Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

Deposit of Faith — Guarded by the Law? Magisterium?

July 10th, 2018, Promulgated by Diane Harris

My greatest disappointment in Pope Francis is not what most people who know me actually thought. Many friends who  knew I was writing “Half a Dialogue” to answer Pope Francis’ invitation (43 separate times) for debate, discussion and/or dialogue on his climate change encyclical “Laudato Si” assumed it was because my scientific sense was offended, and that the temporal record had to be expressed.  They were probably disappointed I did not argue from the shaky platform of science, which clearly lacks the data to accept or to refute global warming allegations. Rather, it was necessary to argue from the higher science of theology, especially Sacred Scripture, which outranks not only each separate science, but also the totality of all the sciences. My spiritual need to write was not at all driven by science, by rather by obedience to the call to write, although the inherent weakness of science, i.e. of its being “knowledge in process,” certainly added to the book’s arguments.

Disappointment Identified

No, my greatest disappointment in Pope Francis, then and still, was what he didn’t do during the Synod of 2014-15 (or subsequently in its resulting and distorted 2016 document “Amoris Laetitia”). It had seemed to me that God handed His Vicar a gift on a silver platter, often called a “test.”  ScreenShot661

Pope Francis had managed, incredibly, to “out” many bishops and cardinals regarding their lack of belief and commitment to the Deposit of Faith.  A good number spoke out in committees, in writing minutes and summaries and from the floor of the Synod, exposing their support of such outrages as same-sex unions, inter-communion, and communion after unannulled divorce, all neglecting teaching of a much higher order. The trend continues even today with stirring up unrest in the priesthood and among the laity on long- settled matters like priests marrying in the Roman Rite, and encouraging women’s nagging to be deacons and priests. The strategy very much seems to follow that of the political Left: keep bringing it up until it passes!

The rash language under the Synod tent continues to spread even further, seemingly endorsing not only the rashness of derelict clergy but also intimidating believers to remain quiet, to ‘stand down.’ Both groups have failed in their duties to the Deposit of the Faith, to true teaching, to protection of souls, to sanctifying the flock. Only a few leaders have stood out for their courage; e.g. Cardinal Burke, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Cardinal Sarah, and some others like three more ‘dubia’ cardinals. The old heresies of Arianism and Gnosticism reappear hard to root out, like toadstools in the lawn, and thorns in the side of every faithful Catholic, refighting the same battles newly disguised.

The delight I had in the opportunity with which Pope Francis was gifted during the Synod was the ability to recognize the self-proclaimed heretics in our midst and to have taken strong, even brutal, action for the Oneness and Purification of the Church. In my opinion, he failed the test, miserably. If every dissident prelate who stood up (on the floor or on paper) had been chastised and set aside, it would be hard to argue that Pope Francis the Great wasn’t on the scene. In retrospect it was almost miraculous that so many heretics did self-identify but why did no St. Nicholas arise to punch their noses? But, if one might consider any success from the synod-type efforts that occurred, then and now, it would have to be that at least the laity has some sense of those prelates who have failed to live up to their own office, prelates to treat with great caution!

Satan doesn’t work in secret as much as we think, because his pride cannot resist taking credit for unfounded accusations, lies, division and disruption, confusion and lack of courage. And his desire for attention, trying to humiliate God and the Faithful, is insatiable. Synods seem to be a showplace for just such activity.

What are we to do?

While the Pope has the power to identify and remove unfaithful leaders in the Church, the rest of us do not, and so we are left, not with charging the unfaithful, but bewaring of their fruit. We have centuries of not being taught by Rome, for the most part, but rather by our local bishops, the direct descendants of the Apostles. Those of us with good, solid, faithful bishops are indeed blessed, and the way the Church existed and functioned for many centuries, even with human imperfections, is consistent with the model followed by the Apostles. While our technology allows us to weigh in on every error, diatribe and crisis that evolves from or into the Vatican, we are not obliged to stay up-to-date as it all unfolds or to take sides, but rather to rely on a faithful bishop able to lead us, and good local pastoral care for our souls.  If we know the Deposit of Faith, and are led by a bishop and pastors who know and are Faithful, we must be on the right path. We were not left orphans; though we can still choose to “let our hearts be troubled.”

Fruits of the Synod

The Synod seemed to have spotlighted certain individuals whose words and actions appear to try to undermine the Deposit of Faith. And many words from Pope Francis seemed to encourage disobedience, none more so than his comments on the rigidity of obeying God’s Commandments. Strong language, seemingly targeted for change in practice and/or belief (but how could one ever be separated from the other?), followed the April 8, 2016 publication of Amoris Laetitia, post-Synod. Here are some papal quotes challenging obedience to God’s commands:

October 24, 2016 “Pope Francis: Rigid People are Sick” preaching at Casa Santa Marta, Edward Pentin says: “Pope Francis again returned to the theme of rigidity today, saying those who unbendingly follow the law of God are “sick” and in need of the Lord’s help.” Pentin writes:  “A person who is rigid in many cases conceals a ‘double life’, lacks the freedom of God’s children and needs the Lord’s help….”

On that same date, Carol Glatz writes in CRUX, quoting Pope Francis:Those who are rigid suffer when they realize they are not free…. They do not know how to walk within the law of the Lord and they are not blessed.… They seem good because they follow the law, but there is something underneath that doesn’t make them good – either they are hypocrites or they are sick.”

“Lurking just beneath the surface”, he said, “there is often pride – the pride of believing oneself to be righteous…. It’s not easy to walk within the law of the Lord without succumbing to rigidity….  God’s grace is needed.” Pope Francis ended his homily asking for prayers “for our brothers and sisters who believe that walking in the Lord’s law (entails) becoming rigid.”                                                                

With a dateline of Vatican City, Aleteia on May 2, 2017  headlined :Pope Francis: May the hearts of the ‘rigid’ be softened.The article began:  “May the Lord soften the hearts of the rigid, of people who are enclosed in the law and condemn everything outside of the law.” “This was Pope Francis’ prayer this morning at Holy Mass, in the chapel of his residence at Santa Marta…. German Cardinal Walter Kasper concelebrated today’s Mass with Pope Francis.”

The name of Cardinal Walter Kasper is not a coincidence. If there is one person most visible in chomping at the Deposit of Faith it would have to be Walter Kasper. Close behind, in the ranks of German prelates, would be Cardinal Reinhard Marx. The two cardinals have their eyes on the enormous contributions the German government gives to the Catholic Church on a per-registered Catholic basis. A third figure lurking in the background of dissension and disobedience would likely be Cardinal Danneels, also identified as a freemason, who calls himself “mafia”:

In a touch of irony, there was a random on-line generation of Cardinals’ names for whom to pray in the 2013 Conclave, and who did I get in the “Adopt a Cardinal” lottery? – Cardinal Danneels!  who openly admits to tampering with a Conclave for the election of the Pope. All three have an incentive to press Pope Francis for his rigidity remarks; and vice versa.

Personal Reflection

So this now brings us to a personal encounter, dispute and reflection on the Walter Kasper matter.  In February of 2016, as the post-synod cauldron was still bubbling, and Amoris Laetitia still a threatening storm on the horizon, I ran headlong into a dispute with a fairly recently ordained priest.  I had written a bible study summary regarding our studying the Pentateuch Book of Deuteronomy, commenting:

“Deuteronomy means “Second (deutero) Law (nomos)”.  One would consider the Ten Commandments to be the “First Law.” Deuteronomy fills in more details in the Law, beyond “Thou shalt nots.”  It interprets.  It specifies.  It exhorts. And it also protects!

I had continued: “How interesting it is that some ‘leaders’ today criticize the specifics of ‘law,’ as if it were somehow Pharisaic to obey, or as if living under the Law would somehow close us off to the movement of the Holy Spirit.  But that would be most ironic, since it is the Holy Spirit Himself who inspired the words of Deuteronomy, of the Law.  Obedience to and respect of law isn’t being of a closed mind, but rather of being open to the very Spirit Who gave the Law!  One can’t dismiss the ‘Law’ without undermining its inherent call for fairness, understanding, compassion, which all underlie Deuteronomy as a kind of ‘handbook for living righteously’”. 

My use of the word “leaders” apparently set off the priest in defense of Pope Francis.  Had I specifically meant Pope Francis it would certainly have been confirmed in the Fall 2016 preaching of Pope Francis (as shown in the excerpts above.) But the person I most had in mind when I wrote had been Cardinal Walter Kasper, and close behind would have been Cardinal Reinhard Marx, both of whom introduced great threats of schism and heresy into the Church, worldwide, but especially in Germany.  My third nominee would have been Cardinal Godfried Danneels.  After them would be many prelates who exercised their divisiveness by what they said or didn’t say, or in the scandal they gave to the Faithful during the two Synod sessions (2014 and 2015) by embracing at least pseudo-heretical positions.  Not  since the Arian heresy have so many Catholic prelates openly lauded positions in opposition to Church Teaching. What an opportunity there was for cleansing the Church! There is no point here in delving into the confusion and damage caused by such “leaders” in their opposing Church Teaching.  There are plenty of news stories easily found. Here is one on Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has spoken and acted as if he were the Pope: /

To me, the person who stands out as the most ignoble in the situation which results in so much damage to the Church is Cardinal Walter Kasper, who even went on a speaking tour to promote what would seem to be his own heretical position.

Serendipity with Meaning

But there is a story even closer to home, a further irony in the name similarity of Cardinal Walter Kasper to a local felony case regarding a Mr. Walter Casper.  While unrelated except for name similarity, which admittedly ignited a few sparks for me, it is that story which also shed so much light on “The Law,” not only regarding Deuteronomy in its time and place, but on law as a gift from God, not as a skin of rigidity to be shed.

Kathy Bly Casper

Cathy Bly Casper

The serendipitous linkage between Cardinal Walter Kasper, and a tragic story from Naples, N.Y. occurred on July 11, 1999 — 19 years ago — when the local Walter Casper killed his wife, Cathy Bly Casper, by leaving their car in gear and letting it roll over a 300 foot cliff into Grimes Gulley in Naples, NY.  The mother of two young sons was found dead at the scene. Walter Casper was convicted and given 25-years to life; a change in the law let him off much earlier.

This particular tragedy really caught my emotion, even though I knew neither the victim nor the family.  Yet, for months I couldn’t shake the frequent thoughts of Cathy, and the horrible death she had met at the hands of someone she trusted.  Her children, family, friends were all victimized by the selfishness of one man.  Some time after the guilty decision, still thinking about the horror of the situation, I decided to drive to the parking area overlooking Grimes Gulley where it had happened, perhaps as much to dispel haunting images as to make a kind of pilgrimage to pray for her soul.  ScreenShot657The site was very easy to find on Vine St. in Naples and I pulled in slowly and carefully, staying as far as possible away from the edge of the cliff.  I parked, closed my eyes and took time to catch my breath, and to pray.  When I next opened my eyes, I realized that the danger of the edge, over which the Casper car had so easily rolled, had been modified.  There was a dirt berm about two feet high, ringing the edge of the gulley all along the parking lot.  Clearly, that was a recent addition, perhaps by local government, to prevent a copy-cat crime, or an inadvertent accident.

In that moment, my perception changed about “The Law.”  It was as if, in a flash, I saw the berm as an analogy for God’s Law, which He gives as a gift to keep us from the edge, from going over and losing everything.  When ‘leaders’ reinforce God’s Law, they save souls and praise God for His caring and work.  When ‘leaders’ denigrate, bypass, or criticize the Law, looking for loopholes, they are like the hirelings who flee from the wolf, like those who seek popularity among the sheep by opening the fence for them.  I wish I could explain it better; it wasn’t just a moment of observation or learning, but of really recognizing the protection and love of the Law Giver. It was actually a blessed moment of intense gratitude and love for the Law Giver, and not something to maneuver around.  Isn’t that what “leaders” should be teaching?

It is tragic that more ‘leaders’ at every level are succumbing to offering ‘mercy’ without repentance before a God Who is merciful, but also just.  Moreover, when Cardinal Kasper made his widely reported proposal of case-by-case evaluation by which divorced and remarried Catholics could be admitted to Holy Communion, even by a priest in confession (how does that provide for the Seal of Confession?), he opened the door to the ego of individual confessors to make themselves local heroes, to bask in the glow of clericalism. With the souls who trust in their spiritual leaders, Cardinal Kasper just put the ecclesiastical car in neutral, and pushed it toward the cliff.



One Response to “Deposit of Faith — Guarded by the Law? Magisterium?”

  1. christian says:

    I’d like to first comment about offering mercy without repentance. There is no positive change or spiritual growth in a person if they are 1. not able to understand the wrong-doing that they have done. 2. take responsibility for the wrong-doing that they have done 3. be truly sorry for the wrong-doing they have done
    4. confess the wrong-doing they have done and ask God for forgiveness 5. understand the great mercy God has shown them in forgiving their wrong-doing 5. do penance for their wrong-doing and 6. try to understand what led them to the wrong-doing and make amends to avoid that which might lead them into wrong-doing again.

    What can really take place in a person when mercy is freely distributed without introspection and repentance?

    Secondly, I would like to question as well, about the admittance to Holy Communion through individual confession, where the priest can judge on a case by case basis.

    How would the information obtained through Confession be able to be transferred to others who would be administering Communion in addition to the priest-confessor? Particularly in a closed confessional, how would a priest-confessor be able to distinguish who has come to him for confession?

    An elderly priest once told me how the Seal of Confession is sacred and that a priest-confessor cannot use the information gained through confession, even if that information might save his own life. He relayed that the priest is supposed to put any information he has learned in the confessional far from him.

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