Hardness of hearts: speaking truth to power
Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife? Jesus answered them: What God has joined together, let no one separate.
So does the Liturgy of the Hours summarize the Gospel which will be read this Sunday as the synod begins…
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH has received a mission from Almighty God, who became flesh, was crucified, and rose from the dead. Her first task is to teach all nations everything which the Lord has commanded, without adding to it, or taking anything away from it.
In the Church the Bishops, including the Pope, take the lead here, and they have authority to teach in His Name. They are episcopoi, watchmen, overseers, caretakers. They are not creators.
So when a writer in the semi-official Vatican newspaper says that “The Jubilee Year of Mercy expects a sign of humble obedience (on the part of the Church’s shepherds) to the Spirit who speaks to them through Francis” this is quite off the mark.
Rather, this is our faith:
The Holy Spirit was not promised to the Successors of Peter so that by His revelation they might make new teaching public, but so that, by His assistance, they might devoutly guard and faithfully set forth the revelation handed down through the Apostles; i.e. the Deposit of Faith. (Pastor aeternus)
So the truth about the “unbreakable bond of love and peace” (Wedding Mass) which marriage is, and which our Divine Teacher proclaims to us in today’s Gospel, is not something which anyone has the authority to change. Nor may we act as if it were not true.
True, supernatural, Christlike compassion and mercy does not take away from people the medicine of healing and immortality which is the “message of truth”.
But Peter is there in the person of Pope Francis, so nothing can go wrong, say the papal postivists, stating their essential position.
There are no such guarantees. The pope has graces, has the sure charism of truth, but he can refuse to use it. We MUST pray for Pope Francis, for the Bishops, and for all others who will take part in the coming Synod in Rome, that they may all be protected against the powers of darkness; that the light and wisdom of the Holy Spirit may be poured out on them.
We may have to oppose and or resist Pope Francis.
In the Gospels we see two sides of the apostle Peter. On the one hand, he is enlightened from on high to make a profession of the truth and of the Faith: Jesus is the Christ, the anointed one of God. On the other, he remains fully human, and can be mistaken about many things and even tempted and misled by the Evil One.
The Successor of Peter is not superior to the Apostle. He is in a similar situation. He has great light available to him from on high. He does not always take full advantage of that light. He is a rock who can confirm the Church in the Faith, under certain precise conditions, and he can start sinking in to the water, crying out: “Lord, save me!”
In the words of Our Lady of Fatima: “Pray much for the Holy Father.”
And do not forget that these words of our Lord, according to a great Father of the Church, apply to the pope, too. “Whoever loves father or mother more than Me, is not worthy of Me.”
Ave Maria, gratia plena…