We are in confusing times, with a myriad of cross-currents and whirlpools.
If you have not yet heard, Pope Francis has been hit with a direct pie-in-the-face criticism. Not from Protestants, but from Catholics. Most people reading this will be non-Catholics, but they have a direct stake in what is now on-going in the Catholic Church.
Christians have found common ground in the last forty years, beginning with abortion. First class, ripping-apart-an-unborn-baby abortion.
But many other things they have not been able to agree on, although a few Protestants have come to grudgingly accept the Catholic position … on contraception and on divorce-and-remarriage.
They have discovered that it was, not too long ago, the unanimous consensus of Protestants that contraception and divorce-and-remarriage were incompatible with Sacred Scripture — that supposed lifeline of Protestant theology.
But now it appears that Pope Francis has become … a Protestant. He has admitted that allowing Holy Communion can be OK for the divorced-and-remarried, in utter defiance of Matthew 19 and 1 Cor 11:29. If Protestants reading this have their own explanation of what divorce or Holy Communion is — or was — it was not the historic reality of Christianity. Even the Reformation was not triggered by these controversies, but came later, and not to all of the denominations.
And the orthodox, evangelical, main-line and fundamentalist Protestants have danced around the air-tight admonition of Christ regarding divorce-and-remarriage for nearly a hundred years or more. It has been an internal contradiction of devotion to Sacred Scripture. Some things are open to interpretation. It would appear Christ’s opinion of remarriage after a divorce is not one of them. Many of those reading this have done so, even more than once. I offer no judgment. I only give you Christ’s opinion, an opinion held by both Catholics and Protestants until very recently.
Catholic teaching has maintained it, and it is Pope Francis’ duty, not to reinvent the wheel, but to keep the one that is already in place in good repair. And, it ought to be noted, no divorced-and-remarried Catholic is excommunicated. They are welcome at Mass. Many surreptitiously go to Holy Communion anyway, often with a nod and a wink from their parish priests. Until now, it was a local problem, usually brushed aside by priests and bishops. Now, it is systemic.
If the Catholic Church goes into schism, as it appears it is about to do, then all of Christianity is going to descend into a maelstrom of contradiction, confusion and uncertainty. Indeed, many Protestants will come to realize that their own defense of Christian Truth will now be undermined, since it was the Catholics that long, long ago defended those truths against: Gnostics, Arians, Cathars, Monophysites, Iconoclasts, Monothelites, Albigensians, Nestorians, Waldensians.
I omit Luther and Calvin simply because we cannot agree on that. They will find that with over a billion Catholics in world-wide schism, Christian safety will rest on a foundation of sand before the monstrous and murderous power of the secular world.
Pope Francis, now a de facto Protestant, has destroyed three of the seven sacraments at once: Confession, because now adultery will not need to be seen as sinful. Next, marriage, because now if we can be open to adultery, why not polygamy, homosexual unions, incestuous and bestial marriages? And finally the heart of Catholicism, the Real Presence of Christ, now merely symbolic and not very important, after all.
Francis is himself is a jumble of contradictions. He is not the friendly, humble papa depicted in the media. He is vacillating, inconsistent, impulsive, mean-spirited and vicious, firing or marginalizing those who have the audacity to challenge his orthodoxy. He expects, obedience — a Catholic concept — to his Petrine Office, while at the same time he reinvents the Truths of Christ, found not only in Scripture, but in the long-standing teachings of the one Catholic Church.
“Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever.” I am not sure all Christians recite this, but Catholics do. If Pope Francis is right, it appears that God can change His mind after all.