The reception of Frederic Martel’s widely anticipated book In the Closet of the Vatican has been surprising. The tantalizing hints dropped before the “bombshell,” “salacious” book’s release exclaimed, “80% of Vatican priests gay.” After an initial international media flurry, the book has dropped out of sight. Two questions arise in my mind. First, what, if anything, can we infer from this deeply flawed book? Second, what did Martel believe he was accomplishing?
The author, Frederic Martel, is a self-described “French gay atheist.” His overarching theme is that the Church’s stance on homosexuality is hypocritical and harmful. Many priests are living “double lives,” professing Church teaching by day and seeking homosexual sex by night.
The solution, in Martel’s mind, is to change Church teaching so that these clergy can live openly homosexually active lives. In this, he, no doubt, has many supporters, both inside and outside the Church.
My friend Dan Mattson has written a truly Catholic, truly great book, called, “Why I don’t call myself gay.” Part memoir, part social commentary, part theological commentary, “Why I don’t call myself gay” is a great counter-weight to the numerous people in society, including sadly, many in the church, who tell young people to “come out.” The whole society tells young people that best way to deal with feelings of sexual attraction to the same sex is to “admit it: you’re gay.”
Dan shows that people who experience same sex attraction have other options. You need not declare yourself “gay,” live a sexually active life, and endorse the entire political agenda served up by the Gay wing of the Sexual Revolution.
A certain very public Jesuit has released a book justifying certain sexual sins. (I don’t want to mention either his name, or the name of his book.) I know many of my friends will want to express their disgust with this man, and disagreement with his views. May I make a respectful suggestion? Every time you mention the heresy, or the heretic, please mention this Dan Mattson, and “Why I don’t call myself gay.”
Catholic and Christian public intellectuals who toe the Sexual Revolutionary Party Line will get plenty of attention from the Main Stream Media. Dan Mattson will only get noticed if we notice him. Please give Dan Mattson more time at the microphone and heretical Jesuits less. Dan’s our guy. Let’s root for him. Let’s ignore the other guys whenever we decently do so.
And get the book.
If you have young people in your life who are telling you that they think they are “gay,” get this book for them. Read it together with them.
IN the meantime, read this story about Dan’s book, by my friend Doug Mainwaring.
A conference, held at the Vatican, is called “Biological Extinction.” What is this all about? What magisterial weight, if any, does it carry?
“The Vatican” is a broad term that can be misleading. In this case, the conference was sponsored by the Pontifical Council of Social Sciences and the Pontifical Council of Science.
According to Wikipedia: “The new members of the Academy are elected by the body of Academicians and chosen from men and women of every race and religion based on the high scientific value of their activities and their high moral profile. They are then officially appointed by the Roman Pontiff.” Thus, the Pope is ultimately, though indirectly, responsible for its membership.
Among the guests was the unrepentant population controller and population scare-monger Paul Ehrlich. (He predicted that millions would starve in the 1980’s from overpopulation.) In the meantime, population decline is rapidly becoming a far greater problem than over-population. (I can’t believe anyone still takes this guy seriously.) The UK Guardian reported: “A world population of around a billion would have an overall pro-life effect, Ehrlich argued. This could be supported for many millennia and sustain many more human lives in the long term compared with our current uncontrolled growth and prospect of sudden collapse.”
PAS President Peter Raven said that because of the threat of overpopulation, “we need at some point to have a limited number of people which is why Pope Francis and his three most recent predecessors have always argued that you should not have more children than you can bring up properly.”
Faithful Catholics will recognize this statement as being so misleading that it is a lie. As I said to the Christian Post, an evangelical outlet:
“Of course, the popes have said that people should consider how many children they can bring up properly. But this has never meant population control by governments, or unnatural contraception. Pope Paul VI was very clear on these points. So was Pope St. John Paul II, and Pope Benedict. And in fact, so is Pope Francis,” Morse said.
I would add that no pope has ever cited “overpopulation” as part of their reasoning. This statement by Peter Raven is a pathetic attempt to enlist the moral authority of the Catholic Church and the Papacy for his ideological agenda that has nothing to do with the salvation of souls.
What is inexplicable: Peter Raven is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science, (not the President of the PAS.)
Does this body speak ex cathedra? It does not. The charism of papal infalliability does not extend to the statements of Pontificial Academies. Nor does it extend to the selection of members to Pontifical Academies, or to the invitation list of Pontifical Academy meetings. Whoever put together this guest list, could have found responsible environmental scientists who are not tainted by population control apologia.
The Catholic Church is the only major institution on earth that has stood fast against the human rights catastrophe of governmentally enforced population control. Pope Paul VI famously predicted it in Humanae Vitae Paragraph 17. The Church has stood against it.
The Chinese “birth control police” numbers over 1 million, arguably the largest law enforcement agency in the world. When a family has an “illegal child,” meaning a child for which they do not have a government “birth permit,” the birth control police may just come along and knock down their home.
We do not have to listen to the pronouncements of these academies. One crop of fallible knuckleheads invited another crop of fallible knuckleheads to a meeting inside Vatican City. That is all.
Faithful Catholics have agonized over how to deal with Pope Francis. We want to be true to the teachings of Jesus Christ, whom we love, and His Church, which we also love. Yet one of the teachings of that Church is that the Pope is infallible when he speaks ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals. How do we conduct ourselves when the Pope says something that seems to contradict the magisterial teachings of the Church, which were themselves promulgated by popes and saints and fathers of the church and Sacred Scripture? That is the situation we face today.
Our first responsibility is to tell the truth.
The Pope is incorrect.
Notice I do not say that the Pope is “wrong,” as that implies moral culpability. Nor do I say that he is “mistaken,” as that implies honest mistakes. I do not know his state of mind. Neither do you. Nor do I have the authority to judge or sanction him. Neither do you, unless you wear a red beanie. So, let’s get that out of our minds. Agonizing over things we cannot know, cannot control, or have no legitimate authority over: that is a waste of time. We cannot afford to squander our energy.
The two Synods on the Family, called by Pope Francis and the publication of Amoris Laetitia under his name, created confusion about key Catholic doctrines that had been clear. Pope Francis was incorrect to create this confusion.
The Famous Five Dubia of the Four Cardinals succinctly summarize the doctrinal situation. The answers to these questions are not difficult, if one intends to read Amoris Laetitia in harmony with the settled magisterium of the Church.
The answers are:
1. No, a divorced and civilly remarried person living “in a marital way” with another person cannot licitly receive communion.
2. Yes. Veritatis Splendor is still valid. There are still absolute moral norms that are binding without exception.
3. Yes. a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery, finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin.
4. Yes, Veritatis Splendor is still valid. “Circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act ‘subjectively’ good or defensible as a choice.”
5. Yes. Veritatis Splendor is still valid. “Conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object.”
Pope Francis has the authority and the responsibility to dispel this confusion. He is incorrect to allow the confusion on these points to remain.
But, what about papal infallibility? If we allow ourselves to think that Pope Francis is incorrect, aren’t we somehow denying the teaching of papal infallibility? I don’t think so.
Strictly speaking, he has not taught ex cathedra that divorced and civilly remarried people can receive communion. Both supporters and critics of Amoris Laetitia have argued that it does not actually change doctrine. The heterodox practices and teachings have emerged from the cloud of confusion.
Let us be clear: the pope’s letter to the Argentine bishops is not an ex cathedra pronouncement. Neither is a press conference on an airplane. The teachings of the bishops of Malta are fallible. So are the twitter feeds of papal associates.
Pope Francis has come right up to the edge of making an official magisterial pronouncement. Perhaps, the Holy Spirit Himself is preventing Pope Francis from crossing that line. In which case, his refusal to answer the dubia may be a blessing.
Nonetheless, he is not fulfilling one of the most basic duties of his office: to protect the Deposit of Faith, as handed down to us from the Apostles.
Dealing with this crisis of truth, in a Christ-like manner, requires us to be scrupulously truthful ourselves. That means saying only what we know to be true. Speculation about motives, intentions and states of mind does not serve us or the Church. It is a distraction, from doing what we can and should be doing, (which I will discuss in a future post.)
I will not promote this post myself in any way, except on my personal Facebook page. I close with this prayer:
Lord God, if these words be of service to the Church, let them be spread far and wide. If my words be not helpful, let them die here in obscurity. Amen.
The Amoris Laetitia crisis in the Catholic Church has many facets and unanswered questions. One question is: why are so few bishops and cardinals asking for clarification of the ambiguities in the document? Why are so few coming to the defense of the plain teaching of Jesus?
Over at Rorate Caeli, John R. T. Lamont, DPhil offers a possible answer: too many Catholics have accepted a servile concept of obedience to authority.
The explanation lies in a false conception of religious authority, which considers it to be above the law rather than subject to law, and that sees the surrender of intellect and will to the religious superior as virtuous and indeed obligatory. This conception has deep roots in the history of the Church.
His argument is long and complex and I will not attempt to review it all here. But his bottom line is very much to the point of this blog.
This programme (of Pope Francis and his allies) does not intend to allow any divorced and remarried Catholics whatsoever to receive communion. Instead, it decrees that reception of communion is to be subject to the decision of the priest who gives it – a decision that is to be guided by considerations that are general enough to make the will of the priest in practice the determining factor. (my emphasis.)
The programme is presented to the public as an increase in freedom for the divorced and civilly remarried. They will no longer be inconvenienced by having to get an annulment. Many of them will not go through the “process” of “accompanying” and simply give themselves permission to go to communion. (Let’s face it: many of them already are.) And since Amoris Laetitia does not actually establish a new process that defines “accompaniment and discernment,” it is easy to see why they would feel ok about giving themselves permission.
Oon the other hand, if a divorced and civilly remarried Catholic presents himself or herself to the priest in good faith, asking for “accompaniment and discernment,” there is no process or criteria in place to determine whether they can receive communion. This is when Dr. Lamont’s point kicks in with a vengance:
This replaces the divine law concerning marriage and the Eucharist with the authority of the priest, and enshrines the superiority of this lawless and therefore tyrannical authority over the authority of God Himself.
The priest decides, with no reference to any authority outside of himself.
This is exactly comparable to the havoc that “no-fault” divorce created in American civil marriage and divorce law. Presented to the public as an increase in freedom for couples in “loveless” or “dead” marriages, the reality has been quite different. One party can divorce the other unilaterally, against the wishes of the other spouse. Quite often, the adulterous spouse seeks the divorce, and the law assists them.
No fault was presented to the public as a solution to the problem of legalistic, proceedings requiring one party to prove that the other was having an affair. The advocates of this far-reaching legal change did not seem to realize that these “sham” proceedings could only work if both parties agreed to make it work. The partners in the “dead” “loveless” marriage had to cooperate to make the court believe that one had met the legal criteria for a “cause” for divorce. The “loveless” partners had to agree to most of the terms going into the court, or they would not cooperate with each other. Under the no fault regime, no one has to provide evidence of anything. One party can end the marriage against the explicit wishes of the other.
Family courts have become sources of tyranny in our culture, where the most powerful, the most vengeful, the richer systematically prevail over the weaker, gentler and poorer. Where the faithful spouse is at a disadvantage. God forbid the Church should replicate this form of “progress.”
But Dr. Lamont’s insight suggests that this is exactly what will happen. Under the interpretation of Church law inspired by AmorisLaetitia, the priest will have more, not less authority, because he will no longer feel himself bound by the annulment process defined by canon law. The more lawless divorced and civilly remarried spouses will give themselves permission. Those who most wish to follow Christ, will become the weaker parties, disadvantaged by the dismantling of legal processes.
Looking across history and cultures, one can see this pattern: Lawlessness benefits the already strong, and harms the weak. The alternative to law is not freedom, but the Law of the Strongest.
The Anti-Catholic Media have decided to go after Cardinal Burke, a wise and gentle man, greatly beloved by Catholics around the world. The New York Times on February 7 and the Washington Post on February 9 published hit pieces on the Cardinal. Sandwiched in between was a Feb 8 Washington Post hit piece on Steve Bannon, that took an incidental swipe at Cardinal Burke.
Saul Alinsky in his (in)famous “Rules for Radicals,” (you know, the book dedicated to Lucifer. Go “look inside” at Amazon and you’ll see it.) gives rule # 13: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” Cut off the support network and isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions.” Evidently, Cardinal Burke is the current target.
Look at the comments to the Feb 9 WaPo hit piece. For the first 24 hours, the comments are all hostile to Cardinal Burke. After that, his supporters ride in to the rescue. Out of over 100 comments since Feb 10, I counted perhaps 5 that were hostile to him. (Fr Z’s readers, perhaps?)
My point is this: we need to go to these sites and stick up for Cardinal Burke. The attackers will not let up. Therefore, we must not let up either.
Noted child protection advocate and attorney Elizabeth Yore reports on Six Cases Where the Sexual Abuse Scandal Touches Pope Francis. What these cases seem to have in common is NOT any predatory behavior by the Pope himself. God forbid. But, he seems to be covering for clerics who are connected to him, even while he vigorously criticizes the Church in general for laxity on clergy sex abuse.
Attorney Yore recounts these six cases:
1. The Fr. Inzoli case: Shocking papal intervention on behalf of a sexual predator.
2. The sex abuse victims of the Argentina/Italy Provolo Institute for Deaf and Mute
at least 60 students of the Provolo Institute in Argentina have come forward seeking justice for the abuse they say they suffered at the hands of the accused men. Read about the school of horrors here. unlike many of the cases, this one includes the abuse of girls, as well as boys.
3. Belgian Cardinal Danneels
In 2010, Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels was caught on tape attempting to cover up years of abuse involving his close friend and fellow bishop, Roger Vangheluwe, then-Bishop of Bruges. The victim on the 2010 tape was Bishop Vangheluwe’s nephew. Cardinal Danneels was brought out of retirement to attend both Synods on the family. Here is an appalling comparison of the kid-glove treatment of Danneels with the draconian treatment of (former) Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn.
4. Honduran Cardinal Maradiaga
This one may not be entirely fair: he doesn’t appear to have done anything wrong, or covered for anyone. Yore includes him because he seems not to take abuse cases seriously. However, one cannot deny that:
Shortly after his election as Pope, Francis named Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga as the head of the C9, the newly created Papal Cabinet of Cardinals. As head of the C9, Maradiaga is sometimes dubbed the “vice pope.”
Karadima has become a symbol of the Vatican soft-glove punishment style and of how civil statutes of limitations prevent authorities from prosecuting sexual criminals in the church…. Last year, Francis named Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Karadima’s most powerful defender, as one of eight cardinals on the commission advising him on Vatican reforms. Errázuriz refused to act on a victim’s allegations in 2003, telling the priest not to worry, according to news accounts and legal testimony.
6. Chilean Bishop Barros
In March 2015, Pope Francis appointed Bishop Juan Barros to lead the Diocese of Osorno, Chile. The Fr. Karadima sex abuse victims and Osorno Catholics were furious over this papal selection because of Bishop Barros’ long association with Fr. Karadima. The priest-predator was in fact a longtime mentor to Barros.
What does this all add up to? A Pope with poor judgment? A Pope with lousy friends, and misplaced loyalty to them?
Jesus made His position on divorce very clear: One to a customer for life. (Slight paraphrase.)
Seriously. His apostles were quite frankly, freaked out. He doubled down, and started talking to them about celibacy. Seriously. Look it up in Matthew 19.
With the benefit of 2000 years of hindsight, we can see the wisdom of prohibiting attempts at second marriages. Divided loyalties for children. Broken hearts of abandoned spouses. Since we have been systematically breaking His commandments for the past 50 years, we have statistical evidence that divorce is hard on children.
This particular research summary finds that children of divorce have poorer relationships with not only mother and father, but often with grandparents as well. Children of divorce have a weakened ability to handle conflict, are more likely to be aggressive, and as adults, tend to be less able to communicate effectively with their own spouses. Children of divorce have more behavior problems in school, more depression and anxiety, diminished learning capacity and lowered school performance. Child abuse and neglect are more common, especially in stepfamilies. Children of divorce have lifelong increased health burdens, including a risk of premature death. This summary of research goes on in this vein for 48 closely-typed pages, and 333 footnotes.
On the night before He died, Jesus foresaw His own physical suffering as He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. I imagine that He saw all the sins of the world, for which He would suffer and atone. Because He was God, He could see all things and know all things. I believe He saw the children of divorce, weeping for the loss of the lives they had known. I believe He saw the anguish of abandoned spouses. I bet He saw the fact that second “marriages” are more likely to fail that first marriages. He saw the disappointment so many attempted second marriages would bring. He was trying to spare us all this.
Some bishops of the Catholic Church are interpreting Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia to mean that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can present themselves for communion, if they believe they are “at peace with God.” I cannot imagine what these men are thinking.
I can tell you what they are NOT thinking. They are not thinking about the abandoned spouses. They are NOT thinking about the children, whose families have been turned upside down by their parents’ switching out of parent-figures and sex-partners.
This is the child’s perspective. We tell them, “I still love you. But my relationship with my new sex partner is more important to me than my relationship with your other parent, even though your other parent is half of who you are.” The children cannot make sense of these incompatible claims.
Needless to say: this conflict does not even arise in families where the parents are continuously and faithfully married to each other.
There is, in the end, only one cure for this kind of social confusion. To say as often and as loudly as we can: Jesus was right to prohibit attempts at second marriages while the first spouse is still living. We know this from experience. Our experience is so profound, we will not be talked out of it.
If you have such an experience to share, please consider telling your story for the Tell Ruth the Truth blog. You will be helping more people than you know.
I have had several posts about the Catholic controversies over divorce and remarriage. Here, here and here. This seems a good time to refer my friends and readers to resources that may be helpful to you.
If you are a Catholic, and believe your attempted marriage was not in fact a valid marriage, Rose Sweet’s material can help you through the annulment process. (Actually, Rose’s stuff helps a lot of people through alot of post-divorce healing.)
If you are Catholic, and your spouse wants a divorce, and you believe your marriage is valid, Mary’s Advocates has a wealth of material for you. Bai Macfarlane has done a prodigious amount of labor, compiling information about canon law and Church teaching. She includes a sample petition for you to use to your bishop to ask him to try to intervene to stop a break-up. Mary’s Advocates provides a template petition containing this plea. I do not know what your bishop will do or say. I do believe however, that no harm can come from asking.
The Ruth Institute, the organization I founded, has a whole page for the Reluctantly Divorced (a term we coined) and a page for the Children of Divorce. We even created a brochure, summarizing the elevated risks that children of divorce face over their lifetimes.
Finally, you may wish to consider sharing your story with our readers. Our Tell Ruth the Truth blog provides an outlet for you, and solidarity for others in similar situations. I find that many people feel alone when they are dealing with family breakdown. Nothing could be further from the truth. You are absolutely not alone. Pretty much every family in America has some form of family breakdown, somewhere in their family tree. Let’s help each other.
I asked all my readers to say the Rosary every day, in the last Ruth Institute newsletter of 2016. (You are not a subscriber? Easily corrected.) I gave my non-Catholic readers a non-Rosary suggestion for stepping up their prayer lives.
I got one very charming note from a non-Catholic who was very concerned that I was praying to Mary. I would like to clarify this bit of Catholic teaching.
We do not pray to Mary or any saint. We ask dead people to pray for us, just as we ask living people to pray for us. That is all.
If it is coherent to ask a friend to pray for me (and of course, it is) it is perfectly ok to ask a deceased friend to pray for me.
We do not worship Mary. (Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) #971.) We do not worship the saints. (CCC #956). We do not worship statues. (CCC# 1670). We never have.
This is important, whether you are Catholic or not because it illustrates how factual errors, constantly promoted, can take on lives of their own. I do not know who started these rumors about Catholic belief. I do know that they took on political and economic importance around the time of the Reformation. Ambitious people had an incentive to spread these rumors, promote these rumors, feed these rumors. No matter how many times we say, “we do not worship Mary or the saints or the statues,” they kept insisting that we did. This has been going on for at least 500 years.
No doubt someone will write to me and tell me I am mistaken and that in fact I do worship Mary. I issue this challenge: if you can find me any definitive magisterial statement by a competent Church authority to the contrary, I will listen to what you have to say. But I don’t think you can find such a statement.
Today, we have ambitious people promoting flat out lies about the human condition, such as: Kids don’t need their own parents. All differences between men and women are socially constructed. A fetus is not a person. Bruce Jenner is a woman. And so on.
Just because these statements are false does not mean that they will die out. The people who benefit from them will keep promoting them, no matter how many times we correct the record.
We have to call this out for what it is: lying. It won’t go away on its own. It could go on for 500 years. I, for one, am not going to sit by quietly while such a thing gets started.