Bird’s Eye View of the News
Clockwise from the top left : Cardinals Burke, Meisner, Cafarra, Brandmuller - photo by LifeSiteNews
These questions – whose full text and context we can read here – basically address this question: Is it possible for a civilly divorced and remarried Catholic who did not receive a Church annulment of his first marriage to receive Communion? This question is motivated by the fact that some parts of Amoris laetitia strongly insinuate that this permission is granted. In other words, the basic question of the Cardinals is this: Is it possible for a person in mortal sin to receive Communion?
The questions were first sent to the Pope and the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, but given that the Cardinals did not receive an answer, they made their document public on November 14, 2016. Since then, various interviews and declarations of Burke and Brandmuller have fed the discussion.
To this hot interpellation we have to add a public letter of support, followed by interviews and statements, from another new hero of conservatism, Bishop Athanasius Schneider, who is putting even more pepper in the sauce by speaking of a schism that is growing inside the Church. The schismatics would be the progressivists of the Kasper line who want to liberalize Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics.
Given this status quaestionis, what should we think about the Dubia?
To be objective and clear, let me distinguish three different perspectives interfused in this problem.
1. Logically speaking
- If we consider the content of both Amoris laetitia and the Cardinals’ document from the logical perspective, we see that the dissenting Prelates took a win-win position. It is obvious that a Pope cannot explicitly allow anyone to receive Communion if he is in state of mortal sin.
If the Pope were to explicitly permit this, he would point-blank commit sacrilege, induce the entire Church to do so and separate himself from the past Magisterium of the Church. So, it is obvious that the Pope will not blatantly say: “Yes, I am allowing a person in mortal sin to receive Communion.”
It is also obvious that he will not say clearly: “No, no one can receive Communion in the state of mortal sin.” For, in fact, he is insinuating as much as possible that divorced/remarried people can receive Communion.
So, if it is obvious that he cannot say Yes or No, why did the Cardinals write their letter? Since they knew that they would not receive an answer, they deliberately chose to put the Pope in a very embarrassing situation. Why? In the strategic analysis (below n. 3) I will analyze this doubt about the aim of the Dubia.
- Still addressing the content, why did the Cardinals ignore many other situations as grave as the one they focused on? Indeed, in Amoris laetitia Pope Francis opened doors not only for divorced/remarried Catholics to receive Communion, but also for a whole slew of others in scandalous situations who are objectively in mortal sin, such as those who engage in pre-marital sex, cohabit regularly without being married, use artificial methods of birth control and practice homosexuality. These points were analyzed in my previous study of Amoris laetitia.
This omission becomes still more suspicious when we consider that if the Cardinals would have exposed the full specter of insinuations in Amoris laetitia, it would become clear that Francis uses insinuations as a method to open doors for abuses in doctrinal matters where he cannot do so explicitly. Why did the Cardinals not speak about this method?
If this method of liberalizing the need to be in the state of grace to receive the Sacraments would have been clearly exposed by the Cardinals, it would have reinforced the fact that the Pope cannot answer their Dubia. Again, the question arises: Why did they write their letter when it was clear that Francis would not answer?
- Further, why did they make no mention of the multitude of other writings, speeches, actions and gestures so frequently made by Francis during his pontificate that directly and indirectly favor allowing people in the state of mortal sin – even the sin of heresy – to receive Communion? The same doubts of letter B are reinforced by this omission.
Francis married 20 couples living in sin, without asking for Confession & gave them Communion - the Cardinals disregarded these cases
- From the moral point of view, it is very good for Catholics to have four Cardinals who reinforce the traditional teaching of the Church. We live in a horrible world, morally speaking, and for us it is most opportune to have the perennial truths of the Church reaffirmed by religious authorities. We have a certain number of traditionalist priests and a few Bishops who still repeat the immutable doctrine of the Church. But it is very salutary to see four Cardinals taking a correct position.
- A grave moral fault that I observed in the explanatory letter following the Dubia is that the Cardinals are proponents of love as the primary goal of marriage. Taking this position, they adhere to the revolution made by Vatican II, which
inverted the goals of marriage. The traditional goals were: first, procreation and
the education of the offspring; second, mutual support of the spouses. By presenting love as the first goal, the Cardinals show that they do not want to return to the traditional Magisterium as they purport to do.
- Another moral flaw that I see in their statement is that, despite some few mentions of the Commandments and one quote from the Gospel, almost the totality of their documentation is based on the teaching of John Paul II. (1) The Cardinals publicly affirm that they are repeating the traditional doctrine, but the documents they quote are only those of the post-Vatican II Pope Wojtyla.
Now then, JPII was very far from being a master of sound morality. Although he sometimes repeated the traditional teaching of the Church, habitually his moral approach was a tributary of the Personalism of Max Scheler, which is opposed to the traditional philosophy of the Church. His theology of the body is clearly immoral; eulogies of nudism are not rare in his works, and in the World Youth Days he implicitly promoted free love among youth. If the Cardinals wanted to defend the perennial morals of the Church, why did they base themselves on this contaminated source?
- The Cardinals’ failure to quote the immense ensemble of traditional documents of the Church on marriage and Communion is an omission fostering the idea that the Conciliar Church – to which the four Cardinals belong – is different from the Magisterium prior to Vatican II. One could even say that the Cardinals themselves are in practical schism regarding the past of the Church. However, this is the very accusation made by Bishop Schneider and, more recently, Card. Brandmuller, against those who do not accept the teachings of John Paul II. Why this contradictory position?
Burke does not want to return to tradition, but to the times of JPII and Benedict XVI - enlarge
The Wall Street Journal, above: Francis is the most expressive representative of the left - enlarge
To catalyze these reactions, nothing could be more convenient than the emergence of a religious false right that would draw together all the discontent conservatives in the Church and prevent them from seeking an authentic leadership and possibly become traditionalists.
This is what seems to be the goal of the four Cardinals, principally of Card. Burke, who is the most expressive and outspoken member of the group. His principal acolyte in the public arena is Bishop Schneider, whose role in the false right I have already analyzed.
If this is true, which I believe it is, then this would explain why the Dubia were written with the certainty that it would not have an answer. Its goal would be to apparently put Francis in an embarrassing position. But in reality the writers would be playing the same game, allowing Francis to advance with a controlled reaction.
How will all this end? It could end as suggested by the new General Superior of the Jesuits, Fr. Arturo Sosa: “In our language of the Jesuits, we say that it is necessary to know the opinion of all in order to make a true communal discernment.”
In other words, the Progressivist Church may utlize this reaction to increase “pluralism” in the Church, which means that we could well have two parties in apparent opposition living together in the Vatican. This would help the Church to become a democracy, one of the main goals of Che Bergoglio.
- The only exception is a text from De Malo by St. Thomas Aquinas, which is not in the Dubia properly speaking, but in the explicative letter that follows it.