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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Francis Effect: A Gathering Storm

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"The sacraments are not a prize for those who behave well..." Cardinal Walter Kasper "The sacraments are not a prize for those who behave well..." Cardinal Walter Kasper

“Let us make no mistake: Satan is right now shaking the Church to her very foundations over this divorce issue…” 

Father Brian Harrison, O.S.

Part II, Continued from Yesterday
(Read Part I)

A Warning Come True

Immediately after Cardinal Jose Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope, the Rorate Caeli blog site presented a dire report by an Argentinian journalist, who wrote that as Archbishop of Buenos Aires the Cardinal was a “sworn enemy of the traditional Mass,” that he was “[f]amous for his inconsistency (at times, for the unintelligibility of his addresses and homilies),” that he was “accustomed to the use of coarse, demagogical, and ambiguous expressions,” that he was “loose in doctrine and liturgy,” and that “he has not fought against abortion and only very weakly against homosexual ‘marriage’(approved with practically no opposition from the episcopate)…”

Honesty compels one to admit that every element of this grim assessment has been borne out by the brutal dismantling of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate on the Pope’s direct order, and by his astonishing plenitude of disturbing statements and actions during the scant year he has been in office. These include the phrase that will be emblematic of his entire pontificate, which is now appearing on "Who am I to judge?" tee shirts marketed to gay-rights activists and assorted other radical liberals in order to taunt the Church.

Alarming Adulation by a Hostile World

In the case of Pope Francis the fallibility of Popes in matters not involving doctrinal definitions is remarkably evident. It does no good to deny this when the entire world is heaping praise upon him for his unheard-of pastoral novelties (e.g. the jailhouse foot-washing ceremony, including a Muslim woman), his numerous statements suggesting a revolutionary relaxation of Church discipline in the name of a false “mercy,” and his repeated public insults of traditional Catholics and the traditional liturgy, which he has cavalierly belittled as “just a kind of fashion” to which certain members of the faithful are “addicted.” As if to reward his behavior, Francis has been lauded as “Person of the Year” by the world’s most prominent left-liberal news magazine (Time), the world’s leading “gay” magazine (The Advocate), the world’s leading “rock culture” magazine (Rolling Stone) and the world’s leading “rock culture” video outlet (MTV). Even the trashy libertine quarterly GQ Magazine joined the adulation by naming Francis “Best Dressed Man of the Year,” using the occasion to mock the overdressed Pope Benedict. All of these tributes, and innumerable others of like kind, have been bestowed explicitly at the expense of Francis’s predecessor and the Church’s teaching on faith and morals. Any Catholic who still retains the sensus catholicus must view with alarm this unprecedented torrent of praise from the realm of Belial. Something is seriously amiss.


The Pope’s Praise for Cardinal Kasper’s Attack on Holy Matrimony

Over the past few weeks Francis has continued to delight the makers of world opinion with one bombshell after another, the explosion of which our brethren in the diving bell resolutely refuse to mention. Let me begin with Cardinal Kasper’s keynote address to the College of Cardinals on February 20—the only address the Pope called for. Pope Francis later praised this two-hour oration as “a beautiful and profound presentation that will soon be published in German…” Kasper is one of the Church’s most notorious post-conciliar Modernists, who, among other heresies, has denied the historicity of the Apostolic Succession. Not surprisingly, then, his address to the cardinals calls for a “pastoral solution” that would allow certain divorced and “remarried” Catholics, living in a state of public adultery, to receive Holy Communion.

Kasper’s proposal comes in the section of the address entitled “The Problem of the Divorced and Remarried.” In the first place, a divorced Catholic, married in the Church, cannot “remarry” as any subsequent civil ceremony is not a marriage. I will put that obvious point aside for the sake of discussion.

Now, whenever a Modernist contrives to undermine some aspect of the Faith, he labels it a “problem” for which there must be a new “solution.” In this case, Kasper advocates a “change of paradigm” respecting the Church’s perennial practice of excluding the divorced and remarried from Holy Communion to protect the sanctity of the Blessed Sacrament. According to Kasper, “between the Church’s doctrine on marriage and the family and the ‘real life’ convictions of many Christians, an abyss has been created.” But today this same “abyss” exists between all manner of Church teaching and the “real life” of “Christians.” The name for this abyss is apostasy, as in the “silent apostasy” John Paul II lamented not long before his death. For a Modernist like Kasper, however, the proper response to apostasy is to accommodate it.

With all the deviousness of the ecclesial termite he is, Kasper begins by arguing that if a divorced and remarried Catholic can make a spiritual communion “why can he not then receive Sacramental communion? If we exclude divorced and remarried Christians from the sacraments (…) do we not perhaps put up for discussion the fundamental sacramental structure of the Church?” The outrageous implication of Kasper’s “beautiful and profound presentation” is that the Church has unjustly denied the sacraments to the divorced and remarried for centuries, indeed throughout her history.

Kasper introduces his revolutionary proposal for a change in practice with the disclaimer: “I wish only to pose questions, limiting myself to indicating the direction of possible answers.” The Modernist typically employs “questions” to sow doubts about what the Church has always taught, only to supply an “answer” that destroys fidelity by suggesting that the Church has erred. Thus did Satan proceed in the Garden of Eden, opening his deadly dialogue with a seemingly innocent query to Eve: “Why has God commanded you that you should not eat of every tree in paradise?” followed by the suggestion that Eve has been misled: “No, you shall not die the death…. (Gen. 3:1-5).”

One of the “questions” Kasper poses involves another outrageous implication: “The question that is posed in response is: is it not perhaps an exploitation of the person who is suffering and asking for help if we make him a sign and a warning for others? Are we going to let him die of hunger sacramentally in order that others may live?” In other words, the Church has cruelly inflicted spiritual starvation on the divorced and remarried by not allowing them to receive Communion because of their adultery, sacrificing these poor souls for the benefit of the pious. This rank calumny of Holy Church is Kasper’s “beautiful and profound” assessment of her perennial practice for protection of the Holy Eucharist from sacrilege by open adulterers.

Kasper praises the “heroic virtue” of abandoned spouses who never remarry, only to declare immediately that, nevertheless, “many abandoned spouses depend, for the good of the children [!], on a new relationship and a civil marriage which they cannot abandon without committing new offenses.” These new relationships, Kasper declares, “prove their new joy, and even sometimes come to be seen as a gift from heaven.” So Kasper’s “profound and beautiful” view of divorce and remarriage is that the good of children is served when a parent takes up with a new lover and brings him or her into the former marital home, destroying the children’s respect for the sanctity of marriage while inflicting profound trauma and often permanent psychological harm upon them, and that this adulterous relationship can even be seen as a gift from heaven. How can any Catholic remain silent in the face of this despicable subterfuge, which conceals the terrible evil of divorce behind a lie about its “benefits”? “Woe to you that call evil good, and good evil… (Isaiah 5:20).”

Kasper then discusses “two situations” involving the divorced and “remarried.” The first concerns those whose marriages in the Church might well have been contracted invalidly but who have not obtained a decree of annulment and are now in second “marriages” by way of civil ceremony. Showing just how devious he is, Kasper argues that the Church cannot simply make annulments easier to obtain because, as he rightly observes, the spouse opposing annulment justly protests that “we lived together, we had children; this was a reality that cannot simply be declared null…” So Kasper proposes, not to avoid laxity in granting annulments, but rather to dispense with the traditional annulment process altogether.

Many pastors, he argues, are “convinced that many marriages celebrated in a religious form were not contracted in a valid manner” and the traditional presumption of validity should now be viewed as a “fiction.” But, without an annulment, how can a marriage in the Church be ignored at the “pastoral” level? Kasper proposes that since the annulment process is only a matter of ecclesiastical law, the Church could simply allow a local bishop to empower a priest “with spiritual and pastoral experience” or the diocesan penitentiary or episcopal vicar to make some sort of “pastoral” decision that the prior marriage in the Church ought not to impede reception of the Blessed Sacrament because it was probably invalid. But, under this absurd proposal, who would defend the marital bond against such “pastoral” determinations and who would review the local “pastoral” decision? Apparently nobody. The potential for marital chaos and the destruction of the divinely ordered nuclear family is self-evident.

The second situation Kasper presents is that “most difficult situation” of a marriage that was “ratified and consummated between baptized persons,” yet “the communion of married life is irremediably broken and one or both of the spouses have contracted a second civil marriage.” In other words, a valid Catholic marriage followed by a civil divorce and an adulterous civil union on the part of one or both spouses. Here Kasper contends that “[t]he early Church gives us an indication that can serve as a means of escape from the dilemma.” Dilemma? What dilemma? The one Kasper has invented.

As we know, when a Modernist wishes to attack some element of the Faith through a change in discipline, he typically appeals to some alleged practice of the Church around 2,000 years ago. I will not tarry over Kasper’s bogus Modernist scholarship, devoid of a single citation to a patristic source quoted in context, or his fraudulent claim that the Council of Nicaea (325) authorized the admission of the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion. Let the reader consult Roberto de Mattei’s demolition of Kasper’s specious arguments.

Having imagined an historical foundation in the always-useful “early Church,” Kasper calmly lays out his five-point plan for de facto approval of divorce and remarriage in the Catholic Church. He presents this as “a way beyond rigorism and laxity”—meaning, of course, a way to laxity:

If a divorced and remarried – 1. Repents of the failure in his first marriage, 2. If he has clarified the obligations of his first marriage, if going back is definitely excluded, 3. If he cannot abandon without other offences to his commitments in the second civil marriage, 4. If however, he makes an effort to live in the second marriage to the best of his possibilities, starting from the faith and bringing his children up in the faith, 5. If he has the desire for the sacraments as the source of strength in his situation, must we or can we deny him, after a time of a new course (metanoia) the sacrament of penance and then Communion?

Kasper claims this is not “a general solution,” or “a wide road for the great masses,” but rather “a narrow way on the part of probably very few of the divorced and remarried, interested in the sacraments.” If we would believe that, we would be prime customers for the purchase of the Brooklyn Bridge. Kasper assures us that this “solution” calls for “discretion” and is “not compromise between rigorism [i.e. what the Church has always required] and laxity [i.e. what Kasper wishes to achieve].” Kasper is right. This is not a compromise between rigorism and laxity; it is simply a prescription for laxity.

But Kasper’s “beautiful and profound” suggestion for authorizing mass sacrilege is neither profound nor beautiful; it is evil, as seen immediately from the obvious objections:

First, having “repented” of the “failure” of a sacramental marriage, the divorced and remarried person still remains in an adulterous second union based on nothing more than a civil ceremony. Here Kasper attempts to patch the gaping hole in his argument by defending civil marriage, arguing that a civil marriage “with clear criteria is distinct from other forms of ‘irregular’ cohabitation, such as clandestine marriages, common law couples, above all fornication and so-called primitive marriages.” Really? On what authority does Kasper so declare? On the authority of his own worthless opinion, which the Pope endorses as “beautiful and profound.”

Second, the idea that the Church could countenance “living in the second marriage to the best of [its] possibilities” without the traditional requirement of abstinence from sexual relations is nothing short of monstrous. Consider what Kasper is really saying: that a couple living in an adulterous union should “perfect” it and persist in it until death, thus defying Saint Paul’s very warning that “neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers… shall possess the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6-10).”

Third, even more monstrous is the idea that someone living in a continuous state of adultery, having repented only of the “failure” of a sacramental marriage, could be allowed to approach the confessional on a regular basis without having to confess, repent of, and promise before God to cease his continuing adultery.

Fourth, and most monstrous of all, is the idea that an adulterer in this situation should have recourse to Holy Communion as a “source of strength” while he continues to enjoy the fruits of an adulterous relationship.

In a most infuriating Modernist fashion, Kasper presents his suggestions for the subversion of Holy Matrimony under the guise of defending its indissolubility: “The indissolubility of sacramental marriage and the impossibility of a new marriage during the lifetime of the other partner is part of the tradition of the Church’s binding faith that cannot be abandoned or undone by appealing to a superficial understanding of cheapened mercy,” he piously affirms. He does so in the very process of outlining a plan to dispense cheapened mercy that would undermine the indissolubility of marriage. His proposal, he claims, would be a way for the Church “to tolerate that which in itself is impossible to accept.” Nonsense. Kasper is proposing to accept that which is impossible to tolerate.

Echoing the Pope’s own sentiments, Kasper declares that “[a] pastoral approach of tolerance, clemency and indulgence” would affirm that “the sacraments are not a prize for those who behave well or for an elite, excluding those who are most in need…” On that bizarre premise, everyone in a state of mortal sin would be entitled to receive Holy Communion because he is in a state of mortal sin, while those who “behave well” would be hogging spiritual goods they don’t require.

What Kasper is really after—as if anyone didn’t know it—is simply the Catholic Church’s practical defection from the indissolubility of marriage, while affirming it in principle (the defection in principle can always come later). Insulting Holy Church yet again, he declares that his “solution” is necessary to “give witness in a credible way to the Word of God in difficult human situations, as a message of fidelity, but also as a message of mercy, of life, and of joy.” In other words, until now the Church has been without credibility and mercy toward the divorced and remarried, her discipline joyless and lifeless, because she heeds Our Lord’s divine warning that the divorced and “remarried” are guilty of adultery! Kasper’s “beautiful and profound” conclusion is thus an implicit attack on God Himself. But that, after all, is what Modernism always involves.

Finally, consider the immense stakes involved in this insane pursuit of a way to admit public adulterers to the sacraments. Here I will quote from Father Brian Harrison’s recent letter to Inside the Vatican:

[W]on’t this reversal of bimillenial Catholic doctrine mean that the Protestants and Orthodox, who have allowed divorce and remarriage for century after century, have been more docile to the Holy Spirit on this issue than the true Church of Christ? Indeed, how credible, now, will be her claim to be the true Church? On what other controverted issues, perhaps, has the Catholic Church been wrong, and the separated brethren right? …

Admitting [the divorced and remarried] to Communion without a commitment to continence will lead logically to one of three faith-breaking conclusions: (a) our Lord was mistaken in calling this relationship adulterous—in which case he can scarcely have been the Son of God; (b) adultery is not intrinsically and gravely sinful—in which case the Church's universal and ordinary magisterium has always been wrong; or (c) Communion can be given to some who are living in objectively grave sin—in which case not only has the magisterium also erred monumentally by always teaching the opposite, but the way will also be opened to Communion for fornicators, practicing homosexuals, pederasts, and who knows who else

Let us make no mistake: Satan is right now shaking the Church to her very foundations over this divorce issue….

Diabolical is not too strong a word for Kasper’s proposal. Yet our friends in the diving bell will pretend that the Pope did not solicit and then praise it. Meanwhile, the world exults over the potential for an overthrow of the Church’s uncompromising defense of Holy Matrimony. Will Kasper’s proposal become a reality? We must pray that the Holy Ghost prevents such a disaster. Nevertheless, Catholics deceive themselves, and each other, if they pretend it is not the Pope himself who—whatever his subjective intention—has stoked the fires of dissent and rebellion by commissioning and then lauding Kasper’s “profound and beautiful presentation.”

To Be Continued Tomorrow Morning

Still More Insults for Traditionalists

Read Part I Here









Last modified on Saturday, March 15, 2014
Christopher A. Ferrara

Christopher A. Ferrara: President and lead counsel for the American Catholic Lawyers Inc., Mr. Ferrara has been at the forefront of the legal defense of pro-lifers for the better part of a quarter century. Having served with the legal team for high profile victims of the culture of death such as Terri Schiavo, he has long since distinguished him a premier civil rights Catholic lawyer.  Mr. Ferrara has been a lead columnist for The Remnant since 2000 and has authored several books published by The Remnant Press, including the bestseller The Great Façade. Together with his children and wife, Wendy, he lives in Richmond, Virginia.