Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Neo-Catholics Missing the Point on Church Doctrine and the Synod

I normally do not like to focus on the negative news in the Church on this blog. In recent years I have tried to make this an educational blog concerning many topics pertaining to the Catholic faith so that readers can be enriched and inspired by the riches of the Catholic Church. I intend to continue in that direction. But as we are experiencing odd times in the Church, I thought I would write another post concerning the synod and the issues concerning Church teaching on the family. As the news websites and blogs continue to debate the synod on the family, it seems to me that the majority of these people are missing the point. The liberals out there are harping on the fact that the Church needs to change her teaching on moral issues, while other groups insists that the Church is going to do no such thing and no one need not worry about the Church. In this post I want to focus on the latter group, those who are becoming known as Neo-Catholics.

For example, journalist Dr. Robert Moynihan recently released one of his letters about a recent meeting in which Cardinal Kasper and friends spoke about the recent synod. Moynihan was all too happy to report that Kasper and company had sincerely expressed that they had no desire to change the Church's teaching on marriage. I guess that report was supposed to make his readers feel at ease, and they could now go on as if everything was in the Church was now just peachy. Even worse, Neo-Catholics like Mark Shea continue to usher Catholics to move along, "nothing to see here folks!" For those of us who know the history of the Church, especially that of the past 60 years, we understand that a Pope, a synod or Magisterial document does not have to officially "change" Church doctrine to cause havoc in the Church.

This lackadaisical idea that all is well as long the Pope does not change Church teaching is utter nonsense. We should know and understand that the Church, which belongs to Christ Himself, cannot formally err in official doctrine. The Pope cannot teach heresy from the Chair of Peter or he would in effect, cease to be Pope. What people seem to miss is the fact the those in the Church, and in her hierarchy can completely ignore and teach a false Gospel which can mislead millions of people into a lukewarm faith, or worse, into practicing sacrilege. Bad practices in the Church can indeed erode away the faith and lead people in a direction opposite from the teaching of the Church. There need not be any "change" in doctrine. As they say, actions often speak louder than words. Let me give a few examples.

Pope Francis completely ignored the rules established for the Holy Thursday liturgy. He washed the feet of Muslin women. Our Neo-Catholic friends, snug in their neat little boxes would argue that the Pope can change whatever he would like in regard to the practice of the Liturgy, not understanding that the Pope is still prudentially bound to obey the liturgical laws of the Church. The Pope must responsibly follow the proper form to change these rubrics of the Liturgy. Usually in the past, this would have been well thought out and planned, and it would have included an explanation for the particular change. This would have been accompanied by a theological explanation as well. With Pope Francis we did not receive such an explanation, nor did we see him follow any formal protocol for liturgical change. Instead what Pope Francis demonstrated was a rambunctious attitude toward the liturgical tradition of the Church. This action in turn has given other bishops and priests the idea that they too can tinker with the rubrics and laws of the Church. Also as a result we get armchair hack theologians like Jimmy Akin making up excuses for the Pope so that their whole perfect world doesn't come crumbling in around them. 

Likewise, we can have poorly written documents in the Church, which although may not "officially" change any Church doctrine, they do allow for erroneous interpretations. This allows many in the Church hierarchy to preach a false Gospel, either by their words or their actions. They in effect, hide behind the sloppy text of these documents which use new terminology to undermine traditional theology and philosophy, yet without directly opposing official Church teaching. When left without any stern correction and disciplinary action from the Pope, this all results in the loss of faith. The Mass of Paul VI gives us a perfect example of how a loosely constructed liturgy can be used to destroy the faith of millions. Sure the Mass of Paul VI is valid, but the composition of the Mass is not well constructed, and easily allows for theological error to creep into its execution. For example, a lack of rubrics promotes laxity and individual improvisation of the priests during Mass. The omission and changing of some of the most important prayers of the Mass have moved the focus off of man's sins and his redemption through Christ, to a focus on man himself. The Sacrificial aspect of the Mass is still on paper and yet, the average Novus Ordo Mass does not convey that Sacrifice in its practice. Instead it conveys the community of the people above the Sacrifice. Newsflash! It took no official change of doctrine to move the focus of the Mass off of the vertical, The Sacrifice of Christ, to the horizontal, a focus on man and the community. Theologians such as Father Gregory Klein have won the day in capitalizing on the weakness of the Novus Ordo and the subsequent weak texts on liturgy that have followed it since. Fr. Gregory Klein writes in his book, 'Pastoral Foundations of the Sacraments', page 86, the following, “Eucharist begins with the assembly, the people gather in the name of Jesus Christ. While the details of the environment in which the people gather, the occasion on which people gather, and the manner in which people gather are not unimportant, eucharist is about people.”

The same thing can happen with these synods on the family. All it will take are some ambiguous, shoddy constructed documents using new terminology to be ushered in by the modernist clergy, while the Pope and the rest of the clergy stand around voicing no opposition. If this happens we will see more hellfire and damnation spread throughout the Church. There will be no need to change doctrine because a majority of those in the Church will practice something contrary to Church teaching all the while keeping the official doctrine on paper. This is certainly already happening in the Church to some extent, but we have seen nothing to what will happen if this agenda gets pushed through to water down the moral teachings of the Church concerning the Natural Law and the family. This is exactly what all of the modern Popes up until John XXIII warned us about. They told us that modernism would destroy the faith from the inside of the Church. In reading many of the documents written by these Popes, it seems clear to me that they had no real worry about the Magisterium ever really changing the Church teaching. In fact, they believed that this would never happen. But what they did worry about were theologians in the Church going unchecked promoting modernism, which would slowly erode the faith of the Church. It is more like a poison gas attack than a nuclear bomb. The buildings still stand while the poison kills everyone inside. This is why Pope Pius X warned us that this was the synthesis of all heresies, and a noxious error. It was a heresy that needed no official changing of Church doctrine to destroy the faith of millions in the Church and put a stop to salvation of souls. 

Its time for the Neo-Catholics to wake up and realize they are being played like Satan's golden fiddle. Every time the cog in the modernist wheel is moved forward it is harder and harder to move it back. It is like a ratchet, once it clicks over a notch it is extremely hard to snap it back into place. Those who are concerned with this synod on the family and our current Pope's negligent actions are not over reacting. We are concerned for the state of the Church and the state of people's souls. Those Catholics who are going on and on about the Pope not "officially" changing doctrine are completely missing the point. Let us be reminded of the gravity of the situation in the Church, as recorded by Saint Pope Pius X in Pascendi. The scary part is that we are experiencing the dire consequences of what Pope Pius X warned us about. In our day these enemies are no longer hidden, and perhaps this is God's plan all along.

Gravity of the Situation

2. That We make no delay in this matter is rendered necessary especially by the fact that the partisans of error are to be sought not only among the Church's open enemies; they lie hid, a thing to be deeply deplored and feared, in her very bosom and heart, and are the more mischievous, the less conspicuously they appear. We allude, Venerable Brethren, to many who belong to the Catholic laity, nay, and this is far more lamentable, to the ranks of the priesthood itself, who, feigning a love for the Church, lacking the firm protection of philosophy and theology, nay more, thoroughly imbued with the poisonous doctrines taught by the enemies of the Church, and lost to all sense of modesty, vaunt themselves as reformers of the Church; and, forming more boldly into line of attack, assail all that is most sacred in the work of Christ, not sparing even the person of the Divine Redeemer, whom, with sacrilegious daring, they reduce to a simple, mere man. 
3. Though they express astonishment themselves, no one can justly be surprised that We number such men among the enemies of the Church, if, leaving out of consideration the internal disposition of soul, of which God alone is the judge, he is acquainted with their tenets, their manner of speech, their conduct. Nor indeed will he err in accounting them the most pernicious of all the adversaries of the Church. For as We have said, they put their designs for her ruin into operation not from without but from within; hence, the danger is present almost in the very veins and heart of the Church, whose injury is the more certain, the more intimate is their knowledge of her. Moreover they lay the axe not to the branches and shoots, but to the very root, that is, to the faith and its deepest fires. And having struck at this root of immortality, they proceed to disseminate poison through the whole tree, so that there is no part of Catholic truth from which they hold their hand, none that they do not strive to corrupt. Further, none is more skilful, none more astute than they, in the employment of a thousand noxious arts; for they double the parts of rationalist and Catholic, and this so craftily that they easily lead the unwary into error; and since audacity is their chief characteristic, there is no conclusion of any kind from which they shrink or which they do not thrust forward with pertinacity and assurance. To this must be added the fact, which indeed is well calculated to deceive souls, that they lead a life of the greatest activity, of assiduous and ardent application to every branch of learning, and that they possess, as a rule, a reputation for the strictest morality. Finally, and this almost destroys all hope of cure, their very doctrines have given such a bent to their minds, that they disdain all authority and brook no restraint; and relying upon a false conscience, they attempt to ascribe to a love of truth that which is in reality the result of pride and obstinacy.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

What About Pope Francis? A Traditional Catholic's Thoughts

Since everyone is talking about Pope Francis, I thought I would weigh in with my thoughts about our current Pope. I am not a man to mince words, but I will attempt to give my thoughts in charity. So far in my opinion, Pope Francis has been at best, a mixed bag when it comes to proclaiming the Catholic faith to the world. I make this statement based on his words and actions alone. For example, one day he will speak about the atrocities of abortion and the destruction of the family, and the next he speaks about being lenient in how the Church applies Catholic doctrine to the divorced and remarried in the context of Cardinal Kasper's theology. Yes some of his comments have been taken out of context by the media, but this is not the core of the problem. Those who keep using this excuse are making fools of themselves. The core problem is the mixed message the Pope himself sends to the world.

I will give a few brief examples of the contradictions he sends. On October 30th, 2014 the Pope said, "This generation, and many others, have been led to believe that the devil is a myth, a figure, an idea, the idea of evil,... But the devil exists and we must fight against him." On August 14th he said, "May the Lord bless the family. May He make it strong in this crisis, in which the devil wishes to destroy it.” This is something the world needs to hear, and this is a great Catholic message. Yet, Pope Francis has on several occasions shown direct support for the notorious heretic Cardinal Walter Kasper. It was certainly bad enough that Pope John Paul II put him in charge of ecumenism during his pontificate. But to do as Pope Francis has done, and let him essentially run the past synod on the family was clearly an even bolder move. As this video shows, the Pope has praised Cardinal Kasper directly, and has even endorsed his latest book.

Many of the Neo-Catholics are now even trying to defend Cardinal Kasper because in their minds they have no choice. Their faith would be destroyed if they had to concede the Pope was promoting the theology of a known heretic. So they must use any means to try and justify the Pope's actions. Those Catholics who are following this line however are stepping outside the bounds of the Catholic faith by adopting an error concerning the Pope's guarantee of infallibility. This error can be summed up as, "The Pope can do do no wrong, he can say no wrong, and anyone who criticizes him is not a good Catholic." Anyone of course who adopts this mindset is not mature in the Catholic faith themselves. The Pope is not guaranteed to be free from error outside the Chair of Peter. That is, he is not guaranteed outside the definition of Papal Infallibility. If you are interested in this topic on the Pope and whether he can "go bad." Take the time to read this scholarly work 'Can the Pope Go Bad.' I am not going to speculate on that matter in this blog post, this is a complex question as the linked work above suggests.

However, I read many works concerning the history of the Church, and there have been some horrible Popes that were openly condemned by the faithful. This is nothing new. Most of them however were criticized for their immoral lives, and not for theological errors. There have only been a couple of cases where past Popes made theological errors, and they were primarily communicated by private letter. The information age has put the Church under much closer scrutiny than at any time in history. You would think that the recent Popes would have figured this out and would be extremely prudent in the public eye. Not so for Pope Francis, he is certainly a bull in a china shop when it comes to the public eye. Whatever comes to his mind comes out of his mouth.

This all being said, where does the rubber meet the road with Pope Francis? Has his new open and "more merciful" approach brought more people closer to Christ than previous Popes? I do not think this to be the case. Certainly some people have been enamored with his ideas. He has certainly brought more attention to the Catholic Church than his predecessors, but that does not mean he has been successful in converting people to the Catholic faith. Nor does it mean that he has strengthened the faith of his flock. In my opinion, he has made the Church more worldly than he has made the world more "Churchly", for a lack of a better term.

In brief, here are my top criticisms of Pope Francis.

1. Pope Francis openly supports a known heretic, Cardinal Kasper. There is no question that this is the case. Kasper is a confirmed heretic, and he has been promoting heresy since the 60s. I had the opportunity to see a book written by him in the late 60s where a dear friend of mine, a Catholic priest for over 50 years now, had gone through it and underlined all of his heretical statements. You can listen to this interview of Kasper where he clearly obscures the Church's teaching on contraception, (Minute 24) and it also again confirms that Pope Francis supports his convoluted theology. Kasper also creates a false dichotomy between mercy and justice. What are the ramifications of this support? It is too early to tell, but I can say it is not a good thing. It is no springtime as many are claiming it to be. At least several Cardinals have come out against this support. Cardinal Burke clearly expressed his opinion on Kasper and the synod, "It is profoundly sad and scandalous that such remarks were made by a Cardinal of the Church. They are a further indication of the determination to manipulate the process of the Synod to advance Cardinal Kasper’s false positions,.."

2. Pope Francis openly secularizes the Church. For example, he invited Muslims to come into the Vatican gardens and pray for a Muslim victory over the Catholic Church. He also has now invited openly counter religious performers like Patti Smith to play at the Vatican for the Christmas concert. She has such wisdom, “Freedom is...the right to write the wrong words.” She wrote her own lyrics to a cover of Van Morrison's Gloria, "Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine meltin' in a pot of thieves wild card up my sleeve thick heart of stone my sins my own they belong to me, me people say "beware!" but I don't care the words are just rules and regulations to me, me." How can the presence of these people at these Church events be of any benefit for the faithful or those looking for God? Can we convert people in the world when we conform the Church to the world? I think we know the answer, no. Does anyone remember the words of Jesus in John 18:36? "My kingdom is not of this world." Inviting Muslims into the Vatican Gardens and pagan performers like Smith into the Vatican for a Christmas concert desecrates the Church! Just because ate with sinners does not mean he brought them into the synagogue. Nor does it mean he encourage them to pray to false gods.

3. Pope Francis is a poor theologian. He has criticized the Thomistic revival of recent predecessors such as St. Pope Pius X, Leo XIII, Pius XI and Pius XII to name a few. In my opinion, this is not acceptable behavior from a pontiff. I personally tune out whenever I hear him say things like, "Unfortunately, I studied philosophy from textbooks that came from decadent or largely bankrupt Thomism" This means that the commentaries that the Popes above recommended, he dislikes. Yet there is no question that Francis is nowhere near the theologian of his predecessors. The modernists who rejected those Thomistic manuals are why they Church is in the sad state it is today. For example, no Pope before him would have ever made such a baffling comment as, “I believe in God, not in a Catholic God. There is no Catholic God,..." What a crazy comment to make in a public interview.

4. Pope Francis has no respect for tradition. From the time he first stepped out onto the balcony of St. Peters, Pope Francis has shown little respect for the traditions of the Church. In fact, he seems to hold much of our tradition in contempt. He refused to wear what his predecessors wore when he became Pope. He has gone to efforts to halt the Latin Mass in the order of the Franciscan Friars. It was also an act against tradition to ignore the rubrics of the Holy Thursday liturgy and wash the feet of female Muslim prisoners. For more coverage on his idea of Catholic tradition, check out this news link. It gives a list of things he has done or not done in regard to Catholic tradition.

In summary, thus far Pope Francis has not been in my eyes a great Pope. Is he an immoral monster like Alexander VI? No, but Pope Francis is a Pope that in my opinion is leading the Church in the wrong direction. That does not mean he is not the current Pope, nor does it mean that everything he says and does is wrong. It does mean that he is not doing a very good job of leading the Church, and he is certainly not proclaiming a very clear message of the Gospel from his words and his actions. No, this does not shake my faith one bit in the indefectibility of the Catholic Church. Read the article above that I linked to, to get an idea of why.

Finally, for those who continue to persevere in their foolish "Pope can do no wrong" attitude, and continue to blame the media for everything, they are hurting the Church by failing to recognize the serious problems that this Pope is causing. It all comes down to the conversion of souls. If the Pope does something deserving of criticism, it is not wrong to criticize, in charity. It gives no Catholic pleasure in pointing out the failures of the Pope. I wonder however if all of these these Neo-Catholics who hold Cardinal Newman up as their hero would have condemned Cardinal Newman when he criticized Pope Pius IX? Anyone remember that one? "We have come to a climax of tyranny. It is not good for a pope to live twenty years. It is anomaly, and bears no good fruit; he becomes a god, has no one to contradict him, does not know facts, and does cruel things without meaning it.” and “We must hope, for one is obliged to hope it, that the pope will be driven from Rome and will not continue the council or that there will be another pope. It is sad he should force us to such wishes.”Volume 25 of Dessain's "The Letters and Diaries of John Henry Newman.