Monday, March 5, 2018

Conscience, Ignorance and the Ruin of Souls

With the dawning of Amoris Laetia the question of conscience is now more relevant than ever. About seven years ago before the thought of a Pope Francis ever crossed my mind I wrote an article concerning conscience and Catholic moral teaching. I thought it would be a good time to re-issue an updated version of that article.

In the past there have been two prevailing mindsets that have pervaded the thoughts of many Catholics in our age. Both of these lead men to adopt dangerous dispositions putting their souls at risk. Both of these ideas are now being peddled by many of the bishops in the Church, including Pope Francis. The first false idea is that ignorance is bliss, and therefore everyone is OK as long as they are ignorant of the truth. The second notion, which is now more prevalent that the first is one that insists that a persons' conscience, no matter how mal-formed it may be, trumps any moral teaching Christ may teach through His Church, or the Natural Law. These two fallacies comprise a two headed monster that seeks to devour as many souls that willfully indulge in its existence. The enemy seeks to devour the soul coming and going. The first head seeks to justify keeping men ignorant of the truths of God, and the other seeks to justify man ignoring that truth once he comes upon it. Most claim that the Vatican II documents and post Vatican II documents teach such things. Although I am no fan of the council documents, this appears not to be the case at all.

The first head of the beast that many Catholics are being devoured by is that ignorance is the magic carpet ride to heaven. If people are not fully informed about the Catholic faith, then we should leave them ignorant, because God would never send an ignorant person to hell, right? Not exactly. Ignorance comes in many forms, most being from a person's willful ignorance. In other words, God seeks to grab the attention of man by grace, which many men willfully choose to ignore, therefore making them morally culpable for that which they do not know. This is usually the case with most people in the world today, since most are not invincibly ignorant of Christ or His one and only Church. Most men who are ignorant have heard but have not investigated, and of course only God would ultimately know the heart of a man, but the point is, ignorance itself is not a golden ticket that you find that gets you into the great chocolate factory in the sky. Even worse than a person's ignorance to the moral truths of God however, are those that want to leave those persons in their ignorance. Rather than informing them of the truth they leave them to continue on in their sinful acts.

Fr. Romanus Cessario wrote quite rightly, "Some persons even speak about leaving people in ignorance in order to avoid causing them qualms of conscience. To adopt this kind of approach to the moral life results in encouraging others to live a lie" (Sex, Lies and Freud 2007) This of course is not in accord to an authentic Catholic ethos. Jesus told us to proclaim the Gospel to the entire world, not leave men in ignorance of Him in order that they might have eternal life. One other problem that is often forgotten, is that even if a person is not culpable of their evil action, the action remains an evil act, and that evil is committed regardless. Should we stand by while an innocent child plays with a loaded gun? "It is possible that the evil done as the result of invincible ignorance or a non-culpable error of judgment may not be imputable to the agent; but even in this case it does not cease to be an evil, a disorder in relation to the truth about the good." (Veritatis Splendor #63) Isn't it amazing how fast the new regime has forgotten these encyclicals?

The second head that seeks to destroy souls called "freedom of conscience." If you can't get them with the first lie, then feed them a second. This lie is the mentality that one is always justified in their actions, despite what Christ teaches through His Church, because their conscience tells them it is OK. They often foolishly quote St. Thomas Aquinas in their rebellion. Most of the time these people are searching for a way to justify their rejection of one of the Church's teaching regarding sexual morality. Contraception, and now even adultery are often justified by the so called, "conscience clause." In the past this clause has been the vehicle used by many Catholics to justify using artificial means to sterilize the conjugal act. I once took a course in a diocesan program which educates catechists and future diaconate candidates where the professor, a priest, taught this to his students, and many of them are now teaching in many Catholic parishes. This again is not an acceptable position for any Catholic to take. As we know a Catholic is bound to inform their consciences of what Christ and the Church teaches regarding morality, and then follow it. We also know that it is the Church's job to inform everyone as to the right teaching of the Church. You would never know this was the case based on the new Amoris conferences being held.

Regarding St. Thomas, he makes it clear that there is a responsibility for every man to inform his intellect to gain knowledge so that he or she can make proper moral decisions in life. Man has a duty to not only seek the truth, but once he has found it, he has a duty to follow it. So for example, a Catholic who has been informed of the Church's teaching on contraception, yet uses the "conscience" escape clause to commit an immoral act, is still responsible for their action. Their conscience has been informed, yet they do not use the virtue of prudence to act morally. The person knows how they should act, yet they are driven by their passions rather than their formed conscience. This is the case with many in the Catholic Church now who are in "second marriages". Most know the Church's consistent teaching on this matter, yet despite this they act rebelliously towards their conscience, not in accord with it. While they freely reject their informed conscience however, they blindly propose that they are following their "conscience." The result is that those who engage in such are living a lie, and unfortunately many in the hierarchy are now supporting this lie!

Finally, it must be addressed that many people have invented this conscience clause out of the Vatican II document Dignitatis Humanae. They quote, "A sense of the dignity of the human person has been impressing itself more and more deeply on the consciousness of contemporary man, and the demand is increasingly made that men should act on their own judgment, enjoying and making use of a responsible freedom, not driven by coercion but motivated by a sense of duty."  Yet they ignore what follows in the very same document. "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have enjoined upon you" (Matt. 28: 19-20). On their part, all men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and His Church, and to embrace the truth they come to know, and to hold fast to it." "This Vatican Council likewise professes its belief that it is upon the human conscience that these obligations fall and exert their binding force. The truth cannot impose itself except by virtue of its own truth, as it makes its entrance into the mind at once quietly and with power." "It is in accordance with their dignity as persons--that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility--that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth." It seems to me that those who have hidden behind the so called "conscience" clause will have some serious questions to answer before the dread judgment seat of Christ. They are also not teaching what the document actually teaches, despite their insistence that it does.

Now more than ever we as Catholics trying to be faithful to Christ and His Church must be vigilant against this two headed monster which seeks the ruin of souls. Ignorance is not bliss, and it is not the magic carpet to heaven, and likewise, an informed conscience which ignores the truths of God which are evident in nature and through Christ's Church is not free to ignore these truths. Just as important is that the ignorant must be instructed so that their consciences are informed properly. This is the proper manner in which we are able to live a life that is ordered towards God. "In the formation of their consciences, the Christian faithful ought carefully to attend to the sacred and certain doctrine of the Church. [Cf. Pius XII, radio message, March 23, 1952: AAS 44 (1952) pp. 270-278] Perhaps Pope Francis should read this part of Dignitatis, "For the Church is, by the will of Christ, the teacher of the truth. It is her duty to give utterance to, and authoritatively to teach, that truth which is Christ Himself, and also to declare and confirm by her authority those principles of the moral order which have their origins in human nature itself." (Dignitatis Humanae #14)

"...doctrinal instruction, as in preaching, to which many sinners come, entangled in great sins, and they return converted to God, because in preaching, when the preacher preaches sound doctrine, sinners come to recognize their evil life, and they say, "O wretched me!   According to this [preaching] I am in an evil state!"  And in this way more are converted than by the other aforesaid ways.  And so the Apostle says, "For I am not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believes," (Rom 1:16).  Note, "I am not ashamed of the gospel," like those who care more about the poets, than the gospels.  The teaching of the poets saves no one.  And so the preachers of the evangelical doctrine have a special crown in paradise. (St. Vincent Ferrer) 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church Feb 2

On February 2, 2018, there will occur throughout our nation an event titled Rosary to the Interior: For the Purification of the Church. All Catholics across the country are asked to journey to any Catholic church to pray the Rosary in supplication to Our Lady that she might fulfill her promise at Fatima for the Triumph of Her Immaculate Heart and the Purification of the Catholic Church, which in turn will usher in the Triumph of the Light of Christ over all the sin and error which has invaded the Church. This event is solely focused on recognizing that only Our Lady has been given the grace and power by her Son to accomplish this Triumph, and that she awaits our prayer, through the Rosary, for this intention. For those who, for whatever reason, cannot find or make the journey to a church which is open, we ask that they pray a Rosary for this same intention in their homes. A complete explanation of the nature and purpose of this event is found here:

We invite all Catholics around the world to also participate!

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Why Presidential Pro-Life 'Words' Matter

Great video! I am really tired of all of these idiot "Catholic" "Never Trumpers" who would rather see a butcher like the Big Zero in the White House. I am not saying he is a saint, nor that he is the most prudent man on the planet, but say what you will, with warts and all, Trump is the most conservative president policy wise we have had since Reagan. So yes dear neo-Catholics, his words do matter and so do his policies.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Dr. Edward Feser on EWTN Live!

EWTN was excited to have Dr. Edward Feser on live this evening talking about his book 'Five Proofs of the Existence of God.' Check it out!

Monday, January 8, 2018

Exciting News from EWTN! Dr. Edward Feser Visiting!

This coming Wednesday Dr. Edward Feser will be coming to EWTN to appear on EWTN Live. He will also be taping a Bookmark episode that will air at a later date. Be sure to tune in to what is sure to be a great live show this Wednesday. Below are the times that this episode will air. Please feel free to email EWTN to express your enthusiasm for these types of guests!

Professor Edward Feser refutes the New Atheism and dismantles the philosophic claims of Dawkins, Kitchens, Dennett and more. Hosted by Fr. Mitch Pacwa.

Wed. Jan. 17 at 7:00 PM CST
Thu. Jan. 18 at 12:00 AM CST
Thu. Jan. 18 at 8:00 AM CST
Sun. Jan. 21 at 3:00 AM CST

Happy New Year! Humanae Vitae and Contraception Now in the Cross Hairs!

Since the release of the papal document Amoris Laetitia there has been worldwide confusion regarding communion for the divorced and remarried. For those who have been following the escalation of the debacle with Pope Francis' elevation of the document and its accompanying letter, I have kept a small log of significant events on this post. The New Year however appears to have more in store for us! It appears that the Church's teaching on contraception is now in the cross hairs.

You may have remembered that last year the pope authorized a "study" on Pope Paul VI's document Humanae Vitae. This is the 50th year since its release and it seems that this will be the occasion to desecrate it. The New Academy for Life put together by Pope Francis is now beginning to show their cards on where this "study" will lead. A newly appointed member of this Pontifical Academy for Life is now putting forth a novel interpretation of Humane Vitae, basing his new theory on, you guessed it, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. This document seems to be the document that just keeps turning up like a bad penny.

According to Life Site News, "Italian moral theologian Father Maurizio Chiodi said at a December 14 public lecture at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome that there are “circumstances — I refer to Amoris Laetitia, Chapter 8 — that precisely for the sake of responsibility, require contraception... He says, When “natural methods are impossible or unfeasible, other forms of responsibility need to be found,” argued Fr. Chiodi in his lecture entitled: Re-reading Humanae Vitae (1968) in light of Amoris Laetitia (2016). You can read the entire article here.

There was a time when this type of lecture would have never been allowed to take place without a stern condemnation from the pope and the hierarchy. Those days have passed, and we no longer need to condemn error any longer right? We see how well that stance has worked. Brace yourselves, we are in for another wild ride in 2018. I hate to say it but, it ain't gonna be pretty.

Brace yourselves!

Monday, January 1, 2018

Bishops of Kazakhstan Proclaim Perennial Truth Concerning Marriage, Divorce and Holy Communion

Today Life Site news published the following profession given by Abp Tomash Peta, Abp Jan Pawel Lenga, and Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan. Thank God for bishops like these who are not afraid to proclaim the Church's perennial teaching! God bless them!

Profession of the immutable truths about sacramental marriage

After the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris laetitia” (2016) various bishops issued at local, regional, and national levels applicable norms regarding the sacramental discipline of those faithful, called “divorced and remarried,” who having still a living spouse to whom they are united with a valid sacramental matrimonial bond, have nevertheless begun a stable cohabitation more uxorio with a person who is not their legitimate spouse.

The aforementioned rules provide inter alia that in individual cases the persons, called “divorced and remarried,” may receive the sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion, while continuing to live habitually and intentionally more uxorio with a person who is not their legitimate spouse. These pastoral norms have received approval from various hierarchical authorities. Some of these norms have received approval even from the supreme authority of the Church.

The spread of these ecclesiastically approved pastoral norms has caused a considerable and ever increasing confusion among the faithful and the clergy, a confusion that touches the central manifestations of the life of the Church, such as sacramental marriage with the family, the domestic church, and the sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist.

According to the doctrine of the Church, only the sacramental matrimonial bond constitutes a domestic church (see Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 11). The admission of so-called “divorced and remarried” faithful to Holy Communion, which is the highest expression of the unity of Christ the Spouse with His Church, means in practice a way of approving or legitimizing divorce, and in this meaning a kind of introduction of divorce in the life of the Church.

The mentioned pastoral norms are revealed in practice and in time as a means of spreading the “plague of divorce” (an expression used by the Second Vatican Council, see Gaudium et spes, 47). It is a matter of spreading the “plague of divorce” even in the life of the Church, when the Church, instead, because of her unconditional fidelity to the doctrine of Christ, should be a bulwark and an unmistakable sign of contradiction against the plague of divorce which is every day more rampant in civil society.

Unequivocally and without admitting any exception Our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ solemnly reaffirmed God’s will regarding the absolute prohibition of divorce. An approval or legitimation of the violation of the sacredness of the marriage bond, even indirectly through the mentioned new sacramental discipline, seriously contradicts God’s express will and His commandment. This practice therefore represents a substantial alteration of the two thousand-year-old sacramental discipline of the Church. Furthermore, a substantially altered discipline will eventually lead to an alteration in the corresponding doctrine.

The constant Magisterium of the Church, beginning with the teachings of the Apostles and of all the Supreme Pontiffs, has preserved and faithfully transmitted both in the doctrine (in theory) and in the sacramental discipline (in practice) in an unequivocal way, without any shadow of doubt and always in the same sense and in the same meaning (eodem sensu eademque sententia), the crystalline teaching of Christ concerning the indissolubility of marriage.

Because of its Divinely established nature, the discipline of the sacraments must never contradict the revealed word of God and the faith of the Church in the absolute indissolubility of a ratified and consummated marriage. “The sacraments not only presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express it; that is why they are called “sacraments of faith.” (Second Vatican Council, Sacrosanctum Concilium, 59). “Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1125).

The Catholic faith by its nature excludes a formal contradiction between the faith professed on the one hand and the life and practice of the sacraments on the other. In this sense we can also understand the following affirmation of the Magisterium: “This split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age.” (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 43) and “Accordingly, the concrete pedagogy of the Church must always remain linked with her doctrine and never be separated from it” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 33).

In view of the vital importance that the doctrine and discipline of marriage and the Eucharist constitute, the Church is obliged to speak with the same voice. The pastoral norms regarding the indissolubility of marriage must not, therefore, be contradicted between one diocese and another, between one country and another. Since the time of the Apostles, the Church has observed this principle as St. Irenaeus of Lyons testifies: “The Church, though spread throughout the world to the ends of the earth, having received the faith from the Apostles and their disciples, preserves this preaching and this faith with care and, as if she inhabits a single house, believes in the same identical way, as if she had only one soul and only one heart, and preaches the truth of the faith, teaches it and transmits it in a unanimous voice, as if she had only one mouth” (Adversus haereses, I, 10, 2). Saint Thomas Aquinas transmits to us the same perennial principle of the life of the Church: “There is one and the same faith of the ancients and the moderns, otherwise there would not be one and the same Church” (Questiones Disputatae de Veritate, q. 14, a. 12c).

The following warning from Pope John Paul II remains current and valid: “The confusion, created in the conscience of many faithful by the differences of opinions and teachings in theology, in preaching, in catechesis, in spiritual direction, about serious and delicate questions of Christian morals, ends up by diminishing the true sense of sin almost to the point of eliminating it” (Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitenia, 18).

The meaning of the following statements of the Magisterium of the Church is fully applicable to the doctrine and sacramental discipline concerning the indissolubility of a ratified and consummated marriage:

• “For the Church of Christ, watchful guardian that she is, and defender of the dogmas deposited with her, never changes anything, never diminishes anything, never adds anything to them; but with all diligence she treats the ancient doctrines faithfully and wisely, which the faith of the Fathers has transmitted. She strives to investigate and explain them in such a way that the ancient dogmas of heavenly doctrine will be made evident and clear, but will retain their full, integral, and proper nature, and will grow only within their own genus — that is, within the same dogma, in the same sense and the same meaning” (Pius IX, Dogmatic Bull Ineffabilis Deus)

• “With regard to the very substance of truth, the Church has before God and men the sacred duty to announce it, to teach it without any attenuation, as Christ revealed it, and there is no condition of time that can reduce the rigor of this obligation. It binds in conscience every priest who is entrusted with the care of teaching, admonishing, and guiding the faithful” (Pius XII, Discourse to parish priests and Lenten preachers, March 23, 1949).

• “The Church does not historicize, does not relativize to the metamorphoses of profane culture the nature of the Church that is always equal and faithful to itself, as Christ wanted it and authentic tradition perfected it” (Paul VI, Homily from October 28, 1965).

• “Now it is an outstanding manifestation of charity toward souls to omit nothing from the saving doctrine of Christ” (Paul VI, Encyclical Humanae Vitae, 29).

• “Any conjugal difficulties are resolved without ever falsifying and compromising the truth” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 33).

• “The Church is in no way the author or the arbiter of this norm [of the Divine moral law]. In obedience to the truth which is Christ, whose image is reflected in the nature and dignity of the human person, the Church interprets the moral norm and proposes it to all people of good will, without concealing its demands of radicalness and perfection” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, 33).

• “The other principle is that of truth and consistency, whereby the church does not agree to call good evil and evil good. Basing herself on these two complementary principles, the church can only invite her children who find themselves in these painful situations to approach the divine mercy by other ways, not however through the sacraments of penance and the eucharist until such time as they have attained the required dispositions” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 34).

• “The Church’s firmness in defending the universal and unchanging moral norms is not demeaning at all. Its only purpose is to serve man’s true freedom. Because there can be no freedom apart from or in opposition to the truth” (John Paul II, Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 96).

• “When it is a matter of the moral norms prohibiting intrinsic evil, there are no privileges or exceptions for anyone. It makes no difference whether one is the master of the world or the ‘poorest of the poor’ on the face of the earth. Before the demands of morality, we are all absolutely equal” (emphasis in original) (John Paul II, Encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 96).

• “The obligation of reiterating this impossibility of admission to the Eucharist is required for genuine pastoral care and for an authentic concern for the well-being of these faithful and of the whole Church, as it indicates the conditions necessary for the fullness of that conversion to which all are always invited by the Lord” (Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Declaration on the admissibility to the Holy Communion of the divorced and remarried, 24 June 2000, n. 5).

As Catholic bishops, who — according to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council — must defend the unity of faith and the common discipline of the Church, and take care that the light of the full truth should arise for all men (see Lumen Gentium, 23 ) we are forced in conscience to profess in the face of the current rampant confusion the unchanging truth and the equally immutable sacramental discipline regarding the indissolubility of marriage according to the bi-millennial and unaltered teaching of the Magisterium of the Church. In this spirit we reiterate:

• Sexual relationships between people who are not in the bond to one another of a valid marriage — which occurs in the case of the so-called “divorced and remarried” — are always contrary to God’s will and constitute a grave offense against God.

• No circumstance or finality, not even a possible imputability or diminished guilt, can make such sexual relations a positive moral reality and pleasing to God. The same applies to the other negative precepts of the Ten Commandments of God. Since “there exist acts which, per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object” (John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia, 17).

• The Church does not possess the infallible charism of judging the internal state of grace of a member of the faithful (see Council of Trent, session 24, chapter 1). The non-admission to Holy Communion of the so-called “divorced and remarried” does not therefore mean a judgment on their state of grace before God, but a judgment on the visible, public, and objective character of their situation. Because of the visible nature of the sacraments and of the Church herself, the reception of the sacraments necessarily depends on the corresponding visible and objective situation of the faithful.

• It is not morally licit to engage in sexual relations with a person who is not one’s legitimate spouse supposedly to avoid another sin. Since the Word of God teaches us, it is not lawful “to do evil so that good may come” (Romans 3, 8).

• The admission of such persons to Holy Communion may be permitted only when they with the help of God’s grace and a patient and individual pastoral accompaniment make a sincere intention to cease from now on the habit of such sexual relations and to avoid scandal. It is in this way that true discernment and authentic pastoral accompaniment were always expressed in the Church.

• People who have habitual non-marital sexual relations violate their indissoluble sacramental nuptial bond with their life style in relation to their legitimate spouse. For this reason they are not able to participate “in Spirit and in Truth” (see John 4, 23) at the Eucharistic wedding supper of Christ, also taking into account the words of the rite of Holy Communion: “Blessed are the guests at the wedding supper of the Lamb!” (Revelation 19, 9).

• The fulfillment of God’s will, revealed in His Ten Commandments and in His explicit and absolute prohibition of divorce, constitutes the true spiritual good of the people here on earth and will lead them to the true joy of love in the salvation of eternal life.

Being bishops in the pastoral office, who promote the Catholic and Apostolic faith (“cultores catholicae et apostolicae fidei,” see Missale Romanum, Canon Romanus), we are aware of this grave responsibility and our duty before the faithful who await from us a public and unequivocal profession of the truth and the immutable discipline of the Church regarding the indissolubility of marriage. For this reason we are not allowed to be silent.

We affirm therefore in the spirit of St. John the Baptist, of St. John Fisher, of St. Thomas More, of Blessed Laura Vicuña and of numerous known and unknown confessors and martyrs of the indissolubility of marriage:

It is not licit (non licet) to justify, approve, or legitimize either directly or indirectly divorce and a non-conjugal stable sexual relationship through the sacramental discipline of the admission of so-called “divorced and remarried” to Holy Communion, in this case a discipline alien to the entire Tradition of the Catholic and Apostolic faith.

By making this public profession before our conscience and before God who will judge us, we are sincerely convinced that we have provided a service of charity in truth to the Church of our day and to the Supreme Pontiff, Successor of Saint Peter and Vicar of Christ on earth.

31 December 2017, the Feast of the Holy Family, in the year of the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima.

+ Tomash Peta, Archbishop Metropolitan of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana

+ Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop-Bishop of Karaganda

+ Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana