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.

Writers, journalists, artists, academics who were 'dissenting' voices have historically not fared well under such totalitarian regimes. For this reason it is alarming that Pope Francis should dedicate a homily on the Feast of St Lucy to denouncing the 'intellectuals of religion' who are, basically, 'enemies of Christ', 'traitors' and, generally, scumbags. Was this homily directed at the intellectuals who wrote to him recently to make plain their concerns that the Emperor seems to have forgotten to get dressed? Or was it directed to anyone who is out there pondering over about the message of this pontificate embodied in Amoris Laetitia, using that wonderful God-given skull-encased organ we call the brain?

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...
Indeed, one is reminded again of Pope Francis's response when asked publicly about the infamous footnote in his exhortation Amoris Laetitia, something resembling, 'I don't remember the footnote'. This was quickly followed by a suggestion that Cardinal Schoenborn should be consulted as to 'the right interpretation', as if in order to understand the ambiguity - or the secret doctrine at work in his Exhortation - you would need to consult not him (because he's a simple, humble man of the people, untrained in theological matters), but instead a 'clever' person, an 'intellectual', a 'leading theologian' who could interpret 'the right answer' for us.

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!


Boris said…
Excellent article, and all very true.
Mary Kay said…
Again, thank you. I am so pleased that Catholic men are defending our Lord and King.
Barbara Jensen said…
Bones, I know how heartfelt your words are here, and you express what so many of us believe and feel. The present Bishop of Rome inserts himself into the present dynamic in a most inappropriate way. Yes, there have been other popes who have held error, but there is no pope who has moved so rapidly on such a purposeful and destructive trajectory. What is most alarming is that as soon as one theological aberration is calmed down, a new one pops up. I read today that Cardinal Kaspar--you remember him--he does 'serene theology on his knees'--is pushing for all protestants to have access to the precious Holy Eucharist. Does this include those who do not believe Christ is fully present there? Jesus, help us.
I believe that it was Cardinal Burke who said that the Church is standing now where it has never stood before. Looming before the orthodox hierarchy of the Catholic Church is the need to correct publicly a sitting pope. The Church is undergoing the purification that Our Blessed Mother delineated in the writings of Father Gobbi: division within the Church, persecution, lack of discipline (meaning no prayer) and a generalized apostasy.
I believe Pope Benedict is the true pope and the forces that pressured him into 'abdicating' his vocation have invalidated the present pontificate. There is no need to argue about it. By the fruits the tree is known. The true Church is supernatural and we must carry our fullness of Faith within our hearts and souls, for things may get much worse before they get better. The devil has overtaken the institutional Church. It Is plain to see that. It is time for living in Faith and Trust as we have never done before. It is a time of great prayer for those who want to remain loyal to Christ. Please pray for priests especially as they will have most to suffer and will have serious responsibilities before God to teach the truth to Christ's beloved flock. Jorge Bergoglio is not a well man. He seems afflicted by the supernatural presence of evil. I say this without any rancor towards him. There is a spiritual sickness at work in his soul or else his hatred toward all things Catholic would not be so intense. His rage at the Dubia Cardinals who are simply asking for clarification in order to guide people correctly is unbalanced and hateful. He rambles incoherently and it is getting worse by the day. Consider his recent reference to bodily functions that was so foul. Who else is this but the devil? Through Bergoglio's imprudence and vulgarity he maligns the Sacred Office of the Papacy.
Each of us is called to stand for Christ no matter what the present evil in the Church cooks up. Our intelligence is needed to stay true to Christ. It is so simple to see that by deriding intelligence Bergoglio is using his position--invalidly gained--to manipulate people into following his error, and error it surely is, even though what he says makes no sense and contradicts orthodox doctrine.
Your words bespeak your pain, Bones, and so many of us feel it with you. I believe Pope Benedict is suffering very much and is a virtual prisoner in the insane situation through which he is living. This is the martyrdom that has been predicted and if one is not deeply intimate with the Eucharistic Christ through daily and consistent prayer, as well as living in God's Will each day, the suffering will not be bearable and the confusion will overtake one. Let us pray for each other. You are right in what you say Bones and I thank you for saying it all. Keep going because we all need to be reminded of the insanity unfolding around us.
Fr Hunwicke has this quote from 'one of our Separated Brethren' on his blog:
"Speaking as one with a formal ecumenical dimension to his ministry, I can confidently say that the 'we' for whom I speak are prepared to sit down and discuss Benedict XVI's modest articulation of the papal office, whereas there is no way we could reasonably converse with Bergoglio, a dictator inventing dogma off the cuff who loves to dialogue with those who fully agree with him."
Anonymous said…
Thanks, Mr.Bones for the two posts, I suffer since that moment, the red shoes and the True pope are two bloody thorns in my heart, I know that the White prisoner is suffering for his flock, let's pray for him and for our souls, the Lord won't let us alone. Gob bless+
Is there any more ironic irony than that Jorge Bergoglio woluld utters words on the feast of St. Lucy? He will respond, either here to the pleas of the faithful, or later, when God Almighty says "will there be faultfinding of Me by a critic," and then He tells Joreg to gird up his loins [translation, because you might lose bladder control] for now God will question and Jorge WILL answer God's dubias: "Jorge B, you got some 'splaining to do". (My apologies to Ricky Ricardo). Guy McClung, San Antonio, Texas
John Vasc said…
Condemning 'clericalism', pointing to the 'legalistic' Annas and Caiaphas as their clericalist models, and concluding with “The sinners and the prostitutes will go before you into the Kingdom of Heaven” is a psychological projection. It's as if Francis is saying: "Look, these legalistic Cardinals are out to get me by catching me out with questions about what I say. They killed Christ, now they want to kill me. But I'm right to tell sinners and adulterers that they're OK the way they are. They'll get to heaven. And so shall I. And those Cardinals shan't, so there!"
jaykay said…
Coming late to this but a very powerful, articulate, heartfelt and... gentlemanly post, Bones. Thank you.

And speaking of the quality of gentlemanliness in HH Benedict XVI, when you remarked that he never criticised seminarians or priests for their choice of clothes, I recall that he also, on one occasion early in his pontificate, suffered being clad in a truly horrendous chasuble (in Austria, I think) with admirable serenity, never letting his very probable distaste be shown. A small example, but telling, I thought then, and now. I think it's a lot to do with self-control. It's a hard thing to master (God, I know too well) and sadly I think our present HF has a bit of a way to go on that front. If only he'd let his predecessor give him some of this "accompaniment" we're hearing so much about in that regard.

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