I can understand Francis and Cardinals Kasper, Nichols and all the ‘Pastoral Modernisers’ saying we need to stream line the annulment process and that we need a less harsh language: why can’t we substitute ‘misdirected desire’ for ‘intrinsically disordered’ or ‘irregular union’ for adultery? But we must avoid language that suggests we value the sinful orientations that spring from concupiscence and the sinful acts in which people engage, or we are endangering their souls and our own. Be sure of this: leaders in the Church who wish to abandon Church teaching for the sake of ‘compassion’ and ‘mercy’ are placing souls on the road to hell -and they are walking there with them so as to “accompany them and support them in the messiness of human life”.
I come from a 'messy' background: the child of a union not recognised by the Church; a social circle where drunkenness, hard-drug abuse, theft, violence and sex as mere recreation were the ways of everyday life. Coming from such a background, I am not without sin myself, and I know that those in such a social circle had some good ways: mutual support in hard times; protection of one another from violent attack by rivals; the sharing of resources. But some mutual support is actually wrong: while it was good to share resources such as food and compassion when things went awry etc., it was wrong to share resources that meant more places could be robbed or rivals suffer violence. Similarly, it is wrong to give support to irregular situations. Not all support is good support; it is not good when it supports or facilitates evil.
As I said, coming from a messy background I myself am not without sin –who is? But as a sinner I needed the pastors of the Church to accompany me down the road of repentance; I needed their support in becoming the person God is calling me to be. I needed to be picked up after falling and be re-cleansed in the Blood of Christ. What I did not need was for my pastors to lie and say all was well between me and God no matter how I choose to live -I did not need them to affirm and accompany me on the road to hell. They may go there if they so desire, but I don’t want them send or take me (or others) by misplaced, erroneous compassion.
The ‘Pastoral Modernisers’ of today are, I assume, unwitting agents of Satan, but they are doing Satan’s work anyway. One can only ask, with sincere and concerned heart, if these men have not lost their Catholic Faith. They may retain a belief in ‘god’, but it is not in the God of the Ten Commandments, of the Gospel, of St Paul or of Tradition (Revelation). We can know this because the Ten Commandments outlaw sexual irregularities (Ex.20v14); because Our Lord Himself rebuked such irregularities with His own lips in the ‘Gospel of the poor and outcast’ (Lk.16v18); and because the Holy Ghost testifies through St Paul that despite this being the age of mercy (the age of the Good News) those living in the irregularities of fornication, adultery, homosexual activity, thieving, drunkenness or swindling will not inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor.6v9-10). Pastoral Modernisers are rejecting all of this.
Some, including our faith leaders, have shown at the Synod that they reject the restrictions of the Ten Commandments; refuse the teaching of God-made-man, and reject the teaching of the Holy Ghost through St Paul. For such men, mercy does not mean “Your sins are forgiven. Go and sin no more”(Lk.7v48); nor it does it mean being saying with St Paul “such, some of you once were” (1 Cor.6v11). No; their Gospel is ‘God loves you as you are, so you may leave your spouse and children; you may reject the life-giving properties of sex; you may lie with members of your own sex, and all is well between you and God’. They are very wrong. There is no scripture reference for their stand; no support in Tradition. All they have to support them is today’s secular, relativist humanism and feelings-focused kindness. I can think of no better advice to give to them than these words addressed to them by the Lord Himself: "I appointed you a watchman for the house of Israel; so you will hear a message from My mouth and give them warning from Me. When I say to the wicked, 'O wicked man, you will surely die,' and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but I will hold you responsible for his death.” (Ezeckiel,33v7-8)
I don’t know where the ‘Pastoral Modernisers’ are coming from in calling for the Church to be ‘merciful’: the Church denies love and friendship to no one; all she does is tell those in irregular lifestyles to forgo sex. Are the ‘Pastoral Modernisers’ saying that this is too much to ask of anyone? If so, what can give us confidence that they are faithful to their celibacy? How can we know if Bishop Conry was alone in his waywardness?
By all means find ways of helping the adulterer, the licentious, the active homosexual, feel they are valuable and have a place in the Church of saints and sinners: help them by encouraging them to come to Mass; to seek spiritual Direction; to live and love chastely; to take part in the social life of the parish; to stay involved in charitable works. But do not turn a blind eye to their sin and to the danger they place themselves in by living contrary to the mind of God as expressed in Divine Law, the Scriptures and Tradition.
Post Script: I am not convinced by those who say that if the Pope changes pastoral practices it does not change doctrine. It may not do so today, but in 100/200 years time folk may well say, “The Church has been allowing those in irregular unions to receive Communion so it must be OK; if must fit with our doctrine”, and then doctrine will change to fit with practice. If Francis changes the discipline of the Church it surely won’t affect doctrine today, but it can change it in the future. And therein lies the danger: the devil has a longer-term view and plan than does the blogger or Bishop who says a change in discipline does not mean a change in doctrine. The two cannot be forever at odds.
If we can simply neglect Christ's clear teaching in the Gospels about morality so that praxis contradicts doctrine, then we have enshrined hypocrisy at the heart of our faith. I think you are spot on about changes in pastoral practice leading to change in doctrine, but this may been their plan all along. Marx and Schonborn have said openly that the Church should recognize and bless civil unions.ReplyDelete
However, if all these areas of settled doctrine are suddenly not settled and now up for grabs, if Scripture, Councils and Tradition can just be ignored, then surely all areas of doctrine are similarly questionable. If Christ's teaching about remarriage being adultery can be discarded then what about "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church"? If Trent's anathematization of divorce and remarriage is now kaput, what about Vatican I's Pastor Aeternus?
The PM's do not seem to realise that the changes they propose also cut away all logical grounds for their own authority and claims to be able to speak in the name of Christ. They are turning the Magisterium into a perpetual lame duck and severing all authority from its source in Christ. That may also be part of their ultimate plan as they seem to act as though they possess raw, brutal power without any accountability for how that power is used. Things will get pretty hairy if they are not stopped. We are getting close to the point where only direct intervention by God will save the Church.
Thank you, D.A.,Delete
Actually, the PM's are turning the Church into a force for the enshrining of secular, social engineering. The 'world' began it, now some in the Church want to rubber-stamp it.
All in all, to overturn Revelation safeguarded by 2000 years of teaching is either wicked arrogance or lack of intelligence. It is certainly a loss of Divine and Catholic Faith.
God has it all in hand, though.
Cardinal Pell was right -- the issue of communion for the divorced and remarried at the recent synod is a stalking horse. The real issue is homosexuality.ReplyDelete
The big theological dividing line in the Catholic Church on sexual matters at the moment is between those, on the one side, who believe that same-sex attraction is a form of carnal concupiscence resulting from fallen human nature -- and, on the other side, those who believe that same-sex attraction is willed by God and created by God.
Thank you, Francis.Delete
You are exactly right: the difference is how sexuality is seen. The thing is, those who believe in the Bible as the Word of God and the Church as the Body of Christ sent to teach and preach repentance, are being marginalised today by those who see the Bible as a guide book and the Church as a human institution. Men in this latter camp seem to be residing in the very highest ranks of the Church.
Cardinal Kasper, for one, admits in his published writings that he does not believe in the biblical accounts of miracles (including, I suppose the Resurrection) he also says that Jesus never claimed to be God. Now if the Pope's right hand man is, apparently and by his own admission, not a Catholic or even a Christian then where on earth does that leave us? We are in deep trouble and I cannot understand how anyone who actually subscribes to the Creeds can't see it.ReplyDelete
Thank you Lepanto.Delete
Not believing in miracles and denying Christ's claim to be God...and this is "serene theology done on one's knees"? I think God.
Good commentary Father, and mirrors some of my own. The subtle and not-so-subtle assaults upon doctrine and the Sacrament of Matrimony were hard to ignore - and not speak up about by any sane Catholic. Oct. 13th was nothing short of the intervention of the Holy Ghost to preserve His Church and I wrote as much. It can't be ignored as such, considering anyone of those who stood for the Faith that day could have done so much earlier on their own but did not. Such is human weakness, I suppose, that extra strength was needed, given and accepted that fateful day to Card. Burke & Co. And His intervention will happen again one year from now if the same scenario is brought to the table. I wonder... how many more will stand for the Faith and Marriage then?ReplyDelete
Thank you, David.Delete
maybe the defenders waited hoping they would if the Modernisers would shoot themselves in the foot...
Next year may well be a re-run of this but the question is, who will Francis invite and leave out? he does not appear to stay clear of giving the impression that he is manipulating the whole thing for a human agenda. May the Good Lord intervene.
"May the Good Lord intervene"ReplyDelete
AMEN! to that, Father.
99% of "pastoral problems" would disappear if the praxis of regular communion was reversed. Communion should be reserved for the sick and dying.ReplyDelete
Thank you, 'Sadie',Delete
While there is a real and serious problem today in that there are few Confessions and almost everyone at Holy Communion (and this certainly needs serious address) reserving Holy Communion for the sick and dying would not be in harmony with the feeding of the 5000 or with Catholic Tradition.
Comment to Sadie, if I may Father.Delete
Come on Sadie, surely also once a year and that at Easter or thereabouts?
"Misdirected desire" or "irregular union" are not accurate, true descriptions of a desire to have sexual relations with a person of the same sex, or having sexual relations with a person other than one's spouse, because they are much too vague, broad, general references that could refer to much lesser evils, evils of an entirely different order. And there is very little unwitting going on at high levels of the hierarchy. Lord, have mercy.ReplyDelete
Thank you Lynda.Delete
I agree with you; irregular union and misdirected desire are far too broad, but i struggled to find anything that was specific yet would be considered 'acceptable' to those in such life-styles.
The 'backdraft' from the Relatio at the Synod seems to be taking hold.
A Call to Action are having their annual conference in Liverpool tomorrow and have a session entitled 'Remarriage and the Eucharist - After the Synod.'
Even more disturbing is the news that they have posted up a message of welcome to Liverpool from Archbishop Malcolm McMahon.
We are shocked but not surprised by these developments.
Alan and Angeline
It is the blinding desire to be welcoming that makes many welcome even those who seek to undermine the faith: Tolerance (except for Traditional Catholics) being the order of the day, we are to tolerate sin in the Church and thereby give the impression that sin is tolerated in heaven. What nonsense.
Dear Father Dickson, Of course one ought not choose a term that is "acceptable" to those who adopt manifest obstinate grave sin as a whole way of living. Firstly, the term would be false (with all the consequent evils), and secondly, it would be supportive of people in their mortal sin, rather than telling them the truth they need to hear if they are to be helped to repentance and conversion, without which they cannot be saved.ReplyDelete
Indeed. Any terms chosen need to be clear in describing the sinful reality they seek to express. I tried to find a number of terms other than 'intrinsically disordered' and 'irregular situation' but to be honest nothing I tried (such as 'inherently flawed' and 'inappropriate relationship') did the job. The Bishops have an impossible task if they are looking to find terms that will not offend, because the offended are seeking terms that apply positive qualities to a negative reality, which we cannot do.