An epidemic of misquotations (technically, quoting out of context) in Amoris Laetitia (1)

Ever since we had access to Amoris Laetitia, evidence of misquotations in Pope Francis' Exhortation started turning up.

One could excuse a mistake or two - after all, who am I to judge badly written material -, but the scale of the problem, the fact that misquotations tend to appear on the most sensitive and controversial parts of Amoris Laetitia and, more importantly, the fact that these quotations taken in the original context do not support and even contradict what Pope Francis is saying are causes for concern.

This is a partial list of misquotations that have been unearthed by bloggers:


The spread of heresy: 1910 article misses one ingredient.

The Catholic Encyclopedia is great source of material on the Church.

I posted (and tweeted) a section of the following 1910 article before:
It's a section called 'the spread of heresy':

More that 100 years after being published, this section could be kept mostly intact.

We could probably include an explicit reference to  the support of the media, although it could be argued that the media - the "fourth power" - is already included under "secular rulers" and/or "contemporary mentality".

After, re-reading it, though, I now conclude there is a missing ingredient:
  • In order for heresy to spread, the shepherds and faithful must not oppose it. Otherwise, the flames of heresy would be trampled underfoot by 'peasant' catholics with virtual pitchforks.
An interesting question is why isn't there a more active opposition from the pews. Cd. Manning, writing in the 19th century, mentioned a few of the reasons for this:
"partly by fear, partly by deception, partly by cowardice; partly because they cannot stand for unpopular truth in the face of popular falsehood; partly because the overruling contemptuous public opinion so subdues and frightens Catholics, that they dare not avow their principles, and, at last, dare not hold them."
Most of these reasons can be subsumed under "mitigating factors and circumstances" which diminish "the subjective responsibility [of] the moral agent"...

Nowadays, I'd say that there are two other factors:
  • The first one is the cult of authority.

  • Then there's the widespread apostasy. Many people actually believe (and live) whatever heresy is popular at a certain time. Others simply do not believe the claims of religion but use it instead as a consumer product.


Surviving an hostile Pope: learning with the experts

The heterodox managed to survive (and thrive) during the pontificates of Pope's Paul VI, St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI...


Motoris Laetitia: Pope Francis 'develops' the traffic code

Traffic accidents are one of the most important causes of death in many countries.

After this morning's Mass at St. Marta's, someone Pope Francis calls 'God of suprises' persuaded the Pope to write an encyclical on 'motor vehicle collisions' (MVC). It went something like this:
"Jorge !... Jorge, wake up ! Why don't you write an encyclical on the traffic code, Heh? It would make you look good, no?"
So, the Pope sent an outline of the encyclical to Abp. Fernandez and to Fr. Spadaro and they started working on the new encyclical right away. [Cd. Kasper has no idea what's going on but he's ecstatic because, once the rumors swirling around drove the smoke of satan away from his flat, the media immediately flocked around him].

This outline was (vati)leaked by a certain italian vaticanista (first name starts with a S and ends with an O and the other letters in his name are ANDR) and given to me for publication since I'm a Pope-hater who has strayed, far, far away from the peripheries.

Without further ado, I give you Pope Francis' outline of Motoris Laetitia:


  1. We are not changing the traffic code, do you here me?

  2. The road code is the ideal that must be proposed by the DMV in all its beauty.

  3. Nevertheless, sometimes road signs are interpreted differently in different countries.

    Stop sign in germany/austria and stop sign in other countries.

  4. Traffic violations are increasing; in fact, there is an epidemic of car crashes.

  5. The DMV and the police department are to blame. They must start a process of self-criticism.

    They failed to convey all the beauty of the traffic code and instead relied on fines, prison sentences and the awful consequences of road accidents to force compliance.

    They have driven the worst offenders to the peripheries; these guys are literally running away from traffic cops.

    Driver running to the peripheries with pharisee police cars on his tale.

    Wouldn’t it be better if we could all get along?

  6. There are positive elements in car crashes and we must do all that is in our power to bring bad drivers back into the fold.

    Bad drivers look good - a positive element to consider

  7. This is all very complex and I don't do tune ups, nor do I change flat tires. I'm just going to give cops a set of criteria so that they can discern in each individual case how to proceed.

  8. Practical guidance:

    • References to good driving, bad driving and traffic violations will be banned from everyday conversation.

      We are all drivers trying to get to our destinations as fast as we can !

      No more dead ends

    • Second, I would like to remind y'all that, as St. Thomas Aquinas authoritatively states: "...whatever is in motion is put in motion by another..." [ST I, Q.2, Art. 3]

      So, I ask you: can we really issue traffic tickets for moving violations when the driver is not really responsible for his actions?

    • In regard to the increasing number of people who drive without a license, sometimes people violate the traffic code for good reason. For instances, in an emergency people break the speed limits.

      On the other hand, some people are socially, economically, psychologically forced to drive the wrong way.

      Others are biologically prone to U turning.

      So, from now on, those who do not have a driver’s license, run a red light, drive the wrong way or run-over a pedestrian in a crosswalk cannot simply be issued fines just like that (see Footnote 1).

      Two rigid, fundamentalist road signs.

      Are you getting all this, Tucho?

      [Note to Spadaro: this is a tough sell. Organize a workshop with SJ's so that they can start combing the previous magisterium for quotes that will somehow (even remotely) support this. If there aren't any, 'improvise' as usual...]

    • Traffic cops must also:

      • take into account all the circumstances of the accidents (i.e. drunk drivers are in no condition to understand and obey the intricacies of the road code or to deal with abstract concepts like 'straight lines');

        Cd. Levada, ex-prefect of the CDF, failed a geometry test...

      • consider the consequences of a fine or prison sentence on the driver’s life and family. If someone does not have a driver's licence, how is he/she supposed to drive his/her kids to school in time if we keep stopping him/her and issuing tickets?

        The Kennedy family and many pro-abort SJ’s would’ve been devastated had Ted been incarcerated after Chappaquiddick

        In fact, traffic cops are strongly discouraged from fining anybody (See Footnote 2)..
        ... just smile, wave and say ‘move along’, ‘move along’...

        The only mandatory road sign... for Priests.
        [Note: call Leonardo, António and all my other Hollywood buddies. They must be convinced to replace the 'bad cop'/'good cop' movie scenes with 'good cop'/'good cop' scenes. That'll do it.]

  9. In the end, it’s the drivers themselves that must determine if a specific maneuver breaks the law and is liable for a fine or prison time.

    After all, we’re not here to drive people home but to teach them how to drive, no?

    Self-driving .... what could possibly go wrong?

  10. In the immortal words of St. Louis XIV, "L'église c'est moi".
Footnote 1: Traffic lights, prohibitory and mandatory road signs will be considered mere indications or warnings. They should be understood in a platonic sense. Footnote 2: The road code will no longer apply to people who drive without a license or to people who are especially prone to U-turning.



Yesterday evening I tweeted the following:
And, sure enough, the Vatican is now reporting that, during the inflight interview, the following exchange took place:
(Francis Rocca) ... se mi permette vorrei fare una domanda su un altro evento degli ultimi giorni, che è stata la sua Esortazione Apostolica. Come lei ben sa, c’è stata molta discussione su uno dei molti punti – lo so che vi ci siamo concentrati molti – dopo la pubblicazione: alcuni sostengono che niente sia cambiato rispetto alla disciplina che governa l’accesso ai Sacramenti per i divorziati e i risposati, e che la legge e la prassi pastorale e ovviamente la dottrina rimangono così; altri sostengono invece che molto sia cambiato e che si sono tante nuove aperture e possibilità. La domanda è per una persona, un cattolico che vuole sapere: ci sono nuove possibilità concrete, che non esistevano prima della pubblicazione dell’Esortazione o no?

An environmentaly-friendly smoking gun
(Papa Francesco) Io potrei dire “si”, e punto. Ma sarebbe una risposta troppo piccola. Raccomando a tutti voi di leggere la presentazione che ha fatto il cardinale Schönborn, che è un grande teologo. Lui è membro della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede e conosce bene la dottrina della Chiesa. In quella presentazione la sua domanda avrà la risposta. Grazie!

(Guénard) Avevo la stessa domanda, ma è una domanda complementare, perché non si è capito perché lei ha scritto questa famosa nota nella Amoris laetitia sui problemi dei divorziati e risposati – la nota 351

(Papa Francesco)…Che memoria!

(Guénard) Sì. La domanda: perché una cosa così importante in una piccola nota? Lei ha previsto delle opposizioni o ha voluto dire che questo punto non è così importante?

(Papa Francesco) Senta, uno degli ultimi Papi, parlando sul Concilio, ha detto che c’erano due Concili: quello Vaticano II, che si faceva nella Basilica San Pietro, e l’altro il “Concilio dei media”. Quando io convocai il primo Sinodo, la grande preoccupazione della maggioranza dei media era: Potranno fare la comunione i divorziati risposati?. E siccome io non sono santo, questo mi ha dato un po’ di fastidio, e anche un po’ di tristezza. Perché io penso: Ma quel mezzo che dice questo, questo, questo, non si accorge che quello non è il problema importante? Non si accorge che la famiglia, in tutto il mondo, è in crisi? E la famiglia è la base della società! Non si accorge che i giovani non vogliono sposarsi? Non si accorge che il calo di natalità in Europa fa piangere? Non si accorge che la mancanza di lavoro e che le possibilità di lavoro fanno sì che il papà e la mamma prendano due lavori e i bambini crescano da soli e non imparino a crescere in dialogo con il papà e la mamma? Questi sono i grandi problemi! Io non ricordo quella nota, ma sicuramente se una cosa del genere è in nota è perché è stata detta nell’Evangelii gaudium. Sicuro! Dev’essere una citazione dell’Evangelii Gaudium. Non ricordo il numero, ma è sicuro."

The Pope is a pharisee ...

Let me start by the end. It was the Pope that raised the issue of communion for adulterers. This issue was dead and buried before his comments in the flight back from Brazil. It didn't stop there. The Pope invited Kasper to present to the consistory his heretical proposal. After that came all the phone calls to unrepentant public sinners and the never denied "authorisations" to go to communion. Lastly, in the two synods the Popes appointees were the most vociferous defenders of Eucharistic sacrilege.

Blaming the media for the emphasis on the communion issue is a bit pharisaical of the Pope.

Pope Francis met so many jewish pharisees during is pontificate that it's starting to rub off.

... with a conveniently bad memory ...

Then there's the Pope's memory problem. He didn't remember the CDF condemnation of homosexual civil unions and now he doesn't remember what he wrote in footnote 351. Convenient.

Pope Francis's bad memory. The Church needs an upgrade. Contact the local supplier (a.k.a. Conclave).

... and Cd. Schönborn is his prophet

Last, apparently Cd. Schönborn is the official interpreter of Amoris Laetitia and his presentation is the Rosetta Stone of the new gospel.

The pauper and the prince: the destroyer and his authorized prophet

What does the oracle say? Interestingly, he doesn't spend his time talking about the "distinction between the objective quality of a moral act and the subjective responsibility that the moral agent bears for committing that act", although he mentions the relevant paragraphs.

My "take aways" from the presentation are the following:
  • Absolution and communion can be given to incontrite adulterers (AND OTHER PUBLIC SINNERS) "in certain cases":

    "the Pope affirms, in a humble and simple manner, in a note (351) that the help of the sacraments may also be given “in certain cases”.

  • Confessors will bear the burden of allowing sacrilege and will be pressured to do so at every level starting by the Pope.

    "for this purpose he does not offer us case studies or recipes, but instead simply reminds us of two of his famous phrases: “I want to remind priests that the confessional should not be a torture chamber but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (EG 44), and the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (EG 47)."

  • It is all a matter of discernment of the situations.

    "what does this mean in practice?... The definitive answers are found in Amoris Laetitia, paragraph 300. ...The Pope says clearly: “What is possible is simply a renewed encouragement to undertake a responsible personal and pastoral discernment of particular cases”.

    How this personal and pastoral discernment can and should be is the theme of the entire section of Amoris Laetitia constituted of paragraphs 300-312. In the 2015 Synod, in the Appendix to the statements by the Circulus germanicus an Itinerarium of discernment, of the examination of conscience that Pope Francis has made his own.

    “What we are speaking of is a process of accompaniment and discernment which “guides the faithful to an awareness of their situation before God”. But Pope Francis also recalls that “this discernment can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church

  • But the however badly formed conscience of penitents will take precedence over the confessor's discernment.

    "We have been called to form consciences, not to replace them (AL 37)."

Rosica's (sorry) Rosetta's Stone. If Amoris Laetitia had been written in hieroglyphs it wouldn't have been more difficult to decipher.

    I have dedicated enough time to the consequences of allowing incontrite adulterers to go to communion (see here) and to the issue of Conscience (see here, here and here).

     I would just like to add something about the...

     ... Empty, pharisaical protestations of orthodoxy...

     .... like "this discernment can never prescind from the Gospel demands of truth and charity, as proposed by the Church", "the Church must certainly never “desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur" or "we can hardly stop advocating marriage simply to avoid countering contemporary sensibilities, or out of a desire to be fashionable or a sense of helplessness in the face of human and moral failings" which were only placed in there to allow "plausible deniability".

    How do I know that this is just hogwash?

    First, because Amoris Laetitia is an attempt to kill mortal sin by making repentance and contrition irrelevant and coercing confessors to grant absolution. We're all saints now, especially if you're an adulterer, fornicator, contraceptor or practincing homosexual.

    And then there's this: the Philippine Bishops have just opened the door to communion for public incontrite public sinners without any "discernment" and the Pope remained silent and will say absolutely nothing about it. (The same happened in an Italian diocese).


    So, why did I titled this post Sede Irrelevante? The Cardinal stresses the following issues:

    • We also need to be humble and realistic, acknowledging that at times the way we present our Christian beliefs and treat other people has helped contribute to today’s problematic situation” (AL 36). “We have also proposed a far too abstract and almost artificial theological ideal of marriage, far removed from the concrete situations and practical possibilities of real families. This excessive idealization, especially when we have failed to inspire trust in God’s grace, has not helped to make marriage more desirable and attractive, but quite the opposite” (AL 36).
    • “We have long thought that simply by stressing doctrinal, bioethical and moral issues, without encouraging openness to grace, we were providing sufficient support to families, strengthening the marriage bond and giving meaning to marital life. We find it difficult to present marriage more as a dynamic path to personal development and fulfilment than as a lifelong burden. We also find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations...” (AL 37).

    Apparently, for 1950 years (give or take a few), the Church made huge mistakes in presenting the demands of God's Law concerning the Family, Marriage, sexuality. But, finally, the Holy Spirit woke up and gave us a Pope that will straighten things up and turn a NO into a MAYBE (i.e. yes).

    This can only be true if the Indefectibility of the Church is a much more limited promise that some thought; maybe circumscribed to the extraordinary magisterium only. It’s either this or conclude that Catholicism is a 2.000 years old hoax:

    The Church's foundation resisted for 2.000 years, but Santa Marta's shallow foundations resisted for 985 days.

    There are two other consequences of this:

    The problem is the landing.

    If he can transform the NO of previous Popes into a maybe, whatever he writes can also be reversed by future pontiffs… which means – Oh JOY – that I no longer have to pay attention to what he says because either it is in accord with Tradition (which is much more clear and straightforward than anything that came from the Pope’s mouth or (ghost) pen), or it isn’t and we don’t have to listen to him.



    Amoris Laetitia: The clarity of Truth

    They say that if you ask an opinion from two economists you get three answers. But these days if you ask the opinion of 6 cardinals concerning Amoris Laetitia you get six opinions... six opposing opinions.

    I tweeted this graph this morning and got a decent, but not spectacular - I was hoping it would be spectacular-, feedback. It was enough to shut Cd. Napier up, though.

      Like it ? I did  all by myself !

    What does this mean?

    Well, first of all, Amoris Laetitia does not shine with the clarity of Truth.

    Second, the visible Church is not One.


    The death of mortal sin and the sadness of "The Joy of love"

    All I had to say about "Amoris Laetitia" (AL) was written a few weeks before April 8th and, sadly, I was spot on (see here and here).

    985 days in hell

    It wasn't really difficult to predict this outcome.

    During the in-flight interview in the trip back from Brazil - July 28th, 2013,  Pope Francis raised  the issue of communion for unrepentant adulterers for the first time and became an instant media darling by pronouncing his infamous "Who Am I to Judge?" regarding homosexual priests .

    I was in a hospital bed at the time and it took me a few weeks to get back on my feet, but I guess it was around September/October of 2013 that his phone calls to adulterers and public sinners and the never denied "permissions" to receive the Body of Christ started.

    It went downhill from there: Evangelii Gaudium, a succession of interviews, scandalous "gestures", the constant sniping against true believers...

    Then came the consistory, the two synods and the April 8th, 2016 Post-Synodal Exhortation.

    Three years of bergoglism ...

    So we had 985 days to get used to the fact that the Pope is bent on giving communion to practicing adulterers, fornicators and sodomites.

    [And it's not over yet. Next year we will have the anniversary of the protestant revolution and a renewed attack on the nature and prerogatives of the True Church]. 

    The death of mortal sin

    How was he able to do that while maintaining "plausible deniability" and being able to get good behavior certificates from the CDF?

    Well, by "employ[ing] the Church’s classical distinction between the objective quality of a moral act and the subjective responsibility that the moral agent bears for committing that act", and specifically by mentioning: (1) the "circumstances, including the consequences of ... a moral act" (CCC 1754), which "can ... diminish ... the agent's responsibility"; and (2) the situations in which "consent [is] [IN]sufficiently deliberate" (CCC 1859). [There might also be references to insufficient "knowledge" but if so he is wrong. There is no loophole there].

    The problem is there is so much emphasis on these exculpatory and mitigating factors (and so much pressure on confessors to take them into account) that one has to wonder if it is possible to ever sin mortally.

    It's the death of mortal sin... [and God's Grace is missing in action, too...]

    This is why AL is probably ... 

    The largest canonization in the history of the church

    With all the talk about "circumstances, including the consequences" and insufficiently deliberate consent, the Pope is almost declaring that practicing fornicators (10% of the population), adulterers (10% of the population), and sodomites (0,1% and 2/3 of protestant SJ's) cannot sin mortally. It's the largest canonization in the history of the church.

    It's getting a little crowded up here... and Cd. Bertone requested a duplex...

    Of course, first they would have to go through an express confession at the local confessional... so I ask you...

    Did you noticed the huge crowds lining up for confession, today?

    Yeah, me neither.
    Have you noticed any Francis Effect in the last three years? Positive effects, that is...
    Anybody there? Come out, come out wherever you are ...
    We have to ask ourselves why would people bother to go to Church if Francis keeps confirming them in their sins.

    What I noticed was the silence during Mass today. No chit-chat, no coughing, no sneezing, no babies crying, no children  screaming, no cellulars ringing, nothing. Everybody was waiting for something that never came. The priest did not mention AL, although he did made indirect references to Kasper's latest statements. He was just sad ... or maybe I'm just projecting my own feelings.

    What is the origin of this sadness? 

    Well, we already knew it, but after AL we can no longer pretend that Pope Francis is leading us in the road to Heaven. In fact, he abolished the traffic lights and made the road code optional.

    The Pope failed to extinguish the flames of error that he and his heretic friends kindled in the past three years.

    He deliberately chose not to "strengthen the brethren" (Lk 22:32).

    We became spiritual orphans, sheep without shepherd ... dog. We were granted the worst Pope in the history of the Church.

    Second, and most importantly, the so-called discernment of exculpatory evidence and mitigating factors allied with concupiscence, the devil and the world will lead many to "eat and drink judgment on themselves" (1 Cor 11:29).

    Eucharistic sacrilege will, consequently, increase.

    Then there's the scandal that all this is causing. Some will just give up and stop fighting. Others will become schismatics or apostates.

    There is still another reason...

    The Pope's actions are making "hermeneutic of continuity in refom" catholics pariahs in their own Church. There is place for the heterodox who are in fact running the show (to the extent that indefectibility and infalibility allow it), and there's talk of integrating the SSPX - and that is great -, but this means that the "hermeneutics of rupture" is in and the "hermeneutic of continuity in refom" is out. We are being left out beyond the bergoglian peripheries.

    But, hey, what did we expect? The road to Heaven leads through Calvary. So ... rejoice, we're in the right track and we have Holy Writ, Tradition and 265 previous Popes to guide us...

    On the other hand...

    .... and we already know who wins.

    In the meantime we pray and wait...


    [Updated 2] An honest, charitable, realistic and short comment on Amoris Laetitia, a faithful, orthodox, measured and shorter statement on same, and the more perceptive comments I came across so far

    Bishop Robert Barron, April 08, 2016:
    "... If I might make bold to summarize a complex 264-page document, I would say that Pope Francis wants the truths regarding marriage, sexuality, and family to be unambiguously declared, but that he also wants the Church’s ministers to reach out in mercy and compassion to those who struggle to incarnate those truths in their lives.

    In regard to the moral objectivities of marriage, the Pope is bracingly clear. He unhesitatingly puts forward the Church’s understanding that authentic marriage is between a man and a woman, who have committed themselves to one another in permanent fidelity, expressing their mutual love and openness to children, and abiding as a sacrament of Christ’s love for his Church (52, 71). He bemoans any number of threats to this ideal, including moral relativism, a pervasive cultural narcissism, the ideology of self-invention, pornography, the “throwaway” society, etc. He explicitly calls to our attention the teaching of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae regarding the essential connection between the unitive and the procreative dimensions of conjugal love (80). Moreover, he approvingly cites the consensus of the recent Synod on the Family that homosexual relationships cannot be considered even vaguely analogous to what the Church means by marriage (251). He is especially strong in his condemnation of ideologies that dictate that gender is merely a social construct and can be changed or manipulated according to our choice (56). Such moves are tantamount, he argues, to forgetting the right relationship between creature and Creator. Finally, any doubt regarding the Pope’s attitude toward the permanence of marriage is dispelled as clearly and directly as possible: “The indissolubility of marriage—‘what God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Mt 19:6) —should not be viewed as a ‘yoke’ imposed on humanity, but as a ‘gift’ granted to those who are joined in marriage...” (62).

    ... Now Francis says much more regarding the beauty and integrity of marriage, but you get my point: there is no watering down or compromising of the ideal in this text.

    However, the Pope also honestly admits that many, many people fall short of the ideal, failing fully to integrate all of the dimensions of what the Church means by matrimony. What is the proper attitude to them? Like Cardinal George, the Pope has a visceral reaction against a strategy of simple condemnation, for the Church, he says, is a field hospital, designed to care precisely for the wounded (292). Accordingly, he recommends two fundamental moves. First, we can recognize, even in irregular or objectively imperfect unions, certain positive elements that participate, as it were, in the fullness of married love. Thus for example, a couple living together without benefit of marriage might be marked by mutual fidelity, deep love, the presence of children, etc. Appealing to these positive marks, the Church might, according to a “law of gradualness,” move that couple toward authentic and fully-integrated matrimony (295). This is not to say that living together is permitted or in accord with the will of God; it is to say that the Church can perhaps find a more winsome way to move people in such a situation to conversion.

    The second move—and here we come to what will undoubtedly be the most controverted part of the exhortation—is to employ the Church’s classical distinction between the objective quality of a moral act and the subjective responsibility that the moral agent bears for committing that act (302). The Pope observes that many people in civil marriages following upon a divorce find themselves in a nearly impossible bind. If their second marriage has proven faithful, life-giving, and fruitful, how can they simply walk out on it without in fact incurring more sin and producing more sadness? This is, of course, not to insinuate that their second marriage is not objectively disordered, but it is to say that the pressures, difficulties, and dilemmas might mitigate their culpability. Here is how Pope Francis applies the distinction: “Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any ‘irregular’ situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace” (301). Could the Church’s minister, therefore, not help such people, in the privacy of the rectory parlor or the confessional, to discern their degree of moral responsibility? Once again, this is not to embrace a breezy “anything-goes” mentality, nor to deny that a civil marriage after a divorce is objectively irregular; it is to find, perhaps, for someone in great pain, a way forward.

    Will Amoris Laetitia end all debate on these matters? Hardly. But it does indeed represent a deft and impressive balancing of the many and often contradictory interventions at the two Synods on the Family..."
    Statement of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy in response to the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, 09/04/2016:
    "The priests and deacons of the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy in England and Wales affirm with the Holy Father, in his Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, the unchanging teaching of Christ and His Church regarding marriage, the family, and human sexuality. They renew their pledge to continue to follow the teaching and example of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, who acts with great clemency towards sinners, but also with pastoral clarity: ‘Go and sin no more’. (John 8:11)

    Our members are heartened that the Exhortation calls for a return to the wisdom of Humanae Vitae (82), defence of the ‘inalienable rights’ of the unborn child (83), re-affirmation of the role of parents as the primary educators of their children (84), and warning of an encroaching ‘gender ideology’ (56). In response to the Holy Father’s call, the Confraternity's members particularly pledge themselves to work for better and more profound marriage preparation and accompaniment, and clearer, unashamed and more positive articulation of the good news of the joy of human love.

    At a time when moral relativism has caused such confusion, the Confraternity recognises the need to work with pastoral sensitivity, guided by the consistent principles of Scripture and Tradition, and will help its members to discern wisely how to help individuals hurt by the crisis in marriage and family life of which the Holy Father speaks. Those in irregular unions are a particular focus of pastoral concern, and need to be brought closer to Christ and his Church. Confraternity clergy will continue to encourage those in problematic marital circumstances to move forward, by personal discernment in the light of the Gospel, and to deepen their involvement in the life of the Church, without losing sight of the fact that certain situations constitute objective and public states of sin. The Church's pastors must never neglect the call to repentance, and the need to avoid scandal which would cause the weak to fall, while accompanying their people with kindness and understanding.

    Ross Douthat, The New Catholic Truce, NYT, APRIL 9, 2016:

    [My comment: this is the most perceptive comment I read so far]

    "MODERNITY has left nearly every religious tradition in the Western world divided...

    In each case, disagreements about the authority of tradition, the reliability of Scripture, and eventually the proper response to the Sexual Revolution have made it impossible for liberal and conservative believers to remain in community or communion.

    Roman Catholicism, however, remains officially united...

    That coexistence depends on a tension between doctrine and practice, in which the church’s official teaching remains conservative even as the everyday life of Catholicism is shot through with disagreement, relativism, dissent.

    Because the teaching is consistent, conservatives are reassured that the church is still essentially unchanging, still the faith of the church fathers, Nicaea and Trent as well as Vatican II.

    At the same time, the flexibility and soft heterodoxy of many pastors and parishes and Catholic institutions enables liberal Catholics to feel reasonably at home while they wait for Rome to “evolve” in their direction.

    Of course many Catholics on both sides have been dissatisfied with this arrangement. And from the outset of his pontificate, it was clear that Pope Francis was one of them, and that he was determined to renegotiate its terms — in liberal Catholicism’s favor.

    The question wasn’t just how far he would go in encouraging flexibility. It was how far he could go without hitting a kind of self-destruct button on his own authority, by seeming to change the church in ways that conservative Catholics deem impossible.

    Now we have an answer, of sorts. In his new letter on marriage and the family, the pope does not endorse a formal path to communion for the divorced and remarried, which his allies pushed against conservative opposition at two consecutive synods in Rome, and which would have thrown Catholic doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage (and sexual ethics writ large) into flagrant self-contradiction.

    But what he does seem to encourage, in passages that are ambiguous sentence by sentence but clearer in their cumulative weight, is the existing practice in many places — the informal admission of remarried Catholics to communion by sympathetic priests.

    This move means that the truce is still in effect, but its terms have distinctly changed. There is still a formal teaching that remarriage without an annulment is adultery, that adultery is a mortal sin, that people who persist in mortal sins should not receive communion. And there is no structure or system in church life that contradicts any of this. This much conservatives still have, and it’s enough to stave off a sense of immediate theological crisis.

    But there is also now a new papal teaching: A teaching in favor of the truce itself. That is, the post-1960s separation between doctrine and pastoral practice now has a papal imprimatur, rather than being a state of affairs that popes were merely tolerating for the sake of unity. Indeed, for Pope Francis that separation is clearly a hoped-for source of renewal, revival and revitalization, rather than something that renewal or revival might enable the church to gradually transcend.

    Again, this is not the clear change of doctrine, the proof of concept for other changes, that many liberal bishops and cardinals sought. But it is an encouragement for innovation on the ground, for the de facto changes that more sophisticated liberal Catholics believe will eventually render certain uncomfortable doctrines as dead letters without the need for a formal repudiation from the top.

    This means that the new truce may be even shakier than the old one. In effectively licensing innovation rather than merely tolerating it, and in transforming the papacy’s keenest defenders into wary critics, it promises to heighten the church’s contradictions rather than contain them.

    And while it does not undercut the pope’s authority as directly as a starker change might have, it still carries a distinctive late-Marxist odor — a sense that the church’s leadership is a little like the Soviet nomenklatura, bound to ideological precepts that they’re no longer confident can really, truly work.

    A slippage that follows from this lack of confidence is one of the most striking aspects of the pope’s letter. What the church considers serious sin becomes mere “irregularity.” What the church considers a commandment becomes a mere “ideal.” What the church once stated authoritatively it now proffers tentatively, in tones laced with self-effacement, self-critique.

    Francis doubtless intends this language as a bridge between the church’s factions, just dogmatic enough for conservatives but perpetually open to more liberal interpretations. And such deliberate ambiguity does offer a center, of sorts, for a deeply divided church.

    But not one, I fear, that’s likely to permanently hold."

    James Carroll (Yes THAT James Carroll) Pens the Best Analysis Yet of Amoris Laetitia and It's Relation to Post Vatican II Catholicism:

    [My comment: a post in the same vein, quoting a heretic]

    "I could have used Pope Francis’s latest apostolic exhortation, “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”), when I served as a Catholic priest, almost half a century ago. I was ordained in early 1969, a few months after the promulgation of “Humanae Vitae,” the Vatican’s resounding condemnation of “artificial birth control,” which would define my future. I was a chaplain at a university where, true to the era, the norms of sexual morality had been upended. I certainly saw the need, in those wild days, for a humane and ethical analysis of the state of sexual intimacy, personal commitment, erotic longing, and gender rights. But, believe me, the triumphalist salvo from Rome made the moral condition worse, not better. Like many priests of my generation, I declined to affirm the birth-control teaching. On the contrary, I encouraged the young people who sought my advice to be sexually responsible, especially since the mature use of contraceptives could avoid a later choice about abortion.

    Oddly, perhaps, this approach did not make me an outlaw renegade. Priests like me, in counselling our fellow-Catholics, operated under the rubric of the so-called pastoral solution, which allowed us to quietly defy Vatican dogma when the situation seemed to call for it. In the confessional booth or the rectory parlor, we could encourage our parishioners to decide for themselves, by examining their own consciences, whether the doctrine of the Church applied to them in their particular circumstance. (We cited the lessons of the Second Vatican Council, which, taking up the theme of responsible parenthood, only three years before, had said, “The parents themselves, and no one else, should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God.”)

    The fact that, a generation later, the vast majority of Catholics disregard “Humanae Vitae” shows how effective the pastoral solution has been. But this solution has always been offered as an option in the shadowy private forum—in those off-the-record consultations between confessor and penitent. Preachers never addressed the subject from the pulpit. Everybody in the Church knew that “Humanae Vitae” was a moral teaching with no center, but that, too, was treated like a secret. Popes did not speak of the encyclical’s being ignored, nor did bishops or priests. Catholic lay people have made their declaration mainly by having about two children, like everybody else, and going regularly to Communion, with no questions asked. There has been a tacit understanding, as if the seal of the confessional itself applied, that this nearly universal choice to disobey the Church not be spoken of. Why? To protect the myth of the immutability of doctrine.

    Michael Brendan Dougherty, The cowardice and hubris of Pope Francis, The Week, April 11, 2016:

    [My comment: This one pinpoints the major failures of the Pope: the failure to take a clear stand, the failure to understand what contrition means, reckless conclusions concerning the state of the soul of adulterers, substitution of ideals for commandments, the undervaluation f Divine Grace, official invitation to sacrilege]

    "To universal fanfare from the mainstream and Catholic media, Pope Francis has issued a long-awaited document, Amoris Laetitia, "the Joy of Love," as his conclusion to the Catholic Church's two-year Synod on the Family. But to this Catholic, the pope's supposedly reformist document is a botched job.

    For two years, bishops presented their respective cases for two contradicting views of marriage, re-marriage, and the Church's own sacraments. Pope Francis didn't choose between these two options. He chose them both. The pope did not effect some grand synthesis. He merely gave his imprimatur to the Church's own confused practice on these matters and, more frighteningly, to its self-doubt.

    As a result, the Joy of Love reads as an admission that God, as Catholics understand him, really isn't merciful or gracious to poor sinners. So priests should try to do better from now on.

    ... The Church's traditional reasoning is straightforward. If a valid, sacramental marriage is indissoluble, and someone contracts and lives within a second civil marriage, they are committing the sin of adultery, and doing so publicly. Like anyone in a state of moral sin — for instance, someone who knowingly missed Sunday Mass through their own fault — they are to exclude themselves from communion, lest they commit a further sin of sacrilege. If they repent of the sin and want to amend their life, they can make a sacramental confession and return.

    The German Cardinal Walter Kasper has proposed a way around this — a kind of penitential path in which the remarried person admits some responsibility for their failed first marriage, but persists in the second. For two years, cardinals and bishops lined up on opposing sides of this proposal. Some argued for retaining the Church's traditional understanding and practice. Others pressed for some kind of "pastoral" accommodation to better integrate those who persist in their second marriage into the life of the Church. Pope Francis sided with all of the above. And he did it not by effecting some greater synthesis, but by cowardly obfuscation.

    Pope Francis tries to reframe what Catholics have long understood as the truth about marriage and chastity as merely an ideal, possibly an impossible or oppressive one, if taken too seriously by mere Christians. He pits his concept of mercy against marriage, as if a true understanding of the latter were a threat to the former. Pope Francis reveals himself to be a pope of his times, and embodies the defects of the Church he leads; Amoris Laetitia is characterized by loquacity and evasiveness in trying to dignify and disguise moral cowardice borne from a lack of faith.

    Chapter 8 of this heralded document begins by describing the kind of person in an "irregular union" who might be considered for pastoral counseling back toward communion. It describes that person as someone possessed of "humility, discretion, and love for the Church." The question of whether this person has sincere sorrow for sin and a firm purpose to amend their life is side-stepped. Repentance and conversion? How old fashioned. Even the term "irregular union" is evidence of the way the Church is abandoning its understanding of adultery, draining away the moral force of its own teaching, as if marriage were merely a matter of paperwork yet to be amended.

    Francis cites well-known Catholic teaching about whether a person is truly and fully culpable for their sins as if it were a new revelation, and then draws reckless conclusions from it, such as in paragraph 301 of chapter 8, where Francis simply announces, "Hence it can no longer simply be said that all those in any 'irregular' situations are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace." One can see how this substitution of "ideals" for commandments works when, in paragraph 303, Pope Francis posits, absurdly, that in some instances the most generous response a person can offer to God's grace is still itself "not fully the objective ideal."

    The message is clear: God's grace is insufficient to assist you to do what he asks of you. Jesuits can do better.

    Finally, although the pope rejects a formal institution of the Kasper proposal as a general rule, he strongly encourages the readmission of people in "objectively" adulterous unions to holy communion. He doesn't trumpet this, of course. He buries it in the 351st footnote. For a man showing such great audacity before God, Francis certainly isn't bold before men...

    ... The Church officially teaches that confession is necessary to be restored to holy communion after committing a mortal sin, and that receiving communion in a state of sin is itself sacrilege. Yet rare is the pastor who seems troubled by the long lines for communion and the near disappearance of the sacrament of confession among the people in his parish. Everyone just sort of knows the Church doesn't really mean what it says.
    The Church's blasé attitude here has a pedagogical effect, teaching people that there is no need to have a holy respect or fear when approaching the altar. Naturally, this attitude has worked its way up the chain to a papal pronouncement. Pope Francis' document justifies people receiving communion in a public state of sin by saying that the Eucharist is "not a prize" for good behavior. That is true. But instead the Church has turned it into a participation trophy, something so perfunctory and ultimately meaningless that it seems just too cruel to deny it to anyone.

    Perhaps worse than Pope Francis' official invitation to sacrilege is the document's cowardice, cynicism, and pessimism. The Church can no longer even bring itself to condemn respectable sins such as civilly approved adultery. It can barely bring itself to address a man or woman as if they had a moral conscience that could be roused by words like "sin." Instead, it merely proposes ideals; ideals cannot be wounded by your failure to realize them. And it promises to help you out of your "irregular" situation.

    This supposed paean to love is something much sadder. A Church so anxious to include and accept you that it must deny the faith that transforms and renews you. It admits that God's commands are not just beyond our reach, but possibly destructive to follow.

    Pope Francis is trying to be more merciful than God himself. He ends up being more miserly and condescending instead."


    The democracy of relativism, Pope Francis (sort of) presiding

    Please compare the coming Apostolic Exhortation with the Magisterium of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI which I took the trouble of copying and pasting in this previous post.

    A clear "NO" will  become an ambiguous "MAYBE".

    The end of the ordinary magisterium

    If one Pope can officially contradict his predecessors' ordinary magisterium, then:

    It is impossible.

    And if one Pope can officially contradict his predecessors in fundamental matters related to doctrine, morals and the sacraments, then:
    • What authority does the ordinary magisterium possess?

    I'd say that bergoglism will make whatever a Pope says or writes - short of defining a dogma - completely irrelevant, because one of his successors may come along and reverse whatever he taught.

    The democracy of relativism

    It will then be up to each individual member of the flock to determine if a particular teaching is to be adhered to or not. (In fact, that's what's been going on since '68, but up until now the Popes had never done anything to legitimize this course of action.)

    Of course, for faithful catholics Tradition will be the rule of Faith.

    For others it will be a matter of individual opinion, taste, fashion ... and the media/entertainment industrial complex will push them in the 'right' direction.

    The democracy of relativism will be given its declaration of independence and Pope Francis will become its founding father.