In Sankt Pelagiberg, a little Marian Pilgrimage site near Sankt Gallen in Switzerland — and a little way down the slope of the hill of the Church – there stands a modestly adorned field cross, just at the junction of two hiking paths. Under the shielded Cross of Christ Crucified is a plaque with these piercing words: “Das tat ich für Dich. Was tust Du für mich?” – “This is what I did for you. And what do you for Me?” Ever since I saw this Gothic inscription, it has haunted me. Now, in this our historic situation in the Church, we might also want to consider and reflect upon this ancient and deeply stirring inscription. What does God want us to do for Him now? And how would He want us to do it?
I write this article also after having been inspired and encouraged by the recent words of Professor de Mattei: “If the text [Amoris Laetitia] is catastrophic, even more catastrophic is the fact that it was signed by the Vicar of Christ. Even so, for those who love Christ and His Church, this is a good reason to speak and not be silent.”
On the historic day of 8 April, 2016, the fuller Truth of Christ seems to have been nailed to the Cross. Our Savior Himself, in a mystical way, might now be crucified again in His Church. Just like Herod, who tried to silence God’s Truth by beheading His Messenger, St. John the Baptist, it is now His own Vicar on earth, Pope Francis, who tries to silence or ambiguously elide over that same Truth by insinuating in an official papal document that the Truth of Christ is not fully applicable any more to the evolved circumstances of today and that, because the situation has evolved, that doctrine effectively may be ignored. If His Vicar on earth is now allowing – even if only at first in a few cases – access to the Sacraments for “remarried” divorcees who objectively live in a situation that contradicts Christ’s Teaching, then it attenuates and undermines the very Teaching and Truth at its core. The moral absolute has been broken, as Professor de Mattei has just recently and succintly stated. And with likely grave consequences for the salvation of souls. As de Mattei has also said:
What is obvious is this: the prohibition to receive Communion for the divorced and remarried is no longer absolute. The Pope does not authorize, as a general rule, Communion to the divorced, but neither does he prohibit it.
Not long before the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetita, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, made clear that Communion for the “remarried” divorcees is only possible if they live “like brother and sister.” And Cardinal Walter Brandmüller made a similar statement, just two days before the official release of this papal document. Cardinal Brandmüller’s words are, as follows (in my own description and with the original quotes):
Brandmüller clearly says that he “who, in spite of an existing marriage bond, enters after a divorce into a new civil union, is committing adultery” and that – as long as that person “is not willing to put an end this situation” – he “cannot receive either absolution in Confession nor the Eucharist (Holy Communion).” Any other path, the cardinal insists, would be “bound to fail” due to “its inherent untruthfulness.” He continues: “This is valid also with regard to the attempt to integrate into the Church those who live in an invalid ‘second marriage’ by admitting them to liturgical, catechetical and other functions.” This path, in his eyes, would lead to “conflicts,” “embarrassments,” and an “undermining of the Church’s sacred proclamation.”
Yet, how many of us Catholics are now turning away from this Truth Crucified, even pretending that it is not happening? How many of us Catholics – laymen and clergy alike – will have the courage to withstand this same temptation known so well by St. Peter himself and the apostles (except for St. John, perhaps) and then to endure the suffering that surely comes when one is loyal to Christ? Can one even imagine how it felt to stand at the Cross, with the cheering and blaspheming crowds standing around, and with only a few loyal disciples standing there, watching Christ being crucified, bleeding and dying? At least, Mary was there standing with these few still remaining disciples. And she is still with us, looking for our defense of, and a perduring loyalty to, Her Son.
We know that His fuller Truth in His Church will rise again. His Truth and His Teaching will be restored – in His time, with His perfect timing. Pope Francis could not have done any of this undermining or weakening of His Truth, if it were not, finally, allowed by Him. And Jesus said: “Thou shouldst not have any power against me, unless it were given thee from above.” As a prelate from Europe recently said to me in private: “God will bring a greater good out of this situation.”
But, we are all, co-operatively, called to fidelity. Passivism, much less indifferentism or mental sloth, has no place here. We are called to resist, each in our own way, each in our own place, with our own vocation. But this specific sacrificial vocation we must not ignore. If we do, we shall deeply regret it later, as St. Peter did.
I am a German. The German history of the 20th century is a tale of cruel perfidies and revolutions, not only one. My own family, on both of my parents’ sides, suffered for being for Christ and against Hitler. One of my relatives who bore this witness died. How grateful I am to my relatives that they chose well. They stayed loyal to Christ, at the possible expense of the loss of their security, livelihood, and even their lives! Our family does not have to turn in shame from the question: “How could you have made such a craven compromise at that time? Why did you not stand up, instead?” This was no easy thing. When we evaluate the Germans of the time, we need to remind ourselves that they were threatened with arrest, and more, if they were to have spoken up.
But today? Are we going to be arrested if we speak up politely but trenchantly against Pope Francis and his ambiguous teaching of a softer Mercy over Truth?.
We are dealing here with a much greater potential culpability that may soon be upon us, because we do not even yet have to fear for our security or our lives.
I also had relatives in Communist East Germany. In my studies of that terrible time of 40 years of Communist terror, I realized that the implementation of the Communist revolution in East Germany happened with the help of the soft acquiescence and silence of many well-meaning conservative Social Democrats and Christians. Many of them thought that what was inchoate would not turn out to be that bad, after all. Many of them believed the propaganda and did not resist the manipulations and distortions in time. They waited too long, thinking they still could do some good within the new system. And they woke up, but often when it was too late.
How many prelates are now thinking in a similar way, saying to themselves: “I can do more good if I stay in my position of influence and not be either asked to leave or leave myself out of protest.” But, with it, they help establish the titrating revolution, because they do not sufficiently see it and then resist it. They give their name and implicit support to the revolution because they do not speak up. They, too, might wake up, and, with piercing and sorrowful eyes, then look up to heaven and say: “My God, forgive me, for I have forsaken you!” They might wake up, removed, isolated, ignored – in spite of their attempts to stay loyal to the pope.
Now is the time to stand up and resist. The Francis Revolution has been going on for three years now. Drop by drop, this pope has effectively denied or silently marginalized aspects of the Truth: no, you should not proselytize any more; yes, atheists also can go to heaven; Protestants may receive Holy Communion if their conscience tells them to do so; you may use contraceptives under certain conditions; and so on.
Now, another nail has been put on Christ’s Truth at the Cross. The tipping point of our tolerance has been reached. Either the frog jumps now out of the gradually boiling pot, or he will soon die. The occupying revolution is official. It is done.
Nonetheless, I keep praying my Hail Marys and the Rosary – especially for the truly Catholic prelates – that we, in the Mystical Body of Christ in all of its human elements, may now show ourselves worthy of the many Graces and Gifts that we have mercifully and cumulatively received.
“This is what I did for you.
And what do you for Me?”
“Das tat ich für Dich. Was tust Du für mich?”