On Saturday, April 11, 2015, Pope Francis issued the Bull of Indiction for the Holy Year of Mercy set to commence on December 8, 2015.
In order to truly appreciate the gravity of the declaration, it is important to bear in mind its unstated purpose; namely, to set the stage for the implementation of the “pastoral solutions” that Pope Francis and his cohorts intend to propose at the Synod of Bishops in October.
The document is predictable in any number of ways, starting with the fact that it is unnervingly verbose; weighing in at some 9,300 words. (Thus the unnerving length of this post.)
Equally as predictable are the copious amounts of misappropriated Scripture citations that litter the text.
These are hallmarks of the innovators.
You see, in order to give their designs the appearance of “continuity,” it is necessary to weave a web sufficiently complex as to deflect attention away from the gaping holes in their argument, even as they employ what sounds like Catholic language.
Passing on the Faith that was received, by contrast, is a far more straightforward endeavor.
That, however, is not the intent in the present case; thus the utter lack of reference to the popes and councils that predate Vatican II.
Even as Pope Francis cites “the great teaching offered by Saint John Paul II,” he can do so only very selectively as he dare not call attention to the Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, issued after the Synod of Bishops in 1980 reaffirming the Church’s inability to invite people in certain situations to Holy Communion.
In the manner of the modernists, even as the document makes statements that offend Catholic sensibilities, it also provides “sound bites” of authentic Catholic truth that can (and will) be quoted individually by the defenders of all things Francis to support the illusion of conformity with the mind of the Church.
At the end of the day, what is most important, however, is what the document does not say, starting with the fact that for all of its talk about mercy and forgiveness, nowhere does it suggest the necessity of contrition and a firm purpose of amendment on the part of the sinner.
For instance, the document tells us:
When faced with the gravity of sin, God responds with the fullness of mercy. Mercy will always be greater than any sin, and no one can place limits on the love of God who is ever ready to forgive.
Of course God’s love is limitless as is His mercy, but until we are ready to receive the forgiveness offered, firm in the intention “to go and sin no more” as best we are able, we do in fact place limits on our access to His mercy.
This truth goes unstated throughout the entirety of the document for the simple reason that it is irreconcilable with the pope’s desire for the upcoming Synod; namely, to formulate a pathway to Holy Communion for the civilly divorced and “remarried” apart from a remedy based in truth (to say nothing of active homosexuals).
While Pope Francis doesn’t mention the Synod by name, he does make a rather transparent (to me, anyway) attempt to argue in favor of the conclusions that he clearly wishes it to reach by connecting access to mercy with access to Holy Communion:
While he was instituting the Eucharist as an everlasting memorial of himself and his paschal sacrifice, he symbolically placed this supreme act of revelation in the light of his mercy. Within the very same context of mercy, Jesus entered upon his passion and death, conscious of the great mystery of love that he would consummate on the cross …
This love has now been made visible and tangible in Jesus’ entire life. His person is nothing but love, a love given gratuitously. The relationships he forms with the people who approach him manifest something entirely unique and unrepeatable. The signs he works, especially in the face of sinners, the poor, the marginalized, the sick, and the suffering, are all meant to teach mercy.
Translation: Who are we to impede those intent on staying in adulterous or homosexual relationships (“poor sinners”) who wish to approach the Eucharist (the “tangible” and “supreme act” of mercy) when Jesus Himself gives so “gratuitously”?
Further on, Pope Francis subtly suggests that Holy Communion precedes and enables detachment from sin.
In the Eucharist, this communion, which is a gift from God, becomes a spiritual union binding us to the saints and blessed ones whose number is beyond counting (cf. Rev 7:4). Their holiness comes to the aid of our weakness in a way that enables the Church, with her maternal prayers and her way of life, to fortify the weakness of some with the strength of others.
The document goes on to offer a lengthy exhortation on our Christian duty to pardon those who trespass against us.
This is true enough, but let’s not be naïve; the punchline is really all about the Church offering pardon in the name of Christ, and not in the way that she always has.
The temptation, on the one hand, to focus exclusively on justice made us forget that this is only the first, albeit necessary and indispensable step. But the Church needs to go beyond and strive for a higher and more important goal. On the other hand, sad to say, we must admit that the practice of mercy is waning in the wider culture. It some cases the word seems to have dropped out of use. However, without a witness to mercy, life becomes fruitless and sterile, as if sequestered in a barren desert. The time has come for the Church to take up the joyful call to mercy once more. It is time to return to the basics and to bear the weaknesses and struggles of our brothers and sisters. Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instils in us the courage to look to the future with hope.
Pope Francis is setting up a false dichotomy between justice and mercy, even as he acknowledges the former as the “first, necessary and indispensable” step.
Why is justice first?
Justice is not simply a matter of judgment; rather, it concerns rendering to another what they are due.
The first demand of justice for every human being is to render unto God the honor and worship and glory that He is due simply because of who He is.
In the discussion about mercy, it is right that we place justice first.
Simply because God is mercy! He is the Author and dispenser of mercy!
In order to avail oneself of mercy, therefore, we must first turn our hearts toward Him.
With this in mind, we might ask, who is the pope accusing of focusing “exclusively on justice”?
The answer isn’t hard to figure out; it’s the Cardinal Burkes of the world whom he goes on to lecture (albeit under the pretense of offering counsel to the faithful):
To refrain from judgement and condemnation means, in a positive sense, to know how to accept the good in every person and to spare him any suffering that might be caused by our partial judgment and our presumption to know everything about him. But this is still not sufficient to express mercy. Jesus asks us also to forgive and to give.
To give what?
And everyone knows that the Eucharist in the minds of the innovators is primarily what?
Pay attention, and you will see the dots being connected toward the end of the text:
Jesus affirms that, from that time onward, the rule of life for his disciples must place mercy at the centre, as Jesus himself demonstrated by sharing meals with sinners. Mercy, once again, is revealed as a fundamental aspect of Jesus’ mission. This is truly challenging to his hearers, who would draw the line at a formal respect for the law. Jesus, on the other hand, goes beyond the law; the company he keeps with those the law considers sinners makes us realize the depth of his mercy.
Let’s not be fooled, however: Jesus does not “go beyond the law,” nor did He ordain His Church to do so.
He is the Author of the Law, and His Church is bound by it.
To Pope Francis, the idea of being bound by the law is simply unacceptable.
Further along in the document, he misappropriates Sacred Scripture to set up yet another false dichotomy; this time between faith and the law:
For his part, Jesus speaks several times of the importance of faith over and above the observance of the law. It is in this sense that we must understand his words when, reclining at table with Matthew and other tax collectors and sinners, he says to the Pharisees raising objections to him, “Go and learn the meaning of ‘I desire mercy not sacrifice.’ I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mt 9:13). Faced with a vision of justice as the mere observance of the law that judges people simply by dividing them into two groups – the just and sinners – Jesus is bent on revealing the great gift of mercy that searches out sinners and offers them pardon and salvation..
In the passages cited, Jesus was admonishing those who would create the very false dichotomy that Pope Francis is attempting to sell!
As it is, Our Lord is speaking very specifically of the provisional “law of ordinances” that He “abolished in His flesh” (cf Eph 2:15); He is not speaking of the law of the Holy Catholic Church that teaches in His name.
Be that as it may, faith has ever been part and parcel of God’s law; not “over and above.”
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and faith; these you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. (Matthew 23:23)
He is saying that carrying out the jot tittle of the law apart from faith is of no avail.
Our Lord is not suggesting that faith is above observance of the law; rather, he makes it perfectly clear that the two go together when He says, “without neglecting the others!”
What Pope Francis is suggesting here is tantamount to dividing the House of God against itself.
And Jesus knowing their thoughts, said to them: Every kingdom divided against itself shall be made desolate: and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand. (Matthew 12:25)
It becomes all the more obvious that Pope Francis is taking aim here at those bishops who might dare to oppose his Synodal dreams of going “beyond the law” as he writes:
Let us not fall into humiliating indifference or a monotonous routine that prevents us from discovering what is new! Let us ward off destructive cynicism! Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help!
Ah yes, we must discover “what is new!”
Later in the document, all are encouraged, “Let us allow God to surprise us.”
(I’ll offer to readers some encouragement of my own: Let us never forget that the “God of Surprises” is simply the nom du plume for Jorge Bergoglio.)
The “monotonous routine” of which Pope Francis speaks is really nothing less than the faithful application of immutable doctrine in the discipline of the Church.
To this pope, however, this is an obstacle to be overcome, which is precisely why the Lineamenta for the upcoming Synod cautions the bishops:
…to avoid, in their responses, a formulation of pastoral care based simply on an application of doctrine, which would not respect the conclusions of the Extraordinary Synodal Assembly and would lead their reflection far from the path already indicated.
The Bull provides what could have been a decent exhortation on the sacrament of confession, but given the total lack of encouragement to contrition and a firm purpose of amendment on the part of sinners, it is gravely deficient.
In any case, in his effort to encourage sinners to avail themselves of God’s mercy such as he does, Pope Francis went on to single out two groups:
I particularly have in mind men and women belonging to criminal organizations of any kind … The same invitation is extended to those who either perpetrate or participate in corruption.
I guess we can’t be entirely surprised. After all, this is the same pope who pointed to youth unemployment as one of the major challenges facing his pontificate.
If there was any plausible reason to believe that Pope Francis in speaking of criminal organizations and corruption was referring to Planned Parenthood and the Democrat party (or their counterparts such as they exist in other nations), I’d say “Bravo!”
As it is, I’m not sure anyone knows for certain what Pope Francis had in mind.
Even so, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the criminals who conspired to steal those copies of the book, Remaining in the Truth of Christ, that were mailed to participants in last October’s Extraordinary Synod.
Francis being a true son of Vatican II (as opposed to the Church) cannot help but wax ecumenical:
There is an aspect of mercy that goes beyond the confines of the Church. It relates us to Judaism and Islam, both of which consider mercy to be one of God’s most important attributes. Israel was the first to receive this revelation which continues in history as the source of an inexhaustible richness meant to be shared with all mankind.
While we know very well that what the Lord spoke is true, “Your Father who is in heaven makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (cf Mt. 5:45), we must also affirm that He established but one way for the sinner to attain the mercy that leads to salvation, and that is the Catholic Church.
No one can avail themselves of mercy apart from Christ, and “the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing” (cf Pope Pius XI, Humani Generis – 27)
Secondly, in Pope Francis’ defense, I should point out that the translation is incorrect is saying, “this revelation which continues in history.”
In the Italian original, the pope speaks of revelation “che permane nella storia,” or that “remains in” or is a permanent part of history.
(Let it not be said that I am out to attack the pope; rather, I am simply out to defend the truth.)
Pope Francis continues down the ecumenical brick road:
Among the privileged names that Islam attributes to the Creator are “Merciful and Kind.” This invocation is often on the lips of faithful Muslims who feel themselves accompanied and sustained by mercy in their daily weakness. They too believe that no one can place a limit on divine mercy because its doors are always open.
The diabolical influence on this pope is unmistakable! Imagine, a Roman Pontiff citing Islam; a false religion that rejects Jesus Christ as a reliable source for commentary on the Creator’s mercy.
I trust that this Jubilee year celebrating the mercy of God will foster an encounter with these religions and with other noble religious traditions; may it open us to even more fervent dialogue…
Ah yes, dialogue is the mission of the church-of-man that emerged from Vatican Council II, of which Pope Francis went on to say:
With the Council, the Church entered a new phase of her history. The Council Fathers strongly perceived, as a true breath of the Holy Spirit, a need to talk about God to men and women of their time in a more accessible way. The walls which too long had made the Church a kind of fortress were torn down and the time had come to proclaim the Gospel in a new way. It was a new phase of the same evangelization that had existed from the beginning. It was a fresh undertaking for all Christians to bear witness to their faith with greater enthusiasm and conviction. The Church sensed a responsibility to be a living sign of the Father’s love in the world.
Indeed, “newness” marks the conciliar program, but the documents it produced, much less the direction in which the Barque of Peter has been sailing ever since, is not to be blamed on the “breath of the Holy Spirit.”
In order to believe that this is the case, one must accept the pope’s evaluation of the pre-conciliar Church was not a “living sign of the Father’s love;” rather, it was a “fortress” whose walls had to be “torn down.”
As for the idea that we are experiencing a “new phase” of “the same evangelization that had existed from the beginning,” tell that to St. Peter who plainly called the Jews to conversion, or to St. Francis of Assisi who boldly confronted the Islamists.
There is more that could be discussed here, but in the name of mercy I will leave it at this with one final thought:
Based on all that’s been said, it seems to me that the Bull of Indiction would perhaps be better named the Indiction of Bull.