Amoris Laetitia: The Monster at the End of This Book
[It gets off to a bad start and goes down hill from there]
Written by Chris Jackson | Remnant Columnist
The long awaited Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetita, is now out. As a lay Traditional Catholic with common sense, I will now lay out the reasons I found the exhortation an epic tragedy. Many of these reasons you will probably never hear from the Neo-Catholic pundits. I will first quote a selected portion of the exhortation in red, and then give my reaction. The number in parentheses is the paragraph in Amoris Laetita where the quote can be found. Predictably, I did not get past the first paragraph without spitting my coffee out.
As the Synod Fathers noted, for all the many signs of crisis in the institution of marriage, “the desire to marry and form a family remains vibrant, especially among young people, and this is an inspiration to the Church” (1)
Thus, the exhortation begins with a lie in the very first paragraph, lessening the credibility of anything that comes later. The headline of an article reporting on the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia as recently as September of 2015 read, “Fewer children born, fewer marriages, point to global changes afoot.”
Population researcher Andres Salazar of Colombia, representing the Western Hemisphere, followed Dumont with a review of worldwide marriage trends. He noted that two-partner families remain the worldwide majority, but overall marriage rates are declining worldwide and more couples have begun cohabitating.
The data from both Western Europe and Central and South America reveal the highest rates of cohabiting adults, with cohabitation rates of 10 to 15 percent worldwide; marriage rates range between 40 and 50 percent in Europe.
Even the National un-Catholic Reporter stated a year ago:
The number of Catholic marriages in the United States is at its lowest point since 1965.
Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate keeps records of Catholic Church statistics going back to 1965, tracking such things as the total number of priests, the Catholic population of the United States, and the number of baptisms and marriages per year.
The statistics show that while there were over 420,000 Catholic marriages in 1970, that number has dwindled to just over 154,000 for the year 2014.
It is astounding that Francis is apparently clueless to this trend, or is intentionally misleading the faithful from the opening gate. The reason that record low numbers of Catholics are getting married include: 1.) the permanence of marriage being destabilized by the Church’s annulment factory since Vatican II, recently made worse by Francis’ liberalizing reforms, 2.) the de facto wink and nod towards contraception, from Vatican II demoting procreation from the primary end of marriage to Francis stating contraception is not intrinsically evil in regards to the Zika virus, and 3.) now the clear message to the faithful that those in illicit second civil “marriages” are in an acceptable or at least tolerated moral situation.
Since “time is greater than space”, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium…Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs…I thought it appropriate to prepare a post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation to gather the contributions of the two recent Synods on the family, while adding other considerations as an aid to reflection, dialogue and pastoral practice, and as a help and encouragement to families in their daily commitments and challenges. (3-4)
Thus, after two synod meetings and two years of waiting for the official final synod document where all would be made clear, Francis lets us know by paragraph four that he is resolving basically nothing. He instead apparently opines that his exhortation has the doctrinal authority of your parish priest giving some friendly advice, i.e. “an aid to reflection, dialogue and pastoral practice, and as a help and encouragement to families in their daily commitments and challenges.” At this point all should stop reading, as we look to a Pope for definite moral clarity not “aids to reflection.” Popes should have already “reflected” and be ready to guide their flock.
Several decades ago, the Spanish bishops noted that families have come to enjoy greater freedom “through an equitable distribution of duties, responsibilities and tasks”; indeed, “a greater emphasis on personal communication between the spouses helps to make family life more humane”, while “neither today’s society nor that to which we are progressing allow an uncritical survival of older forms and models”. (32)
The Spanish Bishops Conference wrote these words in 1979. Thus, apparently all Catholic families from the year 33 AD until the enlightened years of disco in 1979 had less “freedom” and suffered from an inequitable “distribution of duties, responsibilities and tasks.” Not only that, Catholic spouses during these thousands of years had less emphasis on “personal communication” which made their family life “less humane!” These monsters. Yet, even in the society to which we were “progressing” in 1979 and have now reached (a society of rampant divorce, adultery, contraception, and abortion) we should still be critical of “older forms and models” of the family that may have survived. Thus, in 2016, I suppose even the form and model of family life in 1979, must now be criticized as oppressive. For the modernist, the family must always “progress” (towards what we are not told) and never cease criticizing its own past.
As Christians, we can hardly stop advocating marriage simply to avoid countering contemporary sensibilities, or out of a desire to be fashionable or a sense of helplessness in the face of human and moral failings. We would be depriving the world of values that we can and must offer. (35)
Wait. First, was not advocating marriage somehow on the table at this synod? Did Francis actually consider it for a while and then finally said, “Nah.” What document in the history of the Church has ever even taken the time to respond to such an absurd idea? And what “values” are we “offering” the world with Catholic marriages than can be annulled for almost any reason? And if they aren’t annulled, you get to see the spouse who left you and the kids for their new sweetheart receive Holy Communion at your parish church, be a lector, or a Eucharistic minister, or a godparent to a child. What value is there in this mockery of marriage? What does this offer the modern world that they can’t get from a civil marriage?
It is true that there is no sense in simply decrying present-day evils, as if this could change things. Nor it is helpful to try to impose rules by sheer authority. What we need is a more responsible and generous effort to present the reasons and motivations for choosing marriage and the family, and in this way to help men and women better to respond to the grace that God offers them. (35)
Yes, there is no sense in condemning present-day evils. This is just the sworn duty of every single pope since Peter and one of the spiritual acts of mercy. All of those silly, silly popes who condemned the evils of their time trying to “impose rules by sheer authority”. No, instead the pope must condemn present day non-evils such as climate change, global warming, extinction of species, air conditioners, and nations having legal authority over who comes in their country. Francis apparently thinks “decrying” these “evils” and those who commit them will be able to change things. Otherwise, why issue Laudato Si? Doesn’t this mean Francis believes decrying present-day evils is effective? The difference is that he does not see “present day evils” as regards marriage as true evils. Otherwise he would be blasting them as he does “crimes” against the environment.
The next sentence recommends as a solution more of the “medicine of mercy” of John XXIII, the man who did away with anathemas. I have news for Francis. Conciliar popes have been been doing this since 1958. They have been presenting only positive reasons for having Faith and never mentioning the negatives of not having it. How has that worked out for us? Trying to simply persuade people through happy faced dialogue to pick up their cross without letting them know that by sinning they are causing themselves misery and risking damnation simply does not work. Why? You are not giving them the entire truth. The Faith is never going to win a popularity contest. It is the Via Delorosa, the Way of the Cross. If you want the superficial fading human happiness of the world, you stay away from this road as far as possible and you sin. If you want the true lasting happiness of Christ it involves picking up your cross and following Him. It involves denying temporal sinful pleasures for a higher love and purpose. It involves sacrifice, which does not sound very “merciful” to modern ears.
We also need to be humble and realistic, acknowledging that at times the way we present our Christian beliefs and treat other people has helped contribute to today’s problematic situation. We need a healthy dose of self-criticism. (36)
Ahhh! Finally! Indeed this pontificate and the post-conciliar Church deserve tons of self-criticism. I mean tons. To this point there has been zero self-awareness or ability for introspection. I can only imagine the possibilities. Where to begin? I suppose the first criticism is the cowardly way the post-conciliar Church has watered down and hid the true Catholic belief on marriage. The worst criticism can begin with Vatican II contradicting the Catholic teaching that procreation is the primary end of marriage. Instead Vatican II reduced procreation to be on the same level as the unitive end of marriage and then emphasized the unitive aspect and listed it first. This gutted the true purpose of marriage, lead to acceptance of artificial contraception, and is now even being used as an argument for “gay marriage.” As Archbishop Lefebvre stated:
Marriage has always been defined by its first aim which is procreation and its secondary aim which is married love. Now, at the Council they sought to alter this definition and say there was no longer a primary aim, but that the two aims of which I speak were equivalent. It was Cardinal Suenens who proposed this change and I still remember Cardinal Brown, the Master General of the Dominicans, getting up to say, “Caveatis! Caveatis!–Beware! Beware! If we accept this definition we go against all the tradition of the Church and we pervert the meaning of marriage. We do not have the right to modify the Church’s traditional definitions.”
He quoted texts in support of his warning and there was great agitation in the nave of St. Peter’s. Cardinal Suenens was pressed by the Holy Father to moderate the terms he had used and even to change them. The Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et Spes, contains nevertheless an ambiguous passage, where emphasis is laid on procreation “without nevertheless minimizing the other aims of marriage.” The Latin verb, post habere, permits the translation “without putting in second place the other aims of marriage,” which would mean “to place them all on the same level.” This is what is wanted nowadays; all that is said about marriage comes back to the false idea expressed by Cardinal Suenens, that conjugal love–which was soon termed quite simply and much more crudely “sexuality”–comes at the head of the purposes of marriage. Consequently, under the heading of sexuality, everything is permitted–contraception, family planning and finally, abortion.
So, is this what the exhortation will finally admit to? Will the post-conciliar Church finally be able to engage in “a healthy dose of self-criticism?” Will it finally take the blame for weakening marriage through inversion of its ends, as well as issuing annulments like candy? Will Francis finally apologize for saying contraception is not intrinsically evil and lending support to the notion that the divorced and remarried can receive Holy Communion?
Then too, we often present marriage in such a way that its unitive meaning, its call to grow in love and its ideal of mutual assistance are overshadowed by an almost exclusive insistence on the duty of procreation. (36)
Of course not! The post-concilliar Church apologizes to no one. It has zero capacity for self-criticism or introspection. Instead it doubles down and dares to blame pre-Vatican II thinking on marriage (which was “officially“ changed at Vatican II and is practically non-existent in the Church today) for helping destroy marriage. Yes, Francis and his ilk have been in charge of the Church for almost six decades and somehow this Conciliar Church of the last 60 years, the Church of the New Springtime, the Church of the New Advent, has been exclusively insisting on the duty of procreation to those wanting to get married? Where? In Traditional Chapels? The places where marriage rates are doing well?
At times we have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families. This excessive idealization, especially when we have failed to inspire trust in God’s grace, has not helped to make marriage more desirable and attractive, but quite the opposite. (36)
So presenting an ideal form of marriage such as that of the Holy Family, or a family which abides by all of the moral teachings of the Church is a real “turn-off to young people? Does Francis realize that young people are idealistic by nature? That they need to be challenged to break out of the prison of the modern world’s expectations of them? That challenging them inspires courage for them to be counter-cultural and gives them something to strive for? If you give them nothing to aspire to, if you present them with a mediocre vision of the family, what possible motivation do they have to enter into marriage as something special and holy and elevated? Anyone, even a young person, knows that anything truly valuable has to be worked for and is difficult to achieve. Isn’t just handed to them. The ideal is the very motivation that keeps the young striving. Once you take this away you rob and steal the youth of any hope that the ideal is attainable. Christ said “Be ye perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Francis would say “Be ye mediocre, because perfection is too excessive.” What inspiration!
We have long thought that simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace, we were providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life. We find it difficult to present marriage more as a dynamic path to personal development and fulfillment than as a lifelong burden. (37)
So, first Francis criticizes the idea of giving young couples an ideal Catholic marriage to strive for because that is off-putting. Yet, what ideal does he propose to these coupes to make marriage more attractive? The ideal of marriage as “a dynamic path to personal development and fulfillment!” So Francis is saying that the ideal of a faithful, moral Catholic marriage can’t inspire modern young couples. But, if we sell marriage as a path to “personal development and fulfillment”, in other words if we appeal the self-centeredness and selfishness of the modern youth, we can lure them in to a Catholic marriage. And to further appeal to their selfishness Francis gives them access to an easy annulment if they want out. Thus, Francis is cheapening the Holy sacrament of matrimony to try to custom fit it to a Godless modernity. It calls to mind cheap prosperity Gospel preachers (who Francis is fond of) or self-empowerment gurus selling their 10 step systems to personal happiness on late night TV.
And what about Catholic marriage is perceived as a lifelong burden to modernity? Basically three things:
1.) Not being able to use artificial birth control, which leads to less individual material wealth and personal freedom,
2.) Having to stay faithful to one spouse the rest of their life, which limits their sexual and “romantic” freedom.
3.) Any sort of self-sacrifice or restraint which is seen as a real drag.
Yet having children is a couple’s duty to God, staying faithful is each spouse’s duty to each other, and self-sacrifice is each spouse’s duty towards their children. For what would each of these moderns from broken homes not give for parents who would have given them more siblings to play with, for parents who would have stayed together and faithful to one another, or parents who would have sacrificed their own personal pleasures and earnings to spend more time with them? Yet these things are seen as “burdens” by Francis and the modern world. Isn’t it Christ who said “My yoke is easy, My burden light.”
We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations. We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them. (37)
In order to form one’s conscience one must first have a solid grasp of Catholic principles and teachings involved as to the relevant topic. Conscience does not give any Catholic permission to act against the clear teachings of the Church. The teachings of the Church on marriage are crystal clear and it is precisely these teachings that individuals in this case wish to violate with full knowledge and now with full permission of the pope and bishops. If the consciences of these people did not already bother them, because they know they are doing something forbidden, they would not be asking permission to have the pope change the rule.
Surely it is legitimate and right to reject older forms of the traditional family marked by authoritarianism and even violence, yet this should not lead to a disparagement of marriage itself, but rather to the rediscovery of its authentic meaning and its renewal. (53)
Once again Francis betrays a cynical feminist view of traditional marriage. As we know he uses the term “authoritarianism” freely to describe anyone or any system that abides by fixed laws and enforces them, just as any pope or father did for two millennia before Francis came to enlighten us. Once again the divine order in the family given to us by God Himself is criticized by Francis as “authoritarian” and apparently leading to “violence.” Yet the worst form of violence being perpetrated in families today is that of slaughtering children in the womb. But just this past February Francis called Italy’s foremost abortion promoter one of the country’s “forgotten greats.”
Speaking of the feminism, which gave us abortion, birth control, and latch key kids, Francis goes on to praise it with little reservation:
There are those who believe that many of today’s problems have arisen because of feminine emancipation. This argument, however, is not valid, “it is false, untrue, a form of male chauvinism”. The equal dignity of men and women makes us rejoice to see old forms of discrimination disappear, and within families there is a growing reciprocity. If certain forms of feminism have arisen which we must consider inadequate, we must nonetheless see in the women’s movement the working of the Spirit for a clearer recognition of the dignity and rights of women. (54)
As opposed to Pius XI who said:
Many of them even go further and assert that such a subjection of one party to the other is unworthy of human dignity, that the rights of husband and wife are equal; wherefore, they boldly proclaim the emancipation of women has been or ought to be effected…This, however, is not the true emancipation of woman, nor that rational and exalted liberty which belongs to the noble office of a Christian woman and wife; it is rather the debasing of the womanly character and the dignity of motherhood, and indeed of the whole family, as a result of which the husband suffers the loss of his wife, the children of their mother, and the home and the whole family of an ever watchful guardian. More than this, this false liberty and unnatural equality with the husband is to the detriment of the woman herself, for if the woman descends from her truly regal throne to which she has been raised within the walls of the home by means of the Gospel, she will soon be reduced to the old state of slavery (if not in appearance, certainly in reality) and become as amongst the pagans the mere instrument of man
The exhortation then devolves into a series of long and rambling explanations of “kerygma” (a favorite expression of Kasper and other present day Neo-Modernists), generic Scripture quotes, as well as quotes from Vatican II, Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI. Then Francis takes time to break down such words as makrothyméI, which may as well be a type of sweater to 99% of the faithful, along with explaining such important words as chrestéuetai and zelói. At this point in the exhortation Francis is probably trying to lull unsuspecting readers to sleep so they won’t get to “the monster at the end of this book” which everyone knows is coming.
It Turns Out The Monster Was Francis All Along
However, I must say that while explaining perpereúetai and physioútai Francis does the best single job of describing himself I’ve ever seen. Take a look:
The following word, perpereúetai, denotes vainglory, the need to be haughty, pedantic and somewhat pushy. Those who love not only refrain from speaking too much about themselves, but are focused on others; they do not need to be the center of attention. The word that comes next – physioútai – is similar, indicating that love is not arrogant. Literally, it means that we do not become “puffed up” before others. It also points to something more subtle: an obsession with showing off and a loss of a sense of reality. Such people think that, because they are more “spiritual” or “wise”, they are more important than they really are. Paul uses this verb on other occasions, as when he says that “knowledge puffs up”, whereas “love builds up” (1 Cor 8:1). Some think that they are important because they are more knowledgeable than others; they want to lord it over them. Yet what really makes us important is a love that understands, shows concern, and embraces the weak. Elsewhere the word is used to criticize those who are “inflated” with their own importance (cf. 1 Cor 4:18) but in fact are filled more with empty words than the real “power” of the Spirit (cf. 1 Cor 4:19). (97)
The following several pages read like a Christian self-help book and are about as inspiring and profound as your typical local Novus Ordo homily. Francis manages to quote from Martin Luther King Jr. and the movie Babbette’s Feast. In addition he talks about the importance of saying please and thank you. As a bonus for those who stuck around, Francis entertainingly violates the principle of non-contradiction in paragraph 139:
Keep an open mind. Don’t get bogged down in your own limited ideas and opinions, but be prepared to change or expand them. The combination of two different ways of thinking can lead to a synthesis that enriches both. The unity that we seek is not uniformity, but a “unity in diversity”, or “reconciled diversity”. (139)
He later takes some time to appreciate the “Eastern masters”:
In this sense, we can appreciate the teachings of some Eastern masters who urge us to expand our consciousness, lest we be imprisoned by one limited experience that can blinker us. This expansion of consciousness is not the denial or destruction of desire so much as its broadening and perfection. (149)
Every form of sexual submission must be clearly rejected. This includes all improper interpretations of the passage in the Letter to the Ephesians where Paul tells women to “be subject to your husbands” (Eph 5:22). This passage mirrors the cultural categories of the time, but our concern is not with its cultural matrix but with the revealed message that it conveys…The biblical text is actually concerned with encouraging everyone to overcome a complacent individualism and to be constantly mindful of others: “Be subject to one another” (Eph 5:21). In marriage, this reciprocal “submission” takes on a special meaning, and is seen as a freely chosen mutual belonging marked by fidelity, respect and care. (156)
Once again the clear Word of God through St. Paul is reinterpreted for us JPII style, and gutted of all clear original meaning. How different Francis’ shameful embarrassment of scripture is from the clear defense of it by Pius XI in Casti Connubi.
Domestic society being confirmed, therefore, by this bond of love, there should flourish in it that “order of love,” as St. Augustine calls it. This order includes both the primacy of the husband with regard to the wife and children, the ready subjection of the wife and her willing obedience, which the Apostle commends in these words: “Let women be subject to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife, and Christ is the head of the Church.”…With great wisdom Our predecessor Leo XIII, of happy memory, in the Encyclical on Christian marriage which We have already mentioned, speaking of this order to be maintained between man and wife, teaches: “The man is the ruler of the family, and the head of the woman; but because she is flesh of his flesh and bone of his bone, let her be subject and obedient to the man, not as a servant but as a companion, so that nothing be lacking of honor or of dignity in the obedience which she pays. Let divine charity be the constant guide of their mutual relations, both in him who rules and in her who obeys, since each bears the image, the one of Christ, the other of the Church.”
Francis then goes on to insult his own celibate clergy:
In the replies given to the worldwide consultation, it became clear that ordained ministers often lack the training needed to deal with the complex problems currently facing families. The experience of the broad oriental tradition of a married clergy could also be drawn upon. (202)
So for at least 1500 years if not longer, celibate clergy of the Roman Rite have been lacking the ability to deal with “complex problems” facing families. Who knew? Thus, the crisis in the family, brought about by liberal clergy gutting marriage, is now being used by a liberal pope as a subtle implied excuse to let priests marry. For then they too will have the experience of the broad tradition of a married clergy.
The presence of lay people, families and especially the presence of women in priestly formation, promotes an appreciation of the diversity and complementarity of the different vocations in the Church. (203)
Yes, I can think of nothing better to help alleviate the dwindling numbers of vocations than to encourage seminarians to be around women so they can appreciate “diversity.” What could go wrong?
Pretty Girl Seminarian
There are a number of legitimate ways to structure programs of marriage preparation, and each local Church will discern how best to provide a suitable formation without distancing young people from the sacrament. They do not need to be taught the entire Catechism or overwhelmed with too much information. Here too, “it is not great knowledge, but rather the ability to feel and relish things interiorly that contents and satisfies the soul”. (207)
Yes, this will make things much easier when the same young people show up for their annulment in the future. Isn’t Francis is the one who estimates 50% of all Catholic marriages are invalid because the couple doesn’t know their Faith? Remember the Kasper interview?
Kasper: …I’ve spoken to the pope himself about this, and he said he believes that 50 percent of marriages are not valid. Marriage is a sacrament. A sacrament presupposes faith. And if the couple only want a bourgeois ceremony in a church because it’s more beautiful, more romantic, than a civil ceremony, you have to ask whether there was faith, and whether they really accepted all the conditions of a valid sacramental marriage—that is, unity, exclusivity, and also indissolubility.
Yet now Francis is against overwhelming these ignorant couples with “too much information” or it may distance young people from the sacrament! Yet, Francis’ approach will distance them from the sacrament anyway because under his own rationale their marriage will be invalid due to ignorance. Thus, Francis new marriage preparation approach seems to be preparing young couples for future easily obtainable annulments. If a couple can’t bear to hear the Church’s teaching on marriage without being “distanced” from it then they have no business getting married in a Catholic Church.
The procreative meaning of sexuality, the language of the body, and the signs of love shown throughout married life, all become an “uninterrupted continuity of liturgical language” and “conjugal life becomes in a certain sense liturgical”.(246)
Francis is, of course, quoting John Paul “the Great” here and his wonderful Theology of the Body. One can only hope that Novus Ordo liturgical directors don’t run with this idea. Otherwise “Conjugal Masses”, directed by Christopher West, may be coming to a parish near you.
Francis then moves on to death, though his exhortation, now in paragraph 255, simply will not die:
At particular times, we have to help the grieving person to realize that, after the loss of a loved one, we still have a mission to carry out, and that it does us no good to prolong the suffering, as if it were a form of tribute. Our loved ones have no need of our suffering, nor does it matter to them that we should ruin our lives…This does not mean imagining our loved ones as they were, but being able to accept them changed as they now are. The risen Jesus, when his friend Mary tried to embrace him, told her not to hold on to him (cf. Jn 20:17), in order to lead her to a different kind of encounter…Indeed, “our loved ones are not lost in the shades of nothingness; hope assures us that they are in the good strong hands of God”. (255-256)
I’m sure that all of our deceased loved ones in purgatory would be surprised to know that they have no need of our suffering. Especially since, as Catholics, we can offer up our suffering for their souls. Instead Francis assures us they are already in Heaven, so no biggie. In other words, stop your “suffering”, don’t worry, and be happy. But then, schizophrenically, in the next paragraph, Francis suggests praying for these same loved ones he just, in the previous paragraph assured us were in Heaven! Then again, Francis believes almost everyone goes to Heaven. So in reality, most of those in Francis’ “Heaven” probably do need our prayers.
Francis then moves on to the education of children. He channels Dr. Spock to tell us to teach our kids to say “please” “ thank you” and “sorry.” It would have been better if he had instead channeled Mr. Spock. At least then he would be forced to be logical and not contradict himself. He might then also grasp that the purpose of an exhortation is not to give child rearing advice, but to apply specific principles of the Faith to modern errors to give us clear moral guidance.
Later, the shocking heading “The Need for Sex Education” appears in paragraph 280.
The Second Vatican Council spoke of the need for “a positive and prudent sex education” to be imparted to children and adolescents “as they grow older”, with “due weight being given to the advances in the psychological, pedogogical and didactic sciences”. We may well ask ourselves if our educational institutions have taken up this challenge. (280)
Thus, Francis apparently encourages and supports “educational institutions” giving sex education our Catholic children. This is abominable as only the parents should be providing this instruction to their children.
But it is also true that masculinity and femininity are not rigid categories… A rigid approach turns into an overaccentuation of the masculine or feminine, and does not help children and young people to appreciate the genuine reciprocity incarnate in the real conditions of matrimony. Such rigidity, in turn, can hinder the development of an individual’s abilities, to the point of leading him or her to think, for example, that it is not really masculine to cultivate art or dance, or not very feminine to exercise leadership.
Just to make this clear:
Then finally, what we’ve all been dreading. Francis discusses “The Discernment of ‘Irregular’ Situations.”
First Francis shockingly defends the practice of adulterous relations by citing Vatican II and none other than John Paul “The Great!” Although the citation to JPII here is ridiculous, it does deliver some delicious irony to the JPII worshippers who saw his ambiguous and imprecise writing style as something “deep” and “profound.” It turns out it was a little too profound than they bargained for, as Francis has found a whole new level of heresy in it. The same for Vatican II:
The Church acknowledges situations “where, for serious reasons, such as the children’s upbringing, a man and woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate”. (298)
This sentence then cites footnote 329, which reads:
John PauL II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (22 November 1981), 84: AAS 74 (1982), 186. In such situations, many people, knowing and accepting the possibility of living “as brothers and sisters” which the Church offers them, point out that if certain expressions of intimacy are lacking, “it often happens that faithfulness is endangered and the good of the children suffers” (Second Vatican EcumenicaL CounciL, Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes, 51).
Yes, you read this correctly. The Vatican II citation is talking about abstaining from sexual relations to space children for grave reasons. Thus, Francis seems to be sympathetic to the idea that abstaining from adulterous relations, yes adulterous relations, not just married relations, endangers faithfulness(!!) and the “good of the children suffers(!!).” There are simply no words. If you don’t believe me, please check out the text and citations for yourselves in context.
Referring to the baptized who are divorced and civilly remarried, Francis states:
What is possible is simply a renewed encouragement to undertake a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases, one which would recognize that, since “the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases”, the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same. (300)
Then, in a footnote, yes a footnote, the Vicar of Christ on Earth states that those who are living in a state of adultery may receive Holy Communion:
This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline, since discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists. In such cases, what is found in another document applies: cf. Evangelii Gaudium (24 November 2013), 44 and 47: AAS 105 (2013), 1038-1040. (Footnote 336)
What is worse, it turns out that Francis had already decided this issue back in 2013 in Evangelii Gaudium which this footnote cites to. The citation from Evangelii Gaudium (pargraphs 44 and 47) state:
44. …the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches quite clearly: “Imputability and responsibility for an action can be diminished or even nullified by ignorance, inadvertence, duress, fear, habit, inordinate attachments, and other psychological or social factors”. Consequently, without detracting from the evangelical ideal, they need to accompany with mercy and patience the eventual stages of personal growth as these progressively occur…
47. …The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.
Paragraph 47 of Evangelii Gaudium cites to yet another footnote 51 which reads:
Cf. Saint Ambrose, De Sacramentis, IV, 6, 28: PL 16, 464: “I must receive it always, so that it may always forgive my sins. If I sin continually, I must always have a remedy”; ID., op. cit., IV, 5, 24: PL 16, 463: “Those who ate manna died; those who eat this body will obtain the forgiveness of their sins”; Saint Cyril of Alexandria, In Joh. Evang., IV, 2: PG 73, 584-585: “I examined myself and I found myself unworthy. To those who speak thus I say: when will you be worthy? When at last you present yourself before Christ? And if your sins prevent you from drawing nigh, and you never cease to fall – for, as the Psalm says, ‘what man knows his faults?’ – will you remain without partaking of the sanctification that gives life for eternity?”
Of course the ordinary and universal Magisterium of the Church has made clear time and time again that receiving the Eucharist only forgives venial sins. These are what are being referred to in the quotes above. The Church has always taught that mortal sins require the sacrament of Penance before receiving Communion.
To be cystal clear, what Francis is saying in all of this is that there can be certain circumstances where a divorced and civilly remarried Catholic, who is still engaging in adulterous relations, is not living in a state of mortal sin. He explains:
The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace. More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding “its inherent values”, or be in a concrete situation, which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin. As the Synod Fathers put it, “factors may exist which limit the ability to make a decision”. Saint Thomas Aquinas himself recognized that someone may possess grace and charity, yet not be able to exercise any one of the virtues well; in other words, although someone may possess all the infused moral virtues, he does not clearly manifest the existence of one of them, because the outward practice of that virtue is rendered difficult: “Certain saints are said not to possess certain virtues, in so far as they experience difficulty in the acts of those virtues, even though they have the habits of all the virtues”. (301)
Yes, you read this correctly. Francis is citing St. Thomas Aquinas(!) for the proposition that Catholics who are knowingly living in adultery are not in a state of mortal sin. This is nonsense.This hypothetical Catholic knows what he is doing is gravely wrong and he continues to persist in it, therefore there is no repentance, because there is no amendment of life. Remember, we are not talking about a Catholic who sincerely agrees to live as brother and sister in a civil marriage for the sake of children. That person would be able to receive the Eucharist. Instead, Francis is talking about a Catholic who chooses to remain in an active adulterous sexual relationship. There is no circumstance where this Catholic is not in a state of mortal sin, for any sort of genuine repentance would necessarily require said Catholic to either repudiate the adulterous civil marriage, or at minimum agree to live chastely if absolutely necessary for the sake of children. Thus, Francis is once again granting a false “mercy” to an unrepentant sinner. The ramifications of this will be absolutely catastrophic.
Francis then goes on to try to justify this with quotes from the New Catechism on mitigating factors for subjective culpability and talk about individual conscience. He even shamelessly cherry picks a cite from Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration Concerning the Admission to Holy Communion of Faithful Who are Divorced and Remarried (24 June 2000). But if one looks at the full text of that document one sees a complete repudiation of the argument:
Any interpretation of can. 915 that would set itself against the canon’s substantial content, as declared uninterruptedly by the Magisterium and by the discipline of the Church throughout the centuries, is clearly misleading. One cannot confuse respect for the wording of the law (cfr. can. 17) with the improper use of the very same wording as an instrument for relativizing the precepts or emptying them of their substance.
The phrase “and others who obstinately persist in manifest grave sin” is clear and must be understood in a manner that does not distort its sense so as to render the norm inapplicable. The three required conditions are:
a) grave sin, understood objectively, being that the minister of Communion would not be able to judge from subjective imputability;
b) obstinate persistence, which means the existence of an objective situation of sin that endures in time and which the will of the individual member of the faithful does not bring to an end, no other requirements (attitude of defiance, prior warning, etc.) being necessary to establish the fundamental gravity of the situation in the Church.
c) the manifest character of the situation of grave habitual sin.
For this reason, a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in “irregular” situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives. This would bespeak the closed heart of one used to hiding behind the Church’s teachings, “sitting on the chair of Moses and judging at times with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families”. Along these same lines, the International Theological Commission has noted that “natural law could not be presented as an already established set of rules that impose themselves a priori on the moral subject; rather, it is a source of objective inspiration for the deeply personal process of making decisions”. (305)
Yes, for 2,000 years Catholic pastors have been throwing stones at people’s lives by denying them Holy Communion if they are living in adultery! Who knew? Apparently even John Paul “The Great” was nothing but one with a “closed heart” who was “hiding behind the Church’s teachings, sitting on the Chair of Moses and judging at times with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families.” What a jerk! Also it seems that even the natural law. Yes the “natural law”…the one that is written on our hearts and is self-evident…should not “impose” its rules on us! God’s own natural law is simply a source of inspiration when making decisions (!). Remember when your religion teacher used to joke that God gave us The Ten Commandments not Ten Suggestions? Apparently Francis disagrees. He would have thanked Moses for the Ten Commandments and taken them under advisement as he proceeded on his deeply personal process of deciding whether to worship the Golden Calf.
Then, almost as a cruel joke, Francis has the audacity to proclaim to young people:
In order to avoid all misunderstanding, I would point out that in no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur… A lukewarm attitude, any kind of relativism, or an undue reticence in proposing that ideal, would be a lack of fidelity to the Gospel and also of love on the part of the Church for young people themselves. (307)
Ahh, yes. God’s ideal plan in all of its grandeur! God’s plan that young people aspire to a marriage where, if they decide to leave and shack up with another, they can still receive the sacraments with their concubine at their spouse’s parish. What grandeur! And here I thought Francis’ ideal of marriage was a “dynamic path to personal development” as he told us in paragraph 37.
I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care, which leaves no room for confusion. (308)
Like Jesus Christ, who said “What God has joined let no man put asunder”, “Go and sin no more.” and “Let your yes mean yes and your no mean no.”
But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness, which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, “always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street”. (309)
Francis should know exactly what Jesus wants, as Jesus has said it Himself, said it through St. Paul, and said it through every Pope and Church Tradition since 33 A.D. However, Francis doesn’t care what Jesus wants. Francis cares about what Francis “believes” Jesus wants, even if it is contrary to everything Jesus actually said or what His Church has taught for 2,000 years. Thus in addition to the Christ of Faith and the Christ of History that the Modernists gave us, we now have the Christ of Francis who blesses adulterous relations and offers His Body and Precious Blood to unrepentant adulterers.
It is providential that these reflections take place in the context of a Holy Year devoted to mercy, because also in the variety of situations affecting families “the Church is commissioned to proclaim the mercy of God, the beating heart of the Gospel, which in its own way must penetrate the mind and heart of every person.
Wait. It is providential that Francis’ allowing sacrilegious Communion is taking place in the Year of Mercy? Francis himself declared the Holy Year of Mercy in the very year he knew he was issuing this exhortation! It may be the least providential act in the history of man because it was completely controlled by Francis. Does Francis believe that he is Providence? If so, this may explain it.
At times we find it hard to make room for God’s unconditional love in our pastoral activity. We put so many conditions on mercy that we empty it of its concrete meaning and real significance. That is the worst way of watering down the Gospel. (311)
Francis then opines about mercy and unconditional love, which rings extremely hollow. There can be no mercy in the face of unrepentant adultery as repentance is a pre-condition for mercy. As Christ said in Matthew 23:37, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered together thy children, as the hen doth gather her chicks under her wings, and thou wouldest not?” Here Christ wants nothing more than to show mercy towards Jerusalem, but He cannot because they are unrepentant. He has infinite unconditional love, but He will not show mercy to a people who sees no need for it.
Yet, Francis, as we have often seen, waters down the Gospel in the “worst way” and proclaims to be more merciful than Our Lord Himself. Francis would have spared Jerusalem despite their infidelity. Francis, in effect, sets himself up as a Super Christ, more merciful than the Lord; a blasphemy. In reality Francis has not the slightest Catholic understanding of the word mercy.
Perhaps out of a certain scrupulosity, concealed beneath a zeal for fidelity to the truth, some priests demand of penitents a purpose of amendment so lacking in nuance that it causes mercy to be obscured by the pursuit of a supposedly pure justice. For this reason, it is helpful to recall the teaching of Saint John Paul II, who stated that the possibility of a new fall “should not prejudice the authenticity of the resolution” (Footnote 364)
Here we are not talking about a penitent who has a firm purpose of amendment, is forgiven, and later sins again. We are talking about a divorced and civilly remarried Catholic with no purpose of amendment at all as he refuses to extricate himself from a sinful state of life. At least in the past this Catholic might be persuaded by his conscience and the thought of death and Hell to change his life. But now those reasons have been taken away by Francis. Francis offers the non-repentant adulterer a false Heaven without repentance, which encourages the adulterer in his sin.
Francis then goes on to discuss “The Spirituality of Marriage and the Family” in the last chapter, but at this point truly Catholic readers will be so sick to their stomach at what they just read in the previous chapter they will have little time or patience to hear Francis wax poetic that families who pray together stay together.
We as Catholics have just experienced a revolutionary day. March 19, 2016 is a day that will live in infamy. The day that Jorge Mario Bergoglio acting as the Vicar of Jesus Christ on earth, issued an Apostolic Exhortation allowing a certain subset of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, Catholics living in a state of open adultery, to receive Holy Communion sacrilegiously in a state of objective and public mortal sin. Francis also insinuates that if a Catholic in such a state stops having adulterous relations it would endanger “faithfulness” in the adulterous relationship and that the good of the children of the adulterous relationship would suffer. In other words, Francis has given an official seal of approval to adultery. It matters little that Francis couched this permission in the middle of eloquent sounding verbiage warning against its abuse and uselessly reaffirming the ideal of marriage. The barn door, as they say, has been opened and the horse is already out.
Nor can anyone say that Francis did nothing but change a changeable discipline regarding who can receive Holy Communion, but did not change any doctrine. As even the post-Vatican II Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts said in 2000:
The prohibition found in the cited canon [against the divorced and civilly remarried receiving Communion], by its nature, is derived from divine law and transcends the domain of positive ecclesiastical laws: the latter cannot introduce legislative changes, which would oppose the doctrine of the Church. The scriptural text on which the ecclesial tradition has always relied is that of St. Paul: “This means that whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord unworthily sins against the body and blood of the Lord. A man should examine himself first only then should he eat of the bread and drink of the cup. He who eats and drinks without recognizing the body eats and drinks a judgment on himself.”
I believe that every Catholic has a solemn obligation to publicly condemn this act by Francis as it is an attack on Catholic doctrine and practice and an affront to the Faith. I am not a theologian, but I do not see how failure to speak out and resist on such a grave and serious public breach of doctrine cannot be a sin of omission.
The only solace I can provide is the following sermon from Archbishop Fulton Sheen. In it he explains a long lost concept in the Conciliar Church; that of “till death do us part.” This is the true Catholic vision of marriage. It will serve as a wake up call to all who listen to it of exactly how much we have lost. Listen to how the Archbishop describes a true Catholic marriage and what to do when problems arise. No doubt this sermon would be condemned by Francis as irresponsible idealism which risks scaring off young people from the sacrament. In reality it is simply the Catholic view of marriage. It is inspiring precisely because it presents the worst difficulties a marriage can bring, and challenges us, with God’s grace, to overcome these difficulties, gain merit, and even possibly save our spouse’s soul, as well as our own, in the process: