by Christopher A. Ferrara
March 3, 2017
The day after my column on Phil Lawler’s cri de cœur concerning “This Disastrous Pontificate” appeared, another voice from the mainstream, citing Lawler’s piece, has joined the growing chorus of mainstream alarm about the rapid acceleration and threatened train wreck of the Bergoglio Express.
Thomas Peters at catholicvote.org posted an article entitled “This Papacy is in Crisis and in Need of Urgent Prayer this Lent.” Peters states the simple, undeniable truth: “The papacy is meant to unite the Church, not divide it. Almost four years into the papacy of Pope Francis, the division his teaching (or lack of teaching) is causing has reached a crisis point.”
If anything, Peters is even more forthright than Lawler in his assessment of the past four years:
“Whatever your view of this papacy — positive, neutral or negative — it should be obvious to all that something is wrong in Rome. Dysfunctional is the word that comes to mind.
“Vatican financial reform abandoned, cardinals openly sniping at one another, the clergy sex-abuse response falling apart, bishops saying diametrically opposed things to one another — this isn’t a ‘messy’ Church as Pope Francis has sometimes said he wants, this is a Church drifting and directionless.
“If all of this were happening under the pontificate of Pope Benedict or Saint John Paul II, the media would be having a field day, calling Pope Francis a failed leader and urging a vote of no confidence from his curia.
“Instead, the liberal media is happy to let Pope Francis off the hook because the liberal media loves where this is headed — schism, discord, confusion and chaos.
“As faithful Catholics, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to what is unfolding.”
Indeed, the situation is now completely out of control. In an interview with Edward Pentin, Cardinal Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts, whose outrageous pronouncements based solely on Amoris Laetitia (AL) I discussed here, attempted to explain his position, which is to say Francis’ position. The results confirm Peters’ conclusion that this pontificate is headed toward “schism, discord, confusion and chaos.”
Coccopalmerio seriously proposes that someone living in an adulterous “second marriage” can be absolved and admitted to Holy Communion while continuing to engage in sexual relations outside of marriage so long as he affirms to his confessor “I want to change, but I know that I am not capable of changing, but I want to change.” Coccopalmerio thus tosses out the window the Church’s constant teaching that there can be no absolution from mortal sin without a firm commitment to sin no more. Under the new Bergoglian Rule, it would be understood that habitual sin will continue while the habitual sinner considers whether and when he will refrain from it.
Pentin pressed Coccopalmerio on whether he was really saying that, post-AL, public adulterers are no longer expected to end their adulterous relations before being absolved of their adultery and admitted to Holy Communion. The answer is almost impossible to believe: “If you wait until someone changes their style of life, you wouldn’t absolve anymore anyone at all.”
In other words, Coccopalmerio anticipates the mass concession of invalid absolutions to people who decline to cease their violations of the Sixth Commandment because they deem themselves incapable of doing so, while protesting that they wish to change.
Absurdly enough, habitual mortal sinners who are nonetheless deemed absolved under the Bergoglian Rule, even though it is understood they will continue committing the same sin, would be in a state of grace according to Coccopalmerio, given the sacramental absolution. Yet for him — and apparently for Francis — the absolution produces no difference in future behavior. Grace effectively becomes irrelevant to human action, and the Sacrament of Confession is reduced to a kind of meaningless pat on the head.
Here, unwittingly or not, Coccopalmerio subscribes to the very error anathematized by the Council of Trent in answer to Luther: that it is “impossible” to keep the Commandments even if one is in the state of grace. As Trent decreed infallibly:
CANON XVIII. – If any one saith, that the commandments of God are, even for one that is justified and constituted in grace, impossible to keep; let him be anathema.
At any rate, how would a confessor know that a beneficiary of the Bergoglian Rule really does wish to change but cannot (as if that mere wish were sufficient)? Another answer almost impossible to believe: “You have to pay attention to what the penitent says. If you know — you can tell if he is misleading you.” So now, apparently, the confessor is to make credibility determinations as to which habitual mortal sinners can be given permission to continue sinning under the Bergoglian Rule, excluding those who are deemed insincere in their claim that they just can’t help themselves. How about installing polygraphs in the confessionals?
This pontificate has become such a clear and present danger to the Church that now even many of the cardinals who voted for the man from Argentina not only regret having done so, but are actually considering ways in which Francis might be persuaded to resign before the damage becomes irreparable.
In an article appearing in Il Libero, later linked by both the Times of London and EWTN (scroll down), Antonio Socci reports that members of the Curia who voted for Bergoglio at the 2013 Conclave are hoping to “mend the Church” by inducing Francis to step down in favor of the Vatican Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, thus “avoiding a tragic split.” (Defenders of Francis, however, ascribe to these cardinals — approximately a dozen in number — the motive of regaining the power they have lost to “the ‘parallel curia’ created at Santa Marta,” whose existence I discussed here.)
The plan clearly has no chance of success. Francis will not resign while his “dream” of “transforming everything” in the Church remains unrealized. The story in the Times quotes an unidentified Vaticanist as follows: “A good number of the majority that voted for Bergoglio in 2013 have come to regret their decision, but I don’t think it’s plausible that members of the hierarchy will pressure the Pope to resign. Those who know him know it would be useless. [He] has a very authoritarian streak. He won’t resign until he has completed his revolutionary reforms, which are causing enormous harm.”
As this pontificate follows its ever more reckless course, there are rumors, based on leaks from Casa Santa Marta, of one coming bombshell after another:
• approval for some sort of female “deaconesses”;
• a new ecumenical order of Mass, being concocted by a secret commission, that would permit a form of intercommunion with Protestants;
• the transformation of Catholic parishes into “ecumenical communities” administered not only by priests but also Protestant ministers on the theory that their ministries possess “partial” validity — as Coccopalmerio suggests at the end of his bizarre interview with Pentin.
At this point the faithful can only hope, pray and do penance in this Lenten season for the protection of the Church — from Francis. Perhaps as the centenary of the Fatima event approaches, heavenly relief from this untenable situation is near at hand, even if it might involve very dramatic consequences for the Church and the world.