Daring Pope Francis to cross the Conservative line in the sand

Some conservative Catholics, especially the traditionalists, are unhappy that God chose a liberal Pope to lead His Church. They have been making snide remarks about the holy Pontiff, ever since he was elected. They have never permitted him to teach or correct them.

But long before Pope Francis, there arose in the Church a sentiment among conservatives that the true Church is only found among the conservative members. They see all liberals as having necessarily gone astray, merely by taking a liberal point of view on open theological questions. For their part, many conservatives have begun to decide open questions — theological questions on faith or morals which the Magisterium itself has not yet answered definitively — all on their own. They now treat many different points of theology as if the conservative answer is the only possible correct answer.

For example, the question of ordination of women to the diaconate is an open theological question. The document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis infallibly taught that Jesus did not give His Church the authority (or ability) to ordain women as priests or bishops. But the document left open the question of ordination to the diaconate. Nevertheless, many conservatives has since proclaimed publicly that women cannot be ordained to the diaconate. They falsely claim that the Church has decided the question, or they claim that the answer is absolutely clear from Tradition and Scripture. In advance of any decision of the Magisterium, they have decide the question as if their own consensus on the matter were dogmatic.

In another example, many traditionalists and conservatives have decided that atheists and agnostics must convert to belief in God to be saved, and that non-Christians who know about Christianity must convert to Christianity to be saved, and that prenatals, infants, and little children, who die without formal baptism (baptism with water), are denied entrance to Heaven. They decide these and many other questions having to do with salvation. On some points, the Magisterium already has a teaching to the contrary of their opinion, which they then explain away. On other points, the correct answer is implied by past magisterial teaching, again contrary to their claims. And yet they treat every point, as long as there is a consensus among conservatives or traditionalists, as if their own answer were a dogma.

So when the question of who may receive Communion arose at the extraordinary Synod of Bishops, many conservatives cried out against the possibility that the Pope and the Bishop, meeting at the ordinary Synod of Bishop (10/04/2015), might loosen the rules on who may receive. Now the rules for reception of Communion are discipline, not doctrine. But already many conservatives have publicly stated that a loosening of the rules on reception of Communion implies a rejection of dogma. I’ve already explained at length in previous posts why this is not the case.

Essentially, conservatives and traditionalists have drawn a line in the sand, before the Supreme Pontiff of the holy Catholic Church. They are daring Pope Francis and the liberal (and moderate) Bishops to cross the line. Already, they have sinned gravely in doing so. In their arrogance, they cannot imagine that their own opinion could ever be mistaken, not if it is the general consensus among conservatives. In their ignorance, they do not distinguish between a change of discipline (prudent or not) and a dogmatic teaching.

Jesus did away with the Mosaic death penalty for adultery, a discipline established by Divine Revelation. By doing so, He certainly did not deny the grave immorality of adultery.

And what will happen if Pope Francis does loosen the rules for Communion? Some will falsely accuse him of heresy. They will depart from the Church, creating a schism that will only deepen and widen as the months and years pass. The root of this schism? Arrogance and ignorance. If they were arrogance, but had a good understanding of theology, they would not object so strongly and would not depart from the Church. If they were humble, but with a poor understanding of theology, they could meekly learn from the Pope. But because they are ignorant and arrogant, they go astray.

The theory is that divorced and remarried persons are committing an objective mortal sin, so they cannot be permitted to receive Communion. Yet the Church has long permitted Orthodox Christians to receive Communion at Catholic Churches, despite the objective mortal sin of heresy and schism among the Orthodox. And the traditionalists have no objection when ultra-conservative schismatic groups (the current sede vacantists) say Mass and receive Communion; they don’t even object when those schismatic Bishops ordain priests. Certainly, the SSPX and similar groups are committing objective mortal sins of heresy and schism, as well as grave sins of scandal. And yet there is no outcry that they receive Communion.

Many Catholics, unfortunately, commit the objective mortal sins of contraception, abortifacient contraception, grave sexual sins, and heresy (by rejecting dogmatic teachings on a range of subjects). Yet I don’t see any conservative Catholics speaking out against their reception of Communion. I seem to be the only one.

What is happening here is that the issue of who may receive Communion has become a symbol of the differences between liberal and conservative Catholics. The conservatives are daring the Pope to take the liberal side of ANY ISSUE at all at the Synod. If he does, you will see a barrage of verbal attacks on his person and office, followed by a rejection of him as Pope. They will condemn him as if he were a heretic, and many conservatives (not all) will depart from communion with the Church.

Will they, thereafter, receive Communion? By their own standards, they should not. For the act of formal schism is a mortal sin, and it carries the penalty of automatic excommunication. It is hypocrisy for them to decry the reception of Communion by poor sinners, and then receive Communion themselves while they are unrepentant from mortal sin.

The great apostasy is about to unfold. You will all be put to the test. Pray that you may respond with humility and repentance.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and
translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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2 Responses to Daring Pope Francis to cross the Conservative line in the sand

  1. Kathleen says:

    No one should receive Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin. Ever. To do so is to commit a sacrilege. In order to be absolved of mortal sin we must be repentant and resolve not to commit that mortal sin again. In other words, make a good Confession. I don’t think Pope Francis will change mortal sins into venial sins – ever. He is our Holy Father and he will not change Church teaching in matters of Faith and morals. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against the Church. Jesus told us that and He always keeps His promises.

    • Ron Conte says:

      No one should receive Holy Communion in a state of actual mortal sin. But sometimes a person commits an objective mortal sin (an objectively gravely immoral act) without realizing it is a grave sin, or without the full culpability of actual mortal sin (including full knowledge and full deliberation). The Church can permit them to receive Communion (e.g. Orthodox Christians permitted to receive, despite heresy and schism), or can require them to confess first.

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