An Urgent Appeal to Pope Francis to Either Change Course or Renounce the Petrine Office:
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December 8, 2015
Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Pope Celestine V (r. 1294), recognizing his incapacity for the office to which he had so unexpectedly been elected as the hermit Peter of Morrone, and seeing the grave harm his bad governance had caused, resigned the papacy after a reign of only five months. He was canonized in 1313 by Pope Clement V. Pope Boniface VIII, removing any doubt about the validity of such an extraordinary papal act, confirmed in perpetuity (ad perpetuam rei memoriam) that “the Roman Pontiff may freely resign.”
A growing number of Catholics, including cardinals and bishops, are coming to recognize that your pontificate, also the result of an unexpected election, is likewise causing grave harm to the Church. It has become impossible to deny that you lack either the capacity or the will to do what your predecessor rightly observed a pope must do: “constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.”
Quite the contrary, as shown in the annexed libellus, you have given many indications of an alarming hostility to the Church’s traditional teaching, discipline and customs, and the faithful who try to defend them, while being preoccupied with social and political questions beyond the competence of the Roman Pontiff. Consequently, the Church’s enemies continually delight in your pontificate, exalting you above all your predecessors. This appalling situation has no parallel in Church history.
Last year, speaking of Pope Benedict’s resignation, Your Holiness declared that if you felt incapable of exercising the papacy “I would do the same.” On the first anniversary of Benedict’s resignation, you called upon the faithful to “join me in prayer for His Holiness Benedict XVI, a man of great courage and humility.”
With no little trepidation, being under the gaze of the One who will judge us all on the Last Day, we your subjects respectfully petition Your Holiness to change course for the good of the Church and the welfare of souls. Failing this, would it not be better for Your Holiness to renounce the Petrine office than to preside over what threatens to be a catastrophic compromise of the Church’s integrity?
In this regard we make our own the words of Saint Catherine of Siena, Doctor of the Church, in her famous letter to Pope Gregory XI, urging him to steer the Church aright during one of her greatest crises: “Since He has given you authority and you have assumed it, you should use your virtue and power: and if you are not willing to use it, it would be better for you to resign what you have assumed…”
Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us!
Your subjects in Christ,
Christopher A. Ferrara
Michael J. Matt
Dr. John Rao
Professor Brian McCall
Timothy J. Cullen
Judge Andrew P. Napolitano
Susan Claire Potts
John Salza, Esq.
Add your name to this petition at the end of this document. No additional personal information is required and your name will not appear online.
Your predecessor Benedict XVI, sitting for the first time in the Chair of Peter, reminded the Catholic faithful that “[t]he Pope is not an absolute monarch whose thoughts and desires are law,” but rather “the Pope’s ministry is a guarantee of obedience to Christ and to his Word.” Accordingly, said Benedict, a Pope “must not proclaim his own ideas, but rather constantly bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.”
The course of your pontificate thus far has compelled us to declare publicly that you have failed to respect the nature of the Petrine office, abusing it in a manner the Church has never before witnessed. We hereby present to Your Holiness the main concerns that have aroused alarm in all ranks of the Church and have motivated this petition.
First, rather than the constant teaching of the Church concerning God’s word, you have consistently proclaimed your own ideas in homilies, press conferences, off-the-cuff remarks, interviews with journalists, speeches of various kinds, and idiosyncratic readings of Scripture. These ideas, ranging from the disturbing to the plainly heterodox, are well represented in your personal manifesto, Evangelii Gaudium. This document contains a number of astonishing proclamations the likes of which no Roman Pontiff has ever dared to utter. Among these are your “dream… of transforming everything, so that the Church’s customs, ways of doing things, times and schedules, language and structures can be suitably channeled for the evangelization of today’s world rather than for her self-preservation.” It is incredible that a Roman Pontiff would posit a non-existent opposition between the self-preservation of the Holy Catholic Church and her mission in the world.
Second, rather than binding yourself and the Church to obedience to God’s word, you have repeatedly deprecated apostolic and ecclesiastical traditions, along with the faithful who defend them. Here too Evangelii Gaudium sums up your line of thought: “More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us: ‘Give them something to eat’ (Mk 6:37).”
The Catholic mind staggers at the spectacle of a Roman Pontiff belittling the Church’s constitution, doctrines and customs as mere “structures,” “rules” and “habits” that rob people of spiritual sustenance, leaving them to starve at the Church’s door. You dare to say this respecting the very Church that built and transformed entire civilizations, nurturing countless saints, religious orders, priestly and religious vocations and institutes of charity for the salvation of souls and incomparable works of corporal mercy.
At the same time, you have so frequently derided the faithful who defend the Church’s traditions that one observer has compiled a “Little Book of Insults” recording many examples of this unprecedented verbal assault by a Pope against his own subjects. Among the epithets you have hurled at observant Catholics with reckless abandon are these: “fundamentalists,” “Pharisees,” “Pelagians,” “triumphalists,” “Gnostics,” “nostalgists,” “superficial Christians,” “band of the chosen,” “peacocks,” “moralistic quibblers” “uniformists,” “proud, self-sufficient,” “intellectual aristocrats,” “Christian bats who prefer the shadows to the light of the presence of the Lord,” etc.
Yet, not a single harsh word have you uttered concerning open enemies of the doctrines of the Faith or the sexual deviants who infest the Catholic hierarchy. On the contrary, you declared “Who am I to judge?” respecting “gay persons” among the clergy, and in particular the notorious homosexual cleric you have made the head of your very household, who shows a revolting familiarity with your person. You have granted widely publicized audiences to sexual deviants, including transsexuals and homosexuals, arranging these encounters personally by telephone. You have rehabilitated and even rewarded with prestigious appointments liberation theologians silenced and suspended by your two immediate predecessors, promoters of homosexuality, and prelates who covered up the sexual crimes of homosexual priests.
Evangelii Gaudium aptly summarizes the open contempt—without precedent in the annals of the papacy—with which you view the defenders of doctrinal and liturgical rectitude. You ridicule “an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige” and rashly accuse tradition-minded Catholics of being “without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time,” cruelly and unjustly caricaturing them as people who would reduce the Church to “a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few.”
A moment deeply revealing of your contemptuous mentality in this regard was your humiliation of an altar boy, broadcast to the world and memorialized on the Internet. As he stood in a prayerful posture, hands folded, at the entrance to the Vatican grottoes, which you were visiting, you pulled his hands apart, mocking him with the words: “Are your hands bound together? Ah, it seems they’re stuck!” To his credit, the boy put his hands back together immediately, resuming the comportment appropriate to the dignity of the occasion and in keeping with a sound spiritual formation. But one wonders what effect this public humiliation, now permanently accessible to the whole world, will have upon the spiritual life of an impressionable youngster.
In perhaps the most injurious of your insults of the faithful, Evangelii Gaudium denounces traditional Catholics for what you suppose to be “a self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism.” Presuming their interior dispositions, you declare that these Catholics “feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past”—as if our holy religion involved “styles” that become outmoded like fashions in clothing. You even go so far as to mock “a supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline” as “narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelizing, one analyzes and classifies others…”
For the sake of truth and justice, Holy Father, we must say that it seems you yourself have spent a great deal of time analyzing, classifying and indeed judging others—to the growing dismay and embarrassment of your subjects, who have never seen such behavior from a Roman Pontiff. And this behavior shows no signs of abating. Recently, at a conference on priestly formation, you remarked—to laughter from your audience—that you are “scared of rigid priests… I keep away from them. They bite!” What purpose does such derisive rhetoric serve but to humiliate and marginalize those priests who still have the courage to defend the Church’s unpopular teachings without compromise in a world at war against God and His law? No wonder the mass media hail your pontificate!
But, more than words, Holy Father, you have directed the outright persecution of religious orders intent on restoring orthodoxy, sober piety, the interior life and liturgical tradition in the midst of what your own predecessor described as the “calamities” and “sufferings” the Church has endured in the name of Vatican II, including “closed seminaries, closed convents, banalized liturgy…” On your specific orders, the flourishing Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate have been destroyed on account of what your apostolic commissioner (who later died of a stroke) called a “definitely traditionalist drift.” The affiliated Sisters of the Immaculate have likewise been placed under an apostolic commissioner on account of “deviations” consisting of a supposed “pre-conciliar” formation—meaning the traditional liturgy and the traditional conventual life, as if these holy things were contagions to be expunged from the Church like some disease. These are the actions of a dictator motivated by an ideology, not a paternal guardian of the Church’s sacred patrimony.
Yet, following a years-long investigation and disciplinary process initiated by Pope Benedict, under your supervision the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has been whitewashed and spared any discipline despite its support for abortion, euthanasia and “same-sex marriage” and its notorious promotion of what Cardinal Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, described as “fundamental errors regarding the omnipotence of God, the Incarnation of Christ, the reality of Original Sin, the necessity of salvation and the definitive nature of the salvific action of Christ in the Paschal Mystery.”
Third, in keeping with your programmatic disparagement of the Church’s traditional doctrine and discipline and those who defend them, you presided over and controlled a “Synod on the Family” that amounted to a sustained attempt to water down or adapt the Church’s infallible teaching on marriage, procreation and sexuality in order to accommodate the rebellious spirit of the age and the immorality it has fostered throughout our post-Christian civilization.
In the name of “mercy,” the progressive prelates who dominate your circle of advisors, including the infamous Cardinal Kasper—whose views you have been promoting from the beginning of your pontificate—now proclaim a false disjunction between doctrine and its intrinsically related pastoral practice, as if the Church could forbid immoral behavior in principle while accommodating it in practice. As one prominent cardinal has put it, this “is a form of heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology.” Yet it has become a theme of your pontificate, as you invoke “mercy” endlessly against the Church’s moral laws, which you demean as “small-minded rules,” “roadblocks,” “closed doors,” and “casuistry.”
The progressives you personally appointed to the Synod’s secretariat and drafting commission, and the 45 additional progressives you added to the voting membership, including Cardinal Kasper, combined to attack the indissolubility of marriage by advocating “case by case” admission of the divorced and “remarried” to Holy Communion. This would mean the overthrow of the Church’s bimillennial sacramental discipline, rooted in the words of Our Lord Himself: “Every one that putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery… (Lk. 16:18).” That discipline was reaffirmed by Benedict XVI and John Paul II in the face of challenges by dissenters from Catholic teaching—Cardinal Kasper being foremost among them. It is readily apparent that you wish to abandon that discipline, as you did when you were Archbishop of Buenos Aires and when, even as Pope, you personally telephoned a woman in Argentina, civilly married to a divorced man, to tell her that she could receive Holy Communion despite what her “rigid” parish priest had said to the contrary.
At the Synod’s first session in 2014, you personally approved and ordered published to the world, before the Synod Fathers had even seen it, a synodal “midterm report” which was never approved by them and was in fact a fabrication, apparently written in advance, that did not even remotely represent their actual consensus. This disgraceful document called for a “case by case” abandonment of the discipline of the Church respecting the divorced and “remarried” and for “valuing” the homosexual “orientation.” One courageous prelate called it “a black mark which has stained the honour of the Apostolic See.” Yet, after the Synod majority rightly rejected it, you denounced “so-called… traditionalists” for “wanting to close [themselves] within the written word… and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises…” And then you ordered the same document to be circulated to the world’s bishops, along with three paragraphs in the final report that failed to receive the requisite majority but which you ordered included anyway, having “torn up the rule book” of a Synod that was “rigged” to achieve a preordained result, but by the grace of God failed to do so.
At the Synod’s second session in 2015, you required that all deliberations be based upon an Instrumentum Laboris so heterodox that an international coalition of clergy and laity warned that it “threatens the entire structure of Catholic teaching on marriage, the family and human sexuality…” When that document was likewise rejected by the Synod majority and replaced at the last minute by a compromise document—which nonetheless creates openings for the overthrow of the Church’s sacramental discipline)—you denounced “closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge... difficult cases.” That is, you condemned the Synod Fathers who had defended the constant sacramental discipline of the Church.
In your evident determination to accommodate the divorced and civilly “remarried,” whom you inexplicably characterize as “the poor,” just before Synod 2015 you devised in secret, without consulting any competent Vatican dicastery, a sudden and drastic “streamlining” of the annulment process. A world-renowned canonist, reflecting widespread alarm over this improvident “reform,” described it as “providing a path that looks like the Catholic version of no-fault divorce.” You yourself freely acknowledged that “it has not escaped me how an abbreviated judgment might put at risk the principle of indissolubility of marriage…”
Fourth, in keeping with your astounding suggestion—promptly hailed by the mass media—that the Church has been “obsessed” with “abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods,” by your own admission you “have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that.” Yet these grave evils threaten the very survival of our civilization in the midst of what John Paul II called a “culture of death” and “silent apostasy.” While quite vocal concerning many political issues, you were utterly silent when once Catholic Ireland legalized “gay marriage” by popular referendum and the United States Supreme Court imposed this abomination on all fifty states.
On the other hand, as the Western world descends into an abyss of depravity and Muslim fanatics are massacring Christians throughout the Middle East, in Africa and in the very heart of Europe, you are preoccupied with “climate change.” Your book length encyclical, Laudato si’, the only encyclical you have produced, posits the existence of an “ecological crisis” and uncritically adopts the ideologically motivated, strongly contested claims of “climate change science,” which a Pope has absolutely no competence to assess, much less present to the faithful as indisputable facts.
The same encyclical laments “global warming,” the excessive use of air-conditioning, the loss of mangrove swamps, the supposed threat to plankton and worms, and the extinction of various plants and animals—denouncing this as an offense to God—before it even mentions abortion (while failing utterly to mention the supremely anti-natural practice of contraception). As to abortion, the encyclical speaks only of a failure “to protect a human embryo” when in fact abortion is the brutal mass murder of innocent human beings, ripped limb from limb in the womb or stabbed to death with surgical scissors at the very moment of birth.
Not surprisingly, the powers of the world have universally acclaimed Laudato si’ as part of “the Francis revolution” which the media, including the progressive “Catholic” press, have been lauding throughout your pontificate.
Fifth, you have consistently dismissed all doctrinal differences with Protestants as insignificant and have repeatedly declared, quite falsely, that “all the baptized are members of the same Body of Christ, his Church.” Here too you ignore the teaching of John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and every Pope before them, including Pius XI, who taught quite to the contrary concerning the condition of Protestants: “For since the mystical body of Christ, in the same manner as His physical body, is one, compacted and fitly joined together, it were foolish and out of place to say that the mystical body is made up of members which are disunited and scattered abroad: whosoever therefore is not united with the body is no member of it, neither is he in communion with Christ its head.”
In this regard you seem heedless of the ever-worsening immorality and heresy of the same Protestant sects that engage in endless, pointless “ecumenical dialogue” with the Vatican. After fifty years of “dialogue” these sects condone divorce, contraception, abortion, homosexuality and “gay marriage,” purport to ordain women and practicing homosexuals as “priests” and “bishops,” and continue adamantly to reject fundamental dogmas of the one true religion revealed by Christ for the salvation of the world.
What of the truth that makes us free? (John 8:32) What of the witness of countless saints and martyrs who expended their substance and laid down their very lives to defend and pass on the Catholic Faith in opposition to the manifold errors and societal destruction spawned by the Protestant revolt, whose final consequences are playing out before your very eyes?
Sixth, in recent days, your public statements seem to have become increasingly careless and disordered, causing even greater scandal and apprehension among the faithful:
On November 15, during your Sunday participation in a Lutheran prayer service, you said that Catholic and Lutheran teachings concerning Christ are “the same,” being merely a matter of “Catholic language” versus “Lutheran language.” You characterized the defined dogma and ontological reality of transubstantiation as mere “explanations and interpretations,” declaring that “life is greater than explanations and interpretations”—as if “life” were “greater” than the Real Presence of God Incarnate in the Holy Eucharist, which Protestants deny.
On the same occasion you suggested that whether Protestants can receive Holy Communion is for theologians to determine, when the Church has already infallibly determined that this is impossible without conversion and profession of the same faith as Catholics. Stating that the matter was beyond your “competence”—but it is precisely the Pope’s competence to uphold the Church’s teaching in this regard—you suggested that a Lutheran married to a Catholic might receive Holy Communion after “speaking to the Lord” but that you “dare not say more.” But you had already said far too much by publicly referring a matter of grave importance for salvation to the error-prone private conscience of the individual: “he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh judgment to himself, not discerning the body of the Lord (1 Cor. 11:29).”
On November 21, you declared to a worldwide conference of Catholic educators: “Never proselytize in schools. Christian education is bringing up the young in complete reality with human values and one of these is transcendence.” On the contrary, Catholic education is above all an inculcation in divine values: The Gospel and what it requires of Catholics, indeed the whole world, not merely human values or a vague “transcendence” bereft of its proper object, which is the God who has revealed Himself in the person of Jesus Christ, the Word Incarnate.
During your trip to Africa, November 25-30, you opined that the world is “at the limits of suicide” because of “climate change.” As you have throughout your pontificate, you failed to address the true threat of civilizational suicide in our time, remarked by your great predecessor, Venerable Pope Pius XII: that “almost the whole human race is today allowing itself to be driven into two opposing camps, for Christ or against Christ. The human race is involved today in a supreme crisis, which will issue in its salvation by Christ, or in its dire destruction.” By constantly directing the attention of the entire Church to a worldly “ecological crisis,” you cause the faithful to lose sight of the Christological crisis that threatens the eternal welfare of countless souls in our time.
During the in-flight press conference on the return to Rome from Africa, you denounced “fundamentalist” Catholics yet again, mocking the absolute religious convictions of orthodox members of your flock, based on the revealed word of God and the infallible teaching of the Magisterium on faith and morals:
Fundamentalism is a sickness that is in all religions…. We Catholics have some—and not some, many, eh? —who believe they possess the absolute truth (che si credonono con la verita assoluta) and go ahead dirtying others with calumny, with disinformation, and they do evil…. Religious fundamentalism is not religious, because it lacks God and it is idolatrous, like the idolatry of money.
Having denounced “many” members of your own flock as godless idolaters, you later suggested a moral equivalence between Christians and the Muslim fanatics who are slaughtering, torturing, raping, enslaving and exiling Christians around the world: “You cannot wipe out a religion just because there are some or a number of groups of fundamentalists at one moment in history…. Think of all the wars we Christians have waged. It wasn’t the Muslims who were responsible for the Sack of Rome.”
Yet again you embarrass the Church—and yourself—with an ill-considered remark quite unbecoming the Roman Pontiff. The historical record demands correction of your blunder:
First of all, the Muslims did sack Rome in 846, looting old Saint Peter’s and prompting Pope Leo IV to build the “Leonine walls” “to defend the see of Peter from an Islamic jihad.”
Secondly, if you were referring to the sack of Rome in 1527 by the army of Emperor Charles V, this had nothing to do with religious “fundamentalism” but rather involved purely political retaliation against Clement VII, a weak and vacillating Pope, who had improvidently forged an alliance with the King of France (Francis I) with whom Charles was at war. In fact, the Emperor’s army included German mercenaries, most of whom were Lutherans, and it was they who were principally responsible for the depredation of the Holy City and the violence done to its Catholic inhabitants.
Thirdly, during the same era, of course, Muslim marauders—who were indeed violent “fundamentalists”—were expanding the Ottoman Empire by the conquest of Christian lands until the resounding and miraculous defeat of the Muslim fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, which prevented a Muslim conquest of all of Europe and probably another Muslim sack of Rome.
Provoking still more scandal, in answer to a question concerning whether the Church should “change its position” on the immorality of contraception to permit the use of condoms as a method of limiting new HIV infections, you referred to this evil practice as “one of the methods,” thus appearing to legitimize it, while suggesting that it presents a moral dilemma for the Church, even likening it to Our Lord healing on the Sabbath:
The question seems too small to me, it also seems to me a partial question. Yes, it is one of the methods. And the morality of the Church, finds itself, I think, on this point before a perplexity. So, the Fifth or the Sixth Commandment? Defend life [with condoms!], or that sexual relations be open to life? But this is not the problem. The problem is bigger.
This question makes me think of one they once asked Jesus: “Tell me, teacher, is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?” It is obligatory to heal…. [B]ut malnutrition, the development of the person, slave labor, the lack of potable drinking water, these are the problems. Let’s not talk about if one can use this type of Band-Aid [cerotto] or that for a small wound, the big wound is social injustice, environmental injustice….
Thus, you appeared to accept that there is room for consideration of this “method,” although you view it as a rather trivial matter (a Band-Aid) even though it facilitates fornication and a culture of total sexual depravity. You then subordinated the moral law to concern for social and environmental justice! And so, once again, the Church is wounded by scandal and confusion on account of your habit of careless, off-the-cuff remarks to the press on weighty moral and theological questions concerning which a pope should speak or write with utmost prudence and deliberation, invoking the divine assistance.
Finally, there has just appeared on the Vatican website an interview of Your Holiness by the weekly Credere in which you allude favorably (yet again) to Cardinal Kasper’s false notion “mercy” and reveal that you intend to conduct a “revolution of tenderness”—an allusion to the title of Cardinal Kasper’s book lauding you: Pope Francis’ Revolution of Tenderness and Love. You declare that this “revolution of tenderness” will take place during your Jubilee of Mercy, which will involve “so many gestures,” including “a different gesture” on “a Friday of every month.”
Your stated motive for the “revolution of tenderness” is that, according to you, “the Church herself sometimes follows a hard line, she falls into the temptation of following a hard line, into the temptation of stressing only the moral rules, many people are excluded.” Affirming your interviewer’s suggestion that the Church must “discover” a “God who is moved and has compassion for man,” you reply: “To discover it will lead us to have a more tolerant, more patient, more tender attitude”—as if the Church were lacking in patience and compassion for sinners before your election.
What are these astounding affirmations if not an absolutely unprecedented threat by a Roman Pontiff to disregard “moral rules”—that is, the constant teaching of the infallible Magisterium—in the name of a false mercy, evidently with regard to the divorced and “remarried” and others you deem “excluded” in some manner? What are we to make of a pope who claims that the Church that Christ founded to teach infallibly on faith and morals has “fallen” into a temptation to take a “hard line” on morality? What besides horror should the faithful experience when a pope says such things, which have never been heard from the See of Peter in 2,000 years?
Catholics know that a true revolution of tenderness occurs in every soul that undergoes Baptism or, corresponding to the grace of repentance, enters the confessional with a firm purpose of amendment and a contrite heart, unburdens the weight of sin, receives absolution by a priest acting in persona Christi, and emerges “white as snow,” to quote your own predecessor, speaking of the Sacrament of Confession. The Catholic Church has always been an inexhaustible font of divine mercy through her Sacraments. What can your proposed “revolution” add to what Christ has already provided in His Church? Can you declare an amnesty on mortal sin? Can you pardon what is not pardonable without repentance and contrition? Can you outdo the mercy of God Himself?
The perception grows daily that although you are the Vicar of Christ, you simply have no interest in defending faith and morals, which are under attack as never before, nor any intention to call the wandering sheep into the sheepfold Our Lord established for their salvation. On the contrary, you appear to have devoted your pontificate to a veritable program of doctrinal and disciplinary laxity whose theme is the regular denunciation of orthodox Catholics combined with accusations that the Church lacks mercy. At the same time, you pursue social and political matters in which a pope has no competence or authority, such as “climate change,” environmentalism, and restoring diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States.
After being buffeted by one storm of controversy after another occasioned by your unprecedented words and deeds, the faithful feel increasingly as if “the ship of the Church has lost its compass.”
In sum, Holy Father, over the past two-and-a-half years you have earned the world’s unanimous praise while throwing the ecclesiastical commonwealth into a state of confusion and division. You have ridiculed, berated and condemned the orthodox, shown limitless tolerance for the heterodox and the sexually deviant, and contrived to subvert the sacramental discipline defended by the very Pope you declared a saint. Accompanied everywhere by the adulation of the media and the roar of crowds, you seem heedless of Our Lord’s admonition: “Woe to you when men shall bless you: for according to these things did their fathers to the false prophets.”
The situation has reached the point where a senior Vatican official, reflecting the concerns of Catholics of all ranks, was constrained to warn a world-renowned Catholic journalist that “This pontificate poses serious risks for the integrity of Catholic teaching in faith and morals.”
In agreement with this prelate, we are compelled before God publicly to declare in conscience that your pontificate can only be seen as a clear and present danger to the Church, a danger that seems to increase with each passing day. Indeed, the damaging effects of your pontificate are everywhere in evidence, with Catholics throughout the world now treating more and more dismissively the Church’s teachings on faith and morals, taking as their point of reference your own words and deeds—jubilantly trumpeted to the world by the media—rather than the infallible teaching of the Magisterium on faith and morals over the past 2,000 years.
Now, as you condemn the Church’s “hard line” on “moral rules” and proclaim a “revolution of tenderness,” we are faced with the imminent threat of unheard-of “gestures” of “mercy” that would undermine the moral edifice of the Church to the great harm of souls, whose salvation is at stake. Among these gestures would appear to be a post-synodal apostolic exhortation authorizing the admission of public adulterers to Holy Communion according to the judgment of individual bishops or episcopal conferences. This would mean nothing less than mass sacrilege, the practical destruction of the Church’s unity, the de facto abolition of the doctrine on mortal sin and the requirement of the state of grace for a sacramental life, the collapse of the Church’s moral teaching, and ultimately a surrender of her very claim to an infallible Magisterium. One has the sense of a nearly apocalyptic turn of events in the history of the Church.
We dare not judge your subjective motives or intentions concerning what you have said and done to the Church’s detriment in the course of a turbulent pontificate unlike any the Church has ever seen. But we cannot remain silent in the face of the objective harm the Church has already sustained, to the world’s endless praise for “the people’s pope,” or the further harm that now appears imminent.
To recall once again the words of your predecessor, a pope must exercise his power to “bind himself and the Church to obedience to God’s Word, in the face of every attempt to adapt it or water it down, and every form of opportunism.” When a pope is unable or unwilling to pursue that end, when in fact he seems determined to act against it, would the Church not be better served if he relinquished the most august office of Vicar of Christ? Better this than to risk a fatal compromise of the Church’s doctrine and discipline, subverting 2,000 years of apostolic and ecclesiastical tradition and incurring, to quote the famous formula employed by Pope Saint Pius V, “the wrath of Almighty God and of the Blessed Apostles Peter and Paul.”
December 8, 2015
Feast of the Immaculate Conception