heresy and Amoris Laetitia


“The negative moral precepts, those prohibiting certain concrete actions or kinds of behavior as intrinsically evil, do not allow for any legitimate exception. They do not leave room, in any morally acceptable way, for the ‘creativity’ of any contrary determination whatsoever.” (Saint John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor 67)

It what can only be considered a very bizarre and incongruous occurrence, the Vatican (after firing professors loyal to Pope John Paul II’s vision of marriage and family) has recruited two professors who argue for the moral goodness of homosexual acts to teach at the John Paul II Institute in Rome (one immediately visualizes Saint John Paul II turning over in his grave!).

These two professors are Father Maurizio Chiodi and Fr. Pier Davide Guenzi. Both of these priests, apparently relying on the rationale of Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia, have argued for the moral goodness of homosexual acts.

Diane Montagna reports that “in a February 2019 interview with Avvenire, Fr. Guenzi argued on the basis of Amoris Laetitia that homosexual relationships can be morally good.” Guenzi said:

“Urged on by the experiences of homosexual believers today we are invited to understand how … the bond between man and woman does not exhaust all human forms of expression, even from the affective point of view.”

And Father Chiodi (who also maintains that artificial contraception can be morally justified!) stated in July of 2019:

“I would not exclude that, under certain conditions, a homosexual couple’s relationship is, for that subject, the most fruitful way to live good relationships, considering their symbolic meaning, which is both personal, relational and social. This, for example, happens when the stable relationship is the only way to avoid sexual vagrancy or other forms of humiliating and degrading erotic relationships or when it is help and stimulus to walk on the road to good relationships.”

What we see, then, is Catholic morality (via Amoris Laetitia) being turned on its head and essentially destroyed as the very things it declares to be intrinsically evil are taught to be good! Can this possibly work out well for the Church, or does it point to a moral collapse preceded by a spiritual one?

In the meantime the very things Saint John Paul II stood for, and for which his Institute was formed, are in essence being used against him. Perhaps the Institute should be renamed in favor of Pope Francis, architect of the new morality.

Or, if Pope Francis is truly interested in protecting the faithful from such clearly erroneous teachings, he should immediately intervene to stop these types of heretical moral theories from being taught to the faithful. That is precisely what a Pope is supposed to do.

Thomas L. Mulcahy

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(Photo: Public Domain, U.S.A.)

“Each of us knows how important is the teaching which represents the central theme of this Encyclical and which is today being restated with the authority of the Successor of Peter. Each of us can see the seriousness of what is involved, not only for individuials but also for the whole of society, with the reaffirmation of the universality and immutability of the moral commandments, particularly those which prohibit always and without exception intrinsically evil acts” (Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, no. 115)

“Since the Ascension God’s plan has entered into its fulfillment. We are already at ‘the last hour’. ‘Already the final age of the world is with us, and the renewal of the world is irrevocably under way….” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 670)

Since first writing this post nearly a year ago the crisis over Amoris Laetitia has only deepened and accelerated, and among those who view the papal exhortation as a “paradigm shift” in Catholic morality some are even invoking the document to the point of suggesting or implying that it might be permissible to approve of or bless homosexual unions in the Church (and it is not hard to anticipate that this idea will gain further momentum under the Amoris rationale). The whole idea seems to be that –  through a process of discernment – otherwise intrinsically evil acts can be justified and seen as good in God’s eyes (see AL 301-303, for instance).

Just in the last several weeks  I have read reports about a Vatican commission studying the possibility of modifying Humanae Vitae, of a Jewish member of the Vatican Academy for Life discussing possible exceptions that would justify abortion in special circumstances, and, of course, the continuing drama involving Cardinal Marx’s nuanced remarks pertaining to the possibility of blessing homosexual unions (regarding the blessing of such unions Marx said, “This I really have to leave up to the local pastor and the accompaniment of that person”). It should be noted, as a recent article by Maike Hickson pointed out, that Bishop Franz-Josef Bode, the Vice President of the German Bishops’ Conference, “has called for a discussion about the possibility of blessing homosexual relationships. He believes there to be ‘much [that is] positive’ in such relationships.” Of course, if the Pope simply said “this blessing is not possible,” as he most definitely should have a long time ago, the laity could be spared all the confusion and harm to the faith that results.

Just a few days ago I was reading that Cardinal Gerhard Müller, whom Pope Francis removed as Prefect for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, “rejects the notion of a ‘paradigm shift’ in Church teaching.” The article from CWN adds:  “In an unusual public disagreement among prominent cardinals, the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith takes issue with the use of a term (“paradigm shift”) that was used by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, with reference to Amoris Laetitia. Cardinal Müller says that term ‘seems to be a relapse into a modernist and subjectivist way of interpreting the Catholic faith’.” Frankly, the phrase “paradigm shift” seems to be a euphemism (or code words) for “new teaching” or, one might contend, good old-fashioned heresy (as Cardinal Muller seems to be implying).

Here in the United States Cardinal Cupich has begun conducting conferences for Bishops on the implementation of Amoris Laetitia (and Cardinal Cupich is fond of saying that Amoris Laetitia favors a more “mature,” conscience based morality – that is, he favors the subjectivist approach to Catholic morality). And a well known papal consultor gave a talk here in America (at Boston College) where he maintained there are no longer any moral norms (Father Antonio Spadaro, who said: “It is no longer possible to judge people on the basis of a norm that stands above all.”). There are many more examples I could give of this fundamental assault on Catholic moral principles that have guided the Church for two-thousand years.

The question therefore deserves to be asked: Is the Catholic Church on the brink of destroying its own morality? The basic premise of the short outline below is that the minor chastisement prophesied at Fatima will coincide with the introduction of heresy into Church teaching. Situation ethics was strongly condemned by Pope John Paul II in Veritatis Splendor, yet we see the dangerous framework of this subjectivism in Amoris Laetitia (see 301-303), and the surge flowing therefrom to radically change Catholic morality by the approval of intrinsically evil acts. Does the Church think that God is going to remain passive during this planned and orchestrated attack on Catholic morality, which is so contrary to the moral imperative of the Fatima message and the constant teachings of the Church?

This is a speculative note regarding the prophetic dimension of this crisis in Catholic morality brought on by Amoris Laetitia. The author claims no special prophetic charism or expertise, and the outline presented here simply proceeds from his analysis of certain materials (in addition to the Bible) referenced in the note, along with the present circumstances that challenge the Church and the world. As the quote above from the Catechism states, “we are already at the last hour.”


1.Our key prophecy will be the first two secrets of Fatima, and we will see that the chastisement and period of peace made known in the Fatima prophecy coincide with the broad spectrum of Catholic prophecy at large.

2. We will also place weight on the following prophetic statement of Saint Pope John Paul II, which was made during a visit to the United States in 1976 when he was still a Cardinal, and reads:

“We are now standing in the face of the greatest historical confrontation humanity has gone through. I do not think that wide circles of American society or wide circles of the Christian community realize this fully. We are now facing the final confrontation between the Church and the anti-Church, of the Gospel versus the anti-Gospel.

“We must be prepared to undergo great trials in the not-too-distant future; trials that will require us to be ready to give up even our lives, and a total gift of self to Christ and for Christ. Through your prayers and mine, it is possible to alleviate this tribulation, but it is no longer possible to avert it. . . .How many times has the renewal of the Church been brought about in blood! It will not be different this time.” 

3. We will also note that Saint Louis de Montfort stated that the Virgin Mary (and specifically those consecrated to Mary) would play a special role in bringing forth the fulfillment of Jesus’ Kingdom in history (noting as well that scholars disagree on exactly how the Saint says this will take place). See Handbook of the Spirituality of St. Louis de Montfort, pages 345-365 on “End Times.” Another great and more recent Marian Saint, Maximilian Kolbe,  said the following:

“Modern times are dominated by Satan and will be more so in the future. The conflict with hell cannot be engaged by men, even the most clever. The lmmaculata alone has from God the promise of victory over Satan. However, assumed into heaven, the Mother of God now requires our cooperation. She seeks souls who will consecrate themselves entirely to her, who will become in her hands effective instruments for the defeat of Satan and the spreading of God’s kingdom upon earth.” (from EWTN website)

4. In his book, Catholic ProphecyThe Coming Chastisement Yves Dupont offers the following conclusion:

“I regard it as certain that there will be two different stages. The first stage will only be the beginning of sorrows [see Matt. 24:8], and it will be shortened for the sake of the elect, and the Gospel will then be preached throughout the world. This will be the period of peace under the Great Monarch, the period of conversion and general prosperity which we and our children may enjoy – in short, the period of peace promised by Our Lady of Fatima” (p.91).

5. Another great scholar of Catholic prophecy, Father Edward Conner, in his book Prophecy for Today, sees the general sequence of prophetic events unfolding in this manner:

A. “Before the Gospel is preached and accepted in all the world, there shall come world wars and insidious doctrines accompanied by widespread persecution.

B. This era shall be terminated by the the direct interference of God destroying the evil systems or persons responsible for the persecutions; and through the leadership of a great civil ruler and a great spiritual leader, a period of peace will come during which nations will hear and accept the true Faith [this period of peace coincides with the Fatima prophecy of a period of peace].”

C. A great apostasy will follow [and Antichrist will come, leading to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ and the end of the world as set forth in Holy Scripture].”

6. A seminal and very long book on Catholic prophecy published in 1996, Trial, Tribulation and Triumph, by Desmond A. Birch, generally agrees that there will be a minor chastisement (meaning not the final chastisement at the end of the world), a period of peace, a major chastisement (Antichrist), and then the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. As to the minor chastisement, which will be followed by a period of peace, these are the first three elements in his long chronology of how it will come about:(1) “At some point in the future, the corrupt faithless age we live in now will come to an end either through inner conversion of sufficient number of people who turn to prayer, sacrifice, and penance,—or there will be a chastisement. This would be a Minor Chastisement preceding the Age of Peace. St Louis de Montfort described this Age of Peace as the Age of Mary. (2) If this chastisement is not averted through conversion, the Latin Church will be afflicted by heresy and schism. (3) The chastising elements will come in two forms, (a) manmade and (b)Heaven-sent” (page 553). Following his description of this minor chastisement, Birch goes on to describe the period of peace which will result, and then the rise of Antichrist and the end of the world.

7. A key insight of Birch is that the minor chastisement prophesied at Fatima (if not averted by prayer and penance) will come by way of heresy and schism entering the Church.

8. The second secret of Fatima, given to the seers on July 13, 1917, coincides with the general prophetic understanding of a chastisement and then a coming period of peace. It states (as verbatim from the Vatican website) the following:

“You have seen hell [the children’s vision of hell is the first secret] where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace. The war is going to end: but if people do not cease offending God, a worse one will break out during the Pontificate of Pius XI. When you see a night illumined by an unknown light, know that this is the great sign given you by God that he is about to punish the world for its crimes, by means of war, famine, and persecutions of the Church and of the Holy Father. To prevent this, I shall come to ask for the consecration of Russia to my Immaculate Heart, and the Communion of reparation on the First Saturdays. If my requests are heeded, Russia will be converted, and there will be peace; if not, she will spread her errors throughout the world, causing wars and persecutions of the Church. The good will be martyred; the Holy Father will have much to suffer; various nations will be annihilated. In the end, my Immaculate Heart will triumph. The Holy Father will consecrate Russia to me, and she shall be converted, and a period of peace will be granted to the world.”

9. Saint John Paul II was known as the “Fatima Pope,” devoting himself profoundly to the Fatima message following his having been shot and almost killed in St. Peter’s Square on May 13, 1981 (the anniversary of the first apparition of Mary at Fatima). Sister Lucia, the Fatima seer, confirmed that Pope John Paul II’s 1984 consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary had been “accepted by Heaven” (see Fatima for Today, p.260). On May 13, 1982, Pope John Paul II spoke the following words during a homily given in Fatima, Portugal:

“In the light of a mother’s love we understand the whole message of the Lady of Fátima. The greatest obstacle to man’s journey towards God is sin, perseverance in sin, and, finally, denial of God. The deliberate blotting out of God from the world of human thought. The detachment from him of the whole of man’s earthly activity. The rejection of God by man…. [He] reads it again with trepidation in his heart, because he sees how many people and societies—how many Christians—have gone in the opposite direction to the one indicated in the message of Fátima. Sin has thus made itself firmly at home in the world, and denial of God has become widespread in the ideologies, ideas and plans of human beings.”

10. Pope Benedict XVI suddenly resigned as Pope on February 28, 2013, the first Pope to resign since Pope Gregory XII in 1415.

11. On  March 13, 2013  Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope, becoming the 266th Pope, and the first Jesuit Pope. He took the papal name Francis. Apparently with the help of certain Cardinals, Pope Francis then embarked on an intense campaign to essentially change Catholic doctrine regarding the absolute impermissibility of  divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive the Holy Eucharist, a move which, in the opinion of some high-ranking clergy, could ultimately open up reception of the Holy Eucharist to people in other types of “irregular unions” (all of which would serve to ultimately undermine Catholic teaching regarding mortal sin because reception of the Eucharist is the summit of the Catholic life). When Pope Francis failed to obtain consensus at the Synod on the Family for the change he so earnestly desired, he nevertheless pushed his communion exception through in his Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, cleverly placing the key language for such an exception in the back of the document in the now infamous footnote 351. Although there has been a de facto schism in the Catholic Church for quite some time, Pope Francis’ bold move marked the first time a challenge to authentic Catholic teaching was undertaken at the highest level of the Church. There is now a great battle going on in the Church over Amoris Laetitia, and Pope Francis seems intent on bringing a new type of Catholic morality into existence, slowly, so as not to upset the faithful all at once (in general, this new morality –  in its fullest development – would grant those in “irregular” situations access to the Eucharist, which is an interpretation which has been proposed by some, and even Pope Francis mentioned that cohabiting couples may be in a “real marriage”). This is my sense, after careful evaluation, of where Amoris Laetitia is taking the Church; I am open to being shown where I may be wrong. My concern here is to protect the integrity of doctrine as passed on to the Church from Jesus and the apostles.

12. Based on the foregoing (relying on Desmond Birch’s insight) the conditional chastisement warned of by the Virgin Mary at Fatima is closely connected to the “the Latin Church [being] afflicted by heresy and schism.” We may have reached a pivotal point regarding the Fatima prophecy of a chastisement; it may be that such a chastisement is needed for the purification of the Church and the protection of the papacy, considering as well the great moral upheaval presently taking place in the world. Pope Benedict XVI once said, “We would be mistaken to think that Fatima’s prophetic mission is complete.”

13. It is not my job to suggest whether a particular teaching constitutes material or formal heresy. Rather, I feel called to point out that Amoris Laetitia is profoundly at odds with Saint John Paul II’s great encyclical on moral theology, Veritatis Splendor, and that the ultimate trajectory of Amoris Laetitia would lead to a dramatic reformulation of Catholic morality, allowing those in so-called “irregular unions” access to the fullness of the faith which the Eucharist is (thus essentially creating an end-run around the infallible doctrine of the Church that those in mortal sin are prohibited from receiving the Eucharist). In the end, then, the whole system of Catholic morality would be rendered optional. If this be the case, then Amoris Laetitia would represent a profound rejection of traditional, orthodox Catholic morality.

14. “In the end my Immaculate Heart will triumph.” Pray the Rosary every day as Mary entreated us at Fatima. Pray for the Church.

Thomas L. Mulcahy, M.A.

P.S. To further understand the enormous implications to Catholic morality occasioned by Amoris Laetitia, please refer to my previous posts set forth below:

why amoris laetitia is much worse than originally … – Catholic Strength


does a tendency toward universalism account for amoris laetitia?

Additionally, I bring to your attention and discernment these words of the Blessed Virgin Mary in an apparition said to bear upon Fatima:

“The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres (other priests): churches and altars will be sacked; the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord.” (Approved message of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Sister Agnes Sasagawa, Akita, Japan, October 13, 1973)

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“When it is a matter of the moral norms prohibiting intrinsic evil, there are no privileges or exceptions for anyone. It makes no difference whether one is the master of the world or the “poorest of the poor” on the face of the earth. Before the demands of morality we are all absolutely equal.” (Saint Pope John Paul II, Veritatis Splendor, no. 96)

Here is the very troubling passage from Amoris Laetitia (no. 301) which clearly suggests that a person can be in a “concrete situation” where he has no choice but to live in mortal sin (and is thus not guilty of  any sin):

301.  For an adequate understanding of the possibility and need of special discernment in certain “irregular” situations, one thing must always be taken into account, lest anyone think that the demands of the Gospel are in any way being compromised.  The Church possesses a solid body of reflection concerning mitigating factors and situations. Hence it is can no longer simply be said that all those in any “irregular” situation are living in a state of mortal sin and are deprived of sanctifying grace.  More is involved here than mere ignorance of the rule.  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.  

Saint Pope John Paul II specifically rejected the above argument proposed in AL 301, stating the following in no. 76 of his encyclical, Veritatis Splendor:

“Such theories however are not faithful to the Church’s teaching, when they believe they can justify, as morally good, deliberate choices of kinds of behavior contrary to the commandments of the divine and natural law. These theories cannot claim to be grounded in the Catholic moral tradition…. The faithful are obliged to acknowledge and respect the specific moral precepts declared and taught by the Church in the name of God, the Creator and Lord. When the Apostle Paul sums up the fulfillment of the law in the precept of love of neighbor as oneself (cf. Rom 13:8-10), he is not weakening the commandments but reinforcing them, since he is revealing their requirements and their gravity. Love of God and of one’s neighbor cannot be separated from the observance of the commandments of the Covenant renewed in the blood of Jesus Christ and in the gift of the Spirit.”

We are faced then with at least a hypothetical or conceptual heresy from Pope Francis, to wit: that a person may be justified in intentionally committing mortal sin. If this be the case, then the foundation of Catholic morality has been fractured, and who is to say what is right or wrong? Pope John Paul II warned of this very situation, saying:

“It is quite human for the sinner to acknowledge his weakness and to ask mercy for his failings; what is unacceptable is the attitude of one who makes his own weakness the criterion of the truth about the good, so that he can feel self-justified, without even the need to have recourse to God and his mercy. An attitude of this sort corrupts the morality of society as a whole, since it encourages doubt about the objectivity of the moral law in general and a rejection of the absoluteness of moral prohibitions regarding specific human acts, and it ends up by confusing all judgments about values.” (Veritatis Splendor, 104).

Pope Francis, in AL 301,  has attempted to alter the understanding of justification pronounced at the Council of Trent, where it was infallibly said:

“If anyone says that the commandments of God are impossible to observe even for a man who is justified and established in grace, let him be anathema” (Session 6, canon 18)

I conclude with this final quote from Pope John Paul II, which should have served as an impenetrable road block against theories of moral relativism such as AL 301:

“Each of us knows how important is the teaching which represents the central theme of this Encyclical and which is today being restated with the authority of the Successor of Peter. Each of us can see the seriousness of what is involved, not only for individuals but also for the whole of society, with the reaffirmation of the universality and immutability of the moral commandments, particularly those which prohibit always and without exception intrinsically evil acts” (no. 115, Veritatis Splendor)

What motivated Pope Francis to go against the entire Tradition of the Church, and thus to compromise the moral law, is a very perplexing consideration? May the Holy Spirit guide the Church back to the fullness of truth.

Tom Mulcahy, M.A., J.D.

Image: Saint Peter by Peter Paul Rubens, between 1610 and 1612 (Public Domain, U.S.A.)

P.S. Significantly, one of the Church’s most prominent theologians has recently addressed errors in Amoris Laetitia. See link that follows:

Leading theologian: change canon law to correct papal errors …

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