Lest anyone think the Monsignor is some ultra-progressive outlier not representative of the way the Church is moving under Francis, consider that every word he said had already been suggested by Francis’s own plenitude of progressivist pronouncements. Nor are we dealing only with spontaneous remarks to journalists by the Pope one “normalist” ludicrously defends as “the most misunderstood Pope in history.” In Evangelii Gaudium (EG), a formal papal document (however dubious its authority), Francis made the Monsignor sound rather conservative. In statements entirely unprecedented for a Roman Pontiff, Francis mocked “those who long for a monolithic body of doctrine guarded by all and leaving no room for nuance,” and the “self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who … feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past.” He declared that “[m]ore than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges…”
Incredibly enough, EG belittles orthodoxy and orthopraxy as such: “a supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism.” Still worse: “[y]oung people call us to renewed and expansive hope, for they represent new directions for humanity and open us up to the future, lest we cling to a nostalgia for structures and customs which are no longer life-giving in today’s world.” That notion represents tradition turned on its head: the Church is to be guided by what young people hand up, not what the Church has handed down through the centuries.
Of course such statements are mere blather. But this is the Pope speaking! No Pope has ever uttered such progressivist crudities, much less within the four corners of an Apostolic Exhortation. We must face the truth: Francis is not “the most misunderstood Pope in history,” but rather the most liberal Pope in history. Thus it is Francis who not only ignores pandemic heterodoxy and heteropraxis in the priesthood, which is hardly a new aspect of the post-conciliar papacy, but also orders the unprecedented persecution of a perfectly orthodox, bi-ritual religious order, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, even forbidding its celebration of the traditional Latin Mass—and this for no other reason than what his tyrannical “apostolic commissioner,” Father Fidenzio Volpi, calls “crypto-Lefebvrianism” and a “traditionalist drift.”
And it is Francis who has just lifted the suspension a divinis of the Marxist priest Miguel D’Escoto, the “liberation theologian” John Paul II suspended from priestly ministry 29 years ago. D’Escoto received the Lenin Peace Prize, was an official of the Communist-infiltrated World Council of Churches, and served as a foreign minister in the Marxist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. He was even President of the UN General Assembly from 2008-2009, in which capacity he gave a speech declaring that “we are all sons and daughters of Earth and that we belong to her,” calling for a “planetary civilization” that is “more respectful of Mother Earth, more inclusive of all people and with more solidarity with the poorest, which is more spiritual and full of reverence for the splendor of the universe and which is much happier.” And how did D’Escoto respond to Francis’s supposed gesture of “mercy” toward an old radical the “normalists” suggest must have repented of his errors? On August 6, speaking on Nicaraguan television, D’Escoto promptly resumed his preaching of Liberation Theology, praising Fidel Castro as an instrument of the Holy Ghost and thumbing his nose at Rome:
The Vatican may silence everyone, then God will make the stones speak, and may the stones spread his message, but He didn't do this, He chose the greatest Latin-American of all time: Fidel Castro… It is through Fidel Castro that the Holy Spirit sends us the message. This message of Jesus, of the need to struggle to establish, firmly and irreversibly, the kingdom of God on this earth, which is his alternative to the empire.
This is the raving heretic Francis has restored to the exercise of the sacred priesthood while he approves the merciless destruction of the orthodox Franciscan Friars. Given the mounting evidence before our eyes, it seems that only an extraordinary intervention of the Holy Ghost will be able to avert the worst consequences of “the Francis effect” that has been exciting paroxysms of delight in the Church’s worst enemies almost from the moment that Francis, emerging from the Conclave, referred to himself as merely “the Bishop of Rome” on the balcony of Saint Peter’s.
The liberal drift of this papacy has become so blatant that even a religion reporter specializing in Anglican affairs has taken critical notice of it. Referring to the Pope’s recent interview in the newspaper El Clarín, wherein Francis prescribed a ten-point plan for happiness, including “live and let live” and “the worst thing of all is religious proselytism, which paralyzes,” the writer observes that “the impression given by this interview is that the pope ‘doesn’t do God.’” The article continues with this astonishing journalistic assessment of a Roman Pontiff:
Having covered the Church of England for most of my journalistic career my antenna has been finely tuned to appreciate episcopal cant—the verbal sludge of conventional wisdom, platitudes and calculated boredom designed to obfuscate that arises in many Anglican interviews. The El Clarín piece has left me feeling at home, and somewhat sticky….
For a religion reporter—an individual knowledgeable about the doctrines of the Catholic Church and the events of recent years—the pope’s words are more than worldly and banal. They question Catholic doctrine. Is the sentiment “live and let live” or the denunciation of proselytizing in line with the catechism of the church?
We know that we have entered previously unknown territory when a non-Catholic journalist notices that the Pope appears to have a problem with Catholicism. As the Synod that same Pope has convoked rapidly approaches, we cannot but fear for the outcome.
The Crisis of the Synod on the Family
Over the next two months the microbes of the neo-Modernist rebound infection that is the “Francis effect” will be moving rapidly toward the site of what could be a devastating flare-up of the infection: the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. First they came for the Roman Rite, which they destroyed. Then they came for the Church Militant, which they disarmed and surrendered to the spirit of the age. Now, at the Synod, which threatens to become Vatican II rebooted, progressivist bishops and their apparatchiks will be coming for the moral law itself under the guise of a search for “pastoral solutions” to “challenges facing the family”—more of the seditious slogans by which the ideology of Vatican-II-ism has eclipsed the doctrines of the Faith.
Alarmism? Read this: “The goal of the Synod of Bishops on the Family is not just to repeat doctrines but to find solutions for remarried divorcees and for everyone.” So says Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, no less than President of the Pontifical Council for the Family. It was Paglia who told the press in February 2013: “In the world there are 20 or 25 countries where homosexuality is a crime, I would like the church to fight against all this.”
But what “solutions” for the divorced and “remarried” do progressives like Paglia have in mind, given that for 2,000 years the Church has offered the only solution permitted by obedience to the teaching of Christ Himself: confession, absolution, and an end to adulterous relations, even if the couple must remain under one roof for the sake of the children. We do not need a Synod on the Family to “find” the same solution the Church has always insisted upon in fidelity to the Gospel, and which John Paul II reaffirmed unambiguously a mere 33 years ago in Familiaris Consortio:
Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance, which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they “take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples. (Familiaris Consortio, 84)
As Vatican II Fever reaches a new height, not even the teaching of the very Pope that Francis canonized will be allowed to stand in the way of the geriatric neo-Modernists Francis has given a new lease on life, including those who make up his Council of Nine. The very head of that congeries of Vatican II diehards, the amateur saxophonist Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, age 71, has already declared that Familaris Consortio is a dead letter:
That was 30 [sic] years ago. For most people today the type of family we had then does not exist any more. And it is true: There are divorces, patchwork families, single parents, things like surrogate mothers, marriages without children and same sex couples. These things were not even on the horizon in 1980. All of this demands answers for today’s world. It is not good enough to say: We have the traditional teaching. Of course, the traditional teaching will continue to be there. But the pastoral challenges require answers for today. And these answers do not come from authoritarianism and moralism. This is not a “New Evangelization”, no, no!
Just how little credibility Rodríguez has is shown by his transparently disingenuous claim that the Church knew nothing of divorces, single parents, and marriages without children in the 1980s. As for surrogate motherhood, John Paul II condemned the practice in 1987 (cf. the CDF Instruction Donum Vitae, whose publication the Pope ordered), while “same sex couples” are as old as sodomy itself.
In short, the proponents of “solutions” at the Synod for “challenges” the Church has supposedly never faced until now are, quite simply, engaged in deception. In fact, the Synod itself is premised on a grand deception: that there is suddenly an urgent need for novel “pastoral solutions” to the moral defection of vast masses of Catholics, rather than a reaffirmation and renewed promotion of the Church’s infallible moral teaching, which the post-Vatican II hierarchy has in general either buried in silence or failed to defend with anything approaching the requisite fortitude.
As Rodríguez further stated in the quoted interview: “On the day of John Paul II’s canonization, Francis invoked the help of the papal saint in the upcoming Synod on the family.” Consider the sheer audacity of invoking the intercession of John Paul II at a Synod whose proponents openly declare their intention to ignore his teaching on the utter impossibility of Holy Communion for those living in adulterous unions. Again, this is the very head of the Pope’s handpicked council of advisors speaking.
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And then there is “the Pope’s theologian,” the blatant heretic Cardinal Walter Kasper, who denies the historicity of the Apostolic Succession and the infallible declaration of Pope Leo XIII on the absolute invalidity of Anglican orders. Recall that Francis praised Kasper as “a talented theologian, a good theologian” on no less an occasion than his first Angelus address as Pope. Francis personally solicited Kasper’s proposal to admit the divorced and “remarried” to Holy Communion in “some” cases as part of a keynote address for the “Extraordinary Consistory on the Family” back in February, later praising the address as “beautiful and profound.” And if you think the Pope is not favorable toward Kasper’s Modest Proposal for the subversion of Holy Matrimony in particular, think again: “I do not know if my proposals will be acceptable. I made them in agreement with the pope; I did not do them just myself. I spoke beforehand with the pope, and he agreed.” It was reported that during the Consistory “85% percent of cardinals who spoke up after Kasper were against Kasper’s proposals.” Further, Kasper’s frontal attack on the indissolubility of marriage is so alarming that Cardinal Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (whom Francis removed from the crucial Congregation for Bishops) has publicly condemned it in a video interview, noting that if Kasper’s proposal were accepted the martyrdom of Saints Thomas More and John Fisher would be senseless. Yet Kasper is still “enjoying the spotlight of Francis’ admiration.”
There can be no doubt about it: if the Synod arrives at new “solutions for remarried divorcees,” those “solutions” would undermine the moral edifice of the Church to the point of collapse. For if, under any circumstances, a couple living in a state of continuing public adultery could be admitted to Holy Communion with the understanding that they would continue to engage in sexual relations outside of marriage, not only the indissolubility of marriage, not only the immorality of adultery and fornication, but the very concept of mortal sin would become impossible to maintain in practice. The Church could no longer credibly claim that any form of obstinately sinful behavior renders one unworthy to receive the Body and Blood of Christ. This is not even to discuss the infinite offenses to God that would follow from the institutionalized sacrilege involved in any such “pastoral solution.”
The Instrumentum Laboris: an Opening to Disaster
But the proposal to find “solutions for remarried divorcees” is only part of the looming threat posed by the Synod—a Synod for which there is no more actual need than there was for the disastrous Second Vatican Council itself. The entire Synod project smacks of an effort to determine Church practice on the basis of what people who reject Church teaching would like to see. In that regard, the Synod’s Instrumentum Laboris (working document) refers to the earlier “Preparatory Document” containing a survey filled with loaded questions which give the impression that Church teaching is a matter for debate and discussion at the “pastoral” level. While the questionnaire was directed solely to the bishops, many bishops promptly distributed it widely or posted it on diocesan websites to obtain “input” from any priests and members of the laity who wished to speak for “the People of God.” The result, quite predictably, was that a questionnaire intended for the bishops became an opinion poll generating what the Instrumentum Laboris calls “significant reflection among the People of God” regarding “new demands of the People of God.” Demands!
It seems, however, that “the People of God” have a problem with the Law of God. Half a century after the imaginary “renewal of Vatican II” supposedly began, the Instrumentum admits: “[t]he People of God’s knowledge of conciliar and post-conciliar documents on the Magisterium of the family seems to be rather wanting,” that “many Christians, for various reasons, are found to be unaware of the very existence of this teaching,” and that “even when the Church’s teaching about marriage and the family is known, many Christians have difficulty accepting it in its entirety.” It is of course inconceivable to the ideologues of Vatican II that what the Instrumentum describes is a catastrophic failure of the attempt to “update” Church teaching by restating it in more accessible language. Yet the very title of the document, “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization,” is an implied admission that fifty years after the Council it is lapsed Catholics who must be evangelized because they are more or less apostates, producing the “silent apostasy” John Paul II lamented. Instead of admitting the Council’s utter failure to “renew” the Faith, however, the drafters of the Instrumentum—one can only laugh at the suggestion—call for yet another “updating” of Church teaching:
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…. Moreover, this proposal insists on using language which is accessible to all, such as the language of symbols utilized during the liturgy.
Apparently, such teachings as “Thou shalt not commit adultery” or “What God hath joined together, let no man put asunder” are too obscure for “the People of God.” According to the Instrumentum, after fifty years of imaginary renewal “the People of God” now find the Ten Commandments incomprehensible. In that regard, the proposal to use “the language of symbols” to teach the natural law on marriage and procreation is interesting. Perhaps the Vatican could devise a “No Adultery” meme depicting a couple in a compromising situation with a diagonal line through the image. Or perhaps parish priests could employ liturgical dancers or sign language to depict the consequences of marital infidelity instead of the usual boring (albeit never given) homilies on offenses against the Sixth Commandment, including contraception, a subject the post-Vatican hierarchy has avoided like the bubonic plague.
On the subject of contraception, the Instrumentum appears to affirm Humanae Vitae and an “openness to life” while undermining that teaching in the usual Modernist fashion of denying implicitly what is affirmed explicitly. The Instrumentum does this by employing polling data for a kind of sociological survey to relativize the moral question:
A vast majority of responses emphasize how the moral evaluation of the different methods of birth control is commonly perceived today as an intrusion in the intimate life of the couple and an encroachment on the autonomy of conscience. Clearly, believers hold different positions and have diverse attitudes on this subject, depending on the different parts of the world where they live and their local surroundings, including those who find themselves immersed in highly secularized and technically advanced cultures and those who live a simpler life in rural areas. Many responses recommend that for many Catholics the concept of “responsible parenthood” encompasses the shared responsibility in conscience to choose the most appropriate method of birth control, according to a set of criteria ranging from effectiveness to physical tolerance and passing to a real ability to be practiced.
So, according to the Instrumentum, “believers” can be for or against the intrinsic evil of contraception depending on their social and cultural circumstances, giving rise to “different positions and diverse attitudes.” The method here is precisely that of Montesquieu’s The Spirit of the Laws, wherein that proto-Modernist practically founded the modern school of anthropological relativism.
Having noted the “different positions and diverse attitudes” of the “People of God” respecting contraception, the Instrumentum, predictably enough, hints at a “pastoral” accommodation of this endemic evil, but without saying so explicitly:
Sacramental practice, in particular the celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and participation in the Holy Eucharist are included in the pastoral treatment of the subject of openness to life. In this regard, almost all the responses mention that, in areas strongly influenced by secularization, couples generally do not consider the use of contraceptive methods to be a sin. As a result, they tend not to consider it a matter for confession or a problem in approaching the Eucharist…. The responses also demonstrate the diversity in pastoral practice among the clergy in reference to this subject, including those who show understanding and support and others who are either very rigid or entirely permissive.
The cited “diversity in pastoral practice” clearly includes the practice of many confessors who generally indulge the sin of contraception. Having relativized the question as one involving a diversity of attitudes, positions and pastoral practices, the Instrumentum suggests a middle ground between “very rigid” and “entirely permissive,” which can only mean some degree of permissiveness in order to show “understanding and support.”
Concerning Kasper’s proposal to admit divorced and “remarried” Catholics to the Sacraments while continuing their adulterous sexual relations, the Instrumentum, employing its opinion survey method to relativize the question, states that “[a] good number of responses speak of the very many cases, especially in Europe, America and some countries in Africa, where persons clearly ask to receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist…. In this regard, some recommend considering the practice of some Orthodox Churches, which, in their opinion, opens the way for a second or third marriage of a penitential character…. Others request clarification as to whether this solution is based on doctrine or is merely a matter of discipline.”
The suggestion that the Catholic Church could even consider adopting the “practice of some of the Orthodox Churches” and allow a “second or third marriage of a penitential character” and that there is some question whether “this solution is based on doctrine or is merely a matter of discipline” appears in the Instrumentum with explosive impact. The very word “solution” implies that the Church’s perennial practice is a problem that must in some way be solved. The Orthodox practice is no “solution” to a problem that does not exist in the first place; it is, rather, a blatant departure from the teaching of Christ Himself on the indissolubility of sacramental marriage. To adopt the error of the Orthodox would be to destroy the very credibility of the Church in her infallible moral teaching down through the centuries, up to and including the teaching of John Paul II. Yet the Instrumentum presents the Orthodox defection from the Gospel as if it were fair matter for consideration at the Synod. The staggering implications need not be elaborated.
These indications should suffice to demonstrate that, like certain documents of Vatican II, the Instrumentum contains dangerous openings to heterodox interpretation and revolutionary change. Indeed, the Instrumentum will serve as the working document for a gathering of progressive prelates who threaten to make Vatican II look like Trent.
An Opening to Pastoral “Acceptance” of “Gay Marriage” and “Gay Couples”
But the progressives do not intend to stop at proposals formally to admit unrepentant public adulterers and contraceptors to Holy Communion as a “pastoral practice,” which in fact is already the informal practice in many places. The Instrumentum also sounds ominous notes of the “gay-friendliness” that is likewise spreading throughout the Church, beginning with the Pope himself (the first Pope to use the phrase “gay person”), giving rise to what one neo-Catholic commentator has (not disapprovingly) called the New Homophiles among the Catholic intelligentsia. Accordingly, concerning “same-sex unions” the Instrumentum states:
The episcopal conferences amply demonstrate that they are trying to find a balance between the Church’s teaching on the family and a respectful, non-judgmental attitude towards people living in such unions. On the whole, the extreme reactions to these unions, whether compromising or uncompromising, do not seem to have facilitated the development of an effective pastoral programme which is consistent with the Magisterium and compassionate towards the persons concerned.
Here we see how, à la the Montesqueian method of the sociological survey, the Instrumentum tilts decidedly in favor of a “non-judgmental” acceptance of “gay marriage” at the “pastoral” level, while maintaining lip service to the moral law. After all, who could be against “a respectful, non-judgmental attitude” toward anyone, including those whose “unions” happen to be based on sodomy? Who are we to judge?
To say, as the Instrumentum does, that “extreme reactions” toward “same-sex unions” include both the compromising and the uncompromising is to say—as if we were too stupid to notice—that there must be some degree of compromise. In that regard the Instrumentum decries the supposed lack of “an effective pastoral programme which is consistent with the Magisterium and compassionate towards the persons concerned.” In other words, the Church has hitherto lacked compassion for those involved in sodomitical relations the Instrumentum sanitizes by calling them “same-sex unions.” But what sort of compassion should the Church exhibit other than the compassion she has always shown in calling upon poor sinners to repent and the faithful to pray and make sacrifices for their repentance and salvation?
By “compassion,” however, the Instrumentum is clearly suggesting something else: an institutionalized “pastoral” toleration of homosexual activity, while supposedly maintaining in principle that it is wrong. How else can the document be read, given that it presumes that “same-sex unions” would continue under a “compassionate” and “effective pastoral programme” for “people living in such unions”? Continuing with its Montesqueian sociological survey of data suggesting that “unions” between sodomites are a tolerable social development, the Instrumentum observes:
Episcopal conferences supply a variety of information on unions between persons of the same sex. In countries where legislation exists on civil unions, many of the faithful express themselves in favour of a respectful and non-judgmental attitude towards these people and a ministry which seeks to accept them. This does not mean, however, that the faithful give equal status to heterosexual marriage and civil unions between persons of the same sex. Some responses and observations voice a concern that the Church’s acceptance of people in such unions could be construed as recognition of their union.
There we have it: the problem, according to the Instrumentum, is to find a way to accept “civil unions between persons of the same sex” without making them equal to marriage. There is no longer any question of condemning such unions as per se immoral and a threat to the common good, as the Church did under Popes John Paul II and Benedict. To hint at the desired outcome, the Instrumentum pits poll responses from “many of the faithful,” who favor “a respectful and non-judgmental attitude towards these people and a ministry which seeks to accept them,” against merely “some responses” which “voice a concern that the Church’s acceptance of people in such unions could be construed as recognition of their union.”
The key words are “accept” and “acceptance.” What could be wrong with “acceptance,” which sounds so much more Christian to modern ears than “rejection”? According to the Instrumentum, the majority of “the People of God,” whose opinions were never supposed to have been solicited in the first place, are in favor a “ministry” to “gay couples” that “compassionately,” respectfully and non-judgmentally “seeks to accept them.” But this is the same “People of God” who, as the Instrumentum itself admits, widely disobey God’s law. Yet it is the same “People of God” whose “new demands” the Instrumentum presents to the upcoming Synod as matters for serious deliberation and decision, as if the Church were now a democracy governed by “the will of the people.”
In sum, after fifty years of growing apostasy among “the People of God,” the same hierarchs who have presided over the apostasy now propose to consult “new demands” from the apostates for “pastoral solutions” to their apostasy. As always these days, Sister Lucia’s phrase “diabolical disorientation” comes to mind. But now the disorientation is reaching a new level of intensity, suggesting what historians call a climacteric—a major turning point—in the history of the post-conciliar crisis in the Church.
It is entirely possible that the Synod will somehow avoid disaster, perhaps through the aforesaid extraordinary intervention of the Holy Ghost. But it is also entirely possible that, without negating one iota of Catholic teaching in principle, the Synod will unleash an unprecedented negation of doctrine in practice through previously unheard-of “optional” and purely “pastoral” accommodations of sins that have become endemic during the watch of the same wayward prelates who now propose to fix what they themselves have broken.
As Cardinal Pallavicino (a/k/a Pallavicini) famously observed in defense of the Council of Trent: “To convoke a general council, except when absolutely demanded by necessity, is to tempt God.” The absolute necessity of Trent was self-evident. The absolute necessity of Vatican II was non-existent. This unnecessary Synod, like the unnecessary Council in whose name it has been called, tempts God by convoking an assemblage of prelates whose subversive intentions have already been publicly declared.
Faced with this threat, the neo-Catholic “normalists,” in typical fashion, counsel the avoidance of any expression of alarm about the Synod, along with private prayers that it will do no harm. Somehow they fail to notice that proponents of the Synod and its own working document cite public “demands” from purported members of “the People of God” who have not been silent and are at this very moment militating for devastating changes in Church discipline.
More than prayer, which is always necessary, faithful Catholics must act by publicly opposing those who are planning a coup in October. We must follow the example of a few courageous prelates, such as Cardinal Burke, who have declared their own public opposition, unlike the useless “normalists” with their false notions of charity, obedience and “trust in the Church” amounting to nothing more than the same timid quietism that has yielded ground to the post-conciliar revolution at every step in its advance. Given the populist dynamic driving this event, in Providence our loyal opposition may be precisely what prevents, or at least helps to prevent, a debacle. In any case, the usual neo-Catholic quiescence in the face of revolutionary activity in the Church is not an option. We must present in the public forum the only appropriate “demands” of the “the People of God” respecting the Synod: that, if it must take place, the participants courageously hold the line on the Church’s perennial practice in defense of her moral teachings, while affirming those teachings without equivocation.
But the Pope could do this alone, as could each bishop in his own diocese, without the risks attendant upon assembling a cabal of progressives in Rome. Therefore, I would propose a single and quite simple demand of “the People of God” to be raised by faithful Catholics throughout the world:
STOP THE SYNOD.