Not long ago, someone accused us of ‘criticizing EVERYTHING that Francis does’!
Heaven spare us! Who could manage such a task? Can our readers just imagine if, for example, we had to dispute, point by point, everything Francis says in the on-flight interviews in his apostolic journeys? Or to discuss whether ‘a person who thinks only of building walls, wherever it may be, and not of building bridges, is not Christian’, or if the Bishop of Rome acts correctly when he omits mention of Italian laws which are immoral, after having deliberately involved himself in American politics? Or, far worse, affirmations such as: ‘Abortion is not a theological problem. It is a human problem, it is a medical problem’, ‘it is an evil in and of itself. It is not a “religious” evil, to start with, no, it is a human evil’, or ‘preventing pregnancy is not an absolute evil’? And what is to be said of his absolute lack of rigor in referring to the tale about Paul VI and the nuns of the Congo on the topic of contraception? And there are so many other such issues, that it would be impossible for the Denzinger-Bergoglio priests, absorbed by multiple pastoral duties, to deal with all of them. A priest wrote to us, perhaps with a touch of irony, that Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s lack of basic exactitude, which is indispensable for all things philosophical and theological, would have been more than sufficient cause to suspend him from the Jesuit University where he studied.
What, then, is our task?
It’s not about ‘criticizing everything’, but of doing that which the Church has always done and teaches us to do: show what truth is and the principles on which it is based.
We have limited ourselves to comparing Francis’ teachings with those of the Church, not basing ourselves on personal opinion, but rather on the Magisterium. We have accomplished 140 profound and exacting analyses to date… 140 doctrines of Francis that clash with or contradict the age-old Magisterium.
But we wish to add that the Church is a Mother, and is not only concerned with dogma, the purity of which she has done well to guard with holy zeal. The Compendium of the Catholic Church poses the question: ‘Why is the Church called Catholic?’ (no. 166), and answers that ‘the Church proclaims the fullness and the totality of the faith; she bears and administers the fullness of the means of salvation’. And immediately previous to that, it asks: ‘In what way is the Church holy?’ (no. 165), to then respond that ‘In the Church one finds the fullness of the means of salvation. […] The holiness of the Church is the fountain of sanctification for her children’.
Some of the faithful may feel a little out of their depth venturing into the theological vastness of dogma to discover the truths they wish to have clarified. To these sincere sons and daughters of the Church we would like to say that the seriousness that the truth should be dealt with does not prevent its being preached with simplicity and clarity.
Let’s have a look at one example.
On Ecumenism with the Orthodox
Someone could legitimately wonder what could possibly be wrong with ‘drawing closer’ to the so-called Orthodox Churches. Their members agree that the Church is One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic and so they proclaim every Sunday when they pray the Creed. So what problem could there be with getting together? Are they not our brothers?
Before knowing if we are in agreement with them or not, what is most important is that those who write this and our readers be in agreement and in harmony with the Church, bringing to light the aspects which a subject that is subtle, but not very difficult to understand, requires.
To promote ecumenical dialogue it is affirmed that there is an ‘objective bond between the Church of Rome and Orthodox Churches’. This is what the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith explains in the first paragraph of a document from June 30, 2000, entitled Note on the expression ‘Sister Churches’, signed by the then-Prefect of the same, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. But when one goes on to read the second paragraph, one observes:
Unfortunately, in certain publications and in the writings of some theologians involved in ecumenical dialogue, it has recently become common to use this expression to indicate the Catholic Church on the one hand and the Orthodox Church on the other, leading people to think that in fact the one Church of Christ does not exist, but may be re-established through the reconciliation of the two sister Churches. In addition, the same expression has been applied improperly by some to the relationship between the Catholic Church on the one hand, and the Anglican Communion and non-catholic ecclesial communities on the other. In this sense, a ‘theology of sister Churches’ or an ‘ecclesiology of sister Churches’ is spoken of, characterized by ambiguity and discontinuity with respect to the correct original meaning of the expression as found in the documents of the Magisterium. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Note on the expression ‘Sister Churches’, June 30, 2000)
The note ‘Sister Churches’ has an introduction followed by twelve points separated into two parts. In the first part, made up of eight points, the “origin and development” of the expression is analyzed; and in the second part, the last four points are instructions regarding the use of the expression. It becomes clear that this term was used primitively to refer to the various churches from the beginning of Christianity, in the sense that Saint John uses it in the Apocalypse: ‘Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea’ (Rev 1:11).
The document is clear. So much so that it is like a ‘beginner’s guide’ for all those who wish to understand the correct manner for seeking true union with other Christians in order to have that one and only flock, with one faith under one shepherd. We recommend reading it. Two sections seemed to be sufficient to understand the essence of the issue in question:
10. It must always be clear, when the expression sister Churches is used in this proper sense, that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Universal Church is not sister but mother of all the particular Churches (Cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Letter Communionis notio (28-5-1992), 9: AAS 85 (1993), 843-844). (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Note on the expression ‘Sister Churches’, no. 10, June 30, 2000)
11. Consequently, one should avoid, as a source of misunderstanding and theological confusion, the use of formulations such as ‘our two Churches’, which, if applied to the Catholic Church and the totality of Orthodox Churches (or a single Orthodox Church), imply a plurality not merely on the level of particular Churches, but also on the level of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church confessed in the Creed, whose real existence is thus obscured. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Note on the expression ‘Sister Churches’, no. 11, June 30, 2000)
Our priest friend might say that in the year 2000 the then-Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio surely must not have had time to read all the documents published by the Congregation entrusted primarily with guarding the deposit of the faith. What is certain is that he should be the one making such clarifications today, as all the previous popes did:
In order to overcome these equivocations and ambiguities in the use and application of the expression ‘sister Churches’, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has judged it necessary to prepare the enclosed Note on the Expression ‘Sister Churches’ which was approved by Pope John Paul II in the Audience of June 9, 2000. The indications contained in this Note are, therefore, to be held as authoritative and binding, although the Note will not be published in official form in the Acta Apostolicae Sedis, given its limited purpose of specifying the correct theological terminology on this subject. (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Note on the expression “Sister Churches”, no. 11, June 30, 2000)
The list of the complete studies of the Dz-B are available here