Friday 2 June 2017

One Answer Fits All?

In today’s Culture of Death & Destruction Catholicism gives one answer to many pastoral situations in regard to receiving the sacraments:
“I am divorced and civilly married to a new spouse…may I go to Holy Communion?”
“I am cohabiting because I think it is as good as marriage…may I go to Holy Communion?”
“I am in a homosexual relationship…may I go to Holy Communion?”
 “I am contracepting…may I go to Holy Communion?”
“I am living a transgender life…may I go to Holy Communion?”

The answer Catholicism gives is this: You are living a life contrary to the Truth (The Faith), so you are called to refrain from Holy Communion until you end your current lifestyle. Keep praying, keep performing acts of charity, and keep up acts of self-sacrifice so as to build the grace you need to come home. The Church will accompany you in this.

Sadly, it seems we are now expected to give a different answer: You are living a life contrary to the Truth (The Faith), so you are called to refrain from Holy Communion until you end your current lifestyle. However, as long as you believe you are at rights with God, you are welcome to receive Holy Communion.”

This is the kind of answer we now seem expected to give by liberal priests and Bishops ever since Francis made his famous “Who am I to judge?” statement. Well, no one asked Francis to judge anyone -but we did expect him to give the same judgement of a person’s actions that the Faith has always given: such lifestyles are anathema to God since they contravene His Truth and thus endanger the person’s salvation; we do not judge or reject any persons but are obliged to warn them of all we believe is harmful to them. We do not impose our teaching on anyone (a person’s own ability to reason should do this), but neither can we approve of contrary lifestyles.

Sadly, what we are seeing in the Church today, on the pretext of ‘accompanying people”,  is the eradication of Catholicism in pastoral practice by what I call ‘pastoral sentimentality’: tending to feelings at the expense of applying doctrine. Pastoral Sentimentality is where Doctrine is left intact but also left aside so as to tend to the emotional pain of the person rather than attend to their supremely important spiritual need. Pastoral sentimentality allows folk to receive Holy Communion while living a lifestyle that is contrary to the Truths of The Faith, which is sacrilegious, and we out not to be encouraging sacrilegious communions. Sadly, ‘Pastoral Sentimentality’ has been the way of the Church for five or six decades now. It has been the way and teaching of so many seminary professors, clergy and theologians. Thus today’s problems do not really stem from Pope Francis; so far, all Francis has done is use his papal authority to implement it (to the detriment of souls), without trying to formally impose new teaching. There is a massive deception going on here: leave doctrine formally untouched but change pastoral practice so that in years to come anew ‘theology’ (heresy) can be promoted based on’ the practice of the Church’. I think we are only at the beginning of the struggle for the integrity of the Church.

It is not Francis faithful Catholics must fight but Moral Relativism and Situation Ethics. However, since Francis is at least tolerating it if not approving ‘Pastoral sentimentality’ under the label of ‘mercy’, we must if necessary confront him, which he says himself he values, as reported by Catholic Culture here :

“It’s good to be criticized. I have always liked this.” That’s good to know. What a relief to think that all those stories we’ve been hearing—about the Vatican officials called in for tongue-lashing because they had expressed criticism of the Holy Father, the staff members of the CDF summarily dismissed for the same reason—must be wrong. And the angry speeches to the Roman Curia must have been misreported and/or misinterpreted.
But that’s not all. Pope Francis went on to tell the religious superiors: “And when criticisms make you grow, I accept them, and reply.”

We must be grateful that Francis has not formally taught any heresies, but we cannot be pleased that in today’s Church today the living out of the Faith is thrown away and lifestyles tolerated (if not actually promoted) that are contrary to The Truth –which is a following of the Father of Lies as opposed to the following of Truth. The world speaks well of those who accept its ways, but “woe unto you who the world speaks well of” (LK.6v26) –indeed it would better they have “a millstone placed around their necks and be thrown into the sea” (Lk.17v2). I think that if we did this, we’d have very few clergy left in the Church from top to bottom, and I suspect few in the pews too, since for many today the common good and social equality is all that seems to matter.

We are asked to accept ‘pastoral sentimentality’ as a gift of mercy from the ‘god of surprises’ –but there is not such god. The Blessed Trinity proclaims “I am the Lord, I change not” (Mal.3v6), while St Paul tells us God is “the same yesterday, today and forever” (Heb.13v8). We must then, refuse to accept “the god of surprises”. Scripture says: “I am astonished how quickly you are deserting the One who called you by the grace of Christ, and are turning to a different gospel which is not even a gospel. For some people are troubling you and trying to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be anathema” (Gal.1v6-8). We must not follow the new god and the new gospel and thus become anathema to Almighty God by casting away His Truth. We all have enough sins to be ashamed of -sins which arise from our weakness and concupiscence- without adding to them the deliberate choosing of lifestyles contrary to The Truth, thereby choosing instead to follow the father of lies.

Let us pray and make sacrifices that the Church may return to the living out of the Gospel. Currently, the Church is paying hypocritical lip-service to the Gospel by saying one thing while doing another. If anyone is the hypocrite Pope Francis so deplores it is those who say the one thing while doing another: ignoring Truth in so-called ‘pastoral practice’ where any lifestyle goes. Well-meaning seminary professors and ‘pastoral priests’ of both presbyteral & episcopal rank have surely sown darnel among the Lord’s crop. But we must not fear: the avenging angels are coming; the darnel will be rooted out and God’s Eternal Truth will once again flourish. Just be prepared to be the Sword of Truth that the angels wield; be prepared to speak up for the Truth and point out the errors you see around you in gentle, respectful but firm and clear manner.

Sadly, while the Church is in a bad sate, but there may be more to come: St Thomas tells us the punishment for sin is more sin: (Summa, Q.87#2) “Sin can be [accidentally but not essentially] the punishment for sin…” so we may as yet have to drink to the dregs the poisoned chalice we have fermented over the last 50 years. One day, however, that poisoned chalice will be dry and we will once again drink from the water which flows from Christ and wells up to eternal life.

Allowing a soul to live contrary to the Truth is dangerous to those who live that way -and to those who affirm it: they are like physicians who for fear of hurting the patient, reassures them that the malignant tumour is a only benign growth and leaves them to die from it. They are negligent, and perhaps even malignant forces who teach the new gospel of the god of surprises.


  1. Sadly Father what you say is only too true. I know of a couple living together outside of marriage who feel that the reception of Holy Communion will lead them to a better life. How can a better life be achieved if they continue to worsen their spiritual life not only by living in sin but compounding that sin by receiving Holy Communion knowing they are living a life of sin? The hardest part is that they consider themselves 'good Catholics' & present themselves as such.

    1. Thank you David.
      There are situations similar to those you mention in many parishes, I suspect.
      God Bless.

  2. Contradicting doctrine via pastoral practice is not leaving doctrine in place. Cardinal Muller said that is a subtle Chritological heresy.

    And what conditions are needed before you consider Francis a formal heretic?

    1. Thank you, R.C.
      by 'leaving doctrine in place' I mean there has been no formal declaration or attempt to declare what anything contrary to the Deposit of Faith as we have it down the centuries. I think that contradicting via pastoral practice is not an issue: what is happening is that the ground is being prepraed for new doctriens to emerge in the future from today's contradictory practice; the unfaithful are getting changes for the future prepared for by the pastoral practice of today. I might add this to the post, thank you.
      The calling of Francis a 'formal heretic' can only be done if he formally tries to impose teaching that contradicts the Deposit of Faith.
      God Bless

  3. Father this is all so true. Whilst I don't want to sound uncharitable if receiving Holy Communion is so important to these lost folk then why take part in acts that are contradictory to the faith. We have a choice, do we love God or do we love ourself, do we want to make God pleased or ourself. We can only pray for them God Bless

    1. Thanks S.A.
      I know that some people are just too lonely without a partner, so we need to make them feel welcome at Holy Mass and parish socials, but without giving them Holy Communion. Some peole have a sucesion of partners. One of the things that alwasus bugged me when i was arranging funerals wwas foklk saying "S/he was devoted to his/her family". I couldn't but think, "Which one? the one before you didn't think s/he was devoted to them; and the one after you may leave you feeling the same way". Obviously one couldn't day it, but it made some funerals awkward to arrange well when children from two (three or more) marriages were all wanting to have input to their dad's/mum's funeral.
      God Bless.

  4. As far as I am aware church teaching has not changed regarding marriage, contraception or homosexuality and Francis has not sought to change any of this teaching.

    As for his statement "who am I to judge" then he is right, only God can judge.

    We must also remember Jesus' command to love, I cannot recall Jesus ever not showing love, or pastoral sensitivity as it is called today.

    We also must remember the primacy of conscience, and anyone who arrives at our altars must be treated "in bona fide" and the matter is between them and God

    Yours in Christ

    1. Thanks for commenting Chris; you highlight some important issues.

      You are right; Church teaching has not changed on marriage, contraception, abortion, homosexual acts etc, because it cannot. It is part of Tradition, and Tradition, along with scripture, is a vehicle of Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum, #9) which we are unable to change: “Sacred Tradition takes the word of God entrusted by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit to the Apostles, and hands it on to their successors in its full purity” (Dei Verbum #9).

      You are also right that only God can judge persons, but man must judge acts and situations as helpful or unhelpful to another’s salvation: “Stop judging by appearances, but judge with righteous judgement!" (Jn.7v24); “if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently” (Gal.6v1); “Consider this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and cover over a multitude of sins” (Jas.5v20). It is this judging of right and wrong actions that Francis failed to do.
      You say you ‘cannot recall Jesus ever not showing love, or pastoral sensitivity as it is called today’, But Christ’s command to love included the desire to save a person’s soul and seek to restore him or her to right living, and as such an exhortation is Christ's final word to the woman caught in adultery "Go now and leave your life of sin." (Jn.8v11), while the man healed at the pool of Bethesda was given a stern warning (Jn.5v13): “Stop sinning, or something worse may happen to you.” I suppose to threaten someone with “something worse” would be regarded as very unpastoral and unloving in today’s Church, wouldn’t you? Yet Our Lord said it, and the Holy Ghost inspired its inclusion in scripture.
      There is no primacy of conscience in Tradition; it is a distortion of the 1960’s. Correct teaching is that “We must…examine our conscience before the Lord's Cross. We are assisted by the gifts of the Holy Spirit, aided by the witness or advice of others and guided by the authoritative teaching of the Church (Catechism, #1785). Indeed, "Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgements. Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt" (Catechism, #1801), Indeed, “the assertion of a mistaken notion of autonomy of conscience, rejection of the Church's authority and her teaching, lack of conversion and of charity: these can be at the source of errors of judgement in moral conduct. If the ignorance is invincible, or the moral subject is not responsible for his erroneous judgement, the evil committed by the person cannot be imputed to him. It remains no less an evil, a privation, a disorder. One must therefore work to correct the errors of moral conscience.” (Catechism #1792/3). So where a conscience is in error it is to be corrected, not left in error.
      We are not at all obliged to communicate anyone who arrives at our altars “in bona fide”: the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts tells us that “the reception of the body of Christ when one is publicly unworthy constitutes an objective harm to the ecclesial communion: it is a behaviour that affects the rights of the Church and of all the faithful to live in accord with the exigencies of that communion” (June 24, 2000).
      God Bless Chris.

  5. My point is if a stranger arrives at church and comes to communion, you do not know their situation and are in no position to refuse.

    We also do have a primacy of conscience, it may disbar us from the faith, but in all conscience if I believe something after prayer and advice that is contrary to the magiesterium then I am willing to answer to God.

    As a mental health nurse I have to act within the mental health and mental capacity acts, both of which ask me to contravene the free will given to man at creation by God. This does not sit well with my diaconal training as I try to be servus servorum dei, but both all of my vocations make me who I am before God, a husband, a father, a nurse and a trainee permanent deacon

    1. Thanks Chris.
      Strangers are not to be questioned, you are right. I don’t know all the faces I give Holy Communion to, but that is just life.
      We only have primacy of conscience when it is formed; when it comes to decisions contrary to the faith is in error and is to be corrected, as the catechism requires (#1792/3). You are in a difficult situation professionally, but the law of God must come first as it alone can save the soul; we cannot lose a soul for eternity to save the mind/body for a time. If there are situations that because of your faith you ought not to be involved in as a nurse, simply make it clear that you are unable to be involved due to religious beliefs. (That said, I think 'sectioning' does not contravene free will when it is for health needs and is a temporary measure not used to wrongly restrain an otherwise healthy individual).This is something I would like to discuss further because I don’t know in what way you would have to contravene the free will of man (short of sectioning under 2-5 of the 1983/2007 Mental Health Act). You can email me if you feel it would be a useful discussion. The email can be found on my profile page.
      God Bless


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