Brave New Mercy…
Vatican “Archbishop” Paglia: Francis might abolish Automatic Excommunication for Abortion
It’s time to catch up on some important news from a few days ago that didn’t make it onto this blog yet.
When Francis published his “Apostolic” Letter Misericordia et Misera two weeks ago to extend indefinitely certain provisions of the Year of Mercy that had just been concluded, one of the provisions concerned the faculties given to all Novus Ordo confessors to absolve from the excommunication latae sententiae incurred automatically by anyone participating in an abortion (whether receiving, performing, or assisting at one). Previously, only the local “bishop” was able to give this absolution (which he could delegate, however), except in danger of death, according to Novus Ordo church law (cf. Canon 1398).
With this new stipulation during and after the Year of Mercy, since any confessor can now absolve from the excommunication, this has effectively neutralized the official church law regarding the automatic incurring and rescinding of excommunication for abortion. The question thus presents itself whether Francis might simply change Novus Ordo canon law and abrogate the excommunication for abortion altogether, for where there is no penalty, none need be revoked. — Simplification, you know.
“Archbishop” Vincent Paglia is the current leader of the Vatican’s “Pontifical Academy for Life”. Until September 1 of this year, he headed the “Pontifical Council for the Family”, which was then absorbed into the new “Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life” as a part of Francis’ ongoing reform of the Roman Curia. On Nov. 23, 2016, the Italian newspaper Il Resto del Carlino published an interview with “Abp.” Paglia, in which he was asked this very question: “But is it possible that in the near future the excommunication for abortion will be overcome?”
Archlayman Paglia answered as follows:
Yes, this cannot be excluded…. Whether it will be Francis himself who abrogates the canon, I do not know; one would need to ask him. What is certain is that the Code [of Canon Law] has been revised dozens of times in the last decades. It would not be surprising, therefore, that the progress of life should lead to an updating [aggiornamento] of canon law. This lies in the nature of reality; the tradition of the Church is a living body, not a blocked code [of regulations].
(Interview with “Abp.” Vincent Paglia; in Giovanni Panettiere, “L’arcivescovo e l’aborto perdonato «anche la scomunica può saltare»”, Il Resto del Carlino, Nov. 23, 2016; our translation.)
In short, the head of the Vatican’s “Pontifical” Academy for Life thinks it is quite possible that Francis will abrogate altogether the law that currently prescribes an excommunication latae sententiae (meaning it is incurred automatically, without a declaration or other intervention of church authority) for committing an abortion! That’s certainly one way to deal with that pesky problem of having to give special faculties to confessors to work around canon law: Simply change the law so that procuring an abortion no longer incurs automatic excommunication in the first place. Presto!
A few months ago we first heard of a somewhat well-founded (considering the source) rumor that the Vatican was preparing to “tolerate” first-trimester abortions. At first, we dismissed the rumor out of hand, thinking it was too implausible to be true. Certainly, such a thing was never going to happen, not even under Francis. We therefore decided not to mention it on this blog or even on Twitter. However, the developments that have taken place since have increased the likelihood of this rumor indeed being true.
On what grounds could the Vatican possibly justify a toleration of first-trimester abortions? If it really comes to this, we predict that the justification will be as follows:
- Nothing has changed, don’t panic! It is “only” a toleration, which is essentially different from a permission. The Vatican is not saying it’s permissible to commit a first-trimester abortion, only that it is tolerated, which implies it is an evil (since only an evil can be tolerated, never a good). Toleration means only that the Vatican will not punish first-trimester abortions now.
- Because it is a toleration of an evil, first-trimester abortions are still mortally sinful. Again, nothing has changed!
- The reason for the toleration is that historically it has not been certain that the soul is infused at conception, and there are some scholastic arguments against it. (This is where the Modernists will pull out St. Thomas Aquinas, who thought that God does not infuse the soul until animation, that is, until the baby starts moving.)
- Therefore, since we cannot be entirely sure that the soul is actually infused at conception, it is not right to accuse and punish people for murder (feticide) — there is simply too much doubt. Besides, “mercy”!
- This is just a change in church discipline (law), not doctrine.
This, we predict, will be the justification for “tolerating” first-trimester abortions.
To be clear: We are not saying that these arguments are legitimate, sound, or cogent; we are only saying that these are the arguments we suspect the Modernists will speciously use to argue their case for a toleration of first-trimester abortions, if it should indeed come to that.
Of course, such a toleration of first-trimester abortions would then be the foot in the door needed to overturn the entire Catholic condemnation of abortion. The rest of the dominoes will fall very quickly, for all the Novus Ordo authorities will need then is that much-vaunted “development” of Novus Ordo doctrine, which we have already seen in Amoris Laetitia, which has “developed” the idea of ecclesial elements in Vatican II’s Lumen Gentium and applied it now to morality, essentially finding “elements” of holiness in sin.
Sadly, having witnessed what we have in the last 3-4 years with regard to the Vatican II Sect, this is indeed a development that can no longer be ruled out. It would certainly go hand in hand with the Vatican’s refusal to punish the Spanish “abortion priest” back in 2011, a man who paid for young impoverished women to get “safe” abortions.
Does it really have to come to this for people to finally wake up and abandon the false Vatican II Sect and instead embrace the true Catholic Faith?
Lord, have mercy!