From what, precisely, are Amoris Laetitia “dissenters” dissenting?

If even Pope Francis could be unsure about the orthodoxy of his controversial post-Synodal Exhortation, surely the faithful will be allowed to have perplexities of various kinds regarding it?

Pope Francis talks with Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Jan. 27. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Stephen Walford has written an essay this week for La Stampa’s English-language magazine, Vatican Insider, titled “The Amoris Laetitia Dissenters: The Murky World of Distorting Facts, Creating False Arguments and Sowing Confusion”. Walford, who has now penned several pieces about Amoris Laetitia, is clearly impatient and annoyed. “If loyal Catholics around the world had hoped that the news of Pope Francis’ decision to raise the Buenos Aires Bishops’ Amoris laetitia guidelines to the level of ‘authentic magisterium’ would bring to an end the dissent,” Walford writes, “then they were sadly mistaken.” He goes on to say, “If anything, the dissenters have dug their heels in even more. Whereas at one time it was traditionalists and certain conservatives who looked accusingly at liberals for allowing the ‘smoke of Satan’ to enter the Church, the finger is firmly pointing in the opposite direction now.”

Walford is not the first to describe critics of the Holy Father and/or of his post-Synodal Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, as “dissenters” or their criticism as “dissent”. As far as I can tell, that honor goes to America Magazine, which applied the term to the participants in a very small conference about which America’s Rome correspondent, Gerard O’Connell, reported in a dispatch datelined April 22, 2017.

In any case, my query to Walford is the same one I posed to America and O’Connell at the time O’Connell’s piece appeared: from what, precisely, are the “dissenters” dissenting?

I ask the question because The Holy Father has claimed repeatedly – both in person and through his appointed mouthpieces – to be teaching nothing (new) in Amoris, but only offering a pastoral reflection that presupposes the integrity of the Church’s constant teaching on marriage.

At first, the claim was that there was no change whatsoever either to teaching or to discipline with regard to Communion. Slowly, however, the Holy Father’s mouthpieces began to broach the subject of discipline. Even persons well disposed to Francis but frustrated with the Exhortation defended its orthodoxy and its pastoral soundness.

Discussion of what Amoris did or did not, and of what Amoris called and did not call on bishops and bishops’ conferences to do, was well underway, when Francis Rocca of the Wall Street Journal asked Pope Francis (en route to Rome from Lesvos), whether there had been any change in the discipline concerning reception of the sacraments by the divorced and remarried – whether there are any “new concrete possibilities that did not exist before the publication of the Exhortation, or no?” Walford says the Pope answered with a flat, “Yes.”

That would have confused and complicated matters, indeed. What the Pope actually said in response to Rocca’s query arguably did even more to stoke the fire. “I could say ‘yes’ and leave it at that,” Pope Francis is quoted in the official transcript as having replied. The video of the in-flight presser clearly has him saying, “Posso dire, ‘Sì’, punto,” which translates literally, “I can say, ‘Yes,’ full stop.” Then, however, he did add, “but that would be too brief [It. piccola] a response.” The Holy Father went on to say, “I recommend that all of you read the presentation made by [Christoph] Cardinal Schönborn [of Vienna], a great theologian. He is a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and he knows the Church’s teaching very well. Your question will find its answer in that presentation. Thank you.”

At that point, the question became: which presentation by Cardinal Schönborn?

First of all, Amoris laetitia is a lengthy, difficult document. We are told that Pope Francis, himself, was unsure of its orthodoxy. According to a glowing review from Crux’s Austen Ivereigh on a pair of talks Cardinal Schönborn gave in Ireland last year, “Schönborn revealed that when he met the Pope shortly after the presentation of Amoris, Francis thanked him, and asked him if the document was orthodox.” Ivereigh went on in that piece to report Schönborn as responding, “Holy Father, it is fully orthodox,” and receiving a few days later a “little note” that said, “Thank you for that word. That gave me comfort.”

We are glad to know that Cardinal Schönborn was able to set the Holy Father’s mind at ease over the doctrinal soundness of his own pastoral reflection. Nevertheless, if the Pope could be unsure about its orthodoxy, surely the faithful will be allowed to have perplexities of various kinds regarding it?

I must confess I do not understand Amoris. As I’ve said elsewhere, my perplexity neither comes from, nor results in antipathy. Francis’ election thrilled me. I think his profoundly challenging pastoral approach has often been highly effective. Still, I do not understand Amoris.

Originally, I was inclined to read it as an attempt to encourage confessors to greater elasticity in determining that the condition ad validitatem of “firm purpose of amendment” had been met by penitents in irregular situations. Cardinal Schönborn seemed to confirm that reading in an interview with Vatican Radio on the day of the document’s release. Subsequently, Cardinal Schönborn made other statements to other people. Then there are the Holy Father’s own remarks, made in a not-so-private letter to the Bishops of Buenos Aires, the substance of which I need not rehearse here. Then there are the guidelines for implementation of Amoris, from the bishops of Malta, and those of Germany.

As Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke put it in a conversation with me on my podcast, Thinking with the Church: “The Holy Father says himself – in the document – that he’s not presenting the Magisterium – it’s a kind of reflection.” Burke goes on to say, “[T]he language is often times imprecise, and there aren’t a lot of citations of the tradition regarding the teaching regarding Holy Matrimony and on the Holy Eucharist.”

What Cardinal Burke describes as imprecise, Cardinal Schönborn hails – in an interview with La Civiltà Cattolica, the official English transcript of which was carried by America – as, “[A] positive pastoral style,” that is, “also a way of expounding doctrine in a gentle manner, linking it to the profound motivations of men and women.” Perhaps. In any case, as Burke says, “[T]he document is acceptable if the key to interpreting it is what the Church has always taught and practiced.”

In short: neither Cardinal Schönborn, nor the members of the Catholic chattering class who like Amoris, can have it both ways.

Either Amoris is not changing doctrine and discipline, or it is. Pope Francis tells us it is not changing doctrine, but literally will not say whether it is changing discipline, and instructs us to defer to Cardinal Schönborn, who says, also in the interview with La Civiltà Cattolica, “I believe that, with Pope Francis, the church’s teaching is making a further step forward, consolidating an approach to marriage and to the family no longer from above, but from below.” In fairness, I am not entirely sure that last even means anything. To the extent it does mean something, it may be fairly construed to mean that it is changing both.

In addition to the effort of parsing the Papal mouthpiece in these regards, there has been an enormous quantity of ink spilt in the effort to parse what the various bishops and bishops’ conferences are and are not saying and doing with their guidelines. All of that talk is necessary, perhaps, and much of it is helpful, but almost none of it speaks to the prior question, which is: why?

A post-Synodal Exhortation is neither a formal teaching document nor a governing instrument of any kind. The Pope has told us he is neither teaching anything new, nor has he said he is changing discipline – and anyone with five minutes’ training in law knows that changes in discipline must be promulgated, i.e. made generally and unambiguously known.

Proponents of what I will call a “strong” reading of Amoris will say that the appearance of Pope Francis’ letter to the Buenos Aires bishops in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis – a sort of “official gazette” – meets this requirement, insofar as the inclusion of the letter in the Acta was made in order to clarify its status as “official magisterium”.

That reading is, in a word, specious.

Nevertheless, there continues to be the matter of particular law. It isn’t that the bishops of Malta and Germany et aliorum locorum do not believe the Pope when he says he has not changed either doctrine or discipline, mind. They seem to believe, however, that he has left it up to them to change the discipline, at least, while ignoring or paying lip-service to the teaching.

While one might struggle to accept that the Successor to Peter should open the door to so significant a development of doctrine and so upsetting a change in sacramental discipline at all, let alone by means of implication, and then by way of implication to be drawn from a footnote, it is nevertheless true that, if those bishops, who have taken steps to implement Amoris have done so in a manner inconsistent with the Holy Father’s mind in their regards, the Holy Father has not said so.

So, there is plenty about which to be confused. There is more than enough cause for bemusement and befuddlement in all this. Saying, “It is perfectly clear!”—as Walford does several times in differing ways—does not make it so, any more than praising the Emperor’s avant-garde sartorial choices will cover his nakedness.

Even those, like the authors and signatories of the correctio, whose effort was presented with such self-aggrandizing sensationalism as to render it sophomoric, have nevertheless the right to be confused, and to express their confusion. From Walford and others bandying about terms like “dissenter”, I only wish to know how desire for clarity in these regards may be fairly described as dissent. They paint with a broad brush: some of their stain has got on me, and I do not like the color.

About Christopher R. Altieri 35 Articles
Christopher R. Altieri is co-Founder and general manager of Vocaris Media and the author of The Soul of a Nation: America as a Tradition of Inquiry and Nationhood.

40 Comments

  1. Exactly: these folks don’t know which way is up. Assent means there must be some new teaching requiring an act of it, something different from the perennial teaching to which people were already giving assent. But, they try to tell us there is no teaching being proposed. (Discipline doesn’t require assent so it’s a non-issue to claim that it is the object of the assent.) So, which is it? And, we none of these folks can tell us exactly what the teaching is we owe assent to.

    • CWR recently posted a somewhat ambiguous explanation of “religious assent” or “religious respect” required to the Magisterium.

      My question is, aren’t the U.S. Bishops dissenting from the Catechism, Gaudium et Spes, and other Magisterial documents in regards to political policies and migration?

      #2240 of the Catechism says that foreigners have a ***moral duty*** to defend and vote in their country of origin. #2241 says that foreigners are ***obligated*** to follow the immigration laws of the U.S. and other countries.

      But, the USCCB, the misleadingly labeled “Catholic Charities” and “Catholic Relief Services” say the opposite – that the U.S. must obey the desires of foreigners, up to and including aiding them in the theft which is amnesty, and theft of American jobs, and theft of American tax dollars.

      Isn’t, then, the USCCB dissenting from Magisterium regarding migration and political matters?

      • Please, don’t be a complete idiot. IF you read the sections of the Catechism you yourself cite, it is clear that the USCCB has never ,ever said anything about immigrants are not supposed to serve in the armed services, or integrate into the country or anything else. What is wrong with you that you would post this weird comment on an article having to do with Amoris Laetitia?

    • Joseph Ratzinger: “Criticism of papal pronouncements will be possible and even necessary, to the extent that they lack support in Scripture and the Creed”

      The proposition that the commandments of God are impossible to observe even for a man who is justified and established in grace was solemnly condemned by the Council of Trent, but Amoris Laetitia seems to say that it is not always possible — or even advisable — to follow the moral law.

  2. Confusion? Lets keep this simple – – an act which is a mortal sin in country “A” is NOT sinful in country “B”. And the very words of Our Lord Jesus Christ are brushed aside (along with 2000 years of Church teaching) by a “minor change in discipline.” This would be funny except for the souls of God’s children being lost every day because of this “confusion” – – The Bishops Must Put a Stop to this! Those pushing this horror will stand before God one day soon – – What are they thinking?

  3. Altieri unambiguously notes the ambiguity. The letters insertion in AAS don’t meet a definitively stated intent [sententia definitive intenda] required for teaching pertaining to the Deposit of Faith [Prop 2 Doctrinal Commentary Ad Tuendam Fidem]. Though putting that aside the dilemma of the wounded is heartfelt, the Pontiff’s response compelling. God’s goodness surpasses the sentiments of the human heart. Marital love between Man and Woman is our most intimate human act. Reflective of the irreducible nature of divine love, completely loyal, indissoluble. Christ draws us to the Cross. In it we perceive the depth and the essence of his love which alone saves. Thru the crucible of the Cross our prayers become incense, our commitment to love gold, our suffering the fragrant myrrh that anoints us for Epiphany.

  4. Given the role of the Catholic Church in human life, i.e., to maintain in tact the teachings of Christ and teaching them, I think the Church has an obligation to be clear and not fuzzy and messy in its presentation of those teachings. If the Church wants to become nothing more than still another version of Christ’s teachings, then have at it, and be fuzzy, which de facto then allows, if not promulgates, individuals interpreting things in whatever way that individual sees fit. The lack of clarity is a big deal. Has Church has largely lost a sense of what its role in the world is or am I totally mistaken in my view of what that role is? Hmmm possibly. Perhaps Martin Luther had it right? The other factor has to do with human nature – most of us tend to opt for the easier road…the easier way to understand things so that whatever we do or do not do, we can feel we are OK! It is true that there are those with overly strict “super-egos” who can go wrong in the opposite direction, however, I would posit that such is not the majority of people but rather the minority. Additionally, those with over strict “super-egos” need clarity to help themselves not to go overboard. All in all clarity is more helpful than harmful even in the strictly human sense. But who am I to judge! 😉

  5. This pontificate has been spun from day one, as they all are, and to some extent the Pope has tossed much red meat to the spin doctors, to mix a few metaphors. That current pronouncements would likewise distorted, twisted, confused and perverted is not to surprise anyone, nor is the fact that the Pope’s personal style unwittingly seems to be conducive to such.

    Notwithstanding, suppose that the time has come to recognize that generations of people have been misled, enabled, perhaps, to believe that violating a teaching was acceptable; and that the time has come for leading them (as a good shepherd would) back into (or just into) the fold of the sheep. Suppose that this is the Holy Father’s intention.

  6. …suppose that this is his intention and that instead having be clarified, it is being distorted, warped, “co-opted”, if you will.

  7. Many years ago, I was gifted with two pieces of advice/information. No words can describe their life-changing effect. (They seem quite simple but our ability as sinful persons to deceive ourselves is not simple; it can in fact be deadly.)

    The first is “You cannot have it both ways.”

    The second was actually an insight provided by a friend: A true friend is he or she who will tell you the truth about yourself; also the truth about what you have chosen to do.

    These two admonitions/insights cleared the path and provided light by which I could begin to truly and powerfully “see” right from wrong. God’s refining fire followed. This is an ongoing, very painful process,to be sure. But it provides one’s only chance for liberation from error.

    “Know thyself” No one can do this for any person. Take responsibility for thyself. No one, no holy priest, no bishop, should be asked to do this for another. To become an “acting person” means just that; one must act for oneself in overcoming sinfulness.

      • Oh you are correct. We do live in a time of creeping language imprecision. I am sadly not immune to this trend. One gives or receives gifts. CWR does not provide an “Edit” feature. “Any thing that humbles you is good for you.”

        I am reminded of a young person’s remark at a time when there were reports of changing the title of “Google”. “They can’t change it”, she said. “It is already a verb”.

        Thank you though for reading my comment. My point, which should have been stated, is that the Church, teaching through the writings and words of the Pope, the Bishops, and all the clergy cannot and, in my opinion, should not attempt to “save” Catholics from the pain of penance and of making reparation for sin.

        I is(again in my opinion)through those struggles, with all the suffering that is inherent in the process that we are healed. There is no other way.

  8. Early on only baptism forgave sins. Then along came reconciliation with absolution AFTER compliance with penance. We know that changed. Matrimony was included as one of the Church’s seven sacraments during Trent, less than 500 years ago! Rules for abstinence for receiving Communion changed even some 60 or so years ago. So tell me, what is it about AL that exceeds the scope of what the Church can or cannot do about…The Sacraments of the Church? We (sorry, I’m not clergy) have nothing to say about AL. My unprofessional read on it from the side of the affected by it is: it contains reasoning and guidelines from the Boss (who prefers collegiality) to his super-visors (epi-scopus) on how they should consider mercy and compassion in dealing with difficult cases, not just the letter of the law. Tell me, how un-Christlike is that?

    • Peter you are whoafully ignorant of Church teaching and history. The Seven Sacraments were all prefigured in the Old Testament and instituted by Christ in the New. They are not just part of the Deposit of Faith left with the first Pope, Peter, and the Apostles they are the reason for the Deposit of Faith and the essence of a fully and authentic Christian life. Remove them at any time from the Christian life from the beginning of the New Dispensation till present and the the “Christian” becomes effectively a pantheist in Christian clothes, it’s all an external mirage.

    • When the boss does not have the guts to come out and actually tell you what the new rule is, but instead tells some he has changed everything, then tells others he has changed nothing, something is really wrong with the boss. Gosh it’s almost like he is doing something illegal and does not want to get caught.

    • K: thanks for your reply. Now, pay attention and let me clarify your thinking. Basis sacramentology posits that Jesus Christ is the sacrament of the Father (a sign that points to the invisible reality) and the Church is the sacrament of Christ (by pointing to Him). The Church over the centuries realized it would be best to point us the sheep to Christ via what we know are the Sacraments OF THE Church. Thus the Church has full and complete authority to have interpreted its mission and to continue to do so whether from prefigured OT and NT passages AND from its own Tradition, including making changes. My previous point is that for lay people to argue about it is pointless. We have had a system for a very long time in which only clergy make the final decisions. But wait, now that you have been a papist for so long, are you going to change your stripes when you wish to disagree about dialogue? Are you the type who just wants pray, pay & obey. Here is the key: A L is a problem for the bishops. I don’t think that’s you or me. With brotherly love may suggest you find a good source of History of the Sacraments such as Joseph Martos’ Doors to the Sacred from Liguori Press, I believe. Blessings and have a Happy New Year.

      • Joseph Martos, huh?

        “His current project involves deconstructing Catholic sacramental theology, exposing its conceptual flaws and intellectual instability. ”
        http://www.churchauthority.org/sponsors/sponsorsm.asp

        “Catholic sacramental doctrine is based on a series of historical misunderstandings that can now be brought to light. When I was working on Doors to the Sacred some decades ago,[1] I suspected as much, but I could not prove it. ”

        “… discovered that Catholic sacramental theology evolved through centuries during which creative thinkers such as St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas unintentionally misinterpreted texts from the past and unwittingly assumed that ancient texts could be applied to church practices in their own eras.

        “Ideas and theories that once made sense in terms of people’s experience no longer make sense today. For example, the idea that marriage is indissoluble made sense when marriages were arranged by parents and divorce was socially impossible, but it contradicts our experience as Christians living in the twenty-first century.”
        http://www.catholica.com.au/gc4/jm/004_jm_300415.php

        https://forums.catholic.com/t/doors-to-the-sacred/131009/24

        Instead of wasting your time on slop like that, maybe read something else. Like, almost anything else.

    • Your knowledge of Church history is lacking, to say the least. The Council of Trent upheld Catholic teaching that Matrimony is a Sacrament against the attacks of Protestants who denied the teaching. Trent did not come up with some new idea. For example, at. Augustine wrote about marriage as a sacrament (and no, I am not saying he ‘invented’ the idea, just giving an earlier example).

      And no, we don’t know that Confession, penance and absolution are a change. You might think that, but that would make you either a Protestant, a Modernist, or a very poorly educated Catholic. Try reading the relevant article in the old Catholic Encyclopedia, available online at New Advent.

      Leaving people wallowing in the sty of mortal sin is not compassionate. Encouraging them to commit another mortal sin by receiving Communion while not in a state of grace is viciously cruel.

      • There are many ways to sin. How many of us can walk up the aisle to receive communion with the thought that we are completely free from sin? The best we can do is to have a sincere desire to move in the right direction – which is what Amores Letitia asks of those living in irregular marital situations. Are their sins any greater than those who commit sins of greed, avarice, envy, sloth etc?

        • One aspect which bothers me, what is meant by “a sincere desire to move in the right direction” when it comes to second marriages? I thought that it meant making definite steps to resolve the problem, such as getting an annulment, living as brother and sister, separating, or something along those lines.

          If it means something else, then that would strike me as a change, whether in teaching, doctrine, discipline, or something. I would welcome it if the Pope explained, clearly and definitely, that there was such a change. At least then I would know where I stood.

  9. “Either Amoris is not changing doctrine and discipline, or it is. Pope Francis tells us it is not changing doctrine, but literally will not say whether it is changing discipline, and instructs us to defer to Cardinal Schönborn” [who says something unintelligible].

    And this really is the key.

    One may suspect that Pope Francis really does intend a real change in discipline. Certainly many of those closest to him do; and the general pattern of his appointments seem to increase that suspicion. But until he says so in express terms – and the letter to the Buenos Aires bishops cagily refuses to do just that – it is hard to see how any of the concerns mooted to date in responsible quarters (such as CWR) even remotely meet the standard of “dissent.”

    If there’s any guilt, it’s a guilt of being insufficiently ultramontane by certain people’s lights.

  10. Pope Francis and his running mates Cardinal Kasper and Cardinal Danneels et etc are post-Catholic.

    Nothing has changed for these men – we already know Kasper and Danneels and the rest of what Austinn Ivereigh calls his “Team Bergoglio,” lead by Danneels’ very own “St. Galens Mafia,” have always opposed the Catholic moral theology. And Kasper openly denies the witness of martyred apostles, the Gospels and the Council of Nicea. Now we are learning that Pope Francis also agrees with them.

    So with their acts and omissions they have testified against Jesus. They are without any defense…as is any man or woman of the Church who denies the Truth.

  11. Amoris exposes the fact that the Pontiff, by his own admission, is not a theologian. It also exposes the fact that those he has chosen to be his ghost writers aren’t theologians either. Amoris is simply one more step in the gay mafia’s attempt to legitimize intrinsically disordered sexual deviancy, homosexual acts. If the Church looks the other way on adultery then it can look the other way on a cornucopia of sexual deviancy, regardless of Scripture, the Catechism, sacred tradition and magisterial teachings. They are willing to attempt to destroy the Church to further their own sins.

    His entire Pontificate has exposed the fact that he isn’t very bright either. Bergoglio continues to do yeoman’s work in dispelling the myth that all Jesuits are intellectuals.

  12. How is the Correctio self-aggrandizing and sophomoric? If the Pope is teaching heresy, it’s our duty to say something. If anything is self-aggrandizing, it’s the attempt by Pope and bishops to change doctrine in order to be liked by liberals.

  13. Are we expected to obey Pope Francis and honor him as the head of the Catholic Church?

    This is not all I have to say, but I most certainly would like an answer. I have been, and want to be, a faithful catholic all my 77 1/2 years on earth. So please answer my question

    • Yes, Mary. We are to obey him as we would obey Christ Our Lord, in all things, *as head of the Church*. Many people are having a great deal of difficulty understanding what – precisely – the Holy Father is asking of them. I have no opinion on the merits of the objective questions some of them have raised – at least, none I am ready to share – but I do believe the people with questions are, in the main, asking them in good faith, and do not deserve to be abused with terms like, “dissenter”. That was the point of my piece.

      Pope Francis is the Pope: he is our Pope, and we love him. Please pray for him, for he carries a heavy burden and needs the prayerful support of all Christ’s faithful.

      Here is a prayer you can pray for him:

      V. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro Francisco
      R. Dominus conservet eum, et vivificet eum, et beatum faciat eum in terra, et non tradat eum in animam inimicorum eius.
      Pater Noster, Ave Maria.
      Deus, omnium fidelium pastor et rector, famulum tuum Franciscum, quem pastorem Ecclesiae tuae praeesse voluisti, propitius respice: da ei, quaesumus, verbo et exemplo, quibus praeest, proficere: ut ad vitam, una cum grege sibi credito, perveniat sempiternam. Per Christum, Dominum nostrum. Amen.

      V. Let us pray for N, our Pope.
      R. May the Lord preserve him, and give him life, and make him blessed upon the earth, and deliver him not up to the will of his enemies.
      Our Father, Hail Mary.
      O God, Shepherd and Ruler of all Thy faithful people, look mercifully upon Thy servant Francis, whom Thou hast chosen as shepherd to preside over Thy Church. Grant him, we beseech Thee, that by his word and example, he may edify those over whom he hath charge, so that together with the flock committed to him, may he attain everlasting life. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

      • Chris Altieri you write, “Yes, Mary. We are to obey him in all things as we would obey Christ Our Lord”. Where do you find this in Church doctrine that we are bound to obey a Pope “in all things” as if he were Christ? St. Thomas Aquinas, “True obedience is a balance between twin errors of defect and excess, which are disobedience and false obedience” (2a2ae, 104,5 Ad 3). Today this second error is common among Catholics who, when they follow orders to depart from Tradition, think they are being obedient. There are volumes on Saints that according to your admonition to Mary were disobedient. How do you possibly square what you say here to Mary regarding St Athanasius’ reproval of Pope Liberius? “The Roman Pontiff enjoys infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals must be adhered to with the obedience of faith for belief as being divinely revealed and as the teaching of Christ. This infallibility extends as far as the deposit of divine Revelation itself” (CCC891). Proclamation by a definitive act on faith and morals does not include “all things”.

        • The key is in the asterisked phrase, *as head of the Church*, which I employ as non-technical shorthand. I should have thought it goes without saying that the Pope is himself a servant of Truth, and has no power to bind us against the moral law, or to anything that contradicts faith. Did I really need to say that?

          In any case, I replied to Mary to set her mind at ease.

          If you want to know what I think of the Primacy, you can find it here: http://bit.ly/2ndJGQs

    • Take your copy of St John Paul II’s Catechism and read through it. You could use one of the many study guides to help you, but just beginning somewhere and reading a bit each day will be reassuring.

      Also read some good Catholic literature. I recommend Sigred Undset’s “Kristin Lavransdatter,” “Death Comes for the Archbishop,” and “Night’s Bright Darkness” (for a more recent book).

      Things have been worse historically with regard to bad or weak Popes. A good history of the Catholic Church, like James Hitchcock’s authoritative book or John Vidmar’s “The Catholic Church Through the Ages,” will allow perspective on our present wretchedness.

      Anyway, I hope this helps…

  14. My children are grown, now, but when they were in school, parents had to be vigilant against certain kinds of teachings. One of these was called, for lack of a better term, “situational ethics”. Teachers who espoused situational ethics taught that there isn’t any real objective right or wrong. Each situation called for its own “ethic”, or solution. I read the English Translation of the guidelines, and they read like a study in situational ethics to me. I pray for Pope Francis daily. I don’t understand how he can teach this, though.

  15. In order to understand that those who defy Church teaching should not receive Holy Communion, it is helpful to remember and meditate on a prayer in the traditional Mass which has been weakened in the post-Vatican II Mass. It is the Perceptio Corporis tui, Domine Jesu Christi, prayed just before we receive Communion. Based on Sacred Scripture, it reminds us that unworthy reception can lead to our condemnation.
    Let not the partaking of Thy Body, O Lord Jesus Christ, which I, though unworthy, presume to receive, turn to my judgment and condemnation; but through Thy goodness may it be unto me a safeguard and a healing remedy both of soul and body; who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end. Amen.
    Those who approve of unworthy reception obviously do not comprehend that receiving Communion can be an act which condemns. They see it always as a beneficial act. Perhaps they do not believe in the Real Presence and see “communion” merely as an act of community with one’s neighbour in which case it would be wrong to deny it to anyone. These erroneous fictions are the bitter fruit of liturgical looseness and doctrinal ignorance.

  16. Today there is a new trend to condemn “Popolatry” I’m a simple Catholic and am guilty of Popolatry and have no intention to give up a good thing. When St. John Paul ll and Pope Benedict XVl spoke on matters of faith and morals, I listened and accepted their words as coming from God the Father himself. In the case of Pope Francis, Colonna in the Dictator Pope puts the Papacy of Pope Francis in a nutshell, “How can someone who is excommunicated be elected Pope?’ Bergoglio was excommunicated Latae Sentenciae long before the Conclave. So my Popolatry excludes Bergolio one hundred times over.

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