Synod Special: if it takes wrong turning “stay faithful” – Cardinal Burke

vatican-city

 Update – 1/10/15:  Synod process a sham – click here to read more

On the eve of the Synod on the Family  

On the eve of the Second Session of the Synod on the Family, which will take place in Rome from October 4-25, the petitions, books, colloquiums and articles criticizing the “progressive” proposals of Cardinal Walter Kasper are multiplying—a very fortunate development. Widely different sorts of information are relayed in bulk on the Internet, and documents of uneven value are offered wholesale. The exhaustive treatment of the topics is claimed as a proof of impartiality, but often it serves only to overwhelm the reader.

Given this incessant stream, it is difficult to tell what is truly worth paying attention to. For this reason DICI is now dedicating to the Synod a special column that will feature factual information and essential documents, with commentary explaining whether or not they contribute to the defense of Catholic doctrine and morals about marriage and the family.

As Father Christian Bouchacourt, Superior of the District of France of the Society of Saint Pius X, very correctly remarked in his September 17 communiqué: “The guidelines of the first session, statements by some participants and the preparatory document for this second session cause us to fear great danger for the Church.” In such a serious hour, it is understandable that we do not want to “surf” the Internet about the Synod—from one scoop to the latest buzz!—but rather to distinguish what is Catholic from what is not.    Father Alain Lorans

 Source  and click here to read Cardinal Burke on impossibility of changing Church teaching on marriage. And here to read the Cardinal’s advice on what to do if the synod takes a “strange” (i.e. a “wrong”) turning.

Comment

We’re a bit early – we had been planning to launch a “Synod Special” thread on 1st October, but since the DICI column looks good, we decided to go ahead and launch now, instead. As well as keeping an eye on the Dici column, then,  feel free to post any articles, videos etc of interest which may help to cast light on what we might expect during the Synod – or as a result of it.  Anyone who feels moved to post appropriate prayers etc. or to suggest any fasts that don’t include giving up chocolate and cream cakes, go ahead!

Fatima: Third Secret Latest…

More Explosive News from the Convent in Coimbra  SrLuciafacingright

by Christopher A. Ferrara April 10, 2015

In a previous column on this subject I noted an explosive article by Antonio Socci, on the front page of the Italian daily Il Libero for August 17, 2014. Socci reported that in a biography of Sister Lucia published by the Sisters of the Convent in Coimbra in 2013, it is revealed that on January 3, 1944 the Virgin appeared to Sister Lucia and instructed her, regarding the vision pertaining to the Third Secret, to “be at peace, and write what I have commanded you, but not, however, that which has been given to you to understand its meaning.”

Thus was clearly revealed the existence of an explanation of the vision’s meaning by the Virgin Herself that was not written on the same the date the vision was committed to paper. Lucia’s own fellow nuns, in a book they themselves have published to the world, now confirm that something is missing from the vision standing alone: the very thing we have always said is missing, that being precisely the Virgin’s explanation of the vision’s significance which can only be found in a related text we have yet to see.

Now there is even more to report on this breakthrough. As my previous column noted, in view of what the biography had revealed the Italian “Fatimologist” Solideo Paolini wrote twice to the Convent: in February and May of 2014, before Socci’s article appeared.  In a conference published on YouTube on March 11, 2015, Paolini reveals not only what we already know — that both letters were met with silence — but also provides further details on this correspondence.

Paolini notes that the biography’s bibliography cites two never-published sources from Lucia’s writings: a certain letter of hers and a diary. Accordingly, in his first letter to the Convent, received on February 5, 2014, he had asked for “permission to come to the Convent to read these two unpublished sources,” which “you yourselves have cited in your book.”  Two months passed with no answer. 

Paolini wrote again in May of 2014 to advise that he took this silence as a reply that he could not consult the two works and that he had accepted this, but that he had one question: “Yes or no.  Is there a text that explains the significance of the vision, written not on that date [January 3, 1944, the date the vision was committed to paper] but subsequently?” He also asked: “In the works which I asked to consult is there any reference to something more regarding the Third Secret of Fatima, as of yet unpublished?” This letter was received at the Convent on June 6. There was again no response.

In the conference published on YouTube, however, Paolini reports that in October of 2014, after Socci’s article appeared, he received what he describes as an “extremely scanty note” in which the Prioress of the Convent advised that “it is not possible for now to consult the documents you request.  In its time, everything will be published.”

Paolini notes the obvious and totally devastating point: “The Vatican has told us everything was published, but the prioress of the convent says everything will be published.” Paolini also notes the Prioress’ resounding silence in response to his specific question whether the two unpublished sources contain further references to the Third Secret. 

There is no longer any good faith basis to deny that the Vatican is hiding something. The publication of this biography and the results of Paolini’s correspondence with the Convent at Coimbra demonstrate once again that the plans of men can impede the designs of Heaven for only so long.  The worldly-wise Vatican functionaries who have thus far succeeded in burying the integral Third Secret and preventing the Consecration of Russia are in a race, not with mere time, but with God Himself. They will lose; that much is certain. What remains uncertain, however, is how much damage God will allow them to inflict before His will is done and the imperatives of the Message of Fatima are heeded by a Church in crisis.   Source

Comment:

Are those within the Vatican who are desperate to suppress the Third Secret doing so because it reveals their evil machinations, their attempts via the “reforms” of Vatican II and other means to re-make the Church in their own image – i.e. to destroy the Church of Christ? Who could watch the manipulation of the Synod on the Family without drawing that, it seems to me, very obvious conclusion? Or is there some other explanation for the suppression and deceit surrounding the Third Secret? Share your thoughts… 

Bishop Athanasius Schneider: The Synod on the Family & The New Pharisees…

Bishop SneiderIn fact the bishops who support Holy Communion for “divorced remarried” are the new Pharisees and Scribes because they neglect the commandment of God, contributing to the fact that out of the body and of the heart of the “divorced remarried” continue to “proceed adulteries” (Math 15: 19), because they want an exteriorly “clean” solution and to appear “clean” as well in the eyes of those who have power (the social media, public opinion). However when they eventually appear at the tribunal of Christ, they will surely hear to their dismay these words of Christ: “Why are you declaring my statutes and taking my covenant in your mouth? Seeing you hate instruction, and cast my words behind you, … when you have been partaker with adulterers” (Ps 50 (49): 16-18).  Read more

Comment

Is Bishop Schneider correct to be so outspoken in his criticism of the Synod bishops?  Isn’t he failing in “charity”?  Does he risk developing a “schismatic mindset”?  Is he likely to be “re-assigned” soon? Wouldn’t he be wiser to remain silent and simply pray at this time?  Comments invited.

A Priest Answers Questions on Synod …

 I am still hearing from Catholics who should know better, who say things like “well, I suppose the Pope wants to leave all options open…” to excuse the scandal of the suggestions put forward, in the name of “mercy”, at the recent synod.  I, think, therefore, that the answers which Fr. Marcel Guarnizo gives to 6 questions regarding many urgent issues surrounding the recently concluded Synod, are very useful in countering such ignorance.  Comments invited.

Synod Questions and a Clarification on the Virtue of Mercy      Fr  Marcel Guarnizo

October 30, 2014

 1. Prior to the Synod, you had some concerns over the direction of the debate. How did the relatio address those concerns, and/or confirm them?

I think to understand the nature of these concerns (which are shared by many), a few things need to be established regarding the nature of the synod itself. A synod is a gathering of bishops from around the world who meet to, “… foster a closer unity between the Roman Pontiff and the bishops, to assist the roman Pontiff with their counsel in safeguarding and increasing faith and morals and in preserving and strengthening ecclesiastical discipline…” (Canon 342.) The current synod on the family is not an ecumenical council. It is not a Church council–a Vatican III–or any such thing. A proper understanding of the synod’s authority should put what is taking place in its proper perspective. A synod cannot overturn ecumenical councils or remake the Church’s definition of dogma.

 Second, as a Catholic I believe firmly that the office of Peter cannot teach error. When Peter, as universal shepherd of the Church, speaks regarding faith and morals, his pronouncements are unerring throughout the universal Church regarding matters of belief. Defined doctrine cannot be changed by any human power, so I have no concerns in this regard.

The charism of infallibility though, is only a negative protection of the office of Peter as universal shepherd of the Church. What I mean by this is that God has promised to prevent, or impede, Peter from teaching error or heresy as doctrine for belief of the Catholic Church. Infallibility does not, however, guarantee that the Pope will further the promotion of truth and faith. It also does not insure that he will not err or fail to communicate effectively and forcefully the truth of the Gospel in homilies, interviews, and the like.

I think the present concerns are due to weeks and weeks of Cardinal Kasper’s prominent role in the synod and his multiple reiterations of proposals which seem, upon review, not just theologically unsound but philosophically and logically contradictory. The concern of which you speak, has been shared by many bishops and cardinals around the world. This has been openly stated by many in attendance at the synod and was evidenced by the book and articles authored by Cardinal Burke, Brandmuller, Carfarra, De Paolis, Pell and others as a response to the proposals of Cardinal Kasper and Kasper’s cothinkers. Cardinal Gerhard Muller (Prefect of the Congregation for the Faith), had made his own negative views of Cardinal Kasper’s proposal known as well. I agree with their concerns and am grateful for their articulation and studious elucidation of the facts surrounding the question of marriage and other doctrinal issues.

I think there is legitimate concern that, regardless of the doctrinal facts, speculative theories on the doctrine of marriage, homosexual unions, cohabitation, and other fractious issues, cause tremendous confusion and even scandal among the faithful, Catholic and non-Catholic. In practice, ambiguous and imprecise statements send a signal that these doctrinal matters are perhaps no longer relevant in our day and age.

 If discussions of these “hot button” issues are not treated with great care, the signal can be sent that fundamental doctrinal teaching of the Church may be irrelevant, or up to the subjective judgment of each priest or bishop in pastoral practice. Clearly, there is political and media pressure seeking impossible doctrinal change and we should be careful not give the illusion that any change is possible or forthcoming.

The “relatio” must cause astonishment and concern. Even the main relator, Cardinal Peter Erdo, openly stated that some of the most controversial paragraphs had been inserted in the final draft and he was clearly not about to defend them or even explain them. Instead he called publicly on Archbishop Bruno Forte, the author of the controversial statements, to assume responsibility for his own words.

To see Cardinal Erdo’s concern and the objections voiced by bishops from Africa, Poland, and elsewhere on the synod floor must cause concern. If one of the goals of a synod as stated in the Code of Canon Law is the,  “… preserving and strengthening of ecclesial discipline…” but openly there seems to be a faction proposing to change not preserve, and weaken not strengthen, the discipline of the Church, then I believe there is cause for concern. If this is so, some of the goals of the synod, seem to me are not being met. It also seems to me, that Cardinal Kasper’s proposals have not served as a vehicle to foster unity among the bishops and cardinals.

This I do not mind, as unity in the Church can only come as a communion (common union), vis à vis  the true and correct doctrine of the Church.  Unanimity in accepting to support the proposals of Cardinal Kasper and others would be very preoccupying, indeed.

The doctrinal issues at hand do not, in my view, require heroic powers of discernment. But the “relatio,” I think, lacked rigor, precision, and operational definition of terms. Given the circumstances of today and the need for clarity, it was not helpful in this regard. My impression is that, in many paragraphs, it was not grounded on a solid, philosophical, biblical, or theological ecclesial foundation. The international reaction to it, was telling of the final result. Given the partiality of the document, to release it to predictable public clamor was bound to increase pressure for doctrinal change, augment confusion, and frankly promote scandal among many. If the actual statements of all the bishops speaking about these matters are not accessible what is the point of releasing such draft documents?

2. Do you see the effort in the relatio as strictly pastoral, or does it raise doctrinal issues?

There is no such thing as strictly pastoral. Pastoral practice cannot contradict Church doctrine. Pastoral practice depends on doctrinal teaching. Practice follows necessarily from theory.

 Pastoral practice exists to teach, to implement in practice Divine revelation as mediated and defined by the Magisterium of the Church. It is not within the jurisdiction of pastoral practice to decide what is true in the deposit of faith. Pastoral practice necessarily takes its guiding principles from the dogmatic teaching of the Church, not the other way around. Pastoral “theology” is the praxis which depends necessarily on the dogmatic teaching of the Church. To think that pastoral practice, rules or even guides dogmatic theology is a mistake. Theoretical science and its principles, in this case given by the Divine person, are in no way subject for their truth and certitude upon pastoral concerns. If Divine doctrine could be settled by votes, popular opinion, or the opinion of a few theologians, such doctrine would be anything but of Divine origin. God’s word and its teaching by the Church is immutable–not because some are not with the times but rather because God cannot change and His Divine Word for the salvation of mankind is–unlike man’s testimony–immutable. It is immutable because it is true.

Theology requires much intellectual humility. God cannot deceive or be deceived. God is not the consultant from whom we seek opinions to determine what is true and good. He is Truth and Goodness itself.

Pastoral practice cannot determine or grant the promise of truth. Truth of a Divine origin has been true before there were any pastoral agents in the Church. These new “pastoral theologians,” need to be reminded of their function. Judging revelation is not one of them.

The granting of communion to the divorced and remarried without a previous annulment is evidently a doctrinal issue in the Catholic Church. To claim that this is a disciplinary issue and does not touch doctrine is at best an error in thought by the proponents of such a theory. The merciful obligation to deny communion to individuals in situations which are objectively gravely sinful in the teaching of the Church is a solemn duty. Simply put, to attempt a second marriage while still validly married is taught by Our Lord and the Church to be adultery. Sexual relations in such invalid marriages are also grave matter and clearly forbidden by the Sixth Commandment, ergo those who engage in them cannot receive communion. Communion is denied in practice by the Church, as an act of mercy.

The commandments are commandments, not suggestions or proposals. From a philosophical point of view, to change pastoral practice and grant communion and maintain the condition of such communicants to be objectively disordered, would be a logical contradiction which cannot be exercised at a practical level. Both cannot be maintained simultaneously.

Furthermore, to grant communion touches the doctrinal teaching of the Church in matters regarding grace, the sacrament of confession and the authority of the Magisterium of the Church. Cardinal Kasper has proposed a mysterious “penitential path,” which somehow would conclude with confession and absolution. But this is also a logical contradiction. Of what would these divorced and remarried individuals be absolved? If they are being absolved for attempting a marriage outside of the Church or for illicit sexual relations outside of marriage, how is it that it would be sinful for that one confession concluding the penitential path and then, they could go back to commit and persevere in the same actions which a priest has just absolved and recognized as sinful? How were such actions determined to be sinful once and the same exact actions thereafter are perfectly fine? It makes no sense. No priest in a confessional could solve these illogical and irrational dilemmas. Are they to absolve them once and then say that the same actions are fine? If they are morally sound after the confession how come they were not acceptable the day of the confession at the end of the penitential path? No theology is needed to see the problems. A previous science, namely logic and philosophy, disqualifies these proposals as contrary to reason.

Finally, all priests are held to serve and protect their faithful from spiritual damage. To “do no harm”, is the most basic and fundamental ethical principle of human action. The Church teaches with St. Paul, who taught that, “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are ill and infirm and a considerable number are dying.” (1 Cor. 11: 29-30).

It is of no benefit to the communicant who is objectively in a condition of serious sin to receive communion. Since we have a moral obligation to endeavor for the good of souls, we must not give to people what de facto will do damage to them. It is in my view, positively unmerciful to give communion knowingly to such individuals. We hold to the doctrine of the proper reception of communion and counsel souls not to receive if they are not in a state of grace, for many reasons. The fact that mercy obliges us to do this is one of them. There should be no shame, fear, or discomfort in this; we cannot give what would harm another person.

Communion without conversion is an impossible proposition, morally and theologically. Our Lord taught the conditions for discipleship, “ If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.” (Matthew 16:24). This is the order required by wisdom and true discipleship. We must first deny ourselves that which God forbids. This will not be easy, but with God’s grace we must carry our cross and then and only then, does He invite us to follow Him. Cardinal Kasper’s proposal, supported by others as well, is in my view, the antithesis of the Divine requirement. If Communion without conversion were possible, Our Lord would have perhaps stated: “Do not deny yourselves, do not pick up your cross, just follow me.”

 It seems to me, that it is a grave oversight to forget that the sacrament of Confession is the visible and effective sign, instituted by the Divine person as an endless fountain of mercy for humanity. Confession is the sacrament of mercy. Mercy as a virtue cannot exist outside of that which is true and it cannot exist without the proper observance of justice. It is unjust and unmerciful and a bad error to propose or imagine human solutions that offer guarantees which may depart in doctrine or practice from Divine teaching.

The relatio’s review and proposals on all other issues, including that of cohabitation and homosexual unions, compounds all these problems. But, in my view, there is little complexity to the proposals being offered. They all follow, from the same erroneous start, to multiply the dangers for the souls of the faithful. If the teaching of Our Lord and the Sixth Commandment is to hold any relevance, all types of sexual unions outside of marriage (between one man and one woman), fall under the same logical and doctrinal judgment. Sexual relations outside of marriage being forbidden by the Sixth Commandment also would forbid adultery, homosexual relations, the sexual relations of those who cohabitate and are not married. All of these are simply a different specie or kind of the same sin forbidden by the Sixth Commandment, namely fornication. None of these can be advised without contradicting the Sixth Commandment. There is really in my view, very little complexity to the proposals being deliberated.

3. The paragraphs on homosexuality seem to be gaining the most attention in American media. Do you see these as the most troubling and/or remarkable?

It seems the analysis and focus on trying to accommodate these relations is a futile effort within the context of Catholic doctrine. I do agree that a pastoral plan is needed, given the extraordinary changes in our culture and the public lobbying by a small but vociferous group of people. Most men and women with homosexual tendencies are grateful to have a father and a mother, and do not want to destroy marriage or change any Church doctrine.

The missing pastoral plan to which mercy obliges us, is to minister to men and women with homosexual tendencies for, as of now, they have been like “sheep without shepherds.” The pastoral plan needed would be for every diocese in the world to open up a ministry to counsel and lend a merciful ear to those with such non-normative tendencies, who wish to speak about them. To celebrate and congratulate people “coming out,” cloaks a great deal of moral irresponsibility. There is real suffering in many of these cases, about which we should feel great mercy.

Sufficient for those who at present want to make such relations normative, would be to ask them to enter into dialogue with men and women with homosexual tendencies. If they did this, they would discover the immense number of our brothers and sisters who have suffered sexual abuse, family dysfunction, and other psychological and physical harms.

Many of the people with homosexual tendencies in fact are seeking someone to talk to. They are not ministered properly if some shepherds continue to pretend there is no issue at hand. Many young people who have been sexually abused, have developed homosexual tendencies but they cannot easily find a responsible adult to speak to about their situation. If institutionally we close our doors, exclude them from our ministry by pretending there is no issue, we ignore our duty in mercy to be available to all people regardless of their situation. The real pastoral plan is not, through theological acrobatics, seeking to ignore the presence of non-normative sexual tendencies and therefore refuse to seek solutions. This position of the Church, may be a sign of contradiction in our day and age but nonetheless, mercy obliges us not to tell falsehoods, scientifically, morally or theologically. The Church has been very clear on this matter. What is needed in my view is not accommodation but a realization of suffering and pain which requires the mercy of our ministry.

Furthermore, there are great questions of justice which are owed to children. Namely, the right of every child to be nurtured by a father and a mother in a family, and the social, psychological, cultural, and moral benefits such an arrangement affords them.

4. The relatio is a work in progress, and already some participants have called for changes to walk back some of the language released. Do you expect that the second draft on Saturday will address those concerns?

It all depends apparently, on who deals with the final redaction of the document.

Certainly a great number of bishops and cardinals oppose Cardinal Kasper’s proposal as being inconsistent with logic, sound philosophy, morals, Church law, and Catholic theology. But the response should be thoughtful. And I do think the counter arguments to Cardinal Kasper & company, have been thoughtful, steeped in Catholic tradition and theology, and consistent with the aim of theology, pastoral practice, and the discipline of the Church, namely the felicity and happiness of man. A respect for human dignity requires clarity and precision when conveying the doctrine of salvation.  

5. How does the “law of graduality” as mentioned in the relatio impact the teaching on the indissolubility of marriage? Does this tend to give license to those who want access to the Eucharist regardless of the status of their communion with Church teachings, and why?

The law of graduality in my view does not apply to marriage. One is either married or not. A determination by the Church may be needed to discover and assess the fact. The process of annulment exists to determine this, if a marriage is called into question. But one cannot be partially married, somewhat married, married but not fully. There is no possible graduality here. To make an analogy to ecclesial communion by different ecclesial communities or particular churches in this regard a false analogy. The Church can be in communion on some points with other ecclesial communities and not in communion on other points, that is, the degree of unity may vary. Sacramental communion, communion of faith, and hierarchical communion are all needed to be in full communion with the Catholic Church. Therefore, different degrees of communion are possible. [Ed: this is an error which is discussed in the comments below].

In the case of marriage the determination is singular and unique. A couple married or not, period. There is no such thing as married in some respects and not married in other respects. If it were possible to have degrees of marriage, it would be to propose yet another logical contradiction, that one could be married and not married at one and the same time. It is analogous to a mother being pregnant. She is either pregnant or she is not, she cannot be somewhat pregnant or gradually pregnant. Seeking some status to accommodate other “unions,” is in my view again, a futile exercise. Sacraments affect the grace they signify upon completion of the sacrament, after the rite of baptism you are baptized. Before baptism, you are  not. If there is a valid, sacrament the reality of the sacrament takes effect immediately.

The commandments and the law of God are also not subject to graduality. It is not possible to believe that the prohibition against fornication applies as a prohibition gradually to different people. If not, someone could therefore be licitly fornicating for some months, others for some years as the commandment applies differently to each person. Who could with certainty of truth imply that for some couples the prohibition of the commandment does not apply yet? This is to empty revelation of its clear meaning. It matters little if they cannot change doctrine; the effect in practice is to make the teaching of Christ and the Church vacuous, in practice. Again, all this is impossible from a philosophical, theological, and ethical perspective.

6. There has been a lot of talk about mercy before and during the synod, what is your view on mercy as the justification for these new pastoral approaches?

It seems to me at the heart of the matter lies yet another problem that has been afflicting the opinions of more than one bishop at the synod. This problem is the lack of and great need in the age of postmodernity for proper operational definitions of terms. There seems to be in our day and age a great deal of confusion about the meanings of all sorts of things, family, unions, gender, homosexual tendencies, doctrine vs. discipline, dogma vs. pastoral practice, and much more. Mercy as a virtue is most necessary in the Church, but it unfortunately does not escape the deconstruction of postmodern thinking in our times. Mercy denotes, as St. Thomas Aquinas teaches, “…a kind of sorrow” (Summa Theologica II-IIae, Q.30, a.1-a.4)–sorrow for the plight of another. The origin of this sorrow is originated necessarily from the recognition of a privation of a good in the person for which one feels “… a kind of sorrow.” This privation of a good could be physical, moral, spiritual, or for any other reason. Therefore, to properly understand mercy as a virtue one must first recognize the inadequacy, defect, lack of a perfection or goodness in the person one feels sorrow for. This implies, of course, recognition of the privation of good in all the cases being addressed at the synod–divorced and remarried (without a previous annulment), those cohabitating outside of marriage, homosexual “unions,” and the rest. Mercy is impossible even as a feeling without the recognition of the objective deficiency present, for it is in the recognition of the deficiency that mercy as a feeling originates.

But more is needed to actually attain mercy as a virtue. A feeling is not a virtue. We all have feelings, many beyond rational control. But a feeling of sorrow for someone’s plight is far from constituting the virtue of mercy. Thomas distinguishes between “a feeling of sorrow,” which is not more than a movement of the sensitive appetite, a passion and mercy which is the virtue. The feeling by itself does not constitute the virtue of mercy. For mercy to exist as a virtue, (which I take is what really is of value), mercy must be “ … a movement of the intellective appetite…” This movement, for mercy to be an actual virtue, must be ruled, “…in accordance with reason and in accordance with this movement regulated by reason, the movement of the lower appetite (the feeling of sorrow), may be regulated.”

The “feeling of sorrow,” is not mercy. It must be regulated to be a virtue by adherence through right reason to the good and to that which is true. It seems to me much of what we have today is feeling sorry that someone cannot receive communion. But to assert that this feeling is a manifestation of the virtue of mercy is just simply a bad theoretical error.

Furthermore, to determine the defect in a relationship for which one “feels sorry,” requires a judgment. Therefore to oppose a judgment of the mind to mercy is to be speaking of emotive mercy (irrational feeling), vs. the virtue of mercy which requires reason and judgment. Much of what today is being called mercy is nothing more than a feeling by which no serious judgments, let alone pastoral practice or doctrinal determinations, can be made.

Finally as Thomas teaches, quoting St. Augustine, the virtue of mercy exists as, “… this movement of the mind (i.e. not feeling) obeys reason, when mercy is vouchsafed in such a way that justice is safeguarded, whether we give to the needy or forgive the repentant.” (De Civ. Dei ix. 5).

Pseudo mercy or emotive mercy–just feeling sorry for someone–is what sustains flawed arguments in cases such as euthanasia, “mercy killing.” Indeed one may have “a feeling of sorrow,” for the plight of an older person who is suffering. But this is not a virtue it is just a sentiment. To propose putting them to death to alleviate their suffering is a departure from reason and does not secure the obligations of justice to the sick and disabled. This is not the virtue of mercy. Equally to destroy the unborn, for reasons of mercy”–they have Down syndrome, they will suffer, they are not wanted–is irrational and unjust.

I think much of the debate has been between those who think mercy is an irrational feeling, emotive mercy against those who are upholding the real virtue of mercy, which requires, reason, a judgment of the mind, the recognition of the lack of good in a situation and the absolute need for securing through right thinking the ends of justice, truth, and goodness.  END.

On Resisting Pope Francis To His Face…

Pope Francissmiles

The article below is taken from the website of The American Conservative – click on photo of Pope Francis to read original.  Comments invited.

Here’s a powerful column by Ross Douthat, in which he says Pope Francis is pushing the Catholic Church to a precipice.  Here’s the gist of his piece:

But going beyond such a welcome to a kind of celebration of the virtues of nonmarital relationships generally, as the synod document seemed to do, might open a divide between formal teaching and real-world practice that’s too wide to be sustained. And on communion for the remarried, the stakes are not debatable at all. The Catholic Church was willing to lose the kingdom of England, and by extension the entire English-speaking world, over the principle that when a first marriage is valid a second is adulterous, a position rooted in the specific words of Jesus of Nazareth. To change on that issue, no matter how it was couched, would not be development; it would be contradiction and reversal.

Such a reversal would put the church on the brink of a precipice. Of course it would be welcomed by some progressive Catholics and hailed by the secular press. But it would leave many of the church’s bishops and theologians in an untenable position, and it would sow confusion among the church’s orthodox adherents — encouraging doubt and defections, apocalypticism and paranoia (remember there is another pope still living!) and eventually even a real schism.

Those adherents are, yes, a minority — sometimes a small minority — among self-identified Catholics in the West. But they are the people who have done the most to keep the church vital in an age of institutional decline: who have given their energy and time and money in an era when the church is stained by scandal, who have struggled to raise families and live up to demanding teachings, who have joined the priesthood and religious life in an age when those vocations are not honored as they once were. They have kept the faith amid moral betrayals by their leaders; they do not deserve a theological betrayal.

Here’s the bomb Douthat drops:

[Theologically orthodox Catholics] can certainly persist in the belief that God protects the church from self-contradiction. But they might want to consider the possibility that they have a role to play, and that this pope may be preserved from error only if the church itself resists him.

Call it the Galatians 2 Option. Here is St. Paul:

When Cephas [St. Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? …

Read the whole Douthat column. The point he raises is necessary but incendiary: that the Catholic faith is not Catholic without the Pope, but it is also not what the Pope says it is. That being the case, it is conceivable that those who want to be faithful to the Truth must stand up to the Pope — even to his face.

UPDATE: The traditionalist Catholic priest Father Richard Cipolla explains why the pope’s behavior in the Synod is such a big deal. Excerpts:

There are many of us who have been perplexed and upset by what happened at the first session of the Synod on the Family in Rome the last two weeks.  Quite apart from the synodal procedure itself which the Bishop of Providence called a Protestant way of doing things, where one votes on the truth, what was most upsetting was the very real attempt to railroad through propositions dealing with divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Communion, and with gay unions, that depart from the clear and unambiguous teaching of the Church throughout her history, which teaching is affirmed as late as the pontificates of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI and in the Catholic Catechism itself.  Amidst this confusion and pain among those who love the Tradition of the Church there is also a sense of euphoria that the necessary two/thirds majority to pass these propositions as the sense of the Synod was not achieved.  But, as I have said elsewhere, there remains the fact that over 50 percent of the Cardinals and Bishops at that Synod voted in favor of the propositions which included openness to giving Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, to affirm positive aspects of cohabitation and civil unions, and to affirm positive elements in gay unions.  This should astound us.

More:

But it is this question that is a denial of truth in matters of morality that lies at the heart of this drive to change the Church’s moral teaching in the name of more merciful pastoral practice.  A writer for the Italian version of Huffington Post—I know, that gives one pause—lamented the failure of the Synod to carry out the “October revolution”. And they failed, he says, because they could not find a bridge that would lead from the indissolubility of marriage and the Church’s teaching on those sexual acts that are a part of gay unions to that pastoral practice that would give Holy Communion to divorced and remarried persons and to the affirmation of the goodness present in gay marriage.  He laments this deeply because, he says, the Pope gave them the bridge.  The Pontifex, the bridge builder in Latin, gave them the bridge, showed them how to get from one to the other, in the form of the question:  Who am I to judge?  This is the way to affirm doctrine and then adopt a pastoral practice that denies it.  And it is the way, except the bridge leads to at best liberal Protestantism or at worst the individualism of secularism.

The Spectator Sees The Best of the Game

Divorce and remarriageI am a divorced and remarried Catholic. I attend Mass every week. When my children want me to take them up to Holy Communion, I walk along behind them and cross my arms over my breast. My youngest is particularly keen on going up for a blessing, although he wants to know when he can get ‘the bread’. I say, ‘When you understand why it isn’t “the bread”.’

It has never occurred to me to present myself for Communion when I have not sought — for various reasons that I won’t discuss here — to have my first marriage annulled. I know I am not a good Catholic, and I am living a life that the Church considers to be adulterous. Yet I am in good spirits, as I hope in God’s mercy. But I do not presume upon it. My Catechism says that is a further mortal sin, as would be the unworthy reception of Holy Communion.

People in my state are explicitly encouraged, in the Catechism, to attend church, and to make a spiritual communion, as I do each week. I have the hope that one day I will be in a state of grace and able to receive Holy Communion again. I hope that, despite my ongoing sin, God nonetheless hides me in the shadow of his wings; that Mary, hope of sinners, has her cloak of mercy cast about me. I am a poor Catholic but I am also a believing Catholic. Yet there is a faction within the Church that evidently considers ‘believing Catholic’ to be a hopelessly old-fashioned clique that they must get shot of, alongside lace mantillas and kneeling at the Communion rail.

Holy Communion, for most of the bishops of England and Wales, appears to have become Protestant by default. Instead of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist — a presence we should tremble to receive at the best of times — Communion is now a sign, a symbol, a mere shared meal, an ‘expression of community’.

Next week an Extraordinary Synod of Catholic bishops, summoned by Pope Francis, will meet to discuss the family. Catholic reformers are full of hope that, under his guidance, the bishops will liberalise the Church’s teaching on divorced and remarried Catholics. The liberal Tablet magazine devoted a cover story to the subject. It filled me with dismay. The article began by quoting Cardinal Walter Kasper, the leading liberal cardinal: ‘The church’s blanket ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Communion…’.

Where to start? The Church does not ban anybody from receiving Communion other than non-Catholics (and there may be exceptions) and those too young to understand what they are receiving. Rather, nobody may receive God in the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin. Even before I remarried, and I use the term in a legal sense, since I cannot sacramentally remarry, I did not always present myself for Communion. Often I would be in a state of serious sin and had not found the time or organised myself enough to go to confession. The fact is that nobody in a state of serious sin — whatever that sin may be, in this case, adultery — is able to receive Christ worthily. To receive him unworthily is to commit a further mortal sin.

The Tablet article was called ‘The Case for Mercy’ and, reading it, I felt like pleading for us suckers who actually believe the basics: sin, confession, absolution, the Real Presence and the like. What Cardinal Kasper appears to want to do is to tempt a generation of people into weekly mortal sin. How is that merciful? How is that helping? Is it impossible for liberal theologians to combine their reforming fervour with actual logic? Allow a divorced and remarried person to receive Holy Communion and you are saying one of two things: either that it is not adulterous to have sex outside the marital bond, or that one may harmlessly receive the Most Holy Eucharist while in an ongoing state of mortal sin — a sin one firmly intends to commit again as soon as convenient.

There is no way that either of those things can be true, and the Church’s teaching be true. If sin doesn’t matter, what was the point of the Crucifixion? Why did Christ not stop with a ‘community meal’ on Maundy Thursday and skip that whole bothersome deal the next morning?

There are ways that those civilly divorced and remarried can be admitted to Holy Communion. Make it easier for them to obtain a declaration of nullity. Here is an area where the Church could be more sympathetic, could grant dispensations and exemptions in matters of process. The power of ‘radical sanation’ — granted for various reasons — to make a marriage whole could also be administered more often. That power does actually exist. Where the Church can legitimately change is in matters of tradition and practice — but not doctrine or dogma. Here, we sinners are protected from the human failings of individual priests and bishops by the infallibility of the Church. Some traditionalists protested when altar girls were permitted; I remember asking in one forum if the Bishop had the right to do this (yes), then if it had been done to say it was wrong was — equally as much as in the other direction — to say the Church was wrong.

Theologically, the Church is like a giant tower in Jenga; pull out one brick and you topple all the others. We cannot admit that sex outside marriage isn’t adulterous, nor can we say that mortally sinful people can receive Holy Communion. But we can look harder at the powers given to the Church to declare and discern when somebody is in a state of sin or where, for genuinely merciful reasons, a union can be made whole, by powers already granted to our bishops by the Holy Spirit.

Nothing will ever persuade me to receive Holy Communion in a state of grievous sin, unless for a serious reason. I once did so, when I discovered that a Protestant at my sister’s wedding had approached the priest, taken the Host and put it into his pocket. The poor priest hesitated but the man had walked away. He was foreign and hadn’t understood. I went to find him at the reception and he said ‘I didn’t want to interrupt the line’. I asked if I could have the Host from his pocket, I made a quick act of adoration and contrition and I ate it, despite being at that time not fit to receive. It seemed the lesser of two evils, and certainly that was my intent. I believe that under the circumstances, it was valid to consume the Host (although I am not sure). One day I hope to do so again. But I understand that the Church, while it strives to emphasise mercy, cannot do so by encouraging sin. Communion is not, as the Tablet journalist I Twitter-debated this with said, just ‘for the saints’, that is true. But nor is it, as he put it, ‘a help for the journey.’ It is the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. However unfashionable that may be, it remains true.  Source

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 4 October 2014

Comment

This is an interesting insight, is it not, straight from one of the horses’ mouths, so to speak. Share your thoughts on the above article, which I think, by any yardstick, is an important contribution to the “debate” on a key topic of the forthcoming Synod on the Family. There’s an old saying, the onlooker (spectator) sees the best of the game. I think that is very true in this case – what do you think?

Cardinal Burke – Latest & Greatest Victim of the Dreaded “Francis Effect”?

Cardinal Burke

As the impeccable prefect of the supreme tribunal of the apostolic signatura, [Cardinal Burke] is on the verge of being demoted to the purely honorary role of “patron” of an order of knighthood. At the behest of Pope Francis by Sandro Magister  

VATICAN CITY, September 17, 2014 – The “revolution” of Pope Francis in ecclesiastical governance is not losing its driving thrust. And so, as happens in every self-respecting revolution, the heads continue to roll for churchmen seen as deserving this metaphorical guillotine. In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most “Ratzingerian” of the Roman curia. Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta, secretary of the congregation for the clergy, destined to leave Rome for an Iberian diocese not of the first rank. But now an even more eminent decapitation seems to be on the way. The next victim would in fact be the United States cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, who from being prefect of the supreme tribunal of the apostolic signatura would not be promoted – as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere – to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous – but ecclesiastically very modest – title of “cardinal patron” of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.

If confirmed, Burke’s exile would be even more drastic than the one inflicted on Cardinal Piacenza, who, transferred from the important congregation for the clergy to the marginal apostolic penitentiary, nevertheless remained in the leadership of a curial dicastery. With the shakeup on the way, Burke would instead be completely removed from the curia and employed in a purely honorary position without any influence on the governance of the universal Church. This would be a move that seems to have no precedent. In the past, in fact, the title of “cardinalis patronus” of the knights of Malta, in existence since 1961, like the previous one of Grand Prior of Rome, has always been assigned to the highest ranking cardinals as an extra position in addition to the main one. This is what was done with cardinals Mariano Rampolla del Tindaro (appointed Grand Prior in 1896 while remaining secretary of state), Gaetano Bisleti (at the same time prefect of the congregation for Catholic education), Gennaro Granito Pignatelli (cardinal dean and bishop of Albano), Nicola Canali (governor of Vatican City), Paolo Giobbe (leader of the apostolic dataria), Paul-Pierre Philippe (until the age of 75 also prefect of the congregation for the Oriental Churches), Sebastiano Baggio (removed from the congregation for bishops but kept on as governor of Vatican City and camerlengo), Pio Laghi (until the age of 77 also prefect of the congregation for Catholic education).

Two separate cases are those of Cardinal Giacomo Violardo, who succeeded the 89-year-old Giobbe as patron at the age of 71, two months after receiving the scarlet at the end of long service in the curia, and of the outgoing Sardi, appointed pro-patron in 2009 at the age of 75 and made cardinal in 2010 after having been for many years the head of the office that writes pontifical documents. Above all, Sardi’s retirement would not be a compulsory act, since the age limit of 80 does not apply to positions outside of the curia. And in fact, with the exception of Paulo Giobbe, all of the aforementioned cardinal patrons went on to a better life “durante munere.”

Burke is 66 years old, and therefore still in his ecclesiastical prime. Ordained a priest by Paul VI in 1975, he worked at the apostolic signatura as an ordinary priest with John Paul II, who made him bishop of his native diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin in 1993. It was again pope Karol Wojtyla who in 2003 promoted him as archbishop of the prestigious see, once cardinalate, of St. Louis, Missouri. Benedict XVI called him back to Rome in 2008, and made him a cardinal in 2010. With a very devout personality, he is also recognized as having the rare virtue of never having struck any deals to obtain ecclesiastical promotions or benefices. In the liturgical and theological camp, he is very close to the sensibilities of Joseph Ratzinger.

He has celebrated a number of times according to the ancient rite, even donning the “cappa magna,” as do cardinals George Pell and Antonio Cañizares Llovera, without being punished for this by Pope Francis. A great expert in canon law, and appointed to the apostolic signatura for this reason, he is not afraid to follow it to the most uncomfortable consequences. Like when, to the tune of articles of the Code – number 915 to be precise – he upheld the impossibility of giving communion to those politicians who stubbornly and publicly uphold the right to abortion, bringing the rebukes of two colleagues in the United States valued by Pope Francis, Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston and Donald Wuerl of Washington.  (emphasis added)

Free in his judgments, he has been among the very few to make critical remarks on “Evangelii Gaudium,” pointing out that in his view it is orientational but not truly magisterial. And in view of the upcoming synod of bishops, he has repeatedly taken a stand against the ideas of Cardinal Walter Kasper – well known to be in the good graces of Pope Francis – in favor of communion for the divorced and remarried. The dicastery headed by Burke, eminently technical, recently accepted an appeal from the Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate against a provision issued for them by the congregation for religious. A courageous move on the part of Burke, situated within the context of the punitive action undertaken by the Vatican congregation against one of the most substantial realities of Catholic traditionalism, an action that Pope Francis endorsed by approving in specific form the congregation’s decision to prevent the Friars of the Immaculate from celebrating the Mass according to the “Tridentine” rite.  (emphasis added)

It is only with this kind of pontifical approval, in fact, that a decree of the curia can overturn standing law, in this case the motu proprio of Benedict XVI “Summorum Pontificum.” It is difficult to identify among these episodes the ones that may have have had the greatest influence on the fate of Cardinal Burke. But it is easy to predict that his definitive downgrading will provoke both a tumultuous reaction within the traditionalist world, where Burke is seen as a hero, and a corresponding wave of jubilation in the opposite camp, where he is instead considered a bogeyman.

On the latter side it can be recalled that the “liberal” Catholic commentator Michael Sean Winters, in the “National Catholic Reporter” of November 26, 2013, had called for the head of Cardinal Burke as a member of the congregation for bishops, because of the nefarious influence, according to him, that he was exercising over episcopal appointments in the United States. On December 16, in effect, Pope Francis humiliated Burke by crossing him off from among the members of the congregation. To the hosannas of “liberal” Catholicism, not only in the United States. The pope certainly did not do so out of obedience to the wishes of the “National Catholic Reporter.” But now he seems right at the point of giving the go-ahead for the second and more grave demotion of one of the most untarnished personalities the Vatican curia knows.   Source

Comment

Those who remember the way Cardinal Burke caved in to the “liberal” bullies in Westminster by withdrawing at the last minute from his speaking engagement at the London Conference hosted by the orthodox group Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice, will be pleased to recall the details above of his later fearless confronting of the “liberal” elite. He is now paying the price, of course, if the reports of his “demotion” are, in fact, true.   We welcome your thoughts on this latest bombshell from Rome.