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A Leaven In The World… Is The Pope A Protestant?

December 11, 2017 Our Catholic Faith No Comments

By FR. KEVIN M. CUSICK

(Editor’s Note: See also Steve Skojec’s report on page 1 of this week’s issue, particularly the quotations from Dr. John Joy on Magisterial authority.)
You know the joke; you’ve probably used it yourself. Someone asks a question and to stress that the answer is a most emphatic “yes,” you respond: “Is the Pope a Catholic?” Some folks are asking that question lately for other, less than humorous, reasons. Why?
The glorification of a heretic in the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s 1517 revolt against the Church and the cascade of unraveling events roiling the Church resulting from shocked reaction to chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia (AL) — for starters.
There have been many words and actions over the course of the current pontificate that have practicing Catholics scratching their heads and wondering why it is becoming more and more difficult to recognize authentic and orthodox Catholic faith in some of the Holy Father’s decisions.
And now, to cap it all off, the Pope has sought to set his revolution for offering Communion to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics launched through AL chapter 8 in cement by entering the Argentinian bishops’ favorable response to such a practice and his approving letter into the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.
A Christmas gift for the dubia cardinals and those who have championed them as embattled bulwarks of orthodoxy?
Why is this important and the crossing of yet another Rubicon in the obvious campaign to change Church teaching on marriage, the Eucharist, and Confession all at once?
The Acta Apostolicae Sedis, or AAS as it is also known in abbreviated form, is the Vatican method for collecting in one place the official acts of the teachings of the Popes, as well as certain other documents, for easier reference within the Church as a whole. This is the way Wikipedia explains it:
“Acta Apostolicae Sedis (Latin for ‘Register of the Apostolic See’), often cited as AAS, is the official gazette of the Holy See, appearing about twelve times a year.
“It was established by Pope Pius X on September 29, 1908 with the decree Promulgandi Pontificias Constitutiones, and publication began in January 1909. It contains all the principal decrees, encyclical letters, decisions of Roman congregations, and notices of ecclesiastical appointments. The laws contained in it are to be considered promulgated when published, and effective three months from date of issue, unless a shorter or longer time is specified in the law.
“It replaced a similar publication that had existed since 1865, under the title of Acta Sanctae Sedis. Though not designated as the official means of promulgating laws of the Holy See, this was on May 23, 1904 declared an organ of the Holy See to the extent that all documents printed in it were considered ‘authentic and official.’ As indicated above, the Acta Sanctae Sedis ceased publication four years later.”
The “gazette” is now accessible on the Internet, as are all of the documents of the Holy See, at the web address vatican.va. Placing a document within the AAS is the closest a Pope can come to making permanent something he has enunciated and which he wishes to make official, carrying on for the Church beyond his pontificate.
The Pope’s action reveals, as suspected, that chapter 8 is for him the piece de resistance of the entire document Amoris Laetitia. It also reveals that he feels it is the most vulnerable portion of the document.
It’s also overkill. The format of the apostolic letter in which Amoris Laetitia was originally promulgated is normally considered sufficient firepower for Popes to make their teaching known and accepted into permanent status. Why, in this case, does the Pope feel that he has to take the additional step of memorializing the Argentinian bishops’ letter approving his opening in chapter 8 of AL for giving Communion to the divorced and civilly remarried and his approving response by publishing them in AAS?
Why promulgate the Argentinian bishops’ clarification directing priests to interpret chapter 8 of AL as giving permission for admitting some divorced and civilly Catholics to Communion? Because the Pope wants to make sure that there is no confusion.
But is it Catholic? And is the confusion surrounding chapter 8 resulting from its incompatibility with established Catholic faith and morals? Many Catholics, referring to the dubia cardinals, say “yes.”
Among the reasons possible for this unusual action may be that the dubia and accompanying flood of disapproving commentary may have left Pope Francis casting about for some means of answering the dubia without actually answering the dubia. By using the AAS as his means of attempting to put criticism to rest he can continue to appear publicly serene and confident while moving forward with his desired revolution in Church teaching and practice.
Where does this leave Catholics who know the Catechism and who embrace the Apostolic Faith and are determined to live it despite a pontificate in which basic realities seem to be constantly placed into question?
First of all, pray for and love the Pope. There is always good reason to believe that he may be following his conscience. As my father with his hard-won wisdom recently commented, the Pope seems to be concerned about falling numbers of those practicing their faith by going to Sunday Mass and wants to bring them back into the fold. Divorced and civilly remarried Catholics remain a very large group among those alienated from the Church and her life of worship.
I too am a pastor and, like the Pope and all pastors, I want everyone to get themselves to Sunday Mass. Who doesn’t want those they love to have this foretaste of Heaven on the day each week when the Lord has commanded it through the apostles? I understand the desire to give Communion, the greatest source of grace, to everyone at Mass as well.
Grace, however, can only build upon grace. This, for example, is one reason why Baptism is necessary. The life of grace cannot commence unless this initial grace is received by each soul, marked by original sin at birth.
God commanded we attend Mass in order to fulfill the Commandment “Keep the Lord’s Day Holy.” After the Resurrection, the first day of the week was transformed into the true and greatest “Sabbath.”
Communion is a grace, no less than the true Presence of the Author and Source of all grace Himself, Jesus Christ our Lord. I know this is true. I cannot stand before a congregation of Catholic faithful or any other group and say otherwise. And this grace must build upon grace because it cannot build upon sin and death. Life can only come from life. The grace of the Eucharist is no less than the life of God Himself.
Because the teaching of the Lord on marriage and the inadmissibility of remarriage after divorce is so clear, it is never life-giving to break one’s marriage vows by entering another union. The Eucharistic Presence of Christ can never bless such a state of life because God cannot deny Himself. To say otherwise is not Catholic. Thank you for reading and praised be Jesus Christ, now and forever. @MCITLFrAphorism.

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