Wednesday, August 15, 2018

An Open Appeal to the Cardinals of the Church


An international group of 45 Catholic scholars and clergy has signed an appeal to the cardinals of the Catholic Church, calling on them to advise Pope Francis to retract the recent revision made to the Catechism, on the grounds that its appearance of contradicting scripture and traditional teaching is causing scandal.  The appeal and list of signatories has been published today as an open letter at First Things.

As LifeSiteNews is reporting, over 30 further Catholic scholars, clergy, and professionals have also added their signatures to the appeal.  This longer list can be viewed there.

55 comments:

  1. Dr. Feser, it's great that you and the others have published this appeal.

    However, I'm concerned about what the endgame is in all this.

    If a group of Cardinals issue another dubia, or something like it, on the death penalty, Pope Francis is not likely going to respond to it, as with Amoria Laetitia. Will the Cardinals then issue a formal correction? They didn't do so following Francis' failure to respond to the Amoris Laetitia dubia.

    Pope Francis may make additional problematic statements or catechism changes on any number of issues in future.

    Are we thus going to have this increasing theological uncertainty continue for the remainder of Francis' pontificate, with no meaningful action taken to correct him, let alone try to remove him from office?

    The longer this pontificate continues, the greater the risk of schism and the more challenging the task of his successor in cleaning up the mess he's making.

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    1. The endgame is either Pope Francis has a St Paul on the Road to Damascus moment or he retires or God forbid dies and the next Pope takes it up.

      Schism is only going to happen if some idiots get together and conclude they are justified with breaking Communion with the See of Rome over Pope Francis. Yeh that will invite judgement from God. You can never leave the Church over a "bad" Pope. Ever.

      As to trying to predict what he is going to do that is a meaningless exercise.

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    2. Thank you for your response, Son.

      I don't think it's pointless trying to predict what he's going to do. His pattern has been to ignore any and all requests for clarification, regardless of who makes the request. I don't see any reason why he would deviate from that pattern now.

      Pope Francis does and says what he likes. You seem to indicate that all we can do is ride it out and just hope and pray that he doesn't do much more damage to the Church.

      That's hardly a reassuring answer. It means the laity, the theologians, bishops and Cardinals are powerless if Francis wants to go on ignoring those who challenge his statements.

      This situation is bad for the Church. The longer this goes on, the weaker the institution will become.

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    3. Anonymous,

      Not reassuring? We are powerless! All we have is hope and prayer. And these are far more reassuring than any worldly strategy. And are you or I going to stop the Pope? Is any cardinal? And if this is all part of something far greater and far more sinister, like some seem to think, will you stop its master? No, no, no. We are powerless. We will lose. We must do what we can, of course, not in any hope of victory, but just to hear, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant." But He will win. And He is not just some institution. Take reassurance in Him. I am,

      Didymus

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    4. “That's hardly a reassuring answer. It means the laity, the theologians, bishops and Cardinals are powerless if Francis wants to go on ignoring those who challenge his statements.”

      That is how the Church is structured: there is on Earth no authority of any kind that is competent to judge a Pope. He holds all the aces. He can do anything he likes, because he says what counts as Tradition, canon law, liturgy, morals, Tradition.

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    5. Clearly the pathway of new dubia is not useful. No, if the cardinals take this appeal to heart, they will have to approach the Pope en masse and tell him - preferably to his face - "you are misleading the faithful. We call on you to stop it." In no uncertain terms.

      It is true that the Pope can ignore them if he chooses. But he cannot do so AND retain his standing before the world and before the Church as the champion he wishes to be seen as. He would become a laughingstock, and this is something liberals cannot stand. I don't think he has the moxie to withstand the college of cardinals calling him out.

      The problem is that there is, probably, no more than 40% of the cardinals who DO think he is giving the appearance of contradicting doctrine and giving scandal. At least 20% are fruitier and flakier than Francis (Kasper being one), and perhaps 20% more are too muddled to think clearly enough on ANY subject to say "I don't think he got that right". And another 20% are fully right there with him, happy he is making a confused mess out of it so that they can promote any old version of it they want to use, because who can say what Francis "really means"? Would it be enough to have 30 cardinals confront Francis directlyy, when 50 more would back him up directly? That way lies worrisome dangers. Unless the confronters can command a clear majority, they probably won't try it.

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    6. Thanks for your thoughtful answer, Tony.

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    7. They may take that route Tony (and not directly confront PF). However, what then are they to do? I say muster whatever number you can and do it. The rest is in God's hands.

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    8. As a fervent groupie (i.e., not a critic) of Francis has recently opined in apparent tribute:

      Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is “free from disordered attachments.” Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.

      Astonishing but true.

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    9. I say muster whatever number you can and do it. The rest is in God's hands.

      I agree. There are limits to worrying about the plausible or foreseeable results of this or that action: we cannot tell how an outspoken, upright action in defense of the truth and the moral law will help many people in subtle and hidden ways to bolster their confidence in the right way, even if they never say anything. So, maybe Francis skirts the issue, and "nothing ever gets done". But maybe the next pope is a little more cautious about pushing his own personal views. Or maybe 2 popes later there is a document that repudiates Francis's change. Or who knows what? The fact of the matter is that bishops are called to testify to the Truth, and let the chips fall where they may, even if that means martyrdom. Pope Marcellinus hid himself from the authorities, and was accounted in the wrong for doing so, even though it was permissible for ordinary Christians to do that. You can't triangulate in the battle between Heaven and Hell, there is no third option.

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    10. Small time thomistAugust 23, 2018 at 8:52 PM

      The Church has always maintained that the authority of the Pope derives from Christ and that he, therefore, has no superior on earth. And since it is the superior who judges the inferior, there is no one on earth with legitimate power to judge the Pope.
      However, an important exception has been recognized for centuries. From the examination of the following texts it follows that the Church could judge a reigning Pope only in the case of him being a heretic, and that he could even be deposed for it. Several precisions have to be made, though. First is that the Church could not properly be the cause of the Pope losing his office, for it came to him from Christ, but would only be making the judgement of heresy. Second, that it is not enough that he would teach some heresy, but that he would have to be obdurate on it. Third, that the judgment of heresy is not incumbent to any particular individual, but institutionally to the Church. Fourth, that there is no accord on the way in which this should be done. Fifth, that the Pope would remain in office until the judgement has been passed.
      The Decretum Gratiani dates from the XII century and is arguably the first precursor of the Code of Canon Law. In the canon Si Papa (dist 40, ch. 6, Dampnatur Apostolicus, qui suae et fraternae salutis est negligens), provides:
      If the Pope, being neglectful of his own salvation and that of his brethren, be found useless and remiss in his works, and, more than that, reluctant to do good (which harms himself and others even more), and nonetheless brings down with him innumerable throngs of people … Let no mortal man presumes to rebuke him for his faults, for, it being incumbent upon him to judge all, he should be judged by no one, unless he is suddenly caught deviating from the faith (Huius culpas istic redarguere presumit mortalium nullus, quia cunctos ipse iudicaturus a nemine est iudicandus, nisi deprehendatur a fide deuius).
      Pope Innocent III preached:
      For faith is so necessary for me that, while for other sins I have only God as my judge, only for that sin which is committed against faith could I be judged by the Church.
      And St. Robert Bellarmine wrote in De Romano Pontifice, bk. 2, ch. 30:
      A Pope can be judged and deposed by the Church in the case of heresy; as is clear from Dist. 40, can. Si Papa: therefore, the Pontiff is subject to human judgment, at least in some case.
      And John of St Thomas comments:
      A specific text is found in the Decree of Gratian, Distinction 40, chapter ‘Si Papa,’ where it is said: ‘On earth, no mortal should presume to reproach the Pontiff for any fault, because he who has to judge others, should not be judged by anyone, unless he is found deviating from the Faith’ (Pars I, D 40, c. 6). This exception obviously means that in case of heresy, a judgment could be made about the Pope.
      The same thing is confirmed by the letter of Pope Hadrian, reported in the Eighth General Council [IV Constantinople, 869- 870], in the 7th session, where it is said that the Roman Pontiff is judged by no one, but the anathema was made by the Orientals against Honorius, because he was accused of heresy, the only cause for which it is lawful for inferiors to resist their superiors. Also, Pope St. Clement says in his first epistle that St. Peter taught that a heretical Pope must be deposed. (Cursus Theologici II-II De Auctoritate Summi Pontificis, Disp. II, Art. III, De Depositione Papae, p. 133; translated by Albert Doskey. Cited here)

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  2. Go for it! I support this effort.

    Mind you, can this time can we not allow members of the SSPX to sign it? Let's be kind and at least admit their status is still disputed and reason dictates if we are going to call on the Holy Father to retract the change to the CCC on the grounds it gives the appearence of the change of doctrine one should not challenge him by giving the appearence of schism.

    Other then this bit of obviously correct advice I say go for it.

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    1. I don’t think that gives the appearance of schism, at least the Pope considering that he gave the SSPX ordinary jurisdiction for confession and so forth.

      Not to make this a debate about the SSPX, but just remember conservatives are acting very similar now. The two differences are the SSPX put their foot down with religious liberty and wouldn’t say the New Mass and that got them suspended. So, are conservatives willing to get “excommunicated” for holding to the death penalty as orthodox? I don’t think the Pope would do that because it’s too large a portion of the Church and then the question of a heretical Pope would be very practical and actual schism would be likely.

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    2. I think the difference is that the form of the mass is something within the bounds of the Church to bind and loose (as long as it remains a Mass). However, the death penalty is a matter of morals that conservatives say the Church cannot change. Indeed, if the Church could have guided and even commanded people to commit intrinsic evil for two thousand years, it certainly is not protected by the Holy Spirit.

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  3. Finally, some concrete action. Excellent! Here's hoping the Appeal won't fall on deaf ears...

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  4. Is the traditional teaching of the Church that criminals may lawfully be put to death by the civil power when this is necessary to preserve just order in civil society? Or is it that certain criminals must be put to death to guarantee just order in civil society - given certain circumstances, of course? This idea that the death penalty is always optional doesn't ring true with calling it an act of obedience to the Fifth Commandment. That Roman Catechism is really problematic. I wish that everything from the word "when" was left out or more clearly explained. After all, aren't we being told that the death penalty isn't necessary to preserving just order? Aren't modern incarceration practices enough? I think I understand what the signers, some of them at least, mean by just order, but I can't imagine everybody will.

    The problem is Pope Saint John Paul II's teaching, not Pope Francis'. The latter's is just more problematic. But I guess a little problem is preferable to a bigger one. So good job! But probably a waste of time. "They will say no to everything. I continue on my way without looking over my shoulder. I repeat: I reject the conflict." I am,

    Didymus

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    1. After all, aren't we being told that the death penalty isn't necessary to preserving just order?

      Not at all. If you examine JPII's progression of the language from his first version of the CCC, to Evangelium Vitae, to the second version of the CCC, you see that he started with "public order" at first, and this was indeed what the Church had already taught down the centuries. But then he started emphasizing "safety" above other aspects of order, though ambiguously, and in the last piece (the 1997 CCC), he switched altogether to safety and even narrowed that down to specifically safety from that offender. He nowhere argued for that progression nor explained it in detail, and in no way did he actually SAY that the death penalty is not necessary for preserving just order. Much less teach it. Hence the earlier teaching of the Church is still in force, that just order is a fitting purpose of punishment and specifically of DP.

      The only thing you can say about JPII's final formulation is that he wanted to teach that the DP is unnecessary to preserve us in safety from the specific offender, but that conclusion says nothing about whether DP is necessary for a just order.

      JPII simply abandoned justice and the just order in addressing himself to the DP. He left it by the way side. To that extent, he made it virtually impossible to reconcile his intended direction with the prior teaching of the Church.

      This, by the way, is precisely why we should absolutely hold the abolish-DP side's feet in the fire when they spout "development". If anybody on that side had been interested in real development, they would have tried undertaking the task of addressing themselves to reconciling the Church's teaching about just order to their position.

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    2. People call it development a) because it coincides with their antecedent belief that the death penalty is intrinsically wrong and b) because it has not happened all at once. You can tell someone doesn't care about the authenticity of a development when their criteria for development do not distinguish it from the other possibility Newman identified, corruption.

      And yes, I think a lot of DP opposition which purports to be prudential is really a rationalization of principled opposition. You can see this in how people talk about it. They are horrified by the thought that a civilized nation would execute anyone. They think it's monstrous. Although they gesture toward empirical reasons, they have seldom thought much about them.

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  5. Or is it that certain criminals must be put to death to guarantee just order in civil society

    The Catholic Church has never taught that all those fully guilty of capital crimes (and justly convicted of such), must be put to death. The common good consists of a very complex and inter-related set of goods at many levels, and justice is one aspect of it (even, a very important aspect of it), but it is not the whole of the common good. There are sometimes cases and times and situations where the greater good will be served by not using the DP even when it is indeed a proportionate punishment for the crime, e.g. if using it would set of riots.

    The Church's teaching that justice is one of the goods served by punishment, indeed the primary purpose, necessarily implies that very often proportionate punishments are what should be used in order to best serve the common good; hence it is (as I understand that teaching) incompatible with the perennial teaching to say that uniformly lesser punishments (i.e. punishments that distinctly fall short of due proportion) will best serve the common good.

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    1. Is it time to call Francis out as a heretic? Just saying, I’m a normal V2 mass going Catholic who finds Francis disingenuous.
      Nick

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    2. Only God & or a future Pope may judge Pope Francis a heretic. Are you either of those?

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    3. Is it time to call Francis out as a heretic?

      No. And that is unnecessary. He may be a heretic in his heart and mind, but it is not necessary to pursue that in order to call him to account for the confusion he has sown. The statement is clearly NOT claiming he holds heresy:

      and has rather brought great confusion upon the Church by seeming to contradict it,

      "Seeming to contradict" is how they describe it, and that's enough.

      It should be noted that it is possible for the bishops to pass judgment on a statement of the pope's as to whether it is consistent with doctrine or not. They can say "The Pope's statement in X event was inconsistent with the doctrine of the Church". But they don't have the power to pass sentence him for the crime of heresy. That would be judging him, not just his statement. In order to find a person guilty of heresy, you have to find not only that he holds something contrary to doctrine, but that he holds it pertinactiously - in defiance of correction. The common theological opinion has been that "the pope has no superior on earth", and therefore nobody has competence to judge him. Some (including saints) have held that a public finding by a council of the bishops that the pope has taught something that is heretical (even without passing sentence on him) would be sufficient for his office to be withdrawn by God, but this is not a definitive teaching of the Church so far as I am aware. See

      https://remnantnewspaper.com/web/index.php/articles/item/1284-can-the-church-depose-an-heretical-pope

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    4. Only God & or a future Pope may judge Pope Francis a heretic. Are you either of those?

      If that were so, it would be impossible to remove any pope for heresy.

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    5. The Devil must be freezing his tail off right now. I agree with The Remnant here on this particular case.

      Of course I still say it's still ambiguous enought to be given an orthodox interpretation. Extrinsic evils can violate someone's dignity. The Death Penalty in the Papal States that sometimes required "drawing and quartering" certainly violates someone's dignity. Even a justly condemned criminal guilty of a captital crime.

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    6. http://www.trueorfalsepope.com/p/sedevacantistwatch-novusordowatch.html?m=1

      http://www.trueorfalsepope.com/p/part-ii-can-church-judge-heretical-pope.html?m=1

      A heretical Pope probably can be judged in some sense by the Church. Note that in some since is a very complicated issue. I don’t think that’s going to happen unless Pope Francis allows for women priests or something that’s both clearly heretical and has practical consequences on your average Catholic.

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  6. By title I thought perhaps this was an appeal for mass resignations and a cleaning of house of the criminals and perverts that run the Church. Instead it's a cry to support killing other humans. If that doesn't describe complete and utter alienation from Christ, I don't know what might.

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    1. No, it is a call for doctrinal continuity and consistency, whatever the doctrine happens to be. As the appeal made clear, not all the signatories even support capital punishment in practice.

      As to what else might alienate you from Christ, you might want to consider that self-righteousness and a lack of charity would do the trick.

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    2. Anonymous: you counterpose two things -- criminal perverts and executions -- as if they represented two possible, but separate, paths. They do not. And who wails and gnashes their teeth at the thought of executing murderers? The very same USCCB that has been accused of failing to "clean house." I would also take issue with the phrase "other humans" as an adequate description of someone who rapes and murders a child. Do you regard the 911 hijackers as "other pilots?"

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  7. To quote Robert Penn Warren, "Do you think the Dark Inquisitor can be deflected/By trivialties like that?"

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  8. What will this actually achieve? The odds of Pope Francis changing his mind seem very low. Some sort of coordinated effort by the majority of Cardinals to try to get the Pope to change his mind also seems quite remote. It seems likely that a significant number of Cardinals, quite possibly the majority, actually agree with what Pope Francis has done and their minds will not be changed by this letter.

    The most significant question: who comes after Francis? The longer Francis remains in office, the more Cardinals he will appoint, the greater the odds his successor will share his approach to the Church, and hence be very unlikely to undo any of Francis' decisions. On the other hand, it is conceivable the Cardinals will want the next Pope to be someone more conservative. But, even a more conservative Pope is unlikely to want to undo Pope Francis' decisions. Even if he disagrees with them, Popes' try to avoid directly attacking the decisions of their predecessors, because it makes the Papacy look inconsistent and unreliable. This is why, rebuking one's predecessors, while not totally unheard of in Church history, is a very rare thing. The kind of successor who would rebuke Pope Francis is more a "radical conservative" than a "moderate conservative", but the odds of the current crop of cardinal electors choosing a radical conservative is very low, and it will be even lower after Francis is finished refreshing it.

    The more controversy over this paragraph of the Catechism, the harder it will be for any successor to overturn it, since it will amplify the appearance of Papal inconsistency/unreliability. So, by contributing to that controversy, this letter may actually turn out to be a self-defeating exercise.

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    1. If someone is mistaken point it out. They may still hold to their error but at least the Truth is still where it has to be.

      > The longer Francis remains in office, the more Cardinals he will appoint, the greater the odds his successor will share his approach to the Church,

      Ironically liberals made this same complaint when St John Paul II and Benedict XVI where Popes(& St John Paul II was around for a very long time). They thought both of them made the Church "conservative" for generations to come. But Francis still got in and who is to say the next Pope will be as bad or worst then some say Francis is?

      I hate to break it to ya but if the world lasts another tens of thousands of years we WILL have bad Popes and good ones.

      Francis BTW is a cake walk. How do you think you would fair under Pope Alexander VI? Or Segius III bonking his 15 year old mistress? The sex scandal today sucks but what happens if we get a future Pope who touches boys? Oh and don't insult my intelligence by saying if and when we get one he will be a "liberal". Conservative & Traditional Priests have fallen too & conservative bishops have looked the other way "for the good of the Church". Can you imagine a Pope as clear as Ratzinger and as orthodox and solid as John Paul II on doctrine but with the private morals of Father Marcel? I can. He might even be a Trad.

      Fr. Marcel is a good example since he was very "orthodox". You wouldn't see him saying he doesn't judge gay people (while he was touching boys). He hated birth control and didn't use it with his mistresses. If we get an "orthodox" Pope who is personally & morally a bad person you lot will beg God to bring Francis back. Don't believe me? Hey I remember all the complaining and grumbling about St John Paul II back in the day. Those people kvetching about him then are under Francis wishing he was back.

      But know you this. If we ever get a future Pope "Marcel" type I believe God will STILL preserve his Church & I would rather see my own children murdered in front of me God forbid then to even contemplate leaving Her.

      Outside the Church there is No Salvation. I believe that! Not in the idiot Feeney way but the correct way.

      Who is with me?

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    2. I am with you, Son of Ya'Kov.

      In another comment, I mentioned I had been in politics. I wanted to save the world. But I cannot. None of us can. The zeitgeist is against us. He always has been. And he is a master tactician! None of us, not our greatest military minds, or political ones, could hope to outmaneouver him. Especially not on his own battlefield; he is the prince of the world. Before the end, in the eyes of the world, he will win and we will be broken.

      But he can't have worldly victory in mind. He must know, maybe from the time of the Battle in Heaven and his fall, at least from the time of the Crucifixion, and certainly from the time of the Resurrection, that he has been bested. His only hope, if you can call it hope, is to take as many of us with him as he can.

      That is the war. And it is, for us, from a temporal point of view, a long defeat. It is a retreat.

      All that being said, the sky is not falling. This new text of the Catechism is not the end of the world. But it is not good. It is a loss. And Pope Francis is not going to change his mind. And I can't imagine anybody signed this letter thinking he would. But retreats don't have to be disordered. Think Dunkirk, not the fall of Singapore. In a battle for souls, that would be a great victory! Somebody has to keep the flame burning. Maybe to get to the last end, which could be upon us, or just until we can rally again – and ready ourselves for the next ten thousand years of bad popes. And of course, there are the spiritual acts of mercy, which this is. And there are our own souls, which I think will be judged not on victory, but how well we fought.

      And in the very end, when we are totally annihilated, He will come again in glory. The victory will be His. And I suppose it already is.

      I'm not saying we should just sit back and watch, but all this talk, up to talk about deposing heretical popes, it just smacks of hopeless, even faithless, strategy. Like I said before, all we really have is hope and prayer and those spiritual works of mercy, especially instructing the ignorant and counselling the doubtful and admonishing sinners and bearing wrongs patiently.

      I hope that makes a little bit of sense. I am,

      Didymus, no longer doubting, but now believing.

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    3. And I really think what's just as important as this letter and efforts like it is praying, praying, praying for Pope Francis. He is the successor of St. Peter and our enemy must tempt him sorely. Pope Francis, like his predecessors, clearly loves the condemned. And so should we! Even those some might not consider "other humans". Even those who rape and murder children. But Satan perverts everything and must want so much to pervert that love into injustice and error and whatever else. I think every time we make a critical comment, even a fair one, about Pope Francis we ought to pray for him. And if we really think about all of this in the great scheme of things, how they're part of this Great War for Souls, how couldn't we? How could we put aside our greatest weapon. I am,

      Didymus

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    4. Of course it is true that Francis is making the college of Cardinals look more like him. It is one of the greatest worries. But in spite of the prospect of future cardinals being a college of wolves, God can still preserve His Church, and if He wants He can pull a true shepherd out of a hat full of wolves.

      The more controversy over this paragraph of the Catechism, the harder it will be for any successor to overturn it, since it will amplify the appearance of Papal inconsistency/unreliability.

      I think the reverse: the more that faithful Catholics raise this issue, the more likely that another pope, if even halfway decent, would be willing to take the difficult step of pointing out the error of his predecessor. More heat and light on this issue gives him coverage for saying something like "well, we all know Francis meant well, but this time he just went too far..." and scale it back. Or simply reverse the CCC to the prior version of 2267 (which was bad enough).

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    5. If we get an "orthodox" Pope who is personally & morally a bad person you lot will beg God to bring Francis back.

      Geez, what is the point of this comparison? Of course things could be worse. Whatever the situation is the thing to beg God for is holiness for the present pope and the holiness of any future pope.

      You're right that an orthodox pope with the morals of Fr. Marcel would probably do more lasting damage to the faith, if he were pope today. The thing about Alexander VI is that he was not pope in an era when huge portions of the faithful (and the non-faithful) heard about everything the pope said and did. The Church has failed to adapt to an age in which the papacy is superlatively visible and in which both personal immorality and doctrinal muddleheadedness are a lot more scandalous than they were 500 years ago. Everyone knows ultramontanism is wrong in principle, but in practice it feels so inevitable when the media effectively holds the present pope under a magnifying glass. I think this is why people feel compelled to harmonize at all costs; they feel that Catholicism loses all of its credibility if the current pope is bad.

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    6. >Geez, what is the point of this comparison?

      Merely to point out it can always be much worst then it is so don't grumble.

      cheers.

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    7. “Ultramontanism is wrong in principle”? Cardinal Manning thought otherwise. And so, it appears did Pius IX and his successors until 1958.

      The present situation is a direct result of Ultramontanism - what could be more Ultramontane, albeit in a twisted way, than for Paul VI and his successors to do as they wish with the Liturgy and Faith of the Church ? The gradual centuries-long emancipation of the Papacy from the duty of having to be Catholic has created an uncontrollable monster. JP2 & B16 & Francis are the result. The infallibility of the Church is dying by 1,000 qualifications. It’s laughable & depressing.

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  9. Nice to see Father Gerald Murray on there. Would he have had to run this by Dolan first?

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    1. I strongly doubt any of the signers ran it by their bishop first. Unless their bishop had the presence of mind to give them general instructions "do not sign petitions and public letters without my approval" they have no need to ask permission first.

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  10. I copy from the letter:

    "The legitimacy in principle of capital punishment is also the consistent teaching of the magisterium for two millennia. To contradict Scripture and tradition on this point would cast doubt on the credibility of the magisterium in general.”

    So the 45 signatories worry about people doubting the RCC’s teaching. Scripture is mentioned (in this case the OT) but, since scripture must be interpreted, all goes back to what the magisterium’s teaching has been. So the 45 argue that a pope should not contradict anything the magisterium has taught consistently because doing so would “cast doubt” on the credibility of the magisterium as a whole. But why? Since they use the “consistently” predicate it follows that there have been cases where the magisterium has corrected itself. Why didn’t people then “cast doubt” on the whole? (Many people would rather become doubtful if the magisterium never corrected itself.)

    Perhaps what makes the difference is whether the magisterium has taught something consistently or not. If it was taught consistently then it should not be corrected. But then, I wonder, at what time does a teaching of the magisterium become consistent and thus incorrigible? After 100 years, 500 years, 1.000 years? After 5.000 years perhaps? And who defines this? And on what grounds?

    I say the logic of the letter appears to be kind of shaky.

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    1. Perhaps what makes the difference is whether the magisterium has taught something consistently or not. If it was taught consistently then it should not be corrected. But then, I wonder, at what time does a teaching of the magisterium become consistent and thus incorrigible? After 100 years, 500 years, 1.000 years? After 5.000 years perhaps? And who defines this? And on what grounds?

      If only our host, or at least some theologian at any point in the Church's history, had thought to address this question.

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    2. There’s nothing shaky in the logic of the letter, it seems you don’t understand what is in the power of a pope to do, he cannot create a new teaching and negate what had been clearly defined.

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  11. Comments on the new scandal Dr Feser? The pope is bigger problems within his church right now.

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    1. One thing that occurs to me is that if capital punishment had more support by both the States and the church in the States and if the government recongnized the sacrilege of the abuse, then it wouldn't take a fancy argument to claim the death penalty is proportional punishment for multiple offenders.

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    2. Not to mention the deterrence it'd have and -- perhaps arguably -- how it might incline someone who otherwise should have (at the risk of their own damnation, too) reported -- rather than cover up -- the abuse, to save the abuser's earthy *and* heavenly life!

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  12. OT, but is about Benedict XVI before he was pope. Protestant biblical scholar N.T. Wright wrote this in criticism of Ratzinger:

    "Ratzinger, along with Rahner, has detached the concept of purgatory from the concept of an intermediate state, and has broken the link that, in the Middle Ages, gave rise to the idea of indulgences and so provided a soft target for Protestant polemic. This represents a considerable climb-down on the part of an avowedly conservative Roman Catholic from the
    doctrine of Aquinas, Dante, and Newman." In Death, Resurrection, and Human Destiny: Christian and Muslim Perspectives (Georgetown 2014) 18.

    Is this true? Did Ratzinger endorse a substantial change in traditional doctrine about purgatory and an intermediate state? Seems at variance with Ratzinger's usual stances as far as I was aware of them.

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    1. According to Ott these are the only two infallible dogmas associated with Purgatory.

      The souls of the just which, in the moment of death, are burdened with venial sins or temporal punishment due to sins, enter Purgatory.

      The living Faithful can come to the assistance of the Souls in Purgatory by their intercessions (suffrages).


      The teachings of Florence and Trent say.

      "Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has from the Sacred Scriptures and the ancient tradition of the Fathers taught in Councils and very recently in this Ecumenical synod (Sess. VI, cap. XXX; Sess. XXII cap.ii, iii) that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavor to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful" (Denzinger, "Enchiridon", 983).

      That appears to be the total doctrine of purgatory the rest is commentary & speculations by Theologians, Poets and Mystics.

      Or maybe Wright is channelling the myth that the number of days an indulgence grants using the old form somehow constitutes time off in purgatory?

      Yeh it doesn't. That is a myth like the idea Mary had to be sinless so that Jesus would be without original sin. Mary is sinless because it's fitting She be so not because Jesus would have been in danger of contracting original sin from her if she was a sinner. The incarnation precludes Christ having any original sin or sin in general.

      So this doesn't appear true.

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    2. Thanks for the citations. I didn't suppose that N.T. Wright was competent to offer authoritative criticism of Ratzinger's writings about doctrine.

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  13. Might I suggest that success with this petition hinges on persons who are against the death pentaly being at the forfront?

    Some idiots(I wouldn't be suprised if Mark Shea does this) are going to trash it as Pro-death penalty people dissenting against the Pope.

    Not true. I am for the death pentalty. I think abolishing it would be a mistake BUT I would consent to see it abolished world wide if only the Church is not made to appear to have changed Her doctrine.

    If this change in the CCC is sold as a prudent discipline not a change in doctrine I can be on board with that too.

    So anti-death penalty signers get out in front. Pro- Death penalty types. Hit the mute button. Now is not the time to lobby for the benefits of CP. The doctrinal integrity of the church is ALL.

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  14. Not Roman Catholic but always demand the truth and justice against any human authority.
    God, the bible, human innate sense of justice demands execution for murder of the murderer.
    to prohibit this is to deny the value of a human life by denying justice of punishment for taking that human life.

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  15. Well this is lights out for post-Reformation Western Catholicism. The Pope, using his Papal authority, says the death penalty is immoral in itself. All this (petitions, etc.) is too late. This has already been done. So, if we are to submit to this, it means for millennia the Church was OKing something intrinsically immoral. If we don't submit to this, then we admit at least the Ordinary Magisterium can contain harmful error. I can already hear the spin-doctors telling me to deny what is in front of me but these are the facts.

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    1. Pius 97th is probably going to have to find a way of annulling the pontificates of the Popes since 1963, while not annulling those of their acts that are more or less Catholic. I predict the decanonisation of JP2. But none of this will happen before 10,000 AD or so, by which time the Pope will have been declared Patriarch of the Milky Way.

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  16. I don't think this petition is going to go anywhere. I think the Pope has bigger problems. I also don't think he will survive the year.

    We will have to wait for Pope Francis II, Pius XIII, John Paul III, Benedict XVII or Leo XIV to deal with this.

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  17. Given recent events appealing to the higher clergy, cardinals or not, seems a pretty useless exercise. Someone in the CC is needed who is both a good human being, and has the power to drain the swamp in which the cardinals and their kind live.

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