Theological Dissent and the Final Synod Report

One of the most controversial proposals contained in the final report (Relatio Synodi) of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family is found in paragraph 52—which deals with the possibility of Eucharistic communion for divorced and remarried Catholics:

The synod father[s] also considered the possibility of giving the divorced and remarried access to the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist…. [Some] expressed … [a]ccess to the sacraments might take place if preceded by a penitential practice, determined by the diocesan bishop. The subject needs to be thoroughly examined, bearing in mind the distinction between an objective sinful situation and extenuating circumstances.

The neuralgic question is whether this proposal represents an authentic development of Church teaching to be embraced or a corruption to be rejected. There have been, of course, any number of articles showing the latter is the case. However, I would like to suggest the following route as particularly helpful:

The Relatio should be subjected to the same test the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) has used to assess the orthodoxy of other theological works which touch on the subject of divorce and remarriage.

The CDF’s primary task is, “to spread sound doctrine and defend those points of Christian tradition which seem in danger because of new and unacceptable doctrines.” As such, the CDF is sometimes called upon to examine theological works that may contradict Catholic teaching and therefore “risks grave harm to the faithful.”

In fact, only two years ago (2012), the CDF examined just such a theological work: Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics, by Sr. Margaret Farley, R.S.M.

A concern was raised that Sr. Farley’s book contained positions that directly contradicted Church teachings on a whole range of issues pertaining to sexual morality, including the indissolubility of marriage and the problem of divorce and remarriage.

Sr. Farley acknowledges that a sacramental marriage creates a bond that is never completely erased. Nevertheless, she advocates the following position: “The depth of what remains admits of degrees, but something remains. But does what remains disallow a second marriage? My own view is that it does not. Whatever ongoing obligation a residual bond entails, it need not include a prohibition of remarriage….”

After following its normal procedure—which includes open back and forth exchanges between the CDF and the author—Sr. Farley’s responses were ultimately determined to fail to adequately clarify the grave problems contained in her book. The CDF concluded that Just Love, “affirms positions that are in direct contradiction with Catholic teaching in the field of sexual morality.” And, therefore, “it cannot be used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counseling and formation, or in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.”

While she did not deal directly with the issue of Eucharistic communion for the divorced and remarried—but rather only with the permissibility of remarriage for Catholics in valid sacramental marriages—what should interest us most is the explanation the CDF gives as its raison d’être for condemning Sr. Farley’s work.

The CDF uses the relevant section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)—precisely as it relates to the impossibility of divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Eucharistic communion or the sacrament of Penance; unless they first repent and commit to live in complete continence.

Quoting the CCC at length, the CDF states:

“[Sr. Farley’s] view contradicts Catholic teaching that excludes the possibility of remarriage after divorce: ‘Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ … the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence’” (CDF, citing CCC, n. 1650).

What is perhaps most striking here is that in quoting the relevant section of the CCC as the justification for condemning Sr. Farley’s work, the CDF also refers to the relevant section of Familiaris Consortio (n. 84) and its own “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church Concerning the Reception of Holy Communion by the Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful.”

The problem, then, for those bishops proposing Eucharistic communion for the divorced and remarried isn’t that there hasn’t been a development of Church teaching or that the subject hasn’t already been “thoroughly examined.” The vast body of Magisterial teachings—we could also cite John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Reconciliatio et Paenitentia (n.34) and Pope Benedict XVI’s Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (n. 29)—evidence 35 years of thorough examination and signal a significant development and deepening of the Church’s teaching regarding marriage.

On the contrary, then, the conundrum for the bishops is that the definitive examination of the subject and the development of the Church’s teaching on marriage have gone precisely the opposite direction they want it to go. Namely, it has led to an even stronger affirmation of the Church’s definitive teaching:

1) Civil remarriage is always an objectively grave sin if the first marriage is valid; and 2) reception of Eucharistic communion and the sacrament of Penance is not possible unless there is repentance and a firm purpose of amendment—which means separation, or in cases where this is not possible (i.e., where there are children born from the second union) the commitment to live in complete continence.

Perhaps the most significant problem the bishops face, however, is that if their proposal regarding Eucharistic communion for the divorced and remarried proves “successful,” it will prove too much. By reversing this teaching, they would not only undermine the authority of previous synods and the constant and definitive teaching of the Magisterium. Rather, by the same token, they would necessarily undermine their own authority to change the teaching as well.

This would cause serious scandal for the faithful. In the words of Cardinal Burke, the Church would truly become “like a ship without a rudder.”

Bill Maguire

By

Bill Maguire earned his masters in theological studies from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute in Washington, D.C. With nearly two decades of experience in youth and young adult ministry, he currently writes from Naples, FL.

  • Lego Man

    The lunatics really are in charge of the asylum. Let’s hope Cardinal Mueller is able to do his job of defending the faith before he gets dismissed!

    • Catholic pilgrim

      And Cardinal Pell too

    • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

      Rumor has it Mueller is being moved from his post.

  • jacobhalo

    Fr. Ariel Stephano said, “send bishops from abroad to deal with Germany as missionary land, because that’s what is really is.” German cardinals Walter Kasper and Reinhard Marx should be charged with heresy. The “Remnant”s Vincent Chiarello wrote, “few clerics have come to the Church’s second highest office with such an obvious animus toward tradition.” He goes on to say “the German episcopate has proven unable to stem the Protestantization and the laicization of the church.”

    • Thomas Mellon

      I think clericalism is worse than laicization-and included in that is lay people doing clerical tasks.

    • bbrown

      Even as a Protestant I find the liberalizing trend of modern Catholicism against firm, well-established doctrines concerning marriage, family, and sexual ethics very problematic. The Catholic church upholds and supports ALL Christians, even if they don’t all acknowledge or understand that fact. The responsibility to maintain a strong, even if completely counter-cultural and unpleasant, Biblical stance on these issues is vital for the health of the entire world.

      • jacobhalo

        Very well put!!

      • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

        Very well put and the reasoning is perfect. But then my question is Why don’t you come home then?

        • bbrown

          See John O’Neill and Aliquantillus below.

          In the meantime, I will continue to try to grow closer to God through what is best in Catholicism: it’s great saints, the beauty of it’s premodern art, architecture, and music, and especially it’s unmatched ancient and mediaeval intellectual tradition. I also claim some conservative Catholics as the finest Christians I know.

          • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

            As for John O’Neill and the sede vacante comment if that’s what you mean. It’s more than silly. We have had mediocre popes and even really bad ones before. The church survived them and will continue doing so. But as for the rest continue your path and we the conservative Catholics will be waiting to welcome you home. God Bless you bbrown.

            • bbrown

              Thank you Maria.
              I gain immeasurably from my study of the Roman and other Orthodox traditions.

              God bless you and your family,

              –Bill

    • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

      What a formidable and ironic development of history it would be if they sent African Bishops as missionaries to Germany.
      I whole heartedly agree with Fr. Stephano.

      • John200

        Humiliating, too, and a well-deserved rebuke.

      • bbrown

        Anglicans from Africa have been active as missionaries to the USA for some years now.

        • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

          In the Catholic Church in USA there are a lot of Latin Americans.

  • John O’Neill

    Bishop of Rome; sede vacante

    • Dick Prudlo

      Only from the neck up, John

      • Jay

        Very true.

    • jacobhalo

      SSPX is proving they are right about the Catholic church since Vatican II.

      • John O’Neill

        When Nancy Pelosi, a very wealthy and powerful person declared that as a catholic she declared abortion to be a sacrament, there was complete silence from the American bishops and the sede vacante pope. It was made very clear at that moment that the Catholic Church no longer preached what it had for over two thousand years. And yes, the SSPX has been proven right. The Dolan/Obama Church is heretical.

      • publiusnj

        No, the SSPXers broke from the Catholic Church for different reasons than this one. Clearly, the Catholic church was not wrong about Remarried Communicants at any time until the interim Relatio Synodi was released on Oct. 13, and then only a rump group [that unfortunately seems to have been appointed with Pope Francis’s blessing] made the clearly un-Catholic statement. That interim statement, moreover, was promptly repudiated by the bulk of the Extraordinary Synod’s participants..

        To the contrary, about 20 years after the conclusion of Vatiican II, Pope Saint John Paul II sponsored the Catechism of the Catholic Church which expressly reaffirmed the prohibition on Communion for the Remarried and unrepentant (CCC, 1650, quoted in the article) and then approved that Catechism. So, what is happening in Rome now is inconsistent with the post-Vatican II Tradition of the Catholic Church.

    • Michael Paterson-Seymour

      “Prima Sedes a nemine iudicatur” – The first see is judged by none. (Canon 1404)

      This principle is as old as the Canon Law.

  • Dan

    Bill, I agree with you wholeheartedly.
    Unfortunately many of the Bishops at the Synod falsely believe as Cardinal Wuerl stated, “that we are not discussing the possibility of changing doctrine, but rather the pastoral application of that doctrine.”
    The error that they espouse is placing the doctrines of the Church firmly on stone tablets while denying the possibility that all human hearts are capable of adhering to that doctrine with the grace of God.
    This is no different than a father telling his son that “sexual activity belongs only in marriage, but if for some reason you do have sex before marriage, at least use a condom” In other words, I hope you abstain until marriage, but if you don’t at least you can enjoy all the carnal pleasures of sex while denying its meaning and avoiding its consequences.
    This is precisely what many Bishops in the Synod were proposing… Marriage is indissoluble we all agree to that. Yet if for some reason you divorce and civilly remarry, you may enjoy all the privileges of the Sacramental Life of the Church while denying the very meaning of the Sacraments and avoiding the consequences of a sacrilegious reception of those Sacraments.

    • JP

      You are correct. Dividing Church Doctrine from Church Practice is an absurdity. In the end, it will divide the Church. But, the heterodox think they have found a methodology to push their changes. It is akin to what has occurred in US Law. No lawyer or judge will come out and say we should replace the Constitution (Doctrine); yet, they demand as well as render legal opinions (Practice) that fly in the face of the law.

      Going back to 1987 what was the biggest complaint Progressives had against Judge Robert Bork during his confirmation hearings? That he didn’t show enough compassion, and mercy – that he was too intellectual. Sound familiar?

      • bbrown

        I remember it well. The travesty of watching Ted Kennedy (what damage he did to Roman Catholicsm in the public eye) skewering Bork, a model of integrity IMO, on national TV was painful indeed. And ever since that episode the new praxy (practice) was a bizarre attempt to discern if the candidate for judgeship was “compassionate”. Of course the definition of compassion always means “social justice” and socialism, which is more often harmful at root.
        Changing the practice can result in changing the doctrine.

        • The Kennedy family business cards should read:

          Kennedy Demolition Company

          • Paddy

            Let’s not forget Cardinal O’Malley presiding over a Requiem Sass for Teddy while Cardinal Wuerl did the honors at the graveyard.

            Hope the check cleared, boyos!

            • And the winners of the first annual Cardinal Wolsey award are….

            • John200

              I see wisdom in this comment — a Requiem Sass was a fitting sendoff for the “Catholic” Sen. Kennedy.

              That said, we still pray for him, but he made his path to sainthood harder than it needed to be. So manifestly selfish.

        • Randall Ward

          You have given the exact reason why the divorce debate is not about God but about politics. No one wants to slide further into the abyss, but we should not let the human desire to “fix” things with human effort, overule the love of God for sinners. “Mercy always triumphs over judgement”- OT

      • slainte

        Many in academia evince repudiate Natural Law principles and disdain any candidate for Justice of the U.S Supreme Court who might suggest that these principles (referenced by the Declaration of Independence) should inform and order interpretations of the United States Constitution.

        Witness the commentary of Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Tribe in a “New York Times” article of July 15, 1991 on the subject of Justice Clarence Thomas’ nomination:

        “….What is really at stake in the nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court? While any candidate nominated to replace Justice Thurgood Marshall would likely accelerate the Court’s rightward trend, Judge Thomas’s adherence to “natural law” as a judicial philosophy could take the Court in an even more troubling direction….

        …Clarence Thomas, judging from his speeches and scholarly writings, seems instead to believe judges should enforce the Founders’ natural law philosophy — the inalienable rights “given man by his Creator” — which he maintains is revealed most completely in the Declaration of Independence. He is the first Supreme Court nominee in 50 years to maintain that natural law should be readily consulted in constitutional interpretation….

        …Might a Justice Thomas some day provide a fifth vote to hold that Congress and the states may not respond with measures contrary to natural law, as construed by the justices on the basis of their understanding of the rights “given to man by his Creator?” Whether that understanding coincides with specific religious teachings matters less than how it affects legislative power and personal liberty….

        …He also endorsed Lewis Lehrman’s 1987 American Spectator article, which argued that because abortion violates the “right to life” guaranteed by the law of God in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution cannot tolerate even a neutral stance on the issue. To Judge Thomas, that extraordinary theological argument was a “splendid example of applying natural law” to define the “right to life” secured by the Declaration.

        Or consider Judge Thomas’s insistence that “economic liberties [ are ] a vital part of the rights protected by constitutional government.” To be sure, judges today understand that certain economic rights, like the right to fair compensation when private property is taken for public use, are constitutionally guaranteed….

        ….Before the Senate decides whether to confirm Judge Thomas, they should explore the implications of his views about natural law as the lodestar of constitutional interpretation. With the power of Congress and of every state and local legislature hanging in the balance, the Senate cannot avoid sharing the responsibility for the fate of self-government in the U.S.”

        Source: http://www.nytimes.com/1991/07/15/opinion/clarence-thomas-and-natural-law.html

        God bless Justice Clarence Thomas….a Catholic American jurist.

        • HigherCalling

          It’s worthwhile, I think, to examine just how steeped in *genuine* Natural Law the Declaration (and the American Founding itself) actually is. I’m no expert in Natural Law Theory, but I know enough about it to understand that the Lockean/Enlightenment principles, held intimately by Jefferson and most of the Framers, were a perversion of genuine Natural Law — neatly dividing man into his natural self (to be cared for by the State) and his supernatural self (to be cared for by individuals themselves), and undermining belief in an immaterial human soul. With democracy divorced from man’s supernatural self, furthered by being morally unconstrained by an intentionally Godless Constitution, arguments in favor of all manner of violations of Natural Law, including abortion, are anticipated at the Founding. Legalized abortion, which absolutely violates genuine Natural Law, does not violate the Enlightenment version of Natural Law when carried to its logical conclusion. Unconstrained, again, by a Godless Constitution, even Catholic Justice Scalia admits the permission of abortion in the name of Liberty (Liberty, that is secularized Liberty, divorced from Truth and moral virtue):

          “If the people, for example, want abortion, the state should permit abortion in a democracy… To say, ‘Ah, but it is contrary to the natural law,’ is simply to say that you set yourself above the democratic state and presume to decide what is good and bad in place of the people. I do not accept that as a proper function… And I am afraid that a lot of theologians waste a lot of their time becoming political scientists because of that notion that somehow the ends of Christianity will be achieved through the state.”

          • craig

            Natural law is throughout the Declaration, which was after all a justification for defiance against the existing legal regime. Natural law is mostly absent from the Constitution. Even so, both the Declaration and the Constitution presumed and continued most of English common law. Here’s the rub: common law is a product of Catholic England where Christendom already had an established societal consensus on the moral law. Where the Constitution fails, it is because the absence of any official religion prevents there from being any official moral law to serve as a backstop to common law and prevent it from reaching the most erroneous conclusions (e.g., that a human being is somehow not a person due to age, race, creed, unborn status, etc.). Scalia’s point is simply that our Constitution prohibits any such backstop.

            I’m not a throne-and-altar conservative, far from it: too cynical about the throne’s corrupting the altar to ever endorse that. ‘Heretic’ is too easily co-opted by the state as a charge to facilitate persecution of the regime’s opponents. But I wonder what would happen if some mythical future Amendment were to merely incorporate the Catechism of the Catholic Church by reference into the Constitution, not to supersede any statute law but as a normative adjunct for common law interpretation. Would that be enough to keep law from going off the rails?

            • HigherCalling

              Very good thoughts. It seems to be a question of whether a Protestant ethos, and the subsequent relentless advance of Secularism, is capable of sustaining authentic Natural Law, not to mention Christianity itself. The American Experiment is an experiment in secular Liberalism, or the idea that liberty can be sustained apart from a legitimate moral authority and Truth (that is, the Truth that makes and keeps us free). It appears that that experiment is failing. The natural law, moral virtue, liberty itself, and even Christianity cannot stay on the rails apart from Catholicity. Getting those things back on the tracks is the attempt of the new Hungarian constitution.

              I think you’ll find this article interesting and worthy of serious reflection (note the date of its publication):

              http://ouronehope.blogspot.com/2014/03/catholicity-necessary-to-sustain.html

              • bbrown

                The majority of the Founders made statements to the effect that our Republic could not survive without Christian virtue and a highly moral citizenry.

                • HigherCalling

                  And they were absolutely right. But none of those statements carry the force of law or call upon a higher authority to sustain that law — by design. Do read the article I linked to. I’d like to get your perspective on it.

                  • bbrown

                    I copied it and it’s in my pile (near the top 🙂
                    How do you envision a role for law?

              • craig

                The article is interesting as a historical exercise, but that’s about it. Let’s just say that ‘the people need a master, and I’m just the person to be it’ is seldom a compelling argument.

                The writer (Brownson) begs the question repeatedly, ignoring all the principal criticisms against a state religion, and ‘proving’ by repeated assertion that Catholic state religion will fix everything. He offers no empirical examples of how Catholic states have demonstrated higher regard for individual liberty than their non-Catholic counterparts. (And Catholic states have not provided him with many examples.) He offers no limitations, theoretical or practical, on Church interference in temporal affairs, only assumptions that because the Church is true her ministers can be trusted in all spheres of authority.

                It’s not the case that Americans’ refusal to establish a state religion is mere anti-Catholicism. More colonial settlers fleeing religious oppression were fleeing the Church of England than any Catholic states. Nor was Geneva’s draconian Protestant
                rule considered a good model to follow. No, American freedom of religion is at root a reaction against the Westphalian principle of ‘cuius regio, eius religio’. The founders equally distrusted the state in spiritual affairs and the church in temporal affairs.

                So that explains my earlier gedanken-experiment: how is it possible for a state to acknowledge and bind itself to a moral authority outside itself, without surrendering its own political authority?

        • JP

          “Many in academia evince repudiate Natural Law principles and disdain any
          candidate for Justice of the U.S Supreme Court who might suggest that
          these principles (referenced by the Declaration of Independence) should
          inform and order interpretations of the United States Constitution.”

          In his memoirs, Judge Bork wrote critically of Natural Law when crafting legal opinions. I don’t know if you read it. In any event, thanks for the info.

  • Doyle

    Doctrine is settled. What the Church Militant should precisely do in 2015 A.D. about the problem of sinners is not. There remains a need for a better pastoral solution to bring these folks back to the Church, to put them in the best position to cooperate with the Holy Spirit. Encouraging people in these irregular (read objectively sinful) situations to come and receive the blessing in the Communion line before the Eucharist would be an excellent start. The Pope is right to put pastoral energy behind this. Souls can be saved with our cooperation, activity, and prayers. The Church must play a more active role while at the same time remaining countercultural (read standing firm with Jesus). The two positions are not mutually exclusive.

    • Jay

      I’m certainly not a theologian, and I don’t play one on T.V; but how can a remarried couple (without an annulment) take communion and be in a state of grace?

      • bbrown

        It can be allowed only by those clergy who are playing priest.

      • Doyle

        They can’t. But they can go up and receive a blessing. That should be what people are encouraged to do in any irregular situation and should be seen as a step in getting well–Church is a hospital for sinners. They need to feel welcome. We’re all sinners is not just a phrase and the Church and lay people need to help people understand that. There is nothing wrong with meeting Jesus and not receiving, but going up for the blessing. It’s a statement by the sinner of intent and desire even if they are conflicted and we need to make them feel welcome in the Church.

        • Jay

          I don’t even think Kasper really believes it can be done. For whatever reason, he still wants it.

        • GG

          It is a communion line, not a blessing line. The problem is that we want to make people “feel” welcome while they reject the truth. Yes, they should be at mass but they should be on the way to repentance.

          We cannot keep accenting only “welcome” while we ignore the Truth.

          • Doyle

            I think it is a tricky, thorny problem. You could argue that it is not welcoming enough, too. The mass needs to not be about the sinners but Eucharistic. Everyone should come to Mass. Everyone. What’s wrong with a blessing? It is a meet Jesus line. Seems to me Pope Francis recognizes we have to act and reach across the line to save souls who are about to be falling like snowflakes…
            The world keeps setting the agenda. Get them in the door. That’s no violation of doctrine. We need them inside, not outside. Our arguments are persuasive because they are the truth, but we’re not even getting a chance to present the argument before it gets twisted by the world. Get them in the Church in front of the Eucharist and a priest who can preach eucharistic love and a priest who can then preach “get to Confession”.

            • ForChristAlone

              If you’re not receiving the Eucharist, stay in your pew. Better yet, ask the person sitting next to you to give you a blessing; you’ll have less walking to do.

              • Doyle

                Better yet, why not stay home and then burn in hell. No need to walk at all.

                My point is, get the people in a state of objectively grave sin taking action to get closer to Him. Mass is a participatory experience, not a tv show.

            • Guest

              I think that y’all should not blur the difference between the ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Keep them sharp and clear. Otherwise there is not really much need to go inside at all. Lowering the bar does not attract sinners.

        • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

          I think every bishop knows what should be done they just don’t want to do it. Preach the truth in good times and in bad. Be charitable especially in the sense that everyone has a right to be told lovingly the truth of their case. Teach and preach the churches sexual morality. Form consciences so as to prevent more faithfull falling into the same situations. The problem is if they do this many will go away not because of the churches lack of charity but because their hearts are not open to the truth. In reallity these are already outside the church in there hearts. The truth dissipates doubts as light dissipates the shadows that hide and disguise.
          The church needs to go out to all who want and need the truth but it also needs to stop worrying about those who do not care for it. Remember “wipe the dust off your feet” Lk5:9.

          • “I think every bishop knows what should be done they just don’t want to do it. ”

            Now we know why Christ was so fond of people like fishermen, men who were acquainted with hard and perilous work, rather than men with credentials. He wanted men of action, who knew how to handle their fears, not those who wax eloquently, but are pussilanimous.

            More fishermen and less philosophy majors.

            • Maria Gabriela Salvarrey Rodri

              I think you may be onto something there. But defenitly prayer is important. So few of them are really men of prayer. Gods gives us his grace through prayer and sacraments if we don’t pray enough we disconect from Gods grace and we don’t understand his will. It’s Grace that can give us the courage and strength to do his will and not ours. We need to follow Jesus’ example in Gethsemane.

            • Glenn M. Ricketts

              And fewer readers of the NY TImes and MSNBC.

              • And the journals of the insurrection, Amerika and Commonsqueal.

                • Glenn M. Ricketts

                  i don’t know if you ever watch PBS News Hour, but when it comes to any thing at all that’s “Catholic, ” (they went absolutely ballistic over the recent synod, as you could guess) the panels of “experts” invariably come from America, Commonweal or the NCR – real “diversity” there, eh? I’ll bet you’re really surprised.

                  • Sure I’m surprised.. hah hah.

        • “They need to feel welcome. ”

          This is among the stupidest and most vaccuous phrases in the among amateur ecclesiologists. Perhaps our Churches should have affinity days.

          One week we’ll welcome divorced/and civilly remarried; then we can have liars day, thieves day and we can even have a band!

          • Randall Ward

            Friend, every day is liars, thieves, and lusters day. Are you still a sinner? If you say you are not a sinner, then you are one of those that Jesus talked about, when he said; “Because they say ‘we see”, they are blind”. The massive amount of our sin is not measurable in human terms. Isiah thought he was without sin until God showed him, and then he fell on his face and repented in dust and ashes.

            • Of course I’m a sinner.

              What I’m objecting to is the idea that some sins need to be SPECIFICALLY “welcome.

              Nobody says liars, thieves need to feel welcome; just homosexuals and the divorced and remarriage.

        • Should those who have not completed the pre-reception fast go for a blessing too?

  • TabithaRaised

    I wish the CDF would go further with their prohibition on dissenting and heretical works. Your reported statement from the CDF: “The CDF concluded that Just Love, “affirms positions that are in direct contradiction with Catholic teaching in the field of sexual morality.” And, therefore, “it cannot be used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counseling and formation, or in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.””

    As you can see from interviews of Sr. Farley, just like with the dissenting voice of Catholics in the women priesthood movement, they do not stop talking even when CDF documents ask them to.

    When a media outlet interviews (like this one in NCR http://ncronline.org/blogs/grace-margins/mercy-sr-margaret-farley-talks-divorce-remarriage-and-communion) and puts the dissenting views out there as just views, is it being put out as a “valid expression”? When does a “valid expression” happen? Because, requests by the magisterium in letters and documents does not seem to make the dissenting views stop, the documents must go further and include a first penalty for all the public and the dissenter to be aware of. All Canon Law allows for is a “obstinate consistent dissent” (my paraphrase) and the possible excommunication. I believe that there should be automatic excommunication, just like there is for abortion, for those that attend an invalid women priest liturgy, a “warning” for theologians and the publisher of the media outlets that present dissenting and heretical views, one time, and for the second presentation, automatic excommunication. Are the actions of the dissenters just as harmful on the individual, the body of Christ as abortion? If so, then the possibility for excommunication should be solidly laid out rather than in current law, when it has to fit an unqualified category of “obstinate and continual”.

    It seems to me that quite often Commonweal and the National Catholic Reporter do not follow these guidelines in Canon Law: http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P2Q.HTM Why isn’t the publisher taken to task for not submitting the theological works that are printed to the local ordinary? Why do the bishops of those publishers and editors not use the penalties for constant violation of Canon Law? I believe wherever the editors or publishers live, their domicile, should be considered the local ordinary of that publication. Bishops are shepherds of souls, not of a newspaper. Where do the writers live? Their Ordinaries should be involved and call them out on what they write. Bishop Robert Finn is not the Ordinary of Caitlin Hendel, the President of NCR, Archbishop Joseph Naumann is. He called out Nancy Pelosi, he can call out Mrs. Hendel. However, the Ordinary of Tom Fox is Bishop Finn who has reported he has addressed them. There are a lot of thoughts here. I am not a Canonist, but want to put this out there. I know Pope Francis wants a Church of mercy, but it has to come from both sides to be visible.

  • TabithaRaised

    I wish the CDF would go further with their prohibition on dissenting and heretical works. Your reported statement from the CDF: “The CDF concluded that Just Love, “affirms positions that are in direct contradiction with Catholic teaching in the field of sexual morality.” And, therefore, “it cannot be used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counseling and formation, or in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue.””

    As you can see from interviews of Sr. Farley, just like with the dissenting voice of Catholics in the women priesthood movement, they do not stop talking even when CDF documents ask them to.

    When a media outlet interviews (like this one in NCR http://ncronline.org/blogs/gra…and puts the dissenting views out there as just views, is it being put out as a “valid expression”? When does a “valid expression” happen? Because, requests by the magisterium in letters and documents does not seem to make the dissenting views stop, the documents must go further and include a first penalty for all the public and the dissenter to be aware of. All Canon Law allows for is a “obstinate consistent dissent” (my paraphrase) and the possible excommunication. I believe that there should be automatic excommunication, just like there is for abortion, for those that attend an invalid women priest liturgy, a “warning” for theologians and the publisher of the media outlets that present dissenting and heretical views, one time, and for the second presentation, automatic excommunication. Are the actions of the dissenters just as harmful on the individual, the body of Christ as abortion? If so, then the possibility for excommunication should be solidly laid out rather than in current law, when it has to fit an unqualified category of “obstinate and continual”.

    It seems to me that quite often Commonweal and the National Catholic Reporter do not follow these guidelines in Canon Law: http://www.vatican.va/archive/… Why isn’t the publisher taken to task for not submitting the theological works that are printed to the local ordinary? Why do the bishops of those publishers and editors not use the penalties for constant violation of Canon Law? I believe wherever the editors or publishers live, their domicile, should be considered the local ordinary of that publication. Bishops are shepherds of souls, not of a newspaper. Where do the writers live? Their Ordinaries should be involved and call them out on what they write. Bishop Robert Finn is not the Ordinary of the President of NCR, Archbishop Joseph Naumann is. He called out Nancy Pelosi, he can call out NCR’s President. However, the Ordinary of NCR’s Publisher is Bishop Finn who has reported he has addressed them. There are a lot of thoughts here. I am not a Canonist, but want to put this out there. I know Pope Francis wants a Church of mercy, but it has to come from both sides to be visible.

  • Conor

    A point of clarification: isn’t sacramentality of marriage simply about the baptismal status of the contracting parties, whereas validity is determined in annulment cases, therefore being the key factor in divorce? (Via Edward Peters.)

    I think this relates to those bishops who also allow those who openly contradict teaching on abortion to receive Communion. I wonder what correlation exists between the supporters of reception in both cases, and whether they see a need for consistency.

    • Harry

      Hello Conor,

      Allowing flaming pro-abortion “Catholic” politicians to receive communion is indeed another case of capitulation to worldly values instead of being salt and light in the world, rendering the Church, in terms of its calling to be a “people set apart,” “fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile.” (Lk 14:34)

      Here is an excerpt from an email I just received from Peters (I subscribed to them on his blog, In the Light of the Law), responding to a recent John Allen column:

      If Allen does not know that annulment cases deal with the validity of, not the sacramentality of, marriage then I guess no one (outside of canon law) will ever keep that distinction clear. But, I say again, the distinction is absolutely vital: underscoring that validity is the ONLY question in an annulment case underscores that annulment cases are LEGAL by nature, not “pastoral” (however many pastoral implications these cases carry), and that natural law of marriage must be satisfied before the divine law of matrimony can even be considered (and yes, divine law does figure in most annulment cases, but not as the primary issue).

      Next — and this really wasn’t Allen, I grant — but we should be clear that marriages are NEVER proven valid. Never. Ever. Ever. Marriages (at least those things that “look” like a marriage) are PRESUMED valid, even if they might later be proven invalid. The only dubium in a marriage case concerns de invaliditate, never de validitate, of the marriage. This distinction is as important as keeping night distinct from day, or, speaking legally, as crucial as upholding the principle that accused persons need not prove themselves innocent, but rather, prosecutors must prove them guilty.

      Peters’ remarks can be found in their entirety here:

      http://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/a-golden-age-in-canon-law-maybe-so/

  • publiusnj

    As the author notes, if the Synod were to ignore the Catechism of the Catholic Church on this critical issue where Christ spoke so clearly, it would be doing a lot more than revising a single paragraph, it would be bringing into question the authority of the current elements running the Catholic Church. Not just on this issue but on all moral issues. If a Pope or Synod can ignore the clarion Tradition of the Church going back 2000 years on such an important issue which has scriptural warrant from the very mouth of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, then lesser authorities like a Synod whose composition is sure to be questionable if people like Cardinals Burke, Pell and Muller are excluded will likely be given even less respect than the Synod gives the Tradition.

    If an adulterous remarried person can be admitted to Communion despite a lack of firm resolve to sin no more, then why should any unrepentant sinner of any kind be deprived of the same access just because his sin that he wants to keep repeating is a grave one? Because some Pope or Synod has targeted remarried persons for a new evangelization effort that depends on tossing out one of Christ’s commands, while his sin is one that authority is not yet ready to wink at? How is that carrying out the Great Commission? Our Church is supposed to baptize all nations but at the same time to teach them to observe all that Christ commanded.

    Now, I have always been ultramontane, but I must ask: what authority does Francis or his synod have to do any of this? He is “only” the Pope of Rome, and they are only his (likely stacked) Synod. While that gives him/them great authority, they acting contrarily are not the Faith that comes to us from the Apostles. That Faith is clear and Remarried Communicants are not part of it.

  • Scott W.

    [a]ccess to the sacraments might take place if preceded by a penitential practice

    I’m all for that if the penitential practice includes disavowing the invalid marriage, otherwise, it’s not penitential.

    • GG

      And that is the key. Kaspar violates the principle of non contradiction as does the Orthodox Church apparently.

  • Craig Roberts

    Easy annulments were the camels nose. What is the difference between doing a “penitential practice approved by the bishop” and getting an annulment?
    And to think we could have avoided the entire English reformation if annulments were around back then. Poor St. Thomas Moore pray for us.

    • slainte

      Decrees of nullity were granted by the papacy in the 1500s..

      In March 1527, Pope Clement VII granted Margaret Tudor of Scotland, sister of King Henry VIII, an annulment from her second husband Scottish lord Archibald Douglas, 6th Earl of Angus. Margaret then married her third husband Henry Stewart.

      Margaret’s first husband was killed in battle.

      Source: http://tudorhistory.org/people/margaret/

      • Craig Roberts

        Thanks for the info. In regards to the indissolubility of marriage, I guess the magisterium has been caving into worldly pressure for longer than I thought.

        • publiusnj

          Or not. The grounds for the annulment was that Angus was precontracted for marriage to another person.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          Henry VIII was seeking an annulment on the grounds of affinity. He argued that no dispensation could be granted for the prohigbited degrees contained in Leviticus 18:6-17 and there were not a few theologians and canoists, in England and abroad, who were inclined to agree with him.

          That question was only finally settled by the Council of Trent in 1563, “If any one says, that those degrees only of consanguinity and affinity, which are set down in Leviticus, can hinder matrimony from being contracted, and dissolve it when contracted; and that the Church cannot dispense in some of those degrees, or establish that others may hinder and dissolve it ; let him be anathema.” (Sess XXIV c 3)

          Note the clear declaration that there are impediments that “dissolve marriage when contracted,” from which annulments inevitably follow.

    • mitch64

      The reformation was on its way across Europe before Henry had a taste for a little Boleyn or should I say Boleyns. The population was already sick of some clerical abuses and the money and the power that the Church and the Abbeys held, or even Henry couldn’t have accomplished what he did. As always the Church needs to take part of the blame.

      However, as slainte pointed out, annulment were indeed around back then and that is what Henry wanted (and most likely would have gotten if the Pope wasn’t the captive of Katherine’s nephew…) because, he married his brother’s sister..which gasp was supposedly against natural law and Scripture..(well the Pope would also have to see that he needed to cancel his act of “absolving,” Henry and Katherine to be allowed to marry but…The Church has always played fast and loose with annulments as long as people had enough money and power.

      • Craig Roberts

        Phuhhh…I guess after they cave to the rich and powerful they feel like they are obligated to extend the same ‘benefits’ to the rest of us. There is a very thin line between indulgence and indulging. Thanks for the reply!

      • publiusnj

        Mitch writes: ” The population was already sick of some clerical abuses and the money and the power that the Church and the Abbeys held, or even Henry couldn’t have accomplished what he did. ”

        Hmmm…so had the Abbeys been more saintly, Henry VIII would not have used trickery to destroy the Pilgrimage of Grace?

        • mitch64

          That is not what I said..ore referenced…however, since you brought that up, concerning that particular issue, you are partially correct. While the “Pilgrimage of Grace,” might not have been destroyed as fast if populist support wasn’t behind the Reformation…and a great deal of that support was because of some of the “unsaintly,” abbeys. However, religious grievances were only part of their issue, the bad harvests, continued economic upheaval, (i.e. revolt against the Statue of Uses) Katherines of Aragon’s continued popularity even after her death, Cromwell’s unpopularity, which did not entirely centered on his sacking of the Abbey’s but had a lot to do with his birth rank etc. The rebels asked for quite a few things that had nothing to do with the Abbeys of the Faith, such as Jane Seymour’s coronation taking place in a local territory, etc.

          My point above however was that Henry could not have had the momentum that he had if populist support wasn’t against the Abbeys and the Church hierarchy in England. The common people just wanted to go to Mass at their local church which did continue. Yes, Cromwell exaggerated the extent of the Abbeys and the Clergy’s wrong doing, but where there is smoke their is fire and he took some truth and exaggerated it to a believing population.

          • HigherCalling

            Coulda swore that Henry imported bands of ferocious mercenaries from abroad to put down the religious revolt of his own people.

            http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/dominicselwood/100272287/how-a-protestant-spin-machine-hid-the-truth-about-the-english-reformation/

            • mitch64

              There are some mistakes in that gentleman’s history…the first being that all Canon lawyers at the time knew Henry’s annulment was hopeless, which was not the case. However, concerning your specific point..mercenaries were used in many military battles..but that has no bearing on what I said…while billed as religious rebellion it was not wholly one..as a matter of fact, that is what Aske called it to use his own little progagada machine…(Aske felt Henry was a good man and it was all on Cromwell…much to his eventual chagrin) Henry had a momentum going, mixing truth and propaganda to suppress the abbeys and the clergy. One thing the writer of the article did get correct is that village churches, especially in the north were the center of life…and they did not want those churches in any way harmed or changed. As for the Abbeys and the Bishops who owned hugh amounts of real estate, that didnt bother them so much.

              • HigherCalling

                I’m just learning about some of this, so I appreciate the reply.
                Perhaps Henry had to import mercenaries for the simple reason that he had so few people on his side. Were they engaged in religious rebellions or military battles? It’s hard to escape propaganda on either side, but it seems a matter of plain fact that when people are hanged or drawn & quartered for saying Mass, or for helping someone who has said the Mass, we just might have something akin to religious persecution. Every persecutor alleges social and secular necessity. Ciaphas and Annas did just that. And those English Catholics, suppressed as enemies of the Empire, were similarly handed over to the secular arm with secular justifications, with the necessary aid of paid forces from abroad.

                • mitch64

                  Sorry for taking this off topic sort of..Your welcome..its a fascinating part of history and as with everything in real life, their aren’t that many “heroes,” involved. Monarchs used mercenaries to bolster their own armies..they were ruthless, brutal and then after the war is over, they are sent off after getting paid. At that time no one was really being drawn and quatered for saying Mass, (Henry did do that for treasons) that is more in Elizabeth’s time. The establishment of Protestentasim was Edwards doing, Henry considered himself a faithful Catholic his whole life, even after the break with Rome and liked Mass in the “old way.”

                  Remember Mary burned over 800 people at the stake, some who actually recanted and returned to the Catholic Faith. That really cemented Catholic and Spanish hate in the English. Like father like daughter, and as I said very few heroes were involved.

          • publiusnj

            I’d love to see the polls that back this mind-reading up. This very much seems wishful thinking…or perhaps “Whig-ful thinking.” The fact is that the people’s documented historical reaction to the Dissolution of the Abbeys was the Pigrimage of Grace and that was gathering supporters as it proceeded to London until Henry, liar that he always was, tricked the Pilgrims into laying down their arms.

    • jacobhalo

      Obama – amnesty for illegals: Pope Francis – amnesty for adulterers and same sex marriage.

      • don deeks

        jaconhalo-Did not Pres.Reagan grant amnesty too?

        • jacobhalo

          Did he? I don’t know. I know that Reagan done nothing about illegals coming in. These politicians talk a good game.

          • bbrown

            As much as I appreciate Reagan for many reasons, he did an awful lot to enable legislation that progressed the sexual revolution and it’s soul destroying effects. He was an ardent supporter of ‘No-Fault Divorce”, one of the horrors of the past hundred years. It’s always children who suffer the most damage.

            • craig

              Under the law of the time, a court had to accuse Reagan with cruelty to his then-wife Jane Wyman in order for her to get the divorce she demanded. (She filed, and she was richer than he was.) I think that accusation stung him personally and led to his later poor judgment.

  • slaine

    Children are the real victims of those who play fast and loose with marriage. As marriage is the safe place God provides to spiritually and physically nourish children, its distortion gravely injures them.

    While the Pope cannot and should not change its teaching on marriage as an indissoluable and permanent covenant by and among one man, one woman, and Our Lord, the Church must discern a way to make parents (including those in irregular relationships) feel welcome to ensure that their innocent children have access to God and the sacraments, If the parents don’t come to Church, the children don’t come… and the cycle of brokenness and estrangement from Our Lord continues.

    One can only hope that parents in irregular unions will use access to the Church, (but not the sacrament of Holy Eucharist), to freely choose to regularize their living situations in conformity with Christ’s law…if for no other reason than that their children deserve a better example of living in Christ with humility..

    The children are the link which will unite parents with the Church.

    • Dr. Robert Schwartz

      slaine: This is a well-nuanced response and clarification to the issue at hand.
      I believe I am confirming that by stating that the parents are obliged to attend Mass and in all ways to give the example to the children, nourishing them in the faith given by God alone. Their absence from Communion might be explained later, just as their remarriage can be. They will always bear the responsibility of raising their children as Catholics. They will always bear the responsibility of returning to the requirements of the faith.

      • slainte

        Dr. Schwartz, another frequent poster at this site, Michael Paterson Seymour, has often focused on the rights of the child in his advocacy to protect children from the unsettling effects of their parents’ alternate marital arrangements.

        I think his position made sense and I adopted it to respond to how the Church might best restore the family by bringing children and their parents back to God through the Church, the liturgy, and His Holy Sacraments.

        Thank you for your additional commentary.

    • In the anecdotal evidence that is my experience, “parents in irregular unions will use access to the Church”, generally do that -when the Church is decorated with Hollies and then when the Lillies appear, and march up receive as well.

      • slainte

        God’s grace can work on the parents once they’re present at the liturgy. The children are the impetus for the parents to selflessly arise from bed every Sunday morning, go to church with the children in tow, and thereafter to enjoy a family breakfast together.

        Maybe some Churches might consider inviting parishioners to pancake breakfasts after mass….a good way to extend the beneficial effects of the liturgy through Church fellowship.

        The family that prays together stays together….Fr. Patrick Peyton, CSC; as families grow so does the Church.

        • And what of the children from regular unions who are scandalized?

          • slainte

            How do you think we might resolve this? I’m interested in your view.

            I recently watched a video based on a book by Mary Eberstadt entitled “How the West Really Lost God”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzZNAwELY9M

            It suggests that religion ebbs and flows over time but is always inextricably tied to the Family. Parents make different choices and self sacrifice for their children’s sake. They go to Church with the children rather than sleep in. They move to certain neighborhoods which have good schools or lots of other children who may become play companions for their children. Parents focus on that which is generally conducive to their children’s well being and safety.

            Whether this is enough to cause parents in irregular relationships to change is not clear..but it does align the interests of the parents and the interest of the Church in their common desire to care for and evangelize the children who are the future.

            I have always found children to be somewhat immune from being scandalized; most just want to play with their friends.

          • mitch64

            They may just learn compassion and forgiveness…plus I doubt that many kids give a fly about anyone else..its all put into their heads by their parents.

            • You have no contact with children do you?

              • mitch64

                Oh yes I do…quite proud that they don’t worry about others and focus on themselves and avoid being holier then thou..

                • slainte

                  Every child should be afforded the opportunity to know and love God by the wholesome example of self sacrificing parents who take their children to mass and who teach them Christian morality and ethics tempered by mercy for those who err due to human weakness.

                  God’s law orders tolerance and compassion; a lesson innocent children will learn from truly Christian parents as the children grow into adulthood.

  • Caroline

    I think a lot of people in irregular marriage situations already go up for the blessing along with non Catholic Christians.
    It’s a beautiful practice. Maybe priests should “advertise” it more often from the pulpit to reinforce the welcoming.

    • GG

      They should advertise confession and a purpose to sin no more. Would that well received?

      If we start this idea that everyone should get a blessing we may very well leave people where they are.

    • ForChristAlone

      If you’re not receiving the Eucharist, better that you stay in your pew. A blessing is given to all at the end of the Mass. Another example of “Here Comes Everyone.”

      I am so happy to be moving to a parish that still has its original altar railing behind which the priests (yes, priests because in this parish, the priest not celebrating Mass does not use it as an occasion to sleep in) distribute communion by inteinction which means that everyone receives on the tongue and must kneel at the rail to comfortably receive.

  • GG

    The theologian claims the marital bond exists but is lessened? Huh? Where is this conclusion to be found anywhere aside from her mind?

    • John200

      This unfortunate sister has repentance at the top of her agenda, if she retains enough of the faith to do it.

      Pride might win, but that merely augments the parade of misfortunes in this case.

  • Jdonnell

    Bp. Burke is la rudder without a ship.. This article is claptrap, as its final words so well illustrate. The “doctrine” on marriage, a sacrament adopted from ancient Roman practice, has changed over the centuries. The modern form of annulment is often a little more than a charade to keep a sense of power in the hands of the clergy. It can have the effect on people worse than divorce, since it makes the children in some cases regard their parents–or one of them–as a fraud. If the marriage was invalid, they wonder, are they bastards. All the legalistic arguments to the contrary will simply be to the children just that, more claptrap. A divorce means that the marriage was valid, the children are legitimate, with no song and dance. A valid marriage that continues despite the effects of creating a loss of spirituality in the family, that drives the kids away from the Church and Christianity can hardly be said to be preferable to a divorce and remarriage which leads to a family in spiritual and domestic harmony. To deny that possibility is to be judgmental and in denial

    • Glenn M. Ricketts

      Why do divorce and remarriage necessarily lead to “a family in spiritual and domestic harmony?” What about the frequent negative effects on children from multiple families or the hostility between children and their new and strange step parents, or the fact that their birth parent neglects or forgets them? Or the bitter custody battles and visitation wars that usually affect children most negatively? I don’t say that these obstacles can’t be overcome, but most often I’d say that theyy aren’t.

      • Don’t feed the troll.

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          Not sure what he is, although he’s certainly got some idees fixe.

      • Jdonnell

        Who said anything about “necessarily”? Your inclusion of the word suggests that you are reading with a closed mind. I’m referring not to all remarried Catholics but to those divorced and remarried Catholics that fit the description I gave. Your reference to problems with the children could apply just as well to marriages taking place after an annulment–perhaps more so.

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          J, why all of the spleen and bile? If you think I misread you, why not just offer a correction in charity? My use of the word “necessarily” reflected my reading of your comment. Why is that so difficult to see?

          • Jdonnell

            No spleen and bile, just a bluntness that I find appropriate in comments that need to kept short. Your reading was off, which you still won’t acknowledge. You drew an illogical conclusion, which is not difficult to see–and ought to be seen by you, instead of trying to deduce some psychological conclusion from my tone.

            • Glenn M. Ricketts

              See my previous comment.

              • Jdonnell

                I suggest you see my first comment and try re-reading it for what it says. In addition to misreading what I say, you then turn from the message to attacking the messenger.

                • Glenn M. Ricketts

                  As I said……

                  • Jdonnell

                    As you said–ad hominem and emptiness.

                    • Glenn M. Ricketts

                      You are one tough case J – all of this blather because I asked you to tone it down? Sheesh. Some posters here think you’re a troll, I think you’re probably just a grouch – and how.

                      Tell you what – and I mean this seriously – if you’re in the NYC/NJ area where I work, why not contact me at ricketts@nas.org? I’d like to meet for a drink, on me. We could have a leisurely chat and explore these themes in person. In any case, feel free to contact me at that email address if you’d like to continue our exchange. Otherwise, peace my friend, and perhaps we’ll chat here again soon.

                    • Jdonnell

                      Even to the last, you dwell on style rather than substance.

                      Thanks, but I live far from NY, or otherwise I would take up your offer of a drink.

                    • Glenn M. Ricketts

                      My offer stands if you’re ever in the neighborhood.

      • JP

        My wife and I both lived through divorces as children and I can personally tell you that the damage it does to children continues on through the next generation(s).

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          Tragic, simply tragic. And not to mention the ability of such children to achieve healthy marriages of their own.

    • GG

      How divorces and, wink wink, remarriages before the harmony stops?

      • Jdonnell

        A screwball (as well as incoherent) comment. How long before valid marriages often turn from harmony to its opposite?

        • GG

          A valid marriage does not become invalid. That is the point.

          • Jdonnell

            I agree. But, as I said, a valid marriage may become so unharmonious, acrimonious, and unholy that it drives the parents and their children away from the Church. On the other hand, a divorced and remarried Catholic may have a harmonious, peaceful family, living a Christian life. The Synod even at its best does not and perhaps cannot deal with such realities.

            • slainte

              “…. On the other hand, a divorced and remarried Catholic may have a harmonious, peaceful family, living a Christian life…”

              Absent a decree of nullity issued by the Church, this couple is engaged in adultery and is living contrary to the seventh commandment.

              The sin of adultery may be pleasurable but it is not consistent with living a Christian life.

              • Jdonnell

                Yes, in a technical sense, this is correct. But, a decree of nullity, as you refer to annulment, is a technical matter that is often tantamount to a religious form of divorce. It keeps the clergy in the power seat but may alienate children who see it (and not without reason) as a sham. You may be wrong in any given case: a couple living technically without benefit of a sacramental marriage may at the same time be living a much more Christian life than some validly married couples. To say otherwise is to be both judgmental and rule-bound in just the way that Christ so often opposed. Getting your ass out of a ditch on Sunday violated a Commandment, too, but Jesus saw that circumstances made it perfectly acceptable.

                • slainte

                  Those who openly live in persistent sin are not Christ-like examples for their children.

                  “Do as I say, not as I do”….doesn’t work but it does confuse children.

                  A parent’s poor example, by living an irregular lifestyle, will inevitably cause his/her children to apprehend God’s laws as mere suggestions negotiable at will.

                  The dysfunction of divorce and other irregular unions perpetrated on innocent children will flow into subsequent generations unless a self sacrificial parent, faithful to God, takes a stand by living in a state of chastity according to God’s will…no matter that the world tells him or her to do differently.

                  • Jdonnell

                    Your pietistic comment has no necessary basis in reality. Living in a chaotic, unharmonious, acrimonious marriage, however “valid,” may send children into imitating the parent’s behavior and so on into subsequent generations, just as easily as what you posit. A re-married couple living in harmony, teaching their children to be good Christians may be vastly preferable. It’s up to God to judge about sins, not you or me. A woman suffering years of emotional abuse in a valid marriage may be doing damage to her soul in ways not accessible to your narrow view of life.

                    • slainte

                      If their is abuse in the relationship, the couple may separate and consult with a priest regarding how to proceed.

                    • slainte

                      Apologies…”their” should be “there”….I typed too quickly.

                    • Jdonnell

                      Abuse comes in many forms, not simply physical. And, extreme disharmony can cause failing health, etc. Priests vary in their ability to deal with such situations. Someone living alone may enter a new relationship quite by accident and discover harmony even holiness in it. (That’s not for you or me to judge.) Your simplistic solution is out of touch with the realities and complexities of life.
                      The grounds currently used to grant many annulments could be applied to many marriages that are currently functioning. What if more than half of all existing marriages fit grounds for annulment (e.g. immaturity and ignorance, etc.)? What would that say about the state of things?

                    • slainte

                      “….Someone living alone may enter a new relationship quite by accident and discover harmony even holiness in it. (That’s not for you or me to judge.)…”

                      If a married person enters a new relationship without first having received an annulment, that person is engaged in adultery. It really is not that complex.

                      Things usually get “complex” when one is attempting to justify engaging in an act which is not in accord with God’s will.

                      Seek guidance from a priest.

                    • Jdonnell

                      It’s not up to you to charge people with adultery. The technical appearance may not reveal that probably thousands of divorced people are living in committed, monogamous happy, and flourishing family relationships in either married or otherwise committed relationships. Many validly married people may be living in chaotic, hateful relationships. Hate is sinful too, isn’t it?

                    • slainte

                      “…It’s not up to you to charge people with adultery…”

                      You’re correct…my subjective opinion or that of any other person is not necessary to identify what is objectively true…if one engages in an irregular living relationship (which includes copulation) with a person other than one’s spouse, then one is actively engaged in adultery.

                      Married persons vow fidelity to their spouses with whom they share a marital covenant which no man (or woman) may put asunder. All single persons are called to chastity.

                      It’s just not that complicated. Those who wish to live and flourish according to God’s plan must repent and conform their lives to God’s will. But I suspect you already know this.

                    • Jdonnell

                      In the most superficial sense, you are correct about the appearance. But, being aware of re-married or unmarried couples co-habiting as in a state of sin is not an objective judgment. You don’t know the circumstances ,and they can make all the difference. Your simplistic approach is out of touch with reality. God wants us to flourish as human beings; living in a state of perpetual agony in a valid but disastrous marriage is simply not preferable to a second marriage or partnering in a way that furthers spiritual growth while those involved determine that they are in a state that enables them to receive Communion.

                    • slainte

                      “…Your simplistic approach is out of touch with reality….”

                      With the help of God, men and women can continue to honor their marital covenants even when unwanted divorces (or separations) are thrust upon them. It is not easy, but God makes all things possible by strengthening us to do what we otherwise could not do on our own initiative. I know of what I speak.

                      If your life is tangled in an irregular relationship which is contrary to God’s law, seek the comfort of the confessional, untangle yourself from the relationship, and seek an annulment from the Church. Trust that a compassionate priest can guide you to the place where God wants you to be so that you (and your children) may truly flourish in Christ.

                    • Jdonnell

                      Continuing “to honor marital covenants” while for all practical purposes no longer married may be a fulfilling way of life for some–though the expression of personal difficulty suggests otherwise–but others may find alternatives that enable them to leave behind anxieties, etc. and to find lives that are spiritually and emotionally fulfilling. It is not from any personal situation that I am making this point but from what I have seen and observed for many, many years. What you find the proper decision for yourself may not be proper for others. Peace.

                    • JonathonFrakes

                      Right on the money with your comment. These dudes here spend their day blogging – spouse and family be dammed.

    • Objectivetruth

      Are you divorced and remarried?

    • JP

      You’re problem is not with the Church, but with Christ. You are not divorced and remarried, are you?

      • Jdonnell

        Like so many commenters on this site, instead of dealing with the message, you want to deal with the messenger–an illogical ad hominem approach.

  • s;vbkr0boc,klos;

    Pull one ‘sacramental’ thread and the entire fabric of the church will unravel.

  • Major914

    “The depth of what remains admits of degrees, but something remains. But does what remains disallow a second marriage? My own view is that it does not. Whatever ongoing obligation a residual bond entails, it need not include a prohibition of remarriage….”

    This reads like nothing but an exceedingly shallow form of sophistry.

    • GG

      Yes, and dishonest as well.

  • Aliquantillus

    This discussion shows that an important part of the Catholic Church has lost its reason. The sophistic and endless distinctions without a difference introduced in this debate reveal a culture that desires clarity and objective moral standards to be replaced by pastoral fuzziness and psychological blah blah. This fuzziness is already present in the Vatican II documents, and today’s developements should be viewed in the light of what happened at that Council. At Vatican II the Church lost its faith and dogmatic clarity; now it is at the point of losing its mind.

    One of the incomprehensible aspects of this entire development is how Popes, bishops and other instituational Church authorities can remain their self-respect and don’t perceive how they become despicable by this ever-ongoing mendacious hollowing out of Catholic doctrine. Every time they try to explain what they’re doing they appear as professional turncoats and liers, as rotten to the core.

  • bobbylang

    Bill’s logic is correct and he seems to have described all the foreseeable options, so I cannot imagine any changes to Church doctrine in these instances.

    The subject might appear on the docket, BUT it has NO PLACE TO ADVANCE THEOLOGICALLY!! It kind of reminds me of the frequent endorsement of some women to be accepted into the priesthood, that’s been resolved in the negative BUT it still comes up!!

    Hey “spin your wheels”” if that makes you happy!!

  • Randall Ward

    The Church can never be without a “rudder”, because Christ is the Rudder and the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. The Church as it now stands is not perfect and discussion of anything, should not be shut down.
    For example, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit have told us to be fruitful and multiply. Today many families are not having children or are not having as many children as they could. Should the families that commit the sin of living for themselves and not having all the children they could have, be permitted to partake in the communion with the Trinity? Which is worse; abortion, not having children that should have been formed in the womb, or divorce?
    I say this merely as discussion and to make a point. We should not fear to discuss.

    • GG

      What is there to discuss? The items you mentioned are settled.

      • Randall Ward

        Since the church is made up of men; nothing is settled. Men are weak and selfish and struggle to understand the mysteries of God. Reading the history of the church will show the struggles that the Church has gone through to understand the will of God.
        Just reading the gospel of John and 1st John shows the struggles and problems of the early Church. John is written in at least three layers and three different times, and each new layer adds to the understanding by the early part of the Church that John led. Or read the books of Pope Benedict XVI, where he explains in great debth the mysteries of God and brings new understanding.
        No one ever came to Jesus and asked for forgiveness and was turned away. Does a young woman, whose husband left her at a young age and divorced her, have to live alone and not have the children that God ment for her to have? Of course she could have the solace of your words; it is settled. You sound like the Jews that told Jesus and his followers not to eat the grain in the fields on the Sabbath; Jesus changed that and said “I am the Lord of the Sabbath” and they can eat the grain.
        The laws that Jesus gave for marriage will never change; but there is always mercy and love from Him.

        • JP

          True. Forgiveness is always available to those who ask. But, to be forgiven one must also repent. Christ asks us at least to make the effort to amend our lives. In many cases, the Sinner will return asking to be forgiven for the same Sin. And Christ instructed his Disciples to forgive those Sins 70 x 7 (which I am to understand there is no limit to Christ’s Divine Mercy). Father Z said that divorced and remarried couples must at least make the attempt to amend their lives (repent) if they are to be given absolution. In most cases, it is not feasible for the remarried spouses to live apart (it is even less feasible for them to return to their former spouses, which is the ideal solution). In that case they are to live as brother and sister in separate bedrooms. And if they in a moment of weakness sleep with each again, well that is what confession is for.

          Many divorced and remarried couples think that the Church’s solution is too harsh, not merciful, and not pastoral. They are wrong.

        • GG

          Christ left a Church with a magisterium. Human nature does not change and God’s will does not change.

          We have have the answers to the questions you ask, but the reality is too many do not like the answers.

          As to your specific question about any particular person the answer is known. If the solution contradicts the teaching of Christ through His Church it is not our Lord’s will.

          • Randall Ward

            I don’t know if “changing his mind” is even possible to apply to the Trinity, but God “changes His mind” in the OT, according to the Holy Scripture, at the pleading of man. God can be directed at the request of man; thats one of the things prayers are for. Jesus even gives an example of the persistant man knocking on the door of the shopkeeper in the middle of the night to obtain bread, until the “shopkeeper” finally gets up and gets the needed bread. There are several other examples in the Holy Scripture.

            • C.Caruana

              Category error. God forgiving a repented sin that is a breach of His law is not the same as declaring that what He established as sin is sin no more. God cannot contradict Himself or his eternal law , reflected on the human plane as natural law, by ‘changing his mind’. That applies to the purely voluntarist god of Islam, who can negate his law and judgements at any moment if he so chooses. We are lovers of Jesus Christ, incarnated Logos of creation, not a wilful arbitrary divinity.

            • bbrown

              Abraham incessantly argued with God which resulted in God changing his mind. In some ways, it seems that God wants us to argue with Him.

    • JP

      As far as I know the use of artificial birth control is still considered to be a Mortal Sin, whether the Church still actively teaches that or not. As far as couples who misuse NFP, well that is between them and God. Unfortunately, the Church gives these couples quite a bit of wiggle room. I always thought that before a couple begins using NFP that they should consult their priest and get his concurrence that the reasons they’re using it are legitimate. A couple could conceivably use NFP their entire lives and never conceive a child – it is that effective if used correctly. And according to Church teaching they would not technically be guilty of anything.

      The number of Catholic couples that use NFP is quite small (less than 10%); the number of couples using no “birth control” is probably small as well (less than 5%). That means that between 85-95% of Catholic couples use artificial birth control, which is still considered a Grave Sin. And it appears most still go to Communion. This is a scandal that no one wishes to talk about.

      • bbrown

        And this is one huge area where Protestants have been dismal and responsible for enabling incredible cultural damage. In the early to mid-20th century we were lured into the cultural rot of the sexual revolution hook, line, and sinker. Of course, this only fed into the culture of death: abortion, divorce, adultery, and the epidemic of broken families.

        Yes, my lineage is responsible for much of that, and to this day it is hardly even recognized or acknowledged. I struggle with the legacy, but fear that Catholics are not far behind. However, you make clear the sin of contraception in your doctrinal statements, so there is always that to go back to.

        I do not understand Francis: it seems that he misunderstands what underpins the health of the human soul, and it’s crucial importance for the roots of cultural stability.

  • Blaise Pascal

    Immediately after the Synod, I wrote in the National Catholic Register that Cardinal’s Pell and Meuller had better watch their backs. It now seems that Cardinal Pell is under attack by the progressive elements in the Vatican. One could get the feeling the Masons have reached the apex of their long held goal.

  • RufusChoate

    Personally, I have never understood the demands of divorced and remarried people along with public figures who support abortion to receive the Sacraments without reform and repentance of their sin until the diminished appreciation of the Eucharist by the Laity became clear for me.

    They don’t believe they are committing an offense against the Real Presence by receiving unworthily for most it is simply the feeling of ostracization from everyone else that they abhor. It is an act of narcissism like so much in our culture.

    Look at the root cause, I was stunned by the number of dissidents who are Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist all around the country but when the statistic about the high number of Extraordinary Ministers who don’t believe in the real presence— (Last count it was ~70%) was compiled I didn’t even think twice about it.

    This is an argument over the level of narcissism of the culture of narcissists who believe they are good people no matter what they actually do. The Left excels in this cultural mix.

    • Glenn M. Ricketts

      Right, Rufus. The way the Host is distributed and received, you’d think it was a Ritz cracker.

    • C.Caruana

      I think you are on to something very real and somewhat neglected in the present confusion.
      What we are suffering is a powerful and diabolically orchestrated attack on the Real Presence as the unifying and central source of salvific grace in Catholic life – a post-modern renewal of the Reformation assault on the Eucharist.
      In both instances the main goal is to foment division, disorder and schism among the faithful and the hierarchy. I believe there are many Catholic prelates, even among the highest echelons, who have effectively lost their faith in the Real Presence and therefore are incapable of experiencing the deep and reverential love owed to God who makes Himself living and salvific bread for us.
      Hence the peddling of cheap grace in the name of a false sentimentalised mercy and the underestimation of the terrible spiritual harm involved in approaching the Host unworthily. The parable of the condemned guest who arrived for the King’s wedding feast unsuitably dressed stands as a dire warning against such profanation.
      When the Centre cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, and our Church..

    • Berri Sheed

      Oh, the horror and mendacity! All these active, public sinners who just stroll on up to the Only Son of God, Jesus Christ as if he were approachable!

      Don’t they know NO ONE approaches Him unqualified by us? Sheesh!

      That one over there by the well (here at noon!) has SEVEN husbands and isn’t even a member of the Church! Does she really think she can just walk right up and chat with Jesus Christ? Not on my watch!

      Did you hear that “the adulteress” – the one who was actually caught in the unspeakable act – tried to join our ministry after that stoning incident? Jesus told her “Go and sin no more”, not “Hey, why don’t you become one of my disciples like everyone else here”. I’m not letting my husband and children anywhere near her until she PROVES she is worthy.

      If we start letting all these public sinners be associated with us, people are going to start thinking WE are adulterers, slanderers, liars and idolaters. Or people will start thinking Jesus is a fraud because a true prophet would know who is touching Him and send them away until they are purified! That would make us look stupid.

      I would have a good talking to Cephas, but even he has been getting a bit soft on the doctrine lately. I’ll talk to James. (James has always been the stronger Apostle anyway.)

      Oh well, I guess it is up to ME to save God and His fledgling Church.

      “Hey…you…Public Sinner…REPENT NOW following every one of these 6 easy steps so you can be with Jesus and receive his love and mercy!”

      “Hey…you…Public Sinner…REPENT NOW following every one of these 6 easy steps so you can be with Jesus and receive his love and mercy!”……

      • RufusChoate

        I love the word mendacity because it is so frequently used by people who are the material embodiment of untruth.

        So you do believe that you have a right to communion with Christ no matter what the state of your soul?

        Not only does the entire history of the church’s teaching on the Eucharist as well as the scripture deny your contention but your examples are absurdly puerile.

        The Adulteress and all of the public sinners that Christ encountered were not invited to the Last Supper and had the good grace not to present themselves as being worthy.

        • Glenn M. Ricketts

          A truly repentant sinner would not need to be told to stay way – he would exclude himself, citing his unworthiness himself. He would return to the Table of the Lord at the invitation, even the insistence of others,as the prodigal son was welcomed home. He certainly wouldn’t demand to receive Holy Communion as a “right,” as many seem to do these days.

        • Steve

          “The Adulteress and all of the public sinners that Christ encountered were not invited to the Last Supper and had the good grace not to present themselves as being worthy.”

          Good thing too, because the Apostles had taken all the leftovers, stuffed them into a monstrance, and were parading all over Jerusalem with them.

          • RufusChoate

            I missed this story line from the apocrypha but it does seem out of character for men who proceed to deny Christ to the Jewish and Roman authorities.

            Is this a recent find from a archeology dig written on a 1st century grocery list tossed on a midden pit?

            • Steve

              I thought anything published in a TAN book was “gospel truth”, even when all it amounts to is a story about playing with one’s food masquerading as piety and worship.

              • RufusChoate

                When did TAN become apocrypha? You really don’t have a point do you? You just want to sound like you have a couple of functioning brain cells that allows you to pretend that you’re a wit.

                No very convincing and if you’re Catholic it is petit bourgeois blasphemy which is the dullest sort of affectation.

                • Steve

                  Your remark about the “Adultress and all public sinners” not being “invited to the last supper”, and response to my remarks illustrating the absurdity of such a fundamentalistic eisegesis (a hallmark of TAN publications) made my point abundantly clear – those who think the calling of the church and Christian faith is to ritually exclude, judge and shame fellow human creations of God are completely out of touch with the message of the gospel, the current pope and a completely objective examination of their own “worthiness”.

                  • RufusChoate

                    So they were in fact invited to the Last Supper and Christ never said “go and sin no more.” as a clear demonstration of commitment to his teaching and reform.

                    You’re hilarious and I suspect you have some major sin you value more than your salvation so you simply want us all to validate your sin so you feel better about yourself.

                    In the adult world that doesn’t happen but infantile minds always believe it should.

                    p.s. Dissidents are always funny but then again they are almost invariably very broken and evil people.

      • bbrown

        Some relevant points, but basically a category error is being made here:

        The good points are that the Church is indeed a hospital for sinners, and all must be made to feel welcome (and that is not always done well).
        The category error is that the Eucharist is clearly meant to only include those who are worthy and have had proper preparation of mind, heart, and soul. Even Protestants at one time understood this (Spurgeon’s church in London, for example) and a long process of catechetical instruction and preparation of the heart was required prior to receiving Holy Communion.

  • Abandoned Spouse

    Glad that I left the Catholic Church. There is room for adultery and remarriage but no room for faithful abandoned spouses.

    There was no place for me. If jesus has room for such, then bye to him as well!

    • RufusChoate

      A little more proof is required that the Church abandon you or you merely thought it abandoned you for me to believe your contention.

    • bbrown

      I assume that you were made to feel guilt for something that you had no control over. That is heartbreaking, but is only a reflection of other sinners who are early on the road toward sanctification.

      Nothing in the entire Christian tradition would ever condemn an innocent victim, but more the opposite: it’s only the church than can truly love and help you heal. The world can only offer empty forms of acceptance or truly minister to the deep hurts that you must have.

      People in the church will let you down to the degree that they are not transformed by Christ to love as Christ. You should not give up too soon or too easily, because you will find better representatives of Christ if you give it more time and seek them. This is something that you will not find in the world. The true church is merciful to all of us sinners, just as Christ is merciful and shows compassion for all sinners.

    • Glenn M. Ricketts

      Why don’t you continue to visit this site and post here – we would love to assist you, and perhaps persuade you to return. There is indeed room for you, believe me.

  • Francis Albert

    In other words, the problems solves itself. The Church was true to to Herself, and so has obvious resources to remains true. We are in spiritual combat, I just read, whether we know it or not. The synod showed who and how confused and faithless some prelature can be. The combat is joined, and if the enemy is within, so was Judas.

  • Evidently, synodal bishops can and, in this case, do hold heretical views. Even popes are not immune to holding heretical opinions, as John XXII, the first Johova’s Witness. The pope is cannot teach error, but can hold erroneous opinions.

    Clearly Pope Francis holds an erroneous opinion, if his promotion of Card. Kasper, appointment of Bp. Forte and of the report redactors, overriding the choices by the synodal bishops, all holding to the erroneous opinion that adulterers do not live in a state of sin, or however this fact is spinned, but he hasn’t been able to make his opinion official Church Teaching, thanks to bishops in the line of St. Nicholas, Cards. Pell, Napier, Burke and Muller, whom the Holy Spirit used to protect the Church from teaching heresy.

    As a matter of fact, it’s not the pope who’s protected from teaching heresy, but we, the faithful people of God, who are protect from being taught heresies by the pope.

    • publiusnj

      We are in the early innings of this parliamentary maneuver contest. The Ordinary Synod will meet next year and I hope that it will not be so stacked with Kasperites as to lead to the adoption of heretical views. We need to pray for the Church and also let our local churches know that what keeps us in Holy Mother the Church is her evident truthfulness. If she stops teaching the truth of the Apostolic Faith that comes to us from the Apostles, she will be reduced to being another Protestant sect competing against the latest Calvary Chapel or non-denominational neighborhood church and crafting her “evangelium” to maximize “butts in pews.”

      Every chance we get to tell our priests and bishops about the unacceptability of the Pope’s/Kasper’s maneuverings should be exploited to bear witness to Catholic Truth.

      • Actually, as the sell out by mainline Protestant sects shows, the Church would then be less than the Calvary Chapel or some Pentecostal sect, which would still take sin seriously and would attract the more devout by the drones. Much like it’s happened throughout Latin America since most bishops are quite like Card. Bergoglio: the media and their cameras love them, yet they make no disciples.

  • Randall Ward

    Mark 10:21 “You lack one thing: go, sell all you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven, and come, follow me.”

  • Steve

    The issue experienced by the faithful which firmed the basis of elements of the synod – and them alone as priests and Bishops have been prohibited since 1139 from contracting a valid marriage – was that determing that the necessary factors confirming whether an actual marriage occurred, through current annulment practuces, is a onerous, protracted and costly process (both financially and sacramentally).

    Marriage does not occur sacramentally “ex opere operato.”

    But this gem takes the cake:

    “By reversing this teaching, they would not only undermine the authority of previous synods and the constant and definitive teaching of the Magisterium. Rather, by the same token, they would necessarily undermine their own authority to change the teaching as well.”

    That is the same argument Bellarmine used, erroneously, to condemn Galileo and heliocentric science, Paul VI used, also erroneously, in ignoring the pontifical commission established by his predecessor on the issue of contraception and is being used to ontologically entrap women and humans born homosexual.

    Assuming you already understand nature and creation so thoroughly and inerrantly that only assent is required confirms the charism of Pharisaic folly – not christian faith.

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