At the top of stories to read, to catch up on the disastrous fall-out from Pope Francis’ “Amoris Laetitia,” is one particular shining statement of truth and commitment: A pastoral letter from Bishop Steven J. Lopes of the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter: “No Communion for unchaste divorced and remarried couples; no ‘at peace with God’ exceptions!”
What’s that business about “at peace with God”? Well the Maltese bishops have abdicated their responsibility, as described in the link, which includes the Fritos comment. One other point about this article and the picture of Pope Francis. It will probably be taken down soon, as it includes what is seen as an obscene gesture in some parts of the world.
One of the Dubia Cardinals (+ Caffarra) is quoted as saying that it would be ‘suicidal’ if the Pope taught that conscience trumps Revelation. That story can be found here.
And that is just from tonight’s stories. Yesterday there was more detail on the Maltese bishops’ “disastrous” position. Another story from yesterday involved the firing of a Dutch Catholic Editor who wrote about “Catholic Truth” in the light of serious questions about “Amoris Laetitia”.
Here are other articles rounding out less than a week just on “Amoris Laetitiae” and it’s fall-out:
- Papal confidante denies certainty of Catholic Faith.
- Bishop Schneider warns against ‘a mentality of radical relativism being created inside the Church’
- Pope yet again derides defenders of Church Teaching.
Random thoughts on difficult times for us all
These are extremely difficult times in the Church. Laity and priests alike don’t want it to be true that we are really in a situation hovering on the edge of heresy, or the possibility that it has already happened. There is a lot of ‘acting’ as if nothing is really amiss, when we are in times that require deep prayer, probably more than any other time in our lives, even for those who remember the shadow of the bomb in the late 40’s and early 50’s. That was about bodies; this is about souls. In the Church, I really believe we are akin to the time of the Arian heresy, when half the Christian world had gone Arian.
The laity has an important role to play, but we seem to be learning it one person at a time. For each, there is a moment when we see what is happening, and what we haven’t done. And there is a moment when we hear the call or find the courage to do what needs to be done. Personally, I put Cardinal Burke and the other three Cardinals submitting the Dubia in that category. This is especially a time to draw close to those who teach doctrine faithfully, who celebrate the liturgy appropriately, whose words can stir up encouragement and ardor for Christ rather than for themselves or a local project, and who have peace instead of fear.
Many doctrinally faithful priests will still reiterate Church Teaching, but few put themselves at risk to prepare the laity for what might lie ahead, to inform as to what really are the obligations of laity in these situations. And there are many who waive away concerns, valid concerns which would lead to prayer and repentance. Some wait to see ‘how it goes’, as if prayer had nothing to do with it. Some dismiss it all as a media event. In response to concern expressed, I’ve even been told “That’s above my pay grade.” When there is fear of discussion, how can there be any teaching?
Yes, the Holy Spirit is in charge, but we aren’t to be lukewarm while He does all the work, are we? This is a time of crisis, my friends, not of finding excuses to be uninvolved. Let us also have some very special concern for priests who have given their lives into the service of a Church now in turmoil. Let us also have some very special concern for converts, especially recent converts. While they have the benefit of perhaps more recently deeply examining their spiritual decisions than many of us who might take what we had for so long for granted, nevertheless we can appreciate their vulnerability (often in families who haven’t converted) and also that this climate is not what they (or we) expected. Lastly, let us encourage each other, not by silence, not by wishful thinking, but by love of each other’s souls. I find the verse from the Book of Esther to be helpful to consider, as her uncle, Mordecai, tells her in a moment of crisis, when she either will take the risk of standing up or not, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:14b).
Biblical Comment and thoughts about Amoris Laetitia
Recently in reading the Gospel of Luke, something was opened to me that I hadn’t seen before, and I feel compelled to share it. In Chapter 16, verse 17, Luke writes these words of Christ “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void.” Heaven and earth passing away clearly puts the words in an “end-times” context. And, then, to make His point, perhaps regarding what in the Law will be most threatened in the end-times, the Lord points out to us the issue on which the very threat will come, in very next verse: “Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.” This is the very issue on which Amoris Laetitia revolves. Invalid marriage cannot become valid marriage, and valid marriage is the issue on which John the Baptist was martyred. It is the very issue on which the Catholic Church was willing to lose all of England rather than accommodate a king’s sin. Is it perhaps a sign of the very issue that will test how the Law will not and can not change?
But Amoris Laetitiac, or perhaps I should say the way it has been received by many in Church hierarchy, appears to go one step further than just trying to create a pathway to illegitimately permit setting aside a marriage.
The devastating step it next takes is condoning adulterers’ receiving the Eucharist. We know that the evil one despises the Eucharist, so denigrating the Sacred Species through receiving in mortal sin adds to adultery the sin of sacrilege. We have been warned. We have been warned.
Paul to the Galatians 1: 6-12
“I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel–not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed. Am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still pleasing men, I should not be a servant of Christ. For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel. For I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”