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Vatican theologian: Pope contradicts his ‘mercy’ saying it’s better to be ‘atheist’ than hypocrite

Diane Montagna Diane Montagna Follow Diane

ROME, January 10, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A prominent theologian has challenged Pope Francis’s recent off-the-cuff remarks implying it’s better to be an atheist than a Christian who hates, saying the Pope sometimes “slips into a contradictory vision” and “schizophrenia that clashes with the very idea of mercy” he seeks to promote.

In a Jan. 4 interview with the Italian daily Quotidiano di Foggia, Monsignor Nicola Bux, a theologian consultor to the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, said “certain statements, if they fall on weak or unaware groups, are dangerous and have detrimental effects.” With such remarks, he said, “we risk emptying the churches even more.”

Msgr. Bux’s comments came two days after Pope Francis said at his first Wednesday general audience of 2019 that it is better to be an atheist that go to Church while hating and speaking ill of others. 

In his Jan. 2 catechesis to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope said: 

There are people who are able to compose atheistic prayers, without God, and they do so in order to be admired by people. And how often we see the scandal of those people who go to church and are there all day long, or go every day, and then live by hating others or speaking ill of people. This is a scandal! It is better not to go to church: living this way, as if they were atheists. But if you go to church, live as a child, as a brother or sister, and bear true witness, not a counter-witness. Christian prayer, however, has no other credible witness than one’s own conscience, where one weaves a most intense dialogue with the Father: “when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret” (6:6).

In his Jan. 4 interview, Monsignor Bux said he believes “certain” off-the-cuff comments from the Pope (such as those above) come from a “discomfort he nurtures toward the Church.”

Pope Francis “prefers a vision of the Church as an indistinct people” over [this vision] understood in its true sense,” he said. “He doesn’t realize, however, that he slips into a contradictory and peronist vision, a schizophrenia that clashes with the very idea of mercy so widespread and followed.”

“If I say that those who hate — and therefore are effectively in a state of sin — are right to stay outside the Church, and at the same time I affirm that we need to let the divorced and civilly remarried enter — who equally are sinners — by giving them communion, something that is impossible, I fall into contradiction,” Bux explained. 

“Both parties, in fact, are in sin. So why be strict with those who hate and merciful with the divorced and remarried?,” he added. 

This is not the first time Msgr. Bux has spoken out against statements of the current pontificate.

In a forceful with Aldo Maria Valli in Nov. 2018, Bux warned that the current pontificate is issuing statements that are generating “heresies, schisms, and controversies of various kinds” and that the Holy Father should issue a profession of faith to restore unity in the Church.

In the Nov. interview, Bux also described the Pope’s vision of the Church as a federation of ecclesial communities — saying it is “a bit like the Protestant communities.”The former consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Benedict XVIalso took issue specifically with recent confusion over whether to admit divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to Holy Communion, and the Pope’s decision last August to change the Catechism on the death penalty. 

In his more recent interview, Msgr. Bux also takes issue with Pope Francis’s repeated claim that the Gospel is “revolutionary,” saying the idea is more reminiscent of 1970s Marxism than it is of Holy Writ.

The Pope cannot “propagate his private ideas instead of those belonging to perennial Catholic truth,” Bux said. “He isn’t a private doctor, and it’s not an option to modify at will or offer versions that clash with Catholic doctrine and the deposit of the faith.”

Read a LifeSite translation of the full interview with Msgr. Bux below.

***

Quotidiano di Foggia (QdF): Don Nicola, is the Gospel “revolutionary” as the Pope has said?

Monsignor Nicola Bux: No. This is a thesis that was going around in the ‘70s, after the publication of several books, and shows traces of the ideas of 1968 and Marxism. It came out to make the figure of Jesus more attractive, but it has no theological foundation.

QdF: Why?

Msgr. Bux: The Gospel itself tells us that Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it, and that alone would be enough. A revolution that is respected does not spare the past or even what already exists (the status quo). Jesus, on the contrary, is the One who recapitulates, according to the beautiful expression of St. Paul, he “unites all things in himself (Eph. 1:10). It is true that in the Book of Revelation it is written that he makes all things new, but that verse must be understood as a bringing to completion.

QdF: Is it better to be atheists than Christians who hate?

Msgr. Bux: I believe the problem comes when the Pope moves away from the written text they prepare for him and raises his eyes to the audience. My sense is that certain statements, in addition to providing a certain self-satisfaction, arise from a discomfort he nurtures toward the Church. Pope Francis prefers a vision of the Church as an indistinct people, over [this vision] understood in its true sense. He doesn’t realize, however, that he slips into a contradictory and peronist vision, a schizophrenia that clashes with the very idea of mercy so widespread and followed.”

QdF: Why?

Msgr. Bux: If I say that those who hate — and therefore are effectively in a state of sin — are right to stay outside the Church, and at the same time I affirm that we need to let the divorced and civilly remarried enter — who equally are sinners — by giving them communion, something that is impossible, I fall into contradiction. Both parties, in fact, are in sin. So why be strict with those who hate and merciful with the divorced and remarried? 

Let’s return to the theme of Peronism. What happens is that, paradoxically, one wants to let those who are outside in, but then those who are inside leave. Certain statements, if they fall on weak or unaware groups, are dangerous and have deleterious effects. We risk emptying the churches even more.

QdF: And so?

Msgr. Bux: It’s an underlying issue. Can the Pope propagate his private ideas instead of those belonging to perennial Catholic truth? No. He isn’t a private doctor, and it’s not an option to modify at will or to give versions that clash with Catholic doctrine and the deposit of the faith, which is not a museum, and also here there’s more to say.

QdF: Please, go on.

Msgr. Bux: If museums were filled with useless stuff, nobody would visit them, would they? The pastors of the Church must always show fidelity to the sound and perennial doctrine and truth without pollution, but guard them with care.

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