Transcript of life and family leaders’ pleas to the Pope
July 14, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – The following is the transcript of the pleas to Pope Francis in yesterday's video of pro-life and pro-family leaders, including Bishop Athanasius Schneider. Find Wednesday's story and the video here.
Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Auxiliary of Maria Santissima, Kazakhstan
We are living in a very special time of a deep crisis of faith inside the Church. It is not a secret. It is very evident. A lot of people, the simple faithful, are suffering because of the situation of confusion.
It is very urgent that the Pope states more clearly, in a very unambiguous manner — in such a manner which will not leave any space for misinterpretations — [on] the issues of family and the sacredness of marriage, and especially on the topic which is now causing very much confusion in the Church after the publication of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, [namely] on the topic of the admittance of the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion.
Once admitting the divorced and remarried to Holy Communion without [first] demanding of them to live in continence and to not violate their sacramental bonds of marriage — not demanding of them to repent and to make a very serious intention not to sin in the future, and so, dispensing them from this — we are at the same time destroying, desecrating, three sacraments which Christ gave us: the sacrament of penance, the sacrament of Eucharist, and the sacrament of marriage.
It's urgent that our Holy Father Pope Francis may issue or may order that the Holy See may issue a very precise, unambiguous declaration clarifying that it is impossible — and against the uninterrupted and unchangeable doctrine and practice of the Church [and] it is against the word of God to destroy with one strike three sacraments — [to] admit the divorce to holy communion without demanding of them continence and serious conversion.
And so, let us pray for our Holy Father, whom we love, that he may have the courage to speak with the same clarity and with the same courage as Christ spoke, as Peter spoke.
John-Henry Westen, Editor-in-chief, LifeSiteNews.com; Co-founder, Voice of the Family
Right from the beginning of Pope Francis' reign we found some very difficult things to deal with, particularly as the pro-life movement.
There's been a lot of ambiguity, purposeful ambiguity, leaving things open so that there is confusion. And I think that it does a great deal of harm. You have this scenario where people start to wonder what exactly the teaching is. This is a horror – that Catholics, who believe and love the faith, are now confused on the fundamentals of the faith in these areas where the teaching means life or death, and I don't mean only physical life or death; it means eternal life or death.
In the Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, he writes that the Catholic Church has in marriage preparation almost an exclusive focus on procreation to the exclusion of unity and love within a marriage. I don't know about you, but I know lots of people who have gone through marriage preparation. [They tell me:] ‘When do they mention procreation, ever?’ And this loss of touch with reality, the reality of what is actually going on in the Church, is one of the most concerning things I see.
I love the Holy Father. I pray for him every day. And I [raise these concerns] out of great love for the Church. But we need to work for Christ and his truth. And I need to defend my own family, and [statements he has made are] a threat to the faith of my children.
John Smeaton, President, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children; Co-founder, Voice of the Family
I say this with huge reverence for the Holy Father and with attention to common advantage. What he has written is justifying adulterous acts. We are already hearing of couples who, on the basis of what you have written, Holy Father, have decided to give up their heroic virtue and fall into objective mortal sin, and to come forward to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ.
I know of Catholics, as I am sure many Catholics know [of such ones], who have been deserted by their spouse, who has gone on to live in an adulterous second union, and they're left with the children, or perhaps left without the children. But the children, now, and on the basis of what you have written in Amoris Laetitia, they see the mother and father who have deserted the family nest going to Holy Communion. What message does that send to them about the indissolubility of marriage? It sends them the message that marriage is not indissoluble at all.
How is it possible to reconcile what you have written with the teaching of the Church, with a tradition of the Church?
This is — and I say this with great reverence — a grave error. And I beg you to withdraw it. I shall be writing to my own local bishop to the same effect. And I will be asking everybody I know to do the same. Because, I think that this is, arguably, the worst thing that has happened in the history of the Church. But you can change that. And I pray for you every day, Holy Father.
Colleen Bayer, President, Family Life International New Zealand; Papal Dame in the Order of St. Gregory the Great
Holy Father, there are so many things during your pontificate that have troubled our souls.
And I wrote to you. I wanted to come and see you. I wanted you to meet our family and to show you, on the ground level, how our families live, what are the deep concerns — deep in our souls — and [the concerns] of the so many Catholic families who are living heroic and good wholesome lives.
They want to be encouraged by you, Holy Father. They want to know that you care, that it is not irresponsible to have more than two or three children, that it is indeed honorable to bring up young Catholic families. They are the future of our Church. They are the future of society.
But we have this deep pain, deep in our souls. And I want to tell you, personally. I want you to meet our children with Down’s syndrome. We want you to meet our little girl who is deaf and who has severe heart defects. We want you to meet our psychiatrically disturbed son and our daughter and our grandchildren.
And you know, when I wrote to you Holy Father, I was prepared — and my darling husband was prepared — to take a mortgage out on our home to come. That's what we wanted to do. We would sell everything off to come to Santa Martha, to meet you, personally, and to present our family to you as an example of the many families who are suffering around the world, living courageous lives and who love their faith.
The ambiguous statements that we read, the confusion that we see on a daily basis, it hurts us deeply. And we want to know personally from you, is it the media, is it people behind you [who twist your words], because we can't believe that our beloved Holy Father, doesn't say ‘this,’ or says ‘that.’ We want you to tell us personally. Can you do that for us, Holy Father? Please.
Fr. Linus Clovis, Canon Lawyer and Spiritual Director of Family Life International
Some 34 years ago, I was ordained a deacon in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. And I remember very clearly the Archbishop giving me the Scriptures and saying, ‘Believe what you read, preach what you believe, and practice what you preach.’
This has always remained with me. One thing as a Catholic that I have always appreciated is that clarity with which Holy Mother Church speaks, and in particular, the successor of Peter, our Holy Father the pope. As a Catholic, I love the pope. We Catholics love the Pope, because as St. Catherine of Siena said, ‘He is sweet Jesus on earth for us.’
In the last two years, things have become very difficult for us Catholics, because, Holy Father, you have not been speaking clearly and have left much confusion, much concern among the faithful, who have only one desire: to love God above all things and to love our neighbor as ourselves – and this for the sake of our salvation.
And we love you very much, Holy Father. And what we ask, especially with this Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, we ask for clarity, for certainty in what we believe. We ask for confirmation of the Church’s perennial teaching, not just the Church’s teaching, but what Christ himself has said to us, has told us, about the sacredness of marriage, of the dignity of the human person. The family is the foundation of society. We know this. But if the foundation, the cornerstone, is removed, the whole society will collapse.
And so, I beseech you Holy Father, for our salvation, for the salvation of each and every little one — for the little ones — to give us again the clarity and the certainty of what Our Lord Jesus Christ has given to the apostles and to us for the sake of the salvation of our souls. And we, all of us throughout the world, will continue to pray for you and to ask you to be a father to us.
Dr. Lisa Nolland, Anglican Mainstream, Marriage, Sex, and Culture Committee Chair
I am an Evangelical Anglican. The Pope as well as the Archbishop of Canterbury are facing huge challenges from the pan-sexual revolution. I think they are trying their best, [but] I am very worried about what they are not saying, particularly about how we are losing freedom of conscience, number one.
Number two, we are not addressing the LGBT agenda, I think, in the best way.
And, [number three,] we don't seem to be aware of how this revolution is taking over the entire West. So I pray for them, and encourage you to do the same.
Prof. Thomas Stark, Benedict XVI Academy of Philosophy and Theology, University of St. Polten, Austria
We are facing a quite complicated situation in the Church right now, because our Holy Father says and does things that create a lot of confusion amongst the faithful. And now we have an important Church document, the Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which seems to be open to several interpretations, which can be read through several so-called hermeneutics.
I think this is a problem because we had Church documents in the past, for example, Familiaris Consortio, which was crystal clear, as, for instance, the documents from the Council of Trent were crystal clear. The faithful really don't know whom they should follow or whose interpretation they should follow.
I would ask the Holy Father to make clear what the Church teaching is, to make clear that the Church teaching can't be changed. And, the Holy Father should say that the Church teaching has been the same [since] Our Lord Jesus Christ founded it.
We should pray for the Holy Father and for [his] wisdom and for the Holy Spirit to help him to make clear what the Church teaching is and to end this confusion that we have amongst the Catholic faithful.
Christine Vollmer, Founder, Latin American Alliance for Life; Founding member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life
We need a lot of leadership from the top. We need leadership to teach, to show, young people who are founding families how to found them, how to make a solid basis for [them], and particularly — something which is absolutely being lost — the joy of big families. And I think in the Joy of Love [Amoris Laetitia], which our Holy Father has spoken so beautifully about, not enough was said about the joy of the big family.
And I think that we need our hierarchy, particularly our bishops, and after them our priests, to speak to couples, and to warn them of the dangers of the contraceptive mentality, the dangers of shutting God out from having a say about how many children you are going to have – this business of, ‘We are only going to have two, and that's it.’
Contraception has destroyed a number of churches already. Today, the Anglican church is empty. They have few vocations. And it's because this vital connection between the love of a husband and wife and the love of the Church — the love of God and trust in his providence — was broken in the Anglican Church. And now it would seem that it is being broken in the Catholic Church, in spite of Paul VI’s agonized, but inspired, encyclical Humanae Vitae.
I'll quote Bishop Gore, who was the Anglican bishop who spearheaded the defense, and lost, of the Anglican Church in the 30s. He said, ‘If the church accepts contraception, the church will be destroyed.’ That was his main cry. And, in fact, that is what happened.
If the Catholic Church finally gives in to contraception, the Church will be destroyed. This is something which is being lost so quickly. I just implore [the Pope] to speak about the importance of the numerous family and the dangers of the contraceptive mentality. Teach our bishops that they must stand strong and they must explain that the contraceptive mentality destroys families, it destroys countries, and it will destroy our Christian civilization.
Matthew McCusker, Deputy International Director, SPUC; Researcher, Voice of the Family
Being an English Catholic, the papacy is very important because many of our martyrs died for the papacy, and we have great reverence for the papacy. What we have always found over many centuries is that the papacy is a rock of the truth, of clarity, leading us to Christ.
In these difficult times, when we look towards Rome and see confusion, and we don't see any longer a clear profession of our faith, it is very disconcerting for very many people.
Today, when the family is under such great attack from national governments and International organizations, we need, more than ever, that clarity from the Holy See that we have had for so many centuries. This is why it is so difficult for so many people when we see misleading statements, even erroneous statements, in Amoris Laetitia and in other documents.
We really do pray for the Holy Father and request of the Holy Father great clarity in teaching, that we can all be led into the joy of the truth and into the joy of living in accordance with the truth.
Preston Noell, Director, American Society for Tradition, Family, and Property
I would like to say, first of all, that ever since the Holy Father was elected Pope, I have been praying for him. He has been a perpetual intention for me every single day.
We see that the family is under attack. It is in a state of crisis. We know that the family is the basic cell of society. When the basic sell of society becomes rotten, it drags all of society down with it.
The situation only becomes worse, however, when added to the fact that the family is crumbling, some people — including some Catholics, maybe even a large number of Catholics — come to think or believe that marriage can be dissolved – which of course, it cannot be. We see the effects this has in society when, given this circumstance — this situation that the West certainly finds itself in — (enter stage right) Amoris Laetitia is brought onto the scene. Instead of receiving what we would hope to find, a buttressing and strengthening of the sacred institutions of holy matrimony and marriage-and-the-family, we see something like gasoline being thrown on the fire.
This is very troubling to us. What we would really hope to see is that this would be turned around. We need to pray to the Holy Ghost to inspire the Church, to inspire our leaders, to inspire the Holy Father — as I mentioned, for whom I pray every single day — to help turn the situation around, to strengthen the family. Because if not, I fear we perish.
Fr. Elias Leyds, Congregation of St. John; Program Director, Radio Maria - Netherlands
That is what people do the day of their marriage: They choose an absolute truth. Now, that dogma is in danger today. It is very good to defend that dogma.
That reminds me of the very first counsel organized in the Church, when St. Paul called St. Peter to help the Church establish clarity about intercommunion with other religions and about marriage.
The conclusion of that first Council of Jerusalem was that you should not go to intercommunion with other faiths, other religions, and you should not commit adultery. It is kind of odd that due to a lack of clearness in some of the footnotes in Amoris Laetitia, we are back at this first council.
It reminds me of the extreme gravity of the office of St. Peter.
I hope that we get clarity today again, so that we can really live a life according to the truth.
Patrick McCrystal, Director, Human Life International Ireland
Holy Father, Amoris Laetitia: There are thousands, if not millions, of souls whose faith is like a bruised reed, a flickering flame. I plead with you — I love you, I love your papacy, I love your office — I plead with you to clarify the ambiguity of Amoris Laetitia for the sake of the salvation of souls. God bless you.
Molly Smith, President, Cleveland Right to Life; President, National Personhood Alliance (USA)
I think one of the things that I am most concerned about when I look at this papacy and Pope Francis (firstly, number one, I have to say that I pray for him daily, absolutely daily, because I realize the position that he is in, and the world climate that he has come into is just unprecedented). But, I do feel that he needs to be more explicit because of the climate that he is in. I think that some of the statements that he has been making are causing incredible confusion, almost scandal, within the laity.
And I look just to families that I am dealing with in the work that I do – in the marriage and family work that I am involved with. You hear stories all the time of our young children, our teenagers, being totally confused by the comments that are coming out of the Vatican, coming out from Pope Francis himself.
Things [such as] homosexuality is just a lifestyle, the divorce issue, and divorced couples receiving Holy Communion. This is very confusing for young people who have been brought up in the faith, whose parents have done the best that they can two impart the faith to their children, and then to have this kind of confusion coming from [the top], and many times it's been passed on through the pulpit.
We need to do something to be able to help — to pray for the pope, for sure — but also to be able to somehow express to the papacy, and to the Vatican, that this kind of confusion is it destructive.
Prof. Roberto de Mattei, Professor, European University of Rome; Founder, Lepanto Foundation
In my opinion, we live in a very difficult moment, perhaps one of the most dramatic moments in the history of the Church. The problem is serious because the current crisis is within the Church itself. I am sure that the solution can come only [through] the Holy Father.
The evidence is that the last pontifical document, the Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, is a document which has catastrophic consequences.
As a historian, and as a simple baptized man, I see the concrete consequences in the life of the Church. And the terrible impact of this document is that many souls are today in a deep crisis of conscience. There is the possibility that a great number of souls will lose their eternal life. In my view, the true life is, above all, the spiritual life. More than the physical life, the spiritual life of souls is today in great danger. We have to react against this.
Patrick Buckley, United Nations consultant to SPUC; Member, Holy See NGO Forum
In the words of our Holy Father, ‘I am a son of the Church.’ I pray regularly for the Holy Father. But I have to expressed grave concern about the new Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, which is causing confusion among the faithful, and leading to different interpretations and practices on the issue of Communion for the divorced and remarried.
It's all the more difficult to understand why these synods were necessary when I think that there already was a perfectly good Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, which was written by John Paul II. What I see now is that there will be grave confusion between which one is the more correct. What I see is confusion, rather than anything else.
What I would like to see is that the current exhortation should be withdrawn in favor of the original one, Familiaris Consortio, which really says everything we need to know.
Dr. Thomas Ward, Founder & President, National Association of Catholic Families; Corresponding Member, Pontifical Academy for Life
I have lectured in many countries on the issue of the parent as the primary educator, and indeed, protector of his children. And this is vitally important, because if we lose civil rights on all aspects, we still must protect our children.
I want to touch upon the primary educator, section 84 in the Apostolic Exhortation [Amoris Laetitia], and I must say that this is a good part, a fine part, of the Exhortation.
I'll quote some points: “That the parental right to educate is an overall most serious duty. It is a primary right. It is essential and it is inalienable.”
Now, this section, two sections of the exhortation, 84 and 85, come fairly early on in the Exhortation. Many sections later, section 280, separate and almost distinct from the real issue of sexual education we learn this: Number 280 – there is an emphasis on psychological aspects, educationalists, teachers, but there is no mention of parents. And this is in a section headed, ‘The need for sexual education’
The document says that the institutions have failed. But still, it makes no mention of parents. It speaks of a new and more appropriate language for teaching sexuality. I know who produces that language. It is the birth control lobby. It speaks of a healthy sense of modesty. [Imagine], teaching a healthy sense of modesty in class? It is only the family in the parents who can do this.
It asks, ‘Who speaks of these things today?’
I say, ‘Parents do.’
It asks, ‘Who is capable of taking young people seriously?’
I say, ‘parents are.’
It asks, ‘Who helps them to prepare seriously for a greater and generous love.’
I say, ‘Parents do.’
My question is, ‘Why our parents excluded [from this important section of the document]?’
It goes on to say, ‘But, it is also true that masculinity and femininity are not rigid categories.’
How can anyone say this when we have this onslaught of gender madness, gender ideology?
When I look at this document, I am deeply, deeply saddened.