Searching for the Authentic

With these words Pope Francis offered to an Italian journalist on the way back from Mexico an answer to the searingly hot political potato of just how Catholic parliamentarians should vote on the 'civil union' bill.

The questions posed by the journalist were as follows:

Is this document of 2003 still in effect? 

What is the position a Catholic parliamentarian must take?

In what has to be one of the most agonizingly neutral statements to have come from the mouth of any bishop on this subject - and let's face it there have been a few - the Bishop of Rome said the following:

"I do not remember that 2003 document from the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, but every Catholic parliamentarian must vote according their well-formed conscience. I would say only this. I think it is sufficient. … With regard to persons of the same sex, I repeat what I said on the trip to Rio di Janeiro. It is in the Catechism of the Catholic Church".

Into this one paragraph you can distill this - to put it mildly - very frustrating papacy. 

First, I detect a modicum of 'mental reservation' here. His Holiness 'does not remember' the 2003 document from the CDF on homosexual civil unions? Let's be clear about this: Unless they cannot read or did not read it, every Bishop 'remembers' the 2003 document from the CDF on homosexual civil unions because despite its plain and unambiguous defence of Catholic truth, it was so very, very, very controversial. Bishops will either remember it because they agreed with it or remember it because they hated it because the truth is not in them. That's kind of how things are in the Church nowadays.

It's a real shame, in fact, if His Holiness does not 'remember' the 13-year-old document on homosexual unions because he would have benefitted from reading it in his defense of natural marriage in Buenos Aires when a similar law was proposed - and likewise passed - in his native land. A refresher reading might have been a good idea for all Catholic Bishops - including himself - who Christ has charged with defending and proclaiming the Truth for the Salvation of souls, even in Italy, yea, even in terms of the debates in the Italian parliament which will either seriously wound or seriously strengthen marriage, an issue over which St John the Baptist and our own St Thomas More, were both prepared to die.

Secondly, in a direct response to the question of how a Catholic parliamentarian 'must vote' comes the next statement with which nobody can disagree, but which leaves a very disagreeable taste, that Catholic parliamentarians 'must vote' according to their 'well-formed conscience'. In fact, the more correct answer is that a Catholic parliamentarian must vote against this proposal because it weakens marriage, imperils souls and can in no way be interpreted as being in any sense in the common good. Why has that truth been muzzled?

Unfortunately, as evidenced by his public interventions in this issue in his native land, the then Cardinal Bergoglio and now Pope Francis does not appreciate that many Catholic parliamentarians do not seem to have a 'well-formed' consciences, that is to say that such moral cowardice and confusion exists in the arena of human sexuality that Catholic politicians will gladly sell their own souls in order to appease powerful forces within society, within government and within themselves.

In fact, in terms of forming consciences - or rather - informing consciences - you would think that the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church might be in rather a good position to assist in this delicate matter, in public, by proclaiming the Truth on this matter for all his hearers. 'It's in the Catechism' is hardly a ringing exhortation to read the Catechism, or to educate his hearers in it.

Thirdly, His Holiness says that on this issue he repeats what he said in Rio di Janeiro. Do you know what His Holiness said in Rio di Janeiro?

Yep. We're back there again. How? We're back there again despite the fact that His Holiness has rather unhelpfully implied that the issue of how a Catholic parliamentarian must vote on the issue of same-sex unions can be conflated with issue of sexual orientation being no hindrance for a human being in his search for the Lord. And, what His Holiness said in Rio di Janeiro was in direct response to a question about Mgr Ricca. Why is he doing this? Is this because His Holiness just wants to kill this question or because His Holiness is himself confused over this matter? Or can he not answer simple questions with simple answers? The mystery deepens.

And yet, the questions. They were largely good questions and the Italian journalist's question was pretty good. It gave His Holiness an exemplary opportunity to give an account of the Catholic position on same-sex unions with a worldwide audience. Such a popular Pope's words could have, perhaps done much to help to kill the bill that passed yesterday, but then popularity is a bit like riches. You don't become materially rich by giving your wealth away to the poor and you don't become popular or remain popular by telling people the unpalatable truth. Journalists ask the questions and they want answers but despite their rabid reputations they have a right to an answer - a Catholic answer - especially from the Pope and they have a right to the Catholic answer - not obfuscation, or an answer that is no answer at all  - not an answer that says, quite patently, 'Quite honestly, I am embarrassed by the teachings Christ and His Catholic Church, but if you want to know what it is it is in the Catechism.'

Finally, clearly mentally confused, His Holiness is actually wrong in his final assertion that the answer to either the first or second question of the journalist is 'in the Catechism of the Catholic Church'. It isn't. The questions were on how Catholic parliamentarians should vote. The answer to that is not in the Catechism. It is, in fact, to be found in the 2003 document from the CDF that His Holiness 'does not remember' and dismissed out of hand. How a Catholic parliamentarian should vote on this issue, Your Holiness, was one of the very good reasons that the 2003 CDF document was issued. It was like an 'update' to the Catechism because the Catechism did not deal with this critical question. As a Catholic, I'm so sorry for Italy and for you - and indeed for the World - that that document just seemed to 'pass you by'. As a Bishop, as a Cardinal, as a Pope, it is, in fact, your duty to be thoroughly briefed on verdicts that the CDF reach and give on matters of the day. If a proportion of the laity know what that document said - and you do not 'remember' it - then that should be a cause for concern for you - and for all under your care.

God help the Church. God help Italy. May God help us all.


Nicolas Bellord said…
Nancy D commenting on the National Catholic Register has told us:

Page 117, of the pope’s book, On Heaven and Earth, in regards to same-sex unions

“If there is a union of a PRIVATE NATURE, THERE IS NEITHER A THIRD PARTY NOR IS SOCIETY AFFECTED. Now, if this union is given the category of marriage and they are given adoption rights, there could be children affected. Every person needs a male father and female mother that can help them shape their identity. - Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Read more:

It is quite clear therefore that Pope Francis believes that legislation for civil unions is quite okay. If these unions are for same-sex couples only as in the UK then they promote sodomy and are contrary to the CDF's 1963 statement. This explains Pope Francis's refusal to comment on the Italian Parliament's project to have 'gay marriage' in Italy. In the end the Parliament decided to have only civil unions and therefore Pope Francis is satisfied with this as is the second-in-command of the Italian Bishops Conference. Pope Francis's ignoring of the million or more relay in Rome against this law is explained. So much for listening to the laity most of whom are poor.

One has to remember that our own Cardinal Vincent Nichols said that he was in favour of civil unions. It is rumoured that he is going to head up the new dicastery on the Family. I had a long argument with one Greg Dyke of Catholic Voices who took the same line. It ended up with his attacking me personally.

The recent remarks of His Holiness on contraception and the Zika epidemic has finally convinced me that something needs to be done by faithful Cardinals and Bishops. They must confront him on this and other issues. We, the laity, should be persuading them to act and above all pray for a resolution of these problems before they get worse; they seem to be getting worse day by day the latest being Pope Francis's praise of Italy's leading abortionist.
Celia said…
If he 'can't remember' the,as you say, very controversial 2003 CDF document its author lives just 10 minutes down the road and would doubtless be willing to give him a refresher course.
'It's in the Catechism (maybe)' is exactly what you say when you don't know or prefer to ignore the Church's teaching. Just about excusable in you or me, but the Pope? Anyway as a young fellow-parishioner or two has said to me in the past 'No-one believes the Catechism any more'so it's a waste of time citing it.
Anonymous said…
Excellent post once again, "Bones". Our troubles grow bigger and bigger under this "papacy"! A reader from the U.S.
Barbara Jensen said…
Recently this present pope lauded the abortionist Emma Bonino 'for what she has done', calling her 'one of the greats'. This is on the heels of affirming artificial contraception to prevent disease contagion. It must be accepted that we have an apostate pope. He is getting bolder and bolder in his statements that reek of utter contempt for our Catholic Faith. Waiting for Bishops to speak for Christ may very well prove a futile experience. Bishop Athanasius Schneider is an exception. Where are the many other orthodox bishops who should be raising their voices for Christ? We Catholics are called to obedience to the fullness of the Faith. Prepare for the institutional Church to become totally corrupted and the Church 'of the fullness of the Faith' to be underground.
Nicolas Bellord said…
Barbara: You are absolutely right. The time has come for faithful Cardinals and Bishops to confront Pope Francis. However I would imagine that at first they will do this discretely and without publicity. I would not expect the laity to be informed. I think therefore we must wait and see how matters develop. However we should perhaps be writing to our Bishops and certainly we must keep praying. If however this sort of behaviour continues then we must think again.
Anonymous said…
@ Barabara Jensen; if "the institutional church become(s) totally corrupted" then Christ and his promise has failed and He is false! In which case we are all lost. The current Pope does and says conflicting, ambiguous and disturbing things, it is true, but informal remarks at the back of an aeroplane do not constitute magisterial teaching, nor do his typically garbled and woolly interventions amount to formal apostasy. One of the problems with this incumbent is that he rarely "affirms" anything, but that is also a good thing. That damage is being done and confusion being sown, I have no doubt, but the Church will not fail. There can never be a distinction between "the institutional Church" and the "Church of the fullness of the Faith"; that is Protestant thinking - even if it comes clothed in "traditionalist" garments of light.
Barbara Jensen said…
You are not cognizant, Thomas, of the difference between the institutional structure of the Catholic Church and the reality of the Mystical Body of Christ which is the Church without wrinkle or spot. Deitrich von Hildebrand explains this difference succinctly in his work. He states that where there are even as few as two believers, fully in concordance with the fullness of the Faith, there is the Church. If you are relying on the institutional structure of the Church, which is composed of human beings who are flawed and in some case malicious in their intent, especially today, you are going to be sadly disappointed. Von Hildebrand goes on to explain that, when any prelate--be he priest, bishop, cardinal or pope-- teaches other than that which has been handed down by Christ, he loses his authority. The true Church is being slowly replaced by a counterfeit structure, which will have the external trappings of Catholicism but not the true Faith as it has been handed down to us from the Apostles. I am sorry if this causes you disturbance but it is happening right now and for those who want to open their eyes and admit it, it is clear to see. The Church has NOT failed if the institutional structure in Rome is totally corrupted, nor are those souls lost who cling to Christ and the full Revelation He has given to us. The Church will not be where Her full Revelation is not held, but rather with those followers who refuse to be led astray and who stay with the fullness of our Catholic Faith. The Church may soon be underground and the deterioration of Rome may be such that the Blessed Christ in the Holy Eucharist will be rejected. Have you not read the many credible and approved apparitions of the Blessed Mother which have predicted just what we see happening today? Our Lady at La Salette even said the antichrist would sit in the highest place in Rome. Our obedience must be to the fullness of the Faith. We are NOT lost if the institutional structure becomes corrupted. Enter deeply into Christ for there is where the Church will be. The true Church is where the fullness of the Faith is held. I do not care one whit if Bergoglio is the true pope or not. It makes no difference. He loses his authority when he preaches other than what the Church has always held. Right now he is fiddling with the relationship of Catholics to Lutherans. I smell trouble coming around the meaning of the Holy Eucharist. Little by little Bergoglio tears down the fabric of full belief in Catholic doctrine. The excuses and explanations of what he really meant are getting very old. Each of us will have to decide for Christ or for the falsehoods coming now even out of Rome. There will be no way we can compromise with what he coming and is almost here.
Barbara Jensen said…
I wrote my last comment on Sunday 2-28-16, and this morning I work up to see that the Vortex (for 2-29-16) is addressing this very subject--the betrayal of the Holy Eucharist by Catholic bishops through false ecumenism with the Lutherans. The Bishops have produced a poisonous fruit of one of their committees about similarities between Lutherans and Catholics at the expense of a clear explanation of the Catholic understanding of the Holy Eucharist. Soon Bergoglio will 'celebrate' the Lutheran break with Catholicism 500 years ago. This is all an orchestration of a set plan to dismantle the clear teachings of the Church by evil forces within the power structure in the Vatican. It is not of God and that ugly fact must be faced. Any Catholic who loves his or her Faith needs to be apprised --and quickly-- of what the Church actually teaches. If you do not own a Catechism, get one before you no longer can. Let us pray for priests and bishops who will be called upon to stand for Christ in ways which are shocking to the Catholic mindset. The price of not doing so will be very high indeed..
Anonymous said…
If von Hildebrand wrote what you say and meant it in the sense you explain, then I roundly and trenchantly disagree, no matter how erudite he was and the reverence he is accorded by some. The Church is the one visible institution founded by Jesus Christ, with sinners as well as saints in its bosom. It must needs be that scandals come, but woe to those by whom they come. And the birds of the air shall come and make their nests in its branches. What you expound is a recipe for a self-defining and ever decreasing group of "cathari" (those who think that they are without spot or wrinkle). The idea of an invisible Church of "true believers" is a Lutheran notion, not a Catholic one. I also rebut strongly your second point about a bishop losing his authority as soon as he says something incompatible with the faith. He's just a bishop saying something stupid or heretical. What he says lacks authority if it is heretical, but he remains an apostle unless he is be and deposed for heresy - even a Pope can deposed - but that must be done through the due process of the institutional Church. Otherwise we are simply inventing our own "church" on our own supposed authority. Souls are lost if they go into schism and separate themselves from communion with the successor of Peter, no matter what manner of man he may be at any given time. I do indeed strive to hold fast to the Catholic faith and try to enter deeply into Christ, but I do not get to decide where and what the Church is.
Barbara Jensen said…
You may disagree, Thomas, but that does not change the fact that you will see full- blown heresy corrupting and destroying the institutional structure of the Catholic Church. What will you do when it is announced from the Vatican that the Holy Eucharist is only present during the Mass, and that, when the Mass is completed, the host is only bread? The Holy Eucharist is the sum and substance of the Catholic Faith. If your response to my question to you is that 'it will never happen' then I guess there is nothing more to say. The Lutherans believe that Christ and bread are present in the Holy Eucharist at the same time. Catholics know that the bread is changed completely and permanently into the full Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. This is the essence of the Catholic Faith. Whether it pleases you or not, this conflict will be present in the institutional Church. You will have to ally either with the full Christ in the Holy Eucharist or the heresy presented in the structure of the institutional Church.
Where are you getting the idea that I think that true believers are 'without spot or wrinkle'? The Catholic Church is full of sinners who believe the fullness of the Faith. What is 'without spot or wrinkle' are the Mass and the Sacraments, the whole river of grace coming to us through the Catholic Church. If you ally with heretical teaching you are no longer Catholic, Thomas. By the way, von Hildebrand is backed up by Thomas Aquinas too. Do you also disagree with him?
The Catholic Church has no precedence for what is now happening. By your comments I see that you collude with the 'generalized apostasy' which has infected the institutional structure of the Catholic Church. You just go right ahead and stick to y9our guns. You will end up without your Faith.
James said…
Does he still have a fever?
Anonymous said…
Barbara, Your personal attack and accusation of apostasy is unfortunate and unwarranted, but also revealing. Being in communion with the See of Peter does not mean agreeing or "colluding" with everything that is said and done, especially when it lacks magisterial form and authority. I am under no obligation to follow every word a particular pope utters. Of course there is heresy abroad in the Church, and in high places too. But that does not mean that the Church is no longer the Church or that the real church it is only composed of a select few who are independent of the hierarchy and the papacy.

It's no good merely stating that "Hildebrand is backed by Thomas Aquinas" to bolster your diatribe without quoting either with references. My sense is that I would probably agree with both, but that you have profoundly misunderstood and/or misapplied them.

As for possible events at the heart of the Church, I do not know the future and the situation you speculate about depends on what you mean by "the Vatican". But basically no, it will not happen that there will be a formal definition which denies the reality of the Eucharist. Short of that, there might be all sorts of shenanigans that go on. There will be scandal and betrayal, but the Gates of Hell will not prevail against The Rock who is Peter. We have Christ's word for that so there really is nothing more to say. God bless you.

Anonymous said…
I won't get in the middle of the discussion here except to reflect a minute on this statement by Barbara: " If your response to my question to you is that 'it will never happen' then I guess there is nothing more to say."

Not many decades ago, who could EVER have imagined a Pope kissing a Koran? Who could have imagined a Pope adoring inside a Mosque? Who could imagine a Pope "forgetting" a highly significant CDF document?

I could go on and on and on and on. You get the picture.

The point is, "it will never happen" is no defence from heresy.

Not saying anyone's putting that forth as a defence, just saying it "ain't" one.
TLM said…
Yes, Nicholas, I agree 1000%. In fact I have signed a petition that was circulating, an open letter to Francis that was charitable and also asking him to change course or resign his Papacy. And I would sign it again....and again....and again, if I thought it might get the wheels turning in his mind about the damage he is doing to the Church of Christ. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to help for the laity to give him a nudge, that is up to our Bishops and Cardinals. Don't get me wrong, I pray for him every day! But, those who say we should not worry because he is not speaking 'from the Chair' are really not aware, I guess, of the tremendous damage he is doing to the Church with his 'off the cuff' ramblings. The impact is horrendous, and the damage unprecedented.
Nicolas Bellord said…
I think the argument between Barbara and Thomas does illustrate a problem. We may be facing a problem where the majority of the Church falls into heresy and only a few remain faithful. What is that remnant to do? Well I think we have been here before with the Arian heresy when only a few remained faithful to the Church. All we can do is to carry on practising our religion but keep protesting and try not to fall into spiritual pride.

However I still feel it is unlikely that the majority will fall into heresy. One has to remember that despite the best efforts of the secretariat the Bishops and Cardinals managed to correct the proceedings of the Synod of the Family to come out with a final Relatio that is doctrinally correct but still pastorally weak. They had a herculean task to achieve that in the space of some 36 hours. I think we ought to acknowledge that and keep on praying that the boat will remain on an even keel.
Nicolas Bellord said…
Over at Regina Coeli there is a report that Cardinal Muller of the CDF has made it clear that there cannot be communion for the divorced and remarried. If Pope Francis were to go against this in his forthcoming Apostolic Exhortation we really would have a problem. Personally I do not think this will happen but we will just get waffle.

By the way in the report we have two different spellings: Cardinal Muller with a diaeresis over the u and Cardinal Mueller. I am not clear whether there are two people or one. Can anyone help? Or perhaps a diaeresis indicates a missing e.
Barbara Jensen said…
No, Thomas, there will not be a ' formal declaration' of heresy, as there has not been so far with this present Bishop of Rome. There will be the continual tearing down of orthodox Catholicism as there has been all along with this corrupt Vatican regime through Bergoglio's 'off the cuff' but well-aimed criticisms. If you doubt my general reference to von Hildebrand and Thomas Aquinas, you look them up and refute me. You will not be able to do so.
It is unfortunate that my directness appears 'attacking' to you. I sense your great fear of what is coming, but your fear does not preclude stating the obvious. What you will see coming in the future, whether you are able to admit it or not, and despite your compromising, head-in-the-sand blindness to reality, is a service within the Vatican that will no longer be the Mass but a parody of it. Will you stay in 'the Church' then? Charlie Rice, recently deceased, beloved and orthodox professor at Notre Dame was just recently interviewed by Michael Voris. He stated that we Catholics will see two Churches, one state run, and one orthodox. Which one will you be in, Thomas? You will have to choose the living Christ or affiliation with devils posing as priests. Wake up.
N.D. said…

One cannot condone same-sex sexual acts and remain in communion with Christ and His One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolc Church.

6. In addition, [by this Our Constitution, which is to remain valid in perpetuity We enact, determine, decree and define:] that if ever at any time it shall appear that any Bishop, even if he be acting as an Archbishop, Patriarch or Primate; or any Cardinal of the aforesaid Roman Church, or, as has already been mentioned, any legate, or even the Roman Pontiff, prior to his promotion or his elevation as Cardinal or Roman Pontiff, has deviated from the Catholic Faith or fallen into some heresy:

(i) the promotion or elevation, even if it shall have been uncontested and by the unanimous assent of all the Cardinals, shall be null, void and worthless;
(ii) it shall not be possible for it to acquire validity (nor for it to be said that it has thus acquired validity) through the acceptance of the office, of consecration, of subsequent authority, nor through possession of administration, nor through the putative enthronement of a Roman Pontiff, or Veneration, or obedience accorded to such by all, nor through the lapse of any period of time in the foregoing situation;

(iii) it shall not be held as partially legitimate in any way;

(iv) to any so promoted to be Bishops, or Archbishops, or Patriarchs, or Primates or elevated as Cardinals, or as Roman Pontiff, no authority shall have been granted, nor shall it be considered to have been so granted either in the spiritual or the temporal domain;

(v) each and all of their words, deeds, actions and enactments, howsoever made, and anything whatsoever to which these may give rise, shall be without force and shall grant no stability whatsoever nor any right to anyone;

(vi) those thus promoted or elevated shall be deprived automatically, and without need for any further declaration, of all dignity, position, honour, title, authority, office and power.
Barbara Jensen said…
I just watched gloria tv news for March 2, 2016. Pope Francis spoke to the Roman clergy on February 11, 2016 and stated that if a penitent enters a confessional and says nothing, the priest should give him (or her) absolution because entering the confessional is enough to signal his contrition. In saying this, Pope Francis contradicts Pope John Paul 11 in his teaching on confession. If Bergoglio were confronted with his erroneous teaching, would he back down and admit his error, or would he remain overtly in contradiction with the teaching of the Church and thereby incur formal heresy? Now this apostate pope is tampering with the sacraments as I knew he eventually would. The game plan goes forward and the cardinals and bishops remain silent.
Nicolas Bellord said…
I would have thought that some people enter the confessional in the hope that the Priest will condone their sinful situation or perhaps they are seeking guidance rather than absolution.
Unknown said…
Barb---there have been 2 churches since Vat 2. I see that now very clearly. One is a loose confederation of traditionalists who sometimes disagree on things but who are at least united in their rejection of Vat 2 and the new Mass. The other church is headed by Bergoglio. Which one do you think will become state run?

Seattle Kim
Unknown said…
Cardinal Mueller Cardinal schmueller. He ain't the pope. Just recently Francis changed the marriage rules for heads of state who are in irregular unions. In the past the partner had to wait in a separate room to be greeted by the pope. He will now greet them both as husband and wife in the same room. Now the thrice married Argentine prez and his trophy wife may enter together. Same will go for Trump if we wind up with him as prez.

This is no surprise. Bergoglio has happily met with same sex couples and with transgendered persons and their spouses.

Seattle Kim
Barbara Jensen said…
Hi Barb, I think that your description of the 'two churches' is not accurate. Yes, there have been very traditional-minded Catholics who have rejected the Second Vatican Council outright, but this is not allying with the true Church because the Second Vatican Council is a valid Council of the true Church, and it has much to teach us. The problem is, because of long-standing corruption within the ranks of Vatican and elsewhere, the documents and teachings of Vatican 11 have been misinterpreted and distorted for many years, and those misinterpretations and distortions have been mixed in with the true doctrines and teachings of our Catholic Faith. This has caused great confusion among Catholics and this is why it is important to purchase a Catechism of the Catholic Church. Pope John Paul 11 had the Catechism written in the eighties, and it contains all our true Catholic teachings without adulteration. The Catechism of the Catholic Church is where one can check any so-called 'new teaching' or new interpretation of long-standing teaching being promulgated by prelates or others who insist they are speaking for the Church. I include the pope in this .
What is happening now is that with the confusing and even heretical statements of Pope Francis, the corruption spoken about over many years has peaked within the institutional structure of the Church. Pope Francis recently expounded on the Sacrament of Confession in a completely false way. The division that I see coming in the Church is between those who will hold to the teachings of the true Church as they have been given to us from the Apostles, and which have been expounded and explained in the Catechism. Those who will ally with the apostate teachings, which are sadly now starting to come out of Rome, will be in the false Church and will ally with the corrupted institutional structure which will present the false teachings. Many people will do this because they are poorly instructed in their Faith and won't know any better, and others through fear of not conforming to the powers that be, or some even through malice. Let me repeat: The true Church will be composed of those who cling to the fullness of the Faith as it has been given to us from the Apostles and this Church will be composed of priests, nuns and laity who will not compromise with the heretical interpretations which are unfolding now before our eyes. Again, the true Church is where the fullness of the Catholic Faith is believed and lived. I think that this Church will be underground. This is only my opinion, but I think that Masses will be offered in homes, confessions too, and both of those in secret. We are living in strange times. Learn your Faith, Unknown, and penetrate into the deepest intimacy with Christ and His Mother through participation in Mass, through prayer and through frequent reception of the Sacraments and through learning about your Faith. Pray very hard for priests because they will be called on most of all to defend Christ. Vatican 11 told us we are called to holiness. Let's get started.

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