Bergoglio, Politician. The Myth of the Chosen People

The pope of mercy is also the one of the anti-capitalist and anti-globalization “popular movements.” Castro dies, Trump wins, the South American populist regimes crumble, but he isn’t giving up. He is certain that the future of humanity is in the people of the excluded

by Sandro Magister


[ Emphasis and {commentary} in red type by Abyssum ]

ROME, December 11, 2016 – It is evident by now that the pontificate of Francis has two linchpins, religious and political. The religious one is the shower of mercy that purifies everyone and everything. The political one is the battle on a worldwide scale against “the economy that kills,” which the pope wants to fight together with those “popular movements,” his definition, in which he sees the future of humanity shining.

One has to go back to Paul VI to find another pope wedded to an organic political framework, in his case that of the European Catholic parties of the twentieth century, in Italy the DC of Alcide De Gasperi and in Germany the CDU of Konrad Adenauer. To this European political tradition, which moreover has faded away, Jorge Mario Bergoglio is an outsider. As an Argentine, his seedling ground is another one altogether. And it has a name that has a negative connotation in Europe, but not in the pope’s native land: populism.

“The word ‘people’ is not a logical category, it is a mystical category,” Francis said last February, on his way back from Mexico. Afterward, interviewed by his Jesuit confrere Antonio Spadaro, he adjusted his aim. Rather than “mystical,” he said, “in the sense that everything the people does is good,” it is better to say “mythical.” “It takes a myth to understand the people.”

Bergoglio recounts this myth every time he calls around him the “popular movements.” He has done it three times so far: the first time in Rome in 2014, the second in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, in 2015, the third last November 5, again in Rome. Every time he rouses the audience with endless speeches {something Fidel Castro was famous for}, of around thirty pages each, which when put together now form the political manifesto of this pope.

The movements that Francis calls to himself are not ones that he created, they preexist him. There is nothing overtly Catholic about them. They are in part the heirs of the memorable anti-capitalist and anti-globalization gatherings in Seattle and Porto Alegre. Plus the multitude of rejects from which the pope sees bursting forth “that torrent of moral energy which springs from including the excluded in the building of a common destiny.”  {Can this be yet another one of the endless utopias that ‘revolutionary’ thinkers stretching from Plato? 

A utopia (/juːˈtpiə/ yoo-TOH-pee-ə) is an imagined community or society that possesses highly desirable or nearly perfect qualities.

Utopian ideals often place emphasis on egalitarian principles of equality in economics, government and justice, though by no means exclusively, with the method and structure of proposed implementation varying based on ideology. According to Lyman Tower Sargent “[t]here are socialist, capitalist, monarchical, democratic, anarchist, ecological, feminist, patriarchal, egalitarian, hierarchical, racist, left-wing, right-wing, reformist, free love, nuclear family, extended family, gay, lesbian, and many more utopias”.[1]

The term has been used to describe intentional communities.

During the 16th century, Thomas More’s book Utopia proposed an ideal society of the same name. Some readers, including utopian socialists, have chosen to accept this imaginary society as the realistic blueprint for a working nation, while others have postulated that More intended nothing of the sort. Some maintain the position that More’s Utopia functions only on the level of a satire, a work intended to reveal more about the England of his time than about an idealistic society. This interpretation is bolstered by the title of the book and nation, and its apparent confusion between the Greek for “no place” and “good place”: “utopia” is a compound of the syllable ou-, meaning “no”, and topos, meaning place. But the homophonic prefix eu-, meaning “good,” also resonates in the word, with the implication that the perfectly “good place” is really “no place.”   (Wikipedia)



It is to these “discards of society” that Francis entrusts a future made of land, of housing, of work for all. Thanks to a process of their rise to power that “transcends the logical proceedings of formal democracy. To the “popular movements,” on November 5, the pope said that the time has come to make a leap in politics {a revolution}, in order “to revitalize and recast the democracies, which are experiencing a genuine crisis.”

And if this global revolution needs a leader, there are those who have already pointed to him in none other than the pope. This is what was done a year ago at the Teatro Cervantes in Buenos Aires by the Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo, an influential voice of the worldwide far left, when he upheld the cause of a new “communist and papal” International, with Francis as its undisputed leader, in order to fight and win the “class war” of the 21st century. At Vattimo’s side sat a pleased Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, an Argentine and a close collaborator with Bergoglio at the Vatican.

The powers against which the people of the excluded are rebelling, in the vision of the pope, are “the economic systems that in order to survive must wage war and thus restore economic balance.” This is his key for explaining the “piecemeal world war” and even Islamic terrorism.

Meanwhile, however, the populist South American leftists for whom Bergoglio shows such a liking are going through one downfall after another: in Argentina, in Brazil, in Peru, in Venezuela.

As partial consolation for the pope, from this last country has come the new superior general of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, who has spent a lifetime writing and teaching about nothing but politics and the social sciences, having been a Marxist in his youth and then a supporter of the rise to power of Hugo Chávez, the one who brought the Venezuelan “pueblo” to disaster.

But Pope Francis’s politics have now also been ruffled by the death of Fidel Castro and the election of Donald Trump, the latter surprisingly voted for precisely by the “discards” of capitalist big industry {“discards” = the “deplorables”}.


This commentary was published in “L’Espresso” no. 50 of 2016 on newsstands December 11, on the opinion page entitled “Settimo cielo” entrusted to Sandro Magister.

Here is the index of all the previous commentaries:

> “L’Espresso” in seventh heaven


On the “populism” of Jorge Mario Bergoglio and on the previous meetings between the pope and the “popular movements,” http://www.chiesa has published various analyses. This is the latest recap:

> “The People, Mystical Category.” The Political Vision of the South American Pope


Francis’s speech to the “popular movements” that he convened in Rome last November 5, for the third time since he became pope:

> “In this, our third meeting…”

The pope’s assessments of the political role of the “popular movements” gathered and reformulated by Eugenio Scalfari in “La Repubblica” of November 11:

> Il Papa a Repubblica: “Trump? Non giudico. Mi interessa soltanto se fa soffrire i poveri”

Among the prominent figures invited to the Vatican a month ago together with the “popular movements” was the Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva, in spite of the blow to her credibility inflicted by an investigation in the “New Yorker”:

> In Vaticano ci mancava Vandana Shiva. Eccola qua

But there was also the former president of Uruguay José “Pepe” Mujica, with a past as a guerrilla, now in frugal retirement on a farm, favored by Bergoglio on a par with president of Bolivia Evo Morales, present at the two previous meetings of the “popular movements” in his capacity as coca grower and received a number of times by the pope, in spite of the humiliating treatment inflicted by Morales on the Bolivian bishops:

> Poveri vescovi. I retroscena dell’udienza del papa a Morales


On the new superior general of the Jesuits, the Venezuelan Arturo Sosa Abascal, very much in harmony with the overall political vision of Pope Francis:

> Il nuovo “papa nero” è uno scienziato della politica


English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.


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Bishop Athanasius Schneider

Bishop Schneider has spoken the final word on Amoris Laetitia (FULL TEXT)

[ Emphasis and {commentary} in red type by Abyssum }

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following talk was given by his Excellency, Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of Astana, Kazakhstan, at the Lepanto Foundation on December 5 and translated by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman of LifeSiteNews.

ROME, Italy, December 9, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — When Our Lord Jesus Christ preached the eternal truth two thousand years ago, the culture, that is the reigning spirit of that time, was radically opposed to him. Specifically it was religious syncretism, the gnosticism of the intellectual elites and the moral permissiveness of the masses, especially with respect to the institution of matrimony. “He was in the world, but the world knew him not” (John 1:10).

The majority of the people of Israel, and in particular the high priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees, had rejected the Magisterium of the divine revelation of Christ and even the proclamation of the absolute indissolubility of marriage. “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” (John 1: 11). The entire mission of the Son of God on earth consisted in revealing the truth: “For this came I into the world; that I should give testimony to the truth” (John 18: 37).

Our Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross to save mankind from sin, offering himself in a perfect and pleasing sacrifice of praise and of expiation to God the Father. The redemptive death of Christ also contains the testimony that he gave in all of His words. Christ was ready to die for the truth of any one of His words: “You seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God . . . Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But, because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. Which of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?” (John 8: 40, 43-46). The willingness of Jesus to die for the truth included all of the truth he had announced, certainly including the truth of the absolute indissolubility of marriage.

A pastoral accompaniment and discernment that does not communicate to the adulterous person, the so-called divorced and remarried, the divinely-established obligation to live in continence as a sine qua non condition for admission to the sacraments, exposes itself in reality as an arrogant clericalism, as there does not exist any clericalism so pharisaical as that which arrogates to itself rights reserved to God.

Jesus Christ is the restorer of the indissolubility and of the original sanctity of marriage not only by means of His divine word, but in a more radical way by means of His redemptive death, with which He has elevated the created and natural dignity of matrimony to the dignity of a sacrament. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the church!” (Eph. 5: 25, 29-32). For this reason the following words of the preaching of the Church are applied also to matrimony: “O God, Who in creating man didst exalt his nature very wonderfully and yet more wonderfully didst establish it anew” (Tridentine Mass, Offertory Rite).

The Apostles and their successors, in first place the Roman Pontiffs, successors of Peter, have devoutly guarded and faithfully transmitted the non-negotiable doctrine of the Incarnate Word regarding the sanctity and indissolubility of marriage also with regard to pastoral practice. This doctrine of Christ is expressed in the following affirmation of the Apostle: “Marriage honourable in all, and the bed undefiled. For fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13: 4) and “To the married I give charge, not I but the Lord, that the wife should not separate from her husband (but if she does, let her remain single . . .) — and that the husband should not divorce his wife” (1 Cor. 7: 10-11). This inspired word of the Holy Spirit was always proclaimed in the Church for two thousand years, serving as a binding directive and as an indispensable norm for the sacramental discipline and the practical lives of the faithful.

The commandment to not remarry following a separation from a legitimate spouse is not fundamentally a positive or canonical norm of the Church, but is the word of God, as the Saint Paul the apostle taught: “Not I but the Lord commandeth” (1 Cor. 7: 10). The Church has proclaimed uninterruptedly this word, prohibiting the validly-married faithful from attempting marriage with a new partner. In consequence, the Church, in accordance with reason, divine and human, does not have the authority to approve, even implicitly, a more uxorio (conjugal) union outside of a valid marriage, admitting such adulterous people to Holy Communion.

An ecclesiastical authority that issues norms or pastoral guidance that provides for such admission, arrogates to itself a right that God has not given it. A pastoral accompaniment and discernment that does not communicate to the adulterous person, the so-called divorced and remarried, the divinely-established obligation to live in continence as a sine qua non condition for admission to the sacraments, exposes itself in reality as an arrogant clericalism, as there does not exist any clericalism so pharisaical as that which arrogates to itself rights reserved to God.

One of the most ancient and unequivocal testimonies of the immutable practice of the Roman Church of rejecting adulterous unions by way of the sacramental discipline–unions of members of the faithful who are still linked to a legitimate spouse in a matrimonial bond—is the author of a penitential catechesis known by the pseudonymous title of the Shepherd of Hermas. The catechesis was written, in all probability, by a Roman priest at the beginning of the second century, as indicated by the literary form of an “apocalypse” or account of a vision.

The second dialogue between Hermas and the angel of penance who appears to him in the form of a shepherd, demonstrates with admirable clarity the immutable doctrine and practice of the Catholic Church in this area: “What, O lord, will the husband do if his wife persists in this lust of adultery?” “Separate from her and the husband remains on his own. If after having left his wife he marries another woman, he also commits adultery.” “If, O lord, the wife, after she has been abandoned, repents and wishes to return to her husband, will she not be restored?” “Yes, he says, and if the husband does not receive her he sins and becomes guilty of a great fault. He should, instead, receive the one who has sinned and has repented. . . . Because of the possibility of such repentance, the husband should not remarry. This directive applies both to the wife and to the husband. Not only is there adultery if one corrupts one’s own flesh, but also the one who acts similarly to the pagans is an adulterer. . . .  For that reason it was ordained that one remain alone, for both the woman and the man. One can repent . . . but he who has sinned must not sin again” (Shepherd of Hermas, Fourth Commandment, 1).

We know that the first great clerical sin was the sin of the high priest Aaron, when he acceded to the impertinent request of sinners and permitted them to venerate the idol of the golden calf (Cf. Ex. 32: 4), substituting in this particular case for the First Commandment of the Decalogue of God, that is, substituting the sinful will of man for the will and the word of God. Aaron justified his act of exacerbated clericalism by recourse to mercy and his understanding of the needs of man. The Sacred Scripture says exactly this: “Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to their shame among their enemies)” (Ex. 32: 25).

This first clerical sin is repeating itself today in the life of the Church. Aaron had given permission to sin against the First Commandment of the Decalogue of God and to be able, at the same time, to be serene and content in doing so, and the people indeed were dancing. This was a case of joyful idolatry: “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (Ex. 32: 6). 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 admission of such people to the sacrament without asking them to live in continence as a sine qua non condition, means fundamentally a permission to not observe, in such a case, the Sixth Commandment.  Such clerics, like new “Aarons,” appease such people, saying that they can be serene and joyful, that is, that they can continue in the joy of adultery because of a new “via caritatis” (way of charity) and because of the “maternal” sense of the Church, and that they can even receive the nourishment of the Eucharist. With such pastoral guidance the new “Aaronic” clerics make of the Catholic people the mockery of their enemies, that is, of the unbelieving and immoral world, which will be able really to say, for example:

“In the Catholic Church one can have a new partner besides one’s own spouse, and the union with her is permitted in practice.”

“In the Catholic Church there is allowed, as a consequence, a kind of polygamy.”

“In the Catholic Church the observance of the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue, so hated by part of our modern ecological and enlightened society, can have legitimate exceptions.”

“The principle of the moral progress of modern man, according to which the legitimacy of sexual acts outside of marriage must be accepted, is finally recognized to be accepted in an implicit way in the Catholic Church, which had always been retrograde, rigid, and opposed to the joy of love and of the moral progress of modern man.”

This is how the enemies of Christ and of the divine truth are beginning to speak, those who are the true enemies of the Church. By the work of the new Aaronic clericalism the admission of those who unrepentantly practice adultery makes the children of the Catholic Church the mockery of their adversaries.

The fact that the saint who first gave his life as a testimony of Christ was Saint John the Baptist, the Precursor of the Lord, always remains a great lesson and a serious warning to pastors and to the faithful of the Church. John the Baptist’s testimony of Christ consisted in defending without a shadow of doubt or ambiguity the indissolubility of marriage, and in condemning adultery. The history of the Catholic Church is glorious in the luminous examples set by those who have followed the example of Saint John the Baptist or have, like him, given the testimony of their blood, suffering persecutions and personal disadvantages. These examples must guide especially the pastors of the Church of our day, because they do not cede to the classic clerical temptation to seek to please man more than the holy and exacting will of God, a will that is simultaneously loving and very wise.

Through the numerous ranks of so many imitators of St. John the Baptist as martyrs and confessors of the indissolubility of marriage, we may remember only some of the most significant. The first great testimony was that of Pope St. Nicholas I, dubbed the “Great.” It was an encounter in the ninth century between Pope Nicholas I and Lothair II, the king of Lorraine. Lothair, initially united, but not espoused, to an aristocrat by the name of Waldrada, then having been united in matrimony with the noble Theutberga for political reasons and having then separated from her and having married his previous companion, wanted the Pope at all costs to recognize the validity of his second marriage. But although Lothair enjoyed the support of the bishops of his region and the support of the emperor Ludwig, who arrived to invade Rome with his army, Nicholas I did not cede to his demands and did not at all recognize his second marriage as legitimate.

RELATED: Who are these four cardinals who wrote the ‘dubia’ to the Pope?

Lothair II, the king of Lorraine, after having rejected and shut up his consort Theutberga in a monastery, was living with a certain Waldrada, and having resorted to calumny, threats, and torture, asked local bishops for a divorce so he could marry  her. The bishops of Lorraine, in the Synod of Aachen of 862, ceding to the machinations of the king, accepted the confession of infidelity of Theutberga, without taking into account that it had been extorted by violence. Lothair II then married Waldrada, who became the queen. There followed an appeal of the deposed queen to the Pope, who intervened against the consenting bishops, provoking disobedience, excommunication, and retaliation on the part of two of them, who turned to the Emperor Ludwig II, brother of Lothair.

The Emperor Ludwig decided to act with force and at the beginning of 864 he came to Rome with arms, invading the Leonine City with his soldiers, even breaking up religious processions. Pope Nicholas was forced to leave the Lateran and to take refuge in St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Pope declared that he was ready to die rather than permit a living arrangement more uxorio outside of a valid marriage. In the end the emperor ceded to the heroic constancy of the pope and accepted his decrees, even constraining the two archbishops in rebellion, Gunther of Cologne and Theutgard of Trier, to accept the decision of the pope.

Cardinal Walter Brandmüller gives the following assesment of this emblematic event in the history of the Church: “In the case we have examined, this means that that, regarding the dogma of the unity, of the sacramentality, and of the indissolubility of a marriage between two baptized people, there is no way back if not – inevitable and therefore to be rejected – of considering it to be an error which must be corrected. The way of acting of Nicholas I in the dispute regarding the new marriage of Lothair II, as conscious of principle as it was inflexible and fearless, constitutes an important milestone on the road to affirming the doctrine regarding marriage in the Germanic cultural context. The fact that this Pope, like various of his successors on similar occasions, proved himself to be the advocate of the dignity of the person and of the liberty of the weak – in general they were women – has made Nicholas I worthy of the respect of historiographers, of the crown of sanctity, and of the title of ‘Great.’”

Another shining example of confessors and martyrs regarding the indissolubility of marriage is offered by three historical figures involved in the affair of the divorce of Henry VIII, King of England. They are Cardinal St. John Fisher, St. Thomas More, and Cardinal Reginald Pole.

When it became known for the first time that Henry VIII was looking for a way to divorce his legitimate wife Catherine of Aragon, the bishop of Rochester, John Fisher, publicly opposed such efforts. St. John Fisher is the author of seven publications in which he condemns the imminent divorce of Henry VIII. The Primate of England, Cardinal Wolsey, and all of the bishops of the country, with the exception of the bishop of Rochester, John Fisher, supported the attempt of the king to dissolve his first and valid marriage. Perhaps they did it for pastoral motives and for advancing the possibility of a pastoral accompaniment and discernment.

Instead, Bishop John Fisher had enough courage to make a very clear declaration in the House of Lords affirming that the marriage was legitimate, that a divorce would be illegal and that the king did not have the right to take this route. In the same session of Parliament the famous Act of Succession was approved, which required all of the citizens to take the oath of succession, recognizing the children of Henry and Anne Boleyn as the legitimate heirs of the throne, under penalty of being guilty of high treason. Cardinal Fisher refused the oath, was imprisoned in 1534 in the Tower of London and in the following year was decapitated.

Cardinal Fisher had declared that no power, human or divine, could dissolve the marriage of the king and queen, because marriage was indissoluble and that he was ready to give his life gladly for that truth. Cardinal Fisher noted that in such circumstances that John the Baptist had not seen any other way to die more gloriously than to die for the cause of marriage, notwithstanding the fact that marriage was not so sacred at that time as it would become when Christ spilled His Blood to sanctify matrimony.

In at least two accounts of his trial, St. Thomas More observed that the true cause of the hostility of Henry VIII against him was the fact that Thomas More did not believe that Anne Boleyn was the wife of Henry VIII. One of the causes of the imprisonment of Thomas More was his refusal to affirm by oath the validity of the marriage between Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn. At that time, in contrast to ours, no Catholics believed that an adulterous relationship could be, in particular circumstances or for pastoral motives, treated as if it were a true marriage.

IMPORTANT: To respectfully express your support for the 4 cardinals’ letter to Pope Francis asking for clarity on Amoris Laetitia, sign the petition. Click here.

Reginald Pole, future cardinal, was a distant cousin of King Henry VIII, and in his youth had received from him a generous scholarship. Henry VIII offered him the archbishopric of York if he would support him in the cause of his divorce. So Pole would have had to be an accomplice in the disrespect that Henry VIII had for marriage. During a conversation with the king in the royal palace, Reginald Pole told him that he could not approve his plans, for the salvation of the soul of the king and because of his own conscience. No one, up to that moment, had dared to oppose the king to his face. When Reginald Pole pronounced these words, the king became enraged to the point of pulling out his knife. Pole thought in that moment that the king was going to stab him. But the candid simplicity with which Pole had spoken as if he had pronounced a message from God, and his courage in the presence of a tyrant, saved his life.

Some clerics at that time suggested to Cardinal Fisher, Cardinal Pole, and Thomas More, that they should be more “realistic” regarding the matter of the irregular and adulterous union of Henry VIII with Anne Boleyn and less “black and white” and that  perhaps it would be possible to carry out a brief canonical process to certify the nullity of the first marriage. In this way it would be possible to avoid schism and to prevent Henry VIII from committing further grave and monstrous sins. However, there is a great problem with such reasoning: the entire testimony of the revealed word of the divine and uninterrupted tradition of the Church say that the reality of the indissolubility of a true marriage cannot be repudiated, nor can an adultery consolidated by time be tolerated, whatever the circumstances may be.

A last example of the testimony of the so-called “black” cardinals is the affair of the divorce of Napoleon I, a noble and glorious example of members of the College of Cardinals for all time. In 1810, Cardinal Ercole Consalvi, then the Secretary of State, refused to attend the celebration of the marriage between Napoleon and Mary Louise of Austria, given that the pope had not been able to express himself regarding the invalidity of the first union between the Emperor and Joséphine of Beauharnais. Furious, Napoleon ordered that the goods of Consalvi of the other twelve cardinals be confiscated and that they be deprived of their rank. These cardinals would then have had to dress like normal priests and were therefore nicknamed “black cardinals.” Cardinal Consalvi recounted the affair of the thirteen “black” cardinals in his memoirs:

“On the same day we were obligated to cease to use the insignia of cardinals and to dress in black, from which came the denominations of “Black” and of “Red,” by which the two parts of the College were distinguished. . . . It was a miracle that, in his initial fury the Emperor ordered three of the thirteen cardinals to be shot, that is Opizzoni, me, and a third, whose identity is not known (perhaps it was Cardinal di Pietro), and then when it was limited to me alone, it wasn’t carried out.

Then Cardinal Consalvi recounts in more detail:  “After much deliberation between us thirteen, it was concluded that, regarding the invitation of the Emperor, that we had respect for marriage, that we would not attend, that is, neither the ecclesiastical [wedding] for the reason given above, nor in the civil [wedding] because we did not believe that it was appropriate for a cardinal to authorize, with his presence, the new legislation, which separates such an act from so-called nuptial benediction, [and that] despite the supposition that the act had been disconnected from its previous association,  we did not believe it to have been disconnected legitimately. We decided therefore to not attend. When the civil marriage was done in Saint-Cloud we thirteen did not attend. The day arrived in which the ecclesiastical marriage was to be done. The seats were prepared for all of the cardinals, the hope not being lost up to the last moment that all would attend at least the event that most interested the Court. But the thirteen cardinals did not attend. The other fourteen cardinals attended. . . . When the Emperor entered into the chapel, his first glance was towards the place where the cardinals were and, upon seeing only fourteen, his face had such an expression of anger, that all of the attendees clearly took notice of it.”

“Thus arrived the day of the showdown. After bringing all of the thirteen cardinals to the Ministry of Worship, we were led into that chamber where we also met the Minister of Police, Fouché. Upon our entrance, Minister Fouché, who was at the hearth and whom I approached to greet, told me in a low voice: “I foretold it to you, Lord Cardinal, that the consequences would be terrible: what pierces me is to see you among the victims.” The Minister of Cult began to speak and accused the cardinal and his twelve colleagues of being involved in a conspiracy. Regarding that crime, prohibited and punished with the greatest severity under existing law, he found himself in the unpleasant necessity of showing the orders of His Majesty to our gaze, which were reduced to these three things, to wit: first, that our goods, not only ecclesiastical, but also patrimonial, would be removed from us from that movement on and confiscated; second, we were forbidden to use the insignia of cardinals or of any uniform appropriate to our dignity any longer, because His Majesty no longer considered us to be cardinals; third, that His Majesty reserved to himself from now on the right to decide regarding our persons, some of which made us understand that we might be placed on trial. . . . On the same day therefore we found ourselves obligated to not make use of the insignia of cardinals and to dress in black, from which then arose the name of the Blacks and the Reds, by which the two parts of the College were distinguished.”

May the Holy Spirit raise up, among all of the members of the Church, from the most simple and humble of the faithful to the Supreme Pastor, always more numerous and courageous defenders of the truth of the indissolubility of marriage and of the corresponding immutable practice of the Church, even if, on account of such a defense, they would risk considerable personal advantages. The Church must more than ever exert itself in the announcement of matrimonial doctrine and pastoral care so that in the lives of spouses and especially of the so-called divorced and remarried there might be observed that which the Holy Spirit said in Sacred Scripture: “Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled” (Heb. 13: 4). Only a pastoral approach to marriage that continues to take seriously those words of God, reveals itself to be truly merciful, because it leads the soul of the sinner on the secure path to eternal life. And that is what matters.

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[ Emphasis and {commentary} in red type by Abyssum ]

In today’s issue: Savage took issue with the White House’s insistence once again that a violent act carried out by a Muslim in the name of Islam has nothing to do with Islam.

On Monday, Abdul Razak Ali Artan, a Somali refugee, rammed his car into a crowd at Ohio State University, where he was a student, then began wielding a butcher knife, injuring 11 people.

“So we have a terror attack again. Again he fails us,” Savage said, referring to Obama. “Once again, another Muslim goes crazy, commits mayhem.”

Savage continued:

And immediately his {Obama’s} spokesmouth — Josh Earnest, who should be tried before a tribunal of the people when Trump becomes president; Josh Earnest should be tried for war crimes, in my opinion, for having lied continuously through his teeth; that’s the spokesmouth for Obama — and he lectures us that we shouldn’t draw conclusions about Islam, even though the Ohio State University terrorist was a Muslim, screamed Allahu Akbar, had sympathies for, was a terrorist.

Did it in the name of Islam, did it because he was brainwashed by his imam, no doubt, in his mosque.

And we’re supposed to sit here and shut our mouths.

We’re supposed to not see reality. We’re supposed to deny reality because of the psychosis that has been fostered across the American landscape by Obama, who has to be, as I’ve said a thousand times, and perhaps you’ll pick it up correctly this time, if he, Obama, is not an Islamist, he is an Islamophile.

Do you know what an Islamophile is? It’s the opposite of an Islamophobe.  {It is someone who loves Islam and therefore necessarily loves the book of Islam, the Quran, which governs every aspect of a Muslim’s life.}

The current director of the CIA would be an Islamophile.

He {Obama} sees nothing wrong with Islam, even though many Muslims today who — and I’m sorry to use the phrase — are modern or liberal, in the interpretation of their own religion, reformist minded, are saying it is Islam itself that is causing terrorism.

I’m not alone in this. Muslims who have any education understand that if you practice a religion and you read a book based upon the seventh century and you continue to interpret it literally, you will wind up cutting everyone’s throat, blowing things up and {raping and} killing children.

So they’re {modern or liberal Muslims are} calling for reform.

So right away the White House warns against blaming the religion of Islam after Ohio State attack

And to show you how my theory that liberalism is a mental disorder is 100 percent true, and every day there is proof of it, one of the professors who was injured by the Muslim at Ohio State won’t judge the assailant out of respect {for Muslims}.

“An Ohio State University professor who was injured in the attack by a Somali Muslim man Monday told reporters it’s too early to hold judgment on the assailant, who was shot and killed by police.”

He said — I can’t read {and tell you} what he said. Sometimes if you read the statements of deranged people it actually screws you up.


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[ The Abyssum Blog has a regular reader in Sweden and, in recent correspondence with that reader I asked what was the reaction among the small, but very faithful, number of Catholics in Sweden to the participation by Pope Francis in the ceremonies in Lund, Sweden celebrating the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation in October.  Here is the reader’s reply. – Abyssum ]

I have talked to a couple of other Catholics in an attempt to be
objective about the reaction to the celebration of the Reformation and
the participation of the pope. It is divided–along predictable lines.

A Catholic Mass was not in the original plan: the  Lutheran World
Federation as well as the pope felt that a Mass would dilute the cause
of ecumenism. Finally, responding to the the widely expressed
disappointment on the part of the tiny in number but much embattled
Catholics in Sweden, the Vatican agreed the Catholics would be granted
a Mass celebrated by the head of their Church.

There was much chaos in the planning and some bitterness remains over
the disagreements around Mass vs. No Mass.

The Catholics were denied use of  Lund Cathedral (confiscated from the
Church) where the ecumenical event was held. Instead, they were
assigned an open football field (in November, in Sweden !!!) for Mass.

Those Swedish Catholics who traveled overnight on a bus from Stockholm
as well as  from other Nordic nations were thrilled to have attended a
papal Mass.

Those who had looked forward to the event in fear and trembling were
relieved to see that the Mass was solemn and dignified and that they
did not distribute Holy Communion to the lady- archbishop of the
Swedish Lutheran Church. She was disgruntled that she could not be a

The reaction from the German Jesuits priests who run the biggest
Church in Stockholm as well as in Uppsala, is Orwellian. Officially,
our hierarchs maintain that the commemoration was a great success.
Privately, some admit it might have set ecumenism back 50 years.

Some of us were troubled by the the joint ecumenical declaration,
“From Conflict to Communion,”  signed and endorsed by Pope Francis. We
feel it dilutes the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist sacrifice.
Others found most upsetting the quasi- canonization of Luther and the
pope’s virtual apology for the Church’s Counter-Refomation.

Below I am linking Edward Pentin’s article, written around the twists
and turns surrounding the preparations. Pentin is, as always, fair and

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The Prophecy of Simeon at the Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple


O God,
who by the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin prepared a worthy dwelling for your Son,
grant we pray,
that, as you preserved her from every stain by virtue of the Death of your Son,
which you foresaw,
so, that through her intercession,
we too, may be cleansed and admitted to your presence.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God,
for ever and ever.

That beautiful prayer is the opening prayer of today’s Feast.
It beautifully sums up all that we need to know about what we celebrate today.
It is obvious, first of all, that the words of that prayer do not refer to the conception of the infant Jesus in the womb of Mary, an event that we celebrate on the Feast of the Annunciation.

The prayer, and the whole reason for the Feast is to celebrate the reality that God the Father in preparation for the conception and birth of the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, Jesus Christ, as a human being, a man, gave the great privilege to Mary to come into this world in perfect conformity with the original human nature given by God to Adam and Eve.

What was that “perfect conformity” that was the most precious characteristic of the first man and woman.  It was that although they had been created “in the image and likeness of God” in that they an intellect and free will, the harmony between them and God was such that they would not make any decisions about what is good (promoting unity with God) as opposed to what is bad (having a negative effect of unity with God) in violation of that harmony.

The original sin of Adam and Eve was that they, under the influence of the lies of Satan, choose to do something that God had revealed to them through their consciences that they should not do.

That original sin of our first parents caused them to lose their privileged state of grace
that had come with their creation and now, stained by the effects of their original sin they would pass on to us their children the loss of that original harmony that existed for them in the beginning and would exist for us now if they had not sinned.

Mary, chosen by God the Father to be the mother of Jesus Christ, was “by virtue of the Death of (her) Son” kept free from that “stain” so that the Immaculate Child would be carried to term in an Immaculate womb, i.e., free from the stair of the original sin of our first parents.

One of the consequences of the fall of our first parents is that sinning and suffering the consequences of sinning became part of our human nature.

Since Mary was born free of the consequences of sin (the stain) she was also kept free from the stain of personal sin all her life by the grace of God.

Does that mean that Mary did not suffer?  I am sure that she suffered from cuts and falls like all the rest of us because that kind of suffering is not caused (usually) by personal sin.  And yet she did suffer from the effects of personal sin, except that it was not from any personal sins of her own, but rather it was from the personal sins of all of us.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, who had been free from suffering from personal sins of her own suffered terribly vicariously at the realization of the death her son would die on the cross for perhaps as long as eight hours. He, her son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, hung dying on the cross in expiation for all the sins of all men and women, including you and me.

Some of you who are devoted to the Rosary might (recall), the Prophecy of Simeon (depicted in the Rembrandt painting above) with a little confusion. You might think “wait a minute. Isn’t Simeon’s prophecy (Luke 22-35) part of the Joyful Mysteries, in the decade devoted to our Lord’s Presentation in the temple?”
Well if that mystery is joyful, it is truly bittersweet. On one hand, the devout Simeon, led by the Holy Spirit, experienced the true joy of seeing the Messiah before his (own) death in the little baby Jesus. You might say he was one of the first to experience “the peace of Christ”! Indeed, as the old man put it prophetically, this Child would be a ‘light unto the Gentiles and a glory for your people Israel” (Luke 2:32). The sorrowful part is what followed.
Mary later told the mystic St. Bridget of Sweden centuries later that she felt great anguish over what Simeon said after that. She said that “On that day [of the Presentation] my pain was increased. For though, by divine inspiration, I knew that my Son was to suffer, yet this grief pierced my heart more keenly at Simeon’s words when he said that a sword would pierce my soul [Luke 2:35], and that my Son should be set for a sign to be contradicted [Luke 2:34]”. She realized even more forcefully than before how much Jesus’ message would be rejected and how much He would suffer during His Passion for our redemption.
As Archbishop Fulton Sheen once wrote poignantly and poetically “from that moment on, every time she would lift infant hands, she would see them fall across them the shadow of nails.”
The Blessed Mother also revealed to St. Bridget that this grief pierced her soul for the rest of her life. As she put it “as often as I looked at my Son, as often as I wrapped Him in His swaddling-clothes, as often as I saw his hands and feet, so often was my soul absorbed, so to say in fresh grief; for I though how he would be crucified.”
And while Mary said her grief was tempered by the consolation from God’s Spirit, it never left her heart. Indeed, what would you do if you knew for certain your beloved child was to die a horrible death in the prime of his life?
We can indeed thank Mary for her loving strength in carrying on and raising her Divine Son knowing His horrible but necessary sacrifice lay ahead in the increasingly near future. Her equanimity facing this is certainly worth imitating!

Indeed it is worth imitating !!!
As we celebrate today’s Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary we should resolve to never lose sight of the reason God preserved Mary free from the stain of original sin:
it was so that we might have in her our own heavenly mother to assist us in our appreciation for what her Son had done and is doing for us !

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By Allison Wiggins
I was a guardian to a homeless man in Corpus Christi in 1998. This man, Stanley
Nowak, was in his late 80s, but very lucid, not an alcoholic or schizophrenic.
Stanley would sit outside the Cathedral where I attended daily noon Mass. Due to his appearance, he wouldn’t come in for Mass even though I invited him. We
became friends and I sort of took over his meager finances, which were in a state
of disarray. The Social Security Administration had been underpaying him for
years, so I arranged a meeting and brought his income out of arrears to a livable amount of money. Stanley was a wonderful person, although feisty. He would not let us move him into an apartment.
In the summer of 1998, he wanted to travel by bus to meet some military friends in Dubuque, Iowa for a few weeks. I was nervous for him to travel alone, but he was determined, well outfitted and well financed, so I saw him off at the bus station and told him to let me know when he arrived with a pre-addressed postcard I gave him. A week went by. I didn’t get the card, but didn’t worry too much. I had put a note with my phone number in his wallet, taped to his Medicare card, saying that I was his guardian and Dr. Wiggins and I would be responsible for him in a medical crisis.
A few more days went by. My phone rang. The anonymous caller identified herself as a social worker at a Dubuque Catholic Hospital. She had found a note to call Dr. Wiggins in Stanley’s wallet. I told her she had the right number. She said, “I can’t stay on thephone, but the person you are guardian to is in our hospital. They are euthanizing him. He had a stroke five days ago. They have put him in a room away from other patients, have labeled him DNR [do not resuscitate] and NPO [nothing by mouth] and put him on high doses of Lasix. That’s all I can tell you. I can’t say anymore. I can’t stand to watch it so I had to call you.” She told me the name of the hospital, the floor number and room where Stanley was.
Fast and forceful action: I straightaway, called the floor nurses station and asked if Stanley Nowak was a patient. They said yes. I informed them that I wanted all his medical records immediately faxed to me in Corpus Christi. I was nearly blind with rage at a Catholic hospital doing such a horrible thing.
Within minutes, all the records came and it was as the social worker had said. I paged the doctor on  the record and, in no uncertain terms, told him I wanted a feeding tube and IV fluids put in immediately. If he refused, I promised to be on the next plane to meet with an attorney in Dubuque and my first stop would be the archbishop’s office. I threatened him with every possible action that could be taken. My next call was to the hospital’s CEO, who was a nun. I told her everything. She said, “Let me investigate this. I will call you right back.”
She called back in 10 minutes and said, “It is exactly as you described. I am horrified.” The tubes were put in my friend while I consulted with an Iowa attorney from the Catholic directory. The attorney said he would arrange a chancery meeting or a press conference in front of the hospital, if need be.
I arranged with two doctor friends for a bed in a stroke center in Corpus Christi to facilitate Stanley’s recovery. Once the tubes were in and he started to revive, I told the physician who ordered his death that I wanted my friend returned to Texas on an air ambulance the next morning. The physician said the hospital in Dubuque would not be willing to do that due to the extremely high cost. He was aggressively in favor of letting my friend die, calling him “a vegetable.”
At this point, my husband took charge of dealing with this cruel physician. My husband said, “You don’t know my wife, but it would be in the hospital’s best interest to do as she asks. She will be unrelenting.”
Still, I was not sure they would do it.
I called the CEO back and told her I had spoken to a pilot for the air ambulance service and he would need $10,000 from the hospital to transport Stanley to me the next morning. She said they would call a board meeting immediately. I told my husband what was happening and he said, “Allison, homeless people don’t ride in Lear Jet air ambulances just because you want them to. It won’t happen. Only millionaires have this at their fingertips.” I responded, “Just watch me.”
This had all happened within 12 hours of that first call from the concerned social worker telling me the were killing my friend. In another hour, the pilot called to say the $10,000 from the hospital was in his account and he would pick up Stanley in the next few minutes and fly him to Texas. By this time Stanley was lucid and talking. Within hours, I was at the Corpus Christi airport with an ambulance to transport him. I followed in my car to the stroke center
I was terrified Stanley wouldn’t recognize me at all. They put him in bed and then I came in. He knew me right away, grabbed my hand and pulled me next to him. He would not let go. He was crying and said, “They tried to kill me.” Over and over he said that.
I knew then he would be okay. He was afraid for me to leave him that evening, fearful that the Corpus Christi stroke center would try to hurt him also. In a week, Stanley was walking and eating and going through a stroke rehab program. I cannot tell you what pleasure it gave me to forward progress reports to the doctor who ordered his death in Iowa.  Everything in this story occurred over a 24 hour period. I did not have the luxury of a meltdown. I had to get to work to save a life from four states away.
My friend died some months later, but he was able to receive last rites and make a last confession, as well as have a Catholic Mass and burial.
In a stunning turn of events, the Dubuque hospital filed Medicare claims on my friend for “stroke rehab.”
Fraud, on top of trying to kill a patient!
Medicare sent me copies of the bills they received and I told them the truth. Medicare began a fraud investigation against the Catholic Hospital System of Dubuque. I had to give sworn statements. It was very upsetting. A bloodbath followed. The hospital was investigated and fined. The doctor who ordered Stanley’s death was censured for life on his record for “failing to nourish and hydrate a patient he admitted.” It is on his permanent professional record wherever he goes.
We must be willing to go to great lengths to save a life.
When we call ourselves “patient advocates,” we must be willing to go to great lengths to save a life. To be politically savvy. To be threatening and aggressive when needed. And to be fearless. We must be willing to take on any CEO in our path, a diocese if necessary, and even the archbishop himself. But, I would not have been able to save Stanley’s life had I not gotten a call from a very brave hospital social worker with a conscience. If not for that call, my friend would have been euthanized and buried without me ever knowing what happened to him.
Allison Wiggins was raised in Norman, Oklahoma. In 1993, she moved to Austin, Texas to pursue a degree in psychology. She is a speaker and lecturer on family counseling issues, volunteerism, and many other topics.
From 1986 to 1989, Allison was a volunteer counselor and fundraiser for Hospice Austin. From 1990 to1994, she had a private practice in Marriage and Family counseling in Austin. She retired in 1994 and moved to Corpus Christi where she worked as a full time volunteer for Catholic Charities. In 1999, Allison moved to San Antonio to be a full time grandmother and parish volunteer. She attends Our Lady of the AtonementCatholic Church.
Allison is married to Robert Wiggins, M.D. They have one daughter, Elizabeth, and a granddaughter, Lily.
{ It was my privilege to receive Allison and her husband, Robert, in the Catholic Church in 1992.  I did not know at the time I was receiving two people from Samaria. Abyssum }
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A New Council, Like Sixteen Centuries Ago

[ Emphasis and {commentary} in red type by Abyssum }

The conflicts set into motion today by “Amoris Laetitia” have a precedent in the Christological controversies of the late Roman empire. They were resolved by the ecumenical council of Chalcedon. From Chile, one scholar proposes that the same journey be made again

by Sandro Magister

ROME, November 28, 2016 – By the very act of not responding to the appeal of the four cardinals to bring clarity on the most controversial points of “Amoris Laetitia,” Pope Francis has made at least one thing understood. And it is his unshakeable certainty in the goodness of the processes that he has set into motion with the post-synodal exhortation, precisely by virtue of the calculated ambiguity of the text, which has opened the way to a multiplicity of interpretations and applications, some of them decidedly new with respect to the age-old teaching of the Church.

It is not the first time, in Christian history, that a situation of this sort has come about. Meaning that statements of the magisterium, intentionally unclear, have allowed multiple contrasting interpretations to coexist, even on central points of dogma.

This is what happened happened during the first phase of the Trinitarian and Christological controversies of the fourth century.

In the essay that follows, an expert on those ancient controversies shows how closely their dynamic resembles the conflict now underway in the Catholic Church over the sacraments of matrimony and the Eucharist.

Back then, the heresy running rampant was that of Arius, which undermined the divinity of Jesus. While today what is in danger is the indissolubility of Christian marriage.

The author of the essay, Claudio Pierantoni, studied classical philology and the history of Christianity at the University of Rome “La Sapienza” and at the Augustinianum, where his instructor was the illustrious patrologist Manlio Simonetti, specializing in the Christological controversies of the fourth century and in Saint Augustine.

Married and with two daughters, since 1999 Pierantoni has been living in Santiago, Chile. He has taught Church history and patrology at the Pontificia Universidad Católica and currently teaches medieval philosophy at the Universidad de Chile.

In Chile he has forged friendships with other Catholic scholars who have emigrated to that country, such as Josef Seifert of Austria and Carlos Casanova of Venezuela, both engaged in the current controversy over “Amoris Laetitia.”  He is among the signers of what is called the “document of the 45,” the petition sent last summer to the cardinals and patriarchs requesting that they ask the pope to clarify the most controversial points of the exhortation.

In English, the essay by Professor Pierantoni has been published in recent days by the German magazine “AEMAET – Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift für Philosophie und Theologie” and can be downloaded in PDF format from their website:

> The Arian crisis and the current controversy about “Amoris Laetitia”: a parallel

While in Italian the complete text is available on this other page of http://www.chiesa:

> La crisi ariana e la controversia attuale su “Amoris laetitia”: un parallelo

Reproduced below are the beginning and final parts of the essay. The picture that is examined in it is dramatic, but not devoid of hope for a positive outcome for the contemporary crisis. Perhaps with a new ecumenical council, as in Chalcedon so many centuries ago (see illustration).

Enjoy the read!


The Arian crisis and the current controversy about “Amoris Laetitia”: a parallel

by Claudio Pierantoni

The following reflections take their origin from a curious enough coincidence. At the beginning of April 2016, at the theological Faculty of the Catholic University of Chile started a study group about the Arian controversy, in the context of an investigation project.

During the first meeting of this group, we were reflecting about the extraordinary speed with which the controversy begun by Alexandrian presbyter Arius in 318 or 319, only apparently terminated with his condemnation by the metropolitan Bishop Alexander, rapidly spread in Palestine and shortly inflamed the whole of the Eastern Roman Empire, convincing Emperor Constantine to convoke the First Ecumenical Council in order to resolve the problem. Apparently, it was only about one or two imprudent sentences about the relation of the Divine Son with the Father, but they were such as to lay bare profound doctrinal differences among the episcopacy, and gave way to a controversy that had long before been latent.

Precisely in those days of April 2016, the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” was published, and shortly afterwards […] came the reactions from Card. Burke and Card. Müller and the controversy started. It didn’t take long before one could conclude that, just as in the days of Arius, the fire that was spreading was of vast proportions, in spite of the modest appearences of being based only on a couple of imprudent notes in a long document; notes which the Pope even declared he didn’t remember.

So it came natural to me to start comparing the two controversies. […] The two moments can be viewed as an analogy, given that in both cases a significant pronouncement by the Magisterium is perceived by many Catholics as in conflict with traditional doctrine, in particular with recent and important Magisterial documents. In both cases one also perceives a “deafening silence” of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, with exceptions of course, in the face of the respective pronouncements.

In terms of content, the two crises are certainly different: in the first crisis, the matter under dispute was purely theological, relating as it did to the foundation of Christian doctrine on a triune God, whereas the second matter is about moral theology and centrally concerned with the matter of marriage.

However, the key common characteristic of both crises is, I believe, the fact that both concern a pillar of the Christian message, the destruction of which would strip that message of its very essence. […]

I. Parallel with the current crisis, in doctrinal documents

In terms of doctrinal documents, the parallel element most deserving of attention is the characteristic of ambiguity in the proArian formulas in the years 357-360.

In effect, […] although holding power, the pro-Arian minority does not venture to put forward a position too clearly in opposition with the traditional view. It does not expressly state that the Son is inferior to the Father, although employing a generic term, “like” to the Father, which could lend itself to differing degrees of subordinationism. In short, although holding the reins of power, it seeks to conceal itself.

By analogy, the famous Chapter VIII of the current Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” does not openly deny the indissolubly to marriage, but indeed explicitly affirms it. However, it denies in practice the necessary consequences ensuing from matrimonial indissolubility. But it does so through a meandering and convoluted discourse, using wording which covers a range of diverse positions, some more extreme, others more moderate.

For example, it says that “in certain cases” persons in “so-called irregular” unions could be granted “the help of the sacraments”. What these cases are is not stated, so the text is open to at least four interpretations, the more restrictive of which are obviously incompatible with the broader ones. In the interest of clarity of interpretation, it is therefore useful to classify them according to their various degrees of breadth, beginning with the most restrictive and ending with the broadest:

1.    According to the principle of hermeneutic of continuity, the expression “in certain cases” should be interpreted as referring to specific cases indicated in documents of already existing Magisterium, such as “Familiaris consortio” (FC), which states that absolution and Eucharistic communion can be given in cases in which the cohabitants promise to cohabit as brother and sister.

This interpretation is based on a fundamental hermeneutic principle, which may appear irrefutable; but is unfortunately contradicted by footnote 329, which explicitly states that this behaviour (namely cohabitation as brother and sister) is potentially damaging and hence to be avoided.

2.    “In certain cases” can be interpreted in a broader sense as referring to the subjective certainty of the nullity of the previous marriage, assuming that, for particular reasons, it is not possible to prove this in a tribunal.

In such cases it could certainly be possible that, in the secret of conscience, there is no fault in the new union: this could be viewed, in terms of moral doctrine, as in accordance with FC. Yet there remains a fundamental difference in ecclesiological terms: Eucharist is a sacramental, public act, in which it is not possible to take into consideration a reality which is inherently invisible and publicly unverifiable.

3.    “In certain cases” can be interpreted, still more broadly, as referring to a lesser or even non-existent subjective responsibility, due to ignorance of the rule, lack of capacity to comprehend it, or even “force majeure”, in which a given special circumstance can be so strong as to “compel” cohabitation “more uxorio”, which would hence not constitute a grave fault; indeed, according to the document, the abandonment of cohabitation could incur a still more grave fault.

Here we already run into more serious problems of moral theology. Ignorance and lack of capacity to understand may in effect limit personal responsibility: yet it is incongruous, not to say contradictory, to invoke them in this discourse, in which a process and guided discernment are envisaged, processes which should be specifically designed to overcome ignorance and lack of capacity to understand.

With regard to “force majeure”, it is certainly not obvious, but indeed contrary to the entire tradition, and major dogmatic pronouncements, that this can justify failure to adhere to divine law. It is true that it cannot a priori be excluded that there may be particular circumstances in which the situation can change the moral species of an act which is externally the same, even conscious and intentional: for example, where the act of removing an object from someone could be construed, not as a theft, but as an act to help a person in an emergency, or an act designed to prevent a greater evil. However, even assuming, for the sake of argument, that this can be applied to adultery, a decisive impediment to a justification of this kind is the characteristic of permanency of objectively negative conduct which, even if it were justifiable in a specific moment of emergency, cannot be justified in a stable situation, consciously chosen.

At all events validity must always be accorded – as in the previous case to the ecclesiological principle that under no circumstances can something which, by its very nature, belongs to the secret of conscience, be rendered magically visible at the public level.

4.    “In certain cases”, according to the broadest interpretation of all, can be extended to include all those cases – those which are real, concrete and frequent which we generally have in mind – in which there is an unhappy marriage, which fails due to a series of misunderstandings and incompatibility and is followed by a happy cohabitation stable over time, with reciprocal fidelity, etc. (cf. AL 298).

In such cases, it would appear that the practical result, in particular the duration and felicity of the new union by comparison with the brevity and/or unhappiness of the previous union, is interpreted as a kind of confirmation of the goodness, and hence legitimacy, of the new union: in this context (AL 298), any consideration of the validity of the previous marriage, lack of capacity to understand or “force majeure”, is absent. In effect when, a little further on (AL 300), consideration is given to the type of discernment required in such cases, it becomes still clearer that the matters under discussion in the examination of conscience and associated repentance will be none other than good or bad conduct in the face of the unsuccessful marriage and the good outcome of the new union.

It is clear that the “repentance” which is the concern here is in no way related to the new union in the presence of a previous lawful union; but relates instead to: a) the conduct during the previous crisis, b) the consequences (not more clearly defined) of the new union on the family and the community.

It is hence manifest that the document intends to push beyond those cases in which there is subjective certainty of the invalidity of the previous bond, cases of ignorance, difficulty in understanding, “force majeure” or presumed inability to comply with the law.

It is now sufficiently clear that the valid benchmark for a judgement on the “lawfulness” of the new union is ultimately its practical success and visible happiness, as against the lack of success and unhappiness of the previous marriage: this assumed “lawfulness” is obviously a pre-requisite for the reception of sacramental absolution and the Eucharist. The inevitable consequence is that the previous marriage is implicitly, but publicly, now regarded as devoid of effect and hence dissolved: therefore, we note that, by this kind of “pastoral care” marriage is in fact declared dissoluble. Hence, although the Catholic Church continues in words to affirm its indissolubility, in fact divorce is introduced.

It is also clear that, if the success of the new marriage is sufficient to establish its lawfulness, this includes justification of virtually all cases of a new union: in fact, if the new union were thought to be devoid of success, there would be no incentive to justify it and one will then be open to a further union, in the hope of greater success. This, and nothing else, is precisely the logic of divorce.

From this it can be further deduced that the discussion on cases we can term “intermediate”, namely those situated between the traditional position and the broadest position, which, as we say, virtually extends to all cases, while on the one hand allows many “moderates” to recognise themselves in one or the other gradation and hence potentially has a reassuring effect, it is, on the other hand, in practical terms, ultimately of little relevance. In essence, in fact, the document, by its generic formulation, provides carte blanche to resolve the vast majority of real situations on the basis of a rather simple criterion and one in line with the predominant mentality of our civilization: in other words, to repeat it once more, perfectly in line with the ideology of divorce.


Returning to our parallel, this brings rather vividly to mind the policy of the Emperor Constantius in seeking a sufficiently generic term with the intention of pleasing multiple different positions. The generic nature of the term “like to the Father according to the Scriptures” perfectly corresponds to the generic nature of the formula “in certain cases […] Sacraments may be given”, which we find in the current document. In theory, almost every position can here be recognised.

In consequence, the situations are also analogous in terms of the practical result. Equally, almost the entirety of the Episcopate of the Empire signed the formula of Rimini-Constantinople in 359-60, and today also, the vast majority of the Episcopate has accepted the new document without comment, although aware that it in fact legitimates a series of positions which are mutually incompatible, and some manifestly heretical.

Today many bishops and theologians salve their consciences by asserting, both in public and to themselves, that saying that “in certain cases divorced and remarried persons can receive the sacraments” is not of itself erroneous and can be interpreted in a hermeneutic of continuity as in line with the previous Magisterium. By the same token, the ancient bishops believed it was not of itself incorrect to say “the Son is like to the Father according to the Scriptures”.

Certainly, in both cases, although a broad range of positions can be recognised in the formula if it is considered in isolation, at the same time, in the context of the respective documents, it is clear that the orthodox position, truly in line with the previous Magisterium, is precisely the position that is decidedly excluded. […]

In the case of  “Amoris Laetitia”:

– through the recantation of “Familiaris Consortio” on the abstention from cohabitation “more uxorio” as a pre-requisite for access to the sacraments;
– through the elimination of previously clear boundaries between certainty of conscience and the sacramental ecclesiological rules;
– through the perverse use of the Gospel precepts of mercy and non-judgement, invoked in support of the contention that it is not possible, in the Church, to impose general censure on specific, objectively unlawful, behaviours;
– and, last but not least, through harsh criticism of those who advance the supposedly “narrow-minded” and “hypocritical” claim of invoking precise juridical norms to judge individual cases, which instead, according to the document, should be left strictly to personal discernment and guidance.

Hence, although with the good intention of respecting a hermeneutic principle which is certainly valid, that of continuity with previous documents, there is a risk of overlooking a principle still more important and evident: the immediate context in which a proposition is formulated.

If one does not read the individual assertions in “Amoris Laetitia” in isolation, but in their full context, and the document in turn in its immediate historic context, one readily discovers that the general mens {mentality} which guides it is, in essence, the notion of divorce, in addition to the now widespread notion of not imposing clear boundaries between a lawful marriage and an “irregular union”. […]

II. Parallel with the current crisis, in historical development

From the viewpoint of the historical development of the heresy, an evident parallel is to be noted: in preparation during the second half of the third century, the Arian heresy came to open light at the beginning of the fourth. Once out in the open, it was condemned by the Council of Nicaea, a condemnation, however, widely rejected in the East. Though, the rejection of Nicaea was initially more moderate and Arianism proper was only tolerated as a lesser evil. However, little by little, this tolerance allowed it to gather strength, to the point where, given the favourable political circumstances and also its superiority in terms of political manoeuvring, it gained power. Having gained power however, it nevertheless felt a need for concealment, not expressing itself frankly and directly, but indirectly, and relying on pressure and political intimidation. However, the very fact that, although a minority, it imposed itself on a fearful and undecided majority, exposed it to a confutation far stronger and clearer from the more orthodox and aware section of the Episcopate which, gradually but inexorably, prepared for their final defeat over the two decades which followed.

By analogy, with regard to the current heresy, which, from the name of its principal proponent, we may call “Kasperian”, we have witnessed its slow preparation, beginning in the second half of the XX century. Once out in the open, it was condemned in documents issued by John Paul II, such as “Veritatis Splendor” and “Familiaris Consortio”. However, these documents were rejected more or less openly and radically by a section of the Episcopate and by learned theologians, and orthodox practice has been disregarded in vast and important sections of the Catholic world. This rejection has been extensively tolerated, both in theory and in practice. Hence it has gathered strength to the point where, given the favourable political and political-ecclesiastical circumstances, it has reached a position of power. However, although in power, the heresy is not expressed frankly and directly, but through Synodal activities which are not entirely clear (2014-2015), resulting in an apostolic document, which is exemplary for its tortuosity. But the very fact that this position has showed up in a Magisterial document is now arousing moral indignation and a much stronger and more dynamic intellectual reaction, calling for those with the necessary intellectual tools to rethink orthodox doctrine, in order to reach a deeper and clearer formulation, and so prepare for a definitive condemnation not only of the errors in the doctrine of matrimony, but also of all the other errors connected with it, that infect the sacramental and moral doctrine of the Church. This also makes it possible, which is no mean feat, to put to the test, recognise and in many ways unite those who, truly and solidly, adhere to the Deposit of Faith.

This is precisely the stage at which we can say we find ourselves at this moment: it has scarcely begun, and promises to be not without obstacles. We cannot predict its duration, but must have the certainty of faith, that God would not allow this grave crisis, were it not for the superior good of souls. It will certainly be the Holy Spirit who will give us the solution, enlightening this Pope or his successor, maybe even through the convening of a new Ecumenical Council. However, in the interim, each of us is called, in humility and prayer, to give his testimony and contribution. And the Lord will certainly hold each of us to account.


English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.


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LUKE 12:54-56

When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, “A shower is coming”; and so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, “There will be scorching heat”; and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky; but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?

MATTHEW 16:2b-3

But he answered and said to them, [“When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’   And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.

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Bishop Rene Henry Gracida

How is your Advent observance progressing?
Last Sunday I told you that the Advent Season is a time in which we are invited by Our Lord Jesus Christ through his Church to prepare ourselves spiritually so that we can derive the greatest possible benefit from our celebration of his birth on December 25th.

I challenged you to try to go to the daily celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass if at all possible, and if it were not possible at least to read and meditate at home on the scripture readings for each of the weekday Masses.

So, let’s review what the Church had to tell us during this past week about getting spiritually ready to celebrate Christmas.

Let’s start with Monday.
In Saint Matthew’s Gospel a Roman soldier, a Centurion, asks Jesus to heal his servant.  Jesus responds that he will go to heal the servant. The Centurion, protests that his home is not worthy and asks Jesus to just say the word and his servant will be healed.  Jesus marvels at this pagan’s faith  and says that he has not found such faith in Israel.

That reading from scripture was a challenge to us to do everything that we are doing to prepare for Christmas with a living/lively faith, not doing it automatically.
And not doing it for unworthy motives, but doing it out of love; love for Jesus Christ, love for your family, love for your neighbor.

On Tuesday Saint Luke quoted Jesus in his gospel as saying “I give you praise, Father…for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”

Christmas is about children; first of all it is about the Christ-child and then it is about the children in your family, and it is about all children.

There is little that can compare with the joy parents experience on Christmas morning when they see the expressions of joy on the faces of their children as they view the Christmas tree with the presents Santa has brought during the night.

But Jesus is not talking about the faith of children, he is talking about your faith, your faith as adults remaining open to God with the same openness and awe you had when you were a child.

On Wednesday we celebrated the Feast of the Apostle Andrew and the Gospel recalled the invitation to Peter and Andrew, “Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men!”

The Church reminds you that everything you do by way of preparation for Christmas that involves others, you should do as a lay-apostle because like Andrew you have been called to witness to Jesus Christ to other men and women.  Be loving and generous to other adults even as you reflect that Jesus has been loving and generous to you by calling you to life and love.

On Thursday, the opening prayer of the Mass began with these words:  “Stir up your power, O Lord, and come to our help with mighty strength, that what our sins impede the grace of your mercy may hasten.”

The greatest way to experience the grace of the mercy of Jesus Christ is in the confessional.  By confessing your sins you prepare yourself in the most perfect way to celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on Christmas and be most perfectly united with Him in Holy Communion.

On Friday St. Matthew told us in the Gospel about the two blind men who asked Jesus to heal their blindness, which he did.  You can be partially blinded by all the commercialism before Christmas, by all the advertising on radio and television, by the commercialism with which our society assaults your mind.  Try to keep your mind and heart focused on your faith and love of Our Lord and the members of your family so that you do not become blind to what they are to you.

If you listen to music during Advent try to avoid as much as possible Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer, White Christmas and all the other secular music; try to listen to our Diocesan Radio Station, KLUX, which will be playing traditional Christmas music and carols.

Yesterday, in the Saturday celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass Saint Matthew told us in the Gospel that “At the sight of the crowds (Jesus’ heart) was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.”

The late Father Walter Ciszek, S.J., who was convicted of being a Vatican spy and spent 23 years in Stalin’s Soviet prisons, had this to say about those who are troubled and who feel abandoned in our society.

“Each day, every day of our lives, God presents to us the people and opportunities upon which he expects us to act.  He expects no more of us, but he will accept nothing less of us; and we fail in our promise and commitment if we do not see in the situations of every moment of every day his divine will.

That is how the Kingdom of God has been spread from the time of Christ’s coming (at Christmas) until now.  It depends on the faith and commitment of every man (and woman), but especially of the priest every day of his life.   

Every moment of the life of every man (and woman) is precious in God’s sight, and none must be wasted through doubt and discouragement.

The work of the Kingdom, the work of laboring and suffering with Christ, is no more spectacular for the most part than the routine of daily living.”

Those were the words of the heroic priest, Father Ciszek.

I close my homily with the words of the opening prayer of today’s Mass:

“Almighty and merciful God,
may no earthly undertaking hinder those
who set out in haste to meet your Son,
but may our learning of heavenly wisdom
gain us admittance to his company.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity
of the Holy Spirit,
one God,
for ever and ever.”

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Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke

The Dangerous Road of Papal Silence

The letter of the four Cardinals to Pope Francis, and the decision to go public with this document certainly constitute a stunning affair in the history of the Church. When has anything like this ever taken place? There’s the sad history of Ignaz Von Dollinger, which eventually led to his excommunication, but Dollinger was simply a priest-historian, and no Cardinals ever joined his challenge to Vatican I’s solemn teaching on papal infallibility.

This present event is a dramatic challenge to Pope Francis who, ironically, has several times called for a shaking up of the Church. The Cardinals are all well respected and strong supporters of the papal primacy and the papal office of teaching. Their letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is a sincere effort to gain some clarity on positions advanced in Amoris Laetitia. For their troubles, the head of the Roman Rota has openly threatened them with the loss of their status as Cardinals.

It’s worth noting that only one of the five questions posed for clarification by the Cardinals had to do with admitting divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to the Eucharist. In a way, the other four questions point to even more significant problems relating to the existence of intrinsically evil acts, the objective situation of grave habitual sin, and the critically important formation of an objectively true conscience.

The five dubia were very carefully and succinctly written and followed the traditional method of presentation of such questions to the Holy See. They ask the pope to explain how certain statements in Amoris Laetitia were to be understood in the light of the authoritative teachings of his predecessor Pope John Paul II as found in Familiaris Consortio 84 (reaffirmed in Reconciliatio et Paenitentia 34, and Sacramentum Caritatis, 29 (dubium 1); Veritatis Splendor 79 (dubium 2); (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts (dubium 3); Veritatis Splendor 81 (dubium 4); Veritatis Splendor 56 (dubium 5). These texts are foundational for the Church’s teaching on moral principles, for an upright confessional practice, and for sacramental discipline.

The letter’s authors insist that their only intention is to remove the confusion: “theologians and scholars have proposed interpretations that are not only divergent, but also conflicting. . .thereby provoking uncertainty, confusion and disorientation among many of the faithful.”

Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke
Pope Francis and Cardinal Burke

Cardinal Burke, in an interview with the National Catholic Register, stated that they chose to go public only after they learned that the pope had decided not to respond, which decision is a stunning response from the Chair of Peter. One might almost call it reckless, given the very real potential for dividing the Church. Indeed, Cardinal Burke addressed this possibility in the interview when he stated that the letter “has also been undertaken with the greatest respect for the Petrine Office, because if the Petrine Office does not uphold these fundamental principles of doctrine and discipline, then, practically speaking, division has entered into the Church, which is contrary to our very nature.”

Pope Francis already had an agenda for “reshaping” the Church in certain areas of discipline when he came into office, as seems clear from the speed with which he announced the Synod on the Family. It was a perplexing event. His predecessor, Saint John Paul II, had convoked a Synod on the same topic and had issued a brilliant exhortation, Familiaris Consortio.

It was even more telling that little in the preparatory documents, or in the exhortation following the Synod, seemed to have much reference to that earlier exhortation. In retrospect, that Francis had it in mind to alter certain determinations of that earlier Synod and John Paul II’s exhortation appears all but certain.

Now, it is not only Catholic scholars like the eminent philosopher Robert Spaemann who in 2015 recognized that “This pope is one of the most autocratic [popes] that we have had in a long time.” In a recent Reuters article, “Pope Francis the manager – surprising, secretive, shrewd,” Philip Puella argues that Pope Francis, whom he admires and strongly supports, is more like an autocrat than a typical, saintly pontiff. For instance, Puella says “Francis likes to break rules and then change them once the shock has died down.” And that “after he was elected, he appointed trusted people to lower or mid-level positions in Vatican departments, where they can be his eyes and ears.”

Looking back, the pope’s invitation to Cardinal Kasper to speak to the bishops months before the first Synod on the Family seems almost certainly now to have been a bit of management. The pope was behind the proposed change from the beginning and was determined to provide access to the sacraments by the divorced and remarried, even if the Synod Fathers did not support it – which they didn’t.

Pope Francis certainly had no mandate from the Synod Fathers to make such a drastic alteration in the Church’s sacramental discipline. Quite the opposite, which should have suggested he would be entering dangerous waters should he choose to do so. But he did, nonetheless, and has since tried to portray his critics as fundamentalist, legalistic, and rigid Catholics, who are troubled and are troubling the Church.

The upshot of all this, as Australian Cardinal George Pell remarked in a lecture in London earlier this week, is that “a number of regularly worshiping Catholics” are “unnerved by the turn of events.” More seriously, there is now widespread confusion about the role of conscience in Catholic moral thought.  {This is really the heart of the problem.  Pope Francis seems to be rejecting the most important of all the important Encyclicals of Saint Pope John Paul II, VERITATIS SPLENDOR.  In that Encyclical Saint John Paul II effectively demolished one of the most dangerous errors that had come to dominate much of moral thinking in western thought: proportionalism/consequentionism.  The philosophical/theological errors of proportionalism/consequentionism provide the rationale for the push by the Kasperites to make the giving Holy Communion to those who are divorced and living in civil marriages legitimate.  The basis of that error lies in the rejection of the existence of intrinsic evil.  A shocking example of an intrinsic evil act is the killing of an innocent child in a partial-birth abortion.  Pope Francis’ criticism pro-life Catholics is perhaps a consequence of his seeming rejection of Veritatis Splendor with its clear magisterial teaching about intrinsic evil.  The heresy of Pope Francis’ ally in the ‘reform’ of the Church, Cardinal Walter Kasper, is that, as he has written, the essential attribute of the nature of the God is “mercy” not love. The teaching of Jesus is clear in the Gospels:  mercy is preceded by judgment.  Jesus did not say “Who am I to judge!” on the contrary he proclaimed  judgment as being an essential attribute of the Kingdom of God.}

Well, now four cautious and conscientious churchmen have openly sought a solution to all this turmoil. Cardinal Burke suggested what might follow if the pope remains silent:  “There is, in the Tradition of the Church, the practice of correction of the Roman Pontiff. It is something that is clearly quite rare. But if there is no response to these questions, then I would say that it would be a question of taking a formal act of correction of a serious error.”

This really would be quite awful, forcing Church leaders, priests, and lay people into taking sides – a kind of practical schism. Let’s pray it never comes to this. But to avoid such divisions and worse, Pope Francis will now have to do something.

Fr. Mark A. Pilon

Fr. Mark A. Pilon

Fr. Mark A. Pilon, a priest of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, received a Doctorate in Sacred Theology from Santa Croce University in Rome. He is a former Chair of Systematic Theology at Mount St. Mary Seminary, a former contributing editor of Triumph magazine, and a retired and visiting professor at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College. He writes regularly at

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