It may surprise some people who pay attention to such things that apparently there are members of the Roman Catholic Church who are not necessarily fans of Pope Francis.
Every day we are being drowned in news about “Pope” Francis and the Vatican machinery. The incessant flood of information is becoming increasingly difficult for everyone to process, which means it is easy for stories to get missed.
Such was apparently the case with a real bombshell Francis dropped on February 26, 2017 while visiting an Anglican parish church in Rome. Virtually everyone seems to have missed it. What happened? During a Q&A session in which Francis was answering people’s questions off the cuff, he related an anecdote about ecumenical practice with Anglicans in his homeland of Argentina.
Have a look at what Francis said, and don’t forget to close your mouth afterwards:
And then, there is my experience. I was very friendly with the Anglicans at Buenos Aires, because the back of the parish of Merced was connected with the Anglican Cathedral. I was very friendly with Bishop Gregory Venables, very friendly. But there’s another experience: In the north of Argentina there are the Anglican missions with the aborigines, and the Anglican Bishop and the Catholic Bishop there work together and teach. And when people can’t go on Sunday to the Catholic celebration they go to the Anglican, and the Anglicans go to the Catholic, because they don’t want to spend Sunday without a celebration; and they work together. And here [at the Vatican], the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith knows this. And they engage in charity together. And the two Bishops are friends and the two communities are friends.
I think this is a richness [treasure] that our young Churches can bring to Europe and to the Churches that have a great tradition. And they give to us the solidity of a very, very well cared for and very thought out tradition. It’s true, — ecumenism in young Churches is easier. It’s true. But I believe that – and I return to the second question – ecumenism is perhaps more solid in theological research in a more mature Church, older in research, in the study of history, of Theology, of the Liturgy, as the Church in Europe is. And I think it would do us good, to both Churches: from here, from Europe to send some seminarians to have pastoral experience in the young Churches, so much is learned. We know [that] they come, from the young Churches, to study at Rome, at least the Catholics [do]. But to send them to see, to learn from the young Churches would be a great richness in the sense you said. Ecumenism is easier there, it’s easier, something that does not mean [it’s] more superficial, no, no, it’s not superficial. They don’t negotiate the faith and [their] identity. In the north of Argentina, an aborigine says to you: “I’m Anglican.” But the bishop is not here, the Pastor is not here, the Reverend is not here . . . “I want to praise God on Sunday and so I go to the Catholic Cathedral,” and vice versa. They are riches of the young Churches. I don’t know, this is what comes to me to say to you.
(“Pope’s Q & A at Anglican All Saints Church”, Zenit, Feb. 27, 2017; underlining added. Original Italian at Vatican web site here.)
Wow. Anglicans worship with “Catholics” and “Catholics” with Anglicans because they “want a celebration”, as though sacred worship were about them and not about God primarily. (To see what God thinks of unauthorized worship, even if not heretical, have a look at the demise of Core in Numbers 16; cf. Jude 11.)
Does Francis condemn this practice? Does he denounce it as offensive to God, dangerous, and favoring the heresy of indifferentism? Of course not. No, it is clear from the words, the context, and the absence of a condemnation that he is effectively endorsing it, using it as an example of ecumenically “working together”, which he calls a “richness” (or “treasure”) that churches in Latin America can give to Europe! The man is an indifferentist and a Modernist through and through. This should make it even more clear now why Francis couldn’t have had the slightest bit of a problem with the Anglican evensong service that was recently performed in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Basilica. …
Notice also that he speaks of “church” and “churches” entirely without qualification, refusing to distinguish the true Church from Protestant sects. He does not have the Catholic Faith, which is why he cannot possibly be the “rock” on which Jesus Christ built His one and only true Church, “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Tim 3:15; cf. Mt 16:18-19) — the rock whose purpose is to confirm the brethren in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32), and who will never himself suffer shipwreck in it:
This gift of truth and never-failing faith was therefore divinely conferred on Peter and his successors in this see so that they might discharge their exalted office for the salvation of all, and so that the whole flock of Christ might be kept away by them from the poisonous food of error and be nourished with the sustenance of heavenly doctrine. Thus the tendency to schism is removed and the whole church is preserved in unity, and, resting on its foundation, can stand firm against the gates of hell.
(Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution Pastor Aeternus, Ch. 4; underlining added.)
By the way: In 1868, Pope Pius IX had something to say about the true Church of Christ versus the false churches of the Protestants:
Now, whoever will carefully examine and reflect upon the condition of the various religious societies, divided among themselves, and separated from the Catholic Church, which, from the days of our Lord Jesus Christ and his Apostles has never ceased to exercise, by its lawful pastors, and still continues to exercise, the divine power committed to it by this same Lord; cannot fail to satisfy himself that neither any one of these societies by itself, nor all of them together, can in any manner constitute and be that One Catholic Church which Christ our Lord built, and established, and willed should continue; and that they cannot in any way be said to be branches or parts of that Church, since they are visibly cut off from Catholic unity. For, whereas such societies are destitute of that living authority established by God, which especially teaches men what is of Faith, and what the rule of morals, and directs and guides them in all those things which pertain to eternal salvation, so they have continually varied in their doctrines, and this change and variation is ceaselessly going on among them. Every one must perfectly understand, and clearly and evidently see, that such a state of things is directly opposed to the nature of the Church instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ; for in that Church truth must always continue firm and ever inaccessible to all change, as a deposit given to that Church to be guarded in its integrity, for the guardianship of which the presence and aid of the Holy Ghost have been promised to the Church for ever. No one, moreover, can be ignorant that from these discordant doctrines and opinions social schisms have arisen, and that these again have given birth to sects and communions without number, which spread themselves continually, to the increasing injury of Christian and civil society.
(Pope Pius IX, Apostolic Letter Iam Vos Omnes)
A few years prior, the Holy Office under the same Pope had written a letter to the Puseyite Anglicans and reminded them that “all groups entirely separated from external and visible communion with and obedience to the Roman Pontiff cannot be the Church of Christ, nor in any way whatsoever can they belong to the Church of Christ” (Instruction Ad Quosdam Puseistas Anglicos, Nov. 8, 1865; italics added). So much for the Vatican II doctrine of “ecclesial elements” and “imperfect communion” that supposedly exists between the Church of God and the sects of man — but that’s another issue.
Assisting at the liturgical services of non-Catholics is a mortal sin and makes anyone who does so, suspect of heresy. This is clear from the Church’s Code of Canon Law (1917) and her moral theology:
It is not licit for the faithful by any manner to assist actively or to have a part in the sacred [rites] of non-Catholics.
(Canon 1258 §1)
Whoever in any manner willingly and knowingly helps in the promulgation of heresy, or who communicates in things divine [=assists at sacred rites] with heretics against the prescription of Canon 1258, is suspected of heresy.
It is unlawful for Catholics in any way to assist actively at or take part in the worship of non-Catholics (Canon 1258). Such assistance is intrinsically and gravely evil; for (a) if the worship is non-Catholic in its form (e.g., Mohammedan ablutions, the Jewish paschal meal, revivalistic “hitting the trail,” the right hand of fellowship, etc.), it expresses a belief in the false creed symbolized; (b) if the worship is Catholic in form, but is under the auspices of a non-Catholic body (e.g., Baptism as administered by a Protestant minister, or Mass as celebrated by a schismatical priest), it expresses either faith in a false religious body or rebellion against the true Church.
(Rev. John A. McHugh, O.P. & Rev. Charles J. Callan, O.P., Moral Theology: A Complete Course Based on St. Thomas Aquinas and the Best Modern Authorities, vol. I [New York, NY: Joseph F. Wagner, 1958], n. 964)
The Catholic prohibition against worship with non-Catholics is clear, then, both from a legal-canonical as well as a moral perspective.
In 1948, this prohibition was underscored once more through a canonical warning issued by the Holy Office specifically in the context of a rising interest in ecumenical (ha!) religious gatherings, which for Catholics were (and still are) strictly forbidden:
Mixed gatherings of non-Catholics with Catholics have been reportedly held in various places, where things pertaining to the Faith have been discussed against the prescriptions of the Sacred Canons and without previous permission of the Holy See. Therefore all are reminded that according to the norm of Canon 1325 § 3 laypeople as well as clerics both secular and regular are forbidden to attend these gatherings without the aforesaid permission. It is however much less licit for Catholics to summon and institute such kind of gatherings. Let therefore Ordinaries urge all to serve these prescriptions accurately.
These are to be observed with even stronger force of law when it comes to gatherings called “ecumenical”, which laypeople and clerics may not attend at all without previous consent of the Holy See.
Moreover, since acts of mixed worship have also been posed not rarely both within and without the aforesaid gatherings, all are once more warned that any communication in sacred affairs is totally forbidden according to the norm of Canons 1258 and 731, § 2.
(Holy Office, Decree Cum Compertum)
In the case of Francis’ practical endorsement of Anglican worship, there is more to it than a “mere” participation in false worship, however, because not only is the worship of Anglicans heretical, schismatic, and unauthorized, and therefore objectively odious in His sight (cf. Jn 4:24; Jude 11; Num 16), but any Anglican “Masses” are also invalid because all ordinations performed by the Church of England are “absolutely null and utterly void”, as declared by Pope Leo XIII in 1896:
Wherefore, strictly adhering, in this matter, to the decrees of the pontiffs, our predecessors, and confirming them most fully, and, as it were, renewing them by our authority, of our own initiative and certain knowledge, we pronounce and declare that ordinations carried out according to the Anglican rite have been, and are, absolutely null and utterly void.
(Pope Leo XIII, Bull Apostolicae Curae, n. 36)
Thus, Anglican “priests” are nothing but mere laymen dressed in fancy clerical robes. (The same theological principles which prove Anglican orders invalid, by the way, also prove Novus Ordo ordinations [after 1968] invalid.)
Pope Leo’s pronouncement, we might add, is considered infallible:
It belongs to a class of ex cathedral utterances for which infallibility is claimed on the ground, not indeed, of the terms of the Vatican definition, but of the constant practice of the Holy See, the consentient teaching of the theologians, as well as of the clearest deductions from the principles of faith.
(The Catholic Encyclopedia, s.v. “Anglican Orders”)
For all intents and purposes, then, Francis has endorsed active participation in non-Catholic, heretical, schismatic, and even invalid liturgical rites, for he has told his followers that assistance at an Anglican “Mass” is not objectionable but praiseworthy, and is licitly done at least whenever (what he considers to be) a Catholic Mass is not available.
Here we see once again that the real news is much more absurd than any fake news ever could be. You just can’t make this stuff up!
Indeed. So as someone raised Catholic who is now a member of the Episcopal Church I am now a heretic? Cool! (Of course, as a journalist I am a heretic anyway and undoubtedly going to Hell. So I’ve got that going for me too.)
The author of that hate-filled screed is not the reason I left the Catholic Church, but this writer certainly validates my departure. (Along with a certain bishop and his supporters.) I have my differences with the extreme liberalism of the Episcopal Church, but as someone given a brain and free will by God I would be no happier in today’s Roman Catholic Church, which is not really the church I was raised in.
It should be pointed out that there is no Biblical justification for papal infallibility, and that any church document is subordinate to the actual Word of God, which is spelled out quite clearly in the Gospels: (1) Love God, (2) love your neighbor as yourself. The writer may want to familiarize himself or herself with the second Great Commandment.