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The Three Bishops of Kazakhstan Correct the Pope

But where is the promised correction from
Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller?

by Christopher A. Ferrara
January 2, 2018

On December 31, 2017, in the hundredth year following the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, the three bishops of Kazakhstan – Tomash Peta, Archbishop Metropolitan of the Archdiocese; Jan Pawel Lenga, Archbishop-Bishop of Karaganda; and Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana – established a landmark in Church history and a turning point in the most acute crisis the Church has ever suffered. They issued a “Profession of the immutable truths about sacramental marriage,” which flatly rejects and condemns as contrary to the Faith the attempt by Pope Francis to institutionalize the toleration of divorce in the Church by authorizing the admission of “divorced and remarried” Catholics to Holy Communion in “certain cases” (meaning, potentially, any case).

The three bishops begin by reiterating the fact that “After the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation ‘Amoris laetitia’ (2016) various bishops issued at local, regional, and national levels applicable norms [that]… provide inter alia that in individual cases the persons, called ‘divorced and remarried,’ may receive the sacrament of Penance and Holy Communion, while continuing to live habitually and intentionally more uxorio with a person who is not their legitimate spouse” and that “[s]ome of these norms have received approval even from the supreme authority of the Church.”

The resulting conclusion, the bishops continue, “touches the central manifestations of the life of the Church, such as sacramental marriage with the family, the domestic church, and the sacrament of the Most Holy Eucharist.” The norms approved even by Francis “are revealed in practice and in time as a means of spreading the ‘plague of divorce’ (an expression used by the Second Vatican Council, see Gaudium et spes, 47). It is a matter of spreading the ‘plague of divorce’ even in the life of the Church, when the Church, instead, because of her unconditional fidelity to the doctrine of Christ, should be a bulwark and an unmistakable sign of contradiction against the plague of divorce which is every day more rampant in civil society.”

Appealing to the “constant Magisterium of the Church, beginning with the teachings of the Apostles and of all the Supreme Pontiffs,” which teaching “has preserved and faithfully transmitted both in the doctrine (in theory) and in the sacramental discipline (in practice) in an unequivocal way, without any shadow of doubt and always in the same sense and in the same meaning (eodem sensu eademque sententia), the crystalline teaching of Christ concerning the indissolubility of marriage,” the bishops declare: “Because of its Divinely established nature, the discipline of the sacraments must never contradict the revealed word of God and the faith of the Church in the absolute indissolubility of a ratified and consummated marriage.”

Accordingly, the bishops issued their historic conclusion:

“It is not licit (non licet) to justify, approve, or legitimize either directly or indirectly divorce and a non-conjugal stable sexual relationship through the sacramental discipline of the admission of so-called ‘divorced and remarried’ to Holy Communion, in this case a discipline alien to the entire Tradition of the Catholic and Apostolic faith.”

Thus does Pope Francis stand corrected in his catastrophic error by three bishops who have had the courage to defend the Faith against a wayward Roman Pontiff the likes of which the Church has never seen, a Pope who has indeed authorized the introduction of “a discipline alien to the entire Tradition of the Catholic and Apostolic faith.”

Where, then, is the promised “formal correction” from Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller, the two surviving “dubia cardinals”? Perhaps it has been submitted privately to Pope Francis, where, if so, it has undoubtedly already been greeted with stony silence, along with every other petition from the faithful regarding the errors of Amoris Laetitia.

The duty to speak out publicly for the good of the Faith and the welfare of souls now imposes itself upon the surviving “dubia cardinals” (not to mention every other Prince of the Church and member of the episcopate). Their continued silence can now only be construed as consent to the very error the three bishops of Kazakhstan have had the courage publicly to condemn. With each passing day, the judgment of their silence weighs more heavily upon them as they leave it to others to defend the truth of Christ against an unprecedented attack from the vertices of the Church — another sign of the “apostasy that begins at the top,” to allude to Cardinal Ciappi’s famous reference to the Third Secret of Fatima.

When will Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller follow the example of the three bishops — an example they themselves have long promised to provide? That is the question whose answer the Church and the verdict of history now await.