Catholic Scholars Accuse Pope Francis of Heresy for Promoting Lax Sexual Ethics and Acclaiming Islam
For decades, Protestant churches have been splitting into Mainline and evangelical branches over interpretations of scripture. We may well see such a fissure in the United Methodist Church over the morality of same sex relationships. The Anglican Communion barely holds together, as its wealthy, mostly liberal First World core strains against the populous, zealous churches of Africa. There, too, the fracture follows demands of LBGT activists that the church accept the verdict of modern, secular society over traditional doctrine, and the plain sense of Scripture.
The Catholic Church is feeling similar strains. As I tried to explain our situation to my good friend Eric Metaxas:
Imagine that your local bible church was trapped in the same circus tent as the Presbyterian Church, USA. You officially pretend that you all believe the same things. But in fact you’re two different religions. So you’re constantly fighting over control of property and institutions. And neither faction will leave. Welcome to the Catholic Church today.
A Pope Accused of Heresy
And now things are heating up. As the Catholic Herald reports:
A group of academics and priests have accused Pope Francis of committing the canonical crime of heresy.
The group, which includes the prominent Dominican theologian Fr Aidan Nichols, have put their names to a letter arguing that the Pope has “denied truths of the faith”. They say that his words, when combined with his public actions, express “persistent” disbelief of Catholic doctrines about the moral law and divine grace.
They ask the world’s bishops to take action by admonishing the Pope, and – if he does not repudiate his alleged heresies – to “declare that he has committed the canonical delict of heresy and that he must suffer the canonical consequences of his crime.”
These consequences would potentially include the loss of the papal office, the letter-writers say.
LifeSiteNews has led in making the letter public in many languages. It quotes the authors.
We take this measure as a last resort to respond to the accumulating harm caused by Pope Francis’s words and actions over several years, which have given rise to one of the worst crises in the history of the Catholic Church.
These scholars and pastors have risked their standing and livelihoods. They could lose their positions, their freedom to work in churches or Catholic institutions. They might even face excommunication — though I suspect Francis and his faction are more likely to rely on behind the scenes, knife-in-the-back tactics rather than honest, manly confrontation.
What were the “heresies” for which these men and women are rebuking Pope Francis? Interestingly, they don’t include two of the more outrageous stances Francis has taken: endorsing de facto open borders, and condemning capital punishment. On both he has boldly rejected the stances of many centuries, grounded in sacred Scripture.
It’s Mostly Sex, and Also Islam
This new statement focuses instead on seven crucial moral areas where Pope Francis has either openly or ambiguously taught things that can’t be squared with ancient Catholic moral doctrines. All but one have some connection with sexual morality. In each of the seven, Pope Francis seems to have accommodated modern, secular mores.
This new statement focuses instead on seven crucial moral areas where Pope Francis has either openly or ambiguously taught things that can’t be jibed with ancient Catholic moral doctrines. All but one have some connection with sexual morality. In each of the seven, Pope Francis seems to have accommodated modern, secular mores.
At the core of the open letter are teachings about marriage and divorce. Specifically, Catholics now in new sexual relationships unsanctioned by the Church. However, the principles Francis cites could equally apply to same-sex relationships, as liberal Catholics emboldened by Francis demand. In other words, the war between “Mainline” and “evangelical” is effectively being waged inside the Catholic Church as well. I will explain the key charges lodged against Francis in laymen’s language. To read the original document drawn up by theologians, see the PDF here.
Sometimes we have essentially no choice but to sin. God’s grace is not always enough.
In some situations, we can knowingly and willingly go against God’s law, without that being a serious sin.
Sometimes following God’s law actually amounts to committing a sin. Our individual conscience must be our guide.
In certain situations, sexual acts that meet the criteria for adultery are actually what God wants us to do.
Some sexual acts not between man and wife are still morally right.
There are no moral acts that are intrinsically evil in every situation.
God positively wants there to be multiple religions, beside Christianity.
The Pope Against the Church
It was bad enough when the popes were committed to strict continuity with the previous moral and doctrinal teachings of the past, and traditional biblical morals. Back then, we orthodox Catholics would butt our heads against local, liberal authorities, and fire off complaints to Rome. (They did little good, but we allowed ourselves to hope. …)
Now, with Pope Francis, we face an unprecedented situation: a pope who feels empowered to rewrite ancient doctrines, and rely on his own authority to reverse the teachings of his predecessors. Indeed, one papal advisor, Rev. Thomas Rosica, put Francis’ stance bluntly:
Pope Francis breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is “free from disordered attachments.” Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture.
I was stunned when this statement appeared. The Vatican took no action to correct Rosica, and still hasn’t condemned what he said. At the time, I wrote here at The Stream that it seemed like a parody written by an anti-Catholic, designed to make the papacy seem ridiculous.
Well, wouldn’t you know, that’s exactly what it was. Rosica, it turns out, is a serial plagiarist. And in this case he stole from a blog post by an embittered ex-Catholic priest, who intended it … as a parody. Rosica is the kind of man whom Pope Francis has promoted, at every level, all through our Church. That, and a long list of proteges of the disgraced child molester, ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
A New Renaissance, in the Borgia Sense of the Word
So it’s heartening that these Catholics are willing stand up against this pope and his agenda. He gives every sign of preferring the approval of elites, of the princes of this world, to faithful witness to doctrine. He presides over a regime of corruption unmatched since the Renaissance. As I wrote here a year ago: “It has all the corruption, hubris, sodomy and worldliness of the original. But none of the art.”
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The list of courageous signatories to this letter challenging Pope Francis is short but illustrious. It’s apparently limited to theologians, or I would sign it myself.
Meanwhile, doctrinal liberals are calling for the signatories to face official Church punishment. That would fit the Francis pattern. Several traditional religious groups have been suppressed or seen their leadership decapitated and replaced with papal sympathizers. Perhaps most dispiriting? The spectacle of Catholics who preened as orthodox under previous popes, falling all over themselves to follow Pope Francis ever further leftward. Apparently they were opportunists all along. …
Combine papal statements, decisions, and personnel choices, and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion: The Catholic Church under Francis has made giant steps toward becoming a Mainline post-Protestant church. That is: accommodating to gays, obsessed with progressive politics, and headed for extinction.
We must trust in God and wait to see His will.