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Pope Francis Confuses Catholic Orthodoxy

Normally a synod of Catholic bishops does not provide fireworks rivaling the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, where Mayor Richard Daley’s boys in blue ran up the score on the radicals in Grant Park.

But, on Oct. 13, there emanated from the Synod on the Family in Rome a 12-page report from a committee picked by Pope Francis himself—and the secondary explosions have not ceased.

The report recognized the “positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation” and said “homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” As for Catholics who divorce and remarry without an annulment, we must avoid “any language or behavior that might make them feel discriminated against.”

Hailed by gay rights groups, the document stunned traditionalists.

“Undignified. Shameful. Completely Wrong,” said Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and guardian of Catholic orthodoxy.

He was echoed by Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. “The document lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium,” said Cardinal Burke. “It gives the impression of inventing … what one Synod Father called ‘revolutionary’ teaching on marriage and the family.”

Cardinal Burke called on the pope for a restatement of Catholic teaching on marriage and morality, saying, “It is long overdue.” The pope has relieved Cardinal Burke of his post.

Voice of the Family, a coalition of international pro-life groups, calls the document a “betrayal.”

Irish representative Patrick Buckley said it “represents an attack on marriage and the family” by “in effect giving tacit approval of adulterous relationships.” The report, he adds, “fails to recognize that homosexual inclination is objectively disordered.”

Cardinal Walter Kasper has been the prime mover of the liberalization of Catholic teaching on sexual morality. When an African bishop objected to the report, Kasper retorted, “You can’t speak about this with Africans. … It’s not possible. … It’s a taboo.”

Hearing this insult, Burke went upside the head of his brother cardinal:

It is profoundly sad and scandalous that such remarks were made by a cardinal of the church. They are a further indication of the determination … to advance Cardinal Kasper’s false positions, even by means of racist remarks about a significant and highly respected part of the Synod membership.

In the report voted on by the full synod and released this weekend, the language most offensive to orthodox Catholics was gone. But the synod meets again next year, and the stakes could scarcely be higher for the church and pope.

In his remarks at the synod’s close, Pope Francis mocked “so-called traditionalists” for their “hostile rigidity.”

That is one way of putting it. Another is that traditionalists believe moral truth does not change, nor can Catholic doctrines be altered.

Even a pope cannot do that.

Should such be attempted, the pope would be speaking heresy. And as it is Catholic doctrine that the pope is infallible, that he cannot err when speaking ex cathedra on faith and morals, this would imply that Francis was not a valid pope and the chair of Peter is empty.

We would then be reading about schismatics and sedevacantists.

The Catholic Church is not the Democratic Party of Obama, Hillary, and Joe, where principled positions on abortion, homosexuality and same-sex marriage “evolve.” And when did flexibility in matters of moral principle become a virtue for Catholics?

Indeed, it was in defense of the indissolubility of marriage that Pope Clement VII excommunicated Henry VIII who held the title “Defender of the Faith” for refuting the heresies of Luther.

When Henry wished to divorce Catherine of Aragon and marry Anne Boleyn, Pope Clement said this was not possible. His stand for marriage caused the Catholic Church to lose England.

One wonders what this pope thinks of Pope Clement’s “rigidity.”

While Francis I has nether denied not sought to change any doctrine, Cardinal Burke is correct. The pope has “done a lot of harm.” He has created confusion among the faithful and is soon going to have to speak with clarity on the unchanging truths of Catholicism.

In his beatification of Paul VI on Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated change. “God is not afraid of new things,” he said, “we are making every effort to adapt ways and methods … to the changing conditions of society.”

But among the social changes since Vatican II and Paul VI have been the West’s embrace of no-fault divorce, limitless promiscuity, abortion on demand, and same-sex marriage.

Should the church “adapt” to these changes in society?

Should the church accommodate itself to a culture as decadent as ours? Or should the church stand against it and speak moral truth to cultural and political power, as the early martyrs did to Rome?

Pope Francis is hugely popular. But his worldly popularity has not come without cost to the church he leads and the truths he is sworn to uphold.

“Who am I to judge?” says the pope. But wasn’t that always part of the job description? And if not thee, Your Holiness, who?

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of the new book “The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority.” [1] Copyright 2014 Creators.com.

21 Comments (Open | Close)

21 Comments To "Pope Francis Confuses Catholic Orthodoxy"

#1 Comment By Michael Kaiser On October 21, 2014 @ 2:29 am

Yes, I have totally lost respect for the Pope, and thus, quite frankly, the church. My gosh, in but five years or so the whole paradigm on gay “marriage” has shifted and all of a sudden the church wants to follow the fashionable lead. Also makes me wonder, to be quite frank, where Francis’ leanings are. Regardless, it showed me how incredibly weak the foundation of the church probably always has been, and it got me thinking also about what probably played a role in spurring the Vatican II changes half-a-century ago. Following the lead of a liberalizing western society. Of course, much of this came to me as I was attending a Bob Dylan concert last night. LOL. Had to see him once. Weird guy. Wouldn’t pay to see him again.

#2 Comment By Chris Horvath On October 21, 2014 @ 2:38 am

It is precisely because the Catholic church is a beacon of universal principle in a time of moral relativism that I, raised an atheist, am drawn to her.

#3 Comment By Clint On October 21, 2014 @ 7:17 am

Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki.
“Referring to the issues of marriage and family, certain criteria are being applied that raise doubt. For example, the criterion of gradualism. Can you really treat cohabitation as gradual, on the path to holiness? Today, the discussion also highlighted that the doctrine presented in the document is marked by the omission of sin. As if the world’s view prevailed and everything was imperfection which leads to perfection… Attention was paid not so much to what this document says, but to what it does not say. Speak about the practical exceptions, but we also need to present the truth. Also, the points that speak of children entrusted to same-sex couples are formulated somewhat as if this situation is being praised! This is also a defect of this text, which should be an incentive to fidelity, family values, but instead seems to accept everything as it is. It created an impression that the teaching of the Church has been merciless so far, as if the teaching of mercy were beginning only now.”

#4 Comment By EliteCommInc. On October 21, 2014 @ 7:20 am

I think the response in reference to family and the nature of human relations for christians a to men and women is spot on.

#5 Comment By Tom On October 21, 2014 @ 7:44 am

//“Who am I to judge?” says the pope. But wasn’t that always part of the job description? And if not thee, Your Holiness, who?//

Erm, God?

#6 Comment By Gus On October 21, 2014 @ 9:42 am

Every Christian religion believes that it is wrong to judge, that judgment belongs to God. In regard to homosexuality, the Catholic Church’s teaching is quite clear, and there was nothing wrong with Pope Francis’ statement about judging. It boils down to hate the sin, love the sinner. Pope Francis asked for very open discussion during the Synod and that is what took place. The liberal media ended up with egg its collective face because they thought they knew which way it was going to all turn out — and they were wrong!

#7 Comment By grumpy realist On October 21, 2014 @ 10:56 am

“Decadent culture.” Right. I suppose the one where gay men were stuffed in the closet, using women as beards, and sneaking out for their preferred sex is so much better?

#8 Comment By c matt On October 21, 2014 @ 12:30 pm

Judging persons is left to God. Judging actions, doctrines, ideas, thoughts, moral positions – that is part of the Pope’s job. To be precise, it is the Pope’s job to defend the deposit of faith as handed down by the Church through the ages, not to liven things up by changing things. If Francis did not agree with that job description, he should have politely declined the offer.

And actions, thoughts, ideas, etc. need to be judged in the here and now, because by the time God judges the person, the person is dead and it’s too late for him to mend his ways. I suppose that kind of sucks, but thems the breaks.

#9 Comment By Kurt Gayle On October 21, 2014 @ 2:22 pm

As a Baptist I have no proper standing to take part in this debate within the Catholic Church. Nevertheless I would like to express my sincere thanks to Pat and the traditionalists in Rome who have had the courage to stand up for Scripture. Standing up for Scripture is vital for all Christians.

As Martin Luther said at the Diet of Worms in 1521:

“Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the Word of God.”

#10 Comment By Anglican Minarchist On October 21, 2014 @ 5:35 pm

Careful with the cheap shots against Anglicanism, especially when based on bad history. The idea that Clement VII took some sort of principled stand for marriage against Henry VIII is preposterous beyond belief. It had nothing to do with principles and everything to do with European politics–like far too many papal acts over the centuries.

Actually, Clement VII would have been more than happy to annul Henry VIII’s marriage to Katherine of Aragon, who had previously been married to Henry’s brother Arthur, violating the Law as set forth in Leviticus. Popes annulled royal marriages on a regular basis in those days. But there was one small problem: Clement was being held captive by Charles V, who just happened to be Katherine’s nephew.

#11 Comment By Rodrigo Guerra On October 21, 2014 @ 8:25 pm

Anglican Minarchist, Allow me to remind you that Katherine of Aragon was a widow of Henry VIII’s brother and therefore free to marry whoever she pleased. Once Henry VIII validly married Katherine, they were bound in marriage until death do them part. Demanding an annulment just to have a male heir is beyond unethical and immoral.

#12 Comment By Mark On October 21, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

I like how Pat invokes the “no true Scotsman” argument (really the no true Scotsman fallacy since it is not a valid argument) to deal with the possibility of the Pope declaring something ex cathedra that contradicts prior Popes. Of course the sedevacantists did the same after Vatican II. Is Pat ready to join them if need be?

#13 Comment By JamesFrankl On October 21, 2014 @ 9:36 pm

@Michael Kaiser

Good god, would you quit your “quoting” of gay marriage? Just because you think it’s illegitimate doesn’t make it so.

#14 Comment By Clint On October 21, 2014 @ 11:53 pm

“Catherine had been Henry XIII brother’s widow, but the marriage had been childless, thus the marriage was not against old-testamentical law, which forbids only such unions if the brother had children.Moreover, a special dispensation from Pope Julius II had been given to allow the wedding.”

Also, The Pope responded to the marriage on July 9th,1533, by excommunicating both Henry and The Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer from the Catholic Church.
Previously, Pope Clement VII escaped captivity at the end of 1527,after 6 months imprisonment.

#15 Comment By Anglican Minarchist On October 22, 2014 @ 4:21 am

@Rodrigo, that’s not how the parties saw it. All recognized that the church’s law, based on Leviticus 20:21, prohibited the marriage; the primary issue was whether the prior marriage of Arthur and Katherine was ever consummated. Even Katherine saw it this way.

@Clint, Clement was in captivity when the key decision was taken and remained beholden to Charles V for years after. Also, by 1533, Henry had done plenty of other things meriting excommunication.

I’m not defending Henry’s ethics. I am making two other points: (1) Henry’s is a very poor example of a papal stand in favor of marriage, because the pope was acting out of politics and contrary to the church’s usual practice at the time (if the parties were important and rich enough, annulments were common) and (2) the doctrines of classical Anglicanism have almost nothing to do with Henry, but rather, developed under Edward VI and Elizabeth I (with an assist from Bloody Mary and Foxe’s Book of Martyrs stirring up the people of England in between).

#16 Comment By Robert Hart On October 22, 2014 @ 10:55 am

I heard Pat Buchanan on MSNBC tell Chris Matthews that his preferred form of government was a Catholic Monarchy.

#17 Comment By Clint On October 22, 2014 @ 12:20 pm

@Anglican Minarchist,
Clement excommunicated both Henry VIII and The Archbishop of Canterbury,Thomas Cranmer at the same time for the same issue.the marriage of Henry VIII to Anne Boleyn and contrary to what you stated Clement,on July 9th of 1533, was not being “held captive by Charles V ” since he escaped captivity after 6 months,at the end of 1527.

Don’t attempt to rewrite the facts.

#18 Comment By heavyb On October 23, 2014 @ 10:12 pm

I LOVE Buchanan.

He is the only real conservative out there, in the sense of a rock-ribbed tribalist.

We should be glad of the Catholic element of his perpective, because — although it makes him stunningly insensible to what many of us consider the plain justice of marriage equality — at the same time, it has preserved him from the outright racialist tendencies of his late buddies, Joe Sobran & Samuel Francis.

Whatever his sympathies, it is impossible to imagine the seriously Catholic Buchanan applauding the abortions of Chinese, Jewish, or black babies as part of increasing some kind of the “ethnic integrity” he nevertheless feels all stable societies basically require. He has real limits to his tribalism that we all should respect, even if it ultimately means that he wants the culture of America, circa 1950, restored.

As his own former “Boss” Nixon observed, Buchanan is a “fanatic”, but of a kind that represents a conservatism seeking defense of a socially concrete world, which he actually experienced, and not some web of ideological abstractions like neo-conservatism. But that “social concrete”, the lost world of the 1950’s,alas, is irrecoverable.

That only makes Buchanan more interesting, because he now has the perspective of an utter stranger in our brave new world. He is a tribalist without a tribe, because firstly its economic basis in manufacturing has long been dispersed and disintegrated precisely along the lines he was among the first to warn.

But it has also made him stupid in his sympathies to foreign kleptocrats like Putin who appear to trumpet the values of his lost tribe — just as liberals of yore sickeningly cozied to any Third World despot that somehow echoed “progressive” sentiments. On the other hand, Buchanan senses a foreign threat in the latest Pope, who appears to entangle himself in the kind of decadence Putin now condemns so satisfactorily…

It will be interesting to track Buchanan’s further development, as a man without a country. He was never a man of abstractions, yet the living culture he once experienced is now largely notional. And the religion he once know seems to be “decaying” most distressingly as a source of long-term succor.

Buchanan is not a man of notions, but a partisan of concretes. He will be a nationalist, as Orwell once wrote, even if the nation is not our own. And his Catholicism can apparently contemplate a situation where the “seat of Peter” is vacant.

What can all this mean to a man driven above all by loyalty, who is intellectual only in the most Jesuitical sense of a kind of combat in its expression and service? Is Buchanan ever more turning to Moscow, both the center of an Anti-Decadence International and the Third Rome?

Again, Buchanan is a man who serves concretes, through and not because of ideas. We must stay tuned….

#19 Comment By philadelphialawyer On November 1, 2014 @ 11:18 pm


When we had conservative pope after conservative pope, in Paul, JPII, and Benedict, all Catholic dissenters were told to pipe down and get in line, by Buchanan and other conservatives. Now that we finally have a slightly more liberal pope, suddenly, Catholic dissent is all the rage, and it is the pope who needs to get in line!

Frankly, I don’t care what Catholic doctrine, by whatever name, allows or doesn’t allow. But I do think that conservative Catholics should, at a minimum, be consistent on the issue of dissent.

#20 Comment By jh. wilson On November 22, 2014 @ 9:15 am

I find Pope Francis increasingly worrisome.

What’s next, a guest appearance on ‘The View?’

With each passing day I am drawn closer to the teachings of the Marcionistic brand of Catholicism.

#21 Comment By lolly9 On January 11, 2015 @ 1:18 pm

There could be more love and caring in cohabitation or between homosexual partners than in marriage.