The signatories to this document include such hardcore radical traditionalists as:
- Dr. John Rao (history professor) who has completly denounced Vatican II and the *Novus Ordo* Mass;
- Chris Ferrara (lawyer, secular not canon) who makes his living bashing the contemporary Church and publicly denouncing Pope Francis;
- Bishop Bernard Fellay, the head of the SSPX, a group that refuses to recognize the validity of Vatican II and the *Novus Ordo" Mass;
- Roberto de Mattei, an Italian journalist who has been described as "a renowned apologist for ultra-traditional Catholicism"
- Joseph Shaw, Chairman of the Latin Mass Society;
- Deacon Nick Donnelly, whose blog was shut down by the bishop of his diocese of Lancaster, England. Deacon Donnelly now contributes to OnePeterFive, a radical traditionalist blog which is in constant conflict with the message of Pope Francis;
- Father Claude Barthe, a radical traditionalist priest and foe of the Second Vatican Council.
And the list goes on, radical traditionalists one and all. One bishop has now signed the Correction: Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, René Henry Gracida. Bishop Gracida is quoted in Crux as follows:
Gracida said he believed the Church must “more effectively and with greater compassion” teach, preach and apply “the magisterial doctrine that has been handed down through it for over 2,000 years,” but this did not mean “today’s faux mercy.”
. . .
Gracida told Crux he did not believe Francis would respond to the petition, adding he would like to see the pope resign.
“I do not believe that absent Francis’s resignation, there can be a ‘next step’ for humans to take, the next step is for Jesus Christ to take,” he said.So there can be no doubt that this document is presented to us by those who consider Pope Francis to be an enemy of the Church, and their goal is to have him publicly denounced as such.
Although this document has been and will continue to make a lot of noise on the Catholic Internet, the average Catholic will neither know nor care of its existence. And that is a very good thing. I have read the *correction", and it is garbage, designed to inflame people against Pope Francis and his outreach to those on the fringe of the Church. It is filled with lies, half truths and misrepresentations of the actions and words of Pope Francis.
When all of the harsh rhetoric and verbal pollution is boiled down, the argument is, very simply, judgment versus mercy. This document is filled with the traditionalists' definition of mercy which is really not mercy at all but judgment and condemnation. Those who promulgate this *correction* feel that the job of the Church is to condemn sinners. They believe that condemnation will somehow lead to conversion. It what I call hit-and-run ministry: tell people that they are sinners and will go to hell if they don't repent, and then be on your way to let the people sort it out for themselves. If they repent, great. If not, they go to hell where they belong.
Another way of looking at the traditionalists' view of sinners is that they see a drowning person and instead of trying to pull him out of the water, they reprimand the drowning person by reminding him that he knew when he jumped in the water that he couldn't swim. It's his own fault he is drowning, so he better start swimming right now. The traditionalists call this charity.
Pope Francis, following the example of Jesus Christ, sees those who are drowning and says the first thing we need to do is pull them out of the water. Then we can teach them to swim. The traditionalists call this heresy.
The Correction accuses Pope Francis of promoting seven different heresies supposedly arising from Amoris Laetitia. It is quite interesting to note that the *heresies* are not listed in the body of the document, but in a footnote. Why? If the *heresies* were listed in the body of the document, each *heresy* would need its own footnote referencing Amoris Laetitia, and there are no such references in the document to which the traditionalists can point. These *heresies* have no basis in reality. They are basically the summation of the traditionalists' reaction to Pope Francis.
The document does quote from several passages from Amoris Laetitia, but none of these passages are specifically linked to any of the stated *heresies* simply because they cannot be linked. The passages quoted in the Correction can be summed up as saying that we cannot make blanket judgments of everyone who is divorced and remarried because every situation is unique. We need to look at each and every situation and work with the people to bring them back into full communion with the Church.
The traditionalists counter this view by denying that individual situations could ever be unique. They claim we can view everything in black and white and paint everyone with the same brush. If you are divorced and remarried, it doesn't matter how you got there or what your current situation is. You are a sinner and unless you either start living like brother and sister or leave your family, you are in a state of mortal sin and headed to hell.
Life is so easy for the traditionalists.
As I stated above, the traditionalists feel that it is merciful to let a person who is struggling in the water to drown because it is that person's fault for jumping in the water in the first place. Fortunately for the rest of us, Jesus Christ does not subscribe to the Traditionalists' view of mercy.
One of the clearest examples of the "judgment versus mercy" conflict was a Pope Francis quote included at the very end of the document in which the traditionalists accuse the Holy Father of alluding to and agreeing with the "Lutheran view about faith and justification."
The quote from Pope Francis is as follows:
Great injustice is done to God’s grace whenever we say that sins are punished by his judgment, without first saying – as the Gospel clearly does – that they are forgiven by his mercy! Mercy has to be put before judgment and, in any case, God’s judgment will always be rendered in the light of his mercy. Obviously, God’s mercy does not deny justice, for Jesus took upon himself the consequences of our sin, together with its due punishment. He did not deny sin, but redeemed it on the cross. Hence, in the faith that unites us to the cross of Christ, we are freed of our sins; we put aside all fear and dread, as unbefitting those who are loved (cf. 1 Jn. 4:18).The idea of mercy before judgment is anathema to the traditionalists. The traditionalists refute the statement of Pope Francis that "Jesus took upon himself the consequences of our sin, together with its due punishment." Following is their idea of divine forgiveness:
The gospel does not teach that all sins will in fact be forgiven, nor that Christ alone experienced the ‘judgement’ or justice of God, leaving only mercy for the rest of mankind. While there is a ‘vicarious suffering’ of our Lord in order to expiate our sins, there is not a ‘vicarious punishment’, for Christ was made “sin for us” (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21) and not a sinner [emphasis theirs]. Out of divine love, and not as the object of God’s wrath, Christ offered the supreme sacrifice of salvation to reconcile us with God, taking upon himself only the consequences of our sins (cf. Gal. 3:13). Hence, so that we may be justified and saved, it is not sufficient to have faith that our sins have been removed by a supposed vicarious punishment; our justification lies in a conformity to our Saviour achieved by that faith which works through charity (cf. Gal. 5:6).The traditionalists refuse to accept that obedience to the law is the result of Divine Forgiveness, not the requirement for it.
Their statement splits hairs to the nth degree. They agree that there is "vicarious suffering of our Lord to expiate for our sins", but there is not "vicarious punishment" because Christ was made sin but not a sinner, so therefore He was not punished. According to the traditionalists, we must still suffer the punishment for our sins. I am assuming that the punishment for sins falls short of dying for our sins. I get dizzy just trying to make sense of such a statement.
The traditionalists really need to read the words of St. Paul in Romans 3, which completely refutes their statement but which is in complete agreement with the statement made by Pope Francis:
21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. 22 We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
23 For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.24 Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. 25 For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.
27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. 28 So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.
29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the Gentiles? Of course he is. 30 There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by faith, whether they are Jews or Gentiles. 31 Well then, if we emphasize faith, does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have faith do we truly fulfill the law.St. Paul is telling us that forgiveness of sin and justification comes only one way: through faith in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter how perfectly we obey the law. Obedience to the law will never save us. Does that mean we don't have to obey the law? Of course not. But we cannot fully obey the law without first being covered by the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ to wipe away our sins. We can't learn how to swim until Christ first pulls us from the water.
Look at how Christ forgave sinners when he was on earth. He never demanded that people first show their obedience to the law and then He would forgive them. He forgave them and then He told them don't sin anymore.
The traditionalists do not like this idea of mercy. They believe that yes, Christ took on our sin, but that is only for the few forgiven, not for all people. The only path to forgiveness of sins, according to the traditionalists, "lies in a conformity to our Saviour achieved by that faith which works through charity." In other words, traditionalists believe that our works are just as important as God's mercy in order for sins to be forgiven. And, never forget, sinners must be punished for their sins!
They quote three verses to support their position. All three verses, when seen in context, actually refute their assertion that "the gospel does not teach that all sins will in fact be forgiven."
First, they quote II Cor 5:21 which says:
"God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God."The traditionalists want us to look only at the first part of this verse: "God who made him who had no sin to be sin for us." They do not want us to see the second part of the verse: "that we might become the righteousness of God." When we are forgiven of our sins, it is completely an act of God. There is nothing we can do to wipe away our sins. Once our sins are forgiven, then just as Christ become sin for us, we become "the righteousness of God." It is completely an act of mercy on the part of the Almighty God. It has nothing to do with any works we perform.
The verses preceding the one quoted by the traditionalists spells this out even further:
16 So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to GodNote that St. Paul says "God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people's sins against them." There was no sin that wasn't covered when Christ died on the Cross. It is as if the governor of a state gave a blanket pardon to everyone on death row. But in order to come under that pardon, those on death row have to admit to what they did and promise to stay in a program for the rest of their lives that will keep them from ever repeating their crimes. But even if they do repeat those crimes, all is not lost. The pardon will once again apply as long as they confess their actions.
It is Christ's sacrifice alone that makes us holy and acceptable to God. Contrary to the statements of the Correction, there are no works we can perform that will cleanse us of our sins, as Hebrews 10:8-10 tells us:
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them”—though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.Our part in this process of salvation is accepting that forgiveness, that "message of reconciliation." We are free to reject that forgiveness and stay in our sins, but that doesn't change the nature of Christ's Sacrifice. Christ's sacrifice was absolute. And contrary to the traditionalists' assertion, that Supreme Sacrifice is not connected to our works in any way whatsoever.
The second verse quoted by the traditionalists bears this out even further. Galatians 3:13, which says;
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”Once again, the traditionalists want us to look only at this verse as proof that yes, Christ did become sin for us. But, according to the traditionalists, we now have works we must perform to make our salvation complete. But is that what this passage is telling us? We must look at the verse in context.
10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.” 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.This passage clearly shows that forgiveness is a free gift from God. There is nothing we can do to earn it. This is what Divine Mercy is all about. Obeying the law does not save us.
The last verse quoted by the traditionalists, completely contrary to their interpretation, also refutes their argument that we must perform works to be saved. It is Galatians 5:6:
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.The traditionalists interpret this as: "Hence, so that we may be justified and saved, it is not sufficient to have faith that our sins have been removed by a supposed vicarious punishment; our justification lies in a conformity to our Saviour achieved by that faith which works through charity." The traditionalists could not be more wrong. Look at the verse in context:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.The traditionalists want you to believe that the expression: "faith expressing itself through love" means that it is our works of charity that will save us. Once again, the traditionalists do not understand that our good works are not the requirement for forgiveness of sins, but the result of the forgiveness of our sins and the faith we receive from that forgiveness.
St. Paul states very clearly here that our works can never save us. In fact, he says that if we try to be justified by obedience to the law, we are actually alienated from Jesus Christ. St. Paul labels this "a yoke of slavery." He uses the example of circumcision, a physical act required under the Law to identify the Israelites as the Chosen Ones. Circumcision is a symbol of obtaining righteousness through obedience to the law. St. Paul is telling us that physical acts do not produce righteousness. Our righteousness comes through faith. "For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope." It is Christ's sacrifice on the Cross which brings forgiveness and enables us to obey the Divine Law.
Does that mean we are not to perform good works? Of course it doesn't, as Paul explains in Ephesians 2:10
For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.The traditionalists want to put the cart before the horse. They think we must obey before our sins can be forgiven. I wish they would just read the Gospels and see that is not how Christ worked. And I thank God for that.
Pope Francis has never at any time refuted the teachings of the Church. In fact, his statements regarding marriage can not be interpreted in any other way than in support of marriage between one man and one woman which can never be broken.
From Amoris Laetita:
52. No one can think that the weakening of the family as that natural society founded on marriage will prove beneficial to society as a whole. The contrary is true: it poses a threat to the mature growth of individuals, the cultivation of community values and the moral progress of cities and countries. There is a failure to realize that only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman has a plenary role to play in society as a stable commitment that bears fruit in new life. We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions, for example, may not simply be equated with marriage. No union that is temporary or closed to the transmission of life can ensure the future of society.
62. The Synod Fathers noted that Jesus, “in speaking of God’s original plan for man and woman, reaffirmed the indissoluble union between them, even stating that ‘it was for your hardness of heart that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so’ (Mt 19:8). The indissolubility of marriage – ‘what God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Mt 19:6) – should not be viewed as a ‘yoke’ imposed on humanity, but as a ‘gift’ granted to those who are joined in marriage… God’s indulgent love always accompanies our human journey; through grace, it heals and transforms hardened hearts, leading them back to the beginning through the way of the cross. The Gospels clearly present the example of Jesus who… proclaimed the meaning of marriage as the fullness of revelation that restores God’s original plan (cf. Mt 19:3)”.
72. The sacrament of marriage is not a social convention, an empty ritual or merely the outward sign of a commitment. The sacrament is a gift given for the sanctification and salvation of the spouses, since “their mutual belonging is a real representation, through the sacramental sign, of the same relationship between Christ and the Church. The married couple are therefore a permanent reminder for the Church of what took place on the cross; they are for one another and for their children witnesses of the salvation in which they share through the sacrament”. Marriage is a vocation, inasmuch as it is a response to a specific call to experience conjugal love as an imperfect sign of the love between Christ and the Church. Consequently, the decision to marry and to have a family ought to be the fruit of a process of vocational discernment.These few statements show the deep reverence Pope Francis has for the sacrament of marriage. He sees it as the ultimate symbol of Christ and the Church, a sacred relationship that can never be taken lightly. Can there really be any question as to how Pope Francis views marriage?
In April 2014, Pope Francis declared that marriage is "a sacrament that leads us to the heart of God’s plan, which is a plan of alliance with his People, with all of us, a plan of communion." He continued with this statement:
We were created to love, as a reflection of God and his love. And in matrimonial union the man and woman realise this vocation, as a sign of reciprocity and the full and definitive communion of life”. When a man and a woman receive the Sacrament of marriage, “God is, so to say, ‘mirrored’ in them, he imprints in them the features and indelible nature of His love. Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. Indeed, God too is communion: the three Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit have always lived and live for ever in perfect unity. And this is the mystery of marriage: God makes married couples into one existence. The Bible uses a strong term: it says one ‘flesh’ only, so intimate is the union between man and woman in marriage. And this is the mystery of marriage: God’s love that is reflected in the couple who decide to live together.Those who accuse Pope Francis of heresy show their complete lack of understanding of the nature of our Creator. Christ wants to save each and every one of us. He is not looking for ways to condemn us but wants above everything else to forgive us and bring us into His Kingdom. This is the goal of our Holy Father. Pope Francis looks at people with the heart of Christ, realizing their weaknesses and inability to help themselves. He sees them drowning in their sins and he wants to pull them to safety.
I only hope and pray that someday the traditionalists will have this same compassion and mercy. Unless they can extend the Mercy of Christ to others, they cannot expect to receive it for themselves.