Maltese Bishops Go To The ‘Amoris laetitia’ Zoo: Disaster… inexcusable nonsense… green-lighting sacrilege


aka – The Maltese Fiasco


Earlier today I had a great misfortune to read a statement from the Bishops of Malta which is a complete disaster.  I was going to post about it tomorrow, but canonist Ed Peters beat me to it and… he nails it with his usual amazing skill.   For the document in the official English version supplied by the Bishops of Malta from their website: HERE

Peters doesn’t have a combox, but I do… and the moderation queue is ON.

The Maltese disaster

The bishops of Malta, in a document that can only be called disastrous, repeatedly invoking Pope Francis’ Amoris laetitia,have directly approved divorced and remarried Catholics taking holy Communion provided they feel “at peace with God”. [As he said… disaster.] Unlike, say, the Argentine document on Amoris which, one could argue, left just enough room for an orthodox reading, however widely it also left the doors open for abuse by others, the Maltese bishops in their document come straight out and say it: holy Communion is for any Catholic who feels “at peace with God” and the Church’s ministers may not say No to such requests. [Did you get that?] In my view the Maltese bishops have effectively invited the Catholics entrusted to them (lay faithful and clergy alike!) to commit a number of objectively gravely evil acts. That their document was, moreover, published in L’Osservatore Romano, exacerbates matters for it deprives Vatican representatives of the ‘plausible deniability’ that they could have claimed (and might soon enough wish they could claim), as it becomes known that the Maltese bishops went beyond what even Amoris, if interpreted narrowly, seemed to permit.

For now, I make just a few points.

1. The Maltese bishops have fallen completely for the canonically and ecclesiologically false view that an individual’s assessment of his or her own readiness to receive holy Communion (see c. 916) controls a minister’s decision to administer the sacrament (see c. 915). In Malta now, anyone who approaches for the sacraments should be recognized as being “at peace with God”. Objective evidence to the contrary is simply no longer relevant. Canon 916 is thus eviscerated, Canon 915 is effectively repudiated.  [These bishops are in serious danger of eternal perdition because of what they have done.]

2. The Maltese bishops do not seem to know what the word “conjugal” means. They think that non-married people can practice “conjugal” virtues and that they can decide about whether to engage in “conjugal” acts. Nonsense and, coming from bishops, inexcusable nonsense at that. Non-married people can have sex, of course, but Catholic pastoral integrity does not hold such sexual acts on par with the physically identical, but truly conjugal, acts as performed by married persons.

3. The Maltese bishops, by extending their document to the sacrament of Reconciliation, have basically instructed their priests not to withhold absolution from a divorced-and-remarried Catholics who refuse to repent of their “public and permanent adultery” (CCC 2384) even to the point of abstaining from sexual (nb: sexual not “conjugal”) relations. Incredibly, such a directive raises the specter of green-lighting sacrilegious confessions and the commission of solicitation in confession. No priest should want either on his conscience, let alone both.  [No bishop in the world could compel me to do that.  I hope the priests of Malta do not imperil their souls.]

4. The Maltese bishops even managed to take swipes at Baptism and Confirmation by opening the door to divorced-and-remarried Catholics serving as godparents contrary to the expectations of Canon 874 § 1, 3º. See CLSA New Comm (2001) 1062-1063.

There are other serious problems with the Maltese document but the above should suffice to show why it is, quite simply, a disaster.

If you read that rubbish document, note the juxtaposition of “situations” and “ideals”.

This is going to turn into a war if not worse.  Different countries different practices.

What will become of the unity of the Church if in one country any unrepentant sinner with the official blessing of the bishop and, when you cross the border into another country, you still need a firm purpose of amendment to be absolved and public scandal must be avoided.

Does that sound like two different Churches?

UPDATE 14 January:

My friend Fr. Martin Fox, a frequent commentator here, has observations at his blog Bonfire of the Vanities.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Joe in Canada says:

    Some of it’s not even English. ” to substitute their conscience.” Perhaps the whole thing is just a translation nightmare from the original whatever they speak there when they’re not speaking English?

  2. Supertradmum says:

    Having been to Malta for extended visits six times and having many friends there, including priests, I can tell you that some priests will disagree with this. The liberal hierarchy include the same who have forbidden a regular TLM on the islands.

    Sadly, many of the laity have been badly catechized and the charismatic renewal has taken over true Catholic spirituality in many parishes.

    The bishops have been weak against the government as well. This statement above is in keeping with the attitude of Maltese bishops for a long time…..

  3. Charles E Flynn says:

    Technically, is it possible to “be at peace with God” without believing in Him or a single thing He has ever revealed?

  4. un-ionized says:

    I had thought that Malta was supposed to be on of those last bastions of the Church, at least I thought I had read that even from people posting here. Was I dreaming?

  5. thomas tucker says:

    Wow. Where have all of these bishops come from? It truly boggles my mind that there seem to be so many bishops who no longer uphold the Catholic Faith. Now, what these bishops are officially approving is what laypeople have been doing themselves for years by going up to receive Communion after civil divorece and remarriage without an annulment. But for these bishops to say it is licit is a whole other thing! Essentially, they have discarded the entire annulment process and left everything up to the individual conscience. Is formal approval of that where the Church is going?

  6. bombcar says:


    Road to Hell -> paved with good intentions
    Hell itself -> paved with bishop skulls

    Pray for our bishops!

  7. dholwell says:

    St. Michael the Archangel,
    defend us in battle.
    Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
    and do thou,
    O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
    by the power of God,
    thrust into hell Satan,
    and all the evil spirits,
    who prowl about the world
    seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

  8. Benedict Joseph says:

    As repugnant as the document undoubtedly is, it does fuel the march toward the inevitable, though regrettable, confrontation with the reality at hand. Is there any doubt as to what is coming? Has there been since March 2013 – one might even say since February 11, 2013. While we can’t be precise regarding the nature of the climatic event, it is coming and without the grace of God it will not be well.
    Members of the episcopate have revealed themselves boldly to be unfaithful to the clear teaching of Jesus Christ and the perennial Magisterium of the Church. At least they didn’t mince words. They didn’t lie about their position — but one wonders how you would characterize their moral position during the last forty or fifty years. (Does keeping your contrary position to yourself amount to real assent to the faith?) We know that just because they said it doesn’t make it true. What is true is that these bishops have denied facets of the faith without ambiguity. We know unequivocally with whom and what we are dealing.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    un-unionized, are you kidding? Over the six years, church attendance has lowered, only 40% of the so-called 100% Catholic population go to Sunday Mass; same sex civil marriages were approved in 2014; divorce passed in 2011; and abortion laws have been constantly brought up in the parliament by the liberal politicians; and all the parties have been infected by socialism.

    In addition, the TLM is banned and only one parish is allowed to have it for the public.

  10. hicks says:

    Amoris Laetitia’s Communion for the Divorced and Remarried was only a foot in the door. The Maltese bishops are simply helping to bring the whole wicked project to its maturity: which is the death of Catholic moral teaching at least in so far as it is taught by our Church and lived by the majority of her members. It will remain God’s Holy and unchanging law, but His Church will have turned Her back on it. Where do we possibly go from there? If I’m wrong, then Pope Francis will condemn the Maltese bishops swiftly and clearly. I would be happy to be proven wrong.

  11. Amante de los Manuales says:

    The prophetic words of Bishop Sheen come to mind:

    “He [Satan] will set up a counter-church, which will be the ape of the Church, because he, the Devil, is the ape of God. It will have all the notes and characteristics of the Church, but in reverse and emptied of its divine content. It will be a mystical body of the Antichrist that will in all externals resemble the mystical body of Christ.”

  12. CharlesG says:

    As expected, the whole idea that the divorced and remarried would only be allowed communion in very particular cases after long discernment with a confessor has gone out the window, and subjective malformed conscience trumps all, as Cardinal Cupich openly proclaimed during those horrible synods and as was likely the intention all the time. Why don’t the Pope and the bishops see that this path will overturn all Christian moral teaching? Do they want the Church to become like mainstream Protestant churches that have abandoned Christian morality completely and shrunk into irrelevance? Lord have mercy on Your Church!

  13. faithandfamily says:

    “What will become of the unity of the Church if in one country any unrepentant sinner with the official blessing of the bishop and, when you cross the border into another country, you still need a firm purpose of amendment to be absolved and public scandal must be avoided.”

    As sad and disruptive this decision by the Maltese bishops is, it only furthers the disunity that has been present in the Church since Vatican II. On a lower level, priests have preached, and counseled within the confessional, many heterodox beliefs over these many years, which have led Catholics astray, with no disciplinary action from their bishops. I have lost count of the discussions I have had with family members, attempting to turn their beliefs and actions back to the Church, only to be told that my claims of what the Church teaches are simply opinions I get from my priest, as their priest has told them something completely contrary. What is taking place now is simply an emboldened hierarchy, who have left the shadows to actively spread errors which were heretofore ignored or supported through their silence and inaction.

  14. revueltos67 says:

    Gee, that didn’t take long at all once they got the ball rolling…

  15. alexmarison says:

    Why is 915 treated like some ancient tradition that has been divinely revealed? The fact is that the part of 915 in question here is only 30 years old. [So what?] In the 1917 CIC, there was no mandate for a priest to judge who was publically unworthy for Communion. That is brand-spanking new. [So what? Apparently the lawgiver thought that conditions had changed.] Anlittle history: Before Familiaris Consortio, the divorced and remarried were ipso facto “infamous” – and if they persisted in cohabitation, they were to be punished with excommunication or personal interdict. Now, the canon concerning the Eucharist merely said to not admit those who were manifestly infamous, excommunicated or under interdict. But FC changed all that. No longer were was divorce and remarriage to automatically punished by Canon Law. [BTW… Canon Law says that couples need the bishop’s permission to separate.] A new directive was given to priests: to discern situations and be personally responsible for saying who receives and who doesn’t without any mention in canon law of a reserved sin or situation. On the other hand, FC said that – despite being allowed to overlook the adutleries of divorce and remarriage and living and raising children with another partner in violation of the rights of one’s lawful spouse – they were to automatically judge one particular adultery in an otherwise excusable remarriage: namely, sex. It seems no one was bold enough to actually write this in canon law, so it was just given as a separate instruction. [This is turning into word salad.]

    Anyway, as you can see, the instruction is completely arbitrary and can easily be done away with without prejudice to canon law as written. So why blame Pope Francis? Your beef is with Pope John Paul II and FC and his 1983 Revision of Canon Law. That’s who opened the door. Francis simply walked through it. Think of FC and AL as 2 parts of the same reform, spread out over 35 years to reduce the shock to Catholic culture it might cause in some places among some people. Francis could’ve waited longer, too, and forgone furthering the reform, as JPII and BenXVI did, but I guess he cared more about the poor families, especially children, who were suffering than the sensibilities of the sanctimonious. [Absurd.]


  16. Gilbert Fritz says:

    Fr. Z; any chance this is just a poor translation of a bad but not horrific document?

    [No. It is not a bad translation.]

  17. jfk03 says:

    I find this exceptionally disturbing. The Lord has assured us that the gates of hell will not prevail. Pray to Him to put someone at the helm, and soon.

  18. yatzer says:

    I am wondering how a Maltese priest could refuse to participate in this travesty without being forced out of the priesthood. Faithful priests everywhere should be in everyone’s prayers.

  19. Gus Barbarigo says:

    “In Portugal, the dogma of the Faith will always be preserved etc.”…But in Malta, evidently not. It seems the 2017 Chastisement (following Fatima) might be right on schedule.

    Also, the quotes, according to St. Peter’s List:
    “The road to Hell is paved with the bones of priests and monks, and the skulls of bishops are the lamp posts that light the path.”

    – or –

    “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts.”
    St. John Chrysostom attributed.

  20. Matt Robare says:

    I guess I need to exercise some prudence and avoid church news and the temptation to despair.

    Come, O Holy Ghost, fill the hearts of Thy faithful and kindle in them the fire of Thy love.

    Send forth Thy spirit, and they shall be created.

    And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth.

    Let us pray.

    O God, Who hast taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the gift of the same Spirit we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations, through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

    St Peter, Prince of the Apostles, pray for us.

    St Paul, pray for us.

    St Athanasius pray for us.

    St Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.

    St Edmund Campion, pray for us.

  21. jhayes says:

    The final numbered paragraph gives the bishops’ outlook

    14. In order to avoid any cause for scandal or confusion among the faithful (see AL 299), we must do our utmost in order to inform ourselves and our communities by studying and promoting the teachings of Amoris Lætitia. This teaching requires us to undergo a “pastoral conversion” (EG 25). Together with the Pope, we do understand those who would prefer a “more rigorous pastoral care”, but together with him, we believe that “Jesus wants a Church attentive to the goodness which the Holy Spirit sows in the midst of human weakness, a Mother who, while clearly expressing her objective teaching, ‘always does what good she can, even if in the process, her shoes get soiled by the mud of the street’” (AL 308).


    [You quoted the wrong paragraph. Why?]

  22. dupledge says:

    Next we will see a push for optional celibacy and female ordination. Oh! Wait! That’s the German solution currently. I await the time when unbaptised are invited up to communion. This, of course, will only come once same sex couples are invited.

  23. MacCheese says:

    Surely this is a trial balloon?

  24. acardnal says:

    As I so often respond to Fr James Martin’s, SJ, Tweets: “anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.” – Jesus

  25. rbbadger says:

    The Archbishop of Malta, Archbishop Charles Scicluna,, was the promoter of justice of the CDF. In that role, he oversaw the prosecution of Fr. Marcial Maciel, LC as well as others. Archbishop Scicluna studied canon law under Raymond Cardinal Burke, who was the supervisor of his doctoral dissertation. He really should know better. For someone who studied canon law under Burke, there is no excuse.

  26. Orlando says:

    Martin Luther has finally won. He’s conquered Rome. We’ve are in the wilderness now. Time to double down and support our brave orthodox Bishops and Clergy, because what is coming there way will be fierce. The prince of darkness is winning and he knows it. While our Lady will surly crush his head again, that outcome is not in doubt, many souls will be lost because of the ever growing cancerous heresy. PRAY AND GO TO CONFESSION for the hour is near.

  27. tzard says:

    Has anyone not thought things like this would be a natural outcome of Pope Francis’ call for decentralization.

  28. Hilda says:

    So divorced-remmardied persons have to be at peace with God to get Holy Communion but they still cannot be married again.
    Does that means that in Church there is something higher than being at peace with God ?

  29. Phil_NL says:

    Don’t forget that Malta is a tiny country. It has just two dioceses, and in many other countries it would have been a single one, if that. (

    And that means it takes just 2 silly bishops for something like this. Moreover, since they run such an insular shop (literally, of course, by also metaphorically), they’ll likely feel few inhibitions to do as they please. I would not be surprised if several other smaller conferences would do something similar. Probably one solid bishop on the table can (by raiding a mighty firestorm) cause the others to say that it isn’t worth the trouble, but if there are so few bishops on that table to begin with, chances of that happening are slim. It’s not as if good bishops are that thick on the ground.

  30. Jean-Luc says:

    God have mercy on us! And this is happening in one of the most catholic countries in the world, where prior to May 28th, 2011 divorce was not even allowed! Who will pretend now that the 5 dubia are irrelevant?
    Let bishops and priests rise to confess the Faith! The Church is now facing a doctrinal and moral crisis as serious as the Arian heresy.
    The many bishops and cardinals who secretly agree with the four cardinals, four heroes of the Faith, can no longer remain silent; they have to speak loud. Humanly speaking they have a lot to lose, it’s true, but what about losing their soul if by their silence they were to condone such aberrations?

  31. Traductora says:

    I first read of this late last night and it kept me awake all night with a feeling of impending doom. Unless Francis open and publicly rejects this, we’ve reached the point of no return in the division of the Church. And I think it’s highly unlikely that he would reject it, since I can hardly imagine that a document like that, which furthermore cites AL constantly, could have been prepared without Vatican knowledge.

    Also, I think it’s no coincidence that this happened at this moment and in this place, Malta.

  32. Hugh says:

    Horrific stuff.

    In the early ’90s a priest friend (convert from Anglicanism) summed up the situation of the Church even then: “If it’s not the Great Apostasy, it’s a damn good imitation.” [His other great line was re. the New Mass: “Valid. Licit. Thoroughly Unreliable.”]

    So, Great Apostasy or not, what does it matter? On our knees! And in their faces! NEVER SURRENDER. Christus Imperat!

  33. Kerry says:

    On reading the Maltese cage liner.

    Calvin: “I’ve got the Calvinball! Everybody else has to go in slow motion now!”
    Babysitter: “Wait a minute Calvin, I don’t…”
    Calvin: “You have to TALK in slow motion too. Liiike thiiss.”
    Babysitter: “Thiiss gaaame maaakes nooo sennnse. It’sss aaas iiif you’rrre maaakiiiing iiiit uuuup aaaas yoooooou goooo alooonnnng.”
    Calvin: “Hobbes! She’s stumbled into the perimeter of wisdom! RUN!”

  34. Cornelius says:

    I don’t understand why some secular news outlets are reporting this as the Maltese Bishops going beyond even what the Pope wrote in AL. It seems to me this is exactly what he wants and encouraged in AL.

    I don’t know what form a divine intervention to correct this will take, but I cannot see this madness continuing for long without it.

  35. Cornelius says:

    I don’t think it’s a balloon, nor a mere trial, though I get your point. It’s not even a whiff of grapeshot. It’s more like an artillery round fired right into the barque of Peter, with the faithful of Malta its first casualties.

  36. The Masked Chicken says:

    It just has to be said that the bishops are turning the celebration of the Eucharist in that country into Malta Meal.

    [Note: this joke may only be appreciated by those of a certain age who were raised in the United States]

    P. S. In Germany, during WWII, many Germans could not speak out against Hitler for fear of reprisals, so they invented a type of coded speech called, “whisper humor.” Most people have, probably, heard that when a person went to the bathroom, they would often say that they were, “going to phone Hitler,” for example. I suspect we may need to develop whisper humor in the Church, before long.

    The Chicken

  37. tcreek says:

    Jorge Bergoglio was ordained to the priesthood in December 1969.
    . . . “from some fissure the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God.” Pope Paul VI, 1972.

  38. kiwiinamerica says:

    These bishops are in serious danger of eternal perdition because of what they have done.


  39. jhayes says:

    Fr. Z wrote: You quoted the wrong paragraph. Why?

    When I saw your comment, I thought I might have made a mistake in copying and pasting, but a check shows that is the correct text of paragraph 14 of the bishops’ document (14 is the final numbered paragraph).

    Do you feel there is a different paragraph that gives a better insight into the bishops’ outlook?

    [To get better insight into their outlook? Of course!]

  40. Joe in Canada says:

    This is the first concrete application of the Holy Father’s teaching that some of the baptized might not be able to live according to God’s commandments, and those people should be allowed to receive Holy Communion anyways. There are lots of possibilities – birth control, homosexuality, teen and pre-marital sex – and then the non-sexual life -, murder, theft, etc. We can imagine the same situation with the sin changed. God’s grace is no longer sufficient. At least Luther knew what state he was in without God’s grace. We’ve gone further.

  41. Didacus says:

    I do not know about Portugal…

    The bishop of Leiria-Fátima has right from the beginning said that communion for adulterers is permitted under AL.

    The Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon has firstly declared that he could not interpret the document differently from Traditional doctrine and practice. However, last monday he gave a conference in a parish (Santa Isabel) and acknowledged that, after the Pope’s letter to the bishops of Argentina confirming their guidelines, he was made to think otherwise and believed AL intends to allow communion for adulterers and obedience to the Pope is required. Nota bene: this was his reading of AL, not his opinion on what the rule should be.

  42. hwriggles4 says:

    I actually found out about this yesterday afternoon via Yahoo News. I can’t remember if it came from the Associated Press, Reuters, or another secular news outlets. My MAIN concern is the average Sunday Catholic who has a sixth grade level education in his or her faith (I walked in these shoes for years) will read it and assume that Church teaching has changed overnight.

    I have a good permanent deacon at my parish who has not been afraid to caution the congregation about getting Church news from secular sources. That needs to be more emphasized from the pulpit by priests, transitional deacons, and permanent deacons.

  43. Tom A. says:

    Francis boasted that he was most likely the one who would split the Church in two. It looks like he has succeeded. Is it really such a bad thing? I say let them go. Christ did not chase after those who could not accept His hard teachings. He let them go.

  44. rwj says:

    Cardinal Muller says no confusion in Amoris…

    Maybe this will astonish him as much as the dubia and their author’s that foresaw this logical conclusion?

    2017, what a year you will be! Bring it on!

  45. Athelstan says:

    There are a number of observations which could be made – and Ed Peters has made some very good ones – but we must say this, too: The bishops of Malta have submitted a complete and unconditional surrender to the Sexual Revolution.

    I’m rather surprised to see the first across this bridge so publicly was Archbishop Scicluna. Apparently I did not know him so well as I thought.

  46. Andrew says:

    One episcopal motto attached to the document reads: fidelis et verax. The other one has: in fractione panis. That is “faithful and true” and “in the breaking of the bread”.

  47. Y2Y says:

    “Anyway, as you can see, the instruction is completely arbitrary and can easily be done away with without prejudice to canon law as written. So why blame Pope Francis? Your beef is with Pope John Paul II and FC and his 1983 Revision of Canon Law. That’s who opened the door. Francis simply walked through it. Think of FC and AL as 2 parts of the same reform, spread out over 35 years to reduce the shock to Catholic culture it might cause in some places among some people. Francis could’ve waited longer, too, and forgone furthering the reform, as JPII and BenXVI did, but I guess he cared more about the poor families, especially children, who were suffering than the sensibilities of the sanctimonious. ”

    What absolute horse manure. Smoke much weed?

  48. TNCath says:

    I can’t help but thinking about Cole Porter’s song “Anything Goes” from the musical of the same name.

    Trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube now will be impossible, just lik guitar Masses, altar girls, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, and the LCWR. It won’t matter what any future pope, bishop, or priest says to those who see Amoris Laetitia as a “Get Out of Sin Free” card. So many people have already ignored the Church’s teachings long before the Synod or this document came out because a large number of bishops chose to ignore their duty to teach the Faith to their people after Humanae Vitae came out. We are now entering the third generation of Catholics who neither know or understand fundamental teachings of what it means to be a Roman Catholic.

    Unfortunately, I’m beginning to think a persecution, purgation, and eventual schism may be the only way to ultimately preserve the One True Faith. I’m afraid it’s only going to get worse before it gets better. Miserere nobis.

  49. FrPJ says:

    Feeling “at peace with God” as the key to open the door to sacramental Communion?! Please!!!! As St Josemaria Escriva wrote, the heart is the most deceptive of all things. Feelings are not just unobjective, they can be downright deceitful. How many times have we pastors encountered people doing very sinful things yet feel they can ignore the very words of Christ and St Paul, sometimes on the flimsiest of excuses? Consciences can be euthanised by “feelings”. That is why Scripture urges us to proclaim the truth of the gospel “in season and out of season.”
    My apologies for any offence to Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, but I have a new name for Malta: LaLa Land!

  50. un-ionized says:

    Matt, God has everything under control.

  51. Bender says:

    Awful, a disaster, scandalous — all these yes. But this continued and practically exclusive narrow focus on civilly remarried divorced people — who in real life go up for Communion or do not go up regardless of what anyone tells them — notwithstanding the centrality and hugely importance of the Body of our Lord in the Eucharist, is not helping. Communion for the remarried is merely the effect, the application of that which is the true disaster.

    It is the rationale of AE, the arguments put forth to seemingly justify a pre-determined outcome on a narrow issue, which is the real scandal because it basically undermines the entirety of the Church, the faith, and the truth and love. The real scandal is the way that it logically suggests that there is no real error or evil ever, or if there is, it is of little consequence since no one can ever be responsible for it.

    That leads to anything goes, including killing yourself, helping others to kill yourself, killing others, and so on. It leads to the thinking that the Good News is really Bad News, that what Jesus teaches us as light to show the way in the darkness is too harsh and bright for our eyes and that we best avoid it. It leads to seeing Church teaching not in the incredibly simple terms that any child could understand, but in a highly legalistic way that requires mental and spiritual gymnastics to figure anything out and even then not being sure because it requires a never-ending process of “discernment.” It leads to asking Father a simple question and getting a complex answer; it leads to “Can I please get a simple answer to my question?? A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’,” and being told, “No you can’t get a simple answer, but instead you have to endure this long period of discovery in a fog of gray because there are no black and white answers except for those hard-hearted Pharisees,” and then, adding insult to injury, being told we should “rejoice” at such an answer. It leads to people finally saying, “To hell with it all,” not only walking away from the confessional since there is no need to confess if you ultimately are not responsible, but walking away from the Church to go try to find light and truth elsewhere.

  52. thomas tucker says:

    The more I think about it, the more surreal this seems to me. This document is essentially saying that one is free to follow one’s own desires, regardless of objective teaching and regardless of how poorly formed one’s conscience may be. And yet, the Vatican claims that Church teaching hasn’t changed. We are left with a situation in which there is doctrine, but in practice one is free to ignore it and do whatever one wants. A valid marriage is indissoluble, for example, but you are free to decide on your own if your marriage was valid and can be ended. The reality will be that no marriage is indissoluble.
    The fact that this was published in L’Osservatore Romano implies that it has the approval of the a Pope. And if that is the case, then Pope Francis has utterly failed in his duty to safeguard sound doctrine and maintain unity.

  53. Benedict Joseph says:

    The dubia just got answered.
    There is no longer an iota of ambiguity regarding the nature of what has befallen us. The “men” who comprise the episcopate had best now rise to the occasion, meet this obscenity and call it for what it is or what is left of Roman Catholic credibility is pulverized.
    Do they really believe the Maltese action is legitimate? Regard the martyrs who went to their death upholding the faith in the face of Henry’s disparagement of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Weep. No more Thomas More to extol. You have betrayed his courageous witness.
    Do they believe the revelation of Jesus Christ metamorphosizes before the face of secular sexual materialism?
    Do they now hold themselves accountable for teaching “error” for two thousand years?
    One wonders what will happen if some creative lawyer develops a stratagem for suing the Church and its clergy for pastoral malpractice. Think of all the “psychological harm” inflicted upon innumerable generations with Catholic superstitious notions about the indissolubility of marriage. This could be quite lucrative for the right barrister. We know that from experience, don’t we.
    We are led by thoughtless peer pressured boys. Men held captive in protracted adolescence. It is appalling.
    We stand betrayed.

  54. This is bad, and I will say so (indeed, I already have said so) very publicly. But we must all choose our words and actions carefully. Above all, pray and do not let anything dislodge your confidence in the promises of the Lord, which can never fail. He will win the final victory, have no doubt!

  55. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    It should be noted that Donald Wuerl has been saying exactly the same thing for years: the would-be communicant is the final authority. E.g., Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, etc.

    Blase Cupich has taken the same position with regard to public adulterers and “gay couples.” He said the only role of the clergy is to “respect that”–i.e. the decision of the would-be communicants.

    Malta is another domino–but the last four Popes have been ignoring the identical heresy for 40+ years.

  56. hicks says:

    Malta’s sacrilege was just published in the Vatican newspaper, so I guess any hope of Pope Francis rejecting this interpretation are of course over. No surprise, as he wanted this all along, I have no doubt in my mind.

  57. dans0622 says:

    alexmarison: your comment has a few errors. Canon 855 of the 1917 Code is the predecessor of c. 915. It said those who are of public bad repute and the notoriously unworthy must not be admitted to Communion. Further, Familiaris consortio predates the 1983 Code and did not change anything of previous discipline. Excommunication related to merely civil marriage was removed in the 1970s.

  58. Ann Malley says:


    “…I guess he cared more about the poor families, especially children, who were suffering than the sensibilities of the sanctimonious.”

    I guess, amid all this caring, especially for poor families who are already suffering from sin, especially the children, he believes that withholding the truth of Catholic Faith and Morals is somehow charity. A charity that precludes the truth which subsequently reinforces erroneous belief. And, golly, will pave the road for an understanding that the Truth is not charity anymore, but an obstacle for mercy. (Odd how the Lord God, the Truth, can now be considered by those who work for Him as an obstacle to His own mercy. CCC 675. Bears reading, Alex.)

    And, of course, the poor children of first marriages, those who are often with the lawful spouse who has been abandoned, MUST be tossed under the steamroller to grease the way for the mercy train. It’s not quite being thrown into the fiery belly of Moloch, but you get the idea. Eggs must be broken. And those with delicate sensibilities that feel any glint of conscience for those innocents, not to mention the clarion call to tell the truth, had just better stop beating up on those who want to make everything easier.

    Of course, we’ll dismiss the reality that making things easy is often the worse lesson for the poor, suffering children. Why? Life is not easy. Not at all. But they will never learn. Nobody wants to teach them. Not their parents. Not their priests. Not, it seems, even the Holy Father. So, what to do with teachers who refuse to reach, like salt that loses its savor? Hmmm.

  59. Bender says:

    About Wuerl and conscience and Communion — yes, he does not want to play “Communion cop,” but that does not mean he is giving the green light to anyone and everyone to come up. Instead, he is saying to people, “Grow up. Have an adult faith. The burden is on YOU to form your conscience and make moral decisions, not for me to make them for you.”

    Wuerl on conscience

    Unfortunately, and to great consequence, in our individualist and secular culture there is wide confusion about the meaning of “conscience.” For example, some people think of conscience as a subjective feeling, “I don’t feel bad about what I’m doing, so it’s OK,” they say. Some attribute autonomy and unassailable supremacy to the individual conscience over and above any objective moral principles. The result is a conception of right and wrong that descends into people simply doing whatever they want to do, rather than what they ought to do. We now have generations being raised today who were told over and over again that their wishes are basically the norm for right and wrong. * * *
    More than mere intellectual knowledge, conscience is the voice of the Holy Spirit within our hearts. Thus, conscience is not the same as one’s opinions, feelings, or personal will – it is not a mere device for making exceptions to objective morality. The Catechism teaches that moral conscience is “a judgment of reason” that enjoins the human person “at the appropriate moment to do good and to avoid evil. * * *
    Now, it is one thing to know that deep within our human nature is a quiet, strong voice urging us to do good and avoid evil. But when we come to specific actions that require the determination of whether the given action is good or evil, we also recognize that we need information.
    In a fallen world where error abounds and people are all too easily led astray by voices other than God, conscience needs formation if its conclusions are going to truly reflect God’s plan for us. In other words, we need to be taught what is right and what is wrong, what is good and what is bad.
    Where do we find this guidance as we make our way through life? * * *
    The task of the papacy, the task of the Magisterium, the teaching authority in the Church, is to preserve and point to the truth so as to inform consciences.

  60. Bender says:

    Wuerl on Communion for the remarried

    The Church continues to love and care for those who divorce . . . They are full members of the family, and the Church wants them to experience the full measure of God’s love and mercy. And as long as they do not remarry, they are eligible to receive the Eucharist.

    “The Marriage God Wants for You,” p. 56

  61. Jim Dorchak says:

    FR Z
    Do you feel with “AL”; looking past the scam, the faults of the fall out found in its ambiguity etc, that its precipitation will give weight to a demand for a NEW VATICAN COUNCIL or VIII? Thereby making NEW dogma out of the evil that is now just pastoral care? (as if there could be NEW DOGMA?)

    [No. The Dubia submitted can easily be answered by the Holy Father or the CDF at the direction of the Holy Father. This doesn’t require a Council.]

  62. SenexCalvus says:

    At what point in the conversation should heresy be called heresy?

  63. Jim Dorchak says:

    What I was alluding to was, is the Holy Father going to use all this fall out to weigh in with an new and improved VIII to impose more sin on the Church. It is my concern that it will open up the necessity in the modernists eyes as leverage for them to “Change Dogma” with the blessing of a VIII?
    Just asking and trying to look down the chess board a little into the future. Jim

  64. Benedict Joseph says:

    “What will become of the unity of the Church if … “
    Would it not now appear more than obvious that unity with protestants is far more important than maintaining unity among Roman Catholics?
    “…in one country any unrepentant sinner with the official blessing of the bishop and, when you cross the border into another country, you still need a firm purpose of amendment to be absolved…”
    Let us recall Cardinal Kasper “not saying” of the African episcopate “they should not tell us too much what we have to do,”
    “… and public scandal must be avoided.”
    What’s another scandal?
    I certainly don’t mean to make light of what is upon us, but maybe we have to acknowledge that there is a whole parallel “kirche” that boldly doesn’t give a hoot about the concerns of us who frequent websites like this. They would prefer we disappear and they are counting on it coming to pass.
    There is a nasty reality sandwich sitting before us.
    We are expendable in the eyes of a fair number of men in high places. There are more than a few of us who have confronted this painful reality within the Church and paid for it with our vocation. It is a bitter pill, but it is very real.

  65. jhayes says:

    Bender, the +Wuerl statement on conscience is recent (October 2016) but the statement on Communion for the divorced is from July 2015, before the second session of the Synod and Amoris Laetitia.

    Of course, it is still correct that people who divorce and do not remarry are eligible to receive the Eucharist, but even in 2015, that didn’t mean that all people who divorced and did remarry were ineligible. Under some conditions, they could be eligible if they lived as brother and sister. I suspect +Wuerl just decided not to get into that level of detail at that point.

  66. Wretched sinner says:

    We certainly have Bishops who are unafraid to stand against the world, and against Francis, whose mind has seemimgly been captured by the spiritus mundi… More and more, the laity will stand against it as well. We must always pray for our Pope, but now is the time to earnestly pray for a new, and doubtless very different, St. Catherine of Siena…

  67. Filipino Catholic says:

    The schism is beginning. This is abject and outright mutiny, and the bishops that did this ought to be thrown overboard from the Barque of Peter.

  68. SenexCalvus says:

    Here are two of my favorite sentences from the Maltese bishops’ instructions:

    “On the other hand, there are complex situations where the choice of living ‘as brothers and sisters’ becomes humanly impossible and give [sic] rise to greater harm (see AL, note 329).”

    “Forgiving an injustice suffered and endured is far from easy, but grace makes this journey possible (see AL 242).”

    Can anyone explain to me why God’s grace is inefficacious in the former case but efficacious in the latter? Does it suffice in some situations but not others?

    I’m also curious what the bishops mean by the phrase “with an informed and enlightened conscience.” By what would such a communicant’s conscience have been “informed and enlightened”? The words of Jesus or those of the Maltese bishops? The unbroken Tradition of the Church or the Zeitgeist? Canon Law or the Oprah Bookclub? Reason or lust? The example of the English Martyrs or that of Henry VIII?

  69. Rod Halvorsen says:

    As a convert observing what the Church has become to the un-Churched, I’d ask that Catholics have a special amount of compassion on Protestants who 1} think the Catholic Church teaches no absolutes and 2} think the Catholic Church has changed Her teaching on Hell, Islam, Marriage/Divorce/Remarriage, Communion, Other religions/Religious indifferentism, Universalism, Freemasonry, Socialism/Communism, EENS, the “dignity” of homosexuals and the inerrancy of Sacred Scripture over the last 50 years.


    Well, it should be obvious….but for those who don’t get it, when an ex-Pope himself says EENS was “abandoned” after Vatican 2 and teaching on the rest of the above topics is so variable and diverse among Catholic parishes and dioceses with ZERO discipline being exercised in policing same, just how in the world can one justifiably expect a NON-Catholic to have a CLUE what the “Catholic Church teaches”?

    I steered clear of the Catholic faith for literally decades because of nonsense like Koran-kissing and other displays of valueless disbelief and I simply believed the “Church” had no values, scruples, beliefs or truly held dogmas. As a result of a lifetime spent studying the Bible and the doctrines of Protestant ecclesial groups, by the grace of God {a well worn expression, but one that truly fits} I finally gave the teachings of the Church a view, and found the Truth.


    Having said that, after 4 years of life in the Church I can completely understand why non-Catholics have no idea what the Catholic Church teaches and in fact think the “Church” teaches that which the “Church” most decidedly does not. In fact I see just as much diversity in belief and teaching among Catholics as I did among Protestants. And now we are seeing it play out at the highest levels as well.

    Chaos everywhere, and predominantly effeminate and gutless prelature seemingly helpless in the face of it or worse, in support of it.

    May God bless the work of the 4 Cardinals and the others who are in support of them. And may they be men unafraid to do what needs to be done to purify the Church when the day comes. At least with this Pope’s antics we now have the line drawn and the sides pretty clearly made manifest.

    CCC 675
    CCC 1697
    2 Thessalonians 2:1-12

  70. Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick says:

    Bender: Spare me. Wuerl has been ignoring Canon 915 for decades. Each and every time Canon 915 is ignored, it is grave matter. That’s right. A mortal sin.

    You can call it being a “Communion cop.” You can come up with 50,000 “cute” characterizations. But you can’t change the fact that each and every violation of Canon 915 is grave matter.

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  72. Semper Gumby says:

    Thank you Dr. Peters and Fr. Fox.

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