Is Schism Inevitable in Germany?

german-bishop

The crisis in the Catholic Church in Germany declared itself 45 years ago with the “Königsteiner Erklärung,” a declaration of the bishops regarding Humanae Vitae in 1968. Therein they toned down the Church’s teaching, leaving it up to the conscience of individuals to decide whether to use contraception or not. The Austrian bishops did the same in the “Mariatroster Erklärung.” In 2008 therefore, Cardinal Schönborn, the head of the Austrian bishops’ conference, spoke about this as the “sin of the European episcopate.” These declarations have set the tone for the decades to come, and the faithful have in consequence become increasingly Protestant and heterodox in spirit.

A few days ago, a document from the archdiocese of Freiburg was leaked. The scandal was even greater than it should have been, since it first sounded like an official pronouncement. However, what came to light is bad enough. Zollitsch, who is head of the German bishops’ conference and archbishop of this diocese, which is the second-largest in Germany, explained that this paper had been issued without his permission, and was an unfinished working-paper for the diocesan pastoral conference, meant to discuss the improvement of the pastoral care for the divorced-remarried. The paper allows Catholics who are divorced and remarried to have access to the sacraments without repentance involving a change of life-style. All they need to do is have a few pastoral conversations, i.e. speak with a priest about the faith and the reasons their marriage broke down, in order to be allowed to receive communion again. The sacraments which are open to them in the list are communion, confession, confirmation, and the sacrament of the sick. Furthermore, they are allowed to be elected into a parish-council, an office from which they had been barred so far. Finally, they are offered a benediction for their second marriage, if they so wish. In order to distinguish it from their first marriage, which is still considered valid in the eyes of the Church, it is given less prominence; the ceremony is therefore not to be held the day of their civil wedding (in Germany, because of the separation of Church and State, the civil wedding has to precede the religious wedding anyway).

Zollitsch tried to smooth the troubled waters by sending out a letter to his fellow-bishops in Germany by explaining that this paper was leaked, but then stated that it nonetheless gives “provisional impulses” and is a “good contribution” to the discussion; he is thereby enforcing an already present nationalizing trend of the Church in Germany diverging from Rome.

One may well wonder how an archbishop of such prominence can propose ways of action (which are also going to be suggested at the episcopal conference) which can in no way be reconciled with the doctrine of the Church. This reveals what German Catholics have known for many years, namely that from the top down there has been a trend moving away from some of the “harder” truths of the faith in order to surrender to the Zeitgeist.

That the divorced remarried are in dire need of better pastoral care is clear. Pope Francis has called for this, and this concern will be addressed during the synod for the pastoral care of the family in Rome in October 2014. This needs to start with a better marriage-preparation, helping the faithful understand the nature of the sacrament and the seriousness of the step which they are undertaking. But how much spiritual help do the divorced and remarried actually get? How many dioceses offer support groups for the divorced to help them live their celibate life following Christ (thus helping them avoid the temptation of a remarriage)? How many offer to speak about their broken marriage and help (reconciliation, or an annulment, if there is a chance of it not having been a valid sacramental marriage, for example)? How many make known John Paul II’s wonderful invitation in Familiaris Consortio: “I earnestly call upon pastors and the whole community of the faithful to help the divorced, and with solicitous care to make sure that they do not consider themselves as separated from the Church, for as baptized persons they can, and indeed must, share in her life.” How often is it made clear to them that they are very welcome to come to mass, even if they cannot receive communion (and why they cannot receive the Eucharist)? (As a response to the events in Freiburg, the auxiliary bishop of Salzburg, Andreas Laun, clarified the position of the Church, showing why it is no way lacking in mercy.) Are they encouraged to keep that longing for the Eucharist alive which might hopefully give them the strength one day to set things right—be it by leaving their second (invalid) union or by living chastely together while they are raising their children? Some may want to turn back to the church once their spouse has died; but if the relationship with the Church hasn’t been kept alive, then they are less motivated to return.

Why does one hardly ever hear about a celibate life as a real option for the divorced? This is a hard road to tread and a difficult cross to bear; in the eyes of the world it seems impossible. Hence the witness of those who are on this journey is so important. Good pastoral care should include the stories of people who have walked this path, even though it was painful. The strength for this can only be gathered through a life of prayer. Fortunately, there are groups like this in the United States and in France, for example. The continuous plea to God for help out of a situation where one foresees much suffering for oneself and others if one leaves a second marriage will not go unheard. The prayer which acknowledges one’s own brokenness touches God’s heart most; it is the way par excellence of St Thérèse of Lisieux. The man in the temple who says “have mercy on me, a poor sinner” prays from his heart, while the Pharisee who thanks God that he is not a sinner is not praying at all. Of course, God wants us to follow His commandments; without this, we cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven. But we can only do so by the grace of God. Hence the help one offers to the divorced and remarried needs to be a spiritual one, expressing itself as well through genuine human warmth and support; simply reiterating the teachings of the Church is not enough, and this is what Pope Francis meant in his statements in his interview with Spadaro, if I understand him correctly. Similarly, the prolife movement grasped many years ago that it was not enough to say that abortion was wrong; women in crisis pregnancy situations needed to be offered concrete help, and thus various elaborate forms of assistance were developed. Similarly, those who are divorced need concrete help, rather than a simple reminder about the teachings of the Church.

It is true that if one looks at the website of the diocese of Freiburg, one can find evidence, here, here, and here, that conferences are offered for those going through a separation or a divorce, or on how to build up a good marriage in the first place. I don’t know what people are told during these conferences or during private counseling in the diocese, but the working-paper does not bode well. Why not offer people a heroic choice? Christ did the same. He did not tell the Samaritan woman to leave her “husband”; instead, he confronted her with the truth which was that she had gone through a string of relationships which had broken down. But he only did so in the context of offering her the spring of life, namely Himself (John 4).  Only He can make us bear the loneliness this entails. Only He can give us the grace to make these heroic choices which feel like death, but ultimately give life. My guess is that each one of us is confronted with a heroic choice at some point in our lives. Most of us don’t have to shed blood for our faith, but many have to give up something they would have wanted tremendously, or at least a fake consolation to make up for its absence. Those who’d like to be married, but don’t find a spouse are called to celibacy, as are those in religious life, or those with same-sex-attractions; this is a daily cross they must embrace if they wish to follow Christ. Those married might meet somebody whom they find tremendously attractive, but they cannot give in to that attraction if they want to remain true to their marriage-vows and Christ.  Or this heroic choice might be situated in another domain, like refusing to make an unethical choice and therefore never getting the promotion they would have desired; or refusing to try IVF, though this means remaining childless.

Having been raised in Germany, I have heard for years priests in various parishes preach that “the official Church in Rome says this” (“die Amtskirche”), while they say the contrary on matters such as premarital sex, contraception, divorce (and sometimes not even making the distinction between doctrine and their own heterodox beliefs). When John Paul II did not want ecclesial institutions to be involved in the abortion-business (in Germany, every woman wanting an abortion has to have a counseling-session, for which she gets a certificate; this certificate becomes her ticket to an abortion, and the counselors thus become material cooperators, de facto signing the death-warrant for the child), it was a long tug of war between the German bishops and Rome before they agreed. Some members of official voice of the Catholic laity (Zentralkomitee der deutschen Katholiken) founded a counter-group, Donum Vitae, which is still involved in the counseling forbidden by Rome, and the Zentralkomitee has generally adopted an agenda contrary to Catholic teaching concerning women’s ordination, divorce and remarriage, and contraception.

Will there be a new schism in the German Church? Some say it has de facto already happened a long time ago without having been openly declared. That it won’t take much to occur is certain, for the German Church is to a great extent already Protestant in doctrine and spirit. Benedict XVI was keenly aware of the direction the German Church was taking, and Pope Francis, we can assume, knows the situation well from his studies there. Let us pray that the worst can be avoided.

Author’s note: To be precise, Zollitsch (pictured above) is since mid-September apostolic administrator of the diocese until a replacement can be found, since he is now officially retired as archbishop of Freiburg.

Marie Meaney

By

Marie Meaney received her doctorate and an M. Phil. in Modern Languages from the University of Oxford. She is the author of Simone Weil’s Apologetic Use of Literature: Her Christological Interpretations of Classic Greek Texts (Oxford University Press, 2007). Her booklet Embracing the Cross of Infertility (HLI) has also appeared in Spanish, German, Hungarian and Croatian. Before the birth of her daughter, she was a teaching fellow at Villanova University. She now lives in Rome, Italy.

  • Angel Ruiz
    • mariemeaney

      Thanks, Angel! I appreciate that very much!

  • James

    The problem is that first marriage may be the invalid one and the second one may be, in fact, valid.

    Unfortunately, the annulment process is seen as inaccessible, bureaucratic, and expensive.

    • Don

      You raise a good point James. But I believe the bishops control the annulment process. So wouldn’t the proper response be to simplify and make more accessible the annulment process rather than disregard the gospels and Church doctrine? I pray these bishops will straighten their paths.

      • James

        As Pope Francis pointed out, the East has a different practice on dealing with second marriages.

        Church doctrine on marriage comes from the words of Christ himself, but how the Church applies that is a matter of Canon Law, not a matter of God’s law. This can be changed, and I think this is what the bishops are wanting to do.

        • Tradmeister

          Under this kind of artifice, James, you can pretty much change whatever you want.

      • Watosh

        For a good many years recently in the U.S. anyone who wanted an annulment could get one. It became known as the Catholic divorce. It gave scandal and undercut Catholic teaching on marriage, a teaching based on the explicit words of Christ Himself I might add. So I am amazed at the comments of Don and James above. There seems to be the idea that if a marriage breaks up, it must have been invalid! Wow, some logic! What Don and James are advocating is to follow Protestant guidelines. Funny how some Catholics want to be Catholics but want the Catholic church to do what the Protestant do. But then, having lived as long as I have, it doesn’t surprise me.

        • don

          Watosh, I’m afraid I was not clear. Let me try again. I am NOT advocating altering the standards by an annulment is granted but rather responding to the assertion that the annulment process has become expensive and bureaucratic. The administrative process may be overly complicated – (I do not know but for the sake of argument will accept that premise). If true, then the bishops should simplify the process RATHER than altering doctrine. Sorry for any confusion.

        • James

          I believe the real scandal is just how many people have married invalidly, especially those who have been through pre-Cana.

          In the general culture, there is a non-understanding of the meaning of marriage. This is true not only among secular people, but among Christians, and many Catholics. (BTW, Ignorance of the nature of marriage is grounds for annulment. (Canon 1096, Sec 1))

          The grounds for annulment are clearly defined and I do not contest them. With these in mind, I would not be surprised if one or more of them were not present in the vast majority of failed marriages. (BTW, most annulments are for improper form, which is pretty straightforward.)

          http://www.stmarys-waco.org/documents/Grounds%20for%20Marriage%20Annulment%20in%20the%20Catholic%20Church.pdf

          Meanwhile, the current annulment procedure assumes validity until proven otherwise, which just makes the process longer and more cumbersome.

          • guest

            You present the usual argument and I reject it. It is a pass to let anything go. Psychological grounds are used frequently and as Art Deco said above the lawyers are inventive.

            Does marriage prep need to be better? Sure, but that is not the real issue. The issue is too many want what they want and others find ways to give it them under cover of mercy.

            • James

              So are you contesting the current grounds for annulment, then?

              • guest

                I offer this link again as one example:

                http://www.catholicculture.org

                • Guest
                  • James

                    You simply don’t seem to believe invalid marriages exist or how common they are. The Pope himself speculated that he believed about half of all marriages are invalid because so many people don’t understand what the sacrament really means. I think he knows what he is talking about.

                    And it’s not like the Church doesn’t knowingly solemnize invalid marriages—the real scandal. I personally know a case where it came out during pre-Cana where the non-Catholic spouse was absolutely opposed to having children. The couple was older, but not past the age of fertility. The priest who was marrying the couple, nevertheless, told the couple that this wouldn’t be a problem and married them anyway. Not surprisingly, the marriage failed and ended up being declared invalid on multiple grounds.

          • Watosh

            According to an article by one Vasoli there were an average of 59,000 annulments granted every year since 1984. the article was written in 1994 I believe. (I got this off the internet, just now.)
            Now I was married and we had four children, but my wife died of breast cancer in 1986, and I can say that staying married is not an automatic thing. It takes a lot of commitment. But whenever problems arise, if one, or both, of the parties takes this as an indication that their marriage must have been invalid and should be annulled, this is not going to help their marriage. Those getting married need to realize what kind of commitment they are making. I confess that I find that annulments should not be granted except for clear instances where there was a major deceit involved, and the sheer numbers of annulments granted in the U.S. makes me think that those granting the annulments were not following the Church’s criteria for granting annulments. Life is not always easy and marriage is not always easy.

            • Art Deco

              I do not know that they ‘realized the kind of committment’ they were making in 1947 either. However, those making the committment had had a more austere upbringing that did not emphasize personal self-expression. They lived in a different social context, where there were not many unattached people floating about past a certain age (who did not possess some glaring flaws). I once was leaving through bound copies of a general interest magazine that was published during the early 20th century, a publication rather like The Wilson Quarterly. I wish I could remember the name. (Was it World’s Work?). Any who, in a 1910 issue was an article by a Catholic bishop explaining the Church’s views on the sacrament of marriage. He offered this: when divorce is permitted, all marriages are weakened. They knew at that time that life is lived socially and that social mores regulate a commons of sorts, just as municipal regulations regulated the use of the palpable commons. If everyone can use the commons without restriction, it is soon ruined. They knew this then.

              • Adam__Baum

                “They knew at that time that life is lived socially and that social mores regulate a commons of sorts”

                Excellent. Or, one bad apple does emit a gas which spoils the others.

              • Watosh

                That Bishop you mention made a very wise observation. back in say the early 1800’s most Protestant Churches did not favor divorce. In Jane Eyre, Rochester did not consider getting a divorce from his wife who had gone insane. Jane Eyre wouldn’t consider living with him either when his previous marriage became known despite her love for rochester. The solution of getting a divorce was not ever considered.

                However as time went on, and marriage became viewed as a contract rather than a sacrament, people began to make “good” arguments for permitting divorce. If a couple were not getting along, why not let them separate? Wouldn’t this be better for them, rather than continuing a strained relationship? Why not let them divorce so that would allow them to forge a new and better relationship? And there were the children to consider, wouldn’t it be be better for them if their parents were allowed to separate and not be continually fighting. Well we have our answer now when we look around at the disintegration around us, and many children end up in poverty.
                Now there are situations in which a marriage can be considered invalid. Personally, I think these situations are rare. I know of annulments being granted to people who were married a fair number of years and had a number of children. I know the number of annulments granted has exploded and that the United States had by far the greatest percentage of annulments. I look on this with suspicion. I think that when annulments are granted freely out of sympathy for the applicants, this weakens the sacrament of marriage. And on the other side of the coin, I am critical of annulments granted to certain powerful aspirants, or for gifts. God’s laws are not always easy, but they always prove wiser than man’s laws.

                • Art Deco

                  I think it required an act of Parliament at the time. Off hand, I cannot recall when Britain instituted dissolutions through judicial proceedings.

            • Adam__Baum

              “Life is not always easy and marriage is not always easy.”

              And we are raising a generation who thinks EVERYTHING is, and should be, easy-plus everything should have a “play a new game” button.

          • Marcellus

            Marriage has been around since the beginning of man and has been validly entered into by the most uneducated and simple people. According to Canon Law, a woman of 14 is old enough to get married. How much do you expect a 14 year old woman to understand about the “meaning of marriage”? Everyone knows what marriage is. It’s not difficult.

        • Art Deco

          I think about a third of those who apply for annulments denied them. That having been said, I have a strong suspicion that canon lawyers are verrrry inventive. I seem to recall Robert Kennedy’s loutish son was granted an annulment over the objections of his wife. Also, and with regard to public figures, diocesan chanceries refuse to reveal if they have granted one. The married state is a public status, so this is unreasonable. You recall the chancery lickspittles in Boston refused to say whether John Kerry’s marriage to Julia Thorne was annulled or not. The 1st Mrs Kerry said publicly she had objected when a petition for an annulment was filed. (In fairness to Kerry, he was divorced at the insistence of the first Mrs. Kerry; as his first marriage was solemnized by an Anglican vicar, it may have been defective of form).

          • slainte

            The Vatican reversed the decree of annulment of the marriage of Joseph Kennedy and Sheila Rauch Kennedy.

            http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/vatican_reverses_annulment_decision_of_kennedyrauch_marriage/.

            • msmischief

              Ah, interesting. I wasn’t able to finish her book on the process, but my own impression was that he had an open-and-shut case if he filed under simulation of consent. She wrote some sentimental tosh about the marriage bond, but conveyed a deep certainty that her divorce had broken it.

              To be sure, IIRC, that wasn’t what he filed under.

              • slainte

                I read Sheila Kennedy’s book “Shattered Vows” a long time ago. She was a convert to Catholicism from Episcopalianism, and like many converts was very much into her new faith. His marital disloyalty was a shock to her, and his brazen attempt to seek an annulment after an alleged affair with a campaign worker (whom he later married) was too much for her to tolerate. She vigorously opposed the annulment as it made its way through the tribunal in Massachusetts, and when it was granted despite her vigorous and substantial objections, she elected to continue to fight. Kudos to her for having appealed the decree to the Vatican where saner minds prevailed and the decree was reversed. Joseph Kennedy subsequently lost an election where he was a candidate for elected office in Massachusetts.

                • Adam__Baum

                  I am so sick of the Kennedys and their antics. Let them get jobs, already.

                  • Art Deco

                    The real scandal is that the Archdiocese of Boston has allowed itself to be suborned by these people.

                    In fairness, eight of the 28 grandchildren of Joseph P. Kennedy have been the source of public scandals. Five of the offenders have been from Ethel’s brood and one each from Patricia’s, Jean’s, and Joan’s; most of them keep their name out of the papers and young Lawford seems to have kept his nose clean for 25 years. Given some of the characters in the previous generation (JFK, Edward Kennedy, Peter Lawford, Joan Bennett Kennedy), it is a wonder there has not been more trouble than we have seen.

                    A couple of them have had business careers, one is a physician (with velcro mittens), and the rest have positions in one or another philanthropy (or are housewives); three died young. What you have is an ordinary range of talent and drive distorted in its objects and expression by too much money.

                • slainte

                  Correction, Sheila Rauch Kennedy’s book is entitled “Shattered Faith” not “Shattered Vows”….apologies for the error.

          • Adam__Baum

            I guess the question is did he throw his wedding ring over the Chancery Office walls in protest or accuse Julia Thorne of tactics reminiscent of “jenjis Khaaan”.

            • Art Deco

              Kerry is a more sympathetic character than most because he was a discarded husband. The newspapers were unwilling to critically examine the man’s past (and the Boston Globe, the New York Times, the Associated Press, and CBS News were an extension of his press office), so you have to be tentative about this. However, I am not aware that anyone has presented evidence he was given to violent, alcoholic, or adulterous behavior. Julia Thorne has herself admitted she was a melancholic head case at the time.

              Now, Kerry does remind one of Joseph Epstein’s description of Jackie Kennedy: “Je vais pour l’argent”. Not many of us ever meet a woman with an eight or nine figure sum of money behind her, much less marry one, much less do this twice over.

        • sybarite123

          Be it noted that anyone who comes seeking an annulment has shown his/her sincerity, and, in all probability, the invalidity of the first marriage. Those who are guilty of abandoning a marriage will rarely come to a priest to get an annulment. Hence those seeking an annulment most likely have many grounds for annulment. So to say that annulments are being given recklessly is bad thinking, and an injustice to many sincere Catholics.
          I might add that marriage is a great blessing and simply to recommend celibacy is to insult the Grace of Marriage. A retired Catholic priest in Canada.

          • Guest

            How about this?

            “Too Many Invalid Annulments”

            http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?recnum=350

          • Marcellus

            “Be it noted that anyone who comes seeking an annulment has shown his/her sincerity, and, in all probability, the invalidity of the first marriage.”
            You’re joking, right?

          • Adam__Baum

            No wonder Canada is such an ecclesial mess. My parents married in 1961 and Honeymooned in Montreal. Among their pictures was a grand Cathedral, that I’m sure is empty, for sale or more likely, long demolished now.

      • msmischief

        The purpose of the process to determine whether the marriage was void. Not to free people from self-chosen bonds of matrimony.

        • Don

          I agree completely. But the issue I was addressing was whether the administrative process – not the the doctrine – is as good as it can be. I have, and perhaps you have, experienced unnecessary bureacracy. IF – and I repeat – IF there is too much bureacracy, the solution is to eliminate that excessive process NOT alter doctrine. I believe if you carefully re-read my prior posts, I have been consistent and clear on that point. For that reason, I initially stated that I pray the German bishops will make straight their paths. Pax,

    • Guest

      Decrees of nullity are passed out like water. The last two Popes criticized the West for this. The idea that some find the process too taxing but have no problem with the eternal consequences of ignoring it is too familiar and quite wrong.

      • Adam__Baum

        The idea that some find the process too taxing but have no problem with the eternal consequences of ignoring it is too familiar and quite wrong.
        It should be taxing and difficult, part of the problem with marriage today is the ease ofd which civil divorce is granted-to borrow a phrase- for “light and transient” reasons. When the exit door is too wide, a lot people enter thoughtlessly.

        I had a friend who obtained an annulment. She was required to pay the Canonical Court costs in installments, rather than as a single sum. It imposed no burden on her other than thinking about what she was doing multiple times-with every check. She pursued the action, but in restrospect, it was as much her immaturity as his alcoholism that contributed to the impediment to marry.

        • slainte

          The canonical tribunal costs in Connecticut for a petition for a decree of nullity is $500. which amount can be reduced or eliminated upon a showing of need. This amount is significantly less than the costs associated with a civil action.

          • Adam__Baum

            I refer the right honorable lady to my comments of some hours ago.

            • slainte

              The deeper I grow into Catholicism, the more I despise divorce and the destruction it causes.
              I think its pretty ironic that I am spending so much time today trying to defend a judicial system whose integrity I believe in, but in a practice area I know somewhat remotely.
              Oh well…..

              • Adam__Baum

                “I think its pretty ironic that I am spending so much time today trying to defend a judicial system whose integrity I believe in”

                What’s the old saw about irony?

                I only want to know why. I’ve laid out the case that the legal pharisees made “no-fault” divorce commonplace, for their own purposes and still profit from it today. They ensured a steady supply of supplicants by ensuring that “when divorce is permitted, all marriages are weakened.” (quote from Art Deco, below).

                Judges don’t take off original sin, or suddenly become Solomon when they put on a black robe and wield a nice rosewood gavel. I’ve laid out the case that judicial corruption is fairly common.

                I get it, in the absence of Courts, we have duels-but the present legal system isn’t anywhere near ideal.-

                • slainte

                  Your argument is with the legislative body that makes the No Fault laws, not with the judicial system that merely interprets them.
                  Lawyers and judges are compensated notwithstanding what laws are in place. If No Fault did not exist, then lawyers would make money helping their clients prove grounds such as Adultery which efforts would cause their billable hours to increase exponentially. No Fault made divorce more accessible, but perhaps slightly less bitter.
                  Recall the woman in Texas who followed her husband to a hotel where she verified he was having an affair with another woman. In her rage, the woman then chased her husband with her Mercedes and ran him over numerous times in the hotel parking lot.
                  Do you really want to see more of this sort of thing? There are better ways to limit divorce.

                  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                    No-fault divorce caused not so much as a blip in the inexorable rise in the number of divorces throughout the 20th century.

                    The principle effect of no-fault divorce was to end the charade of “Hotel Cases,” in which the receptionist who booked them in and the chambermaid who brought them their early morning tea proved that the Defender (always the husband), whom they identified from a photograph, spent the night with a lady, who was not the Pursuer; their precognitions might as well have been mimeographed. No effort was ever made to identify the fair unknown and there was never any evidence of prior association.

                    • Art Deco

                      Michael, the change in the marital attrition rate during the years running from 1967 to 1979 in this country exceeded in magnitude the change over the previous century. (We have been over this issue before).

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      I find that remarkable. In Scotland, before the introduction of no-fault divorce and with one court, the Court of Session dealing with actions for divorce, the figures are as follows:-

                      In the decade 1900-1909, the annual average number of decrees was 180. In the decade 1930-1939 it was 597, a 236% increase. In the decade 1950-1959, it was 2,071, a 1,051% increase over the 1900-1909 figures. Now, for the decade 1960-1969, the average was 2,875 and for the decade 1970-1979, it was 8,703, a 202% increase (no-fault divorce was introduced in 1976)

                    • Slainte

                      There has been no showing that any increase in divorce rates was proximately caused by legislatures enacting laws which streamlined an untenable and antagonistic divorce procedure.

                      Following the free love generation of the 60s came a paradigm shift in the social mindset which caused divorce to be viewed as a viable alternative to remaining in a marriage that was perceived to crush one’s personal aspirations for happiness.

                      Divorce is a supreme assertion of individual liberty; it advances the good and happiness of one spouse over the well being of the family. Implicit in the decision of the person seeking a divorce is a rejection, or forgetting, or lack of knowledge of a Christian faith which, if embraced, would call one to voluntarily subordinate one’s passions in favor of the good of others.

                      Unfettered personal liberty is a primary cause of the breakdown of the family.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Certainly, there are other factors, and perhaps no-fault divorce is, itself a medium to to advance that breakdown. However, see below-it took me five minutes to find those sources that assert NFD with escalating divorce rates.
                      Divorce is not the “supreme assertion of personal liberty”. It is the supreme assertion of personal selfishness and license-there is no liberty to injure another or break vows.

                    • slainte

                      Liberty separated from Faith and morality results in selfishness and self centeredness. The poster Higher Calling has discussed this issue in superb detail.
                      Divorce results from an act of the will. The fact that liberal divorce laws exist do not cause one’s will to choose divorce. When you had the last big fight with your wife…why didn’t you immediately go and file for divorce? If ease of process causes one to divorce, then shouldn’t you be divorced? What stops you from going down that path…could it be your faith?

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “Liberty separated from Faith and morality results in selfishness and self centeredness. ”

                      I somewhat agree, but would say that liberty separated from Faith and morality isn’t liberty, but a cheap counterfeit-license.
                      Liberal divorce laws do affect the conduct of a marriage, because entrants take the ease of exit as an explicit calculation – I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard people say something like “well, if it doesn’t work out…”.

                      I have had very few “big fights” with my wife, perhaps because of some rather unique circumstances, among other things, my failure to obtain a “sure thing” position in March of 2000 (address included the words World Trade Center), or that we were married on the Feast of Saint Rita, or that my wife was born in a hospital dedicated to the same Saint.

                      You still haven’t explained why you are so invested in the godless civil regime that without so much as a reasonable inquiry puts asunder what God has joined.

                    • slainte

                      I am an attorney but I do not practice in the area of Family Law. I have performed Pro Bono work which involved assisting a client in this area on a limited basis. I have observed what occurs during motion calls in Family Court and the position of many women litigants who appear before the Court usually in a pro se capacity as they are unable to afford counsel.
                      I believe that some men and women freely choose to put asunder what God joins together; the Court is simply the mechanism that unwinds civil obligations at the request of one of the spouses. Your experience with lawyers and judges differs from mine. There are good and bad professionals; I have been fortunate to have met many good people.
                      I believe that couples have a better than average chance of staying together when God is present in their marriage. Without God, relationships are more tenuous especially during difficult times. Pax.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “I am an attorney.”

                      You gave that up a while ago. The refusal to answer a question directly is a dead give away.

                      I don’t base my opinion on the legal profession based merely on personal experience, but it helps. The nail in the coffin was being an observer to case where two young boys were killed as a result of trespassing and then met a relative, who described how the prominent local law used the parent’s grief to uncork rage, which resulted in a divorce all to pursue a case that ultimately prevailed only because the federal judge decided that the plaintiff’s attorneys needed to recover at least some of their discovery fees and went for a directed verdict, using a particularly expansive and ridiculous definition of a “permissive crossing”. Not my opinion, but that of a federal solicitor. In what was the most disgusting aspect of the case, they valued one brother’s life more than the other, because of a higher IQ. The only good thing was that the law firm eventually broke up, unfortunately it became two. Even today, one of the resultant firms runs ads telling potential litigants “I’m M***** M***** and I can help (sic).

                      “have observed what occurs during motion calls in Family Court and the position of many women litigants who appear before the Court usually in a pro se capacity as they are unable to afford counsel.”

                      And you do nothing? You think this is a good situation where litigants get chewed up and spit out, because they won’t pay to play?

                    • slainte

                      “And you do nothing? You think this is a good situation where litigants get chewed up and spit out, because they won’t pay to play? Any sympathy for the men and the shabby treatment they receive?”
                      I was already present in that Court representing a litigant on a pro-bono basis (that means free…no fee). I have never made a single penny on any family court matter…ever. And I am a Pharisee?
                      You paint with an overly broad brush.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Counselor, do you think that your not-so-subtle attempt at prevarication isn’t obvious? I learned a long time ago how to fend off those tactics and not let my words be rephrased.

                      I said “the Bar”, not every individual attorney, and just as I distinguish between the local CPA providing useful services to local businesses while slogging through the latest FASB -and the “BIg 4″ partner doing whatever the hell it is they are doing-it’s a pretentious dark art they practice- there’s a difference between the local attorney doing wills and estates and the foul product of Harvard Law that infests every avenue of power and slithers through white shoe firms. However, no matter what the scope of your practice, the more you defend the system, the less you are exhonerated.

                      That having been said, although it’s pretty clear you can’t seem to see the “practice of law” is pretty sick and has been for a a long, long time. (See today’s article by Bruce Frohnen- Buck v. Bell is just the apex of a mountain of injustices from the “justices”)

                      The difference between you and me is that I’m willing to admit the deficiencies of my profession-of course the difference is yours is now running mine, courtesy of Sarbox-and I’ve noticed a decline in its morality since that dark day in July 2002.

                    • slainte

                      I enjoy my work; I like my profession, and I see no reason to be ungracious about it. I can also attest that many of my friends and colleagues devote a fair amount of time advising and representing those who are unable to afford representation.

                      I do not engage in subtle attempts to prevaricate….I stated what I understood you to say…that I and other lawyers are Pharisees….Not true.

                      I prefer that you use the term Slainte to address me rather than Counselor as I love being Irish….and I think the Irish should be spoken and written wherever and whenever possible.

                      Slán agus beannacht leat….Adam_Baum

                    • Adam__Baum

                      I enjoy my work, I like my profession, and I see every reason to be honest about it. I know it’s good points and it’s bad, and I admit them. That’s not ungracious, it’s realistic. Try it, it’s liberating.

                      Once again, I said “The Bar”, which you should know is a corporate entity which is separate from its members, but if you choose to subsume your identity into it, then you’ll have to live with it. Of course, that suggests an external locus of identity, among other things. Now why does Sweden come to mind?

                      I’ve spent hours seeing you arch your back like a scared cat, evading direct questions, rephrasing statements, I don’t put up with it from my boss, certainly not my employees, so no internet nom de plume gets away with it.

                      Until now, I haven’t heard nothing about your ethnicity. I don’t share it, and I have no capacity to speak Gaelic. I have no knowledge of it other than seeing the “Erin Go Bragh” signs emerge in March, right before the revelry. As a general rule, I don’t try to sing or speak languages other than English. The Lord said make a joyful noise, not an awful one.

                      If you posted a picture that showed you to resemble Maureen O’ Hara in “The Quiet Man”, with flowing red locks, I’d still see you in a deep blue suit with a brief case, counselor. There’s only one woman that gets to dictate how I address her.

                    • slainte

                      You want me to agree with you on points; some I do, others I don’t. I have responded to your queries as best as I am able. Apologies if that is not sufficient.
                      I don’t agree with your assesment of my profession. Perhaps we can agree to disagree.
                      The Irish phrase I that I used to conclude my last statement simply means…”.Cheers (or bye) and God’s blessings on you”…which I sincerely meant.
                      The term slainte is Irish for Cheers….I prefer it to your use of the term Counselor…and I don’t wear dark blue suits or carry a brief case (ditched those in the late 90s).
                      But like lots of Irish, I plead guilty to having red hair.
                      Have a good evening.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      Slainté

                      The “paradigm shift” occurred, not in the 1960s, but between 1930 and 1950; in 1930, there were 469 decrees and in 1950, there were 2,204, nearly a five-fold increase.

                    • slainte

                      What caused the paradigm shift in your estimation?

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      Slainté

                      Your guess is as good as mine, but the trend was an accelerating one throughout the 20th century. 87 decrees in 1890, 144 in 1900, 223 in 1910, 776 in 1920 (although this was part of several very high years during and after WWI – in 1919, there were 829). Because the numbers were small, few people noticed how rapidly they were rising. The average for the years 1920-1928 was 483.

                    • slainte

                      Are these statistics reflective of divorce decrees issued in Scotland or England?
                      In 1930, the Anglican Church via the Lambeth Conference approved the use of contraception for Anglicans, but this was likely the consequence of a liberalizing trend already in progress for several years. Pope Paul VI in “Humanae Vitae” suggested that contraception was the slippery slope that leads to ever greater occasions of immorality.
                      Here in America divorce seemed virtually non existent in the 1960s and early 1970s except for Hollywood personalities. I recall watching a televison show in the 70s which involved a divorcee moving into a suburban neighborhood and the scandal it caused among the character actors.
                      So perhaps the “paradigm shift” started earlier on your side of the pond before it reached the U.S.

                    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                      Slainté

                      They are the Scottish figures. It is worth noting that the population showed only a small increase throughout the century, 4.47 million in 1901, 5.09 million in 1951 and 5.06 in 2001.

                      Yes, divorce was rare; the first year in which there were more than 1,000 decrees was 1941 (1,020), but in 1901, there had only been 158 and in 1911, there had been 234. It is because the numbers were small that no one noticed how rapidly they were increasing.

                      Judicial divorce has been available in Scotland for adultery since 1560 and for desertion (4 years) since 1573. This was based on the Reformers reading of Matt 5:31 and 1 Cor 7:15. Between 1560 and 1770 there were only 118 decrees (out of a population of about a million and between 1770 and 1830, there were 786 out of a population of two million; small numbers, but a steep rise.

                      Cruelty was added in 1938, but most actions for divorce were for adultery, most were undefended and, one suspects, many were collusive. As the Act of 1660 declared marriage by the Defender “with the persons with whom they are declared by sentence of the ordinar judge to have committed the said cryme and fact of adulterie to be in all tyme coming null and unlawfull in themselves and the succession to be gotten be sik unlawfull conjunctions to be unhabile to succeed as heires to their saids parents,” even those spouses who had committed adultery with someone they hoped to marry would furnish their spouse with evidence of a “one night stand” with someone else – the typical “Hotel Case.”

                      Yes, divorce was rare; the first year in which there were more than 1,000 decrees was 1941 (1,020), but in 1901, there had only been only 158 and in 1911, there had been 234. It is because the numbers were small that no one noticed how rapidly they were increasing.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      “There has been no showing that any increase in divorce rates was proximately caused by legislatures enacting laws which streamlined an untenable and antagonistic divorce procedure.”
                      None that you care to consider. I posted several above and there was several thousand available-that is not “no showing”.

                    • Adam__Baum
                    • slainte

                      I have posted a detailed response twice and both times my response disappeared. The article you reference in “National Affairs” magazine Fall 2009 cites 20 reasons for the proliferation of divorce, only one of which is the universal application of No Fault laws.
                      Divorce is viewed by the author as a way to unleash the primacy of self autonomy which allegedly is smothered by the obligations of traditional marriage. Divorce is viewed as a form of liberation. See, http://www.nationalaffairs.com

                  • Adam__Baum

                    Well then, don’t let me let the legislatures off the hook. Of course, looking there produces the same result-a hegemony of barristers who sought (and seek) to advance the interests of their profession at the expense of society.

                    Given that adultery has given rise to murderous rage forever, I don’t know how you can blame the divorce statutes for that act-however, in any case-perhaps if there were laws where she could be heard, and had a judgment commensurate with the injury adultery causes, her husband might have thought twice about his actions-and she might not have had the rage she vented with a thirty-five hundred pound improvised missile.

                    • slainte

                      Prohibition did not stop those who wanted to consume alchohol from acquiring same as the decision to drink is an act of the will.
                      Liberal divorce laws do not cause people to divorce; the choice tol leave a marriage is an act of the will.
                      To reduce divorce one must convince individuals to voluntarily subordinate the will to a higher good. That higher good is knowledge and love of Christ through the Catholic Church.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Well then, let’s just remove every proscription from Criminal Codes.
                      Prohibition didn’t work because it attempted to impose a view that alcohol, rather than it’s misuse was a problem.
                      I’m not proposing we prohibit civil divorce. We actually require more to obtain a liquor license (either as a producer or as a dispenser) than we do divorce.

                    • slainte

                      It would be interesting to gain a better understanding of Aquinas’ position that discouraged the use of positive law to legislate against immorality. I wonder whether he would view a person’s use of free will to seek a divorce as an instance of immorality.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Now you’re just being obstinately disingenuous. I’m not proposing a prohibition and you know it, just some due process.

                      Perhaps Art was right in his initial evaluation of you.

                    • Marcellus

                      You can disagree and still be nice to the lady.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      When somebody repeatedly evades the issue at hand, won’t answer direct questions-offers specious comparisons, and can’t admit that divorce is a predatory industry (for crying out loud, there’s a “certified divorce financial analyst” designation and a divorce magazine, along with those Arnie Becker wannabees driving Mercedes), and wander between libertarian indifference and malinterpretations of free will, she’s already ceased to be nice and ripped her “lady” card and all the deference that comes with it.

                    • Marcellus

                      Courtesy is not something you show only to those whom you think deserve it.

                    • Adam__Baum

                      Perhaps you missed what I wrote. I only fired back.

                    • slainte

                      Thank you for being a kind gentleman.

                    • Marcellus
                    • slainte

                      áilleacht.

                    • Marcellus

                      Beauty is often neglected as unimportant in our utilitarian world. Though I am not Irish, I believe your people have or have had a certain gift for appreciating the beautiful, especially in word and song. The priest who brought me into the Church was from Ireland. He had a pure heart, a great gift for the poetic, and was a solidly orthodox man.

                    • slainte

                      I was not suggesting that you were proposing a prohibition of divorce.
                      Divorce pre 1960s was viewed far less charitably by Catholicism than it presently is, yet I don’t recall any suggestion that it was viewed as a moral issue. It was, however, a significant offense against God to undo what He put together, and thus a grave offense. If it did rise to the level of an immoral act, would Aquinas consider it something that should be beyond the purview of positive law. I do think that if the earlier church had the power to ban divorce; it would have. That was the nature of my query.
                      You are free to adopt any view of me that you wish. I interacted with Art Deco in good faith; nothing I said or did justified his use of the terms “ass” or “crackhoe”; I am neither.

      • msmischief

        I have read the story of a woman who was trying to get a documentary annulment so as to marry her children’s father. An open and shut case — she hadn’t married in a church ceremony — but it still took so many months that he lost hope and left her.

        When she finally got it, she was deeply relieved because she realized at that point how foolish the marriage would have been, but it does not reflect well on the process.

        • Adam__Baum

          Do you prefer Type I or Type II errors?

    • msmischief

      If the first marriage was not declared invalid, the second marriage is invalid (though it may be putative).

  • Steven Jonathan

    Excellent Article! The hard but liberating truth does not appeal to the world, and it breaks the heart to see shepherds try to forge Holy Mother Church in the image of man, especially by lowering the standard to that of our depravity.

  • Art Deco

    The total fertility rate in German and Austria is 1.36 live births per woman per lifetime. Unlike most of the rest of Europe, there has not been any recovery at all in total fertility rates in the last 16 years and total fertility rates have been below replacement levels since 1970 (in Germany) and 1973 (in Austria). These people need contraception like Pope Francis needs a bald head. I have forgotten who it was who said insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

    There is not much you can do for divorces except remind them of Church teaching and refuse to solemnize re-marriage. A scatter of these may have had marriages with a defect of form. The annullment mill is another scandal. Truth be told, we’ve acquired three generations of people who do not believe they have any obligations, most especially three generations of women who do not believe their vows transcend in importance their year-to-year preferences. A comfortable majority of divorces (about 2/3) are discretionary and the most consequential vector therein is the belief by wives that they can trade up. Mr. Dalrock has a take on an aspect of this:

    http://dalrock.wordpress.com/

    • slainte

      You view all women through the lens of the one who hurt you. All women are not alike.
      We live in a culture that marginalizes and undercuts marriage and the bonds of love and fidelity that every man owes to his wife, and every woman owes to her husband. As weak and impressionable beings, we buy into the false messages of the culture and when we act upon them. cause injury to others. God can and will heal these wounds.
      The Church also knows our distress and attempts to offer relief to those who are hurting…the annulment inquiry is just one of those ways.

      • Art Deco

        You view all women through the lens of the one who hurt you. All women are not alike.

        Stop being an ass.

        For the record (though you do not deserve any clarifications).

        1. I do not view ‘all women’ any particular way. There are valid generalizations, of course and between group differences which exceed within group differences.

        2. What I said about the mode of divorces in this country is verifiable through an examination of descriptive statistics and analyses. Of course, more involved behavioral models are not ‘verifiable’, but you can collect evidence toward them. However, who initiates most divorce actions, who receives custody of the children, and the results of survey research on people’s stated reasons for seeking divorce do not respond to how I ‘view’ women. They are what they are collected by sociologists and statisticians who have one thing in common: they are not me.

        And the truth is this: about two-thirds of all divorces are initiated by wives; the presence of children in a marriage is positively correlated with the ratio of female to male initiations; and people with distinct and specific complaints against their spouse (alcoholism, adultery &c) amount to only about a third of those seeking the dissolution of their marriages.

        There have been a couple of women who have hurt me in a sidelong way. I was not married to either one of them.

        • slainte

          I am a Catholic woman and a professional; I am not an “ass”.
          You have failed to provide any documetary evidence to support your conclusions.
          You might wish to consider attending a few Family Court motion calendars in any jurisdiction to observe first hand which groups are most adversely impacted by divorce and its residual effects.

          • Art Deco

            You might consider looking through the literature on the sociology of the family, most particularly the work of Norval Glenn. You might also consider looking through statistical references such as those issued by the National Center for Health Statistics. What I referred to are commonplaces, known to anyone who has done some cursory research on the subject.

            I honestly do not care if you are a Catholic woman, a professional, or a crack ho’. The contours of social life are what they are. The implications one draws from them can be variable, but a reference to problems in girl culture is certainly a reasonable inference. Your response to those references was condescending and silly for obvious reasons. You’ve earned insults, sister. Own it.

            • slainte

              You made very specific conclusory statements.
              The burden remains on you to support those conclusions with very specific documentary proof, not vague generalizations.
              Ad Hominem insults do not advance the discussion.

              • Art Deco

                Ad hominem? You are objecting to ad hominem? The woman who cannot interpret a common and garden statement about common social behavior and attributes that to the personal history of an individual she would not know from a cord of wood? When you look in the mirror, just who do you see?

                Sorry, I am not going down to my storage locker to fish out the bibliographies from ecological studies on marital attrition I did 16 years ago. In any case, that is hardly necessary. Common statistical manuals, some of them online, will suffice. And, again, these are not esoteric data. You say you hang around family courts. Unless you live in a very strange area, you should know bloody well who initiates divorce suits and who gets custody of the children.

                • slainte

                  Rather than relying upon conclusions you formed 16 years ago, I suggested that you view the present reality of divorce by observing first hand what occurs in a Family Court; in particular, during motion calendars for interim relief during the pendency of divorce or ancillary proceedings.
                  It is no longer a foregone conclusion that women receive custody of children. In many jurisdictions, state legislatures have enacted statutes that empower a judge to exercise substantial discretion in assigning custody to the spouse who can provide an environment that serves the “best interests” of the child. This may be either the father or the mother.
                  As to matters of child support, judges can and do issue contempt orders if the spouse responsible for child support payments does not remit payment as ordered. That spouse can, however, petition the Court in the event of changed circumstances which may provide a basis to change previous Court orders and avoid the enforcement aspect of a contempt order.
                  Much has changed for the better in sixteen years.

                  • Adam__Baum

                    “In many jurisdictions, state legislatures have enacted statutes that empower a judge to exercise substantial discretion in assigning custody to the spouse who can provide an environment that serves the “best interests” of the child. This may be either the father or the mother. ”

                    And yet you don’t see this as a problem. Look what you are writing. You see the investiture of authority in some judge, who by posession of a law license is supposed to be able to fracture an intimate bond and don’t question if this can ever be anything more than arbitrary guesswork on the part of a bureaucrat.

                    “As to matters of child support, judges can and do issue contempt orders if the spouse responsible for child support payments does not remit payment as ordered. That spouse can, however, petition the Court”
                    And with every petition, decree, writ and order, the lawyers are kept busy and wealthy.

                    • slainte

                      I see a circumstance where a man or woman as a Moral Agent freely elects to assert his individual will to leave a marriage and thus divide his family. The Moral Agent asserts his will over that of God’s by freely choosing to put asunder what God joined together.
                      Moses said that divorce existed because of the hardness of man’s heart and Jesus proclaimed that He hated it. So do I.
                      But ultimately God gives us free will. When a man or a woman decides that he or she wants to leave a marital relationship, there has to be an orderly process to protect the rights of the left behind spouse and the children. This is the assigned task of the Positive Law, the Courts, the judges, and yes, the lawyers.
                      The focus of our inquiry as Catholics should be to equip a Moral Agent to voluntarily seek to subordinate his will to the well being of God and the family. How does one properly do this? Maybe through catechesis, maybe evangelization.
                      Ultimately, the best way to keep the Court out of the family is to cause the spouses never to seek its intervention.

          • Adam__Baum

            In a prior life as a pension analyst, I read thousands of divorce decrees (known as “QDRO’s”-qualified domestic relations orders), because they related to the division of pension assets in a divorce. They were created by the 1984 Retirement Equity Act to remedy the situation where one spouse (generally the man) acquired wealth and status through the homefront efforts of a loyal spouse, only to be dropped like a hot potato for a “newer model”. Like most laws, it was quickly abused.

            In those reviews, I found that those orders and decrees tend to favor women in the distrubtion of property and the assignment of custody rights. I’ve watched male frends have their visitation frustrated and have the courts be indifferent about those denials while having absolutely no tolerance for any hardship that might arise from a reduced income.

            That having been said, I don’t “side” with men or women in this case, I side against the individuals who submit to the process unnecessarily, and the imperious courts that treat both parties as subjects. The children, needless to say, suffer the most.

            No matter who gets the most baubles, the process of divorce is a disgusting one-where the attorneys stoke the furnace of indignity to create an actionable cause where none exists, or to escalate hurts into “irreconcilable differences” and where disinterested judges and bureaucrats peer into the mariital bedroom.

            Don’t get trapped into petty squabbles over the relative equity of the sexes in marital dissolution. Family courts are petty pharisees, exercising inordinate and arbitrary power over people, who, as often as not are jumping from the frying pan to the fire. The legal apparatus profits at the expense of others’ misery. Reserve your anger for those parasites.

            • slainte

              I agree with many of your conclusions. I have been fortunate to have been an observer at hearings in Family Courts, and some of what I have observed has caused me to weep.
              Most of the judges work very, very hard to do equity and promote civility between the parties. The children are profoundly hurt.
              The decision to divorce destroys families….if at all possible, I hope that many avoid it.

              • Adam__Baum

                “Most of the judges work very, very hard to do equity and promote civility between the parties. ”

                Working very hard at making an equitable division of that which should not be divided (and is in a real sense, is indivisible) and occupying a well-paid, high status position that exercises largely arbitrary and capricious powers still puts “family court” in the realm of disreputable to me.

                A judge is merely among the most ambitious and arrogant members of the Bar Association, a modern group of pharisees exercising entirely too much power, in both scope and magnitude over the affairs of others.

                • slainte

                  A judge presides over a proceeding or action initiated by a party who is seeking some form of relief from the Court. He or she interprets the law as it applies to the parties, rules upon a myriad of motions for interim relief during the pendency of a proceeding, adjudicates the merits of each litigant’s position, and attempts to secure the well being of children who are the innocent victims of an untenable situation.
                  Judges do not compel any party to initiate divorce proceedings. Nor does a judge bar alternative dispute resolution, mediation, or any other reasonable settlement method that may cause an amicable disposition of issues between litigating parties which is consistent with existing law and equitable considerations.
                  Divorce is highly emotional and involves the most personal and profoundly painful devolution of marital unity and the destruction of a family unit. There are very few people who escape the pain, hate, and anger that flows from a once loving couple as their union is dissolved, their possessions divided and their children’s lives are upended.
                  Judges are innocent third parties whose task of interpreting and applying the law is necessary to maintain societal and domestic order. It is a thankless and difficult job notwithstanding your claims to the contrary. If there were no divorces, there would be no need for Courts or judges to resolve these unpleasant matters. Your disdain and anger as directed against judges and the court system is misplaced.

                  • Adam__Baum

                    Sorry, but I remain unconvinced. Last I checked, a good many judges presiding in these courts are elected, and just as nobody forces the individuals into a divorce proceeding, nobody forces individuals to become judicial candidates-and there’s never a shortage “innocent third parties” seeking this “thankless and difficult job”.

                    I don’t have any particular anger against judges, and nice try at making my concerns emotional, rather than factual. My complaint is that the legal system asserts that there is such a thing as an equitable dissolution. Let me remind you, that easy (aka “no-fault”) divorce statutes were pursued vigorously by the Bar, and they had “skin in the game”. Judges all remain members in good standing of the Bar.

                    Clearly, you are part of this system (or you have a weird hobby of attending proceedings where you have no interest) and have a bit of a bias.

                    You think Judges are innocent? Google “Luzerne County, Pennsylvania” or just “Pennsylvania”.

      • Susan

        Pagan cultures also marginalized Christian Ethics and killed Christians who didn’t bow to their paganism/orgies/sodomy. Evil and Good is being flipped by the current Catholic Church in a lot of parishes who blur the truth intentionally—make altar “girls” to emasculate the Church and deny the truth of roles in man and woman–Twist the Truth—into radical egalitarianism where men and women are interchangeable and not complementary—- (Marxism) which eliminates the Natural Family and where the State becomes mommy and daddy. Total dehumanization of mankind which ends nurture (love) of babies.

        Character and morals are taught—as even the pagans knew—To teach Virtue is a necessity. The CC and parents are not instilling moral character into children—in their formative years. They are leaving it to the State which as JS Mill knew—the state will dehumanize and remove all morality. Even a little Socialism “rots the Soul”. The State is the Leviathan and the CC quit fighting the State with Vatican II and is embracing paganism/atheism–the Culture of Death. It is the Slippery Slope—-can’t do it. The CC is about Truth and saving souls—not enabling evil behaviors to be modeled and instilled in the next generation.

        • slainte

          Susan, let’s pray the rosary for an end to divorce and annulments and for the elevation of traditional Catholic morals, values. and ethics. Pax.

          • Susan

            Yes—it must be done!

    • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

      Actually, mathematically, a fertility rate below 1.3 child per woman is irreversible. Historically, a fertility rate below 1.6 child per woman has never been reversed. Therefore, do not Germany and Austria are practically beyond the point of no return and their respective fertility rates are unlikely to improve.

      Mind you, the fertility rate among American-born women in the US is 1.6 child per woman. If foreign-born women are considered, the fertility rate among women in America is 2.1 children per woman. Therefore, only immigrants have a future in America because they are the only ones being fruitful.

      • Adam__Baum

        Atlas didn’t shrug, he contracepted.

      • Art Deco

        Europe faced a lengthy demographic implosion which lasted from the 3d century to the 7th century. Eventually, that came to an end.

        Currently, Europe and Central Asia have a total fertility rate of 1.93, which has increased from 1.83 in the last dozen years. If you bracket out the predominantly Muslim countries, the rate of the remainder is around 1.88. Britain and France have staged a comeback in the last 20 years and have rates of 1.98 and 2.03, so full recovery for Europe-in-general is possible and on a time scale measured in years rather than decades. However, you do have persistent subregional problems (e.g. Germany).

  • jhmdeuce

    The real schism is happening right now, as the Church of Rome separates itself from the One, True Faith.

    • msmischief

      Who’s practicing it?

      • jhmdeuce

        Start from the top and start listing names. The whole hierarchy is heterodox.

        • James

          Glad you could join us, Mr. Luther.

          • jhmdeuce

            Funny. You should really read a lot more. Start with Augustine and work forward. Right about the time you make it to “Pascendi” maybe you’ll get it.

            • James

              Ahhh, you’re not going far enough back. Try starting with Matthew 16:18.

        • Desert Sun Art

          And who, pray tell, is orthodox, in your opinion?

  • hombre111

    The divorced “cannot receive Communion?” Marie, Marie. The divorced are welcome to receive Communion. The problem comes with remarriage.

    • Susan

      Thanks for that bit of truth. The amount of misinformation out there is staggering. Ignorance seems to be the norm—esp. among Catholics who made it possible for a Satanist to be President. The Church needs to return to “educating” their members. They have “blurred the truth” since Vatican II to a disgusting degree–creating ignorant “group thinkers” who actually believe Evil is Good now. it seems like the “confusion” is still being encouraged by Bishops and it is even obvious in the Cardinals in the USA. Sickening.

      • Chris

        Exactly what proof do you have that the President is a Satanist? You would do well to read James 3:1-12.

        • Adam__Baum

          Proof is impossible, but from what evidence we have, he’s an autotheist.

        • Susan

          His bible is “Rules for Radical”—dedicated to Lucifer. Read it sometime—it comes right from the brain of Satan. He follows his bible to a “T” —him and that witch, Hillary.

          We are supposed to shun Evil and condemn it. You should read the bibliography of Pastor Bonhoeffer—who stated—“Silence in the face of Evil, is itself, EVIL: To NOT speak, is to Speak. To not Act, is to Act.”

          He intentionally ignores the Constitution and lies better than Satan. What more proof would you need then all his lies which are legion.

          • Diaconos

            Susan, You are right on regarding Obama. Christians, especially Catholics should not vote for anyone who is pro-death,anti Orthodox Christian Catholic, Pro-Gay Lifestyle,Pro sodomite Marriages etc.

        • Susan

          Also—as a Rabbi stated–sodomy is the Rite of Worship of Ba’al. There is no better Homosexualist than zero—who forces Christians to leave the military, as he is forcing men to take “Pride” in anal sex. His party “booed” God three times and removed him from the platform (which they had to put back because of backlash). He even forces evil Sex Ed on Kindergarden children. If you research “Sex Ed”—condemned by all popes as intrinsically evil—warping of sexual identity formation of children—corrupts and warps their understanding of human relationships and reduces sex to a meaningless animal act.

          Sex Ed is a Marxist construct to destroy Natural Law and the Natural Family. That is as Satanic as you can get. Look up all the dead homosexuals—and the story Breitbart who was unearthing “to destroy zero’s presidency run so had to be killed”++++unearthing his homosexual “lover”.

          If you don’t realize how Satanic anal fixation is, you should listen to the Rabbi who stated that sodomy, the rebellion against God’s Design of the human body, and reduces man to fecal material in dehumanizing, unnatural use of the body. God is Truth–BTW. Sodomy is an Abomination!!!! You don’t even understand the Bible and meaning of the words, do you? You must be a Protestant who picks and chooses what “Truth” is.

          • fredx2

            So what you are saying is, “Democrats are Satanists”. Good luck with that one.

            • liberalismisamentaldisorder

              anyone who approves the murder of a child in the womb, and approves of sodomite marriage…is nothing but doing the will of satan

    • Marcellus

      The problem is not just with remarriage. Since the Catechism says that divorce is a grave offence against the natural law, those who file for divorce without sufficient reason could be guilty of mortal sin. Those in a state of mortal sin should not receive communion.

      • Adam__Baum

        True enough, but the difficulty with that is that consent of the will is a requirement of mortal sin. Very few people seeking a civil divorce believe their cause to be insufficient (ask Henry Tudor) and very few people seeking a divorce lightly are going to care about something like sin and by the time that the barristers are involved, there’s usually a long history of antagonism and to be honest, some lawyers will stir it up to ensure billable hours.

        • marcellus

          I know the conditions that exist for mortal sin, thank you. My point is that divorce is considered grave matter and therefore one can be the occasion for mortal sin by the one seeking the divorce. I didn’t write the Catechism, which says that divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. “Very few people seeking a civil divorce believe their cause to be insufficient,” you say. Well you might just as well say that very few people seeking an abortion believe their cause to be insufficient. As it is, very few people have had their consciences properly informed about the gravity of divorce or the valid conditions which warrant it (which are few) in the post Vatican II world, so you are probably right.

          • Adam__Baum

            I’m not disagreeing with you about divorce being a grave offense against natural law. What I am saying is that even on that rare occasion when an informed conscience is involved, there is a perceptual impediment to the proper apprehension of the possibility that the outcome of a divorce could be sin.

            The analogy to abortion fails , since abortion can NEVER be justified, but it is possible that a divorce is justified.

          • Diaconos

            If someone divorces their spouse, and they are a faithful Catholic, I’m sure they would confess this to the priest and be absolved from sin. Then they are free to receive all the sacrament of the Church.

      • Chris

        Presuming that all of the conditions for being in a state of mortal sin have been met – something know only to God and, one presumes, the individual. One can certainly not fault a person seeking to divorce someone who is habitually violent or sexually abusive and is unrepentant.

        • Diaconos

          Sadly, sometime divorce can be the only solution when abuse is present in a marriage. Usually the annulment proceedings find in such cases that a valid marriage did not exist to begin with.

  • slainte

    I suspect that the large number of petitions for decrees of nullity is linked to inadequate or no catechesis provided to lay Catholics for at least three generations; a possible consequence of the Spirit of Vatican II.

    In the wake of Vatican II, formal religious training (catechesis) in traditional Catholicism ground to a halt; in some locations, it ceased. As a result, successive generations of Catholics failed to acquire sufficient knowledge of the Faith to understand the meaning and importance of the Sacraments or of God’s plan for us as human beings made in His image. Catholics were left to face a culture without the protection and benefit of a Faith which in previous generations offered a shield against worldly ideas.

    Thus, it comes as no surprise that many Catholics who enter into Holy Matrimony do not grasp that the sacrament is oriented toward a covenental unity of one man and one woman, in a selfless lifelong giving of self to the other, which by its very nature is indissolvable, and which binds the couple together for their own well being and for the procreation of children to replenish God’s earth. Through participation in the sacrament, the couple is edified and made more perfect in imitiation of Jesus’ selfless giving of self.

    The culture defines marriage as a contract between two people entered into for as long as either or both person(s) choose to stay together with an easy exit made available by state laws which then distribute material possessions based on a legislative formula.
    Holy Matrimony and state marriage are radically different creatures Unfortunately most un-catechized Catholics are more familiar with the latter than the former. This is why, I believe, so many decrees of nullity properly issue. Catholics really don’t understand the nature of the Sacrament and, as such, the threefold grounds of nullity….form, capacity, and consent are often able to be proven.
    I would suggest that the remedy to curtail the large numbers of divorces and annulments is to start catechizing the traditional Catholic faith once again. Catholics hunger to know the Faith and avoid the horrendous pain of divorce which is a form of death and a destruction of the family.

    • rodlarocque1931

      If the Church generally hasn’t instructed the faithful in the faith so much so that they cannont contract a valid marriage this means that the Church is in common error and that a state of necessity exists.
      Think about it this way, what company can exist if the majority of their products are defective? The new machinery would be abandoned and a return to the old means of production installed, or at least until the new machinery can be repaired.

      • Marcellus

        You really don’t need to know that much to be validly married. All this talk about a “covenental unity of one man and one woman, in a selfless lifelong giving of self to the other,” as slainte describes it, represents a revisionist perspective on the sacrament, one which we began to see after Vatican II and which has made it easier to get the marriage declared null. Philosophically speaking, it is impossible to “give oneself,” whatever that even means.

        • slainte

          The phrase you reference contains the elements of sacramental Holy Matrimony that form the point of Inquiry for the tribunal to assess whether a valid marriage occurred.
          If a man and a woman understood the elements, freely consented to same, were capable of marriage, and the marriage occurred in the proper form, then presumably NO decree of nullity issues.
          The Canon Laws were revised in 1983 to recognize changes which occurred in the Church’s social thought and teachings since 1917.

          • Marcellus

            Oh, I see. After nearly 2000 years of Church thinking on the nature of marriage, we are enlightened by a new understanding in the 1960s and 70s which includes now a “giving of self.” I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it. Nor does Cardinal Egan, who, earned his doctorate in Canon Law Summa Cum Laude from the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1964, served as a judge of the Tribunal of
            the Sacred Roman Rota from 1971 to 1985, was a professor of Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and was one of six canonists who reviewed the new Code of Canon Law with John Paul II, before its promulgation in 1983. He says

            Marriage is achieved, says Egan, when a couple consents to exchange the right and obligation to perform together the marriage act exclusively and permanently. Obviously much more can be said about marriage, but this, says Egan, represents the bare minimum that is necessary for a valid marriage. As for the so-called “giving of self,” let me please quote him in length. This is taken from an article entitled: “The Catholic Understanding of Marriage.”

            “One piece of what I am defining as misinformation is this: Marriage consent may be fairly described in juridical terms as the giving of self to one’s partner and the receiving of self from one’s partner. Indeed, almost all who speak in this vein regularly claim that the giving and receiving of the selves in marriage consent, if it is to be effective juridically, must somehow be “total.”

            “Here I must ask you to allow me a disclaimer. As mentioned above, marriage can be rightly and properly examined under many aspects, among them the poetic. In fact, we might add now, the poetic frequently expresses about marriage, as it
            does about many things, truths which other endeavors, including law, are hard-pressed to articulate. Joyce Kilmer allows that trees have “hungry mouths” which are “prest against the earth’s sweet flowing breast.” And he is, of course, correct, no matter what horticulturists and geologists may think about the matter. Still, we would have little good to say of the horticulturist who, having read Kilmer’s “Trees,” dug into the roots of elms and oaks expecting to find there oral cavities, any more than we would feel much confidence in a geologist who, having contemplated the same
            poem, came to hold that the earth is a mammal.

            “I have no problem whatever about someone’s speaking or writing in a theological, spiritual, or poetic context of a person consenting to marriage by giving his or her self to another and receiving that self of that other, totally or otherwise. I fully expect to find such statements in books of theology, spirituality, and poetry. Indeed, I am not even upset to discover them in books of a legal sort, as long as I can be assured that no one is drawing legal conclusions from them.

            “Gaudium et Spes speaks of marriage in this way. (2) So does Humanae Vitae. (3) And so too does the new Code of Canon
            Law. (4) You may on first hearing find this last statement a bit
            unsettling. Yet, if you reflect upon the history of legal codes, you will soon be calmed. The opening pages of the first book of the Code of Justinian, you may recall, is a theological, moral, and
            spiritual disquisition on the meaning and implications of the Mystery of the Trinity. (5) Even codes are at times permitted to take flight.

            “No, there is no problem in stating in any context that marriage consent is wrought by a couple’s giving and receiving themselves and; if you like, giving and receiving themselves totally. A problem is, however, created if what is thus stated is somehow transformed into a premise in a juridical analysis and juridical conclusions are drawn from it. Juridically,no one has himself or herself to give another; much less can the self of one person be received, juridically speaking, by another. All of which is true whether the expression, “totally,” be added or not. For philosophically and juridically, self is an indivisible totality. If it could be given and received (and it cannot), the only way in which this could be done would be totally, as long as we are
            thinking and reasoning about marriage in the altogether legitimate sphere of law and things juridical.”

            • slainte

              Why then does the Church continue to offer Inquiries for decrees of nullity? Are these decrees an illegitimate creation of canon law?

              • Marcellus

                I am not saying, nor is Egan, that there are no legitimate decrees of nullity. However, it could be argued that in the last 40 years or so there have been a significant number of decrees of nullity for spurious reasons such as “inability to give oneself,” whatever that means. These reasons are not the creation of canon law but marriage tribunals.

                • slainte

                  I will read the whole article you reference…”The Catholic Understanding of Marriage”. Can you recommend reading material which critiques the process for decrees of nullity? Thank you for helping me to gain a better understanding.

      • slainte

        The Church is in a radical state of crisis and catechesis is desperately needed. Today on EWTN radio, I heard a host report that only 7 percent of Catholics in Germany attend mass. If this is accurate, the Church must implement some very drastic changes immediately.

    • Guess

      Not buying it. Catechesis will not change the problem much at all.

      • jacobhalo

        I agree. Vatican II wanted to bring the church into the modern world, instead of bringing the modern world into the church. We can see the results. Church law interferes with some peoples’ lifestyle. The Modernists, who St. Pius X railed against, have no problem agreeing with many of the ideas which go against the teachings of the church. I will say this until I die. Vatican II was a disaster.

        • Chris

          You can say it, but the popes disagree. BTW, what exactly do you mean by the term ‘modernist’? It is an insult that many people just seem to throw at anyone with whom they disagree e.g. Fellay just used it when referring to Pope Francis. How do you understand the term?

          • jacobhalo

            Modernists are liberals. I disagree with the modernists who made wholesale changes in the church during Vatican II. The church didn’t need an “Update”. It was a strong, thriving church-high mass attendance, full seminaries, convents, and Catholic schools, long lines at Confession, very few cafeteria Catholics. Obama could never have been elected before Vatican II. It is a disgrace that over 50% of Catholics voted for this anti-Christ. Obama wants to see the downfall of Christianity, especially Catholicism.

          • jacobhalo

            The popes don’t disagree. If they did, they wouldn’t be calling for the “reform of the reform.”

          • Marcellus

            I am not making the claim, but are you saying it is impossible for a Pope to be a modernist, as the term was understood by Pius X, or wrong about his assessment of the benefits of Vatican II? In other words, do you believe a Pope is not only infallible when, speaking to the universal church he defines a matter of faith or morals, but is unable to err in his theological opinions?

        • Bruno

          Whether it was a disaster or not, it happened, and with God’s permission.

          There is no alternative other than accepting that V2 happened and following this Pope and his predecessor in their efforts of harmonizing V2 with our whole tradition.

          I lie, there is an alternative and that alternative is schism.

          And I say that as a man who very likely has the same doubts you do. But I say, pointing fingers doesn’t make a good Christian. Trust God, not man.

          • jacobhalo

            I don’t have to accept what is not doctrine. According to Vatican II, the council was pastoral and not doctrinal. Even though, they did change the doctrine of outside the church there is no salvation, to appease other religions.

      • slainte

        Catholic catechesis of young children through adulthood will form the foundation necessary for them as adults to order their will to a higher good.
        This will help turn the tide away from abortion and divorce and all the adverse things that necessarily flow from unfettered human liberty.

        • Patricia

          you are right, but perhaps more importantly the children, and adults need to be evangelized along side all the catechesis. , I think to be catechized is to learn about the faith , to be evangelized is to internalize it, to believe it , live it.

  • rodlarocque1931

    The German church is already in schism, but the Vatican won’t say so openly because it supports many of the Vatican’s projects. Germany and the USA give the most money to the Vatican than any other countries so they have some influence.
    Bp Fellay said the Pope (BXVI) told him plainly that the state of necessity argument can be made in reference to Germany and some other countries.
    Friends, the Church is collapsing, keep the traditions and keep the faith.

    • Chris

      Do you believe that what Fellay said about Pope Francis is correct; ie a Modernist ie a heretic? So, much for the promise of Christ that He would build His Church on Peter and the popes. The Church is not collapsing; Christ promised otherwise.

  • Matthias Schmitz

    One must note that the above mentioned Freiburg document is the first such text that does not only mention buy also advocates the diocesan tribunal and the annulment process as an important step. In so far there is some good contained in this document which, as a whole, needs to be developed further.

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  • http://rosarynovice.stblogs.com/ Augustine

    Fr. Benedict Groeschel has an excellent book for those who are either called to be celibate or whose life circumstances place them in this situation, even if temporarily: The Courage to Be Chaste.

  • hombre111

    I was a young priest when Humanae Vitae appeared. I think bishops all over the world decided to explain the Church’s teaching and tell people to follow their consciences. This is all we can do in any moral situation. The voice of the Church is one of the voices people listen to, but in the end, it is between them and God. In our diocese, we followed the thoughtful discussion expressed by the Canadian bishops.
    Things changed when Pope John Paul II and then Benedict made absolute adherence to Humanae Vitae a basic requirement for anyone who was going to be a bishop. After all these years I think it is still a matter of hanging on to a sagging authority, not a matter of convincing argument. The Natural Law thinking is squishy. The point of view is debatable. There are new facts. As if acknowledging this, again and again, the encyclical says, “listen to the Magisterium!” How many times can you say, “Listen to daddy!” to an adult?

    • chrisinva

      We have to be as little children when it comes to embracing the truths of the Faith. Ego and hubris need not apply. And if the Church tells us to follow our conscience, she must tell us that we are bound to inform that conscience as well. At that point, we have no more right to appeal to invincible ignorance. If we disobey,it is simple rebellion.

    • John200

      Easy question, Father hombre. You say it until they hear it.

      Roman Catholics are supposed to be childlike: docile to the movements of the Holy Spirit and obedient to the teachings of the Magisterium. To emphasize chrisinva’s point, we are supposed to follow our well-formed conscience; not the naive conscience of the uninformed.

      The Natural Law is, for many, the entryway to much of our teaching. I could give you 2000 years’ worth of references, but you know them as well as I do. I’ll stop there.

      • Adam__Baum

        “obedient to the teachings of the Magisterium.”
        Nope, not a phrase that will resonate with Hombre.

        • John200

          Yes, that is most probably the truth.

          Every now and then, I try with hombre. As long as he keeps coming around, he is perhaps educable. It has happened with others. Keep showing them some truth, and once in awhile it might click.

          Anyway, gotta try. We are under orders, you know.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      Am I alone in finding an eerie similarity between the “Truce of 1968,” as George Weigal calls it, when the Congregation for the Clergy decreed that Cardinal O’Boyle of Washington should lift canonical penalties against those priests whom he had disciplined for their public dissent from Humanae Vitæ and the “Peace of Clement IX” during the Jansenist controversy?

      In both cases, after the Church had been riven by a decade-long dispute, a papal document was issued that was intended to be definitive.

      In both cases, the original quarrel was immediately forgotten and argument raged over the scope of papal authority to decide the question. In the Jansenist case, peace, of a sort, was achieved, when Pope Clement IX brokered an agreement that neither side would argue the question, at least, from the pulpit.

      The “Peace of Clement IX” lasted for about 35 years and ended in 1705 when Clement XI declared the clergy could no longer hide behind “respectful silence.” Eventually, in 1713, he issued Unigenitus and demanded the subscription of the clergy to it. There was enormous resistance, with bishops and priests appealing to a future Council (and being excommunicated for their pains, in 1718). As late as 1756, dissenters were still being denied the Last Rites.

      Will the “Truce of 1968” end in a similar fashion?

      • James

        The “Truce of 1968″ was needed because Humanae Vitae was a disaster. The Pope called a commission, then ignored its results. The reasoning behind the encyclical was based primarily on Church authority and a dubious and unconvincing view of Natural Law. (Even John Paul II was critical of this line of reasoning. Much of his work was to find a better basis for Church teaching in this area.) To make matters worse, the final encyclical left out a lot of pastoral material that had been put into the (conservative) minority report.

        The debate over Humanae Vitae, at least in theological circles, has not so much been about the morality of contraception as it has been about the Pope’s authority to ignore the commission he called to study the issue. But such finer points of ecclesiastical theology are lost on the laity.

        Fr. Andrew Greeley, a harsh critic of HV for these very reasons, once predicted that technology would render the crisis moot. Eventually, Natural Family Planning would be accurate enough and simple enough that it would be seen as a mainstream method of family planning. I am already seeing this happening, as smartphone apps, Skype classes, hormone monitors, and ongoing research is making NFP easier to use and more mainstream. Women who couldn’t care less about what the Catholic Church thinks are being attracted to natural methods because of their low cost and lack of unpleasant side effects.

        So yes, the “Truce of 1968″ will come to an end and yes, there will be a few holdouts, but overall, I doubt the end will be half as controversial.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          James wrote, “The debate over Humanae Vitae, at least in theological circles, has not so much been about the morality of contraception as it has been about the Pope’s authority to ignore the commission…”

          As I pointed out, this exactly parallels the arguments over Cum Occasione, where the debate focused on the Pope’s authority to insist on a “dogmatic fact” (whether the propositions were actually asserted by Jansen in the Augustinus)

        • Ben Dunlap

          “The Pope called a commission, then ignored its results.” This misconstrues both the Pope’s purpose in calling the commission and the commission’s handling of its task.

          The Pope deliberately overloaded the commission with people he knew to be “liberal” on the question so as to hear the best possible arguments from that side — he was not delegating his teaching authority but simply seeking expert counsel.

          In any case the express task of the commission was *not* to reconsider the Church’s traditional teaching in general, but to look specifically at whether the Pill should be included in the Church’s traditional condemnation of artificial contraception. The Fathers of Vatican II had declined to address this question — see footnote 14 to Gaudium et Spes II.1.

          But instead of limiting themselves to this task — a difficult enough one! — the left-hand side of the commission recommended overturning the long-settled doctrine of the Church entirely. No wonder Paul VI “ignored” them.

          http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/new-documents-reveal-inner-workings-of-papal-birth-control-commission/

          • James

            Perhaps Paul VI didn’t expect the “left hand side” to win over the overwhelming majority of the commission, including some very conservative members and those quite well versed in natural methods? Perhaps it would have come out differently had Archbishop Wojtyla not been stuck behind the Iron Curtain?

            HV neither addresses the arguments of the commission, nor adequately defends the traditional teaching, nor fully embraced Wojtyla’s views. It was an inadequate response.

            Second, the Pill was heavily marketed to Catholics. (Read “John Rock’s Error” by Malcolm Gladwell) It was pushed as simply “extending the infertile period”. Even calling it a “contraceptive” is marketing. Pius XII rightly condemned the Pill as temporary sterilization. Unfortunately, he died shortly thereafter.

            I think many on the commission fell for the marketing. They also thought that Catholic teaching was based on an overly literal reading of Genesis 38 about “spilling the seed”. They then (incorrectly) concluded that the Pill wasn’t a contraceptive, then reasoned (correctly) that it made no sense to ban other contraceptives, but allow the Pill.

        • Art Deco

          Greeley’s fancy stepping on this question in his 1987 is truly revolting. The man was a wretched priest.

    • slainte

      If “daddy” speaks the truth, people of all ages should listen to him.
      The Canadian bishops were prideful, arrogant, and egomaniacal in their rejection of Pope Paul and “Humanae Vitae”. They brought shame upon the Church and themselves.

      • hombre111

        No, the Canadian bishops were compassionate and empathetic in their understanding of the problems so many couples face. And they wanted to treat their people as adults. Having been around at the time, one of the main things behind Pope Paul’s decision was his fear that papal authority would be weakened if he qualified the statements of Pius XI. He ended up devastating the power papal authority had over the lives of millions.

  • WalterPaulKomarnicki

    Humanae Vitae was ahead of its time – and still is. It is only 10 pages long, with 41 footnotes. Please read it again, and accept it as the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. It’s 45 years old (July 25) but has stood the test of time.

  • Julie T.

    A pithy observation as relevant today as it was when first committed to paper:

    “The obvious effect of frivolous divorce will be frivolous marriage. If people can be separated for no reason they will feel it all the easier to be united for no reason.”
    — G.K. Chesterton, The Superstition of Divorce

    And just a small contribution to the many comments here regarding the Kennedys of Massachusetts:
    “Jackie Kennedy…reportedly told journalist Arthur Krock that the religious controversy surrounding her husband mystified her because, she said, ‘Jack is such a poor Catholic.'” And yet he and his brothers were emulated by other American Catholics, especially those who would take their place in the political arena in subsequent decades, to the further erosion of faith and culture.

  • FernieV

    A clear conclusion from this sad article: the need to pray for the bishops in Germany to be faithful to the Faith and to have the courage needed in these difficult times. This is the obvious answer to the problem. And especially to pray for the successor of bishop Zollitsch, for him to be a shepherd worthy of Christ, and be ready to face the attacks he will receive if he is.

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  • Ford Oxaal

    “there has been a trend moving away from some of the “harder” truths of the faith in order to surrender to the Zeitgeist.” Yes! ***in order*** to surrender…. Very well put — they are traitors to their faith, plain and simple. The one thing that distinguishes the true faith in our times is no budging on marriage, and no budging on contraception/abortion. Not even the parties themselves, the man and the woman, can dissolve the bond.

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  • Nestorian

    Three points:
    1) The Eastern Orthodox Church has permitted divorce and remarriage apparently from very nearly the beginning. They have canons going back to the 4th century allowing no more than three marriages (i.e., preceded by two divorces) for a single individual.
    Why is this very powerful testimony from Tradition almost invariably overlooked when the topic comes up in a Roman Catholic context?
    2) The annulment machinery that the Catholic Church has developed over the past 50 years or so is blatantly hypocritical and dishonest. It’s like a con artist’s shell game: “Now you see the marriage;” move around the shells and lift one; “Now you don’t!!!” Please, let’s call the annulments what they really are: Divorces of real marriages, sanctioned by the Church, followed by remarriages that are also real, also sanctioned by the Church.
    3) Though my personal and anecdotal experience is limited, I have observed how staunchly judgmental Catholics when it comes to divorce and remarriage suddenly change their tune quite radically when it is their OWN son or daughter who finds him/herself in an intolerably unhappy marriage. More hypocrisy.
    The solution to this pathetic and tremendously tragic situation: Recognize that the traditional Catholic position is morally, theologically, and practically untenable; and follow the lead of the Eastern Orthodox in this matter, which has been an explicit policy of permitting remarriage following divorce as a concession to human sin and weakness for at least 1600 years.
    The Orthodox theologian John Meyendorff has a good little book on the Orthodox theology of marriage, for those who are interested: “Marriage: An Orthodox Perspective.”

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  • bud

    It’s just amazing what always seems to be regurgitated by the ever so superior Germans including many many clergy who thought they were still living in their medieval palaces. This just seems to be the Germanic “persona”! Personally, while having few German genes and being raised during WW2, I have a natural dislike for their language and arrogance.

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