It’s been a very long week. The kind you feel deep down in your gut. The fallout of the Alfie Evans case continues, and I’ve spent more time on Twitter than I should have over the past few days doing battle with the ghouls who continue to protest that Alder Hey did nothing wrong and that dying was in Alfie’s “best interest” — all while attacking those who have sought to protect him. One person in the UK even went so far as to say, “parents have no rights, only responsibilities”. A barrister who joined the conversation warned everyone talking with me that in the UK, they can be sued for libel for engaging in the kind of thoughtcrime I was busying myself with. They are apparently all just pleased as punch with their Orwellian system over there. (I guess being accustomed to living in a totalitarian state where everything you believe is a crime will make it easier for them to make a transition to dhimmitude.)
The long and short of it is: I am astonished with the glib participation in evil regular people are capable of in our age. No pangs of conscience, no empathy for Tom and Kate Evans, just a brainwashed litany of “the State knows best” interspersed with wistful euphemisms about how sometimes it’s just best for people to die so they can stop suffering. Yesterday, the growing awareness of this drove me into a dark mood I’ve not yet really emerged from.
It all reminds me of George Bernard Shaw, lo those many years ago. I wonder if he knew his views would gain ascendancy:
In the mean time, Pope Francis has been unusually quiet of late. One may perhaps assume that Francis isn’t hurling his usual barrage of flaming verbal napalm at faithful Catholics and the truths of our faith because he’s acting the part of the chastened one, having spent a portion of the past week with Chilean abuse victims who have, in their accusations against Cardinal Francisco Errázuriz, brought the number of cardinals in the pope’s “C9” council of advisors who have been accused of being involved in or mishandling clerical abuse in some way up to four; the other three are Cardain Reinhard Marx, Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodriguez Maradiaga, and Cardinal George Pell.
If Francis is quiet, though, the German Church has been anything but. Their push for intercommunion is dominating headlines throughout the Catholic world, and in this, perhaps more than in other things, the pope’s silence is newsworthy. After their handout on guidelines for receiving Holy Communion for Protestant spouses of Catholics drew protests from a minority of German bishops, a group with representatives both for and against the proposal came to Rome to meet with the CDF yesterday on how to proceed. They even presented something very much like dubia; and like other recent dubia, these went unanswered by the pope, who essentially told the German bishops that they needed to work it out amongst themselves.
You may recall in my recap last month on the progress of the intercommunion issue through the “reform” agenda of Pope Francis, I gave voice to my doubts that just because the CDF was said to have rejected the German intercommunion handout with the pope’s approval, that did not mean there was any evidence that Francis himself actually opposes it. To recap my recap, I quoted something that the pope, way back in 2015, had told a Lutheran woman married to a Catholic who wanted to receive Communion. He said that she should
Always refer back to your baptism. “One faith, one baptism, one Lord.” This is what Paul tells us, and then take the consequences from there. I wouldn’t ever dare to allow this, because it’s not my competence. One baptism, one Lord, one faith. Talk to the Lord and then go forward. I don’t dare to say anything more.
And I concluded:
The pope has not explicitly given permission to Lutherans to receive Communion. But — and this is a supersized “but” — he’s not telling them not to, either. In fact, he’s insinuating that it’s up to them.
My conclusion upon reading that he had subsequently joined in the CDF’s rejection of the handout was that “where Francis seems most comfortable working through insinuation, the Germans tried to create something more explicit. In writing. And it may well have created far more heat than light – heat that the pope doesn’t need right now.”
Which is why his silence on the matter — punting it back to the German bishops, who will undoubtedly have their way, if perhaps with greater ambiguity than they do now — speaks volumes.
“I don’t dare say anything more” indeed.
It is an unfortunate reality that the German bishops are the dominant players in driving the theological and doctrinal reforms in the Church, if not on paper, then in praxis. This means that while many of us living in other countries are sick and tired of seeing Cardinal Marx’ Cheshire Cat face every five minutes, this isn’t going away. Remember: Communion in the hand began as an abuse in Holland — an act of disobedience that was later sanctioned in an attempt to contain it. Then became an indult with limited application, which quickly mutated, spread, and became the universal practice in the Church. It was an almost revolutionary act when Pope Benedict XVI decided that those who received Communion from him in public Masses would receive kneeling on the tongue; meanwhile, much of the world has continued to go in the other direction. Just yesterday, in fact, I learned of a parish in Italy where Communion on the Tongue has been forbidden; everyone is being forced to receive in the hand, despite the manifest abuses and dangers to the sacrament this practice engenders.
So it will be with intercommunion, unless forces greater than the combined might of the Catholic blogosphere and media stand in opposition to it, right now. This needed to be shut down immediately, but that is not the upshot of yesterday’s meeting – a meeting which, as Marco Tosatti noted, conspicuously excluded the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, Cardinal Robert Sarah. Sarah, for the record, stands adamantly opposed to the practice.
Meanwhile, as the long war stretches out interminably into the future, a rag-tag band of priests has signed yet another statement/petition/open letter/manifesto in opposition to the ongoing disintegration of the faith at the molecular level.
I am, at this point, disinclined to be excited. Yes, it’s certainly better than not doing something at all, but at this point I feel as though this is not so much rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic as having yet another conversation about whether the deck chairs on the Titanic are out of alignment and how. I know that this is more documentary evidence of resistance to the crazy that has infected the Church, and that as such, it serves a purpose, but do we really think the bishops will respond? Do we really think anyone will do anything about it, other than granting more interviews to friendly media outlets speaking in oblique terms about how tragic it all is?
To make matters worse, as our own Fr. RP pointed out to me last night, there’s some problematic language in the petition itself:
3) Christians in communion with God may suffer from ignorance or from impediments to freedom to a degree that mitigates or entirely removes culpability in a particular embrace of evil. Although what they do is actually (i.e., objectively) evil and thus harmful to themselves and others in various ways, they can be personally (i.e., subjectively) not culpable of sin and therefore remain morally unharmed.
4) Christians who embrace evil without culpability remain in communion with God, but are trapped in situations that are actually harmful and prevent them from fully sharing the abundant life Jesus came to bring. The task of the Church is to help heal and free them by patiently bringing the grace and truth of his Gospel.
Father then explained:
I find the language of ‘embrace of evil’ problematic in both statements; also the phrase ‘remain morally unharmed’ in the first statement is completely and utterly false. One may ‘somehow’ be free of personal moral guilt but that does not mean one is unharmed morally by the act, for one is degraded by it and is further drawn into the sin etc. I may not be culpable of something but that does not mean there are not consequences…
He concluded his email with: “I can’t sign this statement.”
I wonder if other priests feel the same?
Early this week, after a series of unfortunate circumstances played out one after another all afternoon, I was struck with the feeling that the devil was unusually busy – in that sort of trip you up and make you grumpy so you’re ineffectual and less resistant to temptation sort of way. When I mentioned something about it on Facebook, lots of other people chimed in in agreement, saying they were noticing it too. I can’t say with any certainty that anything is truly different — and by that I mean, whether there is any more to the spiritual warfare that we must engage in daily than at any other time. In the past, however, I have at times noticed a correlation between such things and another onslaught of the larger attack on Holy Mother Church. Almost as if the enemy is shelling us before their advance to soften our positions.
So be of stout heart, and hold tight to your rosaries. If nothing comes, you’ll be no worse off, and arguably a good deal better.
My two year old kept stomping around the house last night bellowing, “Don’t worrry!” in the most reassuring of tones. It’s a challenge, but I’m going to try to take her advice.
For now, I think I’ll have a drink and call it a week.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director 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 seven children.