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Jesus, You’ve Got Some Explaining to Do

August 17, AD2017

To His Holiness Jesus Christ, God the Son
ATTN: God the Father ; God the Holy Spirit

Most Holy Jesus,

Recently I have had some serious doubts (“dubia”) about Your teaching and Your words. Both Your own words and words of the Bible by men whom You inspired, appear to me to conflict with recent papal pronouncements. Some of these conflicts may be outright contradictions of what has been recently proclaimed and promulgated in the papal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (henceforth “Papal Exhortation,” cited as “AL”).

Moreover, the media have emphasized the possible ambiguity in Your words, provoking uncertainty, confusion and disorientation for myself and many of the faithful.

My Dubia follow.

1. Hell Not Forever?

Papal Exhortation:

No one is condemned forever, (AL, 297). The way of the Church is not to condemn anyone forever; (AL, 296).

But You, Jesus, have said:

Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; (Mt 25:41).

Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned (Mark 16:16).

Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it (Mark 10:15).

And You inspired St. Paul to say:

I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (Gal 6:21).

And You inspired the author of the epistle of St. Jude to say:

In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire (Jude 1:7).

My Dubia: I can see no way for Your words – regarding Hell and that it is everlasting – to be interpreted in accord with AL. Can You dispel my doubts about this and explain to me the truth of a non-eternal Hell?

2. Adultery-Sin; Adultery-Virtue?

Papal Exhortation:

The divorced who have entered a new union, for example, can find themselves in a variety of situations, which should not be pigeonholed or fit into overly rigid classifications leaving no room for a suitable personal and pastoral discernment (AL, 298).

This is also the case with regard to sacramental discipline, since discernment can recognize that in a particular situation no grave fault exists (AL, Footnote 336).

Hence it 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 (AL, 301).

The practical pastoral care of ministers and of communities must not fail to embrace this reality (AL, 305).

But Your words, Jesus, are:

It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery (Matthew 5:31).

And You inspired St. Paul to write:

Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor 6:10).

My Dubia: Can those living in on-going adultery inherit Your kingdom? How? Can they decide that what they are doing, and are resolved to continue to do, is for them personally not a sin, but loving virtue,  and so they are not in reality sinful adulterers? It seems, based on the Papal Exhortation, that sacramental absolution can now be granted in the sacrament of penance to those living this reality, and that they can be admitted to Holy Communion, while bound by a valid marital bond and living together in a state of adultery with a different person.

This is all very confusing to me.

3. Go And Sin On More ?

Papal Exhortation:

A subject may know full well the rule . . . be in a concrete situation which does not allow him or her to act differently and decide otherwise without further sin (AL, 301).

“ . . .it is possible that in an objective situation of sin . . . a person may be living in God’s grace (AL, 305).

But, Jesus, You said to an adulterer; “Go and sin no more (John 8:11).”

My Dubia: How can a person, apparently in accord with the Papal Exhortation, continue in a state of on-going adultery and still be, all the time, in Your grace? It appears that Your “Go and sin no more” words do not take into account that an adulterer’s intentions can transform his or her sin into a good act. Does a sinner still need, after repenting, to try to “sin no more” ?

4. Divine Mercy Nullifies Human Free Will ?

Papal Exhortation:

The mercy of God which is not denied anyone (AL, 300).

Mercy is the very foundation of the Church’s life (AL, 310).

Mercy is the fullness of justice and the most radiant manifestation of God’s truth (AL, 311).

It is a matter of reaching out to everyone, of needing to help each person find his or her proper way of participating in the ecclesial community and thus to experience being touched by an unmerited, unconditional and gratuitous” mercy (AL, 297).

On the basis of this realization, it will become possible for ‘the balm of mercy to reach everyone, believers and those far away, as a sign that the kingdom of God is already present in our midst.’ [quoting Bull Misericordiae Vultus] (AL, 309).

But, Jesus, You said:

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned (John 5:28-29).

And you inspired St. Paul to write this:

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God will repay each person according to what they have done (Rom 2:2-3).

My Dubia: What is the point of You judging people according to Your infinite justice if Your infinite mercy is going to negate the judgment? If Your mercy is unconditional, why judge anyone according to what they have done?

And how does this work – how can Your mercy be effective with someone who has freely turned away from You ? How can Your mercy operate without negating a person’s free will? If their subjective consciences tell them a sin is a good act, how does Your mercy change that? Or can a sinner, unchanged, unrepentant, enjoy heaven with You ?

Conclusion

Compelled in conscience by my responsibility (that of my baptism, that noted in documents of Vatican II, and that of Canon Law), and desiring to implement that synodality to which the recent Papal Exhortation urges us, with profound respect, I permit myself to ask you, Jesus, as God Almighty and as Supreme Teacher of the faith, You the Risen One who confirms Your children in the faith, to resolve my uncertainties, to bring clarity, benevolently giving a response to my dubia, and, as my Good Shepherd, to lead me, one of your sheep, to unambiguous Truth, to You.

May Your Almighty Holiness, Jesus, wish to bless me, as I promise constantly to beseech You in prayer.

Guy L. McClung, III

Photography: See our Photographers page.

About the Author:

Guy McClung lives with his wife of 44+ years south of Houston, Texas helping inventors develop and patent their inventions. Following two stints in the seminary with the missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, total 5 years (for which he is truly and forever thankful), he came to the realization that God was not calling him to that type of vowed obedience; so he left the seminary and got married. Seven children and eleven grandchildren later, he decided to try to write some words that would convey his thanks to God almighty for blessing after blessing after blessing.

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  • Thank you Guy for a nice, well-reasoned examination of an Encyclical that is sowing much confusion. I think we all need a lesson to show us when Papal Infallibility is operative. I must say I find it confusing when that which has not been demonstrated scientifically–anthropic global warming–is taken as true in an Papal Encyclical.

  • Wendy

    Guy thank you for having the bravery to tackle this subject. It is good to bring it to the attention of others. He is the Pope and we must pray for him but we also have to be true to Jesus and His word. Thanks again

  • Maria A.

    Not desiring to be part of the ongoing controversies on this topic , yet feel that the Holy Father is being misunderstood ; me no expert on any of the areas under discussion , thus only have the gut intution to go by .

    We have heard from Fatima how Bl.Mother mentioned that many of the marriages are ‘not of God ‘ ;
    Holy Father too mentions the invalidity of many marriages .
    Thus , the area that he might be wanting to help the families could be to get those who have been in invalid marriages to be more participant in Church .

    The marriages might be invalid from the point of impediments related to various personality traits and this might be the area that the Holy Father desires for The Church to delve into , not to dilute moral
    standards but from the point of lifting heavy burdens .

    Such a merciful approach , from his Fatherly heart , might help couples who are in existing marriages as well , to correct past or existing errors .

    Today’s readings , our Lord mentioning how there are some who are born incapable of marriage , some made to be so .

    More than the strict interpretation of same , as a bodily handicap alone ,
    would the Holy Father be seeing the need to recognize that , many who are not capable of marriage from deep seated personality issues ( said to be prevalent in as many as 20 % ) both from familial reasons ( ‘ born ) or from situations afterwards
    ( ‘made so ‘ ) need help at many levels .

    Thus , the Holy Father is likely proposing , as a means of offering what is just without undue hardship for those involved , esp. in places where other measures can be unjust ,from severe priest
    shortages etc .

    Good thing is , taken in such a merciful context , it can help any vocation to assess whether there are areas that tend to make same sort of less ‘ valid ‘ / effective and find ways to deal with same .

    God bless and thank you !

    • For that purpose, Francis approved in 2015 a simplification of the procedure to obtain the declaration of nullity of marriages in the Church.
      But, instead of drawing the faithfuls’ attention to that, Francis changed his mind and came out with ‘Amoris Laetitia’, which is a most dangerous threat to sacramental economy.
      Francis seems unable to understand that Justice and Mercy walk hand to hand. Justice without Mercy degenerates in cruelty. Mercy without Justice degenerates in sentimentality.
      The model example of how Mercy and Justice should be balanced is what Jesus said to the adulteress: “Go and sin no more.” Francis and his followers seem oblivious of that…

      P. S.: – I’m a Canon lawyer from Portugal.

  • samton909

    You must be a convert!

    • pedirn1

      Why do you say that? Is it because most cradle Catholics don’t know what they (are supposed to) believe whereas most converts have actually read the Bible and know how to listen to Jesus when He speaks to them?
      You would not believe the heresy I heard in RCIA. Good thing I know how to read the Bible and study the doctrines on my own.

    • Guy McClung

      Dear samton909, If you mean me, no, I am not a convert in the usual sense of the word-baptized same month I was born, Feb. 1947. But I did not begin to really read the Bible – years after my seminary days-until I encountered those who would deform Holy Mother Church began quoting it for their own purposes. The more you read the Bible, the more you realize Church Tradition has it right, and is in accord with Holy Scripture. Example-which may become very pertinent in the very near future-The New Testament Command Of The Lord that His ordained priesthood is for males only. Thanks for reading. Guy McClung

  • Anton Medak

    Thanks for this Will send this to all the defenders of the illogical.

    • Guy McClung

      Dear Adam M, Thank you and please share, share, share. Guy McClung

  • 3221

    It is not Jesus Who has some explaining to do but rather those who claim to represent Him, such as the leaders –read bishops, especially the Bishop of Rome–who will have to explain to Him why they failed to teach as He taught and who disregarded His Sacred Revelation in order to be politically correct.

    • Guy McClung

      Dear 3221-Yes. Thank you. I now fear what may be coming from the next synod whose ostensible subject is “vocations.” I have personally heard from a priest at Sunday Mass in his sermon, and it was sermon not a homily, that “this type of synod and this exhortation are at the magisterial level of an ecumenical council’s dogmatic declarations and the exhortation’s declarations are to be definitively held, without discussion or criticism, by all the faithful.” No wonder that there are those who have described those who have Dubia and who have published them as “heretics.” Guy McClung

  • retiredconservative

    Well done, Mr. McClung

    • Guy McClung

      Dear retiredconservative, Muchas Gratias, and Deo Gratias. Guy McClung

  • adam aquinas

    …. nice quotes, but a text without a context is a pretext for having it say what you want….the bane of all ultra-conservative Catholics. Jesus has nothing to explain to anyone….

    • JTLiuzza

      The cutesie slogans in lieu of cogent thought are tiresome (not to mention the misplaced four dot ellipses). I wouldn’t have used this author’s literary device. My memo requesting explanation would have been directed to Jorge Bergoglio. That stated, Mr. McClung has done a service by pointing out very clearly how Jorge’s blatherings in AL absolutely beg for correction.

    • Guy McClung

      JTL-I could not think of some other literary device to bring this home – and there are a plethora of articles that say the same thing. Thanks for the “service” comment. Guy McClung

    • Guy McClung

      Adam A, Thank you for reading what I wrote and commenting. You made my points. Yes, Jesus has nothing to explain; but Jorge Bergoglio does. Guy McClung.