The Church has always been concerned to state its doctrine in clear and unmistakable terms. It is this very clarity that safeguards dogma and prevents it from becoming distorted or subjected to personal interpretation that runs counter to the teaching that Jesus Himself came to give us. And why should dogma be safeguarded? Because our salvation depends upon knowing what God has revealed to us and what He expects of us.
A person without the safeguard of Church-defined dogma is liable — in fact, is almost certain — to fashion a faith according to his own prejudices or the convenience of the moment. This is why we have had thousands of Protestant sects through the centuries. Anyone who can rent a storefront, put up a sign and rally a congregation is able to proclaim himself a prophet and preacher. The only thing that bars his way is faith in defined dogma.
Much of the confusion and chaos in the Catholic Church since Vatican II can be traced to a failure to safeguard dogma or to state it in unmistakable terms. The post-conciliar crisis is a crisis of dogma. For this reason, it is alarming to hear Pope Francis apparently warn people away from precision in thought and expression in matters of faith while he urges them to a personal relationship with Jesus through prayer. (See: “Heresies sprout from getting lost in ‘ideas,' Pope warns”.)
Prayer is necessary for our salvation and it is not in opposition to doctrine and dogma. In fact, true prayer is most supportive of the faithful soul keeping faithful to dogma.
As with many of Pope Francis' impromptu remarks, his homily on May 16 is open to conflicting interpretations. This is precisely because the Holy Father is prone to set up what appear to be false opposites. In this case: careful understanding and personal prayer. The two do not work against one another, but some may take away this impression from the Pope's homily. The Holy Father even said that too much concern with ideas leads to heresy. With all due respect, the current history of the Church has proved the opposite.
We have seen a careless and even dismissive attitude toward ideas since the Second Vatican Council and an overemphasis on ecumenism and social justice, often to the detriment of dogmatic clarity. The problem facing the Church now is not what the Holy Father's homily would seem to indicate, that is, a preoccupation with ideas which has led people away from Christ; it is rather a failure to know and adhere to the dogma which the Catholic Church — the one true Church of Jesus Christ — has defined for all time. The Church founded by Jesus Christ is the “pillar and ground of the truth” [1 Tim. 3:15] guided by the Holy Ghost, teaches and defines what is essential to salvation. (See: “If We Lose Dogma, We Lose Our Soul”.)
It is possible to become a legalist in matters of dogma and to neglect one's prayer life, but this is hardly a widespread phenomenon in our day. One may be permitted to wonder why the Pope should think it a problem of such prominence that it requires his personal correction. And his recommended remedy, personal prayer and the reception of the sacraments, are nothing less than what is and has always been required of every member of the Church, whether one is a theologian or a lay person. The difficulty with the Pope's homily is that he seems to have set two things in opposition that need not be so and seldom are. In fact, it is difficult to understand how someone who is deeply concerned about his salvation would not bother about ideas relating to it. And such a person is likely to be someone who prays.
What threatens the salvation of so many souls today is the lax and even conflicting approach toward Church dogma that comes from their pastors, including — let us be honest — the supreme pastor, Pope Francis. In one of his frequent personal phone calls, the Pope reportedly told a woman in Argentina who had been denied the Eucharist because she is living in a false marriage with a divorced man that nevertheless she could indeed receive Communion and should simply go to another parish to do so. (See: “The Phone Call Heard ‘Round the World”.)
What are the doctrinal implications of such shocking advice? It should be noted that the Vatican press office, when questioned about the phone call, did not deny it but stated that whatever may be said in such calls does not form part of the magisterial teaching of the Church. This was not very reassuring. Who's being legalistic in this instance?
What false ideas might an ordinary Catholic take away from reports of this incident? The most likely conclusion to be drawn is that the traditional prohibition of the sacraments to those knowingly and persistently living in mortal sin all of a sudden has acquired some flexibility under the current Pope. It is reported that the Holy Father advised the woman to go to confession, but he did not advise her to amend her life. Again, have the conditions required for absolution been changed? The seeds of confusion are being liberally scattered by this and other incidents.
We now have the papally-appointed Secretary General of the Italian Bishops Conference, Bishop Nunzio Galantino, declaring publicly that there must be no “taboos” in discussions about re-admitting the divorced and remarried to Communion, as well as about homosexuality and married priests. (See: “Bp. Galantino opines”.)
What “taboos” would pertain to such discussions? Church doctrine? And what exactly is there to discuss? Could any such discussion lead to a change in the Church's teaching on marriage or homosexuality? Absolutely not! The celibate priesthood may be a disciplinary matter, but it is based on the Gospel counsel of Jesus Himself. The prudential wisdom and tradition on this issue are not taboos; they are magisterial teaching.
There is also the unsettling spectacle of the garrulous Cardinal Walter Kasper, who certainly is not constrained by any taboos. (See: “Cardinal Kasper is enjoying the spotlight, and taking heat, as the ‘pope's theologian'”.) His eminence, like Bishop Galantino, believes that the question of the divorced and remarried receiving Communion is an open question. In stating this, he has received the support and praise of Pope Francis. But clearly, Kasper and Pope Francis are wrong! What's going on?
The only way to understand the present situation in the Church is through the perspective of Fatima. The diabolical disorientation Sister Lucy spoke of is becoming more apparent, more shocking, every day. We can only pray that Our Lady of Fatima will soon be obeyed and that this terrible time in the Church will end in Her glorious triumph. Meanwhile, we must pray for our Pope as never before. He needs our prayers, as he has said repeatedly. And we need him to lead the way in obeying Our Lady.
We must also keep informed. Read the recent “Fatima Perspectives” articles listed below.
Latest Fatima Perspectives
Pope Confirms: Cardinal Bertone the "Fatima Oracle" Under Investigation for Embezzlement — For years now, the proponents of the neo-Catholic “Message of Fatima,” which reduces Our Lady's prophecy and warnings to the Church to a generic call to prayer and penance, have relied upon the representations of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone about what Sister Lucia allegedly said to him in private unrecorded interviews. Now it is confirmed that Bertone the “Fatima Oracle” is under investigation. Yet, according to the neo-Catholic Party Line on Fatima, Bertone, along with Sodano, are the “Fatima oracles” we should consult for the true meaning of the Message of Fatima in general and the Third Secret in particular.
The Phone Call Heard ‘Round the World — Pope Francis has been engaged in a veritable campaign to introduce into the Catholic Church the possibility of a “pastoral solution” that would allow “some” divorced and “remarried” Catholics to receive the Sacraments of Confession and Holy Communion without committing to continence.
The Message of Fatima: Ignore It at Your Peril — Recent alarming developments in the Crimea and Ukraine have made it clear that, thirty years after John Paul II's failed attempt to consecrate Russia without mentioning Russia, “that poor nation” as Sister Lucy called it, remains at the center of the world events prophesied in the Message of Fatima.
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