Recently, on Twitter, Steve Skojec described the existence of a de facto schism in which “two different and incompatible churches are occupying the same space at the same time.” He expressed a desire to see this de facto schism declared as such “de jure” or under church law.  Without really addressing the content of the comment itself, it certainly raises the question: why is it so hard for people of the same religion to agree on matters of faith, even to the point of schism?

Faith, in short, is a gift. Thomas Aquinas in his Summa summarizes the gift of faith by breaking it down into two parts: First, God must propose. Second, God must give the grace to accept what is proposed (cf. ST II-II.6.1). Assuming we’re discussing Catholics who have at least been given the grace to accept the faith in Baptism, the real question is, “What is the faith we have accepted? Are we accepting all of what has been proposed to us?”  

The problem, if we can call it that, is that God rarely proposes faith directly to an individual (though it certainly does happen and has happened in history). It is a more common experience to have the faith proposed to us by preachers, that is, the Church. The Church preaches the faith based on what it has received from Jesus Christ through the Spirit, in Scripture and Tradition. The Church is trustworthy, and indeed, there is no other standard to judge what is the true faith except the Church.  

We can go further. Faith is inherently a matter of God’s merciful revelation. One cannot reason to the faith in a vacuum. In this sense, we cannot empirically prove the truth of certain principles of the faith except to show that they are teachings promulgated by the Church. But, in the case of Skojec and others, it is the Church’s trustworthiness itself that has been called into question! If one cannot empirically prove that what has been proposed by the Church is true and cannot trust the Church to propose truthfully, then on what basis can rational discussion on this issue be had? In truth, very little.

We at Where Peter Is have been spending some time discussing what is that we hope to achieve by our writing. We are not ignorant of just how dangerous certain opinions are and have been. In a recent piece, Mike Lewis told a story of a former friend who was led into the bowels of sedevacantism.

In various ways, we have come to this website out of frustration with the tone and tenor of the debate, over the twisting of the Pope’s words to nefarious ends, or the prejudiced refusal to assent to the Church’s Magisterium. We are encouraged by the words of some who have expressed gratitude to Where Peter Is as they continue their own journey to the heart of the faith. We admit that we’re not experts, but, in our love for the Church, we have conviction that there needs to be some readily-accessible correction to false opinions found in mass or social media and encouragement to those who may be vulnerable to their rhetoric.

At the same time, we cannot ignore the reality that the nature of these opinions, rooted as they are in adherence to some but not all principles of the Catholic faith, makes rational debate near impossible. Therefore, we debate very little over the truly essential questions: who is the final (i.e. highest, ultimate, best) authority when it comes to the truth? Whom can we trust to tell us what is true or false? Do only we ourselves have that ability?

Any direct encounter between the “two sides” of this debate will often devolve into a derivation of the slippery slope argument, showing how the other’s beliefs will lead to heresies which there has been strong condemnation of in the past–typically, the Protestant heresy.  

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, in a reflection on beauty in 2002, put it this way:

All too often arguments fall on deaf ears because in our world too many contradictory arguments compete with one another, so much so that we are spontaneously reminded of the medieval theologians’ description of reason, that it “has a wax nose’: in other words, it can be pointed in any direction, if one is clever enough. Everything makes sense, is so convincing, whom should we trust?

Ratzinger offers a solution:

The encounter with the beautiful can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes, so that later, from this experience, we take the criteria for judgement and can correctly evaluate the arguments.

On the one hand, God’s creation impresses itself upon us. His truth rings out in our soul via the power of beauty. We have good reason to believe that what we perceive as beautiful is true. Indeed, the very experience of beauty can become a “wound,” which in attempting to “heal” takes us beyond our mere senses and into the realm of truth itself.

On the other hand, our senses may not be enough. The Christian knows that God’s creation is good and that, in accordance with God’s design, our senses can reveal to us aspects of God’s love and truth.  And yet, because of sin and our inability to always appreciate true beauty when we experience it, our senses need to be purified by the light of faith. Only in faith can the world be truly opened to us in all its grandeur.

On this point, Pope Francis reflects in Laudato Si’:

The universe unfolds in God, who fills it completely. Hence, there is a mystical meaning to be found in a leaf, in a mountain trail, in a dewdrop, in a poor person’s face. The ideal is not only to pass from the exterior to the interior to discover the action of God in the soul, but also to discover God in all things. Saint Bonaventure teaches us that “contemplation deepens the more we feel the working of God’s grace within our hearts, and the better we learn to encounter God in creatures outside ourselves”.

In the modern world, as Ratzinger said, where there are so many competing ideologies, argument and logic presented to the senses is apt to fail. We have conviction that what we believe is true, but it is all too easy to condemn our opponents under the pretext of fraternal correction, with bitterness justified by a sense of urgency. We are acutely aware, being sinners, that the virtue of faith is not necessarily equal in all; we ourselves do not have perfect understanding.

There is a better way.

Instead of “correcting,” we can propose. And what better to propose than the beauty of the faith itself. To behold beauty is to be wounded, to experience an ache for more, for perhaps even the source of beauty itself. Beauty speaks to the heart. Ratzinger said,

I have often affirmed my conviction that the true apology of Christian faith, the most convincing demonstration of its truth against every denial, are the saints, and the beauty that the faith has generated. Today, for faith to grow, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to enter into contact with the Beautiful.

There is nothing more beautiful than Truth, particularly at the moment at which he gave his life for us. The cross is the most complete manifestation of God’s love for us; it is, therefore, the most beautiful image we can behold! It is precisely the beauty of that moment–in which God allowed himself to be put to death for our sake– that has converted so many to the faith. The beauty of the cross leads to faith because it is only in faith that we can look upon the cross and see not just a dead man stripped, flogged, and hung from a tree but rather Love himself in his triumph (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:23). To contemplate the beauty of the cross, even as a possibility, is like cracking open the door of the soul that holds back an ocean of love and truth. Faith and beauty are inseparable.

Recently, a priest came to our parish to lead a parish-wide retreat. He told the story of a few missionaries who went to visit a pagan tribe of indigenous peoples. After some time working through the language barrier, the missionaries were met with failure. The tribe was not interested in “just another god.” After some thought and some sleep, the missionaries returned holding high the crucifix. The missionaries posed the simple question to the tribe: “Which of your gods would do this for you?” A short while later, laughter began to spread through the tribe. “Why are you laughing?” the missionaries asked.  The tribe responded that none of their gods would do that for them. On that day, the tribe was converted to Christianity and was baptized.

Flowing from the beauty of the cross, the Magisterium reflects the beauty of God. We are convicted through faith that the Magisterium is the gift of God, given to us out of his generous love so that we might have a visible authority on which to rely as we continue on our Christian journey. For myself, an important aspect of my work here is to help reveal the beauty reflected by this Magisterium, both as a principle of faith and specifically in the teachings of the popes, especially Pope Francis.

Schism is not inevitable. Ultimately, we trust in the Spirit, to bring unity to division and true peace rooted in faith. As Pope Francis says, “time is greater than space.” Our zeal and sense of urgency must not give way to an inordinate desire to achieve success immediately. Through activities rooted in love and truth, we can be cooperators with God’s plan of salvation, whatever his timeline might be.

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91 Responses

  1. Peter Aiello says:

    The Church includes all of us. Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium 12 says: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, (111) [cf. 1 Jn 2:20, 27] cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (8*) [Cf. 1 Cor. 10: 17] they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth.” With the help of Scripture and the Spirit of Truth, we can all contribute to tradition.
    Vatican II’s Dei Verbum 8 states: “This tradition which comes from the Apostles develop in the Church with the help of the Holy Spirit. (5) For there is a growth in the understanding of the realities and the words which have been handed down. This happens through the contemplation and study made by believers, who treasure these things in their hearts (see Luke, 2:19, 51) through a penetrating understanding of the spiritual realities which they experience, and through the preaching of those who have received through episcopal succession the sure gift of truth.”

    • jong says:

      Yes, the Church includes all the People of God but dont forget the first criteria is, the People of God must be united to the Supreme Pontiff for the Mystical Body to be fully united to Christ the Head of the Church.
      As Cardinal Caffara the former Dubia Cardinals who reconciled to Pope Francis before his death has a beautifil and important reminders to all Bishops.
      “A bishop who oppose the Pope must go away because he is no longer one with Christ, the opposing Bishop must go away because he will lead the faithful astray to eternal damnation.”
      All Cardinals, Bishops,priests,expert theologians and biblical scholars and all Trads channel who projected themselves “more Catholic than Pope Francis” can be deceive by Satan to commit errors in faith or delict of heresy as this people are obstinate in their stance but not the Pope.
      All this Dissenters esp. those people in Trads channels who keep on asking to pray for Pope Francis conversion and at the same time twisting Pope Francis words and slandering him are perfectly described as having a fork tongue in James3:8-10. This Trads channel must read Fr.Belet “Sins of the Tongue” as CCC2479 are repeatedly committed and also Canon752 is completely ignored.
      This Trads channel like Dr.Marshall,M.Matt,M.Voris, Return To Tradition, Watchdog For Truth,etc keep ignoring Jesus powerful promised of protection to Peter that his Faith will not fail. They keep on deceiving their viewers that we had bad popes before but forget that no Pope in 2000 Church History had committed heresy and even Pope Francis and future pope cannot teach and commit heresy as it wil make Jesus a liar in Luke22:32.

      I agree with your introduction of two church as this Truth was prophesied by Blessed Arch.Sheen and had seen by St.Pope Paul VI inside the Vatican and St.John Paul II described this Two Church are heading for Final Confrontation. Pope Emeitus BXVI was in a much better position as he experienced its power and described the leaders as wolves in sheep clothing operating and actively destroying the Church.But good thing, Pope Emeritus BXVI prayer was answered as Our Lady prepared a Luminous Pope who will fight for the Church using the power of humility,simplicity and transparency.
      Pope Francis since 2013 remain untouch by the wiles and snares of the forces of darkness who wanted to scandalize the Church and undermine his papacy.
      The secret of Pope Francis as he reminded all the Bishops to be close to their people meaning the “Shepherds must smell like the sheep” is,
      “SANCTITY is stronger than scandal.”
      John1:5 perfectly depicts Pope Francis steadfast faith as he imitate the life of Christ.
      My Jesus mercy.

      • Peter Aiello says:

        The Mystical Body is united under Christ who is the Head of the Body. My point is that when we are guided by the Spirit of Truth, we can all contribute to tradition and to the understanding of doctrine.
        According to Vatican II, this function isn’t reserved only for the magisterium.

      • jong says:

        Peter Alelio
        All members of the Mystical Body can testify to the Truth about our faith in Christ but if our received inspiration go against the Supreme Pontiff then one cannot insist that he is guided by the Spirit of Truth.Remember only two spirit are opposing in this world, the spirir of error and Spirit of Truth.The Pope is the Supreme Teacher,Interpreter and Guarantor of Faith.
        When the inspiration we receive is to resist and oppose the Pope, then definitely its not coming from the Spirit of Truth.Don’t forget Unam Sanctam.S&IHMMP4us.Amen

      • Marie says:

        ..but or starting point is in union with our Pope, always.

      • Jane says:

        Hello Marie and all my friends from WPI! Here is what I just wrote as a comment on OnePeterFive, by Steve Skojec:

        ‘Pope Francis has answered this open letter — with silence. Christ our Savior did the same. The Scribes and Pharisees and Priests of the Law knew the law and the prophets in and out, through and through. The were the Canon Lawyers of the day, the Theologians who interpreted the Law, judged and Law and protected the Law, the 10 Commandments, etc. And they deemed Christ our Savior not only worthy of a slap on the wrist, or a fine, or even an Open Letter condemning him as a heretic for all the world to see. They deemed Him worthy of practically being flayed alive, tortured, beat, kicked, spit upon, and then finally crucified. Can we expect the Vicar of Christ to be subject to any less than public humiliation and condemnation? I recently read a marvelous article : https://www.hprweb.com/2019… in which the author, a homeschooling mother of 8 cites many quotes of St. Thomas Aquinas to show how much against virtue it is to openly judge and condemn the Pope as these folks have done. It’s an amazing article and I highly recommend it.
        For some reason Christ our Savior chose to use the animal sheep as His animal of choice for all of us. He is the Good Shepherd and we are His sheep. If you look at sheep, they seem real stupid, always keeping their noses to the ground eating grass and just ambling around. They follow after the one person that herds them around. They might be cute and fluffy but they are really just kind-of stupid it seems. However, in their ‘stupidity’ they are very wise since they are following the one person who will protect them and keep them safe from the wolves. By following the one Shepherd’s Vicar, we might appear stupid, but we are very wise. We are keeping ourselves safe from the wolves. God Bless you’

        I also recommend this website, Where Peter Is, to everyone i know. I have also put it as my email signature 🙂

      • Peter Aiello says:

        The imagery of the sheep and the shepherd is perfect for those who are anxious for nothing because the cast all of their care on the Lord (Philippians 4:6-7 and 1Peter 5:5-7).

      • carn says:


        Your link misses out some parts:

        You really think that calling people right into their face that they are murderers (you explicitely call them pharisees and tie the crucification to the pharisees) is helpful?

        As far as i know calling out people entering an abortion clinic “murderers” might not be the best approach to engage them in dialogue. So why should it work with Papal critics?

        But at least:

        “with silence. Christ our Savior did the same.”

        to read every gospel very carefully to count:

        how often Jesus answered “hostile” questions directly;

        how often Jesus did answer “hostile” questions indirectly (e.g. the way he answered the question about taxes; it is no direct answer, but it is an answer);

        how often Jesus did not provide the one asking the “hostile” question with an answer or a complete, but did otherwise provide an answer (e.g. afterwards providing a more complete answer to his disciples);

        how often he so to say deflected a “hostile” question (e.g. “What is truth?” in reply to a “hostile” question of Pilatus); and

        how often Jesus actually did remain completely silent not issuing at any point to anyone anything that is recognizable a direct or indirect answer to the “hostile” question.

        While i will do this in the vain and absurd hope, that if i end up with a count that Jesus gave an answer to the vast majority of “hostile” question,

        that then Pope Francis “defenders” might ponder whether it isn’t a bit over the top to claim that Pope Francis in not offering any answer to any “hostile” question in the last years (which is recognizable as an answer) whatsoever is supposedly acting like Jesus

        – since when was Jesus a snowflake shying away from tough questions? –

        it will have at least the beneficial effect of me reading the Gospels again carefully.

        (Cause i am certainly not really believing that anyone will really reconsider the ‘he is just acting like Jesus’-idea and will at least realize that for people critical of Pope Francis it sounds absurd; cause the alternative motive for being silent in face of questions is if one doesn’t have good answer; so ‘he is silent, that is obviously the reaction of the innocent’ is rather unconvincing)

  2. Ashpenaz says:

    The supposed schism is based on how different groups view the Church. Here’s an example: One reason I question the Church’s current teaching on contraception is because the entire body of the faithful does not accept it. If it were a true teaching, then all the faithful would recognize it. The Magisterium, while a spokesman for revelation, is not the only part of the Church inspired by the Holy Spirit. Pope Paul VI proposed his understanding of contraception in Humanae Vitae–the laity and theologians rejected his understanding, and now we have to move forward as a Church to better discern what the deposit of faith actually teaches about contraception.

    As Pope Francis says in 41 of Christus Vivit, ” Even if she possesses the truth of the Gospel, this does not mean that she has completely understood it; rather, she is called to keep growing in her grasp of that inexhaustible treasure.”

    • Christopher Lake says:

      Pope (and now, canonized Saint) Paul VI did not simply “propose his understanding” of artificial contraception in 1968. He stood fast against the pressure of many in the Church, and many more in the world, and he reaffirmed, in “Humanae Vitae,” the teaching on artificial contraception which *already had been* the Catholic teaching since the early centuries of Christianity.

      If the truth and authority of a Church teaching were determined by how many people in the Church *actually held* to a teaching, then “Humanae Vitae” would have come out as a very, very different document– i.e. the kind of document that much of the world *actually wanted* in 1968, rather than as a document that brought on the wrath and criticism of much of the world, and many in the Church. Pope Paul VI was courageous in the stand that he took. Moreover, in the frightening predictions (and warnings) that it made, “Humane Vitae” has turned out to be a strikingly prophetic document concerning serious problems of the latter 20th and early 21st centuries in the Western world.

      • carn says:

        “If the truth and authority of a Church teaching were determined by how many people in the Church *actually held* to a teaching,”

        then there would be no Church teaching.

        Ashpenaz set the criteria: “all the faithful would recognize it”

        Is there any Church teaching that all “faithful” actually accept?

        Depends of course on whom these “faithful” are; but even if we would boil that down to regular church goers, i am quite certain that there are for every single Church teaching a few of the 100+ Million regular church goers, which are formally catholic and which would self-identify as catholic, who would disagree with that teaching.

        “all” is a very hard to meet criteria.

      • Ashpenaz says:

        As quoted above: Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium 12 says: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, (111) [cf. 1 Jn 2:20, 27] cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples’ supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” (8*) [Cf. 1 Cor. 10: 17] they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. That discernment in matters of faith is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth.”

        The theologians and laity rejected Humanae Vitae. Now we move to find out what the Holy Spirit is actually teaching on this subject.

        As Pope Francis says in a recent interview: “The way of understanding the faith today, after Vatican II, is different than the way of understanding the faith before Vatican II,” said Francis. “Because there was a development of understanding.”

        The awareness of faith, the pope said, “grows with the years.”

        “It is in continual growth,” he said. “Not change. It grows. It gets wider with time. It is understood better.”

        As the faith grows, we will see what the Holy Spirit truly intends to say about contraception and other issues.

      • Marie says:

        Ashpenaz- If I understand you correctly, you seem to think you can decide ahead of time what those developments will be, and so therefore decide you are in line with Church teaching now. It doesn’t work that way.

      • Ashpenaz says:

        How does it work?

      • carn says:

        Nearly always when reading someone making recourse to what supposedly the “entire body of faithful” accepted/rejected, in all its variations, especially also when priests, bishops, theologians, papal critics and popes make recourse to the “faithful” as authority, to affirm or reject some idea

        – as you do here –

        i completely miss the most simple, basic, straght forward and fundamental question,

        which jumped me right in the face, when i read the first time an indirect reference to some infallibility or so of the “faithful”:

        Who are these “faithful” these people talk about? How to identify them? And which institue did poll them when and how correctly (so only polling the “faithful” and not accidentally some other people) regarding the matter that the person appealing to their authority is currently discussing?

        And that is so glaring obvious, that i am nearly always dazzed, why nearly nobody ever bothers to consider these questions.

        Instead nearly everybody is “AL/HumanaeVitae/Novus Ordus mass/Latin mass/[insert your favorite pet issue here] has been accepted/rejected/modified/[insert what might just be your personal opinion here] by the faithful [meaning my opponents not agreeing with that sentence go against infallible teaching of the Church and are HERETICS and not among the faithful, cause otherwise their rejection would disprove that all the faithful agree to what might be only my personal opinion]”.



        Did it never occur to you that even if there were a definition of whom the “faithful” are (e.g. here a suggestion for whom they might by some people spending some words and brain on it: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/cti_documents/rc_cti_20140610_sensus-fidei_en.html#1._Dispositions_needed_for_authentic_participation_in_the_sensus_fidei)

        that it would be nearly impossible for you or me to determine whether something was rejected/accepted by ALL these faithful?

        Case in point:
        I do not reject Humanae Vitae.

        Now you have two options:

        1) Retract your claim that the layity rejected Humanae Vitae.
        2) Claim that i am not among the faithful (which might be even the case looking at the criteria set down in the linked piece)

        But beware:

        Some of the WPI authors seem also not to reject HV.

        So if you want to keep up your claim that the laity rejected HV, you also have to expell also some of them from the “faithful”.

        And each time you plug one from the members of the faithful, cause his/her opinion would disprove your claim, you risk unfairly judging said person.

        Did all that never occur to you, when you got the idea to make claim about what the faithful accepted/rejected?

      • Ashpenaz says:

        If Humanae Vitae were truly a work of the Holy Spirit, then the whole Church, from the Pope to the latest member would agree. Here’s a couple of quotes from an article which I find helpful:

        Reception is an ecclesial process by which virtually the whole church assents to a teaching, thereby assimilating it into the life of the whole church. Reception does not make the teaching true. It is, rather, a prudential judgment from experiential data that the teaching is good for the whole church and is in agreement with the apostolic tradition on which the church is built. It is important to be clear that reception is a judgment, not about the truth of a teaching but about its usefulness in the life of the church. A non-received teaching is not necessarily false; it is simply judged by virtually all believers to be irrelevant to both their own lives and the life of the church. As culture, time and place inevitably enculturated the good news of what God has done in Jesus the Christ, so, too, do they also enculturate every ethical teaching and every reception of that teaching. The act of reception, however, cannot and does not receive the tradition of the past unchanged; the past is always re-received in the cultures of the present. There are many examples in Catholic history of both reception and non-reception.

        The social sciences provide substantial evidence of non-reception of the magisterial teaching on contraception among the faithful, theologians, and many bishops and clergy both at the time Humanae Vitae was promulgated and in its aftermath.

        Francis complains that we “find it hard to make room for the consciences of the faithful, who very often respond as best they can to the Gospel amid their limitations, and are capable of carrying out their own discernment in complex situations,” adding the trenchant judgment that “we have been called to form consciences, not to replace them” (37). He declares that “individual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church’s praxis in certain situations which do not objectively embody our understanding of marriage,” for conscience “can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while not yet fully the objective ideal” (303). He is speaking in this latter passage about divorce and remarriage without annulment, but he is articulating a traditional Catholic principle that applies to all moral judgments, including the judgment about whether to use or not to use artificial contraception: Circumstances and context are factors in every ethical judgment.


      • Daniel Amiri says:

        That’s a high standard! I certainly don’t doubt the Spirit is working to build up the faith in every member of his Church, but sin prevents this from happening all at once, immediately, etc. In other words, it is sin–personal or otherwise–that commonly prevents reception of the Church’s teaching, not the “truthfulness” of the teaching.

        Two points to make:

        (1) The failure for people to receive this teaching is owing in part to, going back to the article, we have made the teaching about what one *cannot do* and less about the beauty of human sexuality–that is, the fullness of married life that certain folks have been called to. So I do think the Church has some responsibility for that insofar as it has failed to make an authentically “beautiful” case for chastity. Of course, we have many beautiful examples of saints.

        (2) As to the last comment, and I think we touched on this before, but we need to clarify between the teaching and the personal situation. Sometimes, the way you talk and use Francis’ words, it would make it seem like people ought to be encouraged to use contraception, or that contraception, per se, is good for them. He clearly rejects this.

        In some cases, people might judge their use of contraception to be a more loving option than whatever they were doing before (see Benedict on this point), but this does not make the use of contraception **good.** It simply means that the person, in this case, is growing, and this growth in love should be respected and encouraged.

      • Ashpenaz says:

        I’ve never actually seen where Pope Francis clearly rejects artificial contraception. Where I have seen him discuss it, as in Amoris Laetitia, he stresses the primacy of conscience. Where does he reject it?

        Because contraception has not been infallibly discussed, I am free to make my own decisions about it using St. Ligouri’s probablism:

        Probabilism, in casuistry, a principle of action grounded on the premise that, when one does not know whether an action would be sinful or permissible, he may rely on a “probable opinion” for its permissibility even though a more probable opinion calls it sinful. An opinion is considered probable either if sound, logical arguments can be cited in its favour (intrinsic probability) or if recognized authorities give it support (extrinsic probability).

        I believe that the arguments Salzman puts forth in Sexual Ethics or Farley puts forth in Just Love are sounder and more logical than those put forth in Humanae Vitae.

      • Daniel Amiri says:

        I guess what I’m saying is that he underscores the importance of the teaching, even if he doesn’t harp on it.

        ““We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”

        There was also the conversation coming back from the Philippines when he was asked about contraception. Basically, why doesn’t the Church allow contraception? His answer, paraphrasing, because people can be responsible.

        “And I know of any number of solutions which are licit and have helped for this.” Which we can suppose to mean that there are a number of illicit means as well.

      • Ashpenaz says:

        Here’s a quote from one of Pope Francis’ interviews:

        “Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape,” he said.

        Seven sentences later, he added another comment. Not mentioning contraception specifically, he simply said that “avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”

        Numerous news outlets suggested that the Pope was introducing a change – or at least a softening – in previous teaching.

      • Daniel Amiri says:

        Fair enough. I had in mind a lot of quotes regarding keeping the “church’s teaching.” But I suppose it’s never explicitly mentioned that contraception is one of those teachings worth keeping.

        Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. That’s the whole principle behind the use of NFP for “responsible parenthood.”

      • Ashpenaz says:

        I’m not sure NFP would work if you are trying to prevent a pregnancy due to rape. 🙂 I think Pope Francis and Paul VI are saying there are some circumstances where artificial contraception is licit.

      • carn says:


        You do not seem to want to consider the consequences of your own arguments.

        There have been regarding various topics various documents, which have not been accepted by every member of the Church.

        E.g. one would find some documents which indicate that torture is be used NEVER. There are various catholics in the US who disagree.

        According to your argument, then that teaching about torture is not the work of the Holy Spirit.

      • Ashpenaz says:

        How do you interpret this statement from Lumen Gentium?

        The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One, cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole people’s supernatural discernment in matters of faith when “from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful” they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals

      • Pedro Gabriel says:

        So, following up on carn’s question, you think the Church is erring on her teachings about torture, in light of Lumen Gentium and the disagreement of many American Catholics on that issue?

      • Ashpenaz says:

        I think that the purpose of the Church is not to create hard-and-fast rules, but to offer guidance based on years of acquired wisdom. If there is a rule, it is to love our neighbors as ourselves. Can we torture someone and love them as ourselves? It would seem that in thousands of years of Church history, there are very few, if any, times a Christian can torture someone in an act of love. However, in each situation, with it’s unrepeatable set of circumstances, a Christian can use prudential judgment to determine the most loving course of action.

        I think there are situations when a Christian, using their prudential judgment, can use artificial contraception or homosexual acts as a way of expressing love. That’s what I think Pope Francis means when he says the following: “(I)ndividual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church’s praxis in certain situations which do not objectively embody our understanding of marriage,” for conscience “can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while not yet fully the objective ideal” (303)

        That would true of torture as well, but there are much fewer, if any, situations I can imagine where torture would be the most generous response which can be given to God.

      • carn says:


        “I think that the purpose of the Church is not to create hard-and-fast rules …”

        I understand your answer such that there are then quite a lot of texts, which although considered to be binding teaching about morals by many, are not binding, but just guidelines.

        “That’s what I think Pope Francis means …”

        @Daniel Amiri and rest of WPI:

        Maybe you understand that such statements – if heard often enough – could prompt strongly – especially in people used to thinking about law – the following thought into some people’s mind:

        Ok, he thinks Pope Francis means …; i do not think that Pope Francis means that; but i cannot know for sure, cause at least someone is interpreting here wrong and it might be me; why debating what someone means with some words, if we can just ask him?

        So it must not be at all times ill will, if someone suggest to ask the Pope a question about what he means with some of his words.

      • ONG says:


        Just some short observations I noted during the days —compressed in this one comment, short and to the point:

        1. That the “Faith grows” OBVIOUSLY mean that those who today still don’t understand contraception will eventually (and hopefully) change their mind, and fully accept it; OBVIOUSLY NOT the other way around, as you would imply, I, hoping that the Holy Spirit will change His mind and fully legalize it.

        2. Regarding your other comment I read about Pope Francis’ interview, when he mentioned the “great Paul VI allowing it”, he was just referring to “an exception to the rule”, NOT a general advice or an innuendo to suggest its future use!

        The contextual continuity is crystal clear!

        3. “Casuistry” (a) can also be understood as synonym of “sophistry” (b), therefore in this case negatively for your argument:

        (a)— the use of clever but unsound reasoning, esp. in relation to moral questions.
        (b)— the use of fallacious arguments, esp. with the intention of deceiving.

      • ONG says:

        PS: pesky autocorrect…

        The “I” in #1, after “as you would imply”, should have been “i.e.”.

  3. ONG says:

    Here’s a TEST:

    Who thinks that this man should/should not preach in public?
    Is he “faithful” to the Church or is he not?
    What would be the unbiased analysis of the various moments emphasized during the video and the main message?

    Take your time and reflect well before answering. (No influence whatsoever.)

    April 7, 2019

    • carn says:

      “Who thinks that this man should/should not preach in public?”

      I refrain from answering definitely, cause i know that i have an emotional bias against him; i simply dislike his style, voice and behavior, accordingly, i am not impartial judge reagarding the question.

      I would nonetheless opt for “should” cause “shouldn’t” carries the burden of argument/evidence. And dislike is nothing.

      “Is he “faithful” to the Church or is he not?”

      I did not spot any heresy.

      Also it seems he thinks he acts in accordance with Canon 212 §3.

      Whether that is the case, is another question (i do not know what “reverce to their pastors” requires; maybe he breaches that); he at least seems to “to make” his “opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful” “on matters which pertain to the good of the Church” and he seems at least to be competent enough so that one understands what the matters are and why he thinks that there is a problem (that is by the way no easy criteria; sometimes one hears somebody complaining about something and has a hard time to understand, what exactly bothers the person; here it isn’t, it is mostly comprehensible what he is bothered about).

      So he seems at least trying to be “faithful” and might be acting within the boundaris of 212.3.

      “What would be the unbiased analysis of the various moments emphasized during the video and the main message?”

      That it is unknown how Canon 844.4 is to be understood as the quoted suggestion from Pope Francis about intercommunion seems to differ from what 844.4 requires. While the Pope can abolish or alter any canon law at will, it is a bit uncertain, how he wants to be understood there.

      That there is a disagreement among German bishops about how 844.4 is to be understood and applied.

      That Weston (=”this man”) thinks that
      – the suggestion of Pope Francis about intercommunion giving in a Q&A session;
      – the ideas Cardinal Kapser proposes since several decades in respect to intercommunion; and
      – the intents of some unnamed German bishops in office regarding intercommunion

      are all in violation of both canon 844.4 and of St. Paul’s letter to corinthinans

      and that Weston seems to think that this is all interconnected to a in his view ongoing whitewashing of Luther’s heresies and disobedience, which he probably thinks to be at least wrong.

      Also Weston seems to think that it is wrong to discourage someone from becoming catholic and thinks it would be right to politely encourage people to become Catholic, even Protestants and Orthodox.

      Also Weston thinks that it is not an act of love to encourage someone to do something, which might result in this: “For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself.”

      • ONG says:


        I got much more out of it, and without the pretext of intercommunion, which “the man” has misused in his articles long before the commemoration in Lund.

        “The man” and his cohorts don’t understand squat of Ecumenism and Interreligious dialogue, nor about the New Evangelization, nor about the Social Doctrine of the Church.

        They pick and choose from what seems at odds with pre-conciliar practices ’cause they all are completely AGAINST the “spirit” of Vatican II, but they don’t want to say it out loud!

        Sorry to say: there is NO turning back from the Council.

    • M. says:

      No he should not. But I can’t be objective, because I already know who he is, and what his objective is.

      • ONG says:

        Good, M.

        He doesn’t even know what to say exactly making the sign of the cross.
        A commenter criticized him for that! Lol

  4. M. says:

    I thought I noticed he seemed visibly uncomfortable making the sign of the cross, yet I thought, it must be my imagination, my preconceived notions about the man- since he was also sprouting some nice little horns on top as well, I thought, or maybe, is that, could it be, a longer nose? ……definitely my imagination!

    • ONG says:

      M. to hear him speak is new for me, since I’ve only used to read previous posts, comments and e-mail campaigns, and people posting them around… until I decided to opt out when I changed e-mail three years ago, having noticed their constant dissensions pushing a divisive agenda with their twisting news and people applauding them.
      These videos series are rather new, so I’ve been listening to a couple of them so far, objectively and purely unbiased. As to just listening: What does this guy have really to say?

      The second one I heard today was the following one, which was flowing rather well at first, until the very end when I made up my mind about its true intentions: (It could be another TEST for those who have never heard him.) ☺


      • M says:

        ONG I would be interested to hear what you made up your mind about the video’s true intentions at the very end. I found it good to hear this man speaking about love, prayer, and so on. He seemed very sincere at the beginning, and I began to think maybe these folks are acting in good faith, even if they are very mistaken- perhaps they are just truly very confused, as they claim to be. But I find, I still strongly distrust him. I find it hard to take when anyone presumes to correct the pope and “pray for his conversion.” It is putting himself and his interpretation of the faith above the pope. It feels like a galling amount of hubris, still, it may be just confusion, one hopes. It seems this man thinks he is more reliable for us in transmitting the faith than the pope is., however, and that is very troubling. His video left me wanting to pray for his conversion of heart, more than the pope, so it failed in its apparent objective…

      • ONG says:

        Of course it was when he started his “mantra” that all needed to pray for the conversion of Pope Francis, since they were worried for his soul, out of love for him. (!)

        Hence, they still haven’t understood “why” Pope Francis acts like he does, and we can then reconnect this with our previous comments, about Mercy and Ideology vs. Faith.
        Also, let’s not forget how the New Evangelization outward, in light of the missionary and ecumenical works of Vatican II, are to be exercised.

        So he is actually working against Pope Francis, (in spite of all the loving preamble) hoping one just would become Catholic Christian only according to how he understands Catholicism to be: esoteric, instead of exoteric.

        I’ve watched more today, and I even found out there are doublets of the same video, because the number of comments and likes where different. Moreover there are other “fans” that have cloned some of his videos too. So to comment there is gonna be like a needle in a haystack.

        However, I saw for the first time he had commented (I saved it) on one (#1) of those two below, and he was explaining he expected and urged “clarity” from a Church leader, and considered his way of telling different things to opposite groups, “a method of gamer support.” (!)

        Just to continue my analysis test, here are the two videos in question:

        #1 – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7ig7RiPniPQ

        #2 – https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yflZ7cSZX5s

      • ONG says:


        Did you see my reply of May 14 with the two new videos?
        Comments seem to get lost in the jungle, sometimes I see earlier comments that I hadn’t noticed – notifications don’t always work – so that’s why I ask.

      • M. says:

        I did see ONG, but have not had time to watch them yet. Let me take a look later tonight when I have some more time.

      • M. says:

        Now I looked but both videos were the same one. I found it difficult to watch because it is taking things much out of context, and making things the pope has done seem very different than they really are. It would have been a very foolish thing for the pope to agree to do, since it would be engaging in the US culture wars. Also meeting and old friend who is gay- wow they are up in arms about that. It is quite shocking to me that anyone can be so blind to the culture we live in now, as to not realize that shunning someone who is gay would not be a good evangelical effort. Yet that seems to be exactly what they wish the pope to do, either that or just ignore and pretend they do not exist. Sad and wrong.

      • ONG says:

        @M. (to add on the videos)

        (I posted both for you so you could also read the comments there.)

        Yes, wow! That was just one example among many! As I see it, to use all that energy to damage the reputation of Pope Francis is and has been their *malefic* primary goal, camouflaged with the pious facade of loving him, love for the Church and standing for Life, as their name would imply.
        Obviously it also has an extreme right-wing political agenda and only the virtues of *power and love for money*!

        No Jesus in their work!

        No Vatican II, no Ecumenism, no Interreligious Dialogue, etc. and hence, fraternity, solidarity and peace in the world are foreign in their ideology.

        No wonder Marie and Jane got blocked after a few comments!

      • M. says:

        OK, now I did read the comments, because you asked. Sadly they are mostly disgusting, slanderous, or ignorant beyond belief. Those comment sections in the Lifesite area and other blogs are not to be borne for they are usually quite filthy and I get very bad feelings there, I try to stay away because while I want to comment, any time I have tried it falls on deaf ears whilst the commentary gets more vile and attacking. It’s gross. I don’t know if I am called to do battle in there, perhaps I should pray about it for the sake of some good souls who might get confused in there? I like “angelic doctor’s” comments- that person stayed rational and cahritable, and was obviously there to try to convert souls and find common ground. Admirable!

  5. Christopher Lake says:


    In a comment above, you wrote that you have seen no evidence that Pope Francis clearly rejects artificial contraception. Francis has spoken approvingly of “Humanae Vitae,” calling Pope Paul VI “prophetic” in issuing it. Francis also said of Paul VI and “H.V.,” “he had the courage to place himself against the majority, defending the moral discipline, exercising a culture brake, opposing present and future neo-Malthusianism.” Pope Francis enthusiastically presided over the recent canonization of Pope Paul VI, which would have been a very strange thing to do if Francis were opposed to the teaching of “Humanae Vitae,” which, again, is a reaffirmation of the historic Church teaching on artificial contraception. This article provides still more evidence that Pope Francis supports the teaching: https://wherepeteris.com/pope-francis-disciple-of-humanae-vitae/

    In “Amoris Laetitia,” Pope Francis writes, “Marriage is firstly an “intimate partner­ship of life and love” which is a good for the spouses themselves, while sexuality is “ordered to the conjugal love of man and woman” (…) Nonetheless, the conjugal union is ordered to procreation “by its very nature”. The child who is born “does not come from outside as something added on to the mutual love of the spouses, but springs from the very heart of that mutual giving, as its fruit and fulfillment”. He or she does not appear at the end of a process, but is present from the beginning of love as an essential feature, one that cannot be denied without disfiguring that love itself. From the outset, love refuses every impulse to close in on itself; it is open to a fruitfulness that draws it beyond itself. Hence no genital act of husband and wife can refuse this meaning, even when for various reasons it may not always in fact be­get a new life.“

    Finally, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, promulgated in the 1990s, long after “Humanae Vitae,” clearly rejects artificial contraception, and the Catechism has Magisterial teaching authority (as do H.V. and A.L.). Pope John Paul II described the Catechism as ” a sure norm for teaching the faith.” Would he have said that, if the Catechism’s rejection of artificial contraception were a teaching on which Catholics should consider themselves free to dissent?

    • ONG says:

      Please read also my previous three-points comment above. Thanks.

    • Ashpenaz says:

      What I hear Pope Francis saying in Amoris Laetitia is that the whole marriage needs to be open to procreation, not necessarily each individual act. An infertile couple can be open to procreation even though it’s impossible–they can show fruitfulness in other ways. Similarly, a same-sex couple can be open to procreation and demonstrate that openness through adoption, for example. Fruitfulness can be demonstrated in a variety of ways, depending upon the circumstances. God has given us prudential judgment to help us look at our specific circumstances and see how best to fulfill the goals of marriage.

      • Christopher Lake says:


        In “Amoris Laetitia,” Pope Francis does say that the whole marriage needs to be open to procreation. He also explicitly states:

        “From the outset, love refuses every impulse to close in on itself; it is open to a fruitfulness that draws it beyond itself. Hence *no genital act of husband and wife can refuse this meaning*, even when for various reasons it may not always in fact be­get a new life.“

        How much clearer can the Pope be than to literally state that “No genital act of husband and wife can refuse this meaning”? Within the context, the meaning that he is speaking of is clearly that of being open to begetting a new life.

        Same-sex couples cannot be open to begetting a new life in Catholic terms, because two men or two women, by virtue of their very physical design, cannot do so. They can be open to adoption, but the Church has made it clear that same-sex adoption of children cannot be morally approved. The Church’s teaching on this is so emphatic that Catholic adoption services have chosen to close down rather than give in to the pressure to place children with same-sex couples.

        Moreover, within the Magisterial teaching of the Church in the Catechism, same-sexusl physical activity is described as being gravely depraved, and it is stated that under no circumstances can such acts be morally approved. Pope Francis is loving and merciful to people who are attracted to the same sex, and I fully agree with and support him in that. However, the Pope (whether Francis or any other Pope) cannot condone sinful actions and present them as an moral options for Catholics.

        Some people clearly want Pope Francis to condone “homosexual marriage,” and homosexual relationships, but he cannot, and from his words and actions, he does not want to do so. He has spoken of the Church’s mercy to Catholic men and women who live with same-sex attraction, and he has recommended that they stay close to the Church and come to confession if or when they fall into sexual sin. (I do the same, for myself, if or when I fall into any kind of serious sexual sin, as a never-married 45-year-old adult man.) This is very, very different from what you appear to want the Pope to do.

      • Ashpenaz says:

        I think Pope Francis suggests that a sexual act can have a procreative meaning if it is a part of a relationship which is overall devoted to procreation–but not every single act needs to be open to procreation. So, a couple can use artificial contraception in some cases and not refuse the procreative meaning of the act as long as the overall marriage is intended to be procreative.

        Cardinal Tobin recently said that he would like to see a change in the wording “intrinsic disorder” in the Catechism. As we have seen with the death penalty, the Catechism is not static and can change as the Church discerns deeper truths.

        I think same-sex couples should have access to the interior forum to determine whether homosexual acts within that relationship would be sinful or licit. I keep quoting this, and I would be curious to learn what you think it means for same-sex couples:

        “(I)ndividual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church’s praxis in certain situations which do not objectively embody our understanding of marriage,” for conscience “can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while not yet fully the objective ideal” (303)

      • Christopher Lake says:


        On artificial contraception, again, I don’t know how Pope Francis can be more clear than what he has already written in “Amoris Laetitia”:

        “From the outset, love refuses every impulse to close in on itself; it is open to a fruitfulness that draws it beyond itself. Hence no genital act of husband and wife can refuse this meaning, even when for various reasons it may not always in fact be­get a new life.“

        Simply in terms of reading and interpreting the passage above, I don’t see how you can maintain the contention that the Pope is only saying that a marriage needs to be open to procreation, in some “overall” sense, but not in each individual act. Francis literally states that *no genital act of husband and wife may refuse the meaning,” and that meaning is that of fruitfulness, of being open to new life.

        If artificial contraception is part of a genital sexual act between husband and wife, then there is obviously a refusal to be open to life in that particular act, and Francis clearly says that *no genital act between husband and wife may refuse that meaning*. He does not say that a marriage only needs to be generally open to procreation but not in each individual act. He *quite pointedly* does not say that. He speaks in terms of being open to life in each genital sexual act between husband and wife.

        Also in “Amoris Laetitia,” Pope Francis addressed what is now popularly described as “gay marriage” with these words:

        “As for proposals to place unions between homosexual persons on the same level as marriage, there are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God’s plan for marriage and family.”

      • carn says:

        @Christopher Lake

        “On artificial contraception, again, I don’t know how Pope Francis can be more clear than what he has already written in “Amoris Laetitia”:”

        Ashpenaz seems to think that many (all?) Church rules regarding morality – like never to use artificial contraception, never to have sex outside a valid one male/one female marriage – are just guidelines, which an individual guided by his consciences is allowed to ignore in a specific situation, is his conscience tells him that this ignoring “is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while not yet fully the objective ideal”.

        Accordingly, if i am correct further arguments that artificial contraception is banned will not get your discussion with Ashpenaz anywhere, cause even if you convince him that there is some absolutely always binding rule to never use artificial contraception even when hell freezes over, for him that would be just a strong guideline which should usually be followed but might legitimately be ignored at times.

        @Ashpenaz: Sorry, if i misinterpreted your position.

      • Ashpenaz says:

        I’ve read the sentence you quote, and I guess I don’t know how you can read it to say every single genital act must be open to procreation. An act can “mean” fruitfulness if the overall goal is to build a family, but I honestly don’t see Pope Francis specifying each and every act needs to be potentially procreative. I guess we disagree on how to interpret this.

        It’s possible that “marriage” is not the best term for same-sex couples. Many in the Church, including Pope Francis, when he was in Argentina, supported the idea of civil unions. I know the German Bishops are working on the possibility of blessing same-sex civil unions, cohabiting couples, and divorced and remarried couples–recognizing their value, even if these unions are not, and never can be, sacramental.

        What did you think about the paragraph I quoted on individual conscience and its application to same-sex acts?

      • Marie says:

        Carn- You are so close!! If you just applied what you said to Ashpenaz regarding binding rules vs guidelines to papal authority you’d be a number one papal supporter! Give it a go!

      • ONG says:

        //Some people clearly want Pope Francis to condone “homosexual marriage,” and homosexual relationships, but he cannot, and from his words and actions, he does not want to do so. //

        Exactly!!! Not only, they pretend that the Church should do this “publicly”, which is completely in “disharmony” with the pastoral and pedagogical individual practice of discernment, reception, accompaniment, etc., BUT, are doing a huge disservice and harm to the Church!! As repeated many times earlier, they are: *throwing a monkey wrench in the works* of Evangelization because they don’t understand the principle of how MERCY works!

      • M. says:

        It is almost like they are saying “Some people are not able to draw distinctions and will use any attempt to discuss nuance as an excuse to do whatever they want. There fore, the church should never, ever, take a nuanced position, or discuss nuanced positions. We need clarity! ” But the church, in her wisdom *must* discuss nuanced positions even if there is serious risk or misinterpretation, because without any discussion of nuance, the 99 may remain very happy and secure at the expense of some lost souls.

      • ONG says:

        There obviously are parts of AL that are NOT meant for everyone, esp. those who can’t make distinctions, but for the “Pastors” themselves. In the case of how discerning the right accompaniment it’s the Pastor who shall help the person in question, and the faithful should only bring the person to the Church, ergo, to the the Pastor, and support wisely and charitably the process in joint.

        The previous doubtful comments seem completely off-track with this work-in- joint mentality; they seem to judge the persons even before they put a foot in the community, and that’s so excluding a priori, that do not reflect at all what’s the aim of AL is all about!

        INVITATION & RECEPTION & CARE in the field hospital!!!

        How difficult is that to grasp????

  6. Ashpenaz says:

    I wouldn’t say it is accurate that I think of Catholic teaching as a set of “guidelines.” I think mitigating factors influence which choice is best to make within our set of concrete circumstances. I think your position is something like this: If the Pope says it, we obey it, regardless of our situation, regardless of whether we understand it. I don’t think Pope Francis sees it that way–to quote him again:

    “(I)ndividual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church’s praxis in certain situations which do not objectively embody our understanding of marriage,” for conscience “can also recognize with sincerity and honesty what for now is the most generous response which can be given to God, and come to see with a certain moral security that it is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while not yet fully the objective ideal” (303)

    Can you see how this quote suggests an openness to the idea that there are situations where mitigating factors indicate the most generous response given within the concrete complexity of one’s limits might include artificial contraception or same-sex acts? For me, that is clearly where this is pointing, but I’m interested in your thoughts.

    • Daniel Amiri says:

      See Pope Benedict on the question and his infamous formulation… https://www.ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/vatican-statement-benedict-xvi-and-condoms

      This is so incredibly nuanced but if the goal is to bring the individual into the “ideal,” and if the individual is currently living in a life of sin, then there may be intermediate steps for him that are still objectively speaking sinful but represent a growth in maturity and moral responsibility. This does not make the actions therefore good, per se, but good FOR HIM only insofar as he is growing toward holiness under the prompting of the Holy Spirit. This is the law of gradualism. In that sense, you’re not wrong in what you have said here.

      What cannot be allowed is the opinion that some actions, which are objectively sinful, BECOME per se GOOD, according to the circumstances, situation, and intention of the actor. It is important to say this so that we don’t fall into the trap of OFFERING to someone a sinful course of action or DEFENDING their choice, insofar as it is sinful. We must always work to bring a person into the fullness of God’s life.

      What seems even worse is to take someone who is not sinning–someone who is not sexually active at all, for example–and suggest to them that authentic expressions of love can be found through contracepted sex. This makes no sense in light of what I said above nor Francis’ comments. Even if a person does not fully understand the reasoning behind a prohibition, one is always better off listening to the Church than following his own malformed conscience. Understandably, the Church’s teachings are not immediately “inculcated.” Room must be granted to the individual to develop one’s conscience over a period of time. But it would be a grave disservice to the individual in his moral development to encourage the habit of behaviors which are actually sinful.

      • Marie says:

        Daniel- what a great comment! That is exactly the truth. Our conscience must also know that if we do not fully understand something, we must recognize that it is the truth nonetheless, and strive to understand it more clearly. As soon as we decide we know better, and our conscience is the go to for everything, no matter if we have attempted to develop our thoughts or not, chances are we will maintain an underdeveloped one, and one that finds it much easier to ignore the truth, deprieving ourselves of a deeper understanding.

      • Ashpenaz says:

        I see what you’re saying. One thing you point out is that we judge the morality of an act based on the act itself, the intent, and the circumstances. I think it is impossible to separate out the act from the other 2 categories. Veritatis Splendor has been misunderstood as stating there is a category of intrinsically evil acts–but we see that when we say murder or theft, we are describing both act and intent. We can’t isolate the act–say, cutting someone open with a knife–and decide it’s murder or surgery until we look at the circumstances and intent.

        I think homosexual acts as isolated acts are morally neutral. I think when they are seen in a context of a lifelong, monogamous marriage between people with irreversible same-sex orientations, they are good. When they involve rape, they are evil.

        I think artificial conception is morally neutral. When seen in the context of a lifelong, monogamous marriage between people who plan to have a family but need to regulate the number of births, it’s good. When it’s used purely to allow promiscuous sex, it’s bad.

        This is probably more Bernard Haring than Pope St. JPII, but it’s still Catholic, IMHO. I’m currently reading Just Love by Margaret Farley who explains this much more clearly.

      • Daniel Amiri says:

        Thank you for your comments. Some further distinctions: The morality of an action can be distinguished from whether that action is truly good or not. Homicide (of any kind) is always a deviation from the plan of God, but sometimes it is a morally justifiable choice, such as self-defense or war, even if those actions are per se evil. In short, we should always strive to make not just morally justifiable actions but actions that reflect the full plan of God’s abiding love. In Veritatis Splendor, JPII says that, “If acts are intrinsically evil, a good intention or particular circumstances can diminish their evil, but they cannot remove it.” This thought is supported by Francis’ moral theology in Amoris Laetitia.

        I’m sorry Ashpenaz, but you believe falsehoods if you believe that “homosexual acts” are morally neutral. This is in direct contradiction to millenia of teaching on the matter. At best, I could understand your position if you would say that specific homosexual acts may be “evil actions that may represent for some a development in moral maturity and responsibility and therefore good FOR THEM.” But we most certainly cannot say that homosexual acts are “morally neutral.” Ditto for contraception.

        update: I should add to clarify that contraceptive drugs may be taken for purposes other than to contracept sex. What I’m referring to is the use of artificial contraceptives as contraceptives.

      • Ashpenaz says:

        I don’t think there’s been thousands of years of teaching on the subject of homosexual acts. The term “homosexual” didn’t appear until the 19th century, so there was obviously no discussion before that. The idea that sexual acts result from an irreversible orientation didn’t become known until last century. To quote Christus Vivit again: “Even if she possesses the truth of the Gospel, this does not mean that she has completely understood it; rather, she is called to keep growing in her grasp of that inexhaustible treasure.”

        Quoting from the Instrumentum Laboris for the Youth Synod, we read: “There exist questions relative to the body, affectivity and sexuality that need a deeper anthropological, theological and pastoral elaboration, to be realized in the ways and at the levels most appropriate, from those most local to those universal,” the text states at Paragraph 150. “Among questions emerging in particular are those relative to the difference and harmony between masculine and feminine identity and sexual inclinations.”

        I think that as we study same-sex orientation and artificial contraception with modern science, sociology, and psychology, the Church will develop in Her understanding of the deposit of faith. I think this will include an new understanding of the place of homosexual acts in same-sex relationships. I’m not just closing my eyes and wishing–I’m basing this on the fact that many reputable theologians, bishops’ synods, and laypeople have moved in this direction. I think that this openness from so many faithful Catholics is a weathervane showing us the direction the Spirit is leading the Church. I think the Magisterium will soon catch this wind and move along with the Sensus Fidelium.

        (BTW, notice that Veritatis Splendor does not list anything as intrinsically evil which is not a combination of act, intent, and circumstances. If there is an act which is intrinsically evil simply as an act, it is nowhere discussed.)

      • Daniel Amiri says:

        Do you think it’s not possible to prohibit something, before having full insight into why a person might do it? We know some things are evil, full stop. Our understanding of personal culpability may be improved over history, but once again, that does not change the nature of the act from “evil” to “good” or even just “morally neutral.”

        I’m not sure what you’re talking about in your parenthetical. All actions are a combinations of act, intent, and circumstances. Intrinsically evil acts are those acts that can never be made good, on account of the intent or circumstances.

        80. Reason attests that there are objects of the human act which are by their nature “incapable of being ordered” to God, because they radically contradict the good of the person made in his image. These are the acts which, in the Church’s moral tradition, have been termed “intrinsically evil” (intrinsece malum): they are such always and per se, in other words, on account of their very object, and quite apart from the ulterior intentions of the one acting and the circumstances. Consequently, without in the least denying the influence on morality exercised by circumstances and especially by intentions, the Church teaches that “there exist acts which per se and in themselves, independently of circumstances, are always seriously wrong by reason of their object”.131 The Second Vatican Council itself, in discussing the respect due to the human person, gives a number of examples of such acts: “Whatever is hostile to life itself, such as any kind of homicide, genocide, abortion, euthanasia and voluntary suicide; whatever violates the integrity of the human person, such as mutilation, physical and mental torture and attempts to coerce the spirit; whatever is offensive to human dignity, such as subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery, prostitution and trafficking in women and children; degrading conditions of work which treat labourers as mere instruments of profit, and not as free responsible persons: all these and the like are a disgrace, and so long as they infect human civilization they contaminate those who inflict them more than those who suffer injustice, and they are a negation of the honour due to the Creator”.132

      • Ashpenaz says:

        Catholic moral theology divides into the “physicalist” paradigm and the “personalist” paradigm. The physicalist focuses on the physical act in reference to nothing else. What this means is an act like waving a hand or shouting “Fire!” or throwing a ball–an act separated from any context. I don’t think there are any intrinsically evil acts in this simple sense.

        What you call an act, and what the Catechism calls an act, goes beyond this concept of a simple act without relationship to context. Cutting someone open with a knife is a neutral act–homicide is cutting an innocent person open with a knife in an attempt to get their money. Yes, there are intrinsically evil acts, if you mean by that, neutral physical acts combined with an evil motive. Because you have to consider the whole person, this way of looking at an act is called “personalist.”

        That’s why I don’t think you can separate the act from the intent and circumstances and determine that this simple act, in all possible circumstances, with all possible intents, is going to always be evil. From this standpoint, a homosexual act, separated from all context, is just an act, like waving a hand. It only gains moral meaning when we see the intent and the circumstances of the act. There are no homosexual acts which occur without a context–every homosexual act we analyze will have intent and circumstances to consider.

        I get these concepts from Richard Gula’s Reason Informed by Faith. I have found that book essential to my understanding how Catholic moral theology works. I have also been helped by Salzman’s Sexual Ethics and Curran’s The Moral Theology of Pope John Paul II, as well as Margaret Farley’s Just Love.

      • Daniel Amiri says:

        Quite apart from any specifics, I think the way that you have upended Catholic moral theology here is a bit shocking to me. No one has tried to suggest that “acts” are separate from intent and circumstances. In fact, I explicitly stated that all moral actions involve an act, intent, and circumstances. But the teaching on “intrinsic evil” is that there are some moral actions, by their very nature, no matter what the intents and circumstances, that are always evil. Vatican II provides a long list but we can take any one of those things, like euthanasia. Euthanasia is always an evil. There is no intention, however noble, that justifies or makes euthanasia a good action.

      • Ashpenaz says:

        I think I’m having a hard time explaining what I mean by “act.” Euthanasia is not an act. An act would be putting a pillow on someone’s face. An act would be pulling a plug out of a socket. What I mean by act is the simple, physical thing that happens. In order for there to be euthanasia, there has to be an act–pulling a plug out of a socket–combined with an intent–to kill a human being–combined with circumstances–the person is terminally ill.

        I agree that euthanasia is intrinsically evil. I don’t agree that pulling a plug from a socket is intrinsically evil. Catholic moral theology does not teach that any simple act, in and of itself, without any reference to intent or circumstances, is intrinsically evil.

        A homosexual act or putting a pill in your mouth, in and of itself, without any reference to intent or circumstances, is morally neutral, what theologians call “premoral.” Only when we look at intent and circumstances can we determine whether it is good or evil.

        Incidentally, I’m a proportionalist. I think that Veritatis Splendor is a straw-man attack on proportionalism which doesn’t address how proportionalism actually works. I think proportionalism remains a viable stream of Catholic moral theology.

      • Daniel Amiri says:

        “Catholic moral theology does not teach that any simple act, in and of itself, without any reference to intent or circumstances, is intrinsically evil.”

        I know by your example that we’re missing some points here because I myself am not really an expert moral theologian. For this I apologize. I do know, however, that what I’ve referred to as “act” and what you’ve referred to as “act” are different.

        Lest we obscure all actions by breaking them further and further down into seemingly meaningless movements, what I refer to as “act” is what the Catechism refers to the “object.” It’s basically, “what is happening.” The “object” is more comprehensive than just the strict mechanical actions of what is taking place. Removing a plug is a mechanical action. Removing a plug to kill someone is homicide. “Removing a plug that kills someone” is the “object.” Now, a person might have a good intention. Their intention might be to relieve suffering. Or it could be an evil intention: to acquire an inheritance sooner. But there is no intention that can make this moral action good, given that euthanasia is always evil on account of its object.

        What I believe you are doing is reducing the “object” to “premoral” mechanical actions, which is not something that appears to be justified by Catholic teaching on the matter of moral theology.

        To your last statement, JPII’s writings, inasmuch as they are the expression of the Church’s magisterium, are very much still part of the Church’s teachings. We cannot disregard them, even if we find them personally unconvincing. As always, we must understand the Magisterium in the light of a “hermeneutic of continuity”. Everything builds and develops upon what came before.

      • Ashpenaz says:

        Based on your definition, I agree that there can be intrinsically evil objects. However, a homosexual act intended to demonstrate intimacy is not evil, intrinsically or otherwise. Using artificial contraception in order to regulate births for prudent economic reasons is not intrinsically evil.

        Incidentally, “intrinsically evil” does not mean “never to be done.” It only means it can never achieve the fullest good. An intrinsically evil act can be the lesser of two evils.

        “Intrinsically disordered” also does not mean “never to be done.” “Never to be approved” does not mean never to be done.

        “Inadmissible,” however, as in the case of the death penalty, means “never to be done.”

        (I’m not a moral theologian! 🙂 I’ve just read Richard Gula, Todd Salzman, and Margaret Farley.)

      • Daniel Amiri says:

        If one is forced to choose among evils, one must choose the lesser evil. But I don’t think this justifies these moral actions described above.

        Also… what? Do you admit that your assertions are contrary to Church teaching or do you believe that’s what the Church is teaching?

      • Ashpenaz says:

        Wow! This is a long thread. I’ve learned a lot and I’m glad I’ve been able to express my thoughts–it took a lot of homework! 🙂 Do I think my assertions are contrary to Church teaching? I’m going to be like Pope Francis and give an ambiguous answer! I think that the Church is going through a period of re-expressing the deposit of faith in ways better suited to today’s world. I think that’s what the Pope is trying to say in Christus Vivit, so my answer is a quote from that document:

        297. Because “time is greater than space”,[162] we need to encourage and accompany processes, without imposing our own roadmaps. For those processes have to do with persons who remain always unique and free. There are no easy recipes, even when all the signs seem positive, since “positive factors themselves need to be subjected to a careful work of discernment, so that they do not become isolated and contradict one another, becoming absolutes and at odds with one another. The same is true for the negative factors, which are not to be rejected en bloc and without distinction, because in each one there may lie hidden some value which awaits liberation and restoration to its full truth”.[163]

        I’ve enjoyed this discussion, and I will probably see you again in another thread. Thanks!

      • ONG says:


        Pope Francis is not ambiguous! People who disagree make him ambiguous on purpose to advance their agenda by distorting what he says and writes.

        If you quote from any of his documents or public addresses, these quotes must be faithful to their context –the whole–, which you have tried to avoid so far.

        Would you like another example among many? Here’s a short one without any unnecessary long pasting:

        Take your previous rendering of §303 of Amoris Laetitia, and add the part you have removed, and it will completely change the way how it is to be understood, vs. how you understood it.

        Who is ambiguous in this case?

      • Daniel Amiri says:

        There’s a bit of irony in having a long discussion about nuanced moral theology on a post that’s about proposing the beauty of the faith and not correcting others. 🙂 But surely, the aim of moral theology is to lift people up and help people understand how they can better respond to God’s merciful act of love on the cross. It would all be for naught if we lost sight of this.

        I disagree with you wholeheartedly but I do appreciate your consideration and your willingness to discuss this charitably. Peace to you.

      • ONG says:

        Daniel and the rest of WPI,

        I think you should make a post dedicated to “ashpenaz”, about the book “Just Love”, by Margaret A. Farley, and its ethical problems..

        Here is how The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith publicly responded on March 30, 2012:


    • M. says:

      Yes there can be mitigating factors, Ashpenaz. But we don’t make our decisions on how to act based on a predetermined notion that we have mitigating factors. To use an extreme example- that would be like someone deciding, “I’m very, very angry, right now, that makes it a mitigating factor for me to punch this person out. I think I can do so in good conscience, since I can’t really help myself being that I am so very angry right now.” If the Church teaches that sexual activity divorced from one of its purposes is always wrong, then it can’t “become good” just because there are mitigating factors. I will use example or similar strange situation. Someone I know had terrible time in their marriage. They found themselves so angry at spouse and mentally/emotionally disrupted that for many years could not engage in normal marital relations. This was a situation of objective immorality, yes, they were not following their marriage vow to some extent.. That person was working and praying towards a resolution to the problem, and with help of a priest, trying to resolve all the complications and nuances of the situation. The man found that at times they were able to receive Communion, at other times, they had to stay away, and would go to Communion only with priest’s express permission in confession. (accompaniment) But they said, the situation was extremely complex and very nuanced. If that person used your criteria, they could just abstain from relations with spouse indefinitely as they truly did not “feel like it” and also over the years had developed some assexual tendencies as well- and they could get comfortable and not be working towards individual healing and a fuller realization of marriage- simply because, “mitigating factors.” I suggest that is not what the church intends, as church sees healing of individual as primary. If church just decided that situation was totally normal and to be tolerated or even celebrated- then the opportunity for healing of that marriage (which I am happy to report, did eventually happen through the accompaniment of the priest in confessional) would be lost. I suggest that when a situation is reported by our Church as something intrinsically disordered, Chruch is not saying that the person is disordered- but that something about the act will *always* lead one or the other person in the relationship eventually so some place of pain that is worse than the pain of just abstaining from what we want to do- and that is why it can’t be ok.

      • ONG says:

        And just to add… that only concerns the “healing factors” of previous failed unions.
        AL is also intended to teach how to *prevent* (in advance) that this happens, by careful pre-nuptial formation through a series of preparatory meetings/counseling sessions, where the couple goes through several steps to find out whether or not they are truly up to that final decision yet.

        I’d say it’s a wonderful program every one should feel excited and willing to go through, as also promote it to friends and relatives!

  7. carn says:

    @Marie: You think so?

    Well, let’s give it a try:

    [carn] seems to think that many (all?) [papal authorical statements] regarding morality – like … – are just guidelines, which an individual guided by his consciences is allowed to ignore in a specific situation, is his conscience tells him that this ignoring “is what God himself is asking amid the concrete complexity of one’s limits, while not yet fully the objective ideal”.

    Accordingly, if i am correct further arguments that [papal authorical statements regarding morality are binding absolutely] will not get your discussion with [carn] anywhere, cause even if you convince him that there is some absolutely always binding rule [that papal authorical statements regarding morality are binding absolutely] even when hell freezes over, for him that would be just a strong guideline which should usually be followed but might legitimately be ignored at times.

    I have to ponder that a bit …

    At first look, one problem is that not all statements of Pope Francis are actually authorical statements regarding morality, even those statements clearly being about morality.

    Furthermore, i am quite certain that some people misunderstand what Pope Francis wants to convey with some statements and that I might be among them (e.g. at least either Ashpenaz or at least some WPI people misunderstand what AL 303 is supposed to convey); the latter has the consequence, that i am unable with some statements of Pope Francis to identify the message, cause i have no sure method to detemine which are the wrong and which are the right interpretations (“some” being important here; i do not claim that for all statements i am lost to understand how Pope Francis meant them).

    And also the Pope often mixes statements about morality with statements of fact, intertwining the two. What if i consider his statement of fact bogus?

    And this is not hypothetical; just a short while ago, i read in a blog of a catholic priest (and if i would offer his name, you could quickly google that he is close enough to matters in Vatican to offer a competent opinion upon what the Pope might mean) trying to explain the teaching of Pope Francis regarding economy along the lines of “this economy kills”; this is – at least in context of other Papal words – something about morality, namely that preferably we should have an economy that doesn’t kill; but it is also a statement of fact that this economy – and thereby the people keeping it in place – are guilty of some humans dying. And in combination with other papal statements implies that there is somewhere some other economy possible that does not kill (or kills less).

    So far so “fine”; but the priest suggested that the Pope only got criticized for “this economy kills”, cause thereby he attacks the “fetish” western societies have with right to property.

    In total that Pope Francis teaching challenges us – as a society and as states – to abolish our fetish with the right to property, cause keeping that fetish kills people.

    Before you now say, that i should not dismiss this, but instead feel challenged, etc. – i spent some half an hour checking various matters among other things:

    – the constitution of my home country;
    – the platforms of various political parties; and
    – statistical data about my countries economy.

    And the result is: Sorry, at least the state has no fetish here; so if our economy kills, it is not due to my state having a fetish about private property; constitution and vast majority of politicians and a lot of laws and the statistics are already since DECADES in full agreement that the right to private property must be kept in check to serve the common good.

    So to the suggestion of the priest, that Pope Francis teaching should be understood that among others my home country should give up its fetish with private proprety for currently and ongoing my home country is guilty due to having that fetish for people dying,

    falls already flat upon the statement of fact that objectively my home country – at least the state – has no such fetish.

    In the political sphere only some leftists nuts think that what my home country has is total free capitalism and some non-nut leftist use that metaphor to warn against potential developments in that direction. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t problems or that our economy does not kill; only that the ill is not caused by the state having private property as a fetish.

    And whether my home country is guilty of causing the death of human beings due to having a fetish about private property, is a statement of fact; that priest thinks, the state is guilty of that; i think he is just plain wrong; the priest claims that he just says what the Pope means; then the Pope is wrong about my country being guilty of having that fetish.

    Just wrong. And no papal authority can make me profess my country is guilty of the crime of having private property as a fetish and thereby being guilty of killing some humans, when my observation tells me, that my country is not guilty for having a private property as a fetish.

    So what i am then to do with the Pope’s teaching regarding economies, if that priest is correct and the Pope operates on the wrong notion of states and other actors being guilty of treating private property as a fetish, when some of them aren’t guilty of that?

    I see instances where my countries laws are or might be faulty, furthering economic circumstances which kill people; and about some instances i actually try to do something. But what the Pope says is there of little guidance, cause much of his teaching regarding economy seems to be intertwined with that false statement of fact.

  8. Marie says:

    Carn- Why do you choose to complicate things so much? It’s just not that difficult. If we don’t want to believe something, of course we can take a biblical quote, or a statement made by a priest who, like LifesiteNews so often says, “is someone very close to Pope Francis”, etc, etc. or, we can simply listen to the words of Pope Francis himself, recognize those words as the truth and go from there. Why is it so easy to see Church teaching on sexuality as firm, but not other things?
    Interesting you say however “no papal authority can make me profess my country is guilty of the crime of having private property as a fetish ….” That suggests your rejection of papal authority has nothing to do with confusion, and everything to do with disliking the subject matter. Bottom line, you don’t accept papal authority. You pick and choose according to your likes and dislikes. Sorry, but that’s not how it works.
    As an aside, in general, nothing Pope Francis has said about the economy, or about capitalism, socialism or communism is different from any of the other popes. Perhaps his focus on the poor and suffering just brings the inequalities of the systems to the forefront, and in times of unrestricted greed, it bites a bit more at our conscience. As far as the pope’s teachings on the economy, I have not read any, but I would not be reading somewhere that a priest said something about a fetish concerning ownership of private property and determine from that papal teaching. If we are to seek the truth, it requires us to read far more thoroughly than that, particularly when we come from a position that resists a particular view. We don’t just dismiss it, and do little to understand why he teaches what he teaches.

    • carn says:

      “Interesting you say however “no papal authority can make me profess my country is guilty of the crime of having private property as a fetish ….” That suggests your rejection of papal authority has nothing to do with confusion, and everything to do with disliking the subject matter.”

      It has to do everything with me having – according to my best estimate – more knowledge about the law of my country and about due process and about evaluating evidence and about how to prove someone being guilty of a crime and about culpability than 95%+ of the bishops of the Church in my country.

      When calling out someone for murder through negligence by having a fetish about private property (which it is, when someone claims that the state authorities of my country are guilty of treating private property as a fetish), better understand whom you accuse of what and how and why the evidence points towards guilty/not guilty.

      And about disliking the subject matter:

      I literally sent out instructions today to proceed in a matter, in which

      my argument is within inches of explicitly accusing the state of being guilty of causing deaths through negligence. And the opponent in the proceedings is literally a member state of the Federal Republic of Germany; and the only reason i do not go for the Federal Republic of Germany itself and as a whole YET, is that one attacks where the defense is weakest.

      So i have no problem to accuse my state of causing death; but only when there is evidence that the state is guilty.

      “those words as the truth”

      The Pope can have his opinion about what caused the death of some humans or whether someone is guilty or not guilty of some crime; that is not teaching about morality, that is both a claim about facts; accordingly, if i have good reasons to think that the Pope errs in identifying what caused the death of someone or whether someone is guilty, i am free to disagree and to not consider his opinion as “truth”.

      “or a statement made by a priest who, like LifesiteNews so often says, “is someone very close to Pope Francis”, etc, etc.”

      “have not read any, but I would not be reading somewhere that a priest said something about a fetish concerning ownership of private property and determine from that papal teaching.”

      Ok, as your words are somehow begging for it, another post with link to the respective blog (because maybe it is too much to name him directly).

      (@WPI mods: in case you consider it inappropriate to link the priest in name in combination with my rather strong words, please at least confirm to Marie that:

      – the priest did say something about “fetish” concerning private property and Pope Francis (that is discernible even without speaking German);
      – the priest should due to his job be rather competent about understanding what Pope Francis tries to say (if he wouldn’t be, he would have the wrong job; that is so obvious))

      • Daniel Amiri says:

        I honestly don’t have time to assess the quality of your arguments. Mostly I skim for heresy and swear words and general craziness. But please avoid calumny on these pages if at all possible. I have no idea what you guys have been talking about. It would be helpful to me and to this blog to part amicably on the specific question of this priest and his use of the word “fetish.”

  9. carn says:

    Here we go:


    That is Father Hagenkord, head of the German language subsection of Vatican News.

    It is his daily JOB to accurately report what the Pope said and what he meant.

    And in the linked blog post he states:

    “Der Papst steht aber in einer langen Tradition kirchlicher Lehre, zuletzt sehr deutlich von Papst Paul VI. formuliert, und die rüttelt an einem Fetisch des Westens: dem Eigentum. Es gibt kein absolutes Recht auf Eigentum, das Recht wird eingeschränkt durch den Menschen, seine Rechte und sein Würde.”

    But the Pope is in a long tradition of Church teaching, formulated very clearly by Pope Paul VI, and that shakes a fetish of the West: property. There is no absolute right to property, this right is limited by man, by his rights and dignity.

    “Fetisch” is “fetish”; in the paragraph above “diese Wirtschaft tötet” (this economy kills) is quoted; from context and use of words it is clear, that this is about private property and the right to private property; the rest of what i referred to is spread across this and other blog post.

    Maybe i misunderstood what Father Hagenkord claims to be the intent and position of the Pope; but then Father Hagenkord is doing a pretty good job at wording things such that i misunderstand them, cause i am reading his blog since about 2+ years in the hope to understand Pope Francis in any way different from the understanding offered on LifeSitenews et al.

    And i decided that i should quit reading him, cause in sum what i read from him more often than not confirms in my view what LifeSitenews suggests.

    • Daniel Amiri says:

      I’ll approve this, I suppose. But I’m actually confused. Do you disagree with the comment that there is no absolute right to property, per your English translation? Or you disagree with the word fetish, (whatever the nuances of that word are in German, I’m not sure)?

      • carn says:

        “Or you disagree with the word fetish”

        With “fetish”; there is no absolute right to property according to German constitution, according to German non-constitutional laws and according to German case law. There is no single political party in Germany receiving more than 1% share of the votes, which is not against an absolute right to property. The share of state of GDP is since decades between 40 and 50%. There are numerous regulations trying to secure worker rights against employers. The state is required to provide every single born human being on German soil with the bare minimum necessary for survival in dignity in case the human being is unable to do that himself and receives no help elsewhere (potential exception: if human being is capable of work, but absolutely unwilling to attempt to find some work). And on and on, regulations over regulation with the intent and often the effect of taming the beast that unfettered capitalism is.

        And Germany has that since 70 years to varying degrees.

        Teachings tailored to certain situations (for societies in which there is unfettered capitalism) are only guidelines for those who find themselves in completely different situations (in societies in which there is no unfettered capitalism).

      • Daniel Amiri says:

        Oh ok. whenever I hear the word “west” I think the United States and the values we tend to export to the rest of the world, unfortunately.

      • ONG says:

        I stumbled on a fresh article of Crux today on Card. Turkson.

        It’s a nice summary of how the various political terms become labels and prompt an unfortunate semantic ambiguity among people.
        I have personally experienced this during numerous exchanges on social networks.
        A kind of Babel-effect could one say?


    • ONG says:

      Did you consider the headlines parts you didn’t post from Vatican News?
      The article also referred to a local debate on Socialism, and one can’t know anything about it unless one is interested in internal German politics.

      As it appeared on Vatican News:

      //”Gierig, kurzsichtig, illusorisch”: Der Papst und die Wirtschaft

      Die SPD in Deutschland hatte auf einmal eine Sozialismusdebatte. Der Juso-Chef hatte von Verstaatlichung gesprochen un nachgelegt, die Reaktionen kamen prompt, dafür, dagegen – weil Wahlkampf ist, leider oft absehbar. Die Debatte dahinter ist die nach einem menschlichen Wirtschactssystem. Welche Wirtschaft dient dem Menschen? Auch mit Blick auf die Synode im Oktober eine wichtige Frage für die Kirche.

      Der Papst ist kein Sozialist, soviel zum eingangs gemachten Statement.


      Papst Pius XII hat sogar einmal vom “Imperialismus des Kapital” gesprochen und damit die Debatte auf unser heutiges Wirtschaftsmodell ausgeweitet.

      Wirtschaft dient dem Menschen, dieser Gedanke ist christlich und is alt.

      [Then it says it was taken from the blog you mentioned]

      A somewhat translation from Google gives: (I left out the parts you had already posted = […])

      “Greedy, short-sighted, illusory”: the Pope and the economy

      The SPD in Germany suddenly had a debate on socialism. The Boss (?) of Juso had talked about nationalization and refilled (?), the reactions came promptly, but against it – because election campaign is unfortunately often foreseeable. The debate behind it is that of a human economic system. Which economy serves man? Also with regard to the Synod in October an important issue for the Church.

      The Pope is not a socialist, so much for the statement made at the beginning.


      Pope Pius XII even spoke once of the “imperialism of capital” and thus broadened the debate to our current economic model.


      Economy serves man, this thought is Christian and is old.//
      Shouldn’t one know more about how the overall teachings and observations of Pope Francis on the GLOBAL economy were used in response to what the debate in question brought forth?

      Did Pope Francis ever use the same words this priest is using?
      I don’t see from that short article a direct explanation of what Pope Francis might have said or written, except for the three words in the title — perhaps used in Laudato Si’??

      There certainly might be other ways to find out what this priest meant: Ask him directly?

      • carn says:

        “Did you consider the headlines parts you didn’t post from Vatican News?”

        I am German and i read that blog since 2+ years; i did consider the entire post and related posts.

        “There certainly might be other ways to find out what this priest meant: Ask him directly?”

        Do you really think i haven’t tried? He somewhere got the idea, that the best response to people lacking good will is silence and seems to be often of the opinion that i lack good will.

        All i can conclude from reading his blog for 2+ years and from the times when my posts did not lack good will in his eyes is, that he thinks he is in line with the Pope (and prior Popes) when calling out the entire West for having a “fetish”.

        And Marie asked for such an example for someone “close to the Pope” suggesting that Pope Francis economic teaching is attacking the private property fetish that supposedly western societies have; maybe not close, but he should get what the Pope intends to communicate as a long term member of Vatican news, cause one of the main jobs of Vatican news is to correctly convey to the world what the Pope says.

        “Did Pope Francis ever use the same words this priest is using?”

        No; but Pope Francis not often making sense in my ears is not helped by people, whose job it is to understand and communicate what Pope Francis says, describing what the Pope says in a way that makes even less sense in my ears.

      • ONG says:

        Look, everything Pope Francis says, writes, etc., is to be found on the Vatican official sites in several languages.
        Do you have the links?

        “Vatican News” summarizes only some major events in 38 languages, and also gives other links related.

        There is also Vatican Media LIVE, connected with YouTube 24/7/365 (plus the uploaded replays for review) and other agencies worldwide that broadcast both the full event and download it, as also cutting out parts of it for quick news flashes.

        In addition to the above, there are myriads of News articles, private blogs, debate shows, discussion boards, private TVs, etc. etc. that cover almost everything that happens in the world today. No one has the time to follow with everything, so for many it’s only the local main news, if possible, and the rest is as nearly inexistent; unless some extra particular interests, cultural, social, for leisure and hobby, etc., beside some unavoidable tasks/chores everyone is subject to. (I’m sure you have some too.)

        So what I’m trying to say with this?

        Again, that you must find *your own* steadfast position, standpoint, and focus, and in this case *with* or *against* Peter, *not in between*, by clearly finding out and eliminating WHAT from the outside is not in line with other things already mentioned in other comments: Vat. II, Gospel, Magisterium, Ecumenism, Social Doctrine, Catechism & Compendium, and other writs of the Pope.
        You’ve never mentioned some of these in support of your argumentation.
        Now, besides the previous and
        in regard to all the controversies created and the harsh attacks on Pope Francis’ pontificate, I recently found a name in an article that could be useful from your German position to investigate further.

        Her name is *Sonja Strube* from the Catholic University of Theology of Osnabrück, who has done an analysis, both political and psychological, of the persons and groups in sharp opposition to Pope Francis – showing how dangerous they really are for the Church’s and for the society.

        It should have been posted on the site *katholish.de* on May 5th.

        Let me know when you find it and what other translations might be available.

  10. carn says:

    “You’ve never mentioned some of these in support of your argumentation.”

    Since this sub-discussion stems from my claim, that:

    “but the priest suggested that the Pope only got criticized for “this economy kills”, cause thereby he attacks the “fetish” western societies have with right to property.”

    there is somebody from outward perspective presumably competent to understand the Pope, who suggest a position the Pope has, which would be just factually nonsense, my argument does not require to find out, whether the Pope actually has fallen to that factual nonsense.

    If the Pope either has fallen to factual nonsense or a long term top Vatican news priest gets him so wrong to make it appear as if he had fallen to factual nonsense,

    i am out in the cold trying to get what Pope Francis says.

    “Her name is *Sonja Strube* from the Catholic University of Theology of Osnabrück, who has done an analysis, both political and psychological, of the persons and groups in sharp opposition to Pope Francis – showing how dangerous they really are for the Church’s and for the society.”

    I read that one.

    It is in my view a bit like someone watching at shadows of people moving and thinking he sees the people themselves moving. The description of how the shadows move has some resemblance to how the people actually move; but if one thinks that it is a correct description how they move, one is completely off.

    And that she is.

    One thing she somehow spots but completely misinterprets is that in her words “autoritäre Menschen” (authorian humans) have an “ausgeprägte “Ich-” und “Gewissensschwäche”” (pronounced self and conscience weakness) in that they distrust their own thinking and moral reasoning.

    That it is in a sense correct. Some “enemies of the pope” are really distrusting their own capabilities in these respects; a bit like someone distrusting his sight regarding depth perception.

    But in a sense completely off. Though hard to put into words.

    Cause when you have – after careful consideration of the matter – determined that you have only one functioning eye and therefore should be skeptical about your capability for depth perception, it is a bit surreal when someone criticizes you for not trusting your depth perception instead of trusting it like he does himself – when that someone is blind.

    There is no polite way to telling that person how ridiculous that criticism is.

    • ONG says:


      //i am out in the cold trying to get what Pope Francis says.//

      As already said, from that short article (in Vat.News -not the blog), it’s the priest that isn’t clear enough about HOW he is using Pope Francis’ global and moral view/teaching on economy in relation to any internal German context or *his own* context. [It should be easier for you to ascertain since you have read his private blogs for 2+ years.]

      If you instead read “Laudato Si'” you might get a better idea about what Pope Francis himself points out in the economic global context and the culture of consumerism. Let alone his speeches in several occasions.


      With regard to “the shadows” moving in the background, and the analysis of Sonja Strube, I haven’t read the entire article, so I don’t know if she proposed any solution to the problem, than just pointing out the problem’s nature. So what is she misinterprets?

      We must consider instead the harm that these shadows are doing (incl. the Media), and fight this propaganda in the best way possible! Using and spreading sites like WPI, and other articles, books, videos, speeches, and so on.

      Again, to do that you must stand fast in one position. Here: In communion with Peter and the Church, and by trying to understand more and more what he says and writes, so you can better explain that to those who don’t.

      Since CCC 86 also says that the “Magisterium is not Superior to the Word of God, but is its servant.”–by listening to the Holy Spirit–, thus the spiritual dimension, should also be of great help when trying to understand something that escapes the full observation of any “shadows’ movement”.

      Let’s connect also the following:
      Here is a summary of a Pope Francis’ homily of November 12, 2018:

      *Bishop, a humble and meek servant, not a prince*

      Here’s the video (CC autotranslate, though not perfect, works too):

      OMELIA – 12 Novembre 2018


      • carn says:

        “So what is she misinterprets?”

        She found in the people she tried to analyze among other things:

        – a distrust towards their own conscience;

        – a negative view of the (secular) world; and

        – ideas about judgement also of the apocalyptic type.

        She is – mostly – correct to identify those things.

        She errs completely – as a Catholic – to see them as a problem.

        A Catholic should have a – at least partially – negative view of the (secular) world which literally CELEBRATES abortion, sex between people of the same sex, divorce and a lot of other stuff – mainly violations of number 6.

        As this CELEBRATION includes often indirect or direct proclamations that those people claim to have a clean conscience, the Catholic should conclude that having a conscience that does not react although one CELEBRATES what is wrong is a widespread problem – accordingly, the Catholic should ponder the possibility that he himself might have such a semi-functional conscience and should therefore have some – limited – distrust to his own conscience.

        And a apocalyptic worldview including some judgement is anyway a given for a Catholic, since it is part of the creed that Jesus will return to judge (which is as apocalyptic as things can get).

        So effectively she is identifying traits of these people as problems, which she should immediately recognize as standard for Catholics.

        “by trying to understand more and more what he says and writes”

        You know what sent Phillip Lawler over the rubicon (so to say) according to himself?

        Listening to homilies of the Pope. And i can with homilies and words of the Pope feel something similar; listening to the Pope does often increase my skepticism towards him.


        Ok, that homily is pretty neutral; except of course i have to think when he says something about Bishops being humble and meek about the infamous little book of Papal insults.

      • ONG says:

        //She errs completely – as a Catholic – to see them as a problem.

        A Catholic should have a – at least partially – negative view of the (secular) world which literally CELEBRATES abortion, sex between people of the same sex, divorce and a lot of other stuff – mainly violations of number 6.// and blah blah blah…

        Why should she consider *that* a problem when she is analysing a complete different issue, that is the *incompetence and disobedience* of some clergy and so-called faithful laity (with chronic judgmental & wrathful thoughts of *Apocalyptic views*) to deal
        instead with these *problems* in THE WAY the Supreme Pontiff has indicated and determined as to be more effective in obtaining results?


        is it *you* who is the negative one, projecting *your* own feeling against how the Pontiff has continuously indicated & exhorted HOW the entire Church should operate outward with the secular world and nonbelievers outside the Church?

        Are we still following John the Baptist’s way or Jesus’ way?

        That’s the real question!!!

        //Ok, that homily is pretty neutral//

        None of your known bishops, archbishops or cardinals correspond to that description?

        Now, where is YOUR selected homily to support *your* views?

        Do you know in 6+ years how many homilies Pope Francis has had? Let alone his writs, speeches, audiences, catechesis, meetings and so on and on?

        (John 12:47)

      • carn says:

        Sorry, that something about my comment seems to have irritated you.

        “None of your known bishops, archbishops or cardinals correspond to that description?”

        I cannot confirm for any “bishops, archbishops or cardinals” that they behave as a meek and humble servant nor that they behave as a “prince”. You are aware that if i confirmed the latter for any bishop that i would be judging that bishop without knowing all the details of his situation?

        I thought one should not do that.

        There are some bishops regarding whom i suspect – without clear evidence – a lack of humbleness and meekness. You guess one of the bishops regarding whom i have such suspicions.

        “Now, where is YOUR selected homily to support *your* views?”

        You mean an example for the type of homilies that make me dislike the Pope more?

        The one that sent Lawler over the rubicon is one example:



        While with his general point that neither Justice nor Mercy is more important to God i have no problem, his arguments are so …; example:

        “and were prompted by the day’s Gospel passage in which Jesus responds to legal scholars asking him about the rules for divorce.

        The pope said Jesus “doesn’t respond as to whether it’s licit or not; he doesn’t enter into casuistic logic,””

        One small problem: when i read that passage it seems to me that Jesus does respond to the question:

        “And the Pharisees coming to him asked him: Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.

        And he saith to them: Whosoever shall put away his wife and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if the wife shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.”

        That is according to my understanding of the words “respond” and “licit” a response to the question whether it is licit or not, namely that it is not licit. The … between question and response are an explanation or a help to understand the response.

        But the question was asked and the question was answered.

        So however much goodwill i summon up, that claim by the Pope the Jesus did not respond is at best irritating. And the rest of course stays incomprehensible at best, cause if some initial claim seems to be wrong and the rest of a homily/speech is connected thereto, the rest is brought down by the false claim.

        And the ill-willed interpretation – which Lawler fell to – is the only one which in my view makes any sense, namely that the Pope just performed a lingual limbo dance to get around that impression that Jesus was well into the thing of answering difficult questions by his enemies regarding morality and law in public and gave an answer that at first look might have some friction with AL.

        If i read the Pope’s words and the only explanation i usually end up with on my own, is the one the Papal critics also find, then reading his words is not the best idea if i want to keep my dislike from growing.

        “Do you know in 6+ years how many homilies Pope Francis has had? Let alone his writs, speeches, audiences, catechesis, meetings and so on and on?”

        No. But i do know that for the ones i know, the percentage of the type making me dislike Pope Francis more might be well above 75%.

        “Why should she consider *that* a problem when she is analysing a complete different issue, that is the *incompetence and disobedience* of some clergy and so-called faithful laity (with chronic judgmental & wrathful thoughts of *Apocalyptic views*) to deal
        instead with these *problems* in THE WAY the Supreme Pontiff has indicated and determined as to be more effective in obtaining results?”

        She tries to analyze general characteristics; and if in such a general analysis one identifies some crucial elements as faults, which aren’t faults, the entire analysis gets flawed.

        “is it *you* who is the negative one, projecting *your* own feeling against how the Pontiff has continuously indicated & exhorted HOW the entire Church should operate outward with the secular world and nonbelievers outside the Church?”

        1. I do not see any serious emotional clouding. It is mostly how i would evaluate from a legal/scientific perspective.

        2. My feelings against the Pope likely do not cloud my opinion towards the discussed article, as what i dislike there is mostly independent on Pope Francis.

        “Are we still following John the Baptist’s way or Jesus’ way?”

        That is in interesting question; mainly due to you asking it. It never occurred to me that there is something fundamentally flawed with living a simple life, preaching to people that they should repent and that they should get baptized. The approach of John the Baptist might not be suitable for many circumstances.

        But it is – as far as i am aware – not a way different that is different from the way of Jesus. It is one option how the way of Jesus may look like at times (especially considering that Jesus also often called people to repent, also used some dire warnings, lauded John for doing a mostly decent job and called his disciples to baptize people); at other times the way of Jesus will look differently from what John the Baptist did.

        Actually, the baptism as done today is remarkably similar to what maybe John did; it is asking that people reject evil and then pouring water over them.

        How comes it that you see a fundamental distinction there?

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