A conservative Catholic icon and this is an excellent interview with him in the Wanderer Press.
Q. When I last interviewed you for The Wanderer about a year and a half ago, you noted that “many good priests, even bishops talk to you about the difficulty of dealing with confusion when they present the Church’s teaching.”
And that was before Amoris Laetitia was promulgated. The confusion has heightened as is clearly evidenced by the quote in Cardinal Caffarra’s letter to the Holy Father that you referred to earlier: “What is sin in Poland is good in Germany, that what is prohibited in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is permitted in Malta.”
In fact, it seems as if some interpretations are in direct opposition to what is taught in paragraph 1650 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In light of the current situation, do you have any advice today for faithful bishops, priests, religious, and lay people who yearn for clarity?
A. My advice is simple. We know what the Church teaches and practices. It is contained in the Catechism of the Catholic Church; it is contained in the constant Magisterial teaching of the Church. This is what we hold to be true. Since the publication of Amoris Laetitia, I find that the situation has only worsened. I travel a good deal and wherever I go, I invariably find large groups of the lay faithful (as well as priests and even bishops) who confide in me about this situation — they are practically in desperation.
I often say that priests are the ones who suffer the most; they are the ones who have direct contact with the lay faithful who approach them and ask them to do things they simply cannot do. When faithful priests explain to the people why they are unable to fulfill their requests, they are accused of going against the Pope, of going against this so-called new direction in the Church.
This is why I admire what you are doing in writing a comprehensive commentary on the Catechism that appears weekly in The Wanderer. We need to return to the Catechism and study it carefully, paragraph-by-paragraph, making sure that we understand the depth of the Church’s teaching on marriage and all it demands of us.
Q. This leads to another topic we spoke of in December of 2015. When I asked you a question about possible decentralization of the Church’s hierarchical structure of governance, you emphasized that there is nothing in “the Church’s tradition that would give Conferences of Bishops [or diocesan ordinaries] the authority to make decisions about pastoral practices which would involve a change in Church teaching.” Yet, as so clearly evident in the previous question, that is exactly what appears to be taking place. With regard to marriage, are we reaching the point of having a Church where Catholics can literally shop around for a location that suits their desires? Is the Church in danger of schism unless universal doctrinal discipline is restored?
A. This, in fact, is exactly what is going on. Bishops tell me that when they insist on authentic Church teaching with regard to irregular matrimonial unions, people are simply rejecting their teachings. They say that another bishop teaches differently and they choose to follow him.
The response of the Archbishop of Malta was shocking, who, when criticized about the troublesome document the Bishops of Malta published on Amoris Laetitia, said they follow the teaching of Pope Francis and not of other Popes. How can that be? The Popes are all to proclaim and be obedient to the one true Catholic Faith. If not, they have been deposed, as in the case of Pope Honorius. So then, this is simply not possible.
People talk about a de facto schism. I am absolutely in opposition to any kind of formal schism — a schism can never be correct. People can, however, be living in a schismatic situation if the teaching of Christ has been abandoned. The more appropriate word would be the one Our Lady used in her Message of Fatima: apostasy. There can be apostasy within the Church and this, in fact, is what is going on. In connection with the apostasy, Our Lady also referred to the failure of pastors to bring the Church to unity.