True Discipleship under Pope Francis - what are your options?



Fr. Dwight Longnecker is a priest I have long admired, read and followed. He is orthodox, honest & forthright. Not afraid to stand up for the faith. I was interested to read his blog today, in which he basically attacks those who are being pushed into sedevacantism by Pope Francis. 'Is that a thing?' you may legitimately ask. Well, there's loads of it out there, as Fr. Dwight remarks in his post:
As increasing numbers of conservative Catholics become impatient with Pope Francis, I’m afraid this dilemma is becoming more acute. I hear rumblings and grumblings about the Pope, about Amoris Letitia and just about everything else, and the grumblings are becoming increasingly sour and nasty.
But what are you going to do, become a sedevacantist? Good luck with that.
In fact, if you’re so fed up with the pope you should make that choice. Is he the pope or not?
Conservative Catholics need to face the truth. Francis is the Pope. Get used to it and get busy being Catholic.
You think Pope Francis is so bad? Read some church history. Pope Francis is not so bad.
Do you think there are heretics, traitors and weaklings amongst the clergy, the curia and the cardinals? Have you read the New Testament? Do you remember Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, Paul’s persecution of the church?
The church, from bottom to top is made up of saints and sinners. We’re all a work in progress, and we should get on with what God has given us to do. We should stop fussing about the pope and biting our nails over the headlines saying he did this or he did that and we should do what we can with what we have where we are.
That’s what the saints have always done. They’ve rolled up their sleeves and by God’s good grace have done what they can with what they have where they are.
You see, its real easy to sit on the sidelines and grumble about the ref. It’s harder to get out there and play the game.
My own personal opinion is that Pope Francis is my pope. Do I like Benedict XVI better? I do. That’s ok. Its okay to have a preference.
Can I listen and learn from Pope Francis? Sure. He’s my pope. Can faithful Catholics criticize the pope? Sure. That’s also part of being Catholic.
We’re a big Italian family. We fight sometimes. That’s how we love each other.
So pass the pasta and pray for your pastor.
This is the sort of post I was writing a couple of years ago. Pope Francis isn't as bad as the Borgias, we've had much worse popes than this! Let's just get on with the work of evangelisation and forget about it.

Now I'm not sure that is the right approach, or even possible. I see huge damage being done by Pope Francis, and I see that damage moving the Church consistently away from the deposit of faith and towards something new and "progressive" which seeks to accommodate all kinds of modern ideas which I have always believed were diametrically opposed to Catholic belief.

If we fail to stand up for Christ now, when Pope Francis is opposing His teaching so very clearly, how can we expect Him to stand up for us in front of His Father (c.f. Matthew 25:31-46).

So if we are dismayed by Pope Francis and his minions, is our only option sedevacantism? I don't think it is at all. But we do need to put our big girl pants on and take some responsibility for the faith we claim to hold and teach.

One Peter Five has this interview with Catholic historian, author, and speaker Professor Roberto de Mattei. I think his position is much more appropriate.

"Dr. Maike Hickson: But how can this situation be resolved?

Roberto de Mattei: It will not be men who save the Church. The situation will be resolved by an extraordinary intervention of Grace, which however must be accompanied by the militant commitment of faithful Catholics. In the face of this present crisis there are some who think that the only thing to do is to wait for a miracle in silence and prayer. But it is not like this. It is true that we need a divine intervention, but grace builds on nature. Each of us ought to do the maximum that we can according to our ability."
...

"Dr. Maike Hickson: The 2016 letter with which Pope Francis gave his approval to the guidelines laid out by the pastors of Buenos Aires was published in Acta Apostolicae Sedis, with a note written by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Parolin, according to which the Pope himself wanted the two documents – the guidelines and the letter – published in AAS.

Roberto de Mattei: The fact that the guidelines of the Argentine bishops and the approval of the Pope have been published in AAS has made it official that “no other interpretations are possible” of Amoris Laetitia other than that of the Argentine bishops, which authorizes communion to be given to those divorced and remarried people who are in an objective state of mortal sin. The letter was private, but the publication in AAS transforms the position of Pope Francis into an act of the Magisterium. It seems to me that this confirms the thesis expressed by Fr. Giovanni Scalese in his blog, according to which we are entering into a new phase of the pontificate of Pope Francis: moving from a pastoral revolution to the open reformulation of doctrine.

Pope Francis’ discourse of October 11 [2017], on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the new catechism, seems to call for the beginning of a reinterpretation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the light of Evangelii Gaudium and Amoris Laetitia."

MH: In a recent essay, in light of how Luther is now being reinstated within the Catholic Church, you stated: “In short, every Catholic is called upon to choose whether to side with Pope Francis and the Jesuits of today, or be alongside the Jesuits of yesterday and the Popes of all time. It is time for choices and to meditate precisely on St. Ignatius’ two standards (Spiritual Exercises, n. 137)* which will help us make them in these difficult times.” Would you explain these words a little more to our readers, not only in light of the question of Luther, but also in light of Amoris Laetitia?

RDM: There are moments in our life and in the history of the Church in which one is obligated to choose between two sides, without ambiguity and compromise. The Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius and theology of history of Saint Augustine in The City of God do nothing other than emphasize the Gospel maxim according to which “no one can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other or love the one and hate the other” (Matthew 6:24). Seen in this light, the recent publication in AAS of the letter of Pope Francis to the bishops of Buenos Aires reduces the matter to two diametrically opposed positions. The line of thinking of those cardinals, bishops, and theologians who maintain that it is possible to interpret Amoris Laetitia in continuity with Familiaris Consortio 84 and other documents of the Magisterium has been reduced to dust. Amoris Laetitia is a document which serves as a litmus test: it must be either accepted or rejected in toto. There is not a third position, and the insertion of Pope Francis’ letter to the Argentine bishops [into AAS] has the merit of making this clear.

MH: There are those who deny that the publication of the letter to the Argentine bishops is an act of the Magisterium, because it proposes an erroneous, if not heretical, position.

RDM: Whoever thinks this, it seems to me, begins with a false premise: the idea that the pontifical Magisterium can never err. In reality the guarantee of inerrancy is reserved to the Magisterium only in specific conditions, which are clearly spelled out in the Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus of Vatican I. The existence of errors in the non-infallible documents of the Magisterium, including the pontifical Magisterium, is possible, above all during periods of great crisis. There can be an act of the Magisterium which is both authentic and solemn, but erroneous. This was the case, for example, in my opinion, with the declaration Dignitatis Humanae of Vatican II, which, apart from its pastoral character, is undeniably a Magisterial act and almost certainly contradicts the doctrine of the Church on religious liberty, in at least an indirect and implicit way.

This confirms what I have been thinking for sometime. How can good priests and bishops continue to cite Pope Francis when his teleology is now clear (further to the BA Bishop's guidelines being posted in AAS)? By this action, the Pope has asserted quite plainly, that an reading of Amoris Laetitia in keeping with the Magisterium is not what he intends.

I can't entertain thoughts of sedevacantism, it makes no theological sense to me that God would allow His Church to become so abandoned. It must remain a visible sign, the inn in the parable of the Good Samaritan. But I can accept that unscrupulous men will usurp and manipulate God's Church and provoke bring about contradictory directions when they abandon the Gospel. I know enough of my faith to be able to discern that and to refuse to follow that direction.


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