Editor's note: This analysis has been written by a priest who asked that it be published anonymously over concern of being disciplined for raising concerns about a papal document.
May 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – I said it right from the beginning, when Amoris Laetitia was first published, with its infamous Chapter 8 that allows individual conscience to trump objective moral law and thus effectively eliminate the notion of intrinsic moral evil: The real issue is not Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. After all, Pope Francis had already streamlined the annulment process, to allow declarations of nullity which were generally easy to attain, to be even easier. The real issue is all about sodomy, and normalizing — even blessing — this behavior called by the Catechism “intrinsically disordered.” In what follows, I’ll try to “connect the dots” in order to clarify the bigger picture.
Recall that no. 50 of the first draft of the document for the first synod on the family in October, 2014 stated that, “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer the Christian community,” and then asked if our communities are “capable of . . . accepting and valuing their sexual orientation” – implying those who practice homosexual behaviors have special “gifts and qualities” over and above everyone else, and that their same-sex attraction — called by the Catechism “objectively disordered” — should be “accepted and valued.” (1)
Although this language never appeared in Amoris Laetitia (AL), the fact that it was inserted into a preliminary working document with Pope Francis’s approval and was then read to the assembled bishops in his presence, is most telling. This language provides a key to understand how Chapter 8 of AL has been interpreted, so as to allow not only those in second civil marriages (and committing adultery) to be admitted to Holy Communion, but also those in same same-sex unions (and engaging in sodomy) – as long as they are “accompanied” by a priest, engage in “discernment,” and follow their “conscience.” (2)
This homosexualist agenda continued to be pushed forward by those who participated in a “secret synod” held in May 2015 at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, the purpose of which was to persuade those who participated in the then-upcoming second synod on the family to accept same-sex unions, dispense with the term ‘intrinsically evil,’ and introduce a controversial “theology of love.” (3) As National Catholic Register correspondent Edward Pentin reported regarding this assembly:
Around 50 participants, including bishops, theologians and media representatives, took part in the gathering, at the invitation of the presidents of the bishops’ conferences of Germany, Switzerland and France – Cardinal Reinhard Marx, Bishop Markus Büchel and Archbishop Georges Pontier. One of the key topics discussed at the closed-door meeting was how the Church could better welcome those in stable same-sex unions, and reportedly ‘no one’ opposed such unions being recognized as valid by the Church. (4)
This agenda was given voice during the second synod on the family in October, 2015 by Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich, who had been hand-picked by Pope Francis to be a papal delegate at the synod. When asked by Vatican City reporters about Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, Cupich said this was possible if they had “come to a decision in good conscience,” and stressed that “conscience was inviolable” and “we have to respect that when making decisions.”
Cupich was then asked about “accompanying” homosexual couples in receiving Holy Communion, to which he responded, “Gay people are human beings, too; they have a conscience, and my role as a pastor is to help them to discern what the will of God is by looking at the objective moral teaching of the Church.” But he went on to say that “at the same time,” his role as a pastor is to help them “through a period of discernment, to understand what God is calling them to at that point, so it’s for everybody.” He added, “We have to be sure we don’t pigeonhole one group as though they’re not part of the human family, as though there’s a different set of rules for them. That would be a big mistake.” (5)
In other words, if those living in adulterous relationships are able with the help of their pastors to discern, according to their conscience, that they should receive Holy Communion, well then, the same can be done for same-sex couples who engage in sodomy. There is no need to truly repent and firmly resolve to amend one’s life, to “go and sin no more”; one can continue in one’s gravely sinful behavior and still receive the Eucharist. (6) Hence, conscience reigns supreme, and the objective moral order is no more.
Worthy of note is that after having made these statements, which were widely quoted by the news media around the world, Pope Francis raised Blase Cupich to the College of Cardinals.
High-level prelates supporting new paradigm
This same interpretation of Chapter 8 of AL has been confirmed by a host of other high-level prelates – some of whom are cardinals very close to Pope Francis – in the months and years that followed publication of AL. Here are some noteworthy examples.
Recall that it was German Cardinal Walter Kasper, at a consistory of cardinals called by Pope Francis back in February of 2014, who initially proposed allowing the divorced and civilly remarried to receive Holy Communion (the “Kasper proposal”). Soon after the release of AL, Kasper went on record saying that it “seems clear . . . that there can be situations of divorced and remarried where on the way of inclusion, absolution and communion becomes possible”; and that the exhortation “overcomes a rigid casuistic approach and gives room for Christian freedom of conscience.” (7)
Ah, yes, and the appeal to individual conscience as the final arbiter of one’s conduct can likewise apply to those in same-sex relationships, to allow them to be admitted to the Eucharist. Kasper says as much in a new booklet he authored, The Message of Amoris Laetitia: A Fraternal Discussion:
The pope does not leave room for doubt over the fact that civil marriages, de facto unions, new marriages following a divorce (Amoris Laetitia 291) and unions between homosexual persons (Amoris Laetitia 250s.) do not correspond to the Christian conception of marriage”; however, says Kasper, the Pope insists that “some of these partners can realize in a partial and analogous way some elements in Christian marriage (Amoris Laetitia 292). (8)
Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, whom Pope Francis has called an “authoritative interpreter” of Amoris Laetitia, sees AL as allowing Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. (9) In an interview during the 2015 Synod on the Family, he called for the recognition of “positive elements” of homosexual unions, saying: “We can and we must respect the decision to form a union with a person of the same sex, [and] to seek means under civil law to protect their living together with laws to ensure such protection.” Schoenborn went on to criticize “intransigent moralists” among his fellow bishops, whom he accused of having an “obsession with intrinsece malum [intrinsic evils].” (10)
Back in 2006, Schoenborn’s cathedral in Vienna offered a blessing for unmarried couples on Valentine’s Day that included homosexual partners; and in 2016, the bulletin in Schoenborn’s cathedral featured a photograph of two men and an adopted child, presenting them as “family” and a “married couple.” (11)
In an interview back in 2016, German Cardinal Reinhardt Marx, President of the German Bishops’ Conference and one of Pope Francis’s nine cardinal advisers, said that one cannot say same-sex relationships have no “worth”; that the Church should support “regulating” such relationships and that “[w]e as church cannot be against it.” (12) And in interview in January of 2018, Marx said that the Church in her teaching on sexual morality cannot apply a “blind rigorism”; that it is “difficult to say from the outside whether someone is in the state of mortal sin” – a principle which he said applies not only to men and women in “irregular situations,” but also to those in homosexual relationships, because there has to be a “respect for a decision made in freedom” and in light of one’s “conscience.” (13)
In an interview on January 10 of this year, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, Vice-President of the German Bishops’ Conference, made world news when he called for a blessing of homosexual couples: “We have to reflect upon the question of how to assess, in a differentiated manner, a relationship between two homosexual persons . . . . Is there not so much positive and good and right so that we have to be more just?” (14)
And just a few weeks later, news reports throughout the world quoted Cardinal Marx supporting his fellow Bishop Bode in calling for blessings for same-sex couples, saying that the decision should made by “the pastor on the ground, and the individual under pastoral care,” (15) and that such blessing could be performed publicly in a “liturgical” form. (16)
So, members of the Church hierarchy, while acknowledging that homosexual unions are not the “ideal,” have now gone from considering the “positive” elements of such relationships to “blessing” them, and (as it appears) will go on to compose a new liturgical rite which (at least for now) recognizes that while this is not “marriage” in the technical sense, it is a legitimate, alternative form of a relationship which we must “value.”
What is lost here is that by blessing same-sex unions, one in reality is blessing the gravely sinful and “intrinsically disordered” behavior that accompanies it, a sin that, according to revealed word of God and the constant teaching of the Church throughout the ages, “cries out to Heaven for vengeance.” (17) As Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia wisely noted in response to this proposal for a blessing: “Any such ‘blessing rite’ would cooperate in a morally forbidden act”; moreover, to bless such a relationship would actually be uncharitable because it would encourage people to continue living in a state of grave sin which harms them spiritually. Chaput went on to say: “There is no love – no charity – without truth, just as there is no real mercy separated from a framework of justice informed and guided by truth.” (18)
Gerhard Cardinal Mueller, former Prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has recognized these attempts to redefine the Church’s perennial moral teachings by claiming that they represent a “development of doctrine” and a “paradigm shift,” for what they really are: the heresy of modernism. (19) N.Y. Times columnist Ross Douthat has concluded pretty much the same, noting that with Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis and others want Church’s moral teaching to adapt to modern cultural norms. (20)
The real goal of Amoris Laetitia
Call it modernism, call it corruption of doctrine, call it by whatever name one sees fit. I submit that winning moral approval for homosexual behavior is the real goal of Amoris Laetitia, and that this is precisely why the teaching of Humanae Vitae and the Natural Law must be cast aside, which is: that by God’s design, there exists an inseparable link between the unitive and procreative meanings of the marital act, and that the unitive meaning is subordinated to the primary end: procreation. As Couple-to-Couple League founder John Kippley has argued, if the procreative meaning can be eliminated from the marital act, then one is effectively left with no argument against sodomy. And those who promote the sodomite agenda know this.
They know that they must also discard the notion of physical and emotional complementarity of the sexes, (21) as well as the concept of intrinsic moral evil – which in effect means they must overturn the entire moral order. This explains why they are now calling for removing language in the Catechism which states that the same-sex attraction is “objectively disordered,” (22) and that homosexual acts “are acts of grave depravity” which are “intrinsically disordered” and “contrary to the natural law” precisely because they “close the sexual act to the gift of life” and “do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity.” (23)
This also explains why for over a year now we’ve heard talk of “re-examining” the teaching of Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical. Those who desire to cast Humanae Vitae into the trash bin are now showing their hand. Witness Fr. Maurizio Chiodi, who was recently appointed by Pope Francis to the Pontifical Academy of Life. Although St. John Paul II in his 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor (no. 80) specifically includes contraception in a list of acts that are “intrinsically evil,” Fr. Chiodi, in a Dec. 14, 2017 lecture at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, “Humanae Vitae in light of AL,” argued just the opposite: that based on the language of Amoris Laetitia regarding conscience, “an artificial method for the regulation of births could be recognized as an act of responsibility that is carried out, not in order to radically reject the gift of a child, but because in those situations responsibility calls the couple and the family to other forms of welcome and hospitality.” To support his argument, Chiodi says that Amoris Laetitia makes no “explicit reference” to contraception as “intrinsically evil,” adding that “it would have been very easy to do so given Veritatis Splendor.” (24)
Chiodi has been followed by Cardinal Kasper, who in his new booklet, The Message of Amoris Laetitia: A Fraternal Discussion, implies that AL opens the door for the use of contraception. Kasper says that in his exhortation the Pope only “encourages the use of the method of observing the cycles of natural fertility,” and “does not say anything about other methods of family planning and avoids all casuistic definitions.” (25)
More arguments to permit the exclusion of the procreative end of sexual activity are sure to come from those who seek approval of homosexual behavior, because they know that they cannot succeed as long as the teachings of Humanae Vitae and the Natural Law stand.
In this writer’s humble opinion, the fact that cardinals and bishops of the Church are arguing that not only the divorced and civilly remarried, but those in homosexual unions, should be admitted Holy Communion, and that the teaching of Humanae Vitae should be cast aside, reveals that they have lost the theological virtue of faith. The words of the Epistle to the Hebrews aptly describe their sad state:
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, who have both tasted the heavenly gift and become partakers of the Holy Spirit, . . . and then have fallen away, to be renewed again to repentance; since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and make him a mockery. For the earth that drinks in the rain that often falls upon it, and produces vegetation that is of use to those by whom it is tilled, receives a blessing from God; but that which brings forth thorns and thistles is worthless, and is nigh unto a curse, and its end is to be burnt (Heb. 6:4-8).
How should the faithful – bishops, priests, religious and laity – respond to these wicked assaults on God and His beautiful plan for the authentic expression of love, the transmission of human life, the sanctity of marriage and the family? This year marks the 50th anniversary of Humanae Vitae, and thus offers a golden opportunity to celebrate and make better known the teaching in Bl. Paul VI’s 1968 landmark encyclical. We have the magisterium of St. John Paul II to draw upon as well – not only Veritatis Splendor, but his “Theology of the Body.” This year, let us, assisted by the grace of the Holy Spirit and the intercession of Our Lady, valiantly proclaim the splendor of the truth of this teaching, and thereby mount a strong and unshakeable defense against any and all who attack it.
1 https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/reporters-criticize-vatican-for-dropping-welcoming-language-in-new-english (Oct. 16, 2014).
2 See AL nos. 300-305, and footnote 351.
3 https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/new-academy-for-life-member-uses-amoris-to-say-some-circumstances-require-c (Jan. 8, 2017).
4 https://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/confidential-meeting-seeks-to-sway-synod-to-accept-same-sex-unions (May 26, 2015).
5 https://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/abp-cupich-conscience-decides-whether-divorced-remarried-and-homosexual-cou (Oct. 16, 2016). In his Feb. 9, 2018 address at St. Edmund’s College in Cambridge, England, “Pope Francis' Revolution of Mercy: Amoris Laetitia as a New Paradigm of Catholicity,” Cardinal Cupich insisted that “the voice of conscience . . . could very well affirm the necessity of living at some distance from the Church’s understanding of the ideal” – an understanding of conscience which can be applied equally to the divorced and civilly remarried engaged in adulterous conduct, and to those in same-sex unions engaged in sodomy.
6 As a priest and confessor, if a penitent tells me he is sexually active in an invalid marriage or in a same-sex relationship, but insists that he plans to continue his sinful acts, I am obliged to try to bring him to a realization that his subjective opinion regarding his conduct cannot overrule the objective moral law and the clear teaching of Christ; and that I have to follow my conscience and withhold absolution if he is unwilling to firmly resolve to amend his life. If the penitent persists in saying he does not believe he is committing a sin, I would have to tell him: “Then I have nothing to absolve you from”; and then ask him: “Why are you here in the confessional asking to be absolved from a course of conduct you do not believe is sinful?”
7 https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-kasper-seems-clear-exhortation-allows-communion-for-divorced-remar (April 18, 2016).
8 https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-kasper-homosexual-unions-are-analogous-to-christian-marriage (March 14, 2018). In the booklet, Kasper compares such irregular unions with the relationship between the Catholic Church and non-Catholic Christian groups, whom Vatican II says contain “elements of sanctification and truth” of the Church. Kasper insists that “Just as outside the Catholic Church there are elements of the true Church, in the above-mentioned unions there can be elements present of Christian marriage, although they do not completely fulfill, or do not yet completely fulfill, the ideal.” N.B.: Christoph Cardinal Schoenborn made this same argument at the 2014 Synod on the Family – see footnote 10 below.
9 https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/pope-says-schonborn-interpretation-on-communion-for-remarried-is-the-final (April 6, 2016). This position is not new for Schoenborn. At the International Retreat for Priests held in Ars, France in 2009 held during the Year of Priests proclaimed by Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Schoenborn delivered most of the daily meditations, which were, on the whole, very inspiring. But as the retreat drew to a close, the Cardinal announced that he would use his last retreat talk to address topics of concern, and invited priests to submit questions. During his final talk, Schoenborn addressed the issue of Communion for those divorced and civilly remarried. To the surprise and shock of the 1200 priests present, he proceeded to tell them that it was his practice to allow such couples to receive the Eucharist if they remained faithful and committed to each other for many years.
10 https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-schoenborn-at-synod-church-should-embrace-positive-elements-of-gay (Sept. 14, 2015). This article notes that at the 2015 Synod, Schoenborn “proposed an interpretative key” to revolutionize the Church’s approach to family life and sexual ethics by looking at Vatican II’s dogmatic constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, which states: “Although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity [LG 8].” Schoenborn argues that “Because marriage is a Church in miniature,” and just as the Church seeks to find elements of truth in different religions, it follows that “who are we to judge and say that there are no elements of truth and sanctification in them [non-marital sexual lifestyles]?”
11 https://onepeterfive.com/schonborns-vienna-cathedral-bulletin-depicts-homosexual-couple-adopted-son/ (Oct. 6, 2016).
12 https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/cardinal-reinhard-marx-vs.-cardinal-and-saint-peter-damian-do-homosexual-un (Jan. 28, 2016).
13 https://onepeterfive.com/push-for-greater-acceptance-of-homosexual-unions-continues-in-german-church/ (Jan. 19, 2018). This interview appeared in the German Catholic journal Herder Korrespondenz, and the German Bishops’ official website immediately reported on Marx’s statement.
15 https://catholicherald.co.uk/news/2018/02/04/cardinal-marx-suggests-church-should-bless-gay-couples/ (Feb. 4, 2018).
16 https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/one-of-popes-9-advisor-cardinals-proposes-liturgical-blessings-of-homosexua (Feb. 4, 2018).
17 Cf. Gen. 18:20; Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1867.
18 https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/german-cardinal-liturgical-blessing-for-gay-unions-truly-seems-sacrilegious (Feb. 8, 2018).
19 https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2018/02/development-or-corruption (Feb. 20, 2018).
20 See Douthat’s new book, To Change the Church: Pope Francis and the Future of Catholicism (Simon & Schuster, 2018).
21 CCC 2333.
22 CCC 2368.
23 CCC 2357.
24 https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/new-academy-for-life-member-uses-amoris-to-say-some-circumstances-require-c (Jan. 8, 2017). As Diane Montagna relates in this article, “Fr. Chiodi’s talk was introduced by one of the chief organizers of the conference series, Argentine Jesuit Father Humberto Miguel Yanez. Fr. Yanez is the Director of the Department of Moral Theology at the Gregorian University. Yanez is known to be close to Pope Francis, and in fact Bergoglio was Yanez’ religious superior as a young Jesuit. In May 2015, Father Yanez participated in the ‘secret synod’ at the Gregorian” (as discussed herein above).
25 https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/cardinal-kasper-homosexual-unions-are-analogous-to-christian-marriage (March 14, 2018).