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Is Amoris Laetitia an Expression of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium?

Earlier this week, papal biographer and Crux contributing editor Austen Ivereigh fired off a bravado-laden tweet about Amoris Laetitia (AL) and the corresponding dubia:

Unsurprisingly, this prompted some rebuttals. After asserting that in the matter of AL, we are faced with a case of “Roma locuta, causa finita” (Rome has spoken, the cause is finished), and in another comment insisting that AL is merely “development of doctrine” which has “been happening since Pentecost,” Ivereigh threw down the gauntlet:

Stephen Walford’s piece at Vatican Insider has been out for a while. Published in February of this year, it had its chance to make the rounds, but little came of it. I cannot recall seeing a single rebuttal of it, which apparently leads Ivereigh to believe it’s “irrefutable.”

It’s certainly not irrefutable, but its argumentation is messy, which makes it difficult to respond to succinctly.

But since the question of what papal authority includes — and what it doesn’t — is such a common and contentious topic these days, I thought it might be worth the effort.


Problematic Premises, Faulty Conclusions

Walford makes two major mistakes in his analysis, the first of which is begging the question. He builds his analysis on the false premises that AL is:

a) a legitimate expression of the authentic papal/ordinary magisterium and

b) a work that is inspired by the Holy Spirit and that therefore

c) To oppose it is to “call into question the teaching authority of previous popes and consequently the entire fabric of Catholicism”.

“In particular,” Walford writes, “Amoris Laetitia has led many traditionalists to the conclusion that Pope Francis is at least deliberately “allowing” error and possibly even teaching heresy.”

Walford’s second mistake follows from the first. Armed with the certitude that the faithful owe assent to AL, he never — not even once — addresses the reasons why people are reaching the conclusion that there are serious problems with the document. He does not reference, for example, the 19 theological censures proposed by 45 highly-qualified Catholic scholars and pastors from around the world. He does not attempt in any way to reconcile the questions posed in the dubia that exist in direct response to the obvious and doctrinally-contrary reading of AL. Five of his 12 footnotes are taken from the teaching of Pope John Paul II, but he never discusses the way AL runs roughshod over Familiaris Consortio or, for that matter, Veritatis Splendor. He also ignores the countless articles that have been written and statements that have been made by theologians, philosophers, priests, bishops, and Catholic intellectuals of all stripes, parsing the troubling bits of AL down to their theological molecules and demonstrating why there’s very much a problem here.

Bizarrely, his argument studiously ignores what the entire Amoris Laetitia controversy is about. Instead, it essentially boils down to: the pope said it, and you have to do whatever he says because he’s the boss of you. 


What is the “Magisterium”, Anyway?

The word “magisterium” comes from the Latin word, “magister”, which means, “teacher.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the magisterium as “the living teaching office of the Church” whose task is to give “an authentic intepretation of the Word of God, whether in written form or in the form of Tradition”. The Church’s authority to do this is “exercised in the name of Jesus Christ,” which means that “the task of interpretation has been entrusted to the bishops in communion with the successor of Peter”.

The Catechism emphasizes that “this magisterium is not superior to the Word of God, but is its servant. It teaches only what has been handed on to it.”

The Catholic Encyclopedia tells us that:

Closer study of the living magisterium will enable us to better understand the splendid organism created by God and gradually developed that it might preserve, transmit, and bring within the reach of all revealed truth, ever the same, but adapted to every variety of time, circumstances, and environment. Properly speaking, this magisterium is a teaching authority; it not only presents the truth, but it has the right to impose it, since its power is the very power given by God to Christ and by Christ to His Church. This authority is called the teaching Church.


The Various Types and Authority of Magisterial Expressions

The magisterium of the Church is expressed infallibly in two principal ways: the solemn or extraordinary magisterium, and the ordinary (or “ordinary and universal”) magisterium.

Examples of extraordinary magisterium include: definitive decrees and/or anathemas at ecumenical councils and ex cathedra statements by a pope.

Examples of ordinary magisterium are much more broad: re-iterations of previously held doctrines, papal documents such as encyclicals, etc.

Not all exercises of the magisterium have the same level of authority, and to make matters even more confusing, not all magisterial expressions are infallible. Whenever the Church is teaching, she is exercising, by definition, her magisterial office. As one theologian told me, this means even a papal homily is a form of “magisterial teaching,” but it’s certainly not held on the same level of authority as, say, an encyclical.

This topic can be rather complex, and dogmatic theologians spend a great deal of time parsing out and categorizing the various distinctions within the Church’s magisterial authority. Since I am not a dogmatic theologian, and do not have the space here to present an exhaustive summary, I will draw briefly from the work of others to explain these categories. (Any technical errors in what follows are my own.)

Brother André Marie of the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary has written a thorough but concise examination of the various facets of Magisterial authority, coupled with excerpts from the most relevant Church documents that help to explain them. Broadly, he describes the three kinds of magisterial statements (with a fourth that is less clearly defined) as follows:

(1) truths taught as divinely revealed, (2) definitively proposed statements on matters closely connected with revealed truth, and (3) ordinary teaching on faith and morals. A fourth category, ordinary prudential teaching on disciplinary matters, is commonly accepted by theologians and can be inferred from the text of Cardinal Ratzinger’s Donum Veritatis.[2]

The first category truths divinely revealed — would include those taken from the Scriptures and affirmed by the magisterium. These are infallible and dogmatic in nature. According to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s doctrinal commentary Professio Fidei, examples of magisterial pronouncements in this category would include “the articles of faith of the Creed, the various Christological dogmas and Marian dogmas; the doctrine of the institution of the sacraments by Christ and their efficacy with regard to grace; the doctrine of the real and substantial presence of Christ in the Eucharist and the sacrificial nature of the eucharistic celebration; the foundation of the Church by the will of Christ; the doctrine on the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff; the doctrine on the existence of original sin; the doctrine on the immortality of the spiritual soul and on the immediate recompense after death; the absence of error in the inspired sacred texts; the doctrine on the grave immorality of direct and voluntary killing of an innocent human being.

Teachings in this category could be expressed by the solemn (extraordinary) magisterium, or by the ordinary and universal magisterium. As Vatican I’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Dei Filius (#3), says:

Further, all those things are to be believed with divine and catholic faith which are contained in the Word of God, written or handed down, and which the Church, either by a solemn judgment, or by her ordinary and universal Magisterium, proposes for belief as having been Divinely-revealed.

The second category —  definitively proposed statements on matters closely connected with revealed truthwould include “the legitimacy of the election of a pope, the celebration of an ecumenical council, the canonizations of saints, and Leo XIII’s declaration, in Apostolicae Curae, of the invalidity of Anglican orders; by logical necessity: the primacy and infallibility of the Roman Pontiff as it was known before its definition at Vatican I, the moral teachings on the illicitness of prostitution and fornication, and the doctrine of a male-only priesthood.”

These, too, can be pronounced through either the extraordinary or ordinary and universal magisterium, and are to be accepted and held by the faithful. According to Donum Vertitatis (#23) — the CDF instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian:

When the Magisterium proposes ‘in a definitive way’ truths concerning faith and morals, which, even if not divinely revealed, are nevertheless strictly and intimately connected with Revelation, these must be firmly accepted and held.

The third categoryordinary teaching on faith and morals — is more difficult to give examples of. The CDF tells us only that “As examples of doctrines belonging to the third paragraph, one can point in general to teachings set forth by the authentic ordinary Magisterium in a non-definitive way, which require degrees of adherence differentiated according to the mind and the will manifested; this is shown especially by the nature of the documents, by the frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or by the tenor of the verbal expression.”

This category is further explained by the CDF:

To this paragraph belong all those teachings on faith and morals – presented as true or at least as sure, even if they have not been defined with a solemn judgment or proposed as definitive by the ordinary and universal magisterium. Such teachings are, however, an authentic expression of the ordinary Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff or of the College of Bishops and therefore require religious submission of will and intellect.

The fourth category, if we can call it that, is that of “interventions in the prudential order.” This is explained in Donum Veritatis as follows:

When it comes to the question of interventions in the prudential order, it could happen that some Magisterial documents might not be free from all deficiencies. Bishops and their advisors have not always taken into immediate consideration every aspect or the entire complexity of a question. But it would be contrary to the truth, if, proceeding from some particular cases, one were to conclude that the Church’s Magisterium can be habitually mistaken in its prudential judgments, or that it does not enjoy divine assistance in the integral exercise of its mission.

It should be noted that a pope can always disclaim a personal opinion or his work as a private theologian as a non-magisterial action. Inasmuch as these are not expressions of his teaching office, they are not magisterial in nature. Walford himself offers an example:

In more recent times, Pope Benedict XVI was very careful to state that his Trilogy Jesus of Nazareth“is in no way an exercise of the magisterium”…


So Where Does Amoris Laetitia Fall in The Order of Magisterial Teaching?

At the outset of his essay, Walford states:

Of course what interests us here, in relation to Pope Francis, is not the issue of infallibility for defined dogmas, but the exercise of his ordinary magisterium in which Amoris Laetitia certainly falls [2]. [emphasis added]

Based on what we have just learned about the magisterium, however, does AL actually qualify?

I’d like to begin our examination of this question by considering one of the earliest pieces of commentary on AL, which addressed specifically the question of its authoritative character. It came from none other than Cardinal Burke:

The only key to the correct interpretation of Amoris Laetitia is the constant teaching of the Church and her discipline that safeguards and fosters this teaching. Pope Francis makes clear, from the beginning, that the post-synodal apostolic exhortation is not an act of the magisterium (3). The very form of the document confirms the same. It is written as a reflection of the Holy Father on the work of the last two sessions of the Synod of Bishops. For instance, in Chapter Eight, which some wish to interpret as the proposal of a new discipline with obvious implications for the Church’s doctrine, Pope Francis, citing his post-synodal apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, declares:

I understand those who prefer a more rigorous pastoral care which leaves no room for confusion. But I sincerely believe that Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, “always does what good she can, even if in the process her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street” (308).

In other words, the Holy Father is proposing what he personally believes is the will of Christ for his Church, but he does not intend to impose his point of view, nor to condemn those who insist on what he calls “a more rigorous pastoral care.” The personal, that is, non-magisterial, nature of the document is also evident in the fact that the references cited are principally the final report of the 2015 session of the Synod of Bishops and the addresses and homilies of Pope Francis himself. There is no consistent effort to relate the text, in general, or these citations to the magisterium, the Fathers of the Church and other proven authors.

What is more, as noted above, a document which is the fruit of the Synod of Bishops must always be read in the light of the purpose of the synod itself, namely, to safeguard and foster what the Church has always taught and practiced in accord with her teaching.

Magisterial teachings — particularly those of the ordinary magisterium — build on what has already been established through the perennial teachings of the Church, not personal opinions or synod reports. As Professio Fidei states:

It should be noted that the infallible teaching of the ordinary and universal magisterium is not only set forth with an explicit declaration of a doctrine to be believed or held definitively, but is also expressed by a doctrine implicitly contained in a practice of the Church’s faith, derived from revelation or, in any case, necessary for eternal salvation, and attested to by the uninterrupted Tradition…

Burke cites Amoris Laetitia #3 in his analysis above. In it, the pope makes clear that even he believes that AL is not magisterial.

Since “time is greater than space”, I would make it clear that not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium. Unity of teaching and practice is certainly necessary in the Church, but this does not preclude various ways of interpreting some aspects of that teaching or drawing certain consequences from it. This will always be the case as the Spirit guides us towards the entire truth (cf. Jn 16:13), until he leads us fully into the mystery of Christ and enables us to see all things as he does. Each country or region, moreover, can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs. For “cultures are in fact quite diverse and every general principle… needs to be inculturated, if it is to be respected and applied”.3 [emphasis added]

How is it possible that something clearly identified as “pastoral” and distanced from being an “intervention of the magisterium” could be considered authoritative and binding? How could something that the pope believes is culturally relativistic could be an exercise of the ordinary and universal magisterium? Either the prescriptions contained in AL are for all Catholics, or they are not.

Writing at the Catholic Herald, Dr. Kurt Martens, Professor of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America, discusses an article written by Spanish priest and professor Father Salvador Pié-Ninot in L’Osservatore Romano, in which he claimed, as Walford does, that “the apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia meets all the criteria for being an example of the ordinary magisterium.”

Martens cautions that the case is not so simple, and that too many assumptions are made, drawing, for example, from the type of papal document (“apostolic exhortations” Martens notes, “are among the principal teaching documents of the Church”) without sufficiently examining the intention of the document or its content. Martens also points out that a given papal document may contain “doctrinal elements of different weight”, depending on what sources it cites, and whether they are already expressions of the authentic and binding magisterium. He says that the same thing applies to AL:

The references to Humanae vitae and Familiaris consortio are references to the particular level of the magisterium exercised in those documents.

From that perspective, Father Salvador Pié-Ninot is correct: Amoris Laetitia is indeed a document that partially exercises the ordinary magisterium, in that it repeats the previously proposed teaching of the Church. Amoris Laetitia must therefore be interpreted within the tradition of the Church.

“Immediately after the publication of the article in L’Osservatore Romano,” Martens says,

certain journalists rejoiced on the internet and claimed that Cardinal Burke was wrong in his assessment of Amoris Laetitia being a personal opinion of Pope Francis and not an exercise of the ordinary magisterium.

First of all, Cardinal Burke did not exactly use these words; he said that a post-synodal apostolic exhortation “by its very nature, does not propose new doctrine and discipline, but applies the perennial doctrine and discipline to the situation of the world at the time.”

That is something quite different, and entirely correct.

In conclusion, writes Martens, “Cardinal Burke was not wrong, but one needs to listen to what he has to say, and not assume things he has not said.”

As my high school theology teacher always used to say, “Truth is a matter of semantics.”

For his part, Walford’s sole piece of evidence for his claim that AL is “certainly” part of the (infallible) ordinary and universal magisterium is a footnote that leads to an unsourced quote. I looked it up, and found that it is taken from a catechesis by Pope John Paul II on the Church, given at a Wednesday audience on March 10, 1993. It reads:

“The Successor of Peter fulfills this doctrinal mission in a continual series of oral and written interventions that represent the ordinary exercise of the Magisterium as the teaching of truths to be believed and put into practice (fidem et mores). The acts expressing this Magisterium can be more or less frequent and take various forms according to the needs of the time, the requirements of concrete situations, the opportunities and means available, and the methods and systems of communication. However, given that they derive from an explicit or implicit intention to make pronouncements on matters of faith and morals, they are linked to the mandate received by Peter and enjoy the authority conferred on him by Christ”.

But if one takes this paragraph in the context of the two that precede it, a very different picture of what John Paul II is saying emerges:

The Gospel texts demonstrate that the universal pastoral mission of the Roman Pontiff, the Successor of Peter, entails a doctrinal mission. As universal pastor, the Pope has the mission to proclaim revealed doctrine and to promote true faith in Christ throughout the Church. This is the integral meaning of the Petrine ministry. …

… As universal pastor, Peter must act in Christ’s name and in harmony with him throughout the broad human area in which Jesus wants his Gospel preached and the saving truth brought: the entire world. …

… The Second Council of Lyons (1274) asserted this about the Bishop of Rome’s primacy and fullness of power, when it stressed: “He has the duty to defend the truth of the faith, and it is his responsibility to resolve all disputed matters in the area of faith” (DS 861). [emphasis added]

In citing John Paul II in this manner while ignoring his explanation of the responsibilities associated with exercising the authority of his teaching office, Walford misses something essential: the disputes over Amoris Laetitia and the questions raised in the dubia look specifically at whether the pope is, in his exhortation, “proclaiming revealed doctrine”, “acting in Christ’s name and in harmony with Him,” and “promoting true faith in Christ throughout the Church”. If this is the “integral meaning of the Petrine ministry,” it only stands to reason that if Pope Francis is fulfilling his “duty to defend the truth of the faith”, his actions and words should be able to bear the scrutiny that has been applied to them.

In other words, he should be able to respond to his critics. He should be able to easily and effortlessly answer the dubia in a way that makes resoundingly clear that he is “in harmony” with Christ — which makes his silence all the more disturbing.

Walford also cites a March 24, 1993 address of John Paul, but makes no mention of the pope’s similar admonition in that same address:

The conciliar texts also point out how serious is the Roman Pontiff’s responsibility in exercising both his extraordinary and ordinary Magisterium. He thus feels the need, one could say even the duty, to explore the sensus ecclesiae before defining a truth of faith, in the clear awareness that his definition “expounds or defends the teaching of the Catholic faith” (LG 25).

Amoris Laetitia, rather than exploring the sensus ecclesiae, included propositions that were “overwhelmingly” opposed by the Synod Fathers. As a document, it was designed to advance a particular “pastoral” agenda — that of promoting an idea of diminished culpability for objective grave sin, and thereby allowing those living in adulterous unions to receive the sacraments, as has now been allowed by various bishops throughout the world citing AL as their basis. The exhortation, rather than being an authentic manifestation of the interventions of the synod fathers, has been demonstrated to have been most likely pre-written, with roots in both the long-time “pastoral” action of Cardinal Walter Kasper in Germany and in the decade-old writing of papal friend and ghostwriter, Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández.


So Amoris Laetitia isn’t Infallible Magisterial Teaching, Then?

Let’s return to our two types of magisterial expression — extraordinary and ordinary — and our sub-categories of magisterial teaching, and look at some examples:

An example of a truth taught as divinely revealed would be Mk. 10:11-12: “Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if the wife shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery”.

An example of an exercise of the infallible extraordinary magisterium that would fall under this first category would be the Council of Trent, session 24, canon 7: “If anyone says that the Church is in error for having taught and for still teaching that in accordance with the evangelical and apostolic doctrine, the marriage bond cannot be dissolved because of adultery on the part of one of the spouses and that neither of the two, not even the innocent one who has given no cause for infidelity, can contract another marriage during the lifetime of the other, and that the husband who dismisses an adulterous wife and marries again and the wife who dismisses and adulterous husband and married again are both guilty of adultery, let him be anathema” (DH 1807).

An example of the infallible ordinary magisterium that would likely fall under this first category (and possibly the second; that is, of things related to divine truths) is Familiaris Consortio 84: “The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.”

An example of a something that does not correspond in any way to divinely-revealed truth, to truths so related, or even to ordinary teaching on faith and morals  would be AL 301: “It is [sic] can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace. More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding its inherent values, or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.”

This last example is irreconcilable with the first three, which are all infallible magisterial teachings related directly to divinely-revealed truth.

And that’s a problem.

Ancillary Arguments

To bolster his argument that a pope can’t commit a theological error, Walford quotes from a papal audience (again) of John Paul II in 1992 to reference a statement of

Pope Innocent III, who in his Letter Apostolicae Sedis Primatus (November 12, 1199) stated “The Lord clearly intimates that Peter’s successors will never at any time deviate from the Catholic faith, but will instead recall the others and strengthen the hesitant” [4].

And yet we know without doubt that popes can deviate from the Catholic faith — both in their conduct and personal belief — provided that they do not attempt to bind the faithful to their error. Walford himself says that “No doubt a distinction needs to be made between the ‘private’ theological speculations of a Pope … and teachings deliberately given as part of the magisterium.” He cites the case of John XXII, who erred in his understanding of the beatific vision and recanted before his death — but Walford excuses this deviation by arguing that the “dogma on the beatific vision had not been formulated” at the time.

Walford then attempts to tackle the always thorny question of whether a pope can teach heresy. He argues that some of the Church’s great theologians who considered this — like St. Robert Bellarmine — “ruled out” the idea. He didn’t – he personally believed God wouldn’t allow it, but held that the contrary could be piously believed. Walford also cites Fr. Francisco Suarez in agreement, which is flatly wrong – Suarez actually considered a heretical pope to be a definite possibility, and went so far as to say, “St. Peter taught that an heretical Pope should be deposed.” He then brings in a quote from St. Alphonsus Liguori, who wrote:

“We ought rightly to presume as Cardinal Bellarmine declares, that God will never let it happen that a Roman Pontiff, even as a private person, becomes a public heretic or an occult heretic”

Obviously, however, “ought rightly to presume” is not the same thing as, “are required to believe.” The fact remains: all of the theological exploration of this question to date has been speculative. The Church has not ruled on the matter.

Even so, it seems precipitous at this point to begin hashing out whether a pope can teach heresy until we can agree we’re even allowed to analyze and compare what Francis is saying in AL (and elsewhere) with the perennial deposit of faith — or to address why this exhortation is so deeply troubling in the first place. Walford’s entire argument is predicated on the idea that we have no business doing so, and that we should all just pipe down about it.

Dueling Magisteria

Where the rubber hits the road is in comparing what the Church has always taught — and Our Lord revealed in the Gospels — with what Amoris Laetitia says. When it comes to two contradictory “magisterial teachings”, which are we to believe?

The one that says:

AL 295: ‘Saint John Paul II proposed the so-called “law of gradualness” in the knowledge that the human being “knows, loves and accomplishes moral good by different stages of growth”. This is not a “gradualness of law” but rather a gradualness in the prudential exercise of free acts on the part of subjects who are not in a position to understand, appreciate, or fully carry out the objective demands of the law.’

AL 301: ‘It is [sic] can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace. More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding “its inherent values”, or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.’

Or the one that says:

Council of Trent, session 6, canon 18: “If anyone says that the commandments of God are impossible to observe even for a man who is justified and established in grace, let him be anathema” (DH 1568).

Council of Trent, session 24, canon 7: “If anyone says that the Church is in error for having taught and for still teaching that in accordance with the evangelical and apostolic doctrine, the marriage bond cannot be dissolved because of adultery on the part of one of the spouses and that neither of the two, not even the innocent one who has given no cause for infidelity, can contract another marriage during the lifetime of the other, and that the husband who dismisses an adulterous wife and marries again and the wife who dismisses and adulterous husband and married again are both guilty of adultery, let him be anathema” (DH 1807).


The one that says:

AL 297; ‘No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!’

Or the one that says:

Matt. 25: 46: “These shall go into everlasting punishment: but the just, into life everlasting”


The one that says:

AL 298: ‘The divorced who have entered a new union, for example, can find themselves in a variety of situations, which should not be pigeonholed or fit into overly rigid classifications leaving no room for a suitable personal and pastoral discernment. One thing is a second union consolidated over time, with new children, proven fidelity, generous self-giving, Christian commitment, a consciousness of its irregularity and of the great difficulty of going back without feeling in conscience that one would fall into new sins.’

Or the one that says:

1 Cor. 7:10-11: “To them that are married, not I but the Lord commandeth, that the wife depart not from her husband; and if she depart, that she remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife.”


The one that says:

AL 300: ‘Since “the degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases”, the consequences or effects of a rule need not necessarily always be the same. [footnote 336] This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline, since discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists.’

AL 305: ‘Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end. [footnote 351] In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy”. I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”’.’

Or the one that says: 

John Paul II, Familiaris consortio 84: “The Church reaffirms her practice, which is based upon Sacred Scripture, of not admitting to Eucharistic Communion divorced persons who have remarried. They are unable to be admitted thereto from the fact that their state and condition of life objectively contradict that union of love between Christ and the Church which is signified and effected by the Eucharist. Besides this, there is another special pastoral reason: if these people were admitted to the Eucharist, the faithful would be led into error and confusion regarding the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage. Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance, which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they ‘take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples’.”

You get the point. There are many more examples. Mutually exclusive things can not be true. The principle of non-contradiction is inviolate.

At the end of what amounts to a lengthy series of quotations in support of the infallibility of the ordinary magisterium — something in which we all believe — Walford then jumps to a conclusion with both feet:

If we claim that we hold Tradition dear, that we defend it with all our strength, then we must accept we defend Pope Francis and his magisterium also. There is no other interpretation available; the popes have spoken.

No, Mr. Walford, there is another interpretation: you simply don’t understand what the Church teaches about her own authority and when it applies to what. And you’ve done a disservice to the faithful by pretending that you do, and telling them they have to fall in line with your erroneous view. That the Church’s ordinary magisterium is infallible is indisputable. That Amoris Laetitia is an expression of it — particularly where it contradicts or calls into question the magisterial teaching that came before it — is anything but.


Author’s note: as I said in my text above, I am not a dogmatic theologian, and any errors in the text are my own. Some corrections to the text have been made where I failed to make the correct distinctions, including the title. Others will be incorporated as needed.

118 thoughts on “Is Amoris Laetitia an Expression of the Ordinary and Universal Magisterium?”

  1. Bergoglio’s inner circle are free-and-easy with the adjectives. The dubia are yes-or-no questions.

    First, answer the questions. THEN, blabber all you like about how “divisive,” “disrespectful,” and even “heretical” they are.

  2. Excellent work, Steve! It is blazingly obvious that Amoris Laetitia contradicts the magisterium of previous popes and contradicts the Lord’s words in Sacred Scripture. Enough said.

  3. As has been demonstrated time and time again, Austen Ivereigh does not know what he is talking about. It has already been made clear that Amoris Laetitia is not magisterial teaching. I don’t know who Austen Ivereigh follows, but he would do well to remember that to place a person at a level of such infallibility as to be able to rightfully contradict sacred scripture is idolatry. Is he simply seeking the praise of men? Or does he really believe in Francis’ diabolical ideology? That is quite a soul-jeopardizing predicament to be in.

    I never thought the day would come that my daily prayer would be for the destruction of the pope. Francis truly is a wicked man, not at all like his namesake. One day, hell will open up and swallow up those who have followed his diabolical ideologies without repentance.

  4. The ordinary magisterium is NOT infallible. Where do you get that, Steve?

    The extraordinary magisterium is infallible. The ordinary and universal magisterium is infallible.

    But the ordinary magisterium by itself is not infallible. What’s going on here? Have I misunderstood?

    • There are too many different terms in play here. Some theological sources simply say that the ordinary magisterium is infallible (without mentioning the universality specifically). Others say there is a difference between the ordinary and universal and the ordinary particular. Where I am referring to the ordinary magisterium in this piece, I am referring to the ordinary and universal — things like encyclicals, which are for the whole Church. I may need to make an editing pass to clarify this.

      • Also, as I said, I am not a dogmatic theologian. There really is no concise and categorical definition from the Church on all of these distinctions, and they are very challenging to pin down. Also, I kept finding exceptions. I hope we can consider this a starting point, and if there are things I need to correct, I will.

        • It’s confusing, to be sure, but the bigger issue, as we all know, is the fact that the entire concept of the papacy has become so twisted that people believe that the pope can just snap his fingers and whatever novelties he happens to come up are infallible, end of discussion. We’ve seen this with the introduction of the Novus Ordo, with the indult for Communion in the hand, with the indult for female altar servers, and on and on; writers who argued strenuously against these suddenly did a 180 the minute the pope’s signature was on the documents making them licit.

          I’ve concluded in my rudimentary overview of Church history that this was inevitable when well-intentioned people overreacted to Vatican I; the idea that the pope could be in error on theological matters was literally not even discussed in the reprinted books from the late 19th- to mid-20th century that I have read.

      • It is also important to remember that the “universal” element of the ordinary and universal magisterium is both synchronic and diachronic in nature, i.e. it is not only what is being taught universally in the here and now, but it must also have been taught universally throughout time. As this so-called Pope continually reminds us “time is greater than space”, therefore, the diachronic element of universality must have precedence over the synchronic element of universality. In other words: “…what has always and everywhere been believed…”

  5. On a related note, if I hear one more person try to propose the scenario of a woman in an invalid second marriage who wants to live as brother and sister, but her husband threatens to abandon her and their children and/or kill himself unless she “puts out”, I’m going to scream. How does such a scenario not imply that, in this circumstance, it is permissible for the woman to commit evil (adulterous sex) so that good (the second husband not abandoning her and their children or killing himself) may result? I’m still waiting for the answer on that one, and all I hear are crickets.

    • The woman should have stayed with her first husband. Second she should not have remarried. Clearly she should be more moral and smarter about her decisions. Women have been dealing with strange marital situations for centuries…if she become more moral and smarter about things she should figure out the right course to take according to her circumstances.
      She could leave the second husband who is not her husband get a job and support her children which many woman have done.

      • Exactly. The problem, however, is that people, whose hearts I believe are in the right place, keep trying to suggest that if the woman is coerced by her husband threatening to abandon her or kill himself, the sin is mitigated somewhat. I pointed out to one person making this claim, however, that, as you said, the entire situation is a consequence of her poor decision making in the first place, and that it sounds as if people are trying to argue that one can, in fact, commit evil (adulterous sex) so that good (the husband not abandoning her or killing himself) can come from it.

        This entire argument keeps getting framed AL defenders as a “well, in Latin America, women may be so poor they may not have a choice” situation. I am not unsympathetic to their plight, but as I stated, the situation of these women is a result of them making a poor choice to enter an adulterous relationship in the first place. I know I sound “harsh” and “mean”, but I was always taught that the Catholic faith is a rational one and that arguments from emotion are not usually sound ones.

        • You are not harsh or mean but truly Catholic in your thinking. Sin causes enormous difficulties for people …speaking the truth helps us all in the final analysis .

  6. Well done, indeed! This article deserves to be and will be read more than once. Highly instructive.
    Regretfully I cannot cite specifics, but in the past few weeks there was reported an incident toward the end of Vatican II where Pope Paul wanted to broaden the authority of the Pope to an absolute power. He stood corrected, and I don’t believe it was by “conservatives,” by an appeal to the practice of papal authority limited in the definition of papal infallibility contained “Pastor
    Aeternus” of Vatican I “The Holy Spirit was not given to the Roman Pontiffs so that they might disclose new doctrine, but so that they might guard and set forth the Deposit of Faith handed down from the Apostles.” (It was this stipulation that allowed those participants at Vatican I who had reservations about the definition [among them Cardinal Newman] to give their assent to the
    Pope Paul acceded to the corrective instruction he was provided.
    When I read of this event – and it was at a highly reputable site – I was somewhat shocked that Pope Paul would have attempted what he believed to be a clarification. Surely he would be aware of the limitation imposed by Tradition and the Councils – indeed, by “common sense.” But apparently he was not. It was made perfectly clear in pre-conciliar catechesis that the Pope is not and has never been regarded as a “theological magician” who can act indiscriminately, and that his office is to be a locus of unity in the Church – in the present and with the Church in history.
    In another regard I have always been taught that the Magisterium is both living and perennial,
    and the function of the living Magisterium is to work from and to protect the perennial Magisterium – based on Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition. Appealing to “development of doctrine” is not to be invoked in the attempt to metamorphosise – which would be disingenuous, if not simply fraudulent.

  7. AL 295: ‘Saint John Paul II proposed the so-called “law of
    gradualness” in the knowledge that the human being “knows, loves and
    accomplishes moral good by different stages of growth”. This is not a
    “gradualness of law” but rather a gradualness in the prudential exercise of
    free acts on the part of subjects who are not in a position to understand,
    appreciate, or fully carry out the objective demands of the law.’

    The “law of gradualness” misquoted here is from the: PONTIFICAL


    9. The pastoral “law of gradualness”, not to be
    confused with the “gradualness of the law” which would tend to
    diminish the demands it places on us, consists of requiring a decisive break [emphasis in the original]
    with sin together with a progressive path towards total union with the
    will of God and with his loving demands.43

    10. On the other hand, to presume to make one’s own weakness
    the criterion of moral truth is unacceptable. From the very first proclamation
    of the word of Jesus, Christians realize that there is a
    “disproportion” between the moral law, natural and evangelical, and
    the human capacity. They equally understand that the recognition of their own
    weakness is the necessary and secure road by which the doors to God’s mercy
    will be opened.44

    Footnotes to the above:

    (43) “Married people too are called upon to progress
    unceasingly in their moral life with the support of a sincere and active desire
    to gain ever better knowledge of the values enshrined in and fostered by the
    law of God. They must also be supported by an upright and generous willingness
    to embody these values in their concrete decisions. They cannot, however, look
    on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider
    it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy
    [emphasis mine]. And
    so what is known as ‘the law of gradualness’ or step-by-step advance cannot be
    identified with ‘gradualness of the law’, as if there were different degrees or
    forms of precept in God’s law for different individuals and situations. In
    God’s plan, all husbands and wives are called in marriage to holiness, and this
    lofty vocation is fulfilled to the extent that the human person is able to
    respond to God’s command with serene confidence in God’s grace and in his or
    her own will’. On the same lines, it is part of the Church’s pedagogy that
    husbands and wives would first recognize clearly the teaching of Humanae Vitae as indicating the norm
    for the exercise of their sexuality, and that they should endeavour to
    establish the conditions necessary for observing that norm” (John Paul II,
    Apost. Exhort. Familiaris Consortio, November 22,1981, n. 34).

    (44) “In this context, appropriate allowance is made both for God’s mercy towards the sin of the man who
    experiences conversion and for the understanding of human weakness. Such
    understanding never means compromising and falsifying the standard of good and
    evil in order to adapt it to particular circumstances. It is quite human for
    the sinner to acknowledge his weakness and to ask mercy for his failings; what
    is unacceptable is the attitude of one who makes his own weakness the criterion
    of truth about the good, so that he can feel self-justified, without even the
    need to have recourse to God and his mercy. An attitude of this sort corrupts
    the morality of society as a whole, since it encourages doubt about the
    objectivity of the moral law in general and a rejection of the absoluteness of
    moral prohibitions regarding specific human acts, and it ends up by confusing
    all judgments about values”
    [emphasis mine] (John Paul II, Enc.Veritatis Splendor, August 8,1993, n. 104).

    So, am I the only one who notices the difference in what AL presents and what JPII taught? Also, it is good to note that the so called “law of gradualness” is applied to the conjugal relations of spouses, not adulterers

    • Blessed be Jesus and Mary and Their Sacred and Immaculate Hearts…..great witness to the Witness of the Holy Spirit’s Teaching/Truth in Saint John Paul, etc….

    • The first paragraph of AL says the desire for marriage remains vibrant….even as marriages in the RCC are WAY down from 10 yrs ago in the US for example. Right out the gate, the forked tongue flickers and hisses…

  8. Also: AL 301: ‘It is [sic] can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace. More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule. A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding “its inherent values”, or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.’

    A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding “its inherent values” What this says is that: someone may not agree with the rule so they don’t have to follow it

    or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.’ What this says is that: they may be in a situation where they need to keep sinning in order to avoid sinning.
    Both of those positions are Anathema.

    • Fr RP:

      Thank you for your many posts. These here are especially worthy of further contemplation, as is this entire piece.
      Very interesting stuff.

      When you want some time off in the beauty of God’s great creation, stop in here. You are invited. Get the details from Steve.


      • Thanks Rod. I am extremely exhausted from Pastoral Ministry at this point, and I might very well take you up on your offer. We could have a good time over beers (and maybe some long range shooting at targets for boasting rights: Ruger Precision Rifle 6.5 Creedmoor time, or a standard .308) and Catholicism. We should see if Steve can come too…

          • You’re darn right! The Ruger is sweet! Now, if I can only get some of my parishioners to see that they need to purchase one for me…(though, I must be honest, I am ready to purchase it myself.) I have always enjoyed shooting long rifles as well as pistols. But, that is the competitor coming out. I once shot a 1911 at a range in Alabama wearing my Cassock (it’s all I had with me!) you should have seen the looks on peoples faces! 🙂

          • Well you would fit right in here on the ranch. All our priests wear the cassock rain, snow, sleet or shine!

            One of the funniest things I’ve heard was just a week ago when one of our priests at the beginning of the homily chewed out guys for dressing sloppy at Mass “because it was hot out”. He said “I don’t want to hear it! Father and I are stuck wearing black dresses no matter how hot it is out so you all can at least wear a nice shirt and tie to show respect for our Lord!”

            It’s frank and simple catechesis like that that makes our priests beloved by their parish!

            You are welcome any time!

          • Ooh…that’s great! Can I quote your pastor on that? What’s his name? I’d like to put it in our parish bulletin or at least in the propers.

            The former pastor of a RC parish near me used to put in the bulletin about dressing modestly during summer. He passed aw6 some years ago and offered the NO very reverently. (They also have Eucharistic Adoration.)

        • Father, the words of our pope, over the last four years and agonizing as they’ve appeared to be, a result of Jesuit training or is this something entirely different?

    • One does not NEED to understand the “inherent values” of God’s commands. Because they are His, they MUST be obeyed. End of story.

      • Judging an action’s righteousness by its inherent value sounds like consequentalism to me i.e. no act is inherently evil but it falls to be judged by the person’s view of what the consequences might be. This is not catholic teaching.

    • Coccopalmeiro repeats this nonsense of “further sin”. Apparently things like the suffering of children after a separation are now considered a “sin”. Sorry, but the sin was adultery and this bad consequence is a negative result of that previous sin, it is not a “further sin”!

    • Even granting the lie for the sake of whatever: “they ‘have to stay sinning’ “, then they have to refrain from coming to Holy Communion, and not be excused or justified and receive sinfully….blessedly there must always first be re-Communion from contrition, confession and reparation….

    • Amoris Laetitia should be burned and its ashes send directly to Hell. Amoris Laetitia is the biggest SCAM in the History of the Catholic Church!

  9. One of the greatest victories of the modernists was their shifting the argument from whether one believes a particular doctrine to whether a statement was a doctrine in the first place. As a result, they pulled off a complete destabilization of teaching authority that allows them to undo any doctrine they please without being labeled heretics since, they claim, what they’re denying wasn’t doctrine in the first place.

  10. 1P5… the site that seems determined to prove the truth of St. John Paul II in Ecclesia Dei…

    4. The root of this schismatic act can be discerned in an incomplete and contradictory notion of Tradition. Incomplete, because it does not take sufficiently into account the living character of Tradition, which, as the Second Vatican Council clearly taught, “comes from the apostles and progresses in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. There is a growth in insight into the realities and words that are being passed on. This comes about in various ways. It comes through the contemplation and study of believers who ponder these things in their hearts. It comes from the intimate sense of spiritual realities which they experience. And it comes from the preaching of those who have received, along with their right of succession in the episcopate, the sure charism of truth”.(5)

    But especially contradictory is a notion of Tradition which opposes the universal Magisterium of the Church possessed by the Bishop of Rome and the Body of Bishops. It is impossible to remain faithful to the Tradition while breaking the ecclesial bond with him to whom, in the person of the Apostle Peter, Christ himself entrusted the ministry of unity in his Church.(6)

    John Paul II, Ecclesia Dei, n.d.

    • No one is in schism here, David. And the pope, whoever he is, can’t just up and break from Scripture and received Tradition and expect everyone to fall in line unquestioningly. That’s not how the Magisterium works.

    • If the pope declared there is a Fourth Person in the Blessed Trinity so there’s actually a Blessed Quadrality, are the faithful bound to believe that lest they become schismatics?

      If not, why not?

      • Time is greater than space, so there is always time to make room for a new person. And remember, 2+2=5; therefore, 2+1=4.

    • Nice try.

      If you were debating the theological integrity of an attack on Mit Brennender Sorge or Cantate Domino, you might have a leg to stand on, but you are throwing rocks at an assessment of Amoris Laetitia…

  11. “In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free.” – Blessed John Newman

    Thank you for this article, Steve. I especially appreciate your concrete comparisons of the Council of Trent and the Al……ordering one now for our home.

    I beseech all the early Church Fathers and Doctors of the Church to intercede on behalf of a very fallen people, and our Church. If not for us, for those to come who have yet been born. Have pity on us.

    • The sad thing is that I pulled those contradictions right from the theological censures document written last year. I figured, why re-invent the wheel (linked to them just beneath; no stealing!)

      I’m guessing almost nobody has actually read that thing. It’s a real work of mercy for the Church.

  12. I find this an extremely useful discussion, and very many thanks for it Steve, but an extremely irritating one at the same time, for it is clear and obvious (at least to me) what the core of the problem is.

    The entire argument over legitimacy of this or that aspect of the Magisterium has been bubbling ever since Vatican II. Like a pressure cooker, it has built up steam on one or another question, but in Bergoglio’s time things have come to a head and the lid is about to blow off. Why should this be? As I noted, it is clear and obvious. When you have century upon century of Popes reiterating, explaining, confirming and guarding the Faith, all the above distinctions between Encyclicals, Apostolic Exhortations, Papal discourses and so on apply. But the model falls apart when Popes, even the bulk of the Hierarchy, falls into error.

    Then one faces absurdity: doctrinal innovators even claim that they can re-define Holy Tradition or use it to defend their heresies; they reference only their own works to “prove” their innovations and they bend to breaking point the call to obedience to the Holy See in order to further and justify their own apostasy.

    We know that Scripture, the Fathers, Councils, Popes and Saints have commanded us not to follow those who preach a false Gospel. So why have we done exactly the opposite for sixty years? Because a badly-misunderstood doctrine of Papal authority has on the one hand been used like a club to force through a revolution that in the early centuries would have led the Romans to advance on the Vatican as a lynch mob, and rightly so; and on the other the “Catholic sense” has been eroded by so many Catholics bending to the forces of secularism – and I am talking about the 19th and 20th Centuries here, not now.

    Note this well! When faced with innovations, departures from the Faith or outright Revolution, Holy Tradition is the only measure of obedience for the authentic Catholic. It is not for us to play with heretics or apostates: it is for them to repent and return to the Faith!

    • As a convert, this topic is one that reaches high relief. And your assessment here hits the nail on the head.

      Since coming to the Church, I have been utterly struck by the blunt object of absurdity in language used by many at all strata in the Church who read straightforward writing and call it something else than what the words patently state.

      So I take a Pope seriously. He writes a document and I read it.

      It misquotes Jesus and replaces Him with Man for the highest form of adoration and I am told it doesn’t. {Evangelii Gaudium #161}.

      Strike One.

      OK…then I take another swing. I read the next doc and it honors a pagan goddess concept by replacing our Mother the Church with “Mother Earth” and I am told it doesn’t. {Laudato Si para 1 and I don’t care if the author’s quoting a Saint…Saints aren’t infallible by virtue of being Saints…}.

      Strike Two.

      OK…then I set my feet and have another go at it. I grab all 260 pages of the next volume and work through that rag in the first week of its abortive hatching and find in it the statement that the Magesterium doesn’t settle issues of faith and morals thus leaving them to be settled by whim and fancy {among other doozies} and I am told it doesn’t {Amoris Laetitia para 3}.

      At this point somebody has struck out and I don’t think it’s me.

        • Yes, that is devastating!

          The problem I have with what I see today isn’t that the Pope slipped a bit and made a mistake in stating his case on divorce. The problem I have is that there is now a vast collection of staggering utterances that NO ONE in authority is addressing!

          They go on and on and on and we see theoretical debates on “whether a Pope can teach infallibly”.

          • Well said, it is really devastating!
            Almost for one whole year I was searching people who should be able to see what I saw, to understand what I understand, and I am talking here about as you said, a ‘vast collection of staggering utterances’ of this pontiff… Each time again, from day to day, in a very wide spectrum of his deeds, acts or words, when he is doing or saying something, or when he just is doing nothing but he should and must as a pope… I bet there were many people as I, who saw lot of things goes to very wrong direction with this pope, but they same as I, could do nothing, except pray! And of course to watch and listen to everybody around how they were praising him as almost the miracle from the heaven, the most merciful one… ever!?
            So I keep asking myself,- HOW can this be possible?! Am I really so terribly wrong with this? Do I see all this things in a very wrong way?
            There was no one single person for a long time with who you can share some important thoughts about this pope. What was really devastating, because you are not just on your own with such important matter, but almost everybody was against you! Or just quiet as a mouse. Nothing to think nothing to say… Those days were too long, and nights even longer, but our Lord God will never left us alone. He knows when is the best time to give us a few true brothers and sisters in arms, in our true Faith, like here on 1P5, and a on few other blogs or other kind of www-pages. For some people this is all what they have, everybody is physically far faraway from each other. Not to have just one as a next-door neighbor.

            Christ’s Church is really already in the catacombs. For just a while, man could find it only in some small red beating places, where we always can find true Jesus too,- in the hearts of His true followers. Sometimes I think, about how we still endures almost 4 years later, with this destroyer of everything what is Holy, and I wonder, why we are still looking into direction of Rome, with our eyes full of hope, and why not just and only to Heaven? And why we still talk that much about all of them especially about him who may or may not teach infallibly. When while we are in a very humble and appropriate way asking some for our eternal lifes important questions, clarification, etc., – they just go on, as before ‘laughing compassionately’ continuing with destroying the Church, and us who belongs to the true Catholic Church.

            We should keep in mind this too, as we all knows that already, – [T]he is not alone. Never is he alone, and therefore, he operate never alone. Especially now. The name of our Enemy is ‘legion’. And no, in these times, all of them are working overtime.

            Please our good Lord, our Redeemer, help all your truly children remain faithful and give us enough strength to endure this combat against the Evil and all his forces.
            Hosanna Maranatha!

    • “We know that Scripture, the Fathers, Councils, Popes and Saints have commanded us not to follow those who preach a false Gospel.”
      – Exactly!
      Because those we’re talking about here, are even worse than these ones:
      “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. You blind guides, straining out a gnat and swallowing a camel!” (Mt 23,23-24)

      These three the weightier matters of the LAW they don’t even recognize any more! And, if they still knows them, they ignore it, or are going to change them with their very own version(!). Especially the first and the third one. But that one in the midst too, for sure. We know it and saw it already, in that ‘year-of-mercy’,- when false mercy was called, written, preached, given, asked, mentioned a billions of billions times.
      But we know, their mercy is a false mercy! Which never can be a real mercy,- when it is without a real justice and a true faith.

      “When faced with innovations, departures from the Faith or outright Revolution, Holy Tradition is the only measure of obedience for the authentic Catholic. It is not for us to play with heretics or apostates!”
      – Again, exactly!
      And here is why:
      “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and turning to a different gospel not that there is another gospel, but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, If any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.

    • Great Stalin speaks truth. Sometime ago the spirit of Henry VIII emerged in the Church whereby inconvenient truths were “pastoralized” and deemed unworthy of discussion, e.g., contraception, divorce, hell, etc. These inconvenient truths are still on the books so our sainted ministers can say nothing has changed. Surely, the devil has made maximum use of his 100 years of freedom to destroy the Catholic Church. See Leo XIII vision:

  13. Dr. Mike Sirilla, a dogmatic theologian at Franciscan University of Steubenville, just sent me this cheat sheet on the Magisterium. I post it here in case it helps anyone in making these distinctions clearer in their mind.


    Magisterium: the teaching office of a pope or a bishop in union with the pope;

    Extraordinary magisterium: non-ordinary solemn teaching

    Ordinary magisterium: part of the regular teaching duties

    Universal magisterium: taught to the entire Church

    Infallible (irreformable): unable to be in error due to a special charism from Christ and, therefore, unable to be reformed

    Non-infallible (reformable): able to be false (very rare) and, therefore, able to be reformed (which means clarified, corrected – even overturned/contradicted – see e.g.’s below)

    The following outline is drawn from my Fundamental Theology class notes and from the CDF document “Doctrinal Commentary on the Concluding Formula of the Professio Fidei”:

    I. Dogmas of divine and catholic faith:

    A. Doctrines that are “divinely and formally revealed”

    B. Manner and quality of proposal – infallible in each instance:

    1. Extraordinary Magisterium:
    a. Papal: “ex cathedra” solemn definitions
    b. Solemn definitions of ecumenical councils:

    2. Ordinary and Universal Magisterium
    a. Pope alone: confirmation or re-affirmation of a doctrine
    b. Bishops in communion with the pope teaching something to be held
    definitively as revealed.

    C. Assent: theological faith

    D. Censure: Heresy

    E. Examples:
    1. The articles of faith of the Creed
    2. Christological and Marian dogmas
    3. Doctrine of the institution of the sacraments by Christ and their efficacy with
    regard to grace

    II. Definitive teachings on faith and morals (or intrinsically connected to faith and morals):

    A. Teachings that are not proposed as being formally revealed (i.e., they may or may not
    be revealed, but they are not proposed by the magisterium as being revealed).

    B . Manner and quality of proposal – infallible in each instance

    1. Extraordinary Magisterium:
    a. Papal: “ex cathedra” solemn definitions
    b. Solemn definitions of ecumenical councils:

    2. Ordinary and Universal Magisterium
    a. Pope alone: confirmation or re-affirmation of a doctrine
    b. Bishops in communion with the pope teaching something to be held
    definitively as revealed.

    C. Assent: firmly to be accepted and held based on “faith in the Holy Spirit’s assistance
    to the Church’s Magisterium, and on the Catholic doctrine of the infallibility of the
    Magisterium in these matters”

    D. Censure: loss of full communion with the Catholic Church

    E. Examples:
    1. Logical connection to divine revelation (by implication, these may be able to be
    declared as divinely revealed):
    a. The doctrine of papal infallibility before Vatican I
    b. Doctrine that priestly ordination is reserved only to men
    c. The illicitness of euthanasia
    d. Illicitness of prostitution
    e. Illicitness of fornication
    2. Necessary historical connection to divine revelation (not able to be declared as
    divinely revealed):
    a. The legitimacy of the election of the Supreme Pontiff
    b. The legitimacy of the celebration of an ecumenical council
    c. The canonizations of saints (dogmatic facts)
    d. The declaration of Pope Leo XIII in the Apostolic Letter Apostolicae
    Curae on the invalidity of Anglican ordinations

    III. Non-definitive teachings of the magisterium:

    A. Teachings on faith and morals (or connected thereto) presented as true (or at least as
    sure) that have not been defined with a solemn judgment or proposed as definitive
    by the ordinary and universal Magisterium

    B. Manner of proposal: ordinary and universal Magisterium (the pope alone, or pope and
    bishops together)

    ***These teachings are NOT infallible and therefore they are reformable (i.e., able to be modified, clarified, corrected, or contradicted/overturned)

    C. Assent: Religious submission of will and intellect

    D. Censure: Erroneous or (regarding prudential teachings) rash/dangerous

    E. Examples:
    The teaching of Florence that the matter of Holy Orders is the handing on of the instruments
    The teaching of the Roman Catechism (Catechism of the Council of Trent) on
    delayed animation
    JPII’s teaching in Evangelium Vitae that capital punishment may only be used for
    a polis to defend itself (“self-defense”)
    Global warming is real and it is caused by man (Laudato Si)
    GS, a. 24, First and greatest commandment is love of God and of neighbor

  14. I also am not a dogmatic theologian – my specialty was moral theology – but I think, Steve, that you’ve done an excellent job of defending our concerns regarding AL and our denial of its “magisterial infallibility”. I was taught that the contradiction of previous infalible magisterial statements carries the consequence of unraveling the Catholic Faith. This unraveling was begun with the second vatican council and is being brought to conclusion by Bergoglio and company.

  15. Way to go, Steve! Sometimes, heretics inside and outside of the Vatican need a good punch in the nose!! Your simple side by side comparisons at the end were like solid jabs followed up by terrible (and much needed!) “haymakers” to their theological “heads!!” Fraternal “correction” at its best!! I’d go to war with you!!

  16. Thanks Steve for another thorough analysis of the magisterial implications of Amoris Laetitia. Unfortunately, very few will read this and fewer still will act on it. The Novus Ordo laity (most Catholics) really are not the least bit interested in any of this. They see Pope Francis for what he is not, a humble and merciful shepherd who is only trying to make the Catholic faith open to more people.

    Catholics are ignorant of their faith and more or less like things the way they are, e.g. contraception OK, confession maybe once a year, love always. Somehow, Steve, the whole thing needs to be blown up. Maybe God will help.

  17. This discussion about whether AL is “magisterial” totally misses the point. If divinely revealed truth, backed up by 2,000 years of prior magisterium and constant tradition can be overturned in practice, then there is no such thing as “magisterium” or truth in the first place. Everything which the Catholic Church expounds as true is worthless because in one fell swoop the definition of “truth” has been changed to something which is meaningless, uncertain, ambiguous, and totally dependent upon the interpretation one chooses to put upon it.

    If it is part of the “ordinary and universal magisterium”, then there is no “ordinary and universal magisterium” which is worth more than a gnat’s ass in the first place.

  18. Another good resource on papal authority is Edward Feser’s blog post on “Papal fallibility

    It lays out five general categories of magisterial statement and gives examples for each.

    1. Statements which definitively put forward divinely revealed truths, or dogmas in the strict sense.

    2. Statements which definitively put forward truths which are not revealed, but closely connected with revealed truths.

    3. Statements which in a non-definitive but obligatory way clarify revealed truths.

    4. Statements of a prudential sort which require external obedience but not interior assent.

    5. Statements of a prudential sort on matters about which there may be a legitimate diversity of opinion among Catholics.

    Papal fallibility (Updated)
    November 21, 2015

  19. But even if we suppose that AL is part of the magisterium what exactly does it teach? It does not exactly say that marriage is dissoluble or that adultery is okay. Instead by omissions, ambiguities and a lot of waffle it undermines the certain teaching of Christ and the Church without actually teaching anything. Pope Francis does not come out with heretical statements and often preaches correct doctrine but then undermines it by his actions and other comments.

      • I agree but Nicolas Bellord takes a position I have held for a long time, or at least I have held sort of “in escrow” for those who feel they must see it that way. I have tried my best to observe what the Pope says/writes without calling him a raging heretic though I feel embarrassed for his writings and sayings are at times so blatant and seemingly clear, heretically-speaking, I begin to feel a bit like the sophists and word-gamers I hold in such low esteem who will attempt to define anything he says as manifestly “orthodox”.

        But back to the point:

        What IS this Pope teaching? Does anyone truly know?

        There is, I believe, a very sound argument to be made that one cannot judge for or against the theological veracity of virtually any Bergoglian statement or writing precisely because it is impossible, when taken in the context of his flipflopping and ambiguities, to know exactly WHAT he is teaching.

        So some might be able to maintain that the “teaching office” of the Pope remains unsullied, because Pope Francis doesn’t “teach” in any known, definable or traditional way.

        Fine as far as it goes, but…

        THAT itself is a separate problem about which I have not heard or read a sound and acceptable explanation within the context of Catholic doctrine. It IS the reason I frequently reflect on and cite the condemnation of the Synod of Pistoia which was critiqued NOT JUST for clear heresy but for ambiguity leading to heresy.

        I do not think ANYONE who has an IQ empowering him to count his own fingers can deny the latter is happening all throughout the Church at this time, not just on one doctrine but on many. Combine this ambiguity with lack of DISCIPLINE and we have a Church that is seen by many to believe in nothing, value nothing and defend nothing except {drum roll please} the popular, vapid social justice mantras of the current “in-crowd” of secular celebrities, leftist politicians and well-funded NGO and governmental agencies.

          • I don’t really think he addresses them so much as simply restates them.

            There is certainly no doubt that Bergoglio through his words and actions is encouraging heresy and heteropraxy. That is obvious to anyone.

            But EXACTLY what he means to “teach” is certainly not so clear.

            I am beginning to object to the repeated suggestion by the 4 Dubia Cardinals and others that Francis is confusing. At this point, the only people who are confused by Francis are those who insist that he is a staunchly orthodox representative of the Catholic faith.

            Shed yourself of that constraint and he doesn’t seem confusing at all. In fact, he seems quite clear in his words and acts and intentions though we can not be sure of the latter. For example, I don’t hear any confusion in the assessments of Pope Francis by those in the secular world. They simply say he has changed the teaching of the Catholic faith. At least for himself. And maybe some of his friends and/or boot-lickers.

            As for the rest of us, not so much.

            Will be interesting to see what the Dubia Brothers have on the schedule for the rest of the year…

      • I think that my view is that AL does not contain a heresy in plain words. If it contained the words “adultery is not a sin” then that would be teaching something. Instead by a lot of clever footwork it certainly suggests that adultery is not necessarily sinful as you have demonstrated in the piece you referred to. The questions then arise: “Does this clever footwork mean that adultery is not necessarily a sin? Is that what you intended to teach when writing AL?” This is a question that the four Cardinals have asked but got no reply. So one has to assume surely that it does not teach that and that AL does not teach anything and therefore whether it forms part of the magisterium or not is really irrelevant. Anyone who asserts that it is part of the magisterium should be asked “Well what does it teach?”

        Incidentally in the UK in former days when sex was not to be mentioned the gutter press – notably the News of the World would recount some scandal and say at some point that “intimacy took place”. Everyone knew exactly what that meant. Certainly on this side of the pond that is how “intimate expressions” will be interpreted here.

  20. There’s a famous quote from St. Vincent of Lérins: ‘In the Catholic Church we take the greatest care to hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all. That is truly and properly Catholic. We shall hold to this rule if we follow universality, antiquity and consent’.

    So we have universality, antiquity and consent vs. the three defining characteristics of the current papacy, namely fragmentation, novelty and dissension. And right in the vanguard of the causes of this unprecedented disorientation is Amoris Laetitia.

    It is so blindingly straightforward and yet so difficult if not impossible to accept for so many people.

    In the same commentary, St. Vincent also refers to ‘novel contagion’ and the ‘irresponsible ignorance’ of those who would propagate and support this contagion. I think that’s a very polite way to describe those trying to remake the Church in the image of man.

  21. “One thing is a second union consolidated over time, with new children,
    proven fidelity, generous self-giving, Christian commitment, a
    consciousness of its irregularity and of the great difficulty of going
    back without feeling in conscience that one would fall into new sins.’ ”
    “Proven fidelity”? Shouldn’t this say proven INFIDELITY? So if I look for a different god to worship, should I get points for being faithful to my new idol for a long time?
    “Generous self-giving”? Again, if I give myself to the Devil in body and soul, should I be praised for my generosity?
    “Christian commitment”? Finally, if I live a non-Christian life, can I claim I have a great commitment to this irregular way of life, just like Christians do, i.e. Christian commitment by analogy?

  22. Who the hell is Austen Ivereigh?? A guy with a computer? I mean…..what in the world confers any gravitas to anything this guy says? Until recently, I knew of Ivereigh solely from some extremely bad press which came out of the UK a few years back involving a scandal in which Ivereigh knocked up his girlfriend who then had an abortion. He was Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor’s flak at the time and was forced to resign. Next thing I know, he appears out of nowhere and is lecturing all of us about the Church’s moral teaching. Is this a joke?

    Hey Austen, “the so-called (?) dubia” are actually questions. So let’s rephrase your tweet……“Naturally, the pope won’t answer the so-called dubia questions”. Really? In what sort of parallel universe are questions regarded as a threat? Allow me. In an Orwellian, totalitarian universe where the truth is hated and feared, that’s where. Moreover, these are simple questions which require nothing more than a yes/no answer. This is how it was in the Soviet Union……”don’t ask questions, comrade.”

    So El Lider Maximo is not to be questioned? Got it.

    Ivereigh’s vacuous, fanboi shilling is simply careerism. He’s hoping to be noticed by the apparatchik’s in the FrancisRegime and be promoted to bigger and better things. He longs to be the next Greg Burke. Sadly, his fame clock is at 14 minutes and 57 seconds.

    • I didn’t know anything about the fellow and now I’d prefer I had kept it that way!


      {But thanks for the headsup just the same!}

    • You ask a fine question.
      He has a Catholic pedigree, but I would frame it as one most comfortable with NCReporter genetic line – albeit high British.
      He was the assistant to Cormac Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor 2004-2006 and produced the hagiographical biography of Pope Bergoglio entitled “The Great Reformer: Francis and the making of a Radical Pope.” The first printing of that work put forth with hubris the
      connivance of the “St. Gallen Mafia” in electing the current pontiff. Upon its dissemination and the hubbub it caused the reportage on the Cardinals’ (Murphy-O’Connor among them) backstage maneuverings was substantially muted. After all, you don’t want to scare the horses or scandalize any one. Ivereigh is something of an “expert” on Argentinian Catholicism, having written a thesis on the topic for his degree.
      One would think that would have brought him to some degree of consciousness, but once consigned to the back left hip pocket it appears that is where one stays.
      He is not a theologian (I’m not sure he realizes that), although you could call him an apologist for Catholicism metamorphosized into an arm of secular materialism.
      His significance appears to be only that. Contribute to as much confusion as possible in the cause of transforming Roman Catholicism into the play-pen and atheist clergy.

      You have to make a dime somehow.

      • His biggest achievement was restoring Murphy-O’Connor’s reputation after an almighty debacle when Murphy-O’Connor, in the usual fashion, transferred a paedophile priest to the Gatwick Airport chaplaincy. Needless to say, the paedo went on to molest a disabled teenager at Gatwick.

  23. Great work, Steve. Thoroughly argued. Here are my two cents on the matter:

    Claims which MUST be eliminated from this debate:
    1) Amoris Laetitita Ch. 8 can be reconciled in an intellectually honest way with FC and rest of Church teaching on these matters. No. Just no. Anyone with a brain can see that treating AL as a “development” of FC and Church doctrine is being dishonest and they know it.
    2) The real, actual pope can be deposed. No. Again, just no. With all due respect to Bellarmine et al, the idea of deposing a heretical pope destroys the principle of papal infallibility. Our entire claim is that GOD HIMSELF prevents the need to depose because He makes sure the popes are kept free from magisterially affirming error. Deposing a pope would mean infallibility guaranteed by the Holy Spirit is unnecessary and/or false. Disaster.
    3) Communion for divorced/remarried is simply sacramental discipline. No. It’s canonical discipline which exists SOLELY because of infallible/non-negotiable truths regarding the nature of mortal vs venial sin, the Eucharist, Confession, repentance, and the indissolubility of Marriage. If you can relegate this to the level of changeable sacramental discipline then more than a few dogmas simply become prudential judgments which can be changed with the times.

    With these claims expunged from the debate we are left with just two options:
    1) Pope Francis ain’t the real pope. From a rational, logical standpoint, it’s the cleanest and most easily argued solution. AL would be the fruit of an anti-pope so who cares if it contradicts everything else in Church teaching. Francis’ opposition to settled Church teaching is the canary in the coal mine revealing that Pope Benedict, even though he tried and thought he did so, did not successfully resign the papal office and he’s still the real pope. Not the first time we’ve had confusion over who’s the real pope. Move on.
    2) Pope Francis is the real pope but because of slippery, ambiguous, footnote-y wording in AL, he doesn’t meet the criteria for teaching “magisterially”. Cardinal Burke’s opinions on the matter are quite persuasive regarding Francis’ clearly stated intentions on various occasions to NOT teach magisterially/authoritatively on these matters. We run into issues though when looking at Francis’ comments toward the end of the 2015 synod in which he strongly implies his authority as “Peter” in speaking on these matters. Tricky option but possible. I struggle to find any instance since Francis took over of him speaking/teaching in a clear, direct way invokes his authority as successor of Peter.

    Apart from that, we’re cooked. Honestly. If Pope Francis is the REAL pope and he taught “magisterially” in AL in a way that directly contradicts Christ and his predecessors on matters of faith and morals (rather than simple sacramental discipline) then papal infallibility and by extension so is ecclesial infallibility. At that point, there is no guarantee on ANY professed truth of the Church.

    But, since Jesus is real and His Church through various charisms such as papal infallibility and Apostolic succession is guaranteed to preserve the Truth until He returns, we need not worry too much. Francis is either not the real pope or the Holy Spirit is SUPER-showing off just how ironclad this dogma of papal infallibility actually is. That no matter how badly and obviously Francis is contradicting the faith, the Holy Spirit will not let him do so in a way which compromises the perennial Magisterium.

    • Honestly, caesare86, it is all but doubtless to my mind that this conundrum is exactly the purpose for which Pope Bergoglio was elected. Deconstruct Catholicism by undermining the authority of the papacy. In effect his entire enterprise is “untie this knot.”
      Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
      I’ve cited “Pastor Aeternus” so many times I’m surprised I’m not being sued for copyright infringement, but I will do it again…
      “The Holy Spirit was not given to the Roman Pontiffs so that they might disclose new doctrine, but so that they might guard and set forth the Deposit of Faith handed down from the Apostles.”
      Pope Benedict affirmed this in June 2005 at St. John Lateran:
      “…the Pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word. He must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.
      The Pope knows that in his important decisions, he is bound to the great community of faith of all times, to the binding interpretations that have developed throughout the Church’s pilgrimage. Thus, his power is not being above, but at the service of, the Word of God. It is incumbent upon him to ensure that this Word continues to be present in its greatness and to resound in its purity, so that it is not torn to pieces by continuous changes in usage.”
      A decade or more before his election Cardinal Ratzinger pointed out that the Holy Spirit always inspires, but we do not always listen.
      One might argue that Pope Bergoglio has lost his reason – his Catholic reason, the logic of the faith, the Catholic perspective.
      Can such a man be pope?
      God allows evil to transpire to bring about a greater good.

      • Yea, the Pastor Aeternus point seems pretty lost on Francis. Not that he’s in the business of creating new doctrine (at least in his own mind) but rather that he just totally dispenses with the task of safeguarding doctrine as pope. Such tasks are WAY down on his list of what he imagines are papal priorities.

        The “Can such a man be pope?” question is the most difficult to confront. On one hand you think there is no way Francis isn’t pope. Benedict has stated SO many times that he knew exactly what he was doing, he wasn’t coerced, and he really, actually, canonically resigned the papacy. He’s no longer the pope.

        On the other hand, the signs prophecies, circumstances of this resignation are such that when you try and imagine yourself looking back on these times in the year 2067 or something, future you would just be like “I can’t believe everyone didn’t immediately come to the conclusion that Bergoglio was an antipope!”

        The “bishop dressed in white” Fatima factor. The fact that the Church has NEVER had a “pope-emeritus” before. The fact that Benedict still lives in the Vatican. The fact that Bergoglio is the closest thing to a heretical pope we’ve EVER had (more than John XXII even). The “two pope church” visions of Anne Catherine Emmerich (as ambiguous as they might be). The overall crisis in the Church. All of these factors scream “THIS IS NOT NORMAL”!

      • Bergoglio never had any Catholic reasoning to begin with. Completely indoctrinated by his socialist/Peronist upbringing, and then further brainwashed by his Jesuitical training. And then exiled by his own order! The man should have never entered the priesthood, and the fact that he has risen to the papal throne shows you just how corrupt the Catholic Church has become since Vatican II.
        Pray for the Church, and pray for holy priests.

  24. Adopting a disingenuous Ultramontanism coupled with silence he reveals the character of a
    duplicitous reptile, reinforced by the disposition of the episcopal viper’s tangle providing deceit ecclesial credibility.
    A question that need be answered is can a cleric who does not adhere to the perennial Magisterium advance in episcopal authority? Did the dispositions and notions now being
    discussed and effected only come to mind upon his assent to the Chair of St. Peter, or where they hidden and covertly nourished all these years while sporting the masque of orthodoxy, concealing aberrance? Is such comportment sinful? Can a heretic be elected pope? Can he serve as supreme Pontiff? Is the legion of his episcopal supporters valid bishops? Obviously these men have been talking out of both sides of their mouths for decades. Of what character are the men who make up the episcopate? Why do they have these positions if they are liars?
    The problem is vastly larger than Bergoglio. It ranges over the entire episcopate.
    These are the men who are filtering who are admitted into seminaries.
    Their core doctrine is dialogue, the “open mind.” The “open mind” is most like the home
    abandoned by the landlord – either entirely vacant or filled with garbage.
    The Domus Ecclesia is infested with vermin.
    And we wonder why the laity are in near total collapse.

  25. It is a sign of the times when the comment is: “Austen Ivereigh@austeni
    Naturally, the pope won’t answer the so-called dubia; they seek to overthrow the
    fruit of the HS in two synods & a major papal document.
    5:28 PM – 20 Jun 2017 ·
    Reading, England”

    And it should have said:

    Austen Ivereigh@austeni
    Naturally, the fruit of the two synods & a major papal document,
    seek to overthrow the HS and the eternal unchanging Church Dogma!
    5:28 PM – 20 Jun 2017 ·
    Reading, England

    It is a sad statement that Mr Ivereigh is unwilling to defend the unchanging faith of the Catholic Church. Why do they think that when they say black is white and white is black that ALL of us will believe?

    Just stupid and sick.

  26. The argument against AL’s binding character is even simpler:

    1. The Pope is not immune from teaching error outside the narrow confines of the charism of papal infallibility, which involves the exercise of the extraordinary Magisterium via formal definitions expressly declared to be binding on the Church universal. If it were otherwise, then there would be no difference between the ordinary and the extraordinary Magisterium, and Vatican I/PIus IX’s definition of the latter’s narrow scope, which conciliar definition was itself an exercise of the extraordinary Magisterium, would have been pointless.

    2. As the Pope is not incapable of erring when he does not exercise the extraordinary Magisterium, no one should be surprised that Bergoglio, having free will, has erred in AL. He is hardly the first Pope to promulgate error in a document not expressing a formal, dogmatic definition. John XXII, for example, produced an entire treatise defending his false view that the blessed departed will not see God until the Final Judgment.

    3. To the extent that AL contains error, it cannot be part of the ordinary or the extraordinary Magisterium as the Church–not to be confused with a particular Pope or papal document–does not teach error.

    4. That which pertains to the ordinary Magisterium is what the Church has always and everywhere taught, even if not yet infallibly defined. True theological novelties, which would include AL’s implicit rejection of the prior bimillenial teaching on the intrinsic impossibility of Holy Communion for public adulterers, thus cannot be part of the Magisterium, no matter how lengthy or fancy the document in which they appear. Such novelties would have to be rejected by the very fact of their novelty. Here too Vatican I/Pius IX spoke infallibly in declaring that the Petrine office cannot give us new doctrine, but only the doctrine that was revealed and handed down.

    • Excellent post, Counselor. Your post and the post by Fr. RP are going into my favorite 1P5 posts file. ???? (l also have some of your posts in my favorite Remnant posts file.)

  27. Let’s turn Walford’s argument on its head. He says AL is clearly part of the magisterium and popes cannot err in teaching that way. Therefore since AL clearly contradicts the constant teaching of the true magisterium then it means that Francis is not pope.

  28. Ran into an article:

    This is amazing….and maybe not, but I thought I should respond and so shared:

    ….Sadden by this article. First Jesus and Francis speak nothing alike. Jesus’ “yes” was yes and His “no” no. Jesus spoke directly and mysterious, Francis often indirectly and messily – Jesus does not speak to be messy and let us discover the truth; Jesus speaks the Truth and gives the Holy Spirit to clearly understand and Teach. When Jesus spoke we knew that something was true, what was true, how it is true is another matter; with Francis we don’t know what is true let alone how it is true. Jesus spoke this way only for a time, as the Gospel reminds us yesterday and in general: Jesus encouraged the Apostles and all future Apostles and disciples to boldly speak the truth clearly and plainly and not to fear for we are precious to Him when we do so, because then we acknowledge Him before others and Jesus will acknowledge us before the Father’; “Jesus Taught in parables [not messes] but in private He explained things to the Apostles’ for 3 years. After Pentecost the Spirit of Truth clearly explains and unfolds, in particular in and through the Holy Father, the universal saving Truths! And having a Jesuit defend this mess is like having the wolf/fox defend the sheep/chicken house – really? That is where yes is no and no yes and we deny Jesus and acknowledge ourselves and the Temptor.

    For example, regarding Baptism, to Nicodemus’ dubia, Jesus is not silent, He answers; Francis and those in his image will not answer Nicodemus [and us] and so remain in silence. Jesus does not refuse to explain further to Nicodemus [and us] and says there is an universal and absolute saving Truth and Teaching – “Baptism is necessary for salvation”. That is not oblique, etc. We can understand Jesus, we cannot understand Francis. Those who speak in Francis’ image and likeness prefer silence or attacking Nicodemus, Jesus, mercifully, witnesses mercy and Teaches the Nicomeduses of every generation directly and universally. Don’t let me speak on the mess of how Francis rarely if ever builds up priests and seminarians but judges us all beratingly as without mercy, accompaniment – gone are the days of Saint JPII and Benedict where our Father in Holy Week and Holy Thursday messages builds, encourages and loves, as well at other times (they corrected where necessary but you knew you were loved, that you more precious than many sparrows by a Beloved God who knows everyone of your hairs…..I know those who experience this first hand in Rome and I believe there yes is yes and there no is no….Let us pray and do penances that the Holy Spirit may speak clearly to us afresh as He has done in FC, CC, VS, GS, CDF 1984 docmt and Pont. Council Vademecum for Confessors Teachings, etc., back to the First Holy Father and Bishops.


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