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Thursday, February 13, 2020

INSPIRATION OR CALCULATION: Why Did Bergoglio Duck Married Priests and Lady Deacons?

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THE POST-SYNODAL “apostolic exhortation” Querida Amazonia (Beloved Amazon) (QA) has finally appeared.  QA says a great deal about very little. It is largely composed of blathering about four “dreams” to be realized (social, cultural, ecological and ecclesial), the obsessive theme of “inculturation,” and the glories of the Amazon, along with assorted ecological observations having no relation to papal authority, including references to the Amazon’s “dazzling diversity of woodlands” which “serves as a great filter of carbon dioxide, which helps avoid the warming of the earth.” And let not the faithful not forget that “the good functioning of ecosystems also requires fungi, algae, worms, insects, reptiles and an innumerable variety of microorganisms…” There are also a number of ludicrous quotations from poetic paeans to the Amazon jungle, including this gem:


“Make the river your blood…
Then plant yourself,
blossom and grow:
let your roots sink into the ground
forever and ever,
and then at last
become a canoe,
a skiff, a raft,
soil, a jug,
a farmhouse and a man”.

In an apostolic exhortation by the Roman Pontiff? Really?  This is risible even by the utterly degraded standards of post-conciliar Roman documents, which are coming more and more to resemble the writings of effeminate vegans.

But, to the surprise of many (including this writer), the mass of treacly verbiage does not conceal a poison pill: the widely anticipated explicit authorizations for the ordination of married “elders” in the Amazon and some sort of female diaconate. 

Or does it? Let’s look at the evidence.

First of all, on its face QA’s conspicuous omission of any explicit reference to either issue dashes progressivist hopes for what seemed to be the certain outcome of married priests in the Amazon—a typically Novus Ordo exception that would quickly become the norm—and at least something resembling the diaconate or a step toward the diaconate for women. As a report by Catholic News Agency notes, the aptly named “Central Committee of German Catholics,” the lay organization that has been assisting the corrupt German hierarchy in its effort to extinguish what remains of the Faith in the German ecclesial establishment, reads QA as an unqualified defeat:

“Unfortunately, [Francis] does not find the courage to implement real reforms on the issues of consecration of married men and the liturgical skills of women that have been discussed for 50 years….

[E]xpectations regarding concrete steps towards reform, especially with regard to access to the priestly office and the role of women, were very high….

We very much regret that Pope Francis did not take a step forward in his letter. Rather, it strengthens the existing positions of the Roman Church both in terms of access to the priesthood and the participation of women in ministries and ministries.”

Note the telling phrase “positions of the Roman Church,” which reflects the Bergoglian novelty of “the synodal church” he thinks he has the power to create. In this “synodal church,” to quote Bergoglio concerning his own novelty, the “synodality which God expects of the Church of the third millennium” would invest national episcopal conferences—in turn a novelty invented by Paul VI—with ajuridical status…  as subjects of specific attributions, including genuine doctrinal authority…”

chris quote 1

The German hierarchs were awaiting Bergoglio’s grant of “genuine doctrinal authority” to them in the matter of married priests and faux female deacons according to the will of “the German Church” versus “the Roman Church.”  That is, they were awaiting the beginning of the official fragmentation of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church into a mere aggregation of autocephalous national churches on the Orthodox model.

But the fatal announcement did not come.   Rather, Bergoglio appears to have taken a step back from the abyss he himself has been opening up with reckless abandon. What is to account for this unexpected development? 

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We cannot, of course, overlook the role of Holy Ghost in preserving the Church from final disaster. One is here reminded of the foolish concessions both John XXIII and Paul VI made to the forces agitating for the Church’s capitulation on artificial “birth control.”  The commission John XXIII created in 1963 to study the question—as if it were an issue meriting serious inquiry—did its mischief over the next four years until, in 1967, there quite predictably surfaced the very document the media and the neo-Modernists unleashed during the Council had been demanding and expecting:a report asking that the church’s ban on all forms of artificial birth control be lifted.” All that remained was for the then most liberal Pope in Church history to accept his own liberal commission’s advice.

But to “lift the Church’s ban” on contraception, as if it were human positive law subject to repeal, would have meant rejecting the bimillenial moral teaching of the Church, affirmed magnificently by Pius XI only 37 years earlier in his landmark encyclical Casti Connubii. 

Faced with this looming catastrophe, which would have meant the end of any claim to an infallible Magisterium and would have placed the Church on the same shifting sands that had long since buried mainline Protestantism in moral compromise, Paul VI found that he could not follow the commission’s recommendation.  He could not bring himself to cross the Rubicon into moral degeneracy as had the Lambeth Conference of 1930—the very year Casti Connubii was promulgated—at which the Anglicans signed the death warrant of their own man-made confession by declaring:

In those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of the same Christian principles.”

And so, after dithering for another year—thus giving further impetus to public expectation of a debacle—in 1968 Paul VI finally issued Humanae Vitae. To worldwide howls of outrage from media and modernists alike, Paul affirmed that “an act of mutual love which impairs the capacity to transmit life which God the Creator, through specific laws, has built into it, frustrates His design which constitutes the norm of marriage, and contradicts the will of the Author of life” and that, therefore:

“We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary.

It was this plain manifestation of the Church’s supernatural protection against positive error in her teaching on faith and morals, leading even a liberal Pope to reject an overwhelming liberal consensus, that contributed greatly to the conversion of the famed British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge, as he himself later recounted. The Church had shown that she is not, as Muggeridge had thought, just another corrupt human institution like all the others claiming to preach the Gospel.

So, is it the Holy Ghost who has prevented disaster in the case of QA?  One can reasonably believe that the reports of a leaked draft of QA explicitly quoting paragraph 111 of the Amazon’s synod’s Final Document, opening the door to married priests and deacons, were true but that the citation was removed at the last moment under just such an inspiration.  And the same might well be the case as to the Final Document’s blatant suggestion of the pendency of women “deacons” in paragraph 103, which received not even a glancing reference in QA.

chris quote 2

Then again, more worldly considerations might have caused Bergoglio to change course. Perhaps he recognized that he would have forfeited whatever is left of his credibility among the faithful if he overstepped his bounds yet again, but this time by attacking priestly celibacy and the male priesthood, matters which stand at the very foundations of the Church.  He may have concluded that his papacy could not withstand an increase in the already widespread and mounting opposition to his non-stop reckless abuse of the Petrine office.

In this case, the opposition included the strategic publication of Cardinal Sarah’s and Benedict XVI’s book defending priestly celibacy, as to which Benedict was apparently bullied by Bergoglio and his henchmen into withdrawing his name as co-author. (To his credit, Father Joseph Fessio has refused to remove Benedict’s name as co-author from the Ignatius Press English edition of the book, having received a phone call from Cardinal Sarah in which he “confirm[ed] that Pope Benedict is co-author with him.”)

bennie and sarah

One might reasonably argue, however, that Bergoglio has already attacked the foundations of the Church with his outrageous authorization of Holy Communion for public adulterers in “more complex cases.” Or his absurd “development” of the Church’s teaching on capital punishment, declaring  “inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person” what the Church has approved for 2,000 years, based on divine revelation, precisely as a defense of the inviolability and dignity of the person.

Here, however, we encounter the question whether the Holy Ghost has allowed the Church to be afflicted for a time by a de facto antipope whose election cannot be contested and whose papacy must be presumed valid until such time as a successor Pope or Council declares otherwise.  On that vexed issue, in my view, we can have nothing definitive to say, meaning nothing by which the Church as a whole could gain operative certitude and proceed accordingly. What is certain, however, is that this Pope must be opposed in his efforts to undermine the Faith.

But if it is really the case that we are dealing with a determined abuser of papal authority who, facing furious opposition, has on a purely human level calculated that publication of QA was not the time to introduce married priests or female “deacons,” then we must consider the position advanced by Father Raymond J. de Souza, writing in EWTN’s National Catholic Register.  Fr. de Souza queries whether Bergoglio has really shut the door on both matters or rather has simply decided to achieve the desired result by what de Souza calls “a Magisterium by stealth.” This was seen with Bergoglio’s long game strategy that began with the sham Synod on the Family, continued with the publication of Amoris Laetitia (AL) and finally concluded with explicit permission to admit certain public adulterers to Holy Communion appearing in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis (AAS) under the label “authentic Magisteriummore than a year after AL was published.

De Souza and others have noted that under Bergoglio’s apostolic constitution  Episcopalis Communio (EC) “if it is expressly approved by the Roman Pontiff, the final document [of a synod] participates in the ordinary magisterium of the Successor of Peter.” Tellingly, at the very beginning of QA, Bergoglio declares:

“I would like to officially present the Final Document, which sets forth the conclusions of the Synod, which profited from the participation of many people who know better than myself or the Roman Curia the problems and issues of the Amazon region, since they live there, they experience its suffering and they love it passionately. I have preferred not to cite the Final Document in this Exhortation, because I would encourage everyone to read it in full.”

Given this declaration, Father de Souza wants to know “What does ‘officially present’ mean? Does it mean that the Holy Father has expressly approved making the synod’s final document part of the magisterium? Does the synod’s recommendation for the ordination of married deacons as priests now become a decision with papal authority?” To answer that question, we need to examine the text of EC itself, wherein we read the following in Article 18:

  • §1. Once the approval of the members has been obtained, the Final Document of the Assembly is presented to the Roman Pontiff, who decides on its publication.

If it is expressly approved by the Roman Pontiff, the Final Document participates in the ordinary Magisterium of the Successor of Peter.

  • §2. If the Roman Pontiff has granted deliberative power to the Synod Assembly, according to the norm of canon 343 of the Code of Canon Law, the Final Document participates in the ordinary Magisterium of the Successor of Peter once it has been ratified and promulgated by him.

In this case, the Final Document is published with the signature of the Roman Pontiff together with that of the members.

Based on these provisions, the Final Document of the Amazon Synod, including its opening to married priests and female deacons in paragraphs 111 and 103, respectively, would now be part of the putative “ordinary Magisterium of the Successor Peter” if it were (a) expressly approved by the Roman Pontiff, (b) ratified and promulgated by him, and then (c) published with the signature of the Roman Pontiff together with that of the members of the Synod.

Does “I would like to officially present the Final Document” satisfy (a) and (b)? It would certainly appear at least arguably to constitute express approval, ratification and promulgation (i.e. making public). But what about (c)?  Has the Final Document been published with the signatures of the Pope and the members of the Synod? If not already, will it later be published (stealthily) in such form in the AAS? Recall that it was only by means of post hoc publication in the AAS that Bergoglio finally revealed his true intentions, explicitly approving the “guidelines” of the bishops of Buenos Aires authorizing Holy Communion for the divorced and “remarried” when “it is not possible to obtain a declaration of nullity” and living in continence “may not, in fact, be feasible…”

Father de Sousa rightly surmises that what we are witnessing here appears to fit the pattern of Bergoglio’s “stealth Magisterium,” which proceeds undercover toward a predetermined but cunningly ambiguous conclusion:

Given that those are all obvious questions, the ambiguous phrasing “officially present” must have been chosen in part for its ambiguity….

At one point, Pope Francis wrote a private letter to bishops in Buenos Aires saying that theirs was the “only interpretation.” The letter was leaked, a magisterium by stealth. Months later, it appeared in the [AAS] as an “apostolic letter,” anex postaddition to the papal magisterium.

In regard to capital punishment, Pope Francis ordered a change in the Catechism of the Catholic Church to characterize capital punishment as “inadmissible,” a term chosen because it has no specific theological meaning, a novelty invented for this occasion.

Now inQuerida Amazoniathe pattern returns. Clear questions were posed. Ambiguous answers were given, awaiting clarification by novel maneuvers. [my emphasis]

Bergoglio’s stealth mode might already be operating yet again.  At a Vatican press conference on February 12, Cardinal Michael Czerny, who was special secretary to the Amazon Synod, told the press that while the Synod’s Final Document is not strictly magisterial, “apart from formal magisterial authority,” Bergoglio’s “official presentation and encouragement”  for the document gives it “a certain moral authority” such that “To ignore [the final document] would be a lack of obedience to the Holy Father’s legitimate authority, while to find one or other point difficult could not be considered a lack of faith…”

So, the Final Document is not magisterial, but one must obey it! Then again, while one must obey it, one can have difficulties with certain points that are not articles of faith. This waffling affirmation, notes Diane Montagna in the linked article, “left members of the Vatican press corps perplexed.” What followed was a series of attempts by journalists to get the Vatican’s representatives, including Czerny, to state clearly whether Bergoglio had approved and promulgated the Final Document in the manner required by EC, thus opening the door to married priests and lady deacons at the discretion of local bishops’ conferences, or whether it was not approved and promulgated under EC, meaning that both matters are now off the table.

His back to the wall, Czerny gave this telling reply:

I think the best way to understand this is as part of a process and part of a journey. That’s why it’s called the synod. We are at a very important point of the synodal process, and there are long roads ahead as well as roads already travelled. And so, the questions you are returning to are questions on the road, and the Holy Father has not resolved them in any way beyond what he has said in the exhortation.

So, if there are questions you feel are open, or that the Church feels are open, thanks to the exhortation, they will continue to be debated, discussed, discerned, prayed over and when mature, presented to the appropriate authority for decision.

There are decisions that can be made in a diocese, in a [bishops’] conference. And there are decisions that are made here [in Rome]. So, I think if you’re looking for a kind of closure so that you can end your article with a punch, I’m afraid there isn’t that kind of closure. 

In short, Bergoglio is keeping his options open, including the option of having local episcopal conferences introduce married priests and some version of a female diaconate somewhere down that long synodal road. And here we go again.

So, the faithful must be on guard against and stand ready to oppose post-QA novel maneuvers along the lines of those that inserted Holy Communion for public adulterers into the AAS as “authentic Magisterium.” Will those maneuvers happen, or will the Holy Ghost prevent them?  Or will this politician Pope, on a purely human level, calculate the risks and benefits to himself and abandon the push for married priests and women deacons while he spends his remaining time on earth expending whatever capital the white cassock still gets him on his globalist political agenda: the reduction of CO2 emissions (excluding his own vast contribution) and the promotion of “climate change” hysteria, open borders, abolition of the death penalty, attacking Trump and other populist leaders, while coddling socialist and communist tyrants, calling for obedience to the United Nations, and in general attempting to make the Church into what Antonio Socci has called a “social assistant” to the New World Order.

Time will tell, and very soon.   Meanwhile, the faithful must maintain their determined opposition to the designs of the “wayward shepherdwho currently occupies the Chair of Peter by “not doing what he commands, and by blocking him, lest he should carry out his will” [St. Robert Bellarmine, Third General Controversy on the Sovereign Pontiff, Book II].  It may be well that, in this instance, such opposition was effective in preventing the worst from happening.  For after all, it is not only by direct inspiration but also through human agents that the Holy Ghost acts to protect the Church.

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Last modified on Thursday, February 13, 2020
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.