Wednesday, June 28, 2017


For me, it started quite suddenly: the abrupt, irregular resignation of Benedict. For hundreds of years a Pope was Pope until death. Now, I am not a papal scholar, but something gnawed at me, the way things went down in March of 2013. Benedict pleading infirmity of age as a new office, Pope Emeritus, was created for the occasion.

Then, Francis became Pope. And all I heard was how humble he was. He didn’t wear the red papal shoes – humble! He’ll still be living in his own Vatican apartment – humble! He tips those who wait upon him with money from his own purse – humble! That, too, sat uneasily with me.

Next were the impromptu foot-in-mouth airplane interviews. The first – “Who am I to judge?” – while technically true in context, was used as fodder for the enemies of the Church. And still he babbled on and on. I have not a memory for the theological gaffes (or scandals, depending on one’s grounding in the faith), but I read them as they happened, one after the other. There are whole websites devoted to documenting these statements against traditional faith. Google them.

Now to the tipping point – Amoris laetitia, “The Joy of Love,” Francis’s take on how the Church should “pastorally” respond to contemporary sexual mores, released the beginning of April of 2016. Ghostwritten by a man of questionable orthodoxy, the document is deliberately written vague when it comes to the question of: Should the divorced and remarried be admitted to Holy Communion?

Or is it? Well, in addition to countless faithful and conservative Catholics laity, priests and bishops, four Cardinals seem to think so. Four months after the release of Amoris laetitia, these Cardinals – Caffarra, Brandmüller, Burke, and Meisner – sent a “Dubia” (Latin for “doubts”) to the Pope asking for clarification on five YES/NO questions pertaining to the Catholic faith in light of the papal document.

These five YES/NO questions are:

(i) Can adulterers receive Holy Communion?

(ii) Are there absolute moral norms that must be followed without exception?

(iii) Is habitual adultery an objective situation of grave habitual sin?

(iv) Can an intrinsically evil act be turned into a subjective good based on circumstances or intentions?

(v) Can one act contrary to known absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts based on conscience?

Sounds straightforward enough to me. According to traditional Catholic theology, the answer to each is NO. Upon reading Amoris laetitia, many felt the answers not to be so clear. Hence, the issuance of the Dubia.

There was no response from Francis.

The contents of the Dubia were made public two months later.

Still no response from Francis.

On April 25, 2017, the four Cardinals wrote a respectful letter to Francis requesting an audience in regards to the Dubia. It was hand-delivered on May 6.

Over six weeks later, no response from Francis.

Now, what I have been wondering over these past weeks (and months) is …


Why is Francis refusing to answer these five questions?

I must admit I am leaning toward the conclusion that Francis is trying to change Catholic teaching. And I fear this Communion-for-the-divorced is merely a tactic to wedge open the door to full communion and acceptance of homosexuality. I am not educated enough in the Inside-Baseball of the Vatican, Catholic theology, and the history of Papal documents to know this with any degree of certainty, of course, but in light of the question I asked a few days ago …

Is the Church converting the world, or is the world converting the Church?

I can not be persuaded that something like this is not currently being played out.

More in the next post …

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