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Weekend Reading: Does the heresy of gradualism inform the Synodal documents? July 10, 2015

Posted by Tantumblogo in abdication of duty, Basics, catachesis, disaster, episcopate, error, foolishness, General Catholic, horror, scandals, secularism, self-serving, sexual depravity, Society, SOD, the struggle for the Church.

Reader JF sent me a link to a very good post by “On The Side of the Angles” at the Guild of Blessed Titus Blandsma blog.  It’s about the synodal documents and the heresy of gradualism.  Gradualism in this case concerns the idea that God just doesn’t love us enough, or provide with adequate means of Grace, to keep us from sinning.  We can only, at best, be expected to maybe gradually wean ourselves of grievous sin. This is the foundational error underlying the Kasperite position at the Synod, and it appears to have seeped directly into both the Relatio from last year’s Synod (which was not approved by the bishops) AND the new Instrumentum Laboris (statement of work) for this year’s Synod.

I quote quite a bit of Bones’ analysis below, but there is much, much more at the link. Do go read it all, it’s very good:

However, Cardinals Erdo, Baldisseri, Marx, Nichols and many others, as well as the later #Relatio and now the #Instrumentum laboris misrepresent this Law of Graduality and instead make it appear as if the law of Graduality also refers to ‘Gradiuality of the Law’ – i.e. the Principle of Gradualism –  a Gradualist stategy (actually a heresy) – which is ironically exactly what Pope St JPII condemns in Familiaris Consortio 34, as well as in the beginning of Evangelium Vitae but most specifically in Veritatis Splendor 68. This was a direct response to the Bishops of Synod 1980 who wished active homosexuals, co-habiting couples and the divorced/civilly remarried to have access to the sacraments.

Gradualism refers to the formal/efficient causal ‘Principle of Graduality’ which is a pastoral strategy towards achieving perfection grounded upon two premises:

a) that God has not provided enough readily available grace for a sinner to immediately stop sinning and

b) The dignity of the human being is so diminished by sin that they cannot escape their sinfulness except by slowly diminishing the intensity and amount of their sins on a gradual incremental basis. This amounts to a sin-controlled diet – a pastoral personal sin-reduction fitness regime.

This amounts to a thinly disguised Jansenism – but viewed from the other end of the telescope – rather than the sinner being ‘doomed’ by their sin – it is instead ‘unavoidable’ that sinners will sin and continue to do so. This is a truth exemplified by quotes such as this…

 “Once one holds that the sin condition of the world forces us to do something that should not be done, there are no genuine moral boundaries. If it is believed that the human person is incapable of avoiding certain sinful actions, there is a simultaneous readiness to look for assistance from forces external to the human person. Technology and medicine, for example, can then be used in ways that replace authentic human sexual expression” (Toward a Theology of the Body, p. 102-3) [Sr Mary Prokes]

Gradualism is a fatalistic pessimistic principle that a ‘less than Loving’ God has not provided us with enough available “sufficient” grace to leave our sinful lives and not given us the capacity to not fall into sin. Therefore, we should be advised to remain in a limited sinful way and attempt to gradually reduce our sins and neither aspire to perfection nor to never sin – merely to diminish the amount of sins or the intensity or gravity of our sins. In this case, the sinner is to be treated more like a drug addict put on the ‘methadone’ of lesser sins rather than the alcoholic necessitating total abstinence or a gambler a total end to gambling.

In the 2000 years of Church Moral Teaching the psychologically astute and empathetic Church is fully aware just how disastrously counterproductive – calamitously futile – lethally aggravating and dangerous – this would be for the poor individual trying to repent of their sins and become holy. Gradualism, as a strategy, or as a principle for moral action, or pastoral intervention or counselling, is an heretical position. [It’s also not just ineffective, but counterproductive.  Any time the Church seems to contradict earlier “hard” stands, it appears She did not know what She was talking about then, so why should She now?]

Scripturally, it is a proven falsehood and a grave calumny against a beneficent God bestowing a plenitude of Grace and against human dignity. “My Grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor 12:9)……

………It has been condemned by Church Fathers such as Sts Chrysostom, Ambrose, Jerome and most especially by St Augustine in ‘De Peccatorum 2,6,7 when he says,

“A man, helped by God, can, if he will, be without sin” and “God, therefore, does not command what is impossible, but in commanding he also admonishes you to do what you are able, and to ask his help for what you are unable to do” (FEF 1795). Even the most hardened sinner is offered help enough to repent, if only the grace is accepted (see FEF 2097, 2232)…….

……Therefore, let the whole Church understand that the Synod on the Family, as it stands, amounts to a full-scale, multi-pronged attack on the foundations of the Catholic Church and Her Infallible teachings, teachings which we have been taught to believe, if dismissed or rejected, leave souls, the sanctity and permanence of marriage and the institution of the family in the gravest of danger. We must arm ourselves with prayer and send ‘flaming prayers’ to Heaven as Bishop Athanasius Schneider has asked. We must arm ourselves, too, with Catholic truth so that we may give answer when deceits are placed before us during this time of anguish, so that when new winds of doctrine blow like a hurricane through the Church, we, and many others, are not blown away.

———End Quote———

As I said, there is much more at the link, and it’s all very good.

I have to conclude by wondering aloud whether those prelates who push (already refuted) novelties such as this gradualism are not simply projecting their own inability to refrain from sin onto the entire Church, in an attempt to justify themselves in much the same manner as Luther did?  It is best to avoid searching into motivations, yes, but when we have a movement that threatens the entire moral edifice of the Faith, examining the motivations of the men behind this resurgence of modernism is not, I do not think, beyond the pale.

There is nothing new under the Son.  There are no new heresies, only the same old errors dredged up again and again due to lack of memory.  It is truly amazing these tired gnostic theories can gain a large following, least of all among so many great princes and leaders of the Church, but pride knoweth no boundary and satan is active in every age.  I do think it fair to wonder whether men like Cardinal Kasper work their revolutionary plan from a conscious view to destroy the Church, or if they are simply blinded by titanic pride?  I suppose we won’t fully know the answer in this life, but those with eyes to see can probably come to their own conclusion.



1. Brian - July 11, 2015

I did not know about the theological term “gradualism” until recently. I have observed its presence within Christendom for most of my life and my past arguments against this yet undefined error has caused great division within my extended Protestant family over the years.

In my own struggle against sins that separate me from righteous relationship with God; and in observing others, self-satisfied in their obviously and admittedly sinful state, fully confident of infinite reward without reference to their (my) slavery to sin in this life; it always seemed discordant that heavenly reward would be granted to me even though there was not an inch of difference between my life and any heathen walking the street supposedly going to a different eternal home.

In my Protestant days we referred to this good reward as “our ticket to heaven”, granted at the moment we “accepted Jesus into our heart”. After that, heaven is assured and NOTHING we do counts for or against that reward. We put the ticket in our pocket, live our life as we please, and go to Heaven at the end. The worst sin, it seemed, was thinking we should do ANYTHING to make ourselves holy. Any work to remove sin was detracting from the salvivic act of Jesus and a type of blasphemy, (a “works-based religion”). It struck me then as now as the height of hypocrisy. And it certainly didn’t fit the one constant theme of scripture: to “buffet your body” and choose holiness over sin, and that what God promises …. he will DO.

I became Catholc because its history aligned perfectly with what I intuited to be true about the alignment of my beliefs and my actions. I saw the Church as an agent to give me the Graces, tools and community to discipline my body and spirit to align with my fervent beliefs and professed love of my Saviour. Thus, what you now describe as gradualism, and the heresy I so amply see now burning the walls of my beloved Church, is most fearful to me ….. because I have SEEN THIS BEFORE.

It is a diabolical twisting of the Faith and you are right; it goes to the HEART of Christian belief that beats in the breast of Holy Mother Church. Jesus Christ is Lord Of All, and He certainly has power over the devil and his temptations!

Lanie White - July 13, 2015

Brian, there are so many “isms” that have been rendered heretical by the Church throughout the ages that it is almost impossible for the average Catholic to know, let alone, understand them all.

Tragically, what most Catholics are unaware of is the fact that one of those “isms”-Modernism, identified by Pope Pius as the heresy of all heresies-was implemented into the very teaching and practice of the Church in the Second Vatican Council.

Modernism is a conglomeration of so many “isms” that the confusion, ambiguity, and contradictions that are evident in the documents of the Council, the bishop’s conferences, the writings of the popes and theologians, and the public interviews of the bishops, cardinals, and popes cannot be dismissed. It is evident that this heresy did not actual “reform” anything but transformed the Church into a new religion with a new liturgy (Protestantized), new doctrines, and new practices. Tradition went out the door for modernization and the “reformer’s” left nothing untouched.

It ought to be clear that after 50 years the fruits of this Council have not been good; for souls, for the Truth, for societies, and for civilization. Heresy abounds.

There is only one thing the Modernist’s have not changed and they are beginning to work on it and that is the moral teachings of the Church. The Synod for the Family is the vehicle they are using to reject the very teachings of Christ and His Church about marriage, divorce, and homosexuality. Watch this carefully. I predict they will decide that each bishop will have the authority to decide within his diocese whether or not the divorced and remarried can participate in Communion and also whether those living in a sodomitic relationship will not also be permitted to participate in Communion.

2. RC - July 12, 2015

How does this period in Church history compare to Arianism? That’s the only time period in the Church where I can think we have been in such bad shape and where popes have been “heretical”

3. camper - July 12, 2015

St. Thomas wrote that most people tire of philosophy and other forms of learning “due to the multiplicity of useless questions.” Not to insult, Tantum, but I urge you to follow the lead of TACers and avoid spending much time arguing about labels or semantics. The german bishops promoting the sacraments for the sexually immoral are heretical, and little else needs be said about them.

Brian - July 12, 2015

And do you think that approach will work with the Germans following their Bishops down this happy-clappy path to degeneracy?

The Bishops tell them that whatever feels good, do it. “Cool. Glad to oblige.”

The Catholc Church has historically always said the opposite; that they should die to the world, crucify their passions and follow Christ to a life of purity through much hardship and suffering, even martyrdom…… “Oookay then”.

Without a better answer than “heresy” to dis-interested atheists and those who lead them down the “wide road”, I don’t see how that will convert hearts and minds away from “Candyland”.

4. camper - July 13, 2015

You misunderstand me. I wish them to be defrocked and threatened with excommunication.

Brian - July 14, 2015

Thanks. But be that as it may, and I full wish that it would be so, I agree with Tantum that understanding concepts like “Gradualism” can help people like me reach out to others in my tiny sphere of the Church and the world.

It helped me personally because it described a concept I intuited to be wrong many years ago, but now realize it is a heresy that is pervasive today and connected to heresies of previous days.

Knowing this can help us apply general theological concepts to specific problems and errors in a practical way related to specific human circumstances of our family and friends.

5. Laurence England - July 13, 2015

Please correct this, the very good post was by On the Side of the Angels, a guy called Paul Priest.

Tantumblogo - July 13, 2015

REALLY?!? I had a bad day, Friday, apparently.

Tantumblogo - July 13, 2015


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