Intellectual Life in the Post-Amoris Laetitia Church
|Prophetically speaking of Amoris Laetitia?|
While as a blogger who wishes to update the 'Pope Francis Book of Insults' page I find myself before an insurmountable mountain that just keeps becoming greater in mass, His Holiness is still producing the goods that must at some point be recorded for posterity. Today were denounced the ugly evils of clericalism and the horror of intellectualism in religion. I am certain that the word 'clericalism' means something else to Pope Francis than it does to those resisting the personal whim of the Supreme Pontiff in defiance of many gestures and petitions of good will and in seeming contradiction to the teachings of his predecessors.
Catholics - but not only Catholics - should be more than a little hesitant when anyone in great authority asks them to or demands them to suspend the use of their intellectual faculties, to put to one side logic, or to place reason in a box marked 'Do not open until after this pontificate' or even the ability to doubt, simply by virtue of the high authority or rank of the man telling them to do so. Does His Holiness forget when he smacks down 'intellectuals' and those infected with 'clericalism' while imposing his personal will on the Church that he occupies the highest Office in the Universal Church?
But back to the 'intellectuals of religion' insult. It has been the mark of many a totalitarian regime - most markedly in the 20th century - to suppress intellectual life (or dissenting opinions within it) 'for the sake of the ideal at stake'. Communism was renowned for it in the Soviet Union and in those satellite states like Poland that came under the yolk of the Red Empire. It goes without saying that Nazism did the same. Life for dissident intellectuals in China is, I would posit, not that great. Intellectual life was very threatening to the dictators and regimes of the 20th century if the views of the intelligentsia did not coincide with the doctrines of the day. Presumably, Fidel Castro wasn't terribly keen on intellectual life in Cuba that veered away from his interpretation of his new narrative of Cuba.
While I greet letters written by very intelligent persons to the Pope with heartfelt gratitude and while it should be acknowledged that it doesn't seem to pay to be 'an intellectual' in today's confusing Bergoglian garden moral maze - all hand-crafted by himself of course - we should not permit Pope Francis to cast the dubia of the Four Cardinals - and general dissent to his 'programme of reform' - as a primarily an 'intellectual issue', as if you had to be exceedingly intelligent to understand what is at stake here. Through the now customary daily opportunity to exercise the propaganda arm of his inner circle and verbally attack his opponents known as 'the homily', Pope Francis made it sound rather like being 'intellectual' and 'religious' was not a good thing at all or even mutually exclusive.
|The train has indeed left the platform...|
It is just one illustration of the simple truth that 'intellectuals of religion' are indeed useful to the Pope, promoted and honoured, so long as the 'intellectuals of religion' are on the same page as Pope Francis to the exclusion of those who are on the same page as, for example, Popes St John Paul II and Benedict XVI. These 'intellectuals' do not it seems include Cardinals Brandmuller, Cardinal Sarah or Cardinal Burke, but would include such figures as Cardinal Kasper (somehow a leading light in the Church now!), Cardinal Schoenborn and one or two others. Just like in Communist regimes, 'intellectuals' of a sort are welcome, just so long as they are towing the line for the 'Ministry of Religion'. Keep on applauding the great leader, we don't want anyone to get hurt here, do we?
Austen Ivereigh, desperate to drum up support for Amoris Laetitia enjoyed casting those who resist 'the new doctrine' to be left standing on the platform while the train leaves. One just can't help but wonder whether Our Lord Jesus Christ, Pope Francis's illustrious and venerable predecessors, the Court of Heaven including the Martyrs such as St John the Baptist, St Thomas More and St John Fisher who died for such beliefs as the indissolubility of marriage are on Francis's Midnight Express or are still on the platform with the Faithful Four Cardinals and the many clergy and lay faithful who remain unconvinced.
|Rome had, funnily enough, spoken long before 2016|
Austen says, 'Rome has spoken' in Pope Francis but of course, we know that Rome had already spoken on this matter in 1981 while Pope St John Paul II was heroically battling Communism while simultaneously defending the indissolubility of marriage and the immutability of the Church's perennial teaching. Long before 1981, Christ Himself had spoken and so, too, St Paul. It doesn't require 'an intellectual of religion' to point out that Amoris Laetitia cannot be in continuity with Familiaris Consortio if 'the right interpretation' is in stark contradiction to Familiaris Consortio. It does require a good deal of sophistry with not a small pinch of deception, both of self and of others. One does not have to be 'an intellectual of religion' to figure out the simple truth that if Amoris Laetita's message is that sexual (mis)conduct, basically, doesn't matter anymore, that this is in contradiction to the 2,000 year message of the Church.
Ultimately, what Pope Francis is asking Catholics to do is to place their total trust, total fidelity and total faith in his person - that is, his private person - on this issue of whether the divorced and remarried and others whose lifestyles and situations are at grave variance with the Church's teaching may receive Holy Communion, thereby declaring themselves to be in Communion both with him and the Lord Jesus Christ. While claiming to be one who listens to the simple poor and humble folk - a historically oft-repeated claim made by many an atheistic Communist such as Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin to name but two - and while claiming to be himself too simple and unqualified in theological matters to get mixed up with those unhelpful doctrinal problems, Pope Francis and his inner circle are now using every means of popular communication possible to ask Catholics to trust in Pope Francis's person alone, to the exclusion of divine revelation, Scripture, Tradition, the Church's perennial discipline and teachings and to the exclusion of Christ and His Saints and Martyrs.
What Francis is doing is saying: 'Don't trust Faith or even consult with Reason, don't trust the testimonies of the Fathers of the Church or the teachings of the Popes. Just trust me, believe in me, put your faith in me - because I'm the Pope.' Worse, he is saying, 'Don't take Christ seriously at all, just take me very seriously indeed'. This is ultimately a divorce from a Catholic understanding of the Office of the Papacy which guards, defends, teaches and hands down the Sacred Deposit of Faith entrusted to each and every Successor of St Peter.
And before Austen says, 'Ah, but we (for they are legion) were thought of as dissidents while Benedict XVI was reigning' let me just say that Benedict XVI tended not to punish his enemies or insult them. Nor did he ever have the arrogance to ask the People of God to place their trust in him to the detriment of their Faith and trust in Jesus Christ. He continually pointed to Christ. It was intellectually sound, not simply because he was intelligent and could discuss Rahner or St Augustine but because what he said actually made sense. Do you remember those sweet days when a gentleman was on the Throne of St Peter, not bandying around insults but simply catechising his brethren and gently but firmly teaching the Catholic Faith handed down to him? You know, just doing what a Pope, traditionally-speaking, does?
Remember his courtesy and his warmth and his ability to greet and treat people with the kind of respect that each man deserves as a child of God? Did he ever lord his power over the clergy? Harangue them? Threaten them? Bully them? Did he ever greet seminarians one year saying, 'I don't know what we should do about the looming vocations crisis' and in the next breath call them 'little monsters' or bewail their defects? Did he upbraid clergy or seminarians for their clothing choices? Did he ridicule the faith of others around him? Do you ever remember him having a bad word to say about anyone? Was there a single point in Benedict XVI's pontificate when you thought you would have to go against your sacred conscience in accepting something that he was proposing? Did he ever make you think a time was approaching when you would have to choose between the teaching of Benedict XVI and the teaching of Jesus Christ? The answer to all these questions is no.
Unfortunately for Austen and for those who he defends, the truth is very simple, if always unwelcomed by many. The Catholic Faith is true and simple. Christ's teaching on divorce and remarriage is true and simple. It is both true and simple to accept that if Pope Francis tells people by various methods to trust him, instead of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church suddenly has a very unconvincing man-made religion to propose to mankind instead of the Truth of Jesus Christ. It doesn't take a genius or an intellectual to see that 2 + 2 does not equal 5.
It does not take an 'intellectual of religion' to realise that a Pope whose cult of personality extends so far into the Church as to ask Her ministers and faithful to subtly, and in a quite Orwellian manner, dispense with the teachings of the Church's divine founder needs to be firmly resisted in this ambition and, if necessary, opposed publicly. To do so has nothing to do with hating Francis, the man, or even Francis, the Pope. It means priests, bishops, cardinals, religious and the laity standing up for Jesus Christ and opposing the ancient foe who wishes for the destruction of Christian morals and the Christian faith. As far as many who are objecting to Amoris Laetitia are concerned, Francis the man and Francis the Pope can, quite frankly, get out of the way, for it is the Devil who we wish to be trampled under Our Lady's heel. We hope and pray that in the process, Francis is left unharmed.
For his own sake, and the sake of others, may Pope Francis answer the Cardinal's questions before he is brought to answer Our Blessed Lord's.
May the triumph of her Immaculate Heart come quickly.
Come, Lord Jesus!