(LifeSiteNews) – On the 8th of December 2021, Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, a 42-year-old Catholic priest, Father Jesusmary Missigbètò, published an open letter addressed to Pope Francis, cardinals and bishops. In this letter, read, approved and recommended by an eminent theologian, he shed light on the strategy used by Pope Francis to circumvent the opposition of the “traditionalist” bishops to his new “mercy” towards the divorced-remarried, contrary to Catholic Tradition and based on the post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia. In this beautiful 4-page open letter, Fr. Jesusmary underlined the importance of Christian marriage and the grave danger that Amoris Laetitia and the situational ethics for this “sacramentum magnum” (cf. Ephesians 5:32) pose. After the release of his letter, he publicly asked for the support of the Catholic media to spread the truth and encourage Pope Francis to rectify the issue. We interviewed Father and below are the answers he gave to our questions. Please read the full interview below…
John-Henry Westen: Fr. Jesusmary, what message would you like to give to the Catholic faithful?
Father Jesusmary Missigbètò: First of all, I would like to reassure my friends who are worried: I promise never again to ask for the resignation of Pope Francis but for the rectification of his errors. I have seen that talking about resignation saddens the Catholic faithful and is a great pain for them. This has always been my personal feeling, since a year ago I had already written the following sentence in my first book: “No, as a Catholic, I would not be happy to see our Common Father resign. On the contrary, my joy would be greatest if he would clarify or rectify and, perhaps, ask the People of God for forgiveness.”
Secondly, I would like to encourage all the Catholic faithful to read carefully the texts that I publish. I hope they will read calmly this interview and the one of September 2021 and also the two open letters I have already published (October 21, 2021 and December 8, 2021). I hope they will not be afraid of what they will find there and that they will offer Masses and pray the Rosary every day so that the Cardinals and Bishops will help Pope Francis to solve the serious problem of situation ethics. If we solve it now, the Church will be better off in the future. If we don’t then we risk being complicit in future moral disasters in the Church and in the world.
J-H Westen: But why did you ask for the resignation of Pope Francis?
Fr. J. Missigbètò: It is simply because we must not put our personal feelings above the truth. I asked for the Pope’s resignation for five reasons. Firstly, it is not a sin if there is a serious motivation, and this is the case with the situation ethics that Pope Francis is allowing to take hold to the detriment of traditional Catholic morality. Secondly, calling for resignation is a legitimate means available to the Catholic Church in case a pope is unfaithful. Indeed, the Jesuitical tradition represented by Francisco Suárez (1548-1617), one of the greatest theologians of the Society of Jesus, has argued for this in the past. In November 2014, Robert J. Siscoe published an interesting article on this argument in the American journal ‘The Remnant,’ delving into the ideas of Fr. James Vincent Schall S.J. (1928-2019).
My third reason is that Pope Francis is slowly leading the Catholic Church towards moral relativism and situation ethics. Fourthly, he is unwilling to rectify despite so many cardinals, bishops, priests, experts, professors and journalists who have drawn his attention in recent years to the dangers of his magisterium. And finally, let us remember that Jesus said: “If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away…” (Matthew 5:29). The eye is certainly the most precious sensory organ for a human being, but Jesus insists that in order to go to Heaven we must keep away from anything that leads us to sin even if it is precious to us.
J-H Westen: What could be the cause of the situational ethics that can be found in Pope Francis?
Fr. J. Missigbètò: Not only in Pope Francis but also in Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer SJ, Cardinal Blase Cupich and Fr. James Martin SJ, and several other priests and bishops who have this spirit and spread it around them, in preaching, in seminaries and in the media. I do not want to judge them. God, who knows the depths of hearts and intentions, will. I excuse their intention in the belief that they do not know that it is a moral error. According to the eminent philosopher Robert Spaemann (1927-2018), “the actual problem is an influential movement in moral theology, which holds a purely situational ethics, and which can be found as early as the 17th century among the Jesuits… John Paul II rejected situational ethics and condemned it in his encyclical Veritatis splendor – as did Karl Rahner [SJ] before him, in an essay in the 1950s that contained all of these essential and presently valid arguments.” (Interview, Catholic News Agency, April 29, 2016)
J-H Westen: Why did you seek the support of the Catholic media?
Fr. J. Missigbètò: Nowadays, the power of the media is undeniable. If you speak the truth without the help of the media, it is as if you were John the Baptist preaching in the desert. The voice of John the Baptist resounded powerfully in Israel because of those who love the truth and came to listen to him. My voice also resounds through those who love the truth and spread it. But the Church today is spreading to the four corners of the world, which is why I have publicly asked for the support of all Catholic media. I understand those who are afraid to broadcast the truth about Pope Francis’ situational ethics. They are afraid that the faithful will panic and be destabilised. But today more than ever the Catholic faithful are called to maturity in the faith. They must be mature Christians, worthy of the Sacrament of Confirmation received. They must have a healthy critical spirit which leads them not to follow the Pope fanatically but with discernment. In this way they can help him more quickly and easily with fraternal or filial correction when necessary. Our fidelity to Jesus Christ demands that we be vigilant and not allow the pressures of this world to install moral relativism in our Church.
J-H Westen: Many of the faithful believe that the Pope cannot make errors…
Fr. J. Missigbètò: Yes and no. In reality, many of the faithful do not fully understand the dogma of papal infallibility. Can the Pope be wrong? The answer is first of all ‘no’ because he is protected from error when he uses the dogma of infallibility: “the Roman Pontiff, when he speaks ex cathedra, that is when in discharge of his office of Pastor and Doctor of all Christians he defines by virtue of his supreme Apostolic authority that a doctrine on faith or morals is to be accepted by the universal Church, possesses, by the divine assistance promised to him in blessed Peter, that infallibility which the divine Redeemer willed his Church should be endowed in defining doctrine on faith or morals; consequently such definitions of the Roman Pontiff are irreformable by themselves and not by the consent of the Church.” (Vatican Council I, First Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus on the Church of Christ, Chapter 4, July 18, 1870)
This implies that “infallibility is not to be confused with inspiration, which is a positive divine influence that moves and controls a human agent in what he says or writes… Infallibility pertains to safeguarding and explaining the truths already revealed by God, and contained within the deposit of faith which was closed with the death of the last apostle… it does not inspire a pope to teach what is true or even defend revealed truths, nor does it ‘make the pope’s will the ultimate standard of truth and goodness’, but simply prevents him from teaching error under certain limited conditions.” (The Remnant, November 18, 2014)
Can the Pope be wrong? The answer is ‘yes’ when he is not speaking ex cathedra. Unfortunately, this is what happened when Pope Francis did not want to use the protection of infallibility or that of true collegiality for certain statements on important matters.
J-H Westen: Some people think that you are against Pope Francis…
Fr. J. Missigbètò: No, I am opposed to Pope Francis but I am not against Pope Francis. To be an opponent does not mean to be an adversary. Jesus Our Lord said: “Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent.” (Revelation 3:19). If I were against Pope Francis, if I did not desire the salvation of his soul, I would have kept quiet to leave him in error: it is more convenient to keep quiet than to speak. He who gives you a fraternal or filial correction so that you improve is not against you but for you and with you.
When you are wrong and someone has the courage to risk his life, his work, his position, his friendships and his reputation to tell you to your face that you are wrong, you must respect and thank him, because he has the courage that courtiers, adulterers and hypocrites do not have. What I am saying here also applies to heads of state. They should love their opponents and thank them because through opposition one can become better. That is why I especially appreciate the courage of St. Paul when he publicly corrected St. Peter in Antioch (cf. Galatians 2:11-14). St. Paul will always remain in the Church a good example to imitate in case of serious problems. Here I would like to congratulate the courage of some cardinals and bishops: Cardinal Brandmüller, Cardinal Burke, Cardinal Müller, Archbishop Schneider, Archbishop Viganò, Archbishop Aguer, and the late Cardinals Caffarra and Meisner.
J-H Westen: You did not mention Cardinal Robert Sarah…
Fr. J. Missigbètò: I love Cardinal Sarah very much. First of all by instinct, since I am African like him. But it is above all because he preaches the truth of Christ. His teaching is clear and limpid. You can see that he does not want to please the world but God. So he is courageous. I have no doubt about that. However, there is a step that he has not yet taken and which has disappointed some of the faithful in the Church: the step of St. Paul.
J-H Westen: You did not mention the Spanish bishop José Ignacio Munilla. We can see that in your tweets you sometimes reply to his tweets by opposing him.
Fr. J. Missigbètò: I also love Bishop Munilla very much. Firstly because I attended a beautiful Mass for the ordination of a priest from my country, which he celebrated in San Sebastian (Spain) in 2010. But above all it is because he too preaches the truth of Christ and is an excellent communicator. His teaching is faithful to that of the Apostles. Bishop Munilla is courageous because faithfully communicating the Gospel in today’s world requires courage. However, he too has not yet taken the step of St. Paul.
I will cite just one example relating to President Biden’s recent trip to the Vatican. As is well known, he is a great promoter of abortion. He claimed that not only did the Pope not talk to him about abortion, but that he told him that he is a good Catholic and that he can continue to receive the Eucharist. Bishop Munilla then publicly attacked the morality of President Biden and said nothing about the morality of Pope Francis. However, viewed objectively, the Pope’s moral responsibility in this episode is far greater than Biden’s. No denial of Biden’s words came from the Vatican, which is not only a moral inconsistency but also a bad example for the faithful of the Church.
J-H Westen: With your activism, aren’t you afraid of being excommunicated by Pope Francis?
Fr. J. Missigbètò: He who holds the truth is not afraid of going to prison, even if he would like to avoid it. When St. Peter publicly received the fraternal and filial correction of St. Paul, he did not excommunicate him. On the contrary, he humbly reconsidered his action and rectified it, for the good of the Church. Moreover, history has preserved his beautiful praise of St. Paul (cf. 2 Peter 3:15-16). If Pope Francis excommunicates me it would be a great pity because sooner or later, nolens volens, the truth will triumph. Even if those in power today refuse to admit it, they will not be able to escape the impartial judgment of history. The Christians of tomorrow, who will be neither partisans nor adulterers, will judge them and restore the truth. This will obviously tarnish the image and memory of those who today refuse to rectify. This is another reason for rectification.
J-H Westen: What does Opus Dei, your spiritual family, think about all this?
Fr. J. Missigbètò: I will be brief about Opus Dei, since I promised Maike Hickson of LifeSiteNews an interview about my experience there since I was 17. It is the spiritual family that gave me the training I have, and as I promised God to be faithful to my vocation I cannot leave it. But I intend to help it to overcome its errors. The authorities of the prelature have already warned me that I could be expelled. But I hope they won’t make the error of sacrificing me on the altar of adulation and hypocrisy, otherwise it will create discontent within Opus Dei itself. The reason is simple: what I am fighting for today has always been what Opus Dei taught when John Paul II and Benedict XVI were leading the Church.
J-H Westen: With your real name, Janvier Gbénou, you signed the ‘Bethlehem Declaration’ (December 15, 2021) against COVID vaccines using aborted foetal cells. Why did you sign?
Fr. J. Missigbètò: Indeed! Fr. Jesusmary Missigbètò is my pen name. In my humble opinion, there is a moral inconsistency in not distinguishing between ethical and unethical vaccines. Apparently the Vatican puts all vaccines on the same footing but this seems unfair to aborted children and indirectly encourages abortion. This is situation ethics. But the end does not justify the means. Here, St. Thomas Aquinas’ response is appropriate: “It often happens that man acts with a good intention, but without spiritual gain, because he lacks a good will. Let us say that someone robs in order to feed the poor: in this case, even though the intention is good, the uprightness of the will is lacking. Consequently, no evil done with a good intention can be excused. ‘There are those who say: And why not do evil that good may come? Their condemnation is just.’ (Rom 3:8)” (Opuscula Theologica II, cf. Veritatis Splendor 78)
J-H Westen: What do you think of what is happening at present with the motu propio TraditionisCustodes and its application, which is causing a lot of trouble for traditional Catholics?
Fr. J. Missigbètò: They are living martyrs of the Eucharist. At Christmas, it was really poignant and sad to look at the photos of them celebrating midnight Mass in the street and in the rain. What is happening to us? Do we really love Jesus in the Eucharist? Traditionalists are not outsiders or zombies. They are Catholics like us. They are our sisters and brothers. What is happening now seems surreal. A liturgical war has just been created in our Church, while Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI had already left, through the motu propio Summorum Pontificum, the conditions for a magnificent liturgical peace between the pre-Vatican II rite and the post-Vatican II rite. This war is all the more strange because in the West we advocate religious freedom. I will add only one question: If in the East, several liturgical traditions coexist peacefully, why would this be impossible in the West?
J-H Westen: But the problem is the acceptance of the Second Vatican Council…
Fr. J. Missigbètò: Yes, but is forcing people to accept it really the best solution? It could cause injustice to traditionalist Catholics and unnecessary tension in the Church. There are already too many wars in the world. The Catholic Church needs peace: liturgical, doctrinal, moral and pastoral peace. Personally, I adhere to Vatican II because the real problem is not Vatican II but the hermeneutics of Vatican II. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI has pointed this out very well on various occasions. I give a simple example: when Jesus said “if any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26), the problem is not in the words of Christ for those who remember that Jesus also said “as I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34). The problem lies in the exaggerated interpretation that forgets that Jesus’ initial phrase is motivated by the first commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30).
J-H Westen: What solution do you see then?
Fr. J. Missigbètò: Reflection and dialogue in order to obtain a free adhesion of hearts. Today, one has the impression that there is a certain dictatorship to make people accept a certain interpretation of Vatican II which, paradoxically, contradicts certain points of Vatican II. Just a few examples to better understand this situation… Vatican II said: “The Church acknowledges Gregorian chant as specially suited to the Roman liturgy: therefore, other things being equal, it should be given pride of place in liturgical services.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 116). But is this the case in the world today? Vatican II said: “In accordance with the centuries-old tradition of the Latin rite, the Latin language is to be retained by clerics in the divine office. But in individual cases the ordinary has the power of granting the use of a vernacular translation to those clerics for whom the use of Latin constitutes a grave obstacle to their praying the office properly.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 101). But today, has not the exception become the rule, to the point that we even want to impose this exception on everyone?
Vatican II said nothing about the disposition of the altar, which implies that it accepts both the disposition versus populum and that ad apsidem (ad orientem). Both arrangements have advantages and disadvantages… Jesus and the Apostles celebrated versus populum. In publishing the new Roman Missal of 1969, Pope St. Paul VI favoured this arrangement. However, the ad apsidem orientation (which allows for greater recollection on the part of the priest) has remained traditional in the Church for many centuries. Why, today, contrary to Vatican II, do we want to exclude this ad apsidem orientation absolutely? To traditionalist Catholics, I would say that it is risky to contradict an ecumenical council unless one has a really solid basis for doing so. Following the spirit of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the best attitude seems to be that of re-reading Vatican II and rediscovering the beauty of its message. If we read Vatican II with the right hermeneutic, it is certainly possible to achieve peace. Tradition can then be harmoniously linked with modernity (which should not be confused with modernism).
J-H Westen: I left my most important question for last: in your opinion, is Pope Francis a heretic?
Fr. J. Missigbètò: It is not for me to answer this question. Formally, that is up to the College of Bishops or the College of Cardinals or the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Personally, I would say: “Errare humanum est!” If Pope Francis did not want to use the means of protection that Christ gave him to protect himself from error, then he may be wrong. But that is forgivable because error is human. What is not forgivable is to continue to be in error when others make it clear that we are in error. In Catholic Tradition, not wanting to correct a doctrinal or moral error is called heresy: “Heresy is the obstinate denial or obstinate doubt after the reception of baptism of some truth which is to be believed by divine and Catholic faith” (Code of Canon Law 751). I, for one, absolutely do not want the Pope of my Church to be a heretic. That is not good, neither for him nor for the Church. That is why, since November 21, 2020, I have been fighting for the rectification of Pope Francis. Nothing is lost. There is still time to rectify: humility has always been a beautiful and necessary virtue. Moreover, rectification is not optional; otherwise there would also be a situational ethic in this. If we are aware of significant errors we have an obligation to rectify them, otherwise we are moving away from the truth and approaching a lie.
J-H Westen: Fr. Jesusmary, what would be your last message?
Fr. J. Missigbètò: Jesus and John the Baptist were young (about 30 years old) when they started preaching. Their elders in Israel thought them rude, arrogant and rigid. But, in reality, it was the love of God, souls and truth that made them non-conformists, with a courage and boldness to speak in public. Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea went beyond prejudice and then understood and loved Jesus.
Thank you very much for going beyond prejudice and responding to my call. Thank you to the media who trust me. I am not Martin Luther who was against the papacy and the Tradition of the Catholic Church. It is true that I am not erudite, nor an expert in theology or morals or philosophy. In fact, I do not wish to be one, because I prefer to stick to the talents that God has given me and not to covet those of others. I am a simple priest who loves Jesus and Mary and the Church and the Pope and who refuses to give his faithful the moral teaching of the 266th Pope which contradicts that of his 265 predecessors.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State, said that Pope Francis was bringing a new paradigm for the Catholic Church. Innovation in itself is not a bad thing. But what good is a new paradigm if it leads the Church into moral relativism? If the cardinals and bishops look at my texts and see that I am right and let Pope Francis go out of this world without rectifying, they would have done him the worst possible service, for before God every soul has eternal value, let alone that of a pope. If the Pope is seriously mistaken, the cardinals and bishops have a grave moral obligation to tell him so in private, and if he does not want to rectify, they must tell the People of God so as to preserve them from error, in accordance with the words of Jesus in the Gospel: “tell the church” (Matthew 18:17). And this, even at the cost of their lives or careers.