Recently the website "Courageous Priest" published a letter by Cardinal Burke in which the latter tried to clarify some very understandable confusion caused by some of Pope Francis' recent remarks, or at least their translations. Before the text of the Cardinal's letter, they preface it by saying, "We know many feel uncomfortable with Pope Francis. Can we let Cardinal Burke put your mind at ease?" If that was the purpose of the Cardinal's letter, I regret to say that it flopped. If anything, it actually justifies even more our misgivings. Cardinal Burke has proven to be outspoken in defense of authentic Church teaching. I understand that as a Prince of the Church, he is between the proverbial "rock and hard place" and is obliged to defend the Holy Father. However, in trying to paint the Holy Father's missteps in the best possible light, some logical contortions can be seen in this letter.
This statement is something I find troubling. "The Holy Father, it seems to me, wishes to pare back every conceivable obstacle people may have invented to prevent themselves from responding to Jesus Christ’s universal call to holiness. We all know individuals who say things like: “Oh, I stopped going to Church because of the Church’s teaching on divorce”, or “I could never be Catholic because of the Church’s teaching on abortion or on homosexuality”. The Holy Father is asking them to put aside these obstacles and to welcome Christ, without any excuse, into their lives. Once they come to understand the immeasurable love of Christ, alive for us in the Church, they will be able to resolve whatever has been troubling them about the Church, His Mystical Body, and her teaching."
The teachings of Jesus Christ on the moral issues are NOT "obstacles". How can they disregard them (for even an instant) and expect to "understand the immeasurable love of Jesus" when by their disregard for the so-called "obstacles", they BLOCK the love of Jesus? At best, such love is reduced to a horribly mutated caricature of authentic charity. There is no mercy without repentance. The repentance must come first, for it is mortal sin that blocks sanctifying grace (and the love of God) in the life of anybody.
Further down in the letter he does point out that Our Lord began His public life with the words, "Repent and believe the Gospel". So the "obstacles" are to be dealt with, not "set aside". Repentance must precede any experience of God's love; else, any other "experience" is a cheap counterfeit at best and diabolical deception at worst. In fact, the call to face one's sin and to repent of it IS an essential part of receiving God's love.
Sadly that message isn't coming through, and people are literally dying to receive it. The fact that Cardinal Burke is putting forth this "damage control" letter is stark evidence of communications issues that didn't exist with the previous two popes. I pray these are corrected quickly.
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