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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Muller the Material Heretic: Church hasn’t changed teaching against contraception, divorce, homosexuality

Muller the Material Heretic: Church hasn’t changed teaching against contraception, divorce, homosexuality 
The Catholic Church under Pope Francis has not changed her teaching on the immorality of cohabitation, adultery, divorce, or homosexuality, and she has certainly not opened the door for civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics to receive Holy Communion, said Cardinal Gerhard Muller in a new book-length interview published April 1. 
 
Muller, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, said in the 240-page book, titled The Cardinal Muller Report, that Catholics must not fear “confessing our faith." The book was dedicated to Pope Francis.
In the interview, conducted about a year ago but only made available in English this month, the Cardinal said that it would be a “false concept of God” as well as a “false interpretation of mercy” to allow civilly-divorced-and-remarried Catholics living in adultery to receive Communion.
In “immoral relationships” such as cohabitation and divorce-and-remarriage, he said, “the seeds of the Word [of God] do not abide in [these] sinful situations.” In these situations, he added, “despite the fact that it might seem otherwise, there can be no authentic dynamic of love but, rather, only a serious obstacle to the ability to grow in humanity.”
Muller said that the 2015 Synod on the Family insisted that “given the intimate nature of the sacraments and the character of the indissolubility of marriage as divine law, it is not possible to admit to the Eucharist divorced people who have remarried civilly.”
Any pastoral accompaniment for those in irregular situations, he said, must “always be rendered according to conscience and the teaching of the Church.”
“Saint John Paul II warned that being pastoral does not mean a compromise between the doctrine of the Church and the complex reality of daily life but, rather, leading individuals to Christ,” he added.
The Cardinal said that Pope Francis’ much used statement that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak,” is often mistakenly interpreted. He maintained that it does not mean that “anyone can come to receive the Eucharist even though he is not in grace and does not have the required state of mind, just because it is nourishment for the weak."
He noted that access to the Eucharist comes with necessary preconditions.
“Certainly access to Eucharistic Communion presupposes a life of grace, presupposes communion in the Body of the Church, and also presupposes a life ordered in conformity with the Body of the Church so as to be able to say the ‘Amen’ to which you referred before. Saint Paul insists that whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the Body and Blood of the Lord,” he said.
To go to Communion without being in the required state of grace and with the assumption that God “grants me privately the forgiveness of my sins” is a “false concept of God; this is tempting him,” he added.
Muller said that Pope Francis’ famous statement “Who am I to judge,” often repeated by those who are hoping to see a “change of direction” in the Church on homosexuality, does not mean the Church has suddenly become “less dogmatic” on the issue.
“The concept of the intrinsic disorder of homosexual acts, because they do not proceed from a genuine emotional and sexual complementarity, stems from Holy Scripture,” he said.
And yes, he said, the Church “with her Magisterium, has the power to judge the morality of specific situations,” such as sexual acts.
“This is an undisputed truth: God is the only judge who will judge us at the end times, and the pope and bishops have the obligation to present the revealed criteria for this Last Judgment which our moral conscience already anticipates. The Church has always said ‘this is true, this is false,’ and no one can live by his own subjectivist interpretation of God’s commandments,” he added.
The Cardinal warned against “new anti-family ideologies” that have arisen that “attempt to redefine what is human, based, not on the truth, but on individual feeling and social utility.”
He specifically mentioned the danger of “gender ideology.”
This ideology, he said, “does not respect the reality of things and that ultimately denies the Creator and man’s condition of having been created.” It “affirms that man’s identity does not depend on nature, with a body that is limited to a masculine or feminine sexuality” and “makes use of medical advances to use the body as an area of experimentation, viewing a change in sex as a simply biological operation,” he said.
Muller said that lurking behind gender ideology is the manmade “idol” of “our own liberty, of our own wish, proposing to be, ourselves, those who determine what is good and bad.”
“Was this not the substance of the first temptation of Adam and Eve? Is it possible to build a society without respecting the fundamental difference between a man and a woman?” he added.
The Cardinal concluded his interview by proposing how the Church can help modern man find “peace and reconciliation with himself.”
“There is only one way open to us: compunction or repentance for the evil committed. The Cross of Christ is the only path. There is no other path for evangelization today,” he said.

Other topics Cardinal Muller addressed in his interview (paragraphs not necessarily linked in original): 

Islamist terrorism

More deeply, I believe that we have here a path out of the phenomenon of Islamist terrorism: we should not favor a separation of society as a whole from God, but should instead, on the contrary, harness the power of religion as a social relationship that reinforces living together, peace, and therefore progress for all.

Priestly celibacy

Priestly celibacy, which is being challenged so much today in certain ecclesiastical quarters, is rooted in the Gospels as an evangelical counsel, but it also is intrinsically related to the ministry of the priest.
We cannot break unilaterally from the series of declarations by a long line of popes and councils and from the steady and continuous adherence of the Catholic Church to the image of the celibate priest.

Women priests

This is not a legitimate issue, because it touches on a subject that has already been decided. Pope Francis has made it clear, as have his predecessors: in that connection, I remember that Saint John Paul II, in number 4 of his Apostolic Exhortation Ordinatio sacerdotalis of 1994, reinforced with the use of the royal “we” (“declaramus”), the only document in which that pope uses that verb form, that it is a definitive doctrine infallibly taught by the ordinary universal Magisterium (CIC, can. 750 §2) that the Church does not have the authority to admit women to the priesthood.
It is the province of the Magisterium to decide if a question is dogmatic or disciplinary: in this case, the Church has already decided that this proposition is dogmatic and that, because it is divine law, it cannot be changed or even reviewed.
[Male-only priesthood] can be supported with many reasons, such as fidelity to the example of the Lord or the normative nature of the centuries-old practice of the Church.
I would not want to leave it unsaid that there is an essential equality between male and female, in nature and also in the relationship with God through grace (see Gal 3:28). The priesthood, however, implies a sacramental symbolism of the relationship of Christ, the Head or husband, with the Church, the Body or wife.

Married priesthood (viri probati)

A vocational crisis cannot be dealt with by addressing only its symptoms and not its real cause. What has given rise to the vocational crisis? I believe I can say that it is a matter of a crisis of faith, which in turn is a result of a long secularization that has dried up what was once fertile soil and has scorched the earth.
Are we aware that a massive inclusion of viri probati, which is especially foreseeable in countries where Catholicism is expanding and there are not many priests, would unquestionably mean the end of celibacy?
We cannot solve such big problems through compromise solutions or half-measures.

Catholics and Protestants

Strictly speaking, we Catholics do not have any reason to celebrate October 31, 1517, the date that is considered to be the beginning of the Reformation that led to the rupture in Western Christianity. If we are convinced that revelation has been preserved, in its entirety and unchanged, through Scripture and tradition in the doctrine of the faith, in the sacraments, in the hierarchic constitution of the Church by divine right, founded on the sacrament of holy orders, we cannot accept that there are sufficient reasons to separate from the Church.

Indissolubility of Sacramental marriage

We therefore have to take as our premise that she will never have the authority to dispense with the divine commandments, in the name of a supposedly compassionate and loving vision, in situations that do not conform to the Word of God. She cannot, for example, grant a second marriage while a first spouse of a sacramental marriage, consummated or unconsummated, is still alive. In certain difficult family situations, the Church can allow an interruption of marital life together, but she cannot break the sacramental bond.

Population control

Anti-birth policies are nothing but another ideological proposal that hides the unmentionable: the attempt to maintain, unfairly, the privileged status of a few, at the expense of blocking access to wealth by broad layers of the population. Actually, as we have just explained, we know that hunger in the world is not at all the consequence of overpopulation and that abortion does nothing to contain population growth, serving only to satisfy our hedonism.
Based on catastrophic predictions that have never been borne out, rooted in neo-Malthusianism (for example, Paul Ehrlich, The Population Bomb), some international organizations have recently exacerbated the problem, proposing a “responsible parenthood” that implies reducing the birthrate, by whatever means, for a better distribution and optimal use of resources.
In that regard, we must clearly denounce as having no scientific basis the claim that the alleged current population explosion has caused global economic impoverishment: if two thousand years ago the world had an estimated two hundred million inhabitants, and it took fifteen centuries to double that population, in the last two centuries the world population has multiplied by six, surpassing six billion inhabitants, while real GDP worldwide has multiplied by fifty. It is no surprise, then, that the anti-birth theories based on the myth of population’s geometric progression while the means of subsistence have grown only in arithmetic progression (Thomas Robert Malthus, An Essay on the Principle of Population), should be more and more discredited among the scientific community, which now leans more and more to the conclusion that people, when they are seen clearly, unclouded by erroneous ideological distortions (Friedrich Hayek, The Fatal Conceit), end up resolving the problems themselves thanks to human creativity.
Anti-birth policies are nothing but another ideological proposal that hides the unmentionable: the attempt to maintain, unfairly, the privileged status of a few, at the expense of blocking access to wealth by broad layers of the population. Actually, as we have just explained, we know that hunger in the world is not at all the consequence of overpopulation and that abortion does nothing to contain population growth, serving only to satisfy our hedonism.

Large families

Large families are an expression of the superabundance of love. They are a great yes to life. Several children are a great gift not only for their parents but also for the Church and all of society. Lumen gentium (no. 11) speaks of Christian parents as those who in a certain way bestow their children on the Church.

Humanae Vitae / Contraception

The encyclical Humanae vitae had many difficulties in its reception, as much for its underlying anthropology— especially regarding its proposal on the experience of love and sexuality—as for its clarification of the intrinsic morality of the methods of birth control. The indiscriminate attacks to which it was subject from the outset caused it to be marginalized and forgotten, despite its richness in inventively and prophetically posing the reality of love, of marriage, and of the beauty of married life.
Today, almost fifty years later, we see much more clearly that Pope Paul VI was right in everything that at the time he had the courage to make clear. Ahead of his time, this humanist pope had the courage to offer this document to the Church and to society, denouncing with an accurate analysis what ended up happening. Are we not, indeed, witnessing a pandemic of divorce? Have we not, just as unmistakably, turned sex into a trivial reality devoid of feeling? And is it not as patently clear today that Western societies, having radically separated the unitive function from that of procreation, have a true problem in their birthrate? The situation is one of authentic demographic involution that carries grave consequences, considered both synchronically and diachronically, if we examine the present moment and the foreseeable possibilities for the near future.
But the problem, I repeat, is not only demographic but rather, above all, one of meaning: I mean the question of the identity and vitality of marriage. Perhaps five decades ago it was not so evident, since the institution of the family was still strong: in fact, it was not yet foreseen that there could be so many broken marriages in our own families, with so many children who could not enjoy a father and a mother living under the same roof or so many adolescents initiating themselves at a young age in a life of frivolous sex. Yes, we are much more able today to grasp the negative impact of a mistaken conception of sex, valued only for the gratification it brings and not for the gift that it makes possible. We understand better today the perverse effects of artificial birth control, as a simple means toward the worry-free enjoyment of sex, without wanting to see the consequences for physical, psychological, and spiritual health.
Moral problems demand moral solutions. We must humanize sexuality, which is at the service of the personal union of spouses, making it possible for each to be a gift to the other and not only a means for satisfying their desire. We must explain to new spouses the goodness, for example, of natural methods that, based on abstinence from sexual contact during the fertile days, foster dialogue, mutual respect, and understanding in the couple.

Divorce

In the East, for example, after the separation of those ecclesial communities from the Cathedra Petri, an increasingly liberal praxis or “right of consuetudinary origin” was accepted, under which—after a period of penitence—a second marriage was allowed, even in the case of a valid first marriage and with the first spouse still living, and participation in Communion, as a life preserver that enabled “salvation”, was allowed at the same time. As a result, the Orthodox Churches, by the principle of oikonomia or pastoral condescension (called the “pastoral approach of tolerance, clemency, and indulgence”) went on to justify a multitude of reasons for divorce. Considering the words of Jesus concerning the indissolubility of marriage, I do not see how this practice can be derived from the will of God.
The Church lives by God’s truth and therefore is responsible to man for it. She bears witness to it with humility and with the strength that the Lord gives her, without allowing herself to be cowed by the world’s accusations. On marriage and the sexual morality that she has received from God, she must remember the substantial unity of man in spirit, soul, and body, his relationship with the community, the truth about the totality of the gift required for sexuality to be human, the intergenerational responsibility, the identity as man and woman in their essential mutual reference.
These principles are not just an ideal, because love is never just an ideal, or even just a beautiful concept; it is instead a concrete dedication of life and the deep-rooted availability that opens the horizon of hope in individuals’ daily lives.
All of us know that we are sinners and that it is in the sphere of sexuality that human weakness obviously manifests itself. But this does not mean that the sexual morality taught by the Church is an unattainable ideal. The biggest scandal of which the Church is capable is not that there should be sinners in her, but that she should stop explicitly calling the difference between good and evil by name and that she should relativize that difference, stop explaining what sin is, or try to justify it by a supposedly greater closeness to and mercy toward the sinner.
We know, for example, that marriage is indissoluble, that the union of a man and a woman has “forever” as an essential and unforsakable characteristic, and that spousal love is therefore so deep and so beautiful. So in a traumatic situation where a woman has been abandoned by her husband, in the context of a sacramental marriage, whether consummated or unconsummated, it would not be permissible to say “let us be merciful and allow her to contract a new marriage with another man.” This would not be true mercy but, instead, a failure to take her personal travail seriously, besides favoring sin and mocking God and his commandments.

Sex-education / parental rights

Throughout my years of priestly ministry, however, I have been able to see that what young people want is precisely to discover the meaning of sex, its relationship to love, its opening to the future. For that reason, emotional-sexual education is a duty that begins at the first moment of the child’s life and that, unavoidably and definitively, falls on the parents. They can be supported, but they cannot be supplanted, by school and other educational institutions like the parish.

Mercy

I said before that mercy cannot consist in relativizing God’s commandments but must, rather, make possible the encounter with God’s love, which renews and changes our life. Mercy consists in recognizing that the truth, the truth of love, will make us free (see Jn 8:32).
All of us know that we are sinners and that it is in the sphere of sexuality that human weakness obviously manifests itself. But this does not mean that the sexual morality taught by the Church is an unattainable ideal. The biggest scandal of which the Church is capable is not that there should be sinners in her, but that she should stop explicitly calling the difference between good and evil by name and that she should relativize that difference, stop explaining what sin is, or try to justify it by a supposedly greater close- ness to and mercy toward the sinner.
I think, first, that sacramental confession is the most paradigmatic expression of God’s mercy.

Hell

Hell, certainly, is not just a rhetorical and pedagogical tool with which to frighten sinners: it is a real possibility.

The Cross

How can modern man find peace and reconciliation with himself ? There is only one way open to us: compunction or repentance for the evil committed. The Cross of Christ is the only path. There is no other path for evangelization today.

More on Muller:
http://tradcatknight.blogspot.com/2017/03/muller-is-modernist.html 
http://www.traditioninaction.org/HotTopics/a096_Muller_OL.htm