Satan Loves Divisions Re Amoris Laetitia

Satan Loves Divisions Re Amoris Laetitia May 2, 2016


Geological fault line in Þingvellir National Park, Iceland. Photograph by Jon Connell, 8-5-06 [Flickr / CC BY 2.0 license]


This is an exchange with James Hooper, a Catholic friend, on my Facebook page. His words will be in blue. Words of Catholic friend Margie Prox Sindelar will be in green


You gentleman are heroically defending AL and to some degree the Pope. It really is the only salvageable position for explaining this as an evangelist. But for the sake of argument, wouldn’t it be nice if all this was rendered unnecessary by a clear and unambiguous rejection of the Kasper paradigm? It would just throw a bucket of cold water on all of this controversy. I pray we get that re-statement / clarification soon.

I think it was rejected by not being adopted, just as the Supreme Court rejects a lower ruling by deciding not to deal with (hence not overturn) a higher contrary ruling.

The very fact that the discussion basically centers around a footnote in a non-dogmatic Apostolic Exhortation shows us what we are here dealing with. Nothing has changed, except perhaps in a pastoral sense: an attempt to be more sensitive to difficult marital situations.

Dave the current controversy is solely because people see the Kasper language in Chapter 8. Right or wrong, they see it. Kasper and the German bishops see it. Most people like us can accept the hermeneutic of continuity – however a goodly portion of the Church doesn’t, including quite a few “sane” Catholics with great reputations. Despite all that has transpired it would be helpful to the case of pulling these people in to hear an unambiguous, plainly worded rejection once and for all.

The same stuff is said about Vatican II all the time, as I note more than once in my post. I don’t buy it. Theological liberals will always distort things. That will happen as long as they are around and haven’t died out yet. Give it 15-20 years and they’ll be mostly dead and we’ll be liberated from their sublime wisdom and faith.

Those will be glorious days. However, wouldn’t it have been nice at the time of Vatican II to have really clear directives as to what the documents didn’t mean? Perhaps it wasn’t as clear what was happening back then. Its clear now and I hope not a missed opportunity for the Holy Father to help us to help him. Come Holy Ghost.

Again, I think Vatican II is quite clear and glorious. I think the same about the Bible, which has been distorted by kooks and liberals lo these past 3000+ years. No one knows that better than the apologist. I see how it is done all the time, even by atheists, who ludicrously fancy themselves experts on Holy Writ.

They see it because they are looking for it, many of these people are still bemoaning that Burke is not Pope [see related link], and don’t trust Pope Francis.

Some but not all. Some are sincerely wanting to help the Pope and those souls who will be impacted by these kooks by eliminating the ambiguity. 

That’s why I said “many”, and I stand by my opinion that those “worried” about the Pope will serve the church better by worrying about their own sanctification, and I have the Saints to back up my opinion.

If what was appropriate is worrying about our own souls, then none of us would be apologists or evangelists. We have a de facto problem in that very prominent churchmen, not just raving radical traditionalists, see an ambiguity that has the potential to lead people astray. Assuming that isn’t the Pope’s intention at all, suggesting a clarification only helps him and the Office of Pope. As you know, I don’t think the only two options are acceptance or silence.

That’s why I provide links to 31 articles [as of this writing] that accept and explain Amoris Laetitia. [#198 and after in the list] One can at least read the positive, “pro” articles if they must read the others, too.

I won’t go astray sticking with the Pope, but many can and do go astray questioning him. I have seen it and so have you. We need good apologists like Dave because there are very bad apologists, very bad media, and a lot of Catholics that don’t trust the Holy Spirit. I see nothing but ugly fruit coming from those who question the Pope nonstop, and it starts innocently enough, with good intentions, but its a huge danger. The section lay people are obsessed with is not ever for laypeople. The biggest crisis in the church right now, in my opinion, is that too many think they are apologists and they are not.

Too many think they are popes or Protestants, too.

Dave you’re kind of moving the goal posts. My comment was on people who misinterpret Vatican II. Those people caused trouble in the last 30-40 years. What I was saying is that it would have been nice to have some clearer interdiction on those people sooner. As we both know John Paul II and Benedict XVI introduced the concept of the hermeneutic of continuity to combat that idea.

As I said at the outset, I commend Dave for doing this heavy lifting. It is the job of the apologist to present the voice of the church in the most positive light possible. I have actually reposted Dave’s collection of articles on my wall for the edification of those who follow me.

My quip was tangential I suppose, that given the obvious concern by more than just the usual commentators, but by real and respected theologians and prelates, which comes from a place not of anti Popery or mischief, perhaps a clarification from the Holy Father would be helpful to everyone. In my opinion it’s not enough to lump everyone together into the kook bucket, or to simply suggest everyone should like it or lump it. Perhaps your focus is the 1 Peter 5 crowd, but there is a lot more being said out there that isn’t in “bad media.”

It would be a shame to see all of this become divisive like the waterboarding discussion 20 months ago where all of us were being collectively accused of all sorts of mischief, when we were just defending the right of Catholics to form an opinion on another vague non dogmatic issue.

It already has, and on reactionary pages is far worse than the waterboarding fight ever was. My page is civil because I demand that it be so, but the larger fight is very ugly and divisive and the devil has a huge victory.

I think the charity displayed in the conversation here keeps that danger at bay, but we should remain vigilant that we minister to those people whose opinions may differ or who are so far off the ranch (calling the pope a heretic) that unity seems unlikely. In the spirit of mercy, our rhetoric should always assume the best intentions and not add to the division there already is. Again, no worries here; just laying that out for consumption by all.

I don’t lump everyone together as indistinguishable. What I say is that it is troubling that more and more “respectable” and non-reactionary voices are jumping on the “criticize the pope at every turn” bandwagon.

I predicted this. The [mostly] secular media / liberal / legitimate mainstream traditionalist + radical Catholic reactionary “narrative” regarding Pope Francis is now so entrenched that it will probably not go away till we get another pope.

I think this is a great tragedy and a huge victory for the devil, who loves nothing more than to divide and conquer, and set Catholics against each other and against their own supreme leader: the Vicar of Christ. He is so happy about it that he is dancing with glee and ecstasy.

We will see more and more of this as time goes on. And some who have gone down this road will become traditionalists and some will keep traveling further “right” into radical reactionary land and worse. Mark my words. I’ve watched these trends for 25 years.

I agree with you about the devil. He is assuredly delighted. We should seek unity where we can, assisting the Holy Father where we can.

Hilary White (Lifesite News / The Remnant) already has a position that there are no orthodox bishops and that the entire non-reactionary Church isn’t Catholic at all, but literally another religion that she calls “Novusordoism.”

It’s standard practice among reactionaries to call those of us who disagree with their nonsense “neo-Catholics” and to mock us (as I was at The Remnant [see my reply] and Scott Eric Alt is being mocked currently by Steve Skojec of One Vader Five). [see his reply also]

When I critiqued Chris Ferrara’s trashing of the last document of Pope Francis (Laudato Si) I was roundly mocked and dismissed as a guy who has no readers. Division? There it is.

My point was that we can’t let our defense of the Magisterium or the Pope contribute to more division, not that there isn’t division. Elevating the rancor serves nobody except the aforementioned Devil.

Telling the truth, unfortunately, always ruffles feathers. This is why Jesus was murdered, and why they tried to kill Paul and Peter many times, and eventually did. We know Jesus never sinned, yet they accused Him of being filled with a demon, and of blasphemy.

Folks get angry even if we present truths as perfect saints and all sweetness and light. Division exists because a proportion of any given crowd accepts falsehood and lies. That is the beginning of it.

I have not read these people out of the Church (like Hilary White has done with us). That’s why I call them “radical Catholic reactionaries.” My reasoning in coining that term was to make it clear that I am starkly separating the category from mainstream traditionalism, and also to make it clear that I regard the people as Catholics, albeit both radical and reactionary.

Well Dave, I personally see the ambiguity that others have pointed out in Chapter 8. I think it opens a door to mischief, and there are plenty of people like Cardinal Kasper who are clicking their heels in celebration of the ambiguity they see to. I don’t question the Pope’s motives – and I don’t think its appropriate to blend “hair on fire” criticism with evangelism – and I think that’s probably the difference.

We’ll see where all this criticism and public confusion and lamentation leads, James. It’s nowhere good, in my opinion.

I am curious. What do you think is an appropriate response to an honest concern with this kind of non-magisterial document? Is the only acceptable option just complete acceptance, or is there an appropriate route for one to exercise one’s obligations under Canon 212?

Obviously rants accusing the pope of heresy are not appropriate. What other responses are appropriate in your opinion?

I’d say the appropriate response is to continue on as we always have, accepting it as part of the “hermeneutic of continuity” and to stop interpreting the pope as if he is a liberal and revolutionary: for which there is no evidence.

Thanks. I’d like to propose that there is another position here, that doesn’t fit into that binary model of either you accept it as part of the “hoc” or reject it because you think the Pope is a revolutionary or liberal.

I believe one can simultaneously promote the document through the eyes of the “hoc” and make an observation that many in the church (Cupich, Kasper, Marx, etc.) since the document has been released have announced that they see an opening for communion for divorced and remarried that aren’t living in continence. I believe that one can simply call for clarity from the Vatican in a concern for souls that may be led astray, without indicting the Pope as a revolutionary or liberal.

We have to remember that the synod in part was called to clarify these very issues which are now even more confused. The Pope himself pulled Cardinal Kasper out of retirement to air his proposal, presumably in a spirit of putting the question to rest once and for all. Since the matter has not been put to rest in the eyes of these people by the synod, nor by the exhortation, nor by comments following the release of the synod – it doesn’t seem unreasonable to simultaneously promote the positive hermeneutic and request clarification where it is obviously needed, all without denigrating the Pope.

As I have stated over and over, folks will misinterpret and (I think, dishonestly, or at least erroneously) exploit the document, just as they do the Bible and the Vatican II documents.

Nothing can stop that. All the clarifications in the world can be made and it won’t help. The more nuanced, and (I think) realistic and practical documents are, the more liberals exploit them in this manner.

Moreover, those who are not liberal and anti-pope who think it is so unclear, etc. (with perfectly good intentions), are falling into the hands of liberal goals: and essentially are functioning, under the circumstance, as what Lenin called “useful idiots.”

I just have to respectfully disagree that anyone who is not liberal and who sees shortcomings in this document, while proposing it within the full parameters of canon 212 (respect for the office and speaking their concerns candidly) are in fact “useful idiots.” I think that’s a sad condescension to people who have dedicated themselves to God and the Church. Again I am not speaking about hair on fire reactionaries. The document is not dogmatic, nor does the Pope claim any sort of magisterial voice here. Comparing it to Trent or Vatican II is a mismatch.

That’s what I have to say. Thanks.

As usual, I have to explain “useful idiots.” It is not saying that the people are consciously idiots. From the perspective of those with a far more radical agenda, this is how they are viewedWikipedia gives a good one-sentence definition:

In political jargon, “useful idiot” is a term for people perceived as propagandists for a cause whose goals they are not fully aware of, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause.

Thus a person can be perfectly sincere and well-meaning, in this instance orthodox Catholic, love and care about the Church, be wonderful people, etc., and still be a useful idiot in specific ways. The devil is an extremely subtle operator. See C. S. Lewis’ classic, The Screwtape Letters . . .

Of course, reactionaries say the same sort of thing about those of us whom they derisively call “neo-Catholics” all the time: that we are in bed with modernism, fundamentally compromised (even consciously so in the worst cases) useful idiots. But they will not say the nice stuff about us that I am saying about those who are critiquing Pope Francis with only good intentions.

I understand the allusion to “useful idiot,” and I still don’t agree. You are basically suggesting that people such as myself who have a track record of defending the pope but see a problem brewing in the church which could be averted by some Papal clarification are in fact unwittingly promoting reactionaries. I find this ironic because you are equally offended by apparently being accused of unwittingly supporting modernists. Personally I think it is uncivil and unfair to paint someone who disagrees with you on a purely prudential matter as an unknowing agent of Satan.

I appreciate your time in conversing with me on this matter. I wish I could say I felt less unsettled. As someone I respect, I am disappointed to see these distinctions being made. Thus it’s probably best I retire from the dialogue here. Peace.

Yes, I believe the devil is extremely clever, and he is exploiting the present divisions to the max.

I think whatever legitimate criticisms that can be made (and I don’t deny that there are possibly some) should be made in private, with fellow Catholics: not broadcast for all the world to see.

But since the criticism is broadcast far and wide, and by increasingly more people and relatively more respectable people, I am duty-bound as an apologist and defender of the pope to speak out against it.

We’re a laughing-stock among anti-Catholic Protestants now. They are having a field day noting and mocking all these internal divisions. They use it as arguments against the One True Church. They say, “see! The nauseating papists are no different than we are, with our own endless divisions, never able to be healed.”

And this includes speaking out against what I believe to be the grand strategy of Satan to once again divide and conquer: one of his favorite and oldest tricks in his large arsenal.

If you disagree, you do. I can only call it as I see it. I’ve always been known as a straight shooter, and with good reason: because I am in fact (right or wrong) a straight shooter.

Public detraction of the Pope is very different from public discussion of a situation that is developing in the church. Shooting the messenger, albeit straight shooting, without distinction probably isn’t helpful to prevent further division.

I have taken an oath as well to defend the magisterium. Requesting a clarification along those lines to aid our errant brethren in understanding the limits of praxis is perfectly in those lines and does not presume an attack on the Holy Father.

You need not worry that I take anything personal. My feelings are the least of my concern. The souls of those being led astray by errant voices are my concern. My opinion is that positive apologetics would be maximally effective with some straight shooting from the Pope, when he realizes there is trouble brewing.

You call for clarification. Cardinal Schonborn has already provided exactly that. The pope expressly stated that what the Cardinal said would clear up the confusion over the “controversial” portions of the document. And Cardinal Schonborn made it perfectly clear that the document does not overturn existing Catholic tradition, teaching, and practice. So your wish has been granted.



Meta Description: Is public massive criticism of a papal document by Catholics a good thing? Is it even necessary? I debate it with a Catholic friend.

Meta Keywords: Amoris Laetitia, annulments,apostolic exhortation,Catholics & marriage,Catholics & the family,Divorce, Holy communion,Pope Francis, pope-bashing,Radical Catholic Reactionaries,remarried Catholics, synod on the family

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