The authors know full well that pursuant to Amoris Laetitia (AL) Francis wishes the bishops to admit public adulterers in “second marriages” to the sacraments while continuing their adulterous relations during an ill-defined, open-ended “process of discernment.” They know in particular:
That Francis has informed the bishops of Buenos Aires by letter, published on the Vatican website, that “there is no other interpretation.”
That he has thanked the bishops of Malta for their AL guidelines, published approvingly as a sound implementation in his own newspaper, which guidelines require admission to the sacraments of divorced and “remarried” who feel themselves to be “at peace with God.”
That when asked if AL created new possibilities for the admission of the divorced and “remarried” to Holy Communion, Francis answered: “I can say yes. Period.”
That Francis referred the question of Holy Communion for the divorced and “remarried” to the presentation of AL by Cardinal Schönborn as his authoritative interpreter of the document, in which presentation Schönborn declared that under AL the divorced and “remarried” can be admitted to Holy Communion in “certain cases.”
That in diocese after diocese, the teaching of John Paul II and Benedict XVI forbidding admission of public adulterers to Holy Communion, in keeping with the Church’s bimillenial Eucharistic discipline, is being overthrown solely in the name of AL while Francis does nothing beyond expressing his approval here and there.
That Francis refuses to “clarify” AL in response to the four cardinals’ dubia, which query whether AL negates the contrary teaching of Familiaris Consortio, 84, and whether it departs from “the teaching of St. John Paul II’s encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 79, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, on the existence of absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts and that are binding without exceptions.”
Knowing all of this full well, Fastiggi and Goldstein dishonestly reduce the incontrovertible evidence that Francis has approved and orchestrated a catastrophic practical break with the Magisterium to “subjective impressions derived from mostly [!] non-authoritative statements of the Pope” and that “[t]his does not seem to be a very strong foundation for accusing the Roman Pontiff of promoting false teachings and heresies.”
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Having stated their patently dishonest premise, which allows them to ignore reality, Fastiggi and Goldstein then proceed to their false conclusion, which also ignores reality: that the signers of the Filial Correction “are presenting themselves as the spokesmen of an autonomous community that pits itself against an orthodox reading of Pope Francis’s words in a document of high magisterial level.” Fastiggi and Goldstein fail to include in this “autonomous community” Francis himself, who is undeniably promoting the heterodox reading of AL they pretend, for purposes of their dishonest argument, he has not approved.
Fastiggi and Goldstein base their shifty polemic on an inapposite document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Donum veritatis (Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian). Their reliance on Donum is patently absurd. Donum was addressed to wayward theologians who were organizing public dissent from the constant teaching of the Magisterium on such matters as contraception and—irony of ironies—the “intrinsic impossibility” of admitting public adulterers in “second marriages” to Holy Communion. Regarding the latter, during the reign of John Paul II the same Magisterium that had issued Donum also issued this rebuke to the very theologians the current Pope has clearly embraced, who falsely apply the concept of epikeia to the moral norm forbidding Holy Communion to those involved in public adultery:
Epikeia and aequitas canonica exist in the sphere of human and purely ecclesiastical norms of great significance, but cannot be applied to those norms over which the Church has no discretionary authority….
In other words, if the prior marriage of two divorced and remarried members of the faithful was valid, under no circumstances can their new union be considered lawful and therefore reception of the sacraments is intrinsically impossible. The conscience of the individual is bound to this norm without exception.
Fastiggi and Goldstein thus argue in essence that the signers of the Correctio are dissenting from the Magisterium by defending the Magisterium that Francis is so clearly acting to subvert. They demand adherence to “the instructions of Donum veritatis,” which have no application to the natural right of Catholics at large to speak out publicly in defense of the Church’s constant teaching (cf. Can. 212, §§ 2, 3), not to dissent from it. They thump on “rules” and ignore an attack on the substance of the Faith now underway all over the Catholic world, while a wayward Roman Pontiff observes the chaotic scene he himself has created, winking and nodding his approval, which they pretend not to see.
Fastiggi and Goldstein are not defending the Faith. They are defending Francis, no matter what he says or does. But this is only in keeping with the neo-Catholic defense of novelty as paramount. That defense requires them to be legalists and latter-day Pharisees, harping on the law while ignoring—or, if necessary, misrepresenting—the facts. And it is precisely the legalism of latter-day Pharisees that has made possible the auto-demolition of the Church over the past fifty years: Obey without question, for authority has spoken (or so it is claimed). Deny the evidence of reason and even the evidence of your senses if what they tell you interferes with your blind obedience.
Fastiggi and Goldstein are foot soldiers of a Leviathan Church in which the dictates of Hobbes’s “mortal god,” the earthly ruler of the commonwealth, take precedence over the dictates of the Immortal God in heaven and positive law trumps divine law. What the ruler has decreed must be good because the ruler has decreed it, and no one must be allowed to protest that what the ruler has decreed is bad for the commonwealth or that it contradicts what all the previous rulers have decreed on the same subject, for this is irrelevant to the absolute will of the current ruler.
Fastiggi and Goldstein do not understand that this is their function in the present state of the Church because the narrative to which they have committed themselves—an unwavering defense of novelty in the name of authority—does not permit them to understand it. They think they are defending the Faith, but in reality they are defending its dissolution.