|Will the real pope please stand up!|
He minces no words. Acknowledging that he criticized the two former popes for what he considered imprudent actions, he then stresses that "never did it cross my mind that [they] posed any danger to the integrity of the Catholic faith." Then he writes more pointedly about Pope Francis:
...there have been bad Popes: men whose personal actions were motivated by greed and jealousy and lust for power and just plain lust.
But has there ever before been a Roman Pontiff who showed such disdain for what the Church has always taught and believed and practiced -- on such bedrock issues as the nature of marriage and of the Eucharist?
Pope Francis has sparked controversy from the day he was elected as St. Peter's Successor. But in the past several months the controversy has become so intense, confusion among the faithful so widespread, administration at the Vatican so arbitrary -- and the Pope's diatribes against his (real or imagined) foes so manic -- that today the universal Church is rushing toward a crisis.That's it in a nutshell. We are, indeed, "rushing toward a crisis."
Now, I don't want to confuse anyone since I'm going to raise a big question in a bit. Phil Lawler states clearly that he does not believe Francis is an anti-pope. He does not believe that the See of Peter is vacant or that Benedict is still the real pope. Pope Francis hasn't made any ex cathedra statements, but Lawler says if he did, in union with the world's bishops, we could be sure he was passing on "what the Lord gave to St. Peter: the Deposit of Faith."
On the other hand, while Francis has not made such authoritative statements, his writings which are considered part of the "ordinary magisterium" are so filled with questionable statements they seem to break with the past. Doesn't that put all papal writings in question. If one can disbelieve that Pope Francis' writings are authoritative, why should one accept any other Pope's writings. Why should one accept the teachings against contraception, abortion, sodomy, modernism? The list is endless! If the Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (AL), is in error, what about other Papal exhortations?
EWTN has an interesting article on the level of authority of papal writings. It quotes Vatican II:
This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic Magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme Magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will. His mind and will in the matter may be known either from the character of the documents, from his frequent repetition of the same doctrine, or from his manner of speaking. [Lumen gentium 25]This quote, however, is prefaced by a statement saying that "documents may also contain teachings which come from the common teaching of the Church, but which cannot yet be said to be de fide, and even new insights and explanations which manifest the mind of the Magisterium. Such authentic teaching has a presumption of correctness and deserves the reverence and submission of Catholics."
So, does a document like AL deserve the "reverence and submission of Catholics?" Does it, in fact, "come from the common teaching of the Church" and does it "manifest the mind of the Magisterium?" The papolatrists, of course, would say that every word from the mouth of Francis is gospel truth. On the other hand, many experts in canon law, scripture, and doctrine at the highest levels are expressing concern about the direction Pope Francis is taking the Church. Meanwhile, what happens when he uses praxis to change the doctrines on the indissolubility of marriage and the proper reception of the Holy Eucharist by allowing adulterers and fornicators to receive Communion while living in their sin? What impact does that have on the Sacrament of Confession as well? Is a "firm purpose of amendment" no longer required for absolution? Sum it up. AL cast doubt on the doctrine of Marriage, the doctrine of the Holy Eucharist, and the doctrine of Confession. How many other doctrines have been undermined by this pope in his other statements and writings?
And now the big, controversial question which likely will get me in trouble. (Oh well.)
I recently read an article that originated with Ann Barnhardt. No matter how you feel about her astringent style, she brings up an interesting point. Some have said they believe Benedict was forced out and is therefore still the legitimate pope because he resigned under duress. Barnhardt doesn't go there. She brings up another possibility under Canon Law 188 which reads: "A resignation made out of grave fear that is inflicted unjustly or out of malice, substantial error, or simony is invalid by the law itself." She goes on to make a case that Pope Benedict resigned under the "substantial error" that he could be a kind of co-pope executing the role of prayer and contemplation while Francis took on the role of the active pope. Could she be correct? I've always wondered why Benedict continued to wear the papal white and call himself Pope Emeritus while continuing to reside in the Vatican. Isn't that a source of confusion for the faithful?
And so I urge you to read Ann's article. I'm no canon lawyer, but I know how to read and I think she makes a good argument. There is no provision in Canon Law for two men to occupy the See of Peter at the same time. So did Pope Benedict resign under the substantial error that he could still legitimately serve as a kind of co-pope? And, if so, is he still the real pope until he resigns properly?
I'd love to hear your opinion about the big question: Who is the real pope? Is the answer obvious. Of course, Pope Francis is the legitimate successor of St. Peter. Or did Pope Benedict impact the legitimacy of his successor by the manner in which he resigned?
Will the real pope please stand up.