Like many, I have been following the reaction to the public questioning of Pope Francis by four highly respected cardinals who are seeking clarity about the pope’s teachings in his apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (the Joy of Love).
Cardinals Walter Brandmüller, Raymond L. Burke, Carlo Caffarra, and Joachim Meisner initially sent a letter to Pope Francis in September expressing five concerns they have about his exhortation.
The cardinals took the step of making their questions public, as they rightfully can do and feel bound to do, because Pope Francis has refused to answer their questions.
Since the release of their questions on November 14, the cardinals have received support from some and have been castigated by others.
The attempt to silence the cardinals, or to brand them as troublemakers, has led one of the pope’s supporters in the Church hierarchy to claim that Francis could strip them of their status as cardinals.
Pope Francis created this problem with the release of Amoris Laetitia, a confused and confusing document written in foggy language that seems to reject the Church’s traditional teaching on the nature of sin and the reception of Holy Communion by the divorced and civilly remarried and others.
The pope has compounded the matter with public statements about the exhortation and by refusing to answer the unequivocal questions of the cardinals.
In off-the-cuff remarks since the exhortation’s release this past March, Francis has suggested that the document does indeed change the Church’s teachings on Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried. A number of his main supporters have also made remarks to this effect. At the same time, they have attempted to create the perception that nothing has changed and that the document is fully in line with Church teaching.
Without clarity about what this muddy document actually teaches, Amoris Laetitia could be used to support just about any position a bishop or priest holds on these matters in the name of acting pastorally. Clarity on Church teaching is all the cardinals have asked for through an offical process of the Church. Francis so far has refused to follow the process and to address these questions and supporters of the pope have gone on the attack.
The cardinals have taken a necessary and courageous step in an effort to protect the holiness of the Church, its faithfulness to the teachings of Our Lord, Jesus Christ, and its faithfulness to the Church’s traditional teachings on faith and morals that have Our Lord’s teachings through Scripture and tradition as a foundation.
We seem to be at a historical moment in the Church similar to that of the Arian controversy, and we should be grateful to the four cardinals for taking the part of Athanasius and the Cappadocian Fathers.
The pope owes them, and all Catholics, clear and unambiguous answers to their questions.
It just may be that their questions are already answered. Too often, we don’t take time with documents to catch all that are in them. Pope Francis is taking for of a pastoral approach to human activity, examining real situations and actualities. I have not seen where he has actually condoned these realities, but rather, identifies them. Then, as the Pastor, and Vicar of Christ, he is showing us how to get our hands dirty and meet people where they are. He is in now way asking us to approve of certain human behaviors or actualities. He is not asking us to participate with those actualities. He is asking us to do what Jesus did when He came to this sin filled world. He condescended to us to be with us and gently bring us to Himself. I believe that this is the approach that Pope Francis is asking of us. Rather than didactic teaching that people don’t understand, he is asking us to, remembering our own sinfulness, gently guide others back to Christ. We have all witnessed the “I’m saved and you’re not” scenario among some Christians. It is not productive. The Holy Father is endorsing another way, a pastoral way to identify difficulties and make bridges for others to cross into conversion or deeper conversion. While I applaud the idea to question for clarification, I do not diminish the idea that the answers are already present in the document when read with “pastoral eyes” instead of didactic tautology. Maybe we need to look again. We “say” that we believe in the Apostolic Church. We must make the decision to trust in the dynamic of the Holy Spirit’s work.
I have been asking the Catholic Church, since before my wife abandoned our marriage in 1989, to work to heal it. My wife has attempted two annulments, 20 years apart. She has lost both times. Her arguments are empty. She has lived in adultery, since 1990. The Catholic Church, outside of the final decisions in the annulment cases, which clearly rejected nullity, has encouraged this adultery and welcomed the adulterous couple who, literally, destroyed my life and continue to do so.
I, the faithful abandoned spouse, have been ignored and left to die and to fend for myself.
The pastoral ways of the Catholic Church are merciless. I have begged for help for decades.
Right now, my continuing appeal for help is before an Eparch, in the Byzantine Rite. It was previously ignored by the adulterous lovers’ Pastor, who for 15 years has accepted and encouraged my wife and her lover in their public and permanent adultery, AFTER I asked him to intervene in 2000 or 2001!
He said to me that he would do what was for good for our children!
Unrepentant adultery, evidently, and no fault divorce with no basis, is good for our children.
In addition, this plea was ignored by the Papal Nuncio in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Christophe Pierre, who received my request at the same time as the pastor.
I would welcome and rejoice if I were formally excommunicated, by Jorge Bergoglio, for having the “rigid audacity”, to speak so truly of how thoroughly corrupted the pastoral practices of the Catholic Church are related to abandoned spouses who remain faithful. To this man, who has lived in purgatory for almost 27 years, the implications of what is emanating from the Holy See are to encourage the purgatory, that I have lived, for other abandoned spouses and our children. rather than intervening, speaking the truth frankly, then backing it up with action, including formal excommunication for the unrepenting adulterers.
There are numerous witnesses who have been identified, to the Catholic Church, who can substantiate the long abuse of our valid, sacramental marriage. This has gone on since 1989. This is the truth.
I want our marriage healed, but it will never happen unless the Catholic Church does a complete about face. Even then, it is unlikely. But not because of lack of forgiveness on my part. However,
I have no obligation to allow my abuser(s) to abuse me. Forgiveness does not require suicide.
Thank you Deacon Bezner.
I know who the Catholic Church is. You do not father. I have the scars on my soul from its abuse of our marriage.
Do you have any children?
Yes, we do.
I can’t imagine the pain that you have endured for so many years. I don’t want to minimize your pain, but it seems to me that you are a living icon of Christ the Bridegroom (in the West, it’s the icon of the Crowning with Thorns, the Third Sorrowful Mystery).
Our Lord is abandoned by many nowadays. You are one of his many Cyrenians.
May He give us the strength to be faithful to Him.
A blessed Nativity to you.
There was no reply button after Margaret’s second response, so I have made my reply here.
Thank you, dear, for your kind words. It is Christmas evening and I am about to go to bed and by chance my last internet thing for tonight was to check here, and then to read your kind response of December 19, 2016.
Just so you know, I have received no response to my email message which was placed directly on the website of the Eparchy involved.
I hope your Christmas was peaceful and happy. I spent mine with my brother and very close friends. But, I did not have the company of our children, again, who themselves are quite divided over all of this because of their own, personal brokenness. We did text back and forth.
The Holy Spirit does not confuse nor criticize faithful Catholics. The Holy Spirit does not attack tradition or ignore the holy work of Pope John Paul II. To be pastoral–whatever that means anymore–one must teach the faith clearly.
Thank you! Rev. Kevin Bezner. God bless you and yours and his work at your hands and may you all have a blessed Christmas season. Come, LORD Jesus!