Friday, 28 February 2014

Why Doesn't Francis Teach What Jesus Taught?

Long post warning alert...
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis celebrated Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta residence in the Vatican this morning. In remarks following the readings of the day, the Holy Father focused on the beauty of marriage and warned that the Church must accompany – not condemn – those who experience failure in married life. He explained that Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church, and therefore you cannot understand one without the Other.

The Holy Father also warned against giving in to the temptation to entertain “special pleading” in questions regarding marriage. The Pharisees, he noted, present Jesus with the problem of divorce. Their method, the Pope said, is always the same: “casuistry,” — “is this licit or not?”

“It is always the small case. And this is the trap, behind casuistry, behind casuistical thought, there is always a trap: against people, against us, and against God, always. ‘But is it licit to do this? To divorce his wife?’ And Jesus answered, asking them what the Law said, and explaining why Moses framed the Law as he did. But He doesn’t stop there. From [the study of the particular case], He goes to the heart of the problem, and here He goes straight to the days of Creation. That reference of the Lord is so beautiful: But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh’.”

Pope Francis went on to say, “The Lord refers to the masterpiece of Creation,” which is precisely the human person, created as male and female. God said He “did not want man to be alone,” He wanted him to be with “his companion along the way.” The moment Adam meets Eve, he said, is a poetic moment: “It is the beginning of love: [a couple] going together as one flesh.” The Lord, he repeated, “always takes casuistic thought and brings it to the beginning of revelation.” On the other hand, he explained, “this masterpiece of the Lord is not finished there, in the days of Creation, because the Lord has chosen this icon to explain the love that He has for His people.” At the very point “when the people is unfaithful,” he said, God speaks to him with words of love”:
“The Lord takes this love of the masterpiece of Creation to explain the love He has for His people. And going further: when Paul needs to explain the mystery of Christ, he does it in a relationship, in reference to His Spouse: because Christ is married, Christ was married, He married the Church, His people. As the Father had married the People of Israel, Christ married His people. This is the love story, this is the history of the masterpiece of Creation – and before this path of love, this icon, casuistry falls and becomes sorrowful. When, however, this leaving one’s father and mother, and joining oneself to a woman, and going forward... when this love fails – because many times it fails – we have to feel the pain of the failure, [we must] accompany those people who have had this failure in their love. Do not condemn. Walk with them – and don’t practice casuistry on their situation.”

Pope Francis also said the Gospel episode encourages us to reflect “about this plan of love, this journey of love in Christian marriage, that God has blessed the masterpiece of His Creation,” a blessing, he said, “that has never been taken away. Not even original sin has destroyed it.” When we thinks of this, we can “see how beautiful love is, how beautiful marriage is, how beautiful the family is, how beautiful this journey is, and how much love we too [must have], how close we must be to our brothers and sisters who in life have had the misfortune of a failure in love.”

Turning again to Saint Paul, Pope Francis emphasized the beauty of “the love Christ has for His bride, the Church”:

“Here too, we must be careful that love should not fail: [it is dangerous] to speak about a bachelor-Christ (It. Cristo troppo scappolo): Christ married the Church. You can’t understand Christ without the Church, and you can’t understand the Church without Christ. This is the great mystery of the masterpiece of Creation. May the Lord give all of us the grace to understand it and also the grace to never fall into these casuistical attitudes of the Pharisees, of the teachers of the law.”

His Holiness's papal teaching on today's Gospel starts out from the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Holiness is quick to tackle the 'casuistry' of the Pharisees concerning the issue of divorce. It is unfortunate at this particular moment in history that His Holiness feels unable to place his own emphasis upon the full message of Jesus, Our Lord, and steers clear from repeating what Christ has said concerning divorce, remarriage and adultery. His Holiness chooses to steer clear of Christ's controversial teaching for this age (and every age), concentrating rather on Christ's Bridegroom relationship to His Bride the Church. The words of Jesus on divorce ("What God has joined together, let no man put asunder") go unaddressed by Pope Francis. Similarly, the words of Jesus on remarriage ("Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.") go eerily unaddressed.

His Holiness, for reasons known only to himself, wants to talk about everything but what Jesus said on something so relevant to the Synod. Obviously, in the modern Church, Jesus Christ is a real problem rather than The Answer. His Holiness decides to meditate upon the beauty of Creation and marriage, Christ's relationship with His Church and - it looks like this is how the Synod on the Family will be framed - the importance of the Church not "condemning" those whose marriages experience "failure", instead, "accompanying" them along the way, while "feeling" the "pain of their failure". Jesus's Truth is here being obscured by, or even confused with, His mercy.

The full text of the Gospel for today is as below:

1 And he left there and went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again; and again, as his custom was, he taught them.
2 And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?"
3 He answered them, "What did Moses command you?"
4 They said, "Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away."
5 But Jesus said to them, "For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment.
6 But from the beginning of creation, `God made them male and female.'
7 `For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife,
8 and the two shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh.
9 What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder."
10 And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter.
11 And he said to them, "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her;
12 and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery."

Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich: That Synod moment...
Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith today asks what is at stake at the Synod. If the teaching of Jesus is at stake, then Everything is at stake. May I make the sober prediction that as has gone His Holiness's homily, so will go the Synod on the Family, as the Church ignores the words of Jesus Christ Himself and, in the name of pastoral necessity and compassion, covers up or ignores the Lord's own Teaching which Her Hierarchy know full well cannot be changed.

For this reason, and others, I make the sober prediction that the great schism in the Church predicted by various and many Saints and mystics is fast approaching, as an adulterous Church takes the great leap 'forward', leaving Jesus Christ and His faithful ones, behind. I pray that I am wrong, but if His Holiness seems averse to announcing the Truth today, there is little reason to think it will be announced tomorrow. We can 'accompany' people and 'feel' people's pain as much as we want but if even the Successor of St Peter does not call Christ's people to repentance, we may just as well be strangers. Repentance does not seem to be a word that belongs in the new 'dialogue' taking place in the Catholic Church.

And in the house the disciples asked him again about this matter. 
What's at stake at the Synod on the Family?
Why imagine the Lord would give a different answer to the 2014 Synod on the Family that He gave at the circa 33 Synod on the Family? Cardinal Muller knows and states the answer that Jesus has given. His Holiness's homily gives rise to the question: Is Pope Francis possibly looking for his answers elsewhere? If Jesus's clear and transparent teaching on marriage, divorce and remarriage can be obscured in such manner in this area with appeals to "feeling" the "pain of failure" from Peter's lips, then why not His teaching on marriage being a Sacrament requiring persons of male and female gender also?

It has been promised that, in the end, the Immaculate's Heart will triumph in a manner that none of us could expect, but for the time being, Cardinal Kasper makes it clear that the target at the Synod on the Family is not just the Sacrament of Marriage, not just the Church's understanding of family, but the Sacrament of the Eucharist: Jesus Christ Himself...

Pray for Francis and for those who govern the Church of Rome, for one gets the distinct impression that in order for the reformers to succeed in officially admitting the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion, the 'Holy' in Holy Communion might just have to go. Just make Communion a 'symbolic' sign of fraternal communion and unity and the 'Problem' has gone away, has He not?


Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nicholas Dyson said...

Why this constant accommodation to worldly thought?Non withstanding anything else, this is a failure of charity.

Nicolas Bellord said...

A synod has no power to change the teachings of the Church.

What I find odd is the phrase " those who experience failure in married life" as if such failure is something that just happens like for instance having your house flooded. A marriage fails because one or both decide to stop loving one another - one or both are guilty of that!

The Bones said...

As if failure in our relationships is something that just 'happens' to us!

Lepanto said...

This is the thin end of a massive wedge. If Jesus' clear teaching on marriage is effectively rejected, then we have abandoned both scripture and tradition and 'anything goes' in the name of (false) charity and alleged pastoral needs. I have never considered this Pope to be the brightest bulb in the box but even he knows for certain that once this change comes in, we truly 'don't know what is down the road' - though we can probably guess and it doesn't look very appealing.

The Bones said...

If things do not go 'Christ's way' but that of others at the Synod, then we will be certain that marriage and the family is a target, but the real target is Jesus Christ, His truth and most particularly His Holy Eucharist.

Marriage is the Sacrament by which the Sacrament of the Eucharist will come under attack. In order to accommodate and show 'compassion', the Eucharist itself will necessarily be attacked.

You cannot admit the divorced and remarried to the Eucharist without institutionalising within the Church sacrilege!

Steve said...

Sadly, you're not the only one anticipating, as I have taken to calling it, "The November Schism."

I've often asked why God, if He loves His Church so much, doesn't fix what is clearly broken.

Perhaps it needs to be exorcised first.

Jan Solame said...

You obviously think you would make a better pope than Francis - pity the cardinals of the church disagreed!

There is a legitimate theological dispute over this issue and the synod will hear all sides and make recommendations to the pope to decide. The issues are about pastoral practice not fundamental church teachings. You can't shut down legitimate debate within the church.

Steve said...

I couldn't imagine a job I'd less rather have than the papacy. Then again, if I were ever in that office, at least I'd have some idea of where to look up what the Church teaches, and why that might be important.

tro said...

"There is a legitimate theological dispute over this issue ..."

How so? Explain, please.

philipjohnson said...

the truth will out-as they say!50 years of destruction and they are still not happy!the Vatican 2 crowd have had their day.this bishop of rome needs to follow christs teachings and he needs to follow them now for us all to hear.2017 is one hundred years after Fatima? -is he scared of the message of Fatima? -if he isn't then he lacks vision full stop.strange days strange messages and a strange bishop of rome!

Celia said...

What seems to be getting lost in all this is that the synod is about the family- not the hurt feelings of people who have committed the mortal sin of adultery by 'remarrying' but don't see why they shouldn't be admitted to Communion.
The real issues are why family breakdown is occurring, why many Catholics now seem to be as casual about marriage as secularists and why the role of fathers has been weakened. There is a pastoral issue regarding the divorced and 'remarried': they need pointing kindly, but firmly, in the direction of the sacrament of Penance (which most of them will not have approached for many years) and guidance as to living as faithful Catholics.
Schism there will undoubtedly be
soon, but I'm sure I'll be on the same side as the Pope.He likes the idea of mercy, don't we all, but ultimately he will- he can't as Pope do anything else- uphold the teaching handed down from Christ.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Jan: Please explain how this is a matter of pastoral practice which does not touch on fundamental doctrine.

DP said...

"The issues are about pastoral practice not fundamental church teachings."

Utter nonsense. So silly it doesn't pass a laugh test. The teaching of Christ on this point is fundamental. The Eucharist is fundamental.

Neither can be waved away with casuistic invocations of the term "pastoral."

Patricius said...

I think that "those who experience failure in their marriage" is really referring to those whose spouses desert them.

There are, indeed, guilty parties but there are also innocent parties. That those innocent parties not only need but deserve our support seems to me to be what the holy father is actually driving at.

Pelerin said...

Perhaps we all ought to take the advice of Fr Hunwick on his blog when he wrote 'Hold tight; hold on; and don't panic.'

I know it's easier said than done. Many of us are feeling very insecure at present. We may think the barque of Peter is rocking but we really must have Faith.

Fr Mark said...

In an interesting move this week, Francis gave his permission for a married eastern rite deacon to be ordained as a priest - setting a new precedent. Francis has the traditionalist wing spinning in circles. He a very clever sly leader and will go down in history as a progressive reformer.

Muriel Rottingdean said...

Aren't traditionalists always insecure? isn't that the root of their 'problem'.

T-C- said...

Nicolas Bellord,

You express my sentiments exactly. The Pope makes it sound as if marriages just fall apart out of thin air. No one is to actually blame... it just happens....

By that logic, I would think people should be afraid to even start a marriage because who knows, the failure is not in their control....

Liam Ronan said...

The falcon cannot hear the falconer, I fear.

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

(The reader of this poem might utter a prayer not only for the Church and the Pope, but for Mr. Yeats too.)

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

nicholas asked: Why this constant accommodation to worldly thought?

this is why:

John said...

I have VERY mixed thoughts on this matter. On one hand, I don't think it possible that the upcoming synod would be capable of undoing the Church's teaching on marriage and family. On the other, too many "pastoral solutions" have tended firmly toward effectively rendering the Church's actual teaching.. a moot point.

It's possible that the synod may simply develop "simpler" or "easier" means of addressing the process toward Statements of Nuyllity. I'm hard pressed to explain how doing so won't pose a serious risk to both souls.

Pope Francis seems intensely concerned to address a formerly married person's pain. That's quite good, except that he seems to be unwilling to admit that said pain comes about because.. grave error has been inflicted.

I DO have one ray of hope on this:
For my understanding of history, a majority of bishops had originally supported the stance taken by a certain Arius. Possibly even as few as one, single bishop though, refused to back down or be silenced. Due to his efforts, this council of the Church ultimately condemned Arianism.
I'm hoping for that small, stubborn, passionate group of bishops to make the Church's teaching hold effect.

John said...

"He a very clever sly leader and will go down in history as a progressive reformer."

I grow quite nervous every time I see that term "progressive" being used with reference to much of anything. I have admitted to myself in these past few years that I never did quite care much for John Paul II's approach to the papacy; he seemed to me to have been a little too casual about the Mass in particular. Hopefully that's simply a bias I come to as a result of the frequent abuses that I've come across in the Mass.

Unfortunately, Pope Francis reminds me quite a lot of the same kind of view, that of making the Mass "relevant" to some bunch of people; which usually means I'm pretty disgusted with the refusal of the traditional practice or the meaning behind the traditional practice.

Deacon Augustine said...

Jan, legitimate pastoral practice can never contradict Church doctrine for they arise from the same divine source - Christ Our Lord.

I believe this will all turn out to be Pope Francis' Humanae vitae moment. The world and those parts of the Church which have apostatized are all putting incredible pressure on the Pope to buckle before Satan's will. But in the end the Holy Spirit will prevent his faith from failing and he will reaffirm the truth as Pope Paul VI did with the evil of contraception.

The special pleading on behalf of adulterers will fail and the German bishops will have to accept the drop in Church taxes they receive or go into schism. Like so many evils afflicting the Church today, the root cause all boils down to the love of money.

Archimandrite Gregory said...

Actually married priests in the various eparchies has been going on for quite some time. Many of the Eastern churches are calling into question what was guaranteed when they entered into union centuries ago, and has been denied rather abruptly. Not a very good call for the Orthodox Christians. Let us wait and see what happens before passing judement on the Pope's theology.

Looking_Ahead said...

1 Corinthians 13:8

Compare and Contrast

Pelerin said...

Not sure what Muriel of Rottingdean means. Perhaps she could explain further. And what 'problem' are traditionalists supposed to have?

Ben Trovato said...

There is another way of interpreting the Holy Father's comments. It may be that he knows he is going to have to do something that will be seen as deeply unpopular and 'hurtful' by those who think of themselves as progressive.

In order to pre-empt the cries of lack of charity that will resonate around the media and certain circles even within the Church, he is going on a charm offensive to make it clear that he understands the pain of those whose marriages have failed (and there are many innocent parties, as well as many guilty ones in such situations).

It would not be an irrational approach...

Anonymous said...


It started decades ago when this Biblical passage was intentionally omitted from all Papal teaching:

"Going therefore, teach ye all nations; baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

These final instructions are very specific and difficult to misinterpret (as are ALL of Jesus' admonitions).
In the new church, no need for Baptism any more, everybody is saved right where they are.

Stephen_m said...

I had hopes that this papacy would build on the work of John Paul and Benedict, and retaining what they gave us, bring a new impetus to evangelisation, calling the world to Christ. Catholics would leave the pews and serve the poor, preach the gospel and still have right faith and true worship. But the fruit is now clear: we have descended into arguments and infighting, inward looking and self-focused. Frankly a disgrace; I now find it impossible to believe this chaos was not by design, since His Holiness seems not interested in calling out the Gospel: Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand. Maybe he would have credibility if he founded new missionary orders, prepared preachers and catechists to send throughhout the world, brought new focus to the religious education of the young. But instead he seems to wish to demolish the faith and mock our treasures.

Lynda said...

Yes, this is a denial of personal moral responsibility and that love and marriage are primarily acts of the will.

Lynda said...

The Church is Tradition. You paint a terrible picture of the Pope.

Unknown said...

There are people wish to remain married but whose spouses leave them; that is their cross to carry. Jesus told us *all* to take up our crosses and follow Him if we want to be his disciples. I've got mine. I assume everyone has one. If you refuse your cross I don't see how you go to Heaven.

scared... said...

Could the Collage of Cardinals urge the Pope to resign? What if the majority of the Synod on the family has a change of heart? No matter what happens in October a worldwide schism seems inevitable. Progressive disappointment or orthodox outrage will ensure such an unfortunate outcome. God help us!

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