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Monday, April 10, 2023

Fr. Tom Collins: Kenosis Theology of Pope Francis Explains a Lot!

There is a lot of confusion and concern among orthodox Catholics concerning some of the statements and actions of Pope Francis since he began his pontificate. However, if we look at these by embracing the premises of the ever-evolving kenosis theology, they do make sense.

Kenosis theology is based on Philippians 2:7-8, where we are told that, in order to save us, Jesus had to “empty Himself” (Greek, kenosis) on the cross. It asserts that, just as Jesus emptied Himself for our salvation two thousand years ago, Catholics today are being called by “the Spirit” to courageously take the risks to “put out into the deep” (Lk 5:4) and step out in faith in order to embrace the wisdom of our modern world. To do this, however, requires that Catholics take the awkward and painful steps required to question and even renounce the “false security” of the Church’s doctrinal dogmatism and moral rigorism proclaimed through the “medieval theology” of her magisterium.

Kenosis theology asserts that the current situation in the Church is analogous to that of the Apostolic Church. When Gentiles were allowed to be baptized without first being circumcised in accordance with ancient Mosaic Law, Jewish Christians were deeply disturbed. For several centuries, faithful Jews had been going through great suffering and persecution because they insisted in being faithful to all the commands and precepts of the Mosaic Law (cf., Dan 3:2-97, 6:2-25; I Mac 1:60-63, II Mac 6:18-7:41). Jesus Himself observed all these laws (cf., Lk 2:21-41, 4:16). These Jewish Christians were thus upset. They sincerely, though mistakenly, thought that most of the precepts of the Mosaic Law, which were an integral dimension of the Jewish covenantal relationship with God and for which they had been enduring so much persecution and suffering, were now to be glibly ignored in order to accommodate Gentile converts - many of whom seemed to have received only rudimentary catechesis. And the opposition of such Jewiah Christians did not stop after the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-29), as is indicated numerous times in the ways St. Paul faced opposition within the Church from Judaizers.

In a similar way, kenosis theology sadly asserts that traditional Catholics are trapped in an inadequate and rigid medieval theology, which is not in harmony with the wisdom, insights and customs of contemporary society. Like the Judaizers of New Testament times, they are tragically caught up in the obsessive-compulsion of doctrinal dogmatism and a moral rigorism, which cannot effectively address either the challenges of our modern age or the unique situation of each person. Thus they oppose any effort of Church leaders, like Pope Francis, to humbly empty her of her arrogant assurance of the truth, which was manifested in former ages by her proclaiming that there is only one Way to eternal life and that Baptism was absolutely necessary for salvation. Such assertions allegedly restrict the freedom of the Spirit to renew the face of the earth on God’s terms.

The proponents of kenosis theology will also point out how the lapsi in the early Church were allowed to be reconciled to the Church. The lapsi were those who, under duress or torture during the Roman persecutions, renounced Jesus and the Catholic Faith. Many Catholics, who had suffered torture, exile and/or confiscation of property during the persecutions, were opposed to them being so easily reconciled to the Church. They believed that approing such a reconciliation would compromise the integrity of the Faith and the spiritual stamina of the faithful. Yet Church leaders chose to open the way for the lapsi to be reconciled.

Similarly, the proponents of kenosis theology will point out that the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for serious sins was severely limited in the early Church. But, with the large number of barbarians being converted with little catechetical formation, this discipline was incrementally relaxed by Church leaders.

Thus it is that, by way of analogy, proponents of kenosis theology view the Scriptures as living documents, much as liberal justices on the Supreme Court view the Constitution as “a living, breathing document”, which must be interpreted not as originally written or in accordance with the original intent of its authors, but in a way that addresses the current felt needs of various special interest groups in our nation. They also point out how St. Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, violated the precepts of the Council of Jerusalem (Acts15:22-29) by asserting that the spirit of that Council permitted Christians to eat meat sacrificed to idols ((Acts 8:7-13 and 10:25-30), provided that they did not actually take part in the sacrificial worship. Thus they have no problem with using foods, pharmaceuticals, and cosmetics developed and produced by the use of tisssues from aborted babies, provided that those using them have not directly participated in the abortion.

The pope of  "progress": "The true Catholic Christian and human tradition
 … grows, progresses.” and throws out the past including Sacred Tradition.

This new gnostic theological tendency was also reflected in the “evolution” of the Code of Canon Law regarding the sin of abortion. The 1918 Code of Canon Law made abortion a reserved sin, with the requirement that absolution could be given and penance imposed only in accordance with the directive of the local bishop. This strict discipline was embraced because abortion did not only kill an innocent child. It also did so in a way that ensured that the child would never be able to be baptized. 

The 1981 Code, however, eliminated this restriction. After all, the Church does proclaim that God is compassionate beyond comprehension. Expanding on this premise, many pastors have been led to conclude and teach that aborted babies are not consigned to limbo, but rather are compassionately and lovingly embraced by God into heavenly glory as soon as they die. This also helps explain why bishops are reluctant to discipline Catholics, who support aborticide and infanticide. After all, in a way more dramatic than Baptism, these procedures allegedly “strip off” the flesh (Col 2:11), and thus allow the soul of an unborn child to be embraced by God into eternal life. 

Unlike Baptism, though, which leaves a soul vulnerable to mortal sin later on in life, we are told that these procedures guarantee the soul’s salvation. Thus, since the purpose of the Church is to bring more souls into eternal life, and we are assured by many of our clergy that we are free to presume that all victims of abortion are automatically taken into heaven, why would Church leaders vigorously oppose pro-abortion politicians, whose efforts are allegedly sending more souls into heaven than the Church herself is through her sacramental system? Salus animarum lex suprema (The salvation of souls is the supreme law).

Kenosis theology also accentuates the need to renounce appreciation of one's cultural heritage. Since the history of all human cultures, civil or religious, is tainted by sin, appreciation of one's heritage is to be viewed as intrinsically racist - or even evil. Even if such appreciation of the unique qualities of one's cultural or religious heritage does not disparage the unique beauty of other cultures or religions, such an appreciation can gradually become the breeding ground for systemic racism. Such systemic racism is now being recognized even by the pope as hidden in the centuries old assertion that the Catholic Church is the only true religion established by God. Kenosis theology thus points out that, while God should have a monopoly on the Catholic Church, we are not thereby free to assert that the Catholic Church has a monopoly on the truth, holiness and sanctifying graciousness of God. God is always free to speak to humanity in partial and diverse ways (Heb 1:1) both within and outside the Church.

In addition, kenosis theology requires that we critically examine those dimensions of the cultural and religious heritage of the African-American community and Hispanic communities, which are so deeply tainted by the influence of European Christianity. After all, we must admit that, for centuries, such a "heritage" was systemically imposed on them by colonial powers, either through benign or oppressive motives. Thus, members of the African-American and Hispanic communities are now seeking to break the last vestiges of the cultural chains imposed by colonial powers of the past five centuries. By renouncing the "quaint" cultural heritages imposed by colonial powers, they will be extolled by future generations as prophetic voices heralding a New World Order, based on tolerance, inclusivity and an ever-evolving and "liberating" moral relativism.

Kenosis theology, then, asserts that authentic spirituality requires that individuals, societies and the Church herself must courageously enter in new ways into the self-emptying love and wisdom of Christ. And as He manifested His fidelity to His Father by courageously stepping out in faith, so as to embrace humanity as it was in His day, He is now calling His disciples to do likewise. And they are to do so, but not by judging the modern world in terms of obsolete moral precepts and antiquated dogmas and calling all to a life-giving repentance guided by a reverent and docile accountability to the whole truth of God. Instead, He is allegedly calling all of us, through the synodal process, to both courageously and compassionately embrace a spirit of tolerance, inclusion, and affirmation of doctrines and practices, whereby many in our age are seeking a sense of true fulfillment. After all, Jesus Himself pointed out that man was not made for the Sabbath, but the Sabbath for man (Mk 2:27). Kenosis theology merely expands on the wisdom of these words to point out that man was not made to serve the other nine "culturally biased" Commandments, but rather that those Commandments were given to serve humanity by affirming the dignity of each person, regardless of that person's race, creed or lifestyle.

Renouncing a sense of security given through one's religious and cultural heritage is awkward at first. Thus it is that Pope Francis seems to appreciate the current need to maintain the facade of the Faith by occasionally promoting quaint devotions and proclaiming pious platitudes, all of which seem to sustain souls. Meanwhile, he allows the larger agenda of the New World Order to be incrementally introduced into the perspectives, premises, and practices of a new generation of Catholics. Thus it is that, as we become more "compassionately" and "lovingly" engaged with each other in the vision of hope being offered to us through the secularist New World Order and the guidance of its ever-evolving wisdom of political correctness, we will be led to ignore the warning in Gaudium et Spes #39 against identifying technological progress with the Kingdom of God. Instead we are to assert that the Kingdom of God is in the process of being established in our midst through the various technological and theological developments of our age and the new political structures being developed for a New World Order.

Kenosis theologians thus assert that we can only courageously proclaim the ever-evolving Faith of the Church and be faithful to our heritage by renouncing the allegedly vapid false security offered by the premises and precepts of our “primitive poorly evolved” Faith. They claim that, only in this way, will we finally be able to witness Christ making all things new (Rev 21:5) through the global implementation of the agenda of the secularist New World Order and its One World Religion.

And they tell us that, if we just “step out in faith,” so as to uncritically embrace the premises, perspectives, promises and practices proposed through their kenosis theology, we will gradually be able to see how, in their own strange way, they do make sense. Furthermore, with all the technological advances of our modern world, they point out that such "new wine" must be poured into "the new wine skins" being provided by the evolving premises of our increasingly secularized technological society.

Before concluding, it should be noted that this dynamic has been evident over the past sixty years. During this period, various tweaks to the traditional understanding of pastoral care and theology have been made, which subtly and incrementally prioritize:
1) emotional feelings over the eternal truths entrusted to the Church, 

2) subjective values over objective virtues, 

3) respect for sin-seared consciences over respect for sincere consciences accountable to the whole truth of God, 

4) secular relevance over the precepts of Divine Revelation, 

5) expediency over integrity, and 

6) acquiesence to narratives and agendas provided governmenat and industrial elitists over careful and critical discernment of the truth.
Kenosis theologians assure us that, by "courageously" continuing to travel on this path of "compassion", "hospitality", "inclusion" and "tolerance", we will witness “the Spirit” renewing humanity and our planet in ways beyond our comprehension..

The Church is thus allagedly no longer to proclaim Jesus Christ as being the same -- yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8). Rather, through the synodal process, He is to be understood as ever-evolving in accordance with the latest needs, narratives, insights, and agendas promoted by the elitist leaders of our modern world. And just as the blind Bartimaeus courageously stepped out in faith by throwing off the security of his cloak to seek out Jesus (Mk 10:46-52), we are urged to throw off the stagnant security of the Church's antiquated doctrines and unscientific sexual morality so as to experience a new birth of freedom and reconciliation through the New World Order and the ever-evolving politically correct precepts of its One World Religion.

Fr. Thomas R. Collins Hot Springs, VA

ADDENDUM - In opposition to the agenda of the proponents of kenosis theology, it must be noted that Jesus came to bring to fruition the truths proclaimed in the Law and by the prophets by His cooperation with the Holy Spirit in integrating them through a new covenant into Himself. He did not come to abrogate those truths through an amoral amorphous ambiguity, which leaves humanity subject to the ever-evolving secularist dictates of political correctness and promotes subjective opinions, emotions, and values in such a way that those who dare to proclaim our accountability to objective virtues and/or our obligation to carefully discern the whole truth of God can be routinely maligned, ostracized, slandered, or otherwise written off as undeserving of any serious consideration. 

Jesus Christ is not ever-evolving. He is the same - yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:20). Thus it is that the kenosis of Jesus is properly understood as not a dynamic of Self-emptying, but rather one of a salvific and sanctifying Self-investment into our humanity and all its relationships, so as to bring to fulfillment all the promises graciously made through God's sacred covenantal commitments to Noah, Abraham, Moses and David. Jesus did not squander Himself for our salvation, but rather reverently and generously invested Himself into establishing a sacred and sanctifying communion with all those willing to receive His mercy and love through sincere ongoing repentance and the obedience of faith, which flows from humble docility and accountability to the whole truth of God.

Likewise, it is worth noting that, in spite of any good intentions, the whole Pachamama scandal aborted a great opportunity for evangelization. The sincere spiritual sensitivities of primitive societies is not respected by acquiescing to the reality of their gods. They could, however, be corrected and purified by an expansion of the Church's teaching concerning angel guardians, under whose protection and into whose care God entrusts individuals, places, spiritual movements, and nations. All of these angels are not set up in opposition to Christ, but rather given to us to help integrate humanity and all Creation into Christ. The true spiritual dimension of the material world is thus properly enhanced by a more profound appreciation of the ongoing ministries of such angel guardians.


  1. I hope everyone reads this entire article. It’s a bit long but Father has done an amazing job of exposing what Bergoglio is up to. This is sneaky and horrifying.

  2. Hmmm.

    The 'kenosis' theo bears resemblance to the Rousseau theory that mankind is ever-changing, "progressing" to a final point at which there will be no strife, (etc.) blah blah. You will also recognize DeChardin's "Omega" theory there. Rousseau's theory was adapted by Marx/Engels as they formulated communism.

    But mankind, made in the image and likeness of the eternal God, does NOT 'evolve,' 'progress', and 'change.' Any individual man may progress--but only to or from salvation. Those who move away from salvation generally take the "gnostic" path, deciding that they are like God in knowledge; we can see that in the current-day Elites, but they are not the first, nor the only.....

    How many times must the Cburch condemn the same heresy?

  3. "Similarly, the proponents of kenosis theology will point out that the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation for serious sins was severely limited in the early Church. But, with the large number of barbarians being converted with little catechetical formation, this discipline was incrementally relaxed by Church leaders."

    This is an interedting one, for if there has been a mistake its this one. This led to our present predicament. If your forgive adulterers and (supposedly ex-)sodomites you end up with a church run by Sodomites. And also the Reformation is a direct result of this; this gave credence to faith alone theology. This one shows what must really be changed, especially in today's Sodom and Gomorrah 2.0 world.