What I hope to offer here is not a detailed theological analysis, but merely a point-by-point clarification, given the context of what the pope means. It can only be described as a volley in an ideological war currently being waged at the highest levels for supremacy in the Church. I will go through the text of the consistory homily and try to add some clarification for those who might be in the position now of trying to explain what some of us see as the grave danger being posed by this pope.
Vatican City, February 15, 2015
Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean"… Jesus, moved with compassion, stretched out his hand and touched him, and said: "I do choose. Be made clean!" (Mk 1:40-41). The compassion of Jesus! That com-passion which made him draw near to every person in pain! Jesus does not hold back; instead, he gets involved in people’s pain and their need… for the simple reason that he knows and wants to show com-passion, because he has a heart unashamed to have "compassion".
Francis uses the starting point, the fundamental premise, of the Kasperites, uses their terminology and repeats their accusations against anyone who would dare to uphold or defend the traditional doctrine of the Church. We start with the set-up: the Kasperite revolutionaries always present a putative “compassion” or “mercy” as the reason the “rules” of withholding Communion from public sexual sinners – always depicted as essentially meaningless, arbitrary or at least “outdated” – must be overturned or, as in Kasper’s own plan, simply ignored. This is illustrated with the repeated reference to the analogy of the medicinal, curative aspect of God’s mercy, the Church as the “field hospital” of mercy.
What is never mentioned is the necessity of repentance, or what repentance actually is. “Mercy” – with the concept of justice carefully excised – is always depicted as the only action of God’s will for Man. Justice, and therefore the requirement of repentance – the metanoia, the definitive turning away of the individual from his sin – is simply denied. God is depicted as having no interest in justice. The very notion of “justice” is presented as anathema to a “merciful” God.
Instead, we have Pope Francis equating obedience to God in his divine law as injustice, lack of mercy, “marginalization”:
Jesus could no longer go into a town openly, but stayed in the country; and people came to him from every quarter" (Mk1:45). This means that Jesus not only healed the leper but also took upon himself the marginalization enjoined by the law of Moses (cf. Lev 13:1-2, 45-46). Jesus is unafraid to risk sharing in the suffering of others; he pays the price of it in full (cf. Is53:4).
In the expression “marginalisation enjoined by the law of Moses” we have an unmistakable conflation. The law of the Church is of no more moment to Francis’ “true” Christians than the old Mosaic dietary laws, to be overturned by this primacy of Christ’s “compassion” and “mercy”. Of course what is being left out are the words of Christ Himself who said that the Law of Moses was not overturned, but that He was Himself the fulfillment of that old law, and that to love Him we must obey his commandments.
Moreover, what is being forgotten is that Christ Himself said, in so many words, that divorce was allowed by the old law out of the “hardness of hearts.” It would mean, therefore, that it is the need of softening of hearts under Christ’s own new dispensation that makes marriage indissoluble. One of the major problems the Kasper faction have to face is that the injunction against divorce and “remarriage” was clear and explicit and in the very words of the King and Creator of the Universe:
Matthew 19: 3-9
Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”
“Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”
“Why then,” they asked, “did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?”
Jesus replied, “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”
Far from being an act of “mercy” to allow divorce, or as the Kasperites would have it, to simply ignore it as though it was unimportant, here is Our Lord saying that it is important enough for Him to exercise His divine authority on the spot, and in a totally unambiguous manner, to flatly abrogate the Mosaic Law. And he made no bones about it, directly into the faces of the religious authority of his day: divorce was allowed because of hardness of heart.
Here is the Chief healer of the Church, the God-made-man, dispenser of divine mercy, telling us that we cannot change the order of the universe to suit our momentary expedient or preference. That the attempt to do so is in fact unmerciful.
It is hard to overstate the irony here of a pope suggesting that the plain words of Christ can be overturned or ignored in order to apply the “mercy” of Christ for those who have “marginalized” themselves out of their refusal to obey His commandment – a commandment, moreover, that he gave specifically in order to remedy “hardness of heart”.
If we show our love for Christ by obedience to His commandments, what does the refusal to obey indicate? What does the desire to change the entire practice of the Church to approve that disobedience indicate? It is a frightening thought.
Pope Francis continues:
Compassion leads Jesus to concrete action: he reinstates the marginalized! These are the three key concepts that the Church proposes in today’s liturgy of the word: the compassion of Jesus in the face of marginalization and his desire to reinstate.
Marginalization: Moses, in his legislation regarding lepers, says that they are to be kept alone and apart from the community for the duration of their illness. He declares them: "unclean!" (cf. Lev 13:1-2, 45-46).
The obvious implication here is that it is the “compassion” of Christ that leads the charge to “reinstate” those who have, because of the silly and arbitrary, unmerciful “rules,” been cast out of the Church. Anyone who expects a sinner to repent – to turn permanently away from his sins – is one of the wicked people heartlessly ostracizing poor, sick people who cannot help themselves, pointing at them and shouting “unclean”.
With the equation of the sexual sinner, the adulterer, the co-habitor, the active homosexual – a person who, in reality, has used his will to refuse the forgiving mercy of Christ – with the leper who is powerless to stop being a leper, we have the papal condemnation of anyone who wants to uphold the need for repentance as a needful precursor to God’s mercy.
We are the truly wicked, those who would unjustly refuse – for the sake of a few outdated and incomprehensible “rules” – to welcome back the poor innocent sufferer who has been unwillingly infected by a disease. We are, in effect, wicked enough that we would cast out and condemn someone for being sick.
Pope Francis forges on with the analogy, indeed, laying it on a little thick:
Imagine how much suffering and shame lepers must have felt: physically, socially, psychologically and spiritually! They are not only victims of disease, but they feel guilty about it, punished for their sins! Theirs is a living death; they are like someone whose father has spit in his face (cf. Num 12:14).
In addition, lepers inspire fear, contempt and loathing, and so they are abandoned by their families, shunned by other persons, cast out by society. Indeed, society rejects them and forces them to live apart from the healthy. It excludes them. So much so that if a healthy person approached a leper, he would be punished severely, and often be treated as a leper himself.
It is certainly popular in the writing of the Catholic left to draw a parallel between the Biblical stories of the harsh treatment of lepers with how the Church supposedly treats sinners. The point is to depict the consequences of sin as nothing more than an unjust affliction by evil-minded “Pharisees” and those who would “rigidly” apply the moral law.
Perhaps it was true in 1st century Palestine that lepers were treated as though their affliction were shameful, but we all know now that leprosy is an illness. This is actually a simple rhetorical fallacy of the “red herring,” a conflation between the affliction of illness and the consequences of sin, and a rather brazen appeal to emotivism.
The purpose is clearly to prompt the pope’s listeners to get the message and start pointing a completely different kind of finger of accusation against those who refuse to go along with the Kasper programme of “mercy”.
But here we have another papal catch-phrase to watch out for: “social exclusion,” is a common feature of Latin American Marxist jargon, and organisations to combat “social exclusion” have played a central role in the Marxification of the Catholic Church, relying on precisely the kind of emotional gambit the pope is displaying here. Bergoglio was known in Argentina for having particular interest in the “problem of social exclusion” and this has remained a feature of this pontificate.
The point, of course, in the Marxist discourse is that only the wicked, the heartless, the rigorists, the wealthy and those with an unjust stake in the status quo are interested in perpetuating the systemic injustices that have created “social exclusion.” Of course, it is also to be remembered that this “social exclusion” grievance is commonly extended to include those who suffer it because of their homosexuality.
Naturally, the one feature of this is still missing in the pope’s homily: that those who have excluded themselves from the Church by their own free choices may “feel shame” but this shame is, frankly, just. A leper being made to feel shame for his leprosy is being treated unjustly. In fact, however, in our current culture, a divorced and remarried person, or even a person living in an unmarried relationship with another, is not even noticed. The Sexual Revolution, that has crept into the Church herself, has settled the matter for the general culture: there is nothing to see here.
No! It is not repentance and forgiveness of sins the Church offers the sinner but “reinstatement” while still in his sins:
Reinstatement: Jesus revolutionizes and upsets that fearful, narrow and prejudiced mentality. He does not abolish the law of Moses, but rather brings it to fulfillment (cf. Mt 5:17). He does so by stating, for example, that the law of retaliation is counterproductive, that God is not pleased by a Sabbath observance which demeans or condemns a man. He does so by refusing to condemn the sinful woman, but saves her from the blind zeal of those prepared to stone her ruthlessly in the belief that they were applying the law of Moses.
Perhaps it should be stated here that orthodox Catholics opposing the Kasper Plan do not call for the stoning of adulterers, but their conversion and salvation through the means of grace in the Sacraments, through repentance and a determination to live according to the laws of God, in righteousness and justice in the sight of God and their fellow men.
And it might be worth repeating that when Christ saved the woman from stoning, His last words to her were not, “Sorry these unpleasant fellows were bothering you, miss. Go home to your adulterous affairs in peace.”
Perhaps Jesus, by insisting that the woman give up her sinful lifestyle choices, was being momentarily “hemmed in”:
Jesus, the new Moses, wanted to heal the leper. He wanted to touch him and restore him to the community without being "hemmed in" by prejudice, conformity to the prevailing mindset or worry about becoming infected.
This is another common slander from the Kasperites: that the only reason anyone would have to oppose the Plan is a personal nausea or distaste for those in sinful situations. “Prejudice and conformity to the prevailing mindset”.
Moreover, watch for what may be a hidden subtext in the expression “worry about becoming infected.” We can be confident that no one thinks that hanging around with a divorced person or an adulterer can result in being “infected” with adultery. But it is a common accusation against those who try to live according to the moral law – being ignorant troglodytes – that we imagine homosexuality is “catching”. So here we see perhaps a hint at a wider application of the new definition of “mercy.”
But of course, it is “scandalous” to insist that a person give up his sins:
Jesus responds immediately to the leper’s plea, without waiting to study the situation and all its possible consequences! For Jesus, what matters above all is reaching out to save those far off, healing the wounds of the sick, restoring everyone to God’s family! And this is scandalous to some people!
Jesus is not afraid of this kind of scandal! He does not think of the closed-minded who are scandalized even by a work of healing, scandalized before any kind of openness, by any action outside of their mental and spiritual boxes, by any caress or sign of tenderness which does not fit into their usual thinking and their ritual purity. He wanted to reinstate the outcast, to save those outside the camp (cf. Jn 10).
The papal insult machine is kicking into gear here in its familiar fashion, but within the context of what has come before, the identity of the targets is clear.
Next we come at last to the real philosophical meat of the sandwich, the heart of the “mission statement”:
There are two ways of thinking and of having faith: we can fear to lose the saved and we can want to save the lost. Even today it can happen that we stand at the crossroads of these two ways of thinking. The thinking of the doctors of the law, which would remove the danger by casting out the diseased person, and the thinking of God, who in his mercy embraces and accepts by reinstating him and turning evil into good, condemnation into salvation and exclusion into proclamation.
And it is yet another example, of which this pontificate seems to be made, of the pope being apparently blind to the shortcomings and internal contradictions of his ideas. Francis has proved himself many times to be fond of creating a false dichotomy, and this is a classic. Simply put, it’s not “either/or” it’s “both/and”.
The idea that it is even possible to “go to the peripheries” with anything meaningful to offer the “marginalized” while simply abandoning the existing flock should strike even the simplest and most papally credulous as an odd and contradictory statement.
He is seems to be saying that a person who already holds the Faith in its entirety will necessarily want to “cast out the diseased person,” that it is in the nature of the faithful to be cruel and exclusionary. But this is logically absurd, since it is that Faith, that divine law that requires (genuine) mercy and compassion for both the sick and the sinner.
After this, things start to deteriorate, and it actually becomes difficult to understand his point:
These two ways of thinking are present throughout the Church’s history: casting off and reinstating.
An excellent encapsulation of the Marxist accusation against the Catholic Church: that her ministry has been inconstant, changeable, oscillating between a spiritual purity and a gross materialist corruption.
Saint Paul, following the Lord’s command to bring the Gospel message to the ends of the earth (cf. Mt 28:19), caused scandal and met powerful resistance and great hostility, especially from those who demanded unconditional obedience to the Mosaic law, even on the part of converted pagans. Saint Peter, too, was bitterly criticized by the community when he entered the house of the pagan centurion Cornelius (cf. Acts 10).
The Church’s way, from the time of the Council of Jerusalem, has always been the way of Jesus, the way of mercy and reinstatement.
This would be some other Church? Different from the one that’s always moving between “casting off and reinstating”? How many Churches are there?
This does not mean underestimating the dangers of letting wolves into the fold, but welcoming the repentant prodigal son; healing the wounds of sin with courage and determination; rolling up our sleeves and not standing by and watching passively the suffering of the world.
Implying that any effort to bring the sinner to genuine repentance, to radical conversion and a total change of direction in the moral life, is “watching passively the suffering of the world”. The material suffering of the world appears to be the beginning and end of the pope’s concern. He nods towards Catholic doctrine by calling it the “wounds of sin” but he clearly expects that those of us concerned with the supernatural effects of sin, on the soul of the sinner, are not interested in caring for the poor.
Next we have more expressions of contempt for those who would insist on the compatibility of divine mercy with divine justice:
In a word: charity cannot be neutral, antiseptic, indifferent, lukewarm or impartial! Charity is infectious, it excites, it risks and it engages! For true charity is always unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous! (cf. 1 Cor 13). Charity is creative in finding the right words to speak to all those considered incurable and hence untouchable…
We will not find the Lord unless we truly accept the marginalized! May we always have before us the image of Saint Francis, who was unafraid to embrace the leper and to accept every kind of outcast. Truly, dear brothers, the Gospel of the marginalized is where our credibility is at stake, is discovered and is revealed!
Every day he's telling us what he's got planned for the Church. Presenting the mercy of Christ as a justification for breaking the law of Christ, setting the mercy of God in opposition to His justice, affirming the insane, anti-rational proposal that they are naturally opposed and irreconcilable.
If we have accepted the evidence and can see that Francis is part of this movement – we cannot call it a conspiracy since it is being confected before the cameras of the world’s press - we must ask ourselves why this particular issue?
The gravity of this looming crisis cannot be overstated. If this proposal is adopted, it will be more far-reaching than any other of the post-Conciliar manipulations like Communion in the hand or altar girls. This will strike, in one blow, against the very pillars of the Faith: the Eucharist and the priesthood. The Eucharist, the presence of which was barely preserved in the New Mass, will be systematically desecrated. And those who will be expected to do the desecrating will be the priests, who will certainly be punished if they refuse.
It will also put paid to whatever hopes we have of restoring the Faith by the work of an up-and-coming young faithful priesthood, since only men who have demonstrated their willingness to desecrate the Holy Eucharist will be considered suitable for the seminary.