I don’t normally talk about Christian stuff. Generally there’s more than enough stuff in the Pagan community to talk about if I want to, and politics the rest. I don’t generally like to get involved with the Christians, I’d rather leave them to their own house. But recent event have caused me to look toward one of the oldest enemies of my people and our ways, and grow concerned, because I don’t know what will come of this.
First off, I’m sure most of us are familiar with Pope Francis, a man of remarkably Progressive nature for what one would expect of a Catholic, and a man rather infamous for his views that open borders are the way to go and that Europeans need to basically shut the fuck up about massive immigration by non-natives who bring little more than poverty, crime, violence, and rape with them. But even that is not enough to get his fellow Catholics to do or say anything about him. Brotherhood of Christ or something, I suppose.
However, there is something that will get them to speak up. When the Pope himself appears to support the committing of “Mortal Sins” in the very Church itself.
For this we have to go back to something the Pope wrote called the Amoris Laetitia, which my really, really bad Latin translates to something like “romantic love of the laity.” Basically, it’s about the romantic relationships of the non-clergy/everyday Catholic. I’d never heard of it, but it is apparently one of those things that passes under the radar until it doesn’t.
What it seems to relate to is the ideas and regulations Catholics have towards marriage and the sacraments. The Catholic church takes a “dim” view of divorce. As in absolutely forbidden. They’ve eased up on it a bit in the last century or so, I think, but to give you an idea how fucking serious this business is, it actually has caused the formation of entirely new religions. The most famous example of this is Henry VIII, who ultimately is known for having eight wives. Well with his first marriage he wanted to get rid of his current wife and replace her with someone one else. Church refused, the top church guy in England named Thomas More got himself executed (and sainted), and Henry VIII actually tore his entire country from the Catholic Church and formed the Anglican Church so he could get his divorce. I think at one point the entire nation of England almost got itself excommunicated and damned to hell for it. The Church was willing to damn an entire nation to hell over divorce being forbidden.
So, pretty serious business.
So when Pope Francis puts for the Amoris Laetitia and it turns out to be a massive, confusing clusterfuck that appears to say “divorced Catholics may take the sacraments,” you can imagine some eyebrows went up. Now, I do not know enough of anything about Catholics to parse through what all their complicated and ritualized discussion actually means, but I can get the high points. The first of which seems to be something called a “Dubia.”
Dubia is apparently the plural form of Dubium, which means “doubt” basically. It is also essentially the name of a document sent to the Pope by four cardinals, where in they ask for clarification on if the Pope’s document actually is supportive of divorced catholics obtaining the sacraments…partially because the Pope has apparently praised churches where this is happening.
Right, so some might get that divorce is serious fucking business, but not why divorced Catholics obtaining the sacraments is. I’m going to try and explain using my knowledge of deusology as well as my own Heathen religion to try and explain as best I can as I understand it.
Marriage, for Catholics, is a type of Divine Oath. We Heathens have similar concepts and respect for what that means. We even have stories about what happens when you try to weasel out of your Divine Oaths.* So once you promise to marry someone before God and the Church, you’re fucking married and that’s that. Maybe God will let you out in extreme cases, but as a rule, it’s over, it’s done, and you’re married for your life. Monogamously too, no other partners allowed, because that’s adultery and thus a mortal sin.
Mortal Sins are interesting because while there’s a lot of sins in Catholicism, most of them have some wiggle room and you can be forgiven your way out of them so long as you’re sorry and don’t do it again. Mortal Sins are ones that are not so easily forgiven and automatically damn you to hell until such time as you actually can get them forgiven (assuming you can). Murder is one of them, for example.
So when a Catholic goes and gets a civil divorce, according to mortal law they’re single, but according to catholic cannon they’re actually still married. So if said catholic, or both of them, go out and date, and then marry someone else, they’re religiously committing adultery because they’re not being faithful to their spouse and are engaging in infidelity (not-fidelity). This puts them in a state of “mortal sin” which they could technically get forgiveness for…if they stopped committing the sin. But if you’re married to someone else you’re not just going to drop that marriage, so you keep committing the sin and thus are not contrite, refuse to give up your sin, and cannot obtain absolution.
To put this in Heathen terms, the “divorcee” in this case is an Oathbreaker, with all that entails. What the Amoris Laetitia seems to basically say is “Oathbreakers must be given the full rites and respect of the kindred as if they were honorable members regardless of the fact they have broken their Sacred Oaths and continue to do so without remorse or recompense.”
That’s how bad this potentially is.
But it gets even worse. The Sacraments are a Holy Thing, like mega holy. And it is expressly forbidden that they be given those in a state of Mortal Sin. I’m not fully versed on Christian Mysticism and why that is, but I suppose it would be a lot like throwing a bunch of cleaning chemicals in the shit filled toilet at a McDonalds and walking away. Sure, they’re designed to clean and purify the place, but just pouring them on the excrement and walking away doesn’t do much but waste the chemicals and make a bigger mess and potentially creates lethal gasses.
Which isn’t a bad analogy for what happens. By given the sacraments to the unclean, it profanes the sacraments and actually creates spiritual pollution that can literally destroy all the holiness of the church and put the souls of the rest of the practitioners in “mortal danger” as well. It wouldn’t be much different than if the adulterous couple actually banged each other on the very altar in front of the entire congregation, while praising Satan the entire time before going anal.
Unfortunately…Pope Francis refused to do that. In fact…he apparently affirmed that allowing the divorced to receive the sacraments was entirely the point of the letter Amoris Laetitia.
Which brings us to the latest bit of this unfolding drama. The Dubia could be considered an document of “filial clarification” which basically is “clarify for family.” Since then, a new document has been released after having been sent to the Pope and also being ignored as the Dubia was. This one, however, is much, much different. This one is a “Filial Correction.” More specifically it is a “Filial Correction against the Propagation of Heresies.” To put this in perspective, there hasn’t been a “filial correction” to the Pope since 1333 AD.
That’s right, they just accused the Pope of being a Heretic.
More hilariously, reading from people who understand Catholics better, they basically call the pope out for promoting heresies, especially heresies like those of Martin Luther, the guy who shattered the Catholic church. Less hilariously…this could actually shatter the Catholic Church again. Because there is an almost ritual like path here.
> But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go, and rebuke him between thee and him alone. If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother.
> And if he will not hear thee, take with thee one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand.  And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.
So far, three times Francis has been approached over this issue. First was the general outcry by laity and clergy. When that was ignored the “Dubia” came directly from the top clergy. It was is ignored. Then the “filial correction” went to Francis and it too was ignored, which is why it got published. Apparently the last step is a “Formal Correction.” Should that also be ignored and/or fail to be followed, Francis basically becomes a “heathen and a publican” in the eyes of the church. Basically, he is excommunicated by his own hand, but you can’t have an excommunicated Pope because that is to Catholicism what Dividing by Zero is to Memes and Mathematics.
Which means a civil war for the catholic church. Which, frankly, has happened before and it wasn’t fucking pretty. You would literally have those who supported Francis insist that those who stood against him were heretics, and you would have those who stand against the heresies Francis is putting into place calling him and his supporters heretics.
And regardless of which side won, the overall victory might end up having more losers than winners. Most of those who are traditional Catholics and would side against Francis would be publicly excommunicated, and while that might not actually posses any divine power behind it being done by a heretic, the rest of the world probably wouldn’t know that which would strip them of the protections of being part of the catholic church and they would rapidly find themselves on “hate group lists” like those run by the SPLC (which we Heathens are familiar with due to often getting placed on them) which often list “Traditionalist” religious groups of all kinds as hate groups.
On the one hand we would see a group of Catholics who would be very likely to go “Deus Vult” to reclaim their church, and then take the traditional hard-line stance Catholics usually held towards Muslims (if we’re lucky). Unfortunately said hard-line stance would probably shift towards Pagans as well. On the other hand, Francis could win in which case the Church keeps its open border policy towards Muslims in which case Islam’s hard-line stance towards Pagans comes into play.
Either way, positive outcomes are not easy to find on the horizon for us Pagans, and certainly hard times are certainly on the horizon for the Catholics. Only the Norn know what comes. The best we can do is keep our faith and try to be ready no matter what happens.
*There is a tale of a Norse king whose warband fell into some great trouble with a storm. The king promised to sacrifice himself to Odin should the Allfather get them to safety. They reached land whole, but the King decided he wanted to back out. So he and his men tied a noose of twine around his neck and tied that to a tiny sapling, and one of the men stabbed him in the side with a blunt stick. In an instant, the stick became a spear, the twine a heavy rope, and the sapling a mighty tree, killing the king. Because one does not weasel out of oaths to Gods.