Part Two: The Sanctimonious Horror

I reconvene taking up, paragraph by paragraph, Steven Walford's take on Amoris Laetitia and the reaction within the Church that it has provoked. Your Holiness, you are right. I need therapy. This is my therapy.

The prophet always despises hypocrisy, not only because it is contrary to the way of life one professes to live, but also because it damages the message itself, rendering it less credible. The famous, “Who am I to judge?” is a classic example of the sanctimonious horror of those who prefer to make as much noise as possible in the hope they are praised for their valiant defence of truth–at the expense of actually following Jesus’ command. 

I don't know why Steven Walford wants to persuade us that Pope Francis is some kind of mega-prophet. Why is this narrative to the papacy required? The prophet - if he is from God - hates what God hates. God hates all falsehood, lies and hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is offensive to God because it lacks truth and lays bare a lack of humility. The famous 'Who am I to judge?' statement is notorious now, not because in so saying, Pope Francis revealed his lack of hypocrisy, but rather because in the face of an opportunity to defend the truth and safeguard doctrine, he side-stepped the reporter's question entirely, instead offering to the reporter a question, neutralising not only the reporter's own question, but neutralising his own position on homosexual actions.

Let's be clear on this: Pope Francis has never qualified his unwillingness to judge homosexual persons with any kind of statement either a) encouraging chastity for homosexuals (or anyone for that matter!) or b) making plain that homosexual acts are wrong and contrary to nature. The statement he made won him the favour of the World's media (true prophets despise the world's praise, right Steven?) and he even got on the front cover of a gay magazine, you know, like all prophets would have, had gay magazines been a thing. Remember that St John Paul II Gay magazine cover with Pope John Paul on the front calling him the best thing since sliced bread? No, me neither.

It would not have been hypocritical of the Pope to say he felt that a press interview was not the place in which to discuss the actions of one man, in this case Mgr Ricca, but he could have said something in defence of the moral law because, you know Mr Walford, the moral law is not simply, 'Don't be a hypocrite.' The Pope referenced the Catechism, in particular that homosexuals should be treated with respect and compassion, but passed over in silence what the Catechism says about homosexual conduct, about it being morally wrong and offensive to God, a misuse of sexuality as intended by the Creator.

If the Pope had said, publicly, 'Ah yes, Mgr Ricca, that notorious sodomite! Well, you can imagine my horror on hearing of this escapade, so henceforth I shall drive each and every homosexual from the Vatican, morning by morning I will root out this vice from my Court!' that might not be either wise or charitable in the full glare of the world's media towards this one unfortunate individual, though I suspect Pope Francis only considers him unfortunate because he was caught, like the priest caught with drugs at the gay sex orgy at Cocco's flat. Who were the other people present at that party? We do not know.

Ah well, another classified report for the Vatican archives. Soon we'll have more scandals in this pontificate than Motu Proprios. What's the ratio? The main thing is that nobody has been judged and everybody knows that nobody will be judged because the Pope is nobody to judge so the next party will be at someone else's flat instead, in a more obscure location. For his message hath gone out to the whole of the Vatican and yea, even to the ends of the Earth, who is he to judge gay orgies? I mean, he's only the Successor of St Peter and the Vicar of Christ on Earth.

It is not hypocritical to uphold the moral law, nor is it hypocritical to speak the truth in charity in the manner of, say, Cardinal Raymond Burke. It is not hypocritical to tell your brother in the faith that he has committed a sin if you desire his reconciliation with God and the Church. Had King David not been told he had done wrong by having had killed Uriah the Hittite in order to take his wife Bathsheba, perhaps he would not have repented. Both St John the Baptist, the prophet and Jesus Christ, the Lord, told us to repent and turn to God. Are they hypocrites too? No. Why? Because hypocrisy is not a matter of condemning something someone does or an immoral action that contradicts the Law of God, but is a matter of condemning something a particular sin or a particular someone who does it that you yourself commit. 



If I say, 'Here, have a biscuit.' You take five biscuits. I say, 'That's incredibly greedy!' and as soon as you leave the room I eat five biscuits, that is what we call hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is not exhorting God's children to reject sin and embrace God and virtue. Hypocrisy is saying things like, 'Who am I to judge?' a homosexual priest caught in a lift with a man doing immoral things but proceeding to judge in a most unmerciful manner the founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate on trumped up charges that amount to innocence proven in a court of law. Hypocrisy is saying, 'Who am I to judge?' and proceeding to label people who uphold the moral law as Pelagians, hypocrites, doctors of the law, rigid Pharisees and, basically, the offal of the world. So, to sum up, it is licit and right for a Supreme Pontiff to rebuke error, correct others and condemn immorality. In order to avoid the charge of hypocrisy from God and man, he would be wise not to do those things which he himself condemns.


Divine mercy always enshrines the pastoral approach of Pope Francis, and this is because, for him, the centrality of morality questions is to allow the sinner and the Lord to come together, to “sit down at table” and allow grace to fully flower in a time and way divine wisdom decrees. In order to understand this approach of the Holy Father, we need to reflect on several questions: From our knowledge of the Gospels, what is the likely response of Jesus to this person in this situation? What is in the sinner’s heart? Is it for us to compartmentalize individual acts from the rest of a person’s life, or can we say with St. John of the Cross, that in the evening of our lives, we will be judged on love? 

In the first instance, divine mercy does not ignore sin or pretend it is not present in a soul. Divine pity looks upon the sinner and loves the sinner so much that it calls the sinner back to God, always, so that true life in God may be embraced, rather than the passing illusions of sin, may be found. Divine mercy is linked to our repentance, Steven. God loves us so much that His will is that our fallen human nature may be recreated in His own image, the image of the Son whom the Father loves, by the sanctifying grace poured out upon His children in His Church. Divine mercy calls us to be forgiven by God, to be cleansed of our faults by God, to be healed by Him. We all stand in need of divine mercy. None of us are perfect. It also calls us in turn to forgive.



If it helps your arguments for Amoris Laetitia to insert a quote from a Doctor of the Church, then at least appreciate that St John of the Cross, master of the school of divine love also shows us that the way to perfection lies in self-forgetfulness, a constant remembrance of God, ceaseless prayer and a resolute determination to take up the ascetic life, mortification and complete dependence on God, the source and origin of all virtue. Is this what Pope Francis advocates? Love of God? Rejection of the world and its passing pleasures? Did this Saint, have any Saints, ever advocated the reception of Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin? Would they ever condone a single mortal sin, or advice one in mortal sin that it had no consequences?

Why is a 'new approach' necessary when the Church in the name of Christ, or Christ, through His Church, has been healing, forgiving, cleansing sinners of faults for centuries? What else, other than Salvation, Eternal Life, sanctifying grace and the forgiveness of sins can the Church offer to sinners? If the Church does not offer to sinners truth, in charity, if it does not make clear the path to Eternal Life, if the Church does not call sinners back to God, but acquiesces in sinful lifestyles, or condones sinful lifestyles, crowning the impenitent with Holy Communion - whether accompanied and pastorally assisted or not - it does not guide sinners to Heaven, but rather to Hell.

Steven is about to call critics of this papacy Pelagians. So part III will be fun, fun, fun....

Comments

Wis 11, 24 "But thou hast mercy upon all, because thou canst do all things, and overlookest the sins of men for the sake of REPENTANCE."

This reading is in the N.O. Lectionary. Do you think they missed this bit out when Walford got his "theological qualification."?

Why is it that so many people believe God's greatest attribute is His mercy? I always thought that it was His holiness, which is why He is acclaimed as "Thrice Holy". Maybe I just don't have the right qualification.
Anonymous said…
A Protestant lady in southern Ireland went to work as a housekeeper in a Catholic manse.
Her family feared the worse for her.
'Those Roman priests will try to convert you,' they said.
To her surprise the parish priest respected her faith.
Indeed the P.P. would often ask after the health of the minister whose church she attended.
It was years before she made a decision to convert.
When asked about it, she said she was struck by the 'holy cheerfulness' of Catholic priests. Their faith and conduct drew her to the Church.
I relate the story from memory, though it is in Mary Kenny's book, 'Goodbye to Catholic Ireland'.
The foolish priest in your photo ought to reflect on this story.
The photo of Fr. Martin flashing the devil sign was made before Stephen Colbert's audience.
How could any priest act in such an unholy and undignified way?
Another story.
Pope Pius IX invited the American Protestant theologian Charles Hodge to the First Vatican Council.
Hodge declined, but in a letter to the Pope, he said he felt a sense of fellowship with all those who belonged to Jesus Christ.
Do we belong to Christ?
Or do we belong to the world and the world's values?
This blog shows a thirst for holiness, and a fidelity to the teaching of Jesus Christ.
'If you were of the world, the world would not hate you.'
Incidentally, Cardinal Burke offered a Pontifical High Mass in the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, Balornock, Glasgow, recently.
You can see the Cardinal and the faithful on a YouTube film.

J Haggerty. Glasgow.