PopeWatch: Heresy in High Places



In many countries of Europe the Church would probably be in better shape if the Pope did away with their national hierarchies and decreed that the territories are mission territory hostile to Catholicism.  Sandro Magister at his blog Chiesa gives us a case in point regarding the Swiss:

by Martin Grichting

The secretary of the pastoral commission of the conference of Swiss bishops, Arnd Bünker, and the professor of ethical theology at the theology faculty of Chur, Hanspeter Schmitt, have edited in view of the next synod of bishops a multi-author book entitled: “Familienvielfalt in der katholischen Kirche. Geschichten und Reflexionen [Diversity of families in the Catholic Church. Stories and reflections].”

The book adopts the classic strategy of “coming out.” First the focus goes to the realities of life that deviate from the prevailing order. After this it is demanded that these realities be recognized as normative by the competent authority.

“Coming out” needs concrete cases, like a divorced and civilly remarried couple, a couple that already cohabited like husband and wife before marriage, or a lesbian couple living in a parish house in the canton of Aargau, diocese of Basel.

Alongside such “stories” there are then presented “reflections,” the general tenor of which leads one to think that Catholics in Switzerland already accepted some time ago the “diversity of families.”

But on account of the upcoming synod, the authors do not want to content themselves with this. Their objective is “that family diversity must not exist only de facto (vorkommen) but must come out (hervorkommen) officially,” as Professor Schmitt explains, alluding precisely to the strategy of “coming out.”

The intention of the authors is to leave behind the classical ecclesiastical doctrine on marriage and family, which they turn into a caricature. “The traditional idealistic ecclesial vision of the procreative sexuality of marriage (althergebrachte kirchliche Idealistik ehelicher Fortpflanzungssexualität),” Schmitt calls it.

With this they consider themselves to be on the side of Pope Francis. “He does not tell the world how it must be, he instead asks the world how the Church must be, so that he can help it,” writes pastoral theologian Rainer Bucher, from Graz.

Immediately afterward, however, the authors contradict the pope. He in fact, as is well known, places at the center of marital situations and couple relationships the mercy of God. But the authors refuse to appeal to this. For most people – they note – remarrying civilly is no longer connected to sentiments of blame. So to speak of mercy in this situation would be difficult, writes Eva-Maria Faber, former rector of the theology faculty of Chur and a professor of dogmatic theology. In the case of heterosexual and homosexual family diversity there would no longer be any issue “of the question of mercy, but of the question of recognition,” as the moral theologian Stephan Goertz concisely summarizes the intention of the book.

So it is not mercy that the book proposes, but the ecclesial recognition of the “human qualities of sexual love even beyond marriage and procreation” (Schmitt). As members of a religious community, we would in fact want to receive recognition from this in whatever situation we may find ourselves (Faber).

That against the background of these ideas the pastor of the cathedral of St. Gall, Fr. Beat Grögli, says he is ready to bless same-sex couples in church therefore can come as no surprise. The pastor of Aesch, diocese of Basel, Fr. Felix Terrier, also interviewed, already gives such blessings and moreover brings into question “if the sacrament of marriage can really be administered only once.” The judicial vicar of the diocese of St. Gall, Titus Lenherr, finally asks in accord with Cardinal Walter Kasper for a simple ecclesiastical procedure for the legitimation of a civil “second marriage.”

All of these requests would have to be satisfied once sexuality need no longer fulfill a natural purpose. The ethics of the Church “blocked by natural law” (Schmitt) should therefore be left behind. Sexual morality would have to be rebuilt from the ground up, and sexuality considered as something that is expressed in a relationship based on mutual respect. This would apply equally to heterosexuals and homosexuals (Goertz). What in this regard is taken as already a pastoral reality  would therefore also have to be “recognized officially by the Church” (Schmitt). The Church’s position on marriage, on sexual morality, and on contraception would have to be “adapted” “so that the profound rift between modern-day doctrine and practice should not get even wider” (Grögli).

If these requests should not be satisfied, Eva-Maria Faber foresees an emigration from the Church “of enormous dimensions.” And her colleague at the theological faculty of Chur, Schmitt, prophesies that “the internal and external emigration from the Church” will be “rather widespread and protracted.” In the face of these alarming tones, it is comprehensible that the corporations of ecclesiastical right of the cantons of Zurich, Aargau, Lucerne, Nidwalden, and Basel-Landschaft should have supported the publication of the book “with generous financing,” of more than fifty thousand euro. As agencies commissioned to collect ecclesiastical taxes, in fact, they have an interest in a Church that – if necessary even at the expense of its content – should continue to enjoy the approval of the majority of society. The diocese of St. Gall also supported this project financially.

The chapters of this book betray a profound inferiority complex toward contemporary post-Christian society and the desire to be like the others. The authors evidently no longer believe that Jesus Christ knows what is in man (Jn 2:25), nor that the Church also knows this as the body of Christ. Themes like the living relationship of the baptized person with Christ who sustains him in his marriage, or trust in the grace and the promise of God received with the sacrament of marriage, are not even touched upon.

This book therefore represents a farewell to the Christian identity as a force shaping the life of the individual and of society. And it is also a farewell to the Church’s missionary mandate to be the salt of the earth. It has to be asked, in fact, how many pagans the Irish monks would have brought to Christ in Switzerland if they had shared Schmitt’s claim “that the existing realities of life must no longer be discredited in the magisterial texts and in the teaching of the Catholic Church.”

Romano Guardini, in his book “The end of the modern world,” brought to light the fact that through divine revelation there arise in man forces that, although being natural in themselves, do not develop outside of this context. With the obfuscation of faith in God, therefore, the “secularized Christianities” would soon be declared sentimentalism and set aside.

In relation to the institution of marriage, this means that this institution, already by its nature oriented toward the indissoluble union between man and woman, becomes concretely realizable in a context of Christian life. That is, under the “arch” of the Christian faith – as Guardini calls it – that which is natural in itself becomes realizable. If, however, this Christian faith is lacking, man is no longer capable of living that to which marriage is oriented already at the natural level. And in fact, in the societies of the Western world, ever more estranged from God, the Christian faith is gravely obfuscated. The result is a not-yet-concluded dissolution of that which is signified by marriage.

This development tragically proves Guardini right. He would have been surprised, however, and probably frightened as well, by the fact that not only in society but also in parts of the Catholic Church a grave obfuscation of faith in God is taking place. This has made it such that – as the book in question shows – indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman even in parts of the Church is being declared an outdated bit of sentimentalism: marriage is seen as on its way to being a “sacrament relegated to the niche,” and perhaps is even already a “residue of the history of the Church” (Bünker).

The volume “Diversity of families” also shows clearly that those who uphold in the Church the point of view of post-Christian society don’t even want to hear about the mercy of God, as Pope Francis preaches it, because it is taken as representing just a pittance that does not lead to the official recognition of the diversity of families in the Church. And they also don’t want to see the Church’s recognition of the civilly “remarried” go only to extraordinary individual cases, as in the hopes expressed by Cardinal Kasper.

At least on this the secretary of the pastoral commission of the conference of Swiss bishops and the professor of ethical theology at the theological faculty of Chur, together with their coauthors, have made themselves clear in an unmistakable manner.

Thus no one will be able to say he has not had the chance to evaluate the true scope of what is on the agenda next autumn at the synod of bishops.

Let us be blunt.  There are many people in positions of authority in the Church who hate the Church and despise traditional Catholic teaching.  A good Pope would do something about this.  Pope Francis seems ready to capitulate in many areas to these anti-Catholic bigots within Mother Church.

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  1. The pro-con semantics, word-game playing about mercy, pastoral care, gradualism, theological chess moves, and for far too many–deadly silence, are all but the simplest replication of what we’ve all heard before–“I will not serve!”

    The meat is the same, but the condiments have been given marketable attraction by the diabolical.

  2. The definition and discussion of the “strategy of coming out” is important to share with other concerned and under informed Christian friends who are still reeling. Wondering, “what hit us?”

    So many who could be defenders of the Faith have gone into their own closets.
    Our new evangelization could use this strategy too.

  3. Western Europe reminds me of the line in Terminator 2: “It is in your nature to destroy yourselves.”

    Mark my words. Poland will have to save this bunch of sorry asses again.

  4. I would suggest that what we are witnessing under this pontificate, as we did in the aftermath of Vatican II, is what Timur Kuran calls a “preference cascade.”

    Where, in any society or institution, social pressure to conform is strong, people are reluctant to voice any doubts or misgivings they may have and outward conformity will often mask private dissent; this reticence, in turn, contributes to and reinforces the social pressure to conform. Thus, there can appear to be widespread popular support for options that would be defeated in a secret ballot. This is known in the jargon as “preference falsification.”

    When circumstances combine to weaken that pressure, it can initiate a “preference cascade,” as dissenters realise they are not singular in their views and more and more people feel free to express their pent-up dissent. Now, fear changes sides. Not only are opponents of the status quo emboldened to speak out, but genuine supporters of it start pretending that they support the change too.

    Kuran’s theory is a useful too (to be employed with caution, of course)l for analysing what appears on the surface to be sudden and dramatic shifts in public opinion.

  5. All of this is a reflection of the Modernist heresy that “lived experience” of the people must be used to determine the various aspects of doctrine, morals and pastoral practice as we have especially seen since Vatican II and much more intensely since the advent of Pope Francis.

    We need a miracle to defeat this devilish theology along with an inspired leader, another King Sobieski as it were.

  6. I came across this gem and instantly remembered what I had forgotten in my doubt and worry…

    “When we hear heretical voices about us…when we see that the sanctity of marriage and the priesthood are attacked without fear of rebuke, have confidence, for the Holy Church is incorruptible.”
    St. Augustine

  7. MPS: good info on “preference cascade.”

    It’s what Wall street calls the “herd instinct”
    But, in reality–it’s usually little more than the tendency to fall under the power of the sin of PRIDE!

    “What will they think of me….?” (See Sir Thomas More for the antidote)

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