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The Weinandy Intervention: What It Means

by Christopher A. Ferrara
November 2, 2017

Critics of those who have made public their objections to the chaos this pontificate is engendering contend that only “private entreaties” to a wayward Pope are permissible and that any resort to publication is “scandalous.”

Nonsense. As canon law recognizes, the faithful “have the right and even at times to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals with reverence toward their pastors…” There is no exception exempting Popes from public criticism. On the contrary, no one is more subject to the needs and concerns of the faithful than he.

Moreover, this Pope has demonstrated that he is immune to private entreaties, and that he will not even extend the courtesy of acknowledging their receipt. Francis has simply ignored the private petitions from 800,000 members of the faithful, the 45 theologians, the four “dubia cardinals” and the 60 signers of the Correction Filialis, not to mention numerous other private petitions, all of which plead with him to reaffirm the Church’s constant teaching on the inadmissibility of divorced and “remarried” persons to the sacraments and the exceptionless character of negative precepts of the natural law — teachings that Francis is quite evidently engaged in subverting through ambiguity and sub-magisterial winks and nods.

Now perhaps the most prominent theologian to date has felt compelled to make public his own private entreaty to the Pope who refuses to respond.  Sandro Magister has published a private letter, sent to the Pope last summer, by Thomas G. Weinandy, who was made a member of the International Theological Commission by Pope Francis himself. He was also head of the theological secretariat of the U.S. Bishop’s conference and has taught at both Oxford and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome. He is thus an unimpeachably “mainstream” figure.

Following a clear sign from Heaven, described here, Fr. Weinandy has decided to publicize the contents of his letter to Pope Francis, wherein we read this withering indictment of a Roman Pontiff by a subject whose loyalty to the Petrine office is beyond question:

“Your Holiness, a chronic confusion seems to mark your pontificate.  The light of faith, hope, and love is not absent, but too often it is obscured by the ambiguity of your words and actions.  This fosters within the faithful a growing unease ….

“In ‘Amoris Laetitia,’ your guidance at times seems intentionally ambiguous, thus inviting both a traditional interpretation of Catholic teaching on marriage and divorce as well as one that might imply a change in that teaching…. To teach with such a seemingly intentional lack of clarity inevitably risks sinning against the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth.  The Holy Spirit is given to the Church, and particularly to yourself, to dispel error, not to foster it. 

“[Y]ou seem to censor and even mock those who interpret Chapter 8 of ‘Amoris Laetitia’ in accord with Church tradition as Pharisaic stone-throwers who embody a merciless rigorism.  This kind of calumny is alien to the nature of the Petrine ministry….  Such behavior gives the impression that your views cannot survive theological scrutiny, and so must be sustained by ‘ad hominem’ arguments.

“[T]oo often your manner seems to demean the importance of Church doctrine.  Again and again you portray doctrine as dead and bookish, and far from the pastoral concerns of everyday life.  Your critics have been accused, in your own words, of making doctrine an ideology.  But it is precisely Christian doctrine… that frees people from worldly ideologies and assures that they are actually preaching and teaching the authentic, life-giving Gospel.  Those who devalue the doctrines of the Church separate themselves from Jesus, the author of truth…  What they then possess, and can only possess, is an ideology – one that conforms to the world of sin and death.

“[F]aithful Catholics can only be disconcerted by your choice of some bishops, men who seem not merely open to those who hold views counter to Christian belief but who support and even defend them.  What scandalizes believers, and even some fellow bishops, is not only your having appointed such men to be shepherds of the Church, but that you also seem silent in the face of their teaching and pastoral practice…. As a result, many of the faithful, who embody the ‘sensus fidelium,’ are losing confidence in their supreme shepherd.

“[T]he Church is one body, the Mystical Body of Christ, and you are commissioned by the Lord himself to promote and strengthen her unity.  But your actions and words too often seem intent on doing the opposite….

“You have often spoken about the need for transparency within the Church.  You have frequently encouraged… all persons, especially bishops, to speak their mind and not be fearful of what the pope may think.  But… what many [bishops] have learned from your pontificate is not that you are open to criticism, but that you resent it… Many fear that if they speak their mind, they will be marginalized or worse.

“I have often asked myself: ‘Why has Jesus let all of this happen?’  The only answer that comes to mind is that Jesus wants to manifest just how weak is the faith of many within the Church, even among too many of her bishops.  Ironically, your pontificate has given those who hold harmful theological and pastoral views the license and confidence to come into the light and expose their previously hidden darkness….”

That a “mainstream” theologian of such prominence should consent to the publication of such grave accusations against a Roman Pontiff should lay to rest, at least for the reasonable observer, the claim that opposition to what Pope Francis is saying and doing is confined to a fringe element of the Church of “schismatic” mentality. The Weinandy intervention, prompted by a sign from Heaven, is nothing less than a landmark in the history the Church. It represents an objective confirmation, if one were still needed, that this pontificate poses a clear and present danger to the Faith, and that the faithful have a duty to stand in opposition to its absolutely unprecedented tendencies.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us!

UPDATE: Immediately after his letter was published, Father Weinandy was asked to resign his current position as a consultant to the U.S. Bishops’ Conference.  He has done so. As Catholic World Report, another mainstream voice of concern about this pontificate, has observed: “In making such a request, the USCCB, it would appear, reinforces Fr. Weinandy’s very point about fearfulness and lack of transparency.” It would appear that by “mercy” Pope Francis means immediate and merciless suppression of any prominent critic of his assault on the teaching of his own predecessors, including the very Pope he canonized.