Martians : A Key to the October Synod
On May 12, 2014, Pope Francis captured world attention by proposing that Martians, if they visited the planet, could be baptized. He said this within the context of a homily that had as its theme: “Who are we to close the doors” to the Holy Spirit?
Most Catholics entirely missed the point of Francis’ address. Discussions subsequently arose among Catholics about whether or not Martians would need baptism since they were not children from our fallen parents, Adam and Eve, and would not thus be born with Original Sin. Such a debate has nothing to do with Francis’ theme, and misses Francis’ point entirely, which was not really about non-existent Martians, but about opening the doors to practices hitherto unthinkable in the Catholic Church, including baptizing children of homosexual unions. This call for the baptism of children of homosexual unions appears in the Working Document for the Synod released on June 26, 2014, six weeks after Francis’ “Martian” homily.
We will first look at Pope Francis’ call for pastoral sensitivity to extra-terrestrials, coupled with Francis’ constant insistence that “rigidity” and “doctrinal immutability” are bad, and that a new pastoral approach allegedly open to being “surprised by the Spirit” should be the Catholic attitude du jour. This approach that effectively divorces Catholic pastoral activity from immutable doctrine is the result of the modernist “New Theology,” that elevates a pentecostalist “follow the spirit” approach over the objective, unchangeable Faith of all time. In fact, Francis, the “who am I to judge?” Pontiff, is remarkably judgmental (in the worst meaning of the term) in his denunciation of Traditional Catholics. We see an example of this in his Apostolic Exhortation, “The Joy of the Gospel,” as his prose becomes remarkably joyless when the dark shadows of traditional Catholics cast themselves upon his mind. Here Francis castigates, “the self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism of those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads instead to a narcissistic (i.e. self serving) and authoritarian elitism … we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige … In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few” (§94 & 95). We thus see from Francis: • a call for pastoral openness to accept what was previously unthinkable; • an assertion that those who resist this openness thwart the work of the Spirit; • a denunciation of those who insist on traditional Catholic doctrine and discipline, claiming, as is forbidden by Catholic Morality and Pastoral Theology, that he knows the interior and motives of their souls (i.e., “who feel superior to others”). This creates the framework by which we view Francis’ “Martian” homily.
“An Expedition of Martians”
In his May 12 homily, Francis challenged, “Who are we to close the doors” to the Holy Spirit? He invoked an episode from the Acts of the Apostles wherein Peter removed himself from those who were “unclean,” and who hesitated to baptize the “uncircumcised”; but he eventually accepted and baptized them. Francis then makes his point: “That was unthinkable. If – for example – an expedition of Martians came, and some of them came to us here. Martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like the children paint them … And one says, ‘But I want to be baptized,’ what would happen?” Francis goes on to explain the revelation from Our Lord to St. Peter that he must receive the so-called “unclean,” and then tries to make an application to the present. “When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, ‘No, Lord, it is not important! No, let’s do it this way’ and Peter in that first diocese – the first diocese was Antioch – makes this decision: Who am I to admit impediments? A nice word for bishops, for priests and for Christians. Who are we to close doors? In the early Church, even today, there is the ministry of ostiary [usher]. And what did the ostiary do? He opened the doors, received the people, allowed them to pass. But it was never a ministry of the closed door, never.” Francis goes on to effectively confuse that special time of Divine Revelation – which closed with the death of the last Apostle – with the notion of continuous aggiornamento, which should be ever open to change, supposedly, by the movement of the spirit (a constant theme we heard at Vatican II). God has left the guidance of the Church “in the hands of the Holy Spirit,” says Francis.
In case we missed the full meaning of his words, he continues, “The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God in the Church. He keeps the Church going, keeps the Church moving forward. More and more, beyond the limits, onwards. The Holy Spirit with His gifts guides the Church. You cannot understand the Church of Jesus without this Paraclete, whom the Lord sends us for this very reason. And he makes unthinkable choices, but unimaginable. To use the words of St. John XXIII: it is the Holy Spirit that updates the church. Really, He updates it and keeps it going. And we Christians must ask the Lord for the grace of docility to the Holy Spirit. Docility in this Spirit, who speaks to us in our heart, who speaks to us in all of life’s circumstances, who speaks to us in the Church’ s life, in Christian communities, who is always speaking to us.”
It is clear that Pope Francis sees the radical updating from John XXIII’s Second Vatican Council as a work of the Holy Ghost that should be embraced, not resisted. Vatican II ushered us into the evolutionary principle of continuous aggiornamento, which was based on the alleged changing pastoral needs of the time. Francis implies we should be attentive to the alleged call of the spirit to even more revolutionary change, and more razing of Catholic bastions that block the way for renewal. Thus we more clearly understand Francis’ exaltation of Vatican II and his scolding of “hard-headed” Catholics. This oft quoted speech took place on April 14, 2013, only a month after his election to the Papacy. “The Council was a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit,” said Francis. “Consider Pope John. He looked like a good parish priest; he was obedient to the Holy Spirit and he did it.
But after 50 years, have we have done everything the Holy Spirit told us in the Council? In the continuity of growth of the Church that was the Council? No. We celebrate this anniversary, we make a monument, as long as it does not bother us. We do not want to change. What is more, some people want to go back. This is hard-headedness. This is what we call, trying to tame the Holy Spirit, this is what we call becoming foolish and slow of heart.” He thus encourages more implementation of the Council’s modernist aggiornamento, which he calls the work of the Spirit: “Do not resist the Holy Spirit. This is the grace I wish we would all ask for from the Lord: to be docile towards the Holy Spirit, that Spirit that comes from us and makes us go forward on the path of holiness, the beautiful holiness of the Church, the grace of docility towards the Holy Spirit.” And again, how is the movement of the Holy Ghost manifest? By responding to the alleged “pastoral needs” of the present moment that change from age to age. Some of the most pressing “pastoral needs” of the present moment, according to the Synod’s Working Document, is a proposal to allow the baptism of children to homosexual couples (thus indirectly legitimizing these unions), and an alleged new pastoral approach that allows Holy Communion for the divorced and remarried. In the face of these supposed pastoral needs, the Church needs to loosen up: “Who am I to admit impediments?” “Who are we to close doors?” Let us move “more and more, beyond the limits, onwards!”. This is what the upcoming Synod is all about. This is the modus operandi of the Francis Pontificate. We will briefly treat why there are certain “Catholic limits” that cannot be transgressed, limits established by the doctrinal aspect of the sacraments and the very nature of the sacraments themselves.
Baptism and Couples Contra Nature
As we have written previously in CFN, Paragraph #120 of the Synod Working document reads: “The responses are clearly opposed to legislation which would allow the adoption of children by persons in a same-sex union, because they see a risk to the integral good of the child who has a right to a mother and father … However, when people living in such unions request a child’s baptism, almost all the responses emphasize that the child must be received with the same care, tenderness and concern which is given to other children.” While it is true that this paragraph stops short of explicitly encouraging baptism, the message is clear. The door is open for Baptism of children of same-sex couples. This is not only a misuse of the sacrament of Baptism, but will further “legitimatize” homosexual unions and the new definition of “family”. A new pastoral program along these lines is a possible result of the Synod, especially when we consider the Bergoglio mindset. We recall that Pope Francis is a great fan of the radical Cardinal Carlos Martini, who openly praised same-sex couples who were involved in what he called a “stable union”. Martini went so far as to claim that homosexual couples provide a “healthy space for children”. Martini also said, “I disagree with the positions of those in the Church, that take issue with civil unions. It is not bad, instead of casual sex between men, that two people have a certain stability” and that the “state could recognize them.” Keep in mind that Pope Francis showered unqualified praise on Cardinal Martini, calling him “a father for the whole Church,” a “prophetic” figure, and “a man of discernment and peace.” In similar vein, the Synod co-president recently made the absurd claim that the Church “always” wanted to respect “stable” homosexual unions. As reported in the September 15 issue of Brazil’s Fohla de S.Paulo, Raymundo Cardinal Damasceno Assis of Aparecida said, “Of course, for the Church, it [homosexual union] cannot be equated to marriage, that is different. But, regarding respect for the stable union between these people, there is no doubt that the Church has always [sempre] been trying to do it this way”. Cardinal Damasceno Assis is one of the three Presidents appointed by Pope Francis for the upcoming Extraordinary Synod on the Family. The Synod appears to be dominated by those whose attitude about homosexual couples conflicts with the Catholic Faith of all time.
Even John Paul
… This brings us to the question: what is the problem in baptizing children of same-sex unions? To answer, we start with the truth that the purpose of Baptism is not only to wash away original sin, but to introduce the soul to the life of sanctifying grace that makes him an adopted child of God who lives the supernatural life, he becomes a soul who now participates in the divine life of God. Thus baptism implies not only the remission of sin, but the obligation to be raised in the Catholic Faith in a Catholic household. This necessarily includes adherence to all the Church’s dogmatic and moral truths. The Pastor cannot abandon the youngster to a household where immoral lifestyles are lived as if legitimate. A homosexual couple who live contrary to nature and to God’s law, who live a life that “cries to Heaven for vengeance,” can’t even begin to provide a Catholic household atmosphere for raising the child Catholic. The issue of their unnatural union itself bars any possibility of creating a Catholic household in which a child could be properly raised in the Faith. The child himself, from infancy, will implicitly believe that homosexual unions are a legitimate lifestyle. The fact that Baptism must be withheld in such circumstances is not some archaic pre-Vatican II throwback. Even Pope John Paul’s “Instruction on Infant Baptism” of October 20, 1980 reiterates this principle: “Assurances must be given that the gift thus granted [Baptism] can grow by an authentic education in the faith and Christian life, in order to fulfill the true meaning of the sacrament.
As a rule, these assurances are to be given by the parents or close relatives, although various substitutions are possible within the Christian community. But if these assurances are not really serious there can be grounds for delaying the sacrament; and if they are certainly non-existent the sacrament should even be refused.” In his superb four-volume Moral and Pastoral Theology series, Father Henry Davis explains: “It is contrary to the mind of the Church to baptize a child who will not be brought up Catholic. The plea is mistakenly pressed that Baptism will give it grace, give it a right to Heaven, and probably lead it to the Catholic Faith.” Father Davis continues: “The same rules as given above, apply to the children of heretics, schismatics and Catholics who have become apostates, heretics and schismatics, for these children are seriously exposed to the danger of perversion.” These Catholic principles were reflected in Canon Law. As one learned traditional priest told me, “The principles for resolution of this case come from Canon 751 and 750 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law,” which forbids baptism of children to heretics, schismatics and apostates. Thus, applying these principles, such persons [same-sex couples] must be considered analogous to apostates since they have openly rejected the Church’s moral teaching on sex and marriage. This especially applies if they have attempted a so-called same-sex “marriage”. To baptize a child of such a couple would be interpreted as an approval of an anti-Catholic lifestyle, incompatible with a Catholic education of children.
The Overhauling of Straight America Then there’s the other aspect of the problem: It is a stated tactic of homosexual activists to thrust homosexuality into public life as much as possible, so that ‘straight’ people who otherwise disapprove of homosexuality get used to the idea, become no longer shocked (or repulsed) by it, and then eventually embrace homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle for those of that orientation. In their landmark article “The Overhauling of Straight America,” published in the November 1987 issue of Guide Magazine, homosexual strategists Kirk and Madsen (under the pen-name “Pill”) laid out a brilliant six-point strategy for public acceptance of homosexuality, which has been followed ever since. The first step is to, “Talk About Gays and Gayness as Loudly and as Often as Possible.” “The principle behind this advice is simple”, say Kirk and Pill, “almost any behavior begins to look normal if you are exposed to enough of it at close quarters and among your acquaintances. The acceptability of the new behavior will ultimately hinge on the number of one’s fellows doing it or accepting it.”
A person may be offended initially by the novelty of it all, but the authors point out “as long as Joe Six-pack feels little pressure to perform likewise, and as long as the behavior in question presents little threat to his physical and financial security, he soon gets used to it and life goes on.” As time goes on, Joe Six-pack and his friends will become more tolerant of homosexuality as no more than an alternative, legitimate way of life. ”The way to benumb raw sensibilities about homosexuality is to have a lot of people talk a great deal about the subject in a neutral or supportive way.” The more it is talked about, the more the impression is created that public opinion is at least divided on the topic. “Even rancorous debates between opponents and defenders serve our purpose so long as ‘respectable’ gays are front and center to make their own pitch.” The increase of homosexual characters in Hollywood and TV movies, sit-comes, etc, is definitely part of this strategy. Get people used to seeing homosexuals in daily life. Thus, an alleged “pastoral policy” that allows the baptism of children of homosexual couples only plays into the hands of homosexual activists, and will only further a public acceptance of homosexuality. Tragically, it appears the vast majority of our world’s bishops are ignorant of this aspect of the problem. To close this topic, we can rightly ask: how much does a homosexual couple who presents a child for baptism care about Catholicism in the first place, if they adopt a lifestyle in flagrant violation of its most fundamental moral principles? We can thus further ask: is the request for baptism motivated by a genuine care for the child’s soul, or is it part of the overall thrust to assure that homosexual couples rearing children be seen as a legitimate alternative lifestyle?
Kasper: Francis “was in agreement
Cardinal Walter Kasper became the target of various conservatives when at the February 2014 Consistory, he called for a new “pastoral” solution to allow divorce and remarried Catholics to receive Communion. In drama unprecedented in my lifetime, five Cardinals counter-attacked Cardinal Kasper’s proposal in a new book titled The Gospel of the Family, scheduled to be released just prior to the Synod [now delayed until November – Ed.].
The five Cardinals who defend the traditional Catholic teaching on marriage are Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Raymond Burke, Carlo Caffara, Walter Brandmüller, and Velasio De Paolis. In response to these Cardinals, Kasper revealed to the Italian journal Il Mattino (September 18) that he was only following the line of Pope Francis in this regard. “I [spoke] twice with the Holy Father,” said a defensive Kasper, “I agreed upon everything with him. He was in agreement. What can a cardinal do, if not being with Pope? I am not the target, the target is another one. They [the Cardinal-opponents] know that I have not done these things by myself. I agreed with the Pope, I spoke twice with him. He showed himself content [with it] …”
This confirms what many of us surmised all along. Pope Francis himself is the steamroller behind the scandal, the confusion, the irresponsible questioning of Catholic doctrine regarding Communion for the divorced and remarried. Did not Pope Francis publicly praise Kasper for his reckless proposal at the February Consistory? Did not Pope Francis telephone an Argentine woman married to a divorced man to tell her she is free to receive Communion, and if her parish priest refuses her, find another priest who will acquiesce? (The conversation was confirmed by Vatican Press Secretary Father Federico Lombardi, who would neither confirm nor deny the content of the conversation).
We will close with this observation.
In the light of the chaos caused by what is now called the “Kasper Proposal”, we see Cardinal Pell assuring us that the practice of Communion to the divorce will not change. We have similar assurance from other prelates as well. The one man who does not reassure us the teaching will not change is Pope Francis. Never once do we hear him say what Cardinal Pell said, “Doctrine and pastoral practice cannot be contradictory … One cannot maintain the indissolubility of marriage by allowing the ‘remarried’ to receive Communion.” No. From Pope Francis we get hypothetical stories about Martians swooping down on planet Earth and asking for baptism; we get admonitions not to be rigid or dogmatic or overly concerned with existing discipline; we get open-ended questions: “Who am, I to admit impediments? … Who are we to close doors?” It seems obvious that Francis is on a campaign to change the practice. Nothing is gained by pretending otherwise.
“What Can a Cardinal Do?”
If Pope Francis succumbs to the modernist fallacy that there can be some transformation of the dogmatic message of the Church over time, he cannot in any way force us to his flawed position. The Papacy exists for defending truth, not for cavorting with error. Cardinal Kasper asks, “What can a Cardinal do, if not being with the Pope?” The answer is simple, and comes from Saint Robert Bellarmine, Suarez, Cardinal Torquemada, Pope Innocent III and other great Doctors of the Church. These great doctors all teach that if the Pope proposes anything that defies the traditional doctrine and practice of the Church, he is not to be obeyed, he is to be resisted. We will limit ourselves to quote the great Juan Cardinal de Torquemada (1388-1468) the revered medieval theologian responsible for the formulation of the doctrines that were formulated at the Council of Florence. As often noted in the pages of CFN, Cardinal Torquemada, explaining that it is possible for even a Pope to err, teaches: “Were the Pope to command anything against Holy Scriptures, or the articles of faith, or the truth of the sacraments, or the commands of the natural or divine law, he ought not to be obeyed, but in such commands he is to be disregarded. Citing the doctrine of Pope Innocent III, Cardinal Torquemada further teaches: “Thus it is that Pope Innocent III states (De Consuetudine) that it is necessary to obey the Pope in all things as long as he, himself, does not go against the universal customs of the Church, but should he go against the universal customs of the Church, “he need not be followed” on these points.  In fact, such a Pontiff should be publicly resisted.
A Long-Term Mess
At World Youth Day 2013, Pope Francis told the youngsters “I want to see a mess”. He certainly leads by example. The chaos caused by Francis’ recklessness is likely to drag on for some time. The October 2014 Extraordinary Synod is only Phase I. It is called to prepare for the 2015 “Ordinary” Synod (Phase II), the proceedings of both of these Synods will be finally penned by Pope Francis (or his successor) in an Apostolic Exhortation (Phase III) some time in late 2015 or early 2016. There is a long fight ahead, and we are called upon to keep up the struggle against the architects of confusion, no matter how highly placed. We gather strength and determination from St. Pius X, a genuinely Catholic Pope, who assures us, “The true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but traditionalists.”
Notes: “Self-absorbed promethean neopelagianism” is a phrase that makes no sense. This is why we say earlier that Francis is judgmental in the worst meaning of the term. He goes beyond judging fellow-Catholics’ actions, but judges their interior disposition and motives (which is forbidden by Catholic Morality and Pastoral Theology), and then pronounces this judgment publicly in his one and only official document so far as Pope. This reflects on his part either ignorance, confusion or malice: none of which are praiseworthy characteristics. It also shows no humility whatsoever. “Pope at Mass: The Holy Spirit Makes the Unthinkable Possible,” May 12, 2014, Radio Vatican [emphasis added]. “Papa: ‘testardi’ coloro che vogliono ‘tornare indietro’ rispetto al Vaticano II.” Asia News. The Enclish edition of this speech, from Asia News, April 16, 2013, translated “testardi” as ‘stubborn’ but a friend from Italy tells me, “The translator [of Vatican Asia News], has used the word stubborn but I think a closer meaning of ‘testardo’ is hardheaded as the word has a pejorative context in Italian.” From 2012 book Credere a Conscere (Faith and Understanding), quoted in “The Martini Pope”, see next endnote. “Pope Francis Hails Cardinal Martini as ‘a Father for the whole Church’”, Catholic Herald, September 2, 2013. We treated this disturbing issue in detail in “The Martini Pope,” John Vennari, Catholic Family News, January, 2014. I realize I made some of these points in the August CFN “Radical Synod Planned for October,” but I include them here so as to make this article self-contained. Pastoralis action, “Instruction on Infant Baptism,” Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Oct. 20, 1980, #28, (Emphasis added). Moral and Pastoral Theology, Volume III, Father Henry Davis, SJ [New York: Sheed and Ward, 1943], p. 52. Granted, as I mentioned in the August issue, the Church sometimes admits the baptism of children from apostates and heretics, etc., if it can be foreseen they will receive a truly Catholic education and upbringing. But it is obvious that homosexual couples live in defiance of the Catholic Faith and in a lifestyle that is objectively scandalous, no matter what the current fashions claim. Thus, to use the words of Father Davis, “These children [of these unions] are seriously exposed to the danger of perversion.” The November 1987 article entitled “The Overhauling of Straight America’’ appeared in Guide Magazine. A few years later its authors did expand it into a book: “After the Ball -- How America will conquer its fear and hatred of Gays in the 1990s”. (Plume, 1990), Marshall Kirk, Hunter Madsen We covered this topic in the article “tactics of the Homosexual Movement,” J. Vennari, Catholic Family News, May, 2011. On line at ]www.cfnews.org/tactics.htm The six step plan, which has been a remarkably successful program, is taken directly from the Kirk & Pill’s “Overhauling” article: Step 1: Talk About Gays and Gayness as Loudly and as Often as Possible; Step 2: Portray Gays as Victims, Not as Aggressive Challengers; Step 3: Give Protectors a Just Cause; Step 4: Make Gays Look Good; Step 5: Make the Victimizers look Bad; Step 6: Solicit Funds. Two years later in their book After the Ball, Kirk and Madsen (who had gone under the pen-name of “Pill”) stated clearly their plan for mass propaganda for converting America to promote the homosexual cause. They write, “….by conversion we mean something far more profoundly threatening to the American Way of Life, without which no truly sweeping social change can occur. We mean conversion of the average American’s emotions, mind, and will, through a planned psychological attack, in the form of propaganda fed to the nation via the media.” p. 153. Details of the six-step plan and other Kirk & Madsen strategies is on line at ]www.cfnews.org/tactics.htm “The Game is Up on the Synod and Communion for Remarried Divorcees? Kasper, in Interview: ‘Everything was agreed with the Pope’”, English translation from Rorate Caeli, September 18, 2014. In fact, Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of St. Pius X revealed in a speech in Syracuse NY, June 8, 2014, that Pope Francis approved of Kasper’s proposal before he presented it to the February Consistory (I was present at the speech). “Pope’s Call to Women Raises Questions on Divorced and Remarried,” National Catholic Reporter, April 23, 2014. “Fr. Lombardo Responds to Reports of Pope’s Call to Argentinean Woman,” Radio Vatican, April 24, 2014. “Five Cardinals Launch Book Opposing Marriage Reform,” Breitbart News, September 18, 2014. The Vatican I proclaimed de fide, that not even a Pope may preach a new doctrine. Defining Papal Infallibility and its limits, Vatican I taught: “The Holy Spirit was not promised to the successor of Peter that by the revelation of the Holy Spirit they might disclose new doctrine, but that by His help they might guard sacredly the revelation transmitted through the Apostles and the deposit of Faith, and might faithfully set it forth.” Vatican I, Session IV, Chapter IV; Pastor Aeternus. Summa de ecclesia (Venice: M. Tranmezium, 1561). Lib. II, c. 49, p. 163B. The English translation of this statement of Juan de Torquemada is found in Patrick Granfield, The Papacy in Transition (New York: Doubleday, 1980), p. 171. And in Father Paul Kramer, A Theological Vindication of Roman Catholic Traditionalism, 2nd ed. (Kerala, India), p. 29. Emphasis added. Saint Robert Bellarmine, Doctor of the Church, taught “Just as it is licit to resist the Pontiff that aggresses the body, it is also licit to resist the one who aggresses the soul or who disturbs civil order, or, above all, who attempts to destroy the Church. I say that it is licit to resist him by not doing what he orders and preventing his will from being executed; it is not licit, however, to judge, punish or depose him, since these are acts proper to a superior.” De Romano Pontifice, lib. II, chap. 29, in Opera omnia, Neapoli/ Panormi/Paris: Pedone Lauriel, 1871, vol. I, p. 418. “Pope: I Want a Mess,” National Catholic Reporter, July 26, 2013 This is how Synods/Apostolic Exhortations usually work. The Synod has no legislative power, it is a consultative body that makes its recommendations to the Pope. The Pope then draws up his final Apostolic Exhortation taking into account all, some, or none of the Synod proceedings, though in today’s climate of collegiality, the Popes usually incorporate as much of the Synod proceedings as possible (and no, these Synod gatherings as they are today did not exist prior to Vatican II. The ongoing Synod was created by Paul VI at the time of the Council to implement Vatican II into the future). Encyclical Notre Charge Apostolique (Against the Sillon), Pope St. Pius X, August 15, 1910. From the October 2014 Catholic Family News