NCR Accuses Four Cardinals, à la Father Feeney, of Jansenism

Michael Sean Winters of National Catholic Reporter does not like black and white. He denies that black and white exist in moral and doctrinal Church teaching. He says that what does exist is the “grey.” Everything, outside of mathematics, is grey. He brings Cardinal Newman to the plate in his attempt to defend the grey with a home run. He may as well have taken issue with Jesus Himself for saying: “Let your words be, Si, Si, No, No.” Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus  is really “grey,” he suggests by implication, because, after all, non-Catholics can be saved outside the Church, even while explicitly rejecting the Church and its divine authority. Winters says that Cardinals Burke, Brandmüller, Caffarra, and Meisner have been disingenuous in their references to John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation, Familiaris Consortio. He says,”They believe that their way of reading the prior teachings of the church is the only way, even though the esteemed scholar of the theology of St. John Paul II, Rocco Buttiglione has again explained that Amoris Laetitia is in full continuity with the whole of the teachings of Familiaris Consortio, St. John Paul II’s prior apostolic exhortation of the same subject. The four cardinals focus on parts of that latter text, and neglect others.” Of course, Mr. Winters is quite self-confident in his inexcusably negligent avoidance of citing those black and white moral and pastoral truths handed down in Familiaris Consortio. 

Yes, deja vu Father Feeney. Not one word of the divine Christ’s law will pass away. Not one dogma defined by the Church will pass away. All will be justified, fulfilled. Definitions of the Church, by their very nature are “irreformable” (Vatican I). If they were not so, there would no binding of consciences from the Church’s divine infallible magisterium. Every Catholic (would there be “Catholics”?) would be free to wallow in the mire of the grey. Definitions of the Church are intended to clear up what was grey, in order to dissipate any doctrinal obscurities and set forth the sacred Apostolic Tradition in clarity, making truth “white” in clarity through affirmative propositions or making “black” what is untrue by means of negative condemnations (attaching the anathema).

Here is “grey” at its best, as proffered by Michael Sean Winters: “The problem, I think, [listen up now] is that the four cardinals believe Pope Francis is muddying the waters by reclaiming the church’s long standing teachings on conscience, on the difference between objective and subjective guilt, on the application of the church’s twin teachings on marital indissolubility and God’s superabundant mercy to the human details of a situation, that is discernment, and perhaps most especially, that the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect, the most Jansenistic of the positions put forward by the critics of Amoris Laetitia. [Malarkey! Quod gratis affirmatur, gratis negatur] They want to look upon the world through the lens of church teaching and see only black and white, but human lives are grey and when seen through the lens of church teaching, that human greyness should invite compassion not judgment from a Christian pastor. Their approach works for an accountant but not for a pastor.”

So, articulate, no? Well, I could go on and on. But, the liberals are dead giveaways when it comes to pious largesse. Some of them, like Winters, just exude pretentious sweetness: “For insisting on an unduly narrow interpretation of the doctrine that there is no salvation outside the church, Feeney found himself outside the church. Thanks be to God [ah, yes], he finally was reconciled in 1972, although he never formally recanted his interpretation of the doctrine.” “Thanks be to God”? Yes, indeed, because Father Feeney “never formally recanted his interpretation of the doctrine.” And how was he “reconciled?” All that was required to sweep the whole underhanded imbroglio under the rug was for Father Feeney to recite before his ordinary (or representative thereof) any definitive Catholic Creed he chose. Father chose the Athanasian Creed which begins: “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith except everyone do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.” Presto!

NCR: The case of the four cardinals and their five dubia has been well reported and garnered plenty of commentary. Cardinals Brandmüller, Burke, Caffarra and Meisner decided to publish their letter containing the dubia, openly challenging the pope to clarify parts of Amoris Laetitia that they find to be a source of confusion. The whole episode is painful and put me in mind of an earlier and similarly painful episode in the history of the Catholic church in the United States. Read full article here.