AFTER PRESENTING AN ARTICLE on the moral soundness of the the document Amoris Laetitia, the author was applauded for doing a good job using the document itself to demonstrate its moral rectitude and loyalty to both scripture and tradition. However, it was argued that the article, “Cardinal Burke Still At It, Causing Confusion on an Already Settled and Clear Issue“, failed to take into account the subsequent “acts” of various Bishop’s Conferences, Conferences that drafted various Pastoral Guidelines, some of them very liberal, and the pope’s responses to them. These diverse guidelines, and papal responses to them, supposedly reveal the pope’s true intent as a liberal reformer committed to a modernist liberal agenda, which is the cause behind his subtly introducing heresy into Amoris Laetitia by way of purposeful confusion. The pope has been assailed for these Episcopal Guidelines and supposed responses to them and the author lambasted for failure to cover them, as if they were approps for an article limited to the moral rectitude of the document Amoris Laetitia itself – the document and subsequent acts intended to implement its propositions are different topics. Thus, in this article, the author will take up the issue of subsequent “acts” that followed in the wake of the document to demonstrate the claim that Amoris Laetitia introduces heresy by way of confusion, is as bogus as the claim that the pope’s subsequent responses are proof of his intent to introduce heresy by way of confusion.
Moreover, it will be demonstrated that the most confused people are the ones making the claims about the pope causing confusion; their confusion not only pertains to the post-synodal exhortation, it carries right on up to and includes the various Episcopal Guidelines being drafted to implement Amoris Laetitia in the various dioceses throughout the world. Some of the confusion is due to a seeming inability to integrate and adequately recall the set of systematic data presented in Amoris Laetitia as explained in the previous article. This intellectual, perhaps moral limit is related to a further inability to comprehend meaning or due to a willful desire to remain ignorant so that the detractors can continue their tirade against the Vicar of Christ. Under the guise of reverence and loyalty to the truth, some of these vehement detractors appear to be among the most disloyal and erroneous “Sons of the Church’. Cardinal Ratzinger, while serving as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF), captured the latter idea:
“It is necessary to be strong in faith and to resist error even when it masquerades as piety.”
The culprit is brought into stark relief when Sacred Scriptures shed their light on the theme of error masquerading in piety: false apostles masquerading as “apostles of Christ.”
“And what I do I will continue to do, in order to end this pretext of those who seek a pretext for being regarded as we (the apostles) are in the mission of which they boast. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, who masquerade as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan masquerades as an angel of light. So it is not strange that his ministers also masquerade as ministers of righteousness” (2 Corinthians 11: 12-15).
Before continuing, it must be pointed out, that the author is NOT referring to traditionalists who have sought union and are in union with the See of Peter, like the good priests of The Priestly Order of St. Peter (FSSP); he is referring to those who have separated themselves, those who consider the Vicar of Christ to be some type of false prophet, who consider him to be an ersatz pope, those who teach that the Chair of Peter is vacant and who reject ecumencal council Vatican II. Those who like Bishop Williamson (head of the SSPX Resistance excommunicated for ordaining a bishop in 2015), argue that the Vatican headed by Pope Francis is a “cuckoo’s nest”:
“Wherever the remainder of the true nightingales (traditionalists) are visibly gathered, in whatever makeshift nest, they are in the Church, they are the true visible Church, and their beautiful song testifies to anyone who has ears to hear that the cuckoos are nothing but cuckoos who have stolen the Catholic nest which they presently occupy,”
The SSPX Resistance believe that the SSPX (from which they broke) has compromised too much with Rome (esp. about Vatican Council II) in order to be brought back into union, (something that has NOT been achieved), SSPX Resistance holds that Rome is the “enemy” of the Catholic “Faith”:
“Unless the Society’s (SSPX) leadership is shaken out of its dream of peace with Conciliar Rome as revealed by them, then the last worldwide bastion of Catholic Tradition risks being on its way to surrendering to the enemies of the Faith. Maybe bastions are out of date.
Sedevacantists (supposed Catholics who [generally] believe and teach that here has not been a valid pope since Pius XII) object to supposed errors that have infected the Church since Vatican Council II, but rather than work for internal reform through a process of cooperation, they exacerbate the problem by rejecting every pope since John XXIII and the Ecumenica Council that he called into being. The movement, in its most illustrious form began with Archbishop Lefebvre who started the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) in 1983. Originally schismatic and favoring sedevacantism, SSPX has since modified its views. Like a Protestant sect, SSPX has spawned other dissident groups that have either held it to be too lenient or too lax.
For example, The Society of Saint Pius V (SSPV) was formed when Archbishop Lefebvre expelled Frs. Clarence Kelly, Anthony Cekada, Daniel Dolan and Eugene Berry from the SSPX due in large part because Lefebvre instructed them to accept new members previously ordained to the priesthood according to the revised rites of Pope Paul VI. These priests were also opposed to Lefebvre’s insistence that they use the 1962 edition of the Roman Missal, which was issued by Pope John XXIII. Fr. Dolan later admitted that while still a member of the SSPX, he believed that the See of Peter was vacant:
” As a seminarian at Ecône (SSPX Seminary in Switzerland) back in the autumn of 1973, he had already come to the conclusion that the only logical explanation for evil of the New Mass and the errors of Vatican II was that Paul VI, due to personal heresy, had lost the pontificate. Ever since, he has steadfastly held that position regarding Paul VI and his successors, and never once acknowledged them as popes in the Canon of his Mass. This explanation for the situation after Vatican II later came to be known popularly as “sedevacantism” (from the Latin term for the interregnum between popes) – “the seat is vacant”
Other groups that broke off from the SSPX include SSPX Resistance, quoted above, various sedevacantist groups such as the highly suspect Holy Family Monastery in Fillmore, New York run by an ersatz monk who, like many who accuse others of heresy, teaches heresy himself; at least that is what some other sedevacantists say about him. Still others have come back into union with Rome such as the FSSP, also mentioned above. Groups like the FSSP and others such as the Fraternity of Saint Vincent Ferrer in principle accept the Second Vatican Council, as well the Novus Ordo Mass, which they regard as a legitimate but somewhat imprudent compromise with the the modern world. Thus, with the approval of the Holy See, they continue to celebrate the Tridentine Mass while being in union with Rome.
In summary, traditionalists are a broad group of diverse Catholics, some of whom have separated themselves from communion with Rome and others who have sought after and obtained communion after splitting from the SSPX or affiliated societies. It is the former group that this article is critical of, critical because they have dared to be critical first, critical of the papacy, of the liturgy, and of the church’s evangelization efforts in the modern world; most egregious is the issue they have with the pope, thinking it little offense to call him a heretic, schismatic, moron, false-prophet, you name it; they like to call Pope Francis, “Bergoglio”. If they think they have a right to demean, twist and distort the truth, to be critical of the pope, than they should accept criticism themselves and learn to grow accustomed to it and to a whole lot more which is coming their way for obstinate refusal to accept the Vicar of Christ; for sins against the papacy; sins against unity; since against truth, which they claim to uphold; for the sin of scandal and, like the Pharisees, for the sin of leading others into schism and error.
“Woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you go round about the sea and the land to make one proselyte; and when he is made, you make him the child of hell twofold more than yourselves” (Matt 23:15).
What are the acts subsequent to Amoris Laetitia that these so-called traditionalists are referring to as proofs that Pope Francis intends heresy? They are Bishop’s Guidelines written by various bishops and Bishop’s Conferences throughout the world for the purpose of localizing and implementing the teaching contained in Amoris Laetitia at the diocesan level. First they reject Amoris Laetitia by falsely claiming that it contains error or at least confusion that leads to error. When they lose this argument, they resort to subsequent acts uncharitably and falsely claiming that the pope has supported mortal sin by admitting public adulterers to Holy Communion because of his approval of the Maltese Bishop’s Guidelines, the acceptance of the Guidelines for his own diocese, the Diocese of Rome, which they claim admit divorced-remarried adulterers to Holy Communion and other such subsequent Guidelines, Guidelines that they claim are proof of the pope’s intent to teach heresy by means of so-called” confusion, which they claim is stealthily woven into the fabric of Amoris Laetitia.
We have reviewed, studied, examined, and analyzed the document many times and not once have we spotted error or been confused, nor has Cardinal Mueller, the current Prefect for the CDF. After demonstrating its adherence to truth in the above linked article that shows in detail that Amoris Laetitia is firmly rooted in both Scripture and long-standing Tradition, after pointing this out, instead of gracefully admitting their error, radical proponents of traditionalism rather than admitting their error, deflect it. They continue their merciless onslaught by claiming that it is clear that “Bergoglio” stealthily planned to teach heresy as verified by his subsequent approval of mortal sin in various Bishop’s Guidelines. What was implicit in the document they claim, is explicit in the subsequent Guidelines.
It is true, some of these Guidelines do contain moral error, error that is due to liberal interpretations that permit adulterous divorced-remarried couples to receive Holy Communion under certain conditions as in the Diocese of Malta. The errors contained in these Guidelines have been blamed on the pope rather than on the bishops themselves. If some admit that the bishops are to blame, they then castigate the pope for purposefully causing “confusion” that has enabled such errors to be promulgated by some bishops. They fail, however, to realize that not only are several of their claims erroneous, (for example, that the Diocese of Rome Guidelines permit adulterers to receive Holy Communion) but that it is they, the accusers, who are the primary purveyors of the “confusion”, confusion that has enabled liberal-minded bishops to pursue their erroneous theology contrary to both scripture and tradition and the true intent of Amoris Laetitia wherein it is stated several times that its interpretation can neither “prescind from the Gospel” nor the constant tradition of the Catholic faith, including John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio.
The more liberal minded bishops have been aided in their drafting and implementation of erroneous Guidelines by the barrage of mistrust and confusion engendered by the traditionalists. That is, if they had fallen in-line behind the pope, like Cardinal Mueller and other loyal bishops and Cardinals, if they had clarified the difference between dogmatic and pastoral theology and properly interpreted the document, they would have significantly reduced the ability to operate under the penumbra of confusion. That is, if there was unity by promoting clarity, there would be little disunity facilitated by claims of confusion spearheaded by a few radical traditionalists. If instead of confusion, they would have promoted unity, the liberal bishops would have little room to operate. As it is, the traditionalist approach has provided their supposed liberal enemies, on the opposite end of the theological spectrum, a wide swathe for operation contrary to the wishes of the magisterium as expressed by Cardinal Mueller, Prefect of the CDF:
“Adultery is always a mortal sin and the bishops who create confusion about this must study the doctrine of the Church…Amoris Laetitia must “clearly be interpreted in the light of the whole doctrine of the Church. […] It is not right that so many bishops are interpreting ‘Amoris Laetitia’ according to their way of understanding the Pope’s teaching. This does not keep to the line of Catholic doctrine.”
“The magisterium of the Pope is interpreted only by him or through the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. The Pope interprets the bishops, it is not the bishops who interpret the Pope, this would constitute an inversion of the structure of the Catholic Church.”
“To all those who are talking too much, I urge them to study first the doctrine on the papacy and the episcopate of the two Vatican Councils. … The bishop, as teacher of the Word, must himself be the first to be well-formed so as not to fall into the risk of the blind leading the blind….The Church can never justify a situation which is not in accordance with the will of God.”
Again, what are these acts of the pope that some traditionalists have adopted as a more advanced strategy to forward their contention that the pope is a heretic? These acts include the guidelines produced by the Bishops of Malta, the German Bishop’s Conference, and especially the Bishops of Argentina and those of the Diocese of Rome, headed by the pope himself. It is claimed that in all these dioceses, church teaching about divorced and remarried couples living in adulterous relationships are being violated because in these dioceses divorced-remarried adulterers living in objective sin are being admitted to the sacraments.
While there is some truth to this statement; it is not true that the pope is supporting these initiatives nor is it true that any of the accusations are even correct. Neither the Argentine Bishops nor the Bishop of Rome permit access to the Eucharist by divorced-remarried people living in adultery as the traditionalists and their erstwhile allies have loudly and boldly proclaimed. In other words, the traditionalists are wrong in every case, wrong when they say the pope is supporting liberal guidelines, and wrong when they say some guidelines teach heresy when in fact, they do not! Although some do teach herey, these are not supported by the pope; the ones that the pope does support such as the Argentine bishops and those of his own diocese hold to the truth about marriage contrary to what many traditionalists and other ideological outlets have reported. They are either ignorant themselves or hide behind a veil of obfuscation (exactly what they accuse the pope of doing) dependent on other’s ignorance, subversion of facts, and regular mis-reading of documents as will be shown document by document in the following article.