It sounds crazy to ask, but are some shepherds within the Catholic Church actually Protestants?
I don't mean Protestants in a formal sense, but rather they can be de facto Protestants by striving against the teaching of the Church (divine revelation) and replacing it with their own subjective opinions- the hallmark of Protestantism and the seed of disunity.
Of course we always must use discernment in any situation, which is inherently personal and subjective. But we must be guided by well formed consciences and objective truth, knowing that we cannot reach any conclusion that opposes divine law.
The superior general of the Society of Jesus, the Venezuelan Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal, has recently offered these stunningly Protestant views in an interview:
Q: And who must decide?
A: The Church has always reiterated the priority of personal conscience.
Q: So if conscience, after discernment, tells me that I can receive communion even if the norm does not provide for it…
A: The Church has developed over the centuries, it is not a piece of reinforced concrete. It was born, it has learned, it has changed. This is why the ecumenical councils are held, to try to bring developments of doctrine into focus. Doctrine is a word that I don't like very much, it brings with it the image of the hardness of stone. Instead the human reality is much more nuanced, it is never black or white, it is in continual development.
Q: I seem to understand that for you there is a priority for the practice of the discernment of doctrine.
A: Yes, but doctrine is part of discernment. True discernment cannot dispense with doctrine.
Q: But it can reach conclusions different from doctrine.
A: That is so, because doctrine does not replace discernment, nor does it the Holy Spirit.
Think about that: True discernment can reach conclusions different from doctrine.
It would be nice to think that this is an isolated example, but far too many priests, bishops, and others are on the same page as Fr. Arturo Sosa Abascal.
Since the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae stated the perennial teaching of the Church against artificial contraception, many of our shepherds have been influenced by secular society and have seen fit to dissent from this teaching - even to advocate leaving the issue up to the individual conscience (discernment) of each person. This is, in essense, the Protestant position.
To show how uniformed the Christian teaching against contraception was in history, the Protestant position was never taught by any group, even for the first 400 years of Protestantism! Only in 1930 did the Anglican Communion provide for artificial contraception to be morally acceptable in cases where there is a "morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence." In other words, discernment can be different than doctrine.
Here is a further discussion on this topic of artificial contraception and whether the truth can change:
Individual opinion (discernment) was never the final rule in the Church, as I have shown this is even demonstrated in Scripture:
Despite some of our shepherds leading sheep astray with Protestant-style subjectivism, we have the treasures of Church teaching that are sure and steadfast. Pope St. John Paul II in his encyclical VERITATIS SPLENDOR (1993) explains that intrinsically evil acts, such as the use of artificial contraception to deny God's creativity, are never valid (and not subject to discernment). He also shows the wonderful truth that God's law is for the true good of man so there is never a reason to oppose His holy laws:
95. The Church's teaching, and in particular her firmness in defending the universal and
permanent validity of the precepts prohibiting intrinsically evil acts, is not infrequently seen as the
sign of an intolerable intransigence, particularly with regard to the enormously complex and
conflict-filled situations present in the moral life of individuals and of society today; this
intransigence is said to be in contrast with the Church's motherhood. The Church, one hears, is
lacking in understanding and compassion. But the Church's motherhood can never in fact be
separated from her teaching mission, which she must always carry out as the faithful Bride of
Christ, who is the Truth in person. "As Teacher, she never tires of proclaiming the moral norm...
The Church is in no way the author or the arbiter of this norm. In obedience to the truth which is
Christ, whose image is reflected in the nature and dignity of the human person, the Church
interprets the moral norm and proposes it to all people of good will, without concealing its
demands of radicalness and perfection".
In fact, genuine understanding and compassion must mean love for the person, for his true good,
for his authentic freedom. And this does not result, certainly, from concealing or weakening moral
truth, but rather from proposing it in its most profound meaning as an outpouring of God's eternal
Wisdom, which we have received in Christ, and as a service to man, to the growth of his freedom
and to the attainment of his happiness.