Picking up on what the pope said last month about rigid Catholics as well as the parable of the the Prodigal Son, I want to highlight a homily that the pope gave back in 2016.

In that homily the pope draws our attention to the older brother as an example of someone who is rigid, and in doing so he also articulates the cause of rigidity: “he had only ever seen his father as a master not as a father.” Just look at what the older son says to his father when he sees the feast prepared for his wayward brother: “Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders…”

“Serve” and “disobey” – these are words that better describe a servant’s relationship with their master rather than a son’s relationship with their father. And that’s the key. Rigidity is the result of a lie, the lie that God is not a Good Father. If we see God as a master then we become attached to the rules and procedures, enslaved to the law. But, as the pope says, “the Law was not made to enslave us but to set us free, to make us children” of God. Pope Francis goes on:

“Beneath rigidity there is something hidden about a person’s life. Rigidity is not a gift of God. Meekness is; kindness is; benevolence is; forgiveness is. But rigidity is not! Beneath rigidity there is always something hidden, in many cases a double life; but there is also some sort of disease lingering there. How the rigid suffer: when they are sincere and they acknowledge this they suffer! Because they are unable to feel the freedom that God’s children feel; they do not know what it is like to walk in the Law of the Lord and they are not blessed. And they suffer so much!”

See, behind rigidity is fear. The fear of, in our weakness, not living up to the rules and procedures. The fear of accidentally falling into mortal sin. The fear of others failing to live up to the law. The fear of a slave who tiptoes around his tyrant of a master.

And for those who live up this law, or who think they are living up to it, there’s the temptation to look down on others with judgement and contempt masked by piety and a twisted sense of fraternal correction. “If I can overcome this sin by trying hard then why can you? If I can pray a Rosary every day then why can’t you?” It creates this arrogance of believing that I made myself holy, that I overcame sin myself, that I know the truth. The pope says it’s the “arrogance of believing oneself to be right.”

As the pope regularly demonstrates, we need to condemn this rigidity the way that Jesus condemned the Pharisees. Just as the sickness is the result of a lie it also spreads that lie to others. Rigid Christians communicate an anti-Gospel, their lives and witness tell the story of a tyrant god waiting to judge us if we step out of line.

Pope Francis goes on to emphasize the need to pray for those who suffer from this false view of God, “for our brothers and sisters who believe that walking in the Law of the Lord means becoming rigid. May the Lord show them that He is the Father and He likes mercy, tenderness, kindness, meekness and humility.” And in my personal experience it was only when I experienced God as a loving Father that my fears and rigidity began to be healed.

I would encourage you to take the Parable of the Prodigal Son into prayer this week and ask the Holy Spirit to show you how much the Father loves you. Ask to feel His loving embrace. Ask to see Him running toward you overjoyed that you’ve come home. We don’t need to convince the Father to love us. We don’t need to earn His forgiveness. We don’t need to be good enough or worthy enough to experience His love. We just gotta ask.

[Image Credit: “The Return of the Prodigal Son” by James Tissot]

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Paul Fahey is a husband, father of four, parish director of religious education, and co-founder of Where Peter Is.  He can be found at his website, Rejoice and be Glad: Catholicism in the Pope Francis Generation

The lie behind rigidity

68 Responses

  1. PaulusFranciscus says:

    The point this post is trying to make seriously misses the point:

    “Beneath rigidity there is something hidden about a person’s life. Rigidity is not a gift of God. Meekness is; kindness is; benevolence is; forgiveness is.”

    What the Holy Father describes as “rigidity” *is* meekness; it’s a submission to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, handed down in its teachings over the centuries. It *is* kindness and benevolence in the sense of wanting 1. The progress of the Faith and triumph of the Church

    2. Peace and union among Christian Princes and Rulers

    3. The conversion of sinners

    4. The uprooting of heresy.

    It *is* forgiveness when we inevitably fall short of what God requires, despite our best efforts.

    What *is* “rigid” is the belief that the teachings of the Church change with the times, with the suggestion that the divorced might somehow be permitted to receive communion, or that a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience might be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object.

    That, I fear, likely stems from the same brand of pride used to tempt our first parents in the Garden of Eden.

    • chris dorf says:

      How you twisted the essay to interpret a meaning from the teaching of pope Francis is truly a study in contortionism. Somewhere along the line the theological understanding of the human conscience and God’s perfect just judgements gets lost. Forgive 70 X 7

      • PaulusFranciscus says:

        It isn’t who the Holy Father describes as “rigid” that are fearful; it’s the modernists, since they fear being unable to measure up to what God requires.

        The path is not easy, as Christ notes in Matt 5:17-48. Benedict XVI described that as “…a terrifying examination of conscience”, and so that fear is understandable.

        It’s a fear that God’s grace might have limits, and so maybe it’s permissible to move the goalposts. The fear is evident when he ascribes “a double life” and “some kind of disease” to people he’s never met and without a scintilla of evidence.

        God’s grace, of course, is infinite. Those who feel that the Church’s ancient teachings on divorce and communion, priestly celibacy, and other disciplines and dogmas should be re-examined lest we become “too rigid” should be counseled not to fear.

        None of us measures up. God’s grace is indeed merciful and boundless; he forgives 7×70 as you say, but that is a truth modernist need to accept, far more that the traditionalists.

      • jong says:

        “rigid” is the opposite of the word “converted” in the words of Pope Francis which Paul Fahey had written on his previous article.
        Read this link;
        What did Pope Francis say about rigid priests?http://wherepeteris.com/what-did-pope-francis-say-about-rigid-priests/

        I am enlightened by this great article why Pope Francis easily removed from their respective post Cardinal Burke, Ab.Vigano, Cardinal Muller, etc. why? Do they possessed a “rigid” heart like the Pharisees?

        Cardinal Burke is a Doctor of Canon Law, he is well verse in Canon Law & Church Dogmatic Constitution like the Pharisee, but did Cardinal Burke remember’s that he is also subject to the law? Read Canon751, Canon752 and Canon1364 and add to that Lumen Gentium25.
        Cardinal Sarah seems to be better adept to Canon Law as he do not want to be accuse of “resisting or opposing the Pope”, why?
        All those who oppose & resist the Pope has a great consequences in Canon Law, they will incur “automatic excommunication”.
        Is Cardinal Burke et, al and their followers already outside the Church by virtue of Canon Law1364 by embracing the evil attitude of “recognize and resist the Pope? Yes or No?

        “Rigid” souls according to Paul Fahey article quoting Pope Francis is a soul that is opposed to the Holy Spirit inspirations. Pope Francis was inspired by the Holy Spirit to magnify the Mercy of God in Amoris Laetetia and Cardinal Muller view is oppose to this. What is the result? Pope Francis said Cardinal Muller is “like a child”. What does it mean to be like a child, it means his faith did not grow. Why?
        Only a converted heart not a rigid heart can see the Face of God, the Mercy of God. That’s why to all the confused clergy & prelates he implore all of them to seek conversion to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

        Ab.Vigano’s removal was a special case, he put Pope Francis in a bad light in the Kim Davis event in 2015 when Pope Francis visited the US.
        Read this link; Vatican spokesmen contradict Viganò’s account of meeting with Pope Francis about Kim Davis https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2018/09/02/vatican-spokesmen-contradict-viganos-account-meeting-pope-francis-about-kim-davis

        To where do we compare Ab.Vigano “rigidness”, is it to a Pharisee, to Judas who betrayed Jesus or the Church Magisterium on his oath on pontifical confidentiality, or to Cardinal Muller “like a child” phrase?

        The answer is in the homily of Pope Francis on Santa Martha regarding the The Great Accuser unchain, why?
        Ab. Vigano had accused his numerous brethren Bishops up to the Supreme Bishop but did not provide a single proof. So, when he heard the homily on the Great Accuser Unchain he immediately cried aloud in the Media and and published again a testimony accusing Pope Francis of “subtle slander”.

        What is the schismatic rigid Rad Trads tactics to conceal their evil identity? They are projecting their evil traits of accusing, judging, rigidness, confusions, etc. to Pope Francis, why? They want to deny who they really are, they don’t want to be expose to the Light that they are “schismatics” instead they accuse Pope Francis is the one in schism, that’s how crazy they are.
        How long will they craziness last? Pope Francis already dared all of them to come out and fight saying “I am not afraid of schism”.
        What is the response of the schismatic Dubia Cardinals, et, al and their followers? They all deny they are in schism but their actions speak louder than words, how can they deny it?

      • PaulusFranciscus says:


        For follower of the ideology that purports to eschew “rigidity”, you certainly are quick to require rigid adherence to and interpretation of the Canon Law.

        I would paraphrase our Lord’s words on the Sabbath, and point out that the Canon Law was made for the Church, and not the Church for the Canon Law.

        Your arguments amount to requiring the faithful to adhere blindly and without question to anything the Supreme Pontiff utters. No one would have supported that argument under the Popes of the Saeculum Obscurum.

        Those who point out where the Holy Father’s teachings appear to contradict the Magisterium and seek clarification from him are not in schism by virtue of the sections you point out. If anything, by virtue of Can. 212 §2 and §3, and Can. 1436 they are entitled to seek clarification, and may even have a duty to do so.

      • jong says:

        Let’s read again your cited Canon, the famous Canon212 which all the dissenters are using but cannot comprehend the meaning, why?
        Does Canon212 said that ALL laity can seek clarifications? or it has a qualifier?
        Read it again…
        The Pope is the Supreme Interpreter, Legislator and Guarantor of Faith, we can liken it to secular world he is like the Supreme Court Chief Justice.
        Can ordinary citizen who has no background in law seek clarification directly to the Supreme Court Chief Justice?
        Ok, for the sake of charity, granting he answer your confusions, can you understand the “technicalities of the law much more the spirit of the law”?
        That’s why the followers of the Dubia Cardinals et,al are being deceived by the Rad Trads to openly resist the Pope by citing Canon212, when in fact that law has a qualifier, only the lay faithful who are “COMPETENT” on Church Laws & Doctrines are encourage to seek clarifications but since the Church nature is Hierarchical., if you really are competent enough that you feel your interpretation is right compare to the Supreme Pontiff teachings, then seek first your Parish Priest it might be resolve in that level. if not go to the Diocese Bishop for sure a competent Bishop is enough to answer your question. But if you think the Bishop is not enough and you claimed you are an expert theologian and have numerous Doctorate way above your Bishop…then you still cannot go directly to the Pope,why?
        Pope Benedict XVI issued a guidelines for all the expert theologians, that their dissent must follow the evangelical guidelines in Donum Veritatis. The Prefect of CDF normally will be enough to answer your question. And if the Prefect of CDF fails, then Pope Francis will have to set a time especially for your concern among his busy schedule because your question & confusions is a matter of life & death on your Traditional faith. Then if the Supreme Pontiff still failed to satisfy your longings, then there’s no way but to imitate Job, we will directly ask God and hopefully He is not too busy to answer our confusions. have you seen the wisdom of Canon212?

        Also, Pope Francis obligation is very very very clear, Jesus said to Peter he must confirm his brethren and not the schismatics brethren like the Dubia Cardinals et,al ,why?
        The schismatics does not recognized and embraced the authority of Pope Francis as their True Pastors, how can you confirm a schismatic?
        The schismatic had willfully chosen to resist or oppose the Pope, therefore according to Cardinal Sarah and Cardinal Caffara this people are already outside the Church.
        Proof? Read Romans13:1-2
        And Pope Francis has no obligation to schismatic Bishops as written clearly by St,John, let’s read; 1John2:18-19
        See, it is the reason why Pope Francis had not answered the Dubia Cardinals, et al because by their own choice they incurred “automatic excommunication”, they are already outside the Church. As Cardinal Oulette reminded Ab>Vigano to seek reconcilliation to Pope Francis whom he slander. Meaning the Dubia Cardinals,et al must not only say that they are doing their resistance because they love the Pope.
        This phrase had been the words of the Rad trads channels to deceive their viewers, they are resisting because they love the Pope…
        How crazy is their embraced confusions and expression of love. If I were Pope Francis, i would tell to all the schismatic rigid Rad Trads, if thats the way you express your love & respect to me, then by all means please stop loving me!

    • Lazarus says:

      > What the Holy Father describes as “rigidity” *is* meekness; it’s a submission to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, handed down in its teachings over the centuries.

      Here is the central issue. Only the living magisterium can authentically interpret the teachings of the past, and to say that it errs here because your reading of past documents is irreconcilable with what it teaches today is tantamount to saying Catholicism is false. For if the Church defects from the faith today, either Protestants or Eastern Orthodox are right regarding the papacy. It’s a fool’s errand to try to “save” the Church because man cannot do what even God failed to do, if it was somehow true at some point in history.

      > What *is* “rigid” is the belief that the teachings of the Church change with the times, with the suggestion that the divorced might somehow be permitted to receive communion, or that a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience might be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object.

      Small “t” traditions and disciplines can always change, have always changed. Not every objective sin is a mortal sin. Besides, everyone publically resisting the pope should be barred from communion by those standards since schism and scandalizing the faithful to schism is an objective sin too.

      • PaulusFranciscus says:

        We aren’t talking about small-t traditions and disciplines, though, with perhaps the exception of whether some married men should be ordained. We are talking about the issues raised by the Dubia, and addressed in the Declaration of Truths signed May 31, 2019.

        Those are truths whose interpretation *cannot* change, but must remain consistent.

      • Lazarus says:

        You don’t understand that there are three conditions that must be met to turn objective sin into mortal sin? The pope can always allow those who are commit objective sin but discerned not to be in mortal sin. This is discipline.

        If AL is not binding today, what JPII wrote in the past is not binding either. This is a matter of discipline, not doctrine.

      • Matt says:

        The “dubia” and the “Declaration of Truths” are not official Church teaching documents.

      • Tony Correia says:

        Matt, you are correct.
        The Dubia, was a respectful request that Pope Francis would acknowledge already existing unchangeable Church Documents and Teaching. This was requested by faithful sons of the Catholic Church, in light of ambiguous language in Amoris Laetitia and the confusion it has caused among the faithful.
        Pope Francis has never responded to the Dubia, except for some veiled criticism in some of his homilies. Also, other clerics that surround him have made criticisms and accusations of infidelity against the Dubia Cardinals. Some of their statements against the Cardinals are essential calumnies.
        The Declaration of Truths is in response to ambiguous teachings coming from the Vatican causing confusion and concern among the faithful.
        The Declaration affirms already existing and unchangeable fundamental truths of Catholic Faith, Doctrine, Dogma and Tradition clearly and without ambiguity.

      • PaulusFranciscus says:


        No, they are not. But they contain most of the places where Pope Francis’ teachings appear to contradict Church doctrine.

  2. Tony Correia says:

    Paul Mahey, you’ve got this “rigidity” issue all wrong. Those of us Catholics who love God also love His commandments. In fact Our Lord said, “… if you love me, you will follow my commandments…” And we know that God is our loving Father and not just a “master”. You are being presumptuous when you say we fear God; although”fear of the Lord” is not a bad thing when properly understood. We fear offending the Lord who is all good and merciful. Furthermore, it is pretty condescending to say that “rigid” Catholics have some underlying mental or moral problem. In this current pontificate, traditional Catholics arr considers anathema.

    • jong says:

      Tony Correia
      Allow me to explain to you why Pope Francis is not responding to the Dubia Cardinals, Dissenting Bishops & Theologians, Disobedient Priest and their followers.
      Jesus words to Peter in Luke22:32 is very very very clear, Peter has an obligation to confirm “his brother”, I repeat Peter has an obligation to confirm “only his brother.” Pope Francis has no obligation to confirm schismatic Cardinals & Bishops, why?
      Let’s hear it from Cardinal Sarah himself “all who oppose the Pope are already outside the Church”.
      How about the words of Cardinal Caffara who had reconciled with Pope Francis, “those who oppose the Pope are going to eternal damnation”.
      So, did Jesus commanded Peter to confirm the schismatic rigid Dubia Cardinals & Bishops? NO!, Jesus words only applies to Pope Francis “brethren” who recognized and embraced him as their True Pastors but not the schismatics.
      St.John words are very clear to all schismatic Bishops they are infected with the Spirit of Antichrist;
      “Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.(1John2:18-19)

      • Tony Correia says:

        Jong, the Dubia cardinals are not schismatic. They have not called for Catholics to separate themselves from the Pope. They have not contradicted Catholic Doctrine, Dogma and teaching. They have in fact upheld the Faith in all it’s fullness. They have rightly asked that the Pope clarify what Amoris Laetitia is saying, particularly regarding the divorced and remarried being allowed to receive the Holy Eucharist. Are you going to tell me that those who are living in adultery, a mortal sin, can now receive the Eucharist and thus commit a sacrilege which condemns them? To think that is ok, you would have to believe that the Eucharist is not the Body and Blood of Christ, just bread and wine.

      • jong says:

        Tony Correia
        No they are not asked rightly. Proof?
        Cardinal Muller in 2017 when he was the Prefect of CDF had warned the Dubia Cardinals that they cannot express their dissent publicly, it is not allowed under Donum Veritatis and it must be done in “camera caritatis”.
        Did Cardinal Burke, et al heed the warnings?..after all they had seen the failure of the first petitioner the “Filial Correctio” in not following the simple evangelical guidelines of Donum Veritatis.
        Why the Dubia Cardinals published their dissent publicly if they already received a warning and for sure they are knowlegeable on Donum Veritatis? Is this not a sign of doisobedince more so arrogance in defying a warning of the Prefect and ignoring the guidelines?
        If they cannot follow the guidelines of Donum Veritatis and obviously they are openly, repeatedly, continuously and willfully ignoring the Church Authority and resisting Pope Francis, is Canon751 and Canon1364 cannot be applied to them. Are they above the Church Law?

  3. George XY Palantine says:

    You need to define rigidity. Because rigidity is demonstrated amply by posts here at Where Peter Is. In fact, it has been well documented that the excuse of “rigidity” was used for years by seminaries taken over by homosexuals to keep good men from becoming priests. If you believed in the Catholic faith, you were “rigid”. They only wanted men who did not believe in Catholicism to be made priests. So now we see the Pope using that same flimsy excuse. But we don’t know exactly what he means by that term. It could apply just as easily to someone who wants women priests, to those who oppose the death penalty. You see, this misuse of words is why people do not like Pope Francis. You left out the part where he questions the sanity of young people who like the Latin Mass.

    Pope Francis himself is very rigid. When faced with the dubia, he was rigid, and would not answer. No dialogue. When faced with questions raised by the Vigano revelations, he was rigid, and would not answer. He simply told his minions in the press to deflect all criticism. Pope Francis is very rigid, if we use a definition that can be equally applied. But no , lets be real. You don’t want to be fair. you want to call certain people names so you do not have to talk to them, and do not have to address their very real concerns. You are rigid, too, it seems.

    • Anne Lastman says:

      George Im afraid you’ve got things terribly wrong not the pope or Paul Fahey. “Pope Francis himself is very rigid when faced with the dubia he was very rigid etc”
      Do you remember who else was questioned about His teachings? Do you remember who else was harassed and accused of being demonic? Do you remember was threatened with being thrown from hill. Do you remember who else was betrayed by one of his own and even those he had loved and helped? Do you remember the one who said the Sabbath was made for man not man for Sabbath? Do you remember who said do as they say but don’t wander around the market place with pride showing your phylacteries? I could go on and on. The parable of the Prodigal son could also be interpreted in a different way. Remember who rebelled. Who rebelled against God ? and the one who said “father if its possible etc” and finally did Jesus respond to those Dubia demands made of him? No he didn’t he responded with teachings against the demands.
      Remember those who demanded were not exactly wrong. Remember those who demanded had learned the law verbatim but had missed completely the depth of the law. The nuances. The deep meaning. The divine meaning.
      They had settled just for the surface level. No understanding of Divine love. Divine ways. Divine expectations.

      • PaulusFranciscus says:

        Pope Francis and the modernists are not Christ, and traditionalists are not Satan.

        And Jesus’ answers to the Pharisees demonstrated that adherence to the law required *more* than they were giving; not less.

        The modernists hope that by diluting the Church’s teachings so that they are more palatable to non-Christians, they will broaden its appeal, since the Church wouldn’t seem so judgy and onerous.

        Modernists are afraid of being measured against what the Magisterium truly demands, and they succumb to pride in the delusion that they have discovered “…the depth of the law. The nuances. The deep meaning. The divine meaning.”

        Don’t be so afraid. That fear is manifest in your subsequent comment, wherein you express disappointment at not feeling safe and characterizing those with whom you disagree as “the snake” having been allowed to “slither in”.

        In the end, none of us measures up. We receive God’s grace as a free gift for the asking, so long as you have faith. Don’t lose that faith out of a misplaced sense of fear.

  4. Anne Lastman says:

    Paul I thought that this was a website where one could feel safe that the posters were surrounding the Holy Father and respecting and defending him. Has the snake been permitted to slither in?

    • M. says:

      Hi Anne, One of the things that made me lose all respect for the trad blogs was that they often block those who are faithful to the pope and don’t allow comments defending Pope Francis on their sites. I don’t think it is a good policy to block comments you disagree with, personally. It’s a tough one though. If comments from trads get nasty, abusive, bad language, or hateful I wouldn’t want to read that stuff. I can go to lifesite to read those any day of the week, sadly. The comments above were fairly respectful- at least compared to lots. It’s kind of a confusing issue. Glad I am not in the moderator’s shoes!

      • Yaya says:

        There is a special place in heaven for moderators who strive to be fair to all. May our gracious Lord bless them with infinite patience, prudence and a good sense of humor.

  5. Mireille says:

    Paulus Fransiscan

    It is both the rigid people and the modernist people. They both are wrong.

  6. Anne Lastman says:

    Psulus Franciscus. Yeah !!! you’ve discovered my secret!!! Im afraid of measuring up to “what the magisterium truly demands.” Im so glad you were able to discern that for me. Thank you.

    • Manuel Dauvin says:

      Hard not to get sarcastic. Everyone is pigeonholed and labeled. You have no longer any say against the labels because they see the 2s and arrive at 4 without asking themselves if they were actually 2s. All along pope francis has moved on to 3+3=6.
      My wife and I have always loved the spiritual classics of catholicism, we love the tradition and history of our church, we have lots of kids, we homeschool, we often go to daily mass and say a family rosary more often than not…the only thing we are doing “wrong” is finding Pope francis to be solid. He is saying something quite different than what his critics are accusing him of saying. I suppose we are now liberals who “pretend” to toe the Catholic line…weird. meanwhile Paulus, George, and the likes are people I would have perhaps seen on the perpetual adoration roster and sat down with at coffee and donuts…we have no common ground now. They believe a different faith with the same letters and words. They can’t hear the shepherd’s voice over their disgust of the modernists. They’ve decided that they won’t give an inch any more…if they only could realize that pope Francis is not asking us to give an inch. He’s asking us to give our all. ..make ourselves vulnerable as a proof of our strength not as a surrender to theirs.
      It’s hard.

      • PaulusFranciscus says:

        I think it’s a question of where we should “convert” and where we should remain “rigid”. The traditionalists would see the Magisterium, and all of the dogma, doctrine, and development it entails as the fixed star that guides us in life. They would conform (“convert”, if you will) themselves to it, remaining flexible so as to comply with those teachings.

        The modernists, on the other hand, consider that certain doctrine and development, and to some extent even the dogmas, might need to be reinterpreted in light of modern reality. To them, the teachings should be flexible, not realizing the implication that they themselves are then what is rigid.

        What should conform/convert/be more flexible? The doctrine, dogmas, and developments that comprise the Magisterium, or those who are asked to take up their cross and follow Him?

      • Tony Correia says:

        Sorry brothers and sisters, you are building your houses on sand.

      • Marie says:

        Manuel- I sympathize with you as I suspect it has been difficult for you and your family over recent years. I very much admire and respect your faith and courage, and your comments on this site.

      • Marie says:

        Paulus- I’m sorry, but you are just wrong. The traditionalists are not seeing the Magisterium as the fixed star that guides them. Who is the Magisterium? Does it not include the Pope? Who is responsible for the authentic interpretation of tradition and scripture? The living Magisterium. Who else? No one!

        Christ has not asked us to interpret tradition, nor to be papal watchdogs. He has asked us to be faithful. That sometimes requires the submission of the will and intellect, especially when we don’t understand something. That’s what faith is. It never requires us to take on the roll of defending the faith by rejecting his Vicar, because somehow we just know better, despite what Christ has said. It never will.

      • Tony Correia says:

        Marie, many faithful Catholics who are justifiably concerned with the direction of the Church under the current pontificate, are not rejecting Pope Francis; read carefully, WE ARE NOT REJECTING POPE FRANCIS. We intend on remaining united to the Vicar of Christ on earth. If not we would be separating ourselves from the Catholic Church. We remain in Holy Mother Church; we pray for the Pope and respect his Petrine ministry.
        However, we can justifiably reject that which is contrary to 2,000 years of Catholic Faith, Doctrine and Tradition. We reject the allowing of divorced and remarried people being allowed to receive the Holy Eucharist. We reject that it is ok to place wooden idols of Pachamama in front of the altars of Catholic Churches in Rome. We reject that women can be conferred with Holy Orders. But we do not reject the Pope. Please get this clear in your minds. God bless.

      • PaulusFranciscus says:


        Firstly, traditionalists do not reject the current Vicar of Christ. On the contrary, as most have said, they do submit; they ask only that he make a clear statement about what he is teaching when, to almost anyone considering the matter objectively, they appear to contradict the Church’s prior teachings.

        Secondly, the Magisterium includes the Pope, but is not comprised solely of the Pope. The full assent of faith is only required with the Pope speaks ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals, in the case of ecumenical councils in matters of faith and morals, and with all of the bishops, together with the Pope speak definitively on matters of faith and morals.

        To be sure, Amoris Laetitia deals with faith and morals, but it is only the Pope acting in his ordinary teaching capacity. He is certainly owed deference, but the document is not infallible. As a result, the faithful are fully within their rights to seek clarification where it appears to contradict prior teaching. His Holiness’ failure to address those apparent contradictions in an unambiguous way should be deeply disturbing to anyone who seriously seeks to keep close to God’s law. That is not a rejection of the Holy Father. On the contrary, reaching out to him for clarity is an acknowledgment of his authority.

        At this point, we have silence on the Dubia. Some have pointed to certain actions on the part of the Pope as representing an answer, but that is just more ambiguity. The Dubia are clear, and they clearly identify what appear to be inconsistencies between Amoris Laetitia and Veritatis Splendor. We don’t have an unequivocal response.

        As a result of that failure, at least 5 eminent bishops who have signed the Declaration of Truths. More have signed on to the expression of concerns regarding the Instrumentum Laboris prepared by Cardinals Burke and Schneider.

        You may consider them cranks. Many do not, and they deserve better than to have it said about them, by no less than their Holy Father, that “…there is always something hidden, in many cases a double life; but there is also some sort of disease lingering there.”

        Lastly, your call to faith is a call to faith in Christ. The Holy Father represents Christ, but his is not Christ. We may owe him obedience, but the faithful are also owed a proper response befitting a man in the role of a father to his children. We shouldn’t be surprised when some react harshly when immorality and disease are ascribed to them, simply for raising the very questions we would expect from a pious laity.

  7. Manuel Dauvin says:

    If you can’t get off your horse and kiss the leper in the road way…You are rigid.
    Take up your cross. Read the gospels. We are sick of modernists gaining ground but we are giving such scandal to our brothers. Just imagine what an evangelical, searching for deeper answers will think if he reads Taylor marshall before scott Hahn’ Rome sweet home. Those who dismiss the general have lost the battle.

  8. carn says:

    “If we see God as a master then we become attached to the rules and procedures, enslaved to the law. But, as the pope says, “the Law was not made to enslave us but to set us free, to make us children” of God.”

    So it is wrong to keep the law just out of servitude to the law/fear of the law?

    So when someone feels called to act within his heart by God, but fear of the – maybe even man made law – holds him back that is bad?

    And when he finally sheds his servitude to the law that is wonderful and an occasion of joy?

    Like when some people who till now out of fear for breaching the law about theft did not follow their heart’s call to remove what their heart perceived as demonic from a Church and toss it into a river and now finally find the courage to overcome their fear and follow the call of their heart?

    Actually, I thought that statues into river thing quite sad. But your arguments about rigidity might help me to have a more joyful view upon that event, cause clearly these men overcame their fear/respect for the law about stealing and acted as free Christians following their conscience.

    And before people think that this comparison is unfair: it is spot on.

    That is what you get without some law and without people having enough rigidity to respect the law most of the time:

    Some people follow their heart and put some statues into Churches, which other people in their heart perceive as demonic. While the ones responsible for oversight of this potentially difficult situation lack the rigidity to care doing their jobs. And the result is definitely not beautiful.

    When will this demonizing of rigidity stop?

    It has its place and like many things too much/wrong kind can be a problem, just as too little/wrong kind.

  9. Christopher Lake says:

    Pope Francis has (explicitly, verbally, and in writing) pointed me and other Catholics to the Father, the Holy Spirit, and to Jesus, and His Blessed Mother, *so many times*, that it truly angers me to hear people basically accusing him of being complicit in idolatry. Those statues were *not* idols. Just because they were not white-skinned and clothed images does not make them pagan! The people who brought those statues were, and our, our fellow Catholics, and the statues were symbols of their faith!

    Moreover– for any of the commenters here who oppose Pope Francis, and/or for anyone of them would ever call me a “Modernist,” or a “Papal-olator,” because of my support of Pope Francis, let me say, very clearly, that I support *all* of the Church’s teachings, INCLUDING the hard ones on marriage and human sexuality which sometimes have me praying something, basically, along these lines:

    “God, please help me, I want to be obedient to You, because I know that You love me perfectly and infinitely, but please, please help me to keep being obedient, because these teachings can be so very hard to live out as a 40-something-year-old single, and financially poor, and physically disabled, man!!! It can be so lonely!”

    Pope Francis deeply cares about people like me. He doesn’t want me to fall into sin (mortal or venial), and he doesn’t simply tell me that all is well, if or when I sin, but he also knows that the struggle against sin is a hard and life-long one, and that the promise of God’s mercy, for those who repent, helps many people to be obedient much more than harsh reprimands.

    Pope Francis also deeply cares about people who are divorced and in situations that, *objectively speaking*, are gravely sinful, but that, due to reasons of *subjective culpability*, may not always be *mortally sinful*.
    This idea– that gravely sinful situations, in and of themselves, do *not* always mean that people in those situations are in mortal sin– is *not* heretical thinking. It is in the Catechism, in the section on masturbation and in other sections. Pope Francis is not giving divorced and remarried people a free pass to receive the Eucharist. The Buenos Aires guidelines on “Amoris Laetitia,” which he *specifically approved*, are *not* about giving people a pass to freely, willfully, be in mortal sin, and yet, still receive the Eucharist. How many people who oppose Pope Francis have even taken the time to *look up* the Buenos Aires guidelines?

    Pope Francis is a very good– not perfect, but very good!– spiritual father in the faith. I am so thankful that he is our current Vicar of Christ, and I write that as one who deeply loves his recent Papal predecessors too. There are few people on earth whom I think of more fondly than Benedict XVI– who, on numerous occasions, has also affirmed his respect for, and loyalty to, Pope Francis and his leadership.

  10. Christopher Lake says:

    P.S. On the first part of the lengthy comment that I just wrote here: I wasn’t deliberately meaning to get off-topic of this article by briefly mentioning the statues and defending them, and the faith of Pope Francis, and the faith of those who brought them. I’m just so tired of hearing people:

    1. Call Pope Francis an “idolator,” a “Modernist,” and other inaccurate slurs (for any non-existent reasons that they happen to come up with), and

    2. Also, now, defame the faith and practice of indigenous Catholics as being “pagan,”

    that these matters made their way into my comment which was, overall, more on the subject of “rigidity” that this article addresses.

    • Tony Correia says:

      Christopher, even dome of the indigenous people who are attending the Pan-Amazon Synod stated that the ritual that took place in the Vatican gardens was a PAGAN RITUAL to Pachamama, “mother earth”. This is not Catholic.

      • PaulusFranciscus says:

        Assuming the figures presented to the Pope are some conception of Catholicism, rather than pagan, is to make the same error of which the modernists like to accuse traditionalists. You don’t know they are Catholic, any more than the traditionalists can say definitively that they are pagan.

        And that’s the point.

        The question has been asked, and we have no straight answer from the Holy Father. We don’t even have a clear answer from his spokespeople.

        The figures certainly look pagan. The ceremony where people, including priests, were allowed to bow down in worship of it certainly looked pagan.

        There is no schism in asking the Holy Father for a clear explanation as to what the figures represent, and exactly what was happening in that ceremony. If neither the Holy Father, nor anyone around him can offer a clear and unequivocal explanation as to what all of that was – in detail – the faithful have the right to be extremely concerned.

    • Yaya says:

      @Christopher and Manuel: Thank you for your trust and confidence in our Holy Father as it helps my trust and confidence in him too.

      Let’s keep praying for him, his ministry, our beloved Church, Papa’s supporters and especially for his critics.

      • Christopher Lake says:


        Thank you so much for your encouragement, and thank you, even more, for the exhortation to pray for the critics of Pope Francis. Sometimes, I can be critical of him too, though I usually voice such thoughts privately, among friends, in-person, but I definitely don’t think that I am “more Catholic” than him, as some of his critics seem to think of themselves.

        Even for the Pope’s most harsh, extreme critics though, or perhaps, *especially* for them, I should make more of a daily commitment to praying patiently, lovingly, for them. After all, there was a lengthy period of my life (as an angry non-believer), when I was vocally opposed to Christ and Christians, period– or at least, opposed to what I *thought that I understood * of them.

        I shudder to think of things that I said and thought about Christ and His followers in those years. My mind and heart were so darkened… but underneath the anti-Christian anger and bravado, there was a lot of pain, a lot of hurt. I think the same is likely true for at least *some* of the Pope’s critics, even though I also don’t think that the Pope has *willfully meant* to hurt any of them. Thank you for reminding me to pray for them.

      • Tony Correia says:

        Christopher, thank you for sharing about your conversion. I have alot of respect and joy for those whom God has saved from a dark life, and who have become alive again through the Lord’s Mercy and gratuitous Grace.
        I too lived a very sinful and pagan life throughout my 20’s and into my mid-30s. I was arrogant in my lifestyle and proud. I used to write many letters to the editor of my local newspaper where I vilified Christians and painted them as intolerable hypocrites. My local paper is very liberal and leftist, do they gladly published my letters. I am ashamed of that now.
        Nevertheless, I know it was the years of prayers of my grandmother and mother to Our Lady for intercession for my conversion that led me to go to confession after 15 years and to my conversion. I even became a Franciscan Tertiary of the Immaculate since 1995 to the present.
        I am just a sinner who strives to love and live the Faith realizing how precious it is. I try to remember that I have been saved through the expensive and precious Blood of Christ.
        Let us all pray for each other, Our Holy Father, and our Holy Mother Church and always defend Her. Let us be love in the Heart of the Church, our Mother. God bless.

  11. Christopher Lake says:

    Tony Correia and PaulisFranciscus,

    The statues were brought to the Vatican (initially) and were accepted there by Pope Francis and other Catholic leaders. The people who brought the statues are fellow Catholics. *At least some* of those fellow Catholics referred to the statues as “Our Lady of the Amazon.” Does that sound pagan to you? To me, it sounds like the Catholics who were making that reference understood the statues to be representations of Mary.

    It’s hard to process that I’m even having to write these words to another Catholic, but kneeling in front of statues which are *in and around the Vatican* is not necessarily pagan. Even bowing down in front of certain statues which are *in and around the Vatican* is not necessarily pagan. Are we in Jack Chick-tract anti-Catholic land here??

    Tony and Paulus, do either of you attend a Catholic parish which happens to have many members from non-First World, non-Western countries? I see fellow Catholics kneeling and praying in front of statues of Mary and Joseph and other Saints quite regularly in the area where I live. I don’t assume that those Catholics are engaging in pagan worship. I assume that they are simply doing what faithful Catholics do, because, in fact, they are.

    • Tony Correia says:

      Christopher Lake, yes I do attend a Catholic parish and yes, we have statues of Mary, St. Joseph, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, St. Francis Xavier, the Divine Mercy and others. I personally have statues in my home. Yes I even kneel and pray before these representations of Mary, Jesus, and the Saints asking for their intercession before the Throne of God in Heaven. Yes, I know this is not pagan or idolatry.
      With regard to the wooden naked pregnant women statues being paraded around the Vatican during the Amazon Synod, you wrote, “…at least ‘some’ of these fellow Catholics referred to the statues as ‘Our Lady of the Amazon’ … Does that sound pagan to you?’ ”
      Christopher, would you put one of these naked female statues on your parish church or in your home?
      To say that a female naked pregnant statue represents the Immaculate Virgin Mother of God, is blatantly abhorrent!
      Furthermore, those naked female statues ARE NOT REPRESENTATIONS OF OUR LADY. When journalists asked the Cardinals on the panel during the daily press conferences, what those statues represented, they gave convoluted responses that they represented life, but they also said they did not represent the Virgin Mary; others on the panel said they didn’t know what the statues were.
      There is a monumental difference between venerating actual Saints in Heaven and kneeling in prayer before their statues (all part of centuries of appropriate Catholic devotion), and having pagan statues in the Vatican gardens where indigenous people, including a Franciscan, prostrate themselves before these idols of Pachamama,.a pagan deity of “mother earth”.
      Even some of the indigenous people attending the Synod stated that the statues are a pagan idol and recognized the ritual in the Vatican gardens as being a Pagan Ritual.
      This mixing of paganism with Catholicism is a great concern to many faithful Catholics who love the Faith and the Church.

      • Christopher Lake says:


        The indigenous Catholics who personally presented the statue to Pope Francis do not understand it to be an idol of Pachamama. Does their perspective count for anything with you? I would think that it should (to say the very least).

        An indigenous missionary– a Catholic priest– who has been working in the Amazon for years, says that to the Catholics whom he serves there, the statue represents the Virgin Mary. Moreover, he states that this indigenous devotion of “Our Lady of the Amazon” is not even new. It has existed among them for some time:



        Now, as for whether I would want the statue in *my* home, since it represents the Virgin Mary (and the dignity and sacredness of new human life, with her visible pregnancy), I don’t see why not. I might well end up having to explain the statue to some of my fellow First World Catholics, but that could be a teachable moment, *if* they are open to listening to perspectives *other* than those from the First (and Western) World.

        The Vatican has *actual naked pagan art* in its art collection and has for probably longer than any of us here has been alive. Such art is not reverenced or worshiped there, of course, but it’s in the Vatican collection and has been there, long before Pope Francis, and it has not been a source of scandal. Does that scandalize you?

  12. Manuel Dauvin says:

    Tony…”Sorry brothers and sisters, you are building your houses on sand.”
    Presumably you are referring to our reliance on pope francis the successor of Peter.
    That is a choice piece of true irony Tony.
    Do you realize that Francis has received the same promise as peter? Christ did the building on what you are now calling sand. ..did he not? Where else do we go…Your interpretation of church teaching?

    • Tony Correia says:

      Manuel, I am not saying or intending anything you presumed, that’s all on you. Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ, Successor of St. Peter, the Rock upon which Christ built His Church. He does have the promises given by Christ to St. Peter and his successors. However, everything a Pope states is not infallible dogma. The Pope is also a man who can have his own opinions, and they can be at odds with Church teaching and Tradition.
      I do not in any way suggest that we oppose the Pope in his person as Successor of Peter or that any Catholic should separate from Pope Francis. No, we must remain united with our Holy Gather, no matter what. We must remain Catholic and within the Church. We must pray for our Holy Father.
      We do and can resist statements and actions that break from immutable Church Teaching and Tradition. For example, under this Pontificate, divorced and remarried people are being allowed to sacrilegiously receive the Holy Eucharist. This has never been allowed in the past and is a break from established Catholic Teaching and morals. The “sand” I was referring to are the errors taking place in the Church today. Those who accept those errors are putting themselves outside the Catholic Church thus, “building their house on sand”.

  13. M. says:

    Tony, how can you say that a pope has no right to change church law on the matter of Communion being refused in the past to people who are objectively in a state of mortal sin, but are not subjectively culpable for that sin? Long before Pope Francis, I was struggling with a lifestyle that included a besetting sin that I was trapped in but not *free* to either stop or continue. A *very orthodox* priest accompanied me to a place of understanding that I was not *free* to stop this objectively immoral condition I found myself in. He explained that he would give me *permission* to receive the Eucharist (accompaniment) under the condition that I come frequently to confession and spiritual direction. He *poured himself out* for me, so that I could return to the sacraments and be healed of my condition. If he hadn’t rescued me, I would still be stuck in quicksand and sinking faster all the time, begging for help from any who would pass by, but none would lend a hand before God sent this priest to me! I know in my heart that this is what Pope Francis is talking about. He’s talking about people who find themselves trapped in the devil’s clutches, in a catch 22 situation where there is no way out. He has every right to change the churches discipline on matters like this. Just as priests have always had the right in the confessional to help a person to *discern* what the proper course of action should be with regard to receiving sacraments. Now, I understand that the door, even for those in difficult situations, was closed before when the situation involved marriage. The door is not now wide open to divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist. When you guys portray it that way, all you do is give ammunition to the most liberal theology in the Church that would like to believe that the Eucharist is open to everyone, regardless of personal situation. And traditionalists, of all people, have become *apologists* for this liberal mentality, unbeknownst to themselves. Instead of defending the true teaching of the church on the matter of *some* remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist, y’all have now shouted from the rooftops that the Pope has changed church teaching to invite *all* divorced and remarried Catholics to the Eucharist, in direct opposition to the real and much more stringent and particular guidelines. And if that’s not doing the devil’s work for him, I don’t know what it is. Talk about twisting things out of proportion and creating deep misunderstanding of what our church is actually teaching. It’s NOT ok to do this, it creates scandal as many people now believe that the Eucharist is open to all. That’s on the head of the misinterpreters and deliverers of false information- not the pope.

  14. Tony Correia says:

    M., we all have sins we struggle with and the key to rooting them out is frequent confession and reception of the Holy Eucharist. I totally agree.
    However, it is a serious error and deception to state or believe that a person can be helplessly locked into committing grave sin and therefore is less culpable. That would mean that the person does not have free will and that God’s Grace is insufficient to aiding the sinner to true repentance, amendment of life and growth in Christian perfection and Holiness.
    With regard to reception of the Holy Eucharist, it is not changeable “Church Law” when, as Amoris Laetitia strongly implies, that persons in the state of mortal sin can receive the Eucharist. Already in countries like Germany, the bishops are allowing divorced and remarried people, who are at peace in their conscience regarding their state of adultery, to go ahead and receive the Holy Eucharist (thus commuting a sacrilege and bringing condemnation upon themselves). These German bishops and some in other countries, are not telling these people to go to confession or to get spiritual direction, or to stop living in their grave sin; no – they are saying that if such people are at peace in their conscience, they can receive the Eucharist and still continue living in mortal sin. This is wrong in so many ways: it denies the reality of sin and it’s malice; it denies the real and substantial presence of Jesus in the Eucharist; it denies the indissolubility of marriage as willed by Christ; it denies the infinite efficacy of God’s Grace in helping sinners overcome their sin; it denies that we have free will. All of these are errors and a departure from Catholic Faith, Morals, Doctrine and Tradition.

    • Manuel Dauvin says:

      When the pope approves what you allege* the German bishops are doing you can lump him in with the problem. However the German bishops you allude to are in no way deriving their supposed policy from amoris Laetitia where it clearly states that the discernment of a pastor in each individual case could admit certain exceptions to approach confession and communion.
      Also amoris Laetitia does not say that we shouldn’t expect the remarried to separate because of weakness. It states that there are situations where it is a greater evil to separate than to risk being in an occasion of sin or risk causing scandal. Aka children of the union have a right to family life.

      You can’t “protect” Jesus from those he is moving by grace to approach him. Those who commit sacrilege have chosen hell…but… barring the sincere from finding a path to the ultimate spiritual strength to obey the “hard saying” just to protect Christ from the sacrilege of the insincere is not Christ’s way in the gospels. Christ will take risks.

    • PaulusFranciscus says:

      Thank you, Tony, for expressing so well what I’ve so far been unable to convey.

    • Mary Angelica says:

      “However, it is a serious error and deception to state or believe that a person can be helplessly locked into committing grave sin and therefore is less culpable. ”

      This is actually inaccurate. Even the medieval theologians acknowledged that certain sins can be objectively wrong, but that if done under duress, or severe weakness (like addiction) culpability is diminished. It would indeed be an error to state that culpability is eliminated, if the person was conscious what he was doing, but diminished isn’t the same as eliminated.

      With regard to reception of the Holy Eucharist, it is not changeable “Church Law” when, as Amoris Laetitia strongly implies, that persons in the state of mortal sin can receive the Eucharist. ”

      Whatever problems AL has, it explicitly doesn’t permit people to receive in the state of moral sin, because objectively grave sin isn’t the same as moral sin, and it explicitly argues that this who may be able to receive most be in a state of such diminished culpability that ther sin is now venial (while still being grave).

      “Already in countries like Germany…”

      Germany is wrong. It’s also acting inconsistently with AL. Again, you can critique the pope on his alliances or failure to condemn certain things that his allies are during, but it’s sloppy to attribute the actions of his allies to his own thinking.

      • Tony Correia says:

        Mary, the ambiguous teaching of this pontificate has allowed regions of the Church (such as Germany and Argentina) to promote errors contrary to Catholic Faith and morals. You can deny or defend that all you want. You are wrong.

      • Mary Angelica says:

        I don’t see how what you said has contradicted what I said. I’m not a blind defender of this Pope. All you have to do is look through past posts here. I don’t like the way the Germans have run free with moral heresy on their churches, and I don’t like how cozy the Pope has been with certain German prelates. But I refuse to play the guilt by association card and will limit myself to what he has actually done and said when it comes to matters of the faith. It’s bad and sloppy thinking to do otherwise, and I have no patience for such bad argumentation. This is why I have read very carefully each of his documents reporting to the particularly controversial issues.

        My main point is, if you are going to accuse the Pope of doing something wrong, you need to avoid stawmanning his documents and his statements.

      • Tony Correia says:

        Mary, thank you for pointing out the issue of culpability when a person commits serious sin. I agree and understand that a priest can judge that a person is less culpable for the consequences of commuting serious sin in certain situations when he or she is struggling with addiction, possible ignorance of the seriousness of grave sin, etc. That doesn’t diminish the seriousness of the sin. The priest /confessor has an obligation to instruct the person on ways to overcome the sin and encourage them yo frequent confession and then, reception of the Holy Eucharist.

    • M. says:

      @Tony- it’s simply NOT true. Before AL, the door to Holy Communion was permanently locked to a woman who was divorced, remarried, then reverted to Catholicism and didn’t want to have relations with her 2nd husband in order to follow the Church’s commandments. But he was forcing her, pressuring her, making it very difficult for her to say no, etc. Or the children are suffering and a new divorce is imminent because he won’t physically force her, but is fighting with her constantly about this issue, threatening to visit prostitutes, etc. Yes, there *are* women in situations like this, who desperately need the sacraments! Great suffering and sin exist in this world, especially for women in third world countries- and not all men, sadly, are gentlemen or Christian in their attitudes towards sexual morality, which Christ gave us as a mercy to women, primarily.. Some men actually, are criminals- even violent criminals with wives. Are you seriously telling me that a woman in this situation, who has no means of supporting her children if she leaves and they will be on the street- should be barred from Communion from life, even with the help of a competent spiritual director? Because truly my friend, that was actually the discipline of the Church before Amoris Laetitia. And a prudent yes, but heartless discipline it was, too. That the 99 may not suffer confusion, the one was left sinking in the quicksand.

      Just as the Church allows Communion (with accompaniment from a priest) for spouses who do not wish to participate in contraception, but their spouse will not cooperate. Think on that. The Pope has a right to rescue a few, even if it causes confusion to the many. Yes he does. No pope ever dared to do it before. But he has not done anything wrong, nor changed on jot or tittle of doctrine.

      • Tony Correia says:

        M., yes I understand that there are complex situations for people who have divorced and remarried, that there are women who suffer greatly at the hands of abusive men. It is horrible injustice. I understand such situations have always existed that require competent spiritual direction and access to the sacraments for these women. No I do not believe such women should be barred for life from receiving the Holy Eucharist. I understand that some divorced and remarried stay together for the sake of children. The Church does allow access to the sacraments if they sincerely try to live as brother and sister. In any case, when any fall into sexual activity, they are commuting adultery.
        AL, however opens the door to a very relaxed and possibly irresponsible type of pastoral care where those divorced and remarried can by virtue of their own conscience believe their immoral situation is ok with God and can go ahead and receive Holy Communion.
        In the case of contraception, an intrinsic evil, it’s allowance can never be justified. I understand that many Catholics use artificial contraception. I also know many Catholics who have sincerely struggled with this, sought competent spiritual direction, and came to a deeper understanding of God’s Will for marriage and eventually stopped using artificial contraception.

      • Mary Angelica says:

        I agree that the gravity of the act isn’t lost while culpability can be diminished.

        Can you tell me where in AL it says that divorced and remarried couples can receive “by virtue of their own conscience believe something immoral is ok”, or something like it?

      • Tony Correia says:

        Chapter 8 #303 of Amoris Laetitia.
        It appears to say that one’s conscience allows to be able to recognize the demands of the Moral Law as taught in the Gospels and how one falls short of those demands (this of course is true).
        AL goes on at least implicitly to say that persons in complex situations or with certain grave weakness may personally judge that God is ok with his/her living in a state/situation which is grave matter or mortal sin.
        I know we all struggle with sin (I certainly do) and need to sincerely amend our lives with the aid of God’s Grace through the Church and the Sacraments. But we cannot accept, that due to particular weaknesses or compulsions, that may lessen culpability, that God Wills for one to remain in that state or situation.

  15. Christopher Lake says:


    In a comment above, you state that:

    “However, it is a serious error and deception to state or believe that a person can be helplessly locked into committing grave sin and therefore is less culpable.”

    On the sin of masturbation, the Catechism states that, *objectively speaking*, it is gravely disordered. In order to effectively guide the pastoral counsel of priests, to people struggling with this sin, the Catechism also states the following in #2352:

    “To form an equitable judgment about the subjects’ moral responsibility and to guide pastoral action, one must take into account the affective immaturity, force of acquired habit, conditions of anxiety or other psychological or social factors that lessen, if not even reduce to a minimum, moral culpability.” http://www.vatican.va/archive/ccc_css/archive/catechism/p3s2c2a6.htm

    Tony, does the Catechism of the Catholic Church (which was personally approved of, and promulgated by, Pope John Paul II), contain “serious error and deception,” by providing some of the very counsel that you appear to reject?

    • Tony Correia says:

      Of course it does not. That was not my point.
      There are dissidents in the church who are very smart and can quote scripture, the catechism, and canon law, to try and validate their heretical ideas. The devil himself used scripture to tempt our Lord Jesus Christ.
      The reality is that there are errors being taught by this current pontificate. Faithful Catholics must reject them.

      • Christopher Lake says:


        You continue to assert that the current Pope is teaching errors. You state that he is departing from existing Catholic doctrine. However, he has not changed, and cannot change, any Catholic doctrine. He has allowed for certain Catholic *disciplines* to be *applied differently*, in certain specific situations, than they were applied in previous Pontificates. He is completely within the rights and functions of His Papal office to make such decisions.

        In that vein, have you read the Buenos Aires guidelines concerning “Amoris Laetitia”– guidelines which Pope Francis has specifically designated as being part of the “authentic Magisterium” of the Church? It seems that you and PaulusFranciscushaven’t read them, because both of you keep accusing the Pope of having opened up reception of the Eucharist to all divorced and remarried couples, period, which he has *not done*, in “Amoris Laetitia,” or anywhere else.

        Catholics do not subscribe to either Sola Scriptura or Sola Traditio. It is simply not your right or your responsibility to study Church documents, decide what is “faithful Catholicism,” and then declare the Pope to be in error. It is not you, or any lay Catholic, or even, any group of Bishops resisting the Pope’s teachings, which has the true teaching authority to *ultimately speak* for the Church, on what is, and is not, authentic, faithful, Magisterial Catholic teaching. That final word belongs to the Pope, which is why he has the title of “Vicar of Christ,” and to the bishops who *teach in communion with him* (and *not* as opposed to his authoritative teaching).

  16. M. says:

    Tony- did you think that the German bishops were forbidding Communion to the divorced and remarried before AL came along? Because I seriously doubt that is the case!
    Where I am from, divorced and remarried people might actually (finally) realize for the very first time in their lives, that Communion wasn’t open to them because of the controversy surrounding AL. Granted, no bishop would ever come right out and say that “Divorced can receive” but there are definitely priest who would, and the normal practive, in case you haven’t noticed it, in most parishes is for everyone to receive. So if anything, AL may have opened the eyes of few people who didn’t even realize that any kind restriction existed on reception of Communion. Good grief, it’s not like before Pope Francis came along, Germany was a bastion of orthopraxis, but now they’ve just all gone to the dogs.

    • Tony Correia says:

      M., yes I am aware that there have all sorts of abuses, novelty in the Liturgy, outright disobedience to Church Teaching (especially in the use of contraceptives) which has increased post-Vatican II. I have observed how the lines for reception of the Holy Eucharist are very long, yet the lines for the sacrament of confession are exceedingly short if non-existent. It’s as if every Catholic has become sinless and saints. Chances are that a multitude of sacrilegious communions take place at most Masses.
      I agree that the controversies and confusion brought about by Amoris Leatitia has highlighted the issue of proper reception of the Holy Eucharist. That’s not a bad thing.
      What is problematic is that Pope Francis does not speak clearly regarding the proper disposition needed for the reception of the Eucharist. He seems ok with letting tides of ambiguity and confusion roll in and out, eroding the Faith and the good of souls little by little.

  17. Manuel Dauvin says:

    To M.
    Thankyou immensely for sharing your struggle and the freedom you have found in Christ. The fight never ends.

    Tony, we have free will, but we also have a law of sin within. …with Paul we often do that which we hate…so that God’s power may be proven in our weakness. A humble contrite heart is one that has likely tasted hell’s ashes…God will not spurn them, neither should the church.

    This pope is not ambiguous. It is just that what he says doesn’t parrot the handpicked confortable black and white formulas of yesteryear. That’s the confusion.

    We towed the catholic line …we “served all these years and never got a kid to celebrate with our friends”…
    We worked the whole day under the blaring sun and here these last are getting the same as us. ..
    We tithed mint and rue yet are neglecting the weightier heart of the law…mercy.
    We’ve laid burdens and lift no finger to help.
    How was Christ not ambiguous about God’s law in the eyes of the priests of the time. The stakes were high then. Their fidelity to the Jewish magisterium was learnt through exile. They had every reason to fear that Christ was starting a new religion which could cause the Romans to destroy the temple.

    Even among the Christian Jews there were those who wished to make the disciplines of the Jewish law into doctrines of salvation. Disciplines changed. No strangled animals. Remember that magisterial gem straight from the apostles? The Eucharist may now be given to someone whom a discerning priest has deemed is not culpable of a mortal sin, after confessing. You admit that there can be some reduction of guilt. Well, then let the church judge when the guilt has been reduced from mortal and let her tend to the struggling life of the theological virtues that reside in the divine bride chamber of their weakened but hoping souls. How is it our business to tell the church how she should make this judgement?

    No one on this site condones adultery and shame on anyone who should imply that a pope could utter anything that could be honestly taken this way or lead to laxity. Those who jump on it. ..had already jumped, we can’t save them…they have chosen hell and will likely get it. But we can lose sheep by treating them like reprobates when they are actually within reach.
    If you feel that pope francis has been ambiguous then you haven’t taken time to read his writings or homilies. There is a very coherent framework within which all his views have a logical home. So weary of hearing the, “we don’t have to believe everything the pope says” statement from people who don’t seem to have taken the trouble to read the pope in good faith and take him at his word. I guess this because no matter how many times the pope’s words are clearly, the same accusation shows up as the premise of the next comment. Uncannily similar to the prevailing talking points from trad blogs.
    Good have mercy on them for the damage they are wreaking on the churches ministry.

    Long thread…my last word on this one. Thanks everyone for this discussion.

  18. Tony Correia says:

    Manuel, Pope Francis has said many true and beautiful things, in fact I believe he mainly does so. However, he also has said or implied things that seem to be at odds with the Faith. I do not believe he is doing this purposefully or intentionally. I think maybe he lacks prudence in some of the things he has said or implied, especially in light of our current world and decadent cultures.
    For example, some years back he responded to a journalist, “who am I to judge”, with regard to “gay” people who are striving to know the Lord. Based upon, our current decadent post-Christian world, many in the media and gay activists latched unto that remark and presumed that the Pope or the Church was going to change Church Teaching and Morals regarding homosexual acts. I do not believe that is what Pope Francis intended. Yet, he fails to clarify the presumption and confusion; he doesn’t follow up and plainly explain what he meant, he just let’s it ride. Then he supports Fr. James Martin, S.J., who is at least is implicitly agitating for a change in Church Teaching regarding homosexual genital acts. He recently had a cordial 30 minute audience with Pope Francis. Yet, in a very recent tweet, Fr. James Martin, S.J. implied strongly that the scriptures condemning homosexual acts needed to be re-interpreted in light of modern understanding of homosexuality and gender. This is dissent, yet even Pope Francis doesn’t seem to have z problem with this Jesuit who is leading souls to perdition. These are the things that concern many Catholics regarding the intent of the Holy Father. He should be the most staunch and clear defender of Truth and souls.
    God bless you Manuel.

  19. Christopher Lake says:


    I want to thank you very much for your gracious and kind comment to me, above, regarding my conversion to Christ and His Church. I’m a Catholic convert *and* a revert, and God brought me out of quite a bit of darkness, both in the initial conversion and in reversion, in different ways. He has been infinitely better to me than I have been to Him.

    I truly rejoice to hear that God reached you and brought you out of the way of life that you were in in your 20s and mid-thirties. I can definitely relate to what you wrote. Isn’t it great to be brought out of darkness and into real, true life? God is so good! Thank you for sharing about what He has done for you.

    Let’s pray for each other, and for the Pope and all Church leaders, and for every member of the Church, including those who have no, or very few, people on earth to pray for them. God bless you and be with you, my brother in Christ.

    • Tony Correia says:

      Thank you Christopher for your gracious response. I believe that everyone commenting has a love for the Catholic Faith and Church. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ.
      I watched the closing Mass for the Amazon Synod on the official Vatican News website. I was gladdened to see Pope Francis, at the end of Mass, ho and lay his hands on all the disabled people that attended the Mass at St. Peter’s. This is the Pope I love, in his gentleness and fatherly affection. Yes let us pray for each other and our Holy Father the Vicar of Christ. God bless you Christopher. I will remember you in my daily prayers. I can do everything in Christ Who strengthens me. Let us keep the Faith.

      • Christopher Lake says:


        Thank you for praying for me. I will pray for you too, brother, and I am not not “just saying that” in a comment box– I mean it. I am not ashamed or embarrassed to say that I truly need your prayers and the prayers of all who are reading these comments. At times, as a single, unemployed (very much against my wishes!) Catholic man who has a physical disability, I can feel almost invisible in my local parish and in the surrounding culture where I happen to live. This is a very affluent area of the U.S. (although I, myself, don’t have very much money and live in subsidized government housing…), and even in church, after Mass and in parish study groups, my fellow Catholics tend to talk about their jobs, their marriages, and their children… I listen and am happy for them, in how God has chosen to bless their lives… but my life looks very different, and while I know that God has given me His own blessings in very different ways, it can be quite lonely sometimes, at the age of 46, living day after day, without a job and without a spouse, both against my wishes… Anyway, again, thank you for your prayers, and please know that I am praying for you. Thank you for sharing that anecdote about the Pope laying his hands on the disabled people at St. Peter’s in Rome. Whenever I read about the Pope doing something like that, it makes me feel less alone and “more loved,” so to speak, in the Church, even as I I know that I already have the infinite love of God. (I can go weeks, even months, without even experiencing the touch of another human being at all. I try to offer it up, in union with Christ’s suffering on the cross, for the help of anyone who needs God’s help, but it’s still not easy.) God bless you, brother. Let us keep the Faith.

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