I do not want to get into all the complications of the theory of Molina concerning predestination and the knowledge of God. However, I want to zero in on one aspect of Molinism, which I think is infecting the thinking behind the Synod, and obvious in some of the commentary from the two cardinals to which I referred without naming them.
First, if a reader wants a good breakdown on the Molinists controversy, see Garrigou-Lagrange's work Grace, which, of course, as written by a Dominican Thomist, holds the opposite stand to Molina's idea of the middle knowledge of God.
Here is my emphasis. The problem with Molina's position is that predestination, which the Church does hold as a teaching, involves God predestining a person according to merits which are foreseen.
Now, this position undermines grace and free will, as well as putting God's perfect knowledge and providence, as well as predestination, into a category of fluidity, instead of certainty.
Taken to its logical conclusion, Molina's theory, and that is all it is. although it is held by most Jesuits, allows for the meriting of grace, which is totally against Catholic teaching. No one merits grace, which is always a free gift.
Molina's view also makes free will somehow greater than grace, As seen in a previous post, one's free will is enlightened by grace. Yes, there is a cooperation of free will and grace, but the will does not determine grace. This is a Pelagian argument condemned in Trent.
Now, what has all this to do with the Synod?
Firstly, those cardinals who want to give the Eucharist to those in mortal sin as supposing that merit somehow is gained, which it is not, to be "cashed in" or as part of a process of conversion. All these elements of thought contradict Catholic teaching on sin and merit, grace and merit.
Secondly, among some of the cardinals, there is either an out-and-out denial of God's predestination, or a gross misunderstanding based on Molinism which denies that God see merit, gives grace freely and predestines that person for heaven. The fact that God sees a person choosing evil for all eternity, that is, living in a state of de-merit, is also part of the Catholic teaching of predestination. The Molinist would deny, it seems, at least in practice, that damnation and salvation depend on God seeing this merit or demerit, which puts salvation into the hands of a person, not God.
How this plays out in pastoral practice would then be that the will of the person in the irregular marriage trumps grace. If the person wants to be saved, he just gets merit and that is a sign he is saved.
Not so, states the Church in more than one council. Grace is a free gift and grace brings us to salvation, neither intentions, nor good works. Again, we do not merit grace. Here is a note from Garrioug-Lagrange, who in another place in Grace, states the Church's teaching that we do not merit justification.
Proof from the definitions of the Church. This truth is of faith; cf. against the Pelagians, the Council of Orange (Denz., no. 176), can. 3-7, 9, 14-25; the definition is renewed by the Council of Trent, Sess. VI, chap. 6 (Denz., no. 798): “Therefore are we said to be justified gratuitously, since none of those things which precede justification, whether faith or works, deserves the grace of justification itself.” It also appears clearly enough from these declarations that man cannot merit even the first grace for himself de congruo properly speaking ; for it is defined against the Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians that no one can by merely natural powers dispose himself for grace. (Cf. Council of Orange, can. 3-7, 14-25.)
This doctrine of the Church is manifestly based upon many scriptural texts; especially are cited: “Being justified freely by His grace” (Rom. 3:24; 4:4); “And if by grace, it is not now by works” (ibid., 11:6); in fact, almost the entire dogmatic portion of this Epistle; also I Cor. 12:13; II Cor. 3:5; Eph. 25-10; Phil. 2:13; II Tim. 1:9; John 15:16; I John 4:10-19.
Also, the intention of the person in sin must be that of conversion in order to both receive the gift of grace and, therefore, convert. If the intention is to remain living in sin, either in an irregular marriage or in an active homosexual relationship, there is no conversion. Grace has been refused.
Again, here is Garrigou-Lagrange on merit.
It must be a work ordained by God toward a promised reward; cf. q. 114, a. I ad 3: “Our action has no reason for merit except on the presupposition of a divine ordination; [wherefore] it does not follow that God becomes our debtor absolutely [who hath first given to Him?], but rather His own, so far as it is due to Him that His ordination should be fulfilled.” Again in article 2 c: “The merit of man depends on divine preordination” since “all the good in man comes from God” and man has no right before God unless he receives such a right from God. Hence without this divine ordination and promise, our good works would give us no right to a reward, since they are already due to God by several other titles, such as creation, supreme dominion, final end. Therefore, even if God had not promised us a reward, man ought to love God above all things.6
This doctrine is based on Holy Scripture: “The man that endureth temptation . . . when he hath been proved, . . . shall receive the crown of life, which God hath promised to them that love Him” (Jas. 1:12); “He that cometh to God, must believe that He is, and is a rewarder to them that seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). The Council of Trent (Sess. VI, chap. 16; Denz., no. 809) defines: “To those who work well unto the end, hoping in God, eternal life is offered both as the grace mercifully promised to the sons of God through Christ Jesus and as the reward faithfully rendered to their good works by the promise of the same God.”’
Confirmation. The good works of the blessed and of the souls in purgatory are not meritorious, because God has not ordained them to a reward. For God does not order good works to a reward outside of the state of wayfarer, although He could do so if He so willed.
Once we are converted and moving towards perfection, we can merit and grow in love. Only then...and to deny that is a false Protestant view as against the teaching of the Church on holiness.
Proof from the Council of Trent (Sess. VI, can. 32; Denz., no. 842): “If anyone should say . . . he who is justified by good works, which are done by him through the grace of God and the merit of Jesus Christ (of whom he is a living member), does not really merit an increase of grace, eternal life, and the attainment of eternal life itself (provided, however, that he dies in grace), and also an increase of glory: let him be anathema.” This definition is based upon many scriptural texts, for example: “By doing the truth in charity, we may in all things grow up in Him who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15); also Phil. 1:9 and Rom. 6:19; Augustine, commenting on chapter 5 of St. John’s Gospel, writes: “Charity merits increase, that being increased, it may also merit to be perfected.”
In addition to these problems of thought, is the heresy which states that we can will final perseverance and that the grace of final perseverance is not a special grace.
Again, one can see how this false idea of persevering on one's own informs the poor pastoral judgement of some of the cardinals. If one is not in grace, how can one persevere to death, and if one denies a special grace of final perseverance, one is denying that salvation is a gift from God and not earned by humans. Going to Mass and being accepted in the community does not merit one salvation. Only grace does this. Those in sin cannot gradually become holy. This is impossible for one in serious sin.
Here is Garrigou-Lagrange again. And here is where the modern Molinists fall into Semi-Pelagianism from a different cliff.
The Councils likewise affirm the gratuity of the gift of final perseverance. Several of the preceding scriptural texts are quoted by the Second Council of Orange, which declared against the Semi-Pelagian contention that this gift fell under merit (can. 10; Denz., no. 183): “Even those reborn and restored to health must always implore the help of God that they may attain to a good end and may persevere in good works.” If this must always be implored, it is not a thing the attainment of which is assured by previous merits.
Again, the Council of Trent (Sess. VI, chap. 13; Denz., no. 806) declares with reference to perseverance, “that a certain gift cannot be had from anyone, unless it be from Him who is able to make him who stands stand, that he may stand perseveringly, and to raise him who falls”; cf. Rom. 14:4 ff. Nevertheless the fact that a man merits, although it derives principally from God, is not said to proceed from God alone, but also from man by his merits. It is likewise defined by the Council of Trent (Denz., no. 826): “If anyone should say with absolute and infallible certainty that he will receive that great gift of perseverance to the end, unless he learns this by special revelation, let him be anathema.” (Also Denz., no. 832.) Chapter Twelve in Grace
to be continued...