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Monday, December 4, 2017

Does This Make Heresy Official? Pope Francis Raises Buenos Aires Affirmation of Adultery to Status of "Authentic Magisterium"

You too can be Henry VIII and
annul your own marriage!
Pope Francis has raised his letter to the Buenos Aires bishops affirming their interpretation of the Amoris Laetitia, along with their original letter, to the status of an Apostolic Letter. He also stated this is part of the "authentic Magisterium" of the Church. The pope did this in the form of a papal rescript. Rorate Caeli explained what that is and followed with a question:
troubling document
"Rescripts are responses of the pope or a Sacred Congregation, in writing, to queries or petitions of individuals. Some rescripts concern the granting of favours; others the administration of justice, e.g. the interpretation of a law, the appointment of a judge." Rescipts generally have the force of particular law, however, as in this case, only "when they interpret or promulgate a general law, are they of universal application." Since papal rescripts answer an inquiry - could this rescript be a direct reply to the dubia of the Four Cardinals?
Rorate goes on:

Under Canon 8 § 1 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law, the AAS is the regular method by which "universal ecclesiastical laws" are to be promulgated: “Universal ecclesiastical laws are promulgated by publication in the official commentary Acta Apostolicae Sedis, unless some other manner of promulgation has been prescribed in particular cases.” While most papal documents appearing in AAS lack canonical or disciplinary force, the Pope's rescript at the hand of Cardinal Parolin is clearly intended to give the Buenos Aires Guidelines a significant level of Magisterial authority in the interpretation of Amoris Laetitia.

The pope's use of the term "authentic magisterium" is especially disturbing because it appears intended to trigger Canon 752, to purportedly require "religious submission of the intellect and will" to the Buenos Aires guidelines' overturning of the traditional teaching of the Church.
Put simply, the pope has given a level of official status to the Buenos Aires position that some couples in on-going adulterous relationships may return to Communion without repentance or amendment of life (i.e., living as brother and sister).


This is more than troubling. It is a further direct assault on the indissolubility of marriage! Not only that, but this act of papal mercy in many cases ignores and abandons the spouses who remain faithful to the union. No mercy for them! Or for the children who often become ping-pong balls bounced back and forth between the parents. Just throw them all under the bus.

I'll share a personal story here. My husband and I were engaged in a Catholic marriage apostolate with another couple. We attended their renewal of vows on their 23rd wedding anniversary. A few years later my husband and I were at Denny's having breakfast when we saw the husband (I'll call him Bill) holding hands with another woman. My heart skipped a beat and I said to Larry, "I hope that's his sister."

It wasn't.

Fast forward another few years and I was sitting with the wife (I'll call her Sally) at a meeting. I knew by then that the marriage had been annulled and Bill was remarried. Sally was not. We renewed our friendship and chatted awhile. Then I said. "Look, Sally, you can tell me it's none of my business, but I don't understand how you and Bill could get an annulment when you renewed your vows years later." (My understanding is that, under canon law, not only the original union has to be declared null, but the commitment made at the renewal.) She looked at me and replied, with what I interpreted as a tone of betrayal, "I don't get it either."

Well, that's a slightly different issue since, whether the annulment was valid or not, at least Bill made the effort to make his betrayal officially okay. (Of course, if the first marriage was valid, and Sally believed it was hence she had NO intention of remarrying, no diocesan tribunal can separate what God has joined together.

But now, according to Pope Francis, a couple doesn't even need to go through the process of getting a declaration of nullity. Hey, like Henry VIII, if you believe the marriage was invalid, just be your own internal tribunal, declare yourself head of the Church, and go back to Communion. God wouldn't be so mean as to want you to be deprived of either Communion or your sin, right? So let's all sing out!


Chriss Rainey said...

Imagine being a parish priest today. The pope is supposed to be their unifying guidepost. What are they to say to people now who bring this up?

I spoke to a pastor yesterday at a neighboring parish who said flat out with no hesitation, "You never hear me mention his name at the pulpit, nor do you ever see it writtn in our bulletin, because he is a heretic."

I had asked him what should we be doing about the chaffe among the wheat. His answer was call on the Holy Spirit and use prudence.

Susan said...

The more salient question might be "Does This Make **'Pope' Francis'** A Heretic?"

Justina said...

On some blogs it is being said that the elevation of the Buenos Aires letter to the AAS is no big deal because the narrow exceptions allowed by the Argentinian episcopacy are within pre-Amoris guidelines and theology anyway. Will this never end? The bishops from Argentina state directly that, in their (now officially validated) viewpoint, Amoris "opens" a new way. What "new" way could there ever be, except for repentance, acceptance of God's commandments, and penance, penance, penance? There is no way around this one. Either Jorge Bergoglio isn't the pope any more, or he never was in the first place.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Canon lawyer Ed Peters makes some good points about Canon 915 still governing the issue. You can read his opinon at

Unfortunately, this seems to be the typical modus operandi of Pope Francis. He doesn't attempt to change the doctrine directly. He changes the practice which essentially guts the doctrine. That's what has happened with Humanae Vitae and other sexual issues. How many Catholics believe contraception is a sin? Not many I bet and how many are TOLD from the pulpit it's a sin? Almost none. It certainly isn't on the radar of most parish priests. Someone might get upset. I wonder how many souls will go to hell because the blissfully trod the primrose path while their pastors told them to smell the roses.

Anonymous said...

Dr Edward Peters, JD, JCD, Ref. Sig. Ap. who I respect and greatly enjoy reading {always!} has provided a review of the current AAS posting. I think a summary would be that Canon 915 remains unmolested, so the posting has created no change in discipline that would open the rail to public adulterers.

That is good "de jure" stuff to know, but is irrelevant to the de facto practice of the Church as 1} communion is hardly policed at all as it is and 2} the new posting will very likely serve as "permission enough" to open communion to any and all depending on the whims of the priest or bishop.

Alas, quoting the law is handy and nice but it does not change reality. And it is in the day-to-day functioning reality that we see the erosion of practice and the collapse of teaching.

Some day hopefully the witness of the Church in the world will be clarified by the universal administration of discipline.

A good father is not one who merely sets up good rules under his roof. A good father is one who sees them obeyed.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I agree, Rod. This pope appears to realize that it isn't necessary to change the doctrine. Just change the practice and changing the doctrine isn't necessary. After awhile the doctrine atrophies and only a few "rigid" and "Pharisaical" tradition minded morons will insist that something is rotten in the Vatican City State.

How many Catholics contracept and don't think twice about going to Holy Communion? We are in a situation where many in the Church no longer believe much of what the Church teaches including many clergy.

Unknown said...

<(My understanding is that, under canon law, not only the original union has to be declared null, but the commitment made at the renewal.)>

A renewal or blessing of marriage vows holds no weight whatsoever in canon law or tribunal decisions. It's nothing more than a blessing.

< least Bill made the effort to make his betrayal officially okay.">

You say, "at least" as though the adulterating husband did a decent thing. His cheating on his wife, then breaking his wedding vows with her to marry his new love interest, then using the gall to approach a marriage tribunal is an act of treachery. The hundreds of thousands of annulments granted over the last 5 decades is a farce and really just puts a shiny veneer on the sin of adultery. Mind you, I am not questioning all annulments as there are valid ones and valid reasons that justify them. Yet the majority of them are very very questionable.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

You misunderstood my comment. I was pointing out that "Bill" apparently wanted the Church's blessing on his activities. Should he have received it by getting an annulment? Heck no! But today, people don't seem to want even the "shiny veneer," as you so appropriately put it, of Church approval.

I do not think at all that it was a "decent thing." It was an act of hypocrisy that the annulment system seems to encourage by requiring a civil divorce before the tribunal even accepts the annulment application. Mary's Advocates is working to change that by encouraging the Church to uphold the union and work toward reconciliation rather than encouraging a troubled couple to divorce first. I recommend Mary's Advocates website --

Unknown said...

Thank you, Mary, for clarifying. Yet so very many believe after their annulments that they are now in the good graces of the God and the Church and walk around with their heads held high all while their abandoned spouses and children go through a life time of pain and suffering. Priests and canon lawyers will be very accountable for so many lost souls as they encourage divorce and annulment and offer virtually no help to the couple in marriage distress.

I am a friend of Mary's Advocates. We have a good crew over there on the yahoogroup and each does what he/she can to defend the truths of Catholic marriage.

Thank you for your article!!


Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

"Priests and canon lawyers will be very accountable for so many lost souls as they encourage divorce and annulment and offer virtually no help to the couple in marriage distress."

Well said and I couldn't agree more. God help us!

Joseph D'Hippolito said...

This is nothing new. Pope John Paul II did the exact same thing when it came to capital punishment for murder. His arbitrary, revisionist stance toward abolitionism -- which is now de facto Church teaching -- has no roots in either Scripture or Tradition: