Testing the faith

HOW strong is one’s faith? That cannot be answered except hypothetically because strength is tested through strains and stresses. Our understanding and belief cannot be measured in inches and meters or showcasings. Along our way, we meet constant battles against our faith, the reason we pray that we be “lead not into temptation” and be “delivered from evil.”

If the preface appears gloomy, it is, because news from all over the world is full of temptations that will weaken and even make us lose our Catholic faith. Of course every religious congregation had suffered the same problem of losing a member to other sects. Thus we find the religious groups engaged in missionary work using every available means to keep or gain adherents.

The faith of Catholics is being tested in recent developments that had broken into the media since last month but broadcast in the Philippines only this week. Despite the gravity of the report, the Philippine Church chose to keep silent.

While silence is a prudent position it leaves the faithful to sort out things for themselves and puts a lot of stress on the Catholics and plenty of ammunition into the arsenal of anti-Catholics.

On April 30, 2019, LifeSitesNews reported that prominent clergymen and scholars have issued an open letter accusing Pope Francis of committing heresy. They asked the bishops of the Catholic Church, to whom the open letter is addressed, to “take the steps necessary to deal with the grave situation” of a pope committing this crime.

The authors base their charge of heresy on “the manifold manifestations of Pope Francis’ embrace of positions contrary to the faith and his dubious support of prelates who in their lives have shown themselves to have a clear disrespect for the Church’s faith and morals”. 

“We take this measure as a last resort to respond to the accumulating harm caused by Pope Francis’s words and actions over several years, which have given rise to one of the worst crises in the history of the Catholic Church,” the authors stated.

In 2017, 62 scholars also said in what was called “Filial Correction” that the Pope has “effectively upheld seven heretical positions about marriage, the moral life, and the reception of the sacraments, and has caused these heretical opinions to spread in the Catholic Church,” especially in his 2016 exhortation Amoris Laetitia

The authors state “that it is now become clear that Pope Francis is aware of his own positions contrary to the faith and that the time has come to go a ‘stage further’ by claiming that Pope Francis is ‘guilty of the crime of heresy’.”

They claimed that they limit themselves “to accusing him of heresy on occasions where he has publicly denied truths of the faith, and then consistently acted in a way that demonstrates that he disbelieves these truths that he has publicly denied.” 

They clarify that they are not claiming Pope Francis has “denied truths of the faith in pronouncements that satisfy the conditions for an infallible papal teaching” because “this would be impossible, since it would be incompatible with the guidance given to the Church by the Holy Spirit.”

In effect the authors clearly distinguished the Pope from his Petrine Office, the office that Christ established while the Pope is elected by the cardinals.

They ask that the bishops take action since a “heretical papacy may not be tolerated or dissimulated to avoid a worse evil…in accordance with the hallowed adage, Salus animarum prima lex (‘the salvation of souls is the highest law’)”. Their request is to “free the Church from her present distress.” They added that the bishops should act “if he should persistently refuse, by declaring that he has freely deprived himself of the papacy.”’

Are we seeing the schism that wracked the Church a few times in over 2,000 years? There had been such times of conflicts because humans administer the Church but eventually the Holy Spirit preserved the Apostolic Succession and the faith.

Can the bishops declare Pope Francis a heretic? Is the prediction of the appearance of a heretic pope that will signal the “end times” coming true? The issues are too difficult for us but the signatories (theologians and academics) of this letter and the “Dubia” by four cardinals have argued comprehensibly.

What heresies are Pope Francis accused of? We’ll continue next week.