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Through the Eye of a Loophole

Loophole 2Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia has elicited a wide variety of reactions. Most Catholic media have accentuated the positive: this document clearly rejects abortion, the idea of calling same-sex couples “married,” and a formal process of offering Holy Communion to married Catholics separated from their spouses and living in adultery unless they commit to be celibate – since, in God’s eyes, they’re still married, as Jesus Himself made clear.

But a number of dedicated Catholics are also worried by the document – not so much for what it asserts as for what it omits and what it permits. Prominent Catholic authors such as Robert Royal; James Schall, S.J.; and Ross Douthat have expressed their grave concerns over what Douthat calls the Anglican-style “truce” that Pope Francis accepted for the Church, allowing orthodox doctrine and non-Catholic practices simply to coexist. Michael Brendan Dougherty goes so far as to call the document an instance of “hubris and cowardice” because it boldly authorizes profound changes in Catholic life without daring to alter the underlying doctrines.

From what I have read, Pope Francis seems to present the Catholic vision of a lifelong, loving, and fruitful marriage not so much as the ordinary plan God has in mind for the vast majority of humans, but rather as a noble ideal toward which we can idealistically strive – something like the lofty Franciscan vision of absolute, Christ-like poverty, or a call to bloody martyrdom. And who could blame someone for failing at that?

For all the reaffirmations of Christian morality, the document leaves a theological gap the size of the Lincoln Tunnel, which dissenters are sure to exploit, using all their institutional power to transform the sacrament of marriage along purely secular lines. As Roberto de Mattei explains (emphases added):

Everyone was expecting the answer to one basic question: Can those who have remarried civilly after a first marriage, receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist? The Church has always given a categorical no[.] …

The answer of the post-synod Exhortation is, instead: along general lines – no, but “in certain cases” – yes. (no.305, note 351) …

What is obvious is this: the prohibition to receive Communion for the divorced and remarried is no longer absolute. The Pope does not authorize, as a general rule, Communion to the divorced, but neither does he prohibit it.

The decision on whether to give the Body of Christ to Catholics who are living in what the Church considers adultery will apparently be left to local pastors. How many will have the moral courage to hold firm in the face of anguished or angry parishioners?

Nor does the pope offer much encouragement to pastors placed in this position, as de Mattei explains:

The pastors wishing to refer to the Church’s commandments, would risk acting… “as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators” (no 310). “For this reason, a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations, as if they were stones to throw at people’s lives. This would bespeak the closed heart of one used to hiding behind the Church’s teachings, ‘sitting on the chair of Moses and judging at times with superiority and superficiality difficult cases and wounded families.’

How much of this same “charitable” rhetoric will dissenting Catholics apply to people in same-sex relationships? The correct answer is “all of it.” If Catholics living in adultery are to be fully “included” in Church life, to be welcomed as godparents, religion teachers, and lectors, what exactly is the argument for rejecting those in homosexual relationships calling themselves “married”? Isn’t that simply and blatantly “homophobic”? While Francis does not himself open the door to this conclusion, history tells us that the revolutionaries in the Catholic Church never wait for encouragement from the pope.

All Revolutionaries Need Is a Loophole – and Now They Have One

If you didn’t grow up in devoted Catholic circles during the 1970s and ’80s, you might not know the pattern that established itself in the wake of Vatican II – a meeting of the world’s bishops that raised (then dashed) great expectations among “progressive” Catholics who sought to accommodate Catholic doctrine to the expectations of modern Westerners. Many of the major liturgical changes that took place after Vatican II were rejected at first by Rome – which, a few years later, was faced with a fait accompli, since the liberals had ignored the Vatican’s orders, and now millions of Catholics were accustomed to the new practices, and it would be “disruptive” and “unpastoral” to disturb their new “local traditions.”

The same thing will happen now, as theological  revolutionaries claim that Francis’s call to be “welcoming” to  same-sex-attracted people implies that they deserve the exact same treatment now expected for those living in adultery – a policy theologically liberal bishops pushed for, hard, at last year’s Synod on the Family, only to be rebuked by the votes of doctrinally conservative bishops from places like Poland.

How soon will it be before pastors in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and other post-Christian wastelands are authorizing transvestites to hand out Holy Communion, same-sex couples to teach pre-Cana classes, and activists promoting sodomy to serve as principals of Catholic schools and seminaries – citing the language Pope Francis used to encourage compassion toward Catholics who have abandoned their sacramental marriages?

Under previous popes, faithful Catholics at least had firm, unambiguous papal statements to cite against such destructive local abuses, and to use in court when they had to defend their religious freedom against intolerant secular activists: “I’m sorry, Your Honor, but my Church explicitly requires this…” How long will it be until a well-informed judge, or a homosexual activist attorney, finds it useful to cite Amoris Laetitia against such beleaguered Catholics, and accuses them, in the pope’s own words, of “sitting on the chair of Moses”?

Not just our faith’s integrity, but our religious liberty is endangered by the pope’s ill-chosen words.

17 thoughts on “Through the Eye of a Loophole”

  1. Anglican style truce, yes that’s really well put. It also feels like the topic of communion for the divorced and remarried has been relegated from an issue of doctrine to an issue of discipline, thus seemingly freeing it up for debate on whether to permit it or not, a bit like the subject of priestly celibacy in the west.

    • Bingo. The whole “discipline vs. doctrine” chestnut is what has been trotted out by “conservative” Catholics every time something previously unthinkable has suddenly received official approbation by the Vatican. This is exactly what we have already heard with regard to Holy Communion in the hand, altar girls, females in the sanctuary period, “extraordinary” ministers of Holy Communion, the Mass in the vernacular, et cetera. The question for the “conservative/neo-Catholic” establishment now is: Is Amoris laetitia a bridge too far or not? Clearly to some, it is, while to others the mantra continues to be “nothing to see here”.

      I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: The situation currently facing modern Anglicanism is what the Roman Church will look like within 50 years, if not sooner, where what is considered sinful in one part of the world will be morally licit in another, all based upon how each bishops’ conference votes. And if we’re honest with ourselves, we can hardly say we didn’t see this coming.

  2. All gains of the revolution are concretised and rendered sacrosanct whereas all the remains of Tradition is considered fair game for further revolution; thus, synodalism as a sapper system.

    Those of us who have been around awhile remember how the revolutionaries where conditioned and strengthened in the process of revolution. Their demands would initially be refused and, more often and not, the refusal would be premised upon either Tradition or Ecclesiastical traditions (think altar babes and communion in the hand) but the revolutionaries would not take no for an answer but persist and then, out of the blue, their demands would be surrendered to and their desires realised and, thus, that operant intermittent positive reinforcement conditioned and steeled their wills in perverse intensity.

    The Hierarchy prolly had no intention of using that intermittent form of conditioning that resulted in strengthening their opponents but, C’est la vie.

    That is what happens when one surrenders to revolutionaries.

    • You are so correct. These so called “revolutionaries” (LBGT, modernists etc.) never give up. It is never enough for them. They push and push until they have 100% of what they want – complete submission to their ideals. Based upon history -Vatican 2, and all of the examples mentioned above and certainly with Amoris Laetitia, It appears that what Mr. Zmirak has written above will happen again. In the end, Our Ladies Immaculate heart will triumphant. It would appear that all of these satanic forces we have been experiencing in the past 50 years are coming to a head, and Our Lady is the only one who can and will fix everything.

  3. Exactly. The ‘revolutionaries’ don’t have to push and shove quite so much anymore. NOW they have the backing of the Pope himself, and the persecution of those priests faithful to Christ in HIS Church, is FULL ON.

  4. How soon will it be before pastors in Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, and other post-Christian wastelands are authorizing transvestites to hand out Holy Communion, same-sex couples to teach pre-Cana classes, and activists promoting sodomy to serve as principals of Catholic schools and seminaries?

    A very valid fear, but: What makes Mr. Zmirak think this is not, in fact, already happening in these provinces of the Church?

  5. It would benefit all to read the warnings of Our Lady Of Good Success. What she says, we are at this very moment living through.

  6. QUOTE: “. . . Pope Francis seems to present the Catholic vision of a lifelong, loving, and fruitful marriage not so much as the ordinary plan God has in mind for the vast majority of humans, but rather as a noble ideal toward which we can idealistically strive –”

    REPLY: In short, Pope Francis is a Platonist, not an Aristotelian. Though much too summarily, it does summarizes. Truth to fact, it says much.

    That Platonist turn was also, to a degree, the guiding vision of the Medici Papacies, as it certainly was – in spite of our wont to burden Luther with everything – the founding fault of the Enlightenment. Let alone, Post-Modernism. Queer Theory, in particular – especially with their doctrine of the “sexual continuum – requires the Platonist choice.

    A Platonist is forever restless. He eternally strives – all the while as the Ideal is constantly pushed forward beyond reach. If Pope’s Francis’ recent Exhortation is truly a Platonist document, it will – in faithfulness to its underlying character – strive, reach beyond itself. The question remains, to (towards what).

    NOTE: In Platonism the Ideal is never truly known (more correctly, revealed) so it is always under threat of being redefined (re-idealized). Now, pray tell, how is that done. By the strivers and their striving, by the forward thrusting movement of reaching out.

    Aristotle – somewhat in his own blind alley – saw the error of that and, standing on that Athenian portico, said *no* to his teacher Plato.

    • Interesting, but perhaps a bit too clever. Every normal human being recognizes that some goals are unattainable ideals while others are very much attainable. Pope Francis does not aspire to the ideal of not being a murderer, or a mass murderer, or a rapist. He simply expects better of himself, as do (almost) all of us.

      The question is: Which goals are to be treated as unattainable ideals? As divorce, cohabitation, etc. spread, so that contact with those involved becomes commonplace, the behaviors are normalized in the mind unless we consciously fight the normalization urge. It seems that it is just too much to ask that a man and woman get married and stay married and not commit adultery or abandon each other.

      We don’t have to convert Francis to Aristotelianism. We only have to demonstrate that the goal is in fact attainable, e.g. by pointing out that it was the norm for millennia.

  7. The proposing as merely ideal God’s Laws is throughout the document. Do a word search for ideal and read all those passages. Then mortal sin is excused with the situation ethics approach based on real life circumstances, along with chastising priests who dare to judge by Gods Law and require a firm purpose of amendment. Look for those words too and see the overall picture. I recall getting taught situation ethics in my Catholic high school many years ago. This document is a diabolical masterpiece of sophisms.

  8. The ‘catholic’ schools in Belgium are already further than that. They started a compaign this week to integrate more moslim teachers … A battle against sodomy or the culture of death has been lost long ago.

  9. Regarding the pattern of having orthodox formal declarations overturned in practice after the fact, I am reminded of a lesson I learned at (now Saint) Junipero Serra High School about Saturday night football games: It’s not whether you win or lose the game that counts, it’s who wins the fight *after* the game that counts.


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