How grateful we are to Bishop Athanasius Schneider for his ongoing Catholic witness and defense of the truth. He has put the finger right into the center of the new wound given to the Church by Amoris Laetitia, namely that the Sixth Commandment is now effectively being undermined by stating that there are exceptions to the Divine Law. For some Catholics, however, as it now seems, that commandment does not fully apply any more.
Bishop Schneider reminds us of other cases in history where popes were criticized for their doctrinal weakness by certain saints. He himself calls now upon Pope Francis to clarify and correct the multiple ambiguities contained in his recent Apostolic Exhortation.
But is this requested clarification sufficient?
A number of theologically informed commentators have now spoken out to show that the papal document contains several serious points that are misleading as well as confusing the faithful. These deficiencies potentially lead some sinners to believe that their habitual sin is not so grave after all, and that they need not change their lives to correct it. We do not need to repeat these various points of critique here, for I think that most of us have read them all by now.
For those who still claim that the pope did not change anything essential or irreformable, let me refer here to this website. It was Steve Skojec himself who first brought to the English-speaking world the translated video of Pope Francis who – when asked as to whether the “remarried” divorcees would now have more possibilities with regard to access to the Sacraments than before his Apostolic Exhortation – bluntly said: “I can say yes. Period.”
So, here we are. We have a pope who changes the heretofore unchangeable. From all that we gather so far – and in addition to the most scandalous part about the “remarried” divorcees – there are far too many points in Amoris Laetitia that are against the continuous (i.e., irreformable) teaching of the Catholic Church to make it still worth while to try to preserve that document, much less to defend it as a whole. For example: the inversion of the ends of marriage, as described by Professor Roberto de Mattei; the undermining of the father as the head of the family; and, finally, the description of the Sacrament of Marriage as an ideal, and an unrealistic and therefore often destructive ideal.
There are too many ambiguities contained in this papal document that a mere clarification could rescue the document. And, since at the heart of the document – as well as of the two Family Synods – is the gradual admittance of the “remarried” divorcees (and other “irregular couples”) to the sacraments, the document is at its core potentially destructive to all the souls involved.
Amoris Laetitia, therefore, needs not to be corrected, but rescinded.
But while we are at it, the pope must do more. He should retract many other incorrect statements that he has made. He has to rescind his opening up to the idea that Protestant spouses may receive Holy Communion; that there is no “Catholic” God; that all that is required for salvation is to have good will and intentions; that Europe should take in more Muslim immigrants; and, to name one last point here, that contraceptives are permitted in certain cases. And these are just a few examples.
The pope needs to stop undermining the Catholic, Holy and Apostolic Faith.
If we were still to love Christ and His Church and His Teaching enough, our love and gratitude would inspire us unto a holy resistance. I must admit that I was deeply troubled when I witnessed, on the first Sunday after the publication of Amoris Laetitia, an absolute silence about this very document among Catholics after Sunday Mass. Would we be so quiet if we had just heard that Jesus Christ was just then being tortured? Or even already nailed to the Cross? Do we love Our Lord and our Faith enough to get justly indignant when we see Him in His teaching attacked?
What about our prelates? As John-Henry Westen discussed on 25 April, many high-ranking cardinals in Rome now prefer to stay silent because they fear that their words and conduct could well undermine the very authority of the papal office. We could – and should – respond that the pope himself is now undermining his own office by departing from his very mission entrusted to him by God. If he himself is not loyal to God in his papal teaching – be it only his spontaneous or less authoritative utterances – he undermines his own authority and trustworthiness. If we do not say so, other faithful might be led into error by him.
Let us consider here the first pope. He, in part, failed his office, too. St. Paul had to “resist him to his face,” as we all should know. Why does the divinely inspired Scripture relate to us this embarrassing story, if it would undermine potentially the authority of the papal office? Why does the New Testament in all frankness speak about the failings of most of the Apostles in one way or another? Why does it relate that almost all of them ran away from the Garden of Gethsemane? Would this depiction of cravenness not undermine the trust of the faithful in those very men who helped found and spread the Church and who wrote down some of the accounts of the life of Jesus Christ?
No. God is Truth. Truth will set us free. Only hiding and quibbling and squirming away from it will damage the Church. God allows human weakness to occur in order to let His own Glory shine even brighter, especially through His special Graces which He sends to us daily. Did He not make out of cowards martyrs? Did He not make the Apostles strong? The smaller we make ourselves in our human weakness, the greater He will shine in His true Mercy and Love.
I was inspired to propose this last thought also because of the printed recent words of Steve Skojec himself, who just wrote about the importance of a “full disclosure” in his piece entitled, He That Does Truth Cometh to the Light. A sign of our Faith is that we walk in the light and in the truth. We have nothing to hide, because all is revealed to Him from Eternity. What we have is our own fallenness and sinfulness, what we need is Grace. With His Grace, we can help work for the salvation – not only of our own soul, but also of others. For, no gift of God is for ourselves alone; and we shall be finally judged by our acts of practical charity. And that is exactly where our Catholic witness comes in. Our witness is not mainly against something, it is FOR something. For God’s goodness, Grace and His invitation to Eternal Life. In fighting the errors of today, we fight for the Truth that it may be given to all for the sake of their salvation. And by fighting these errors, we also fight for the souls who perpetrate these errors. It is, in effect, an act of charity to tell Pope Francis that he is doing much damage to the Catholic Church and to the souls of many people in the world. One of the voices ringing in the world might touch his heart, might lead him to conversion. He might thereby save his own soul!
We therefore need an honest and forthright request to be given to the pope to rescind Amoris Laetitia, and even all of his other ambiguities and related errors. (Even to pass judgment on himself ex cathedra!) We are at that point. Pope Francis has let a discussion loose during these last two years that has been gravely damaging. How many heterodox and outright heretical ideas were being sown and discussed and further aired in Catholic outlets – and I had reported on many of them as it pertained to the German situation – that were never corrected? Pope Francis has set off a moral revolution in the Church where nobody knows anymore where is up and where is down. It is on his soul for having created all of that mess, and it is up to him to correct it, as far as he is able. The Catholics in the world have been bereft of the clear and wonderful instruction in the Catholic Faith that they deserve and desire – and for which God founded the Church.
Only days before the publication of Amoris Laetitia, Cardinal Walter Brandmüller told the pope that he cannot change what he now has actually and effectively changed with the help of Amoris Laetitia. Brandmüller is one loyal and courageous prelate. But if the others now are silent – seemingly thereby acquiescing to the changes – are we laymen then not called upon to do what would be their proper initiatives? In other words, should not we at least go and stand under the Cross of Calvary and be loyal to Christ, even if most of the Apostles have run away from it?
Should we not at least encourage all the cardinals themselves to do their higher duty and to attempt to compose another trenchant petition to the pope to request firmly and charitably and respectfully what urgently needs to be done – namely not only to clarify, but to rescind the confused and obfuscating document? Enough is enough.