Thursday, May 8, 2014

How Infallible Dogmas Die: Francis and the Jews

Update: Because this article fits so perfectly with the Bear's take on the way the Church Party rewrites history, and what he has been trying to say of late, the Bear asks you to read it (preferably after) you read the present rather long article. Via Fr. Z.

Another Steaming Serving of Cognitive Dissonace

Back in March, the Bear wrote Mirari Vos vs. Evangelii Gaudium: The Battle of the Infallibles. The Bear compared Pope Gregory XVI's 1832 encyclical with Pope Francis' novel-length opus.

If that isn't a lead to make you click to the next blog, the Bear doesn't know what is. Oh dear, this is one of those "eat your vegetables" articles the Bear enjoys writing more than anyone enjoys reading. How about:

Is Pope Francis an antipope?
New evidence raises questions.
The Bear talks frankly about Jews.

There. So...

Pope Gregory spoke to our times about the indissolubility of marriage and perils of religious indifferentism (now called "ecumenism"). About indifferentism, he wrote:

Now We consider another abundant source of the evils with which the Church is afflicted at present: indifferentism. This perverse opinion is spread on all sides by the fraud of the wicked who claim that it is possible to obtain the eternal salvation of the soul by the profession of any kind of religion, as long as morality is maintained. Surely, in so clear a matter, you will drive this deadly error far from the people committed to your care. With the admonition of the apostle that "there is one God, one faith, one baptism" may those fear who contrive the notion that the safe harbor of salvation is open to persons of any religion whatever. They should consider the testimony of Christ Himself that "those who are not with Christ are against Him," and that they disperse unhappily who do not gather with Him. Therefore "without a doubt, they will perish forever, unless they hold the Catholic faith whole and inviolate."

In other words, the infallible doctrine of Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus is reinforced. There is no salvation outside of the Church.

Pope Francis, on the other hand, thinks those who refuse to enter the safety of the Catholic Church -- such as his "brother bishop" Tony Palmer, and televangelist Kenneth "Name It and Claim It" Copeland, who teaches that Jesus suffered the torments of Hell, among other heresies -- are just fine where they're at. (If this doesn't ring a bell, it comes from one of Pope Francis' telephonic Papal Encounters of the Third Kind.)

Since there can be no serious argument to the contrary, can we just stipulate that this infallible dogma of EENS has been disconnected from life support and is being allowed to die a natural death?

In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis wrote that the Holy Spirit gives even non-Christians "sacraments," which, while not as good as Catholic sacraments, are still good enough to get the job done. In fact, we might even learn a thing or two from them!

Non-Christians, by God’s gracious initiative, when they are faithful to their own consciences, can live ‘justified by the grace of God’, and thus be ‘associated to the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ’. But due to the sacramental dimension of sanctifying grace, God’s working in them tends to produce signs and rites, sacred expressions which in turn bring others to a communitarian experience of journeying towards God.

Compare the red text and harmonize the above statements from different popes.

Good luck with that.

Pope Francis also wrote:

While these lack the meaning and efficacy of the sacraments instituted by Christ, they can be channels which the Holy Spirit raises up in order to liberate non-Christians from atheistic immanentism or from purely individual religious experiences. The same Spirit everywhere brings forth various forms of practical wisdom which help people to bear suffering and to live in greater peace and harmony. As Christians, we can also benefit from these treasures built up over many centuries, which can help us better to live our own beliefs.

1.6 million rosaries, 24/7
Check this out. A powered Buddhist Prayer Wheel with 84,348,750,000 on eight blessed DVDs. That's 1.6 million rosaries, 24/7! Reincarnation sounds like a swell idea to the Bear; sort of like Groundhog Day where he can eventually learn to get everything right. 

So what is the status of Jews in the Franciscan Church? In Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis continues the abrupt disconnect from the historical Church's teachings since Vatican II. Jews are not called to accept Jesus Christ and be baptized into the Catholic Church. That's Old Evangelization. According to Pope Francis, the New Evangelization has zero to do with the "solemn nonsense" of proselytism. It says: You don't need to come into our Church! You just need to be the best whatever you are.

In the words of Rabbi Abraham Skorka, who collaborated on a book with then-Cardinal Bergoglio:

“When he speaks about evangelization, the idea is to evangelize Christians or Catholics,” to reach “higher dimensions of faith” and a deepened commitment to social justice, Skorka said. “This is the idea of evangelization that Bergoglio is stressing — not to evangelize Jews. This he told me, on several opportunities.”

Does this strike you as something made up? Something our Pope would never say? Or is it right on the money? This is from the book he and Francis co-authored:

There is a phrase from the Second Vatican Council that is essential: it says that God showed Himself to all men and rescues, first of all, the Chosen People. Since God is faithful to His promises, He did not reject them. The Church officially recognizes that the People of Israel continue to be the Chosen People. Nowhere does it say: "You lost the game, now it is our turn." It is a recognition of the People of Israel. That, I think, is the most courageous thing from Vatican II on the subject.

Well, that's just a book, after all, one might object, nothing official. He wasn't even pope then! Here are Pope Francis' words from Evangelii Gaudium:

We hold the Jewish people in special regard because their covenant with God has never been revoked, for ‘the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable’ (Rom 11:29). The Church, which shares with Jews an important part of the Sacred Scriptures, looks upon the people of the covenant and their faith as one of the sacred roots of her own Christian identity (cf. Rom 11:16-18). As Christians, we cannot consider Judaism as a foreign religion; nor do we include the Jews among those called to turn from idols and to serve the true God (cf. 1 Thes 1:9). With them, we believe in the one God who acts in history, and with them we accept his revealed word.

So what, you might object. The Church should be generous and accepting to not only Jews, but everyone. The problem is, the Council of Florence, under Pope Eugene IV said (infallibly):

The sacrosanct Roman Church ... firmly believes, professes, and teaches that the matter pertaining to the Old Testament, of the Mosaic law, which are divided into ceremonies, sacred rites, sacrifices, and sacraments, because they were established to signify something in the future, although they were suited to the divine worship at that time, after Our Lord’s coming had been signified by them, ceased, and the sacraments of the New Testament began; ... All, therefore, who after that time observe circumcision and the Sabbath and the other requirements of the law, it (the Roman Church) declares alien to the Christian faith and not in the least fit to participate in eternal salvation, unless someday they recover from these errors.

That doesn't sound at all like the Franciscan Church, though, does it? The doctrine of "supersessionism" has been taught by the Church perpetually. Pope Francis is building on a novelty from Vatican II that completely reverses previous infallible teaching, starting with Christ's Parable of the Vineyard.

The owner of the vineyard said, ‘What shall I do? I shall send my beloved son; maybe they will respect him.’ But when the tenant farmers saw him they said to one another, ‘This is the heir. Let us kill him that the inheritance may become ours.’ So they threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. What will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and put those tenant farmers to death and turn over the vineyard to others.

New American Bible. (2011). (Revised Edition., Lk 20:13–16). Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Now please pay careful attention. When the Church wants to change an infallible teaching of the past, it:

  • overrules it sub silentio -- the dogma is never again invoked or spoken of;
  • personalizes it -- vocal proponents of the dogma are spotlighted and destroyed (e.g. Fr. Feeney regarding Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus);
  • criticizes -- groups still holding the dogma are obliquely criticized to isolate them and diminish their credibility and influence;
  • replaces it -- the dogma is replaced by a contrary dogma, employing continuous, high-visibility propaganda and "change agents" placed at strategic points throughout the Church;
  • finally, allows it to lapse through disuetude -- the doctrine simply vanishes into the the haze of antiquity, a dead letter, and ceases to have any effect on the life of the Church. (Disuetude is a legal concept where old laws lose their force because they are simply ignored, then forgotten.)

This is troubling for Catholics beyond the particular issues involved, which would be bad enough. If Jews and other non-Catholics need to be in the Church for salvation, it is terrifyingly important to know, teach and act upon this, is it not? Otherwise all Catholics who fail to really evangelize, but especially their pastors, have much to answer for. 

But the real problem is that if a later infallible pope can casually contradict a previous infallible pope, then infallibility means nothing at all. Infallibility is far from a protection, but is, in fact, itself an error. And if the Church can err about the foundation of every single one of its teachings, it can err about anything. Including -- which the Franciscan Church should note -- the new teaching that the Church now cloaks with self-negating "infallibility!"

Without infallibility, the Protestants are right. It's all up for grabs. Either that, or the sedevacantists are right, and the Church is infallible, but the Vatican II Church isn't really the Church. And by what principle does anyone defend the current occupant of St. Peter's Chair, since he has either (a) contradicted infallible dogma; or (b) does not benefit from infallibility any more than any other pope, i.e. not at all, and so is subject to criticism as any man might be.

This is a real problem that has been simmering since Vatican II. Too much has changed to claim continuity with what has gone before without mental gymnastics of one sort or another. We need a special hermeneutic, or it was the media's fault, or some Spirit of Vatican II's fault. The Vatican II implementers started out with some good ideas, but just went too far.

Logic is unforgiving. Bears are not, however, logical creatures, but instinctive. The Church still feels like the Church, even though one can no longer connect the dots. The answer lies somewhere in the realm of factors not taken into account, the Bear intuits, but he is not prepared to answer the questions presented by the Battle of the Infallibles. The Bear says the Church feels like the Church, but it doesn't smell right. And it no longer bears too much thinking about.

The Bear does not have all the answers. But he is good at asking the right questions.

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