Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Looks like Risk of Schism to me ….

December 16th, 2016, Promulgated by Diane Harris

Tonight’s LifeSiteNews story is alarming, disgusting and threatening. It is the most unpleasant reading I can ever remember about Church matters, and only shows signs of escalating.  If the Church is not already in Schism, it is hard to believe under Pope Francis that she won’t soon be in such a position. Ever since Pope Francis uttered the words “Who am I to judge?” he has expounded an incredible amount of judgment, against everything from Catholic mothers to traditional liturgies, from seminarian clothing to dark motivations of clergy who don’t agree with him.  I have avoided repeating and publicizing most of the stories and anecdotes over recent months, even though from highly credible sources.  And perhaps part of the reason I’ve been reluctant to do so is because we know there is a certain amount of suffering we can’t avoid.

However, when statements are made which contradict the Faith held for two millennia, when “changes” weaken rather than strengthen, when Luther’s statue is added prominently to the Vatican gallery, when inter-communion appears to be on the way to encouraging the forbidden practice, and adulterers seem to be invited to approach the Most Holy Sacrament, how much longer can the laity (or faithful clergy) put their heads in the sand and make believe all is well? How can we not address the issues and care for each other when it is the very souls of our sisters and brothers in Christ that are being threatened with destruction? We do have some heroic clergy who have arisen in our midst; that doesn’t free laity from our own obligations.  Rather, it strengthens the need to respond.

This is the article I am asking all readers of this blog to examine before another day goes by, and to please weigh in with your comments: 

We have some very difficult decisions to make about how to pursue such matters, how to protect the weakest, how to stand for Truth and all that is right, and how to be Faithful.  How is God calling us to react in this situation?  I have about 10 points (+ or -) that I want to share with our readers, points to consider when coping in this situation, but I’d like to hear that it matters  to those who follow Cleansing Fire.


62 Responses to “Looks like Risk of Schism to me ….”

  1. Ben Anderson says:

    Could you clarify what you mean by the title, “Looks like Schism to me…”? The situation is very serious. Yes, I agree, but I think we need to be *very* careful about the terms we use. There are those who are weak in faith that might flee from the Catholic Church and may misinterpret what we mean when we use terms like schism without explanation. I assume you’re referring to what +Schneider referred to here

    Bishop Schneider: ‘We are witnessing today a strange form of schism’ within the Church

    But a weaker soul (or someone who wants to make you look bad) might take it to mean you are suggesting we should break from full union with Rome and go somewhere like the SSPX, SSPV, or somewhere else. Of course I know you’re not saying that, but it might be a good idea to explicitly set the parameters regarding what you don’t intend to imply.

  2. Diane Harris says:

    You made very good points, Ben, and it prompted me to change the title of this post to “Looks Like Risk of Schism to me.” Of course it isn’t up to me to declare “Schism,” but I do have an opinion. I think that Bishop Athanasius Schneider showed courage in using the “S” word; otherwise we as laity might not take the matter as seriously as we should, and it IS serious.

    But that doesn’t imply our going anywhere else to worship except the Roman Catholic Church, the only true Church founded by Christ. He didn’t found multiple churches, and He certainly didn’t sow division in Wurttemberg. Luther, on the other hand, whom Pope Francis seems to admire and seeks to celebrate the 500th anniversary of his heresy, faces an entirely different issue with Cardinal Burke et al. Luther was pushing against Church Law; “The Cardinals” are holding fast to it. Cardinal Burke has made clear he is NOT seeking to leave the Church; so, too, we should be of the same mind. But the good Cardinal has said he will “resist” and I think we need to understand what and how we can resist without separating ourselves. In truth, the Cardinal Kaspers and his ilk are the ones who have already separated themselves by pursuing a path that not only contradicts Popes Benedict and St. John Paul II’s clear writings, but even contradicts the Holy Gospel and Christ’s own words.

    I will be developing, if only for myself, a list of some of the things I feel I can do without ever separating from the true Church. But for now I will give just one example. I am trained as an extraordinary minister of Holy Communion but I will not exercise that ability, especially not where I might be facilitating inter-communion with Protestants, or knowingly administering the cup to those in irregular marriages. In such a case, I would be giving up a privilege in order not to cooperate in evil. (Actually, I already took that step some years ago, after too frequently hearing the wanton invitation to funeral attendees of various faiths, to feel free to approach the Eucharist. Probably most readers on this site have their own ideas of legitimate resistance; I hope we can share more and strengthen each other.

    The uncertainty of how much worse this will get can eat away at our peace, and we mustn’t let it. Remember Paul’s words in Romans 8:35-39: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For thy sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    If you have not read the short “Dubia” from Cardinal Burke et al, do so. It is quite clear, quoting from both prior Popes, definitively. Both positions cannot be held simultaneously; it is a matter of logic. That Pope Francis refuses to answer a polite, legal and justifiable request for clarification is outrageous, but makes the very point he seems to wish to avoid. Almost silently, yet clearly, we can hear the whisper “Checkmate.”

  3. CPT Tom says:

    Pope Francis has disappointed since his “Who am I to Judge?” Statement. It seems that he is able to judge, and judge harshly and broadly when it comes to Traditional and Orthodox Catholicism. The latest is an insult to Priests–especially the young, good, and orthodox priests we have been receiving in our Dioceses. Everyone of them are excellent homilists, confessors and shepherds. If you haven’t had a chance to meet them seek them out. They are everything that Pope Francis supposedly says is good…but…they are “Traditional” and Orthodox, so they are judged to be “clerical.” The Pope has some awful stereotypes that he throws out, that I guessed worked in Argentina, but, are in the Church proper, are just vile insults and just wrong. Maybe it is an onset of Dementia that causes him to lash out. But whatever it is, it is not helpful, and it will alienate a large group of faithful Catholics. Especially in Europe, where the only ones going to Church (Especially in France and among the young) are mostly the traditional Catholics. I pray for him, but at the same time I pray for Cardinal Burke, all the bishops, and our own Bishop Mattano. May they have the strength and resolve to defend the teachings of the Church and be good shepherds of us all. God’s Peace!

  4. snowshoes says:

    Dear Diane,

    Please do provide us with the fruit of your prayer and analysis of the current situation. I read the Lifesite article, and I agree with you. With the backdrop of the onslaught of islam on the Church, parish by parish, across at least half the world so far, and with millions of Catholics already killed or enslaved, or forcibly “converted”, not to mention other Christians and non-moslems, we Catholics should have our house in order and be preparing for crusade. I hope I don’t alarm anyone, but if you’re not already alarmed, it’s time. We have no time to lose, God wants us to defend the defenseless against unjust aggressors.

    We in or from the diocese of Rochester have had to deal with people like those who appear to be in the ascendency now in the Vatican. They can and will be resisted, by the grace of God, and with the good efforts of saints like Card. Burke and Athanasius Schneider, AND good laymen and women.

    Catholic doctrine will never change because Our Lord does not change. We the laity must ensure that teaching and practice in our parishes is precisely correct. Of course, we must act on the basis of much prayer, counsel, training, and study. And fasting! The moslems started going parish by parish back in the 600s, destroying, killing, etc. We must also go parish by parish, renewing and strengthening the faith of our parishioners and resisting the moslem military aggression with military force. Fast for our Church, our Bishop, our Holy Father, and all those in positions of authority who are going the wrong way. Christ is coming! Merry Christmas. St. Michael the Archangel, pray for us.

  5. Ron says:

    Consider the source.

  6. raymondfrice says:



    “with the good efforts of saints like Card. Burke and Athanasius Schneider,”


  7. raymondfrice says:

    I know this idea of the Vatican’s new found respect for Luther who broke with the papacy can be hard to digest. I hope the 4 cardinals are not going to break with the papacy over the pope’s teachings.

  8. militia says:

    It appears to me that the current papacy has broken with the church, much of its clergy, many of the people of God, and even Christ’s teaching. I have no fear that the “4 cardinals” are “going to break with the papacy” — they have no reason to breakaway. They are loyal to Church teaching.

  9. snowshoes says:

    After a few days of prayer and thought, it seems to come down to the sin of Cowardice, which according to St. Gregory, can be considered under the cardinal sin of sloth. Edmund Burke in his Present Discontents states: “When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall, one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle.”

    Thus, we must associate against those in the Church who will not face the present danger because of cowardice. So it isn’t that the good in this case are simply disorganized, rather it appears that they are being prevented from combining by those who are afraid of the Cross.

    Let me say it again, there is a list of Catholic parishes to be destroyed. The enemies of Christ are going down that list methodically. Your parish is on that list, and there is a date next to the name of your parish. We are our brothers’ keeper. When are you going to act?

    Yes, one move on the part of the Vatican to overtly militarily protect and defend Catholics in Africa, etc, etc, will have an immediate result of rage by moslems, and good Christians will be murdered, but they are already being methodically murdered to the point of genocide in many countries now, so it’s too late to “only” negotiate. Negotiation has failed. It is time for the Church to act to militarily protect each Catholic parish in the world. NOW. Yes, that means we must go on a war footing. I believe this is what Our Lord and Our Lady desire in order to save the Church. We must be brave and sacrifice our treasure and our lives if necessary. To ignore this necessity is to endanger our souls. Everything else is a diversion.

  10. Eliza10 says:

    There is conflicting information to process.

    The things this Pope says and does seem wrong. I do not think God wants me to suspend my perceptions and blindly ignore what is wrong. I like Cardinal Burke and Cardinal Sarah; they are heroes to me. The Dubia seems reasonable, and I would sure like to see it answered, and I sure find the way the Pope is responding to it very, very un-Christlike, and yes, more like a Communist leader. 🙁 That’s what it seems like to me. What Lifesite reports about the oppression at the Vatican seems real, and our Pope seems to be an involved party. Am I supposed to pretend what appears to be is not so, just to be loyal to the pope? I am loyal to Jesus and my Church. The Pope is not an infallible human being. He is human.

    In contrast to this, somewhere in Direction for Our Times reading – this is an Apostolate with an Imprimatur – it might have been Volume 8, where the difficult days are discussed – Jesus said something like, “the pope, and he WILL be My pope” – as if Jesus, in difficult days, is acknowledging that we would find reason to question this reality, and would need this reassurance.
    It sure seems a real possibility we are getting into the difficult days spoken of.

    Also, the other piece of conflicting information, meaning, that Pope Francis gives so many reasons to question him – there is this miracle where the St. Januarius’ blood flowed in the presence of Pope Francis, reported here: and that gives the idea of Christ’s approval… Oh – “PARTIALLY” liquified. Hmm. Well, its something.

    Sometimes I wonder if the Vatican is not so overtaken with the smoke of Satan, and/or with organized opposition of the Church, that the only choice for a Pope was one that was sort of with both sides. Like, we could only have a pope that would not stand with truth, and God let it be the best of the bad? I mean, there have been bad popes, and God works with them. I think I would like more reading on that topic, actually.

  11. Eliza10 says:

    Dh and I are interested in what you have to say about dealing with this situation, Diane. I have read most of your articles. I find it hard to read, because its hard emotionally, becauseyou are talking about a reality I don’t want to face, and don’t know how to face. I mean, Rochester, after the long dry sad desert, finally got a good man for a Bishop. Relief. It was my prayer for so long! But immediately some things that this Pope does seem worse than a bad bishop. Or,the same as. Putting down and pushing to the side shining lights of faith. To see it on such a high level, the highest, its frightening. Are we spoiled, because we had popes recently whose goodness and sound teaching gave us hardly ever the slightest cause to question?

  12. raymondfrice says:

    Christ often sends us what we need rather than what we want! Long ago, Cardinal Newman said that to grow is to change and to become perfect is to have changed often. True enough, but wholesome growth and change are possible only for those who have solid roots in God, the ground of our being. Fear stifles growth and allows only one kind of action, and that is attack.

    Don’t waste your life being angry and defending the indefensible. Let faith open your inner doors to the Spirit who brings growth, change, and joy.

  13. BigE says:


    Yes!….after all, we are a “pilgrim” church….

  14. Ben Anderson says:

    How would you response if the question at hand were over the divinity of Christ – you are the defender of the doctrine and someone is questioning it and the questioner just used your exact same words against you for your defense of Christ’s divinity. How would you respond?

  15. snowshoes says:

    Certainly we are to rejoice always, pray always, and deny ourselves, and take up our cross daily, and follow Him. Luke 22:36-37 – “Then said he unto them: But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a scrip; and he that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword. [37] For I say to you, that this that is written must yet be fulfilled in me: And with the wicked was he reckoned. For the things concerning me have an end.” Douay-Rheims.

    It is in taking His yoke upon our shoulders that we are able to not attack, but defend the defenseless. All Catholic men, and here I mean the male of the species, the adults, must be ready and able to defend unto death the defenseless. That means we Catholic men must be ready to kill the unjust aggressor. Period. And there it is from Our Lord’s mouth. A sword is not to hang over the mantel… If we are not ready to resist until death, and I do not mean in a bloodthirsty way, but in the way a policeman or soldier must be ready to fight, then a man must examine his conscience to see if he is not motivated by cowardice.

    We Catholics in this country have had the unusual grace to not have faced physical martyrdom on an organized scale in a long time. But we only have to read the exhortations of many past popes to crusade against the unjust aggression of the mohammedans to see that it is an act of justice to defend Catholics and Jews and others against unjust aggression.

    There has never before been violence against Catholics on such a grand scale by mohammedans. It only makes sense that we must respond to defend those Catholics who are being killed and enslaved today. If we don’t, we do not love the Baby Jesus, and we do not have any real joy in our hearts because we are fearful and fear casts out love.

    In WWII, the Allies conquered the Axis, and bluntly told the Germans: you cannot worship Hitler or Nazism any more, that religion is dead and you are freed from that evil false religion, and we told the Japanese: you cannot worship the emperor anymore, that religion is dead and you are freed from that evil, false religion.

    In the same way we must fight and tell all the mohammedans, that religion is dead and you are freed from that evil, false religion. That is the only option now. If we don’t they will destroy the Catholic Church soon. The Baby Jesus asks us, “When the Son of Man comes again, will He find any faith on the earth?” If we dither we are damned. Merry Christmas.

  16. raymondfrice says:

    Probably would not respond because you may think you won the argument and the other lost but you are not going to win them with vinegar when honey will work!!(Francis de Sales) I’d probably ask him to take a break, let me buy him coffee, and turn down the heat,: isn’t there a saying about winning an argument and losing a friend?? It reminds me of a priest who taught his convert class all about God and then asked for questions. One person raised his hand and asked how to say the rosary. In the church and in the military approach, you may win an argument and lose a potential believer. I have found that people who have to win arguments all the time are missing the point. They are winning the battle but losing the war.

  17. raymondfrice says:


    If we don’t they will destroy the Catholic Church soon.” What about” and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”??/

  18. Ben Anderson says:

    I’m not sure your argument lines up with this conversation… it sounds like you’re more focused on making the case that you shouldn’t push/force a conversation topic on someone who really isn’t interested/engaged or just not on the same level as where you want the conversation to be. I don’t see Diane (or myself) arguing against that. Of course we should meet people where they’re at, not force conversations, and gently nudge as oppose to expecting everyone to be perfect Saints. I think the assumption here is that people commenting on this topic are engaged and willing to have the conversation. I would certainly hope the upper echelons of the hierarchy are considering they just had 2 Synods on it. I think the assumption that most of us operate under here on this blog is that conversations here (and some of those that happen w/in the Church) are not like just randomly walking up to people on the street, or having water-cooler conversations at the office, or some other place where honey works best. The assumption (my assumption anyway) is that people here take their faith seriously and are genuinely interested in having deep/real/meaningful/difficult? conversations. So… my question remains. If someone who was truly sincerely interested in the having a deep religious conversation, who doesn’t have thin skin, and who you thought might be won over said to you while denying the divinity of Christ:

    Christ often sends us what we need rather than what we want! Long ago, Cardinal Newman said that to grow is to change and to become perfect is to have changed often. True enough, but wholesome growth and change are possible only for those who have solid roots in God, the ground of our being. Fear stifles growth and allows only one kind of action, and that is attack.

    Don’t waste your life being angry and defending the indefensible. Let faith open your inner doors to the Spirit who brings growth, change, and joy.

    how would you respond?

  19. BigE says:

    Relative to your question to Raymond:
    I would point to Scripture. To the teachings of the Church AND to what we as a collective faith community know to be true in our hearts.
    And your right. Truth doesn’t change. But how fully the Church understands a truth and how she reacts to those struggling to understand it can change.
    This discussion IMHO is about the latter and not the former.

  20. Ben Anderson says:

    Good answer to the question. As to your last sentence… if that’s the case, then answering the dubia presented by the Cardinals should be a piece of cake, right? It’s just 5 simple yes/no questions. How would you answer them?

  21. BigE says:

    I disagree with your premise.
    Taking a pastoral position based on the unique circumstances of individuals IS NOT easily answered with a simple yes or no. So it’s not a “piece of cake”.
    Rules are clear, clean, and easy. Ministry and the care of souls can be messy.
    So my answer to the questions would be “it depends….”

  22. Ben Anderson says:

    actually, based on your response your answers should be a piece of cake. To say that it’s messy and not black-and-white would mean your answers are YES, NO, NO, NO, NO. Is that not what you’re saying?

  23. BigE says:

    Since I am not an expert on either Amoris Laetitia or the exact teachings called out in John Paul’s II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor as referenced by the 4 dissenting Bishops; I don’t feel comfortable in giving those specific questions a definitive answer. If you’re meaning to ask me by way of those questions do I agree philosophically that there are pastoral situations that should allow us to override some of the “rules” of our church or should those same situations maybe have us pondering whether some of our “rules” should be softened to allow for more pastoral responses where appropriate by our Church – then my answer is “Yes”. That’s my piece of cake. 🙂

  24. Ben Anderson says:

    Thanks for your cake, BigE. To argue against your “Yes” I would simply “point to Scripture, to the teachings of the Church, and what we as a collective faith community know to be true in our hearts” (as you stated above and as the dubia notes). Jesus spoke directly against divorce (w/out exception), as has the Church always, as well as faithful Catholics through all generations (most especially famous Saints like St. Thomas More and our own patron St. John Fisher). I don’t think we need to over-complicate the matter.

  25. snowshoes says:

    Thanks, Ben, excellent point, no need to over-complicate the matter, as St. Joan of Arc said regarding the unicity of Our Lord Jesus and His Holy Church. And regarding the 900 pound gorilla in the room that so many in the church are so desperately trying to ignore, there is this: (I hadn’t seen this prior to posting my warning about your parish being on the hit list, well, here it is…) Get your armed Porters stationed at the doors for Midnight Mass. St. John Fisher, pray for us.

  26. BigE says:

    I agree Jesus didn’t like divorce. Yet our Church allows divorce. Of course only after a formal Church process and then we conveniently give it another name. So there are already “exceptions”. And obviously how our Church currently handles divorce isn’t agreed upon and known to be true by our collective faith community or we wouldn’t even be having this discussion, and the Pope wouldn’t have written what he wrote. So there is a need to complicate the matter. A pastoral need.

  27. Ben Anderson says:

    And now we’ve reached the point of material heresy. If there is another way out of this rabbit hole, I don’t know what it is.

  28. snowshoes says:

    Our Holy Father’s Christmas address to the Curia is troubling:

    When a leader heaps praise upon his men it’s fine if the praise is general, but severe criticism, and specific accusation must be specific to the man or men to whom it is directed, otherwise, everyone is under the pall of suspicion.

    In this country, our legal tradition requires that we be accused directly by our accuser.

    Once in a volunteer EMS org to which I belonged, there was a member who stood up in the monthly meeting, and spoke against unnamed members who, he alleged, were attempting to oust a paid EMT, who happened to be related to him. This member also made unspecified threats against those who were allegedly trying to get this employee fired. His motivation was obviously to stop any action against the EMT.

    Against my shy and retiring nature, I summoned my courage and stood up, pointed my finger at the man, and said, “You just accused everyone in the firebarn with your vague allegations, and you threatened all of us. Well, in the US, we have the right to face our accuser. If you want to name names, and say exactly what it is that you’re alleging, now is the time. But, since you don’t have the courage to name names, I must, as a citizen, call you a liar. Now prove me wrong, or remain a public liar.” There was a gasp. He fled the hall. That was the last we saw of him. Gotta stand up to a bully. Come Lord Jesus! Merry Christmas.

  29. BigE says:

    Yes, poor wording and thinking on my part. My apologies for killing our conversation.
    Especially since the issue isn’t the Sacramentality of marriage (or lack of sacramentality for those marriages that are annulled) but is all about how the church should pastorally handle those couples whose marriages and subsequent divorces have fallen short of the ideals taught by Christ and the Church.
    I took us off track.

  30. Ben Anderson says:

    @BigE, the rabbit hole I was referring to is the liberal reading of AL (YES, NO, NO, NO, NO) – not your own poor wording. I don’t know how one can give those answers w/out endorsing heresy.

  31. BigE says:

    The way out of the hole is to realize no Catholic doctrine is being changed – only Catholic practice.

  32. Diane Harris says:

    Sorry, BigE, that is exactly the way into a deeper hole. There can be no separation of
    practice from doctrine, for over time doctrine will no longer be respected as Truth, eaten away by toleration of what is false. It was a key fault of the Pharisees, shown in Christ’s words in Matthew 23: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice.”

    So practice must be conformed to doctrine, not the other way around. As long as sound doctrine is being taught, we must obey it, and not undermine it by doing something opposed to doctrine. But we have no obligation to follow false doctrine or ignore its practice or to implement it. ACTS 4:17-20 is very telling. The Sanhedrin commands Peter and John not to preach Jesus:

    “But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to any one in this name. So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.'” The Apostles could not conform their actions to a wrong order, even an order from the high priest. I think we will find this issue at the heart of what currently appears a dichotomy between doctrine and practice.

  33. BigE says:

    So are you saying the Church over her 2,000 year history has never changed her practices while still remaining faithful to her teaching (doctrine)?

  34. Ben Anderson says:

    Some practices can be changed, some cannot. Those that have changed have done so w/in the realm of staying true to doctrine. Changing the practice in question would not only violate Church law, which the Pope has the power to change, but would also violate Divine Law, which he does not.

    I’m open to the fact that I’m missing something here, but in order to be shown that +Burke is in the wrong, the Pope would need to respond with a clear, rational explanation.

  35. BigE says:

    To my knowledge the Pope has not come out and changed ANY of the doctrine (teachings) around marriage or divorce.
    He certainly advocates a change in how we relate to those who fall short of living out those teachings.
    That’s not advocating for a change in divine law, that’s advocating for a change in how we deal with those who have broken that law.
    If someone breaks the secular law of using an illegal drug: sending them to rehab rather than to jail doesn’t mean the law on illegal use of drugs is being changed.

  36. Ben Anderson says:

    To my knowledge the Pope has not come out and changed ANY of the doctrine (teachings) around marriage or divorce.

    If that’s the case, then the answers to the dubia would be NO, YES, YES, YES, YES. If that’s the case, then why doesn’t he say so and answer the Cardinals’ questions? Then all this drama is put to rest and the Catholic world can let out a big sigh of relief.

  37. Diane Harris says:

    Divine Law: (Even the Pope has no power to change the Word of God)

    “But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one dot of the law to become void. ‘Every one who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.’” Luke 16:17-18

    “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself.” 1 Cor 11:27-29

    It is a horrible and heretic myth, IMO, circulating from very high levels of the Church down to the local pulpit, that if only unrepentant, unamended sinners could get the Eucharist into their bodies, there would be a profound magic trick that would give them the strength they need to avoid further sin, repent and amend their lives.

    NO! First comes repentance, then comes participation in the Eucharist. It’s right and just. Otherwise, all unrepentant sinners will have done is drink judgment on themselves. Any priest aiding in the sacrilege is guilty of the same; and so the father of lies will have struck again!

    Can the Eucharist strengthen us to avoid sin? Absolutely. But it is HUNGER for the Eucharist we are NOT allowed to receive, because of our sin, that is the motivation to “get right with God.” Not the other way around.

  38. BigE says:

    I don’t know. As I said before, maybe the Pope doesn’t think simple Yes or No answers are appropriate to a process designed to move away from simple yes and no answers. Perhaps the Pope values the discussion his not answering fosters. Perhaps he believes AL has already made clear the answers to those questions, Perhaps he just doesn’t want to get into a debate with those Bishops. There could be any number of reasons why he hasn’t answered.

  39. snowshoes says:

    From Matt 5:37: ???? ?? ? ????? ????, ??? ???, ?? ??· ?? ?? ???????? ?????? ?? ??? ??????? ?????. However, let your statement be Yes or No, anything beyond this is from evil.

    The only times Our Lord Jesus would not answer a challenge or explain Himself is when His questioners were acting in bad faith. He always answered clearly, and that clarity comes through in the Holy Scriptures, and in the Magisterial Teachings of the Church. I certainly believe the good faithful Cardinals are acting in good faith. St. Simeon, pray for us!

  40. BigE says:

    Pope St. John Paul II in his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio 84 stated “The Church reaffirms HER PRACTICE, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried….(capitalization is mine).
    It’s about practice, not divine law.
    And as stated before, although divine law never changes, our understanding of it may.
    Was it divine law which used to require reception of the Eucharist on the tongue?

  41. BigE says:

    In believe that passage had more to do with the taking of oaths than in always answering questions in a yes or no fashion.

  42. Diane Harris says:


    Your quote: “her pracice … BASED UPON SACRED SCRIPTURE” — I think you just refuted your own position. Many of the Church’s practices do flow from Sacred Scripture or Tradition held for nearly 2000 years … The “practice” around protecting the Eucharist from sacrilege due to adulterers entering into Communion is a practice which flows from Christ’s teaching. It isn’t an optional ‘nice to do.’

    A practice like kneeling or standing for Communion may change; a practice such as covering one’s head may change; a practice like using or not using violins in a church may change.

    One has to be very careful about arguing against what has been held for 2000 years. It is not only about rationalization for the sake of the collection plate. For a pope to try to change practice required by Divine Law also attacks the credibility of the writing of prior popes. It says the deaths of Edmund Campion, Thomas More and St. John Fisher were foolish, if the Church had the ability to allow Henry VIII to remarry and receive Communion.

    It is the evil one who parses language to get the sin committed, and whispers such arguments into the ears of victims who then think they have brilliant insight which the Church has missed for 2000 years. The evil one excels at such verbal arguments: “Did God REALLY say you couldn’t eat the fruit of the garden?” Be very, very careful, BigE. I personally don’t enter into dialogue with the evil one, or listen to those arguments which attempt to justify any position against God. I ask my Guardian Angel to take care of it for me. Just sayin’

  43. BigE says:

    Aren’t all our practices, whether changeable or unchangeable, in someway based on Scripture? So no, I did not refute my own position.
    And after doing a little research, I have come to realization there are situations where our Church DOES allow a divorced and remarried person to receive communion.
    A member of the Eastern Orthodox Church IS allowed to receive communion in the Catholic Church. And, in the Eastern Orthodox Church – members for pastoral reasons, are allowed to divorce and then remarry. Even two or three times.
    So there is already an exception to what you are claiming is divine law.

  44. Ben Anderson says:

    BigE’s quote of FC is proof of neither side of this debate (the fuller content of FC is, though, in my opinion). 2 examples that would also work with that quote 1) the prohibition against worshiping golden calves at Mass and 2) the requirement for women to wear head coverings at Mass. The first is always and everywhere wrong and the second is not. Both are practices based on Scripture. One can never change, the other can. The question is whether or not the practice stays true to unchangeable doctrine. In the case of marriage, the doctrines we know to be unchangeable are 1) the marriage bond is unbreakable 2) any marital act outside of marriage is a sin of grave matter 3) reception of holy communion requires one to be in the state of grace 4) for one to be subjectively culpable of an objective mortal sin requires full knowledge and full consent. In order for the practice to change, it ought to be explained how exactly the newly proposed practice is consistent with these doctrines…. ie the dubia warrants a response.

  45. Ben Anderson says:

    re: BigE’s Orthodox “exception”… if it is the case that “re-married” Orthodox are permitted to receive communion in the Catholic Church (I honestly don’t know if this is the case and what all the conditions are), I’m pretty sure you can find a good explanation as to why the Church allows for it and how it is in accord with the doctrinal principles I numbered above.

  46. BigE says:

    I thought there were no exceptions to what you consider to be divine law? (Divorced and Remarried receiving communion)
    So it’s ok break that law as long as there’s a good explanation?
    Or perhaps the good explanation is that it IS indeed a practice and not divine law at all.
    Hope you had a very merry Christmas. Enjoy your New Year my brother.

  47. Ben Anderson says:

    I’ll leave it up to you to present the Church’s teachings on “remarried” Orthodox. It certainly isn’t the slam dunk situation that opens the door like you suppose. Let me ask you – are Eastern Rite Catholics allowed this? If there is an exception for those not in full communion with the Catholic Church, I would guess it would fall in my #4 above (lessening of subjective culpability due to their own Church allowing for it).

  48. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Why very little commentary regarding the intimidation, fear and silencing?

    Seems like there is more interest in debating about marriage, divorce, remarriage/irregular marriage and Holy Communion. Does this debate infer those who are for the Dubia being answered are against the the intimidation, fear and silencing and those against the Dubia being answered favor the intimidation, fear and silencing?

    And what about a reply/reaction to snowshoes’ concerns that Violent Islamic Jihad is attacking Catholics? Certainly Pope Francis’ insistence that the violence has nothing to do with Islam, the religion of peace, merits discussion!

    In any event, it is my opinion that both clergy and lay unashamedly proclaim and live everything the Lord Jesus has revealed and authorized his Church to teach.

    Intimidation , fear , silencing ?

    FEAR NOT!!

  49. BigE says:

    What intimidation, fear, and silencing are you referring to?

  50. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    In reply to BigE’s question posted 1/2/17 at 10:17 am:

    “This is the article I am asking all readers of this blog to examine before another day goes by, and to please weigh in with your comments:

    You will find the above quote and link in the December 16 CF post entitled LOOKS LIKE RISK OF SCHISM TO ME

  51. BigE says:

    What a shock.
    Conservatives in the midst of a liberal Pope feel fear and feel like they are being silenced.
    How does that differ from the fear and silencing liberals felt in the midst of a conservative Pope?
    In other words: much ado about nothing…..
    Natural feelings when you suddenly find yourself on the outside looking in.

  52. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    Hey BigE, note the different approach to the issue. You reference our Catholic Family members in political terms which don’t necessarily mean the same thing as say when used in the 19 th century: conservatives, liberal Pope, liberals, conservative pope.

    Perhaps words like faithful, orthodox, dissident, heterodox, are more appropriate.

    Much ado about nothing? No!

    This is about proclaiming and living what the Lord Jesus has revealed and authorized his Church to teach. In fact, Big E, it could very well be an issue of the salvation of souls.

    On the outside looking in? No again!

    Come, Holy Spirit, Come; for Jesus’ sake and in his Name we pray God that we, Your One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, would faithfully and fearlessly with boldness teach all nations, baptize all nations, and teach all nations to observe what the Son of God Our Savior has commanded us.

    Amen, BigE?

  53. BigE says:

    Faithful, dissident, heterodox etc doesn’t do much to distinguish the two sides of our Church we’re discussing – each with valid but differing opinions as to how best serve God and save souls. They are labels that only serve to further divide by demonizing the “other” perspective.
    In other words…are you saying you want to label Pope Francis as unfaithful and dissident?
    So yes, much ado about nothing. A group of folks who recently have always gotten their way now aren’t. Over the course of history that door has swung (and will swing) both ways. With both sides taking their turn crying when it happens. A part of the tension that empowers our Church IMHO.
    And yes….a big Amen to your last statement.

  54. Ben Anderson says:

    I hope to one day articulate this point further, but this idea that a push and pull of ideas w/in the Church is somehow analogous to iron sharpening iron and that it’s the natural way for the Church to progress forward is completely antithetical to Christianity. It’s an idea generally attributed to Hegel and is now so ingrained in our mindset that very few question it. It is, however, an extremely erroneous idea. Dissidents and heterodox ideas have always been, are now, and always will be harmful to the Church and opposed to the will of God.

  55. BigE says:

    I beg to disagree.
    If that were true, discipline would never change and doctrine would never develop.

  56. Ben Anderson says:

    Disciplines change and doctrines develop from dialogue/discussion w/in orthodox positions. Heterodox positions (espoused by +Kasper and the like) deserve absolutely no respect nor consideration.

  57. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    BigE, you said Amen to “observe what the Son of God Our Savior has commanded us”.

    So please, BigE, what has the Son of God commanded us regarding marriage, divorce, remarriage and adultery?

  58. BigE says:

    1) You didn’t answer my question as to how you would label the Pope using your “more appropriate” words?
    2) And as to what Jesus has commanded relative to marriage, divorce, remarriage and divorce? Well, if I was a fundamentalist Protestant who believed in Sola Scriptura and a completely literal translation of Scripture – that might be easy to answer. But since I am Catholic and believe God’s Word is alive and is a source of constant unfolding, it can become more complicated. Thus the reason for AL and all the current discussion in our Church around these issues. My big “amen” was for the bottome line of all of Jesus’ commands: that we should love God and each other with all our hearts. That’s what we should be boldly and fearlessly teaching that to all nations. Amen, Dominick?

  59. Dominick Anthony Zarcone says:

    BigE, I am not going to label Pope Francis. Whatever my personal feelings might be about his ministry, it is not my competency to assess orthodoxy, heterodoxy etc.

    Secondly, I wonder if you are inferring we cannot know what the Lord Jesus commands us to observe regarding marriage, divorce, remarriage and adultery. If so, I exhort you to prayerfully read Sacred Scripture, the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the documents referenced in the DUBIA.
    If you still are left unsure about what the Lord Jesus commands us to observe in this regard, I do not know what else to write that might help.

    Without trying to be a wise guy, I must state your comment above is a curious one. “God’s Word Is Alive….Becomes More Complicated”. Perhaps you would greatly benefit if His Holiness, Pope Francis, goes ahead and answers the Dubia. I know I would!

    To date, personally, I seek to trust and obey the Lord’s command to observe all he has taught by striving to adhere to what his authorized One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church believes, lives and teaches officially……

    In the mean time, BigE, try out this link which I found helpful:

    And especially consider the following, which again, gives me confidence regarding knowing what the Lord commands we observe:
    “7. The mistaken conviction of a divorced-and-remarried person that he may receive holy communion normally presupposes that personal conscience is considered in the final analysis to be able, on the basis of one’s own convictions, to come to a decision about the existence or absence of a previous marriage and the value of the new union. However, such a position is inadmissible. Marriage, in fact, both because it is the image of the spousal relationship between Christ and his church as well as the fundamental core and an important factor in the life of civil society, is essentially a public reality.

    By this document the Holy See affirmed the continuous theology and discipline of the Catholic Church that those who are divorced and remarried without a Decree of Nullity for the first marriage (whether that marriage was made within or outside the Catholic Church) are in an objectively adulterous union that prevents them from honestly repenting, receiving absolution for their their sins, and receiving Holy Communion. Until the marital irregularity is resolved by a Marriage Tribunal, or other procedures which apply to marriages of the non-baptized, they may not approach Penance or Holy Communion. As Pope John Paul II pointed out in Reconciliation and Penance, the Church desires such couples to participate in the Church’s life to the extent possible (and this participation in Mass, Eucharistic adoration, devotions and so on is a great spiritual help to them), as they work toward full sacramental participation.

    A Unique Case. One final situation is that of those who have repented of their illicit union, but remain together for a serious reason, such as for the sake of their children. Catholic pastoral practice allows that IF their pastor judges that scandal can be avoided (meaning most people are unaware of their remarriage and consider them a married couple), then they may live together as “brother and sister” (without any sexual relations), and be admitted to the sacraments. If scandal can not be avoided, then they must either separate or refrain from the sacraments.”

    Of course we are to love God and our neighbor….But what that means and how that is lived out is another topic worthy of much more time and space. Suffice it to state it amounts to more than emotion. Obedience to the God and Father of Our Lord Jesus has a lot to do with love.

  60. BigE says:

    1) If you don’t think using those words are appropriate in describing the Pope because they’re too judgmental (which I can respect) – then why did you ask me to use them to do so?
    2) And what I was inferring is that often times we may not currently “fully” know or understand all that Jesus asks of us. That is very different than not knowing anything at all. Yes, Jesus was clear about the importance and sacramentality that he placed on marriage. I don’t deny that. What isn’t so clear is how He expects us to react and deal with those who fall short of living out those ideals.
    3) The Pope answering “Yes or No” to the Dubia would not uncomplicate anything. His whole proposal is that each pastoral situation around divorce and remarriage is unique with its own story and history and thus each reaction to it should also be unique. That’s about as complicated as you can get. Yes and No answers To the Dubai wouldn’t change that dynamic.
    4) So you’ve laid out the current practice of the church relative to marriage and divorce and because it’s the “current” practice of the church, that gives you confidence that is exactly what the the Lord commands us to observe? So how do you reconcile past practices of our Church that have changed relative to other Church Doctrine? The possibility of salvation outside the Church? Freedom of conscience? Religious liberty? Capital Punishment? The Charging of Usury? How did the Lord command us to observe those? The way the church used to live them out? Or the way she’s living them out now?

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