Address to Ballarat Diocesan Social Justice Commission and Centacare. Listen
I am delighted to accept this invitation from the Ballarat Diocesan Social Justice Commission and Centacare to consider how we Catholics might strengthen respectful relationships convinced that family does matter to us, to most of our fellow citizens, and to the wellbeing of our society. We live in a changing world and in a changing Church. The shape and contours of families are changing. Our pastoral practice and theology are changing. Our Church is strong on tradition, strong on authority, strong on teaching and strong on discipline. But tradition, authority, teaching and discipline lose their salvific value if they are not grounded in human experience and prayerful discernment inspired by the love and mercy incarnated by Jesus of Nazareth who suffered and died so that we might enjoy life to the full. We espouse and pray for all sorts of ideal results, relationships and situations. We embrace the complexity and mess of all sorts of results, relationships and situations. We know that each of us is a sinner, yet called to the glory of the fullness of life with our God. We affirm people in all sorts of relationships and situations. We are called first to respect people in their relationships and situations. We need to offer mercy and pastoral discernment to those living in situations that fall short of what the Lord demands of us. Too often as church we have been seen as those who are first to judge people adversely in their relationships and situations. As a Eucharistic people, we should be motivated and inspired by the vision enunciated by Pope Francis in Amoris Laetitia:
The Eucharist demands that we be members of the one body of the Church. Those who approach the Body and Blood of Christ may not wound that same Body by creating scandalous distinctions and divisions among its members. This is what it means to 'discern' the body of the Lord, to acknowledge it with faith and charity both in the sacramental signs and in the community; those who fail to do so eat and drink judgement against themselves (cf. v. 29). The celebration of the Eucharist thus becomes a constant summons for everyone 'to examine himself or herself' (v. 28), to open the doors of the family to greater fellowship with the underprivileged, and in this way to receive the sacrament of that Eucharistic love which makes us one body. We must not forget that 'the 'mysticism' of the sacrament has a social character'. When those who receive it turn a blind eye to the poor and suffering, or consent to various forms of division, contempt and inequality, the Eucharist is received unworthily. On the other hand, families who are properly disposed and receive the Eucharist regularly, reinforce their desire for fraternity, their social consciousness and their commitment to those in need.
Strengthening respectful relationships is very painstaking work requiring practical and symbolic action. Pope Francis has given us all a lesson in bridge building with his recent visit to Egypt just weeks after the terrorist bombing of Christian churches there. In Cairo, he attended an international peace conference at the Al-Azhar Mosque and University with the grand imam Ahmed el-Tayeb. Pope Francis told the world: 'Three basic areas, if properly linked to one another, can assist in dialogue: the duty to respect one's own identity and that of others, the courage to accept differences, and sincerity of intentions.' When family matters, and when we are in the midst of family conflict, trauma and alienation, it is good to recall these three keys to dialogue. Whatever our situation, let's remember that 'families are not a problem: they are first and foremost an opportunity.'
Here in Ballarat, you know better than most other Catholics that respectful relationships in the church community have been rent asunder by the depredations of child sex offenders whose exploits went unchecked by those ordained to exercise tradition, authority, teaching and discipline. We will strengthen respectful relationships only with a voluntary commitment to truth, justice and healing — and not one forced by a royal commission or public odour. The Church's contributions to family have arguably been hampered in recent decades by the Church's failure to take account of the diverse range of family relationships and by the Church's excessively legalistic and judgmental teaching on sexual morality, family relationships, sacraments, church life and conscience. Life is often complex and messy. So are families. So is the Church. This is the great liberating insight of Pope Francis. God's mercy is a gift for all who seek it. And thus, the sacraments are available to all who seek the food of life and the balm of healing. Just as there is no perfect person, there is no perfect family; and there is no perfect church community; and no perfect priest, bishop or even pope. To strengthen respectful relationships, we have to immerse ourselves in the mess and complexity of the diverse range of families and relationships evoking faith, hope and love wherever they might be found. We need to respect the formed and informed conscience of all persons. And we need to extend an invitation to all who seek the bread of life, living water, and the chalice of the everlasting covenant at what is the table of the Lord, not the sanctuary of the Roman Catholic Church. This I take to be the message and the call of Pope Francis. In his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia published after the two recent synod sessions on the family, Francis wrote:
When faced with difficult situations and wounded families, it is always necessary to recall this general principle: 'Pastors must know that, for the sake of truth, they are obliged to exercise careful discernment of situations' (Familiaris Consortio, 84). The degree of responsibility is not equal in all cases and factors may exist which limit the ability to make a decision. Therefore, while clearly stating the Church's teaching, pastors are to avoid judgements that do not take into account the complexity of various situations, and they are to be attentive, by necessity, to how people experience and endure distress because of their condition.
At the royal commission,one of Australia's newest bishops, Vincent Long, himself a migrant, refugee and victim of sexual abuse in the Church told the commission:
It's no secret that we have been operating, at least under the two previous pontificates, from what I'd describe as a perfect society model where there is a neat, almost divinely inspired, pecking order, and that pecking order is heavily tilted towards the ordained. So, you have the pope, the cardinals, the bishops, religious, consecrated men and women, and the laity right at the bottom of the pyramid. I think we need to dismantle that model of Church. If I could use the biblical image of wineskins, it's old wineskins that are no longer relevant, no longer able to contain the new wine, if you like. I think we really need to examine seriously that kind of model of Church where it promotes the superiority of the ordained and it facilitates that power imbalance between the ordained and the non-ordained, which in turn facilitates that attitude of clericalism.
Pope Francis has no time whatever for the notion of the Church as a perfect society. Soon after his election, he gave a lengthy interview in which he spoke about his vision of the Church as a field hospital. He said:
The thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds. ... And you have to start from the ground up.
In his apostolic exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Francis writes:'Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.' More recently in Amoris Laetitia, he repeats the image of the field hospital and complements it with other images: 'The Church must accompany with attention and care the weakest of her children, who show signs of a wounded and troubled love, by restoring in them hope and confidence, like the beacon of a lighthouse in a port or a torch carried among the people to enlighten those who have lost their way or who are in the midst of a storm'. He then goes on to insist that mercy must be the hallmark of all we say and do: 'Mercy is the very foundation of the Church's life. All of her pastoral activity should be caught up in the tenderness which she shows to believers; nothing in her preaching and her witness to the world can be lacking in mercy.'
There is no way that Francis wants to abandon the ideals and the commitment to truth and justice so well exemplified by his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict. He embodies Paul's statement to the Colossians: 'And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.'(Col:3:14)He commissions us to risk and envision our Catholic services by planning and acting with love and goodness, espousing ideals, affirming truth and a commitment to justice, and seeking grace and mercy in the mess and complexity of our world, in the reality of the market place, and in the family lives of all people seeking to make sense of our world and of their relationships.
Let there be no mistake about the depth and width of the chasm between our present pope and some of those bishops who waged the culture wars in times past as Pope John Paul's most loyal storm troopers. This is now playing out in Rome and will be an ongoing tension in our Church for at least another generation or two. Speaking last September to the Bishops of the United States, some of whom went to the barricades in times past declaring that they would refuse to give communion to a Catholic presidential candidate who dared contemplate the appointment of a Supreme Court justice not opposed to overruling the Supreme Court's earlier pro-abortion decisions, Francis said:
I know that you face many challenges and that the field in which you sow is unyielding, and that there is always the temptation to give in to fear, to lick one's wounds, to think back on bygone times and to devise harsh responses to fierce opposition. And yet we are promoters of the culture of encounter. We are living sacraments of the embrace between God's riches and our poverty. We are witnesses of the abasement and the condescension of God who anticipates in love our every response. For this, harsh and divisive language does not befit the tongue of a pastor, it has no place in his heart; although it may momentarily seem to win the day, only the enduring allure of goodness and love remains truly convincing.
'Only the enduring allure of goodness and love remains truly convincing'! This must be the path to strengthening respectful relationships. In November, four elderly Cardinals who were in the peak of their powers during the previous two papacies took the unprecedented step of publishing their concerns about Pope Francis's teachings quite rightly pointing out that some of the things being said by Francis are irreconcilable or at least inconsistent with previous clear statements by Pope John Paul II.
Cardinals Brandmuller (who previously chaired the Pontifical Committee of Historical Sciences), Burke (who previously headed the Church's most supreme court), Caffarra, erstwhile archbishop of Bologna, and Meisner, erstwhile archbishop of Cologne think Francis is seriously in error when he teaches about mercy and justice, right and wrong, and the place of conscience.
The cardinals had written to the Pope on 19 September 2016 setting out five dubia in relation to Amoris Laetitia. Not having received a response from the Holy Father, they then published their letter two months later declaring that they had 'interpreted his sovereign decision as an invitation to continue the reflection and the discussion, calmly and with respect'. They decided to inform 'the entire people of God about our initiative, offering all of the documentation.' Here are two of the questions to the Pope published by the concerned cardinals:
After the affirmations of Amoris Laetitia (302) on 'circumstances which mitigate moral responsibility,' does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II's encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 81, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, according to which 'circumstances or intentions can never transform an act intrinsically evil by virtue of its object into an act 'subjectively' good or defensible as a choice'?
After Amoris Laetitia (303) does one still need to regard as valid the teaching of St. John Paul II's encyclical Veritatis Splendor, 56, based on sacred Scripture and on the Tradition of the Church, that excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and that emphasizes that conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object?
Back in 1993, Pope John Paul II went too far in stipulating one and only one way of moral reasoning in the Catholic tradition. But this way had strong appeal for the present dissentients. Pope Francis does not even refer to John Paul's detailed 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor. Invoking Veritatis Splendor, the four cardinals insist that there are absolute moral norms which prohibit intrinsically evil acts which are binding without exception. Circumstances and intention cannot transform these acts. There are objective situations of grave habitual sin. They are insistent that Veritatis Splendor both excludes a creative interpretation of the role of conscience and emphasises that conscience can never be authorised to legitimate exceptions to moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts.
Just to give one comparison of the divergent thinking between John Paul II and Francis. In Veritatis Splendor, John Paul II writes:
Conscience is not an independent and exclusive capacity to decide what is good and what is evil. Rather there is profoundly imprinted upon it a principle of obedience vis-à-vis the objective norm which establishes and conditions the correspondence of its decisions with the commands and prohibitions which are at the basis of human behaviour.
You will appreciate that it's this sort of thinking which underlies the Church's ban on Catholic health providers assisting even married couples with IVF. It's this sort of thinking which underlies the Church's teaching that IVF is always wrong even for infertile married couples who have pledged their faithful willingness to bear and nurture each other's children bringing them up accordingly to Christ's teachings. It's this sort of reasoning which was invoked to stop the Sisters of Charity from setting up a supervised injecting room aimed at harm minimisation for long time drug users.
Francis has an altogether different approach to the mess and moral complexity of life in Amoris Laetitia:
Individual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church's praxis ….. Naturally, every effort should be made to encourage the development of an enlightened conscience, formed and guided by the responsible and serious discernment of one's pastor, and to encourage an ever greater trust in God's grace. Yet conscience can do more than recognize that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It 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 yet not fully the objective ideal.
Thank God, Francis insists that 'individual conscience needs to be better incorporated into the Church's praxis' and that 'conscience can do more than recognise that a given situation does not correspond objectively to the overall demands of the Gospel. It can also recognise 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 yet not fully the objective ideal.' It's not simply a matter of applying universal rules to a particular situation nor of arguing casuistically to render one's situation as compliance with the rules. Rather it is a matter of 'practical discernment' practised by friends in the Lord who accompany each other, engaging in spiritual conversation. Gone are the days when Cardinal Pell could win the day by declaring:
In the past I have been in trouble for stating that the so-called doctrine of the primacy of conscience should be quietly dropped. I would like to reconsider my position here and now state that I believe that this misleading doctrine of the primacy of conscience should be publicly rejected.
A generation ago, it was fashionable in Catholic circles to parody some of us as cafeteria Catholics — those choosing only those teachings or practices which resonated with their desires or preferences. Those proffering the adverse judgments were usually satisfied of their orthodoxy and orthopraxis because they followed the liturgical rubrics attentively and affirmed papal teaching on the 'neuralgic issues': contraception, homosexuality, abortion, euthanasia, stem cell research, and the indissolubility of marriage. They also affirmed the papal decrees stating that ordination must forever be reserved to men, even claiming that such utterances were infallible. Francis has made it clear that most, if not all, of us can now be parodied as cafeteria Catholics, and that's because we are all sinners in need of God's mercy.
On 25 April 2017, the four disaffected cardinals wrote again to the pope seeking an audience. The letter was delivered on 6 May 2017. Last week the cardinals decided once again to go public. They published their second letter which states:
Despite the fact that the Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith has repeatedly declared that the doctrine of the Church has not changed, numerous statements have appeared from individual Bishops, Cardinals, and even Episcopal Conferences, approving what the Magisterium of the Church has never approved. Not only access to the Holy Eucharist for those who objectively and publicly live in a situation of grave sin, and intend to remain in it, but also a conception of moral conscience contrary to the Tradition of the Church. And so it is happening — how painful it is to see this! — that what is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta. And so on. One is reminded of the bitter observation of B. Pascal: 'Justice on this side of the Pyrenees, injustice on the other; justice on the left bank of the river, injustice on the right bank.'
These cardinals have a very different approach from Pope Francis who insists that 'not all discussions of doctrinal, moral or pastoral issues need to be settled by interventions of the magisterium' and that 'each country or region can seek solutions better suited to its culture and sensitive to its traditions and local needs'. These cardinals remain convinced that the Church can provide a 'one size fits all' moral and sacramental solution for all life's mess and complexity. I respect that for them this is the only way faithfully to live a life in Christ. But it is not the only way for all Christians to live a life in Christ as they wrestle with the mess and complexity of family life and relationships which are never quite perfect. These moral absolutes are not the only, or even the preferred, way of strengthening respectful relationships. I respect those Catholic bishops who continue to find solace in the clarity and universalism of Veritatis Splendor but I think they need to concede that Pope Francis has demonstrated that such clarity and universalism is not the only or best way to salvation for all Catholics wrestling with the mess and complexity of their own lives, the lives of those they love and the world which they serve.
It's only the legalists who will be able to resolve the John Paul — Francis conflict to their satisfaction by saying that John Paul's statement is contained in an encyclical while Francis's plea is only in an apostolic exhortation. No doubt, John Paul II was a pope and a world leader for his time. So too, Francis is a pope and a world leader for our time. John Paul would not have the same 'cut through' today as pope as he had when the Berlin Wall came down and when he was appointing muscular bishops who thrived on the culture wars. Francis has named the chasm. And the dissenting cardinals have highlighted how deep and wide it is. This chasm opens new possibilities and new risks for us Catholics of good will wanting to show mercy and love to those who most need it. It is not for us to condemn or judge adversely these dissenting cardinals. Presumably they are acting in good faith, concerned for the good of their fellow man, concerned for the good of civil society, and concerned for the good of the Church. But so too are those of us who find a welcome relief and spring in our step when Pope Francis says things like, 'Who am I to judge?' rather than asserting as formal church teaching that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered and can in no case be approved of'. As Fr James Martin SJ says in this week's issue of The Tablet:
In a frequently overlooked passage, the Catechism of the Catholic Church asks Catholics to treat the 'homosexual person' with 'respect, compassion and sensitivity'. This does not mean there will not be disagreement and debate about the Church's teaching on sexuality; but the Church works best when it embodies these three virtues, whatever the issue might be.
He goes on to say:
[Y]ounger LGBT people who are active in the Church bring a great many gifts, which we can celebrate and treasure. And we can celebrate and treasure more than simply their gifts. We can celebrate and treasure them. This is a kind of compassion too — to share in the experience of Christian joy that all LGBT men and women, young and old, bring to the Church.
Francis says that a person can be living in God's grace while 'in an objective situation of sin', and that the sacraments, including the Eucharist might help, because the Eucharist 'is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak'. It's the sick and supplicant who need the doctor, not the well and the righteous. Our Catholic services, teachings and sacraments also are not only a prize for the perfect, but also a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. Pope Francis demands that pastors and theologians not only be faithful to the Church but also 'honest, realistic and creative' when confronting the diverse reality of families in the modern world. Just as he discounts those who have 'an immoderate desire for total change without sufficient reflection or grounding', so too he dismisses those who 'would solve everything by applying general rules or deriving undue conclusions from particular theological considerations'.
Speaking of Amoris Laetitia, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Vatican's Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, said in preparation for the recent church conference on the family held in Dublin:
We criticise the times we live in, we criticize governments about laws…this is an opportunity to do something positive for the family, not just to sit back and say, 'they're all wrong'. This is a moment for us to convey our message, what we believe about the family and what we believe about human love and what we believe about human life. Let's not just always focus on the negative, and focus on what's wrong…let's do something to educate.
Interviewed about the concerns of the dissenting cardinals at the time of the Dublin event, Cardinal Farrell said, 'I do not think the documentin any way changes churchteaching,' adding that revelationof God's mystery andunderstanding of life is ongoing. Professor Maria Harries who chairs the board of Catholic Social Services Australia participated in the synod on the family. In her opening remarks at the Synod she said:
We acknowledge the sacredness of the family and we travel with its sadness and messiness. Daily, we celebrate the apostolic value of the lives of families and in so doing we evangelise. On behalf of my colleagues I beseech you that with your gifts and with witness to Christ's word you can discern the doctrinal as well as the pastoral to enable those we accompany in their agony and brokenness to feel less alienated from our Apostolic Church.
Let's continue to espouse the ideal family life and the loftiest heights of the fully formed and informed conscience in harmony with church teaching which accords with the graced situation of all conceivable cases. But let's not do it in a way which casts adverse judgment on others whose family lives are complex and messy and whose consciences are sincere and works in progress. Let's do it in a way that acknowledges the diversity of family arrangements and the plurality of moral reasoning open to those who believe in God's limitless mercy bounded only by the desire for mercy enunciated by the sinner and who believe in God's boundless love limited only by the receptivity of the beloved. Let's commit ourselves to strengthening respectful relationships by respecting each other's identities, courageously accepting differences, and presuming sincerity of intentions. Bishop Vincent Long says that we are a church of the baptised, not a church of the ordained. Pope Francis urges us 'to encourage everyone to be a sign of mercy and closeness wherever family life remains imperfect or lacks peace and joy.' Let's welcome to the table of the Lord all those who are graced to declare together, 'Lord I am not worthy that you enter under my roof. Say but the word and my soul shall be healed.' Let's pray to the Holy Family in the words of Pope Francis:
Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again experience
violence, rejection and division;
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.
Holy Family of Nazareth,
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God's plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
Graciously hear our prayer.
Frank Brennan SJ is the CEO of Catholic Social Services Australia.
Comments should be short, respectful and on topic. Email is requested for identification purposes only.
Roy Chen Yee
26 June 2017
“Pope Francis does not even refer to John Paul's detailed 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor.” The credibility of a court which ignored a pertinent past ruling to reach a contrary conclusion would be in doubt because precedent is important for being the relevant wisdom of the past. The same applies to scientific research. Had the pope distinguished Veritatis Splendor, the cardinals might have had no need to raise their dubia.
Frank Brennan SJ
27 June 2017
The 2016 Census results what a changing world we are in. The Australian is reporting:
For the first time in history the number of people who claim no religion at all have overtaken Catholics as a proportion of the population — 29.6 per cent compared to 22.6 per cent — while the number of Christians in total has fallen to 52.1 per cent from 74 per cent in 1991.
Families have scarcely changed their structure in the past five years but couple households with children have fallen 10 percentage points to 44.7 per cent in 25 years and single parent families continue to increase, to 15.8 per cent last year. More than eight in ten of these single parent families are mothers but single dads are growing faster as a share.
Roy Chen Yee
27 June 2017
“The 2016 Census results what a changing world we are in.” But man does not live on empiricism alone, but on the normative that comes from his intellect. So, do we rejoice over these figures?
Frank Brennan SJ
28 June 2017
Roy, I think the cardinals would still be raising their doubts even if Pope Francis had specifically referred to Veritatis Splendor. Perhaps even more so! I have not read any bishop or theologian who is able to harmonise completely the approach of the two popes to conscience. Francis’s approach to conscience seems to me to be the very approach of which John Paul II did not approve when he wrote in Veritatis Splendor (##55-6):
‘In their desire to emphasize the "creative" character of conscience, certain authors no longer call its actions "judgments" but "decisions": only by making these decisions "autonomously" would man be able to attain moral maturity. Some even hold that this process of maturing is inhibited by the excessively categorical position adopted by the Church's Magisterium in many moral questions; for them, the Church's interventions are the cause of unnecessary conflicts of conscience. In order to justify these positions, some authors have proposed a kind of double status of moral truth. Beyond the doctrinal and abstract level, one would have to acknowledge the priority of a certain more concrete existential consideration. The latter, by taking account of circumstances and the situation, could legitimately be the basis of certain exceptions to the general rule and thus permit one to do in practice and in good conscience what is qualified as intrinsically evil by the moral law. A separation, or even an opposition, is thus established in some cases between the teaching of the precept, which is valid in general, and the norm of the individual conscience, which would in fact make the final decision about what is good and what is evil. On this basis, an attempt is made to legitimize so-called "pastoral" solutions contrary to the teaching of the Magisterium, and to justify a "creative" hermeneutic according to which the moral conscience is in no way obliged, in every case, by a particular negative precept. No one can fail to realize that these approaches pose a challenge to the very identity of the moral conscience in relation to human freedom and God's law. Only the clarification made earlier with regard to the relationship, based on truth, between freedom and law makes possible a discernment concerning this "creative" understanding of conscience.’
And yes, I prefer the approach of Francis, though I have deep respect for the learning behind the approach of John Paul. I just think that the approach of Francis is more grounded in the mess and complexity of human life. Those theologians who prefer John Paul’s approach need to concede that it is not a view in the Catholic tradition that wins universal approval, and it is not a view which is fully consistent with that held by the present pope. And I don’t think we need to lose any sleep over that. Some of us who found things a little stultifying during the John Paul papacy can rejoice that a more pastoral, more grounded, more common sense view of conscience is approved even by the pope of the day.
Roy Chen Yee
28 June 2017
Thanks, Fr Frank. It might be mechanistic but I wonder whether a 2000 year old machine should respond to the same circumstances today as it did in the past, especially when the circumstance, let’s say an ‘irregular’ marital situation, is something that almost certainly would have happened before. When a machine produces a result which deviates from the norm, it could mean it is starting to work properly now and didn’t before. It could also mean that it’s starting not to work. Perhaps popes following or distinguishing precedent would show that at any time the machine produced an unexpected result, it was caused by circumstances that did not falsify what the machine had done before. After all, if one pope is wrong, who’s to say that any were correct? Yet, isn’t teaching pretty well their only purpose? Pope Francis, as supreme legislator, can enforce his will. Nevertheless, should he have taken John Paul II’s approach, which was to uphold the validity of a predecessor’s proclamation while finding something in the document that would allow him to say what he wanted, eg. that submission in a marriage is mutual or that the Catholic Church subsists anywhere that there is truth?
13 July 2017
“We need to offer mercy and pastoral discernment to those living in situations that fall short of what the Lord demands of us”.
Is an act of humility too much to ask?
I have read
“At this moment in time the church has two sail that are blowing in the opposite direction causing great discord within the Church. On the Right: an extreme conservative wind wanting to blow our boat back to the becalming out-of-date swamp of pre-1962. On the Left: an extreme liberal wind wanting to blow our boat into rapids where faith and morals are thrown overboard”.
But we can go forward in
UNITY OF PURPOSE by hoisting a third sail one of Humility, the true (only) sail
that the Holy Spirit blows upon, bringing arrogance to its knees and folly does not have to be appeased
Is the true Divine Mercy Image an Image of Broken man?
Pope Francis says we need be a Church of mercy and so we do, but more importantly we need to be a humble church, as Gods Mercy received in humility guarantees spiritual growth, which wells up into eternal life.
I agree with the four cardinals in that this statement from Veritatis Splendor “conscience can never be authorized to legitimate exceptions to absolute moral norms that prohibit intrinsically evil acts by virtue of their object” as God’s Word (Will) is inviolate. Individual we can only stand before His Divine Mercy in humility as we can never justify sin.
I all so agree with this statement by Pope Francis “the Eucharist 'is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak”. It's the sick and supplicant who need the doctor, not the well and the righteous”.
How can the two statements be reconciled “With God all things are possible” as only God can square the circle.
Throughout history God has made His Will know to mankind through his Saints, Spiritual leaders and
Prophets and at crucial times His Will has be revealed in a way that that cannot be misunderstood by His people.
God’s Word (Will) was given to Sister Faustina
“Paint a picture according to the vision you see and with the inscription: “Jesus, I Trust in Thee.”
The Divine Mercy Image that the Church displays today is an affront to God, instigated by nationalistic pride and those who would pacify the powerful it has nothing to do with humility.
The true Divine Mercy Image is an Image of Broken Man
“Paint a picture according to the vision you see and with the inscription: “Jesus, I Trust in Thee.” “I
desire that this picture be venerated first in your chapel and then throughout the whole world”
Sr. Faustina acted immediately in singular (pure) intent; no one else can paint this picture, as no
one else can SEE what she saw. The picture she painted, sketched, (no matter how badly) must be venerated and no other, to do so knowing it is not the painting commanded by God (His Word is inviolate) is to commit blasphemy.
The Church acknowledges that Sr Faustina received a direct visual and verbal request to “paint an Image according to the vision you see” God’s Word is Inviolate this is our most fundamental belief and sits at the base of all the Sacraments. His Word is not open for debate it cannot contradict itself and must not be touched by man, it is impossible for it to be God’s Word (Will) and not His Word (Will) at the same time.
Sister Faustina was very poorly educated and it is fair to assume that if her superiors had accepted her painting as they should have done (they would have known that Gods Word is inviolate) she would have also. Earthly hands violated Gods Word to fit their own earthly vision of goodness as they could not accept the reality that they were been asked by God to show human weakness.
Any revelations after the first revelation now must be considered suspect, as from that time onwards earthly hands were distorting the Word (Will) of God.
Sister Faustina was uneducated coming from a very poor family with only three year’s very basic education. Hers were the humblest tasks in the convent. She was very innocent and trusting we can deduce this because after her first vision she immediately attempted to paint Jesus herself and for this reason I believe her vision was genuine and received in total trust.
Her diaries reflect a particular culture and type of devotion at a particular time in the Church but are more in keeping with those who would propagate such devotions. We need to look at her spiritual advisor Fr Michal Sopocko who appears to have overseen her diaries and commissioned the first fraudulent image of Divine Mercy, and in doing so violated her trust in God.
The Church has acknowledged that the Word (Will) of God had been given to her, its actions confirm this, we have a picture in God’s House, with the words “Jesus I trust In thee” But the picture is not the one commanded by God, it is a worldly image of goodness, it pertains to the senses and is made in man’s own image, it has nothing to do with Trust.
The present Divine Mercy Image is a self-serving IMAGE of Clericalism, definition of CLERICALISM: a policy of maintaining or increasing the power of a religious hierarchy. Their actions show that they did not trust in His mercy and were only concerned with a worldly image of goodness, the very same problem which has led to the cover up of the on-going child abuse scandal and refusal to acknowledge its historical culture within the Church emanating from Rome.
The original picture by
Sister Faustina in its brokenness relates to spiritual beauty (goodness) as it pertains to humility. The pure (humble) in heart shall see God.
The True Divine Mercy image calls for the leadership of the Church to give account for themselves, before God and mankind while at the same time healing so many past and on-going injustices.
To do this the elite within the Church need to act out these instructions given by Jesus Christ to His Church
“I desire that this picture be venerated first in your chapel and then throughout the world “
Commencing in Rome by recapturing (Staging) the original ceremony by displaying the present self-serving blasphemous Divine Mercy Image an image of Clericalism, then remove (Destroy) it publicly and re-place it with the true image an Image of Broken Man
and in humility venerate it in a symbolic way that cannot be misunderstood by mankind, then re-enact this action with the help of the bishops throughout the whole Church (World).
If this were to happen a Transfiguration would occur within the Church at this moment in time that would resurrect the true face of Jesus Christ, a face that reflects Truth and humility before all those she is called to serve in love and compassion. From this base
one of humility before God the Church can proceed to tackle many of her on-going problems/dilemmas as it would permit the Church to give access to the Sacrament of Holy Communion (Spiritual Food) to all baptised Catholics who for whatever reason apart from the sin against the Holy Spirit, who presently cannot receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation the means to do so.
As an example; To those in second relationships, permit them to partake in Holy Communion in making a public acknowledgement of their need of God’s Divine Mercy just prior to receiving the Eucharist by venerating the true Image of Divine Mercy an image of Broken Man, saying these words from the heart publicly
“Jesus I Trust in You”
Then as the recipient approaches the priest for communion after his /her public confession the priest could say (or words to the effect of) “Welcome to the path/way of salvation/confession/reconciliation receive The body of Christ” in doing so acknowledging the on-going commencement to receiving the full sacrament of Reconciliation, by doing so His outward sign of inward grace His Divine Mercy is manifest at that moment in time as having been given by God Himself to the recipient before His Church (People/Faithful) full absolution has not given by the Church as they dwell in His Divine Mercy as he/she returns to his/her sinful situation(Entanglement with evil) but a journey of HOPE in that spiritual growth has commenced, this must be clearly understood by the laity in regards to the indissolubility of marriage.
The need for the teaching on birth control in Humanae Vitae can also be strengthened by encouraging the laity who practices it, to acknowledge it openly before the Church in accepting their own human frailty, before partaking of the bread of life in Venerating The True Image of Divine Mercy an image of broken man, a reflection of themselves before God in the Eucharist. In acknowledging their dependence on His Mercy they give glory to our Father in heaven in bearing witness to the Truth, teaching others by their example to serve the Truth and walk in humility before our Creator and in doing so encourage all to confront that which enslaves mankind, our own sinfulness.
“Paint a picture according
to the vision you see and with the inscription. “Jesus I trust in thee”. I desire that this picture be venerated first in your chapel and then throughout the world"
This is a missionary call instigated by our Lord to the whole Church to Evangelizing through the action of
Humility, a disarming action in its honesty, that embrace all in its simplicity, as we encounter our brothers and sisters who stand and seek direction at the crossroads (Difficulties) of life.
kevin your brother