Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Institute Reopens Church in Naples, Italy

Church of Santa Maria del Rosario in Pigne
Posted on 1 December 2017.  See additional photos and original post here.

Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest Reopens Church in Naples, Italy

His Eminence, Crescenzio Cardinal Sepe, Archbishop of Naples, has entrusted to the Institute the Church of Our Lady of the Rosary “alle Pigne” (Chiesa di Santa Maria del Rosario alle Pigne). Along with the canonical establishment of this apostolate, Cardinal Sepe has nominated as Rector of the church Canon Louis Valadier.

Located in Piazza Cavour in downtown Naples about a ten minute walk from the Cathedral, Our Lady of the Rosary Church “alle Pigne” had suffered damage in the 1980 earthquake. Despite restoration work in the 1990s, it had not been reopened. Dating from the 17th century, the church is the artistic masterpiece of Arcangelo Guglielmelli.

At the invitation of Cardinal Sepe, the Institute clergy and local faithful worked to prepare the church for the solemn ceremony of reopening on Friday evening, October 6. To represent the Cardinal at the ceremony, the Most Reverend Lucio Lemmo, Auxiliary Bishop, presided. The Prior general of the Institute, Monsignor Gilles Wach, was present, along with the Institute’s resident clergy in Naples, Canon Louis Valadier, ​Canon Guillaume Fenoll, ​Canon Florian Braun, and seminarian Abbe Andrea De Pas​cale. The Archbishop’s Delegate for the union of Catholic Works attended, as well as several civil and military authorities, such as the Commandant of the Carabinieri of the City’s Stella neighborhood.

The statue of Our Lady of the Rosary on the exterior façade of the church was solemnly crowned. Bishop Lemmo blessed the restored wooden statue of Our Lady of the Rosary venerated above the high altar. Solemn High Mass was celebrated by Monsignor Wach.

The evening’s events included a performance by the Giubileo choir, which sang popular songs of Neapolitan tradition, festive fireworks, and a buffet reception.

The apostolate website can be viewed here. Mass is celebrated daily at 7:00pm.

Photo Source

Knights of Columbus Latin Mass

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Catholic Identity Conference 2017 - Fatima and the Post-Vatican II Church: Where do we go from here?

The Catholic Identity Conference will be held in Weirton, West Virginia, 27-29 October 2017.

This year's conference features two bishops and priests from the three largest traditional orders.

The conference will begin with a Traditional Latin Pontifical Low Mass offered by His Excellency, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, ORC, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Mary Most Holy in Astana, Kazakhstan.  Bishop Schneider will also give a talk at the conference.

The keynote address will be delivered by His Excellency, Chorbishop Anthony Spinosa, Rector of the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon in North Jackson, Ohio.

Priests from the Society of Saint Pius X, the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter, and the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest will also speak at the conference.

The Catholic Identity Conference was conceived as a forum to bring the various strands of Catholic Tradition together to exchange ideas, address current issues, and meet each other to discuss the various viewpoints held by the conference participants and attendees.  With daily Traditional Latin Masses and a broad range of speakers, this year's conference promises to be a spiritually fulfilling and intellectually rewarding event.

Conference speakers include:

For additional information and to register go here.

View the three minute promotional video here.

UPDATE: Audio CD's are available from Oltyn Library Services here.  On-Demand video available from The Remnant here.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Dominican Friar Blessed Alan de la Roche on the Rosary

"Blessed" Alan de la Roche, O.P. (1428-1475) was a 15th Century friar who is considered to be the restorer of the Dominican Rosary. Although Alan has no official Church feast day, he is unofficially honored on September 8th, which is also the feast for the Nativity of Mary.

According to Dominican tradition, St. Dominic (1170-1221) founded the Rosary in 1208 as a meditative prayer which sought to spiritually combat the Albigensian heresy (which believed that only spiritual realities were good and vehemently opposed God taking flesh in Jesus Christ).  But this meditative Marian prayer featuring just the Angelic Salutation and the Evangelical Salutation  fell into disuse during the 14th Century during the era of the Black Death in Europe.

In the mid 15th Century in a Dominican monastery  in Brittany, Alan de la Roche experienced visions from the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Lord which eventually convicted him to revive and renew the Dominican Rosary.  De la Roche was not the perfect emissary for this divine mission.  At one point, Jesus appeared to De la Roche and said: "You have all of the learning and understand that you need to preach my mother's rosary, and you are not doing so. The world is full of devouring wolves, and you, unfaithful dog, know not how to bark."  The latter phrase was a pointed wake up call to a Dominican like Blessed Alan, as the Order of Preachers held the moniker "Dog of God" (Latin domini canus which sounds similar to Dominicanus)

Blessed Alan stressed the 15 mysteries of the Dominican Rosary, rather than the alternative of 50 clauses of the Carthusian Rosary.  Moreover, the 150 Hail Marys imitated the 150 psalms of the Old Testament, which harkened back to the proto-origins of the lay Marian psalter. Blessed Alan was successful at renewing popular devotion to the Rosary and reinvigorating the Confraternity of the Rosary. The Confraternity featured "after death" benefits for Rosarians. Thus Blessed Alan de la Roche may be considered one the greatest champions of the Rosary to ever live. 

Although Blessed Alan wrote an instructional pamphlet Book and Ordinance regarding the renewal of the Dominican Rosary, about 1/3 of  the Vatican documents were lost after Napoleon sacked the Vatican archives from 1810-1813.  So much of quotable material about Blessed Alan comes from St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1716) whose 18th Century works True Devotions to the Blessed Virgin and The Secret of the Rosary were buried in a field in France for over 125 years, thereby escaping the irreligious impulses of the French Revolution. 

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Fernandez: Welcome to Room 303


Archbishop Fernandez puts forward two propositions:

  • The doctrine that those not in a state of grace should not partake of communion is without exceptions.
  • The discipline that those not in a state of grace should not partake of communion should have exceptions.

In Amoris Laetitia (AL) and in Fernandez's article in Medellin there is no direct reference to where the doctrine and the discipline can be found. It is legitimate to believe that this omission is deliberate.

In fact the doctrine can be found in St Paul 1 Corinthians 11:27:

And therefore, if anyone eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily, he will be held to account for the Lord's body and blood. A man must examine himself first, and then eat of that bread and drink of that cup; he is eating and drinking damnation to himself if he eats and drinks unworthily, not recognizing the Lord's body for what it is.

The discipline can be found in the Code of Canon Law:

Can. 915 Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion

Can. 916 A person who is conscious of grave sin is not to celebrate Mass or receive the body of the Lord without previous sacramental confession unless there is a grave reason and there is no opportunity to confess; in this case the person is to remember the obligation to make an act of perfect contrition which includes the resolution of confessing as soon as possible.

As regards the doctrine Fernandez is unequivocal:

“The rule that no one who is not in the grace of God ought to receive Eucharist by its very nature does not tolerate exceptions.”

After much discussion of how a Pope can alter a discipline Fernandez says:

The disciplinary consequences of the norm remained unaltered, because they were based only on an objective fault against an absolute norm. Francis proposes to go one step further.

The question is: what is that step? Fernandez writes:

The rule according to which persons in God's grace are excluded from communion as the penalty for the counter-witness which they have given, however, may be subject to exceptions, and this is exactly what Amoris Laetitia tells us. (Rocco Buttiglione L'Approccio Antropologico di San Giovanni Paolo II e quello Pastorale di Papa Francesco[The Anthropological Approach of St. John Paul II and Pastoral Care of Pope Francis).

That sentence only becomes clear if one reads Buttiglione's article. There he cites Canon 915 saying that it talks of 'grave sin' but that is not necessarily mortal sin either through ignorance or lack of consent. Therefore there can be cases where there is no mortal sin but the Canon still applies because it only speaks of 'grave sin'. Thus one can speak of a rule that excludes those in a state of grave sin from receiving communion even though they are in a state of grace. It is not because they are in a state of grace that they are excluded as Fernandez seems to suggest!

Buttiglione has a rather cavalier attitude to the question of giving scandal. It is true that people's reaction to scandal may vary, from age to age and from place to place, but how can that justify the giving of scandal? In the past people were scandalised at the idea of abortion; to-day they have become so desensitised as not to be so scandalised but does that justify a priest saying that abortion does not matter? In any case there are always going to be faithful people who are scandalised. So Buttiglione's position really boils down to the question of whether there is mortal sin or not. He accepts that there is grave matter so we are left with ignorance and lack of consent.

If there is a process of discernment it is surely impossible for ignorance to be pleaded from that point onwards. As to lack of consent Buttiglione puts forward an extreme case which he claims is not that rare but gives no evidence. The extreme case is where a woman has remarried in order to get support and protection for herself and her children and finds it impossible to refuse sexual relations to her new partner unless she leaves him. Now that may be a situation that may take time to resolve but is not the question of scandal sufficiently important to continue the exclusion from communion and is not that exclusion an incentive to continue to try to resolve the situation? In any case one suspects that many in such an extreme situation are not particularly bothered by the exclusion anyway so why allow the scandal?

Fernandez then says:

It would be fitting to clarify Buttiglione's expression "for the counter-witness they have given" by saying: "because their situation does not objectively correspond with the good that the general norm proposes."

I cannot find where in Buttiglione's article that expression occurs. Maybe there is a translation problem here but the suggested alteration suggests to me that Fernandez is dismissing the scandal argument entirely.

Further on Fernandez writes:

Staying on this path, conscience is also called to recognize "what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God ... the commitment which God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits” (AL 303).

Now, reading that one might think that the 'commitment' which God asks for is repentance and a firm intention not to sin again. However if you look at the full sentence in AL303 the commitment there is clearly not repentance but continuation in sin as being the best one can do. Viz:

It can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while yet not fully the objective ideal.

That is a clear case of misquoting; a grave fault that has been all too common throughout the Synod and its aftermath. This paragraph 303 in Amoris Laetitia is the atomic bomb of which Professor Josef Seifert has so ably written earning himself dismissal by the egregious Archbishop of Granada.

Lastly one might note that whilst Buttiglione does refer to Canon 915 specifically, unlike Fernandez, there is no reference by either of them of Canon 916. Further Buttiglione claims that neither of these canons are based upon natural or divine law. That is questionable.

In conclusion all one can say is that the argument put forward by Fernandez is typical of an argument from the particular – the extreme case – to the general and it is totally unconvincing!

Sunday, 27 August 2017

New Wonder Product: Situation Ethics Plus

Pope St John Paul II introduced an important novelty in 1980 saying that the divorce and remarried should not commit adultery. Pope Francis, according to his ghost-writer – Archbishop Fernandez, says one can get round this by using a wonder new product - Situation Ethics Plus – with the magic ingredient culled in the South American rain forest known as AL304.

Approved in such diverse countries as Germany, Malta, Belgium etc, it can save you from the embarrassment of being seen not to go to Communion and even from the torture of going to Confession. It is available on prescription from your Parish Priest. Trials are being conducted as to whether it provides relief in other conditions such as rape, murder or arson. There have been reports, very few so far, of possible side effects as with all medicines such as uncontrolled weeping, feeling that someone is attacking you with a pitchfork, gnashing of teeth and a generalised burning sensation. If you do experience any of these sensations please do NOT bother your Parish Priest or rush to your local Accident and Emergency department as it is probably too late.

A critique of an Article by Archbishop Víctor Manuel Fernández

Fernandez is believed to be the ghost-writer of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia and thus close to Pope Francis and his thinking. He has has now published an article, which I was cite in this critique. (Víctor Manuel Fernández, "El capítulo VIII de Amoris Laetitia: lo que queda después de la tormenta". [Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia: what is left after the storm], Medellín, 168, (May/August 2017), pp. 449-468]

I am indebted to the Rorate Coeli website for references to this article including a translation into English to be found here. Perhaps one should really start at the beginning but there are times when one extraordinary sentence that stands out above all else namely needs pushing to the front. This passage is one of those...

'St. John Paul II’s proposal to the divorced in a new union to live in perfect continence, as a requirement to make access to Eucharistic communion possible, was already an important novelty'.

This 'proposal' is set out in Familiaris Consortio paragraph 84:
'Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they "take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples."[180]'
The quote is from St John Paul's homily at the end of the 1980 Synod which can be found here, page 1082 in Latin.

Surely what St John Paul II is saying is that a divorced and remarried couple who have sexual relations are not in the state of grace which is a prerequisite for Communion but, more importantly, a prerequisite for eternal life. To describe that as a novel proposal is preposterous. For two thousand years we have had the teaching of Christ that divorce and remarriage is adulterous. Go back another thousand years or so and we have the ten commandments forbidding adultery. Novel? Only in wonderland or whatever desolate wasteland the Church now occupies.

Revisionist of the Magisterium of St John Paul II

Now, I suppose what Victor Fernandez might argue is that the novelty was the idea that the divorced and remarried could live together in continence and thus be in a state of grace whereas previously living together was always regarded as gravely sinful regardless of whether it was a chaste relationship or not. I do not know whether he would argue for that interpretation but it is not an interpretation that is going to occur to most readers. Surely that is obvious to anyone.

A third interpretation might be that Fernandez is saying that up till then there had been an idea that as a matter of conscience in the internal forum where the person is convinced that his first marriage is invalid but has not yet got an annulment or cannot produce sufficient proof then those in the second marriage are entitled to receive communion. This was a pastoral approach current in the 1970s but was firmly quashed by JPII in 1980. But the problem with that interpretation is that JPII was tightening matters up and therefore it cannot be taken a first liberalising step as Fernandez would like. In any case a couple in that situation were not validly married according to the law of the Church prior to obtaining an annulment and regularisation so they were not in a state of grace.

But let us go back to the start of this essay...

Fernandez starts with a summary where he recounts Pope Francis's endorsement of the position taken by the Bishops of Buenos Aires. I commented on that position, last January, as follows:

'In September 2016 we had the criteria of the Bishops of Buenos Aires which clearly stated that AL gave an opening to communion for the divorced and remarried who found continence too difficult. They referred to another footnote which has a particularly egregious and dishonest reference to a letter from St John Paul II which gives no support whatever to the idea that confession does not require a firm purpose of amendment as claimed by AL. All that JPII said was that the knowledge that one would probably sin again does not invalidate that firm purpose. In fact these criteria were merely a draft which had met criticism from some of the clergy in Buenos Aires but, when Pope Francis gave his absolute indorsement to it, it was no doubt set in concrete.'

Fernandez headlines what Pope Francis wrote:


...and goes on to shamelessly repeat the misrepresentation of what St John Paul II wrote. Fernandez therefore claims that Pope Francis has no need to provide further explanation. He says that the Pope's letter to the Buenos Aires Bishops does not have the same weight as an Encyclical but his implication is that Amoris Laetitia has only this interpretation made by those Bishops and endorsed by the Pope as Pope.

 Then under a heading of PERFECT CONTINENCE there follows the preposterous statement I have related about which continues. Here it is again, in all its gory glory...

'St. John Paul II’s proposal to the divorced in a new union to live in perfect continence, as a requirement to make access to Eucharistic communion possible, was already an important novelty. Many resisted this step. Still some today do not accept this proposal because they believe it leads to relativism.'

So here we have the idea that the words of St John Paul II were a first step in some process of which Amoris Laetitia (AL) is a further step. Amoris Laetitia has been criticised as leading to relativism but here Fernandez by coalescing these two steps into a process managing to suggest that some would accuse JPII's words as leading to relativism. This rather suggests that Fernandez would claim that his comment about novelty is based upon the idea that somehow JPII was relaxing some earlier discipline. He provides no evidence for that idea and it is not credible that people would interpret his remark in that way.

He then goes on to repeat the misinterpretation of what JPII wrote about the validity of a firm purpose of amendment. A firm purpose of amendment i.e. a purpose not to repeat the sin is an essential element in a valid confession. Of course, it has always been understood that the penitent may know that there is a possibility that he will fail again but that not does not invalidate the firm purpose of amendment. He might be guilty of presumption not to do so! Fernandez refers to the footnote in AL at paragraph 312 which reads:

'Perhaps out of a certain scrupulosity, concealed beneath a zeal for fidelity to the truth, some priests demand of penitents a purpose of amendment so lacking in nuance that it causes mercy to be obscured by the pursuit of a supposedly pure justice. For this reason, it is helpful to recall the teaching of Saint John Paul II, who stated that the possibility of a new fall “should not prejudice the authenticity of the resolution”

Fernandez goes on to say:

 “Against this careful precision of John Paul II, some seem to demand a kind of strict control of what others do in intimacy.” 

One really begins to wonder what goes on in confessionals in South America. Are they the "torture chambers" of which Pope Francis spoke; are there confessors who suggest installing CCTV in the bedroom? In my experience, confessors might advise on avoiding occasions of sin but are usually satisfied with a purpose of amendment expressed in an act of contrition without further comment e.g. “I firmly resolve, by the help of your grace, never to offend you again, and carefully to avoid the occasions of sin.” Although I wonder how many of us even get that right in our acts of contrition.

One gets the feeling that Pope Francis and his entourage have set up a straw man of some Jansenist or extreme Calvinist Church spouting hell-fire sermons which needs to be constantly attacked. Perhaps this may have some relevance in South America but it quite foreign to any experience elsewhere where extreme laxity is more often the order of the day.

There then follows a piece about giving scandal:

When the need to avoid scandal is spoken about, we must note that this only happens when people "flaunt" their situation as if it were correct (cf. AL 297). Otherwise, scandal would also be given when the first marriage has been declared null, since probably many who see them go to confession and communion do not know about the annulment.

This is incorrect. Scandal will occur in the way denied in the second sentence. People who have divorced, remarried and then obtained an annulment should not be shy about informing people of the annulment so that they are not scandalised. A validating marriage ceremony in their parish church is a good opportunity to inform at least the local congregation.

Cardinal Marx of Germany
The whole subject of scandal has been largely ignored in Amoris Laetitia which sends out the scandalous message that divorce and remarriage are nothing that cannot be approved after a quiet talk with the Parish Priest or perhaps even a Deacon. In Germany, it has been suggested that some parish official could do the necessary! There is far too much emphasis on the problems of particular individuals whilst forgetting the misery that is caused by saying divorce and remarriage is no big deal thus encouraging more divorces. The damage to the children of the first marriage hardly gets a mention.

This section finishes with the strange assertion:

The great resistance that this issue provokes in some groups indicates that this question, beyond its importance in itself, breaks a rigid mental structure, very concentrated in issues of sexuality, and it forces them to broaden their perspectives.

Here we are again talking about 'rigid mental structures' and accusing people of having an obsession with sex. Why the great resistance to AL should show that that resistance is unfounded or 'broken' escapes me. Exactly the opposite seems to be happening.

In the next section headed ABSOLUTE MORAL STANDARDS AND HUMAN LIMITS we come to an ignorant illusion. Fernandez writes:

Francis does not affirm that general moral laws cannot provide for all situations, nor that they are incapable of impeding the decision of conscience. On the contrary, he says that "[they] set forth a good which can never be disregarded or neglected." However, "in their formulation they cannot provide absolutely for all particular situations" (AL 304). It is the formulation of the norm that cannot provide for everything, not the norm itself.

This is arrant nonsense. Take murder in English law. It is a crime at Common Law. That is to say there is no Act of Parliament defining it. It has been defined by various commentators such as Coke onwards. There are various Acts which partially define and redefine and there are many cases i.e. judgements written by judges which form precedents for further definition. No doubt there will be further Acts and cases in the future. However the basic idea that murder is a crime remains and all subsequent law on the subject is implied in that one idea. Thus the basic norm that murder is a crime does cover all cases and provides for all particular situations. What Fernandez is implying is that this is not the case and therefore the norm can be interpreted in whatever chaotic manner that suits the whim of a judge or in this case a cleric regardless of any guiding principle or precedent. This confirms what Pope Francis has already said about what might only lead to an intolerable casuistry.1

This is just one example of the anti-intellectual approach. It is interesting that he quotes a very valid point about discernment:

Some claim to simplify the matter in this way, by saying that, according to Francis, "The subject may not be able to be in mortal sin because, for various reasons, he is not fully aware that his situation constitutes adultery." (This is what Claudio Pierantoni stated in a recent conference, very critical of Amoris Laetitia in Rome on April 22, 2017.) And they question him that it makes no sense to speak about discernment if "the subject remains indefinitely unaware of his situation."

In answer to this we are told that Pope Francis regards all this as much more complex but then evades the question by saying:

In any event, the specific and principal proposal of Francis, in line with the Synod, is not concerning the considerations on the formulation of the norm. Why then is this question part of his proposal? Because he calls for much attention to the language that is used to describe weak persons. For him, offensive expressions such as "adulterer" or "fornicator" should not necessarily be deduced from the general norms when referring to concrete persons.

Thus he completely wanders off the point onto a quite different subject as to what language you use. Of course calling someone an adulterer rather than gently pointing out their action is adultery is not perhaps the best way of encouraging them to correct their behaviour but what has that to do with his theory about norms? Fernandez finishes this section with the sentence:

This makes it possible not always to lose the life of sanctifying grace in a “more uxorio”cohabitation.

Thus these ideas are to apply not only to the divorced and remarried but also to anyone cohabitating in a sexual relationship perhaps including those involved in sodomy in a same-sex marriage? By talking of losing the life of sanctifying grace presumably he means ceasing to be in a state of grace. This is a point I will come back to.

The next section is entitled WHEN ONE CANNOT. Fernandez is putting forward the case that there are situations in which a person cannot do otherwise than commit adultery. The Synod Fathers are first called in aid but all they said was that there could be situations where making a decision to do what is right would be difficult2. No surprise there. Fernandez though then claims that JPII said there were circumstances in which a divorced and remarried couple cannot separate: St. John Paul II recognized that "they cannot".

That is stretching what JPII actually said which was:

This means, in practice, that when, for serious reasons, such as for example the children's upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they "take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples.3

Obviously they could separate but what JPII is saying is that there could be strong reasons against separating. To take the word 'cannot' out of context in that way suggesting an absolute prohibition or impossibility is seriously misleading. In the same way where Pope Benedict spoke of an irreversible situation, it is misleading to say that there could be an absolute impossibility.4 What both former Popes are saying is that where there are very serious reasons for not discontinuing the cohabitation then they must live as brother and sister.

However Pope Francis has taken this further referring to...

...a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin 5

Quite what is meant by the reference to further sin is not explained. Fernandez is using the idea that two former Popes have said that there are irreversible situations. He gives the example of a woman in that situation where the irreversibility is 'amplified' (quite how I do not understand) to say that in such a situation guilt and imputability are diminished. But at this stage he is not saying that there is no guilt.

His next section is entitled BEYOND SITUATION ETHICS. Situation ethics where there are no universal moral rules and everything depends upon circumstances is of course contrary to Catholic teaching as it denies that any action can be intrinsically evil. So initially one wonders where we are about to go beyond situation ethics! It would seem that Fernandez wants to retain the idea of intrinsically evil acts – objective sin – so as to comply with Catholic teaching but in reality only takes into account subjective guilt in assessing whether a person is living in God's grace. Does Fernandez mean that 'living in God's grace mean that the person is in a state of grace and therefore eligible to receive communion. There is a crucial quote from AL:

"Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace" (AL 305).

If Fernandez is saying that 'living in God's grace' means being in a state of grace then somebody whose subjective culpability is diminished is eligible for communion. That is the clear implication of the words 'or fully such' in the above quote. He does not say to what degree culpability would be lacking so effectively it seems that anyone with the slightest excuse for committing a mortal sin can still be in God's grace.

The next section headed THE POWER OF DISCERNMENT makes it clear that in his view being in God's grace is being in a state of grace. Thus effectively the circumstances govern whether Communion can be received or not and we are fully into situation ethics and the sop to an objective situation of sin is just that i.e. a pretence that he and Pope Francis are in compliance with Catholic teaching. This is just a laughable attempt to evade accusations of heterodoxy; it is difficult to believe that an Archbishop can seriously believe that anyone is going to buy this sophistry. It is truly BEYOND SITUATION ETHICS and perhaps should be called BEYOND SITUATION ETHICS PLUS.

So one can now have the situation where one can say that one was not fully culpable because one had had a couple of drinks before committing adultery and this is sufficient excuse to claim one is still in a state of grace. Of course, it will be argued that this only applies to the extreme hard case but we had that argument when abortion was legalised. We all know about the slippery slope that followed and the current situation where we have abortion on demand virtually regardless of circumstance.

St Paul can't quite believe what he is reading...

Fernandez then talks of a change in discipline. By discipline I understand rules which go beyond revealed truth such as the requirement to go to Confession at least once a year. Here we are concerned with the rule that those in mortal sin should not be admitted to Holy Communion. But there is a separate revealed warning from St Paul in 1 Corinthians 11:27:

And therefore, if anyone eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily, he will be held to account for the Lord's body and blood. A man must examine himself first, and then eat of that bread and drink of that cup; he is eating and drinking damnation to himself if he eats and drinks unworthily, not recognizing the Lord's body for what it is.

So, here we have not only a disciplinary rule but a teaching from the Apostle Paul. It is surely the teaching that is much more in question. The individual will know whether he is in a state of grace or not and this should decide whether he goes to Communion or not. That is going to be a common occurrence for a practising Catholic. However, for a priest to refuse Communion in accordance with the discipline is going to be a rare event as he will have to be certain about the state of the soul of the individual. Indeed, such is almost unknown in today's Church e.g. the controversy about whether politicians who have voted in favour of abortion should be refused communion.

Fernandez seems to recognise that there is teaching apart from discipline in this matter. He discusses the exercise of the discipline:

The disciplinary consequences of the norm remained unaltered, because they were based only on an objective fault against an absolute norm. Francis proposes to go one step further. It is true that the general norm is not purely a discipline, but it is related to a theological truth, such as the union between Christ and the Church which is reflected in marriage.

Fernandez refers to the second paragraph of AL where Pope Francis criticises:

...deriving undue conclusions from particular theological considerations.
But that was a general remark and was not directed to this question in particular and there is no indication of what these undue conclusions are or what makes them undue. Thus whilst acknowledging the theological Pauline ban on communion Fernandez goes on to examine the case for changing the discipline in the next section entitled THE LEGITIMACY OF A CHANGE IN DISCIPLINE.

The problem Fernandez then has is in disentangling the discipline from the doctrine. He gives various historical examples which would be too tedious to query here but he concludes by saying:

As of those changes in the understanding of doctrine, there were, as a consequence, various changes in discipline.

But here he has said that the understanding of the doctrine is not changing; so why does he think the discipline should change?

He then points to RECENT CHANGES OF DISCIPLINE REGARDING NEW UNIONS such as the divorced and remarried previously not being allowed a church funeral but now being allowed such., but notably he fails to point out that there has been no change in doctrine entailing that change in discipline. He says that discipline can be changed without doctrine being changed – surely a statement of the obvious although there would be limitations to this where for instance the change in discipline clearly contradicts the doctrine.

The problem, which he stealthily fails to point out, is the message that a change in discipline sends out to the faithful. The faithful will inevitably conclude that if the discipline against giving Communion to those not in a state of grace is removed then it is perfectly okay to receive Communion unworthily. If you first of all say that the Church can say that you cannot go to Communion in certain circumstances and then say the Church no longer says you cannot then everyone will interpret that as permission granted.

There is then a statement about about the two rules doctrinal and disciplinary:

The rule that no one who is not in grace God ought to receive Eucharist by its very nature does not tolerate exceptions. Whoever receives the Body and the Blood of Christ unworthily eats and drinks his own condemnation. The rule according to which persons in God's grace are excluded from communion as the canonical penalty for the counter-witness which they have given, however, may be subject to exceptions, and this is exactly what Amoris Laetitia tells us.

It is a bid odd to talk about a rule that people in a state of grace are excluded from Communion in the third sentence above. It is difficult to understand what Fernandez is saying; no such rule exists. Is he talking about a situation where there is a mistake about the person being in a state of grace i.e. the rule is that people not in a state of grace are excluded from communion? The English translation on Rorate Coeli is missing a word at that point, but checking the original Spanish, he definitely is talking about a rule which excludes people in a state of grace from receiving Communion. Perhaps he did not mean to write that and it is just a typo but frankly does it matter? There are two different rules:

  1. The doctrine laid down by St Paul that he who takes communion unworthily eats and drink to his damnation.
  2. The rule where those not in a state of grace should not partake of communion.

Fernandez says there is no exception to the first but that there are exceptions to the second. Incidentally as a matter of Canon Law that exclusion is not a canonical penalty although it could become one if a penal process is instituted and concluded so as to impose a penalty. Refusing Communion is more akin to preventing someone from harming themselves in the way St Paul indicates. It must be pretty rare that anyone is refused Communion and the institution of a penal process so that it becomes a penalty must be very rare indeed. If the person giving out communion refuses Communion in the mistaken belief that the person is not in a state of grace then that is simply an unfortunate but serious mistake. The only thing one could say is that application of the rule should be done with the utmost care and where the facts are certain which explains why it so rarely happens. However if such mistakes arise it is hardly a reason for relaxing the rule.

In the next section RECOGNITION OF LIMITS AND GOOD THAT IS POSSIBLE Fernandez says that Pope Francis is in no way suggesting that the cohabitation is anything other than immoral. (Note that he is here talking of cohabitation – to what does that extend?) but that there may be...

 "great difficulty of going back without feeling in conscience that one would fall into new sins." (AL 298)

No explanation is offered by Fernandez or Pope Francis as to what those new sins might be. Does one really have to comment on the absurdity of the idea that it is okay to commit one sin so as to avoid falling into another sin? We are really into that meaningless waffle so characteristic of Pope Francis at this point in Fernandez's essay. There is the claim that other things can make up for the wrong being done. One is reminded of those films of Hitler playing with dogs and children. Herein lies the atomic bomb that Professor Seifert has recently written about. Sin may be what God is asking for as the best response possible!6

Under the heading CONSCIENCE there then follows an attack on using logic, reason or intellect in these matters. The problem with that is illustrated by an African Bishop saying that his people, whom one might surmise have only rudimentary education, have no problem in adhering to the orthodox view and are not blinded by this sophistry.

Fernandez then rambles on about the process of discernment with a priest saying it is going to be very much dependent on the local church – so what is adultery in one country is adultery in the next – a situation we have already seen in Poland and Germany.

Finally in a SECONDARY QUESTION we are told that Pope Francis wanted to introduce all this in a discrete manner by the use of footnotes. Laughter is the only possible response. So what conclusion can one come to on all of this. Let me try and summarise his argument as follows:

Pope St John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio says that a divorced and remarried couple who for serious reasons do not find it possible or rather advisable to separate should not have sexual relations i.e. should not commit adultery. Fernandez says this is an 'important novelty' and the purpose of his article is to contradict that idea. He claims that this is what Pope Francis intended when he approved the draft statement of the Buenos Aires Bishops – there are no other interpretations. Fernandez pretends that JPII was moving in the same direction! He has no conception of the scandal that these proposals are causing and will continue to cause with divorce being made to look a very easy option.

Throughout there is an anti-intellectual bias claiming one cannot derive norms for individual situations from the general norm “Thou shalt not commit adultery”. Thus this makes it possible not always to lose the life of sanctifying grace in a “more uxorio”cohabitation.

I think we can take it that he understands that losing the life of sanctifying grace entails no longer being in a state of grace. He then makes the false claim that both John Paul II and Benedict XVI said there were situations where adultery was unavoidable. Not only untrue but a simple and deadly heresy.

He then tries to counter the claim that he is into situation ethics by saying that Pope Francis accepts the Pauline teaching that receiving Communion unworthily leads to damnation but merely objects to the rule that a person is not eligible to receive Communion if they are not in a state of grace. I think he sees this latter rule purely as one which allows a celebrant to refuse Communion to such people. Essentially he is claiming that this is not situation ethics as Pope Francis adheres to the Pauline doctrine at the same time as criticising the disciplinary rule. This is really situation ethics plus or known as simply 'having your cake and eating it'.

The idea is that anyone who is not 'fully culpable' of adultery has not committed a mortal sin and is therefore eligible for Communion. It is not therefore the extreme hard cases that are to be excused but anyone who can claim they were not 'fully capable'. This is a slippery slope. A couple of drinks might remove culpability? Further all this extends to all 'irregular unions' – fornication, sodomy, bestiality – where is the line to be drawn? And why not apply this to all of the deadly sins?

In summary there are two different rules:

1. The doctrine laid down by St Paul that he who takes communion unworthily eats and drink to his damnation.

2. The disciplinary rule where those not in a state of grace should not partake of communion.

Fernandez is saying that Pope Francis accepts there are no exceptions to the first but there are to the second. They see the second rule as something which the priest acts upon and can relax. It is rather like saying that throwing oneself of Beachy Head leads to certain death but we are not going to counsel or stop anyone from so doing and might even encourage them to do just that.

1 Amoris Laetitia para 304

2 Final Relatio of the Synod para 51.

3 Familiaris Consortio para 84

4 http://w2.vatican.va/content/benedict-xvi/en/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_ben-xvi_exh_20070222_sacramentum-caritatis.html para 29b

5 Amoris Laetitia para 301

6 AL303 but for Professor Seifert's heartfelt plea see https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/amoris-laetitia-is-a-ticking-atomic-bomb-set-to-obliterate-all-catholic-mor

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Blessed Titus Brandsma, Pray for Us

Today is the Memoria of Blessed Titus Brandsma. May he intercede for the Church and for those who strive to bear witness to Jesus Christ as writers, bloggers and journalists.

As many readers know well, Blessed Titus Brandsma is a patron of journalists. Rorate Caeli recently published the letter that would soon see the intensification of Nazi persecution of the Catholic Church in the Netherlands.

It was a Circular of the Archbishop of Utrecht in the name of the Episcopate to the directors and editors-in-chief of Catholic periodicals, but as Rorate note, it was drafted by Titus Brandsma himself. It is well worth reading for it declares as historical record the public confrontation between the Church in the Netherlands and the Nazi regime, emphasising that, as Rorate record, the refusal of the Episcopate to allow Catholic periodicals to become organs of propaganda either for Communists or for the Nazi regime, since both ideologies run contrary to the Catholic Faith.

We inhabit an age of daily propaganda, in which the barrage of messages dominating the media in the West can rarely be reconciled with the timeless message of the Church, concerning both the reality of human dignity, the foundational principles that underpin formely Christian societies and most especially concerning man's identity, his place in Creation and the relationship with God into which he is called.

It is astonishing, bewildering, in fact, that whole media outlets within the Catholic Church now, often headed by clergy have become little but mouthpieces for the world's propaganda, unable to communicate, perhaps unable even to give assent, to those beautiful Catholic teachings which provide the framework to not only Salvation in Christ, but to any society that wishes to be built on a time-tested understanding of love, the love of God and love of neighbour.

The Catholic Church has entered a time of doubt in Herself and in Her Lord, and many have in truth turned against Her, in favour of the darkness and confusion of the world's dictates, propagated by the masters of our age. The intensification of the battle between light and darkness is visible in the media organs of the Church, as more and more concessions are seen to be granted to those who would advocate that man's happiness and glory resides in something else other than God, and that, in fact, mankind is self-sufficient, and has no real need for the Salvation offered by Christ, amounting to a rejection of the First Commandment and all that flows from it.

The cacophany of voices demanding that the Catholic Church moves with the times rise ever louder and seem to grow in number and these voices are even to be found from Catholic journals and Catholic media organs which should know better. Yet, it is worse than simply this, since we find that the rejection of Christ's teachings for mankind's Salvation is something now echoed among the Successors of the Apostles and this trend is not countered with resistance from Pope Francis. This has served to undermine the propagation of the Catholic Faith, confusion and doubt reigns supreme and more clergy and bishops appear to the Church and to the World as Apostles of doubt.

For the Church, this hour is critical. For the World, also. The Catholic Church has always defended human freedom, but not the freedom of the individual to behave or believe as if God does not exist. The Church has always defended liberty, but never liberty as a concept that gives licence to societies to exclude God from its public squares. The Church has always defended brotherhood as a good that sows concord and understanding among different peoples, but not a brotherhood that can be achieved through the denial of Catholic teachings and a rejection of the Church's Lord and Master.

At this hour, it looks to so many who observe the Catholic Church in the West that within four years, the water that has flowed onto the Barque of St Peter amounts to a second, but deadly baptism for the Church. The waters that have flowed up to the neck and seek the head of the the Body of Christ are those waters of the world that seek to drown the Church Herself, they are currents of thought that find their origin in the values of the Enlightenment, values that begin and find their origin in the Terror, in the murder of priests, nuns, religious, of those who refuse to genuflect to the values of an age that is godless.

Now, whatever issue we face, whatever agenda is espoused by the world, we see that in reality they amount to a rejection of God which can only serve the world's destruction. Identities founded purely in race, purely in sexuality, purely in gender, purely in political thought without reference to the divine will, without recourse to natural law, without giving mankind the hope that is Jesus Christ can never serve man's happiness and only speed the breakdown and destruction of society on both a natural and supernatural level. Tyrannies are formed in this culture. Dictatorships require a rejection of divine truth, they thrive on moral relativism.

This dictatorship now appears to be dominant in the Catholic Church, truth itself is being subverted and undermined. We must implore the aid of Blessed Titus Brandsma to reveal and to resist the dictatorship of relativism that seeks to ensnare God's children in a web of lies and a deceitful tyranny which believes it can itself master and apprehend Truth, under a cunning but empty form of love. This is a battle that Catholic journalists, bloggers and writers have a duty to fight.

May he intercede for us today from his place in Heaven and aid us in our work to resist the dictatorship of relativism both outside and inside the Church.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Corpus Christi 2017 - St. James Church, Pittsburgh

Corpus Christi 2017, St. James Church, West End Village, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Friday, 2 June 2017

2017 Traditional Ordinations

(Image Source)

Based on published reports and conversations with superiors, the following Traditional Catholic orders will ordain 46 new priests this summer.

The break down is as follows:

Society of Saint Pius X:   23

Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter:   17

Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest:   6

Hear our lowly prayers, Lord, we beseech Thee, and safeguard for ever Thy devoted servants: that no trouble may hinder them from carrying out Thy ministry with willing service.  Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son, Who liveth and reigneth with Thee in the unity of the Holy Ghost, God, world without end.  R. Amen.

Knights of Columbus Latin Mass

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Cardinal Burke Calls for Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

As reported by LifeSiteNews on 19 May 2017, His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke called for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary as requested by Our Lady of Fatima.

While addressing the fourth annual Rome Life Forum, organized by Voice of the Family, Cardinal Burke said:

"In fact, the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary did not take place, as she requested, and the Communion of Reparation on the First Saturdays did not become the practice of the universal Church." ...

"Let us be invested with the Scapular of Our Lady of Mount Carmel and pray daily the Holy Rosary for the conversion of sinners and for peace in the world. Let us center of all our labors upon participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Act of Thanksgiving after each Holy Mass and throughout the day, Eucharistic Adoration, and the daily praying of the Holy Rosary – by which Our Lord, through the intercession of Our Lady, transforms our lives and our world."

"Let us make reparation for the many and grievous offenses against the immeasurable and unceasing love of God for us by practicing the devotion of the First Saturdays and by embracing suffering and sacrifice for love of all our brothers and sisters and especially of those in most need."

"Let us consecrate ourselves to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and work for the consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. ... today, once again, we hear the call of Our Lady of Fatima to consecrate Russia to her Immaculate Heart, in accord with her explicit instruction."

Read the full text of Cardinal Burke's historic call for the consecration of Russia here.

The address given by His Eminence Carlo Cardinal Caffarra at the same Rome Life Forum is an important contribution to this effort and is well worth reading in its entirety.  The full text of Cardinal Caffarra's address can be found here.  The complete texts of the other speakers, including Bishop Athanasius Schneider and Fr. Linus Clovis, can be found here.

Knights of Columbus Latin Mass

Monday, 6 March 2017

Commemoration of the 95th Anniversary of the Death of Blessed Karl of Austria

On Saturday, 1 April 2017, the Knights of Columbus Woodlawn Council 2161 Traditional Latin Mass Guild will host a Mass, luncheon, and conference at St. Titus Church in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, to commemorate the 95th anniversary of the death of Blessed Karl of Austria.

Blessed Karl died on Saturday, 1 April 1922, the Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent and the day before Passion Sunday. The 95th anniversary of his death, 1 April 2017, falls on the Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent and the day before Passion Sunday.

The Mass will be offered by a priest of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest and will feature the Duquesne University Schola Cantorum Gregorianum.

After Mass, there will be a luncheon and conference with a presentation on Blessed Karl's legacy in contemporary Hungary. Additional information, including how to make a reservation for the luncheon and conference, can be viewed here.

St. Titus Church
Aliquippa, Pennsylvania

UPDATE: Photos and a brief report of the Mass & conference can be viewed here.

Knights of Columbus Latin Mass

Friday, 10 February 2017

Some of a Book Review of Churchy by Sarah Condon

Churchy [Mockingbird 2016 180 p.]  is a  non-fictional version of chick lit which shares Sarah Condon’s unvarnished personal vignettes that seeks to lead readers towards retrospective religious reflections. It is published by Mockingbird Ministries, which strives to connect the Christian faith with the realities of everyday life in fresh down-to-earth ways. No one will mistake Sarah Condon’s Churchy musings as mundane faith history.

"St." Flannery O'Connor
Churchy’s subtitle is “The Real Life Adventures of a wife, mom and priest”.   Truth be told, she thinks that the real title ought to have been: “Churchy Prodigal Daughter Who Is the Worst” which packs in a lot of theology, but those leitmotifs were already taken. Clearly, Condon is influenced by Southern Goth, as demonstrated by her reverence to “St.” Flannery O’Connor. This honorific should be no surprise as she attributed sainthood to Whitney Houston in prior Mockingbird articles 

Condon is an Episcopal priest who is married to another Episcopal priest pastoring a  parish in Houston Texas.  Sarah Condon’s ministry has included hospital ministry, in the dreaded “Liver Floor” filled with alcoholic patients in need of organ donations.

Rev. Sarah Condon 
After hearing Sarah speak at a retreat, I was prepared for her irreverent, earthy rhetoric (but the harshest epithets published were “holy shit” and “bullhockey”) to accompany her vivid story telling.  I noted that a couple of the vignettes were reworked into part of her speaking repertoire.  

Since my Roman Catholic tradition neither has many married clergymen (much less priestesses), I was interested in understanding her vocation as well as appreciating the strains of family life with clerical duties.   Honestly, this angle was not clear.  Most of Churchy seemed drawn from the lens of a Churchy mother who was wont to extrapolate theological truths from the quotidian.

Condon’s view on her vocation was not crystal clear. In the introduction, she noted that: 

“Josh [her husband] and I are both Episcopal priests. But most Sundays, you will see me in the pews with my children. On occasion, I stand behind the altar and celebrate communion.”  

As someone who understands sacramentality as a key distinction between the laity and the ordained, it seemed like  anonchalant approach to take a priestly vocation yet to only feel obliged to “stand behind the altar” from time to time. 

Regarding her role as an off hours hospital chaplain, Condon conceded that she often hears the awkward inquiry: “What do you do for a living?”  She modestly asserts that she utters  a ratio 70%-30% stupid to wise things while “bumbling around” hospital wards. This underplays  the vital mission of just being present to  those who may be on the precipice of death. Such companioning in Christ echoes tenants of Ignatian spirituality which Pope Francis has been championing during his papacy.

In the chapter which contains the Cereal Aisle Stranger section, Sarah Condon wrote: 

“And there is the issue of me telling strangers what my husband and I do for a living while standing in front of a row of Fruit Loops.” 

Kind of surreal small talk in the Cereal Section. Yet the way that Sarah described the query as being about what they did for a living rather than refer to their priestly vocations or ministries. That particular turn of phrase niggled at me.

Condon’s later  reflections on her household concluded: 

“Meanwhile, I bring in some income with writing and part-time ministry work, put food in the crock pot, spend an incredible amount of time with my children and talk on the phone to my mom, a lot.”  

Sarah’s description of her role is a dose of honesty mixed in with a good measure of self-deprecating humor. However, it begs a poignant question –Should ordination be deemed just a part time job or a vocation of sacerdotal service to the people of God?  It is certainly unusual for a priest to be married to a priest while raising a family. I again wonder about how there can be sufficient self sacrifice to the needs of the faithful. Can active priests really be part-timers?

SEE MORE at DC-LausDeo.US 

Friday, 3 February 2017

Cardinal Muller's New Interview with Il Timone

A precis of the Interview with commentary:

“Amoris Laetitia? It should be read as a whole, in every case adultery is always a mortal sin and the bishops who confuse things should study the doctrine of the Church. We have to help the sinner to overcome the sin and to be converted”.

Commentary: So starts the article with the Cardinal firmly placing AL to be interpreted in the light of previous teaching.

The journalist asks, “What is doctrine?”

The Cardinal responds that everyone is looking for truth which is why God gave us our intelligence and our will. God is the beginning and end of everything and that is why it is necessary to know what God has revealed through Jesus Christ. As the catechism says, we unite ourselves with God through prayer and the seven sacraments. Knowing God is the first fundamental dimension of the Faith. We need permanent catechesis. Doctrine is therefore the basis of all the life of the Church otherwise the Church will just be a charitable NGO. Doctrine is absolutely necessary for salvation.

The journalists asked whether doctrine in the last ten years has not had a good press. That it is just a series of laws beyond the capability of man, moralising, etc.

The cardinal replies that this arises from the errors of 18th century rationalism. Confining reason to this world but unable to reason about the transcendent as with Kant. Faith is believing in God in the light of the Incarnate Word with the Holy Spirit through the testimony of the Church (Bible, Tradition and Magisterium).

The journalist points out that many in the Church do not accept this and points to the Church scandals … so how do we distinguish between those who are with the Gospel and those who are earthen vessels?

The Cardinals says there will always be scandals in the Church as Jesus foretold (Luke 17,1). There have always been unworthy priests and we must not worry about them – their sacraments are always valid.

“We can not expect to choose a pope, a bishop or a priest out of a kind of catalog as if to satisfy a personal desire.”

Commentary: Is there somebody he does not like? And yet, say the journalists, the Church often wants to appear credible?

Cardinal Muller continues...

"The Church does not lose credibility when any priest falls into sin as we can all fall into sin. It is when he abuses his authority in order to sin that the Church's credibility is damaged."  

Commentary: Is there a subtle hint here about senior clerics promoting doubtful teaching?

Journalist: It is often said that the faithful should identify the Word with Holy Scripture. Is that not a reductive view?

Cardinal: “Certainly. We are not a religion of the Book but of the Word preached by Jesus Christ who did not write the Scriptures.” 

He goes on to say that the Scriptures are the most important testimony of the Word but there is also Tradition. Protestantism has devalued this tradition of the Church – the early fathers, the councils, the sacramental life.

Journalist: “ If that is the case then doctrine is an obstacle to Christian Unity. One only has to think of the seven sacraments.”

The Cardinal says the sacraments are not only a sign of grace but are the source of grace. Scripture is an archival document; faith is not based on this archive but as revealed in the Church.

Journalist: “Then the differences between the Catholic Church and other Christian confessions are not based on rigid apologetics?”

The Cardinal replies that the protestant reform was not just intended as a reform of some moral abuses but went to the fundamental Catholic conception of revelation. How could the Church abandon 1500 years of sacramental life? The Church can always be reformed as to its moral life and any worldliness. With Protestantism the problem is not only the number of the sacraments but something more significant. Ecumenism cannot progress with relativism and indifference to doctrine.

Commentary: This is a rather different vision of ecumenism as regards Lutheranism to what we have seen from Pope Francis,

Journalist: “Another argument to-day is the rapport between doctrine and personal conscience.”

The Cardinal says everyone must follow their conscience but it is a conscience that expresses a rapport, a relationship with God who has given us the commandments to enlighten us. Conscience needs grace to choose the good.

Journalist: “Then there can be no contradiction between doctrine and personal conscience?”

The Cardinal says that is impossible... 

 “For example, one cannot say that there can be circumstances where adultery is not a mortal sin.”

At variance with Amoris Laetitia, Muller says that Catholic doctrine says mortal sin and grace cannot coexist.  Confession deals with that problem.

The journalists say this question is the debate about AL.

The Cardinal says AL must be interpreted in the light of the Church's doctrine. Confession is the answer where there is confession of sins, contrition, firm purpose not to sin again and penance. Without any one of these four elements there is no sacrament. People must be helped but there must be no concessions on this doctrine. He criticises so many Bishops who interpret AL according to their own mode of understanding the teaching of the Pope. The Magisterium of the Pope can only be interpreted by him. It is for the Pope to interpret to the Bishops; not for the Bishops to interpret the Pope.

It just so happens that this is surely what the four Cardinals are calling for with their dubia.

Commentary: Surely this is interesting saying effectively that it is for the Pope alone to interpret AL. Supposing this to be correct the Pope can either interpret it himself or he can ask the CDF to do so and endorse what the CDF says. In fact he has not asked the CDF to interpret AL and Cardinal Muller is only speaking in his personal capacity. However the Pope has endorsed the interpretation of the Buenos Aires Bishops which allows communion for the divorced and remarried in certain circumstances. He has said that is the only possible interpretation. It is to be noted that the BA Bishops claim to rely upon a letter by St John Paul II to say that a firm purpose of amendment is not required in confession. In fact JPII said nothing of the kind in that letter. What he did say was that the knowledge that one will probably sin again does not invalidate a firm purpose of amendment. If however you do not have a firm purpose of amendment then, according to Cardinal Muller, confession is defective in lacking one of the four requirements and therefore there is no sacrament. The implication of this endorsement of the BA Bishops is that we are into heresy.

Cardinal Muller goes on to say we need to study the doctrine on this point in the documents of both Vatican Councils without diminishing the doctrine on the sacraments in those and other Councils including Trent. He quotes the letter to Titus about Bishops being faithful to doctrine (Titus 1,9).

The journalists then ask about the development of doctrine and how it should be understood.

The Cardinal says that development is a movement to better understand the profundity of mystery.

One can reflect on the development of doctrine following the example of Blessed JH Newman and Joseph Ratzinger. We need to understand development in order to defend against evolutionary modernism on the one hand and rigidity on the other. Continuity not breaking with the past. What is dogmatically defined cannot be changed least of all the doctrine of the seven sacraments. He mentions Arianism as not being a development of the dogma of the incarnation but a corruption of the faith. The Church teaches that marriage is an indissoluble union of a man and a wife. Polygamy is not a development! AL wants to help people in irregular unions but not to justify such.

The journalists ask whether the requirement in Familiaris Consortio that the divorced and remarried should refrain from sexual relations is still valid.

Certainly, says the Cardinal. It is not just JPII who has said this but it is part of Christian moral theology and the theology of the sacraments. The confusion on this point relates to the lack of acceptance of Veritatis Splendor and the clear doctrine of intrinsic evil. No authority can change this. Christ has made the doctrine of marriage clear. There is no need to accede to the worldly view that marriage is a purely private affair. No power on earth, no angel, no Pope, no council, no bishop can change this.

The journalists ask how the chaos resulting from the different interpretations of AL can be resolved.

The Cardinal recommends reflecting on the teaching of the Church starting with the Word of God in the Holy Scriptures which is very clear on matrimony. Further one must not enter into casuistry which can easily lead to bad intentions eith the idea that the death of love dissolves a marriage. That is sophistry. The role of the Bishops is not to create confusion but to make things clear. Do not refer to little passages in AL but read it as a whole. It is not AL that has provoked confusion but certain interpretations.

Commentary: Well what about the interpretation which Pope Francis has given it in endorsing the BA Bishops. Austen Ivereigh has said that critics of AL have missed the train. Well certainly Cardinal Muller has missed the train not noticing the interpretation that Pope Francis has given to AL. More important is that the passengers on the train have not noticed that the engine driver is the Earl King. Father, O father!
Disclaimer:  My Italian is rudimentary so I hope I have got it right!
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