Friday, September 16, 2016

Is This the End?

Many were critical of The Irish Catholic for running that headline yesterday. I guess the argument of the critics was that the divorced and remarried can never receive communion, whatever anyone (including the Pope) says.

I think this criticism was misplaced. It's not the job of The Catholic Herald to write headlines about Catholic doctrine (since doctrine doesn't change, those would be pretty boring). Rather, it should report the news of the Church. It is now undeniably true that the Pope himself "gave the green light" to communion for the divorced and remarried, primarily through Amoris Laetitia, including his most recent commentary on it. If we can't say that "divorced and remarried Catholics can now receive communion," then words have no meaning.

The problem is not with the Catholic Herald. It is with Pope Francis.  I do not think any informed, honest and faithful Catholic can now resist seeing the obvious: Pope Francis is an evil man, a manifest heretic and someone whose goal is to destroy the Church as we know it. He is also dedicated and ruthless, not adverse to using trickery, dishonesty, the smearing of opponents and all the rest to realize that goal.

There have certainly been popes in the past that have been very bad for the Church. There have also been popes that have been objectively very evil people. There has been at least one heretic.

But the situation now is uniquely awful.

As Catholics, what do we make of it? How do we make sense of the current crisis, against one of the fundamental tenets of our Catholic faith - that the Church cannot teach error?

Take your pick from the options below:
  1. On communion for the divorced and remarried, the Pope didn't teach error, at least technically. In certain complex situations, sexual activity within a second marriage may not rise to the level of mortal sin.
  2. The Pope didn't officially teach that the divorced and remarried can receive communion. Rather, he merely implied it in a footnote and in a quasi-private letter. Another way to put this is that he intended to teach it but he didn't. It is the responsibility of the laity to be aware of these things.
  3. It is true that the Pope is objectively teaching error. Unfortunately, this can sometimes happen. The Pope isn't the Church.
  4. The person claiming to be Pope and who 99% of Catholics have believed to be Pope for more than three years, really isn't the Pope. The true Pope is a little old man who lives in a garden. 
Some Catholics have even claimed recently that it doesn't matter whether Francis is Pope or not. This is an absurd claim for a Catholic to make. I should know. I believe I've made the claim myself.  

In the past, I've criticized claims 1 and 2 (or similar arguments or positions) pretty harshly. But in fairness, it's not easy to see why 3 and 4 are any less unreasonable. While 4 has begun to seem more probable to some (based on the absurdities of 1-3), it has itself only come to seem all the more more absurd by the recent statements of the "true Pope" profusely praising the "false Pope."

Sorry, I forgot one. Let's call it 5:
This is the end of the Catholic Church as we know it, which means the end of the Catholic Church as something that should be considered anything more than a merely human contrivance. It had a good run for 2,000 years, but now it's over. The whole thing was a lie. A beautiful lie but still.
I do not believe 5. I do not now think I will ever believe 5. But quite honestly, if a formerly faithful Catholic came to adopt it as the least unreasonable conclusion, I would be hard-pressed to come up with a convincing response.

Unless something happens and happens soon - and by that I mean real opposition to Francis by the bishops - more faithful Catholics will at least start to consider 5 as a real possibility.

The Catholic faith isn't based on the primacy of internal religious feeling. It's based on, among other things, the claim that the Church as an institution is important and necessary for the discernment of religious truth as well as for individual salvation. Christ Himself promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it.

And no, you can't just switch over to being Orthodox or an Evangelical or whatever. Each piece in the structure of our faith is in one sense mutually dependent on every other. We became or remained Catholics because we appreciated the logic of that. The downside of course is that if you take a pin out, the whole thing comes crashing down. 

He promised that the gates of Hell would not prevail against it. How could all of this be happening if Jesus was who He said He was?

As horrible as things are, you may not yourself have any doubt that this dilemma will be solved somehow, even if you can't for the moment see it. Your faith may still be solid. But what about the family next to you in the pew? Or what about you or your family after, say, three more years of this?

Is this the end?

No. I'm sure of it.

But you tell me why I should be so confident.


  1. This is the "Easter Saturday Challenge". The Apostles saw Jesus killed and were challenged. Indeed, Scripture tells us only St. John and Our Lady stayed at the foot of the Cross. On Easter Saturday, I could not have told you how it was going to turn out all right, only that it would indeed turn out all right. The same applies here, today. So, like the Apostles, we wait. We wait for Mary magdalene to tell us that He is risen, that everything really is ok. We wait in joyful hope.

  2. "Unless something happens and happens soon - and by that I mean real opposition to Francis by the bishops - more faithful Catholics will at least start to consider 5 as a real possibility."

    Yep. Most definitely. Number 4 is surging right now, but I think most Catholics find sedevacantism (because that's functionally what it is) ultimately unworkable.

    But I wouldn't count out Catholics surging toward Orthodoxy or the less compromising forms of Protestantism. Both are more honest than Francis-led Catholicism.

    You don't have to immolate your intellect and integrity, effectively dressing in fool's motley, to try to defend either of those.

  3. If it's #4, what happens when the little old man in the garden passes away while the current "occupant" is still alive?

    I don't think this solves anything. But then again, neither does assuming that Pius XII or John XXIII was the last true pope.

  4. P.S. It's actually hard for me to say that the IRISH CATHOLIC headline is actually *wrong.*

    Oh sure, there are qualifications. But at root, it's hard to say it's wrong. More to the point, it's really hard to say that certain people in Rome did not intend this result, or are unhappy with it.

  5. "And the Lord said: Who (thinkest thou) is the faithful and wise steward, whom his lord setteth over his family, to give them their measure of wheat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom when his lord shall come, he shall find so doing. Verily I say to you, he will set him over all that he possesseth.

    But if that servant shall say in his heart: My lord is long a coming; and shall begin to strike the menservants and maidservants, and to eat and to drink and be drunk: The lord of that servant will come in the day that he hopeth not, and at the hour that he knoweth not, and shall separate (lit. 'cut him to pieces')him, and shall appoint him his portion with unbelievers.

    And that servant who knew the will of his lord, and prepared not himself, and did not according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.

    But he that knew not, and did things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. And unto whomsoever much is given, of him much shall be required: and to whom they have committed much, of him they will demand the more." Luke 12:42-48

    So much for the duty of the Chief Steward towards the Lord's household and the hope that those who become invincibly ignorant under the ministrations of such a Chief Steward might escape with few stripes when the Lord returns.

  6. True enough, the gates of hell will never prevail.

    Still, not sure how it plays out universally if (or has) Rome falls into apostasy?? As Roman Catholics we are facing some MAJOR theological conundrums that will not be simply solved, by referencing remnant pockets of orthodoxy, due to how tightly bound all of Catholicism is (theologically and in government) to the Bishop of Rome. EVERYTHING in Catholicism ultimately rests on the foundation that Peter is the Rock that CANNOT fail.

    But what if he does???

    Barnhardt is trying to salvage a coherent theological explanation by positing that Francis is an anti-pope. Neo-cons are trying to explain away or ignore the heretical statements of Francis (and VII documents) hoping that an orthodox cardinal/bishop will be selected in the next Conclave who can somehow right the Barque. Sedevacantist watch on with amusement at anti-popers, recognize and resisters like SSPX, and most of all at neo-cons.

    The truth is that that all parties have some major weaknesses to their arguments and therefore intelligent Orthodox (and Protestants) look on and sneer that 'they told us so!' with regard to putting all ones theological and Church government eggs in one Roman Papal basket.

    Oh what a terrible diabolical disorientation that we find ourselves in! May our Lady of Fatima pray for us that God will deliver us soon from this unprecedented evil!!

  7. The visible and indefectible Church has always existed (Christ's promise) in the SSPX who have always been Roman Catholic. They recognised the "state of necessity" (a construct that exists in nature) after Vatican II and have never lost the Faith. Francis is mad to get them totally in his control, but they are wise to him.

    Let's hope faithful prelates (said to be considerable in number) join with SSPX and renounce Francis' false teaching.

    The drama is unfolding! Wait until next month at Lund when Francis is likely to open the Eucharist to heretics. (He has already informally done this telling a Lutheran woman to pray about receiving the Euchatrist and "go forward".

    Trust in Our Lord. He's watching it all unfold. His Mother may be staying His hand, for now. Pray the rosary EVERY day.

  8. I think a thorough study of apparitions, some of which have not been approved by bishops, could shed some light on current and future events.

    Catholics tend to have knee jerk reactions to such things though, so they don't seriously consider them.

  9. Hate to say it- but I think the church in Ireland is already done. They are rabidly anti-Catholic. I don't think a headline like that will bring any crowds running back.
    Just the same- a hideous thing to see in print.
    Francis is the Obama of the Catholic Church. It will also be transformed and rendered unrecognizable.

    In his early days I found a book in Italian: Le Pecore di Bergoglio. It claims- on the periphery of Buenos Aires we find who is Francesco. For him 'the sacraments are not a prize but a nourishment for sinners.' He was known to distribute to communion to all in 'the peripheries'. If he was doing it there- he would do it as Pope for the whole church.

    1. As I read the other day, someone wisely observed, this is a utilitarian view of God, it is to see him as someone to be USED, rather than Someone to be worshiped and adored.

  10. The answer is that the Pope has not officially taught error. He has taught it in fact, but his act is ultra vires. An English judge would award a quashing order in judicial review.

  11. How about this option #6: Pope JP II taught infallibly on communion for divorced/remarried in Familiaris Consortio. Because of papal infallibility, no future pope can overturn this doctrine. This is not the same as changing a discipline in the church which popes can change. A future pope cannot overturn Pius XII's declaration on the assumption for instance. So no matter what pope Francis says, this doctrine on divorced/remarried was already defined by JP II for all time and we always have recourse to Familiaris Consortio as a perfectly valid document that we can quote from even during future papacies. Traditionalists make no bones about quoting Boniface VIII on no salvation outside the church. It's done. It's defined. The real question is the level of authority given to JP II's Familiaris Consortio. Francis doesn't like formality in his documents and prefers them to be more of an informal discussion and pastoral analysis. He even includes language in the beginning suggesting this. He never uses language that rises to the level of "I declare for all time ex cathedral..." So let's just go with JP II on this and call it day. Of course there are plenty of negative repercussions on Francis' statements. We just saw the bishops of Alberta Canada and Poland say NO to communion and the pope hasn't disciplined them on this. He is letting them say NO it appears. So even though the pope has now given his "official" interpretation of Amoris saying YES to communion, for the time being it appears to only be his official pastoral belief on the matter, but he has not yet chastised or disciplined bishops conferences that have said NO to communion.

    1. As I understand it, only one pope in a hundred years as said, "I declare for all time ex cathedra," so, though Francis is conniving and uses ambiguity to his advantage, it's not like the previous popes were infallibilling right and left.

      I guess 6 is my 3. I think 6/3 is acceptable (barely) if this thing ends soon. But the longer it goes on the more unreasonable it seems that God would allow such a huge misunderstanding or misinterpretation to persist.

      I feel the same way about sedevacantism. If the seat is vacant for a few weeks or disputed during civil strife or a war or whatever, that's one thing, but 57+ years is something else.

  12. The seat is vacant, it happens. It happens briefly ever time a pope dies. A heretic cannot be a member of the mystical body, he is out of communion, either formally or automatically. Christ is still the head, but His new vicar hasn't been chosen yet.

  13. I can't tell you why option 5 isn't true, because I don't have a good logical explanation. Mahound, here's what I have for you:

    Jesus is real, the Church is His Body, the Eucharist is really Him and Catholic priests consecrate it. I belong in the Catholic Church and will remain in it until the day I die. That's what I know.

    I don't know how Pope Francis is possible. I don't know what's going on. I can only trust Jesus. He's coming soon. I know that you know all of this, too.

  14. If this particular papal action constitutes grounds for doubting the Catholic faith, then it's already 200 years or so past it's sell-by date. As Zippy has repeatedly pointed out, a similar "concession" was given to unrepentant usurers under Pius VIII back in 1830. This was at least arguably worse than the present mess: adultery is not one of the four sins that cry out to Heaven for vengeance, while usury is frequently and directly used in two of them.

    Yes, this is very bad, and must be, to the degree possible in our various states of life, opposed. It certainly provides very good evidence for what for lack of a better term we might call magisterial minimalism: that is, the idea that like indefectibility, infallibility probably means little more than that the thing cannot be utterly destroyed.
    We have, perhaps, been presuming overmuch on God's mercy, assuming that the Vatican couldn't screw things up too badly, but that's no cause to swing to despair when we realize that they really have.

    At any rate, I am cautiously optimistic that this, at least, will avoid disappearing down the memory hole like usury did and contraception almost has, but I suppose we'll see in a few decades.

  15. Sandpiper,

    The visible and indefectible Church has always existed (Christ's promise) in the SSPX who have always been Roman Catholic.

    The SSPX have always been Catholic, and I have rejected the idea that they are in schismatic (which is reflected in the discourse from Rome, at least most of the time).

    I will only say that I do resent the implication, sometimes more than implied, that the visible and indefectible Church ONLY exists in the SSPX.

    I am not saying you are doing this, but it could be read that way. There are plenty of us struggling through within regularized jurisdictions, too.

    1. Yes, I believe the One True Church was moseying along under John, Paul, JPI, JPII, Benedict. But now we must pause, assess the situation, and tread the path of traditional Catholicism which shines brightly among the SSPX in our day. Hopefully the SSPX will attract key prelates and the sheep will follow.

  16. My advice is that if you can't give a convincing response to #5, then you should think long and hard about posts that could/would lead a Catholic there.

    To quote you:
    Your faith may still be solid. But what about the family next to you in the pew? Or what about you or your family after, say, three more years of this?
    In other words, is the faith of every (potential) reader strong enough to endure your posts on the subject of problems in the Church?

    My general advice to any would be blogger is to take a 30 day directed retreat meditating on the millstone passage. Then blog carefully.

    1. Utubeo; grow up.

      He's stating fact....he's recognizing (as we all do by now) that the emperor is...well, you know. Papa's running down the street, butt-naked, mad-drunk, shouting inanities and blasphemies, and Mahound's just saying, "hey...that's messed up." If it offends you, go elsewhere. Ignoring it or saying nothing about it is more damaging than your scenario, and no retreat of any kind is going to change it. Frank is doing more to weaken people's faith than the recognition of that fact (and all the implications surrounding it) could possibly do. In fact, thinking out loud like this can be a help to many.

      Thank you Mahound for this post....It shores me up, and I don't feel quite so alone.

  17. I believe he is a bad pope, but pope nonetheless. But, I have hopes we'll have a better one next time. According to prophesies, there are suppose to be wars involving Muslims, a traditional-Catholic French king will arise and he will be endorsed by a good traditional pope. This king is suppose to drive the Muslims from France and Europe.

    Or, God doesn't think we're worth having someone like that and go straight to the False Prophet and Anti-Christ and the next pope will be even worse than Francis.

    My two cents.

  18. I'm not leaving. It's going to get even worse. Francis said his papacy would be short. He's already overdue. Go to confession, pray the Rosary, help whomever you can to not lose faith.

  19. Here is my sedevacantist temptation, and I am looking for reasons not to yield. Pope Francis has taught error to the universal Church and to the world. If a true pope can do this, then how do we know true popes in the past haven't taught error? And what good is the pope anyway, in that case, other than as an administrator or as some kind of symbol? Did Christ establish the papacy only for the rare infallible declaration?

    Talk me out of my growing sedevacantist leanings.

    1. Why does everyone just ignore St. Bellarmine (Doctor of the Church) among others?...

      "A pope who is a manifest heretic automatically (per se) ceases to be pope and head, just as he ceases automatically to be a Christian and a member of the Church. Wherefore, he can be judged and punished by the Church. This is the teaching of all the ancient Fathers who teach that manifest heretics immediately lose all jurisdiction." (De Romano Pontifice. II.30.)

      It will be up to a future Council or good Pope to pronounce it certainly, but we're called to read the tea leaves and obey Christ against all enemies of Him, His Church, and the Divinely revealed Deposit of Faith. Follow the Faith Fred, and not a heretic. Trust in God to straighten it out 'officially', in His own time...chances are we will be loooong gone when that happens.

      Neither is the notion that the throne might in fact be de facto vacant (again, only a council or future pope can authoritatively proclaim that it is/was de jure), a call for fainting and hand-wringing. There have been periods in the past of multiple years sede vacante. It's up to the future and God's grace to formally proclaim francis and his machinations for what they are, and then go about setting things straight....we are simply called to stay faithful to Chris, and resist those who would attempt to rape His Bride. I strongly suspect the SSPX has been protected by Providence as a modern-day Pella for that very reason….discernment is called for….pray for it.

      Awful time to be alive, as hell appears to have been unleashed on the earth; but GREAT Saints are made in such times, soooo, great time to be alive. Keep the Faith….don’t go all wobbly, speak the Truth unwaveringly, and pray Rosary every day….and the Psalms help a lot too.

      Our Lady, Hammer of heretics….pray for us.

    2. Any magisterial declaration in conflict with prior declarations is ipso facto false. The supernatural is not needed for protection from error against Tradition, only against error from that which has not been defined.

    3. Zippy once again comes in useful:

      As far as teaching error goes, well, yes. Yes he has. Not infallibly, so no logical contradiction is involved is remaining Catholic or affirming that Francis is Pope, but I agree, it's pretty bad. As far as what good the Pope is, well, this particular Pope, I dunno, but even with its current occupant, the Papacy ain't nothing.

      For starters, even if he IS just a symbol and administrator, even if he's a bad administrator and a vague symbol, that isn't nothing. In order for the Church to take corporate action, somebody needs to be in charge. About the only alternative to a papacy is for Christ himself to direct it in person, and for whatever reasons he decided with infinite wisdom not to do that.

      Why are we allowed a such a lousy Pope? From the Story of St. John Vianney:

      To a priest who complained about the indifference of people in his parish, St. John Vianney answered: "You have preached, you have prayed, but have you fasted? Have you taken the discipline (a self imposed scourge)? Have you slept on the floor? So long as you have done none of these things, you have no right to complain."

      Now, I know that I, by many and divers grave sins, have contributed much to our punishment, and my penances have been light and desultory. I am part of the problem. Given the presumption and love of rebellion in our culture at large, I have no reason to believe that the bulk of folks, even within the Church, are much better off. And having a lax Pope who encourages them in sin is a punishment not only on Catholics, but on the whole world.

      Even setting aside the possibility of direct divine punishment, our current state is the natural result of a worldly laity. This is not simply a problem of bad clergy, or even a bad Pope. Where do clergy come from? Who are their first catechists? Who is most responsible for their formation, not only as clerics, but as men? Why, their parents. And are their parents clerics? Only in exceedingly rare cases. In other words, to quote Zippy again, "the problem is us, and the solution is repentance."

      Now consider that, according to St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Twelve Steps of Pride, one of the signs of sincere repentance is the acceptance of a harsh penance. Sure, our current Pope may seem an awfully harsh penance, but think of our sins. Do we deserve any better?

      I know it kind of sucks that you have to suffer for other persons' sins, and I apologize for my own part in bring this on you. But God punishes nations and peoples as well as individuals. Ezekiel and Daniel and Tobit were all exiles, after all. Not a whole lot I can do about that.

    4. I think this sub-thread is closest to the mark. It's the best set of answers I've seen so far.

  20. Ugh, I'm having a 5 day today, I admit, it's creeping up on meeee. I say back, you diabolical doubts! But they are lurking in those blasted peripheries of my own mind. Were we just saps and fools? Are we the nerds of the spiritual world, and these worldling Bishops are far more cooler than we are?? We still believe in old-fashioned Catholicism. How quaint we have been.
    I'm hoping for some Bishops and Cardinals to man up. Soon.

    1. I wish Barry Fitzgerald were Pope. I'd have no problem going his way.

  21. I think I've gone over to #5. Whatever it once was, this thing presently calling itself the Catholic Church is not capable of bringing a human being to God. Yes, I know about the gates of hell and all that. Maybe we've misunderstood just what Jesus meant by "my Church". Maybe the Catholic Church was able to fill that role up until now, but can no longer. Like a human being, it was both mortal and immortal. When the immortal spirit leaves a man, we know what happens to the rest of him - that's what's happening now.

    By the way, that's my *generous* evaluation. It posits that God has simply dropped this one instrument, now that it's worn out and useless, and will carry on His work with another one. When I'm *really* feeling bad, I think about all those dead religions of the past, which also promised that they would never fail or disappear, and wonder if I'm just a witness of the end-cycle of what people 5,000 years from now will rank with Egyptian, Greek and Roman god religions. Who was the last guy to believe in Osiris? In Mithras? In Zeus? There must have been someone.

    1. Dr. Mabuse, you have just given up. It violates everything you believe as a Christian. Do you have children and grandchildren? If you did I don't think you could possibly come to the same conclusion you expressed here. They need your faith! You have to pass it onto them! And that faith includes belief in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church.

    2. Stories like this need to be sent to every bishop in the world. If the apostasy and loss of faith of their spiritual children doesn't prompt them to act, than I don't know what will.

      Anyway dude, don't give up. This is a matter of salvation. Keep the faith and let God sort it out in his own good time.

    3. Actually, this is a kind of "where have you been these past fifty years," sort of post. Bishops have been silent in people's lose of faith for years, and many were complicit in it!

      Though my hope is that they'd be inspired to act against Francis nonetheless. Experience, however, tells me otherwise.

  22. I am a convert from a Presbyterian Church to the Orthodox Church. But if I were to consider seriously joining Roman Catholic Church today it would be because there are people like the above who are agonizing over the state of things in the church and fighting for truth rather than just passively accepting everything that's happening with this pope Francis.

    1. That's a great point. It now seems obvious to me, but I've never seen it made. Thank you.

  23. "The problem is not with the Catholic Herald. It is with Pope Francis."

    Actually, I would go further and say that the problem is not with Pope Francis. It is its Vatican II.

  24. I find a considerable degree of relief in the fact that we were forewarned. It doesn't make it less painful to watch, but it does strengthen one in the conviction that God remains in control of the situation, that this is still his Church, and that He will save those who persevere through it all.

  25. If Jesus told us "the gates of hell will not prevail," then we need to understand that, at some point, it's going to look really REALLY bleak, and there will be many (even among the elect) who will be deceived into believing that God will somehow abandon His Bride in the end -- that God Himself is faithless.

    There's no safeguard against terrible prudential judgment on the part of a bishop or pope. There's no guarantee against a shepherd turning on the sheep. What is safeguarded is the Truth, because no one, not even a pope, can overturn the Truth. And Catholic doctrine is that Truth guarded by the Holy Spirit. The office of pope (not the pope as a human being, per se) is empowered not to teach something to be Truth which is false. You can let your imagination run wild with every kind of evil you can think of, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that a pope or bishop could personally succumb to that evil path. But the Holy Spirit will protect the office. Some people think it's a massive cop out loophole to fallback on, but it's not. It's the crux of the whole institution. What a pope is capable of outside of that guarantee is limitless.

    We still need to submit our obedience to the pope -- outside of manifest sin -- as an act of trust in God and His eternal wisdom in permitting this pope to reign. There's no way around it -- if we believe God's will is in all things (positively or permissively), then we can't shake our fist and say "WHY THIS POPE??" If we don't believe God is ultimately in control of all of this, then it's all a sham. And we know it's not a sham. God gave the people of Galilee miracles, and He gives us miracles as incontrovertible proof that there is something greater than all of us and all of our angst and outrage put together -- HIM.

    Pray for Francis unceasingly. Do the hard thing. Pray for him with love and compassion if you think he's "evil". Love him. Love the Holy Father we've been given. We are ultimately responsible to those around us, but we can't be responsible for everyone who reads a quote from the Holy Father and thinks they've got a hall pass to sin as much as they want. God knows everything. He tells us to pray, to love, to fast, and to forgive.

    1. Yep, it's going to get worse. "And unless those days had been shortened, no flesh should be saved: but for the sake of the elect those days shall be shortened." (Mt. 24:22) How is it possible to believe that Francis has the Faith? Only because it is an article of the faith, defined at Vatican-I: Our Lord's prayer for St. Peter that his faith "faileth not" applies to his successors. Other than that, there is no way for me to suspect Francis of having the Faith because no one who has the Faith could undermine it so terribly. But the Good God sees something I can't.

      Hence, we walk in Faith. Here are some helpful words from St. Ignatius, his Rule no. 13:

      “To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.”

  26. I honestly think "Amoris laetitia" (AL) doesn't teach that unrepentant public adulterers can (at least sometimes) receive Holy Communion (the "Kasper thesis"). My intention is not to defend Pope Francis, but to save the traditional teaching on the indefectibility of the Church.

    As I understand it, to "teach" (in the context of the papal magisterium) means to command Catholics to believe something. It's clear that AL is meant to show Francis' support for the Kasper thesis and to encourage people to put it in practice, but I don't think AL is intended to command us to believe the Kasper thesis is true.

    You've probably heard that Archbishop Forte claimed that Francis had told him he had deliberately refrained from any explicit endorsement of the Kasper thesis in AL out of fear of the "chaos" that might have ensued. Instead, as Francis allegedly claimed, AL only contained certain premises from which the Kasper thesis might be deduced. As far as I can see, this can only mean that Francis wants tradition-minded Catholics to interpret AL "according to a hermeneutic of continuity," which would spare him accusations of heterodoxy.

    If we interpret AL in a way that is compatible with Catholic doctrine, even though such an interpretation may seem far-fetched or strained, we aren't disobeying Francis' commands; to the contrary, we are doing what he wants us to do.

    1. I realize it might seem silly to put so much emphasis on the precise definition of a magisterial "teaching" ("it depends on what the definition of 'is' is!") but as far as I can see, that is the best solution in order to defend the indefectibility of the Church.

      Sedevacantism is false because the the bishops' unanimous recognition of a particular person as pope is an infallible sign that he is indeed the pope (this is part of the traditional doctrine of "dogmatic facts"). As far as I know, there were no sedevacantist bishops before the mid-70s, when the Vatican II documents and the new Mass had long been promulgated, while sedevacantists claim the vacancy started in the mid-60s at the latest.

      It's also useless to claim that Francis was invalidly elected or that he lost his office through public heresy or that Benedict is still the pope, because all bishops who were in full communion with Pope Benedict still recognize Francis.

      It's also impossible that Pope Francis may have promulgated a law or teaching that explicitly allows what Divine law forbids (see the section on "Disciplinary infallibility" in the Catholic Encyclopedia's article on "Ecclesiastical Discipline"). It's irrelevant that AL is not ex cathedra.

      If I'm not mistaken, that leaves us with the possibility that Pope Francis holds a heterodox opinion, encourages others to adopt it but didn't technically "teach" it to the universal Church. This is what happened with Pope John XXII in the 14th century.

      Who has a better solution?

    2. Also, from my reading of Chapter 8 of AL, I remember that no particular sentence is unequivocally wrong, although the text as a whole shows the author's dangerous underlying ideology.

  27. As a former catholic of 20 years, I really don't see how anyone could come to any conclussion other than #5.

    Imagine you you have an uncle. You've known him your entire life, and he's always been super-helpful, offering you advice he's learned from his long and sordid life. And you take his advice. But every time you take this uncle's advice, it backfires. It just always makes things worse and gets you in trouble, no matter what. And the older you get, the easier it becomes to recognize your uncle's bad advice for what it is. How long would take you to stop listening to your uncle who is never right about anything?

    That uncle is the catholic church, and christianity as a whole. Christianity has been on the wrong side of literally every human rights issue in history. Usury, Indulgences, Slavery, divine right of kings, Limited Education, institutionalized poverty, women's sufferage, african american civil rights, lgbt rights, pedophilia, contraception, the treatment of religious minorities (especially the jews), the list goes on.

    So, how long will it be until the remaining catholics just tell their deranged uncle to stop hanging around? What more does it take for you all to become atheists?