Among the keys that interpret Pope Francis’ pontificate is certainly his love of contradiction. This inclination of mind is made evident by the Apostolic Letter ‘Misercordia et misera’, signed at the end of the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy.
In this letter Pope Bergoglio, establishes that those who attend the churches officiated by the priests of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, can receive validly and lawfully, sacramental absolution. The Pope thus rectifies that which constituted the main factor of “irregularity” in the Fraternity founded by Monsignor Lefebvre: the validity of their confessions. It would be contradictory to imagine that once confessions are recognized as valid and lawful, that the Masses celebrated by the priests of the Fraternity not be considered just as lawful, which are valid in any case. At this point it is not understood why an agreement is necessary between Rome and the Fraternity founded by Monsignor Lefebvre, seeing as the position of these priests is de facto regularized and that the doctrinal problems up for discussion – for the Pope – as is well-known – are of little interest.
In the same letter, so that “no obstacle arises between the request for reconciliation and God’s forgiveness” Pope Bergoglio concedes, from now on “I grant to all priests, in virtue of their ministry, the faculty to absolve those who have committed the sin of procured abortion”. In reality, priests already had the faculty to forgive abortion in confession. However, according to the centuries-old praxis of the Church, abortion is one of the grave sins punished automatically by excommunication. “A person who procures a completed abortion incurs latae sententiae excommunication” says Canon Law (1983) no.1398. Priests, therefore, needed permission from their bishop to remove the excommunication before being able to absolve the sin of abortion. Now all priests can also absolve the excommunication, without needing to go through their bishop or they themselves being empowered to do so. Excommunication de facto is dropped and abortion loses the gravity that Canon Law ascribed to it.
In an interview given to “TV 2000” on November 20th, Pope Francis affirmed that “Abortion is still a grave sin”, a “horrendous crime”, since “it brings an end to an innocent life”. Can the Pope ignore that his decision to drop the crime of abortion from the latae sententiae excommunication, relativizes this “horrendous crime” and allows the mass-media to present it as a sin that the Church considers less grave than in the past and which She [now] easily forgives?
The Pope states in his Letter that “there is no sin that God’s mercy cannot reach and wipe away when it finds a repentant heart seeking to be reconciled with the Father” , but as is evident from his own words, mercy is such that it presupposes the existence of sin, and thus justice. Why speak all the time about a good and merciful God, and never about a just God, Who rewards and punishes according to the merits and faults of man? The Saints, as has been noted, never ceased exalting the mercy of God, unlimited in its giving; and to fear also His justice, rigorous in its demands. A God capable only of loving and rewarding the good and incapable of hating and punishing evil, would be contradictory. Short of retaining that the Divine Law exists, but is abstract and impracticable and the only thing that counts is the concrete life of man, who cannot help but sin. What is important is not the observance of the law, but blind faith in Divine mercy and forgiveness. Pecca fortiter, crede fortius.
However, this is the doctrine of Luther, not of the Catholic Church.