Contrast: Why Doesn’t Pope Francis Talk Like This?
Contrast: Why Doesn’t Pope Francis Talk Like This?
By John Vennari
A primary error promoted via the 2015 Synod is the alleged separation of Catholic doctrine from pastoral practice.
This dangerous notion is crystallized in Cardinal Walter Kasper’s radical proposal that would allow divorced and “remarried” Catholics to embark on an undefined “period of penance,” after which they would be readmitted to the Sacraments while remaining in their adulterous union.
Such a proposal manifests a profound malady of intellect. It is also bereft of a Catholic understanding of mortal sin, sanctifying grace, the sacraments and marriage itself.
Over the past year, a number of right-thinking prelates have stood up to oppose the Kasper plan. Each of these prelates speaks forcefully and clearly, in accord with the 2000-year magisterium of the Church.
It is revealing, however, to contrast the solid teaching of the Cardinals and bishops who defend the traditional praxis, with the statements of one senior prelate who never reiterates the central points they uphold.
We will start with the prelates who defend the integrity of Catholic truth on this issue.
Archbishop Aldo di Cillo Pagotto, Bishop Robert Vasa and Archbishop Athanasius Schneider deal with the false separation of doctrine and pastoral practice in their superb booklet, The Preferential Option for the Family. They explain, “Just as a body cannot be separated from the soul that informs it, so also pastoral practice cannot be completely separated from the moral doctrine that justifies it. Therefore, a change in the pastoral policy can easily result, at least implicitly, in a change of the implied doctrine.”
Likewise, Velasio Cardinal Velasio De Paolis affirms that pastoral care “is an art based on dogmatics, morality, and the right to act prudently according to a concrete case. There can be no pastoral ministry that is not in harmony with the truths of the Church and her morality. A pastoral care in contrast to the truth believed and lived by the Church easily becomes a harmful arbitrariness.”
Robert Cardinal Sarah, Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, confirms the same reality: “The idea of placing the Magisterium in a beautiful reliquary detaching it from pastoral practice that could evolve according to circumstance, fashions and passions is a form of heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology.”
Perhaps the most forceful is Walter Cardinal Brandmüller who speaks with admirable frankness: “It is evident that the pastoral practice of the Church cannot stand in opposition to the binding doctrine nor simply ignore it. In the same manner, an architect could perhaps build a most beautiful bridge. However, if he does not pay attention to the laws of structural engineering, he risks the collapse of his construction. In the same manner, every pastoral practice has to follow the Word of God if it does not want to fail. A change of the teaching, of the dogma, is unthinkable. Who nevertheless consciously does it, or insistently demands it, is a heretic – even if he wears the Roman Purple.”
We applaud these prelates who address this issue without ambiguity and without apology.
There is one prelate, however, whom we never hear speak like this, and that is Pope Francis. If anything, Francis always comes down on the side of the radicals, by what he says, and by what he fails to say.
At the February 2013 Consistory, when Cardinal Kasper first announced his brazen proposal, Francis did not warn that such a pastoral practice is a “form of heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology.” No, Francis singled out Kasper for praise before the entire Consistory, lauded him for his “serene theology,” and rhapsodized, “This is what I call doing theology on one’s knees. Thank you. Thank you.”
Since then, there is no indication Francis has dampened his admiration of the Kasper plan. At a surprise address given to the Synod on October 8, in an unsuccessful attempt to allay fears that the Synod was being manipulated to a pre-determined radical end, Francis said, “Catholic doctrine on marriage has not been touched, no one called it into question in this assembly or in the Extraordinary assembly. It has been preserved in its integrity.”
Yes, the “doctrine” allegedly has not been touched, but how about the traditional discipline that supports the doctrine?
Francis also urged Synod Fathers to not let themselves “be conditioned or limit” themselves, “seeing the question of Communion for remarried divorcees as the only problem.”
The “question” of Communion for remarried divorcees?
Why does Francis present the settled truth regarding Communion for divorced and remarried as an open question now up for discussion?
The game plan all along was to give the appearance of leaving doctrine untouched while subverting the discipline. Francis never assures us the received discipline regarding divorced, remarried and readmission to the sacraments “will be preserved in its integrity,” but only speaks of doctrine.
And by speaking of the “question” of Communion for remarried divorcés, Francis ensures that the perfidious Kasper proposal remains on the Synod agenda. The 2015 Instrumentum Laboris (the Synod Working document) contains the essence of the Kasper proposal in sections 121 and 123.
Thus Pope Francis gives the game away while pretending to allay our fears. This is obvious not only in what he says, but in what he fails to say – a tactic of Modernists known as “conspicuous silence.” By refusing to affirm that which should be reaffirmed, the door is left open for further revolutionary mayhem.
There is another name for this cagey approach. It is called manipulation.
In short, we are being manipulated to believe that the Synod is not being manipulated.
Thus I am stunned to see a number of Catholics, including various conservative prelates whom I believe should know better, express satisfaction with Francis’ claim that doctrine of marriage “will be preserved in its integrity,” as if we can all rest assured the Synod will work no mischief in this regard.
Until we hear Francis speak with the same clarity on this topic as does Cardinal de Paolis, Cardinal Sarah, Cardinal Brandmüller, Archbishop di Cillo Pagotto, Archbishop Schneider and Bishop Vasa; until we hear Francis state, “There can be no pastoral ministry that is not in harmony with the truths of the Church and her morality”; until Francis announces the Kasper proposal is formally stricken from the Synod Working document, we can not help but suspect that malevolent Synod manipulation continues full gallop.
“Preferential Option for the Family: 100 Questions and Answers Relating to the Synod,” [Edizioni Supplica Filiale, 2015]; Remaining in the Truth Of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, [Ignatius Press, 2015];” Cardinal Brandmüller: “Advocates for changing Catholic teaching on marriage are ‘heretics’ – even if they are bishops,” Lifesite News, April 14, 2015; “Pope urges bishops not to give in to conspiracy theories,” Vatican Insider, Oct. 18, 2015. – on all quotes, emphasis added.
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