Welcome to this week’s “Throwback Thursday” installment. Today, we’re going to revisit a post that was originally published back on November 18, 2016 and has been revised.
We’re currently witnessing a struggle of historic proportions within the Roman Catholic hierarchy, although most Catholics and evangelicals aren’t even paying attention.
At the center of the controversy is the mass, the centerpiece of the Catholic religion. Catholics are obligated to attend mass every Sunday where priests allegedly change bread wafers into the actual body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ. Supplicants consume the Jesus wafer believing they receive graces, which supposedly help them avoid mortal sin, so that they are hopefully able to merit Heaven at the moment of death.
For century after century, the popes and Catholic hierarchy taught that Catholics who had divorced and remarried without an annulment of the first marriage were living in a state of open adultery and were forbidden from receiving communion and the other sacraments. That wasn’t a problem when divorce among Catholics was relatively rare, but in current times, with Catholic divorce rates at 38%, the restrictive communion policy was alienating a large portion of the membership and many were dropping away.
In an effort to stanch the exodus, pope Francis the pragmatist issued the Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) apostolic exhortation last April, which, among other things, ambiguously left it up to parish priests to decide whether a remarried Catholic could receive communion or not, thus countermanding a doctrine that had been taught by other equally “infallible” popes for over a millennia. Francis guilefully rolled out the controversial new teaching in footnotes #s 329 and 351 of Amoris rather than presenting the change in the main text.
Opposition to the pope’s new teaching has been swelling within the ranks of conservative cardinals, bishops, priests, and laity for the past eight months. Recently, four cardinals, including American cardinal, Raymond Burke (photo above), formally requested that Francis “clarify” his remarks in Amoris Laetitia in light of previous infallible church teaching. The pope has declined to respond to the cardinals’ appeal. Burke is now suggesting the cardinals could possibly issue a “formal act of correction,” a declaration that Francis is teaching heresy (see articles below).
As I stated previously, most Catholics are oblivious to the dramatic tug-of-war taking place between Francis and his allies and church conservatives over Amoris Laetitia and other reforms. What’s at stake is Catholicism’s claim to the infallibility of popes on teachings involving faith and morals. The great irony here – don’t miss this – is conservatives are willing to concede the current pope is fallible and in error in order to preserve the teaching of previous infallible popes! Francis winks at “infallible” doctrines in an effort to keep people in the pews.
- Regarding cardinals’ request for clarification of ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ the Pope’s silence speaks volumes
- Cardinal Burke: we will make ‘formal act of correction’ if Pope doesn’t issue Amoris clarification
All men are fallible. Even casual students of Catholic church history are aware of the tragic failings of popes and other high church officials down through the ages. The only Rock we have is Jesus Christ. Accept Christ as your Savior by faith alone and then ask the Lord to lead you to an evangelical church in your area that teaches God’s Word without compromise.
Note from 2022: The controversy over Amoris Laetitia was perhaps the RCC’s biggest internal crisis since French archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, broke from the church in 1970 over the reforms of Vatican II and founded the Society of Saint Pius X. Francis wore down his opponents by not responding to their angry objections. A deepening of the crisis was averted because conservative Catholic clergy were in a Catch-22. Absolute fealty to the papacy is one of their most cherished tenets. Opposing Francis’ new heretical teaching meant that they were themselves heretics. Moderate and progressive bishops and priests had been distributing Jesus wafers to remarried divorcees prior to Amoris Laetitia and were pleased to see the practice formalized. The RCC is a hierarchical institution and open opposition to Francis’ Amoris Laetitia reform has largely been stifled. However, some conservative prelates and priests continue to resist Francis’ doctrinal change on the QT.