Father Nichols Drops a Bomb
Suggests New Canon Law Procedure
For Correcting Errant Pope
by Christopher A. Ferrara
August 18, 2017
With ever-increasing candor, the Catholic “mainstream” press is acknowledging that the Bergoglian pontificate poses a clear and present danger to the Church.
Now the resolutely mainstream Catholic Herald has weighed in with an article reporting on explosive remarks by Father Aidan Nichols, a renowned author and theologian who is one of the signers of a letter from 45 priests and theologians to the College of Cardinals addressing the manifest errors in Amoris Laetitia (AL).
According to Catholic Herald, Fr. Nichols, speaking at the annual conference of an ecumenical group — of all places — proposed that, given the Pope’s statements on issues including marriage and the moral law, the Church may need “a procedure for calling to order a pope who teaches error.”
As Catholic Herald reports, Nichols observed that such a process would “‘dissuade popes from any tendency to doctrinal waywardness or simple negligence’ and would answer some ‘ecumenical anxieties of Anglicans, Orthodox and others who fear that the pope has carte blanche to impose any teaching. Indeed, it may be that the present crisis of the Roman magisterium is providentially intended to call attention to the limits of primacy in this regard.’”
How supremely ironic that the Anglicans and the Orthodox are concerned about the prospect of a wayward Pope who would think himself entitled to impose any teaching that occurs to him!
Commenting for the first time publicly on AL (the letter of the 45 having been leaked to the press), Fr. Nichols “mentioned some of the same concerns as the letter: he noted, for instance, that Amoris Laetitia could seem to imply that the monastic life was not a higher state than marriage – a view condemned as heretical by the Council of Trent.”
As to that interpretation of AL according to which “the divorced and remarried can receive Communion without endeavouring to live ‘as brother and sister’”, which is clearly the interpretation Pope Francis has been promoting relentlessly, this would appear to countenance what Nichols described as “a previously unheard-of state of life. Put bluntly, this state of life is one of tolerated concubinage.”
Even worse, Fr. Nichols observed, is AL’s “description of a conscience which ‘recognizes that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the demands of the Gospel’ but sees ‘with a certain moral security…what for now is the most generous response [that can be given to God].” Thus, AL would appear to declare “that actions condemned by the law of Christ can sometimes be morally right or even, indeed, requested by God.”
Still worse, said Nichols, is AL’s astonishing claim that someone “may know full well the rule [the moral law, including the Sixth Commandment] yet…be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.” On the contrary, Nichols noted, “the Council of Trent had solemnly condemned the idea that ‘the commandments of God are impossible to observe even for a man who is justified and established in grace.’”
The disastrous consequence of AL’s evident endorsement of moral relativism, Nichols concluded, is that “no area of Christian morality can remain unscathed.” And while, according to Catholic Herald, Nichols “said that it would be preferable to think that the Pope had been merely ‘negligent’ in his language, rather than actively teaching error…. this seemed doubtful, given the reports that the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had suggested corrections to Amoris Laetitia, and was ignored.” (Emphasis added.)
The Pope, he added, “may be the supreme appeal judge of Christendom…but that does not make him immune to perpetrating doctrinal howlers. Surprisingly, or perhaps not so surprisingly given the piety that has surrounded the figures of the popes since the pontificate of Pius IX, this fact appears to be unknown to many who ought to know better.”
And so it becomes clearer by the day to Catholics of good will that we are now in the midst of an unprecedented pontifical disaster. How it will end remains to be seen, but we can know with certainty that its resolution is bound up with the integral Message of Fatima.