Q&A August AD
Our Lady of the Rosary
Apropos: Membership in the
New Rite of Confession?
The New Prefect of the CDF?
Words from the Fathers, Doctors, Popes and Saints
“Actually, only those are to be
included as members of the Church who have been baptized and profess
the true faith, and who have not been so unfortunate as to separate
themselves from the unity of the Body, or been excluded by
legitimate authority for grave faults committed.... For not every
sin, however grave it may be, is such as of its own nature to sever
a man from the Body of the Church, as does schism or heresy or
Mystici Corporis, #22, #23.
New Rite of Confession?
Would you care to comment on this personal experience and my reaction, as
recently went to Confession to a NO [Novus Ordo] priest. After I
confessed, his first response was “The Lord has already forgiven you." Then
he added, "He is always with you. Be at peace.” (He assigned a trifling
penance; after I said an act of contrition he gave me absolution .) My
(silent) reaction to his initial comment, was “If the Lord has already
forgiven me, why am I going to Confession?” To be honest, I believed that my
sins had caused a rupture in my relationship with the Lord, that I had in
one sense actually “lost” the Lord because of my sins. That was why I was
seeking forgiveness! Instead his message was quite different, as I heard
it—Frankly, I stopped going to NO churches around Christmastime when I a
attended a Public Penance Service whereat, after a couple of Scriptural
readings, the Pastor gave everyone absolution and then added, “If anyone
wants to go the Reconciliation Room or for a private confession, she or he
(sic) is welcome to do so.” This seemed to me like a cockamamie view of
Confession and Penance, a ‘putting the cart before the horse,’ if not a
wholly non-Catholic view of sacramental Confession.—Not only has the
Conciliar Church has given us “Luther's Mass,” it has also given us
“Optional Confession” just like the Lutherans and Anglicans, where the
cleric neither “forgives nor retains” according to his judgment of the
penitent's state of mind, and as understood by the mind of Christ in
establishing the Sacrament, as recorded in Scripture. It seems that I
received the other day an absolution in an “Unnecessary but perhaps ‘Salving
but not really Saving’ Confession!”—A.H., Hornell, N.Y.
is hard to know what goes on in the minds of NO clergy, for Modernism does
not recognize objective truth about much of anything. Indeed, Modernists
seem to glory in ambiguity and contradictions.
One could, in fact, be
forgiven of one’s sins prior to Confession if one were perfectly
contrite—but, even then, a sacramental Confession should be made before
receiving the other Sacraments if at all possible. Being perfectly contrite
is a rather subjective state, hard enough for the penitent to be sure of,
and impossible for the confessor to know, so sacramental Confession is the
obvious remedy for sin.
It is possible that the
questioner did not confess anything that a NO priest might identify as a
sin. “Bless me Father, for I have eaten non-union lettuce, drive an SUV,
pollute the water, and have had judgmental thoughts about the “gay” couple
next door” might have made him into more of a sinner than “eating meat on
Friday, using contraceptives, and attending a Protestant church.”
We have it on the
highest authority—that of the man currently Pope Benedict XVI—that many NO
priests do not believe that the Mass is the renewal of the Sacrifice of the
The forgiveness of sins comes from the Sacrifice of the Cross. If one
doesn’t believe that he is capable of renewing that Sacrifice, it would be
logical for him to believe, as well, that he is not capable of forgiving
sins. These beliefs would be reinforced by the omission from the NO rite of
ordination of any statement about receiving the power to offer Mass or to
In the traditional rite,
as the newly ordained receives a chalice of wine and paten holding an altar
bread from the bishop, the bishop says:
Receive the power to offer sacrifice to God, and to celebrate Mass for the
living as well as the dead. In the name of the Lord. Amen
but in the 1968 rite
of Pope Paul VI, has been replaced with the reception of the offertory
procession and some encouraging words:
Accept from the holy people of God the gifts to be offered him.
you are doing [!], and imitate the mystery you celebrate: model your life on
the mystery of the Lord’s cross.
In the traditional
rite there is a second imposition of hands upon the head of the newly
ordained, as the bishop says:
Receive the Holy Ghost: whose sins thou shalt forgive, they are forgiven
them: and whose sins thou shalt retain, they are retained.
This second laying on
of hands and the words which accompany it are simply omitted from the NO
One has to question
the validity of a Sacrament conferred by a priest who doesn’t believe in the
Sacrament or his power to administer it.
Modernists deal with
what they believe to be the non-existence of objective truth by establishing
a “dialogue” among the “acting persons.” Consensus, with all of its
vagaries, takes the place of objective truth or morality. Disruption of the
rapport between the “acting person” would seem, for the Modernist, to be
the greatest sin of all—a sin against consensus, a sin against Modernist
“truth.” To say something unkind or “judgmental” about a participant in the
“dialogue” would be far worse than any sins objectively attributable to him.
But here we have
something that the “president of the assembly” feels qualified to forgive.
Those who have disrupted the assembly of “acting persons” may be reconciled
to the assembly by one of its “presiders.” This same notion would also seem
to motivate the practice of the communal penance service mentioned by our
questioner—what could be better than everyone being reconciled to everyone
else with everyone consenting to this reconciliation by their presence?
general absolution, like lay distribution of Holy Communion, and eating meat
on Fridays, is permitted by the NO church only under extraordinary
But just as “optional” means “never” in the NO lexicon, “extraordinary”
means “all or most of the time.” (Note that these are the same people who
accuse orthodox Catholics of “disobedience.”)
c.961 §1. Absolution cannot be imparted in a general manner to many
penitents at once without previous individual confession unless:
1° danger of death is imminent and there is insufficient time for the priest
or priests to hear the confessions of the individual penitents;
2° there is grave necessity, that is, when in view of the number of
penitents, there are not enough confessors available to hear the confessions
of individuals properly within a suitable period of time in such a way that
the penitents are forced to be deprived for a long while of sacramental
grace or holy communion through no fault of their own. Sufficient necessity
is not considered to exist when confessors cannot be present due only to the
large number of penitents such as can occur on some great feast or
§2. It belongs to the diocesan bishop to judge whether the conditions
required according to the norm of §1, n. 2 are present. He can determine the
cases of such necessity, attentive to the criteria agreed upon with the
other members of the conference of bishops.
c.962 §1. For a member of the Christian faithful validly to receive
sacramental absolution given to many at one time, it is required not only
that the person is properly disposed but also at the same time intends to
confess within a suitable period of time each grave sin which at the present
time cannot be so confessed.
§2. Insofar as it can be done even on the occasion of the reception of
general absolution, the Christian faithful are to be instructed about the
requirements of the norm of §1. An exhortation that each person take care to
make an act of contrition is to precede general absolution even in the case
of danger of death, if there is time.
c.963 Without prejudice to the obligation mentioned in c.989, a person whose
grave sins are remitted by general absolution is to approach individual
confession as soon as possible, given the opportunity, before receiving
another general absolution, unless a just cause intervenes.
What is the CDF, and what are the implications of the appointment of the new
Prefect? Will this require a change of beliefs among Catholics?
The Catholic Faith has been revealed by God through the prophets of the Old
Testament, and by Jesus Christ through His Apostles—since it is of divine
origin, it is objectively true and unchangeable.
For the Holy Spirit was promised to the successors of Peter not so
that they might, by His revelation, make known some new doctrine,
but that, by His assistance, they might religiously guard and
faithfully expound the revelation or
deposit of faith transmitted by the apostles.... Therefore, such
definitions of the Roman Pontiff are of themselves, and not by the
consent of the Church, irreformable.
The Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is the modern name for the Universal
Inquisition (erected 21 July 1542), which became the Holy Office (1908), and
received its new name on 7 December 1965.
On 28 June 1988, in the Apostolic Constitution, Pastor bonus
described the functions of the CDF as follows:
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
Art. 48 — The proper duty of the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith is to promote and safeguard the doctrine on
faith and morals in the whole Catholic world; so it has competence
in things that touch this matter in any way.
Art. 49 — Fulfilling its duty of promoting doctrine,
the Congregation fosters studies so that the understanding of the
faith may grow and a response in the light of the faith may be given
to new questions arising from the progress of the sciences or human
Art. 50 — It helps the bishops, individually or in
groups, in carrying out their office as authentic teachers and
doctors of the faith, an office that carries with it the duty of
promoting and guarding the integrity of that faith.
Art. 51 — To safeguard the truth of faith and the
integrity of morals, the Congregation takes care lest faith or
morals suffer harm through errors that have been spread in any way
Appointed by Pope John Paul II, Msgr. Gerhard Ludwig Müller was ordained
Bishop of Regensburg on 24 November 2002, and was appointed to head the CDF
by Pope Benedict XVI on 2 July 2012, replacing the retiring William Joseph
the question implies, Müller’s appointment is problematic for in print and
in public he has espoused several heterodox notions incompatible with the CDF’s “duty to promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals in the
whole Catholic world.” In all cases we are speaking about matters that are
clearly defined and which cannot change—“irreformable,” as Vatican I put
it. Msgr. Müeller is simply wrong, and his erroneous opinions should have
no effect on the Catholic World. Unfortunately, Müeller is not alone in the
Conciliar church in holding these false notions.
The notions in question include:
so-called “liberation theology.”
Denial of the
perpetual virginity of the Blessed Mother.
at least some Protestants as members in full Communion with the Catholic
The last of these errors is particularly interesting, for the new Prefect
has been very vocal about traditional Catholics being separated from the
Amazing! Protestants and Jews are part of the Church, Modernists are part
of the Church—but those who profess and practice the Catholic Faith are
not. Pope Pius XII (see “Apropos” elsewhere in this issue) must be
rotating in his grave!
summary of the Müller errors was published in March on the Internet’s
Rorate Cæli Blogspot, titled “In charge of the henhouse?” (There is a
handsome picture of a fox at the top of the page.)
We’ll take them one at a time in the order given.
a religious movement especially among Roman Catholic clergy in Latin
America that combines political philosophy usually of a Marxist
orientation with a theology of salvation as liberation from
liberation theology tend to emphasize the fact that Christ liberates us from
sin—opponents tend to speak of it as “theology out of the barrel of a gun.”
In practice, the emphasis is on “social justice,” the liberation of the poor
from oppression by the propertied class. Msgr. Müller acknowledges himself
to be a disciple of Gustavo Gutiérrez, whom Goodreads.com identifies as:
Gustavo Gutiérrez Merino, O.P. is
a Peruvian theologian and Dominican priest regarded as the founder
of Liberation Theology. He holds the John Cardinal O'Hara
Professorship of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. He has
been professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and a
visiting professor at many major universities in North America and
Europe. He is a member of the Peruvian Academy of Language, and in
1993 he was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government for
his tireless work. He has also published in and been a member of the
board of directors of the international journal, Concilium.
The same site gives
about a dozen quotations from Gutiérrez’ writings:
“But the poor person does not exist as an inescapable
fact of destiny. His or her existence is not politically neutral,
and it is not ethically innocent. The poor are a by-product of the
system in which we live and for which we are responsible. They are
marginalized by our social and cultural world. They are the
oppressed, exploited proletariat, robbed of the fruit of their labor
and despoiled of their humanity. Hence the poverty of the poor is
not a call to generous relief action, but a demand that we go and
build a different social order.” ― Gustavo Gutiérrez
“The theory of dependence will take the wrong path
and lead to deception if the analysis is not put within the
framework of the worldwide class struggle.” ― Gustavo Gutiérrez,
A Theology of Liberation
“The God of Exodus is the God of history and of
political liberation more than he is the God of nature.” ― Gustavo
Gutiérrez, A Theology of Liberation
exploited proletariat, robbed of the fruit of their labor and despoiled of
their humanity,” and “the worldwide class struggle,” certainly
have a Marxist ring to them. Liberation theology has been criticized in at
least two CDF instructions: “Instruction on Certain Aspects of ‘Theology of
Liberation’” of 6 August 1984, and “Instruction on Christian Freedom and
Liberation” of 22 March
1986. Gutiérrez was not named individually, but the CDF did reject the
Marxist notion of inevitable class struggle throughout history, and the
notion that Scripture may be interpreted in an exclusively political sense.
Likewise any sort of class struggle that would undermine the hierarchical
nature of the Church. The earlier document emphasizes the reality of
liberation being, first of all, from sin. The later document places a
greater emphasis on material equality, and reads somewhat like Pope
Benedict’s Caritas in veritate.
The mindlessness of Marxist class struggle is replaced by the organized
effort of governments collaborating at the international level. The United
Nations is mentioned favorably in both documents (although not with the
enthusiasm found in
Caritas in veritate.
The later document views technology as a source of inequality, and demands
a sharing of education and resources between the rich and poor nations.
Neither document uses the words “foreign aid” but the idea is expressed,
Perhaps the most troubling omission of the CDF—one bound to continue under a Prefect
associated with liberation theology—was the failure to recognize the way in
which wealth is actually created (You cannot redistribute what does not
exist!); the symbiotic nature of land, labor, capital and entrepreneurial
ability; and the God given right to possess what one has created.
Presumably, the seventh and tenth Commandments are still in force, and the
fifth still prohibits men and women from using personal or institutionalized
violence in order to violate them. Of course, the first three Commandments
have taken a beating in recent years, so perhaps we can expect a new list
from the CDF in the near future. [To be continued.]