What’s Behind Pope Francis’ Ten Commandments Controversy?

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Best explained by Brother Andre Marie at Catholicism.org, quoting the Holy Father:

“How do I live? In the fear that if I do not do this, I will go to hell? Or do I live with that hope too, with that joy of the gratuitousness of salvation in Jesus Christ? It is a good question. And also a second one: do I scorn the Commandments? No. I observe them, but not as absolutes, because I know that it is Jesus Christ who justifies me.”

The last sentence is the one that grabbed so much attention — and rightly so. The statement as it appears here is utterly irreconcilable with Catholic doctrine. (Unless I’m missing some subtlety, this appears to be an accurate rendering of the Italian original: “Li osservo, ma non come assoluti, perché so che quello che mi giustifica è Gesù Cristo.”) The Holy Father’s statement is remarkably consistent, however, with Amoris laetitia, particularly the part that says that unrepentant serial adulterers may receive Holy Communion.

There is an important distinction needed. A careful reading of the text has lead me to conclude that the Holy Father is blurring the distinction between the moral law as summarized in the Decalogue (which is what we most often mean when we say, “the commandments”) and the totality of the Mosaic Law. The moral law, or natural law, is binding on all Christians, not relatively but absolutely. The moral law was one of the three parts of the Mosaic Law, the other two being the ceremonial precepts and the juridical law. Those two other parts are, after the promulgation of the Gospel, both dead and deadly, to cite the authoritative doctrine of the Council of Florence… The moral law has been absorbed into and elevated by the the New Law of Christ, so much so that the two-fold commandment of Charity (love of God and love of neighbor) corresponds to the two tablets of the Decalogue. That the demands of the commandments are even greater in the New Covenant is quite plain from the Sermon on the Mount.

In blurring the distinction between the Decalogue and the rest of the Mosaic Law, the Holy Father reduces the former to the “propaedeutic” role of a pedagogue; but that is not the doctrine of Saint Paul. And it is not the doctrine of the Church, which holds Christians to the demands of the Decalogue. It is Lutheranism with its sola fide doctrine, not Catholicism, that downplays the Decalogue by having grace somehow negate the obligation to keep the moral law.

We as believers need to stay united in Faith. Luther’s teachings are still heresies, and will always be heresies. Being saved by “faith alone” is a false doctrine; being saved by “Christ alone” as if Christ is separate from His own teachings, or His own bride, is a false doctrine.

Stay confessed, stay prayerful, and pray for the Holy Father.

Saint Pius XI, ora pro nobis!