So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter (2 Thess. 2:15). Guard what has been entrusted to you. Avoid the godless chatter and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge, for by professing it some have missed the mark as regards faith (1 Tim. 6:21-22).

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Maltese Bishops' Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia. An insult to the memory and witness of the martyrs.

The Christian Martyrs' Last Prayer | Jean-Léon Gérôme

Catholics have lived and died for the Faith received from Jesus Christ through the Apostles and faithful disciples.

Down through the centuries, when the prevailing culture denied all that is holy and good, the martyrs have stood for reason, authentic mercy, charity and heroic virtue. They did not shrink from their Christian duty to preserve the Faith whole and inviolate. They did not think themselves above the Gospel of Jesus Christ by believing one thing and then acting against the teaching of Holy Mother Church. The martyrs clung to their dignity as disciples of Jesus even while being tortured and killed because of their commitment to Christ and His teaching.
Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many.—St. Matthew 7:13
"Go and sin no more" or "stay and sin some more"?

Why should we tolerate the promotion of a degradation of the Lord's teaching by adulterers and fornicators who have chosen to live in second "marriages" and who misappropriate the Holy Eucharist by receiving Holy Communion while obstinately persisting in their mortally sinful behaviours ("public and permanent adultery", Note #3, below)? That such unrepentant people living in objectively sinful lifestyles are to be permitted to receive the Holy Eucharist is an insult to the memory of the martyrs who preserved the Faith.
“If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? For what can a man give in return for his life? For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of man also be ashamed, when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”—St. Mark 8:34b-38.
What does it profit a man and woman to choose their sinful relationship over God's offer of eternal life? Are the divorced and remarried ashamed of their Lord and Saviour? Have they not deliberately left the company of the Lord? Have they not traded intimate communion with the Lord and His Church for the comfort and companionship of another creature? Dare we offer the Eucharist to apostates?

Those who have chosen to leave the sheepfold and to pursue lives apart from the Gospel by willfully rejecting the call to embrace God's design for marriage have alienated themselves from the Church. And yet, some in the Church—the Maltese bishops, for example—seem to be saying Catholics can serve two masters, sin and grace, the flesh and Christ. That abomination—Criteria for the Application of Chapter VIII of Amoris Laetitia—issued by the Maltese bishops is poison concealed in the misleading language of "gradualness". That is, a gradualism of the law.
Pope St. John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio (1981)
34. [...] Married people too are called upon to progress unceasingly in their moral life, with the support of a sincere and active desire to gain ever better knowledge of the values enshrined in and fostered by the law of God. They must also be supported by an upright and generous willingness to embody these values in their concrete decisions. They cannot however look on the law as merely an ideal to be achieved in the future: they must consider it as a command of Christ the Lord to overcome difficulties with constancy. "And so what is known as 'the law of gradualness' or step-by-step advance cannot be identified with 'gradualness of the law,' as if there were different degrees or forms of precept in God's law for different individuals and situations.
The Gospel that Pope St. John Paul II understood completely and taught faithfully is the same Gospel which the Maltese bishops, drawing on Amoris Laetitia, have abandoned, and they are calling upon the sheep of their flocks to walk away from the Truth with them.
1. The Maltese bishops have fallen completely for the canonically and ecclesiologically false view that an individual’s assessment of his or her own readiness to receive holy Communion (see c. 916) controls a minister’s decision to administer the sacrament (see c. 915). In Malta now, anyone who approaches for the sacraments should be recognized as being “at peace with God”. Objective evidence to the contrary is simply no longer relevant. Canon 916 is thus eviscerated, Canon 915 is effectively repudiated.
3. The Maltese bishops, by extending their document to the sacrament of Reconciliation, have basically instructed their priests not to withhold absolution from divorced-and-remarried Catholics who refuse to repent of their “public and permanent adultery” (CCC 2384) even to the point of abstaining from sexual (nb: sexual not “conjugal”) relations. Incredibly, such a directive raises the specter of green-lighting sacrilegious confessions and the commission of solicitation in confession. No priest should want either on his conscience, let alone both.—Dr. Ed Peters
Are impenitent adulterers to be counted among the saints? Are those who have freely embraced darkness and who stubbornly persist in living in darkness now to be considered in communion with Jesus Christ? Does the sinless Bridegroom fornicate with harlots?
A Unique Case. One final situation is that of those who have repented of their illicit union, but remain together for a serious reason, such as for the sake of their children. Catholic pastoral practice allows that IF their pastor judges that scandal can be avoided (meaning most people are unaware of their remarriage and consider them a married couple), then they may live together as "brother and sister" (without any sexual relations), and be admitted to the sacraments. If scandal can not be avoided, then they must either separate or refrain from the sacraments.—Colin B. Donovan, STL.
Instead of offering authentic accompaniment to sinners to help them (us) overcome their sinful lives and the loss of their souls, the action of the Maltese bishops constitutes a repudiation of the faith of the martyrs, an insult to Jesus Christ and His Church, and a slap in the face of all who in this day strive to keep the Faith whole and inviolate. How many souls will be lost because people imagine their sinful behaviour now blessed? Instead of "go and sin no more", we have "stay and sin some more" (cf St. John 8:11).

The Maltese bishops have a gravely mistaken idea of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. One cannot be a child of the Light if one chooses to live in darkness.
Those who dismiss the grace of God which enables Christians to live heroic lives of virtue merely promote despair and sacrilege. Despair—because they abandon people to a mediocre faith; sacrilege—because they encourage impenitent sinners to receive the Holy Eucharist.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider, interviewed at 1Peter5, reminds us that we are a people of hope and purpose, a people who trust in the providence of God.
Steve Skojec: Many of the faithful feel exhausted and beaten down. There seems to be an endless succession of scandals or even insults coming from Rome, where they are accustomed to looking for consolation and guidance. What would you tell people who find themselves losing hope, or beginning to doubt the Church during this time?
Bishop Athanasius Schneider: This time of an extraordinary grave crisis in the Church is a permission of Divine Providence. God in His omnipotence permits this crisis in order to bring out a greater good. It is for us a trial of faith and of the supernatural hope. We have to hope apparently against hope. Our faith and hope in the Divine character of the Church and in the fact, that Christ Himself guides His Church in midst of such an immense confusion, is purified like the gold in the fire (cf.1 Pe 1, 7). When Catholics begin to doubt the Church during this time, it is a sign that their faith and their hope is not strong enough.
Swiftly, then, may these trials lead to our purification.
O God, do not keep silence; do not hold thy peace or be still, O God! For lo, thy enemies are in tumult; those who hate thee have raised their heads. They lay crafty plans against thy people; they consult together against thy protected ones.
O my God, make them like whirling dust, like chaff before the wind. As fire consumes the forest, as the flame sets the mountains ablaze, so do thou pursue them with thy tempest and terrify them with thy hurricane! Fill their faces with shame, that they may seek thy name, O Lord. Let them be put to shame and dismayed for ever; let them perish in disgrace. Let them know that thou alone, whose name is the Lord, art the Most High over all the earth.—Psalm 83 (82): 1-3; 13-18.

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