Written by Christopher A. Ferrara
At this point in the Bergoglian Debacle, the recognition that Francis is a threat to the integrity of the Faith has become so well established in mainstream commentary that even an Anglican theologian, writing in First Things, has sounded the alarm.
“Is the pope Catholic? For at least a century, this was the way we Anglicans joked about anything that seemed too obvious to state,” writes Gerald McDermott, holder of a theology chair at Beeson Divinity School. But, he continues: “Now we must ask in seriousness whether the pope is a liberal Protestant.”
McDermott cites numerous examples of the endless torrent of oral and written heterodoxy Francis has generated over the past four-and-a-half years. Remnant readers are well familiar with them all, and there is no need to recapitulate them here. Like concerned Catholics, McDermott focuses on the crowning insult of this destructive pontificate: Amoris Laetitia and its stupefying attempt to introduce situation ethics into Catholic moral theology.
McDermott notes that John Finnis, the renowned Catholic legal philosopher, and the equally renowned moral theologian, Germain Grisez—both figures of the “conservative” Catholic mainstream who can hardly be labeled “radical traditionalists”—have charged that “according to the logic of Amoris Laetitia, some of the faithful are too weak to keep God’s commandments, and can live in grace while committing ongoing and habitual sins ‘in grave matter.’” To which McDermott adds: “Like (Episcopalian) Joseph Fletcher, who taught Situation Ethics in the 1960s, the exhortation suggests that there are exceptions to every moral rule and that there is no such thing as an intrinsically evil act.”
“For decades,” McDermott continues, “orthodox Anglicans and other Protestants seeking to resist the apostasies of liberal Christianity have looked to Rome for moral and theological support. Most of us recognized that we were really fighting the sexual revolution, which had coopted and corrupted the Episcopal Church and its parent across the pond. First it was the sanctity of life and euthanasia. Then it was homosexual practice. Now it is gay marriage and transgender ideology. During the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, we non-Catholics arguing moral theology could point to learned and compelling arguments coming out of Rome and say, in effect, ‘The oldest and largest part of the Body of Christ agrees with us, and it does so with remarkable sophistication.’”
But no longer, says McDermott: “Those of us who continue to fight for orthodoxy, in dogmatic as well as moral theology, miss those days when there was a clear beacon shining from across the Tiber. For now, it seems, Rome itself has been infiltrated by the sexual revolution. The center is not holding.”
These observations are historic in their significance, as is the open letter to Francis by Fr. Thomas Weinandy, one of the most prominent Catholic theologians of the Novus Ordo mainstream. McDermott finds hope in the “brave and principled stand” Weinandy has taken against a wayward Pope like no other before him. Expressing my own sentiments, McDermott concludes: “Tom Weinandy reminds us that God raises up prophetic lights when dark days come to his Church.”
When even an Anglican theologian is publicly appalled by the liberal Protestantism of a Roman Pontiff, no Catholic of good will can continue to deny the obvious. But where is the neo-Catholic commentariat in the midst of this great awakening? Committed as ever to their programmatic defense of the indefensible, lest anyone suspect that those radical traditionalists might have been right all along about the direction in which the Church has been heading since the Second Vatican Disaster, and that the neo-Catholic “normalist” narrative has been spectacularly wrong, if not outright dishonest, from the beginning.
As for the bishops and cardinals who must know this Pope is a menace to the Church, they continue to cower in obsequy or, at best, protest again and again that Francis must “clarify” what he has already made perfectly clear. Or, like Bishop Barron—elevated to the episcopacy by Francis—they complain that the crisis Francis has precipitated with Amoris Laetitia is all the fault of Catholic bloggers and that the bishops should “seize control of [the] process,” because these nefarious bloggers “are forcing people to read this document in a particular way.” That Francis himself reads his own document in that particular way, and applauds its disastrous implementation accordingly, must never be mentioned. Rather, the truth must be hidden by “seizing control” of the narrative, replacing statements of the undeniable truth with flowery praise for what Barron calls “an extraordinarily rich document.”
Would that the leaders of the Church spare us from “rich documents” and give us the faith of our fathers. But there is no counting on them now. The laity and their sensus fidelium are the primary bulwark of the Faith at present, assisted by the grace of the sacraments and the good priests, like Father Weinandy, who remain true to what God has revealed through His Church, despite the consequences they will suffer under a pontificate that represents a dictatorship of theological relativism, sustained only by raw power and the fear of reprisal, which the dictator dares to call “The Spirit”.
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