned.
Mark XVI: 16 (My emphasis)
These scriptural references should be clear, even if you are using a “Good News Bible” or whatever edition you can pick up at Barnes and Noble. Even absent the Tradition, where copious resources could be produced from every Church Father, and every Scholastic, every theologian, and every Doctor of the Church on the necessity for membership in the Church, the necessity of Faith for salvation and so many other doctrines implicitly defied by the Pope’s behavior toward atheists, the scripture clearly shows his behavior is contrary to Christ’s commands. So the Pope, is saying he is not at all concerned that the Atheist doesn’t believe, in spite of Our Lord’s very clear and grave words. Now obviously there is prudence, and many times I’ve been at that point, where you know if you push any harder you’ll lose the person, but you did try, and resort to prayer where argument fails. Francis wasn’t even talking about that, he’s talking about shirking the whole question altogether. “Who am I to judge?” Unfortunately there is the dread verse in Ezechiel: “I will require his blood at your hand.” It get’s even worse:
“God makes Himself felt in the heart of each person. He also respects the culture of all people. Each nation picks up that vision of God and translates it in accordance with the culture, and elaborates, purifies and gives it a system. Some cultures are primitive in their explanations, but God is open to all people. He calls everyone. He moves everyone to seek Him and to discover Him through creation. In our case, that of Judaism and Christianity, we have a personal revelation. God Himself encounters us; He reveals Himself to us, He shows us the way and He accompanies us; He tells us His name, He guides us through the prophets. Christians believe, ultimately, that He manifested Himself to us and gave Himself to us through Jesus Christ. Moreover, throughout history, there have existed circumstances that created schisms and constructed diverse communities that have different ways of living Christianity, like the Reformation. We lived through a thirty year war and it shaped different faiths. It is very hard to accept and it was a disgraceful time, but that is the reality. God is patient, He waits, and God does not kill. It is man that wants to do so on God’s behalf. To kill in the name of God is blasphemy.” (On heaven and earth, pg. 19; my emphasis.)
Well, where do I start? This simply cannot be read as anything but modernism. For instance, it is one thing to say God uses all cultures to reveal his glory. This is true, and when Catholic missionaries brought the faith, for example, to Native Americans, or into the far East, they preserved the local populations’ culture and tradition, which worked in harmony with the Traditional Latin Mass that they also established. When, however, he says: “each nation picks up that vision of God and translates it in accordance with their culture”, this is, or at least appears to be, rooted in the modernist opinion that all religions are essentially different visions of God, and we’re all fellow travelers and that sort of nonsense. Yet, that pesky Bible again, says: “Quoniam omnes dii gentium daemonia; Dominus autem caelos fecit.” For all the gods of the nations are demons, but the Lord made the heavens. -Psalm 95 (96): 5.
Where we circle to the relevance with respect to the Pope’s statement to the Protestant ministers, is in the latter part of this quote. It really expresses the metaphysics of Francis’ philosophy of religion. “diverse communities that have different ways of living Christianity.” Well, what are we to make of this? In proper Catholic ecclesiology, there is no way of living Christianity, except by being Catholic, in the Latin right, or in one of the Eastern rites. There is only one Church, as is clear in the scriptures. To say that other communities have another way of living Christianity, is to hold that there is an anomalous Christianity, that can be done entirely differently by different groups, who only agree on essentials. What the Church has historically called the essentials is, well, a bit different from that. It might have benefitted the then Cardinal Bergolio to examine what his fellow Jesuit, St. Robert Bellarmine, doctor of the Church had said on that subject:
“There is only one Church, not two, that body, both one and true is of men of the same Christian faith with respect to profession, and gathered in the communion of the same sacraments, under the rule of the legitimate shepherds, and especially of the one vicar of Christ on earth, the Roman Pontiff. It can easily be collected from such a definition, which men pertain to the Church, and those who doe not pertain to her. There are three parts of this definition. The Profession of the true faith, the communion of the sacraments, and the subjection to the legitimate pastor, the Roman Pontiff. By reason of the first part all unbelievers are excluded, as well as those who never were in the Church, such as Jews, Turks and Pagans; and also those who were in and left, as heretics and apostates. By reason of the second, catechumens and the excommunicate are excluded, because these are not admitted to the communion of the sacraments, as these are dismissed. By reason of the third, schismatics are excluded, who have both the faith and the sacraments, but are not subjected to the legitimate pastor, and therefore profess the faith and carry out the sacraments on the outside. All others however are included, even those who might be reprobate, criminal or impious.”1 (De Ecclesia Militante, bk III ch. 2, my emphasis)
Similar statements could be collected from every Theologian until the 1960’s. But no, this was not the religion of Cardinal Bergolio, and it would appear his doctrine has not changed.
Throughout this interview, Francis confesses he is “naive”. This is certainly clear with his historical analysis of the Thirty Years War. This war, from 1618-1648, is often described in popular history as a war between Catholics and Protestants in Germany. This is false, like other pop-history dates, such as assigning 1054 as the date of the Great schism between East and West, even though the Eastern Churches were all reconciled in 1099, and remained so until 1204, and came in and out of union until the 1300’s when the politics in the West caused various worldly Popes from continuing the effort of full reunion. Either way, the Thirty Years war saw Catholics and Protestants fighting on both sides of the conflict. When it broke out, it was when the Elector of the Palatinate, Frederick, was invited by the Bohemians (Czechs) who had revolted from the Emperor to become their king. This occurred after the famous “De-fenestration of Prague”. So, Frederick came, and became king, but was put under the Reichs’ ban, which essentially a deposition, that declared all his subjects freed from obedience to him, and made him an outlaw within the Holy Roman Empire. Frederick expected all the Protestant lords and elector’s to come to his aid, but instead they sided with the Emperor, mostly because they wanted to grab some of his land. He also alienated his subjects by his strict Calvinism, which the Lutherans and Hussites did not accept. Later the conflict widened, with Catholics and Protestants on the emperor’s side, and Protestants on the other side. Then the French entered the conflict, and what’s more, induced Gustavus Adolphus, the Swedish king, to enter the war on the Protestant side. The French, though Catholic, assisted the Protestants in every way, just as they assisted the Lutherans in 1548 against Charles V, so now they assisted the Dutch against the Spanish, fought the Spanish, and sent troops to fight for Adolphus. Although my expertise in this conflict is more on the military side than the political side, it should be clear to anyone who studies it, that while religious considerations were important, politics and military glory were equally apart of this conflict. The security of states, the prominence of royal houses, these were all considerations at work in this conflict. It was not so much killing in the name of God, but in the name of kings, for worldly glory, and power.
The result, was an agreement for toleration in order to avoid more conflict, and was fully in accord with Catholic principles. It was devastating, it was a scandal, but it did not create “new religions”, or “new ways of being Christian”, it solidified those who had left the Church politically.
Ultimately, then, when the Pope told those Protestants that he didn’t want to convert them, and later, apologized to Pentecostals for the Church preventing their growth, this is not some off the cuff comment that he later regrets to make them feel good, this is really what he believes!
The conclusion, then, is that whenever Francis speaks, it is probably best to run to older works of theology approved by the Church at that time, or to read the Fathers of the Church. Pray, but don’t become despondent over it. Francis cannot change what the Church formally teaches, it isn’t possible. God will judge him, as He promised to judge Ezechiel, and it is our job to pray and refer back to the Church’s perennial teaching as the antidote to all the nonsense.1 “Ecclesiam unam tantum esse, non duas, et illam unam et veram esse coetum hominum ejusdem christianae fidei professione et eorundem sacramentorum communione colligatum, sub regimine legitimorum pastorum, ac praecipue unius Christi in terris vicarii romani pontificis. Ex qua definitione facile colligi potest, qui homines ad Ecclesiam pertineant, qui vero ad eam non pertineant. Tres enim sunt partes hujus definitionis. Professio verae fidei, sacramentorum communio, et subjectio ad legitimum pastorem romanum pontificem. Ratione primae partis excluduntur omnes infideles tam qui numquam fuerunt in Ecclesia, ut Judaei, Turcae, Pagani; tam qui fuerunt et recesserunt, ut haeretici et apostatae. Ratione secundae, excluduntur catechumeni et excommunicati, quoniam illi non sunt admissi ad sacramentorum communionem, isti sunt dimissi. Ratione tertiae, excluduntur schismatici, qui habent fidem et sacramenta, sed non subduntur legitimo pastori, et ideo foris profitentur fidem, et sacramenta percipiunt. Includuntur autem omnes alii, etiamsi reprobro, scelesti et impii sint.”
The Instrumentum Laboris, or working document (in Latin literally, the device of the work) was issued last month, and it foretells essentially more of the same.
The Document is riddled with programs, programs, and more programs! More this and more that! Change! Yet the only things useful for a constructive discussion on how to meet the challenges to the Family in the modern world are not surprisingly absent from the working document.
There is, as in most documents since the Council, a good deal of wishy-washy niceties, but not a lot of real content. We must bear in mind, however, that it is a document compiling the reactions of various Episcopal conferences to the issues raised as problems. It is not designed to lay down a clear teaching or instruction. What it should be doing, if it were to be effective, is to lay out the directions all discussions will go toward in order to attain a more practical solution. Instead, it just puts together what everyone is saying and says yeah, this is what’s going on, and this is what our top-guys say will fix it. That of course is what the Bishops’ conferences have said, which themselves utilized committees of talking heads to look at the problems, who themselves talked to committees of “experts” to explain the problem.
As always, not everything expressed here is bad, but is put together with a lot of things that are, and then looks to make a unity out of it, like good Hegelian dialectic which draws together the synthesis from placing together the Thesis, and the Antithesis, and boom! We have the solution.
Unfortunately, reality doesn’t work in the same way. Let’s have a look at some key passages.
The People of God’s knowledge of conciliar and post-conciliar documents on the Magisterium of the family seems to be rather wanting, though a certain knowledge of them is clearly evident in those working in the field of theology. The documents, however, do not seem to have taken a foothold in the faithful’s mentality. Some responses clearly state that the faithful have no knowledge of these documents, while others mention that they are viewed, especially by lay people with no prior preparation, as rather “exclusive” or “limited to a few” and require some effort to take them up and study them. Oftentimes, people without due preparation find difficulty reading these documents. Nevertheless, the responses see a need to show the essential character of the truth affirmed in these documents.(Instrumentum Laboris [hereafter IS], #11)
One might reckon, the difficulty in reading the documents is they are simply not clear! They introduce with tons of flowery language, they say some poorly worded propositions, often using traditional theological terms to mean something totally different, and leave one bewildered as to what is actually being taught. That is not the only problem here. The real problem is that not everyone can be a Theologian, and not everyone should. Not merely before the Council, but even in the preceding generations of thousands of years, the faithful did not by and large know the bulk of Church teachings, and they could scarcely name an encyclical. Yet, they did not have a crisis in the family as we do today. In past generations people knew what was right and wrong, even if they acted contrary to it, they still knew it was wrong. It didn’t take a pastoral program or a new encyclical for people to know in the 18th century that abortion was wrong, or that contraceptive potions and techniques, such as they were, are contrary to the Church. Why is this a problem when most Catholics are more educated in general than they were in the 18th century? The answer is you had a culture and society that itself embodied Catholic values, even Protestant societies, and had the support needed for families to survive. You do not have that today.
Moreover, there is a difference between religion and theology. Every Catholic needs to have an understanding of religion to get to heaven, but not every Catholic needs to understand theology. Religio is a Latin word, it comes from the same word as legio, as in Roman Legion. It actually means the “yoke”, like the yoke that tied oxen together. Soldiers in the legion were “yoked” by the bond of discipline, legionary laws, far more harsh than the laws of civil society, and the structure of obedience. In Latin, the prefix re- either means again, back, or it strengthens the meaning of the word. In the case of religio, it strengthens the meaning of the word. Thus religio refers to the common bond of teachings, practices and laws that every Catholic is under, high or low, great and small, clerical or Lay. By contrast, Theology, which comes from the Greek Θεός (Theos=God) and λογία (logia=saying), although some dogmatic theologians, notably Tanquery, traces the root to λόγος (logos= word), means more or less the Study of God. It is the study of revealed truths, and the truths which follow from them logically and are connected with them (i.e. the secondary object of infallibility, whereas revealed truths are the primary object). This is a fully developed science, employing a scientific language that is carried out (until recently) with precision. It has a wide breadth of subjects, disciplines, and areas of study. Theology also includes detailed study of the documents of the magisterium, the truths they contain and the consequences that affect other disciplines. Documents of the magisterium in the field of religion, on the other hand, only pertain to those issues which the faithful need to be aware of. Thus, theology informs and confirms religion, as the Church has always held, in as much as the work of theologians becomes the basis for future decisions of the Extraordinary Magisterium and the Ordinary Magisterium. The constructing and informing of their consciences takes place in the overall formation of Christian life, as we shall develop more fully.
Some episcopal conferences argue that the reason for much resistance to the Church’s teaching on moral issues related to the family is a want of an authentic Christian experience, namely, an encounter with Christ on a personal and communal level, for which no doctrinal presentation, no matter how accurate, can substitute. In this regard, some responses point to the insufficiency of pastoral activity which is concerned only with dispensing the sacraments without a truly engaging Christian experience. Moreover, a vast majority of responses highlight the growing conflict between the values on marriage and the family as proposed by the Church and the globally diversified social and cultural situations. The responses are also in agreement on the underlying reasons for the difficulty in accepting Church teaching, namely, the pervasive and invasive new technologies; the influence of the mass media; the hedonistic culture; relativism; materialism; individualism; the growing secularism; the prevalence of ideas that lead to an excessive, selfish liberalization of morals; the fragility of interpersonal relationships; a culture which rejects making permanent choices, because it is conditioned by uncertainty and transiency, a veritable “liquid society” and one with a “throw away” mentality and one seeking “immediate gratification”; and, finally, values reinforced by the so-called “culture of waste” and a “culture of the moment,” as frequently noted by Pope Francis. (IS #15)
Now, on the one hand, the faults of secular society do contribute to less religiosity, on the other we cannot lay all the fault at secular society. The strange thing here, is that the Vatican for 50 years has praised these same “secular societies” as a source of new riches, as a wonderful fruit of the French Revolution, as a realization of Vatican II, as… need I go on? And now they are complaining of the direction it is going! They can’t have it both ways. They want the modern conception of separation of Church and State, they want the secularized society, then it complains when a secularized society does what it is naturally going to do!
There is another fundamental disconnect here. Look at my emphasis. What are the Sacraments, except a direct personal encounter with Jesus Christ and his grace, preeminently in the Eucharist? What are the sacraments? Certificates? Status symbols? The person who wrote this point seems to think so. What kind of personal encounter can you have with Christ that is more powerful than the frequent exercise of the Sacraments? Is Penance not an encounter with Jesus Christ, where the priest in Christ’s very person and power forgives your sins, provided you have true contrition? Is not receiving his very body and blood an encounter? People need words to encounter them? The sacraments, and living the life of faith, exercising the virtue of faith with true charity, are connected. Moreover, so is the liturgy. Is the Liturgy a place where people have a true encounter with Christ? Or is it a place where people have a silly ceremony with absurd hymns, poor symbols and bad ritual to celebrate themselves? For most Catholics it is clearly the latter, in spite of the number of times that there have been “documents to end all abuses”, the “abuses” continue to exist. The reason of course is that the new liturgy is a man centered liturgy. There is in this whole document almost no mention of liturgy, which is a telling factor. Liturgical reform is nowhere on the radar of the Francis pontificate, let alone for the Bishops. The only reform for them is eliminating the Traditional Mass and restoring the primacy of the 1970’s liturgy, which is dying, and they can’t understand why. Hence the attack on the FI’s.
This “lived experience with Christ” is presented as a sort of dualism, as if this is something that happens independent of a man’s existence in Church and society. Proper doctrinal formation is a means, beautiful liturgy which hastens the senses to God is a means, Catholic society and families are a means, the will of the individual aided by grace and utilizing these means effects it. This document seems to think another army of pastoral lay workers will somehow bring this about!
We’ll close today with the following issue of Natural Law:
In light of what the Church has maintained over the centuries, an examination of the relation of the Gospel of the Family to the experience common to every person can now consider the many problems highlighted in the responses concerning the question of the natural law. In a vast majority of responses and observations, the concept of natural law today turns out to be, in different cultural contexts, highly problematic, if not completely incomprehensible. The expression is understood in a variety of ways, or simply not understood at all. Many bishops’ conferences, in many different places, say that, although the spousal aspect of the relationship between man and woman might be generally accepted as an experiential reality, this idea is not interpreted according to a universally given law. Very few responses and observations demonstrated an adequate, popular understanding of the natural law. (IS #21)
A lot of people have decried this section, and for good reason, nevertheless I think the working document is actually getting at something that is quite true and important, they are just drawing the wrong conclusions. Now, Natural Law in the Catholic Tradition is largely Aristotelian and Thomistic in its conception. In fact, St. Thomas says on this subject:
Sicut supra dictum est, ad legem naturae pertinent ea ad quae homo naturaliter inclinatur; inter quae homini proprium est ut inclinetur ad agendum secundum rationem. Ad rationem autem pertinet ex communibus ad propria procedere, ut patet ex I Physic. Aliter tamen circa hoc se habet ratio speculativa, et aliter ratio practica. Quia enim ratio speculativa praecipue negotiatur circa necessaria, quae impossibile est aliter se habere, absque aliquo defectu invenitur veritas in conclusionibus propriis, sicut et in principiis communibus. Sed ratio practica negotiatur circa contingentia, in quibus sunt operationes humanae, et ideo, etsi in communibus sit aliqua necessitas, quanto magis ad propria descenditur, tanto magis invenitur defectus. Sic igitur in speculativis est eadem veritas apud omnes tam in principiis quam in conclusionibus, licet veritas non apud omnes cognoscatur in conclusionibus, sed solum in principiis, quae dicuntur communes conceptiones. In operativis autem non est eadem veritas vel rectitudo practica apud omnes quantum ad propria, sed solum quantum ad communia, et apud illos apud quos est eadem rectitudo in propriis, non est aequaliter omnibus nota. Sic igitur patet quod, quantum ad communia principia rationis sive speculativae sive practicae, est eadem veritas seu rectitudo apud omnes, et aequaliter nota. (I-II, Q 94 A4, resp.)
As stated above (2,3), those things pertain to the natural law which a man is inclined naturally: and among these what is proper for man that he might be inclined to act according to reason. Now it pertains to reason to proceed from the common to the proper, as stated in Phys. i. The speculative reason, however, is considered one way in this matter, and the practical reason another. For, since the speculative reason is busied chiefly with the necessary things, which cannot be otherwise than they are, its proper conclusions, like the universal principles, contain the truth without fail. The practical reason, on the other hand, is busied with contingent matters, about which human actions are concerned: and consequently, although there is necessity in the general principles, the more we descend to matters of detail, the more frequently we encounter defects. Accordingly then in speculative matters truth is the same in all men, both as to principles and as to conclusions: although the truth is not known to all as regards the conclusions, but only as regards the principles which are called common notions. But in matters of action, truth or practical rectitude is not the same for all, as to matters of detail, but only as to the general principles: and where there is the same rectitude in matters of detail, it is not equally known to all. It is therefore evident that, as regards the general principles whether of speculative or of practical reason, truth or rectitude is the same for all, and is equally known by all.
What this means, is that while the natural law is written on our hearts, or, as St. Thomas says in a different question of the same article, “The rational creature’s participation with the eternal law”, it is the same always and everywhere, but how it is applied and deduced in individual matters will differ according to culture. For example almost all cultures have the sense that pre-marital sex and adultery are wrong, but how that is realized differed for many classical cultures. The principle is still true, but men can act contrary to their reason; additionally the passions move people to act contrary to reason.
Now, all references to the natural law, even by John Paul II, who was not a Thomist, refer to the Aristotelian-Thomistic Tradition in Natural Law. Now, the modern western world, on the other hand, works on a mostly empiricist view of natural law. What this means is that what is natural is not based on utility, or reason, but what we objectively feel about it. So, people go out for wine and cheese tastings. The object, it would appear, is the delight in company and the pleasure gained from drinking good wine and eating good cheese. I could just as well satisfy my belly with bread and water, but I don’t get pleasure. Therefore food is not about nourishment but pleasure. Likewise with sex, it is pleasurable, but children don’t actually result all the time, and can be prevented, therefore sex is about pleasure rather than procreation. Add to this the evolutionary frame work, the idea that we have “evolved” beyond an instinct for self preservation, therefore we have evolved sex to be about the individuals. In such a framework, what could be against nature in same-sex coitus, since it is about pleasure with respect to the individuals?
Obviously such reasoning is fallacious, because food is pleasurable, or sex is pleasurable, it doesn’t follow that its only end is pleasure. Yet this is a problem of first principles with respect to natural law. Modern society is based on the Empiricist viewpoint, modified by evolutionary philosophy, whereas the Catholic explication of teachings with reference to Natural Law are based on the Thomistic. The Instrumentum Laboris correctly identifies at least some element of this, when it says:
The responses and observations also show that the adjective “natural” often is understood by people as meaning “spontaneous” or “what comes naturally.” Today, people tend to place a high value on personal feelings and emotions, aspects which appear “genuine” and “fundamental” and, therefore, to be followed “simply according to one’s nature.” The underlying anthropological concepts, on the one hand, look to an autonomy in human freedom which is not necessarily tied to an objective order in the nature of things, and, on the other hand, every human being’s aspiration to happiness, which is simply understood as the realization of personal desires. Consequently, the natural law is perceived as an outdated legacy. (IS #22)
Therefore the solution would be to engage the modern dialectic as concerns Natural Law, right? Not according to this document. The reason is the modern Vatican has completely surrendered the fight on false ideologies like Evolution, and even at times the very notion of man which is its consequent, and therefore can’t, without contradicting 50 years of mis-steps, attempt to engage that fight. Instead it proposes another surrender, which, as noted in my last post, I first saw on Rorate Caeli:
The language traditionally used in explaining the term “natural law” should be improved so that the values of the Gospel can be communicated to people today in a more intelligible manner. In particular, the vast majority of responses and an even greater part of the observations request that more emphasis be placed on the role of the Word of God as a privileged instrument in the conception of married life and the family, and recommend greater reference to the Bible, its language and narratives. In this regard, respondents propose bringing the issue to public discussion and developing the idea of biblical inspiration and the “order in creation,” which could permit a re-reading of the concept of the natural law in a more meaningful manner in today’s world. (IS #30)
It is one thing to use Divine Revelation (e.g. Scripture) to assist with and illuminate the concept of natural law, however, the problem is that natural law as such is something discernible to reason, that does not need the aid of divine revelation. What this statement says, if one reads between the lines, is to eviscerate the concept and tradition of Natural Law, and reduce everything to Scripture, which the modernists have worked so hard to neuter by rendering it all allegorical, and thus to be interpreted in any way possible. Thus the closing statement of that paragraph. Re-read therefore, means surrender.
We will have more on this document to come in the future.
We, just yesterday, had the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, which is a holy day of obligation in most of the world, but for some reason not here in the USofA. Not sure why, apart from the general trend to not disturb people’s comfortable lives by the spectre of going to Mass on a weekday. This year of course that was not a problem.
One of the things I find fascinating is that the very same feast is celebrated in all the Eastern Rites of the Church as well, according to their own liturgical customs and traditions, which is to say they did not copy it from the Roman Rite, the same feast developed organically in their own traditions. Thus, the feast of St. Peter and Paul is also a feast for the unity of the whole Church with its head, which is why it is a holy day of obligation (again, except here).
There is another reason why the Church specifically honors these two saints together in one feast day. In the Neronian persecution they in fact died separately, but nevertheless, together sanctified Rome by their blood. Rome was a great persecutor, and would continue to lay up many martyrs to the faith. Yet, the blood of the two Apostles firmly established the Church in Rome, and provided strength to it while under siege for the next 250 years. The bones of St. Peter and St. Paul were cherished by Christians, and moved into the catacombs to protect them from desecration.
The two paintings above, hang in the Church of Santa Maria del Populo, in Rome, right as pilgrims would traditionally enter the city from the north. They are in a side chapel which has an interesting history. The paintings there were part of a challenge between Caravaggio and a rival artist, Caracci, who painted in what is called the “Mannerist” style, generally loathed by art historians, though it in fact has many good points, especially for faith. Caravaggio was temperamental (to say the least), and annoyed that Caracci got the altar piece, decided to show his displeasure by painting the horse so that its rear end would be facing Carraci’s painting. Nevertheless, he provides a great image, the blinding light. Paul is off of his horse and his eyes are blinded, as the light shines upon him. A light that is too pure to be perceived without an interior light, namely the light of faith.
Now, St. Thomas makes the observation, that a single heresy is sufficient to corrupt the virtue of faith, when he says:
…qui discredit unum articulum fidei non habet habitum fidei neque formatae neque informis.
…one who disbelieves [even] one article of faith does not have the habitus of faith, either formed or unformed.
-Summa Theologiae II-II Q.5 a.3
Now St. Paul, who preached the faith everywhere, was martyred at a place which is now called Tre Fontane, or the Three Fountains. When his head rolled down the hill, three fountains sprang up in the places where it had rolled. Now, I was just in Rome in February, and the fountains were not flowing. You could see clearly that at one time they were because of the moisture in the rock in that part of the Church where the fountains are preserved. I asked a priest who was knowledgeable of it, what happened to the fountains? He said that he was told they stopped flowing in [surprise] 1965.
If true, this is significant because Paul represents the age of the gentiles, but the apostasy of the end times both in the book of the Apocalypse and in private revelation is that the gentiles will give up the faith. Thus we come to the Instrumentum Laboris for yet another synod of bishops. The many issues being discussed center around some pretty serious moral issues, which constitute part of the great upheaval of Western culture, namely divorce and remarriage, or, put another way, using your spouses like used cars, trying to trade them in for a better deal. There are many who would like to see a change in the Church’s praxis to allow for the sanctioning of divorce and remarriage by saying that people who have done this, without a judgment of the Church with respect to the validity of their first marriage, may come to communion. Notably Cardnal Kasper, who demonstrated yet again he hasn’t the faintest idea of what the Orthodox actually teach. This provoked a reaction, even in the curia, with many clarifying what the issue actually is. Nevertheless, going into this synod we have an Instrumentum Laboris, which proposes to give place to those advocating these very things. I haven’t finished the whole document, but certain things stand out as particularly troubling. This first I read yesterday:
Finally, the observations insist that catechesis on marriage and family, in these times, cannot be limited exclusively to the preparation of couples for marriage. Instead, a dynamic catechetical programme is needed — experiential in character — which, through personal testimony, shows the beauty of the family as transmitted by the Gospel and the documents of the Magisterium of the Church. Long before they present themselves for marriage, young people need assistance in coming to know what the Church teaches and why she teaches it. Many responses emphasize the role of parents in the catechesis on the family. As afar as the Gospel of the Family is concerned, they have an irreplaceable role to play in the Christian formation of their children. This task calls for a thorough understanding of their vocation in passing on the Church’s teaching. Their witness in married life is already a living catechesis in not only the Church but society as well. (Instrumentum Laboris, n.19)
There is a big problem here. What is proposed is “more catechesis!” This is ultimately like throwing more money at a problem. The crisis of family is not just a question of shifting values, and false ideologies. The problem of families in the modern western world is that world was built by atheistic capitalism, which has no notion of the common good and scoffs at the traditional resources large families had to support mothers. It overlooks entirely the crisis of fatherhood. It overlooks the fact that authentic Church life requires an authentically Catholic society to function. The atheistic societies that the Vatican has been praising for 50 years cannot support the family, but only tear them down. It doesn’t address that many people actively reject what the Church teaches, and as such don’t have the virtue of faith. What is needed, is more prayer and sacrifice, a liturgy that renews people’s lives, and building holy people to merit grace for the errant. This however will not be found in the document.
The most troubling thing, however, is what I saw quoted on Rorate Caeli, directly from the document:
The difficulties that arise in relation to natural law can be overcome through more attentive reference to the biblical world, to its language and narrative forms, and to “propose bringing the issue to public discussion and developing the idea of biblical inspiration and the ‘order in creation,’ which could permit a re-reading of the concept of the natural law in a more meaningful manner in today’s world.” [Instrumentum laboris, 30]
In other words, the natural law, written on man’s heart, is going to be re-read. This is the type of progressive language that is typical of modernism. Re-read, rediscover, so that something contrary to what came before is now a “harmonious development”, a new fruit of “spiritual riches” to contemplate. In other words, this is more of the same.
The blinding light Caravaggio so powerfully paints cannot be seen by those who are spiritually blind. Yet it seems those are the ones writing these documents!