Will Pope Allow Divorce and Remarriage for the Sake of Conscience?

Regarding the Conscience Kasperites™

The 2015 Roman Synod on the Family has come to a close and I’ve had a chance to review the document. As I stated back in July, the strategy of revisionist Kasperites (named after their proponent Cardinal Walter Kasper) in the Catholic Church will be to maintain official doctrine, but to change pastoral practice in the name of “mercy” so that the doctrine becomes de facto disregarded. We saw this play out during the Synod:

Cardinal Walter Kasper (age 82)

Cardinal Walter Kasper (age 82)

Thanks be to God, that the bishops at the Synod voted against the “Kasper Proposal.” If you need to catch up on what’s going down, you might read Father Z’s article on the Final Report Paragraphs 84-85. All the meat in this debate is found in those paragraphs.


In 1993 Cardinal Kapser signed a pastoral letter which requested that divorced and civilly remarried German Catholics be able to receive the Eucharist under pastoral review. Then Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Saint John Paul II strongly disapproved. So this has been in the works for over 22 years!

At Synod of Bishops in 2014, Cardinal Kasper told reporters that since African, Asian, and Middle Eastern countries have a “taboo” against homosexuality, “they should not tell us too much what we have to do.” When the quote become public, Kasper denied having made the comment. The reporter Edward Pentin later produced a recording of the conversation, which verified that the Cardinal had made such a statement.

What is “Conscience” and How It Matters in This Debate

The “Conscience Kasperites”™ will use the slogan “conscience is inviolable” to license laymen, priests, and bishops (and popes?) to allow Catholics to openly disagree with Catholic teaching. Recently, Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago seems to serve as the American Apostle of “Conscience Kasperites”.

Archbishop Blase Cupich, age 66

Archbishop Blase Cupich, age 66

Archbishop Blase Cupich (pronounced SOO-Pitch) of Chicago (papal delegate to the Roman Synod on the Family) has said that civilly divorced and remarried Catholics should “come to a decision in good conscience” and that the Church should “help them move forward and to respect that.”

Thankfully, the Catholic Church didn’t allow King Henry VIII to “come to a decision in good conscience” and “respect that” with regard to his marriage(s). King Henry VIII, according to his own testimony, was 100% convinced that his union with Catherine of Aragon was not only null but contrary to God’s will. But the Catholic Church didn’t “help him move forward and respect that.” Schism followed but the Catholic Church stood firm for the teaching of Christ. It was the pastoral thing to do.

The Church and her bishops (and laity) don’t have magic goggles that allow them to inspect as to whether a person is living according to his or her conscience. Kasper and Cupich don’t know if a couple are living in accord with their conscience. This is why we Catholics have objective rules and tangible sacraments. Canon law and infallible magisterial teaching are the instruments of pastoral direction.

Father Z also spoke of the new doctrinal need for Catholics to get deep into the orthodox teaching on “conscience,” because the doctrine of conscience being advocated by the”Conscience Kasperites”™ is not the doctrine found in Saint John Paul II, nor in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Conscience is “con+scientia = “with knowledge”

Conscience is a word formed by two Latin words: con/cum (with) and scientia (knowledge). It is the judgment of reason by which we knowledgeably jude our moral actions. Here is what the Catechism says about conscience [with my comments in red]:

1796 Conscience is a judgment of reason by which the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act. [conscience judges certain concrete acts – not tendencies or lifestyles]

1797 For the man who has committed evil, the verdict of his conscience remains a pledge of conversion and of hope. [conscience is a pledge toward conversion]

1798 A well-formed conscience is upright and truthful. [conscience must be well-formed] It formulates its judgments according to reason, in conformity with the true good willed by the wisdom of the Creator. Everyone must avail himself of the means to form his conscience.

1799 Faced with a moral choice, conscience can make either a right judgment in accordance with reason and the divine law [this is the part of the CCC that “Conscience Kasperites”™ reject] or, on the contrary, an erroneous judgment that departs from them.

1800 A human being must always obey the certain judgment of his conscience.

1801 Conscience can remain in ignorance or make erroneous judgments. Such ignorance and errors are not always free of guilt. [“Conscience Kasperites”™ also dismiss this truth that having a bad conscience does NOT necessarily remove moral guilt]

1802 The Word of God is a light for our path [the Word of God, the Bible is our path – so a pastor or bishop should read the word of God to us in each of these moral dilemmas so that we can make a right and true judgment]. We must assimilate it in faith and prayer and put it into practice. This is how moral conscience is formed.

What’s the take home here? A conscience is well formed “with knowledge” based on the Word of God, prayer, and truth faith.

It is literally impossible for a Catholic to read the appropriate passages in Scripture and the Catechism of the Catholic Church and conclude in their conscience:

  • committing a homosexual act today is morally good.
  • today I can vote to fund abortion with tax-payer funds and not be guilty of grave sin.
  • if I’m still in a sacramental marriage “till death do us part,” I can have sex tonight with someone besides my living spouse.
  • to masturbate at this moment is morally permissible.
  • I can exploit my workers and not pay them because my conscience doesn’t bother me. It must not be a sin.
  • I am aware that the Catholic Church calls contraception an “intrinsic evil,” but my conscience tells me it’s a good thing for my marriage and well-being.

Please hold fast to the authentic Catholic teaching of Saint John Paul II. The conscience is “man’s most secret core, and his sanctuary.” Yet sanctuaries must be designed, decorated, and maintained.

Ignorance does mitigate guilt and can exclude it altogether. But pastorally, a shepherd (bishop or pastor) should feed his flock with the truth, and work to form their consciences with knowledge. 

Hard truth: If a parish is full of people with “badly formed consciences,” then what’s the proper pastoral response?

If my children grow up thinking that lying is okay or stealing little pieces of candy from the pharmacy is “no big deal” – then that’s my bad as a parent. I failed them as a father if they say, “When Dad saw us stealing candy at Walmart, he simply said: ‘Follow your conscience on the matter.'” But if they steal candy and know, “My father taught me not to do this, but I’m going to do it any way,” then I did my job and that’s their guilt.

Reverend and Spiritual Fathers, do your spiritual children know right from wrong? If you’ve been Pastor for 10 years and 90% of your congregation honestly thinks contraception is morally permissible, then you’ve failed them as a spiritual father. The deserve to be taught the Catholic truth in a careful, patient, and loving way. Caritas in veritate.

If a layman says, “Yes, Father, I understand that the Church teaches that [fill in the blank] is an intrinsic evil and/or disordered but for me in my conscience it’s good…so I’m going to keep doing it anyway, and I’ll keep coming to Holy Communion,” then that pastor should pray and work so as to correct the erroneous conscience. He cannot say “I’m glad that you’ve come to a decision in good conscience…and I want to help you move forward and I respect that.”

That’s not how father’s speak with children that they love.

What Can You Do – 3 Step Program?

Step 1: Read the section in the Catechism on Conscience in full. It will take you less than 2 minutes to read. Here it is: This is your homework (CCC 1776-1802).

Step 2: Familiarize yourself with the way that Conscience Kasperites™ are using the word “conscience” to promote relativism. Relativists say, “What’s right for me may not be right for you.” Conscience Kasperites™ also affirm this teaching but they attempt to Christianize it by appealing to malformed consciences: “What’s right for your conscience may not line up with Church teaching, and that’s okay.”

Step 3: Pray and be joyful. Don’t be stressed out over this. The theological enemies of the Catholic Church always fade away. The truth of God abides forever. They will lose this battle. Their disagreement will only create a great movement of truth against it.

Question: Have you met Conscience Kasperites™? Are you ready? Do you think “conscience” is being abused? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


Who was the Second Pope: Intro to Saint Linus

And his thoughts on chapel veils...

We all know that Saint Peter was the first Pope, but who took up the reins after the Emperor Nero crucified Peter upside down below the Vatican Hill?

Tradition identifies Saint Linus as Pope #2. In today’s video, I give you a short intro into this sainted pope and martyr – who shares a feast day with Padre Pio:

If you don’t see the video in your email or rss, please click here to watch it.

If you’re interested in going on a pilgrimage to Rome with me in 2016, please click here for details.


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Pope Pius IX’s Secret Vist to America in 1849

The aquatic entry of a Pope onto America Territory

With Pope Francis arriving in America, there are many media sources recollecting the “first” papal visit to the United States by Pope Paul VI. But this isn’t quite correct. Back in 1849, there was a covert visit to the United States by Pope Pius IX. Here’s a video explaining it, or you can read on below for a full explanation of this little known historical fact:

If you don’t see the video in your email or RSS, click here.

I’ve only had the opportunity to visit the White House once and after lunch I was shown a portrait of a large ship flying the American and Papal flags. It depicts the first papal visit to the territory of the United States in the person of Pope Pius IX in 1849.

The American USS Constitution (known affectionally as “Old Ironsides”) received onboard King Ferdinand II and Pope Pius IX on Aug 1 1849 giving them a 21-gun salute. By stepping on board an American vessel, the Holy Father officially entered American territory. A commissioned military ship has the same legal status as a piece of political soil. So while Pius IX did not actually enter the borders of the United States, he did technically step foot onto American territory.

The King and Pope received a full tour of Old Ironsides and was even hosted in Captain Gwinn’s quarters. The Holy Father personally met the Catholic sailors on board, blessed them, and spoke with them through an English/Italian interpreter.

To show his appreciation, Pope Pius IX struck a silver medal bearing the pontiff’s coat of arms along with the coat of arms of Captain Gwinn. The Holy Father also sent papally blessed Rosaries to the crew of the Constitution. 

When news reached the United States that the Pope of Rome had received hospitality on an American war vessel, the Navy was furious. Commodore Morgan sought to have Captain Gwinn disciplined. However, Gwinn died months later before disciplinary measures could be executed. I’m sure Saint Peter returned the hospitality to Captain Gwinn…

Question: Did you know that a Pope had “entered America” back in 1849? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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[Catholic Video] Do Catholics Reject Separation of Church and State? Yes

Do Catholics reject the principle of Separation of Church and State? Some might be surprised to learn that the “separation of Church and State” was doctrinally condemned by Pope Pius IX in 1852 and again by Pope Saint Pius X in 1907.

In this sample New Saint Thomas video I explain what these Popes taught, why they taught it, and how we as Catholics can better understand the relationship between secular nations and the Catholic Church. If you love your nation and Church, then you need to know this:

[HD Video] Church and State: Religion and Secularism in the Public Square

From NSTI Module 4: Atheism and Secularism of the Catholic Certificate in Apologetics. Taylor explains the papal teaching on secular states and the Catholic Church:

Having trouble seeing the video in your RSS feed or email? Click here to watch the video.

Question: Were you aware that the Catholic Church had social teaching on the separation of Church and State? Do you think that the solution in the video is helpful? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Message for those of you that are not yet Members of the New Saint Thomas Institute:

Fall Enrollment for new members to the New Saint Thomas Institute (NSTI) ends at 11:59pm on Tuesday September 15. There are less than 59 spots left at the reduced tuition rate with the bonuses. If you have friends or family who would like join, please share this post with them. Here’s the link for Fall Enrollment with the bonuses and tuition discount: special link for joining the New Saint Thomas Institute.]

How the Home-screen looks of our NSTI Certificate in Catholic Apologetics:

NSTI Apologetics Screen


Is Pope Francis Allowing Abortion to Be Absolved? (and SSPX News)

I’m pretty excited about Pope Francis’ upcoming Year of Mercy. The news just came out about his decree that all priests will be given faculties to absolve certain “reserved sins,” and the media is making a mess of it because it relates to abortion.

A non-Catholic reader asks:

What’s up with the Pope on forgiving abortion? I thought you couldn’t forgive until holy year [of Mercy] starts on December 8 2015.”

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 4.03.31 PMThere’s a lot of confusion on the Pope’s recent announcement about the new jurisdiction being granted universally to priests in the case of abortion. The confusion centers on the Catholic teaching of “reserved sins.”

Reserved sins are those that a normal parish priest cannot absolve.

For example, if you try to assassinate the Pope or you purposefully desecrate a Eucharist Host in a Wiccan liturgy, these sins are “reserved.” The local priest cannot simply give you absolution and send you on your way.

Canon Law states that when a woman has an abortion, she and all those who aided her (doctors, nurses, spouses, and anyone who paid for it) are automatically excommunicated (latae sententiae) from the Catholic Church.

So abortion is both a mortal sin and a canonical crime leading to excommunication. So the sin must be absolved and the canonical censure must be removed.

Historically, the crime and sin of abortion was “reserved” to the local bishop. This means that the local priest had to involve the bishop before absolution was granted.

In most places in our current time, the local bishop has dispensed with this and has deputized all his priests to absolve the sin of abortion without referring the case to the bishop.

What Pope Francis is generously decreeing is that universally, all over the world, even if the local bishop has not deputized his priests to absolve abortion, the Pope is de facto granting direct jurisdiction for priests to absolve the sin of abortion starting Dec 8.

Pope Francis on SSPX:

In other news, the Pope has stated that the priests of the Society of Saint Pius X will be granted faculties directly by the Holy Father to absolve sinners. Previously SSPX priests did not have canonical jurisdiction over souls and thus they could not validly grant absolution. Pope Francis’ decree for the Year of Mercy now extends faculties to the priests of the SSPX. Good news for them!

Question: Were you aware of “reserved sins” previously? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Fall Enrollment for Catholic online classes at the New Saint Thomas Institute is open. Earn your Catholic Certificate in Theology. Over 75 Catholic video and audio lessons. 36% off tuition. $119 in bonuses. Join an army of 1,900 students in the New Saint Thomas Institute. Sale and enrollment ends soon. To learn more or sign up, click here.


Why do Popes Change Their Names?

This morning I was so excited to begin teaching a class for the Rome Experience at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (Santa Croce) in Rome. All of the seminarians are top-shelf Catholics and gentlemen. It’s an honor to be here with them.

In this morning’s second session on “The Theology of Rome,” (which is covered in book form here), we studied the second chapter of Daniel and explored the role of the unhewn stone that destroys the pagan sovereign kingdom’s over Israel – climaxing in the Roman Empire. The Stone is Christ, but it is instrumentally Saint Peter (Kepha in Aramaic or Petros in Greek) when we appreciate the Roman context of the prophecy.

One of the students raised an excellent question: “Why do Popes choose new names?” Here’s where the tradition got started:

Pope Mercury? Try again…Pope John II

Johannes_IIOn January 2 AD 533, a priest of Rome named Mercurius was elected as the Pope. He felt, however, that it would be unbecoming of the Holy See to have a Pope named after a Roman god “Mercury.” It would sound strange to Roman ears. Think of saying something like “Pope Jupiter” or “Pope Neptune.” So this priest opted not to be called “Pope Mercury” and instead changed his name when he became Pope.

Not all Popes after Mercury chose new names. However, those with extremely non-Roman names (think Germanic Popes) often chose Roman names assimilate into their Roman context. Pope Adalbert just sounds wrong.

Mercury chose the name “John” to honor his papal predecessor Pope John I who died in AD 526. Incidentally, Pope Saint John I was the first Pope to visit Constantinople while serving as Pope.

Pope John II (Mercury) is notable in Church History because obtained from the Emperor Justinian his orthodox profession of the Catholic Faith and his repudiation of the Monophysite heresy.

  • Fun Fact #1: The last pope to use his personal baptismal name was Pope Marcellus II in 1555.
    Fun Fact #2: There hadn’t been a new Papal name since AD 913 until Pope Francis! Before Pope Francis, Popes always chose names from the recycled list of previous Papal names. I supposed that “John Paul” is technically a new name, but it’s also a compound name of two previously uses Papal names.

Question: What Papal name would you choose for the next Pope and why? Which would I choose? I love Pope Leo XIII (by the way, will somebody please canonize him!), so I’d like the next Pope to be Pope Leo XIV. Plus, Leo is a very regal name. So…what named would you like to see for the next Holy Father. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

[Video] Is Eucharistic Benediction with the Pope More Powerful?

Is Eucharistic Benediction more powerful in the hands of the Pope?

The answer may surprise you. I share my thoughts after attending Eucharistic Benediction with Pope Francis on the Feast of Corpus Christi:

To watch the video at Youtube, please click here.

I’d like to add here that there are always “extra graces” associated with the Petrine ministry and his liturgical functions. I simply wanted to express that the Eucharistic Benediction is Christ’s direct blessing on your life. He is really there blessing you from the monstrance – whether it’s the Pope holding the monstrance or newly ordained priest. Christ does the blessing.

I hope you enjoy the video.

Question: Is there anything else you’d like me to cover while I’m here in Rome? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

I’m here with the Rome Experience teaching seminarians. Please learn more about the Rome Experience and support this powerful apostolate with your prayers and gifts: The Rome Experience.

Screen Shot 2015-06-05 at 11.44.48 AM

Pope Francis says iPhones are Damaging Families

Pope Francis has called families to put down their iPads, tablets, gadgets, smart phones and to start talking to one another in a personal way.

Joy and I are struggling with this. The kids got Kindle Fires for Christmas…for reading. But with all the features, they are turning into iPads with games, movies, etc. We have them locked down so they can’t get the internet, but still, in the evening I look around and see everyone on a screen. It’s getting kind of scary. So the Pope’s words have hit open ears.

family on ipads

In his annual message for the World Day of Communications, Pope Francis said:

The great challenge facing us today is to learn once again how to talk to one another, not simply how to generate and consume information,” the Pope said.

Question: Do you agree? Does your family or group of friends retreat to gadgets? How do we use them for good without becoming slaves to the screen? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Full story from the Telegraph can be found here.

My thoughts on Pope Francis and Breeding Like Rabbits

Pope Francis recently explained that Catholics don’t need to breed reproduce like rabbits in order to be good Catholics. I don’t ever weigh in on Pope Francis debates, but today I’ll dip my toe.


Whenever the Pope has one of these zingers, I receive emails, comments, texts, and Facebook messages asking me to comment on this-or-that latest comment by Pope Francis. I like to remain silent. But today I thought I’d share my personal thoughts (not judgment).

The latest excitement is over Pope Francis’ comment that Catholics don’t have to breed “like rabbits” in order to be faithful.

To celebrate on Valentines Day this year, I’m going to get this really attractive date outfit for my wife Joy (beautiful mother of seven). Shhh. Don’t tell her. It’s a secret:

catholic lingerie

But seriously, I know that many families have been hurt or discouraged by this rascally rabbits comment:

  • They are strong Catholics with a love for Jesus and the Church.
  • They are open to life with all the joys and crosses that come along with it.
  • They struggle with raising a large family.
  • Finances are tight.
  • School tuition is expensive.
  • Mom gets ridiculed at the supermarket for “all those kids”
  • Neighbors say stuff like “Don’t you know how that happens?”
  • Grandparents murmur about responsibility.
  • Husband and wife exchange worried glances as they go over budgets and college funds.

The one place that “understands them” is supposed to be the Catholic Church. However, when they hear themselves compared to “rabbits” by the Holy Father (whatever the context), they feel hurt.

Here’s my take on this episode and most of the other papal soundbites that get filtered through the media:

A Pope can take an external or internal approach to his role as the Vicar of Christ.

1) An internal approach would direct papal teaching and speaking energies to the faithful within the Catholic Church. He would primarily encourage and edify those who are in the fold, as Christ said to Peter: “And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Lk 22:32).

2) An external approach would be to direct his teaching and speaking energies to the secular world which is either skeptical about the Church or downright opposed to it. The goal is bring about conversions from an unsuspecting society. An external approach crafts communicative missives to the skeptics, world leaders, and enemies of Christianity.

Pope Francis is clearly of the second approach: external. He’s sending out zingers and being provocative in order to get the attention of those who have dismissed Christ, Christianity, and the Catholic Church.

The good news is that his soundbites get turned into widely publicized headlines in secular news outlets. His voice resounds through the electric echo chamber of global communications…free press. The bad news is that there seems to be a lot of confusion over controversial positions facing the Church.

So here’s my layman’s take on it:

Let me lay down a caveat before I say something controversial here. I am a layman. I have zero magisterial authority. I’m just a guy tapping on a keyboard in Texas…

But my personal opinion (which might not be worth two cents) is that the Holy Father, in our time, should be focused on an internal approach to the papacy. Why fly around with a airplane full of journalists recording soundbites only so that they can warp them and confuse the faithful globally. It is true that the secular world happily repeats the provocative messages – but they do so unfaithfully. First confusion about homosexuality, then atheism, then remarriage, then Catholic rabbits, and so on.

My personal opinion (probably not worth two cents) is that the Church needs a papacy focused internally on feeding the sheep in the fold and less attention on distracting the wolves externally.

I think Pope Francis is a good man. He’s committed to trying to resurrect the “external papacy” of Pope Saint John Paul II rather than the “internal papacy” of Pope Benedict XVI. Unfortunately, I think the strategy, at this point, isn’t working out.

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Question: Do you think that the papacy should be focused internally, externally, or 50/50? Comments are open, but be please charitable toward each other and toward the Holy Father. As mamma said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Saint Irene: Miss Constantinople Beauty Pageant Winner of AD 768

Here’s the story of how an Byzantine Empress had her political enemies ordained priests so keep them out of political office…and how she later proposed marriage to Charlemagne…and was denied.

Here’s a quick backstory to the plot.

Irina of AthensSaint Irene was the wife and empress of the Byzantine Emperor Leo IV. She was not a princess. Historians believe she was chosen to marry the emperor’s son through an imperial Miss Byzantine Beauty Pageant known as a Bride Show.

Basically, the Byzantine emperor would line up the most gorgeous women of the empire for a beauty contest, and the emperor’s son would choose his favorite.

(“Wow dad, that girl over there would make for a really hot empress. Can I marry her?”

“If she’s the one you like.”

“Gee, thanks dad!”

“You’re welcome, son. Happy birthday Leo!”)

Although she won out as “Miss Constantinople AD 768,” she soon learned that her young husband Leo IV espoused the heresy of iconoclasm.

Iconoclasm wrongly taught that images of of Christ, Mary, and the saints should not only be removed from churches and homes, but that they should be destroyed as being contrary to the commandment “Thou shalt not make unto thyself any graven image.”

Saint Irene’s husband Leo IV died and left the throne to their nine year old son Constantine VI. She served as Regent until the prince reached the age of majority.

Irene unveiled a plot enthrone throne Caesar Nikephoros, a half-brother of her deceased husband Leo IV. To overcome this conspiracy, she had Nikephoros and his co-conspirators ordained as priests, an act that disqualified them from political office. Check mate!

“So you want to usurp my nine-year-old son’s rightful claim on the Byzantine throne, do you? Too bad. I’ve arranged for you to receive Holy Orders tomorrow before breakfast. Toodles!”

Saint Irene got busy. She arranged for her son Constantine VI to marry Rotrude the daughter of Charlemagne, but the wedding fell through. (Maybe the young Constantine VI also wanted to choose his own Miss Constantinople rather than risk it with the daughter of a Frankish warlord.)

Irene also worked with the Pope in Rome for the Second Ecumenical Council of Nicea in AD 787 to doctrinally ratify the use of Christian images of Christ and the saints.

Saint Irene refused to allow the rule to pass from her regency to her son Constantine VI. Like Queen Elizabeth I of England, she employed the male title of “king” (basileus) instead of “queen” (basilissa). She was King Irene!

By the way, Pope Leo III crowned Charlemagne as a substitute Roman Emperor because of the irregularity of Irene’s rule in the New Rome of Byzantium!

The widowed Irene later proposed marriage to Charlemagne to reestablish the glory of Constantinople! Charlemagne declined…even though she had once been Miss Constantinople.

Saint Irene’s feast day is August 9.

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