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PopeWatch: The Law

VATICAN-POPE-AUDIENCE

 Do not think that I am come to destroy the Law, or the prophets. I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
Matthew 5:17

Pope Francis does not like the Law it seems:

 

Christians who cling to the law and not to love are like the hypocrite Pharisees in the Gospel, Pope Francis said in today’s homily.

After Jesus meets a sick person in a Pharisee’s home on the Sabbath day in Luke 14:1-6, he asks the Pharisees and scholars of the Jewish law present: “Is it lawful to cure on the Sabbath or not?”

Receiving only silent stares, Jesus heals the man and then tells the Pharisees: “Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?”

Jesus’ actions show that love and justice, not an excessive attachment to the laws, are the path to holiness, Pope Francis said.

“This way of life of being attached to the laws, distanced (the Pharisees) from love and from justice.  They followed the laws and they neglected justice,” he said. “They followed the laws and they neglected love.”

“And for these people Jesus had only one word (to describe them): hypocrites,” the Pope continued.

“Closed-minded men, men who are so attached to the laws, to the letter of the law that they were always closing the doorway to hope, love and salvation… Men who only knew how to close (doors).”

Go here to read the rest.  The Pope seems to accept the trope that was popular back in the Sixties that Christ was all about love, and all the Church has to do is rekindle that spirit.  That is a historically erroneous view of Christ.

It is interesting that the group that Christ so frequently criticized, the Pharisees, were closest in their teaching to what Christ taught.  Like Christ some of them proclaimed the Resurrection of the dead, they believed in angels, they preached to the poor and preached to the rich a duty to help the poor materially, they believed that all men were brothers, and the list of similarities could go on at length.  Those who were far from Him, the Sadducees, the Romans, the Herodians, Christ mentioned very little.  He differed from the Pharisees in respect to ritual purity laws, such as the washing of hands, which He viewed as distracting from the leading of a moral life and preaching the Gospel.  He proclaimed some rules that were much stricter than the Pharisees:  his condemnation of divorce and his equating of lust with adultery are two examples.  Where Christ differed strongly with the Pharisees was his belief that pride in righteousness was a sin that also needed to be repented, the tax collector and the Pharisee encapsulates this, and his forgiving of sins when repentance was made, which the Pharisees viewed as blasphemy, being horrified, most of them, by Christ’s proclamation that He is God.

In regard to rules, the Law, Christ often stated that He came not to destroy the Law but to fulfill it.  He gave to His Church the power to bind and to loose, to make laws that carried on His mission to fulfill the Law.  To attempt to draw a dichotomy between the love of Christ and the Law he fulfilled is to gravely misunderstand Him.  Hopefully such a dichotomy is not what the Pope is trying to draw in his frequent fulminations against Pharisees.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

31 Comments

  1. Am I not to love my neighbor as myself and love God with all my heart mind body and soul? Are these the two laws Jesus command’s us to follow?

    If I’m abusing my free will in acts of sodomy and want vindication by global acceptance thereof..same sex marriage, then wouldn’t it be Pure Love to try to teach me that my behavior is damaging my relationship with God and man?
    I beg your pardon Pope Francis, the hypocrite is staring you in the face when you go to shave in front of your mirror.

    I will continue my prayer for Holy Father. Without laws to guide us to self control piety and holiness the wolf has no trouble feasting on the lambs.

    Jesus told St. Peter…”feed my sheep,” not feed my sheep to the wolves!

  2. This mornings 1st. Reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians 2:2; “Make my joy complete by your unanimity, possessing the one love, united in spirit and ideals.”

    Hummmmm.

  3. Read Paul’s letter to the Romans chapter 7:
    “7 What then should we say? That the law is sin? By no means! Yet, if it had not been for the law, I would not have known sin. I would not have known what it is to covet if the law had not said, ‘You shall not covet.’ 8But sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, produced in me all kinds of covetousness. Apart from the law sin lies dead. 9I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin revived 10and I died, and the very commandment that promised life proved to be death to me. 11For sin, seizing an opportunity in the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. 12So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and just and good.”

  4. Damning with faint praise:

    “Today we have one of the more unusual popes in history, enjoying almost unprecedented popularity. He is doing a marvelous job backing the financial reforms.”

  5. Anzlyne
    St Paul also says, “Now we know that whatever the Law says, it speaks to those who are under the Law, so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. But now apart from the Law the righteousness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, even the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.” [Romans 3: 19-24] and “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” [Romans 3:28]
    That is why he also says in Galatians 5, “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace… The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
    The Law is something outside man; something external. But grace is the inward working of the Spirit. Hence, St Paul says, “But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” [Gal 5:18]

  6. To Michael Paterson-Seymour

    Sit down and read the whole book of Galatians at once. St Paul is addressing the Judaizers in Galatians. It is similar to Acts 15 which does resemble somewhat Galatians 2. The Judaizers believed that circumcision was necessary to be saved (Acts 15:1). Likewise in Galatians 5:4, Paul is talking about circumcision and the law when he says “You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” Paul was not speaking of obeying any moral law. He was addressing a specific problem in a specific Church, that of Judaizers, or Christian converts that were insisting that Christians also convert and become Jews. This was the first great issue of the Church.

    Canon Law has little to do with the situation in Galatia. The moral law is an entirely different matter altogether. That is the truth that is both the basis of the Mosaic Law (but is not the Mosaic Law), and the teaching of Jesus, and the teaching of Paul and Peter and the rest of the apostles and the moral teaching of the Church. It is the common basis of objective morality everywhere. And that’s what this pope keeps conflating and contradicting all at the same time.

  7. There is now no mystery surrounding the aura of Pope Francis. We know what Pope Francis cares about and what he does not care about.

    Walter Cardinal Kasper is in the circle of those who have the most influence on Pope Francis. +Kasper wants to keep the money rolling in from the German government and he believes that giving Communion to divorced and remarried Catholics, as well as active homosexuals, is the way to make this happen. Pope Francis, for all of his pleadings for the poor, wants this German money flowing in as well. Pope Francis talks a good game about being humble but his living arrangements aren’t any cost bargain for the Holy See. Far from it. Given the fact that he, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, directed his priests to give Communion just as Kasper wants is more evidence of who Pope Francis is. Look at Cardinals Wuerl and O’Donnell. They are for giving Communion out as if it were Halloween candy, which puts them in agreement with Pope Francis.

    Pope Francis has sown that he dismisses those who treasure, live by and love Church teaching on moral issues. Not has he use for those who love the Liturgy and want it celebrated with reverence, especially the Missal of Pope St. John XXIII. Pope Francis packed the Synod with syncophants and trashes those who want to uphold church teaching on moral issues. Pope Francis can’t change the Law without incurring a near schism. He demoted +Burke but +Pell will speak out against nonsense throughout the English speaking world – and we Anglophones write the checks that pay for the Holy See operations.

    As for any bishop who publicly rebukes the SSPX – I have to giggle. The SSPX isn’t in favor of trashing Church law as given to us by Christ. Who is trying to change it?

  8. Francis sounded more like a progressive Justice of the Supreme
    Court or like Barry Lynn than Christ’s Vicar. How often have I
    heard progressive justices argue that the constitution is a living
    evolving document that can be applied to contemporary issues
    unknown to the Founding Fathers. In other words, the meaning of the
    U.S. Constitution can be twisted to suit the ideological agenda
    of progressive justices.

    I believe Francis may use the same kind of twisted logic where
    the teachings of the church rooted in God’s eternal truths are
    viewed as a living, evolving organism based on God’s love
    and mercy, which can be applied to contemporary issues,
    which were unknown to the ancient Hebrews, whose culture
    and traditions were radically different from contemporary
    Western societies. By this method, I believe Francis will
    establish a different, progressive moral agenda for the church,
    while arguing that the teachings of the church remain untouched.

  9. Donald R. McClarey: “Damning with faint praise:
    “Today we have one of the more unusual popes in history, enjoying almost unprecedented popularity. He is doing a marvelous job backing the financial reforms.””
    .
    If Pope Francis abandons the individual to embrace a social construct, Pope Francis will be abandoning a divinely created creature in favor of an earthly construct, an earthly endeavor with no grounding in heaven, nor any relationship with the Church Triumphant, who is composed of individual saints with Jesus Christ as their King. Every earthly endeavor must die.
    .
    Is Pope Francis serving Jesus Christ or his own agenda?

  10. ‘Hopefully such a dichotomy is not what the Pope is trying to draw in his frequent fulminations against Pharisees.’ It would be a cheap trick to play on the souls of those who would try to avoid being the object of those criticisms. The law (and its letters) were divinely sent to both fortify and help people understand what is the universal way to please God as well as possible.

  11. Pat wrote, “The law (and its letters) were divinely sent to both fortify and help people understand what is the universal way to please God as well as possible. The law (and its letters) were divinely sent to both fortify and help people understand what is the universal way to please God as well as possible.”
    But St Paul says the opposite; the purpose of the Law was to leave men without excuse before God. He presented the gospel by contrasting law and grace, as he did in Romans and Galatians. The law demands righteousness from man who can never produce it, but grace imparts righteousness to man as a gift. Thus, in 2 Corinthians, in contrasting law and grace, he describes the law as the “ministry of death, written and engraved on stones” and the “ministry of condemnation”.

  12. Penguins Fan wrote, “The SSPX isn’t in favor of trashing Church law as given to us by Christ.”
    The SSPX resemble the Greek Church described by Bl John Henry Newman, “they rely on things more than on persons, and go through a round of duties in one and the same way, because they are used to them, and because in consequence they are attached to them, not as having any intelligent faith in a divine oracle which has ordered them; and that in consequence they would start in irritation, as they have started, from such indications of that Oracle’s existence as is necessarily implied in the promulgation of a new definition of faith.”
    Their answer to Cardinal Manning’s question, “Do you or do you not believe that there is a Divine Person teaching now, as in the beginning, with a divine, and therefore infallible voice ; and that the Church of this hour is the organ through which He speaks to the world?” is plainly, “No.” What is this but a denial of the perpetual office of the Holy Spirit in the Church?

  13. St. Paul and the Apostles spoke to people about the love of God the Father and His grace given to faithful out of greater love than could be known by man, as He first did when He made corrections to weakening morality by the simple dictation to Moses of Ten Rules that lead to morality. Then, with Jesus’ both reiteration and way of life to His suffering, death, and resurrection, He tried again to reinforce His law given in love to be lived by His grace. What St. Paul was trying to explain was that Pharisees could not see the forest for the trees, could not get past the rules they additionally wrote and walked with false pride in adherence to their own ‘ministry of condemnation’. It just seems that man does forsake God-given grace and imitation of His boundless love by using the ‘law’ for justification.

  14. The early Fathers “endeavored to acquire the understanding of the scriptures not by their own lights,and, ideas but from the teachings and authority of the ancients, who in their turn received the rule of interpretation
    In direct line from the apostles.” RufinisHis2eccl.ii9

    The Holy Fathers to whom, after the apostles, the church owes its’ growth….who have planted, watered, built, governed, and cherished it, are of supreme authority, when they all interpret, in one and the same manner, any text of the Bible, as pertaining to the doctrine of faith or morals, for THEIR UNANIMITY clearly evinces
    That such interpretation has come down from the apostles as a matter of Catholic faith.

    Pope Francis does not sound as though he is in UNANIMITY with what has come down from the. Apostles.

  15. Mary Anne Sheehy

    One recalls Bl John Henry Newman’s satirical description of an Anglo Catholic: “I became an Anglo-Catholic. And then I read the Fathers, and I have determined what works are genuine, and what are not; which of them apply to all times, which are occasional; which historical, and which doctrinal; what opinions are private, what authoritative; what they only seem to hold, what they ought to hold; what are fundamental, what ornamental. Having thus measured and cut and put together my creed by my own proper intellect, by my own lucubrations, and differing from the whole world in my results, I distinctly bid you, I solemnly warn you, not to do as I have done, but to accept what I have found, to revere that, to use that, to believe that, for it is the teaching of the old Fathers, and of your Mother the Church of England. Take my word for it, that this is the very truth of Christ; deny your own reason, for I know better than you, and it is as clear as day that some moral fault in you is the cause of your differing from me. It is pride, or vanity, or self-reliance, or fullness of bread. You require some medicine for your soul; you must fast; you must make a general confession; and look very sharp to yourself, for you are already next door to a rationalist or an infidel.”

  16. Michael Paterson-Seymour: John Henry Cardinal Newman converted to Catholicism in October 1845. When Cardinal Newman speaks of Holy Mother Church of England is Cardinal Newman speaking of the Anglican Church of England or the Catholic Church of England?

  17. Mary de Voe asks, “is Cardinal Newman speaking of the Anglican Church of England or the Catholic Church of England?”
    The quotation is from his “Anglican Difficulties.”He is imagining an Anglo-Catholic, a follower of the Oxford Movement speaking, so the reference is to the Anglican Church.
    Elsewhere, he makes the same point with regard to the Bible as he does here about the Fathers. “ It is antecedently unreasonable to suppose that a book so complex, so systematic, in parts so obscure, the outcome of so many minds, times, and places, should be given us from above without the safeguard of some authority; as if it could possibly, from the nature of the case, interpret itself. Its inspiration does but guarantee its truth, not its interpretation. How are private readers satisfactorily to distinguish what is didactic and what is historical, what is fact and what is vision, what is allegorical and what is literal, what is idiomatic and what is grammatical, what is enunciated formally and what occurs obiter, what is only of temporary and what is of lasting obligation? Such is our natural anticipation, and it is only too exactly justified in the events of the last three centuries, in the many countries where private judgment on the text of Scripture has prevailed. The gift of inspiration requires as its complement the gift of infallibility.” [On the Inspiration of Scripture]

  18. Shedding further light on my post, which is from a Roman Catholic book, which is extremely worn and tattered. It was my Mothers, who was a holy Roman Catholic Lady. The popes in the back emd at Leo XIII

    Here is a better one, saying essentially the same thing: imprimatur 1908. From Catechism of the Catholic Religion by Joseph. deharbe, S.J.

    Vatican Council 1 declares ” that in matters of faith and morals, appertaining to the building uo uf Christian Doctrine, that is to be held as true sense of Holy Scripture which our holy mother Church hath held and holds, to whom it belongs to judge of the true sense and interpretation of HolyScripture: and therefore it is permitted to no one to interpret the Holy Scripture contrary to this sense or likewise contrary to the UNANIMOUS consent of.tHe Fathers.
    Dogmatic Constitution on the Catholic FaithII

    Catechism of the Catholic Religion. Joseph DeHarbe, S J. With imprimatur. 1908
    ;

  19. Mary Anne Sheehy
    Yes, but the Fathers themselves, like Holy Scripture, require to be interpreted. They cannot speak for themselves. Even the Third Ecumenical Council (Council of Ephesus) quoted in support of its definition a letter of Timotheus, the Apollinarian, if not of Apollinaris himself, believing it to be by Pope St Julius. Of course, the Council’s grounds or reasoning are no part of the definition, which alone is infallible.
    Thus, Newman says, “Doubtless, a certain interpretation of a doctrinal text may be so strongly supported by the Fathers, so continuous and universal, and so cognate and connatural with the Church’s teaching, that it is virtually or practically as dogmatic as if it were a formal judgment delivered on appeal by the Holy See, and cannot be disputed except as the Church or Holy See opens its wording or its conditions. Hence the Vatican Council says, &c [the passage you quote] And I repeat, that, though the Fathers were not inspired, yet their united testimony is of supreme authority; at the same time, since no Canon or List has been determined of the Fathers, the practical rule of duty is obedience to the voice of the Church.”

  20. I guess I did not conceive of the idea that this was an ecumenical conversation. I will look very sharp to myself before I get in over my head again, Michael. I am not too hot on dialogue.. Thank you Mary DeVoe
    For helping, with your question. Thank you, Michael for the interesting information. I love Cardinal Newmans hymn, which he wrote: Lead Kindly Light.

  21. Oh, MPS, come on. The SSPX resembles the Greek Orthodox? In what universe?

    The SSPX has big problems with certain aspects of the Second Vatican Council, and I agree with much of what they say. The Greek Orthodox at Mount Athos consider the Pope and the Western Church to be heretics.

  22. Well Michael the upshot is: ” the practical rule of duty is obedience to the voice of the Church.”
    Mary Anne Sheehy and her mother’s point stands very well with the holy convert Newman, who at accepted the “voice” of the Catholic Church including those Fathers as well as Leo. Unanimity and willing submission to the historical teachings is the point she made I believe, and also of major importance to Newman. That humility and unity is the missing ingredient in the discussions under pope Francis..

  23. Thank you, Anzlyne. My Grandfather, a Protestant, loved to sing ‘Lead Kindly Light’ a lot, in his beautiful Welch singing voice. A few days before his death, he saw a beautiful Lady, standing on the other side of a
    Beautiful stream of water. She was “beckoning to me”. He asked for a Roman Cathilic Priest, and was baptized, received the sacraments, and passed away shortly thereafter. His twelve children and his wife had always prayed for this. The story has been passed down three generations now. Besides its beauty, that is another reason why I love ‘Lead Kindly Light’ so very much.

  24. Back to Topic: God is the first Giver of the Law, Doctrine, faith, Morals, St. Peter and the Apostles, then The
    Line of Priests, Bishops, Cardinals to bind them on earth. The Roman Catholic Faith isn’t rocket science.

    I like Phillips description of a Pharisee as described in sentence 6 of one his posts. About the shaving…..

  25. Penguins Fan wrote, “The SSPX resembles the Greek Orthodox? In what universe?”
    Their principle is one and the same: that the teaching of the Church is something to be searched for in the records of the past rather than something to be heard and accepted in the living present.
    That brings us back to Manning’s question, “Do you or do you not believe that there is a Divine Person teaching now, as in the beginning, with a divine, and therefore infallible voice; and that the Church of this hour is the organ through which He speaks to the world?”

  26. Michael Paterson-Seymour: ” The gift of inspiration requires as its complement the gift of infallibility.” [On the Inspiration of Scripture]
    Did John Henry Newman consider the Holy Mother Church of England to have infallibility?

  27. Thank you, Mary Anne Sheehy for sharing your wonderful story of the miracle of your grandfather’s conversion.
    .
    “My Grandfather, a Protestant, loved to sing ‘Lead Kindly Light’ a lot, in his beautiful Welch singing voice. A few days before his death, he saw a beautiful Lady, standing on the other side of a Beautiful stream of water. She was “beckoning to me”. He asked for a Roman Catholic Priest, and was baptized, received the sacraments, and passed away shortly thereafter. His twelve children and his wife had always prayed for this. The story has been passed down three generations now. Besides its beauty, that is another reason why I love ‘Lead Kindly Light’ so very much.”
    .
    Would that all people see the Beautiful Lady standing on the other side of a beautiful stream.

  28. Mary de Voe asked, “Did John Henry Newman consider the Holy Mother Church of England to have infallibility?”

    No, which is, ultimately, why he left it. As a young man, he had sought to find the rule of faith in the Bible, then in the Church Fathers and the Church of the first eight centuries. He finally came to realise that the only alternative to private judgment is a living teacher. Here there were no rivals; only Rome even claimed to possess one.

  29. Author: Michael Paterson-Seymour: “Mary de Voe asked, “Did John Henry Newman consider the Holy Mother Church of England to have infallibility?”

    “No, which is, ultimately, why he left it. As a young man, he had sought to find the rule of faith in the Bible, then in the Church Fathers and the Church of the first eight centuries. He finally came to realise that the only alternative to private judgment is a living teacher. Here there were no rivals; only Rome even claimed to possess one.”
    .
    Michael Paterson-Seymour: Your honesty does you Justice.

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