Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

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Dear Pope Francis,

May 10th, 2014, Promulgated by Diane Harris
Bernini's Holy Spirit

Bernini’s Holy Spirit

No, this isn’t the exact text of a letter to His Holiness, but it forms the issue around which I am sensing a written communication is necessary, at least not remaining in silence on a weighty and dangerous issue.  The major comfort, of course, is that the Holy Spirit IS with the Catholic Church to the end of the world, which might be a lot closer than many think.  But since we don’t know the time or the place, we proceed doing the best we can out of love for the Church and for the Unity to which Christ called us all the night before He died (John 17).

Quite simply, I am expressing my own personal opinion that Cardinal Kasper presents a real and imminent danger to the Faith, to our Unity, and to individual souls. To read the interview with him, go here to read his outrageous quotes as he campaigns even in New York for his own version of the Catholic Faith.   And be sure to read the insightful comments at the end of that interview.  And then pray for Pope Francis, to be able to promptly remove the cancer which threatens souls.

Generally, I choose not to be part of publicizing anyone’s misleading, untruthful, or injurious opinions, since the usual media frenzy is around precipitating further division and fomenting discord, and I don’t want to contribute free publicity to evil.  But in this case, the storm warning is up and to ignore it would be unconscionable.

Framing the Concern

We need only remember the early post-Vatican II years when the Catholic world waited for a pronouncement of whether or not Pope Paul VI would “permit the [birth control] pill.”  There were priests and bishops teaching during that waiting period that it was inevitable that the pill would be approved, and therefore it was allowable to begin using the pill even before the papal decision.  Many members of the hierarchy lobbied for such a ruling.  Many marriages and decisions to limit or even have no children were made in those mid-60’s years, which sometimes formed the basis for subsequent annulments.  Father Charles Curran of the Diocese of Rochester was one such person proposing a potpourri of sexual sins during that period and thereafter.  The Catholic in the pew was able easily to find an opinion in support of using contraception, and if the local pastor didn’t facilitate the matter, it was easy to find another church, even a Catholic Church, that was permissive.

The “problem” for the agitators turned out to be the unanticipated heroic virtue of Pope Paul VI, who took what seemed to many to be a long time to oppose formally what so many considered “obvious” change.  But, in the end, the Holy Spirit’s protection prevailed, even if some then left the Church as a result.  Now the danger is a repeat of the damage done in the mid-60’s.  Illegitimate liberalizations inevitably lead to division when the laity takes it upon themselves to follow their version of the Faith, all the more when apparently justified by priests, bishops, Cardinals.   From the hierarchy, it looks a lot like the statement of disobedience which was promulgated by a majority of the Canadian bishops after Pope Paul VI’s decision.  From the pew, the simplistic wording would be:  “Since the Church is bound to change (liberalize) this issue, and since Cardinal so-and-so says it is okay, it must not be a sin (or not a baaaad sin at least)  so, therefore, I can do it today, rather than “ruin my life” by living within such constrictions until the paperwork is done.”   Inevitably the victims of such bad advice and skewed thinking find themselves deeply injured, sometimes with the sheepfold gate practically closed.

Those who don’t understand history are bound to repeat it!

What is Cardinal Kasper saying and doing that has the potential for causing a repetition of such harm 50 years later?  If he were a lone voice like shouts from a raving uncle in the attic, the risk would be much less.  But that the media carries the perception/misperception that Pope Francis is permitting or even encouraging the dialogue, how can the people in the pews who want such change not exhibit the same human qualities as their parents and grandparents did a half-century ago and ‘get on’ with the anticipated or their hoped-for change?

The difference is that the mass media and electronic communications today accelerate the metastasizing of erroneous information.  That a Cardinal engages in such behavior puts him on a level with the mob tweeters on the streets of Benghazi.  And do not be surprised if you see some of the same stench related to the current US administration’s push to legalize sin as a strategy to grow the institution of supporters.  What promulgators of such feel-good religion forget, is that reception of the Eucharist is a prime reason for reconciliation and return to the Church.  Rubber-stamping irregular and disordered relationships removes a major impetus to seeking forgiveness.

Conclusion:  Cardinal Kasper is a very dangerous man, acting like the Pope’s puppeteer  

One could reasonably read the free-wheeling scandal-provoking interview as a bid to run the Vatican, or at least to dissemble within it, marshalling his version of the Catholic Church through media pressure.  Cardinal Kasper’s uncharitable views of Pope Benedict and of Cardinal Mueller show a careening arrogance, and indifference to souls who are affected by such discourse, and prime evidence of improper motives.  It is only matched in magnitude by Cardinal Kasper’s denigration of good Catholics with the words:  “Heroism is not for the average Christian.”  He certainly doesn’t explain how he can justify that comment with the universal call to Holiness!  His approach fundamentally undermines much more than teaching on specific issues, to which the heart of the faithful is called to assent and to work out our salvation with “fear and trembling.”

What I would like to hear Cardinal Kasper say is:  “And as I say these things today to a world audience, I ask the Good Lord who knows and sees everything, that if anyone should commit a sin in His Eyes as a result of my words, that the Lord will lay the punishment for such sin upon my own shoulders.”   Somehow I don’t think we are going to hear that … ever.    And that is the difference between a Shepherd and a hireling.  If Pope Francis doesn’t stop such politicking of Church Teaching, may the Holy Spirit please intervene.  Lord make haste to help us.

The excerpts from the interview are contained in a LifeSiteNews story published Friday, May 9, 2014, reported by Hilary White, Rome Correspondent.  The article begins below and continues by clicking on  “Read the rest of this entry.”

‘The Church is not against birth control at all’: Cardinal Walter Kasper (Interview Excerpts)

“The Church is not opposed to birth control, Pope Francis believes that 50 percent of marriages are sacramentally invalid, and the notion of “heroic virtue” in refraining from committing adultery or other sexual sins is an unreachable ideal and “not for the average Christian,” a senior Vatican prelate has said in a series of interviews while on a visit to New York.  Kasper made the comments on contraception in an interview with WNYC Radio’s Brian Lehrer.  Lehrer asked whether it was “merciful” to condemn divorce as well as married couples who “use condoms for birth control.”  

Kasper responded [to Lehrer’s question about ‘rules’] that while it is normally the Church’s role to help married couples reconcile their difficulties and stay married, “there can be divorces necessary, and then it’s the message of the merciful God that he gives to everybody a new chance, a new beginning. And the Church should do it the same.”   Kasper :  “Well, the Church is not against birth control at all. … It’s about the methods of birth control. … I do not want to enter into this characteristic…how they have to do it. It’s their personal conscience and their personal responsibility.”  

Cardinal Kasper, whose theological works have been praised by Pope Francis as “serene” and “kneeling theology,” laid out a plan at the February consistory of cardinals to allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to return to the reception of Communion “after a period of penance,” but without making any change in their circumstances. This suggestion reportedly aroused an angry response by several cardinals present at the consistory and has since triggered a backlash.

In an interview with the liberal Jesuit magazine Commonweal on his trip to New York, said the high standards required by Church teaching on marriage could be considered an “ideal” to which the Church ought not hold people in the practical realm.  Speaking of ‘remarried’ couples who live together as “brother and sister,” Kasper told the magazine, “I have high respect for such people. But whether I can impose it is another question. But I would say that people must do what is possible in their situation.”  “We cannot as human beings always do the ideal, the best. We must do the best possible in a given situation,” he said.

“It’s a heroic act, and heroism is not for the average Christian,” he added.

Asked about the situation of marriage in a largely post-Christian world in which most people are at best “baptised pagans,” Kasper said, “I’ve spoken to the pope himself about this, and he said he believes that 50 percent of marriages are not valid.”

“Marriage is a sacrament. A sacrament presupposes faith. And if the couple only want a bourgeois ceremony in a church because it’s more beautiful, more romantic, than a civil ceremony, you have to ask whether there was faith, and whether they really accepted all the conditions of a valid sacramental marriage—that is, unity, exclusivity, and also indissolubility.”

While some might believe that Catholics who have repented of their divorce and who are civilly remarried ought to remove themselves from the “occasion for sin” or live together chastely “as brother and sister,” Cardinal Kasper suggested that such a view of repentance is itself a sin.

Asked what ought to stop people from applying this “rigorist” interpretation, Kasper said, “The breakup of the second family. If there are children you cannot do it. If you’re engaged to a new partner, you’ve given your word, and so it’s not possible.”

Kasper is on a lecture tour to promote his most recent book, “Mercy: The Essence of the Gospel and the Key to Christian Life.” At a talk at Fordham University, he openly attacked the current head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Müller and claimed that Pope Francis has no concerns about “heresy” or the overturning of the Church’s doctrines.

Religion News Service reported that in the Q&A session following his lecture, Kasper related that Pope Francis himself had told him the story of “an old cardinal” who had said of Kasper’s book, “Holy Father, you cannot do this! There are heresies in this book!” The German cardinal related that the pope had reassured him with a smile that, “This enters in one ear and goes out the other.” Pope Francis is on record saying that Kasper’s book “has done me such good.”

Asked about the ongoing dispute between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the dissident American organisation, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, Kasper took the opportunity to contradict CDF prefect Cardinal Gerhard Müller. In an address in Rome at the end of April, Müller had told the LCWR nuns that they must drop their New Age “Conscious Evolution” rhetoric and return to basic Catholic doctrine on the nature of God, Jesus Christ and the Church.  Kasper dismissed Müller’s concerns, saying that what is needed is more “dialogue.”  “If you have a problem with the leadership of the women’s orders, then you have to have a discussion with them, you have to dialogue with them, an exchange of ideas,” he said.

“Perhaps they have to change something. Perhaps also the [CDF] has a little bit to change its mind. That’s the normal way of doing things in the church. I am for dialogue. Dialogue presupposes different positions. The church is not a monolithic unity.”

“We should be in communion,” he continued, “which also means in dialogue with each other. I hope all this controversy will end in a good, peaceful and meaningful dialogue.”

Kasper even took the opportunity to praise the “feminist theologian,” Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ, to whom the LCWR has chosen to give an award for “Outstanding Leadership.” Müller had singled out the award as a “deliberate provocation to the Holy See,” since Johnson has been sharply rebuked by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Doctrinal Committee for her divergence from Catholic theology on the nature of God.

Kasper praised Johnson at Fordham, along with the notoriously anti-Catholic author Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, one of the leading voices of “feminist” theology that rejects the Catholic teaching on the Trinity and the fatherhood of God. Kasper said, “I esteem them both,” and joked that since he had often clashed with the former Cardinal Ratzinger when he was head of the CDF, the two women “are in good company.”

 

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15 Responses to “Dear Pope Francis,”

  1. avatar Barnyard says:

    I believe the Catholic Church does recognize 2 methods of birth control. One is abstinence, the other is the rhythm method. The first is more effective then the pill or condoms. It is 100% effective. The second not quite as effective. My parents used the second and my mother had 6 pregnancies, although some of them were planned. Probably the first 4. GOD has not changed and neither should HIS Catholic Church. Most people have no idea how good it feels to do something, actually, in this case, Not do something, because it is the Will of GOD. Marriage is for the propagation of the human race, not only for pleasure and throwing away of the seeds of that propagation.

  2. avatar Richard Thomas says:

    No one would use “rhythm” today. It’s just not accurate. I just wished more prelates would utilize our Natural Family Planning teachers.

  3. avatar militia says:

    I can think of one (and only one) good thing that could come out of this. By Pope Francis letting the conversation go for a few months he might identify all the less-than-faithful Cardinals and bishops in the Church – those who support Cardinal Kasper and even those who are silent in the matter. I hope all bishops everywhere will use this opportunity to teach their flocks on these matters. Truth is the best response to error. But I’m not saying identifying the subversive elements would be a justifiable reason for letting this go on, only that God might bring good out of so much wrong. And, remember, the Arian heresy took away more than half the bishops of the Church until a Council denounced it. May Kasparianism be defeated the same way.

  4. avatar raymondfrice says:

    Barnyard!!

    St Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church.

    ” Let nothing desturb you, let nothing frighten you, all things are passing, God only is changeless”.

  5. avatar raymondfrice says:

    Militia!1

    Sometimes if you stomp on a fire it will spread. Sometimes you just let them burn out.
    Leave it up to Francis and his direct line to the Holy Spirit.

  6. avatar militia says:

    @Raymodfrice

    That’s “Pope Francis” to you, sir!

  7. avatar Ron says:

    Barnyard – the Church accepts NFP – which is different than the so-called “rhythm method” (the dismissive name Church foes still use to undermine Church credibility). NFP used correctly is actually as “effective” as the pill – and is not abortifacient and does not poison the woman.

  8. avatar y2kscotty says:

    I believe that Pope Francis knows what he is doing – and I believe that he largely endorses Cardinal Kasper. On the other hand (have to be careful here, because I may go off on a bunch of “other hands”!), he has confirmed and endorsed Cardinal Mueller in his post, and so an argument is raging between 2 Germans on the nature of marriage. The Synod on the Family should be quite the tendentious meeting. Will there be a “Xavier Rynne” to report on the meeting? Some of you “old-timers” may remember Xavier Rynne at Vatican II.
    On an unrelated point, the assertion that “the end of the world … might be a lot closer than many think” is meaningless, and makes as much sense as saying it’s ” a lot more distant than many think.”

  9. avatar Diane Harris says:

    @y2kscotty

    Your point re timing of the end of the world and the perception of its proximity or not is a good point — logically and linguistically. However, what is missing from that equation is the presence of “signs”. While wars and rumors of wars and disrupted weather and natural disasters has been argued as proximate signs for millennia, and we’ve had no lack of such signs over the last decade, there is one sign that is unique over the last 2000 years, and that is the return of the Jews to their homeland in 1948. And then — the defense of that homeland in an uncanny survival that bespeaks the involvement of the Hand of God (securing the land, and the achievement of the 6 day war, to name two). Many people ignore that sign, hence the words “closer than many think.” If that sign were taken more seriously, more people might be thinking of what it means. While no one knows or can know the day and time, Christ and Scripture do give clues.

  10. avatar christian says:

    “…heroism is not for the average Christian,” – Cardinal Kasper.
    I think the concept of heroism not expected of the average Christian is a heresy in itself, and it is not merely confined to sexual relations. Christian heroism takes into account all the choices we make in our life – i.e.-choosing to stay with a family member, friend, or someone else sickly, injured, or in need, rather than going to an entertaining or fun-filled event. Turning down a job and position which might offer better pay, better financial security, and better hours because you would or might be expected to carry out certain components of that job and position which would go against your Christian faith and principles. Deciding to spend your limited money on clothing and other needs for your children or another family member instead of buying a luxury item for yourself. Everyday we are filled with choices of which path we will take, and some choices are more difficult than others.
    {I had a difficult choice to make when I was young and actually was chosen for a job position with increased advantages which included better hours. Delving deeper, I came to the realization that I would be expected to hand out birth control to teenagers and adults as part of the process to allow them to fornicate freely with each other on the premises, as that was the stand per that public agency since sexual freedom policy approx. 10 years earlier. They had declared that sexual relations was normal and a need of every human being after they reached puberty. They wanted to encourage “this normalcy” and “this need” without the side effect of pregnancy. I was thinking I would call to tell them I was turning down this job. A Protestant Pastor came on the car radio talking about making the right choices about job decisions, cautioning that you become part of something that you tolerate, and in essence, lose yourself. What he said further strengthened my choice to turn down this job position despite no other job positions with ideal hours and privilege on the scene. (My oldest son was faced with a similiar dilemna when he was out of work and looking for a job. He was offered excellent pay, great hours and benfits, and framework and programming that he excelled in. But then he found out that he would have to provide technical support and programming (web development) for a pornography site. He (independently) turned the position down. He told me about it later. (I was so proud of him).
    We pray to God to help us chose the right path and the greater good. And we know if we have failed at times, the grace and mercy of God helps us to get back on the right path again. But we are all called to live heroic lives as Christians.
    In the old practice of Confirmation when I was confirmed, the Bishop slapped your face to remind you that you had to be ready to suffer for Christ. (It was not a tap. I was slapped hard). I agree with the laying on of hands nowadays for Confirmation, for empowerment, and the concept of Christian joy. But somewhere between both of these practices is the concept of living a Christian life for Christ. Perhaps they should include both practices in the same Confirmation sacrament.

  11. avatar militia says:

    What a beautiful witness, Christian. Thank you!

  12. avatar true faith says:

    Christian , I too had my face slapped hard by The Bishop when I made my confirmation. It was explained that we are all living witnesses to Christ and we should be ready to incur shame, persecution and even death for His sake. This also came with the anointing for the empowerment of The Holy Spirit.
    Sadly, I believe that it is a social gospel that is taught in most churches today. I remember the old statement that was even reflected upon in THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.” Bonhoeffer writes,” who will ever be brought to the Gospel of Christ and the extraordinary quality of the Christian life if he or she doesn’t see it in Christ’s witnesses ? If they see no difference in us or in our lives from the rest of the world , how would they ever realize the discipleship of Christ , the call of Christ and the extraordinary quality of Christian character and a life hid in Christ Jesus ? ”
    Thomas Merton wrote in THE SEVEN STORY MOUNTAIN, ” That you may become the brother of God and learn to know the Christ of burnt men.”
    Ï was honored to have had Father Albert Evans s.s.c.c. , as my priest and friend. He had been a missionary to Japan for a good part of his life. He shared many stories with me about being a priest in Shinto- Buddhist Japan before and during World War 2. He told me about the adolescents and young men and women who came to Christ and he knew that they would be killed by their families after returning home from their confirmation. These precious converts knew that they would be killed by their families but they joyfully joined the Church and were confirmed.
    He told me that older converts were disowned by their families and society and banished to distant remote islands to live.
    He shared with me one memory of when he had to borrow a boat and to go out the distant island because a dying Catholic man wanted to give his last confession and receive Extreme Unction. It was a long journey for Father Albert . When came upon the island , he saw multiple long strips of rice paper hanging from tree branches with writing on it. As he came closer , he realized that the man was afraid that he wouldn’t live long enough to give his confession so he penned all of his sins in Japanese Kanji on these long strips of rice paper and with his last ounce of strength he strung them on the tree branches. The man was found dead at the foot of the tree. Father Albert told me that he wept for a long time over seeing this and still teared up when he remembered this.
    Many years ago when I was forced to leave my employment at a hospital which I worked at for many years– because I refused to set up for abortions in the O.R. or be involved in any way ( I previously was unaware that the hospital was doing them in the O.R.)I was unemployed for nine months because of a hiring freeze in Rochester.
    I was constantly encouraged by Father Albert who also sent me small religious cards with Japanese artwork and Japanese characters. There was a second message there.

  13. avatar true faith says:

    I wanted to correct my error concerning the spelling of Thomas Merton’s famous book : it is THE SEVEN STOREY MOUNTAIN and it was written in 1948 and was at the top of the list for book sales . It is a modern day Confessions of Saint Augustine and it is about the personal conversion of Thomas Merton and his leading to monastic life . It is considered one of the most influential Christian books of the twentieth century , THE COST OF DISCIPLESHIP by Dietrich Bonhoeffer is another one on that list .

  14. avatar christian says:

    Thank you for your comment militia.

    And thank you for your witness true faith. Many years ago, healthcare worker were told that they had the right to refuse participation in abortions. Obviously, as you have found out many years ago, you may have the right to refuse, but that also comes along with the price of losing your job.

    I have heard various heroic Christian actions and sacrifices through the years centered on the sacredness of life, the divine nature of sexual relations grounded in a committed relationship defined as marriage, the holy concept of body, mind, and soul, and Godly integrity. [We are all called to Christian heroism to whatever circumstance we are faced with in life, extrinsically and intrinsically].

    Some of these examples included at least two women professionals who continued to carry a baby to term after they learned the pregnancy was a great risk to their health. The babies were born and were healthy, but both of these mothers died.

    When I was young, a friend of mine told me about his decision to leave a car dealership where he was employed. The boss was demanding that they sell more automobiles, and in order to accomplish this, he said they were asked to lie to the public. This friend said he told the boss that he wasn’t willing to lie to sell automobiles and quit without having another job opportunity lined up.

    Currently in Sudan, Meriam Yehya Ibrahim, a 27 year old married pregnant woman, has been sentenced to death for refusing to renounce her Christian faith. Her 20 month old son has been imprisoned with her. She was raised Christian and her mother was Christian, but her father was Muslim. Accordingly to Sharia law, she is considered Muslim because her father was Muslim. Her brother who is a Muslim, filed the complaint against her after finding out that she had married a Christian man after several years of having no contact with her. She married a Christian man (from the U.S.) so the marriage is considered void under Sharia law. Because her Christian marriage is not recognized under Sharia law, she has been sentenced to 100 lashes for adultery,(more accurately “fornication”) followed by death by hanging.

    “The court had warned her to renounce her Christianity by May 15, but she held firm to her beliefs.”

    Meriam just gave birth to a baby girl yesterday, Tuesday, May 27th, 2014. Officials of Sharia law have said they will allow her to nurse the baby for 2 weeks. Meanwhile, her Christian husband has not been allowed to see her or his 20 month old son since they have been imprisoned. And now, he has not been able to see his new baby daughter.
    http://www.cnn.com/2014/05/27/world/africa/sudan-christian-woman-apostasy/index.html
    tps://uk.news.yahoo.com/sudan-death-sentence-woman-gives-birth-jail-135121508.html#gvDst0U

    Everyday, there are Christians enduring great hardships for their faith -some are given long jail sentences, even given life imprisonment. And everyday, there are Christians who are killed in horrendous ways for their faith, including crucifixion. http://www.aina.org/news/20140506121604.htm

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