Amoris Laetitia: Part II
Seeking the Ruin of Souls
“More souls go to Hell for sins of the flesh than for any other reason.” (Our Lady of Fatima speaking to Jacinta Marto, 1919)
After startling Nicodemus with the words, “Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God”, and then explaining their meaning, Jesus concluded with these words:
“For God, sent not his Son into the world, to judge the world, but that the world may be saved by him. He that believeth in him is not judged. But he that doth not believe, is already judged: because he believeth not in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the judgment: because the light is come into the world and men loved darkness rather than the light: for their words were evil. For every one that doth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, that his works may not be reproved. But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God. (John 3: 5-17)
Jesus said that he was come, not to judge the world, but to offer it salvation. We know, of course, that Christ will come “to judge the living and the dead” in the Final Judgment at the end of time, and that He also judges each person, in a particular judgment, at the end of his sojourn in this life. But all judgment during this life – as to whether we are alive in the Charity of God, or dead in sin; as to whether we are living in the friendship of God, or whether we are living as His enemies – is appropriated to the work of the Holy Spirit: “Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. Concerning this coming of the Holy Spirit, and His mission, Our Lord said:
“It is expedient to you that I go: for if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. And when he is come, he will convince [also convict, reprove] the world of sin, and of justice, and of judgment….” (John 16:8).
The judgment of the living is therefore this: either a person is alive in the charity (sanctifying grace) of the Holy Spirit, or he is dead in the works of Satan. There is no half-alive in God, no gradualism in the possession of charity, no “living in grace” for those in mortal sin. In Our Lord’s terms, there are those who do evil and therefore hate the light; there are those who do truth and come to the light that their works may be made manifest because they are done in God.
Pope Francis does not agree. In Chapter 8, paragraph 305 of Amoris Laetitia, he states: “Because of forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.” And in his now infamous footnote (#351) to this sentence, he states quite clearly that in “certain cases” such persons can be admitted to the sacraments, and specifically to Eucharistic communion.
It is truly extraordinary that Pope Francis, during his return-flight from the island of Lesbos on April 16, flatly stated, in answer to a reporter’s question, “I don’t remember the footnote.” It seems that we are faced with the choice of either believing that this is a blatant falsehood, or that he did not write (and read) all of Amoris Laetitia. As evidence for the former, Pope Francis, when specifically asked whether, after the issuance of Amoris Laetitia there now exist “new openings” and “concrete possibilities” for the divorced and remarried to have access to the sacraments, replied, “I can say yes, period”. He then went on to refer the questioner to a fuller explanation given by Cardinal Schonborn at the official presentation of the document. At that presentation, Cardinal Schonborn stated, “In the sense of this “via caritatis” (AL 306), the Pope affirms, in a humble and simple manner, in a note (351) that the help of the sacraments may also be given “’n certain cases’.”
A very large portion of Chapter 8 is devoted to overwhelming us with “forms of conditioning and mitigating factors” which are intended to convince us of the possibility that a person living in objective mortal sin can be living in a state of grace and be worthy of receiving the sacraments, and especially Eucharistic communion. Following is a partial list, ranging from the abstract to the very specific: cultural or contingent situations; awaiting more security in life; the expense of a wedding, not in a position to understand, appreciate, or fully carry out the objective demands of the law; complexity of various situations; obligations towards children’s upbringing springing from a second marriage (civil); having been unjustly abandoned during the original marriage; subjective belief that the first marriage was never valid; fear that the lack of “expressions of intimacy”, required of those who must live as brother and sister in the raising of their children, might endanger the virtue of “faithfulness”; ignorance; inadvertence; duress; fear; habit; inordinate attachments; affective immaturity; force of acquired habit; conditions of anxiety; and, other psychological or social factors [one wonders whether there might not be hundreds].
All of this is, of course, simply obfuscation. No one denies that there may be mitigating factors in regard to culpability. But the “life of grace” – that life of charity which provides access to Eucharistic communion – cannot exist where there is objective mortal sin. Neither ignorance, nor any of the other mitigating factors mentioned above, can justify receiving Our Lord while living in objective mortal sin. St. Paul writes:
“Therefore whosoever shall eat this bread, or drink the chalice of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and of the blood of the Lord. But let a man prove himself: and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of the chalice. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord….But if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.”
Every person in this world is absolutely obliged to prove himself, to judge himself in the light of God’s Truth (both faith and morals) before receiving Holy Communion. In any “internal forum” existing between priest and individual Catholic, whether during confession or spiritual direction, every priest in the world is obligated to make clear that there are no mitigating factors which will allow a person living in objective mortal sin to receive Holy Communion. Any priest consciously and willfully withholding such truth would be cooperating in sacrilege if the person were to receive communion. He would find himself immersed in a moral quagmire very similar in its parameters to the person who helps facilitate an abortion – only something much worse, since both sacrilege against God and the killing of a human soul are infinitely worse sins than the killing of the body, even if the body be that of an innocent child.
As discussed in my original article on Amoris Laetitia, the grievous error which is at the heart of Pope Francis’ notion that someone living in objective mortal sin could yet be “living in God’s grace” and therefore possibly have legitimate access to the sacraments, is rooted in the heresy explicitly formulated in paragraph 296: “For true charity is always un-merited, unconditional and gratuitous”. There is, in fact, nothing in the life of any human being which more requires merit, is more conditional, and more requiring the cooperation with, and submission, to God’s Holy Will and commandments, than does possession of the supernatural virtue of charity.
In order to penetrate further into the depths of Pope Francis’ error, we must examine more closely the relationship between God’s grace and human merit.
We must always keep in mind that God’s grace, in principle, is totally unmerited and gratuitous. Man, by nature, has no right to any claim upon God’s charity, or His mercy. The merit which man possesses before God is what is called condign merit. It exists simply because God, in complete freedom, has willed that man, with his own free will, should co-operate with Him and thus merit reward. From this, we see that even merit itself is a gift of God’s grace.
But once we understand that merit itself is a grace from God, in respect to man’s dignity as being created in God’s image and possessing free will, we then are further able to understand that the possession of God’s charity, while being a totally unmerited gift in principle (or as constituting what St. Thomas terms the first grace,) is yet integrally dependent upon man’s free response for its fruition in the human soul. Charity is therefore not gratuitous, but rather the most profoundly merited and conditional thing in the life of a human being. Adding somewhat to Our Lord’s words: By first grace, many are called; by subsequent merit, few are chosen.
According to St. Thomas, there are four things necessary for justification of the sinner, and the presence of charity (the life of grace) in the human soul: 1) the infusion of grace, 2) the movement of the free will towards God by faith, 3) the movement of the free will in renunciation of sin, 4) and the remission of sins. (ST I-II, Q.113, A.6). Two of these (numbers 2 & 3) are acts of the free will requiring not only grace but also merit through free will co-operating with grace. Most important for our present consideration is # 3. There can be no charity where there is not renunciation of objective mortal sin.
The presence of the charity of God in our souls is appropriated to the presence and work of the Holy Ghost. “The charity of God is poured forth in our hearts, by the Holy Ghost, who is given to us.” (Rom. 5:5). Our Lord proclaimed:
“Therefore I say to you: Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men, but the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in the world to come.” (Mat. 12: 31-32).
The presence of justifying charity in the soul is the work of the Holy Ghost Who comes to dwell within us. He cannot dwell with mortal sin in the soul. To claim, as has Pope Francis, that charity is always un-merited, unconditional and gratuitous and that “a life of grace” can exist in a soul living in objective mortal sin, is to claim that charity and the Holy Ghost can dwell with evil. It is this “blasphemy of the Holy Ghost” which creates a condition in the soul which cannot turn towards repentance because it now lies deeply imbedded in that overwhelming darkness of self-deceit which identifies God’s mercy with evil.
The world has been afloat since the publication of Amoris Laetitia with headlines proclaiming that Pope Francis has opened the door for the divorced and remarried to receive the Eucharist. In an article written for the website of the Archdiocese of Milan (and translated into English for Crux News), Monsignor Fausto Gilardi, who is in charge of confessions for the Milan Cathedral, stated: “In some cases, linked to partial information in the press, there’s been a “demand” for absolution, and thus confession is seen as a sort of passport towards the Eucharist”, and that, “Some priests, perhaps in a slightly rushed and efficiency-oriented way, have opened a ‘teller’s window’ for consultation, giving the idea that “any priest can quickly grant ‘exceptions’.” Msgr. Gilardi attempts to down-play all this by proposing a “path of discernment”, the “importance of graduality”, and awaiting “guidelines from the bishops”. It all rings hollow. The floodgates are now open.
I don’t think there is any doubt that we can say, “Now it all begins”: large-scale sacrilege, and the ruin of countless souls – not only of the divorced and remarried, but those co-habiting, those in homo-sexual relationships, those practicing contraception, etc. They all can propose “mitigating factors”, and they can all appeal to God’s alleged “unmerited, unconditional, and gratuitous mercy” in order to commit sacrilege.
All of this is the antithesis of Mercy. As St. Thomas points out, mercy is not the highest virtue for man. It must be subjected to the demands of charity, which is indeed the highest virtue. Thomas writes:
“The sum total of the Christian religion consists in mercy, as regards external works: but the inward love of charity whereby we are united to God preponderates over both love and mercy for our neighbor>/em>.”
To lead a person living in objective mortal sin along a path which, without conversion and renunciation of that sin, culminates in reception of Holy Communion constitutes the worst savagery against his eternal soul. Any priest who participates in such a journey will be held accountable. A Bishop who pursues such a policy will be responsible for all those who suffer such ruin under each and every priest in his diocese. One can only shudder at what awaits a Pope who institutes or encourages this policy for the universal Church.
As I said in my previous article on this subject, Amoris Laetitia must be rejected by the Church. It must be done quickly if there is to be any hope of refuge from the tide of evil that is now about to sweep the world.
None of this is an excuse for sedevacantism. We are called to prayer and reparation, not revolution. The Cross is upon us.
Note: I also strongly recommend reading my article The Truth of Mercy to be found here:
– James Larson