Saturday afternoon. Preparations are in place for the whirlwind of weekend pastoral activities… leaving certain responsibilities on hold…when suddenly I start receiving so many cell messages that I will never have time to answer… “Father, did you see the latest?” “Father, now concubines can receive Communion!”, “Father, is there no such thing as mortal sin any more in the Church?”, “Father – is it a sin to live as brother and sister now?”, and so on.
I end up opting to put the device on airplane mode, to get a moment to write a few lines about the new Bergoglian encyclopedia “Amoris Laetitia”: The “joy of love”. It is an encyclopedia that attempts to be a Gospel, the “Gospel of the Family” … of the Bergoglian family, that is. The word-count of the four Gospels of Christ, inspired by the Holy Spirit, comes to a total of approximately 76,000 words, in the Jerusalem version. The new “Bergoglian Gospel” (which we can consider an authentic 21st century apocryphal gospel), is over 60,000 words long, much longer than the three Synoptic Gospels all together. It’s confused verbosity – that, above all, causes confusion – has left all commentators, including the writer of these lines, in doubt as to whether or not it was worthwhile reading the whole thing, or to write anything about it…
To use the term “gospel” with respect to the recent document was not my idea, but rather what the author himself called it: “the Gospel of the Family” (AL 60, 63, 76, 200, 201). And we qualify it as “apocryphal”, since this is the term used for texts containing that mix realities and true doctrines with errors, lies and outright heresies. In the first centuries, they were normally the conceited writings of the Gnostics or Nicolaitans; for which reason their authors would attempt to ‘hide’ their identity in anonymity, as well maintain secrecy about their writings – hence the use of the Greek term ‘hidden’ to identify these writings: apókryphos (all hidden). But the Church has always witnessed the existence of apocryphal texts – full of verboseness, like certain dishes in which one notes nutritious and tasty ingredients buoying together with venomous elements in the same nauseating stew.
Last Sunday, I went after a sheep who had been lost from my flock for the last 21 years, and who I have been seeking out for the last 4 months. Just like the Samaritan woman, she has had five “husbands”, and the one she is with now is not her husband (cf. Jn 4:17-18). I thought to myself: “Can I tell this woman — who lives in adultery and concubinage, a single mother and a in civitate peccatrix (Lk 7:37), who did not even bother to cover herself up better to receive a priest into her house, but whose conversion God desires, and I too — that there is no longer any such thing as sin, and that she can receive Communion without changing her life?”
In conscience, no. Let’s not forget Saint John the Baptist with his courageous “non licet tibi” when referring to Herod’s adulterous union, which ended up costing him his head (cf. Mk 6:18). God desires the sanctification of this ‘Samaritan woman’, not her eternal perdition in hell. But he who created us without our collaboration, does not save us without our cooperation, just as Saint Augustine had affirmed: “Qui creavit te sine te, non salvavit te sine te” (Serm. de verbis Apostolis 169, XI, n. 13: PL 38, 923).
God desires acts of virtue, integrity and… sanctity! He seeks our progress on the path of joyous encounter with Him, and desires that those who have lost their innocence abandon the path of sin. ‘Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor practicing homosexuals nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God’ (1Cor 6:9-10). That is, unless they change their lives, of course!
And it is possible to change our lives, though it isnot possible to go to Heaven without giving up a sinful lifestyle. This same doctrine was taught by the Apostle to the Gentiles to his disciple Timothy, when speaking of the false doctors of the Law ‘who turned to meaningless talk’ (1Tim 1:6), and pretended to be ‘teachers of the Law’ – the Law, says the Apostle, is good, provided that one uses it as law; it has not been instituted for the just, but rather for the ‘lawless and unruly’ which he mentions: ‘the godless and sinful, the unholy and profane, those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, the unchaste, practicing homosexuals…’ According to the Apostle, it is to these individuals that the Law should be applied, because they are ‘opposed to sound teaching’ (1Tim 1:10).
What a difference from Francis! And from the useless palaver of his last diatribe!
What do the interpreters of “Amoris laetitia” say?
The commentaries on the internet are so numerous that I have not had time analyze them all.
While presenting the indigestible text in the Vatican’s “Sala Stampa,”Cardinal Schönborn, did not hesitate to affirm that the document: “coherently overcomes that artificial, superficial, clear division between ‘regular’ and ‘irregular’ [unions]”.
As if the Pope could abolish one of the Commandments, or invent a new Sacrament! The favored cardinal, in a typically ‘bergoglian’ exegesis (read: non-Catholic), applied the words of St. Paul to a topic that is entirely different from its context: ‘For God has consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all’ (Rom 11:32). This is an error of interpretation that would not be permitted in the first semester of theology in any seminary, much less in a Dominican seminary (where Schönborn had studied). There is nothing related to the sacred text! It brings to mind certain Protestant preachers with whom we have had to ‘dialogue’ (sic!), who use any quote totally out of context. For such individuals, the enduring Magisterium does not exist, nor does the authentic interpretation given by the Church for the last twenty centuries. And it appears not to exist for Cardinal Schönborn either, in his praise for Francis.
For the pontiff’s pet cardinal, the recent document is “first and foremost, a ‘linguistic event’, as was Evangelii gaudium. Something has changed in ecclesial discourse.” What has changed? Leftists and other pro-divorce commentators rejoice because Francis protects them in their moral aberrations –they’ve realized what has changed…though certain ‘catholic’ commentators continue to insist that nothing has happened!
The perspicacious Vatican analyst Antonio Socci, reported a few headlines from the secular Italian press: For La Repubblica, Bergoglio’s text means: “Communion is possible for remarried”. And in the Corriere della Sera the title announced: “The pope opens the Sacraments to the remarried”. They think the same way Schönborn does; that is, just as Francis.
Not only the non-catholic press, but also the Italian Episcopal Conference’s newspaper, Avvenire, euphorically commented about the ‘apocryphal Bergoglian Gospel’: “When Cardinal Kasper spoke of the ‘most important document in the History of the Church in the last millennium’ some considered it to be an exaggeration… Now, with the text before us, we affirm: the text has a strong and revolutionary flavor.”
Keeping writing errors (word repetition, improper usage, etc.) aside, the meaning of the document is clear: there is a 180-degree transition between the bergoglian ‘family’ doctrine of, and Catholic family doctrine. A “revolutionary” change unlike any other in the last 1,000 years. Kasper went even further, stating – in the last 17 centuries. The very choice of the word ‘revolutionary’ shows that Francis has sought to agitate, to produce a radical change, to establish a new scenario contrary to an existing order. We could the Italian expression ‘Copernican revolution’, that is, a real paradigm shift, in an attempt to overturn that which stands for human and divine law; in this case, Matrimony as it was intended and instituted by God.
Socci comments, and rightly so, that: “the Apostolic Exhortation is an open act of defiance to two thousand years of Catholic teaching. And in (shocked) Catholic circles, a dumbfounded bewilderment reigns”.
Psychologically speaking, bewilderment does arise in the human spirit with regard to certain extremely scandalous aberrations, and they provoke the silence of the just: Jesus was silent before Caiaphas, for there was no reason to comment on the absurdity of the High Priest, who was a legitimate successor of Aaron, but a prevaricator: “Jesus autem tacebat” (Mt 26:63).
Many personages in vogue have also been reading the document as being in ‘discontinuity’ with the enduring Magisterium. For example, the Francis-promoter Fr. Antonio Spadaro SJ, director of the well-known and once-prestigious magazine Civiltà Cattolica, or the eccentric Enzo Bianchi (founder and ‘prior’ of the so-calledBose Community, a mixed group with certain tribal characteristics, made up of both men and women, Catholics and non-Catholics). The same is echoed by theology professor Albert Melloni in the Corriere della Serra, as well as by the MagazineFamiglia Cristian”, and so many other ‘bergoglians’.
We all know that “discontinuity” was the term used by Pope Benedict XVI in his first address to the Roman Curia, in December of 2005, referring to the interpretations of the texts of Vatican Council II. The “hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture”, according to the then recently elected pope, “has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and also one trend of modern theology”, which, at that time (11 years ago…) risked “ending in a split between the pre-conciliar Church and the post-conciliar Church. It asserts that the texts of the Council as such do not yet express the true spirit of the Council. […] In a word: it would be necessary not to follow the texts of the Council but its spirit. In this way, obviously, a vast margin was left open for the question on how this spirit should subsequently be defined and room was consequently made for every whim.”
So one must not look only to the bergoglian document for “discontinuity”’, as it reflects only imperfectly “the spirit”….and that is precisely what we are witnessing with regard to the majority of the exegesis of “Amoris Laetitia”.
The impartial analyses of Amoris laetitia
Henry VIII: After a journey of accompaniment and discernment, his pastor has told him he may continue his life with Anne Boleyn.
The aforementioned Vatican analyst, Socci, transmits the commentary of a ‘Bergoglian’ journalist: “Francis has cut ties with the Council of Trent”, and comments: “No pope has the power to deny the Law of God and the continuous magisterium of the Church. In reality, Bergoglio, with his document, also cuts ties with the Gospel, because the words of Jesus about the indissolubility of matrimony are very clear.” And sarcastically, he publishes a photo of Henry VIII, the highly immoral, adulterous, concubine founder of the Anglican “separated brethren”, with a heading inspired on the pastoral ministry proposed in “Amoris Laetitia”: “Henry VIII: After a journey of accompaniment and discernment, his pastor has told him he can continue his life with Anne Boleyn.” It is the bottom line of the norms indicated in “Amoris Laetitia”: Henry VIII was right, and the martyr, St. Thomas More, was a fool who let himself be killed due to the “uncritical survival of older forms and models.” (AL 32)
According to Maike Hickson “Pope Francis Departs from Church Teaching in new Exhortation” and indicates a collection of “grave and deeply serious claims” made by Francis which had not been discussed in the two Synods. The Bergoglian “collegiality” goes only in one direction…
The American canon lawyer Edward Peters also pointed out a “serious misuse of a conciliar teaching” in Francis’ citations, a crass lack of seriousness in the “apocryphal Bergoglian Gospel”, in continuity with all the other heretical apocryphal texts since the dawn of the Church. As a specialist in Church law, Peters affirms that he did not find canonical references in the text; however it leaves the door open to the consideration of homosexual unions as a kind of “marriage” (AL 251), in open contradiction to all of Catholic doctrine, taught in the true Gospels (not in the apocryphal ones…).
There was a similar, brief commentary by Gloria TV , quoting a detailed article by “Voice of the Family” : “Francis prepares the way for persons living in adulterous relationships to receive Holy Communion without true repentance and amendment of life.” And in seven items it points out the main doctrinal and pastoral error of the document: “It is a confusing presentation of Catholic doctrine on mortal sin; its worrisome use of truncated citations from John Paul II; the fact that it ignores the role of the parents in the education of their children; it opens the doors to “new family situations” as if the only true one no longer consisted in the indissoluble union of man and a woman; it supports gender ideology; and despite its length (surpassing the total length of the three synoptic Gospels, and almost equalling that of all four Gospels), it also does not condemn abortion. The article concludes that “the document fails to give a clear and faithful exposition of Catholic doctrine”, representing “a threat to the integrity of the Catholic faith and the authentic good of the family”.
The analyses are numerous and weighty, but we bring this section to a close. Unfortunately, there is a serious lack of commentaries from cardinals, bishops and other authorities who should denounce the Bergoglian doctrinal disasters. We have not heard of any; or if they exist they have been so discreet that we have not found them.
The ‘ostrich-like’ commentators
There is no lack of those who make ingenuous declarations, such as Fr. José Granados, vice-president of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, who insists that “Amoris Laetitia cannot but be interpreted “through the lens of Catholic tradition”. This is not exactly what some official interpreters, like Schönborn, with his idea of overcoming outdated concepts, affirm, or the Spanish bishops, who consider it to be “realistic and positive”, or Cardinal Cañizares, who declaresunconditionally that it “faithfully reflects the great tradition of the Catholic Church”, a statement which gives the impression that the elderly prelate has not read the text. And a long et cetera…
Naïve individuals who refuse to see vociferous errors have always existed — it is more comfortable that way. But the opposite of the attitude shown by the impartial observers, who love the Church of Christ, and refuse to compromise with any kind of moral corruption, and less so in clerics and consecrated persons.
The magisterial value of Amoris Laetitia
What value does the teaching of the Bishop of Rome have? A legitimate Pope, elected canonically (without mentioning the anti-popes and other refuse that History has produced) is infallible when teaching about Faith and Morals, utilizing the power that Christ granted him, as Pius IX solemnly declared. This is called “ex cathedra” teaching; that is, the Pope as the legitimate successor of St. Peter upon the Chair of truth.
However, the affirmation that infallible teachings exist, indicates that there are also non- infallible teachings — affirmations that are subject to error. The canonists know very well that doctrinally, they do not need to study the old texts of Vatican I; rather it is enough to read the motu propio of John Paul II Ad tuendam Fidem(AAS 90, 1988, 457-461), which modified some of the canons of Canon Law (within the Latin code as well as the Oriental code). It had been amply commented on in a document of the former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger (Doctrinal Commentary on the concluding formula of the Professio Fidei, Taken from: L’Osservatore Romano,15 July 1998, 3-4). We summarize:
Every Catholic has the obligation to proffer an adhesion to the Catholic Faith that excludes any doubt, regarding the teachings of the Pope (or of a Council approved by the Pope) clearly proposed as infallible by a solemn declaration, and based on Revelation (written or handed down by Tradition); for example, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist. The negation of these truths constitutes a sin of heresy, and also an offense of heresy automatically sanctioned with excommunication; which is called, in technical language, “latae sententiae”: once such truths are denied, excommunication takes place.
We Catholics also have the obligation to proffer a firm and definitive adhesion to the declarations of the Pope (or of the Council approved by the Pope), with the solemnity of an infallible affirmation, but not based on Scripture or Tradition, but rather declared true through their relationship with Revelation (Scripture and Tradition) by a historic or logical link. For example, that only men may receive the priestly ordination. The negation of these truths constitutes a sin of heresy, but not an offense chastised with the punishment latae sententiae; therefore, there is no immediate excommunication but rather a sin and offense. (Canon 750 § 2).
Thirdly, there exists an “authentic magisterium”; that which the Pope (or the Council in communion with him) presents regarding topics of Faith and Morals, as being true, or at least certain. That is, all that the Pope says or publishes regarding Faith and Morals. But this is not infallible, therefore it is fallible. The faithful Catholic does not need to believe that everything that the Pope teaches is true, for, as Captain obvious would say, the fallible could be erroneous. The baptized are not asked to give an unconditional adherence, but rather a “religious submission of will and intellect”, that is, to not publically dispute this concrete topic of Faith and Morals, unless there are very grave reasons for such.
The majority of the teachings of the Popes, from St. Peter to Francis are in this category, and many of the conciliar documents, from Nicaea to Vatican Council II are as well. And the proof of this is that not one serious theologian, pontiff or bishop, has ever desired that the faithful consider as infallible, that which is not taught as infallible. John Paul II rarely used the power of infallibility; Vatican Council II openly affirmed that it offered nothing new with a character of infallibility, but that it merely repeated infallible truths already recognized as infallible by the Church, the rest being “authentic magisterium”, toward which we should proffer a “religious submission of will and intellect”. Wanting to ask for more is, as the expression goes, “wanting to be more papist than the Pope.”
Let us recall some facts: all of the three forms of adhesion to the Magisterium refer to the teachings of doctrine, not to pastoral norms. The directives of actuation have never entered into the category of infallibility, for they are indications that appear appropriate in a determined moment, and after, or in another place, they may fail to be. The most “scandalous” case of the “pastoral norm” was that of the Frist Council of Jerusalem, in which the Apostles recommended that the converted pagans abstain from the blood of animals (Acts 15:29). This is absolutely not “infallibly” in effect for any of the faithful: blood pudding, pork sausage and other specialties that the Germans include in their “Delikatessen” are not prohibited for any Catholic (except on days of abstinence!).
The Bergoglian pastoral teachings, with respect to the treatment of concubines (today euphemistically labeled as “remarried”), of adulterers (denominated as in “irregular unions”), the homosexuals (called new “familial situations”), are opinions which, in the majority of cases, one might proffer a “religious submission of will and intellect”, if it was not clamorously erroneous, as so many authorized commentators publish without being refuted by any Bergoglian. But this is not even an obligation for us, because a pastoral norm is not a doctrinal teaching.
Cardinal Burke, with his well-known position, has said something similar in an interview with the “National Catholic Register”. For this prelate — who has been, among other things, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature, and subsequently sidelined by Francis due to “doctrinal differences” — in the recent document “Amoris Laetitia” “the Holy Father is proposing what he personally believes” regarding matrimony. He attempts to protect its author, by inviting readers to “interpret the text of Amoris Laetitia with the key of the magisterium”. This would clearly be challenging and illogical, and we could even say, impossible. It would be necessary to extirpate so many inconsistent and counterproductive paragraphs…For a pastor of souls it would be easier to ignore it, both in its doctrine as well as in its pastoral proposal.
A short while ago, Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, tried to defend Francis from those who accused him of being a heretic. He pointed out (as we have above) that a heretic is one who openly denies a revealed truth, which is presented by the Church as such (we have explained this above, canon 750). And synthesizing the value of Bergoglio’s words he declared the “the magisterium of the pope and the bishops is not superior to the word of God.” However, he recognized that some Bergoglian teachings are “unglücklich, missverständlich oder vage”. So, according to Cardinal Müller, he who should be the “master of the Faith” (“Lehrer des Glaubens”), uses ill-fated, devious and vague expressions…It doesn’t give much security knowing that the captain at the helm doesn’t know what route the ship should take…
Everyone is aware that during this pontificate, Fr. Lombardi has to be continually attentive, (or as they say in Spanish, “al quite”; an expression that refers to distracting the bull in a bullfight so that he doesn’t attack the unwary bullfighter). He has to try to say that Bergoglio didn’t say what he had said, but that he had wanted to say that which he did not…
The communion of the adulterine unions (the so-called “remarried”)
We cite only one text of the recent document, that has used up more ink among journalists then when the Twin Towers fell in New York. Footnote 351 of the document, in number 305 of the same.
The Bergoglian text affirms that: “a pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws to those living in ‘irregular’ situations”. We translate: the parish priest, the confessor, the bishop, may not apply moral laws to adulterers and concubines.
The text continues: “Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love”. The “objective situation of sin” of the adulterine union may not “subjectively” be a sin, and therefore the adulterers could be in the state of grace…without knowing it.
Therefore, Francis says this “objective situation of sin”, but not “subjective”: “can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.” That is, the Church should assist those who are not in the state of grace to “grow in the life of grace”, in the objective situation of public sin (adulterine union of a second union). We learn in the Catechism that a sinner recuperates the life of grace through the Sacrament of Penance, as long as there is a purpose of amendment in relation to his sins; however, the concubine adulterer does not leave the sinful state, so he or she may not validly receive absolution. Therefore, the individual in this circumstance may not “grow in the life of grace”.
Moreover, footnote 351 literally affirms that: “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, ‘I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy’ (Evangelii gaudium, 44). I would also point out that the Eucharist ‘is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak’ (ibid., 47: 1039).”
In the contemporary worldwide atmosphere of moral negligence and the “loss of the sense of sin” (as Pius XII had denounced), one should offer the “help of the sacraments” (that is, give absolution and permit communion) to those who are in an “objective situation of sin” due to being public concubine adulterers. And if there was any doubt, Bergoglio adds that “the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect”, which has been interpreted by the majority of the commentators as an opening for communion for the remarried. And regarding this interpretation “of rupture” neither Fr. Lombardi nor Francis has been preoccupied about rectifying it. Only the “ostrich interpreters” say that we should read it in continuity with Tradition…
The “apocryphal Bergoglian gospel” has motivated numerous commentaries and elucidations. Here we have attempted to give an overall view of how Francis’ defenders have glossed it over, in what we could call an “authentic interpretation”, beginning with the words of Cardinal Shönborn in theSala Stampa, while officially presenting it to the public.
We have indicated some annotations of impartial observers of the Church. We are not interested in the opinion of non-Catholics with respect to the orthodoxy of a document regarding the family in the modern world.
We haven’t omitted referring those who pretend to ignore the gravity of the present moment, saying that it is enough to interpret the text in the line of Tradition; something that its authors and propagandists do not want. An ostrich-like tactic.
We promise that in the midst of our pastoral obligations, we will find time to make some other observations and, above all, to offer further studies of the Denzinger-Bergoglio, regarding the most controversial points of the document, that may help our readers to continue growing in the Faith of the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. Christ is its sustainer, and he will never allow the gates of hell to prevail against it (Mt 16: 18), as written in golden letters on the cupula of St. Peter’s in the Vatican: portae inferi non praevalebunt adversum eam.
Throughout these twenty centuries confusing situations have often existed: anti-popes, unworthy popes with scandalous moral lives and indifferent to heresies… St. Ambrose and St. Athanasius were honored to hold first place on the list of the bishops with whom the Arians had no “communion”, and even the Pope of that time ended up contemporizing with the heretics by denying “communion” to the upright, inalterable bishops. However, the centuries have come and gone, and God brings forth holy souls who, just as St. Francis of Assisi, sustained the Church, impeding its ruin. God brings forth these souls when he wants, and how he wants. It could be a humble shepherdess, as St. Joan of Arc; it could be a merchant’s unlettered daughter, a St. Catherine of Siena. What is certain is that “non praevalebunt”.
While we don’t yet see a soul like this in the horizon, we do what those who preceded us with the sign of the faith did: practice charity and the Commandments, while leading a life of piety and sacramental devotion. We have absolute certainty that “non praevalebunt”, even though we don’t know how or when, for “of that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Mt 24:36). Nonetheless He promised: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mt 24:35).