We interrupt this regular broadcast…
On the 16th of July instant, a group of sixty-two priests and lay people offered Pope Francis a small reminder that certain truths are eternal, and that it would be wise to stick to them. This is a filial correction and not the much-anticipated—and desired and desirable—formal correction held out by Cardinal Burke and others.
There was an embargo, it appears, on releasing this information, but somebody blabbed and the news leaked. The correction will, when official (as it should be Sunday), will appear at this website, but it can also be found in samizdat form here (I’m writing this on Saturday early evening).
Here is the opening of the letter which was sent to the Holy Father. Whether he read it is anybody’s guess.
Most Holy Father,
With profound grief, but moved by fidelity to our Lord Jesus Christ, by love for the Church and for the papacy, and by filial devotion toward yourself, we are compelled to address a correction to Your Holiness on account of the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness.
This is, as you will imagine, no small thing. Whether it is, as the writers hope and pray, a large thing remains to be seen. Given that the Pope has heretofore ignored every criticism and critic, except to silently fire or demote those he sees as enemies, smart money says this shot over the papal bows will not slow the Pope from steaming ahead. For instance, if the date of the letter is correct, the Pope has had it for more than two months and kept mum about it.
The correction is, however, needed, and God bless those who made it.
…Heresies and other errors have in consequence [of Amoris laetitia] spread through the Church; for while some bishops and cardinals have continued to defend the divinely revealed truths about marriage, the moral law, and the reception of the sacraments, others have denied these truths, and have received from Your Holiness not rebuke but favour…
Most Holy Father, the Petrine ministry has not been entrusted to you that you might impose strange doctrines on the faithful, but so that you may, as a faithful steward, guard the deposit against the day of the Lord’s return (Lk. 12; 1 Tim. 6:20).
The doctrines are strange. One elderly theologian, a by-all-accounts gentle and genial man, was fired from his post for writing a scholarly article which argued that if the logic used by some in interpreting Amoris were applied everywhere, then all morality could be considered relative. All must read the summary article “Josef Seifert, Pure Logic, and the Beginning of the Official Persecution of Orthodoxy within the Church” by Claudio Pierantoni, who argues with force that the Church is now in practical schism. (We will revisit this article another day.)
If the loose interpretations of Amoris were adopted formally, then all priests would have to sound like Fr James Martin and tell people that whatever teachings they don’t “receive” aren’t valid for “them.” That is protestantism (sorry, friends), where every man, after all, is his own priest.
Those Catholics, however, who do not clearly grasp the limits of papal infallibility are liable to be led by the words and actions of Your Holiness into one of two disastrous errors: either they will come to embrace the heresies which are now being propagated, or, aware that these doctrines are contrary to the word of God, they will doubt or deny the prerogatives of the popes.
All we need understand about papal infallibility here is that the Pope is not dictator and all he says is not true, nor are Catholics sworn to defend every word of the Pope. This is why the signers can say the “practices now encouraged by Your Holiness’s words and actions are contrary not only to the perennial faith and discipline of the Church but also to the magisterial statements of Your predecessors”.
What follows are a list of quotations from Amoris which appear not to make sense in light of Catholic teaching, such as “No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!” That smacks of universalism, the heresy that nobody goes to Hell.
Most of the other passages revolve around marriage. We recall the words of Fatima’s Sister Lucia writing to one of the “dubia” Cardinals, the recently late Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, who said “the final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan will be about marriage and the family“. Whether you believe in prophecy or not, this is the battle now being fought.
Catholics take as gospel (forgive me) our Lord Jesus’s rule that one cannot remarry after divorce (that divorce is really only a civil matter, and that the true marriage bond is indissoluble, and that forgiveness after confession is freely available to all). Yet as the correction says, “In an interview in April 2016, a journalist asked Your Holiness if there are any concrete possibilities for the divorced and remarried that did not exist before the publication of Amoris laetitia. You replied ‘Io posso dire, si. Punto’; that is, ‘I can say yes. Period.'” Various bishops have taken these and many other of the Pope’s words to mean divorce or divorce plus remarriage is no big thing, and so they demand we change doctrine to keep up with the spirit of the age. As William Ralph Inge (also attributed to Chesterton) said, “Whoever marries the spirit of this age will find himself a widower in the next.”
The signers are not shy. They list seven of the Pope’s positions and say flat out they are heresies and so it “is necessary for the good of souls that they be once more condemned by the authority of the Church.” Noting that some of the signers are lawyers (notably Ferrara) it is not surprising to read, “In listing these seven propositions we do not intend to give an exhaustive list of all the heresies and errors which an unbiased reader, attempting to read Amoris laetitia in its natural and obvious sense, would plausibly take to be affirmed, suggested or favoured by this document”. The list of charges may be added to…
That isn’t the end of the letter. What follows is a short passage detailing “two general sources of error which appear to us to be fostering the heresies”, which are Modernism and the errors introduced by Martin Luther. We will look at these later, too.
This post will remain on top through Sunday; it replaces our regular Summa Contra Gentiles series this week.
Update It’s being reported elsewhere the correction was delivered to the Pope on 11 August.
Update See the bullet points here for a list of other opportunities the Pope missed to reply.