As I write, it has been more than two months since Amoris Laetitia was disseminated throughout the entire world; a document that Bishop Athanasius Schneider publicly confirmed as containing “objectively erroneous expressions.”
Among those “expressions” are the following, just to name a few:
– The assertion that adultery isn’t necessarily mortal sin that deprives the soul of sanctifying grace. This is heresy.
– The assertion that the Divine Law is at times impossible to keep, and God Himself sometimes wills that men should persist in adultery. This is blasphemy.
– Those who persist in adultery and fornication with pertinacity may receive the sacraments; including Holy Communion. This is an open invitation to sacrilege of the gravest kind.
Even so, according to the esteemed Doctor of Canon Law, His Eminence Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke:
How, then, is the document to be received? First of all, it should be received with the profound respect owed to the Roman pontiff as the Vicar of Christ, in the words of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council: “the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity of both the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful” (Lumen Gentium, 23).
The very suggestion that the faithful are ever called to receive blasphemy, heresy and sacrilege “with profound respect” is entirely offensive to Catholic ears. When such offenses against the true Faith as these are dispensed by a man who (allegedly) is pope, it should only serve to inspire the faithful to repudiate them all the more vigorously lest the innocent be deceived.
That said, Cardinal Burke (man of the Council that he is) did well to cite Lumen Gentium – the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Vatican II – as this document contains the seeds for the suffocating papalotry that is presently on display in men like himself and so many others.
Specifically, we find in Lumen Gentium 25 the following:
In matters of faith and morals, the bishops speak in the name of Christ and the faithful are to accept their teaching and adhere to it with a religious assent. This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking.
Let’s begin with a closer look at the operative phrase “religious submission.”
In the normative Latin text, the phrase under review (which is repeated in the 1983 Code of Canon Law – 751) appears as obsequium religiosum, with the precise meaning of obsequium most often translated as “submission.”
This translation, however, is a matter of some debate; in particular, among progressives who rather prefer words like “respect” or “deference” instead.
In any case, what we have here, my friends, is a good ol’ fashioned two-edged sword.
In the folly of my neo-conservative youth, mine eyes could see but one edge alone; namely, the one that could be used to cut “spirit of Vatican II” dissenters down to size.
I recall very well writing and speaking on this text, and calling the attention of my readers and listeners to the fact that the Council Fathers had exhorted the children of the Church to two types of assent; the “assent of faith” (reserved for infallible teachings, also treated in LG 25) and “religious assent” as described above.
“One will note,” I often said with no small measure of smugness, “dissent is nowhere even suggested; much less encouraged.”
By the grace of God, I now realize that the other edge of this sword is the sharper of the two and indeed truly dangerous; apparently honed by the Devil himself in anticipation of revolutionary post-conciliar popes (and those who would pose as such) whose “magisterium” would include such odious texts as Amoris Laetitia.
Ironically enough, the progressives were actually on to something with respect to LG 25, albeit with evil intent, all along.
Notorious dissenter Richard McCormick, S.J., for example, has long maintained:
“The obsequium religiosum must be understood in such a way that the possibility of error is foreseen and provided for in the expected response.” (Corrective Vision, Explorations in Moral Theology, Sheed & Ward, 1994, Chapter 7)
The possibility of error in a magisterial text officially disseminated by the pope?
This, I suspect, is an eventuality that true sons of the Church like Cardinal Alfredo Ottovianni and Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre simply couldn’t envision as the Council met; a day and age when “the fundamental doctrine of the Church, which has repeatedly been taught by the Fathers and by ancient and modern theologians … is presumed to be well known and familiar to all” (cf Pope John XXIII, Opening Address to the Council, 11 Oct. 1962).
With men such as Leo XIII, St. Pius X, Benedict XV, Pius XI and Pius XII in mind, the inclusion of the call to obsequium religiosum in the conciliar text must have impressed the outnumbered guardians of tradition at the Council as a victory for the “good guys,” and understandably so.
Oh, but isn’t that just Satan’s way!
Returning to Cardinal Burke…
As you certainly know, he argues that Amoris Laetitia isn’t magisterial at all (which, if true, makes it all the less worthy of “profound respect”), but rather is it nothing more than a “personal reflection.”
I have bad news for Cardinal Burke:
According to the Council that he is so fond of quoting, it’s not up to him to determine what is, and what is not, magisterial; rather, this determination resides in the pope’s “mind and will in the matter,” such that the nature of a given papal text “may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking” (cf LG 25).
In this we see evidence of the maxim (coined at this very moment by the present writer), “live by the Council, die by the Council” – another sure sign of Satan’s hand.
So, what is the “mind and will” of Francis in the matter of Amoris Laetitia?
Speaking at the same Diocesan conference wherein he proclaimed the “great majority” of sacramental marriages invalid, Francis said:
For your tranquility, I have to tell you that everything that is written in the Exhortation (AL) – and here I take the words of a great theologian who was secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Schönborn, who presented it – everything is Thomistic, from the beginning to the end. It is sure doctrine.
There can be no doubt that Francis intends for Amoris Laetitia to be received as “authentic magisterium,” in which case according to Lumen Gentium 25, we are called to acknowledge with reverence, and sincerely adhere to, such repugnant notions as:
– The Divine Law is just too difficult to keep
– Adultery isn’t necessarily a mortal sin, and Our Lord at time desires that we should persist in it
– The sacraments, including Holy Communion, can be given to those who persist in adultery and fornication as a help toward attaining to the “ideal” that is Christian marriage
Is there any worthy of the name Catholic who is willing to give “religious assent” to such things?
The very idea is laughable, but this isn’t just some far-fetched “what if” scenario; far from it, rather, it is precisely where one ends up when they make the mistake of trusting the Council as a reliable guide in matters of faith.
With all of this said, bear in mind that LG 25 doesn’t simply speak of papal magisterium; thus leading to papalotry, but also of that which comes from the bishops.
Furthermore, it naturally includes the text of the Council itself; thus leading to a certain Councilotry (if you’ll allow the expression).
Herein lies a critically important point for those who truly wish to understand the diabolically deceptive nature of the conciliar text:
Beyond those instances where the traditional doctrine is faithfully repeated by the Council Fathers, the text of Vatican II is not, in and of itself, binding on the faithful. (See nota praevia attached to Lumen Gentium.)
In other words, where the conciliar text deviates from tradition (e.g., with respect to such matters as ecumenism, religious liberty, and non-Christian religions), the faithful are under no obligation whatsoever to either accept or adhere to such things.
Widespread rejection of these conciliar novelties on the part of the faithful, however, would obviously derail the Evil One’s destructive designs.
Simple; obligate the faithful by way of the conciliar text to grant to such poisonous prose the “religious submission of mind and will” (LG 25).
What this means is that the Council’s authority to obligate the faithful to “submission” rests, not in the duty that is owed to the Faith that comes to us from the Apostles, but rather in the Council itself.
Clearly, this is tantamount to a “circular argument” and plainly so, but it’s also apparently deceptively brilliant (al Diavolo); so much so, that post-conciliar churchmen are pleased to apply it with impunity.
Consider, for example, the following taken from an essay in L’Osservatore Romano (disseminated worldwide by the Vatican News Service) written by Monsignor Fernando Ocáriz Braña, who served as one of Rome’s theological experts during the 2011 doctrinal talks with the SSPX:
A number of innovations of a doctrinal nature are to be found in the documents of the Second Vatican Council: on the sacramental nature of the episcopate, on episcopal collegiality, on religious freedom, etc. These innovations in matters concerning faith or morals, not proposed with a definitive act, still require religious submission of intellect and will.
Monsignor Braña’s justification for this unjust demand? You guessed it:
“The various levels of assent owed to doctrines proposed by the Magisterium were outlined in Vatican II’s Constitution Lumen Gentium (n. 25)…”
All in all, I firmly believe that an argument can be made that Lumen Gentium 25, due to its far reaching implications with respect to the faithful’s response to doctrinal innovation, represents one of the most dangerous of all the conciliar propositions.
That it is as subtle as it is testifies well to its origins.