[NOTE: Because of the very serious nature of the subject matter, I’ve extended this from being Part 5 to Parts 5&6. This is done to make it not so overwhelming as well as to make sure I’m not misunderstood and accused on heresy or schism. Any errors or misstatements in this or any article on adintrad.blogspot.com is my own fault and in no way a reflection of the opinions on JungleWatch.]
This is the part of the series on the Kiko’s theology that I have dreaded having to write. It’s subject to being confusing or seeming to contradict Magisterium in some way. Anyone who knows me or has read what I post knows that I am always aware of this, and when there’s any hint of “tension,” I’ll always err on the side of “Well, the Church has spoken…”
So here’s the problem: we have clearly demonstrated that there are profound problems in Kiko’s theology, and this flows out into everything the NCW touches. Yet, Rome still seems to tolerate it, if not give the impression of welcoming it. How is this possible? Is Rome tolerating heresy, or has Catholic theology changed such that the Magisterium now reverses itself?*1
THE “PROBLEM” OF MAGISTERIUM
Magisterium—the Church’s teaching authority given it by Christ—has a clear purpose: “to preserve God’s people from deviations and defections, and to guarantee them the objective possibility of professing the True Faith without error” (CCC 890). Obviously, then, Magisterium is there to make sure we don’t go off the rails theologically, morally, or disciplinarily. It is aimed at making sure we “abide in the truth that liberates.”
Inextricably linked to Magisterium is Papal infallibility, whereby in matters of faith and morals, the Pope is guaranteed to not be in error. This is so in particular when the Pope “proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith and morals” (CCC 891). But even without a solemn proclamation, Lumen Gentium 25 makes clear that Papal pronouncements “need no approval of others, nor do they allow an appeal to any other judgment.”
That creates a problem for us. Francis makes statements. Alot of statements. Which are pronouncements, and which are "just cuz" remarks? Unlike all other previous popes, Pope Francis is famous for making all sorts of statements that do pertain to faith and morals, but without the desire for clarity; in an era of ubiquitous microphones and worldwide propagation in seconds, that leaves no room for error. And yet he persists in off-the-cuff statements that confuse both liberals and conservatives, and the acceptance of them is cluttered with everything from vagueness at best to what appears to be heresy at worst.
In other words, if the Pope is infallible in matters of faith and moral, how can he be making statements about faith and morals that are so demonstrably contrary to prior infallible statements? Even if they aren't wrong but instead just goofy, these statements are exploited by everyone from NCR and CNN to billionaire George Soros and Kiko Arguello.
For anyone who’s been paying attention for longer than a couple of years, it’s heartbreaking that we have to try so hard to defend the orthodoxy of the Holy Father. Sometimes it’s maddening. Here are 8 quick examples of what I mean (italics are mine):
- 7/9/15 , in Bolivia, on Our Lord’s Feeding of the 5000 wasn’t a physical miracle but instead was when everyone shared their food: “This is how the miracle takes place. It is not magic or sorcery. … Jesus managed to generate a current among his followers: they all went on sharing what was their own, turning it into a gift for the others; and that is how they all got to eat their fill. Incredibly, food was left over: they collected it in seven baskets.”
- 10/1/13, La Repubblica interview with Eugenio Scalfari on a very restricted view of proclaiming the Gospel: "Proselytism is solemn nonsense, it makes no sense. We need to get to know each other, listen to each other and improve our knowledge of the world around us. Sometimes after a meeting I want to arrange another one because new ideas are born and I discover new needs. This is important: to get to know people, listen, expand the circle of ideas. The world is crisscrossed by roads that come closer together and move apart, but the important thing is that they lead towards the Good…Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is Good."
- 10/1/13, La Repubblica interview with Eugenio Scalfari on the reducing on Divine Love to human love: “The Son of God became incarnate in order to instill the feeling of brotherhood in the souls of men. All are brothers and all children of God. Abba, as he called the Father. I will show you the way, he said. Follow me and you will find the Father and you will all be his children and he will take delight in you. Agape, the love of each one of us for the other, from the closest to the furthest, is in fact the only way that Jesus has given us to find the way of salvation and of the Beatitudes." [NOTE: there is WAY too much wrong here to explain in this blog post]
- 1/19/15, in-flight interview on CNA on how the Catholic living of “be fruitful and multiply” is really the sin of presumption: “This doesn't mean that the Christian must make children in series...I reproached a woman some months ago in a parish because she was pregnant with her eighth child, after having had seven C-sections. But does she want to leave the seven as orphans? This is to tempt God. I speak of responsible paternity. This is the way, a responsible paternity.”
- Amoris Latitiae 297, on opening the question on whether there is damnation or hell: “No one can be condemned forever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel! I am not speaking only of the divorced and remarried, but of everyone, in whatever situation they find themselves.”
- 6/26/16, in-flight interview on CNA on reversing the dogmatic teaching of the Council of Trent: “I think that the intentions of Martin Luther were not mistaken. He was a reformer. Perhaps some methods were not correct…There was corruption in the Church, there was worldliness, attachment to money, to power...and this he protested. Then he was intelligent and took some steps forward justifying, and because he did this. And today Lutherans and Catholics, Protestants, all of us agree on the doctrine of justification. On this point, which is very important, he did not err.”
- 6/16/16 Pastoral Congress of Rome, on how most sacramental marriages aren't valid: “[The worldview] is provisional, and because of this the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null. Because they say “yes, for the rest of my life!” but they don’t know what they are saying. Because they have a different culture. They say it, they have good will, but they don’t know.”
- 6/16/16 Pastoral Congress of Rome, on justification for those who cohabitate continue to do so: “They prefer to cohabitate, and this is a challenge, a task. Not to ask ‘why don’t you marry?’ No, to accompany, to wait, and to help them to mature, help fidelity to mature. I’ve seen a lot of fidelity in these cohabitations, and I am sure that this is a real marriage, they have the grace of a real marriage because of their fidelity”
Now in these examples—taken in context and in light of the whole Tradition--they sort of make sense, which is to say, I understand what the Pope is driving at. He has a flair for the dramatic, for over-statement. But taken in isolation, they are devastating. In fact, they are SO devastating that there’s a whole cottage industry built up around “interpreting” Pope Francis. That any pope in making statements about faith and morals needs an interpreter of his intended teaching is utterly unheard of. And this, as much as anything else, needs clarity if we are at all to take the Holy Father seriously as the Vicar of Christ while he is at the same time reversing what the Church has always taught Magisterially. It creates a situation where an ordinary Catholic may be compelled to disagree with the Pope in order to hold to the Magisterium--which is self-contradictory. And in this sort of confusion, obedience somehow becomes disobedience, and there are eternal consequences.
Yeah, there's a lot at stake.
Yeah, there's a lot at stake.
FRANCIS THE PASTOR
There’s an old saying among the Italian clergy: every priest sees himself as either a theologian, a liturgist, or a pastor. This doesn’t mean that they don’t have all of these qualities in some way, but rather that they have a particular focus that defines who they are and colors the other two.
To my mind, Archbishop Apuron clearly thinks of himself as a liturgist. I say this because he truly does enjoy singing the Mass parts, as well as some of the remnants of the “high mass,” such as the white vestments he uses for daily wear and standardized use of the old form for the blessing of the faithful. He releases his CDs and mandated that they be played often on the radio. He wore his white vestments even when taking seminarians (as in 20 of them) in Agana (in all my years I’ve only known him to not wear the whites once per year, and that was at St Francis fiesta when he dusts off his Capuchin habit). If you will, I’d say he loves the theatrical part of liturgy, and the liturgy truly is theatrical in its way.
In other words, what others might think of as “trappings” or “accoutrement,” he views as his link with apostolicity. This is not a slap at him at all, just a recognition of how (I think) he sees himself. For him, his theology and his pastoral flow from the liturgy, and we see this especially clear in his devotion to the Liturgy as celebrated by NCW—this has colored everything else in his reign on Guam.
On the other side is Pope Benedict XVI, aka Joseph Ratzinger, who is to my mind the greatest “theologian-Pope” since ever since (not ever, but definitely in a while). His razor-sharp intellect could penetrate through the murkiest of texts, and he was and is able to makes connections and draw conclusions that are missed by most other readers. A theologian’s theologian. Benedict is of course a lover of the liturgy, particularly the Extraordinary Rite, and he worked to be pastoral. But his real heart is in theology, and the pastoral and liturgical facets of him flow from the theological.
Then there’s Pope Francis. He is, heart and soul, a pastor. Care of the flock as a whole isn’t his primary concern; it’s his only concern, even to the detriment of theology, if need be.
That sounds like a strange thing to say, but as the Holy Father himself shows, he thinks very little of those who seek clarity in thought and word about doctrine as he regularly shows contempt for theologians. Instead, he says, because “life is greater than explanations and interpretations,” the Christian faith is somewhat same-same regardless of denomination, of which (to him) Catholicism is only one among very many. Hence, if doctrinal issues are a problem, then solve them by substituting pastoral practice in their stead (e.g Lutherans can receive the Eucharist if their conscience permits; likewise, most Catholic marriages aren’t valid but many second marriages outside the Faith are; and so on). In other words, Francis’ pastoral takes absolute primacy.
But if the Pope is the ultimate safeguard for doctrine, and he's infallible, how can he do that? Well, he can't--not without exposing us all to terrible consequences. But he's the Holy Father, and God has appointed him and leads him by the Holy Spirit. How can anyone synch this up?
Well, CDF head Gerhard Cardinal Muller says, the Holy Father isn’t a professional theologian, but rather one whose theology “has been formed by his experienced in the field of pastoral care,” which has in turn been formed by his South American outlook, which is itself distinctly different from other areas of the world. That’s all well and good, but it sound a lot like "do whatever you want as pope or bishop or laymen, just so long as it spiritually feels good." The only good news here: reports show that Pope Francis fully trusts Cardinal Muller, who in his position is there to make sure the Church remains faithful to the Tradition, and therefore by implication relies on him for actual Papal pronouncements, which are by definition different from off-the-cuff remarks.
But even that last sentence would be dismissed because it’s about explanation and interpretation. Therein lies the problem. It’s like a woman I know (not in the NCW, btw) said very recently, “Why can’t you get past the doctrine, and just let people love? We don’t need all this dogma when it’s all about love! You're letting religion get in the way of Jesus.”
My answer is that even the statement “Jesus is Lord” is a doctrinal statement, as is the statement "God is Love." The teaching authority of the Church—its Magisterium—is precisely the authority to teach doctrine and say what these two statements truly mean. Unfortunately, Pope Francis has a very different notion (compared to the last 200 years) of what that Magisterium means on a day-to-day basis.
And more to the point, and with all respect to Cardinal Muller's defense of the Pope, since when is doctrinal clarity opposed to charity? When in all of the Gospels did Christ reduce the Gospel to "love of neighbor?" The last time I checked, the Sermon on the Mount's opening chapter is very specific about anger, lust, adultery, oath-taking, and so on; and all of these follow the Lord's admonition, when He says of those who dispense with the Commandments, "Whoever then relaxes the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven."
And yet the Holy Father isn't saying that either. In fact, he's all over the place. And whether you or I or the media or Elton John or whoever thinks so or not, all of this talk and media flair have created a condition where those who are not as noble in intention as Pope Francis have been allowed as wolves to mingle with the sheep without even bothering to wear their fake sheep's clothing.
(TO BE CONCLUDED IN PART 6)
*1 [NOTE: Of course, there’s the third possibility is that I don’t know what I’m talking about. However, given that I’ve discussed my notes and the substance of my text with a very orthodox priest as well as a professional theologian who is very well regarded, I think I’m pretty safe.]