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Monday, December 18, 2017

AN AMORIS LAETITIA UPDATE: On The “Anguish” Of the Damned

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AN AMORIS LAETITIA UPDATE: On The “Anguish” Of the Damned

Recently an article appeared in the Catholic Herald interviewing the intrepid Stephen Walford, the latest favourite shill for the Bergoglian Project, in which he said that it was the “anguish” felt by those in civil “remarriages” that qualified them for reception of Holy Communion. We are all by now only too familiar with the argument from the Kasperians for people who have no intention of giving up sexual relations outside wedlock – or who may, some day, perhaps, begin to consider the possibility of thinking about giving it up – to be “accompanied” through a “process of repentance” to get to a point where…

Oh I don’t know, I suppose it all means that they get to a point where they don’t feel “anguished” about their “irregular situation” anymore and can just swan happily up to the EMHC with a light heart. Or something… Frankly, I don’t think any believing and non-insane[1] Catholic can really reproduce the anti-logic that seems to mean something to men like Stephen Walford or Cardinal Kasper. Reality means too much to us and too little to them for very much communication. Either way, as far as I have been able to figure out, it seems the whole thing depends upon the subjective feeling of “anguish” experienced by such people when they go to Mass and see everyone else going up to receive and they can’t.

I think this is what is meant; the entire wretched affair for the last 4 years seems to be about some people feeling left out. Like you did in high school when the cool kids wouldn’t invite you to eat with them at lunch. The bi-millennial discipline of the Church and the sanctity of the doctrine behind it is being demolished, the Most Holy and August Sacrament of the Altar is being systematically desecrated, apparently, because some people feel sad when they can’t receive Communion and everybody else does. This is what counts now[2].

But let’s imagine for a moment that there is a reason to take seriously the feelings of these people (if any breathing examples actually exist, which has yet to be demonstrated) and see if it means anything, even on its own terms. Imagine for a moment that there really are samples of such a person. Let’s take the hardest case we can think of, since that seems to be something of an intellectual hobby for men like Cardinal Marx. Let’s pretend there is a woman who was (…and here we need a little melodramatically sad music, I think…) abandoned by her husband! With three kids! No wait, make that seven kids! And just for fun, let’s say she is disabled. Yeah! That’s good. And maybe let’s make her an immigrant too, just for good measure…

Now, she’s been a good Catholic all her life. She’s raising the kids Catholic. And she’s poor… (Yeah, yeah, that’s it…) She’s too poor to afford an annulment. (Have we ticked enough Bergoglian boxes yet?) but she “feels trapped” in a new sexual relationship into which she has entered but can’t now get out of…[3]

OK, you got it fixed in your mind? This is the person – whom I’ve just made up out of a pastiche of suggestions made by the Synod Fathers themselves at the press conferences – that someone like Cardinal Kasper thinks is an ideal candidate for the new Bergoglian “mercy,” who can, with adequate “pastoral accompaniment,” work through a “process” of “discernment” in the “internal forum”...

Oh, never mind all that theology-talk… It’s just the anguish you see. She feels it! And it’s awful! It’s yucky! It’s anguishy! She’s got lots and that’s a quantifiable cause under the Kasperian paradigm…Feelings! Anguish! Because that counts, dammit!


As Stephen Walford told the Catholic Herald, it’s “clear” that Amoris Laetitia does in fact change the previous mean and heartless “No” to a nice, warm, cuddly “Yes” as long as you’ve got enough of that “anguish” stuff.

Walford says he always thought Amoris was clear – from the start he read footnote 351 as allowing Communion for the remarried in some cases. And since then, he says, Pope Francis has given various signals that that was what he meant. But he thinks that the circumstances in which a remarried person would be admitted to Communion are ‘probably rare’. There has to be a ‘desire to get out of the situation,’ he says. He imagines a person in anguish who wants to change the situation but ‘feels trapped’ and can’t.”

This, he explained later, is because there has been a passage of time since the publication in of Familiaris Consortio. Time passing, you see, changes the nature of marriage and the problems that can be found within it. I mean, that was more than 30 years ago! And things are so much worse now! So we just have to get rid of all those rules, because… anguish!

To give him his due, Walford doesn’t indulge that little pretend-game beloved of our holy prelates who insulted our collective intelligence throughout the Synods by insisting that “No” and “Yes” were exactly the same… or “Yes” was a “development” of “No”… or something. Nope… Walford just comes right out and says that A.L. has changed No into Yes, and that this is perfectly OK because time has gone by. Reality is different now. Famliaris Consortio just doesn’t count anymore. It’s the current year, don’t you know.

As Walford himself put it on Twitter the other day, “Familiaris Consortio is not the last word. It must now be read in the light of Amoris Laetitia. FC was given under totally different marital circumstances to today… Yes, totally different… Divorce was not rampant in the Catholic world back then. How many confessions are priests hearing in a normal western parish now compared to the early 1980’s? Much less – certainly in Europe…[4]

But let’s get back for a moment to the “anguish” part. The sob-story picture we painted above – in line with the gist of most of the interventions by the Kasperians at the Synod press conferences – is intended to depict the very hardest of hard cases. The poor dear thing… how can the Church be so heartless. Obviously she’s in “anguish”!

It’s a funny thing that the first thing that springs immediately to mind is that this is what we heard for 40 years from the abortion lobby. Women were “in anguish” over having been unjustly coerced into pregnancy and motherhood… and were trapped! They desired to get out of the situation but couldn’t because the wicked and heartless Church told them abortion was a sin! Such a silly little rule! What a lot of fuss over a blob of cells! Women had to have abortions because motherhood was a form of degrading slavery that suppressed their full potential as human beings!

The abortion lobbyists of the 1970s invented this “anguish” out of thin air, and found women were vulnerable to being convinced of it enough even to find a few they could dupe into standing up at rallies to cry into the microphones. They’re still at it today, using women’s “anguish” over “enforced pregnancy” to ensure continued public funding for the abortion machine.

I mention this only in passing because it popped into my head both at the Synod press conferences and while reading Stephen Walford and others using this “anguish” as an excuse. But it does make one wonder why the prelates of the Catholic Church (and their useful-idiot shills among the laity), are making precisely the same arguments, using precisely the same language, to justify this change to the Church’s disciplines.

One thing that change agents have learned is how to manipulate public opinion through generating and directing sympathetic feelings. It doesn’t matter if there is not one single person actually in the situation they describe. The picture itself is sufficient. It generates a kind of comforting righteous outrage! How can this happen?! We have to put a stop to it! It’s a variation on the techniques used since the French Revolution to stir up a mob to riot and do things like storm the Bastille or overrun the Winter Palace. Or give hearty and enthusiastic approval of a global campaign to force priests to knowingly desecrate the Blessed Sacrament.

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The next thing was that we have now been given this idea that “anguish” is enough to automatically absolve even those who intend to go right on sinning. They feel bad about it, bad enough, so the new mythology would have it, that God just somehow doesn’t mind their subsequent continuation of mortal sins. But two thoughts on this come to mind. First, the souls in Hell are in anguish. They certainly feel as though they could not have done otherwise than continue to sin, and, if the saints who have written about this are to be believed, are furious with God for failing to let them off the hook. Anguish is what they will have for all eternity. Without cease. Ever.

Anguish and repentance are not the same thing. Judas was so anguished over his betrayal of Christ that he hanged himself. That’s pretty anguished, right?

At the same time, if anguish – feelings, generally – were a requirement of repentance, we would be sunk. There would be no way to be absolved of any sin, large or small, because human beings are incapable of generating sufficient anguish to match the horrifying reality of our sins. The story told of St. Jean Marie Vianney comes to mind, when he asked the Lord in prayer to show him the true condition of his soul. The response was something like, “I love you too much to hurt you that way. You would not survive the knowledge of how far short you are of perfection.” Sin is not only a lot worse than we imagine, to paraphrase Einstein, but a lot worse than we can imagine. No amount of mere anguish, no matter how real, would come close. We would go mad with grief if we knew the real state of our souls. Even the truly exceptionally holy could not stand it.

Think about this for a moment; we are all emotionally deficient because we cannot have a first hand experience of how things really are in the same way that God does. We finite creatures are unable to have emotions that are completely in accord with that ultimate perspective. This is the reason we are given an intellect and the capacity to use that intellect to guide our will. We are, in short, obliged to “subordinate the passions to the intellect”.

Feelings are mostly generated by chemistry anyway. Anguish is often a physiological phenomenon. There are those people in the world – people like Asperger’s sufferers – who are, literally, physically incapable of generating feelings. These are people for whom “anguish” over sin as described above is actually mostly impossible. Should they not bother to become Catholics and go to confession? Should they give up in despair over their sins? Or consider themselves excused? There are some who have suffered psychological damage and whose emotional capacity has been so deformed by suffering as to be more or less incapable of functioning. What should such people do? Are they unsalvageable?

Life damages us, and some more than others. God is the only one who knows precisely how much or how little these realities affect our moral capacity. But no, Mr. Walford, “anguish” doesn’t really count, if you mean that it has the ability to alter objective reality. If it were true that it is our “anguish” over sin or suffering that God uses to judge our culpability, then we’re all in big trouble.

[1] A person who believes that there is no difference between a “No” and a “Yes” – or that a No can somehow become a Yes because “marriage is different now” or that the pope has magic powers to change a No into a Yes, is not sane.

[2] Naturally I understand that this is not at all what it’s actually about and that we are being fed a ridiculous and likely fabricated sob story to sell the ideologically-motivated destruction of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, but bear with me for a while. I think we can have some fun thinking about all this rubbish on its own terms for a few minutes, and maybe figure out something useful on the way.

[3] Wait a second… that’s… This suggestion has been made several times at the Synods and since. But since we are, frankly, talking about being forced to continue to have sexual relations within a second liaison, if we are proposing that the woman in question is “trapped” in this relationship and has a “desire to get out of the situation” and through some kind of external coercion is unable to, we should be calling the police. Sexual coercion is rape, and is therefore a subject for law enforcement, not the confessional.

[4] If you really want to give yourself a cognitive dissonance headache, subscribe to his feed. He is however, I’m happy to say, being almost constantly challenged on his anti-rational nonsense. I think it’s become something of a hobby for some. For me it feels too much like getting trapped on the merry-go-round in the park when I was a kid – you stagger away feeling woozy, not having had any fun.


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Last modified on Monday, December 18, 2017
Hilary White

Our Italy correspondent is known throughout the English-speaking world as a champion of family and cultural issues. First introduced by our allies and friends at the incomparable, Miss White lives in Norcia, Italy.