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The Drumbeat Continues

by Christopher A. Ferrara
March 25, 2015

With all the subtlety of someone banging a big bass drum with a large wooden mallet, Pope Francis continues to rail against imaginary “Pharisees” in the Church who are supposedly denying “mercy” to imaginary sinners who seek forgiveness but find only harsh judgment. Who these cruel Pharisees and maltreated sinners are remains a mystery, given that in the Church today there is near universal laxity and even pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians receive Holy Communion from the hands of priests with the cooperation of bishops who lack the courage to defend the integrity of the Blessed Sacrament.

In his homily of March 23 Francis cited the corrupt judges who condemn Susanna to death in the Book of Daniel and the woman in the Gospel who is about to be stoned to death until she is saved by Our Lord’s immortal declaration “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.” From these examples Francis somehow leaps to the conclusion that “today, the people of God, when they encounter these judges, suffer a judgment without mercy, both in civil, and ecclesiastical circles. And where there is no mercy, there is no justice. When the people of God voluntarily draw close to ask for forgiveness, to be judged, how often, how often, do they encounter one of these?” According to Francis, these unknown people who seek forgiveness encounter “the rigid who punish in the penitent [what] they themselves hide in their own soul.”

What on earth is Francis talking about?  Who are these rigid judges? Who is punishing penitents? Who has denied the truly penitent the mercy God Himself extends through the Sacrament of Confession, a mercy that is every sinner’s for the asking if only he seeks it with a sincere heart and a firm purpose of amendment?

We know the answer to these questions: this is yet another thinly veiled attack on the Church’s constant teaching, rooted in the teaching of Our Lord Himself, that those who purport to divorce and remarry are living in a state of adultery and thus cannot approach the Blessed Sacrament without first renouncing their adulterous relations, as John Paul II­ — the very Pope that Francis canonized — steadfastly maintained after the Synod of 1980 (which likewise upheld the Church’s traditional discipline).

Francis goes on to note “some of the most beautiful and moving phrases from the Gospel: ‘no one condemned you?’ – ‘No, no one, Lord.’ – ‘Neither do I condemn.’ Neither do I condemn you: one of the most beautiful phrases because it is full of mercy.” But, with all due respect, this is a slur on Holy Church, the spotless Bride of Christ.  The Church’s bi-millennial discipline concerning those who live in a state of adultery cannot be likened to the perversity of the Pharisees, who would have stoned a woman to death for a sin they themselves had committed­ either in thought or in deed. Nor does Our Lord pardon the adulterous woman before she has first repented of her sin. Why is it that Francis fails to mention Our Lord’s admonition to her, which has echoed down through the centuries in the absolution granted by the priest in His name: “Go, and sin no more.

Once again Francis turns Scripture on its head: citing the Pharisees’ hypocrisy as an argument in favor of tolerating in the Church today, in the name of “mercy,” precisely what the Pharisees’ lack of mercy had engendered: their acceptance of divorce. Francis never seems to mention that when the Pharisees confronted Our Lord with the fact that Moses “permitted to write a bill of divorce and to put her [the wife] away,” He answered them: “Because of the hardness of your heart he [Moses] wrote you that precept.  But from the beginning of the creation, God made them male and female.  For this cause a man shall leave his father and mother; and shall cleave to his wife. And they two shall be in one flesh. Therefore now they are not two, but one flesh.  What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder (Mk. 10:4-9).”

The “new Pharisees and Scribes” in the Church today are, as Bishop Athanasius Schneider has observed, Cardinal Kasper and his collaborators, who would return the Church to the time of the original Pharisees by introducing into the New Covenant an acceptance of divorce that Our Lord condemned in the Old Covenant and declared to be abolished forever. That rather diabolical bitter irony has permeated this pontificate almost from its very beginning.

To recall the revelation of Pope Benedict XVI regarding the Secret during his pilgrimage to Fatima:  “The greatest persecution of the Church comes not from her enemies without, but arises from sin within the Church, and that the Church thus has a deep need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness on the one hand, but also the need for justice.”  And it was Benedict who, only ten years ago following the Synod of 2005, affirmed with John Paul II the very discipline Francis would evidently like to overthrow in the name of a false mercy divorced from divine justice. Wrote Benedict:

The Synod of Bishops confirmed the Church's practice, based on Sacred Scripture (cf. Mk 10:2- 12) of not admitting the divorced and remarried to the sacraments, since their state and their condition of life objectively contradict the loving union of Christ and the Church signified and made present in the Eucharist. Yet the divorced and remarried continue to belong to the Church, which accompanies them with special concern and encourages them to live as fully as possible the Christian life through regular participation at Mass, albeit without receiving communion

Perhaps Francis should begin paying attention to his predecessors and to the true meaning of the Gospel which — one must say it — he has repeatedly twisted for polemical ends. What can we say about a Pope who ignores the true teaching of Our Lord, the constant teaching of the Church in obedience to Him, and the affirmation of that teaching by his immediate predecessors on a matter intimately connected to Divine Revelation? We can say that here we encounter what must be yet another sign that we are living amidst the unfolding of the Third Secret of Fatima.