An analysis by Matthew Culling Hoffman at LifeSiteNews:
1st February 2017
In another in a long stream of apparent attacks on his critics, Pope Francis gave a homily last week accusing Christians who avoid taking risks out of concern for the Ten Commandments as suffering from “cowardliness,” warning that such people become “paralyzed” and unable to “go forward.”
“‘Not taking risks, please, no… prudence…Obeying all the commandments, all of them…,’” the pope said, characterizing the thinking of such Christians. “Yes, it’s true, but this paralyzes you too, it makes you forget so many graces received, it takes away memory, it takes away hope, because it doesn’t allow you to go forward.”
Such people become “confined souls” who suffer from the sin of “cowardice,” the pope added. “And the presence of a Christian, of such a Christian, is like when one goes along the street and an unexpected rain comes, and the garment is not so good and the fabric shrinks…Confined souls…This is cowardliness: this is the sin against memory, courage, patience, and hope.”
The remarks were made during a homily delivered on January 27th during a mass he was celebrating in Casa Santa Marta, a hotel for pilgrims situated inside of Vatican City where he currently resides. A translation was provided by both Rome Reports and Vatican Radio (the Rome Reports translation is quoted above).
The translation published by Vatican Radio rendered the Italian word “pusillanimità” (similar to the English word “pusillanimity”) as “faintheartedness.” However, Italian-English dictionaries translate the word “pusillanime” and “pusillanimità” as “cowardly” and “cowardice.” The pope used the word twice during his homily.
The pope’s remarks appeared to be directed against those who criticize him for using Amoris Laetitia to permit those who are living in adulterous second “marriages” to receive Holy Communion at the discretion of their priest. The practice contradicts the Church’s Code of Canon Law, as well as its perennial tradition of prohibiting the sacraments to those who are living in public mortal sin.
In particular, Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, recently decried those clerics who wish to give Holy Communion to remarried Catholics living in adultery. He labeled them “Aaronic” priests who enable their flock to sin against the Ten Commandments, like the High Priest Aaron in the Book of Exodus, who built a golden calf to allow the Israelites to violate the first commandment.
In a thinly-veiled critique of Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia, delivered at the Lepanto Foundation in Rome, Schneider warned: “This first clerical sin is repeating itself today in the life of the Church.” He added, “Instead of the First Commandment, as it was in the time of Aaron, many clerics, even at the highest levels, substitute in our day, for the Sixth Commandment, the new idol of sexual relations between people who are not validly married, which is, in a certain sense, the Golden Calf venerated by the clerics of our day.”
The pope’s statements are the latest in a volley of barbs apparently aimed at critics of Amoris Laetitia in recent weeks.
In late December, addressing the issue of resistance to his attempted reforms, Francis decried “malicious resistance” that “takes refuge in traditions, appearances, formalities, in the familiar, or else in a desire to make everything personal, failing to distinguish between the act, the actor, and the action.” The last reference seems to be to those who object to his insinuation in Amoris Laetitia that those civilly remarried and living in an adulterous relationship are not guilty of a sin if they commit it with the intention of maintaining unity for the sake of children, or if they fear they might fall into another sin.
On January 20 Francis complained in a homily about “lazy Christians, Christians, who do not have the will to continue, Christians, who do not struggle for a change of things, for new things to come, those that if changed would be a good for everybody.” He made an apparent comparison of his critics to “the doctors of the law who persecuted Jesus,” observing that “these men did everything prescribed by the law. But their mindset was distanced from God. Theirs was an egotistical mindset, focused on themselves: their hearts constantly condemned [others].”