By the time readers of this newspaper see these words, we will be in Rome covering the conclusion of the Synod on the Family. What is going to happen? God only knows. At this point we’re half expecting to arrive just in time to snap a few photographs of the asteroid sent by God to end this Modernist madness once and for all.
Is it absolutely essential for us to be in Rome for this event? I think not, and yet as a generous benefactor saw fit to send us there specifically for the purpose of doing whatever small bit we can to remind the princes of the Church of their sacred duty before God, we go to the Eternal City with hearts filled with dread.
Why dread? Because the entire edifice of the saintly, mystical and intellectual, history of the Roman Catholic Church looks as if it is about to be torn down. This act of rank stupidity and modernist fundamentalism is being perpetrated not by turban-clad terrorists somewhere in the Middle-East, but by cassock-clad clerics at the heart of Christendom, in Rome itself.
Could it be, many ask, that despite all of the alleged focus on the “family,” this so-called Synod on the Family is nothing more than an effort to change Catholic doctrine and open the floodgates to God knows what manner of depravity? Perhaps Catholic clergy even now see themselves as being able to soon “come out” and get “married” to each other if they wish. Or, perhaps engage in flings, routine encounters, even with other men, all while remaining members of the clergy with the freedom to do and teach as they wish within their own jurisdictions.
No more rules from Rome—no more Universality, Catholicity or morality—and no more Biblical limitations. What a dream come true: A modernist hierarchical coup d’état of freedom and “human rights” realized in a Relatio.
Despite all kickback from bishops and the faithful, Pope Francis appears hell-bent on pursuing a course that will, many fear, inevitably result in the splintering of the Catholic Church. Indeed, on the plane back from the US to Rome, Pope Francis joked that a “rigid Catholic” old woman had considered the possibility that he is the antichrist. She gave, he said, as her reason for this belief the fact that he wore black shoes instead of red.
The scandalously overly-simplistic reduction of this devout woman’s concerns to the question of the color of his shoes was Franciscan to the core. Surely no one would think that he was the antichrist simply because of his shoes! And yet he mocks the strawman of a little old lady who, like many of us in the real world, believes these little symbolic breaches with tradition do not bode well.
But there are many far more serious reasons for faithful Catholics to be concerned about the legitimacy of the current hierarchical motives and behaviors. Indeed, the Book of Apocalypse does tell of a three-and-a-half year period during which the Church will be forced underground and the faithful persecuted. The persecutor will be a fake ideology—an ideology that recognizes no sin except the sinfulness of faithfulness itself; an ideology of pleasure and happiness, a religion antagonistic to the concepts of sin and suffering. Only the good—those who observe doctrine and the words of the Bible—are to be persecuted.
In that regard, if one were to compare this state of affairs to what is happening in the Roman Church at the moment, one would certainly have valid room for concern. Scandal after scandal ooze through the open sores of the obviously decaying Body of Christ, and yet the doctors of the field hospital of mercy do nothing to ease Her pain. They pour salt on her wounds by criticizing the faithful and damning them to Hell.
One need not, and should not—lest more scandal result—list all of these scandals. So, briefly:
- There were the child abuse scandals
-The resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien from Scotland due to his sexual contact with seminarians
- A priest and former Franciscan suing one another in Ireland over a property ownership issue after a bad “breakup”
- Pope Francis’ appointment to the Synod of Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels who was caught on tape covering up child sex abuse by one of his bishops and is now the poster boy for clergy sex abuse coverup (God fried? Not yet, but give Him time)
- Two weeks ago the “coming out” of “Father” Charasma, a veteran of the Holy Office in Rome.
-Just this week, the revelation of pill-popping priests in Rome who pay for the services of male prostitutes.
The list goes on, of course. With these scandals one can only wonder whether there is a pattern, an over-arching commonality. Of course there is! Even a young boy could see it, but no one would let a young boy get so close.
Indeed, things are so bad that Pope Francis apologized for unnamed “recent scandals”. However, the pope of “no judgments” seems at best incapable of controlling the situation and, at worst, actually complicit in it. It is hard to believe that he is apologizing for the sins involved, when he seems to have developed a new theology of mercy that no longer actually recognizes sin.
In that regard, perhaps the greatest scandal of all has been the recent effort to portray Catholic doctrine as being “anti-gay”. It most certainly is not, and it never has been: it is pro-life and pro-family. Any sexual contact out of marriage as instituted by God is gravely sinful; in a state of chastity one’s sexual orientation is irrelevant.
The doctrinal situation notwithstanding, another Francis appointment, Blasé Cardinal Cupich, recently spoke at a press conference in Rome and conceded that it was his desire to have adulterers and those who openly engage in sexual contact outside of marriage to approach the Eucharist. He said that if gay people and others in such grave sin approach the Eucharist “in good conscience” then he sees his job as a Cardinal as being “to visit with them,” “to accompany them” on their life-journey. There is simply no Christology here, no conception of conscience as expounded upon by Cardinal Newman, no Catholic faith.
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Moreover, there is even talk at the Synod of devolving the power to create doctrine to national churches, or as they choose to call them to hide the Protestantism involved, “Bishops’ Conferences.” On Saturday October 17, at an event celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis called for a “healthy decentralization.” What he means by “decentralization” is unknown at this point in time, but the doctrinal and unitive Petrine Power cannot be devolved legally or theologically. To attempt to do so would constitute a rebellion against Catholicity and Universality.
Is this what Francis wants?
The Petrine duty and power is to define doctrine and establish unity throughout the Church. It is a duty and power unique to the Petrine position within the Church and any decision to hand the “keys to bind and loose” away is impossible; by its very nature it resides in Peter and his duty and power are non-delegable and inherent in, and to, the office.
Does Francis even realize this?
Thirteen Cardinals have written to the Pope and tried to tell him of the minefield into which he is walking, and warning against the attempt to manipulate the Synod through procedural maneuverings. This was a filial gesture, a call for help, a call for an unimpeded voice. But on the first Tuesday of the Synod Francis came out and denounced those who have a “hermeneutic of conspiracy.” Are these thirteen cardinals now to be added to the list of those in need of a good papal scolding—perhaps even some signature Bergoglian mockery to the bemusement of the media?
There is no “hermeneutic of conspiracy.” No, let those who have eyes see. It was Orwell or Wittgenstein who said that whenever there is a sought-after change in language, there is a new understanding underneath seeking expression. This Synod on the Family wants a new “kinder” language, and a pastoral practice that conflicts with doctrine. But, as Rorate Caeli points out, on October 17 Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki wrote on the website of the Polish Bishop’s Conference that the talk about separating doctrine from practice is nonsense, an impossibility, and merely a ruse to express a new theology which clashes with the moral doctrine of the Church since the time of its founding:
Practically all are repeating that there will be no doctrinal change, but this is understood in different ways. For if you add to this first group that disciplinary changes are possible, this means, in practice, that doctrinal stability is being nullified. In my opinion one cannot speak of the separation of the practice of the Church from her doctrine, from her teachings. The two are inseparable. I have the impression that many supporters of this modernity, are in fact thinking about changing doctrine, yet calling it a change in Church discipline. It is a disturbing point in these discussions, for it is strongly emphasized: “we accept the entire doctrine”, but there immediately follows a suggestion that doctrine has nothing to do with it. This is greatly worrying me, for one and the other are saying that they want no change in doctrine. From where then, are arising these practices opposed to doctrine?
Then, when Cardinal Pell highlighted this self-evident fact on the Synod floor and the inevitable consequences of the path which the Vatican seems hell-bent on pursuing, Pope Francis responded the next day. In his homily of October 15, Francis came forward with yet another criticism of the Doctors of the Law. Francis’s homily is most telling and remarkable. It shows that he does, indeed, have a new theology, one not seen in the Church before. His homily from that day is Apocalyptical, and it damns to Hell those who believe in the Church’s long-established doctrine.
Francis’s homily should be read with care, for it is notable for many reasons. In light of the pivotal role that Saint Paul plays doctrinally in the issue of “grave sin” and reception of the Eucharist, Francis’s homily attempts to circumvent any limitation by reinterpreting St. Paul beyond recognition. Moreover, the homily is almost explicitly Lutheran in its apparent emphasis on salvation through faith alone, as opposed to faith and good works. And, it is remarkably hostile to faithful traditional Catholics.
The following long quote is from Vatican News, and apology is made in advance for its length, but the importance of what Francis has to say can not be over-stated. The readings on the day were Luke, Chapter 11, 47-54, and Romans Chapter 3, Verses 27-30 (NB: Verse 31, which says that the law of works is not overthrown by faith, but upheld by it, was omitted):
[In explaining why St. Paul was upset] Francis said the answer was that the Apostle “defended the doctrine, was a great defender of the doctrine, and [his] annoyance came from these people who did not tolerate the doctrine”. Which doctrine? “The gratuitousness of salvation”. Pope Francis said that God “saved us gratuitously, and he saved all of us”. While there were groups who said: “No, he saves only that person, that man, that woman who does this, this, this and this ... who performs these acts, who observes these commandments”. In this way, “that which is free, the love of God, according to these people whom Paul is speaking against”, ends up becoming “something we can obtain: ‘If I do this, God is obligated to give me salvation’. This is what Paul refers to as ‘salvation by works’”.
This is why the gratuitousness of salvation in Christ is so difficult to understand. The Pope continued, saying that “we are used to hearing that Jesus is the Son of God, that he came out of love, to save us and that he died for us. But we have heard it so many times that we have become accustomed to it”. When, in fact, “we enter into this mystery of God, of his love, this boundless love, this immense love”, we are left so “astonished” that “perhaps we prefer not to understand it: we believe that the style of salvation in which ‘we do certain things and then we are saved’ is better’”. “Of course”, the Pope explained, “to do good, to do the things that Jesus tells us to do, is good and should be done”; but “the essence of salvation does not come from this. This is my response to the salvation that is free, that comes gratuitously from the love of God”.
This is why Jesus himself may seem “a little bitter against the doctors of the law”, to whom he “says strong and very harsh things: ‘you have taken away the key of knowledge, you did not enter, and you have hindered those who were entering, because you have taken away the key’, that is, the key of free salvation, of that knowledge”. In fact, the Pope remarked, these doctors of the law thought that you could only be saved by “observing all of the commandments”, while “those who did not do so were condemned”. In practice, Pope Francis said, with an evocative image, “they shortened the horizons of God as if the love of God were small, small, small, small, to the measure of each one of us”.
Therefore the Pope explained “the struggle that both Jesus and Paul faced in order to defend the doctrine”. To those who might object and ask: “But father, are there not commandments?”, Francis replied: “Yes, there are! But there is one that Jesus says is basically a synthesis of all the commandments: love God and love thy neighbour”. Thanks to “this attitude of love, we are worthy of the gratuity of salvation, because love is free”. For example: “If I say: ‘Ah, I love you!’, But I have other interests behind that, it is not love, it is interest. This is why Jesus says: ‘The greatest love is this: to love God with your whole life, all your heart, with all your strength, and your neighbour as yourself’. Because it is the only commandment that is worthy of God’s free salvation”. At which point Jesus adds: “In this commandment are all the others, because it summons — it creates all that is good — all the others’. The source is love; the horizon is love. If you have closed the door and have taken away the key of love, you are not worthy of the free salvation you have received”.
It is a history that repeats itself. “How many saints”, the Pope said, “have been persecuted for defending love, the gratuitousness of salvation, the doctrine. So many saints. Let us think of Joan of Arc”. The “struggle to control salvation — only those who do these things are saved — did not end with Jesus and Paul”. Nor does it end with us. In fact it is a struggle that we carry within us as well. The Pope offered advice, saying: “It can be good for us to ask ourselves today: Do I believe that the Lord saved me freely? Do I believe that I do not deserve salvation? And if I do merit something do I believe it is through Jesus Christ and what he has done for me? It is a good question: Do I believe in the gratuitousness of salvation? And finally, do I believe that the only answer is love, the commandment of love, which Jesus says summarizes all the law and the teachings of all the prophets?”. In this way the Pope made the invitation to renew “these questions today. Only in this way can we be faithful to this love that is so merciful: the love of a father and of a mother, because God says that he is like a mother to us; love, great horizons, boundless, without limitations. Let us not be fooled by the experts who put limits on this love”. (Emphasis added).
In this homily Francis reveals a new theology, one in which “the key of knowledge” is his theory of mercy, a theory which does not seek repentance and penance from sinners. It is a theology in which God is both mother and father. This mother/father being loves its children so strongly and so burningly that it refuses to establish rules for its children, to discipline its children, and when necessary, to distance itself from its children.
This new Franciscan theology is a theology of parental and general licentiousness. It appears to care nothing for the good of children. In the end, this alleged love is dramatically different from the way good, decent, loving parents care for their children. Applied to God, this is a clearly Protestantized vision of salvation without works. It is contrary to the very nature of Catholic doctrine, spirituality, and history.
Moreover, in this new theology, all are saved regardless of their observation or refusal to observe the Commandments. Thieves, adulterers, murderers, those who pray to false gods— the number of the “saved” knows no limits. Strikingly, all are saved, except those who disagree with this new theology, such as those who point to Jesus’s depictions of Hell in the Bible, and the explicit words of Saint Paul himself on reception of the Eucharist. In this theology Jesus and the Saints themselves are among the few in Hell. How incredible.
At this point, and in retrospect, we must now look back and ask ourselves in all seriousness, “What has happened to the Church?” “What is the ‘Synod on the Family’ really about?” “Can the laity really tolerate this new Franciscan theology, which will most certainly eventually bring homosexual ‘married’ and/or homosexual sexually active priests to the Church?” Add to that list unapologetic adulterers, murderers, thieves and even those who pray to false gods. What a free-for-all religion that would be! One thing is for certain, and that is if this theology of “salvation for all” is allowed to enter the Catholic Church, the laity will flow out from it like blood and water from Christ’s side.
Does the trouble stem from the way in which Vatican II was implemented and erroneously misinterpreted? Did the “Spirit of Vatican II” constitute the throes of the passionate conception of new life? If so, does the Synod on the Family represent the pangs of the birth of that life? Were the pains of the 50 years in-between nothing more but the gestational stage? If so, is this child viable and what kind of Apocalyptical seven-headed beast will it be? For how long it will reign? These are not questions of papal shoe color.
The only people who can determine what can be done at this point are the Pope and the bishops, and it does not look as if they agree with each other. The strength and number of those bishops who disagree with the papal position will determine if the Church stays loyal to her two-thousand-year-old course as a unified whole or splinters into so many pieces until the Biblical three-and-a-half years have ended.
We must pray to the Blessed Virgin for her intercession and help, and for her advice as to what to do if the beast prevails. Perhaps—red and black shoes aside—this is the foretold time and we need to flee from the dragon “to be nourished for a time, and times and half a time,” and perhaps the SSPX will provide this nourishment, especially now that their sacraments have been recognized as valid and licit for the Year of Mercy. Moreover, maybe it has come to pass that even after the Year of Mercy “irregular canonical status” is preferable to open heresy. These are questions that are now calling for an urgent answer. Will we find such answers in Rome this week? I doubt it. The Devil is at work and he knows exactly what he’s doing. Prayer and fasting—some Devils are driven out only by prayer and fasting. So let us pray and let us fast.
St. Athanasius, Pray for us