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Good Parents Say “No”: Pope Francis on Lutherans and the Eucharist


Ecclesial communities derived from the Reformation and separated from the Catholic Church, “have not preserved the proper reality of the Eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Holy Orders.” It is for this reason that, for the Catholic Church, Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is not possible.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, §1400

Catholic ministers administer the sacraments licitly to Catholic members of the Christian faithful alone, who likewise receive them licitly from Catholic ministers alone…” – 1983 Code of Canon Law, Can. 844 §1.

The rules pertaining to the reception of the Holy Eucharist are well-established, and not a mystery to any catechized Catholic. Put simply, to approach Holy Communion, one must have observed the prescribed Eucharistic fast, must be in a state of grace (free from all mortal sin), and must be Catholic.

The separation between ourselves and the various Protestant denominations on any number of doctrinal and dogmatic matters are significant. I’m not going to spend time on those here, since others, more qualified than I, have been exploring these issues for nearly 500 years. There’s no shortage of source material on the topic. I will instead say only this: there are good reasons why it has never been the Catholic practice to give Holy Communion to anyone who doesn’t meet the criteria stated above — certain exceptions made for those in danger of death who can express sufficient belief in the sacramental mysteries notwithstanding.

This is basic stuff. Catholicism 101.

Which is why all Catholics should find it incomprehensible that Pope Francis, when confronted with a question from a Lutheran woman about whether she could receive the Eucharist with her Catholic husband, has such a hard time just reiterating Church teaching. Here’s what he said last weekend:

Question: My name is Anke de Bernardinis and, like many people in our community, I’m married to an Italian, who is a Roman Catholic Christian. We’ve lived happily together for many years, sharing joys and sorrows. And so we greatly regret being divided in faith and not being able to participate in the Lord’s Supper together. What can we do to achieve, finally, communion on this point?

Pope Francis: The question on sharing the Lord’s Supper isn’t easy for me to respond to, above all in front of a theologian like Cardinal Kasper! I’m scared!

I think of how the Lord told us when he gave us this command to “do this in memory of me,” and when we share the Lord’s Supper, we recall and we imitate the same as the Lord. And there will be the Lord’s Supper, there will be the eternal banquet in the new Jerusalem, but that will be the last one. In the meantime, I ask myself — and don’t know how to respond — what you’re asking me, I ask myself the question. To share the Lord’s banquet: is it the goal of the path or is it the viaticum [provisions] for walking together? I leave that question to the theologians and those who understand.

It’s true that in a certain sense, to share means there aren’t differences between us, that we have the same doctrine – underscoring that word, a difficult word to understand — but I ask myself: but don’t we have the same Baptism? If we have the same Baptism, shouldn’t we be walking together? You’re a witness also of a profound journey, a journey of marriage: a journey really of the family and human love and of a shared faith, no? We have the same Baptism.

When you feel yourself to be a sinner – and I feel more of a sinner – when your husband feels a sinner, you go to the Lord and ask forgiveness; your husband does the same and also goes to the priest and asks absolution. I’m healed to keep alive the Baptism. When you pray together, that Baptism grows, becomes stronger. When you teach your kids who Jesus is, why Jesus came, what Jesus did for us, you’re doing the same thing, whether in the Lutheran language or the Catholic one, but it’s the same. The question: and the [Lord’s] Supper? There are questions that, only if one is sincere with oneself and with the little theological light one has, must be responded to on one’s own. See for yourself. This is my body. This is my blood. Do it in remembrance of me – this is a viaticum that helps us to journey on.

I once had a great friendship with an Episcopalian bishop who went a little wrong – he was 48 years old, married, two children. This was a discomfort to him – a Catholic wife, Catholic children, him a bishop. He accompanied his wife and children to Mass on Sunday, and then went to worship with his community. It was a step of participation in the Lord’s Supper. Then he went forward, the Lord called him, a just man. To your question, I can only respond with a question: what can I do with my husband, because the Lord’s Supper accompanies me on my path?

It’s a problem each must answer, but a pastor-friend once told me: “We believe that the Lord is present there, he is present. You all believe that the Lord is present. And so what’s the difference?” — “Eh, there are explanations, interpretations.” Life is bigger than explanations and interpretations. Always refer back to your baptism. “One faith, one baptism, one Lord.” This is what Paul tells us, and then take the consequences from there. I wouldn’t ever dare to allow this, because it’s not my competence. One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more.

You may also find it helpful to watch the video (with subtitles), since this conveys more of the mood and tone of the answer:

There’s a lot of thinking out loud in the text above, and not a little circumspection. But there’s also a great deal of context that paints a pretty clear picture. It’s a very odd thing indeed when the chief guardian of the Catholic Faith doesn’t, by his own admission, know how to answer questions about the Eucharist – the most important treasure of Catholicism.

Worth noting in the Holy Father’s comments is his use of language pertaining to a “banquet” or “supper” – but not a word about sacrifice. This conceptualization of the liturgy and the Eucharist which is confected within it as principally a meal is, again, more attuned to Protestant sensibilities than authentically Catholic ones. The Church has always, or at least until the imposition of the new order of Mass in 1969, expressed the true nature of the Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a number of more authentic ways: the same sacrifice of Calvary, re-presented in an unbloody manner under the appearance of bread and wine; Christ as sin-offering and saving victim, the Lamb of God, the true holocaust offered upon the altar of oblation as a sacrifice for our redemption, etc. While the Last Supper is indeed where the Mass — and the Eucharist along with it — was instituted, it was on The Cross that it came into its fullness. The recognition that at every Mass we stand before The Cross with Mary, Mary Magdalene, and St. John, and that the Holy Communion we receive is Christ in the saving action of His passion and death, inspires in us a reverence for the Eucharist that imagining a mere sharing of bread at a re-enacted Passover meal does not.

Also revealing in the pope’s remarks is the anecdote in the penultimate paragraph about the Episcopalian bishop who “went a little wrong.” The identity of this man is transparent, given the details. It was Bishop Tony Palmer (may God have mercy on his soul), a known friend of Cardinal Bergoglio even before his election, who was, as indicated, married to a Catholic woman. Not mentioned by Francis, but widely reported on elsewhere, was the fact that Tony Palmer (who died in a motorcycle accident in August of 2014) was told not to convert to Catholicism by Jorge Bergoglio:

At one point, when Palmer was tired of living on the frontier and wanted to become Catholic, Bergoglio advised him against conversion for the sake of the mission.

“We need to have bridge-builders”, the cardinal told him.

It’s a bit difficult to process, isn’t it? To be told to ignore the promptings of heaven and not become Catholic by the very man who would later become the Vicar of Christ? And to have that same man, upon his elevation to the Petrine Throne, not then come to his senses and encourage the man to finish the journey home?

This is an important indicator in understanding the way Pope Francis views the relationship between Catholicism and other denominations. Time and again, we find evidence that he sees no important distinction between being Catholic and being non-Catholic, and certainly no urgency in embracing the fullness of truth in Christ’s Church, outside of which there is no salvation. This is not the first or only example; we’ve covered this before. As further evidence, this video of John & Carol Arnott, “Founding Pastors of Catch The Fire (formerly known as the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship) and overseers of the Partners in Harvest Network of Churches” shows the Protestant couple gushing about how during their meeting with Pope Francis he told them he has no interest in their conversion.

This matters not only as it pertains to doctrinal integrity, or the salvation of souls (as if there are any larger concerns than these for the successor of St. Peter) but specifically in reference to the way the Eucharist is becoming, through the lens of this pontificate, a means to an end, rather than the end in itself. I have noted before that both Pope Francis and Cardinal Kasper are fond of saying that the Eucharist is “not a prize” for “the strong” or “the perfect” but rather a “source of strength” or “a powerful medicine and nourishment” for the weak. While the Eucharist undoubtedly serves this purpose for those in a state of grace who receive it with the proper disposition, this reduction of the sacrament to a spiritual balm that is given indiscriminately to those in need of help leads to only one conclusion: it should be given to…everyone. Regardless of their worthiness to receive it. It’s breathtaking to see 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 so thoroughly ignored.

Going back to his answer, when Francis says, pertaining to the varying beliefs on the Eucharistic presence, “Eh, there are explanations, interpretations. Life is bigger than explanations and interpretations.” he appears to be speaking dismissively about the differences between the concept of consubstantiation, which Martin Luther used to describe his flawed understanding of the Real Presence, and the Catholic dogma of transubstantiation. And yet, the former belief was condemned and anathematized in Canon IV of the Council of Trent:

If any one saith, that, after the consecration is completed, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are not in the admirable sacrament of the Eucharist, but (are there) only during the use, whilst it is being taken, and not either before or after; and that, in the hosts, or consecrated particles, which are reserved or which remain after communion, the true Body of the Lord remaineth not; let him be anathema.

None of what we have discussed so far is insignificant. But the final paragraph gives us cause for much deeper concern, inasmuch as it indicates not just the pope’s thinking, but a program of action. Let’s look at the relevant section again:

I wouldn’t ever dare to allow this, because it’s not my competence. One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more.

In much of the commentary I’m seeing — commentary trying desperately to square the papal circle — the focus is on the first “dare”. The pope says he wouldn’t dare “allow this.” What is “this”? Permission for Lutherans to receive the Eucharist in Catholic churches. He says that it is “not my competence.” This, as Fr. Z noted Monday, is technically correct. In what I can only suspect is an attempt to quell a panic, however, Fr. Z tries to make it sound like this is where the question stops:

A lot of people become angry and confused about some things that Pope Francis says… and doesn’t say… and then says and doesn’t say at the same time.  It’s frustrating to try to figure him out.  For example, he tends to speak in derogatory terms about doctrine and law, as if they are not important.  BUT… BUT… he doesn’t actually say that they aren’t.

There is the tone with which he speaks and there are the words with which he speaks.  We are left to untangle the knot.

That said, for this issue the Pope made a clear statement:

“I wouldn’t ever dare to allow this, because it’s not my competence.”

Before anyone gets out onto the ledge outside the window, read that again and repeat it to yourself.  The Pope is not saying that Lutherans can go to Communion.

This is also, if we’re being legalists about it, correct. The pope has not explicitly given permission to Lutherans to receive Communion. But — and this is a supersized “but” — he’s not telling them not to, either. In fact, he’s insinuating that it’s up to them. The final three sentences give the implicit permission to do just that:

“One baptism, one Lord, one faith.” Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more.”

Oh, but you must say something more, Holy Father! It is your solemn duty to do so. Good parents, whether they like it or not, have to say “no” to their children when they are doing something that will harm themselves. Even if the child really, really wants to do it.

Of course, we shouldn’t be too surprised by this, even if we find the reality of it rather shocking. We’ve already received plenty of warning that this is what he believes. We saw it in his favor for Kasper throughout the synodal process (and even in the statement above), along with his refusal to distance himself from the so-called “Kasper Proposal”. We saw it in his refusal to reassure the better part of a million Catholics who sent him the filial appeal. We saw it in his latest interview with Eugenio Scalfari, when Francis said, “the de facto appraisals are entrusted to the confessors, but at the end of faster or slower paths, all the divorced who ask [to receive Communion] will be admitted.” We saw yet another signal in the recent article from Fr. Spadaro, close confidant of Pope Francis, in which he indicated that the Synod has left the door open to Communion for the divorced and remarried – an article which Vatican watchers believe is indicative of the mind of Francis on the topic.

Why am I speaking here about Communion for the divorced and remarried when the topic is Communion for Lutherans? Because it’s all of a piece. 1 Corinthians 11:28 makes it clear how we must approach Holy Communion: “Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread and drink of the cup.” What Francis, Kasper, and others have been advocating is the idea that this examination is not necessary. That rather than being fearful that we “eat and drink judgment (or condemnation) against” ourselves if we receive the Eucharist unworthily, we should see it as the very means by which we may be strengthened on our “journey.” This is an outrageous form of utilitarianism, in which we use God — our first beginning and final end — to accomplish some other, lesser thing. If our worthiness to receive Him is treated as a matter of no importance, how can this be viewed as anything other than elevating the concerns of man — and man himself — above God?

Of course, this sort of humanism might produce other indicators – say, excessive concern for the material well-being of the poor, distribution of resources, or care for the environment – over and above concern for the salvation of souls.

We are at a point where it becomes almost impossible to believe that Pope Francis is doing these things by accident. His ideology is interwoven with Catholic belief, but it also works at cross-purposes with it. Statements like the one made to the Lutheran woman above, or the stalking horses floated to the media through surrogates like Scalfari, indicate that he feels constrained by the limits of his office in accomplishing his agenda. One priest — one of the new “Missionaries of Mercy” no less — recently issued an open letter to Pope Francis, warning him that if he continues to try to move against the doctrines of the Church, God will stop him, and he will “either die or be incapacitated, much as Pope Sixtus V dropped dead before he could accomplish his own will on a matter also touching on marriage and divorce…” And yet, all appearances are that Francis is too clever to try something like that. Instead, he’s figured out how to beat the limitations placed on him by papal infallibility. His method never violates the letter of the law, while savaging it in spirit. He does not invite the enemy in, he merely opens all the doors in the enemy’s full view.

In a piece on the pope’s comments to Lutherans by Rome-based journalist Edward Pentin, a source within the Vatican puts it plainly:

The Holy Father’s words have been causing widespread concern in Rome, leading some to go as far as to describe them as an attack on the sacraments. “The Rubicon has been crossed,” said one source close to the Vatican. “The Pope said it in a charming way, but this is really about mocking doctrine. We have seven sacraments, not one.”

Later that same day, Pentin tweeted this:

At the risk of being repetitive, I’ll say it again: Pope Francis is doing damage to the Church that will take a very long time to repair, and more and more Catholics are waking up. He is also exposing, once and for all, the divergence of post-conciliar ideology from the battle-tested bastions of Catholic orthdoxy. Fr. Regis Scanlon recently said — in reference specifically to Humanae Vitae, contraception, and issues related to marriage — that the Church “must begin where She left off in 1968 and move forward with those who are Catholic.”

That’s going to have to happen – but it can’t just be limited to life issues and sexual teachings. It’s also going to have to include the areas of doctrine, liturgy, and praxis as well.

Pray for Pope Francis. Pray that God will shine the light of truth on him, so that he realizes what he is doing, and what the consequences are. And pray for his successor, that he will be both holy and wise, but also courageous, and deeply rooted in the Church’s traditions. He’s going to have a big job ahead of him, and it isn’t going to be pretty trying to unbreak what’s being broken.

We live in dangerous times.

170 thoughts on “Good Parents Say “No”: Pope Francis on Lutherans and the Eucharist”

  1. “It’s a very odd thing indeed when the chief guardian of the Catholic
    Faith doesn’t, by his own admission, know how to answer questions about
    the Eucharist – the most important treasure of Catholicism.” Actually it’s not very odd at all, because Bergoglio isn’t Catholic. He’s a demagogic Marxist and an apostate and a syncretist, and the origin of his syncretism may be found in John XXIII’s pontificate, the Pope who inaugurated, via his creation of the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity, the absurdity of trying to draw non-Catholics to the truth by suppressing and obscuring the truth.

    • Hi John. Maybe you’re new here – we don’t do sedevacantism in the comment boxes. I don’t mind some conversation about what it all means — that’s entirely appropriate — but proclamations of the pope not being Catholic — unless you were elected by the college of cardinals as his successor — are not welcome here.

      Only warning.

      • Thank you, Steve, but I am not a sedevacantist, and I do not think Bergoglio is not the Pope. I simply see no sign that he has the slightest inkling about the Catholic Faith he was elected to represent. Do you disagree that he is an apostate a Marxist and a demagogue?

        • John,

          If the pope is an apostate, then he is not the pope since a heretic or apostate ipso facto loses office without any warnings or trial. If he does not have the faith, then he is not in the Church of Christ, thus he cannot be the visible head of something he is not a member of.

          • Thank you, Michael, but that presents, among many other issues in this can of worms that is the Conciliar Church, the issue of Roncalli, who, according to Franco Bellegrandi’s insider book “NikitaRoncalli,” was a Freemason. I don’t know what to think about this mess, other than to keep the Faith and resist the stench coming from Rome and various Bishops’ Conferences, but perhaps we should have an article and a discussion about the specific meaning of “diabolical disorientation.” Does it refer to clergy who think they are Catholic, who represent themselves as Catholic, who are cloaked in the accidentals of Catholicism, but who really aren’t? At any rate, for now, the following are among the requirements of being a Catholic, according to Spirago & Clarke, “The Catechism Explained,” (p. 229) as well as the CCC: “A true Catholic is…one who believes the teaching of the Church.” Does Pope Francis believe the teaching of the Church? How could he, when he is continually belittling and insulting those who do, and not only that, is actively attempting to undermine and change the moral teaching of the Church? “…he must spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witness of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.” Is Francis spreading and defending the Faith? No, he is spreading and defending confusion and heresy. Prime example: Steve’s article above, which essentially engages in deep puzzlement about how a Catholic Pope could offer up such non-Catholic (i.e. anti-Catholic) gibberish, and frankly, though he won’t come out and say it, suggests in his final paragraphs that the entire Conciliar Church has departed from the Faith. And finally, what about Fatima, which tells us that the apostasy begins at the top?

          • No Catholic worthy of the name can resist the true Roman Church or the earthly head of it. This is not what Christ constituted. If Francis is the pope, then we must submit to his teachings since he speaks for Christ. Of course, we are speaking here of official magisterial teachings. So, we must put aside the idea that the Jewish people need to convert before death in order to be saved since the Old Covenant has never been revoked. The church as clearly changed its doctrine on this point and we must accept it if the Vicar of Christ has taught it.

          • The church is incapable of changing its doctrine. It’s doctrine can’t be true and infallible one day then false the next. Or is the Church not bound by the principle of non-contradiction?

          • It has always been Church teaching that the New Covenant replaced the old. That is part of the Magisterium. Once something is true, it is always true. Doctrine never changes.


            Relations with Judaism

            247. We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their
            covenant with God has never been revoked, for “the gifts and the call of
            God are irrevocable” (Rom 11:29). The Church, which shares with
            Jews an important part of the sacred Scriptures, looks upon the people
            of the covenant and their faith as one of the sacred roots of her own
            Christian identity (cf. Rom 11:16-18). As Christians, we cannot
            consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God (cf. 1 Thes 1:9). With them, we believe in the one God who acts in history, and with them we accept his revealed word.


            Was this teaching part of the Universal Ordinary Magisterium promulgated to the universal Church by a valid pope?

            Do agree with Francis that the Jewish people “accept his (God’s) revealed word”?

          • You are seriously joking, right? I don’t mean to make light of this but your comment is absurd.

            Clergy Review for April 1935, Canon George D. Smith, Ph.D., D.D

            What is liable to be overlooked is the ordinary and universal teaching of
            the Church. It is by no means uncommon to find the opinion, if not
            expressed at least entertained, that no doctrine is to be regarded as a
            dogma of faith unless it has been solemnly defined by an ecumenical
            Council or by the Sovereign Pontiff himself. This is by no means
            necessary. It is sufficient that the Church teaches it by her ordinary
            magisterium, exercised through the Pastors of the faithful, the Bishops,
            whose unanimous teaching throughout the Catholic world, whether
            conveyed expressly through pastoral letters, catechisms issued by
            episcopal authority, provincial synods, or implicitly through prayers
            and religious practices allowed or encouraged, or through the teaching
            of approved theologians, is no less infallible than a solemn definition issued by a Pope or a general Council. If, then, a doctrine appears in these organs of divine Tradition as belonging directly or indirectly to the depositum fidei [“deposit of faith”] committed by Christ to His Church, it is to be believed by Catholics with divine-Catholic or ecclesiastical faith, even though it may never have formed the subject of a solemn definition in an ecumenical Council or of an ex cathedra pronouncement by the Sovereign Pontiff.

            Denzinger 1683

            1683 While, in truth, We laud these men with due praise because they
            professed the truth which necessarily arises from their obligation to
            the Catholic faith, We wish to persuade Ourselves that they did not
            wish to confine the obligation, by which Catholic teachers and writers
            are absolutely bound, only to those decrees which are set forth by the
            infallible judgment of the Church as dogmas of faith to be believed by
            all [see n. 1722]. And We persuade Ourselves, also, that they did not
            wish to declare that that perfect adhesion to revealed truths, which
            they recognized as absolutely necessary to attain true progress in the
            sciences and to refute errors, could be obtained if faith and obedience
            were given only to the dogmas expressly defined by the Church. For,
            even if it were a matter concerning that subjection which is to be
            manifested by an act o f divine faith, nevertheless, it would not have
            to be limited to those matters which have been defined by express
            decrees of the ecumenical Councils, or of the Roman Pontiffs and of
            this See, but would have to be extended also to those matters which are
            handed down as divinely revealed by the ordinary teaching power of the
            whole Church spread throughout the world, and therefore, by universal
            and common consent are held by Catholic theologians to belong to faith.

          • It is the teaching of the Ordinary Magisterium throughout the centuries that the old covenant is no longer valid. The new covenant replaced the old. Francis statements in those paragraph go against the Ordinary Magisterium. They contradict the Ordinary Magisterium.

          • Asbury,

            The infallibility of the Church in Her teaching capacity is guaranteed to be free from error by the Holy Spirit when teaching to the Universal Church in faith and morals. The means (radio announcements, bulls, apostolic exhortations, encyclicals, etc) for how the Church does this is irrelevant as long as it is promulgated in union with the pope and to the entire living Church. To say what you are saying means that there is an on/off switch when it comes to the Holy Spirit’s protection of the Body of Christ. In what Church document does it say what you are saying? I am sincerely asking because the commentary I have read on the Canon of Lerins does not say that both time (antiquity) and space (universality) are necessary for universality, but only space (universality); however, antiquity (Tradition) has more weight, meaning that something new cannot contradict the old. It is my understanding that the antiquity card is only used to determine if a new teaching contradicts an old one, allowing one to know that the giver of the new is not legitimate and the Church is elsewhere or eclipsed (here I think of heretical sects). It is not used to determine if the Holy Spirit flipped the Infallibility Switch to “off” momentarily pausing His protection. What kind of husband would do that to his wife if he loved her? So if the Church always teaches that the Old Covenant has been revoked and superseded, and the perceived church comes out contradicting it, then, so it seems, based on antiquity that the giver of the new teaching is not legitimate since the Church is incapable of offering Her children poison and being a means of damnation. The Church, nor God, is not schizophrenic. I am not a Sedevacantist but sympathize with them due to this lack of clarity. Both sides simply want to protect Holy Mother Church but go about it in different ways. As of now, I see Sedevacantism plausible and never officially condemned by the Church, only lay people and individual clergy. It seems it is a legitimate theological theory waiting for vindication or conviction.

            I am confused as the next but I do know that the Church, when teaching on faith and morals to the universal Church, in union with the pope, CANNOT teach error, EVER. This was declared so by the Church, and I am bound under pain of loss of faith to refuse this teaching. I also know via my God given common sense that an institution protected from error cannot be the giver of two teachings that contradict each other, one being correct and one saying the opposite.

            The Resistance position cannot, as far as I can now see, provide a satisfying answer to this problem, other than making up additional levels of magisterium teachings that never existed prior to Vatican II. This is the position I currently hold, though very loosely.

            The Sedevacantist position cannot, as far as I can now see, provide a satisfying answer to the perpetual visibility of the Church, which is why I have not taking this position.

            Thanks for “listening”.

          • Infallibility is not automatic. Only the Pope is Infallible when he uses Papal Infallibility. Bishops as individuals do not have infallibility. They can teach error. They are men with free will. When a bishop teaches a doctrine held always and everywhere, (time and space) he is teaching a doctrine of the Ordinary Magisterium. If a bishop teaches error, his teaching is not “official”. Does not become part of the Ordinary Magisterium. Clerics can speak and teach all kinds of doctrines, errors, and heresies, but since these are not considered official Church teachings, it does not affect the Magisterium. Only what is true doctrine held always and everywhere is official teaching.
            Individuals be they Pope, bishop, or lay man, can offer poison, but not the official Church doctrine. This is why Catholics are to be informed about the faith, so they call tell the difference between the poison and what is true. The Ordinary Magisterium is accessible to every single Catholic. a Catholic has the duty to know his faith and the doctrines of the faith.

          • Asbury,

            The pope’s signature on a teaching to the universal church via the official Magisterium on faith or morals is infallible. If it were the way you suggest, then we would never have to worry about what any pope or council says since we would be able to just say…”see, it contradicts Tradition, so it is not infallible, even though the Vicar of Christ, with all the bishops in the world in union with him, taught that Jesus was never crucified and the whole thing about Him was made up. See, no big deal. Don’t you see. It is easy to figure out. If they agree with the past, then the infallibility switch is ‘on’, if not, then it is ‘down.”. We would have no concern for the Holy Spirit striking down a pope prior to teaching these errors.

            Infallibility is the inability to error under certain conditions. You are adding a condition that is nowhere to be found in Tradition.

          • Infallibility is automatic when the pope alone (ex cathedra) or council with the pope teaches on faith and morals to the universal Church. No other conditions need to be made. Antiquity is not a condition for infallibility but a reality we must reference to discern truth from error.

            Vatican I’s teaching on the infallibility of the pope alone when teaching ex cathedra was a logical conclusion of the already believed and known teaching on the infallibility of the Ordinary Magisterium when teaching faith and morals to the universal Church, since no teaching of the bishops in council is infallible without the pope’s signature, which gives his stamp of approval and the weight of his authority.

          • The teachings of the Church span the centuries. Doctrine is teaching of the Church throughout her history. Dogma and doctrine is the teaching of the Church since she was founded until today.
            The Pope has to meet the conditions set out in Vatican I to invoke Papal Infallibility. The five conditions are when the Pope as 1. Pope speaking ex cathedra 2. defines 3. a doctrine 4. on faith or morals 5. for the whole Church. The last time this was done was with Pius XII and the Assumption of Mary. No other Poe since has been infallible. Popes Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have never invoked or used Infallibility.
            The General Ecumenical Dogmatic Councils of the Church are not automatically infallible. The council documents and canons must invoke infallibility in writing in the canons themselves. When dogmas and doctrines were defined in Councils, the bishops invoked the protection of the Holy Spirit and defined the dogmas in the name of the Holy Spirit in writing. Without invoking the Holy Spirit for infallibility there will be no infallibility.

          • You’re half right. If he’s an apostate, he can’t be the pope. A heretic can, however, be the pope. He just can’t proclaim heresy ex cathedra or with extraordinary magesterial authority.

          • Aaron, you are going to have to provide me with an example of a true pope who was also a heretic. You also need to keep in mind that the ordinary magisterium is infallible when teaching on faith and morals to the universal Church at any given time.

          • Honorius was a heretic condemned by an ecumenical Council of the Church. The third Council of Constantinople.
            Popes don’t use the Ordinary Magisterium all the time. The vast majority of their words and speeches are not part the Ordinary Magisterium.

          • The Remnant is wrong and contradicts Vatican I.

            “Indeed, all the venerable fathers have embraced their apostolic
            doctrine, and the holy orthodox Doctors have venerated and followed it,
            knowing full well that the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by
            any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made
            to the chief of His disciples: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith
            fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren” [Luke

            John of St. Thomas was before Vatican I and his belief was dismissed at Vatican I. Siscoe is easily proven wrong by the very fact that no one can judge the pope. If they can, then he isn’t the pope to began with which means he does not hold the office of the papacy. A trial determines guilt. What happens after the pope loses office is not a trial but a mere declaration of the fact. It is a formality for the good of the Church so that those who do not already know will then know.

          • To satisfy this pastoral duty, our predecessors always gave tireless
            attention that the saving doctrine of Christ be spread among all the
            peoples of the earth, and with equal care they watched that, wherever it
            was received, it was preserved sound and pure. Therefore, the bishops
            of the whole world, now individually, now gathered in Synods, following a
            long custom of the churches and the formula of the ancient rule, referred to this Holy See those dangers particularly which emerged in
            the affairs of faith, that there especially the damages to faith might be repaired where faith cannot experience a failure. The Roman Pontiffs, moreover, according as the condition of the times and affairs advised, sometimes by calling ecumenical Councils or by examining the opinion of the Church spread throughout the world; sometimes by particular synods, sometimes by employing other helps which divine Providence supplied, have defined that those matters must be held which with God’s help they have recognized as in agreement with Sacred Scripture and apostolic tradition. For, the Holy Spirit was not promised to the successors of Peter that by His revelation they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the apostles and the deposit of faith, and might faithfully set it forth. Indeed, all the venerable fathers have embraced their apostolic doctrine, and the holy orthodox Doctors have venerated and followed it, knowing full well that the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made to the chief of His disciples: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren” [Luke 22:32].

            So, this gift of truth and a never failing faith was divinely conferred upon Peter and his successors in this chair, that they might administer their high duty for the salvation of all; that the entire flock of Christ, turned away by them from the poisonous food of error, might be nourished on the sustenance of heavenly doctrine, that with the occasion of schism removed the whole Church might be saved as one, and relying on her foundation might stay firm against the gates of hell.

            (Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch. 4; Denz. 1836-1837; underlining added.)

          • The Pope can be an apostate, heretic, and even an Atheist. He doesn’t lose his office because he stops believing in God or the Catholic faith. Once elected, he has the office until death, resignation, or when he is deposed.

          • Asbury, the sin of heresy is in fact a resignation from office. The loss of office is not a punishment but a consequence of the loss of faith. So he loses his office due to his resignation. You said it yourself.

          • No it’s not. Resignation is a physical act of physically resigning from the office. A Pope can be as heretical as he wants, but if he doesn’t give up the office and resign from it, then he is Pope until he is replaced through death or is deposed by a Church council and another Pope elected.

          • The question was also raised by a Cardinal, “What is to be done with the Pope if he becomes a heretic?” It was answered that there has never been such a case; the Council of Bishops could depose him for heresy, for from the moment he becomes a heretic he is not the head or even a member of the Church. The Church would not be, for a moment, obliged to listen to him when he begins to teach a doctrine the Church knows to be a false doctrine, and he would cease to be Pope, being deposed by God Himself.

            If the Pope, for instance, were to say that the belief in God is false, you would not be obliged to believe him, or if he were to deny the rest of the creed, “I believe in Christ,” etc. The supposition is injurious to the Holy Father in the very idea, but serves to show you the fullness with which the subject has been considered and the ample thought given to every possibility. If he denies any dogma of the Church held by every true believer, he is no more Pope than either you or I; and so in this respect the dogma of infallibility amounts to nothing as an article of temporal government or cover for heresy.

            (Abp. John B. Purcell, quoted in Rev. James J. McGovern, Life and Life Work of Pope Leo XIII [Chicago, IL: Allied Printing, 1903], p. 241; imprimatur by Abp. James Quigley of Chicago; underlining added.)

          • That’s his private opinion and theology. Theologians are on both sides of the issue. That’s because the Church has never had an official opinion on the matter. There’s no official definition. I believe more theologians agree that he can be a heretic.

          • You can argue with Vatican I.

            Indeed, all the venerable fathers have embraced their apostolic
            doctrine, and the holy orthodox Doctors have venerated and followed it,
            knowing full well that the See of St. Peter always remains unimpaired by
            any error, according to the divine promise of our Lord the Savior made
            to the chief of His disciples: “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith
            fail not: and thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren” [Luke

          • I have to read that paragraph in it’s full context and the entire document, please cite your source before I can comment.

          • I don’t understand. If you “read that paragraph in it’s full context and the entire document” then you should know the source, correct? Just in case, it is Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch. 4; Denz. 1836-1837

          • I had no clue where that paragraph came from. That is why I asked you, to cite the source, the document. Now I know that it came from Pater Aeternus. I’ve read Pater Aeternus before. I’ll comment later when I have time. That document deals with Papal Infallibility. Doesn’t mean what you think it means.

          • It means that a true pope cannot error in teaching faith or morals to the Universal Church, meaning he cannot be a heretic and pope at the same time, exactly what we are discussing.

          • Having read chapter four again, it’s clear the context is Papal infallibility. Chapter four is titled “On the infallible teaching authority of the Roman pontiff”. That paragraph you cited is speaking about the protection of the Holy Spirit in Papal Infallibility. A Pope cannot err in faith and morals to the universal Church when speaking Ex Cathedra. When invoking Papal Infallibility.
            The last Pope to do this was Pope Pius XII.

          • Asbury,

            Can all the bishops in the world, teaching on faith and morals to the Universal Church, WITHOUT being in union with the Roman Pontiff teach infallibly?


          • No. They have to be in union with the Pope. Being in union with the Pope means being a bishop in the Catholic Church with jurisdiction.

        • If I may interject a thought in all this discussion about what this pope is: heretic, apostate, Catholic etc. etc. The energy spent in this discussion is wasted. Bishop Schneider has it right – when this man is dead his pontificate will be evaluated and some sort of result will follow.

          Right now the danger is the loss of souls. Let’s talk about what we do NOW.

      • Doesn’t a valid pope have the responsibility to adhere to Catholic doctrine? The pontiff has invited a Lutheran woman to take the communion in the Catholic church if her conscience allows it. How is this invitation inline with Catholic doctrine?

  2. You write “both Pope Francis and Cardinal Kasper are fond of saying that the Eucharist is ‘not a prize’ for ‘the strong’ or ‘the perfect’ but rather a ‘source of strength’ or ‘a powerful medicine and nourishment’ for the weak,” and yet this should be an adequate starting point–properly understood.

    It’s easily misunderstood that when we speak of “worthiness” to receive the Eucharist, we mean deserving, or sinless, or perhaps righteous. This is not what we mean. A “worthy” disposition is the acknowledgement of our weakness, the recognition of our true state as sinful, helpless beings who cling to Christ for every good thing. It is the precisely the rejection of Pelagian self-worth and embrace of the humility proper to our fallen state that makes us properly disposed, and part of that humble disposition is the deference to the Church as the one who needs to feed us through her ordained ministers.

    Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be what Francis and Kasper intimate by their words, but precisely the opposite. They turn the deposit of faith on its head, encouraging those who think they don’t need the Church but can sort out the theology on their own according to feelings and “good will” to “go forward.”

    A stunning state of affairs!

    • A “worthy” disposition is the acknowledgement of our weakness, the recognition of our true state as sinful, helpless beings who cling to Christ for every good thing.

      Above all, a repentant disposition. Which is why we have the Sacrament of Penance provided for us – a Sacrament which has fallen out of favor in much of the Church over the past fifty years.

  3. So what is the point ? As a Lutheran can i go to Catholic Church and take Eucharist or not ? Because in Poland there is not much Lutheran Churches ( none in my city ) and i am attending to Catholic Church instead of some Pentecostal church ( coz i feel more close to Catholic church in spirit and Teological than Pentecostal one ). I’ve been attending this church for 1.5 years and Priest knows that im Lutheran and he is giving me just blessing in front of Altar while Eucharist. After what Pope said can i go and take or it depends on my hearth and answer that i got from the Lord ?

    • No — for the salvation of your soul, you should not receive the Eucharist. If you are truly Lutheran, you believe that the Eucharist is just bread. We, as Catholics, believe it is the literal body of Christ, that happens to look and taste like bread. If you receive it, you will be eating judgement upon yourself. You will be receiving Christ, while not believing it is Christ. You would be desecrating the sacrament, and bringing harm to your soul.

      What you should do is convert to Catholicism. It is the one true faith. If you don’t convert, you will go to hell. Out of charity, I beg for you to come to the one true faith, so you can receive the life-giving sacraments, and hopefully die a good death in Christ. This is not possible if you deny Christ by denying his Church. Invincible ignorance clearly would not apply in your case; you attend a Catholic mass, and are exposed to Catholicism and Catholic teaching.

      • I am praying and seeking answers to convert. I am a Christian who converted from islam and in my hometown there is just Protestants are evangelising. My wife is Polish Roman Catholic and her spirit through sacraments are giving me answers. Also its hard to have RCIA in here because non of a Prist can speak English. Also i wish to point that i believe ( What Lutheran Church teaches i dont care ) Jesus literally said that its “my body” and when i go for eucharystia in my church i believe that i eat body and drink the blood of the Lamb of God. I also pray for all Christian souls to become one under the shelter of Christ and His rock Peter he who gave the keys of heaven. Because if we dont do and work to make it real we have no answer to God for it. All we will be judged by God and he will ask us all.

        • Alexander: It sounds to me as though you are firmly on the road to truth. Follow the example that your wife is offering you. She is a gift to you from God.

        • Alexander, if you already believe all that the Catholic Church teaches, you may not need to attend an RCIA program. Find a priest you can talk to (or go with your wife to translate for you). Perhaps you will be able to formally profess the Faith (as RCIA candidates do) and be accepted into the Church. Blessings to you on your quest.

    • It is precisely Alexander’s confusion that makes one so upset with Pope Francis. Instead of presenting the faith clearly, he is muddling the waters – to the peril of souls. Alexander, it is good that you are seeking the answer to your question. Unfortunately, it seems we don’t have a pope who can provide you what you need to know. I echo the comment of Aaron – convert to Catholicism. I’ll pause in my workday now to offer a prayer on your behalf. Godspeed.

  4. The heresy of modernism has infiltrated to the highest levels of the Church. This error is like a cancer that weakens and destroys the body. Pray very much for our priests, bishops, cardinals and especially for the Pope.

  5. (Inside Anke de Bernardinis’ head) “I told him already that my husband and I are “divided in faith” — I said it plainly enough, I think! And he comes back with this mush about “same baptism” and lot of stuff about ‘walking together’, and then he implies that my husband can do the same as I do, just ‘confess to God’ and dump Confession. What the _______?” –Then Ms. De Bernardinis smiled and thought to herself, “Ya know, Catholics really are as stupid as our pastors once taught us they were if they buy this kind of malarky on a regular basis! I mean, after all, THIS, THIS is their ‘main man’ !!!!”

    • …kind of like what goes on in the heads of children when they intellectually catch out a parent who has no understanding and/or basis for a position other than the position of dodging responsibility. Somewhat like a Homer Simpson response that Marge can clean up when she gets home.

      So sad.

  6. In the past when I’ve seen images of PF elevating the host, I couldn’t help but think he had a sort of look of contempt, scorn, not sure what is the proper word. Now in reading stuff like this, I beginning to believe whatever the sentiment, he probably is expressing it

  7. (1983)

    Canon 844:
    Catholic ministers administer the sacraments of penance, Eucharist, and
    anointing of the sick licitly to members of Eastern Churches which do
    not have full communion with the Catholic Church if they seek such on
    their own accord and are properly disposed. This is also valid for
    members of other Churches which in the judgment of the Apostolic See are
    in the same condition in regard to the sacraments as these Eastern

    If the danger of death is present or if, in the judgment of the
    diocesan bishop or conference of bishops, some other grave necessity
    urges it, Catholic ministers administer these same sacraments licitly
    also to other Christians not having full communion with the Catholic
    Church, who cannot approach a minister of their own community and who
    seek such on their own accord, provided that they manifest Catholic
    faith in respect to these sacraments and are properly disposed.


    Canon 731.2It is forbidden that the Sacraments of the Church be ministered to heretics and schismatics, even if they ask for them and are in good faith, unless beforehand, rejecting their errors, they are reconciled with the Church.

    • True, Michael. In Steve’s post above, Fr. Regis Scanlon is quoted as saying that the Church “Must begin where She left off in 1968 and move forward with those who are Catholic.” I think perhaps the Church should begin where She left off in 1938, and take it from there.

  8. Protestants receiving the Holy Eucharist is the inevitable evolution of doctrine so noted by the holy traditional Saint Pius X.

    Why? Because the constant vague ecumenism done by prelates, most notably by the last several Popes, communicates that Lutherans are already saved and we just need simple unity.

    No calls for conversion to the Catholic faith for SALVATION.

    So when neo-saint John Paul the Small acts like protestants are saved in his ambiguous actions and writings – BUT says they cannot receive the Eucharist, Modernists will take that as a simple evolution.

    This is why they ignore neo-saint John Paul’s teaching on divorced and “remarried” receiving Holy Communion.

    They will say: “In the past, protestants were seen as not saved. But thanks to Vatican II, and the example of Popes not preaching their conversion for salvation’s sake but only for unity, we now see the Church teaching has evolved and changed. So too can the Church change on who can receive the Eucharist.”

    Does this make sense?

  9. The Normalist Hamsterwheel was working overtime on this one, and even Fr. Z gave it a few spins in the passage you excerpt. Though we can probably assume he was being circumspect.

    Two points. First, on this “not my competence” thing. The normalist/Fr Z interpretation is that the Holy Father was affirming that he doesn’t have the authority to overturn established doctrine, which is of course correct. But if you read it in the context of his answer, he’s saying something quite different. Consider how many times he claimed to be ignorant of the theology and doctrine in question:

    The question on sharing the Lord’s Supper isn’t easy for me to respond to, above all in front of a theologian like Cardinal Kasper! I’m scared!

    …I ask myself — and don’t know how to respond — what you’re asking me, I ask myself the question. To share the Lord’s banquet: is it the goal of the path or is it the viaticum [provisions]for walking together? I leave that question to the theologians and those who understand.

    It’s true that in a certain sense, to share means there aren’t differences between us, that we have the same doctrine – underscoring that word, a difficult word to understand — but I ask myself: but don’t we have the same Baptism?

    …The question: and the [Lord’s] Supper? There are questions that, only if one is sincere with oneself and with the little theological light one has, must be responded to on one’s own. See for yourself.

    To your question, I can only respond with a question: what can I do with my husband, because the Lord’s Supper accompanies me on my path?

    It’s a problem each must answer, but a pastor-friend once told me: “We believe that the Lord is present there, he is present. You all believe that the Lord is present. And so what’s the difference?” — “Eh, there are explanations, interpretations.” Life is bigger than explanations and interpretations. Always refer back to your baptism. “One faith, one baptism, one Lord.” This is what Paul tells us, and then take the consequences from there. I wouldn’t ever dare to allow this, because it’s not my competence. One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more.

    At no point in this lengthy discourse does the Holy Father speak in his capacity as the Vicar of Christ; nope, he’s just some guy spitballing about some highfalutin’ intellectual concepts that he doesn’t really grasp, like me offering opinions on monetary policy. So when he says, it’s not my competence, he’s simply reiterating what he’s already said several times: he doesn’t have the expertise to answer the lady’s question.

    Second, normalists are making the word “forward” do an unreasonable amount of work: Why, when the pope says “go forward”, he’s clearly calling the woman to enter the fullness of communion with the Catholic Church. Again, no. He isn’t doing anything of the sort. Look at his anecdote about Tony Palmer:

    [Palmer] accompanied his wife and children to Mass on Sunday, and then went to worship with his community. It was a step of participation in the Lord’s Supper. Then he went forward, the Lord called him, a just man.

    Admittedly, it’s unclear here whether the Holy Father means that Palmer went “forward” in his community, or in his family’s Catholic parish, but “forward” in this context cannot mean conversion, since Palmer was an Anglican at the time and (as far as we know) died an Anglican. Clearly, “forward” here means to physically move forward, to receive the Eucharist or “Lord’s Supper”, whichever. Apparently the terminology is also unimportant.

    So when he says to the Lutheran lady, Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more, he’s obviously using “forward” in the same way as he did with the Palmer anecdote, to denote the reception of the sacrament. But why would he tell a Lutheran woman to receive the Lord’s Supper in her own church? Presumably she’s already doing so. So on the balance of probability, he’s saying what many of us suspected from the first: she should discern the Body and Blood of the Lord, and then receive if she feels affirmed to do so.

    • The Palmer anecdote is clarifying. I took “forward” in the generic ambiguous sense, as in “Talk to the Lord, and then go forward with whatever you discern He’s telling you.” Still just awful because it implies that receiving the Eucharist should be left in the subjective realm of individual conscience rather than adherence to the Church’s objective teaching. The Normalist interpretation is just laughable, especially since he reportedly told Palmer, among others, that they shouldn’t convert.

      • Well, he is pretty clearly saying it in the sense that you mention. I expect he means that the “just man” Palmer went forward to receive the Eucharist in his family’s Catholic parish, and that the Lutheran lady should go and do likewise, if she feels “called by the Lord” to do so.

        • And if same-sex-attracted Catholics “feel called by the Lord” (a very Evangelical turn of phrase) to get together as boyfriends – what then ? Relativism – whatever is that ? The HF has enshrined as a principle of conduct the very relativism his predecessor could not condemn strongly enough, or often enough. Yet both lived under exceedingly cruel tyrannies.

      • On the other hand, who knows what he means?

        Let us thank the Lord for what he has done in his Church in these 50 years of liturgical reform. It was truly a courageous gesture for the Church to draw near to the people of God so that they are able to understand well what they are doing. This is important for us, to follow the Mass in this way. It is not possible to go backwards. We must always go forward. Always forward! And those who go backward are mistaken. Let us go forward on this path. Thank you.

        Father Serra had a motto which inspired his life and work, a saying he lived his life by:Siempre adelante! Keep moving forward! For him, this was the way to continue experiencing the joy of the Gospel, to keep his heart from growing numb, from being anesthetized. He kept moving forward, because the Lord was waiting. He kept going, because his brothers and sisters were waiting. He kept going forward to the end of his life. Today, like him, may we be able to say: Forward! Let’s keep moving forward!

    • Can any of us imagine this response to a reporter’s question by, say, a sitting president of the US?—-
      “Look, I don’t know a lot about all that technical military stuff…. and I’m nervous about answering in front of a strategist of the caliber of Gen. Andy Thunderstik over there [laughter in the audience], but let me say that, well, shucks, I can see where one might conceivably envision a small…very small, you understand, tiny…nuclear strike in Syria. Weapons must be used for something, after all….isn’t that right?….and we have so many of them. And there they sit, rusting away, when they could be put to perfectly legitimate uses! So I say to my military commanders, if your judgement is telling you this is right, then you must trust it…go forward with what you feel in your heart to be right! To anyone who questions about this, I can only respond, hey, who is wearing the military uniform around here? I would never dare to decide…. because it’s just not my area of competence….I was only a community organizer, after all.”

    • The question of inter-communion is, like everything Catholic, settled. Done. Finished.

      Modern theologues delight in making it sound as though everything is up for grabs. The love of novelty propels them forward because the post-modernist position is that everything is uncertain, nothing is certain.

      One Jesuit theology professor I had explained it this way, way before Bergoglio was elected:

      “The way forward on inter-communion is just to do it. Skip the rules, the hierarchy and simply start distributing the gifts to anyone who approaches.” The Jesuits view this as a bottom-up solution: if “The People” do it, then it will become accepted because Church R’ Us is democratic.

      Another lay professor I had said he received “communion” at a fundamentalist church in the backwoods during a visit with family.

      Everything out of Pope Francis I heard advocated from Jesuits and their lay collaborators years ago.

      The Church should never have elected a Jesuit as pope.

      It will not take years, decades or centuries to “fix” the problems caused by Francis. Europe and the West won’t be around that long. Orthodoxy will move to Africa or some other developing region and the errors of Francis linked to the Western Church’s demise. The errors will be jettisoned promptly. There will be no need to work on “undoing” anything.

    • Fr. Z is no better than Patheos, Catholic Answers, EWTN and the rest of the Apologetics-Industrial Complex. Here’s part of a post from Rod Dreher’s blog about how Catholics offer excessive deference to the ecclesiastical institution:

      “A Catholic friend of the late Orthodox priest Matthew Baker’s writes with reference to the Archdiocese of New York problems post:

      “I noticed that a number of commentators took the opportunity to express their satisfaction that they left the Catholic Church for Orthodoxy and so thereby avoid these kinds of problems. I appreciate your effort to rein in the enthusiasm – as noted the East has had its share of scandals, though never so great. I am reminded, however, of one of the last conversations I had with Fr. Matthew Baker before he died. In the course of the conversation we came to discuss the ills of the Catholic Church, which we both agreed was best labeled ‘Institutionalism’.

      “Now, ‘Institutionalism’ affects both traditional and progressive Catholics in equal measure. It is one might say – to borrow and misuse a term – the “structural sin” of Catholicism, living in its very bones, in seminaries, parish structures, canon law, etc. Institutionalism can be summarized as something like: ‘the excessive trust in institutional structures – including a complacent belief that the institution takes care of itself, an expectation that those vested with institutional authority can and will exercise sound if not perfect judgment, and finally, and most importantly, the conviction that all problems are institutional ones to be solved by ever-more refined rule-amending, making, or keeping’.

      “The most obvious manner in which institutionalism manifests itself is in attitudes toward the papacy and ‘creeping infallibility’ (in which the pope is assumed to be infallible even in his ordinary teaching). However, one can also see it among progressive Catholics and their attitude toward Vatican II as well as their oft- vocalized belief that we need a Vatican III to ‘address contemporary problems’ or that this or that rule needs to change. It is this obsession about the institution that makes mincemeat of both the tradition of faith (we need to adapt to the contemporary worldview or else no one will go to church anymore!), cover up evil (we cannot let anyone know about this or else no one will come to church anymore!), or place sole responsibility on Church institutions for failure (if it weren’t for those progressives at Vatican II, everyone would still be coming to church!).”

      • I am in strong agreement with your central point, but I demur a little in the specific case of Fr Z. I think he’s about as blunt as he’s able to be given the ecclesiastical structures he works within. I think he’s under no illusions, but sometimes you have to read between the lines.

        • Good point. I need to realize that if he’s directly accountable to Rome (which I believe he is), he must be far more discreet. Personally, I have a tendency to let my anger at moral stupidity overwhelm my sense of discretion. I was a lot worse at that years ago, as some people on this thread (or the moderator) might remember. 😉

      • Fr Z. is a great deal better than CA / EWTN.

        The Popes and the bishops have spent a *lot* of energy over the last 200 years or so saying,”Trust us, obey us, do what we tell you, don’t deviate by one jot from what we say – but if you are so arrogant/restive/insubordinate/uppity as not to do what we say, you are going to be in a huge lot of trouble”. It is not unfair to say that the style and tone of much Catholicism in that period has been authoritarian. Not quite “Papal fascism”, but dangerously similar. Of course that is not the whole picture – but it is an important part of it.

        So it is a bit rich to complain that Catholics have too high an esteem of the institution of the CC, when it was made exceedingly clear, by Pope after Pope, that exactly that esteem was expected of Catholics. After all, good Catholics love the Pope – and that means, doing what he tells them. Good Catholics do not hold on to the Old Mass – not when the Pope wishes them to use the 1969 reformed Missal. Good bishops do not resist the Pope – they obey him, and the Roman dicasteries through which he makes his will known.

        The problem is indeed ideological – all problems are, because all problems presuppose a philosophy. The act of washing one’s hands implies a philosophical stance. Will the Church ever “address [its] problems forthrightly” ? Who knows ? What it needs, almost above all, is Saints.

    • This hamster takes one look at another hamster on the wheel… and I move on. It is not helping us break out of this joint. Thanks for the hilarious metaphor!

  10. “It’s true that in a certain sense, to share means there aren’t differences between us, that we have the same doctrine ,underscoring that word, a difficult word to understand…”

    When a reigning pope publicly states, in front of an audience of hundreds of people, that the word “doctrine” is a difficult word to understand, one begins to get an inkling of the depth of the crisis which the Catholic Church now finds herself in.

      • We don’t need to worry about that. For the moment, the Holy Father is merely confused and confusing. He won’t teach formal error. No pope ever has taught formal error, and none ever will: we have the doctrine of infallibility (which, remember, applies only to formal authoritative teachings, not to the pope’s casual chats with reporters or to passive-aggressive homilies) to assure us of that. If a pope were ever to intend to proclaim false doctrine, the Holy Spirit would guide him aright, either by wise advice from learned counselors or by internal prayer. If a pope were to persist in his determination to preach heresy – and I have no reason to think Pope Francis would do so – I suppose the Holy Spirit would have to take him out. I don’t doubt that, at some point in the Church’s twenty centuries, some pope who has been obstinate in adhering to false doctrine has simply passed away in his sleep before he could carry out the intention to foist heresy onto the Faith.

        • I don’t disagree with you at all, Kathleen, and I found your comment that “I suppose the Holy Spirit would have to take him out” amusing. Notice that I didn’t say Francis was a heretic or was teaching falsehood; that kind of thing is way above my competency to judge. I merely see him as incompetent, a sub-par pope. In that sense, though, he is exactly opposite what the Church desperately needs right now.

  11. The Pope needs to hear loud and clear the voice of the faithful. The Eucharist – a great mystery of the redemptive Incarnation – must be held in the highest respect. Humility would not cause one to shrink away from telling this kind lady the true Catholic teaching. I have never prayed so much for a Pope; I feel sorry for my kids whom I should be praying for!

  12. “Life is bigger than explanations and interpretations. ”

    I’m still wondering what it takes for people realize that this guy is a non-Catholic heretical anti-pope from the bowels of hell.

    • I’ll tell you what I’m waiting for: an authoritative pronouncement from a pope or an ecumenical council; a deposition; a large-scale public revelation from God, etc.

      Lots of people see the same things you do. We just know we don’t have the authority to go there on our own.

      Docility is a real bear sometimes.

      • I still don’t know why you think it takes “authority” to recognize an indisputable fact. We’ve been told by countless popes who is, and who isn’t a Catholic.

        Pope Leo XIII put it best.

        “You are not to be looked upon as holding the true Catholic faith if you do not teach that the faith of Rome is to be held” (Satis Cognitum 9)

        I don’t think anyone here is denying that Francis himself denies the necessity of holding the Catholic faith. If you can come to that conclusion using reason and logic (and anyone with half a brain can), then the authority of many popes has already clarified what this means. If you need an authority to tell you what the authorities have authorized, then I don’t even know what the word means.

        • Because nobody stands in judgment over a pope. He’s not like other Catholics. You can decide, “Well damn, I’m pretty sure he’s a heretic…” but you can’t pronounce that he has thus departed from the faith and from the Apostolic See.

          I thought Michael Davies covered this admirably (and succinctly) here:

          Even antipopes must be declared such, as in the case when there are rival claimants to the throne. The idea that he deposes himself latae sententiae and any average Joe Catholic can just decide for himself, “Well, I don’t have to listen to THAT crap anymore!” is a problem. It’s not how it works.

          The point in making people aware, as I am trying to do, is to make them wary of following him in anything but those acts of authority which may be binding. It is also to prepare them for the eventuality that he will be declared an antipope, which may very well happen in a manner as outlined in the Davies’ article. Finally, it is to innoculate them against the errors he is spreading — errors I would argue do not bind in such a way that they violate the infallibility of the papal office. They are more acts of neglect than positive commands to believe in or follow some heresy.

          I understand the confusion and damage this is causing. Look at this comment thread. It’s obvious. God send us some answers and someone with the authority and the will to straighten this all out, please, and soon!

          • Steve,

            What do you make of these quotes from St. Bellarmine.

            The tenth is Pope Marcelinus, who sacrificed to idols,
            as is certain from the Pontifical of Damascus, the Council of Sinvessanus, and
            from the epistle of Nicholas I to the Emperor Michael. But Marcelinus
            neither taught something against faith, nor was a heretic, or unfaithful,
            except by an external act on account of the fear of death. Now, whether
            he fell from the pontificate due to that external act or not, little is
            related, later he abdicated the pontificate, and shortly thereafter was crowned
            with martyrdom. Still, I believe that he would not have fallen from the
            pontificate ipso facto, because it was certain to all that he sacrificed to
            idols only out of fear.

            For although Liberius
            was not a heretic, nevertheless he was considered one, on account of the peace
            he made with the Arians, and by that presumption the pontificate could rightly
            [merito] be taken from him: for men are not bound, or able to read hearts; but
            when they see that someone is a heretic by his external works, they judge him
            to be a heretic pure and simple [simpliciter], and condemn him as a heretic.

          • I think it all comes down to implications for us Catholics. Lets say that you and I decide to conclude that Pope Francis is a heretic. But where does that leave us?

            As far as I can see, this would practically take the shape of us being careful when hearing his advise and instruction because they are likely filled with errors. But that is no different from what we are doing now without making the final judgement that he is a heretic.

            So ultimately, as far as you and I are concerned, it does not matter much whether we conclude that Pope Francis is a heretic. All we need to conclude is that advise and instruction of Pope Francis is usually riddled with error or confusion. It is not of any worth for us to determine the cause of his errors or confusion.

            But someone may argue that if the whole Church knew Pope Francis to be a heretic, then they can perhaps force him to resign or something. Then again, the point is that the whole church will not think that way. The entire reason we have Pope Francis as our Pope is because he is the shepherd the faithful deserve for deriding the Church and her faithful shepherds of the past for clear teachings.

            All of this to say that at the end of the day, it matters very little to us to know whether Pope Francis is actually a heretic. We already know enough to determine that his instructions and advise aren’t that good. We also know where to look for to find clear instruction. So what matters is that we stick to the faith. That is all you probably can do even if you somehow knew with certainty that Pope Francis was a heretic.

          • The doctrine of St Robert Bellarmine has, arguably, been superseded by doctrinal developments since his time, 400 years ago. And the fall of Marcellinus is a fiction, as is the Council of Sinuessa. And Liberius did not cease to be Pope – a usurper was intruded, during the exile of Liberiud

          • Steve, which is better and more compatible with our Catholic faith, questions with no clear answers (mysteries) or contradictions?

            If a pope is declared an anti-pope, who can do it since no one can judge the pope, as you yourself have acknowledged? Does not a declaration of something presuppose a judgement?

          • “You can decide, “Well damn, I’m pretty sure he’s a heretic…” but you can’t pronounce that he has thus departed from the faith and from the Apostolic See.”

            One inescapably follows from the other. It is a matter of logic, not a matter of judgment. Have you read Cum Ex Apostolatus Officio by Pope Paul IV?

            “which may very well happen in a manner as outlined in the Davies’ article.”

            It can – but it doesn’t have to.

            “errors I would argue do not bind in such a way that they violate the infallibility of the papal office.”

            Two separate issues. No one is saying that he somehow transgressed infallibility. It would be a near impossibility, since he doesn’t really “teach” anything anyway. The point is that he is a manifest heretic, a non-Catholic, and as such, cannot be head of the Church. That which is manifest needs no declarations, councils, decrees or trials to establish. That’s why it is manifest.

          • Vatican 1 Council (1869-70) elevated the pope above the Church by declaring the pope to have a singular charism of infallibility.

            Vatican 2 Council (1962-65) called into question whether the all the popes since 1965 have been Catholic.

            The bishops at Vatican 1 thought by declaring the pope to a singular charism of infallibility, they were giving the Church an extra dimension of protection from the doctrinal errors of the modern world. But they didn’t anticipate that the College of Cardinals could ever elect of a truly liberal pope: John XXIII.

            Isn’t it ironic? Vatican 1 made possible the catastrophe of Vatican 2. Without Vatican 1, there would never have been so much deference to the wishes of liberal John XXIII and liberal Paul VI during the Vatican 2 Council.

          • Steve I think you are confusing private judgement with some type of public pronouncement. As a Catholic I am totally free to believe the Pope is a heretic. It’s my private judgement and opinion. I can hold it. As a layman, I have no authority to declare the Pope a heretic officially. I have no power to make it binding on the Church. A Pope can only officially declared a heretic by a Council.

          • Joe Catholic can certainly pronounce what he thinks, knowing he has no authority to depose the Pope. In fact, he SHOULD do so. Isn’t that what we’re doing here all the time? I don’t get the conundrum. Are you saying you won’t definitively say PF is a heretic till there’s an official pronouncement to that effect?

    • Beyond that, what does that statement even mean? It’s worse than a meaningless platitude. It’s a string of words that parses as a sentence, but so does “the banana aggrandizes the paradigm of loud numbers.”


        He’s saying that he’s above doctrine. Clinging to doctrine is for Neanderthals like us. He and his crowd are so above doctrine–that’s what he’s trying to get across. He says this all the time, in various ways.

        But this is all just rhetoric, designed to move the ball down the field in a liberal direction.

        He and his clique are possessively obsessed with doctrine. They are 100% dogmatic in their thinking about everything.

        It’s just that his dogmas are not the traditional Catholic dogmas.

        His dogmas come from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (a Jesuit) and the famous liberation theologians (mostly Jesuits).

        But of course he can’t let it be known that he is leading a calculated campaign to replace one set of dogmas with a new set of dogmas. That’s would look too cool or hip or humble.

    • Actually, “this guy” is the Pope. As such, he is entitled to the love, obedience and reverence of all Catholics. No matter what. No matter how ghastly a Pope may be, he is still the Vicar of Christ, and as long as he is the Vicar of Christ, he is to be loved, obeyed, reverenced, and prayed for, for the Glory of Christ and as a way of obedience to Christ. If we Catholics cannot see Christ in His Vicar, something is wrong witn us.

      I used to despise certain Popes venomously – including Pope Francis. But that is totally the wrong attitude, if one is Catholic. For so many reasons. We harm only ourselves by such attitudes. If this Pope is good enough for Christ to provide for His Church, surely this Pope is good enough for us. Bitterness against Popes won’t make them as good as they may not be, but could be made by God to be – but if they are prayed for, maybe God will make them what they should be. Maybe Providence permits “bad Popes”, so as to test the love and obedience of the Faithful, and to lead them to pray for the Popes they are tempted to complain of. Papal frailties are a reason for compassion on Popes, not for anger against them.

    • 1 and 2 Kings are very instructive books in this regard. When Israel — the people of God — became faithless, she was afflicted with horrible kings, who in turn made things even worse. Israel “got the king she deserved” in other words.

      It’s interesting because I think the same principle applies to countries as well. Which is why the U.S.A. has Obama right now.

      • I don’t know the title in English or if it has been translated although I’d be surprised to learn that it had not. Short version of the story (written around 1930):

        Manuel, well-liked priest in a fictitious Spanish village, is loved by all and assumed to be very pious; he helps out the locals at times by ”cutting corners” a bit on standard Catholic practices. He enlists the help of two local kids, a brother and a sister, who are also soon devoted to the kindly priest. Eventually the brother discovers by talking with Manuel that the priest really has no faith in God at all, that he is essentially a humanist, and the brother reveals this to his sister. Later Manuel the priest dies and the brother is ordained and assumes the direction of the local parish. At the end of the novella, Manuel, the atheist priest, is headed toward canonization.

        There is more, but you get from this why it is in some ways perhaps reminiscent of this papacy en cours.

  13. If they aren’t in communion with the Catholic Church, why would they want to partake of Holy Communion ? if they believe it is The Body & Blood of Christ then that is the Church they should be in, not one foot in the door & the other foot outside. The Bible warns about lukewarmness +++

  14. ” What can we do to achieve, finally, communion on this point?”

    Take instruction, be received into the Church, believe in the truths of the Faith, and go to Confession often. Easy peasy.

    • Go to Confession every week. Fr Z never ever ever ever stops reminding people: “Go to Confession !” If people want the Sacraments Christ has committed to the Church – they should join the Church, and repent of their sins, of every last one. Staying outside the Church gains no-one the Sacraments.

  15. Francis knows exactly what he is doing, and this is merely part of the process to create the syncretistic one world religion. Ultimately the Divinity of Jesus Christ will be denied to please Muslims and pagans, and the Mass will be invalidated, that is the abomination of desolation mentioned in Daniel. Yes, keep repeating the sounding of the alarm. At least you speak of the problems when most Catholics cover them up and remain silent, or worse, try to explain them away as Catholic (e.g. EWTN, Church Militant, Catholic Answers, Patheos blogs etc). I even heard Fr. Trigilio, considered very orthodox, say on a Catholic Answers show that if Francis allows Communion for adulterers (“divorced and remarried”) then he is merely changing the discipline of the Church. What blindness because of a white zucchetto.

    Yes, pray for Francis. And yes, his successor will be Peter the Roman who will be completely orthodox and very holy.

    • What you say amazes me because you are a Catholic. All my life people have been telling me about the prophecies in the Bible — but they were staunch Protestants. On the rare occasions the subject was broached when Catholics were present, they rejected the whole idea.

      Unfortunately my knowledge of your faith is still very limited, but would you please give more details. If the religions are to be merged in this way, can the true Catholic Church remain independent, perhaps underground? Any of your thoughts would be of interest.

  16. When the leader of the Catholic Church can not or will not use the doctrine of the faith as a basis to instruct and counsel the poor in spirit, then indeed ‘the body is without a head’. The sheep without a shepherd. If the holy father cannot teach me.. who can?

    When the pope refers to himself as possessing a lack of competence in matters regarding the reception of the Eucharist by those whose faith fails to recognise the sacrifice renewed and transubstantiation – the changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Jesus Christ [thus not recognising the Our Lord’s true Divine presence in, at least, the species of the host], then we have a problem. Furthermore, if there is no objective discernment regarding the reception of the Eucharist by those in relationships deemed mortally sinful, with simply the Disney-esque platitude ‘let your conscience be your guide’ as a personal rule, then the crucifixion of the Church has begun.

    Is there no Jesuit training and formation available for priests, bishops or cardinals regarding the sacred confecting and worthy reception of Holy Communion? There is, then, no excuse for the feeble response given by pope Francis.

    Historically, all those who have walked away from the church have done so on the grounds of some personal incongruity with a specific aspect of doctrine, as many of Christ’s disciples did in the final days of his public life. Antetype to today’s type no?

    We are all free to choose and Luther, among many, made his choice. Those who follow similarly make their own choice, as we too make ours. This is not criticism, nor is it judgment on or against anyone. It simply is what it is.

    The above article is thought provoking and conscientious, apolitical and dispassionate, without losing its point. That being to pray for Pope Francis.

    Pray also for each other, for Our Lord and Our Lady’s protection, enlightenment from the Holy Spirit and for the preservation of our Catholic faith. Let us not be dismissive or assume that ‘the gates of Hell will not prevail’ without our concerted efforts, both physically and spiritually. Let us take up this cross together.

  17. The CCC and 844/1 are clear.

    As I have said elsewhere (and incidently had it blocked by one who I considered to be a reliable and sound Catholic Priest), Pope Francis is not up to the job of reversing the present Relativist Reformation in the Church and has stopped trying.

    He is not supporting this heretical practise of giving Holy Communion to Lutherans, but he
    is carefully not objecting to it.

    This is a grave matter.

    On your wider, point the concept of the Mass as a re-enactment of the Sacrifice on the Cross by a priest acting “in persona Christi”, well the Mass has now been turned into a protestant communion service at which all may, or may not participate. But Catholics seem to have decided it is “bad form” not to get up with all the others and shuffle forward.

    Once again Francis is not objecting to this. This is a grave matter.

    I am a Catholic. I try to defend the Teaching of the Church. It is not easy or shall say “comfortable”, if you know what I mean, under this Pope!

  18. Doctrine is too big a word for him? How disingenuous! He simply doesn’t believe it or agree with it; which is what he’s trying to say, without saying it — as usual. Transparent.

  19. The Pope is taunting us. He is daring somebody important to say that he has fallen into heresy and is no longer pope by making statements of his own personal (heretical) opinion and then saying, “but of course I can’t do this,” or “of course I won’t change doctrine.” In his opinion, that makes it safe for him to vent any heresy he wants and thumb his nose at the faithful.

    I think somebody important in the Church has got to step up and say that the Pope has sided with the heretics (of about five different heresies), and it doesn’t matter whether or not he will try to impose his heresy but simply that h subscribes to it. Therefore, he is no longer pope.

  20. I want to comment but cannot think of anything appropriate to say. So I’ll just say Fatima, Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us and His holy Church.

    • Exactly!!

      And whatever happened to the Theology of the Body? If we were busy teaching and evangelizing with the Theology of the Body, all of these “questions” and “problems” to be “resolved” regarding homosexuals and remarried divorced people would be nipped in the bud, would never even come up! We would be too busy spreading the good news about God’s plan for life, love and marriage, the good news about the way a man and woman in marriage image GOD HIMSELF, hence, cannot be put asunder.

      I see that some commenters here don’t think real highly of John Paul II, but the gift he gave the Church with the Theology of the Body hermeneutic is absolutely incalculable, and should be spread far and wide. I thought the Theology of the Body was supposed to be the whole BASIS of the New Evangelization! But at least from the Vatican, it seems we hear NOTHING about it. Souls are STARVING for this good news — especially women in the Muslim world! — and the Vatican just sits on it, and you don’t hear a peep. It falls to impassioned laity, such as many of those lay apostolates represented at the World Meeting of Families a couple months ago, to spread the word.

  21. Dear Mr. Skojec,

    You wrote above, “This is basic stuff. Catholicism 101.”

    With all due respect, Pope Francis does not appear to me to subscribe to Catholicism 101.

    Pope Francis’ doctrinal belief system might be called Catholicism 101.2, or Catholicism 202.20, or Catholicism Edition 1965 or something like that.

    Pope Francis is fully aware of what Catholicism 101 is. He just doesn’t like it. He considers it to be something that is outdated.

    And in this regard, Francis is not doing something he ought not be doing. It was, some say, the Vatican II Council that introduced the new doctrines of the New Catholicism.

    Well, this is all just an opinion.

    I know that some conservative/traditional Catholics are of the view that there is absolutely nothing erroneous or harmful in the documents of Vatican II and in the magisterium that has developed since Vatican II. As I understand the matter, these Catholics attribute all the bad things in the church entirely to negligence and permissiveness on the part of the post-Vatican II popes and bishops.

    Mr. Skojec, which sort of conservative/traditional Catholic are you? I have read a lot of your writings, but I am still not sure. Do you say that actual doctrinal corruption has developed within the official magisterium, beginning at Vatican II? Or do you say that the whole matter is a matter of negligence and permissiveness on the part of the post-Vatican II popes and bishops? Could you say something on issue, please?

    Thank you for considering my little comment.

    Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

  22. Dear Mr. Skojec:

    Above you quoted this from the official 1992 Catechism: “Eucharistic intercommunion with these communities is NOT POSSIBLE.”

    But of course you know well that in 1928 the pope wrote this about Catholic participation in ecumenical religious assemblies with non-Catholics:

    “This being so, it is clear that the Apostolic See CANNOT ON ANY TERMS take part in their assemblies, nor is it anyway lawful for Catholics either to support or to work for such enterprises; for if they do so they will be giving countenance to a false Christianity, quite alien to the one Church of Christ.”

    A mere 40 years later, that pope’s “cannot on any terms” was transmuted by another pope (and a Council) into a “must at all times.”

    So things declared “impossible” in the 1992 Catechism surely are only impossible until a pope authorizes them. This is the nature of doctrine in the Vatican II Era, in my view. There are no longer any really uncrossable red lines. How do I know this? Because the Vatican II Council’s official documents crossed a number of doctrinal red lines, or what had up to that point been considered doctrinal red lines.

    So, then, what do we Little People of the Catholic Church do about this? I don’t know. Is there really any wisdom in attempting to document and spread knowledge of apparent doctrinal corruption at the highest levels of the Church? Does that encourage? Does that inspire faith, hope and love? No.

    So what should we do then?

    Perhaps someone here will make a good suggestion.

  23. “Senior Vatican official speaking anon: ‘This pontificate poses serious risks for the integrity of Catholic teaching in faith and morals.'”

    Looks like I need to be following Pentin.

  24. May I pose a analogy and a question?

    Suppose a new U.S. president, a liberal, was elected, and he called a Constitutional Convention for the purpose of amending the U.S. Constitution to bring it more in line with modern progressive values and ideas.

    And so the Constitution is amended as follows:

    (1) The Open U.S. Borders: Any person from any nation is free to come and live permanently in the U.S.

    (2) U.N. Law is U.S. Law: All resolutions passed by the United Nations general assembly automatically become U.S. law.

    (3) World Court Decisions are U.S. Law: All decisions by the International Criminal Court or the International Court of Justice are automatically enforceable in the U.S.

    Now the question: If you were living in the U.S. with those new constitutional amendments, would you say that you were still living in the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA?

    Now the analogy: I believe that what is described above is–in essence–what happened in the Catholic Church during the Vatican II Council. The Vatican II Council amended the Constitution of the Church with two new doctrines: the Doctrine of Ecumenism, and the Doctrine of Universal Religious Liberty. To most Catholics, it seemed that when those two new doctrines were added to the Constitution of the Church the rest of the Constitution was left unchanged and untouched. But my thesis is that those two new doctrines were completely incompatible with the Catholic Constitution, and so the result was that every other article of the Catholic Constitution was compromised and corrupted.

    What do you think? Do you see what I see?


    The Church has SO MANY Ph.D. professors of theology teaching at Catholic universities and seminaries in Rome, New York City, Chicago, Washington, DC, Steubenville (Ohio), Paris, London, Frankfurt (Germany), Madrid (Spain), Mexico City, and so on.

    Why don’t these big brains speak out about all the bizarre things Francis is talking about?

  26. THE DOCTRINE OF CLAVES SUSPENSA (the keys suspended)

    Give the apostasy-leaning actions and statements of Francis, and the 50 years long catastrophe called Vatican II, I think many traditional Catholics would “jump ship” were it not for one thing:

    “I will give you the KEYS OF THE KINGDOM of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Jesus speaking to Peter in Matt. 16:19)

    Only to Peter were the KEYS OF THE KINGDOM given. Matt. 16:19 is the only instance in all of Scriptures in which anyone was given the KEYS. No one else has those keys, not Billy Graham, not Pat Robertson, not the Southern Baptist Convention, not the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury, not the Mormon church president, not the Jehovah’s Witnesses, not anyone else.

    Some Catholics have tried to protect and preserve the Church by deciding that the popes since Vatican II have lost their office due to heresy, and therefore all the harm they have done has not really be done by the Cathollic Church. These Catholics use the terms “sedevacantist” to refer to their position. “Sede” means seat, referring to the Chair of Peter, and “vacante” obviously means vacant.

    But most Catholics have rejected the sedevacantist thesis. They hold that it is unthinkable that the Church could go 50 years without a pope. Plus, most of all, they view the sedevacantist position as meaning that the Catholic Church has come to an end and can never be revived.

    The 1 Peter 5 web site owner rejects the sedevacantist thesis, and so do I.

    But believe the Doctrine of Claves Suspensa could be a good solution to our current predicament.

    “Claves” is Latin for keys, and “suspensa” is Latin for suspended. Under the Doctrine of Claves Suspensa we acknowledge that Francis is a legitimate successor to Peter, that he holds the office of the pope. But we say that as long as Francis continues to teach and rule in ways that deviate from the Apostolic Faith, his use of the “keys of the kingdom” is suspended by the King of the Kingdom, Our Lord Jesus Christ.

    I think that the bishops and priests of the SSPX are, in effect, following the Doctrine of Claves Suspensa. The SSPX recognizes Francis as pope, and they pray for him by name in the Holy Mass. But they do not obey him and do not accept his novel teachings.

    What do you think? Do you find value in the Doctrine of Claves Suspensa?

    • Very interesting. But what is the provenance of this “claves suspensa”? Can you cite any texts about it? Or is this something that you have come up with yourself? I apologize for sounding dismissive or insulting, but I genuinely don’t know. I like the idea, but I’ve never heard of it before.

  27. The Pope is supreme legislator in the Church, and supreme judge of what is orthodox, and of what is ortopractic. He has authority to dispense from laws. So if he finds no problem with reception of the Blessed Sacrament by non-Catholics, or Catholics living in sin, then such reception is totally OK. He has ignored Church law before – or has everyone forgotten his much-criticised washing of the feet of non-Catholics on Maundy Thursday ? So why the surprise if he ignores the law again ?

    Canon 844 destroys all possibilty of saying – as formerly would and could have been said – that reception by all who are not Catholics in a state of grace is, in all circumstances, utterly forbidden/impossible. That principle has been cast aside, by allowing the exceptions provided in canon 844. So the HF’s position is totally consistent with the canon. His critics are making the mistake of treating the ban on reception by Catholics as exceptionless – a position the Church no longer holds. It is they, not the HF, who are in error.

    Unless, of course, his critics are prepared to criticise the thinking that provided the theology behind canon 844. But that means criticising the “new orientations” and ecclesiology of Vatican 2. To criticise the HF’s behaviour to the Lutheran lady, opens a huge can of worms. The only people whom this does not dismay, are the Traditionalists.

  28. “he feels constrained by the limits of his office in accomplishing his agenda.”

    Who does that remind you of?

    It’s disturbing enough to have our country headed by a man who’s consciously subverting its constitution and its foundations; but to have our Church, founded by Jesus Christ the Son of God, headed by a subversive… Sometimes I almost wish I’d been born in less “interesting” times!

    I shouldn’t even put country and Church in the same paragraph — the U.S., after all, is just a country, and countries come and go — but I’m often struck by how, in a few short decades, we’ve gone from Reagan and Pope John Paul II to Obama and Pope Francis. Ugh.


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