14 November 2016


Readers will have read the news, at Fr Z and Rorate and Sandro Magister, about the Letter of the Four Cardinals to the Holy Father, seeking clarity on certain aspects of Amoris laetitia.

It must be a matter of sadness to all Catholics, whatever their 'political' complexion, that the Roman Pontiff apparently decided not to reply to their Letter. If this pontificate was not already in crisis, it most certainly is now.

It must be a matter of grief that other Cardinals and locorum Ordinarii have felt unable to join this initiative because they still have diocesan or curial responsibilities. I have heard from several sources about the atmosphere of fear that exists in Rome and elsewhere. It reminds me of the cruel attempts at intimidation which followed the publication of the Letter of the 45, of which I felt honoured to have been invited to be a signatory.

Apparently, it is now to be the particular ministry and calling of the elderly or the retired or the already sacked (because they have nothing to fear being sacked from) to speak with Parrhesia.  

Reliance upon fear is not Christ's way to govern His Church.


Jack said...

I've been waiting for this. There has to be a confrontation eventually between those who wish to bury sacred doctrine beneath ambiguous words and the faithful who wish to preserve it in all its integrity.

Pray to God for the best outcome.

mark wauck said...

Regarding fear, it seems to me that we all have the courage of our convictions--bishops as well. If some seem to lack courage, there may be a ready, if disappointing, explanation. "If any are ashamed of me ..."

Anonymous said...

Again, as with so many other issues, we see a Pope responding in a way that diverges from past Popes' approaches. Denzinger is a book FULL of eager responses to confusing situations that have developed over the years of the Church's life. We have the confusing situations, but we lack the eager response. Since protecting the Magesterium is one of the Pope's most basic entries on his CV, one would naturally think that such a letter would find not just a helpful Pope receiving, but an eager-beaver!

But alas, silence.

And with that silence we have more and more reason to be...to rob the letter writers' word...dubious of this Pope's personal beliefs, goals and intentions for the Church and the world.

As if we really need much more proof and reinforcement on that score....

As one who grew up Methodist and came to the Church from Lutheranism, I sadly marvel every day at the path the Church is taking under this Pope. It is a path well trod and the tracks are easy to follow. It is path previously traveled by the Lutherans themselves, and the Anglicans and the Methodists and many of the Reformed as well. It is a broad and smooth path, an easy path, a path that leads thru wide and welcoming gates.

Unfortunately, its end is a burning dump with a name, Gehenna.

And so I pray for the day when we will see the Church turn to the narrow and hard path, the one that is traveled so infrequently that it is strewn with rocks and fallen trees. Because THAT path leads not to the stench of rot but to a palace with a room for every traveler.

Anonymous said...

Father...on a separate note, I do not know how you keep your job. The priests I talk to sure do appear to fear theirs.

Liam Ronan said...

Praise God!

The Holy Door of his mercy having shut on 13 November, perhaps Francis' will now nail his reply to the Cardinals upon the door of the Basilica Papale di San Pietro in Vaticano.

Woody said...

This pontificate is not in crisis. With the power that he yields and with the like minded prelates he has surrounded himself with, he knows there isn't a thing that those against him can do to him. As you indicate in this post, they are afraid of him. He knows that and like any good marxist, he uses that secular power to further his agenda. Words will not stop this man or his friends.

E Cline said...

Thank you for your courageous witness, Fr.

Anonymous said...

The question is fear of what. If they have fear is because they cherish their positions more than the Church and the spiritual health of the faithbul.
Be brave, our shepherds, or we are all going to perish, you first.

Woody said...

To carry a little further the other Woody's remarks above, from my own observations, outside the Ordinariates and the FSSP, ICK, et al. apostolates, there are very few Catholics in the pews of the usual parishes that would want a return to clarity, traditional teaching and the like. Of course, one does not know what is in their heads, but judging from what appears to be the happy embrace of "Spirit of Vatican II" liturgy, and lack of clerical teaching on the "hard" subject, like abortion and contraception, which is everywhere, I conclude that they are all quite happy with what they think was the revolution of Vatican II and its implementation, which the current pontiff is continuing.

Jacobi said...

Father, what's wrong with irony. It makes (some) people think. Those that can.

The more the merrier.

E sapelion said...

I have long thought that we, Catholics, should at least consider the discipline of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the matter of marriage. My very superficial understanding is that:
1) Only one sacramental marriage is possible, and this is not disolved by death or divorce.
2) It is permissable under certain circumstances to enter into a non-sacramental marriage, with the blessing of the church.
3) It is possible for the church to recognize the impossibility of a couple continuing to live together as man and wife, and thus to divorce.
4) Thus if one has lost a partner through death or divorce, it may be possible to enter conjugal relations with a new partner.
I am NOT suggesting we should do this, just that theologians and pastors should think and talk about it.

GOR said...

I submit that fear can work both ways. Reports are that Pope Francis hasn’t just not responded to the Cardinals’ questions but has refused to respond to them.

One wonders why…?

Is it that he thinks it is infra dig to do so? Or that he doesn’t have a cogent answer that would stand up to scrutiny?

Anonymous said...

I pray that more Cardinals join with the brave four... it is after the whole point of being Cardinals after all. I have very little sympathy with those who would betray their Lord out of concern for their ecclesiastical position.

KnotWilbur said...

I worry where this will end, both for the Holy Father, and ourselves. It grieves me, but I will continue praying for his conversion/reversion. I guess those involved in this at the Vatican feel it's full speed ahead, but they are headed toward a brick wall. Heaven help us all. Thank you, Father.

George Kadlec said...

"I am often reminded of the quote of St. Athanasius when I surveil the Church today "The floor of hell is paved with the skulls of Bishops."

"There are many ways to fall but only one way to stand." G.K. Chesterton

"I want a Church that moves the world not one that moves with it." G.K. Chesterton

"The further a society strays from the truth the more it will hate those who speak it." George Orwell

"Who is going to save our Church? Not our Bishops, not our priests and religious. It is up to the people. You have the minds, the eyes, the ears to save the Church. Your mission is to see that your priests act like priests, your bishops like bishops and your religious act like religious” Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen

xsosdid said...

It is the beginning of the answer to the petition - in the spirit of the widow to the unjust judge - to God for justice in the Church. Thanks be to God.

Uncle Blobb said...

God bless you, Father.

Anonymous said...

I'd agree with Woody if I didn't have the decades of experience in the insurance industry confronting frauds. Such folks usually live in fear themselves and interestingly fold when confronted by organized and coherent facts.

That's where the effeminacy of our priesthood and bishops is truly unfortunate.

A strong and clear, respectful and unwavering confrontation {St Paul-style} would likely result in a collapse of the whole twisted regime and better yet, a conversion, a salvation of the man himself.

So 4 Cardinals that have nothing to lose is OK, but what is needed is a large number of men who have everything to lose.

THAT will get the job done.

We are watching a great testing of the ordained.

Reader said...

As a University faculty member with 2 decades of experience, I can attest that cowardice is the default position of the human person, cardinals and archbishops not excepted.

Unknown said...

@ Valdemar : Thank you for this - "So 4 Cardinals that have nothing to lose is OK, but what is needed is a large number of men who have everything to lose." . . . very solid food for reflection (it should keep me ruminating for days ).

@ Woody:

While we're focused on the topic of clarity , Church Teaching and non-ambiguities, , please permit me to point out, in reference to Vatican II, that back in 1965 Gaudium et Spes was crystal clear on the Church teaching as it relates to abortion, and to the transmission of life . . . no ambiguities !

Priests For Life , Teachings of the Catholic Church on Abortion.

Matthew Roth said...

Impossible. Christ is clear that marital bonds are dissolved by death, thus “to death do us part.” In the early church, it was firmly established that people can married when widowed and can receive communion and the priestly blessing; the Orthodox refusal to bless and crown the couple is wrong. Marriage between two baptized persons is either sacramental or in fact not a union at all. (3) has always been the case, but only death leads to (4) not divorce.

Tony V said...

Maybe it's all a matter of perspective, but I don't get what (most) priests have to be afraid of. It's not like they've got a wife and kids to support, or a mortgage. What are they afraid of? What's the worst a bishop can do to him? Seriously.

(Ordinariate priests and the like are a different story, of course.)

Gillineau said...

To be fair to the pope, the questions were obviously rhetorical; the cardinals know the answers to them because the pope has made it manifestly clear what the answers are. To paraphrase, with apologies to Churchill: rum, sodomy and the lash, more or less (but preferably more, it would appear).

Remnant Clergy said...

When are you going to wake up to the anti-pope on the Throne of Peter? What specifically will it take for you to acknowledge that truth?

Anne B said...

I am reading the history of the English Jesuits during the time of persecution: from Campion to Martindale, by Bernard Basset SJ. "Fearless and faithful" are the words that come to mind, and "unto death". Qualities displayed by priest (SJ and seminary) and layman alike. But how the priests led! Yet there were Catholics then who like some of us were afraid to speak up and some who "sat on the fence". Where it led them God knows.

Jacobi said...


As a cradle Catholic well versed at school in the Faith and having maintained an interest in happenings in the Church over the last 50 years, I am appalled at the mess the Church is in today, and the effect or rather disrespect this now earns from our troubled society. Do we accept this as many do or do we speak out against it. A conundrum as some would say.

It come down to personality. I have always favoured controlled confrontation and have backing in this from at least two priests I am in regular contact with.

With regard to the present Pope, this situation is avoided by a now widespread policy of not commenting directly on the current Holy Father.

Fr John Hunwicke said...

Remnant ... whoever you are ... why not be big, brave and bold enough to use a name? ... I will engage with you people when one of you condescends to answer a simple question I have asked before: What Magisterial action of the Church, or what Opinion offered by a reputable theologian, ever even raised the question of whether Pope Honorius I ceased to be Pope when and because he lapsed into heresy?

Otherwise, I will continue to treat your "comments" with the contempt they deserve.