So that you don’t miss it, I provide below an explanation of the Holy Father’s oft cited and puzzling maxim “time is greater than space”. Don’t miss it.
A young writer at the increasingly helpful – and descriptive – Crisis in a new must-read offering penned:
No happy bromides about non-condemnation can erase Christ’s fifteen warnings about Hell. No heady defense of sin, no tangled jargon on “time” and “space,” can theorize the Four Last Things out of existence.
How often do I remind you here of the Four Last Things? And why? Because it’s my task to try to keep as many of you out of Hell as possible. Put another, happier way, to help as many of you as possible to heaven.
Let’s look at this great piece at Crisis with my usual treatment:
Amoris Laetitia and the Four Last Things
Hell—St. Teresa of Avila told her nuns to mentally visit the inferno during life so they would not be imprisoned in it after death. St. John Vianney sighed because the saints, who were so pure, cultivated holy fear while “we, who so often offend the good God—we have no fears.” [I will sometimes ask people to imagine the first 10 seconds of a soul’s experience in Hell.]
At last month’s Rome Life Forum, Cardinal Burke recalled Fatima’s “terrifying vision of Hell, foreshadowed in the evils visited upon the world at the time.” That chilling image evokes a warning from Fr. Charles Arminjon’s The End of the Present World [US HERE – UK HERE]:
Remove the fear of eternal punishment from mankind, and the world will be filled with crime… Hell will simply happen sooner: instead of being postponed until the future life, it will be inaugurated in the midst of humanity, in the present life.
In Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis announces: “No one can be condemned forever, because that is not the logic of the Gospel!” (297). [I’d like to think that the Holy Father meant to add “… in this life.”] Josef Seifert warns that it’s “nearly unavoidable” to deduce a denial of Hell—a fear echoed by others. Anna Silvas notesAmoris Laetitia’s “missing” lexicon of eternity: “There are no immortal souls in need of eternal salvation to be found in the document!” [We’ve seen here before. HERE That’s worth a review.]
But papal ghostwriter Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez is ebullient with joy because, as he declares in a 1995 article, “I rely firmly upon the truth that all are saved.” The author of Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art of Kissing, Fernandez elsewhere rhapsodizes that extra-marital sex can express “ecstatic” charity and “Trinitarian richness.” [BLECH… I’m not linking that.]
And Fernandez the papal ghostwriter—as Michael Pakaluk and Sandro Magister have shown—repeatedly plagiarizes his previous work in Amoris Laetitia. For instance, Fernandez’s 2006 declaration that “Trinitarian” love can be “realized within an objective situation of sin” is echoed in Amoris Laetitia 305. [Can it? I wonder. I doubt it.]
Last September, the four cardinals submitted their dubia out of grave concern for “the true good of souls.” They’ve now published a letter from April requesting an audience with the pontiff—who has not responded.
As the months of papal non-engagement grow, Pope Francis’s maxim that “time is greater than space” feels increasingly ominous. Fernandez—whose cited and uncited work also appears in Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium—has long claimed that we’re in an age of revolutionary “time.” [What just popped into my head was the phrase “perpetual revolution”. On the issue of the phrase “time is greater than space”, see what I add at the end.]
In his book The Francis Project, [Not linking that either.] Fernandez laments that conservative “fanatics” can’t accept that the “Spirit”—which can “elude the supervision of the institution of the Church”—is leading us “toward a different phase.” It’s a phase where, apparently, God is “Mother” and “you should follow your conscience” and “a pope who tells us that God wants us to be happy on this earth will never ask us to be obsessed with sacrifice.” It’s a phase where, to quote Pope Francis, the Church isn’t “obsessed” with abortion or sexual ethics either.
It’s a phase where, to quote Evangelii Gaudium, “time is greater than space”—where “initiating processes” in politics and the Church advances a “utopian future” with “no possibility of return” (222). It’s a frankly eerie “final cause”—“the greater, brighter horizon of the utopian future … which draws us to itself” (222). [Brrrrrrr!]
So “time” and the “Spirit” are the utopia’s shining protagonists. Time lets reformers “work slowly but surely” (EG 223). Time lets each “region” seek its own “solutions” because “not all … doctrinal, moral, or pastoral issues need to be settled by … the magisterium” (AL 3). Eventually, the “Spirit … overcomes every conflict by creating a new … synthesis” (EG 230), enabling us “to see all things as he does” (AL 3).
Silvas senses here the “gnostic spirit of the cult of modernity”:
I think ‘the spirit’ to which Francis so soothingly alludes has more to do with the Geist of Herr Heigel … [which] manifests itself in the midst of contradictions and oppositions, surmounting them in a new synthesis…
We are in a world of dynamic fluidity here, of starting open-ended processes, of sowing seeds of desired change that will triumph over time. Other theorists—you have here in Italy, Gramsci and his manifesto of cultural Marxism—teach how to achieve revolution by stealth.
Hence a revolution through an “incremental change of praxis” across time. [Creeping Incrementalism] Slowly, inexorably, “region by region, bishops around the world begin to ‘interpret’ Amoris Laetitia” subversively—“to a point of no return.” Buenos Aires, Rome, San Diego, the Philippines, Malta, Germany, Belgium, and Sicily have one by one embraced Communion for those in adultery—with some areas earning direct praise and thanks from the pontiff.
The four cardinals’ April letter told Pope Francis how “painful” it is to see “that what is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta.” Fernandez, for his part, has proudly claimed that Pope Francis goes “slowly” because he’s “aiming at reform that is irreversible.”
So eternity must yield to “time”; the Four Last Things—death, judgment, Heaven, and Hell—must be swallowed up by the sparkly worldly utopia. Silvas sees the “end game” as “a more or less indifferent permission for any who present for Holy Communion”:
And so we attain the longed-for haven of all-inclusiveness and “mercy”: the terminal trivialization of the Eucharist, of sin and repentance, of the sacrament of Matrimony, of any belief in objective and transcendent truth, the evisceration of language, and of any stance of compunction before the living God.
A long, subversive march through the Church [“march”?… perpetual revolution?] —synced to the “siren song” of “accompaniment,” the mellifluous music of “mercy.”
At the Rome Life Forum, Cardinal Burke preached Fatima’s prophetic message of saving souls from “mortal sin and its fruit: eternal death.” He preached prayer, penance, reparation, and Marian consecration; he preached that pastors’ “failure to teach the faith” endangers souls “mortally, in the deepest spiritual sense.”
Cardinal Caffarra starkly described the world’s present attempt to place Christ and his gospel on “trial.” He described an Evil One who utters “banalities about man,” who seduces man into sin out of sneering “contempt.” The cardinal quoted Dostoyevsky’s Grand Inquisitor before Christ: “You judge of men too highly … they are born slaves … I swear to you that man is weaker and lower than You have ever imagined him to be!”
Cardinal Caffarra imagined Satan taunting God with an “anti-creation,” a sin-soaked hell on earth: “And man will say: it is better in the alternative creation than in your creation.” It’s precisely what Fr. Arminjon described—Hell irrupting into the present life, Hell happening early because mankind scoffs at its eternal reality.
No happy bromides about non-condemnation can erase Christ’s fifteen warnings about Hell. [No wonder some Jesuits say that we can’t know what Christ really said, because they didn’t have tape recorders.] No heady defense of sin, no tangled jargon on “time” and “space,” can theorize the Four Last Things out of existence. Cardinal Burke calls us to battle for the eternal salvation of souls; Cardinal Caffarra calls us to testify for Christ and his gospel—currently on trial.
More about that phrase, “time is greater than space”. What’s that all about?
Tracey Rowland explains this in her terrific recent book Catholic Theology. She wrote that this is an element of the Pope’s:
… ‘People’s Theology’. One of the most extensive articles on this subject is Juan Carlos Scannone’s ‘El papa Francisco y la teologia del pueblo’ published in the journal Razón y Fe. 86 In this paper Scannone claims that not only is Pope Francis a practitioner of ‘People’s Theology’ but also that Francis extracted his favourite four principles – time is greater than space, unity prevails over conflict, reality is more important than ideas, and the whole is greater than the parts – from a letter of the nineteenth-century Argentinian dictator, Juan Manuel de Rosas (1793– 1877) sent to another Argentinian caudillo, Facundo Quiroga (1788– 1835), in 1834. These four principles, which are said to govern the decision-making processes of Pope Francis, have their own section in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and references to one or other of them can be found scattered throughout his other papal documents. Pope Francis calls them principles for ‘building a people’. A common thread running through each of these principles is the tendency to give priority to praxis over theory. [Read that again… priority of praxis over theory. Remember my comments that, right now more than ever even in the 80’s and 90’s, “pastoral” is used as a weapon against “doctrine”, “intellect”, “academics”, even “magisterium”, and certainly “law”.] There is also a sense that conflict in itself is not a bad thing, that ‘unity will prevail’ somehow [Hegel?] and that time will remove at least some of the protagonists in any conflict. The underlying metaphysics is quite strongly Hegelian, [yep] and the approach to praxis itself resembles what Lamb classified as ‘cultural-historical’ activity and is associated primarily with Luther and Kant rather than Marx. Professor Loris Zanatta of the University of Bologna has published an article entitled ‘Un papa peronista?’ in which he makes the claim that Pope Francis has used the word pueblo or people some 356 times in his papal speeches, that Pope Francis believes that poverty bestows upon people a moral superiority, and accordingly, that for Pope Francis, the ‘deposit of the faith’ is to be found preserved among the poor living in ‘inner city neighbourhoods’. Such a reading situates Pope Francis squarely in the territory of Scannone’s ‘People’s Theology’.
Rowland, Tracey. Catholic Theology (Doing Theology) (Kindle Locations 4240-4257). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Friends, if you want to understand more about Pope Francis, you should obtain this book as soon as possible.
Some of you will ask…
“What must we do? What is our role in this Battle?”
First, examine your lives and consciences and GO TO CONFESSION.
Next, lay people, start forming your own “base communities”, in which you read together and study the classics and the solid documents of the Church’s perennial Magisterium. Do not lie down mute before heterodox teaching: ask questions. If you aren’t satisfied with the answers, ask the questions again.
Pray and offer mortifications for your pastors and each other. Offer acts of reparation for the sins of priests and bishops who act like hirelings.
Embrace our traditional devotions and our traditional sacred liturgical worship.
Be ready to suffer. Ready yourself for the Cross. Be willing to stay on that Cross as long as it is offered. Get your head into a mental place where, when the suffering comes, you will have the interior resources to bear it.