Monday, 3 November 2014

A Most Worrying Pastoral Letter

St John Fisher, pray for us.

The following is the pastoral letter of Cardinal Vincent Nichols which was read to the Archdiocese of Westminster two Sundays ago.

I post it here because it makes for incredibly concerning reading in the wake of the Synod. Cardinal Vincent Nichols uses some striking language that prompt more questions over the 'mind' of Pope Francis and the safety, in his hands, of the Deposit of Faith.

For example...

'You may have heard that the Synod represented a 'defeat for Pope Francis' or that he was disappointed at its outcome. This is not true. At the end of our meeting Pope Francis spoke at length about his joy and satisfaction at its work. He told us to look deeply into our hearts to see how God had touched us during the Synod, and to see how we may have been tempted away from the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The Synod, he insisted, has been a spiritual journey, not a debating chamber.'

This is not quite what Pope Francis said, because Pope Francis talked of various 'temptations' for the Church in a speech which we have already examined. Against what would perhaps usually be the better instincts of his predecessors, Pope Francis opened up a considerable 'can of worms' during the Synod. There was nothing it seemed - nothing - that was 'off-limits'. The idea that the Church was, in the discussion or even the voting decisions of Bishops, 'tempted away' from 'the promptings of the Holy Spirit' could be interpreted as 'Bishops resisted the Holy Spirit in their voting decisions'. I would certainly like some feedback on that interpretation. If so it sounds like an EU Referendum. "You'll get the right answer in the end!" Others, yourself included, may regard that the Holy Spirit protected the Church from reversing Her practice of not giving Holy Communion to the divorced and remarried who have not received annulment due to an invalid marriage. That's not the impression I get from this pastoral letter.

His Eminence continues...

'But Pope Francis went a little further. He spoke of 'the Church composed of sinners.....that has doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent and not only the just.' He spoke about the duty of pastors always to welcome into the Church those in difficult situations or in trouble. Then he corrected himself saying that we, as pastors, were not simply to welcome them but to go out and find them, just as the Good Shepherd did for those who had drifted away.'

The Church has been composed of sinners and the door has been open wide for as long as the Church has existed. What the Church has never before considered was to welcome those sinners, for example, at least not in Her Magisterial Teaching, who were impenitent, to Holy Communion.

'Pope Francis set the tone. He asked us to look reality in the eye; to speak openly from the heart; to listen humbly and respectfully to each other. This is what we did. There was no rancour, no contestation. There were disagreements, of course. But he told us to live through the experience with tranquility and trust. And we did. It was a marvellous experience of the Church as a family and of the Church, at this level, hard at work, trying to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit and express them in carefully chosen words.'

Unanswered questions

Pope Francis 'set the tone', but what does he believe? It's been a year and a half and we're still guessing! My question - and I have so many - is whether this idea that "the Holy Spirit" was prompting the Synod is beginning to sound a little vague and tenuous, even disingenuous. For example, the Bishops 'tried to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit' during the Synod. Do we believe the mid-term Relatio was a work of the Third Person of the Trinity? The Holy Spirit was promised and is present in the Church as the Spirit of God, Who is God, Who leads the Church 'into all truth.' Yet what emerges from the Synod is a kind of set of half-truths, semi-truths and, sorry to say this, one or two lies. Is the Holy Spirit still Holy if the Holy Spirit rouses Bishops to tell you the answer you don't want to hear? Did the Holy Spirit rouse St Athanasius to action, or speak through the Arians? In terms of today's papacy, you simply wouldn't know! Both can apparently be right!

Were we just one or two bishop's speeches away from full-blown apostasy?

One of these lies is that Holy Communion can be given to those in mortal sin who are not penitent or repentant. The great lie at the heart of the Synod was that pastoral practice can offer "a solution" for the unrepentant adulterer, or a man or woman in a sexual relationship with another of the same sex that is different to Christ's own solution. What emerges from the Synod is a Church that came inches away from discarding the Ten Commandments and to deny the Truth taught by Christ and handed down by the Successors of St Peter and the Apostles.

St John Fisher: The only Bishop in England and Wales 
to resist Henry VIII during the Reformation
What emerges from this rather horrifying pastoral letter is a view among senior Hierarchy - which seems to include the Pope, that the Bishops "resisted the Holy Spirit" in refusing to allow falsehood to reign supreme at the Synod.

'At the end of the Synod, in his closing address, Pope Francis said this: 'Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families...'

Now, that for me is very worrying. True, this Synod takes place in two 'stages'. At the beginning of October 2015 the next 'stage' will have to be very carefully 'managed' if the 'progressives' want their vision to be victorious. These 'ideas' presented at the Synod, can be reduced to this...

 a) Let's ignore Jesus Christ and give His Body and Blood to everyone, regardless of the state of mortal sin. 
b) Let's not ignore Jesus Christ and let's not give His Body and Blood to everyone, regardless of the state of mortal sin.
c) Sin? Sounds interesting. What is that? 

If anybody on Earth has true spiritual discernment in this matter, it should be the Pope who guards the Deposit of Faith. Why the year-long deliberation when this matter was settled long ago? The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes it very clear what the Church's position is. Jesus Christ makes it very clear His own position on divorce and remarriage. Adultery is a mortal sin. Sex outside of marriage is mortal sin. Homosexual activity is mortal sin.

Another year of near total confusion?

Yet now, for yet another year, we will presumably have the Vicar of Christ on Earth giving people the impression that the truth of this matter is not known. It must be 'discovered' by the Bishops! Together, the Bishops will meet and, guided by the Holy Spirit, decide again what the truth is even though Jesus Christ Himself is the Truth and the Church has taught the Truth since Her beginning. The truth about such things as mortal sin, repentance and Holy Communion cannot be altered 'pastorally'. You simply cannot give an unrepentant adulterer or anybody else in mortal sin Holy Communion without helping him to kill his immortal soul. You can help him, with prayers and fasting and through exhortation and correction, to repent.

This has been the message of the Church - Christ's message - of repentance for the forgiveness of sins for 2,000 years. This is what every Saint has taught, including St Peter, Bl. Pope Paul VI and St Pope John Paul II. Is this teaching not a vintage? 2,000 years! And Pope Francis claims that this horrendous idea of Cardinal Walter Kasper's, condemned by the Church's perennial teaching, could still be better than Christ's own teaching because after one year, it will have 'matured'? If we still believe what Jesus taught, the Holy Spirit is the spirit of Truth. The Holy Spirit can prompt Cardinals and Bishops and Popes to uphold and proclaim the Truth of Christ. What the Holy Spirit does not and cannot do (i.e. God doesn't lie) is prompt a lie and a truth to be equally valid. There is only one spirit that parades falsehood as truth or promotes the idea that a lie and a truth can be held as equally valid opinions and that spirit is Satan himself, the Father of Lies.

Nothing feels safe anymore

Let's recap our options...

a) Let's ignore Jesus Christ and give His Body and Blood to everyone, regardless of the state of mortal sin. 
b) Let's not ignore Jesus Christ and not give His Body and Blood to everyone, regardless of the state of mortal sin.
c) Sin? Sounds interesting. What is that? 

The correct answer is b). The other two are not options and I would like to hear His Holiness provide an unequivocal answer because if we are talking about the Holy Spirit's "promptings", it cannot be a), b) and c) and it cannot be either a) or c).

Are the Hierarchy teachers for those with "itching ears" or Shepherds who teach the Truth?

I'm learning to be a teacher. I cannot teach my students error and remain in a teaching capacity. I must correct mistakes. I cannot leave my students confused. And likewise with regard to Catholic Truth, the answer cannot be a combination of the truth with some lies woven in. Any Churchman - any at all - who claims that a) and b) and c) are all promptings of the Holy Spirit is either completely ignorant of Christ and His Teaching or that man is lying. Not only that, but he is blaspheming as well because God doesn't lie! I'm sorry to rant but we were told that the Synod was called because there is a crisis of understanding of Catholic teaching among today's Catholics. Then, after the Synod, the same Churchmen make Catholic teaching more vague than it was ever before!

"I hear that you don't understand Church teaching. Let me muddy the waters for you a little more!"

Thank you, your Eminence!

If the words of Our Blessed Lord on divorce and remarriage are not safe in this particular era of Church history, I really do wonder, are even these words safe...

"This is my Body..."
"This is my Blood..."

Do we still believe this? The Synod would suggest maybe not for if we do not any longer believe Christ's words on divorce, remarriage and sin, or believe these words are no longer relevant for us, are not all of Christ's own words irrelevant? And if Christ's words are irrelevant and the Church's teaching is irrelevant "on the ground" and "in Rome", then in what way is the Catholic Church relevant any longer to anyone?

If Christ's own Words are not safe then I would say nothing is safe.

If Jesus's own words are not safe, sure, defended and upheld, then everything is up for debate.

Nothing is sacred any longer. Nothing! Not even the Holy Eucharist Himself!

But I'm a pessimist. and a little bit nuts too.


Romulus said...

The Church welcomes sinners because that is her mission. She does not welcome sin. This critical distinction is not that hard to understand.

Martina Katholik said...

"At the end of our meeting Pope Francis spoke at length about his joy and satisfaction at its work."

I guess the Cardinal isn´t referring to Pope Fancis´ closing synod speech but to an informal one which the laity doesn´t know.

Deacon Augustine said...

I don't know whether you are a little bit nuts, Laurence, but if you are then you are not as nuts as those who think it is the Holy Spirit who is leading these Churchmen to reject Christ's teaching on sin, marriage and the Eucharist. Even if they use weasel words to avoid officially rejecting the doctrine, they are certainly defying it by what they propose to do in practice. And they really have the nerve to say that this is the will of the Holy Spirit?

This all makes me think of Christ's words on the one unforgivable sin: blaspheming the Holy Spirit. How close have these people come to crossing that line?

Anonymous said...

These evil prelates have no fear of God. Lord, save us!

Unknown said...

"Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord."
(1 Corinthians 11:27)
St Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth that they are murdering Jesus if they communicate unworthily, i.e., in a state of sin. How could a Catholic clergyman not grasp this?

Genty said...

Well, at least he's now out in the open; a modernist, no ifs and buts. It must have been a terrible trial to try to keep it under wraps for so many years. No wonder he's so red in the face.
It's a clear pointer to which side VN thinks will be the victor; he's nothing if not pragmatic. We're quite irrelevant, really. It's the Capo di tutti Capi in Rome he wants to impress.
Which is not to say the pastoral letter isn't worrying. Surprising it ain't. It's the poor, battered Diocese of A&B I worry about, seeing as he's a member of the Congregation for Bishops which gets to choose the next incumbent. Kyrie eleison.

Nicolas Bellord said...

At the time of Vatican 2 I remember a Canadian Bishop describing the English hierarchy as a bunch of mugwumps. The article in Wikipedia discussing the use of the word mugwumps says 'During the 1884 campaign, they were often portrayed as "fence-sitters," with part of their body on the side of the Democrats and the other on the side of the Republicans. (Their "mug" on one side of the fence, and their "wump" [comic mispronunciation of "rump"] on the other.)'

I am afraid His Eminence is just carrying on with the tradition.

Lepanto said...

For the sake of honesty, he might have said:
'The Pope's 'main man' got a bloody nose at the Synod and the Pope didn't like it one little bit. Everyone knows where the Pope stands on all the contentious matters, though he hasn't deigned to spell it out. He has though given coded but unmistakable signs by his appointments, dismissals and in his final words, clearly showing the outcome that he wants and expects.
I, for one, certainly don't intend to disappoint him.'

Damask Rose said...

I've tended to think that Abp Nichols is very pro-homosexualist.

Paul Hellyer said...

Yes Rose. As I heard said all heresy begins below the belt.
VN is just kneeling to the spirit of the age like the majority of them. Sad days for us Catholics.

jb said...

If we don't have to listen to Christ's words on divorce, we don't have to listen to them on papal primacy. and then Francis loses all authority. Not sure he gets this. If he does, then maybe he doesn't care.

54-Day Rosary Novena for Freedom and Against Tyranny

  "Take courage, my children, call on God: he will deliver you from tyranny, from the clutches of your enemies; for I look to the Etern...