When Cardinals Clash

CP&S Comment – We are in an unprecedented crisis in the Church today. Since the founding of the pillars of Christ’s Church in the early years following the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, never before have we had to witness so great a dispute over Church Doctrine between Apostles (today’s Cardinals and Bishops). What makes this crisis unique is it appears that none other than the Pope, the Vicar of Christ on Earth, is leading the side of those Cardinals who favour an unorthodox stand against the permanent Magisterial teachings of the Church. The danger is now, are we facing a possible schism in the Catholic Church? (See the questions asked in the video below.)

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By Fr Gerald E. Murray on The Catholic Thing

It was easily predictable that the Amoris Laetitia (particularly footnote 351), would lead to jarring assaults on the Church’s doctrinal unity – even by some of the Church’s own shepherds. Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, has just joined the ranks of prelates who say that Pope Francis has authorized giving Holy Communion to those in adulterous second “marriages.” Coccopalmerio even extends this permission to others living in sexual relationships apart from marriage in his newly published booklet, The Eighth Chapter of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia (which some think authoritative since it was issued by the Vatican’s own publishing house, the Libreria Editrice Vaticana).

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio

Coccopalmerio writes:

The divorced and remarried, de facto couples, those cohabiting, are certainly not models of unions in sync with Catholic Doctrine, but the Church cannot look the other way. Therefore, the sacraments of Reconciliation and of Communion must be given even to those so-called wounded families and to however many who, despite living in situations not in line with traditional matrimonial canons, express the sincere desire to approach the sacraments after an appropriate period of discernment. . . .it is a gesture of openness and profound mercy on the part of Mother Church, who does not leave behind any of her children, aware that absolute perfection is a precious gift, but one which cannot be reached by everyone.

What do we find here? Slogans and euphemisms. A slogan is meant to stop discussion. Euphemisms intentionally steer the reader away from precise and accurate descriptions of reality. A seminary professor of mine once noted that verbal engineering always precedes social engineering. In this case, it’s doctrinal engineering

Slogans such as “look the other way” and “not leave behind any of her children,” and euphemisms such as “so-called wounded families” and “situations not in line with traditional matrimonial canons” show a decision not to present a carefully reasoned and precise defense of what is being endorsed. Rather, Coccopalmerio tries to sweep the reader along with emotional appeals and misdirection.

“Not looking the other way,” means that the Church should simply ignore the sinfulness of certain behaviors. In the case of unions involving adultery and fornication, the question is not about healing “so-called wounded families” but warning sinners that their behavior gravely offends God.

When he says that the Church should “not leave behind any of her children,” he means that the refusal to give Communion to those publicly living a seriously sinful life would be an unjust abandonment. Adulterous unions are now simply “situations not in line with traditional matrimonial canons.” God’s law on the indissolubility of marriage and the immorality of adultery is now a mere “tradition” embodied in a canon. Violating that law is only a “situation not in line” with that canon, which was written down somewhere, at some time, by someone. How important is a canon compared to actual people who “express the sincere desire to approach the sacraments after an appropriate period of discernment”?

Coccopalmerio describes observing the Sixth Commandment as “absolute perfection [that] is a precious gift, but one which cannot be reached by everyone.” But the Church has never taught that observing the Sixth Commandment is a state of “absolute perfection,” beyond the capability of any of her sons and daughters. It’s an error to consider marital fidelity as an ideal not reachable by many Christians. The grace of the sacrament of marriage is given by God to strengthen married persons in fulfilling their obligation to marital fidelity. Infidelity is a choice against one’s obligations to God and one’s spouse. It is not an authorized alternative for those who “cannot” reach “absolute perfection.”

Coccopalmerio further states: ““The Church could admit to the Penitence and Eucharist the faithful who find themselves in illegitimate unions [who] want to change that situation, but can’t act on their desire.”

God does not permit, let alone oblige, anyone to commit a mortal sin. And He does not authorize anyone to publicly enter a union that contradicts His law on marriage. A person who has placed himself is an adulterous union must for the good of his soul get himself out of that situation. The Church has the duty to uphold the sanctity of the Holy Eucharist. Those who publicly reject the Sixth Commandment, in various ways, cannot be admitted to the reception of Holy Communion until they have put an end to their sinful acts.

In contrast to all this, Cardinal Robert Sarah has published a second book-length interview with French journalist Nicholas Diat, which will soon appear in English: The Power of Silence, Against the Dictatorship of Noise. In this profound dialogue about the need for believers to recover a love for silence in our agitated world, Cardinal Sarah addresses the burning questions raised by chapter eight of Amoris Laetitia:

Christ is certainly afflicted in seeing and hearing priests and bishops who should protect the integrity of the teaching of the Gospel and of doctrine multiplying words and writings that dilute the rigor of the Gospel by their deliberately ambiguous and confused affirmations. To these priests and these prelates who give the impression of taking up the exact opposite of the traditional teaching of the Church in matters of doctrine and morality, it is not out of place to recall the severe words of Christ: “Therefore I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come.” “He is guilty of an eternal sin”, Mark adds. (My translation)

The rigor of the Gospel is what will save souls. The dilution of that rigor by anyone in the name of false compassion does great harm by reworking the Gospel into something it is not.

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9 Responses to When Cardinals Clash

  1. toadspittle says:

    “Christ is certainly afflicted in seeing and hearing priests and bishops who should protect the integrity of the teaching of the Gospel,,,etc,…”
    Oh, really? How do we know Christ is “certainly afflicted”? Why should He be?
    He has, we are told by dogma, seen it all coming from beyond eternity.
    So it’s no surprise at all to Him.
    And, since He is perfect, (that is invulnerable) it can’t possible disturb His, equilibrium one iota – not even if it all comes as an unpleasant and unexpected surprise to Him. (…which it can’t possibly.)
    We impose our absurd human failings, such as sadness, frustration, and anger, on God.
    But, then what else is there to do?

  2. J.P. says:

    toadspittle @14.29. Agreed. A God who is unaffected by the eternal torments of those in Hell [….] is necessarily of a hardy disposition, observing all of the quirks of man,and their consequences, with perfect sang-froid.

  3. The Raven says:

    A God who is unaffected by the eternal torments of those in Hell is necessarily of a hardy disposition

    As we know, God is not unaffected, He sent His Son, Our Lord, to redeem our sins and to open the gates of Hell; God was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice to free us from our sins. The fact that there are still those of us who use our free will to choose to go there is really not the fault of God.

  4. J.P. says:

    The Raven@19.53. Surely Our Lord did not’ open the gates of Hell’ as you claim ? My point was that God is unaffected by the torments of those resident therein.

  5. toadspittle says:

    Nobody in their right mind would choose to go to Hell. Ask anybody – see if you get one “Yes.”.
    So, if Hell does exist, it is full of mentally unbalanced souls, who knew not what they were choosing. Which seems rotten to me.
    The idea of people voluntarily “choosing” Hell is as absurd as the idea of Hell itself.
    Raven, if it was in your power to prevent a person, any person – let’s say, Stalin or Hitler – from going to Hell – you would do so, wouldn’t you?
    I know I would. Nobody, however wicked deserves punishment for eternity. Not logical – and, since logic and ethics are one and the same, it’s not ethical either. That means an unethical God, which surely is not possible.

    (By the way, Raven, do you believe Lucia of Fatima’s vision of Hell is an accurate and truthful portrait of the place?)

  6. The Raven says:

    Well, Toad, if it lay within my power to do so, I would save everyone from Hell. But the plain fact is that people are free to make their own choices and God decided to make us more than puppets.

    And people do choose Hell all of the time: the father who beats his wife and his children because he hates himself/loves booze; the junkie chasing the next moment of oblivion; the two dictators whom you mentioned – choosing their own vanities over the lives of others and transforming this world into a vision of Hell.

    As Tom rightly pointed out, I draw my own ideas of Hell from the same line of thought that informed Lewis’s “Great Divorce” – Hell is a place that we make for ourselves; we are the authors of our own torments.

    As for Sister Lucia, I have no clue. I have never read the visions and I do not intend to do so in the near future.

  7. The Raven says:

    John, are you unfamiliar with the Harrowing of Hell? Haven’t you ever prayed the Apostles’ Creed?

    And on whose authority do you claim that God is not affected by those who reject Him so utterly that they deny themselves the beatific vision?

  8. David O'Neill says:

    God protect our Church from those hell bent on destroying it be they clery of whatever rank or laity

  9. toadspittle says:

    “As for Sister Lucia, I have no clue. I have never read the visions and I do not intend to do so in the near future.”
    How very odd for a devout Catholic. So you won’t be reading this:

    “The rays [of light] appeared to penetrate the earth, and we saw, as it were, a vast sea of fire. Plunged in this fire, we saw the demons and the souls [of the damned]. The latter were like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, having human forms. They were floating about in that conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames which issued from within themselves, together with great clouds of smoke. Now they fell back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fright (it must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons were distinguished [from the souls of the damned] by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals.”

    ….a pity, as I’d have been interested in your considered opinion.

    “And people do choose Hell all of the time: the father who beats his wife and his children because he hates himself/loves booze; the junkie chasing the next moment of oblivion; the two dictators whom you mentioned – choosing their own vanities over the lives of others and transforming this world into a vision of Hell.”
    So, Raven, you think a poor, weak-minded, miserable, junkie deserves – and indeed chooses – eternal damnation – to top off his wretched life on earth.
    That seems somewhat uncharitable to me.
    And a “vision” of Hell is not the same thing as Hell itself, is it?
    My idea of Hell on Earth would be having to live in Saudi Arabia.
    A Muslim might possibly disagree. So might you.

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