The Right Stuff
December 22, 2016
As the Roman Catholic Church continues its pitiful descent from the pre-eminent institution in Western Civilization into a glorified NGO, its internal debates are easier and easier to ignore. That four prominent cardinals recently issued a formal Dubia (a request for clarification) regarding Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia has received scant attention from the secular press.
When it is mentioned at all, Amoris Laetitia itself—a radical departure from traditional Catholic doctrine regarding marriage, divorce, and access to the sacraments—is generally portrayed as part of the inevitable “progress” of the Church towards a kinder, gentler Catholicism, more in harmony with the modern world. Pope Francis remains one of the most popular figures in the world, with approval ratings that would make even Vladimir Putin envious.
Within Catholic circles, however, the matter of the Dubia is practically the only story worth following these days. Despite its façade of tranquil piety and mind-numbing bureaucracy, the Vatican has always been a cauldron of political and theological intrigue. The time-honored tradition of romanitas—a sort of Borgian ruthlessness conducted under a code of omertà—has governed Vatican politics for nearly two millenia. Many inside the Church, for example, knew full well that there were organized networks of satanic pederasts that had infiltrated the chanceries and seminaries in the years following Vatican II, but it wasn’t until the secular press broke the story that the Church began speaking openly about it. Even so, a full accounting has never been made and likely never will be.
Thus, when the four cardinals went public with their concerns over Amoris Laetitia, it represented a significant break from the traditional rules of combat. An escalation, you might say. Watchful people took notice. What could this mean?
Supporters of Pope Francis, who was installed by a group of modernists clerics that calls itself the St. Gallen Mafia, took to Twitter, creating sock accounts to denounce the four Cardinals as “heretics and schismatics,” using charged language from the Lord of the Rings to describe them as “witless worms.” Some suggested that they could be de-frocked for their insolence. So much for romanitas in the age of social media. Francis himself stepped up his efforts to remake the Curia in his own image, removing prominent traditionalists from key positions and elevating sympathetic liberals in their place. Meanwhile, he has steadfastly refused to answer the Dubia, displaying an appalling rudeness and lack of pastoral responsibility. The policy of St. Peter’s successor is ecumenism and apologies for all… except, it seems, for those who cling to Catholic tradition.
At any rate, it seems clear that the long cold war within the Church has gone hot. As always, the outcome of this war within the Church will have significant implications for Western Civilization as a whole.
At the heart of the Dubia and Amoris Laetitia is the Catholic concept of sacramental marriage. Now, sacramental marriage in the West has always had its quirks. It is not truly “eternal,” in the same way as, say, traditional Hindu marriage, where wives would voluntarily self-immolate after the death of their husbands. Since the Reformation, sacramental marriage has taken hit after hit. Arranged marriages gave way to romantic matches. Women were ushered into the workforce and away from their traditional roles as mothers and home-makers. Mainline Protestant denominations, which as recently as 50 years ago were united with the Roman Catholic Church in opposing contraception and divorce, now fully embrace the modern, concepts of “family planning” and marriage as a vehicle for personal happiness. Today, marriage has essentially the same legal and moral status as a cellular phone contract. Inconvenient but not impossible to break, it exists for the pleasure and fulfillment of the husband and wife (or husband and husband or wife and wife). Children are optional.
In fact, the only prominent institution that continues to resist romantic-hedonic marriage is the Roman Church. So naturally, this has to change. Enter Amoris Laetitia.
The practical effect of Amoris Laetitia is to make it easier—perhaps even commonplace—for divorced and remarried Catholics to receive communion. Much of the trouble arises from a single footnote, allegedly added by Francis himself:
“Because forms of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin – which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such – a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.
“In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, “I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium [24 November 2013], 44: AAS 105 , 1038). I would also point out that the Eucharist “is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak” (ibid., 47: 1039).”
Now, it must be said that divorced Catholics have always had access to the sacraments, provided that they live ‘in a state of complete [sexual] continence.” (Familiaris Consortio, Pope John Paul II, 1984.) Thus one cannot claim that Amoris Laetitia is merely an opening up of the nourishment of the Eucharist for those who have been divorced. Instead, it represents a fundamental change in the conditions of access to the sacraments (i.e., the removal of the requirement for sexual continence). How else can one explain this except by concluding that the Pope also wishes to change the nature of Catholic sacramental marriage?
Indeed, the potential damage goes far beyond marriage and to the nature of the sacraments themselves. If, as the document suggests, it possible to live in an objective situation of sin and still receive the sacraments, how then can the Church justifying denying them to, say, atheists or Buddhists? To apostates? To practicing homosexuals or pederasts? Amoris Laetitia, in its desperation to extend the unhappy legacy of Vatican II, de-Catholicizes the sacraments and elevates “personal conscience” over the teachings of the Magisterium and doctrine itself. There is a word for this. That word is “Protestantism.”
I mean no offense to my Protestant brothers and sisters, but ecumenism has its limits. In terms of its liturgy, its theology, its politics, its sense of the divine, its catechesis, and its understanding of human nature, the post-conciliar Church is already closer to Martin Luther than to Pope Gregory the Great. This mirrors what the post-Catholic theologian Hans Kung reportedly told Cardinal Bea at the outset of the Council, when the Cardinal fretted over the possibility of schism: “You misunderstand, Eminence. We don’t intend to leave this time. This time, we will stay and the Church will change according to our plan” (reported by Fr. Malachi Martin, Cardinal Bea’s chief advisor at the council).
It is virtually axiomatic on the Right to say that “the family is the basic building block of society.” And indeed the facts support this—divorce is the common thread linking a host of social problems. Women whose parents divorced are themselves 60% more likely to divorce than the general population. Divorce has the characteristics of a virus (or a generational sin) in that it is self-propagating. Untreated, it soon infects the entire body of society.
But why should any of this matter to the Alt Right, to Protestants, atheists, Neopagans, and esoteric Kekists? All we care about is saving our race and securing the future for our children, right?
It matters because politics is downstream from faith and culture.
Consider the state of our people: we are marrying later and later, having fewer children, divorcing more often, and sterilizing ourselves at alarming rates. As a voting bloc, single white women are nearly as devoted to the Democratic party as urban blacks. The children of divorce are more likely to be liberal, atheistic, single, and emotionally damaged. Pornography has proliferated to such an extent that it is virtually ubiquitous. As many as one in four girls is a victim of sexual assault (a number that will surely increase as the Mohammedans enter our countries in large numbers).
Young people growing up in this toxic stew report that it is increasingly difficult to make a good marriage. With so many damaged people around, who can blame them for “opting out?”
Now, it would be foolish to blame all of this on the decline of sacramental marriage. In many respects, it is simply part of the inexorable descent into what René Guénon called the “pit of quantity” that characterizes virtually every field of human activity in this Kali Yuga.
But if we truly believe that the family is the basic building block of society, then is it any wonder that our enemies have made it their chief target? Their vision has always been clear: a society of atomized, interchangeable economic units completely divorced, you might say, from any larger purpose. Marriage, for such a people, could not be anything OTHER than a tenuous economic alliance between taxable entities. A society that indoctrinates its children from the earliest possible age that life is a quest for happiness and “personal fulfillment” cannot simultaneously expect them to stay in “difficult marriages.” And as any married person will tell you, ALL marriages are difficult.
See through this lens, Amoris Laetitia represents a greater threat to marriage (and therefore to a healthy society) than even the “homosexual union” movement. Why? Because it is the complete capitulation of the last cultural bulwark for sacramental marriage to the culture of personal fulfillment. It is one thing for the secular Left to continue to modify our laws to favor homosexuals and for homosexuals to mock the institution of marriage from the outside. It is quite another for the Church to abandon 2,000 years of doctrine in a pontifical footnote.
The stakes couldn’t be higher, which explains why we have seen an escalation of the internal war in the Vatican over the matter. The modernists sense an opportunity for a decapitation stroke, while embattled traditionalists understand that if they lose this one, there may be no coming back.
If politics is downstream from culture and theology, then it follows that our struggle for the political well-being of our people is secondary to the spiritual war being waged against them. Amoris Laetitia represents a major escalation in that spiritual war. As such it matters gravely to us all.