Friday, September 20, 2013

Pope Francis: Catholic Church will fall like a house of cards if it focuses on doctrinal truth

The shock waves are reverberating throughout the Church and around the globe.  Pope Francis has insisted that the Church founded by Jesus Christ must focus beyond "small-minded rules" or it may very well "fall like a house of cards."  Translation: Doctrinal truths which the world finds offensive must be watered-down or pretty much ignored to accommodate the zeitgeist.

Doctrinal truths constitute "small-minded rules"?

Dr. Germain Grisez, in a talk entitled "Legalism, Moral Truth and Pastoral Practice" given at a 1990 symposium held in Philadelphia, had this to say: "Theologians and pastors who dissent from received Catholic teaching think they are rejecting legalism because they set aside what they think are mere rules in favor of what they feel are more reasonable standards. Their views are thoroughly imbued with legalism, however. For dissenters think of valid moral norms as rules formulated to protect relevant values. Some even make their legalism explicit by denying that there is any necessary connection between moral goodness (which they restrict to the transcendental level of a love with no specific content) and right action (which they isolate at the categorical level of inner-worldly behavior). But whether their legalism is explicit or not, all the dissenters hold that specific moral norms admit exceptions whenever, all things considered, making an exception seems the best - or least bad - thing to do. Most dissenters also think that specific moral norms that were valid in times past can be inappropriate today, and so they regard the Church's contested moral teachings as outdated rules that the Church should change."

Dr. Grisez reminded his listeners at the Philadelphia symposium that, "During the twentieth century, pastoral treatment of repetitious sins through weakness - especially masturbation, homosexual behavior, premarital sex play and contraception within marriage - grew increasingly mild. Pastors correctly recognized that weakness and immaturity can lessen such sins’ malice. Thinking legalistically, they did not pay enough attention to the sins’ inherent badness and harmfulness, and they developed the idea that people can freely choose to do something that they regard as a grave matter without committing a mortal sin. This idea presupposes that in making choices people are not responsible precisely for choosing what they choose. That presupposition makes sense within a legalistic framework, because lawgivers can take into account mitigating factors and limit legal culpability. But it makes no sense for morality correctly understood, because moral responsibility in itself is not something attached to moral acts but simply is moral agents’ self-determination in making free choices. Repetitious sinners through weakness also were handicapped by their own legalism. Not seeing the inherent badness of their sins, they felt that they were only violating inscrutable rules. When temptation grew strong, they had little motive to resist, especially because they could easily go to confession and have the violation fixed. Beginning on Saturday they were holy; by Friday they were again sinners. This cyclic sanctity robbed many people’s lives of Christian dynamism and contributed to the dry rot in the Church that became manifest in the 1960s, when the waves of sexual permissiveness battered her."

Dr. Grisez then went on to explain that, "Pastors free of legalism will teach the faithful how sin makes moral requirements seem to be alien impositions, help them see through this illusion, and encourage them to look forward to and experience the freedom of God’s children, who rejoice in the fruit of the Spirit and no longer experience the constraint of law..They will explain that while one sometimes must choose contrary to positive laws and cannot always meet their requirements, one always can choose in truth and abide in love. They will acknowledge the paradox of freedom - that we seem unable to resist freely choosing to sin - the paradox that Saint Paul neatly formulates: ‘I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate’ (Romans 7:15). But they also will proclaim the liberating power of grace, and help the faithful learn by experience that when one comes to understand the inherent evil of sin and intrinsic beauty of goodness, enjoys the support of a community of faith whose members bear one another’s burdens, begs God for His help, and confidently expects it, then the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead raises him from his sins, and he discovers that with the Spirit’s grace one can consistently resist sin and choose life."

When the Church opposes abortion and homosexual acts, she is not focusing on "small-minded rules."  She is defending the Commandments of God.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church (1867) lists these as "sins which cry to Heaven for vengeance":

"The catechetical tradition also recalls that there are 'sins that cry to heaven': the blood of Abel, the sin of the Sodomites, the cry of the people oppressed in Egypt, the cry of the foreigner, the widow, and the orphan, injustice to the wage earner.

A year before he died, Pope Paul VI said, "There is a great uneasiness, at this time, in the world and in the Church, and that which is in question is the faith.  It so happens now that I repeat to myself the obscure phrase of Jesus in the Gospel of St. Luke: 'When the Son of Man returns, will He still find faith on the earth?'....We must always hold ourselves in readiness...What strikes me, when I think of the Catholic world, is that within Catholicism, there seems sometimes to pre-dominate a non-Catholic way of thinking, and it can happen that this non-Catholic thought within Catholicism, will tomorrow become the stronger.  But it will never represent the thought of the Church.  It is necessary that a small flock subsist, no matter how small it might be." (The Secret Paul VI, by Jean Guitton).

And these words were spoken thirty-six years ago.  Can anyone honestly say that the non-Catholic way of thinking hasn't become the stronger?  Our Lady warned Father Stefano Gobbi that, "Never as in your days has peace been so threatened, because the struggle of my Adversary against God is becoming stronger and stronger, more insidious, continual and universal.  You have thus entered into the time of the great trial....The hour of its great trial has above all come for the Church, because it will be shaken by the lack of faith, obscured by apostasy, wounded by betrayal, abandoned by its children, divided by schisms, possessed and dominated by Freemasonry, turned into fertile soil from which will spring up the wicked tree of the man of iniquity, the Antichrist, who will bring his kingdom into its interior." (January 1, 1993).


Jonathan said...

Let me get this straight....when Moses came down from Sinai, he wasn't delivering God's authoritative Commandments. He was bringing us "small-minded rules"?


Anonymous said...

You're upset because Pope Francis said the Church is for all, not a "smaller, purer" rigidly obsessed with minor rules (not doctrine; this is the stuff of chapel veils and women's clothing and other trivialties) that strangle the Church's spirit. You're a very sad, lonely person and need a lot of prayer.

Anonymous said...

Is His Holiness an antinomian?

SisterTemptation said...

Resistance to gay sex and gay marriage equality is futile. You are being conquered.

Get over it and enjoy the defeat!

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Anonymous, rigidly obsessed with morality? Abortion and homosexual acts are, objectively speaking, gravely sinful acts. They will lead, if unrepented of, to Hell for most of those who practice them.

Moral norms are not "small-minded rules" to be cast aside. The Decalogue is not a series of "small-minded rules."

Paul Anthony Melanson said...

Anonymous, is Pope Francis an antinomian? One has to wonder.

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