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[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Heresy Unvelied: Amoris Laetitia

Heresy Unveiled: Amoris Laetitia

I. Heresy Unveiled
Since the public presentation of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia on Saturday, February 8, the traditional media has been flooded with negative evaluations. I made a list of some of the pejoratives: ambiguous; undermining; fundamental option; turning point in Catholic doctrine; uncertainty; coup; revolutionary; relativistic; plot to turn the Church upside down; demolish the foundations of two thousand years of Catholicism; constant teaching of the Church destroyed; strange; surreal; disquieting; dreadful; devastating for the Church; a praise to heretic joy; catastrophic. It has even been simply called the “Bergoglian heresy”.

In these evaluations, a number of passages have been quoted from the Exhortation, virtually all of the relevant ones to be found in Chapter 8, which is titled “Accompanying, discerning and integrating weakness”. Unquestionably, these passages and their respective evaluations offer evidence for the strong condemnations of these commentators. Possibly most succinct, and most often employed, is a passage from paragraph 305, and its footnote. The passage reads:
Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin — which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such — a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.
The relevant footnote (#351) reads:
In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium [24 November 2013], 44: AAS 105 [2013], 1038). I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (ibid., 47: 1039)

Implicit heresy
All this is indeed an indication of an underlying heresy, but it does not, so to speak, “put the nail to the coffin”. As one commentator put it, it is “careful language”. Or, as Cardinal Schönborn stated in his Intervention at the Presentation of Amoris Laetitia, it is a “linguistic event”.
Possibly the most succinct, devastating, and poignant summary of this position — that Amoris Laetitia represents not explicit, but implicit, heresy — has come, not from a traditional Catholic,  but from a man who describes himself as having been a secular Jew who converted to Catholicism, and now has rejected the Faith entirely. Damon Linker, in The Week magazine, writes
the following:
If there were any doubts that Pope Francis is a stealth reformer of the Roman Catholic Church, the apostolic exhortation he released last week (Amoris Laetitia, or the "Joy of Love") should settle the matter.
A straightforward reformer of the church seeks to change its doctrines. A stealth reformer like Francis, on the other hand, keeps the doctrines intact but invokes such concepts as mercy, conscience, and pastoral discernment to show priests that it's perfectly acceptable to circumvent and disregard those doctrines in specific cases. A doctrine officially unenforced will soon lose its authority as a doctrine. Where once it was a commandment sanctioned by God, now it becomes an "ideal" from which we're expected to fall short. Before long it may be treated as a suggestion. Eventually, repealing it is no longer controversial — or perhaps even necessary.
Stealth reform ultimately achieves the same reformist goal, but without inspiring the intense opposition that would follow from attempting to change the doctrine outright. 

Explicit heresy
However, Cardinal Schönborn, Damon Linker, and others who promote such views concerning the Pope’s Exhortation are wrong. It is not just a “linguistic event” or “stealth reform” or revolution, which is able to fly under the radar of a specific charge of heresy. There is a very explicit heresy, it is the foundation of all the other legitimate condemnations of Amoris Laetitia, and it clearly reveals the agenda which germinates and nourishes all the rest of its errors. It is found in paragraphs 296 and 297:
The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone forever; it is to pour out the balm of God’s mercy on all those who ask for it with a sincere heart… For true charity is always un-merited, unconditional and gratuitous. (296).
It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an 'unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous' mercy. No one can be condemned for ever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel! (297)
Clearly, the Pope is here speaking of the individual human person, and the state of his soul which determines whether he is justified or condemned. As a Catholic, whatever he says therefore must be judged in the light of the Council of Trent’s infallible teaching concerning justification. Chapter VII of the Council’s Decree on Justification is titled: What the Justification of the Impious Is, and What Are the Causes Thereof. It contains this crucial passage:
For, although no one can be just but he to whom the merits of the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ are communicated, yet is this done in the said justification the impious, when by the merit of that same most holy Passion, the charity of God is poured forth by the Holy Spirit in the hearts of those that are justified and is inherent therein: whence, man, through Jesus Christ, in Whom he is ingrafted, receives, in the said justification, together with the remission of sins, all these (gifts) infused at once, faith, hope, and charity.
For a person to possess justifying charity, therefore, means that he is in an ontological state of being in friendship with God, and ingrafted into Christ. In defining the justifying theological virtue of charity, St. Thomas teaches: “It is written: I will not now call you servants…but My friends. Now this was said by reason of nothing else than charity. Therefore charity is friendship.” (ST, II-II, Q.1, A.1). This is why we rightly speak of the possession of sanctifying grace as “being in the friendship of God”.
To assert, as does Pope Francis, that such charity is unmerited, unconditional, and gratuitous is simply a form of the Lutheran heresy, which views justification, and the perseverance in God’s friendship as totally unmerited by man, and as not requiring the cooperation of man in virtue and the performance of good works. 

Condemned by Trent
In my article The Dream of Nabuchodonosor, to appear in a forthcoming edition of Christian Order, I quote 21 Canons of the Council of Trent’s Decree on Justification which condemn Luther’s position, and detail at every stage of man’s justification — from preparation for conversion up to the grace of final perseverance — the absolute necessity of the cooperation of man’s free will and the performance of good works in the attainment of, and perseverance in, God’s friendship, and the possession of that supernatural charity which we call sanctifying grace.
I will not repeat all of these Canons here, but only offer a section from Chapter XI of the Council’s Decree, and also the paragraph which constitutes the entirety of Chapter XV:
But no one, how much soever justified ought to think himself exempt from the observance of the commandments, no one ought to make use of that rash saying, one prohibited by the Fathers under an anathema, that the observance of the commandments of God is impossible for one that is justified. For God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou art able, and to pray for what thou art not able (to do), and aids thee that thou mayest be able; whose commandments are not heavy, whose yoke is sweet, and whose burden light. For whoso are the sons of God love Christ; but they who love Him keep His commandments, as Himself testifies; which, assuredly, with the divine help, they can do.
In opposition also to the subtle wits of certain men who, by pleasing speeches and good works, seduce the hearts of the innocent, it is to be maintained that the received grace of justification is lost not only by infidelity [loss of faith], whereby even faith itself is lost, but also by any other mortal sin whatever, though faith be not lost; thus defending the doctrine of the divine law, which excludes from the kingdom of God not only the unbelieving, but the faithful also (who are) fornicators, adulterers, effeminate, liars with mankind, thieves, covetous, drunkards, railers, extortioners, and all others who commit deadly sins; from which, with the help of divine grace, they can refrain, and on account of which they are separated from the grace of Christ.
Against this orthodox benchmark, consider the statement of Pope Francis (including his twisting of the statements of PaulVI) in paragraph #305:
Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin — which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such — a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.
Clearly, this does indeed constitute heresy. Just as his statement in footnote 351 explicitly invites Eucharistic sacrilege:
In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, 'I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy' (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium [24 November 2013], 44: AAS 105 [2013], 1038). I would also point out that the Eucharist 'is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak' (ibid., 47: 1039).

Heretical essence
Herein resides the essence of this heresy. It lies specifically in teaching that there is a “gradualness” applicable to the possession of charity and sanctifying grace. It is Catholic dogma that possession of supernatural charity is an ontological state created by sanctifying grace added to the soul, that one cannot possess this charity unless living in this substantial state, and that it is this state of being which is absolutely necessary for receiving the Eucharist and other sacraments. It cannot be possessed by a person living in objective mortal sin, or by any person who is in some process of pastoral effort working towards the attainment of some “ideal”.
In addition, all of Francis’ various statements which promote the idea that an individual’s correspondence with immutable Catholic moral doctrine is only an ideal, which may be now unattainable, and which must be subject to this new principle of “gradualism”, constitutes a blasphemy against God’s goodness and grace, “Who aids thee that thou may be able”, as clearly laid out in Chapters XI and XV of Trent’s Decree on Justification as quoted above.
It must also be noted, that it is also an egregious error to claim, as does paragraph 297, that It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an 'unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous' mercy. No one can be condemned forever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel! (297).
It is not “the logic of the Gospel” that “no one can be condemned forever”. Our Lord emphatically stated, “For many are called, but few are chosen”. Again, as taught by the Council of Trent’s Decree, the “call” (which is termed “prevenient grace”) is indeed unmerited and gratuitous, coming as it does before any decision by the individual, but the being “chosen” (justified, and living in the state of charity), demands our cooperation and works. This is the “call” which Nineveh heard and complied with in the Old Testament. It is the “call”, which the world heard at Fatima, and with which few have cooperated. Thus our present chastisement.
Mercy is often not unmerited, unconditional, and gratuitous, and this is especially true of its application to the salvation of the individual soul. To conclude otherwise amounts to the promotion of a “cheap” and false mercy.

Crushing impact
Amoris Laetitia has the potential to place every priest in the world on the ropes. This is especially true because the way in which it will be implemented has been decentralised and, as it were, democratised. Every priest (and of course every bishop) will be forced to make the decision as to whether he chooses to obey Christ and His Gospel, or whether to embrace this heresy and its consequences (especially sacrilegious Communion and Confession). If he chooses the first alternative, he will almost certainly suffer profoundly, even to the point of losing his faculties. If he chooses the latter, he will be complicit in both heresy and sacrilege. There will be an immense pressure placed upon priests’ ministry in the confessional, not only by what will probably be the majority of bishops, but even more overwhelmingly by the “faithful”.

Cardinal Burke
Finally, I think it necessary to mention Cardinal Burke’s rather lengthy response to Amoris Laetitia. This would seem necessary because of the respect he has earned among traditional Catholics in his defense of the moral law in general, and the indissolubility of marriage in particular.
Cardinal Burke is quite critical of those who have offered critical evaluations of the Pope’s Exhortation, and who see it as a “revolution in the Church”, and as “a radical departure from the teaching and practice of the Church, up to now, regarding marriage and the family”. He sees such criticisms as a “wonder and confusion to the faithful”, and as “potentially a source of scandal….”
Cardinal Burke’s solution is a receiving of Amoris Laetitia by interpreting it with “the key of the magisterium”, and that “the task of pastors and other teachers of the faith is to present it within the context of the Church’s teaching and discipline”. It should be added that, to his credit, Cardinal Burke devotes quite a bit of space in an attempt to do precisely that. Despite his efforts, however, it is quite evident that a good number of traditional Catholic websites, which usually pay attention to his every word, have conspicuously ignored his response. One has even called it “weak”.
In consideration of Cardinal Burke’s position, I would offer two points.
First, his position that we can interpret Amoris Laetitia in light of the perennial teaching of the Church, and the implicit conclusion that what is mostly at fault are pastoral policies which might contradict this teaching, is dependent upon there being no real contradiction in Amoris Laetitia with the Church’s doctrine — no heresy. As should be obvious from the above analysis, I believe such a conclusion to be false.
Secondly, Cardinal Schönborn’s unusual, but very perceptive, observation that Amoris Laetitia is a “linguistic event” should cause us to shudder in regard to consideration of any sort of “presentation” of this document, not only to the faithful, but also to priests and bishops. The term “linguistic event” indicates a power within much of its language and passages — variously described as “beautiful”, “inspiring”, “poetic”, and “mystical” — which is bound to exercise a profound effect upon even the most wary. This language will act as an apparently beautiful and seductive vortex drawing the faithful down into the embrace of that central heresy which is the foundation of all of the rest of this document’s errors and destructive pastoral approaches.
It would seem necessary to conclude, therefore, that Amoris Laetitia should not be received by the Church: it should be flatly rejected.
As Cardinal Burke has himself made clear in his response, Amoris Laetitia is not a binding magisterial document, nor are there any binding juridical norms. Despite this, any faithful Catholic should experience “fear and trembling” in proposing the sort of criticisms and conclusions which I have offered above. It is as it must be.

* * *
II. Modernism Invades the Catholic Heart
“The final battle between the Lord and the reign of Satan
will be about marriage and the family.”
(from Sister Lucia of Fatima’s letter to Cardinal Carlo Caffarra)
In Part I, we noted that the Holy Father's Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia directly contradicts the Council of Trent. Contrary to the teaching of Francis, Trent teaches that there can be no possession of charity, and no “living in God’s grace” for one living in objective mortal sin. With one mortal sin, charity and justification are lost. Nor can such a person “grow in the life of grace and charity.” As Trent also makes clear, sanctifying grace and charity may indeed grow and increase, but only where justification and charity are already present.
Let us now turn to Sister Lucia’s statement quoted above, that the final battle between Christ and Satan will be “about marriage and the family.” This might at first sight seem quite surprising. We might protest that there are deeper theological issues and doctrines which would surely have to hold a higher priority for Satan’s malice and plan of attack — such things as the divinity of Christ, or the truths concerning the Incarnation. We might further claim that even greater damage has been done by such things as false ecumenism, religious indifferentism, the banalities of the New Mass,
or the prostitution of the priesthood and the religious life to the world. I think, however, that we need to look deeper in order to perceive the depth of the threatened devastation which is now upon us.
Catholic resilience
In the spiritual warfare between Modernism and the traditional Catholic Faith, the Modernists’ goal of final victory has always been most severely hampered by one factor: the basic instinct (this word here used loosely) which is called the sensus fidelium  (sense of the faithful).
The Modernist works his wiles through the complexities of deceitful words and ideas. We think of men like Rahner, Kung, de Lubac, von Balthasar, Teilhard de Chardin. The average Catholic knows virtually nothing about these men or their writings. It is equally unlikely that they have read Pope Pius X’s analysis and refutation of Modernism in his great encyclical Pascendi. The faithful tend rather to believe the truths that they have received and which give meaning and purpose to the immediate realities experienced in their lives — family, marriage, the rearing of children, and their work. Their faith is in many ways protected by the births, loves, joys, sufferings, and deaths which form the rhythms of a human heart in touch with reality, and the life of God which is the light of their own existence: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”
This is not to say that the Modernists have not enjoyed great success. Their perverse ideas have penetrated into catechisms and the education of youth, confused the faithful through such events as Assisi and all of the other scandalous ecumenical activities and pastoral practices, adversely affected their spirituality through the banalities of the New Mass, severely stained priesthood and hierarchy with virtually every sin conceivable, and penetrated with their poisonous atmosphere into every corner of Catholic belief and life. This has produced a massive loss in vocations, destruction of Catholic education, soaring divorce rates, widespread ignorance of, and dissent from, certain articles of the Catholic faith, and “filth” and corruption seemingly everywhere.
And yet, despite all sorts of ominous predictions, this Catholic “Thing” refuses to die, and in fact has shown surprising life in the very midst of all this chaos and filth. Many thousands of fathers and mothers have turned to homeschooling their children. Vocations to the priesthood have taken a dramatic turn upward, with many young men showing a deep interest in Catholic tradition, and even the traditional Mass. Something similar may be said in regard to the founding of new religious congregations, especially among young women. A profound poverty of orthodox literature and media sources during the 1970’s has been completely overturned. The establishment of Perpetual Adoration in local parishes continues to grow. And the offering of the Traditional Latin Mass continues to spread in dioceses throughout the world. The Catholic heart, though in many ways confused, fearful, and often seduced into excesses and error, is still very much alive.
The Catholic heart
And what is this Catholic heart? What is its deepest root and foundation?
St. Thomas teaches that three things must be held explicitly by all who would be considered to possess the Catholic faith (whether other articles must be held explicitly, or only implicitly, can depend upon various factors). Two of these are constituted by theological doctrines of the faith, namely: all the truths concerning the Incarnation; and belief in the Trinity. But the other thing — which Thomas actually mentions first because it holds a certain priority in terms of the basic structure of the human heart in its deepest relationship to God — is to be found in the teaching of St. Paul:
But without faith, it is impossible to please God. For he that cometh to God, must believe that he is, and is a rewarder to them that seek him. (Heb. 11:6).
And lest we think that such “seeking” is some sort of non-substantive quest with no specific demands or commandments, we need only refer to the words of Our Lord in the very last chapter of the Book of the Apocalypse:
Behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to render to every man according to his works. I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. Blessed are they that wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb: that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city. Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols, and every one that loveth and maketh a lie.
In other words, the one thing most necessary for integrity within the human heart is the foundational principle of justification — that God is the source of all goodness and grace, and that our cooperation with Him is the necessary condition for all the “rewards” promised by Him. This is the root principle of all else — of Who God is, of human dignity and freedom, and of that charity upon which all else depends. It determines the basic orientation of the human heart upon which all intellectual and moral sanity pivots.
Amoris: Lutheran nightmare revisited
It is not a matter of mere historical accident that this was the “first truth” denied by Luther, and the corner stone upon which all the rest of his perversions were erected. His own moral, intellectual, and physical degradation was the direct natural fruit of this denial, as was the profound decay in Christian civilisation, and all its institutions, which it effected.
And now, we stand at the edge of an intellectual and moral precipice over which the Catholic Church is being pushed into this same nightmare of the human heart. And it is the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation which is poised to be the engine of this destruction.
Amoris and annulments: corroding the Catholic heart
We now should be able to understand why the final battle between Christ and Antichrist may well be conducted over the issues of marriage and the family. The Sacrament of Matrimony, which is the absolute foundation of the family, is constituted as the primordial image of Christ’s faithful and indissoluble love for His Church: “This is a great sacrament; but I speak in Christ and in the church” (Eph. 5: 32). As Pope John Paul II wrote in Familiaris Consortio,
Their bond of love becomes the image and the symbol of the covenant which unites God and His people. And the same sin which can harm the conjugal covenant becomes an image of the infidelity of the people to their God…. Infidelity is adultery, disobedience to the law is abandonment of the spousal love of the Lord.”(12).
Thus, the heresy in Amoris Laetitia over which the Church now hovers penetrates into the human heart as the most profound betrayal and denial of Christ’s love for His Church and, in turn, the Church’s fidelity to Christ.
A true sacramental marriage is the communion of love and fidelity within which God wills the formation of all children in justification and charity. It begins in the simplest of ways. A father and mother tell their young child that he can only have the biscuit he desires if he first says he is sorry for some bad behaviour. Thus the child learns that reward and repentance are intimately connected, and constitute the deepest “rule of faith” in regard to human life, love, and justice.
All of this is shattered in a child who then witnesses his parents, while living in adultery, presuming to receive God Himself in Holy Communion. If we think that children do not “pick up” on such hypocrisy at a very early age, at least intuitively, we are very gravely mistaken. It is indeed a matter of pathos that Pope Francis offers “for the good of the children” as probably the primary “mitigating factor” which might allow those living in an adulterous union to receive the Eucharist.
It needs pointing out that the “liberalisation” of the annulment process proposed by Francis is the other “end” of this hypocrisy.  Satan now surrounds the Sacrament of Matrimony as a vulture awaiting the death of the Catholic heart.
It is also no accident of history that Luther’s denial of the Catholic doctrine of Justification culminated in his blessing of the adulterous second marriage of his protector, Landgrave Philip of Hesse, who became the leader of the Schmalkaldic League in its war against the Catholic Church. Luther denied the heart of justification and charity, and his blessing of adultery followed as a logical fruit. Luther bent his knee to Phillip of Hesse, the political power of his time; the Church now genuflects before the forces from which Antichrist will arise. One of the first things always instituted by Godless secular power is civil divorce and remarriage. They know where the Catholic heart resides.
From Amoris to Lund
Coming hard on the heels of the publication of Amoris Laetitia will be the journey of Pope Francis to Lund, Sweden, on 31 October  2016, in order to initiate the year-long celebration of the Protestant “Reformation”, and the 500th anniversary of Luther’s issuance of his 95 Theses. This event will be the fruit of the Catholic-Lutheran Joint Declaration on Justification (1999) and the Vatican document From Confrontation to Communion issued in 2013. As stated in Part I, my analysis of the significance of this event, especially as it relates to the topic which I have discussed in this present article, will appear in a forthcoming edition.
Beyond 'interpretation'
I wish to emphasise again that Amoris Laetitia must be rejected by the entire Church. It is absurd to believe that it can somehow be interpreted in the light of tradition. It is equally foolish and futile to petition the Pope for “clarification”.  From a human perspective, the only thing that can alter this Pope’s trajectory is a wall of the sensus fidelium which loudly cries NO! It is presumptuous to claim that we must wait for God’s grace and intervention, while we remain silent in false meekness. Very possibly, the grace that awaits us is that we be given the heart to speak. We need to do this most of all for our children:
Behold I will send you Elias the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come, and strike the earth with anathema. (Malachias 4: 5-6).
It is time to cast off cowardice.

For further insightful analysis of Amoris Laetitia, visit the author's site: www.waragainstbeing.com/