One of the newest Catholic blogs on the interwebs is quickly becoming one of the most interesting. Mahound’s Paradise, the project of Oakes Spalding (a reader and friend of 1P5) walks the razor’s edge of analysis and commentary, biting satire, and dry wit – all from a Catholic perspective.
Mr. Spalding’s most recent post takes a look at one of the provisions in Misericordiae Vultus, Pope Francis’s new Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy:
The weirdest thing about this weird 9,000 word document is the bit about the Missionaries of Mercy.
During Lent of this Holy Year, I intend to send out Missionaries of Mercy. They will be a sign of the Church’s maternal solicitude for the People of God, enabling them to enter the profound richness of this mystery so fundamental to the faith. There will be priests to whom I will grant the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See, so that the breadth of their mandate as confessors will be even clearer. They will be, above all, living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon. They will be missionaries of mercy because they will be facilitators of a truly human encounter, a source of liberation, rich with responsibility for overcoming obstacles and taking up the new life of Baptism again…
I ask my brother Bishops to invite and welcome these Missionaries so that they can be, above all, persuasive preachers of mercy. May individual dioceses organize “missions to the people” in such a way that these Missionaries may be heralds of joy and forgiveness.
Let’s call them the Pope’s Mercy Squad. What is the purpose of it, again? Faithful Catholics know that they may confess to any priest. On the other hand, the Sacrament of Confession has disappeared from the lives of most Catholics. And most priests rarely do much of it. “The Sacrament of Reconciliation will be available from 6:40 PM to 6:45 PM on Saturday evenings or by appointment made four weeks in advance and validated by a notary” and all that. This of course means that technically, most Catholics will go to hell.
But to be technical is to be without mercy. Forgive me.
The Pope has spoken favorably of Confession, but has done nothing to arrest this obvious trend. Indeed, his friends and allies have been responsible for it.
Yet, we will have the Mercy Squads.
Now, according to the Bull, the Mercy Squads will have additional powers that standard priests do not have, “the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.”
What sins are those?
Actually, there aren’t any. (This bizarre mistake was first noted byRorate Caeli.)
There used to be five such sins:
- Throwing away or stealing a consecrated host.
- Assaulting a pope.
- As a priest, absolving someone of sexual sin who you just had sex with.
- Consecrating a bishop, illegally.
- As a priest, violating the seal of confession (tattling on a confessee).
But the 1983 Code of Cannon Law granted all priests the ability to pardon even those.
That’s right, in 2015, I can punch the Pope in the nose and then walk into my local church, confess it, and be in the free and clear.
Does Francis even know this?
Admittedly, it seems strange to deputize certain priests to have special “authority” when that authority is already possessed by every priest. Spalding goes on:
What is still true is that even though you can be absolved by any priest of these sins, some of them might incur automatic excommunication for you, and it is still true that only the Holy See can lift that.
But now the Mercy Squads can do that too.
This solves a major problem. There are just so many people walking around who have assaulted pontiffs or consecrated bishops illegally or whatever, have confessed and have been forgiven, but who still want their excommunication lifted, but are too lazy to go to Rome for it. The Mercy Squads will solve that.
Am I the only one who sees something more sinister in this? You know, like the picture above, “No one expects the Missionaries of Mercy!” Just don’t tell me they’ll arrive in black helicopters. That will really stoke my suspicions.
Sometimes, it’s not so much that certain Vatican initiatives seem sinister as that they seem completely random and pointless. And when an institution as prestigious and respected as the Vatican does seemingly random, pointless things, it can be difficult not to wonder if there’s some ulterior motive that would make sense of the action. That would make it actually…have a point. Ergo, thoughts of dark conspiracies.
That said, I doubt Cardinal Fang is making a comeback, but I won’t completely table my suspicion. Either way, you can’t blame people for looking for some rhyme and reason.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children. You can find more of his writing at his Substack, The Skojec File.
If I’m not mistaken, there are certain sins whose penalties can only be removed by the bishop–e.g., abortion.
As to the mistake re: “reserved to the Holy See”, the Papal Theologian is supposed to proof these things before they’re issued. The current papal theologian is supposed to be really solid, which makes me wonder if he’s being bypassed and has turned into the Church’s equivalent of the Maytag repair man.
Most bishops have delegated the faculty to lift certain penalties to them, although there may be certain restrictions. In my diocese, the bishop has delegated that authority to myself and the other priests, particularly of absolving excommunications involving abortion. The restriction for us is that I can only lift the abortion penalty twice, meaning same person on different occasions (as in confessed abortion, penalty is lifted, has another abortion, penalty is lifted).
Thank you, Father, for this clarification. God bless you.
A reserved sin is still technically reserved, even if the Bishop allows all his priests the faculty to absolve it, which only some bishops do.
Unfortunately, Catholics have become accustomed to imprecise and even sloppy wording from the Holy See lo these past fifty years, but under this papacy, it has ramped up to an astonishing level.
As others have pointed out, it may be that the Missionaries of Mercy (MOMS) will somehow be empowered to grant annulments under the Petrine Privilege to the roughly 50% of baptized Christians whose marriages the pope believes to be invalid. That’s the kind of “mercy” that currently preoccupies our hierarchs, after all, and it makes more sense than the canonical crimes listed in the article.
I can’t believe they would turn into a sort of mass annulment squad. But, weirdly, even that would be technically logical and even not necessarily against Catholic teachings. It’s at least logically possible that half of all Catholic “marriages” are invalid. (Note my caveats–technically, logically possible and not necessarily.) But it’s not logically possible that you could give communion to divorced people having a continuing and unrepentant sexual relationship with a second person while at the same time claiming to not go against Catholic teachings on communion, sin and penance. You can shout “mercy” 99 times and it wouldn’t change that fact.
As you so correctly point out, the problem that many have identified is the vagueness, the imprecision, the false dichotomy between pastoral and doctrinal concerns, and so on. And this makes it seem, at least, more insidious. Of course you’re not going to announce you’re changing Doctrine. Rather, you’re just going to do the mercy chant long enough and hard enough so that everyone thinks you’ve changed it, or at least correctly deciphers the wink such that they now think that it never really mattered in the first place.
Why can’t you believe they would turn into just such an agency? They perfectly mesh with Pope Francis’s situationist-pastoral approach to doctrine. Why try to finesse the Kasper proposal on a messy, synod all level when you can just initiate its creative, bold, courageous, tender, and serene “new historical dynamics” on the parish, indeed, on the confessional level (i.e. completely free from the external forum)?
“I can’t believe they would turn into a sort of mass annulment squad.”
Really? I can. No amount of wickedness at this point would surprise me.
Of course… adultery is not a reserved sin, and never was. Like any sin however, it must be repented of to be forgiven, if we are talking about mercy.
Granting annulments is not an act of mercy but an determination of facts.
It may be true that 50% of divorcees were in invalid “marriages” before their current relationship, and expediting the process of annulments might be warranted, but their must still be a process.
Um … I think we agree?
Good grief, sounds like another publicity stunt orchestrated by the PR team to make sure no one forgets that this is the most humble pope evah!
My suspicion is that this will have less to do with mercy (i.e. extending forgiveness to repentant sinners who have made a firm purpose of amendment to abandon their lives of rebellion against the Most High), and much more to do with telling people that God loves and accepts them no matter what manner of life they choose to lead, 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 be damned.
This was my comment, which upon reflection I realized was perhaps the most cynical reading possible. I regret that. Hopefully the missionaries of mercy will serve to remind people that the Sacrament of Penance is always available to them.
Upon further reflection, Brian, even though you may want to give a kinder spin on what you said, what you said could very well be the case.
And while we “should” always hope that these novelties will remind people that the Sacrament of Penance is always available to them, being honest in our observations can also charitable – especially as giving the impression of mercy while being unmerciful in not communicating the necessity of repentance and turning away from sin is a serious matter that would need addressing
Promising something that one cannot deliver – mercy without justice and/or truth – is damaging in the long term. That’s why I agree with you that this is likely just another PR move. The new, and improved mercy.
“Fighting for the Faith” this is your motto to get lay faithful to open their wallets and make donations. However, I fail to see how posts such as this one “fight” for the Faith much less defend our Holy Church or the Holy Father. This blogger and what he claims to know and explain are merely a pathetic example of someone who writes in complete ignorance of Church teaching and display insult to Christ Himself. Papal Bulls are not casual statements that can be mocked and belittled, moreover, those who do mock the Holy Father’s instruction and command are spitting in the Face of Christ. The above article hosts more than incorrect and misinterpreted theology it also boasts of a hate and contempt towards the Holy See. I would strongly suggest you dig deeper into canon law and your misunderstanding of the Bull before posting a blogger’s distasteful and detraction ridden commentary as a reliable source. As you continue to find current Church teaching seemingly “pointless” and “completely random” I’m assuming it’s a different faith entirely that you are trying to “fight for”. You may want to examine your conscious (admonish your friend) and reread exactly what the Bull was saying on mercy and beyond that the discussion on justice. In justice, according to the Bull, everyone will pay the price for their sin. Let’s hope that there will be mercy shown to people who go out of their way to scandalize and destroy the Faith, our Mother Church, and the name and person of her Holy Vicar, under a false banner of ‘the fight’.
It might do to remember how many times in history the Vicar of Christ has himself turned and spat in Christ’s face. We’ve been blessed, this past 100 years of so with a run of Popes who were all personally good and holy men. But that’s no reason to turn the Papacy itself into an idol. Some Popes lacked courage. Some of them were unwise or naive. The Holy Spirit will protect the Holy Father from doing or saying anything that will actually destroy the Church, but that still leaves a lot of leeway. And the Spirit doesn’t necessarily protect the Church by making the Pope all-wise and all-knowing. Sometimes the Church is saved despite her leaders, by people from unexpected places and in surprising ways. I think Steve and the other contributors to this site are well within the bounds envisioned by CCC 907:
*”In accord with the knowledge, competence, and preeminence which they possess, [lay people] have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their
opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful, with due regard to the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons.”*
If you have an argument to make that can help us to better understand the actions and writings of this Pope in light of the Church’s teaching, I think we’d all be honestly grateful if you’d explain it to us rather than throwing around insults and accusations.
Mr. Wolkse: Thank you for defending my point. This article above has absolutely no consideration toward the common good of the lay faithful nor does it exhibit any reverence towards our pastors, in this case Pope Francis. Where exactly is their (both the blogger and 1Peter5) due reverence towards his person and/or station as canon 907 so clearly illustrates as necessary consideration?
Ultramontanism is heresy. The writers at 1P5 are keeping us from it BY dissecting the words of the man sitting in the Chair of Peter. They are exactly doing their “duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their
opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to the other Christian faithful”
I don’t find it without reverence but I do find it honest.
Judge not, as Pope Francis reminded us.
Ultramontanism is not a heresy. It does not even define as such. It is the name of an historical group of people who were not only in the Church but played a vital role in our Church teaching.
Ultramontane, (from Medieval Latin ultramontanus, “beyond the mountains/alps”), Catholics who agree with the Pope on matters of doctrine and policy. The word identified those northern European members of the church who regularly looked southward beyond the Alps (that is, to the popes of Rome) for guidance.
During the period of struggle within the church over the extent of papal prerogatives—beginning especially in the 15th century with the conciliar movement and continuing in the following centuries with the growth of strong nationalism and theological liberalism—the Ultramontanists were opposed by those, such as the Gallicans, who wished to restrict papal power. The Ultramontane Party triumphed in 1870 at the first Vatican Council when the dogma of papal infallibility was defined as a matter of Roman Catholic belief.
So to be a ultramontaist is to be a person that sides with the Pope and one who would of stood with the First Vatican Council and it’s teaching on papal infallibility. It would seem that if one is not an ultramontasit or in support of that group that person would find himself outside of the Catholic Church.
We prefer to make citations clear, so as to avoid the appearance of plagiarism.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica (http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/613447/Ultramontanism):
“Ultramontanism, (from Medieval Latin ultramontanus, “beyond the mountains”), in Roman Catholicism, a strong emphasis on papal authority and on centralization of the church. The word identified those northern European members of the church who regularly looked southward beyond the Alps (that is, to the popes of Rome) for guidance.
During the period of struggle within the church over the extent of papal prerogatives—beginning especially in the 15th century with the conciliar movement and continuing in the following centuries with the growth of strong nationalism and theological liberalism—the Ultramontanists were opposed by those, such as the Gallicans, who wished to restrict papal power. The Ultramontane Party triumphed in 1870 at the first Vatican Council when the dogma of papal infallibility was defined as a matter of Roman Catholic belief.”
Mottramism comes much closer to capturing the sense, and while certainly not a heresy, it is one of the greatest obstacles to being able to speak and think clearly about the current crisis.
Although I may have quoted parts of the Encyclopedia–I actually used 3 other sources for this response. The online Encyclopedia above is only one of them.
Ah, you make the mistake of confusing “The Pope” with the man who sits in the Chair of St. Peter. Common mistake.
When one takes the person who sits in the Chair and put him above his office, that is heresy. If we as Catholics then support the man over “The Pope” It falls into Papolotry and is heresy. A “New-Ultramontanism” One that you won’t find clear cut in the Encyclopedia, but heresy all the same.
“New-Ultramontanism” is something you just made up. If you have to make up heresies to prove a point you can’t have a discussion.
Please quote where I have ‘venerated’ or ‘exulted’ the Pope to the point of heresy or idolatry?
I’ll simply let the readers review your posts. God Bless.
I would like to contribute two data points to the contentious theological status of ultramontanism:
1) Francis Sullivan, S.J., Magisterium (, pp. 94-95):
“[O]ne can certainly not speak of steady progress towards unanimity on the question of papal infallibility between the council of Trent and Vatican I. … There is a general consensus that non-theological factors played at least as important a role here as the strictly theological ones. Prominent among the former was the widely shared hope that a strong affirmation of the spiritual authority of the Holy See would provide a remedy for the many evils of the day that were looked upon as the fruit of the liberalism and free-thinking stemming from Protestantism and the French Revolution. …
“The remarkable fact is that the nineteenth century witnessed such a rapid and widespread acceptance of ‘ultramontanism’ among Catholics in France, Germany, Austria and England. … [There was a] variety of motives that led nineteenth-century Catholics to see the best hope for the future of the Church to lie in the spiritual sovereignty of the pope, and his spiritual sovereignty best expressed in his prerogative of infallibility. …
“[T]he ecclesiology underlying ultramontanism was of the type that Congar has aptly termed ‘hierarchology’, rather than a genuine theology of the Church. … [A]s Congar also points out, one cannot say that Vatican I actually defined the kind of papal monarchy that was typical of ultramontane ecclesiology. While, for instance, it is true that the extreme papalist, Joseph de Maistre, helped to prepare minds to accept papal infallibility, Congar insists: ‘It was absolutely not his mediocre version of things, so alien to the tradition of the Church, that was made into dogma.’ …
“It is my impression that the attitude of most Catholic theologians today would resemble that taken by Newman. Few would want to subscribe to the ultramontane ecclesiology of the nineteenth century…. And yet, as Newman was, they are convinced of the truth of the dogma itself, being satisfied that one can accept the dogma without having to accept the theology or the exegesis of those who defined it….”
2) “The Primacy of the Successor of Peter in the Mystery of the Church”, CDF, Cdl. Ratzinger (1998):
“In recalling these essential points of Catholic doctrine on the primacy of Peter’s Successor, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is certain that the authoritative reaffirmation of these doctrinal achievements offers greater clarity on the way to be followed. This reminder is also useful for avoiding the continual possibility of relapsing into biased and one-sided positions already rejected by the Church in the past (Febronianism, Gallicanism, ultramontanism, conciliarism, etc.).”
So while it may not be a heresy, strictly speaking, ultramontanism is neither dogma nor free of error.
Meanwhile, the larger worry is that the current papacy is more Montanist and Ultramontanist.
Please calm down and read the article again. Going by your vituperative tone, it seems likely that anger got the better of you the first time through. Let’s look at the specific passage to which you took offense. Steve wrote:
No “Church teaching” has been called into question here, unless you wish to expand “Church teaching” to cover optional (and certainly non-magisterial) initiatives like this Missionaries of Mercy activity. (Is World Youth Day a Church teaching?)
Look: The problem is evident, once you understand the background. The pope writes in Misericordiae Vultus that his MoMs will have the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See. Steve and Oakes point out that there are no such sins remaining on the books. Yes, only the Vatican can lift external penalties attached to those sins, but even the lowliest parish priest fresh out of seminary can pardon the sins themselves. And “pardon” is the word used in the bull. If the Holy Father had written that the MoMs would have the the authority to lift canonical penalties reserved to the Holy See for particular grave sins, we might still be having a discussion, but it would be a very different one.
Do you disagree with this? If so, on which substantive grounds, precisely, do you disagree? If we are wrong, please correct us rather than indulging in emotional outbursts.
Yes, I can see you are all calling into question Church teaching. So for your reference, regarding Church teaching, and in order to understand the Missionaries of Mercy and their ability to pardon and what this means, here is the following:
” There will be priests to whom I will grant the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See, so that the breadth of their mandate as confessors will be even clearer. They will be, above all, living signs of the Father’s readiness to welcome those in search of his pardon.” His Holiness, Pope Francis–Para 18 MV
The Catholic definition of Pardon: “Any act of clemency toward a guilty person. It may be release from all or some of the punishment, or, more properly, forgiving the offense on the part of the one offended. In civil and ecclesiastical law a pardon is also the document that declares exemption from the penalties for an offense or crime. Until modern times a ‘pardon’ was synonymous with indulgence.”
Pardon,therefore, includes the penalties associated with particular sins. The use of the term “pardon” would apply here, within the context of Canon law, that their are still sins that require pardon from the Holy See. This full pardon would allow for benefits that only Catholics in full communion with the Church can obtain. Pardon does not merely provide absolution–as sin carries with it the need for restitution. Despite any priest being able to forgive a sin this does not include the authority to pardon (or forgive) those punishments to make restitution for the sin. Pope Francis’ choice of words were completely appropriate as he was is sending priests to lift these excommunications and other punishments. He is sending his Missionaries of Mercy to “pardon” sins which only the Holy See has the authority to do. He is sending this Missionaries to extend this pardon with his authority so in mercy the sinner might be fully admitted back into the Church.
Instead of getting hung up on a word, and misinterpreting the word altogether, it might be a better idea to find out what sins there are that have these severe punishments that need the Holy Father’s pardon, perhaps they are more prevalent among the faithful than some would like to think.
There is no need to call into question Church teaching for this part of the Bull. As everything in paragraph 18 is allowed and theologically sound, very little research into an understanding of ‘forgiveness’ and ‘pardon’ would have been enough in realizing what a profound demonstration of mercy these Missionaries of Mercy are for Our Church today.
Thank you for moderating your tone. This is much better.
You make a persuasive argument as to the meaning of “pardon”. I yield the point … at least until I hear a yet more persuasive one! However–and you knew there’d be a “however”, right?–you are still engaging in rhetorical overreach, which only diminishes the substantial point you are making.
First, no-one is questioning Church teaching, and you have not demonstrated anything of the sort. You have demonstrated that some of us may have been operating under an incomplete understanding of the Church’s definition of “pardon”, but to the extent that this is an honest error, we are culpable only of failing to properly inform ourselves before spouting off. (Mea culpa, and welcome to the internet.)
But what Church teaching is being questioned here? The Church’s power to forgive sins? The Church’s authority to impose and lift penalties associated with certain sins? The pope’s authority to send out Missionaries of Mercy with certain delegated authority of their own? Nope, nope, and nope.
What was being questioned, and remains a question for the moment, is the purpose of sending out Missionaries of Mercy to perform a) a function that can be performed by any priest with faculties (forgiveness of sins), and b) a function normally reserved to the Holy See, but which applies to a small number of very rare grave sins (lifting of canonical penalties).
In other words, even if you are correct about a)–and as I wrote above, I yield to the argument you presented–we are still entitled to wonder about the purpose of these MoMs, if their only “special power” is to remove the penalty for (say) punching the pope in the nose.
And much as I hate to play the old combox game of name the sin, I humbly suggest that, by persisting in your error of accusing people of questioning Church teaching, you are yourself indulging in detraction.
Church teaching and how we are to live encompasses and extends to every aspect and involves every facet of our lives.With this broad sense is the context in which I originally responded as you challenged how far “Church teaching” would extend–implying the bull contains optional ideas or reflections.
The wondering of the blogger seemingly questioned the Church and Her teachings as did the false misunderstanding of the Church teaching on pardon. The Pope articulates exactly why he is calling for Missionaries of Mercy further in paragraph 18 of the bull. I advise you to read further.
To name the sin as you suggest here is truly irrelevant. As detraction is the speaking ill of some other person and exposing their sin to a third party unnecessarily it does not apply in this context. I have spoken directly to those on this site and with One Peter Five–suggesting in fraternal correction that they reconsider their posted content.
You may want to heed your own advice, as comments such as ‘welcome to the internet’, ‘an emotional outburst’, and accusatory comments on my tone are both offensive and unjustified.
Thank you for the dialogue.
Whoa there! You don’t get to skate so easily.
I asked you to name a specific instance of questioning Church teaching by those here, and you retreat into a fuzzy cloud of “this broad sense is the context”, and like formulations–evidently covering up for the fact that, well…you’ve got nothing.
I repeat: no-one here has questioned one jot or tittle of Church teaching. You are eager to correct others in the most hysterical terms, yet you–otherwise so quick with the definitions–somehow cannot name a single instance of your central accusation. All you have are vague insinuations.
On my use of “optional”, to which you take unwarranted offense, here is the context:
Clearly, I am using “optional” here to describe initiatives that are undertaken at the discretion of the Holy Father. That is, they are “optional” in the sense that they are freely undertaken, and he could just as well have chosen to do otherwise. A great many papal acts are of this kind, and while no-one doubts that the pope has the authority to carry them out, it is perfectly legitimate to question the prudence or rationale of so doing. (Again, see World Youth Day.)
Look, I’m sure you’re a nice lady in person, but let’s fnord your initial emotional outburst:
pathetic example…complete ignorance of Church teaching…insult to Christ Himself…mocked and belittled…mock…spitting in the Face of Christ…hate and contempt towards the Holy See…distasteful and detraction ridden commentary…it’s a different faith entirely that you are trying to “fight for”…scandalize and destroy the Faith…false banner
My description stands.
If you don’t like my explanation for my response in regards Church teaching–there’s not much further to say. I explained that I took your quote to mean you found some things optional. Perhaps you did not intend this understanding, however that was the perspective I had originally and to what I responded.
I do hope you don’t find it necessary to categorize ever single teaching the Church has as to whether you find it optional or not.
I stand by everything I’ve said–in the exact way in which I said it. I find it unbelievable that the blogger can mock and belittle– comparing the Pope to an 8th grader—yet you find it offensive that someone dare to defend the Pope and His writings. Using a strong description of something that was truly pathetic and destructive in nature isn’t an emotional outburst. It’s having the fortitude to admonish something for what it is.
The Holy Father commented on this exact idea in a recent homily saying, “Even today the Church’s message is a message of the path of boldness, of Christian courage. These two men, as the Bible tells us, who without instruction, had courage. It is a word that may be translated as ‘courage’, ‘boldness’, ‘freedom to speak’, ‘not being afraid to say things’ … It is a word that has many meanings, in the original language. Parresìa, boldness … and from fear they passed to boldness, to saying things with freedom,”
This boldness in defense of the leader of the Catholic Church and his instructions was all I was getting at. I was giving way to a true fighting for the Church and a clear understanding of her teaching. That you find it necessary to bring an ad hominem attack in the description of an emotional outburst only further emphasizes that while I perhaps “have got nothing”–you found my admonishment personal and at some level you have found it troubling to the point of attempting to side step the original points made,
Good evening to you and yours.
Ps. World youth day is a brilliant institution by a late canonized Saint–if you’ve never gone I can’t encourage you enough– as it is truly a life changing and faith filled experience
I think we have your measure by now, Mrs Coulombe. God bless.
We do fight for the faith here. Against enemies both outside and within.
This post isn’t fighting for anything. It’s asking questions about something that seems curious, and potentially superfluous.
I would be very happy to see the Jubilee of Mercy extend to an increase in the offering of regularly scheduled confession times in parishes around the world. This is what is most needed.
The institution of the “Missionaries of Mercy” does not rise to the level of Church teaching, incidentally. It’s an initiative that exists in our current place and time which can later be dissolved and need never be made use of again. Church teaching is, as you probably know, perennial.
That you seem to doubt (since you are encouraging hope) that mercy can even be shown to those who ask questions about the way certain things within the Church are conducted, it seems that perhaps a re-read of this papal bull may be in order for you.
“Peter has no need of our lies or flattery. Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are the very ones who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See—they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations”
– Fr. Melchior Cano O.P., Bishop and notable Dominican Theologian at the Council of Trent.
1. In your lay opinion-what the Church needs is more confessions–In the opinion of the Vicar of Christ, he says we need this too, and a lot more–Please read the bull.
2. Does fighting for the faith include- the made up heresies and derogatory statements that are flaunted all over this comment feed?
3. To praise an article that attacks and belittles the Holy Father –I refer you to the very first paragraph of the bloggers post; in which he mockingly accuses the bull of being written by an 8th grader—is beneath the dignity of any organization that wishes to speak on behalf of the Catholic Church.
4. To speak out against the slander, belittling, detraction, and even blasphemy against the Holy Father and his sacred person and office is far from an attack. It is a mere admonishment and warning for One Peter Five to exam their conscious and reflect on the destruction against the Church they claim to fight on behalf of on social media.
5. I wouldn’t accuse anyone here of being overly loyal to the Holy Father or even describing themselves as papist. It’s obvious that One Peter Five is “blindly and indiscriminately” posting articles that undermine the dignity of the Chair of Peter. I refer you to the below two canons which One Peter Five should heed in their efforts to “fight for” the Church.
Can. 1369 A person is to be punished with a just penalty, who, at a public event or assembly, or in a published writing, or by otherwise using the means of social communication, utters blasphemy, or gravely harms public morals, or rails at or excites hatred of or contempt for religion or the Church.
Can. 1373 A person who publicly incites his or her subjects to hatred or animosity against the Apostolic See or the Ordinary because of some act of ecclesiastical authority or ministry, or who provokes the subjects to disobedience against them, is to be punished by interdict or other just penalties.
1. The Bull mentions the word “confession” zero times; it mentions “penance” zero times. There are five instances of the word “reconciliation,” only two of which are prescriptive, and these only vaguely so. The likelihood that this will have a significant impact on increased confession times is, sadly, unlikely.
2. The commenters in this thread are, like you, guests. We limit censoring comments mostly to those who are found to be habitually abusive. People want to make arguments, let them be made — and refuted — as necessary.
3. The article was not praised, it was linked to as something which takes a look at this most recent initiative of what is, by any orthodox measure, a troubling papacy. I did not cite the opening paragraph because I found it irrelevant – neither wildly inappropriate nor supportive of the discussion. You are entitled to your opinion of whether it is above, beneath, or on par with the dignity of this or any organization, but I have the editorial call, and it just didn’t bother me. Your insisting that it should isn’t going to change that.
And for the record – we don’t speak on behalf of the Church. We speak to it, and its members. Age of the laity, and all that.
4. There was no slander, detraction, or blasphemy against the pope. You could maybe argue the “belittling” point, but Francis is not a clear or gifted writer, and his theology is often sloppy. (See Evangelii Gaudium 161 for the most glaring example). Enough faithful Catholics have been scandalized by things that have happened during this pontificate, however, that I think a little humor is good medicine.
5. You need to read a lot more of our articles before you fully understand our positions on these issues. I assure you, our loyalty is first and always to the deposit of faith and the perennial teachings of the Church, and only then to any particular pope. Good popes and bad popes have filled the history of the Church. We must be critical and avoid papal positivism, especially in these times – just as we must avoid rash judgment. The balance may not always be perfectly struck, but we strive to be fair and honest, and always faithful and submissive to Catholic doctrine and the fullness of Magisterial authority.
1. “The initiative of “24 Hours for the Lord,” to be celebrated on the Friday and Saturday preceding the Fourth Week of Lent, should be implemented in every diocese. So many people, including the youth, are returning to the Sacrament of Reconciliation…Let us place the Sacrament of Reconciliation at the centre once more in such a way that it will enable people to touch the grandeur of God’s mercy with their own hands”
This is taken from the Bull –the Pope is directly referring to the Sacrament of Confession/ Reconciliation. This is not a vague statement, this is a direct instruction to every diocese, this is alongside words of encouragement to those who are going to Confession.
3. In your minor opinion this is a “troubling papacy”. Putting this website into perspective, on the world’s stage, this is far from a troubled pontificate. You’d be hard pressed to find truly orthodox Catholics that would find as much fault as this website and those like it find. — Faithful Catholics don’t spend their time digging up dirt to destroy or bring further confusion of the Faith–. Faithful Catholics work to build the faith where it is lacking.
Furthermore, you specifically said that this was your blogger friend thereby giving him your full endorsement. Do not try to shy away from what you post without commentary to the contrary. The article was endorsed with personal recommendation of the author–this is a form of praise.
4. So because, you do not acknowledge someone as a clear and gifted writer than that person most certainly is not. There is no sloppy theology in EG161, perhaps you’d like to point out just what exactly you are referring too?
However, this is truly a pitiful argument to make –I can only assume that those that have difficulty with the teaching of EG161- display a sloppy obedience in following Christ’s command of to ‘love one another as I have loved you’. For 161 is really only a reference to the biblical quotations on this teaching.–The words of God Himself in His Holy Bible– Perhaps those that are having intense difficulty lack the wisdom to understand this teaching of the Church.
5. Being faithful to Christ and His Church includes loyalty to the Magisterial Authority–CCC 100″ The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.”
So your definition of how you place loyalty is not consistent with Church teaching. You can’t follow and understand the Deposit of Faith without equally understanding the Authority of the Pope as interrupter of this deposit. The Holy Father is not held secondary in the Catholic Church–He is Christ’s direct vicar–our loyalty to him is not a false positivism, it is what we are called to do in following Church teaching in our day.
If you want to “speak” to the Church and her members, you may want to clear up these particular issues you have with your own Faith and with the Catholic Church…because the only fight you are causing from within is destruction and teaching error.
You suggest I read more articles–none in any recent memory–have provided any Faith filled teaching that would have helped in perspective to understand the Papal Bull today.The positions on these issues are meaningless unless they are in line with the Holy See.
It was with abusive commentary that the Year of Mercy was hailed at one Peter Five. The priories of sensational journalism and poor and misunderstood theology trump the Truth–as it is quite clear from even your own snide comments against the Pontiff of the Catholic Church.Your own example presented that you felt obvious belittling completely irrelevant to the issue.
Since there’s clearly no benefit to continuing perpetually-alternating point-by-point broadsides, I’m going to save my time for something more worthwhile. You didn’t come here to be persuaded, and I’ve spent countless hours of study, reflection, and discussion working out my own positions.
I won’t be responding further.
Steve, thank you for your patient moderation, but mostly for communicating a clear understanding of the papacy as pertains to the Deposit of the Faith. Those who accuse you of not understanding his role as “interpreter” are themselves confused as they seem more intent on manifesting a Catholic oracle. Something the Pope was never intended to be.
Thank you. Papal positivism is an unfortunate aspect of our current circumstances.
An aspect aided, in part, by some Protestant turned Catholic experts I’ve encountered online who seem to promulgate the misconception.
Thanks for the blog. And the truth.
“without equally understanding the Authority of the Pope as interrupter of this deposit.”
….it would be well played if Claire presented a better understanding of what the Pope is called to do from a truly Catholic perspective :- /
Note that I was referring to how she typed “interrupter” instead of “interpreter”. 😉
Thank goodness, Elliot. My apologies for missing the subtlety. But hey, we’ve just demonstrated the need for clear understanding. My entire take on your position was altered by only one word. And you’re not even the Pope ;^)
“…It’s obvious that One Peter Five is “blindly and indiscriminately” posting articles that undermine the dignity of the Chair of Peter.”
With all due respect, it is permissible, Claire, to state that what is coming forth from the Chair of Peter is what, in some instances, is undermining the dignity of the office. Indeed, it is necessary at times.
A leader of any institution may have the very best of intentions, but when their actions and/or inaction make those in the organization question the level of their education and/or their mode of engagement or advisement (Especially when a secular PR firm has been engaged), blaming faithful Catholics who make the observations is counter productive. It smacks of blind loyalty, that is the loyalty that defends no matter what, which is often times the worst when it comes to actually having the aid one needs to do the job and do it well. That said, becoming a Saint also doesn’t entail having everything one has ever instituted as being perfect.
Helping the Vatican and/or the Pope does not mean looking the other way and/or covering up what is justifiably concerning. (Francis himself said to make a mess and speak up.) So while you attempt to paint others as “publicly inciting hatred or animosity” you are completely missing the point that folks are concerned for this Pope and the Church. And concerned for good reason. Nothing made up. But rather an objective analysis of the odd disconnects and seeming misunderstanding of what processes are already in place – something a PR firm might do as they are not intimate with Canon law and/or Catholic practice.
Also, while you admonish others to review their conscience, you may want to try to understand that not all faithful have the same charism. This is the Body of Christ. So while your position may be to defend in the way you see fit, others help the Pope to do his job and aid the Church by calling out that which seems odd, incongruous, superfluous, etc.
The essence of your presentation is, “shame on you, you ignorant hater.” Unfortunately, that kind of nonsense gets traction amongst the mind-numbed in the world. It is still, nonetheless, nonsense.
I’ve unfortunately waded through everything you’ve posted and there’s not a cogent argument to be found; only self-righteous finger wagging intended to marginalize an opinion like old Saul.
If a bull isn’t “casual,” why is this one so sloppy in its language?
And there’s no such thing as “current” or modern or up-to-date Church teaching. There is Church teaching, and then there are different ways of expressing it. Some ways are sloppier than others, like the wording of the aforementioned bull
C’mon peoples! We all know that the Church has to figure out a way to get people back to confession. Hell is getting full and there are no provisions to expand it! I suggest we offer carbon credits instead of indulgences since everybody (including the pope) seem more concerned the this world getting hotter than the afterlife being too hot.
Repeating someone else’s error, particularly when he is mocking the Pope, really makes you look foolish.
A quick search of the Code will demonstrate that in fact there were other reserved sins before 1983 but that the enumerated offense are the ones that remain reserved. Of course all you need do is remember the four SSPX bishops illegally consecrated by Lefevevre and their automatic reserved excommunication, lifted a few years ago by by B16 to realize the article you are citing is factually wrong.
Can. 1367 A person who throws away the consecrated species or takes or retains them for a sacrilegious purpose incurs a latae sententiae excommunication reserved to the Apostolic See; moreover, a cleric can be punished with another penalty, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state
Thank you for your sane reply.
No, absolution for these sins is no longer reserved to the Holy See. The lifting of their “canonical penalties” is. This is not the same thing. Back up a bit and read:
Can. 1357 §1. Without prejudice to the prescripts of cann. 508 and 976, a confessor can remit in the internal sacramental forum an undeclared latae sententiae censure of excommunication or interdict if it is burdensome for the penitent to remain in the state of grave sin during the time necessary for the competent superior to make provision.
You’re repeating the same imprecision that makes this Bull
so disturbing in the first place.
The canonical penalty of excommunication is that you are out of communion with the Catholic Church and thus may not receive her Sacraments. The reservation to the Holy See must be interpreted strictly according to Can 1354 §3
Can 1357 allows internal forum derelicts to be absolved, as it were provisionally…but ultimate still retains the reservation in fact in §2 “In granting the remission…the obligation of making recourse within a month to the competent superior or to a priest endowed with the faculty and the obligation of obeying his mandates…” This exception is given not particularly for those derelicts reserved to the Holy See and also is only for internal forum derelicts. I am thinking it is specifically written for abortion. Since most of the automatic excommunications are public acts, even if you considered 1357 to lessen the number of reserved sins at least the illegal consecration of bishops could never be absolved under 1357 and is still reserved. In fact all these sins are “reserved”, that is the precise language used by the canon, in allowing a confessor to grant absolution of a reserved sin the Holy See simply exercises the Petrine prerogative to loose what expressly by law Peter chose to bind.
No, I’m sorry. You’re still missing an important distinction. There used to be, in the old Code, sins whose absolution was “reserved to the Holy See.” In the 1983 code there are no longer any such “reserved” sins. The lifting of canonical penalties is a separate issue.
Pope Francis says in Misericordiae Vultis that he will appoint “priests to whom I will grant the authority to pardon even those sins reserved to the Holy See.” Notice the word “pardon.” Since there are no longer any such sins in the current Code, this has caused some confusion. I’m sure these things will be clarified in time.
And the word is “delict” by the way, not “derelict.”
I understand what you are saying perfectly. However part of the canonical penalty of an excommunication is that absolution can not be offered until the penalty is lifted…these sins remain therefore reserved to the Pope and anyone the Pope choses to deligate authority to to absolve them. They are reserved sins even if they are addressed in the larger context of excommunications Reserved to the Holy See.
I see. So reserved sins are still reserved even when they’re not. Got it.
It seems jumping into a forum declaring how “foolish” everyone else is makes it kind of difficult to walk things back without looking foolish yourself.
I don’t need to walk things back because these sins remain reserved.
If you care to test this fact you will find yourself in Rome first to have the canonical penalty removed, and only then to have your sin absolved, because you can not be absolved otherwise, unless as 1357 says the sin is both in the internal forum and the time before seeking recourse to Rome found burdensome by your confessor. Even then, you will still need to go to Rome otherwise the absolution will be rescinded. That sounds pretty reserved to me…but perhaps I am just being foolish. The point is you do need recourse to Rome in which case theoretically an extraordinary confessor with the power to lift excommunications and therefore absolve these sins is not without merit and mocking the holy fathers idea as having no basis in reality is foolish.
Okay. I’m not sure this is worth pursuing, but what the heck. I’m sure everyone else has decided this horse is dead and moved on by now. So if we’re alone there’s no one to annoy.
First of all, I apologize for calling you foolish. That was un-called for and didn’t exactly contribute anything to the discussion. You must care a great deal about this issue and are obviously no fool.
With that out of the way, let’s have a few definitions:
1. Excommunication is not a sin. It can be imposed, remitted, and reimposed, but not absolved or pardoned.
2. If a thing is delegated, it is not reserved. It can’t be both at the same time.
3. Absolution of sin cannot be “rescinded” as you say above. You probably didn’t mean to say that. You’re either forgiven or you’re not. Christ is not going to change his mind about that. Nor can absolution be given conditionally, pending future actions or conditions.
With all this in mind, let’s look at 1357 again:
“. . . a confessor can remit in the internal sacramental forum [that’s the confessional] an undeclared latae sententiae censure of excommunication or interdict if it is burdensome for the penitent to remain in the state of grave sin . . . .”
So a confessor can lift the excommunication incurred by these grave sins – not because the excommunication is burdensome – but because remaining in a state of mortal sin is burdensome. In other words, so the sin can be absolved. Sounds pretty merciful to me.
Now the penitent has a month to get to a “competent superior” i.e. Bishop, the CDF, Pope. If he fails to do this, the excommunication is re-imposed – but there’s no way to re-impose the sin. If it’s been forgiven, its forgiven.
(actually, the end of par. 2 makes even this unecessary: “…however, recourse can also be made through the confessor, without mention of the name.” Meaning the confessor can approach the Ordinary on behalf of the penitent and obtain “recourse” without mentioning the penitent’s name).
Given all this, it’s clear there is in practice, no longer any sin whose absolution is reserved to the Holy See. There are lots of other things reserved to the Pope or to Bishops, but not that. (like lifting canonical penalties) This is not really a point in dispute, it’s commonly pointed out as a significant difference between the 1917 and the 1983 code.
If there’s still any doubt Canon law itself tells us how it is to be interpreted:
“Can. 36 §1. An administrative act must be understood according to the proper meaning of the words and the common manner of speaking. In a case of doubt, those which refer to litigation, pertain to threatening or inflicting penalties, restrict the rights of a person, injure the acquired rights of others, or are contrary to a law which benefits private persons are subject to a strict interpretation; all others are subject to a broad interpretation.”
So – bad stuff gets a strict (narrow) interpretation, good stuff gets a broad interpretation.
Sorry for such a long post. I hope this makes sense.
I’m still paying attention, and this is great. Thanks very much for walking through this, Robert.
Actually, I’m still paying attention, too. I echo Murray’s thanks.
1. An excommunication is not a sin. It is a canonical impediment to absolution however, absolution can not be given while an excommunication is in place, and so absolution of the sin requires the lifting of the penalty. This is why the old form of absolution explicitly united these two acts.
2. Even in the old code the faculty to absolve reserved sins was delegated–particularly to the confessors of the four major basilicas of Rome and the Apostolic Penitentiary. So if you stand by your second point then there never were any reserved sins at all. Reservation means that some who have faculties to absolve in general do not have faculties to absolve that particular reserved sin, or in the current formulation lift the reserved penality and then absolved the “unreserved” sin that is really reserved until the penalty is lifted. Authority to absolve is reserved to a particular authority, who may delegate it to other particular authorities while reserving it in general. So how many delegations make a reservation not a reservation? It seems that even if it is reserved from one priest it remains a reservation. E.g. just because I reserve a table doesn’t mean I can’t give it to my friends, it is still however, reserved from everyone else!
3. While you are correct that the word rescinded is imprescise, absolution is ALWAYS given conditionally. Conditional upon the proper disposition of the penitent. As the Canons insist a valid confession requires true contrition and actual confession of sins in number and kind. While I make a moral judgement that you are well disposed to absolution, you can fool me but you can’t fool Christ, and it is he who actually absolves. And so if as I am morally required to do, I inform you that you are laboring under an excommunication, and that for the pastoral reasons envisioned I will lift that excommunication to offer absolution with the stipulation that you follow canonical form to regularize yourself, that stipulation, to which you must agree would invalidate, not rescind, your confession if you entered into it (LIED) with no intention of satisfying the requirement–it would be a sacriligious confession. Like a pennance if somehow you FORGOT, honestly, then no absolution would not be rescinded though, of this you are correct. The fact that the priest can serve as your proxy for seeking recourse to Rome does not negate the fact that recourse to Rome is necessary, necessary for absolution to be given.
We are arguing semantics here though… I understand what you are saying, that the formulation of the language and the procedure is different, so different as to suggest that this proposal is purposeless. I might agree with that, but, the reality at work is that their are sins which because of canonical penalties can not be forgiven in as easy, unreserved, a manner as others. Even more important is the PRECEPTION, that this is the case. I came back to this thread because I was DUMBFOUNDED by the response to the announcement that all confessors would be granted the faculties to lift the excommunication and then absolve abortion. I have had this faculty, to absolve what is in reality a reserved sin because of the penalty of excommunication attached to it, since ordination… in this world filled with the enemies lies preception is reality. Perhaps the Holy Father’s proposal comes down to nothing more than a marketing ploy a bait an switch, because we all know that $1.99 is so much less expensive than $2.00.
For those who do not realize this excommunication is a sin that is reserved. Abortion to the diocesan bishop. Others, including all of those mentioned above to the Holy See.
I’ve now reread the Bull a number of times, and each time it gets worse. There is certainly room for Steve or others to critically examine some of the other aspects. And I’m sure they will. But I want to make a brief comment regarding the “comparing the Pope to an 8th grader” thing. Obviously he’s no 8th grader. But that doesn’t exonerate the passage that I cited (or if Claire prefers, “mocked”). Christ died to save our souls, or at least, to put it another way, to allow us to ask Him to do so. And yes, that has more than a bit to do with mercy. But He didn’t die “so that everyone may work together to build a brighter future.” At best, those sound like the words of a naive 8th grader. Theologically, they are not Christian words. Indeed, they are almost anti-Christian words in the sense that they imply something about the Gospel message and the purpose of His life, death and resurrection that is basically a lie. Now, of course, as with anything, I might be wrong in all sorts of ways and for all sorts of reasons. But the position of the Francis defenders seems to be that either I MUST be wrong, or if I’m right, I either shouldn’t say it, or I should cover it with such flowery decorations as to almost bury it. This is not a gotcha game. It’s not looking for some flub or mistake, which I suppose any Pope might make. Rather, it’s identifying yet the latest node in what is now a staggeringly obvious and expanding pattern. Popes can be wrong. And yes, they can even be bad. Faithful Catholics who now believe the first and/or the second claim have each wrestled with how then to proceed. Perhaps Claire is right that humor and mockery (not that that’s all there is to it of course) is not the proper way to go. But please, “spitting in Christ’s face”, “denying Church teachings”, “expressing hatred for the Holy See”? I didn’t try to take a 180 degree turn in my life five years ago just so I could do that. I don’t ask for any mortal man’s or woman’s mercy in my case. But have some mercy for the countless others who have been faithful practicing Catholics for ten times longer, and at a time when the secular world is rising against them with fury and venom, see their own Holy Father punching them in the gut.
I don’t have any idea what this Mercy Squad business is about. But here’s one idea. Perhaps our very clever Pope is planning a new communication strategy, e.g. a new reality TV series featuring a flying squadron of commando commiserators who will arrive in parishes to give general absolution to the congregation on Sunday morning rendering the need for personal confession unnecessary. Please feel free to share your thoughts on other possibilities.
Didn’t the Vatican hire a PR firm after Francis’ election? If so, the above “Mercy Squad” idea sounds more like a public relations idea, rather than something that makes any sense whatsoever with those who actually know the Faith.
That is worrisome, too, as the focus seems to be on the building of a cult of public perception rather than on what the Church actually teaches.
Expect the “mercy squads” to help promote the approval of sin, as will happen as part of or somewhat after the October 2015 Synod. Anyone with open eyes saw the first attempt at the October 2014 Synod. Valuing sodomy and approving of adultery is just the first step, as those mortal sins are widespread. Yes, expect the great schism as prophesied at Akita (church approved). Get to know the traditional and faithful priests in your area to be able to receive valid sacraments, especially as the abomination of desolation – invalidation of the Holy Sacrifice of th Mass – is implemented.
Sometimes it’s right to expect the worst.
It’s the bishops they’re heading for, silly – or rather Spalding – although Lent will hardly be long enough, particularly with some (but not all ) of the Germanic lot. That is why he has emphasised that the bishops must welcome them!
Has ++ Williamson been warned yet? I think someone ought to drop him a hint in all fairness.
Now who was it who said that where conspiracy seemed likely, and the darker it is, almost certainly what you were coming up against was amateurish incompetence, admittedly frequently exploited by passing opportunists – as will this be.
Ann Barnhardt on this Missionaries of Mercy stuff. Yikes.