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Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Magisterium of the Moment.

One of the staples of Catholic apologetics is that the Catholic magisterium safeguards the truth and ensures a unity and clarity that Protestantism lacks.

I would not be so sure of that. In fact, I would say (and have said before) that the current pontiff is demonstrating that the magisterium is little more than the mouthpiece of the reigning pope and only safeguards whatever iteration of whichever truth he wishes to utter. In short, the magisterium is sola papam currentis.

Why no, I am not a Latinist? How could you tell?

This thought was driven home by a recent piece at the estimable One Peter Five: Amoris Laetitia and John Paul II by Josh Kusch.

In short, Kusch spells out with undeniable clarity that Amoris Laetitia expressly contradicts the magisterial statements of Francis' predecessor, and does so in a particularly unsavory fashion--by either partial quoting or choosing to ignore prior statements altogether. For the latter, Kusch points out how the encyclical Veritatis Splendor flatly contradicts what Francis wants to say--so Francis ignored it. To wit:

The negative precepts of the natural law are universally valid.  They oblige each and every individual, always and in every circumstance. It is a matter of prohibitions which forbid a given action semper et pro semper, without exception.  (VS 52)

The negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behavior as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception. They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the “creativity” of any contrary determination whatsoever. (VS 67) 

When it is a matter of the moral norms prohibiting intrinsic evil, there are no privileges or exceptions for anyone. It makes no difference whether one is the master of the world or the “poorest of the poor” on the face of the earth.  (VS 96)

It would be a very serious error … to conclude that the Church’s teaching is essentially only an “ideal” which must then be adapted, proportioned, graduated to the so-called concrete possibilities of man. (VS 103)  

It is in the saving Cross of Jesus, in the gift of the Holy Spirit, in the Sacraments which flow forth from the pierced side of the Redeemer, that believers find the grace and the strength always to keep God’s holy law, even amid the gravest of hardships.  (VS 103)

As Kusch ably demonstrates, each contradicts certain central assumptions in the later text.

And yet, the Vatican's official newspaper is at pains to assert that the later text is, in fact, authoritative.

So Veritatis Splendor--with its forceful restatement of Catholic moral teaching--has been round-filed after less than a quarter of a century?

Anyone else see the problem here?

What I have not been able to suss out is precisely why I should salute Francis' newest flag when he burnt John Paul II's. His actions completely undercut his claimed "authority."

Rather than call Amoris Laetitia "authoritative," isn't the honest answer "wait at least a couple of popes and then see?" 

Of course, progs are brandishing it like new holy writ. To be expected, yes, but wholly dishonest if one is following McCormick's contemptuous course. But I don't see any honest reason why I should regard it similarly. 

If this is Catholicism, then I never really understood it. And if the magisterium is just the press office of the current officeholder, then cue Flannery O'Connor.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Speaking of electric Praetorians...

Recently, one of the pope's unpaid Yankee spin doctors issued his first statement on the pope's destructive "You probably aren't married--but that couple shacking up might be!") blurtations on marriage.

I won't link to him, but if you're curious, he blogs at Patheos and has a cringe-inducing long sword logo at the top of his page. 

As I said, he didn't discuss the original statement, nor does he acknowledge the pope's assertion that cohabitation can be real marriage.

In any event, this particular electric Praetorian asserts that the real problem is not the actual statements themselves. No, of course not. 

No, rather the really damaging thing is that Catholics don't accept the fact that it was supposedly just a misstatement, and one (at best partially) "corrected" by a post-hoc Orwellian transcript scrubbing.

Never mind that the no-doubt increasingly-retirement-yearning Fr. Lombardi only discussed the Minitrue treatment because journalists brought the bowdlerized transcript to his attention.

Nope. The Blurts Heard 'Round The World are shruggable, since such were (partially) altered without comment or explanation.

Something tells me that if this writer were verbally referred to as a "Cincinnati-area Scientology official" he would not be, shall we say, entirely mollified if he were to be handed a "transcript" that said "Cincinnati-area resident." 

It should not be hard to explain that such damaging blockbuster statements cannot be "recalled" that way, much less repaired.

As a Michigan jurist said in another context: that which is "announced with flourishes and fanfare at noonday should not be revoked by a pennywhistle trill at midnight."

But that's what the Vatican tried to do.

Apparently, however, in the Age of Francis, we all have to learn that the problem is not Francis's words and actions, but rather our reaction to his words and actions. And those reactions must account for the memory-holing of the historical record.

In other words, tighten your cilice and shut up.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

It's the end of marriage as we know it--and he feels fine.

Some additional thoughts on the pope's latest joy-buzzer pronouncement.

1. You'd think that the total failure of the Church's sanctifying mission with respect to the sacrament of marriage would not be brought up offhand in response to a question, but would be front and center, an all-hands-on-deck moment. And it would be delivered in a tone of horror, not with the offhand sadness of an American who just saw a CNN report about a typhoon hitting Bangladesh. 

2. In fact, you'd think that he might have hit us with this crucial supposed fact during, I don't of those Synod on the Family confabs we just suffered through twice during the past two years? 

"Oh, hai, guys--I think we might want to talk about the fact we're running nullity factories in every diocese in the world, and might want to do something about that. Sound good?"

Did he? Did anyone? Cardinal Kasper did, but it too was offhand, and not during the Synod. And he was sneered at by the pope's electric Praetorians...who again proved to be as reliable as a rain dance.

So, apart from that, was this Church-shaking fact broached? Nope. 

3. Another ideal spot to maybe enlighten everyone about this continuing disaster would have been in Amoris Laetitia, but... again, nada.

4. Finally, he's been a priest for nearly fifty years. He's part and parcel of this explosion of allegedly invalid marriages. But do you see the slightest glimmer of a mea culpa, of ownership here? Nope. Apparently, like typhoons, bad things just happen to good bishops.

So, if you're wondering about why I don't take the "great majority of marriages are null" blurtation seriously, there you go. Taken together, he's just engaged in the equivalent of dorm-room spitballing.

Monday, June 20, 2016

I have a new line to greet my Catholic buds with.

"So, how's married life treating you? 

Oh, that's right: I need to ask the shacked-up couple down the street!

So, how's probably-not-married life treating *you*?"

I know--yuck yuck. 
The progressive joy-buzzer papacy continues to inspire. I wonder which of his flock he'll express his abiding contempt for in July?

Stay tuned!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

What other words of Christ reflect an ideal?

You know--one of those things we might not have to give full assent to in order to be in full communion, and just sorta muddle along giving the best response we can according to our modern conscience.

I'm thinking Matthew 16:18-19--for starters. 

Just like the various Credos saying nothing about sex and marriage, they also don't talk about a pope. Can't be that essential. 

Not when conscience is king.

Why not? Once you've opened up that can of serpents, your defenses quickly boil down to varieties of special pleading.

Don't worry about it--go and get your wafer.

Welcome to the Unraveling.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

And so it begins.

Per the Pope's right-hand Jesuit and member of the inner circle

Father Antono Spadaro, the Italian Jesuit who was an influential figure in the meetings of the Synod on the Family, now writes that Pope Francis has removed all restrictions on the access of divorced and remarried Catholics to the sacraments.

Father Spadaro's controversial interpretation of Amoris Laetitia-- which appears to contradict the claims that the Pope made no major changes in Church teaching or discipline-- appears in Civilta Cattholica, the Jesuit journal that Father Spadaro edits. 

Civilta Cattholica is regarded as a semi-authoritative source because its contents are approved in advance by the Vatican Secretariat of State. Father Spadaro has worked closely with Pope Francis as adviser and translator, and reportedly helped to draft the apostolic exhortation.
In Asia's largest Catholic nation:
After collective discernment, your bishops will come up with more concrete guidelines on the implementation of the Apostolic Exhortation. But mercy cannot wait. Mercy should not wait. Even now, bishops and priests must open welcoming arms to those who have kept themselves out of the Church because of a sense of guilt and of shame. The laity must do no less. When our brothers and sisters who, because of broken relations, broken families and broken lives, stand timidly at the doors of our churches – and of our lives – unsure whether they are welcome or not, let us go out to meet them, as the Pope urges us to, and assure them that at the table of sinners at which the All-Holy Lord offers himself as food for the wretched, there is always room. O res mirabilis manducat Dominum pauper, servus et humilis…O wonderful reality that the poor, the slave and the lowly should partake of the Lord. This is a disposition of mercy, an openness of heart and of spirit that needs no law, awaits no guideline, nor bides on prompting. It can and should happen immediately.

Just in case you'd like to try to bullshit me and tell me that the Philippine Bishops aren't talking about the Eucharist...the Latin quote is from the Panis Angelicus of St. Thomas Aquinas himself. You know--the hymn the Angelic Doctor wrote for the Feast of Corpus Christi?

And right next door in Chicago:
Asked in what specific situations he would allow a divorced and remarried person to receive Communion, Cupich refused to rule anyone out.

“I wouldn’t exclude anyone,” he said. “I would like our pastors to have discussion in [sic] all of those folks who are in these kinds of situations. … I know in my experience as a pastor, if you’ve seen a marriage then you’ve seen one marriage. There is no instance that can be replicated. Every situation has its variables that are part of it.”
Now what? That's easy.

That which I was told in no uncertain terms was impossible must now be defended tooth and nail against faithless objectors. Papal Positivism requires no less.

We have always been at war with Eastasia.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

"If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."

Just a slight edit.

'You are a slow learner, Winston,' said O'Brien gently.

'How can I help it?' he blubbered. 'How can I help seeing what is in front of my eyes? Two and two are four.'

'Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become pastoral.'