By Br. Alexis Bugnolo
One day, while I lingered at the Convent of Saint Francis of Assisi, at Bagnoregio, in the spring of 2016, one of the Franciscan Fathers invited me to come with him to a Cherry orchard owned by a benefactor of the Convent. The owner said we could pick all the cherries we wanted. And the Conventual Father just loved cherries. I had never picked cherries and wanted to do some work to repay the Friars for their hospitality to me, so I eagerly went along.
In a Cherry Orchard
Cherries, in the province of Viterbo, Italy, grow in masses on the branches of trees which are nearly 20 feet high. So many cherries sprout from each branch that without supports the branches usually break. But unlike many fruits, picking cherries is difficult, because they are so small and each one ripens at its own pace. So each cherry has to be picked on the basis of a decision to pick it or not. And this has to be accurate, because an unripe cherry can cause great gastric distress after you eat it.
We picked so many cherries, the old Friar was nearly taken to heaven. He was so happy, it reminded him of his youth. Alas, after letting them age a day in the refrigerator, they were found to be not very sweet and too watery. I found them fine and ended up eating too many of them. But Italians are very particular about food quality, and the old priest ate no more than a handful, which was a great disappointment to him.
The Expression, to Cherry-pick…
And thus the colloquial expression, in English, to cherry-pick. To cherry-pick means to chose what you want and leave the rest. The expression is used to show the mendacity or malignancy in choosing what you want from something which is intended to be taken as a whole.
For example, Protestants cherry-pick scripture to propose to their congregations a Christianity without Bishops, priests and Sacraments. This is because they decide to believe and observe and thus recognize only certain passages from Scripture, not all of them.
Cherry-picking Scripture is a mortal sin, because it presupposes that you are a rebel against the obligation of faith to believe in all of Sacred Scripture as inerrant and equally inspired by God.
Imagine a Church where you only had to observe certain Canon Laws and not others. I can imagine that if I went to any medium or high security prison in the world, and proposed a society where you could chose which laws to keep and which you did not have to keep, that my proposal would win the wild cheers of all the inmates, for obvious reasons.
To cherry-pick a code of law is obviously wrong. But perhaps not so obviously more immoral and evil than breaking the law. Because the one who chooses to break a law does not necessary decide or judge that the law should not be observed, only that what he wants at that moment is more important. But someone who cherry-picks a Code of Law is setting himself up as an authority over the authority of the law itself and rejects in principle that the entire Code and the authority which issued it is his superior, which he must obey.
To cherry-pick Canon Law therefore is a very serious mortal sin of rebellion against the Pope and against Jesus Christ, from Whom the papal munus comes. It is thus diabolic, without any exaggeration.
True or False Pope?
I am continually amazed how many commentators stop by and say, What is wrong with obeying a false pope? Is not obedience what matters? People do not obey Francis because of Francis, but out of obedience to the papacy, no?
If we think we can cherry-pick Canon Law, then it does not matter, because then the Catholic Religion is up for the grab of everyone, everyone can make it into what he wants, and we have a New Gnosticism, where everyone has his own inner guiding secret principles for salvation: while the external visible Church is merely the living space for the wantonness of each. Pope, Antipope, Jesus or the Antichrist, it would all be equally good.
This is why it is absolutely essential to the salvation of each of us and of all of us to get Canon 332 §2 right. Whether you are the Pope or a Cardinal, or a Bishop or a priest, or just a layman, it makes a difference. We cannot pick and chose canons, we have to obey all the Canons of the Church.
What does it matter that Canon Law says we must obey the pope, if we refuse to obey the pope by rejecting Canon 332 § 2, and listen to the Cardinals instead who want to have an authority which Canon Law does not give them, to demand universal acceptance of their unfounded uncanonical opinion? Is that obedience to the Pope? Does Unam Sanctam no longer matter to Trad Inc.? and if we do not have to submit to Canon Law, why do we have to submit to Pope Francis? — Will someone in Trad inc explain that to me?
And where on earth or in Hell comes the idea that the Holy Spirit does not care about our decisions in this matter, or that He won’t back up the Cardinals and Bishops to do the right thing, if we ask them to in Synod or Council?
This is the spirit which motivated me to write my recent letter to Giovanni Cardinal Battista Re, whom Bergoglio announced as his new Dean of the College of Cardinals. I showed 8 sound canonical reasons why the Declaration of Pope Benedict, which he made 7 years ago, tomorrow, at 11:30 AM Rome time, did not separate him from the Papal Munus, and that therefore Canon Law — which judges everyone and everything — says he is still the pope.
It’s been 7 years, and still those who say Benedict is not the pope anymore do NOT have a canonical argument. They can cite no canon as it reads, and at most grab for a canon and try to make it say the opposite of what it says, as those whom Diane Montanga interviewed last year tried to do. I am still waiting for Life Site to print a retraction for their lies and misrepresentations. I am still waiting for Trad Inc to denounce Life Site for an article of propaganda and misinformation. I am still waiting for 750 Cardinals and Bishops and priests and 500 students of theology and canon law to get back to me with JUST ONE sound canonical argument that demonstrates Benedict is no longer the pope.
CREDITS: The Featured Image is a collage of images created by Google Image search, under the rubric of “Canon Law”, used here according to a fair use standard for editorial commentary.
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