Last week, our Lord did one last kindness for His loyal servant, Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal. God let His Eminence die.
Besides sparing the 86-year-old prelate from days, months, or years of deteriorating mind, body and faculties, our loving Father took him to his eternal reward before an avalanche of disturbing questions, debates, and pressures descended upon him from near and far.
What about? Something called a “filial correction.” The25-page “Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagates,” by its full Latin title, is a document signed by more than 60 theologians and clergy around the world asking Pope Francis to disavow certain statements, actions and omissions that, in the signatories’ view, propagate heresy.
Not hearsay, but heresy — beliefs or assertions going against doctrines and other teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Huh? The Holy Father is contradicting the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church?
It’s unthinkable, but that is the considered opinion of the Catholic scholars and consecrated persons, including two bishops, who have signed the correction so far.
And as more and more of the faithful learn of the so-called correction, countless believers, including fellow princes of the Church, would have asked Cardinal Vidal for his opinion and guidance.
Mercifully, he is now in an ethereal place where divine truths imparted by Jesus Christ are not debated, but clearly and fully known with absolute certainty, thanks be to God.
What the Correctio corrects
Here on earth, however, the man in white and those in red, black or tweed don’t have the Author and Source of Truth around to end their disputations on His teachings. So we now have a filial correction on the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation on family morals, “Amoris laetitia.”
What supposed heresies are the five dozen professors, priests, and a pair of prelates asking Francis to correct? Here’s a layman’s paraphrasing of the seven allegedly heretical assertions:
1. There are commands of God that people cannot obey even with His grace.
2. A divorced Christian, whose Church marriage is not annulled or ended by the spouse’s death, does not commit mortal sin even if the Christian and another partner live as husband and wife.
3. A believer can commit a grave violation of divine law knowingly and willfully, yet not have mortal sin.
4. A person following God’s commandment can sin against Him.
5. A person’s conscience can rightly determine that sexual relations with someone other than one’s spouse in a valid Church marriage, could be a morally righteous act or even a request or command from God.
6. In moral truths and laws contained in divine revelation, there are no absolute prohibitions of certain acts.
7. Our Lord Jesus Christ wants the Church to set aside its millennia-old rules of denying communion at mass and absolution in confession to divorced Catholics who live with new partners as husband and wife, without their Church marriages being annulled.
The filial correction also lists many established Church teachings, which the heresies are said to contradict. We list below seven tenets, one for each of the heresies contravening them.
1. Council of Trent, section 6, canon 8: “If anyone says that the commandments of God are impossible even for a man who is justified and established in grace, let him be anathema” (DH 1568).
2. “Jesus said to them [disciples}: Whosoever shall put his wife away and marry another, committeth adultery against her. And if the wife shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.” (Mark 10:11-12).
3. Council of Trent: “If anyone says that a justified man, however perfect he may be, is not bound to observe the commandments of God and of the Church but is bound only to believe, as if the Gospel were merely an absolute promise of eternal life without the condition that the commandments be observed, let him be anathema” (DH 1570).
4.“The law of the Lord is unspotted, converting souls.” (Psalm 18:8).
5. Council of Trent: “If anyone says that the Church is in error for having taught and for still teaching that in accordance with the evangelical and apostolic doctrine, the marriage bond cannot be dissolved because of adultery on the part of one of the spouses … and that the husband who dismisses an adulterous wife and marries again and the wife who dismisses an adulterous husband and marries again are both guilty of adultery, let him be anathema” DH 1807.
6. Pope St. John Paul II, Veritatis splendor, 115: “Each of us knows how important is the teaching which represents the central theme of this Encyclical and which is today being restated with the authority of the Successor of Peter. Each of us can see the seriousness of what is involved, not only for individuals but also for the whole of society, with the reaffirmation of the universality and immutability of the moral commandments, particularly those which prohibit always and without exception intrinsically evil acts,” DH 4971.
7. Familiaris consortio, 84: “Reconciliation in the sacrament of Penance, which would open the way to the Eucharist, can only be granted to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage.”
Man must obey God, period
To sum up these tenets, the filial correction asserted that man must obey all of God’s commandments, as conveyed through Christ, including the prohibition on adultery, spoken by Jesus Himself. Violating this commandment is a mortal sin, and those who persist in illicit sexual relations cannot receive forgiveness and the Eucharist.
As with past letters on the same issue, including one sent by four leading Cardinals, Pope Francis has declined to comment, while theologians, priests, bishops, and Cardinals have defended him and lambasted his critics.
So, what should the faithful do? Discuss, debate and decide, based on one’s conscience, or follow the Pope, no questions asked? Let’s talk about that next week.