On December 15, 2017, First Things began publishing online “a series of reflections by Cardinal Müller on questions of present importance in the life of the Church.”
With the publication of Part II just yesterday, the series is beginning to garner a decent amount of attention.
Let’s jump in.
Cardinal Müller begins:
Many are suggesting today that sacramental absolution can be given to penitents who, on account of mitigating circumstances, can be said to be free of subjective culpability before God, despite the fact that they continue living in an objective state of grave sin.
Needless to say, among the “many” who are “suggesting” such a thing is the Heretic-in-Chief, Francis. To be more precise, he’s not simply suggesting as much; rather, he is taking concrete steps to see to it that this false proposition is received throughout the Universal Church as authentic papal magisterium.
This matter arose as a major “question of present importance in the life of the Church” on April 8, 2016 with the publication of Amoris Laetitia. It has since blossomed into an unprecedented ecclesial crisis.
Over the course of these last twenty or so months, Cardinal Müller’s public statements with respect to Francis’ Love Letter to Lucifer (AL) have been all over the map. His First Things essays, however, offer a solid defense of Catholic tradition on a number of important points.
Not the least of these points concerns (if I may say so) what I long ago identified as the fundamental error upon which much of Amoris Laetitia is constructed. As I wrote within a day of its publication:
Francis goes about trying to justify his heresy [“it can no longer simply be said…” – AL 301] by citing factors that may limit one’s culpability in sin. Be not fooled! While the Church speaks in the name of Christ, she is not the Judge of such subjective matters.
Better late than never, Cardinal Müller wrote:
God alone is able to judge a person’s subjective culpability. All the confessor can do is carefully assist the penitent in his or her examination of conscience. But not even the penitent him- or herself can decide to what extent God holds him or her accountable for the sin. Trying to do so would simply mean to justify oneself.
He went on to repeat the main point, elaborating elsewhere in Part I:
But even independent of the question of one’s subjective state of grace—of which ultimately only God is the judge—it is necessary that those who live in an objective contradiction to the commandments of God and the sacramental order of the Church take the resolve to change their way of life in order to receive reconciliation with God and the Church in the sacrament of Penance.
Here, Cardinal Müller is taking aim at footnote 364 in Amoris Laetitia, which reads:
Perhaps out of a certain scrupulosity, concealed beneath a zeal for fidelity to the truth, some priests demand of penitents a purpose of amendment so lacking in nuance that it causes mercy to be obscured by the pursuit of a supposedly pure justice.
Cardinal Muller adds:
Thus, for these words [of absolution] to be meaningful, the penitent has to make the firm resolution to live according to the way of life that Christ has taught us and that the Church witnesses to the world. To do otherwise would be to “subjectivize” the Church’s sacramental economy, making it a function of our invisible relationship with God. It would mean to disincarnate the sacraments from the visible flesh of Christ and from his body, which is the Church.
This is an excellent treatment of Amoris Laetitia’s fundamental error, but we can take it a step further.
By “disincarnating” the sacraments from Christ and thus “subjectivizing” them, the Bergoglian proposition (and indeed his entire agenda) serves to make of man the Judge of hidden things, thereby putting him in the very place of God.
Sound familiar? It should.
“A day will come when the civilized world will deny its God, when the Church will doubt as Peter doubted. She will be tempted to believe that man has become God.” – Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli commenting on the warnings issued by Our Lady of Fatima
The corollary to the belief that man has become God is a Christological heresy; namely, the belief that Jesus Christ is but a man.
In time, God willing, I sincerely believe that future generations of faithful will look back on our day as that unfortunate moment in time when a man posing as (and worse, was widely accepted as) pope did not truly believe that Jesus Christ is Lord.
We will take a look at Part II of Cardinal Muller’s series of essays tomorrow.
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