After a few earlier words of Bishop Bernard Fellay on 10 April on the Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetita (where he speaks of a boat with a hole below the waterline, which is now prone to sink), the SSPX has now published a more formal statement and published it on its own website (in French). Father Mathias Gaudron, of the district of Germany, has signed this formal statement. (Here is the German version of the statement.)
The statement is entitled “The Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia: the Victory of Subjectivism.” It starts with a description of how some more liberal-minded Catholics have been disappointed with the papal text because it still repeats some of the traditional positions of the Catholic Church on homosexuality and on marriage. However, the text continues: “It [the papal document] has opened a breach which puts into question the whole of Catholic morality.” In Chapter 8, the statement continues, “Pope Francis has now opened the doors which will permit persons in the future to abstain from Catholic morality by citing the new instructions of the pope.” Father Gaudron continues:
This [the papal instruction] does not only repeat the troubling affirmations of the second synod, according to which the remarried divorcees are “living members of the Church,” to which the Holy Ghost bestows “gifts and charisms for the good of all.” (No. 299), but it goes still further beyond it. For sure, the instruction concerning a Catholic marriage and all the ancient norms are still valid today; that is to say, it is still forbidden for those to receive absolution and Holy Communion who live in cohabitation or who are simply united by a new civil marriage, but … now there are exceptions!
Without reference to the “complexity of the different situations,” says Gaudron, the pope proposes to avoid judgments. One has now to regard the general norms in the face of “all the different particular situations.” However, says Gaudron, this might sometimes be applicable to human norms, but not to divine laws. No one, Gaudron reminds us, can dissolve a validly contracted and consummated sacramental marriage – “not even the pope.” And he continues: “These laws do not know or allow any exception and they are valid independent of the circumstances.” It has always been taught, according to the SSPX priest, that “the moral range of an action contains therefore something objective and does not finally depend only [or at all] upon the circumstances or the intention of the subject.” Whatever the circumstances or the intentions, to kill an innocent person deliberately “is always an evil deed,” says Father Gaudron. Applied to a situation of adultery, the priest says: “One might well have a certain understanding for a woman who is engaged in a new relationship because of the infidelity or the hardness of heart of her husband, and one could admit that, in such a case, the fault is less grave, but nevertheless adultery remains an evil act in itself.”
With reference to the pope’s statement that those people living in “irregular” situations are not always to be found in the state “of mortal sin, deprived of sanctifying Grace,” Father Gaudron continues to show how the pope (more laxly) proposes that some such couples now even should stay together in order “to avoid adding a new sin.” The priest continues that such a case could only be admissible if the new spouses live as “brother and sister, in absolute continence,” a rule that has been already approved by the Church. But if there is a couple who, in their subjective understanding, believes that what they are doing pleases God, Gaudron says, “their conduct still objectively contradicts the Will of God.” Therefore, he says, “a true pastor whose mission it is to return the lost sheep to the paths of God, must not simply accept such a situation, nor give them [such couples] the Sacraments, as if this is a couple that has a true Christian marriage.” Gaudron continues: “Yet, this is exactly the end to which the considerations of the pope lead.” The pope says, according to Gaudron, that one is allowed to live in the state of Grace while living in “an objective situation of sin.” In footnote 351, the pope proposes even the “help of the sacraments” in “certain cases,” as the priest then says.
Father Gaudron concludes: “In this allowance, the pope distances himself from Catholic moral teaching” while “having the nerve to justify such sophisms with the help of putative distinctions as taught by Saint Thomas Aquinas.”
Father Gaudron also criticizes the fact that it is now essentially given into the hands of an individual priest as to whether or not such troubled couples may receive the Sacraments. And he continues: “Which priest will now take the risk to give the Sacraments to one couple because of their supposed particular situation, but, at the same to refuse the Sacraments to other couples who are not validly married?” Additionally, in the eyes of Father Gaudron, this argumentation coming from the pope will be more easily applied to other cases, as well: For example, “If a homosexual couple really loves each other and simply does not come to see that their way of life is sinful – could one then not also give them Holy Communion?”
In quoting the pope’s startling words that “no one can be condemned forever,” Father Gaudron concludes that the pope seems to imply that “a couple who lives in a state of sin may not be excluded from Holy Communion forever.” However, Father Gaudron reminds us that the sinner has to stop sinning if he wants to save his soul.
Father Gaudron states that even the better parts of the papal document are not entirely free from error. However, says Gaudron, it is especially with the content of Chapter 8 that Amoris Laetitia takes its place among the most deplorable Apostolic writings to be found in the more recent modern history of the Catholic Church. And, as Father Gaudron comes then to conclude: “One can only hope that the cardinals, bishops and theologians who have, in the last two years, continually defended the Church’s teaching on marriage against its attenuation may now have the courage to go into resistance.”