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June 10, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — An Anglo-Catholic religious revealed that a man who turned to Islam and then reverted back to Catholicism because of Pope Benedict XVI has once again embraced Islam because of his grievances with “Rome.”
“I gave pastoral care today to a Roman Catholic who had embraced Islam and returned to Catholicism due to the Papacy. He said, ‘that under Benedict XVI he saw genuine rules of play in a rudderless world’. Today he said that Rome is lost, and that the Qur’an is the road to truth,” tweeted Brother Seraphim Mary, OSF, who is a member of the Cisterian Order of the Holy Cross.
One Twitter user commented, “Fortunately, we don’t pick our Popes, we obey them”
Br. Seraphim Mary responded, “His point was more about providing clear doctrine, not blind obedience. The struggle seems rooted in needing an authority in matters of faith and morality in a time of mundane confusion.”
Many Catholics have observed that there has been an almost unceasing flurry of confusion over the meaning of Pope Francis’ public, and, at times, reported private statements and writings, which often elicit unorthodox interpretations of Catholic morals, and subsequent attempts at damage control.
This pattern led Carl Olson, editor of Catholic World Report, to concur with the opinion of First Things editor Matthew Schmitz that Pope Francis is “trying to soften Church teaching.”
“Personally, I see no way around that conclusion,” wrote Olson. “After all, if Francis never meant to change or soften Church teaching, why the constant reliance on Cardinal Kasper and other Germans, the two Synods, the regular confusion, the jostling and posturing, the endless ‘gestures,’ the angry address at the conclusion of the 2015 Synod, the often tortured and purposeful ambiguity of chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia, and so forth?”
Among the most momentous examples of Pope Francis’s apparent break with the Church’s moral teaching are his endorsement of Holy Communion for the divorced and “remarried” in some cases, and his support of civil unions for homosexual couples.
Numerous Catholic clergy and laymen have called for clarification of Church teaching as a response to his persistent ambiguity or misleading statements on certain moral teachings.
Some Catholic commentators have co-opted the term “Francis effect” — originally used to describe the Pope’s ostensibly positive “reform” of the Church — and turned it on its head, claiming that the practice of Catholicism has weakened under Pope Francis.
Father Linus Clovis of Family Life International takes the “Francis Effect” to mean an undermining of traditional Catholic teaching, asserting that “traditional minded” clergy, and even laity, “[i]n holding to the traditional Catholic moral teaching and order,” “would soon be accused of being more Catholic than the pope.”
“This disarming of the clergy and hierarchy constitutes the Francis Effect,” he added.
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First Things editor Matthew Schmitz noted in a 2016 New York Times op-ed that both Sunday Mass attendance numbers and various Catholic practices, such as Ash Wednesday observances, have dropped since Francis became Pope, especially among young Catholics.
Gallup reported in 2018, “From 2014 to 2017, an average of 39% of Catholics reported attending church in the past seven days. This is down from an average of 45% from 2005 to 2008.”
Schmitz lamented that despite Francis’ popularity, the Church has not been “reinvigorated” because he has not given the “disaffected any reason to return.”
Pope Benedict XVI, by contrast, frequently made clear statements on faith and morals, and has expressed firm opposition to communion for the divorced and civilly remarried, despite previously holding a contrary position in a 1972 essay.
Andrea Tornielli, Editorial Director for the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, explained Pope Benedict’s teaching on the issue of access to Holy Communion for the divorced and “remarried”: “The only appropriate [option] — in line with statements made during his pontificate — is to proceed with the findings of invalidity,” that is, with the normal canonical procedure for declarations of nullity of the previous marriage.
This view is affirmed by a letter on the subject signed by him in 1994, when he served as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In that document, which was intended at the time as a corrective to the suggestions of the German episcopate, he said, “In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ, the Church affirms that a new union cannot be recognised as valid if the preceding marriage was valid. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Holy Communion as long as this situation persists.”
The letter adds, “This norm is not at all a punishment or a discrimination against the divorced and remarried, but rather expresses an objective situation that of itself renders impossible the reception of Holy Communion.”
While the Gospel proclaims “unchanging moral truths,” as Pope Benedict XVI stated, through the Catholic Church, Pope Francis’ own apparent denial of unchanging moral truths regarding marriage, for example, provides a contrast to what some see as the “stable system” of moral norms of Islam.
Br. Seraphim Mary further explained to LifeSiteNews what troubled the man he spoke to: “Within Christendom we live in a time of significant dialogue and deliberation with groups who have historically been considered antithetical to the Christian worldview and message. This dialogue was confusing to him because much of it is contrary to what the Bible and Catechism teach.”
“In his mind, Islam provides a ‘field of play’ with clear rules of conduct related to duty to God and duty to man. Under the weight of modernity much secular discourse within Christianity has lost the same duty-based clarity and doctrine,” he continued.
A study of Swedish converts to Islam found “two spheres of attraction” in the Islamic religion. “One is the conception of an essential womanhood and manhood as well as of the patriarchal nuclear family. The other is the idea of a stable system of norms (above all on private morality) and the idea of Islam as the objective truth,” wrote Madeleine Sultán.
While they share Islam’s clear prohibitions against premarital sex, homosexual acts, and imitation of the opposite sex, Popes and saints throughout the centuries have denounced the religion for its rejection of Christ’s divinity, denial of the Blessed Trinity, promotion of violence, and acceptance of practices such as polygamy. Saint Thomas Aquinas noted that Muhammad “forced others to become his followers by the violence of his arms,” and Pope Callixtus and St. John of Damascus rebuked Islam as “diabolical.”
Prelates such as Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and Bishop Athanasius Schneider maintain that the defection of certain members of the clergy from orthodox Church teaching should drive Catholics not to abandon the practice of the faith, but to uphold it and fight the error.
Schneider has directly called on Catholics to “fight against the errors inside the Church, i.e. the fight against heresy and ambiguity in doctrine.”
Viganò insists that Catholics who embrace “heterodox doctrines” have broken with the “preceding Magisterium,” and that “[i]n this case it is licit to doubt their real adherence to the Catholic Church, in which however they hold official roles that confer authority on them.”
According to Viganò, “The cure for heresy is faithfulness to the teaching of Tradition.”
Br. Seraphim Mary’s advice to the man he counseled was “to pray to the Holy Spirit for discernment and for patience in times of spiritual trial.”