Francis is leading souls into moral slavery and eternal death – LifeSite

(LifeSiteNews) — This is the third part of a series on the nature of true freedom, drawing especially from the teaching of Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical letter “On Human Freedom.”  

The first part explained man’s natural liberty and the second part explained that we can attain moral liberty by observing the natural law which God has written on our hearts. In this third part we explore how God assists us to observe the moral law by means of the divine law and by the help of His grace.  

Our conscience, as we have previously seen, is the judgment of our practical intellect as to whether an action ought to be done or omitted. Our conscience judges according to the first principles of practical reason, which are called synderesis. Synderesis is a natural habit which God has placed within us. This is what St. Paul means when he speaks of the “work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness to them” (Rm 2:15).

Conscience is therefore rightly considered to be, as Cardinal Newman put it, “the voice of God in the nature and heart of man, as distinct from the voice of Revelation.”[1]  

He continues:

Conscience is the aboriginal Vicar of Christ, a prophet in its informations, a monarch in its peremptoriness, a priest in its blessings and anathemas, and, even though the eternal priesthood throughout the Church could cease to be, in it the sacerdotal principle would remain and would have a sway.[2] 

This striking statement brings home to us the divine origin of the natural law within us. However, the reference to conscience as the aboriginal Vicar of Christ, puts us in mind that there is another Vicar of Christ who proclaims the moral law. There is an external law as well as an internal law. 

I explained in the previous article that God governs all things by his eternal law, and that the eternal law, as imprinted on rational creatures, is called the natural law. 

However, in order to help us to know the requirements of morality more clearly, God has also revealed the moral law to his Church. We call this the divine law 

The divine law  

Our natural reason can judge correctly as to what we ought to do, or omit, by applying the first principles of practical reason to the concrete situation in which we must decide how to act. However, in our fallen state, and subject to the influence of other fallen men and women, our judgments will very often be distorted by ignorance or malice.   

This is no defect in our human nature as created by God, or in the law engraved within us by God. It is rather a consequence of the sin of our first parents, the original sin which robbed us of the integration proper to us. The consequences of original sin are compounded by our own personal sins and those of others, which have their effects on us.   

In order to assist us in observing the moral law, God has revealed it directly to his Church, which authoritatively and infallibly teaches it anew to each generation. There is therefore an external source of moral law, which assists and strengthens us in following the law we find within our own nature. As both of these laws have their origin in God, there is no contradiction in the moral principles which they contain.   

However, there is a further reason why God has revealed a moral law to us. Morality does not only concern the natural order, but also the supernatural order. For example, man knows by nature that he must worship the Creator, but man can only know by divine revelation that God wishes His Church to worship Him by offering the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Man knows by nature that he must repent of his wrongdoing, but only by divine revelation can he know how to seek forgiveness in the sacrament of Penance, and so on.  

Therefore, God needed to reveal a divine law that would guide us in performing acts which pertain to the supernatural life of grace.   

The science which deals with morality as it can be known by natural reason is called ethics; the science which deals with morality as it can be known by divine revelation is called moral theology.  

In the Summa Theologica St. Thomas Aquinas explains the above points further. He states:   

Besides the natural and the human law it was necessary for the directing of human conduct to have a Divine law.[3] 

He continues: 

First, because it is by law that man is directed how to perform his proper acts in view of his last end. And indeed if man were ordained to no other end than that which is proportionate to his natural faculty, there would be no need for man to have any further direction of the part of his reason, besides the natural law and human law which is derived from it. But since man is ordained to an end of eternal happiness which is inproportionate to man’s natural faculty, as stated above (I-II:5:5), therefore it was necessary that, besides the natural and the human law, man should be directed to his end by a law given by God.[4] 

St. Thomas’s second reason is as follows: 

Secondly, because, on account of the uncertainty of human judgment, especially on contingent and particular matters, different people form different judgments on human acts; whence also different and contrary laws result. In order, therefore, that man may know without any doubt what he ought to do and what he ought to avoid, it was necessary for man to be directed in his proper acts by a law given by God, for it is certain that such a law cannot err.[5] 

St. Thomas also explains that the divine law remedies some of the limitations of human law. I will discuss these points in the next installment of this series which will treat of the relationship between freedom and human law.  

Here it is sufficient to note that the divine law helps man to attain moral liberty, by making the requirements of the moral law clear to him, and by directing him in matters relating to the supernatural order.  

Pope Leo XIII expressed this doctrine as follows: 

These precepts of the truest and highest teaching, made known to us by the light of reason itself, the Church, instructed by the example and doctrine of her divine Author, has ever propagated and asserted; for she has ever made them the measure of her office and of her teaching to the Christian nations.[6] 

And the Christian law, dealing as it does with man’s supernatural end, surpasses all the ethical systems of the ancients, whatever their value may be. The pope taught: 

As to morals, the laws of the Gospel not only immeasurably surpass the wisdom of the heathen, but are an invitation and an introduction to a state of holiness unknown to the ancients; and, bringing man nearer to God, they make him at once the possessor of a more perfect liberty.[7] 

The assistance of divine grace 

The natural law and the divine law provide us with knowledge of how to act in accordance with reason, and to attain moral liberty. However, we remain weak and find observance of the moral law difficult. It is impossible to avoid all sin by our own natural powers. Yet Our Lord commands “Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48)  

How can these two statements be reconciled?  

The solution is that sin can be avoided, not by man’s own strength, but by cooperation with divine grace. This grace is to be sought, and obtained, through prayer and the reception of the sacraments.   

The Council of Trent, exercising its infallible teaching authority, condemned the doctrine that man could not avoid committing sin:   

But no one, how much soever justified, ought to think himself exempt from the observance of the commandments; no one ought to make use of that rash saying, one prohibited by the Fathers under an anathema, – that the observance of the commandments of God is impossible for one that is justified.[8]  

God will give grace to help us remain free from sin, but we must do our part in cooperating with it. The Council taught:  

For God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou are able, and to pray for what thou art not able, and aids thee that thou mayest be able; whose commandments are not heavy; whose yoke is sweet and whose burthen light. For, whoso are the sons of God, love Christ; but they who love him, keep his commandments, as Himself testifies; which, assuredly, with the divine help, they can do.[9] 

And it continues:  

For God forsakes not those who have been once justified by His grace, unless he be first forsaken by them.[10]  

God’s grace is given to assist us in following the moral law. Pope Leo XIII taught: 

To this rule of action and restraint of evil God has vouchsafed to give special and most suitable aids for strengthening and ordering the human will. The first and most excellent of these is the power of His divine grace, whereby the mind can be enlightened and the will wholesomely invigorated and moved to the constant pursuit of moral good, so that the use of our inborn liberty becomes at once less difficult and less dangerous.[11]  

This grace helps us to become truly free; in no way does it limit our freedom. The pope explains: 

Not that the divine assistance hinders in any way the free movement of our will; just the contrary, for grace works inwardly in man and in harmony with his natural inclinations, since it flows from the very Creator of his mind and will, by whom all things are moved in conformity with their nature.  

As the Angelic Doctor points out, it is because divine grace comes from the Author of nature that it is so admirably adapted to be the safeguard of all natures, and to maintain the character, efficiency, and operations of each.[12]  

By the assistance of divine grace, man is able to attain moral liberty, without his natural liberty being in any way limited.   

Amoris Laetitia 

The infallible and irreformable teaching of the Catholic Church on the divine assistance of grace to avoid sin is directly contradicted by Francis in his document Amoris Laetitia. 

Paragraph 301 of that document states: 

A subject may know full well the rule, yet have great difficulty in understanding ‘its inherent values,’ or be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin.[13]

The clear meaning of this passage is that there are occasions when it is impossible to avoid committing sin. Yet there are no concrete situations in which sin is unavoidable. God always gives grace, to those who will cooperate Him. The Council of Trent, as we saw above, specifically defines that:  

[N]o one, how much soever justified, ought to think himself exempt from the observance of the commandments; no one ought to make use of that rash saying, one prohibited by the Fathers under an anathema, – that the observance of the commandments of God is impossible for one that is justified.   

For God commands not impossibilities, but, by commanding, both admonishes thee to do what thou are able, and to pray for what thou art not able, and aids thee that thou mayest be able.[14]  

It is not possible to assent at one and the same time to the teaching of the Catholic Church, and to the position expressed by Francis.  

We are in the presence of two rules of faith, and adherence to one excludes adherence to the other. One may follow the teaching infallibly proposed by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, or one may follow the teaching of Amoris Laetitia, proposed by Francis. (For more about the consequences of adhering to a false rule of faith, see here.)  

The teaching of the Catholic Church leads men and women to seek God’s assistance and, through prayer and the sacraments, attain true freedom here on earth, and perfect happiness forever in Heaven. 

The teaching of Francis leads men and women to remain enslaved to sin, and, ultimately, to suffer the eternal agonies of Hell.   

The teaching of the Catholic Church presents God as a loving Father, ever ready to help his children attain their full dignity and to lead lives of freedom, with their end as happiness.   

The teaching of Francis presents God as one who lacks either the power or desire to assist us and presents human beings as unavoidably trapped in a cycle of sin and vice.  

The teaching of the Catholic Church leads to moral liberty. The teaching of Francis leads to moral slavery 


In this and the previous article we have seen that moral liberty can be attained by human beings by:  

  • Following one’s conscience, which judges how we are to act in accordance with the natural law, which is an internal rule of moral conduct, engraved on our hearts by God 
  • Following the divine law, which provides an external rule of moral conduct, and directs us in those acts pertaining to our supernatural destiny 
  • Cooperating with divine grace, especially by seeking God’s aid by means of prayer and the sacraments. 

The man who has moral liberty is, in the most important sense of the word, free. He remains free, even in prison or under persecution, because he is living in accordance with his own nature and the law of the God who made him. A slave may possess moral liberty, while his master remains enslaved by sin.  

However, we also use freedom in a wider sense than this. We speak of a man being “free” in relation to his neighbor and to the state. It is to this aspect of liberty that we will turn in our next installment.  

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