Monday, April 28, 2014

A BOMBSHELL THAT FIZZLED: WHAT POPE FRANCIS ALLEGEDLY SAID AND ACTUALLY SAID


A few days ago I posted a "BOMBSHELL" on Pope Francis speech to African bishops concerning marriage. In this speech Pope Francis upheld the Church's traditional teaching on marriage, linked his own teaching to that of the corpus of teachings of Saint Pope John Paul II and was the most explicit teaching on marriage from the current pontiff.

The reason I called it a bombshell was for the fact that the previous two days there had been a media firestorm in both the Catholic and secular press concerning a "cold-call" of Pope Francis, one of many to various people throughout the world, where the husband of the one called posted his interpretation of what the pope had told his "wife."

Basically, and this has not been confirmed, the Holy Father indicated that the woman who is in an illicit marriage not recognized by the Church due to either her own or her husband's previous marriage (or both have previous marriages) that she could go to Holy Communion nonetheless.

There was plenty of coverage on the hearsay of what the pope said which was not helped by the Vatican Press Office's response to it.

But I did not see any coverage of what the pope explicitly said in a higher level of teaching, an official level, to the African bishops which was a very traditional teaching on marriage and an explicit call to uphold the indissolubility of marriage.  He also stated marriage is obviously between one man and one woman.

Why no coverage on this by the Catholic media, Catholic bloggers and the secular media. Is what the Holy Father tells Africans not important? Do people read what the Pope says to Africans?

What is more important about the African speech is that it was on the heels of what was being reported that the pope said to an Argentinian woman which could not and was not corroborated. I do not think it is an accident that the African speech included strong words about the Church's traditional teaching on marriage.

Then on top of that, Pope Francis at Sunday's canonization emphasizes the corpus of teachings on marriage and the family in his homily and makes explicit mention to the Synod of Bishops who would be meeting in October. He stated that Saint John Paul II's teachings would guide the synod. I would call that a bombshell also. The only report of this is from Fr. Z's Blog. Where is everyone else?

This is Fr. Z's brief analysis of the Pope canonization homily:

So, if the sermon really wasn’t about these Popes, what was it about?  Rather, what was it also about?

Next, it seems to me that there was carefully woven into this sermon a subtle message about changes that will be proposed at the upcoming Synod which could be a “scandal” to many.   On the one hand, many would be tested when the Synod recommends to uphold what we have taught and done for so many centuries. 

 The reaffirmation of the Church’s teaching in clear terms would be hard and a stumbling block for those who have caved into what the world presses us to do in our weakness.   On the other hand, were the Synod Fathers to make a recommendation clearly against what the Lord and Church has taught… well… scandal doesn’t begin to paint the picture of what would result.

Francis’ talk about forgiveness underscores my view.

MY FINAL COMMENTS: So what are we to make of Pope Francis' "cold call" to an Argentinian woman and what he said to the African bishops a day later and what he said about Saint Pope John Paul II's teachings on marriage and family to guide the upcoming synod to them and at the canonization Mass?

I am a pastor and I have encountered many divorced and remarried Catholics who are making the best of their illicit situation in terms of being good people, believers, and taking care of their family and other obligations. Some of these Catholics have been in illicit situations for most of their adult lives. Some of them are aging or have life-threatening diseases where the sacraments of the Church are truly desired to assist them.

Often they are unable to obtain annulments, not because there are not legitimate grounds for one, but because there are not enough witnesses who will cooperate or give testimony, or the witnesses are dead. Sometimes a vindictive former spouse will not cooperate or will actively stand in the way of the annulment procedure.

Now this is where it can get messy. If the external, public canonical trial forum for an annulment is tried and fails and it is the determination of the pastor in consultation with the Catholics seeking the annulment that only technicalities are keeping them from receiving the annulment, then a pastoral solution is reached within the context of the Sacrament of Penance, which is under the secret of the confessional and thus called the "internal forum." A priest cannot divulge the contents of what has transpired in this forum and I would go as far as to say neither should the penitent.

Again if an internal forum solution is reached within the context of the Sacrament of Penance,(and can only be done so after the external forum dead ends due to technicalities, not any actual decree upholding the bond of the marriage that ended in divorce) the priest can in no way "validate" the illicit marriage or even offer a blessing of any type. The priest may tell the couple that if they choose to return to Holy Communion, it would be best in a parish where they are not known so as not to give scandal to anyone who might know of their illicit marriage. In other words the onus is on the couple in the illicit marriage, they must place their lives together into the hands of God and should be aware of a negative judgement God could render them at their personal judgement at the moment of death. The priest can't give permission for someone in an illicit marriage to receive Holy Communion apart from informing them of the truth I just enunciated, otherwise the priest would be held accountable at his own personal judgment at the hour of death!

This sounds a bit like the advice the Holy Father gave to the Argentinian woman. I agree that the Holy Father shouldn't place himself in a situation where is private words go viral. Given his high office in the Church, His Holiness must be more prudent and not micro manage the pastoral life of dioceses where he is not the Bishop. I would have hoped that he called the local bishops first before calling this woman! Where is the collegiality and subsidiarity in this?

But the great service the Synod of Bishops on the Family can give to bishops and pastors is a more explicit canonical teaching on the "internal forum" and to make that teaching clear and public.

This is what I think the synod will tackle but at the same time uphold what Saint Pope John Paul II taught about marriage and family.

The internal forum as it is now is more theoretical that explicitly taught and is misused by many bishops, priests and laity.

Finally, Pope Francis seems to be concerned with bringing both the orthodox and heterodox in the Church together and his outreach to the heterodox is causing apoplexy amongst conservative, orthodox, traditional Catholics--making them as shrill and ugly as the heterodox were toward Pope Benedict.

The heterodox thought that Pope Paul VI, who soon will be beatified according to some reports, was on their side when it came to marriage and sexuality. They thought for sure that Pope Paul VI would change the Church's teaching on natural law as it concerned sexual acts in marriage and the use of artificial contraception. They became apoplectic when Pope Paul VI issued Humanae Vitae. Will the current modern day heterodox do the same to Pope Francis and his synod when they uphold the teachings of the Church as enunciated by Saint John Paul II?  Are the 1960's going to happen again in 2014?

Humanae Vitae is the most important teaching of the Catholic Church in centuries for it safeguarded the Deposit of Faith as it concerns the three legs of the basis of Catholic moral teachings: Scripture, Tradition and natural law. If he had excluded natural law in Humanae Vitae rather than to emphasize it, the Catholic Church today would be one with the worldwide Anglican Communion in allowing artificial contraception, endorsing divorce and remarriage, allowing for women in the Sacrament of Holy Orders and allowing same sex marriage.

Humanae Vitae has prevented this and will prevent it in the future. It is an infallible teaching! No pope has the power or authority to change infallible teachings, if they do, they become heretical and could be name an anti-pope.

As far as Pope Paul's other weaknesses in allowing a radical departure from the traditional Mass in term of some of the reforms he endorsed, the fact that he issued Humanae Vitae which has far reaching consequences for the Church, especially today given the secular and religious pressures on the true Church, justifies his canonization! Make him a saint soon too!

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

For a public person in Pope Francis' position to call strangers around the world and give them advice is imprudent and reckless. He is not a parish priest. He is not the bishop of that woman's diocese.

I know Pope Francis doesn't like rules, however the Church has established procedures to follow. The woman in question needs to speak with her parish priest. If she feels he cannot help her then she should contact her bishop, who is directly responsible for the care of her soul. Why would a pope get involved in a matter such as this. What happens when a seminarian has a problem with a professor, is the pope going to intervene?

What Francis is doing isn't pastoral or compassionate. It's objectively imprudent and strange. So are things like drinking out of containers offered him by strangers, by bringing children up onto the pope mobile where they could become targets. Does he not realize Pope St. John Paul was shot in that square while riding the pope mobile? Ignoring what his security details advises puts himself and them and bystanders at risk. That's called selfish and self serving. It's not nice at 3:00 in the morning to force a soldier to ignore his assigned duty to eat a jelly sandwich. A soldier who's life is guided by discipline and strict rules. To make him do otherwise is not only demeaning but weird.

He is causing unnecessary concerns by his behavior which might genuinely be done in some misguided effort at charity but which is self serving and embarrassing.

Pater Expetens said...

Anonymous,

Perhaps you should write to him and see if you get a response!

Gene said...

JBS, Why did you change your name?

John Nolan said...

Pope Francis, who has many admirable qualities, needs to shed this 'loose cannon' image. The barque of Peter needs guns and gunners of the calibre that served Nelson at Trafalgar. Anything less is not acceptable.

Anonymous said...

I have two questions for everyone who tries to rationalize and explain away every questionable action or talk of this pope.

How will you react when the Synod on the Family is held and Francis tries to change Church doctrine and say that people living in adulterous relationships can receive Holy Communion without benefit of confession and amendment of life? Are you going to follow his words or the words that Christ Himself spoke while he wLked this earth?

Pater Expetens said...

Gene,

Just for fun.

Anonymous said...

Just say NO! to Pope Paul VI's beatification. He was the worst pope of the 20th Century, and reigned during the worst sex abuse scandal in the history of the civilized world. To make him a sint would be a spit in the eye to all sex abuse victims. I'd rather see the cause for sainthood for Leo XIII, Benedict XV, Pius IX, XI, and XII, and even John Paul I advance before Paul VI gets any attention.

Catholic said...

And it came to pass that the whole world groaned and marvelled to find itself Modernist.

Keep the Faith, Anonymous. The Pope doesn't have the authority to change the teaching on marriage. But, it sounds to me like he's going to try. Of course, there have been heretic popes in the past. Yet, here we are with the same Faith. The Pope can't take that from us no matter how hard he might try.

Henry said...

The only advice Pope Francis really needs today was thoughtfully provided almost a century in advance:

"I wish to goodness that the Pope would never speak at all except when he means to define ex cathedra. Then we should know where we are."

Adrian Fortescue, 22 July 1920.

Pater Expetens said...

Anonymous,

I have yet to read on this fine blog a rationalization or dismissive explanation of the actions of the pope. Catholics are naturally inclined to seek rational explanations for papal actions.

The synod to which you refer could conceivably promote all kinds of immorality and heresy, but this seems unlikely, don't you think?

There are several of us commenting on this blog who wish Pope Francis shared the liturgical sensibilities of the pope emeritus, but he doesn't in this prudential area (several of us also regret that the pope emeritus was not more proactive when he was on the throne, like Pope Francis is). But as for morality, Pope Francis is a "son of the Church" who conforms his teaching and discipline to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

So, why raise the alarm about disturbing departures that have not occurred?

Pater Expetens said...

John Paul I was a great pope!

Catholic said...

Pater Expertens, first, great name. Second, I see this as an excellent opportunity for pastors and other "sons of the Church" to properly catechize their flocks as to the role of the Pope in the Church. The media and many others would have us believe in the error that the pope is the Church, that he can change these things of his own authority. This is not correct.

Just as in other areas of doctrine, this is an appropriate area for homiletic discussion. There is danger on both sides if one gets this wrong: sedevacantism, which is going to be a small problem in terms of numbers, and liberalism rooted in ultramontanism, which seems to be ruling our times even amongst those more conservative Catholics in the Church.

Let us be Catholic, submitting to the Church without errors in our belief and steadfast in the Faith handed down to us. The pope is to be obedient to the Tradition. He simply cannot change it where he thinks he can or not.

Catholic said...

People are not really looking for a way back to Communion. The Church has a pastoral method for that. It's called Confession and amendment of life. If people went to Confession and stopped being adulterers, they could receive Communion.

No, people are looking for someone to tell them that it is okay to be adulterers and still receive Holy Communion.

I wonder if there was ever a situation in the Church where this teaching was threatened and people were martyred over it. Oh yes, those great martyrs St. Thomas More and St. John Fisher, who stood for Truth and died to oppose a great authority trying to impose error and heresy.

John Nolan said...

Anonymous, I would rather see Alexander VI canonized than Paul VI. Alexander was doctrinally orthodox, liturgically impeccable, and a patron of the arts. Also Julius II who took up arms to defend the independence of the papacy. What about Innocent III, the greatest pope of the high Middle Ages?

The idea that JP II (who was the greatest man of the twentieth century and in my opinion a great pope) was somehow canonized by acclamation of the mob on his death in 2005 is preposterous. Take this to its logical conclusion and one would have had a Saint Maximilien Robespierre and a Saint Adolf Hitler. Odi profanum vulgus.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Of course John there is a big difference between a worldly canonization by secularists and a sort-of canonization by the Faithful gathered at Mass and completely initiated in the Church and presumably good Catholics. Certainly you are not counting the Faithful in St. Peter's Square as some kind of anti-Catholic mob similar to the political faithful and their love of Hitler or any other political ideologue or demagogue. There is such a thing as the "sense of the faithful" expressed at that funeral Mass and now confirmed by Pope Francis!

John Nolan said...

'Pope Francis seems to be concerned with bringing both the orthodox and the heterodox in the Church together'. I can't believe you wrote this. There can't be a synthesis between orthodoxy and heterodoxy, there never has been and there never will be. The fact that heterodoxy is allowed to go uncorrected in the post-Conciliar Church is beside the point.

In his bad-tempered, uncharitable and dishonest letter to Archbishop Lefebvre on 11 October 1976, Paul VI demanded that the Archbishop submit to what he called the 'Conciliar Church', hand his seminary over to the liberal bishops who were his sworn enemies, and said that liturgical abuses were being addressed (palpably not true).

What makes this even more astonishing is that by 1976 Paul VI was painfully aware that he Church he led was in freefall. I'm not saying he wasn't a good and holy man, but as a pope he was the wrong man at the wrong time.

Richard M. Sawicki said...

I have longed believe that Ven. Paul VI was something of a "white martyr" (or perhaps the correct term is "martyr of the heart") and would be canonized eventually, after the vicious attacks on him in the wake of Humanae Vitae.

He was a sad figure in that he never lost the almost childlike piety of a young Catholic boy making his first Holy Communion and, consequently, was totally shocked and emotionally/psychologically stunned by the organized dissent against his exercise Apostolic-Magisterial teaching. ("What'ya mean they're disobeying me? I'm the Pope!")

Immediately after the Council, he issued a "trifecta" of encyclicals defending the orthodox teaching of the church: "Mysterium Fidei", "Sacerdotalis Coelibatus", and "Humane Vitae", all of which (but ESPECIALLY the third) have been scorned, mocked, and basically ignored by the heterodox/dissenters ever since. The contempt heaped upon him, I believe, truly broke his pious heart to a degree he never recovered from in the rest of his life, but he voluntarily united that personal suffering, as Christ's Vicar, to that of Christ Himself.

I believe the final years of Pope Paul's earthly life were filled with spiritual and resultant physical mortification which he bore with the consolation of the Faith and which, in my perhaps ignorant opinion (I'll leave that to God and history), are evidence of a "heroic virtue".

Yes, I fear that Pope Francis may soon face a similar situation, where the Vicar of Christ, upholding the Church's immutable teaching regarding marriage and human sexuality, will face a widespread rejection just as it did with Her teaching "on Human Life".

I pray it will not be so, but fear that it will.

Gaudete in Domino Semper!

Pater Expetens said...

"Catholic",

I must credit you with surprising me with a phrase I've never heard before: "liberalism rooted in ultramontanism".

Pater Expetens said...

Perhaps the papacy should rotate among the cardinals, with a new pope every year. The prefect of the Holy Office could serve as a sort of "vice-pope", so that he and the pope could function spiritually as the Roman counsuls functioned temporally.

Otherwise, we will just have to trust the Holy Ghost.

Henry said...

"There is such a thing as the "sense of the faithful" expressed at that funeral Mass and now confirmed by Pope Francis!"

Sounds like media nonsense. The crowd at the funeral Mass may have acclaimed him as a pop star, but Pope Francis canonized him as a saint. In my opinion both were right--clearly, he was both a pop star and a saint--but it's not good to confuse the two.

Pater Expetens said...

A funeral is a means of moving a soul from purgatory into Heaven, so that it can help achieve what canonization proclaims.

Pater Expetens said...

Richard M. Sawicki,

Agreed. I would add his exceptional encyclical Ecclesiam Suam to your list, and draw attention to his "Credo of the People of God".

It must be admitted, however, that some bad stuff occurred within the Church under his watch. It's hard to know if he could have arrested this, however. It's also hard to understand some of his seemingly contradictory decisions, such as permitting Mass entirely in the vernacular while also requiring its celebration in Latin.

Catholic said...

Pater Expetens, it troubles me still that you insist on writing my chosen handle in quotation marks. Are you doing this as an accusation against me or to clarify that you are speaking to me instead of someone else? If it's the latter, I'll think of some other handle for clarity's sake. If it's the former, I wish you'd explain more.

Anyhow, I just thought of the "liberalism rooted in ultramontanism" idea this morning. It does seem to describe the situation of our times pretty well. What do you think?

Gene said...

RE: Paul VI's anguish, etc: Paul VI should've thought about all that when he was messing with stuff. Ain't life hard.

George said...

Anonymous @at 9:41 AM:

"I'd rather see the cause for sainthood for Leo XIII, Benedict XV, Pius IX, XI, and XII, and even John Paul I advance before Paul VI gets any attention."

Pius XII was (and is) seen (incorrectly) by some as having had an indifference toward what was occurring in Germany prior to and during WWII and a reluctance to take on the Nazis. Even though, as is now known, the Church under his leadership saved untold numbers from the concentration camps.

Pius IX was the only European head of state to recognize the U.S. Confederacy.

That they both issued important dogmas on Mary (the Immaculate Conception and Assumption) counts in their favor, of course.

God, above all, knows that the Church has suffered more than enough from bad publicity and bad MEDIA coverage, and so I see it as unlikely that the above two will be canonized anytime soon (since it is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that persons are canonized). There is always some possibility of the unexpected occurring however unlikely..

George said...

Anonymous @at 9:41 AM:

"I'd rather see the cause for sainthood for Leo XIII, Benedict XV, Pius IX, XI, and XII, and even John Paul I advance before Paul VI gets any attention."

Pius XII was (and is) seen (incorrectly) by some as having had an indifference toward what was occurring in Germany prior to and during WWII and a reluctance to take on the Nazis. Even though, as is now known, the Church under his leadership saved untold numbers from the concentration camps.

Pius IX was the only European head of state to recognize in some way the U.S. Confederacy. His recognition was implied from a letter he wrote to Jefferson Davis addressing him as "Honorable President of the Confederate States of America".

That they both issued important dogmas on Mary (the Immaculate Conception and Assumption) counts in their favor, of course.

God, above all, knows that the Church has suffered more than enough from bad publicity and bad media coverage, and so I see it as unlikely that the above two will be canonized anytime soon (since it is under the guidance of the Holy Spirit that persons are canonized). There is always some possibility of the unexpected occurring however unlikely..

Richard M. Sawicki said...

"...RE: Paul VI's anguish, etc: Paul VI should've thought about all that when he was messing with stuff. Ain't life hard."

Gene, when we (hopefully) meet in the Kingdom, maybe he'll tell us what he was or wasn't thinking at the time.

Gaudete in Domino Semper!

Gene said...

Richard, Yes, If I make it there, I certainly have some questions to ask some people! LOL!

Henry said...

The best I've seen on the Catholic view of marriage re the Kasper proposals:

http://www.crisismagazine.com/2014/a-rival-good-to-gods-cardinal-kaspers-divorce-proposal

And why priests tinkering with non-canonically sanctioned "pastoral solutions" to marital problems--inside or outside the Sacrament of Penance--seems inconsistent with age-old Catholic teaching about marriage.

Pater Expetens said...

Henry,

Great article! I wish Crisis was available for Kindle.

I think modern Catholics want the exemptions Moses gave the Twelve Tribes, allowing for divorce and remarriage. But Christ elevated natural marriage to the dignity of a sacrament, signifying His relationship with His spousal Church, and made it very clear that anyone who gets divorced, or who marries a divorcee, commits adultery.

If the Church wants to leave decisions concerning nullity of marriage to individual consciences, then that's one thing, but to suggest there's such a thing as sacramental divorce that permits sacramental remarriage is quite another.