The Synod on the Family- A review and looking ahead – – FR. JOHN ZUHLSDORF’S BLOG


The Synod on the Family- A review and looking ahead



Fr. John Zuhlsdorf blogs as “Fr. Z”.

In this compilation, we reproduce all Fr. Z’s Synod/Pope Francis-related blogs of the preceding 12 months. He interjects his blog writings and citations as well as readers’ responses with emphases and comments using bold black as well as red fonts and [parentheses]. When you come across them, you’ll know whose they are.

As with all of my more recent files, my comments are highlighted in green font. Additionally, wherever else you see green font, the emphasis is mine; I use blue colour for conservatives, brown for the “bad guys”.

A regular reader would be familiar with Fr. Z-isms. For instance, MSM stands for “main stream media”; the “Fishwrap” or “National Schismatic Reporter” refers to the leftwing National Catholic Reporter.

From each blog, I reproduce a few readers’ responses. These selected responses are mostly those which are in resonance with my traditional/orthodox/conservative (call it what you like) stand as a loyal Catholic.

You will find that the Catholic worldview of Fr. Z is shared by other conservative Catholic media ministries such as LifeSiteNews, Michael Voris’ ChurchMilitant.TV (formerly RealCatholicTV), Rorate Caeli … and ours!

Eminent Canon Lawyer Dr. Edward Peters is a frequent commenter and guest at Fr. Z’s blog. Several priests, deacons and seminarians regularly post their comments.

The readers’ responses are of great importance to us. When we read them, we know that there are other Catholics who share our concerns, anxieties, and fears about the modernist dangers confronting orthodoxy.

Since the liberals campaign openly and aggressively for their agendas while conservatives usually do not, or at least did not until this Synod, the latter group is now discovering its voice through the social media.

The responses of the readers add to the completeness of the information conveyed to us by the blogger.


Over the next few weeks, I will make available on our web site similar compilations of posts, articles and YouTube videos by LifeSiteNews, Michael Voris’ ChurchMilitant.TV, etc. on the October 5 to 19, 2014, Extraordinary Synod on the Family and the pivotal role played in it by Pope Francis — and a few other senior Church leaders on the side of the conservatives as well as the “progressives”. As well as the secular press.

I will also present a compilation of stories put out on the ultra-liberal National Catholic Reporter. Through these compilations, the reader will have an understanding of the opposing powers and forces that were at play not only in the months leading up to the Extraordinary Synod of October 2014 and during its two-week long proceedings which saw the mid-way report controversy, but will also continue to engage one another in the months till the 2015 Ordinary Synod is held and the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation
is released.


There can be no doubt that the minute by minute Catholic media coverage of the events unfolding at the Synod in Rome by traditional-minded ministries played an unprecedented role in the 2014 Synod.

We praise and thank God for the dedication of all those men and women who camped in Rome from before the Synod till after it closed, despite the media gag, in order to journal and instantly convey to the Universal Church the stories, interviews and video recordings from the Synod using the electronic media.



2 AUGUST 2014


14 OCTOBER 2014

15 OCTOBER 2014



The media quarantine/gag/ban was imposed by the head of the Synod of Bishops, Lorenzo Cardinal Baldisseri. The interventions, or speeches of the participants, weren’t made public through the Vatican website or L’Osservatore Romano. The several-times-a-day reporting from Rome by Fr. Z, Robert Royal, LifeSiteNews, ChurchMilitant.TV and the like provided Catholics with the right perspective, checkmating the slanted, anti-Catholic rhetoric of the liberal (National Catholic Reporter, Crux) as well as main-stream media
e.g. the Huffington Post, the New York Times, etc.


I went through some 2000 or so of Fr. Z’s blogs to compile this file.

The first reproduced blog is of October 22, 2013. I have given Roman numerals to the blogs: I, II, III, etc.

The second is of November 25, 2013, about the “Survey” or Questionnaire. Many conservatives, this writer included, never received it through his archdiocese/priest, but the liberals were busy circulating it and collecting responses.

Long before the third blog of November 26, 2013, six months into the pontificate of Pope Francis and more than a year before the synod, the “Francis effect” was a popular phrase in Catholic journalism. Is that a good thing? Read on.

By blog number 5, Catholics are expressing a loss of confidence in Pope Francis and wishing Benedict XVI was still in charge.

By the sixth blog, which is of December 12, 2013, one can see that traditional Catholics already foresee “certain Catholics, including some prelates, calling for the admission of divorced and remarried Catholics to holy Communion, which calls will be lionized by the secular press“.

Even way back then, many Catholics do not seem to repose much confidence in the Pope because of “Pope Francis’ governing style“.

In the sixth blog that I reproduced, take note of Fr. Z’s prophetic closing words, “Get ready for you who defend marriage to be accused of being cruel, of hating mercy“.

The Pope’s response, “Who am I to judge”, in an interview, become widely misused; see blog serial no. XII.

It was used by him again a little more than a month later, fomenting more confusion of interpretations.

There’s plenty more about the “Francis effect” and the “Who am I to judge” issue in the succeeding blogs.

Many, many of the readers’ responses echo the exact same thoughts and concerns that I and other Catholics have; for instance response no. 4 of blog no. XX on page 26:

QUOTE I have been reading through the Encyclicals of John Paul II and continue to read the writings of the Pope Emeritus every day. I think I have almost without realizing it given up on the Pontificate of Francis. I have noticed that I now rarely seek out the translations of his addressess and homilies. It’s not that I made a conscious decision, but I am sure it is a reaction to everything since March 2013… I have never heard in my life so much criticism of a Pope from those whom I know to be orthodox and faithful Catholics.

There are the regular references as in response no. 1 of blog no. XXXII, to Pope Francis’ Jesuit background being responsible for his words and actions, “How fitting … that our Pope is a Jesuit!

A month before the Synod, Fr. Z describes the scenario, “Catholic media and blogs speculate that Pope Francis is irritated, maybe even angry, with those who are criticizing Card. Kasper’s proposals. Perhaps he is even exiling or punishing people.  Sides are polarizing.  People are having discussions.  Hands are wringing.

Among the recurring comments, three are popular:

i) The fear of an imminent schism in the Church, precipitated by the turf wars in the Synod,

ii) The wish that Benedict XVI was still Pope,

iii) The hope that Cardinal Raymond Burke will be the next Pope.

All these impressions (on this page, above as also below) are not limited to Fr. Z and the readership of his blog but are shared by loyal Catholics everywhere, as we will see in the other compilations in this series.


The Relatio Post Disceptationem or mid-point report of the Synod was right away rejected by the President of the Polish Bishop’s Conference, see blog no. LXI, and later by the bishops of Africa and Australia.

Catholic reporter Robert Royal described it as a “bizarre document” (LXII) with “utterly astonished old Vatican reporters … and journalists walking around in shock outside for hours after“.

There were suspicions voiced, LXV, as to how the Relatio “was so swiftly produced, in tolerably good translations, in several languages seemingly by magic, overnight. Is it possible that some of the sections were written in advance?” Eventually, Fr. Z names the Synod “The robber Synod“, LXVIII.

Things get so bad that (LXXVII) one commenter writes, “One of the things that disturbs me most about Pope Francis is that he’s the one who is dividing the Church into two camps” and another, the “said liberal wing is led by the Pope “. Many Catholics echo the sentiment expressed in LXXIX, “I no longer trust the Pope“.

Journalist Edward Pentin is threatened, Zenit is forced to pull a story, and Cardinal Kasper lies brazenly (LXXX, XXXIV). Michael Voris of ChurchMilitant.TV is forced to pull a video and issue an apology (LXXXII).

A commenter in LXLV prophetically says “We should understand that those who tried to manipulate the recent Synod will spend the next year working to get their kind elected as delegates to the Ordinary Synod and planning ever more cunning means of controlling information and manipulating processes. ” I concur.



This is a must read, LXLVI: Bishop Athanasius Schneider on the Synod’s mid-way Relatio and the final document or Relatio Synodi
that went to the Holy Father.

He is categorical that “During the Synod there had been moments of obvious manipulation on the part of some clerics who held key positions in the editorial and governing structure of the Synod. The interim report (Relatio post disceptationem) was clearly a prefabricated text with no reference to the actual statements of the Synod fathers. In the sections on homosexuality, sexuality and “divorced and remarried” with their admittance to the sacraments the text represents a radical neo-pagan ideology. This is the first time in Church history that such a heterodox text was actually published as a document of an official meeting of Catholic bishops under the guidance of a pope, even though the text only had a preliminary character.


LXVII: Nicole Winfield of AP reports, “Technically speaking, [Archbishop Bruno] Forte and all the members of the drafting committee had access to far more material than the bishops themselves since they had the lengthy written speeches each synod “father” submitted prior to the meeting. Those written speeches factored into the draft reporteven if the bishops didn’t utter them during the four minutes each was allowed to speak. [Or see them at any point.  This was another procedural point that some expressed concern about before the Synod.  Everyone was to submit their speeches to Card. Baldisseri ahead of time.  Who knows what happened to them then?] with Fr. Z’s emphases and comments.


Talk of possible schism has increased in the
Catholic Church after the recent synod, said

Cardinal Raymond Burke, LXLVIII. “Warning that this battle will continue, he called on Catholics to “speak up and act.” Cardinal Burke was “demoted” by Pope Francis for speaking prophetically (blogs LXLIX, C, CI, CIII).

Australian Cardinal George Pell’s microphone was turned off (CIV) when he was speaking to his fellow bishops. Rumours abound that he is next on “on the hit list“. Next it was wondering when Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller would be asked to go (CIX): “Müller made an apology for “attacking” Cardinal Kasper, even though that was patently false. Who could make Müller apologize, except the Pope himself?

In the CXIII blog, Fr. Z who was in Rome to cover the Synod, insists that the Relatio Post Disceptationem “the notorious interim report … which was roundly denounced by the Synod Fathers (who were not allowed even to see it before it was released) has been on the Synod webpage in five languages since the end of the Synod on 19 October… Frankly, I think it was written already in July, because it was magically translated swiftly into five languages practically overnight.  It was also bound and ready to distribute within 36 hours,” whereas, the Relatio Synodi was not available except in Italian even a full month after the close of the Synod, more than sufficient cause for suspicion about the early availability of the Relatio Post Disceptationem. Fr. Z observed that “there was an English translation link on the Synod website, but it was removed because it was riddled with errors …  there were some 90 errors, not 4 or 5, including the elimination of phrases, in only 62 paragraphs” of the English translation of the Relatio Synodi when it was first released. He adds, “ Weeks are passing and the only English version out there is just plain wrong in a key paragraph.

The weird thing about the only extant English translation is that a controversial paragraph is not translated correctly. WERE one able easily to compare the Italian original and other languages by clicking side by side links (which we can’t – at least at the Synod of Bishops page) you would more easily spot what can only be – after this lapse of time and after numerous people have pointed it out in public – a blatant falsification of the original.

And given what was falsified and not corrected, you have to ask: Who did this and why?

…It has been a month now since the close of the Synod and the release of that document, and still the false translation of the Italian original is all that we have, on a completely different page.”






















I. Archbp. Müller (CDF) on Communion for divorced/remarried. Liberals’ panic to follow.

Posted on 22 October 2013 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

In tomorrow’s edition of L’Osservatore Romano there is a long essay (4000+ words) by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Archbp. Müller, on the hotly-debate issue of Communion for the divorced and remarried.  (I haven’t checked it against the Italian yet.)

I mentioned that I had been hearing rumblings about a piece in L’O for a little while.  This seems to be it.

Müller opposes the various solutions that have been presented for the divorced and remarried. This is not to say that the Prefect believes it impossible for the Church ultimately to find a solution to the dilemma.  Rejecting some proposed solutions is different from rejecting any possible solution.  (Please, those of you in Columbia Heights, don’t freak out when you read that and dash about like Chicken Little.  Theologians make distinctions.  Rejection of proposed solutions could be part of a process.)

At the core of Müller’s piece there seems to be a dismantling of all the arguments that depend mostly on “mercy” without the concomitant dimension of justice, the Lord’s own teaching, etc.

This is going to be spun by the left as the Bad Guy’s attempt to stop Francis.

Müller won’t be presented as the voice of reason.  No, he will be the Bad Guy.

Fishwrap will say something nasty about him, something personal, like, “Now that Müller is secure in his appointment as Prefect, he feels free to attack ‘mercy’.”

Then they will find a picture of Müller scowling.

It is so predictable.

Here is a sample from Müller’s piece:

A further case for the admission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments is argued in terms of mercy. Given that Jesus himself showed solidarity with the suffering and poured out his merciful love upon them, mercy is said to be a distinctive quality of true discipleship. This is correct, but it misses the mark when adopted as an argument in the field of sacramental theology. The entire sacramental economy is a work of divine mercy and it cannot simply be swept aside by an appeal to the same. An objectively false appeal to mercy also runs the risk of trivializing the image of God, by implying that God cannot do other than forgive. The mystery of God includes not only his mercy but also his holiness and his justice. If one were to suppress these characteristics of God and refuse to take sin seriously, ultimately it would not even be possible to bring God’s mercy to man. Jesus encountered the adulteress with great compassion, but he said to her “Go and do not sin again” (Jn 8:11). God’s mercy does not dispense us from following his commandments or the rules of the Church. Rather it supplies us with the grace and strength needed to fulfil them, to pick ourselves up after a fall, and to live life in its fullness according to the image of our heavenly Father.


2 out of 70 responses

1. Mueller may be Prefect of CDF, but he’s just one opinion. The Synod may be influenced by him, or it may not be influenced by him. I’m sure his views carry weight with some, but I suspect the modernists really don’t care what his personal opinions are. Regardless, if Francis wants something done, I doubt the Bishops will turn him down.

2. “The entire sacramental economy is a work of divine mercy and it cannot simply be swept aside by an appeal to the same.”

Wow. Does that ever get at the heart of it, or what? –Dr. Edward Peters, Canon Lawyer


II. ACTION ITEM! Is the “Vatican survey” being hijacked? Fr. Z says, “¡Vaya lío!”

Posted on 25 November 2013 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

You know that there is a survey out there, at the Vatican’s behest, in anticipation of the upcoming Synod of Bishops which will discuss the family.

While surveying people ahead of time is not new, when I heard about this the first thing that flashed through my mind was “What could possibly go wrong?”


Do you remember that the catholic Left organized to distribute the survey and then collate the results? HERE Again, “What could possibly go wrong?

This weekend I saw that the ultra-liberal, dissenting Association of Catholic Priests, in Ireland, has helpfully rewritten this survey… just to help out, don’t you know.  HERE

Now I see this tweet:


If you go to that link – HERE – you find the list of organizing groups:

This project is sponsored by the following members of Catholic Organizations for Renewal (COR):



American Catholic Council
Call To Action
Federation of Christian Ministries/Roman Catholic Faith Community Council in the Church
New Ways Ministry
Roman Catholic Womenpriests
Southeastern Pennsylvania Women’s Ordination Conference
Voice of the Faithful
Women’s Ordination Conference

Co-sponsored by:
Catholic Church Reform
Fortunate Families
WATER: Women’s Alliance for Theology, Ethics, and Ritual

Sound okay to you?

Don’t get me wrong.  The survey is probably fairly meaningless.

Still, maybe we need to chime in?

Whaddya say?

How ’bout some active participation?

¡Vaya lío!


4 out of 38 responses

1. The survey website says that they will forward the results to the hierarchy “after independent review.” Does that mean they’ll edit out any comments that don’t fit with their agenda(s) first?

2. I have been asking people on my blog to take the survey. If the traditional, orthodox Catholics do not take the time, we have only ourselves to blame for the results being taken over by the liberals, who are more organized

3. I have done the survey. It was very slanted and heavily pushed the “couples” of homosexual relations and never once mentioned the individuals. It also pushed the edges of “Catholic acceptance” as if to make the Church bend for those defiant.

4. Did the survey on the USCCB site. It’s easy to see how it can be hijacked. I did see an article somewhere (sorry I don’t recall where) that the majority of responses were from liberals. If this is the approach that is being taken, then it is crucial that faithful Catholics, who know the Faith, and live it, respond. –Fr. Bryan


III. A “Francis Effect” in these USA?

Posted on 26 November 2013 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

There is a lot of buzz about a “Francis Effect”.  As I watch Twitter, for example, I see comments such as “I’m not Catholic anymore, but I really like this Pope!” or “I disagree with the Church on a lot of things, but Francis is great!”

There are reports that numbers of penitents making sacramental confessions are up.  GOOD!  I hope that is the case.

At the same time… is there a “Francis Effect” and, if so, will it last?  Are people who are in some way impressed with Francis going to change some aspect of their lives?

Liberals will tend to latch on only to what the MSM reports about certain of Francis’ soundbites.  This is going to be a huge problem in sorting out the meaning of the new Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium.   Conservatives will also be driven, through herd-mentality, to react to those same soundbites.  I predict that a greater polarization is ahead of us.  “Francis Effect”?  I hope not, but I am not sanguine.  People on both sides don’t seem to be able to read and weigh anymore.

Anyway, I was sent a link to a post at the Pew Research Center:


No clear ‘Pope Francis effect’ among U.S. Catholics

In the first eight months of his pontificate, Pope Francis has impressed, charmed and inspired many people around the world with his outreach to non-Christians, his statements of concern for the poor and disabled, and his personal humility. At the same time, other Catholics have expressed dismay over the pope’s statements about homosexuality and his remarks that the church is “obsessed” with some social issues.

Some news accounts contend that the pope’s popularity has created a “Pope Francis effect,” producing a “significant global rise in church attendance,” based on reports by Catholic clergy in Italy, Britain and and other countries of a recent rise in Mass attendance.

In the United States, home to the world’s fourth-largest Catholic population, the pope appears to be well-liked by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, rated favorably by 79% of Catholics and 58% of the general public.

[QUAERITUR…] But has the pope’s popularity produced a Catholic resurgence in the U.S., where 10% of adults are former Catholics? Not so far, at least in terms of the share of Americans who identify as such, or the share of those who report attending Mass weekly.



A new analysis of pooled Pew Research surveys conducted between Francis’ election in March and the end of October this year finds that the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholics has remained the same – 22% — as it was during the corresponding seven-month period in 2012. In fact, our polls going back to 2007 show Catholic identification in the U.S. has held stable, fluctuating only between 22% and 23%[Is the Francis Effect just a superficial, ephemeral phenomenon?]

Though Americans may report attending church more frequently than they actually do, our surveys find that self-reported levels of Mass attendance have remained virtually unchanged since the new pope was elected. Since April of this year, 39% of U.S. Catholics report attending Mass at least weekly, similar to the 40% attendance figure last year.


Mass attendance isn’t the only thing to look at.

Can we imagine that as Pres. Obama and crew help to destroy the job-force and blast family budgets to the moon through the “AFFORDABLE” Care Act that people will gives as much?

Will homosexuals be moved to live continent lives?  Will the wymyn priest crowd give up their demands for Holy Orders?

Will the number of young men who respond to priestly vocations rise?  The numbers of men and women to religious vocations?

Will Catholic schools clean up their act and guide their institutions according to Ex corde Ecclesiae?

Will couples in invalid and immoral relationships be moved by the Francis Effect to get their lives straightened out?

What is the Francis Effect?


3 out of 16 responses

1. I have thought since the first weeks after his election and the first inklings of the ‘Francis effect’ that his papacy had the potential to be a very tragic one. He has been and is being portrayed by the MSM as ‘liberal’ ideologue when he is in fact nothing of the kind. This has the potential to alienate those who call themselves ‘liberal’ when it finally dawns on them that he is not one of them, as it has already alienated many of those who call themselves ‘conservative.’ A true devil’s brew is in the works I fear. But such is the world we live in; the unfolding of events in the geopolitical arena doesn’t provide me with a whole lot of solace for the near term future of the Church either. Veni Sancte Spiritus!

2. The only reason we hear about the so called “Francis Effect” is the media believes he’s a liberal just as they are. So if the liberal media believes the Pope is a man who shares their political values, then surely Catholics must be flocking back to the pews in huge numbers. It doesn’t even matter the facts don’t agree. The chance to push the story does.

A good example of this is a new article published at, a left leaning political new website. In the article, they write with joy the Pope doesn’t like “trickle down economics”. The use of that phrase is key because the liberal media uses it as a way to discredit conservative tax and economic policies. Now in all fairness, it doesn’t surprise me Francis dislikes conservative economic views, especially since he comes from South America where Marxism is rampant.

3. The “Francis effect” is the propensity of secular progressives and secularized “catholics,” including but not limited to those in the musical-entertainment complex, to believe that the pope isn’t a Catholic.


IV. First comment on the Pope’s new Apostolic Exhortation

Posted on 26 November 2013 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The new Apostolic Exhortation is out: Evangelii gaudium.  In English it is some 51000 words.  It is a slog.

It is not an encyclical.  It is not an apostolic letter.  It is only an apostolic exhortation.

I caution all of you (and myself as well) not to rely only on accounts or summaries of this document in the New York Times, or Fishwrap, or … name your liberal source… or trad source for that matter.  I am for now avoiding reading about it.

See if you can avoid getting kicked by the knee-jerks.

I will have more observations later.  However, as I have begun my work on it – and when I land on something that I sense will be controversial – one of the things that I constantly remind myself of is “About whom is the Pope talking in this phrase?” and also, “What does that really mean?”   Half the time, when I review his daily sermons, I have a hard time figuring out what on earth he is talking about.  What on earth does he mean by “ideology”, anyway?  When he talks about people who do “X” (something bad), I am often hard-pressed to determine precisely to whom he is referring.  I am finding that in this document too, but I still have a lot more to read.  What does “promethean neopelagianism” mean?  Anyone?  It may be that something – a lot? – is being lost in translation.  Moreover, we are only getting snips from the fervorini.  That’s a problem.  I digress. […]


2 out of 66 responses

1. I’ve done my best, since the Pope was elected, to give him breathing room. I’m finding myself increasing unwilling to continue to do so. He might be a slum Pope, but I’m not convinced that gives him the moral right (even if it does give him the legal right) to create a slum church. Even if it isn’t his intention to strip down altars and robe Priests in little more than old drapery, this will inevitably be used – just as so many of his recent actions and words – by those who seek exactly that end.

The rebellious left the Church. It seems more and more like the Church is going to leave the faithful behind in order to chase them. I suppose I can forget about seeing the Papal Tiara back in my lifetime – I need to be more concerned about losing the organ and the incense. Since, as Catholics, we believe that Papal infallibility applies only to a very limited category of official pronouncements concerning doctrine, and specifically DOES NOT extend to the selection of the Pope himself, I have no problem joining with most of the rest of traditionalists in voicing my opinion that Francis’ election was a severe mistake that require decades, if not generations, to recover from.

2. I am troubled by the Holy Father’s desire to decentralize the papacy and embrace collegiality. This approach is nothing short of a disaster. The Lord gave the keys to Peter, not for Peter to give them to Judas. The situation with the Church in Germany will be a crucial one as to what direction Pope Francis will go vis a vis increased authority for the bishops.


V. Will German bishops defy Rome, ignore teaching on indissolubility of marriage?

Posted on 26 November 2013 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Iran, and other countries, are more than likely emboldened by the Obama-inflicted weakness of these USA. They will be flexing their muscles, sure that the President won’t do anything.

In Germany, and probably other places, some bishops, emboldened by a new Pope’s new style, will be flexing their muscles, guessing that the Pope won’t do anything to them.

Here is an interesting way to engage in the New Evangelization.

From CWN:

A German bishop has said that the country’s episcopal conference will move forward with plans to allow Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, despite clear disapproval from the Vatican.

Bishop Gebhard Fürst of Stuttgart told a lay group, the Central Committee of German Catholics, that the German bishops have already drafted new guidelines for the reception of Communion by divorced/remarried Catholics, and hope to vote their approval to those new rules in March 2014. Bishop Fürst said that the German hierarchy is responding to demands from the faithful. “Expectations are great, and impatience and anger are greater still,” he said. [I wonder if they think they will get a recognition from the Holy See.  I doubt it. The wealthy German bishops (remember the Church Tax) might threaten to cut funds to the Holy See, but I think they still will not get the recognition.]

Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has instructed officials of the Freiburg archdiocese that they should retract a proposed policy that would allow divorced/remarried Catholics to receive the Eucharist. That policy, Archbishop Müller said, “would cause confusion among the faithful about the Church’s teaching about the indissolubility of marriage.”

A number of German bishops have pressed for change in the Church’s practice that bars Catholics who have divorced and remarried from receiving the Eucharist. (The only exceptions are for Catholics whose early marriages are annulled or those who pledge to live with their new partners as “brother and sister.”) Pope Francis has suggested that the question should be addressed by the Synod of Bishops, which will meet in October 2014.

So much the Year of Faith!

There will be a big push for this during the Synod.


4 out of 66 responses

1. The Year of Faith was allowed to fizzle out. A great opportunity was lost. I miss Benedict 16.

2. We do not need priests, bishops, and the Vatican to overlook sin, pat us on the head, and fail to teach and preach the truth. Most of us are battling with our conscience already and we look to the Church as the one bastion of truth standing against sin left to us. Our politicians are fallen, other churches hold no authoritative moral ground. When we are mired in the confusion of sin and temptation, as will happen, we must have the truth, not what we want to hear. For that, I could listen to all the rest of the world.

3. Further thought, this is the test of the Holy Father’s seeming-fascination with collegiality. He wants bishops and bishops’ conferences to have more control and power over local concerns, and the Germans claim that this is their local concern.

Loose lips sink ships, and while our captain cannot sink the ship of St. Peter, he can ram it into things, cause damage, and tip vulnerable persons overboard. The Germans have been swinging along the railing for quite a while. We need a ships captain to chew them out and bring them back inside to safety, not steer the ship widely in the storm and run her aground.

God is in charge, and I trust Him. But man, He must want this to be a rough ride. God help us.

4. I wonder how this new Exhortation from Pope Francis will effect this. He is calling for a decentralized Church with Bishop’s Conferences having doctrinal authority. Given some of these wacky Bishops, I find that scary. –Fr. A.J.


VI. Communion for divorced/remarried. Ed Peters on what’s at stake.

Posted on 12 December 2013 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Sacramental marriage is either indissoluble or it not.

Over at his fine canon law blog, canonist Ed Peters has something to say about an upcoming, building controversy.



Let’s understand what’s at stake, by Dr. Edward Peters

I suspect we’ll see more of this in coming months: [Yes.] certain Catholics, including some prelates, calling for the admission of divorced and remarried Catholics to holy Communion, which calls will be lionized by the secular press[Not to mention the Fishwrap!] of course, and only occasionally countered by other Catholics, such counters being dismissed by the secular press. Pope Francis’ governing style seems unlikely to put the kibosh on pro-reception agitation or, for that matter, to discourage its occasional rebuttal. So we’ll just have to deal with it. [I am not sure about that.  I suspect that Francis puts the kibosh on whatever he doesn’t like.]

[NB:] To me, though, the whole thing is rather simple: either holy Communion is Who the Church says it is or it isn’t; either typical divorce and remarriage by Catholics constitutes objective grave sin (n. b: no one is reading souls here, rather, one is noting public conduct) or it doesn’t; and, either those manifestly remaining in objective grave sin are prohibited from reception of holy Communion, or they aren’t[Plain, clear thinking like this, rare, will be swept aside!]

Now, since time immemorial, the Church has answered all three questions affirmatively. But if she were to answer any ONE of those questions negatively, Eucharistic discipline would certainly (and immediately, and drastically) change for divorced and remarried Catholics—and inevitably for several other groups, too. [Such a thing would introduce cataclysmic doubt among the people of God through the whole Church.] Those calling for this momentous change need, therefore, to understand exactly what they are asking the Church to do; those opposed to the change need to understand exactly what’s at stake in the call[This means YOU.  Get that?  DID YOU?]

Now, frankly, no one in the Church is challenging the Church’s answer to the first question, but, if the Church decides that typical divorce and remarriage is not objectively sinful for Catholics, and/or if the Church decides that holy Communion need not be withheld from those who openly persist in objectively sinful conduct, then we are all in for, as the saying goes, interesting times.


We are in for interesting times.

In the meantime, remember that Archbishop Müller published that piece which was surely known and approved by Pope Francis.  HERE
(see number I. above)

Get ready for you who defend marriage to be accused of being cruel, of hating mercy.


2 out of 78 responses

1. “Mueller is neither pope nor Time’s Person of the Year. What does Francis say?”

-Here is what Pope Francis said in a Nov. 8 address to the Apostolic Signatura in a speech about ecclesiastical tribunals and the (mainly) marriage annulment cases that they handle:

Hint: it’s quite good. It doesn’t sound to me like he wants to junk the tribunal system -far from it. Notice how he uses the phrase “justice-which is the first form of charity” toward the end. This is Pope Francis in his own words, not Archbishop Mueller. In all I have read of this issue, it is clear to me that Pope Francis wants to see if there can be some sort of easier way to determine the validity of putative marriages and wants open discussion and, if possible, “creative solutions.” It most likely will result in some sort of reform of the tribunal system – notice that he appointed a very learned canonist, Cardinal Erdö, as relator of the synod. It is also possible that his approach may create a “mess” as people wanting to change Church teaching will see this as their opportunity to push for change. I hope not. All we can do is pray for him and the Church.

It is not likely the Synod will settle the situation. There will be bishops pushing to extend the German policy to the Church, but there will also be bishops (including Abp Mueller) who understand the problem with it. The Apostolic Exhortation will then probably say something like every bishop should decide after much prayer what diocesan policy should be.

Thus it will be a return to the Hermeneutic of Ambiguity. And that raises another issue. There has been in the Church a tendency to think it more prayerful to avoid controversy (cf. ambiguity) than to defend Truth. That might be a good missionary strategy, but it does little for the Catholic in the pew.


VII. Pope Francis baptized baby of couple with civil marriage only

Posted on 12 January 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf




This is interesting.

Today Pope Francis followed the custom of other Popes and baptized babies in the Sistine Chapel.

But wait!  There’s more!

I read in La Stampa that the parents of one of the babies aren’t married.

That is to say, the couple is civilly married but not married in the Church.  My translation:

Among the baptized – according to the report in the daily “Il Tirreno” – there is also Giulia, caught of a couple married civilly but not in church.  And this is certainly a novelty.  Not for Bergoglio, who as a priest, bishop and cardinal baptized babies of teen mothers or unmarried couples many times.  Giulia’s parents, last 25 September, had made their request to the Pope directly at the end of the Wednesday general audience.  “We were on the ‘sagrato’ (the ‘porch’ in front of the Basilica)”, Ivan Scardia recounted, the father of the baby, “when he passed by and we asked him if he could baptize our second child.  He told us to get in touch with his collaborators and then they contacted us.” When the time came to send in the documents there was a glitch: “We were married at city hall.  But this problem was also overcome,” Giulia’s father said.

In other news, during the baptism rite itself, there was a point when the Pope stopped saying the black and went off the cuff (big surprise there).  He turned to the congregation and gave them a little talking-to.

Having listened to the Pope for a while, we are starting to hear his different voices, his moods, as it were.  Frankly, he got a bit intense and serious, verging on stern.

He told them:

Don’t forget, the greatest inheritance that you can give to your children is this, the light of the faith.  Hand on the faith, a strong faith that it be their salvation.


6 out of 97 responses

Keywords Not for Bergoglio.

He’s made it pretty where he stands on this issue, so it’s not a shock. I do prefer that there not be a big public to-do for baptisms when the parents are openly ignoring Church teaching, however. It sends completely the wrong message.

2. Yes, but it doesn’t have to be done publicly.

3. […]
while the pope isn’t doing anything “wrong,” I’m wondering where in the world this is a problem his example is needed to counter?
–Fr. Martin Fox

4. Father, this is disturbing me a little. I feel like the Holy Father is becoming a bit more brazen here and starting to “buck the rules” again, like the Holy Thursday last foot washing year. How can he have the authority to give baptism to the baby of parents not married in the Church? [?!? Really?]

Can you further clarify this matter by expanding and using canon law and any relevant Church documents on this matter? Has the Pope committed any infractions of canon law or doctrine/dogma/Church documents in what he has done? [No, I don’t believe he has. Moreover, he is the Legislator.]

At least if he hasn’t broken the law so to speak, I’ll be like “That Bergoglio being Bergoglio” but at least the authority of Holy Mother Church is being respected. In other words, imprudent, but not violating Christ and his Church, so lets move on and get back to work. 

Me, who am I to judge? Call me when he baptizes the adopted baby of a homosexual couple living in a contrary to nature union.


VIII. “immensely complex… huge ramifications… major reverberations…”

Posted on 12 January 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The Holy Father baptized the baby of a couple who are only civilly married.

¡Vaya lío!

From the excellent Canon Law blog of Ed Peters… who is probably smart not to have an open combox.  Or … maybe he just enjoys watching me moderate the discussion over here.   I dunno.

My emphases and comments.


How popes, baptism, marriage, and form, all come together


First, unlike the foot-washing episode last Holy Week (here and here), the pope’s actions today occasion no reason to think that canon or liturgical law has been—what’s the right word?—disregarded, for no canon or liturgical law forbids baptizing the babies of unmarried couples, etc. Indeed, Church law generally favors the administration of sacraments and, in the case of baptism, it requires only that there be “a founded hope” that the child will be raised Catholic (1983 CIC 868 § 1, 2º). A minister could certainly discern ‘founded hope’ for a Catholic upbringing under these circumstances and outsiders should not second-guess his decision[And I guess that still applies when the minister is THE POPE.]

But here’s the rub: a minister could also arrive at precisely the opposite conclusion on these facts and, equally in accord with the very same Church law, he could delay the baptism. I know of many pastors who have reached this conclusion and who used the occasion of a request for a baby’s baptism to assist the parents toward undertaking their duties in a more responsible manner, including helping them to regularize their marriage status in the Church, resume attendance at Sunday Mass, participate fully in the sacraments, and so on[All of which, I think, we will stipulate are good things.]



Now, if the pope’s action today was as reported (again, we don’t know that yet), [then… (here we go!)] pastors who delay a baby’s baptism in order to help reactivate the Faith in the baby’s parents are going to have a harder time doing that as word gets out about the pope’s (apparently) different approach to the rite.

Whether that was the message Francis intended to send is irrelevant to whether that is the message that he seems to have sent.

[NB] But, I suggest, the whole question of whether to baptize the baby of these parents surfaces a yet deeper question.

The only reason we describe this civilly-married Catholic couple as “unmarried” is because they apparently did not observe “canonical form” in marrying, that is, they did not marry ‘in the Church’ as required by 1983 CIC 1108, 1117. Now think about this: had two Protestants, two Jews, two Muslims, two Hindus, two Animists, two You-Name-Its, otherwise able to marry, expressed their matrimonial consent before a civil official, we Catholics would have regarded them as presumptively married. But, when two Catholics (actually, even if only one were Catholic, per 1983 CIC 1059) attempt marriage outside of canonical form, the Church regards them as not married at all[Get that?] That’s a dramatic conclusion to reach based only on one’s (non)observance of an ecclesiastical law that is itself only a few hundred years old.

For more than 50 years, a quiet undercurrent of (if I may put it this way) solidly Catholic canonists and theologians has been questioning whether canonical form—a remedy that nearly all would agree has outlived the disease it was designed to cure (clandestine marriage)—should be still be required for Catholics or [Quaeritur…] whether the price of demanding the observance of canonical form has become too high for the pastoral good it might serve.

Canonical form is an immensely complex topic. It has huge ramifications in the Church and it has major reverberations in the world. I am not going to discuss those here. But if the upcoming Synod on the Family and Evangelization is looking for a topic that needs, in my opinion, some very, very careful reconsideration, that topic would be the future of canonical form for marriage among Catholics. There is still time to prep the question for Synodal discussion.

All of this, you might wonder, from the baptism of a baby? Yes, because everything in the Church is connected to everything else. Eventually, if we get it right, it all comes together to form a magnificent tapestry of saving truth.

And he is eloquent, too.


2 out of 166 responses

This almost seems like a non-sequitur. Does one who breaks the law deserve rights afforded UNDER the law? If one chooses to ignore Church law regarding canonical form, does one deserve the benefits that the law? If canonical form can be dispensed without permission, then what message does it send to those who do follow canonical form?

With all of the redefinition of marriage that is happening in the “Civil Marriage” realm, it would seem logical to no longer recognize civil marriage at all. What about divorced peoples? Does the Church recognize the first, 2nd, third marriage?

Redefining marriage or “loosening the rules” on canonical form almost seems like submitting to the abuse, just like “female altar boys”. I fear it will also further split the identity of Catholics. Those that follow canonical form could see those that don’t as having a 2nd class marriage or as less devout. All of this revolves around CATHOLICS who the law SHOULD apply to, but CHOOSE to ignore it.

I think it safe to say that this situation with Pope Francis offering the baptism for this child…this is one of those things that REALLY make me dislike his papacy.
I gather that many view this as something wonderful, something where Pope Francis is “reaching out” how he’s showing unconditional love, etc. I must point out that there are precisely the same ideas that I’ve been hearing for most of my life, all too many of which…ultimately fail to address the real concerns we should be handling. Canon law has various stipulations for various reasons, usually aimed at addressing some pretty particular concerns.


IX. Does Pope Francis appoint bishops without collegial consultation?

Posted on 14 January 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

This is interesting.

Do you remember my post and comments about Pope Francis and collegiality?  Collegiality: an inquiry

This is from Sandro Magister: The pope gives, the pope takes away

VATICAN CITY, January 14, 2014 – In addition to the appointment of cardinals, Pope Francis is also taking liberties with the selection of bishops. [He is free to do so.  However, if a Pope wants to be taken serious over time, he will observe the laws that he imposes on others.  For example: let him do a, b, or c in complete disregard for the rites on, say, Holy Thursday yes, he can do that and nobody can say that he can’t.  Father Z, however, on Thursday is obliged to follow the rites.]

Above all when it comes to his native Argentina, Jorge Mario Bergoglio often (if not always) neglects to submit the appointment to the judgment of the cardinals and bishops who make up the Vatican congregation set up for this purpose, even though he radically overhauled it before Christmas.  [So, does it really matter if Card. Burke isn’t a member of the Congregation?]



In Argentina, during the first ten months of his pontificate, Francis has made fifteen episcopal appointments: eight “ex novo” and seven with transfers from other positions.

But in one of these Argentine appointments, something must not have gone quite right.

It is that concerning one of the two auxiliaries of Lomas de Zamora appointed by the pope last December 3, the Capuchin Carlos Alberto Novoa de Agustini, 47, who – as stated in the official biography published in the bulletin of the Holy See on that date – in May of 1996 had “received priestly ordination from the then-auxiliary of Buenos Aires, Bishop Bergoglio, now Pope Francis.”

It happened, in fact, that on the subsequent December 14 a statement from the diocese said that Novoa de Agustini would not be consecrated bishop because “after mature discernment” he had “requested from the Holy Father Francis a dispensation from his appointment, which he had granted to him.” No details were given on the reasons for this reversal.


Okay… let’s leave aside the fact that one of the men the Pope seems to have selected wasn’t the best choice.  The Congregation has made mistakes in the past too.

But… that is not the real point here.

The Pope needs an assist in the governance of the Church, lest he stumble.

The Roman Pontiff has a Congregation to which he has granted a mandate and authority to aid him in the selection of bishops.  If he does not use their service, if he does not work in a collegial manner, what does that mean?  What does that mean for his view and style of governance?

In my earlier post, I wrote:

It doesn’t make any difference what liberals think about collegiality, or what you think about collegiality, or what I think about collegiality. What matters is what Pope Francis thinks about collegiality.  Does anybody know?

He doesn’t always consult in the appointment of bishops?

I think we will all agree that the selection of bishops is pretty important.

Liberals are constantly crying that there isn’t nearly enough grassroots consultation in the selection of bishops, that the appointments come down from on high.

It will be interesting to see if liberals criticize Pope Francis for acting in such a non-collegial manner.


6 out of 25 responses

This pope certainly keeps everyone guessing. Why single out Cardinal Burke? Others were moved also.

2. I’d submit that this Pope really doesn’t know the extent of his influence. He appoints people without consultation of those who truly know better. Until he starts to listen to those who truly know what’s going on, don’t expect things to get any better anytime soon. Oremus pro Pontifice nostro.

3. The sky is blue, water is clear, and Pope Francis contradicts himself. This is nothing new. The Holy Father is a bundle of contradictory sentiments; he speaks of collegiality and governs autocratically, heavy-handedly, and without advisement. He refers to the pristine Liturgy of the Orthodox Churches, while having little concern for the Roman Rite’s historical form. Examples abound of the pattern. This is an interesting self-contradiction, and an unfortunate development, frankly.

4. For all of his good qualities, the Pope’s actions in this and other areas does not square with his fixation on humility. As has been pointed out many times on this blog, true humility does not mean just refusing to wear red shoes and papal vestments and driving in a less fancy car. It also means working within the established structures for the good of the institution you lead. When the Pope decides to do something essentially because he wants to, such as washing the feet of Muslim women on Holy Thursday, or short circuiting the process to select as bishops those who are his personal favorites, he exhibits a certain arrogance that can be off-putting.

5. The Pope knows exactly what he’s doing. He is systematically removing any vestiges of traditional Catholicism from the Vatican. He knows who he wants for these jobs and he’s not going to allow concerns over collegiality to get in his way. And once he’s done installing his men, collegiality will no longer be a concern anyway because everyone will be singing from the same hymnal. Honestly, why would Francis feel the need to consult with men he plans to replace?

After a slow start, Francis has moved at break neck pace since the Scalfari interview. He’s put the Latin Mass brigade on notice with his total annihilation of the FFI. He’s also warned the Benedict loyalists their time is over with his demotions of Piacenza, Bagnasco, and Burke. Worst of all, he’s made it known he intends to drastically alter the direction of the bishops with his appointments of Cardinal Wuerl and soon to be Cardinal Nichols of the Soho gay Mass.

Pope Francis intends real and serious change. He’s hinted at it over and over and his actions demonstrate it. His lack of consultation on appointments is just one example of this. And while many take comfort he’s shown no inclination to change doctrine, that is once Mueller has clarified things for him, he is laying the groundwork to change almost everything else. Just remember, Paul VI changed no doctrine.

6. I have problems understanding the Holy Fathers’ appointment of the gang of eight Cardinals. With the action from Cardinal O’Malley (one of the eight), being anointed by the Methodist Woman minister at a service – it gives me great wonder in what direction the Church is going. It sure puts us orthodox Catholics faith to the test. Who else will the Pope appoint?


X. What the cover of Rolling Stone reveals

Posted on 29 January 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf




Yes, yes… we know that Rolling Stone, which recently featured on its cover the photo of the Boston Marathon terrorist, has now jumped onto the Pope Francis bandwagon.

The real take away from this is that, while Rolling Stone and other liberal outlets go gaga for The Wonderfullest Pope Ehvur (because they think he has abolished the Church’s teaching on homosexuality), other liberals are not so keen. For example, here is the cover of Der Spiegel right now:


Predictably, it’s about sex.

The editor of Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter), Tom Fox, nearly has an embarrassing moment of ecstasy in his commentary on the cover of the Rolling Stone.

Pope Francis continues to take the world by storm. His latest media triumph, a cover story on, yes, the Rolling Stone this week.

“The Times They Are A-Changin’: ?Inside the Pope’s gentle revolution,” is a 7,700-word profile by contributing editor Mark Binelli, who writes, “In less than a year since his papacy began, Pope Francis has done much to separate himself from past popes and establish himself as a people’s pope.”

In the last few months Francis has appeared on the covers of Time (“Person of the Year”), The New Yorker, The Advocate (“The Person of the Year”), and Vanity Fair (Italian issue), among a dozen or more others — to say nothing about Catholic publications such as America and the National Catholic Reporter (Of course). [Such prestigious journals!]

The real climax of the NSR piece comes when Fox quotes the Stoner‘s bashing of Pope Benedict:

After the disastrous papacy of Benedict, a staunch traditionalist who looked like he should be wearing a striped shirt with knife-fingered gloves and menacing teenagers in their nightmares, Francis’ basic mastery of skills like smiling in public seemed a small miracle to the average Catholic.

Smiling in public!  No Pope ever smiled in public before Francis!  Ehvur!

What, however, is the take away from the Rolling Stone thingy?

Yes, yes… we know that Pope Francis is pretty popular with the essentially uncritical MSM and the essentially non-practicing, rank-and-file un-churched Catholic.  Perhaps you have met a few people who say, “Oh, I don’t believe what the Church teaches, but I really like this Pope!”  We will continue to see lots of mainstream praise for Francis.

I am waiting to see whether The Francis Effect™ brings true conversions in its wake.  Time will tell.  I sincerely hope so.

Meanwhile, you won’t see praise for Francis from the feminists.  You won’t see praise for Francis from the LCWR types.

Pope Francis is not about to change the Church’s doctrine and discipline in substantive matters.  He can’t change doctrine, of course.   This has already started to dawn on elements of the ‘c’atholic Left.

He isn’t going to approve of homosexual sex…. ehvur.  He isn’t going to ordain a woman… ehvur.

Eventually the different lefty factions will turn on each other over Francis.  Some on the Left will continue to coo over Pope Fluffy (who – as they imagine – doesn’t demand conversion from their various life-choices).  Others on the Left, will get angrier and angrier that Pope Francis isn’t conforming to their expectations.  They will start demanding that the other, supportive side of the Left, start criticizing the Pope with them.

Francis is dividing the Left.


4 out of 52 responses

1. “Pope Francis is not about to change the Church’s doctrine and discipline in substantive matters.”

He doesn’t have to with so many bishops doing it instead.

2. Papacy of Benedict XVI “disastrous”? Perhaps it was for liberals. It makes me nervous to see the MSM praising Pope Francis so much.

3. Rolling Stone is trash and has been for years, if not ever when it fails to stick to music and is only marginally much better at other mass media entertainments, but politics and religion is outside of any such

I definitely am… puzzled by some of what Holy Father Francis says, though I’m always wary of the context and translation and plain agenda of most of the agencies (mis)reporting his words. I so very much regret beloved Holy Father Benedict XVI couldn’t maintain his papacy. That said, I could see Pope Francis doing some things that Pope Benedict would not. I can’t see Francis ever embracing the Extraordinary Form unfortunately, for example, but I could see him helping the Church realize the true “spirit of Vatican II” and Sacrosanctum Concilium’s emphasis on a Latin Ordinary of the Mass in the Ordinary Form. Possibly down the road some and not right away. On the secular world’s “controversial” issues, he will continue to be a Son of the Church while emphasizing virtues such more than the rebuking of sin. I would much prefer he balance the two while not neglecting either.




4. I never have read the Rolling Stone and I most likely never will read the Rolling Stone. I did scan through this article because it was easily found on line. It was about as far from the mark as any secular article pertaining to the church ever is. I don’t think its take on the church was much worse than I’ve seen other places. I usually tell my parishioners “If you want to know something about the church, please don’t take the secular media as your source.”

With regard to evaluating a papacy, as we have seen it may well take several decades if not more to fully evaluate the effect of any particular papacy. Scholars who are going to fully examine both the current and previous papacies have not even been born yet. So really as I have done before I would suggest if this article is going to be upsetting to a person, she or he should probably just not read it. Why get upset about thing you have no power to change? (I learned that lesson the hard way during my second assignment.)

With respect to the discussion of style vs. substance I don’t think it can be resolved as easily as saying “nothing has really changed,” because as non-substantial as style is, it certainly is something and it is important. McLuhan demonstrated quite successfully that in many ways the medium IS the message.

My take on the article is that the author’s statement that “for the church, style IS substance,” was intended in the McLuhanesque way. We need to remember that outside of our small circle most people don’t read such statements through the sharp lens of Thomistic criticism. –Fr. Jim


XI. Papal spokesman reacts to Rolling Stone article

Posted on 30 January 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf




More on Rolling Stone from Edward Pentin:

Vatican Spokesman Censures ‘Rolling Stone’ Article on Pope

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has strongly criticised an article on Pope Francis that appears in the latest edition of Rolling Stone magazine.

Although he acknowledged that the Holy Father’s appearance on the publication’s front cover shows a diverse interest in the Pope, the Jesuit spokesman denounced the article’s negative portrayal of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s pontificate, saying the piece disqualifies itself as serious journalism. [Who thought of the content of Rolling Stone as “serious journalism”?]

“Unfortunately, the article disqualifies itself, falling into the usual mistake of a superficial journalism, which in order to highlight the positive aspects of Pope Francis, thinks it should describe in a negative way the pontificate of Pope Benedict, and does so with a surprising crudeness,” Fr. Lombardi said in a statement. [Not surprising if you have ever looked at Rolling Stone before.]

In the piece titled “Pope Francis: The Times They Are A-Changin'”, author Mark Binelli calls Benedict’s papacy “disastrous” and goes so far as to attack the former pontiff’s appearance and character. He also describes Benedict’s acclaimed apostolic exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis as “wonky” but without explaining further. [What else would a papal document be?]

“What a pity,” Fr. Lombardi said. “This is not the way to do a good service even to Pope Francis, who knows very well what the Church owes to his predecessor.” [Who thinks that it was Rolling Stone’s intention to “do a good service” to Pope Francis?]

VIDEO 2:54


4 out of 17 responses

1. I suffered through all six or seven pages of the article last night. Besides being highly insulted over the “crudeness” with which they treated Benedict XVI, I was more upset with how they spoke about beliefs central to the Faith, namely the Eucharist: the “wonky” Sacramentum Caritatis on the Eucharist (heaven forbid B16 spend 32,000 words on the Eucharist), as well as (page 5) Cdl. Piacenza’s reassignment to the Penitentiary, where he “adjudicates extremely rare and esoteric sins (e.g., the desecration of Communion wafers)”. Nothing less than insulting.

Certainly, the entire article was not meant to do a “good service” to any of the faithful.



2. Fr. Lombardi has been awfully busy this past year. The Vatican press shop might consider renaming itself the Vatican Clarification Office.

3. Yeah, same old usual Church haters pushing their own personalized agenda on everyone else…this time under the mask of a big cover photo of Pope Francis. But who am I to judge.

It was quite right for Fr Lombardi to make a dignified but strong protest against the abuse of Pope Benedict by this rag for ageing rockers. That kind of insult is beneath personal papal comment.
I’m only sorry that the bit about Pope Francis knowing ‘what the Church owes to his predecessor’ was slipped in only right at the end of Fr Lombardi’s statement, and in that rather understated and surprisingly low-key phrase.
In his daily homilies the Holy Father seems perfectly able to criticize and exhort, so hopefully in a future homily he will deal firmly and eloquently with the harmful way he himself is being systematically used by the modernist liberal media and the world’s demagogues as a stick with which to beat every doctrine and tradition of the Church.


XII. “Who am I to judge?”, thrown in your face? Fr. Z says, “Don’t let them get away with it!”

Posted on 12 February 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Mention the Pope’s interview “on the airplane” and we all know immediately what phrase is going to pop up.  The rafters are still rattling.

Who am I to judge?”

What did the Pope really say? (Italian HERE)

Remember the context: he was asked about a priest, Msgr. Ricca, who was into some nasty stuff while on diplomatic assignment in Uruguay, and his appointment to I.O.R. (“the Vatican Bank”) and about a “gay lobby” of people who work in the Vatican.  Francis wasn’t talking about all homosexuals everywhere.

There’s a lot of talk about the gay lobby, but I’ve never seen it on the Vatican ID card.

When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized. The tendency is not the problem … they’re our brothers.

If they “accept the Lord”, and “have goodwill”… pretty clearly meaning, “if they are trying to live a good Christian life”, which involves continence and chastity, then I can’t point a finger at them and say they are evil, etc.  “Who am I to judge?”, depends on what went before in the same sentence.  It does not mean, “Anyone can do anything and we don’t have a right to make a moral judgement.”

I saw this point addressed another way.  It is good to see this from different angles, because that phrase “Who am I to judge?” is being hijacked by the ignorant and the malicious alike.   When you hear it, red flags should wave in your head.  When Jesus protected the women taken in adultery from being stoned to death (John 8:1-11), he said, “Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more.

From Catholic Insight:

A lesbian couple in Missouri was denied Holy Communion at one of the women’s mother’s funeral when it came to light that the two were in a same-sex relationship. [I wrote about that HERE] The two women had been parishioners at St. Columban Catholic Church for twelve years. Ms. Parker, one of the women, was quoted as saying that she hoped the priest, Fr. Kneib, would “open his eyes and fully receive the LGBT community into the church.” She further added: “We’re all God’s children and we have every right to receive Communion. … Even the Pope has said, ‘Who am I to judge?'”[There it is.]

If Ms. Carol Parker, and presumably her same-sex partner Ms. Josephine Martin, had thoroughly read what Pope Francis said in the famous interview on the plane home from Rio, she would have realized that he wasn’t condoning her disordered relationship with another woman[Nor did Jesus, in saving the adulterous woman, condone the adultery.] While he wasn’t about to hand down a final judgement on the person, the sin is still a sin. But I suppose she, along with many other people, conveniently ignored that part.

Increasingly, “who am I to judge” and its partner “don’t judge me” have become an over-used defence that validates every sort of behaviour and excuses us from being accountable to moral truths. Too many people wrongly believe that by judging the sinful behaviour, we are judging the person. This isn’t true, of course, and when we are called to charitably speak out against the sin, we are really showing love of our neighbour and a concern for their soul. [Who thinks it is truly charitable to ignore sin?]

The truth is, we all have a moral conscience that enables us to make right judgements. Our conscience “judges particular choices, approving those that are good and denouncing those that are evil. It bears witness to the authority of truth in reference to the supreme Good to which the human person is drawn, and it welcomes the commandments” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1777).

Our moral conscience has been placed in our innermost being by God. Unfortunately, in a world that is loudly booming with distractions it is easy for us to avoid looking within ourselves and therefore we don’t hear the voice of our conscience. It becomes easier to fall under the influence of a secular culture that denies Christ. We need to follow the advice of St. Augustine who tells us to “return to your conscience, question it … Turn inward, brethren, and in everything you do, see God as your witness.”

Who, then, are we to judge? Well, actually, our moral conscience tells us that we have to judge—but we never judge the person. We do however have to judge the act in light of God’s laws to determine whether or not it is sinful.

The last word on this subject belongs to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: [Remember this?  From his Way of the Cross in 2005 for Good Friday just before his election.]




How many winds of doctrine we have known in recent decades, how many ideological currents, how many ways of thinking. The small boat of thought of many Christians has often been tossed about by these waves—thrown from one extreme to the other: from Marxism to liberalism, even to libertinism; from collectivism to radical individualism; from atheism to a vague religious mysticism; from agnosticism to syncretism, and so forth. Every day new sects are created and what Saint Paul says about human trickery comes true, with cunning which tries to draw those into error (c. f Ephesians 4, 14). Having a clear Faith, based on the Creed of the Church, is often labeled today as a fundamentalism. Whereas, relativism, which is letting oneself be tossed and “swept along by every wind of teaching,” looks like the only attitude acceptable to today’s standards[“Who am I to judge?” improperly understood.] We are moving towards a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires. However, we have a different goal: the Son of God, true man. He is the measure of true humanism. Being an “Adult” means having a faith which does not follow the waves of today’s fashions or the latest novelties. A faith which is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ is adult and mature. It is this friendship which opens us up to all that is good and gives us the knowledge to judge true from false, and deceit from truth.


This is one way to parse Pope Francis’ off-the-cuff, non-magisterial, remark made during an interview on an airplane.

If you hear the phrase “Who am I to judge?” and Pope Francis being hijacked in a sly attempt to condone immoral behavior, you must challenge that usage.

Don’t be a self-absorbed promethean neopelagian!  Love the sinner but don’t accept the sin.

Don’t let them get away with it.  Don’t accept their premise.


4 out of 27 responses

1. Too often, I fear, calling a spade a spade gets confused with “judging”. It’s strange that we never hear that someone was judged when they were praised for doing something good.

I think many of us have always understood and appreciated the context in which the pope spoke those infamous words. His comment must be one of the most misinterpreted ever and seems bound to outlive him. But as to clarifying it, only he can effectively do that. The rest of us can just argue.

While I see no inclination on his part to supply clarity, at least he seems to have tempered his tendency toward verbal recklessness lately, or at least let’s hope so.

This remark should never have been made. It is an indication of the Pope’s lack of experience at that time in dealing with the Press. Sadly, it will be quoted back at us by enemies of the Church a hundred years from now.

The answer to his question, “who am I to Judge?”, is, you are the Pope, the Keeper of the Keys, the Truth, and also you are a priest, and are required in the Sacrament of Confession, acting “in persona Christi”, to judge the confession of the sinner, and on the basis of that judgement, to grant or withhold absolution..

Cardinal Oswald Gracias of Mumbai
, the leader of Indian Catholicism and one of Pope Francis’ top advisers, last month came out strongly against a decision by the nation’s high court to reinstate a ban on gay sex, which includes penalties of 10 years to life in prison.

“The Catholic Church does not want homosexuals to be treated as criminals,” Gracias said, and cited the pope’s words when asked about his approach to gay people. “The church stand is, ‘Who am I to judge them?’ as the Holy Father has said.” HERE:

Another perversion of the words of Pope Francis; the Cardinal would have been doing his job if he had added that homosexual acts are morally wrong and sinful. See reader response no. 9 of XVII on page 23. -Michael

Please read



XIII. Upcoming Synod, marriage confusion and ‘Casti connubii’

Posted on 14 February 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

From a professorial reader concerned about the Church’s teaching on marriage, divorce, and the reception of Communion by the “remarried” come a helpful contribution.  He describes it (slightly edited):

I have to admit that I am concerned about the upcoming Synod, not because I think the Holy Spirit will allow the Church to teach error, but principally because [there is a great deal of] chattering, misunderstanding, and false opining as possible beforehand, creating a situation just like that which reigned before Humanae Vitae, when the “majority opinion” was in favor of contraception but the Pope disappointed everyone by re-affirming the traditional teaching.

If all of this hullabaloo is just a prelude to reaffirming the teaching, why bother to cause so much agitation, false hopes, and national schismatic behavior among Germans and Swiss, etc.?

Anyway, I believe it is time to spread, far and wide, authoritative statements of the Church’s unchanging teaching about the indissolubility of marriage. We may take it for granted, but it seems as if vast numbers of people have never even heard the teaching spelled out.



To that end, I gathered some especially clear and strong passages from Pius XI’s great encyclical Casti Connubii and hope that you might consider posting them in some fashion.

He put together a little document of helpful quotes, HERE.

A teaser:

34. And this inviolable stability, although not in the same perfect measure in every case, belongs to every true marriage, for the word of the Lord: “What God hath joined together let no man put asunder,” must of necessity include all true marriages without exception, since it was spoken of the marriage of our first parents, the prototype of every future marriage. Therefore although before Christ the sublimeness and the severity of the primeval law was so tempered that Moses permitted to the chosen people of God on account of the hardness of their hearts that a bill of divorce might be given in certain circumstances, nevertheless, Christ, by virtue of His supreme legislative power, revoked this concession of greater liberty and restored the primeval law in its integrity by those words which must never be forgotten, “What God hath joined together let no man put asunder.” Wherefore, Our predecessor Pius VI of happy memory, writing to the Bishop of Agria, most wisely said: “Hence it is clear that marriage even in the state of nature, and certainly long before it was raised to the dignity of a sacrament, was divinely instituted in such a way that it should carry with it a perpetual and indissoluble bond which cannot therefore be dissolved by any civil law.… And so, whatever marriage is said to be contracted, either it is so contracted that it is really a true marriage, in which case it carries with it that enduring bond which by divine right is inherent in every true marriage; or it is thought to be contracted without that perpetual bond, and in that case there is no marriage, but an illicit union opposed of its very nature to the divine law, which therefore cannot be entered into or maintained.”[1]

35. And if this stability seems to be open to exception, however rare the exception may be, as in the case of certain natural marriages between unbelievers, or amongst Christians in the case of those marriages which though valid have not been consummated, that exception does not depend on the will of men nor on that of any merely human power, but on divine law, of which the only guardian and interpreter is the Church of Christ. However, not even this power can ever affect for any cause whatsoever a Christian marriage which is valid and has been consummated, for as it is plain that here the marriage contract has its full completion, so, by the will of God, there is also the greatest firmness and indissolubility which may not be destroyed by any human authority.

Now that’s a Pope who knows how to Pope.  Crisp.  Clear.


2 out of 26 responses

1. What exactly are they going to be discussing anyway in this synod? Isn’t the teaching of the Church enough? What else is there to discuss/explore/debate?

2. We left the Episcopal Church after “dialog” led to the overturning of primary dogmas — including that there is dogma. “Dialog” means we will talk and talk and push and push until you give in. Nothing less. Be ye ware!

And no, we didn’t convert to Catholicism because it is safe — we know better.


XIV. Card. Burke explains what Pope Francis is up to.

Posted on 24 February 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

In English for L’Osservatore Romano (the Vatican’s “daily”), Raymond Card. Burke writes of The Francis Effect:

American Cardinal on the message of this Pontificate – The Pope’s radical call to the new evangelization

During a recent visit to the United States, I was repeatedly impressed by how deeply Pope Francis has penetrated the national conversation on a whole range of issues. His special gift of expressing direct care for each and all has resonated strongly with many in my homeland.

At the same time, I noted a certain questioning about whether Pope Francis has altered or is about to alter the Church’s teaching on a number of the critical moral issues of our time, [I get a lot of this. A stewardess on a flight the other day gave me that song and dance] for example, the teaching on the inviolable dignity of innocent human life, and the integrity of marriage and the family. Those who questioned me in the matter were surprised to learn that the Holy Father has in fact affirmed the unchanging and unchangeable truths of the Church’s teaching on these very questions. They had developed a quite different impression as a result of the popular presentation [read: mainstream media] of Pope Francis and his views.

Clearly, the words and actions of the Holy Father require, on our part, a fitting tool of interpretation, [read: hermeneutic] if we are to understand correctly what he intends to teach. My friend and colleague at the Dignitatis Humanae Institute, Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, put it this way in a recent article in this newspaper: “The Holy Father instructs with his words, but effectively teaches through his actions. This is his uniqueness and his magnetism” (L’Osservatore Romano, English edition, [ore] 13 December 2013, p. 7) In other words, Pope Francis is exercising strongly his gift for drawing near to all people of good will. It is said that when he manifests his care for a single person, as he does so generously whenever the occasion presents itself, all understand that he has the same care for each of them.



With regard to his manner of addressing the critical issues, the Holy Father himself has described his approach, when he stated: “We cannot insist only [get that?] on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods…. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the Church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the Church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time” (“The Pope’s Interview” [TBI™] ore, 25 September 2013, p. 14). In other words, the Holy Father wants, first, to convey his love of all people so that his teaching on the critical moral questions may be received in that context[When Francis uttered the infamous “Who am I to judge?” it was in a context. HERE] But his approach cannot change the duty of the Church and her shepherds to teach clearly and insistently about the most fundamental moral questions of our time. I think, for instance, of the Holy Father’s words to the participants in the second annual March for Life in Rome on 12 May of last year, or of his Twitter message to the participants in the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on 22 January.


In a similar way, Pope Francis has reaffirmed the Church’s perennial teaching on the indissolubility of marriage[get that?] as well as the practical importance of the Church’s canonical discipline in seeking the truth regarding the claim of the nullity of a marriage. I think in particular of his words to the Plenary Assembly of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura: “It is always necessary to keep in mind the effective connection between the action of the Church which evangelizes and the action of the Church which administers justice. The service of justice is an undertaking of the apostolic life…. I encourage all of you to persevere in the pursuit of a clear and upright exercise of justice in the Church, in response to the legitimate desires that the faithful address to their Pastors, especially when they trustingly request that their own status be authoritatively clarified” (ore, 15 November 2013, p. 8).

[So, Your Eminence, what is Francis doing?] Pope Francis has clearly reaffirmed the Church’s moral teaching, in accord with her unbroken tradition. What, then, does he want us to understand about his pastoral approach in general? It seems to me that he first wishes to have people set aside every obstacle which they imagine to prevent them from responding with faith. He wants, above all, that they see Christ and receive His personal invitation to be one with Him in the Church.

The Holy Father, it seems to me, wishes to pare back every conceivable obstacle people may have invented to prevent themselves from responding to Jesus Christ’s universal call to holiness. We all know individuals who say things like: “Oh, I stopped going to Church because of the Church’s teaching on divorce”, or “I could never be Catholic because of the Church’s teaching on abortion or on homosexuality”. The Holy Father is asking them to put aside these obstacles and to welcome Christ, without any excuse, into their lives. Once they come to understand the immeasurable love of Christ, alive for us in the Church, they will be able to resolve whatever has been troubling them about the Church, His Mystical Body, and her teaching.



Read the rest of Card. Burke’s explanation over there.

Fr. Z kudos to Card Burke, who has also engaged in talking people down of the ledge.


2 out of 21 responses

1. Excellent piece by Cardinal Burke. I hope and pray Pope Francis allows him to carry on his work in the Curia. He is only one of two who has not been given the nod by Pope Francis to stay in his current position. He is still a young, and I hope for such a man to become the future Pope maybe taking the name Athanasius.

Many have accused him of leading a campaign against Pope Francis, but this is smeared in the lies and backstabbing found within the Vatican. He is a loyal servant of the Church.

I also welcomed the exciting news that Cardinal Pell is going to run a department. Some reports said his role would be equal to the secretary of the state.

I think the fact that the good Cardinal Burke believes he needs to assure everyone that the Bishop of Rome has not changed Church teaching speaks for itself.


XV. The Francis Effect™: Results Vary

Posted on 6 March 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Along the way when writing about The Francis Effect™ (mostly a rather shallow, “I don’t agree with the Church about a bunch o’ stuff, but I like this new Pope!”, though sometimes a genuine revitalization of Gospel values), I have opined something along the lines of: We shall see.  We shall see if this makes any difference in how people live, whether they change their lives in any way.

It is one thing to say “He’s the most wonderfullest, fluffiest Pope ehvur!  He’s the first Pope who has ever smiled or kissed a baby!” and quite another to say, “Because of his inspiring model I’ll give up using contraception, get my marriage straightened out, and go to confession.”





Pew Research has results of polling about The Francis Effect™ now.

No clear ‘Pope Francis effect’ among U.S. Catholics

There are all sorts of numbers that show that Francis is popular, that he has a high favorable rating.


But has the pope’s popularity produced a Catholic resurgence in the U.S., where 10% of adults are former Catholics? Not so far, at least in terms of the share of Americans who identify as such, or the share of those who report attending Mass weekly. [It hasn’t been even a year since his election.]

A new analysis of pooled Pew Research surveys conducted between Francis’ election in March and the end of October this year finds that the percentage of Americans who identify as Catholics has remained the same – 22% — as it was during the corresponding seven-month period in 2012. In fact, our polls going back to 2007 show Catholic identification in the U.S. has held stable, fluctuating only between 22% and 23%.

Though Americans may report attending church more frequently than they actually do, our surveys find that self-reported levels of Mass attendance have remained virtually unchanged since the new pope was elected. Since April of this year, 39% of U.S. Catholics report attending Mass at least weekly, similar to the 40% attendance figure last year.



Another Effect might be, however, the use by catholic politicians of off-the-cuff phrases uttered by Pope Francis to justify immoral acts (cf. Illinois and Kentucky).  But people who do that sort of thing are either wicked or dumb or both.  If they didn’t use Francis as a body-shield, they’d find some other way to justify their scandalous actions.



I read here, always in the same study, that there is little or no change in the numbers of people going to confession because of TFE™.


The new survey also finds no evidence that large numbers of Catholics are volunteering more or going to confession more often than in the past. Roughly one-in-eight U.S. Catholics (13%) say they have been volunteering more in their church or community over the past year, but 23% say they have been doing this less often, and 59% say their level of volunteering has not changed. Just one-in-twenty Catholics (5%) say they have been going to confession (also known as the sacrament of penance and reconciliation) more often over the last 12 months, while 22% say they have been going to confession less often, and 65% say their frequency of confession has not changed very much. [That 87% who are not doing so well with this.]


Time will tell.


6 out of 46 responses

The pope has made a crop of disturbing statements in the past year. While this may, in some ways, endear him to general public opinion, there is no reason to think that it will inculcate a greater sense of Catholic identity among Catholics.



2. Pope Francis is the first Latin American Pope so he has become the left’s default John XXIV fantasy.

Today they shout “Hosanna!” for him tomorrow when he doesn’t give them women priests and gay marriage it will be “Give us Barabbas!” [Yes, that’s what I predict will eventually happen. They will turn on Francis. In fact, I think it has started.]

On the “Who am I to judge?” gay thing Pope Benedict once said a Male Prostitute who starts to use Condoms to prevent the spread of Aids is showing the beginning of a moral conscious and concern for others. [Too true. Lest we forget.]

Naturally he wasn’t condoning or authorizing birth control, homosexuality or prostitution. If Francis had said it then the left would proclaim it an Ex Cathedra decree allowing these things.

But Benedict has been labelled a “Conservative” so they don’t make that leap.

It’s that simple.

3. In all honesty, this papacy has made my life as Catholic more difficult. I do not say the Pope himself. He seems to be a kind and generous man. However, his comments are more easily taken out of context than the two previous popes. Several catholic family members now think that the Church is reconsidering its’ doctrine. A family member used the phrase “the current stance of the Catholic Church”, as if belief was like swings in political thought. I usually attend the EF, and while there’s not a lot of love for things traditional coming from the Pope right now, that’s not the most difficult aspect of this papacy. It’s the constant fodder for family arguments that stems from some of these off-the-cuff papal statements that is most trying. I have never seen Catholics more at each others’ throats than the first year of Pope Francis’ election. Perhaps that’s just my little corner of the world, but it is all of the forest I can see right now.

The “Francis Effect” has allowed the Bishops to stick their heads out from their bunkers and not be hit my media mortar fire. The majority of bishops are happy about that. The actual effects on evangelization (new or otherwise) have been negligible. Rank and file Catholics (of the authentic variety) are dazed and confused.

5. They are in love with the Francis that they want him to be. Kind of like the movie “Brother Sun, Sister Moon.” That is not the real Francis of Assisi, nor is the Pope Francis of our secular media. The honeymoon will fade, and it won’t be pretty! We need to pray for our Holy Father daily that God will sustain him in the battle!

6. And there’s the ugly truth. Catholics and non-Catholics alike may love what Francis says but they aren’t being moved to accept the hard teachings of a Church and a God who loves them so much. We already have an example by looking at the smouldering pile of rubble that used to be the Episcopal Church. After the ordination of a homosexual bishop, many predicted a massive influx of new membership as the ECUSA was on the so-called right side of history. Well, as Chris Johnson says, that massive influx is either stuck in traffic or coming to church disguised as empty pews.


XVI. Will reaffirmation of teaching on divorce and Communion be ignored?

Posted on 14 March 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

At his fine canon law blog, canonist Ed Peters, sober, offers a rather scary view of a scary trend.  He has no combox over there.


Why the gathering storm over divorce might be worse than was that over contraception

Interesting parallels are being suggested between, on the one hand, Paul VI’s dithering over contraception in the 1960s (which, though reversed by his reassertion of Church teaching in Humanae vitae, contributed to widespread repudiation of that teaching by Catholics), and Francis’ recent mixed signals (or what are widely perceived as mixed signals) over the future of Church teaching against divorce-and-remarriage and the reception of holy Communion. Notwithstanding some important differences between the two men and situations, I write to suggest that the stakes for all might actually be higher this time around.

Consider two points:

First, Church teaching against contraception had to be teased out over the centuries from natural law theory and what we call now ‘theology of the body’. It rests today largely on conclusions of logic, philosophy, and theology. Church teaching against divorce-and-remarriage, in contrast, is expressly proclaimed in the New Testament and any literate Catholic can read Jesus’ strong words about it in the Bible. This teaching was heatedly and repeatedly defended by the Church Fathers, was reiterated consistently in numerous Councils, and has been expounded by all major theologians.

Second, short of personal admission, there is no way to tell whether this Catholic couple or that is practicing contraception, and so there are virtually no ecclesiastical consequences possible in the external forum for disregard of Church teaching by pew Catholics. Indeed, with exceptions too rare to mention, there weren’t even official consequences for high-profile Catholics defending contraception in the ’60s. But cohabitation and post-divorce ‘marriage’, in contrast, are public acts falling squarely with the parameters of well-established (if inconsistently applied) public consequences (withholding of Communion being the best known). Millions of Catholics abide by this consequence. The millions of others who do not abide by it pretty much know they do not.

What does this mean?

It means, I suggest, that the complexity of the arguments underlying Church teaching on contraception allowed for the ecclesial equivalent of “plausible deniability” in regard to acceptance of that teaching by rank-and-file faithful, and the nature of the contraceptive act virtually excluded public enforcement measures. 




[NB:] But Church teaching against divorce-and-remarriage is utterly obvious to any but the deliberately blind and the appropriateness of public consequences for public violation of that teaching has been unanimously upheld, and usually observed, for two millennia. Those factors combine to imply, I think, higher stakes in the divorce debate today than those confronting the Church over contraception a generation ago. [Couple all that with today’s increasing antinomian spirit and plummeting ability to think clearly.]

Now I think Church teaching against divorce-and-remarriage will, in the end, be squarely upheld in principle. My concern is different: what if Church teaching is duly upheld but, as happened after Humanae vitae, that teaching is allowed to twist slowly in the wind? For ecclesiastical officialdom to look the other way on contraception was, in a sense, possible; [Because of its more hidden, private nature.] but for it to do so in regard to divorce, remarriage, and the reception of holy Communion would be immediately recognized as the practical abandonment of a major doctrino-disciplinary point.


4 out of 45 responses

1. Dr. Peters hits the nail on the head. As it is, gay marriage’s popularity already has much of the Catholic world mired in deep dissent and rebellion over this sacrament. For the bishops to even entertain a perceived call to retreat on the doctrine of indissolubility would certainly take catechesis on marriage into the tank, to drown it in the final blow of irrelevance for many.

2. It’s all part of the great apostasy as forewarned by Our Lady. And as Benedict XVI wrote, there will remain only a small flock of faithful. Will there be anyone left when the Lord Comes again? (Lk 18:8) It seems we are living in the fulfillment of St. Timothy’s prophecy in 2 Tim. 31-5. More of a reason to make a frequent confession.

3. The Instrumentum Laboris document for the Synod will come out around Easter, should we expect some kind of “update” from this document?

The Jesuit style of discernment, which Bergoglio has always used, is to have lots of “dialog” or “discussion” hearing all points of view, then decide. So I don’t think the fact that he has been vague and coy about this is necessarily a sign that he wants to change the teaching, since this is the style of discernment he would use regardless.

On a positive note:
“Noted Vatican observer Sandro Magister wrote March 11 on his blog Settimo Cielo that the cardinal’s speech generated “a very animated discussion, with numerous cardinals of the first order intervening against the thesis presented by Kasper.”

4. Dr Peters is still posting on this issue I agree with him that “The present Eucharistic discipline demands, as a matter of personal integrity and public honesty, observance by faithful and hierarchy alike, and the Synod must grapple with its pastoral ramifications.” However, the present discipline includes granting Holy Communion to remarried spouses in “a situation of public and permanent adultery” (CCC 2384) if the couple “have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.” (CCC1650).
What Dr Peters does not seem to consider is the possibility of CHANGING the discipline to fully account for the teaching in CCC 1650, which is worded so broadly as to include the possibility of individuals who are committed to living in complete continence receiving Holy Communion even before they have convinced their partner in what had been an adulterous union to make the same commitment.
At the moment, it can be argued that the present discipline denies Holy Communion to the partner committed to continence and to converting his or her partner to repent of adultery while continuing together as “brother and sister” for the sake of the education of their children. There remains the issue of scandal, but if the faithful are scandalised, they need to be catechised (i.e. have CCC1650 explained to them). Peters does not help simplify the discussion by leaving out this catechesis.


XVII. Pope Francis AGAIN: “Who am I to judge?”

Posted on 18 March 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The Pope used again, on 17 March, the phrase “Who am I to judge?” in an informal, off-the-cuff context: his daily fervorino at his private Mass during which he says nothing that forms a part of his Ordinary Magisterium.

At we find an account of the fervorino.  Alas, we never get the whole thing.  The Holy See newsies cut it up and make a hash of it, so our ability to consider context is somewhat hobbled.

Remember that the first time he used this unfortunate turn of phrase in front of journalists in an off-the-cuff way during an informal chat, all hell broke loose.  Hell was loosened, and is still being loosened, as a predictable result because most newsies and 99.9% of the low-information type out there have no notion of what the Pope was talking about.  I explain the situation more HERE.  Francis wasn’t talking about all homosexuals everywhere, which is want the newsies and the 99% want you to think.  The under-informed from politicians to students have claimed the phrase to mean: “Homosexuality is okay!”

That is not what the Pope was saying.

Remember: He referred to our making judgments about people who sin.  That is to say, people commit sin X, and it is a sin.  We, however, must be careful about how we view them, talk about them, etc.  They may have sinned, but they may be trying now to live in a holy way.  We should be ready to be merciful.

Let’s jump to the recent fervorino.  My emphases and comments.




In his homily at Holy Mass on Monday, 17 March, Pope Francis preached on mercy. Commenting on the day’s readings from the Prophet Daniel (9:4-10) and the Gospel of Luke (6:36-38), the Pope explained that “Jesus’ invitation to mercy is intended to draw us into a deeper imitation of God our Father: be merciful, as your Father is merciful”. However, he added that “it is not easy to understand this willingness to show mercy, because we are accustomed to presenting the bill to others: you’ve done this, now you have to do this”. In short, he said, “we judge, and we fail … to leave space for understanding and mercy”.  [NB: Mercy is what we give to people who have done something wrong.]

In order to be merciful, “two attitudes are needed”. The first is “self-knowledge”. The Pope noted that in today’s first reading, Daniel recounts the humble prayer of the people before the God and their acknowledgement that they are sinners: “We have sinned and done wrong, but to thee belongs righteousness, and to us shame”. Reflecting on the passage, the Pope said: “In the presence of a repentant people, God’s justice is transformed into mercy and forgiveness”. [Again: mercy is what the sinner asks.  We are sinners.  We ask God’s mercy.  We are asked to show mercy to sinners.]

This challenges us, he continued, by inviting us “to make room for this same inner attitude”. Therefore, “to become merciful, we must first acknowledge that we have done many things wrong: we are sinners! We need to know how to say: Lord, I am ashamed of what I have done in life”.  [All people should be ashamed of sins.  Homosexuals are people.  Homosexuals should be ashamed of sins. Homosexual acts are sins.  Homosexuals should be ashamed of homosexual acts.  We should all be merciful toward the sinner, just as we desire mercy from God and others.]

The Pope continued: “even though none of us has ever killed anyone,” nonetheless “we still have committed many daily sins”. [We are all sinners.] Therefore, “acknowledging that we have sinned against the Lord, and being ashamed in his presence is a grace: the grace of knowing that one is a sinner!” It is easy, he said, and yet “so very difficult” to say: “I am a sinner and I ashamed of it before you and I ask for your forgiveness”.  [This should be the attitude of those who commit sins.]

“Our Father Adam gave us an example of what one should not do,” the Pope added. For he blamed the woman for having eaten the fruit and he justified himself, saying: “I have not sinned; it is she who made me go down this road!” Eve then does the same thing, blaming the serpent. Yet one should acknowledge one’s sin and one’s need to for God’s forgiveness, the Pope said, and not look for excuses and “load the blame onto others”. Perhaps “someone helped me” to sin, “and opened the road: but I did it!”. [Take responsibility for your sins.]

“If we act in this way,” he explained, “how many good things will follow: we will truly be men!” [!] Furthermore, “with this attitude of repentance we will be more capable of being merciful, because we will feel God’s mercy for us”. In the Our Father, in fact, we do not only pray: “forgive us our trespasses”. We also pray “forgive us as we forgive those who trespass against us”.  [Nothing in here so far about turning a blind eye to sin.  Nothing in here so far about saying that something sinful is really okay.]

The second attitude we need is “an openness to expanding our hearts”. The Pope noted that it is precisely “shame and repentance that expands a small, selfish heart, since they give space to God to forgive us”. [Not only shame about sins but also repentance.] What does it mean to open and expand one’s heart? First, it means acknowledging ourselves to be sinners and not looking to what others have done. And from here, the Pope said, the basic question becomes: “Who am I to judge this? Who am I to gossip about this? Who I am, who have done the same things, or worse?” [The Holy Father is not suggesting that we turn a blind eye to sin.  He is saying that we should be careful how we treat people who are sinners.  He also is not saying that all people commit all sins.  He is not saying that all sins are equal in gravity.  He made a distinction at the top, for example.  We understand ourselves as sinners and, therefore, we treat other sinners with mercy.  It is NOT mercy to say that a sin is not sinful.]

“The Lord says it in the Gospel: “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not and you will not be condemned; forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap”. This is the “generosity of heart” that the Lord presents through “the image of those going to collect grain who enlarged their aprons in order to received more”. In fact, Pope Francis said, “you can receive far more if you have a big heart!” And he added: “a big heart doesn’t get entangled in other people’s lives, it doesn’t condemn but forgives and forgets” as “God has forgiven and forgotten my sins”. [I suggest to you that the Pope is not saying that sins should have no consequences. “You did X, but, that’s okay.  All is forgiven.  Sure you can be a kindergarten teacher.” Obviously the Pope is not saying this about, for example, priests who abuse children.  We can forgive, indeed, must forgive priests who do these horrible things. But mercy and forgiveness doesn’t require us to be completely stupid.  We don’t forgive the child abuser and then readmit him to ministry in, for example, a parish with a grade school. That is not what Francis means by “forgive and forget”. When God forgives our sins in the Sacrament of Penance, our sins are forgiven, but we still have to make reparation for our forgiven sins.]


He then noted that in order to be merciful we need to call upon the Lord’s help, since “it is a grace”. And we also need to “recognize our sins and be ashamed of them” and forgive and forget the offences of others[They remain, however, “offenses”.] “Men and women who are merciful have big, big hearts: they always excuse others and think more of their own sins. Were someone to say to them: ‘but do you see what so and so did?’, the respond in mercy saying: ‘but I have enough to be concerned over with all I have done'”. [Again, Pope Francis is not saying that the obviously guilty mass murder is simply to be set free with the cheerful phrase, “Hey!  I’m a sinner too.  Kill a bunch of people? forgotten.  Most of us – think about it – most of need to foster a habit of forgiveness.  He is not asking us to become idiots.]

Pope Francis concluded: “If all of us, all peoples, all families, all quarters had this attitude, how much peace there would be in the world, how much peace there would be in our hearts, for mercy brings us peace! [Sure… if all of us were that way. All. But there will be some who are unrepentant sinners that create havoc in society.] Let us always remember: who am I to judge? To be ashamed of oneself and to open and expand one’s heart, may the Lord give us this grace!” [Again… “Who am I to judge?” is not permission for people to do anything they want. It is not approbation of sinful behavior. The Pope is applying an attitude of mercy to SIN.]


So, here we go again.

And remember: None of this was part of the Holy Father’s Ordinary Magisterium.  This was an informal, off-the-cuff fervorino at his private Mass.

VIDEO 1:01


10 out of 27 responses

1. *sigh* As Daffy Duck would say just as Bugs pulls another one over him, “Not again!”

Father Z, as always I appreciate your comments in red and brackets. I just wish the rest of the Catholic world had gotten the same clarification of comments, from the ruling Pontiff. I love the Holy Father, but this is, again another moment where he has handed the enemies of the Church and the misguided progressive (c)atholics another bludgeon. Words escape me.

… Better yet a prayer to Blessed Fulton Sheen that the Holy Father refrains from off the cuff comments. *sigh*

2. This isn’t going to be good.

3. In this case, the Holy Father is speaking in the context of his homily after reading the Gospel of Luke where Christ says “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Stop judging and you will not be judged.” At some point he has to preach the Gospel.

I understand what the Holy Father is saying. And I usually do understand what he’s getting at when I read the full context (or in this case as much context as we can get) of his statements. I just really wish he could be a bit more clear and phrase things in a way that are less likely to be misconstrued in the manner that something like, “Who am I to judge?” has been. I realize that people who are looking to affirm themselves in their sin are going to find a way to do it regardless. I just wish their ammo wasn’t coming from the mouth of the Successor of Peter.

5. Remember Benedict at Regensburg? That attack on his words was completely made up, and the reactions driven top down. But Pope Benedict did not sit on his high horse in disdain. He immediately said that he “sincerely regrets that certain passages of his address could have sounded offensive to the sensitivities of the Muslim”.

Rather than all this dancing around “Who am I to judge?” and retrospective hermeneutics, why does Francis not just come out and admit his error {Greek: hamartia}:

“Look. I was speaking to some reporters last year and accidentally used some words “Who am I to judge?” in an inappropriate context. The reaction soon reminded me that those words have an established skeptical meaning [see citations below] which is the opposite of Faith. I did not intend that meaning. I take it back. It was a mistake to use that particular phrase. Please forgive me for any confusion my insufficiently careful speech may have caused. Christ does call us to compassion and forgiveness; but he also calls us to purity and holiness.”

If he would just say “Oops!” he would regain all the respect he lost in that moment and continues to lose in such subterfuges as this contrived cover-up speech.

Hats off to you Father Z for your loyal efforts. But, to me, all this looks like embarrassing stubbornness.

Someone will say, “Who am I to judge?” … Therefore I cannot judge or evaluate whether or not a plan of action or any behavior is right or wrong. [Tom Shepherd, Adventist Theol. 1999]
Hey, maybe she’s into that sort of thing. Who am I to judge? [Tales of Graces, video game, 2009]

We then use the “who am I to judge” language so that we can rationalize our own sins. We move from “who am I to judge?” to “who are you to judge?” This attitude will not help us and others grow into the image of Jesus. [Soulgardeners 2009]

Don’t judge has become America’s favorite Bible verse. It’s short, memorable, and gets the job done. … “Middle class Americans have an almost pathological fear of appearing judgmental, so they have added an 11th commandment. Thou shall not judge. [Wolfe]” [James, Sermons 2013 June 23 {Pope’s slip weeks later on July 28}]

6. There are phrases, particularly this phrase, that are trouble in or out of context. It was sloppy for the Pope to use this phrase, particularly after the dust up over the interview on the plane. It is also sloppy in context regarding the gospel, because Christ certainly didn’t say “Who am I to judge?” This phrase has and is used by so many dissidents either to justify their otherwise sinful actions OR by those who are in leadership to ignore the sinful actions, rather that addressing them and expecting the sinner to own them and to repent (e.g. “Woman, go, and sin no more”).

Considering he is the Pope, and not just some parish priest that the world doesn’t follow every word, may be Pope Francis should refrain from making off the cuff remarks or at least homilies for a time, or a least think through what he is going to say before he says it, so that there is much needed clarity.



One would think, judging from the kuhbillion times it seems like I have heard some variation on the judging theme, that this is the worst sin known to mankind. All the other lousy sins are second to this one. Back in the day, people had more interest, ability, and access to authentic teaching, but they don’t anymore. It has become even more important to for Bishops and priests, most certainly our Holy Father, to be direct, concise, and, heaven help us, frank. But let’s face it, what some of us are waiting to hear, is likely not coming.

8. The trouble is that this shouldn’t be a controversial teaching. It’s straight from Matthew 7:

1Judge not, that ye may not be judged; 2for with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you. 3But why lookest thou on the mote that is in the eye of thy brother, but observest not the beam that is in thine eye? 4Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Allow [me], I will cast out the mote from thine eye; and behold, the beam is in thine eye? 5Hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine eye, and then thou wilt see clearly to cast out the mote out of the eye of thy brother.

It is directly related to the Novus Ordo Gospel reading for the 17th, so it is a very valid subject.

Only the historical twisting of Francis’ words makes this extensive fisking necessary. While I wish you didn’t have to waste your time or bandwidth to do so, Father, I appreciate you doing so.

How much more effective would the Holy Father’s words have been if he finished it up by saying something like: “acknowledgement of our own sins is paramount. It is important in this day and age to convict ourselves before God. Take this opportunity to place yourself before God’s mercy. Harden not your heart, and GO TO CONFESSION.”? This sin that is most prevalent right now in this world is a total lack of responsibility and accountability. Most if not all of the major sin committed in this world stems from freedom without the expectation of consequence. Mercy and accountability are coequals. The only time Jesus forgave without accountability was when he forgave those who placed Him on the cross, and this was only because many of them had no concept of what they had actually done (nailed the innocent Son of God to the cross).

I have no control over what the Pope says during interviews, but the “who am I to judge” statement would have been better left alone. Its unfortunate misinterpretation has been used by lawmakers in the United States to justify laws on redefining marriage. I am sad to see it has been recycled. I can hear the words coming out of people’s mouths now, “You are judging! …You are judging!”

That’s a lot of red, Father. I think we should make the “Fr. Z Red-o-meter.” The more red we see from you, the more problematic the topic is.

As for this being the trial balloons to walk down the path of the remarried adulterer being admitted to Communion, we have a logical and moral impossibility. Admitting a class of unrepentant sinners to Communion destroys the Church.

1. It sanctions sacrilege. As horrible as individual acts of sacrilege are, this would openly sanction it.
2. It says to all grave sinners that they are subject to a double standard. If you are an adulterer in a second marriage, your sin is seen with “mercy.” Otherwise, are subject to the Confessional as has always been. What will the next sin to fall by the wayside in needing forgiveness?
3. Scripture is debased, since the Church has said what is in Scripture no longer applies in the way it always has. This makes all moral laws put forth in Scripture, and its inerrancy, questionable.
4. God’s will is rejected, or He is made a liar, since the prohibition of Christ is now made non-binding, and the Truth He proclaimed is now no longer true for those in adultery.
5. The annulment largely becomes irrelevant.
6. Confession is gravely wounded, as are the Keys and the power to bind and loose. Peter has now said a class of sin is loosed without repentance.
7. Firm purpose of amendment is no longer required. Rectifying the wrong is no longer necessary, nor refraining from the sin.
8. If there is a class of sin that doesn’t need to be held to account, you have to question the efficacy of Orders itself, if those in Orders now have a circumstance where they don’t have to defend the Sacred Species and reconciliation of souls in the Confessional.

Fr. Brian Harrison, OS, is utterly correct on this. It is a metaphysical, moral, and canonical impossibility that will destroy the substance of the Church.

It can also be safely said that “pastoralism” should be viewed as a kind of new version of an old heresy, since it is a sort of latter day Manicheanism or Catharism, where we can remain intellectually pure (remaining a ‘Catholic in good standing’) while committing sin in the flesh (adultery, politicians and canon 915, the SSA problem in the clergy, etc).

We see this in the argument make by some in the Church. They posit that, for the sake of pastoral mercy, one can objectively believe in a spiritual purity (Christ’s command that there is no divorce and remarriage) but in practice allow it on account of mercy (adultery and receiving Communion in a state of objective, unrepentant sin).

This era of the Church is rife with “pastoralism” reaching back into the Council itself, where it was proclaimed by consecutive popes that we were having a non-dogmatic, pastoral council, but we now, 50 years hence, are obliged to uphold the Council as an infallible act of the Ordinary Magisterium. This is pastoralism in practice. Let us objectively change things in practice, but declare we aren’t really changing teaching or practice in doing that, because things are done for “pastoral considerations.”

It feels, intellectually, similar to Karl Rahner, SJ’s concept of Fundamental Option. I, a divorced and remarried Catholic, maintain my fundamental option for Christ and marriage, even though I violate His commandment in my personal actions (an adulterous life).

Perhaps we should see the attitude towards divorced and remarried Catholics as a practical application of this “pastoralism” duality, like Manicheanism or the Fundamental Option.


XVIII. Card. Caffarra on upcoming Synod, Communion for divorced and remarried

Posted on 24 March 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf



At ZENIT there is a translation into English of the wide-ranging interview given by Carlo Card. Caffarra, Archbishop of Bologna, about the upcoming Synod and the issue to be addressed. It was originally in Italian in Il Foglio.

You should read it all, but here are some snips:


The possibility of allowing the divorced and remarried to receive communion is spoken about. One of Cardinal Kasper’s suggestions was that they should undergo a period of penance that would bring them into a full readmission to Communion. Is this now an inevitable necessity, or is it the accommodation of Christian teaching to contemporary circumstances?

Those who make these suggestions have not, at least up until now, answered one simple question: what happens to the first valid and consummated marriage? If the Church admits them to the Eucharist, she must render a judgment on the legitimacy of the second marriage. It’s logical. But, as I said, what about the first marriage? The second marriage, if we can call it that, cannot be a true second marriage because bigamy is against the teaching of Christ. So the first marriage, is it dissolved? But all the popes have always taught that the Pope has no authority over this. The Pope does not have the power to dissolve a valid and consummated marriage. The proposed solution seems to imply that although the first marriage continues, the Church can somehow legitimate a second relationship. But in doing this, the proposal demolishes the foundations of the Church’s teaching on sexuality. At this point we have to ask: why, then, can we not approve of unmarried couples living together? Or why not homosexual unions? The question is simple: what about the first marriage? No one has yet answered that question. In 2000, John Paul II speaking to the Roman Rota said: “It is clear that the Roman Pontiff’s power does not extend to valid and consummated marriages and this is taught by the Magisterium of the Church as a doctrine to be definitively held even if it has not been solemnly declared through a definitive act.” It is a technical formula, “a doctrine to be definitively held”, and it means that on this point there is no further discussion to be had among theologians nor doubts among the faithful.

Therefore, it is not just a question of praxis but also of doctrine?

Yes, this touches upon doctrine. Inevitably. You can try to say it doesn’t, but it does. And not only this. You would introduce a way of thinking that in the long run would touch not only Catholics but everyone. You would suggest that there is no such thing as an indissoluble marriage. This, certainly, is against the Lord’s will. Of that there can be no doubt.

[.. Q&A on mercy…]

We are not, therefore, talking about compromise?        

Far from it! Compromise would be unworthy of the Lord. Man on his own can come to compromises. Rather we are talking of the regeneration of a human person and only God is capable of that, and in His name the Church. St. Thomas Aquinas says that the justification of a sinner is a more marvelous work than the creation of the universe. When a sinner is justified, something greater than the whole universe happens, and this act comes about through a poor, humble priest in the confessional. Right there occurs an act greater than the creation of the whole universe. We must not reduce mercy to compromise nor to tolerance. This would be to undervalue, to be unjust to, the Lord’s work.



Read the whole thing.

In the meantime, His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke, Prefect of the Signatura, has also given his opinion as a canonist that Card. Kasper’s proposals.

VIDEO 2:11


6 out of 34 responses

1. He is actually talking about a “ratum (i.e., sacramental) et consummatum” marriage, not a “valid and consummated” one. That’s an error in translation.

2. And Card O’Malley recently said this in an interview:

“Pope Francis has expressed sympathy for Catholics who cannot receive the Eucharist because they have divorced and remarried, and some German bishops say that Church teaching on the indissolubility of marriage should be modified. Can you give us any information on this issue, which will be addressed at the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on Marriage and the Family?”

“The Church will not change her teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.
There will be an effort to help those people who have had a failed marriage and try to sift through ways [to consider what] can be done. The Holy Father is anxious to discuss that, but I think it is premature to make any forecast for how it will play out.
The simplification of the annulment process would be a wonderful first step for addressing a very crucial pastoral problem for the Church.”

While I love what Cards Caffarra and Burke said, I actually take heart more from Card O’Malley’s statement, since he is close to Francis, and is not a “conservative” Cardinal one would expect to say this.



I’m troubled by the fact that Cardinal Burke, speaking of Kasper‘s address, said he has made a ‘grave error’ whilst Pope Francis refers to the same address as a ‘beautiful reflection’.
McCall1981, Cardinal Kaspar also says that marriage is indissoluble. However, he thinks that indissolubility is compatible with divorced and remarried persons receiving communion. From Catholic News Service:

“Jesus’ teaching on the indissolubility of sacramental marriage is clear, the retired German cardinal said, and it would harm individuals and the church to pretend otherwise. However, “after the shipwreck of sin, the shipwrecked person should not have a second boat at his or her disposal, but rather a life raft” in the form of the sacrament of Communion, he said.”

So I don’t think Cardinal O’Malley’s opinion is quite as comforting as it might be. He considers simplifying annulments a “first step”, and leaves open what the next steps might be.

5. Pray that Cardinal Burke may one day succeed Peter.

6. Card. Burke is an excellent canonist, but I am not about to use this interview with friends to clear up the confusion around Card. Kasper’s speech.

Firstly, Card. Burke says “We are not talking here about a truth that developed over time!!!!” This might give the impression that some truths taught by the Church developed over time. We know what he means, but I don’t think this helps clarify the confusion.

Card. Burke is not a dogmatic theologian, he is a canonist, so I was more surprised by another statement about those who “falsely believe that the Church’s practice could change.” Church practice changes. Canon law and other practices do develop over time, hopefully led by the Holy Spirit to better reflect eternal truths such as the indissolubility of marriage, the presence of Christ in the Eucharist and his infinite mercy toward those who repent. I know people who think that the current practice of allowing “divorced and remarried” partners to receive Communion if they commit to live as “brother and sister” should be reversed because of scandal (what Fr Z calls the “Yeah right” factor!). I too pine for the good old days…

Card. Malley’s statement seems wisest: “try to sift through ways [to consider what] can be done.” Just as fifty years ago it seemed appropriate to deny Communion to such couples, yesterday it seemed right to deny Communion to an individual who has repented of adultery and is trying to convert the partner in those adulterous acts to also commit to continence (while living together for the sake of their children). I can’t agree though that Church practice may not change in the future to allow such a person to receive Communion. This might in some ways better reflect the Church’s teaching in CCC 1650. “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.”

I agree that this would be open to abuse and scandal, but so is the present situation. I also agree that Card. Kasper’s speech was better kept a secret!


XIX. Ed Peters on Card. Kasper on Pope saying half of marriages are not valid

Posted on 8 May 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The distinguished canonist Ed Peters writes about the reckless comments made by Card. Walter Kasper the other day at Fordham University.  My emphases and comments.


Even if the pope said it, it was reckless to repeat it

Cardinal Kasper, in a lengthy interview that shows no let-up in his push to change Church discipline on marriage said, among other things, “I’ve spoken to the pope himself about this, and he said he believes that 50 percent of marriages are not valid.” [?!?]

I am stunned at the pastoral recklessness of such an assertion. Simply stunned. [As we all should be!]

Suppose the cardinal had claimed that “50 percent of ordinations are not valid”. [!]Would not such a claim, coming from an internationally-renowned prelate and attributed to a pope, have a shattering effect on the morale of deacons, priests, and bishops around the world? Would not especially those clergy laboring under vocational difficulties immediately conclude that their difficulties were the consequence of having been invalidly ordained, whereupon most of them would just give up? And would not those preparing for holy orders be paralyzed with fear over proceeding to ordination until whatever is behind such a massive invalidity rate were discovered and remedied? Of course they would.

Well, if tossing out a comment to clergy alleging rampant invalidity of holy orders would be pastorally unthinkable, by what right does the cardinal casually tell laity that 50% of their marriages are invalid—even if the pope did say it? Does turmoil among married persons in the wake of such a remark not matter to any except those who suffer it? As I said, I am stunned that such a remark was made[IN PUBLIC!  Sometimes priests will kick ideas around in private as they discuss problems today, but that doesn’t mean they a) think everything they kick around and b) would be so abysmally dumb as to repeat the conversation from their pulpits on Sunday.] even if it was a mere repetition of another’s views.

But, no matter who said it—and I have no patience left for this string of ‘guess-what-the-pope-supposedly-told-me’ disclosures—let me outline several reasons why the claim that ‘half of all marriages are null’ is not just reckless, it’s also wrong.

I preface my remarks thus: I worked in diocesan tribunals for more than 10 years and concluded that hundreds of the marriage cases I saw therein were canonically null; I have been married for nearly 30 years; and I have seen, in my own family and among my closest friends, dozens of successful and failed marriages, some of those latter being canonically null, others just ruined. 


In short, my perspectives here are at least as professionally credentialed and as personally experienced as anyone else’s.[Haudquaquam dubitandum’st.]

1. Marriage is, before anything else, a natural contract. Any claim, therefore, about “marriage”—including the shocking claim that half of all marriages are invalid—must be true about marriage as entered into by the great majority of the world’s population; that, or it must be abandoned. So, does Cdl. Kasper really think that half of the marriages around the world are invalid? If not, he should never have expressed himself so.

2. But perhaps the prelate only had in mind sacramental marriages (marriages entered into by two baptized persons) when he asserted that half of all marriages are null. But, if sacramental marriage perfects natural marriage and if grace builds on nature, what would make Christian marriage less stable than natural marriage?

Actually, a few things come to mind.

Some Catholic marriages are invalid for reasons having nothing to do with natural law, because they were, say, entered into by boys under age 16 contrary to Canon 1084 or by renegade priests contrary to Canon 1087. But those invalid marriages represent a proverbial drop in the bucket of invalid unions; their presence hardly allows one to claim that half of all marriages among the baptized, or even among Catholics, are invalid.

Admittedly one source of canonical nullity has no foundation whatsoever in natural law, yet accounts for thousands of invalid marriages among Catholics: what I have described as the outdated requirement of canonical form. But, while this requirement allows tens of thousands of Catholics to walk away from ‘marriages’ that we would require Protestants (and indeed all non-Catholics) to honor, violation of form does not occur in numbers that would make half of all marriages, even among Catholics, let alone among Protestants, to say nothing of non-Christians, invalid. Not even close.

Or perhaps Cdl. Kasper wants to take on the “automatic sacramentality” point of Church teaching on marriage (see 1983 CIC 1055), and from there tease out a contractual invalidity argument for any sacramentum fidei attentatum sine fide, but I’ve seen nothing so complex offered yet.

Well, there is much more to say, but keeping in mind that this is only a blog post, let me conclude by reminding all that a long, long, tradition of Church teaching recognizes humans’ natural capacity for marriage, reminds Christians that the grace of matrimony adds to the stability of marriage, and presumes the validity of all marriages unless and until it is proven otherwise.

In short, the validity of marriage far exceeds the odds one enjoys in a coin toss.


5 out of 76 responses

Dr. Peters’ critical analysis of C. Kasper is excellent and most helpful; however, it was the pope who “allegedly” made the comment!

The problem is that Pope Francis really said it. And in public. It was on the infamous flight back from Rio. The same day of the “Who am I to judge” thing. And then he cited Card Quarracino, his predecessor in Buenos Aires, as the very author of the phrase. And subsequently he said that the Rota is not enough to cope with the situation. Not a brilliant day for the Catholic Church that was, but believe me, in Bergoglio’s mind that is a whole exposition of a previously conceived plan. And that is why he mentioned Kasper as “a very good theologian” in one of his first public speeches. Nothing is spontaneous here.

Cardinal Kasper is not revealing anything new. The Pope himself made the comment about 50% of marriages being invalid in his in-flight interview returning from the WYD (he attributed it to his predecessor as bishop of his diocese)

I am amazed at Cardinal Kasper’s lack of discretion. Even if the Holy Father said anything even remotely like what His Eminence attributed to him, it was amazingly tactless to publicly repeat a private conversation. (If such a conversation even happened the way Cardinal Kasper described). His Eminence just made his superior’s life more difficult (never a good move), and all but hung a sign around his own neck saying “I’m an irresponsible gossip– speak with me at your own risk”.

5. Here is what Pope Francis said in his press conference on the plane back from the WYD.

We are on the path for a more profound pastoral care of marriage. And, this is a problem for all, because there are so many, right? For instance, I’ll tell you of just one, Cardinal Quarracino, my predecessor, said that for him half of all marriages are null. That’s what he said. Why? Because they are married without maturity, they get married without realizing that it’s for an entire lifetime, or they are married because socially they must get married.

And in this also pastoral care of marriage is a factor. And also the judicial problem of the nullity of marriage, that must be revisited, because the ecclesiastical courts aren’t enough for this. HERE


XX. Are Catholics now too dazzled by the Pope? Can Popes be criticized?

Posted on 9 May 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Do you remember the scene in Evelyn Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited when Rex Mottram is being given his catechism lessons before he can marry Julia?  The priest and Rex have this exchange:

“Yesterday I asked [Mottram] whether Our Lord had more than one nature. He said: ‘Just as many as you say, Father.’ Then again I asked him: ‘Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said ‘It’s going to rain’, would that be bound to happen?’ ‘Oh, yes, Father.’ ‘But supposing it didn’t?’ He thought a moment and said, “I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it.'”

This scene figures in a piece written by Michael Brendon Dougherty for The Week “Catholics must learn to resist their popes — even Pope Francis Too many are becoming party apparatchiks”.


The writer makes the point – in a nutshell – that since the advent of rapid communications and a far greater familiarity and presence of Popes in our lives, many people now venerate them too much.  They go beyond respect for the office, and give adulation and hero-worship to the person.  On the other hand, in ages past, before this “papalotry” (my word, the writer’s) developed, people felt far freer to criticize a Pope’s actions.

Is he one to something or is he off the rails?  This is clearly something that many über-trads have bandied about in the last few decades of their defiance of authority.

I suggest that you read the article and then discuss.  I repeat: read the article first.  Don’t just jump in without thinking or looking.

Another quote:


Catholics were reminded at the Second Vatican Council of a doctrine with a foundation in the early church fathers, in St. Vincent Lerins, that the whole body of faithful Catholics in their cultivated sense of the faith, are one of the guarantors of the church’s teaching authority. Sometimes, the duty of a faithful Catholic is not just to rebuke and correct those in authority in the church like St. Catherine of Siena, but to throw rotting cabbage at them, or make them miserable, as we once did, with the connivance of worldly authorities, during the deadlocked papal election in Viterbo.

For now the members of the Catholic Party are cultivating a kind of denial, saying that Pope Francis cannot possibly endorse the line on divorce and remarriage suggested by Cardinal Kasper when very clearly this reform is being actively debated within the highest reaches of the church, and seems to have been implemented in one phone call. If adopted, it will be time for members of the Catholic Church to reach for the rotting produce and give our prelates a taste of the sensus fidelium.


That proposed, let’s us remember that the Pope has an office with a defined role.  Not everything any Pope says or does is infallible or perfect.

Rich terrain for discussion here, if people will a) think before posting and b) think before posting.  I don’t want to have to step in too much to remove comments that were just tossed out with little consideration.  Treat the question with respect and thought.


7 out of 58 responses

I have been thinking before that Pope Francis – by simply doing so much, including much along his personal preferences, that everyone will have their problem at some point – is teaching us the important lesson than a Pope, when he is not infallible, is fallible.

Put your trust into God, not into princes, not even those of the Church.

If he succeeded with this lesson, he’d have succeeded with an important thing.

I think modern Catholics lack the knowledge of the faith and have come to see the Pope as THE Catholic Faith, almost as if the Pope himself might say I AM TRADITION! On the contrary, anything the Pope says or does should be held up to the light of Tradition and if it doesn’t compute, then it should be rightly rejected, and those who have the competence to do so should call the Pope out on it.

I’ve read about the so-called “American heresy”, in which certain Catholics put loyalty to the U.S.A. above loyalty to the Church’s teachings (or something like that). This article struck me as a warning against falling into a “Catholic heresy”, where one conflates the magistrates with the Magisterium.

As a former protestant, the article worries me. Protestants are always saying things like this: Who needs the righteousness of the Bishops when we have the righteousness of Jesus; All I need is Jesus, Jesus and me, Jesus plus nothing. One of the reasons I joined the Church was because of the hierarchy, which I believed would maintain orthodoxy and prevent errors in teaching. If I lose faith in that, obedience goes out the window. I’ve known all along that any Pope can make mistakes. What I don’t anticipate is doctrine being overturned, by this Pope or any other.

4. In his biography of Saint John Paul II, George Weigel quoted Melchior Cano

“Peter has no need of our lies or flattery. Those who blindly and indiscriminately defend every decision of the Supreme Pontiff are the very ones who do most to undermine the authority of the Holy See—they destroy instead of strengthening its foundations”.

I have been reading through the Encyclicals of John Paul II and continue to read the writings of the Pope Emeritus every day. I think I have almost without realizing it given up on the Pontificate of Francis. I have noticed that I now rarely seek out the translations of his addressess and homilies. It’s not that I made a conscious decision, but I am sure it is a reaction to everything since March 2013, and now we have Cardinal Kasper’s interventions. Pope Francis remains an enigma to me even though I have read many of his writings both before and after his election as Pope. I have never heard in my life so much criticism of a Pope from those whom I know to be orthodox and faithful Catholics.

I remember in the 1990s and even in the early 2000s that it was difficult to obtain day-to-day updates about the Pope. Now, we are in a situation where we can have almost instant updates from numerous sources.

5. I have read the respectfully-toned article by Michael Brendon Dougherty twice now. I cannot disagree with it and find myself drawn back to the last writings of the heroic Mario Palmaro (RIP).

I offer only one reflection.

My mother counseled me when I was a young man that the opposite of love (charity) is not hatred. It is indifference.

One cannot be indifferent to Jesus or His Church or the Deposit of Faith or the Vicar of His Church.

6. I read the article before I saw it linked here; and I shared it on Facebook.

While some won’t be able to help it, this needs to be read without reference to Pope Francis. This isn’t really about him, as opposed to either of his two predecessors. This isn’t about that whole thing; because…it isn’t. That’s part of his point!



He’s actually making a point connected to something I’ve observed many times in recent years, under three popes now: that we’ve had a good run of popes since the mid-1800s — i.e., since Pius IX. You can fault this one or that, but taken as a whole, it’s a good lot: all generally understood to be holy, serious, competent men whose primary mission seems to have been exalting Christ and caring for the Church.

But his point is right: that run of good popes isn’t guaranteed. That’s never been our Faith.

And please do not do me the discourtesy of suggesting this is any sort of comment on our current pope. My description of our extended run of good popes explicitly includes Pope Francis. –Fr. Martin Fox

7. I believe that Dougherty makes some very valid points because the scenario he postulates has already occurred in history on more than one occasion. The Council of Constantinople II, whose judgment was supported by Pope St Agatho before his death, and whose words were endorsed by the reigning Pope St Leo II, condemned Pope Honorius in the following terms:

“We anathematize the inventors of the new error, that is, Theodore, Sergius, .…and also Honorius, who did not attempt to sanctify this Apostolic Church with the teaching of Apostolic tradition, but by profane treachery permitted its purity to be polluted.”

We have Popes in our history like Honorius, Liberius and John XXII etc. who clearly failed to “sanctify this Apostolic Church with the teaching of Apostolic tradition” and were justly condemned, either in their own lifetimes, or posthumously. There is no guarantee that any one Pope will not pollute the purity of the Church’s teaching unless he speaks infallibly. Under normal circumstances a Pope’s faith and judgment can fail, and they should be resisted if this is the case.

No Pope has ever committed so grave an error as to overturn Christ’s teaching on marriage, and I pray to God that Pope Francis does not attempt to do so. Kasper is implying that the Pope wants to do exactly this – I hope he is dead wrong. However, IF he were to attempt it, then he and every prelate who sided with him would have to be resisted in the most charitable way possible. –Deacon Augustine


XXI. Fr. Murray on Card. Kasper’s proposals

Posted on 23 May 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

My friend Fr. Gerald Murray has a fine piece at The Catholic Thing about His Eminence Walter Card. Kasper’s odd proposals about the divorced and remarried, his notion that they can be, in their adulterous relations, tolerated but not accepted at the Communion rail.

Let’s have a look at the last part of Fr. Murray’s dense and useful contribution:



Here we see that Cardinal Kasper’s proposal involves a clear departure from the teaching and practice of the Church: When a Catholic spouse no longer shares common life with the other spouse, the help that the Church offers is not the facilitation of adultery, but rather the call to fidelity accompanied by the graces offered through prayer, the worthy reception of the sacraments, and the bearing of one’s cross in union with Christ[I’ll repeat what I have offered before.  Not every problem we can get ourselves into has an easy solution.  Sometimes our problems can’t be “fixed” and we must suffer, endure the consequences.]

The idea that the Church should recognize a pseudo-marriage as an expression of God’s mercy is a contradiction of the Gospel. A married person may have failed to preserve the unity and common life of his marriage, or been the victim of the failure on the other spouse’s part. In either case, God’s mercy will not be found in the Church giving permission to commit adultery in good conscience.

This is why the only possible solutions for those who now regret having entered into an invalid second marriage are: 1) to apply for a declaration of nullity of their marriage if grounds for such exist; 2) to break off the adulterous union; 3) or if this is not possible for serious reasons, then to live as brother and sister and no longer engage in adulterous behavior.

Cardinal Kasper is correct in stating about the indissolubility of marriage, “We must enforce it, and help people to understand it and to live it out.” It is regrettable that he fails to see that his proposal does the exact opposite.


Read the whole thing over there!

Fr. Murray is more and more often appearing on Fox News, on various programs.  They couldn’t have found a better clerical commentator.


2 out of 17 responses

1. I find it interesting that Card. Kasper and those that agree with him, apparently Pope Francis, hide behind the word “Mercy” just as the homosexuals hide behind the word “Love” and the abortionists hide behind the word “Choice.” They want to redefine these words to make their agendas fit into the world.

2. The problem with discussing settled issues of doctrine as though they were reformable is precisely that it gives the wrong impression that they are reformable. As happened with H.V., many will see these “discussions” as indications that Christ’s teaching on marriage can be changed, and what was sinful for 2,000 years can suddenly become approved by papal fiat. The whole process is a narcissistic indulgence which will lead to the confusion of many and the endangerment of immortal souls. It is an unnecessary gamble which the Pope should never have permitted.




The only good I can see coming out of this is the opportunity to restate the teaching of Christ more clearly and more vigorously. However, because of the false expectations raised, if it does come, it will no doubt be received with opprobrium and disdain as was Paul VI’s teaching in H.V. –Deacon Augustine


XXII. Pope Francis on the airplane: the Synod, the family, Communion for the divorced and remarried

Posted on 27 May 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

You may have heard that Pope Francis visited the Holy Land.  On the flight back to Italy, His Holiness held another presser.

At this point many of you might be cringing as the thought “What could possible go wrong?” flashes through your brain. After all, it was on a flight that Pope Francis uttered That Infamous Line™.

And so, during this return flight, from the Holy Land, the Pope was asked, inter alia, questions about Communion for the divorced and remarried and about the possibility of priests being able to marry.   The second, I will treat in a separate post.  I will confine myself, here, to the first.

NB: Read the following after reviewing how Card. Baldisseri backtracked after making some edgy comments. HERE

A Spanish language reporter asked:


… In the Church, for example, what is going to happen with Communion for the divorced and remarried …?

The Holy Father answered saying, inter alia: … [T]hanks for the question about the divorced.  The Synod will be about the family, on the problem of the family, on research about the family, on the present situation of the family.  The preliminary essay that Cardinal Kasper made had five chapters: four on the family, beautiful things about the family, the theological foundation, some familiar problems; and the fifth chapter, the pastoral problem of separations, of matrimonial nullity, the divorced… Holy Communion come into this problem.  And I don’t like that many people – even in the Church – priests – have said: “Ah, the Synod for giving Communion to the divorced”, and they’ve gone right there, to that point.  I have heard it as if the whole thing had been reduced to case study.  No, the matter is more than this, it is wider.  Today, everyone knows it, the family is in crisis: it is in a global crisis.  Young people don’t want to marry or they don’t marry or live together, marriage is in crisis, and so too the family.  And I wouldn’t want that we fall into this (as if it were) case law [Italian “casistica”: it is hard to render what the Pope is talking about here in his less than clear Italian.  He means by this, surely, that he doesn’t want an impersonal, theoretical, legalistic view of the problem. It has to do with English “casuistry”].  Can you do it?  Can’t you do it? … For this reason, thanks much for this question, because it gives me the opportunity to clear this up.  The pastoral problem of the family is very, very broad, very broad.  And it must be studied case by case. Something Pope Benedict said three times about the divorced has helped me a lot.  Once, in the Valle d’Aosta, another time in Milan, and the last time in the public consistory which he held for the creation of cardinals: to study the procedures for matrimonial nullity; to study the faith with which a person comes to matrimony and [NB] to clarify that the divorced are not excommunicated, and so many times they are treated as excommunicated.  And this is a serious thing.  On this case study [casistica – here I think he means something like “problem to be examined”.  Again, casuistry is involved.], the Synod will be about the family: the riches, the problems of the family.  Solutions, nullity, all that.



I’ll stop translating there. Hacking through this stream of words, which is in an Italian that is less than perfect, we find a couple main points.  And note that he doesn’t always speak of the divorced and remarried, though it is fairly clear that he includes them in his remarks.

First, the Holy Father is upset that all the talk about the Synod is focusing on the question of Communion for the divorced and remarried.  Thus, he says the word “family”, over and over again.

Second, he was clearly prepared for this question, because he worked in that his (still living) predecessor treated the issue three times and even said where.  He was telling the newsies to look up what Benedict XVI said.   Thus, by the way, he was telling the newsies what I said for an entire year after Francis’ election: Read Francis Through Benedict.  He aligned himself with Benedict even as he clings to what Card. Kasper presented (which in many respects – not all – was flawed).

Third, he wants to review the procedures by which “annulment” cases are handled.  Fine.  A review doesn’t hurt anything.  However, I can assure you, there has to be a canonical procedure.  The Synod and the Holy Father won’t sweep aside canonical procedure in the review of marriage cases.  The Synod really can’t change that.  Changes to the procedure could very well imply changes to doctrine.  Thus, changes to procedure would have to be studied closely and with great caution. Alas, what could happen, an unintended consequence, is that priests will simply stop sending in cases.  The low-information, weak-synapse type (liberal) priests out there in LaLa Land may do what they did in the matter of Humanae vitae: distort and defy and do their own thing.  That would be bad.

Fourth, Francis wants everyone not to treat the divorced as if there were excommunicated.  Or else, “stop treating the divorced as if they were excommunicated”.   I am not sure where that is taking place.  After all, some people who divorce may be divorced for good reasons, sad as the circumstances may be.  Moreover, those who are divorced for good reasons are admitted to the sacraments (read: they are not excommunicated).  They can go to confession and receive absolution.  They can receive Communion.  They can be anointed.  Sure, there are some divorced people who divorced for sinful and ignoble motives.  They must amend their lives, just like anyone else who sins and must amend their lives.  But make no mistake!


That line about making sure that the divorced are not treated as if they were excommunicated is probably the most important line of the longish answer.  The Holy Father clearly wants the Synod to reinforce that people who are divorced as treated with compassion as well as with justice.

I could go on, but that is enough.

The Pope obviously tried to move the discussion away from Communion for the divorced and remarried.  That is not what he wants the Synod to be about.  He is unhappy that some people are making the Synod out to be mainly about this point, as important as it is.

That said, the question is not going away.  It must be addressed with force and clarity, because we uphold our Catholic identity and we defend the doctrine of the Faith.


3 out of 63 responses

I appreciate that the Pope does not want the synod to be about communion for the divorced and remarried, but those who do, and their henchmen in the media (both Catholic and otherwise) will push and shout and try to drown out everything else. It worked with Humanae Vitae.

2. When I read yesterday the Pope planned on holding a press conference during his flight home and the contents of it were embargoed until a later time, my first thought was uh oh.

At this point though, it doesn’t really seem to matter what Francis says anymore. The media members hear what they want, run with it, and that becomes the de facto understanding of what Francis is thinking.

It definitely seems the Pope was ready for the question on communion for the divorced and remarried, but the Vatican press office really needs to step up its game. And they may want to consider banning all pressers on planes!!!

I suppose that the liberal and secular media-drivers already know that the synod will come back with a Catholic answer to the problem of the disintegration of the modern family. And yet the media are priming the public to anticipate something impossible. Their punch line will likely be, once again, that the Church is irrelevant and antagonistic to the modern world. Misogynistic patriarchy, and all that. The bishops know this will happen. We shall see how the Holy Spirit leads the bishops through the minefield (or into the teeth).


XXIII. Ed Peters has suggestions for Synod on Family

Posted on 10 June 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Ed Peters, distinguished canonist, posted at his blog, In The Light Of The Law, about the upcoming autumn Synod on the family.  He has no combox over there, but you should visit his place.

I suggest a careful reading of what follows.   My usual emphases and comments.


Three topics for the 2014 Synod on Marriage

The project to justify holy Communion for divorced-and-remarried Catholics seems to be losing steam. That’s good. [It would be good, were it true.  I don’t think it is losing steam.  I think the valve was closed and the steam is building for the fall meeting.] As I have said many times, unless one is willing to countenance the administration of the Eucharist to those obstinately persisting in manifest grave sin (pace Canon 915), or is willing to say that typical remarriage after divorce is not the grave sin of adultery (pace CCC 2384), or is willing to say that Christ was wrong about marriage lasting till death and about remarriage after divorce being adultery (pace the New Testament!), then that project was doomed from the start. It’s now time to consider ideas that would strengthen the Church’s witness to marriage, not weaken it.  [I don’t think that the advocates of Communion for the divorced/remarried will frame it in terms of changing doctrine.  They know that if they do, they will be shut down immediately. They will try to stretch doctrine, maybe even suggest that this represents development of doctrine.  Then they will play the pastoral card as a trump to doctrinal purity or rigid legalism. They will stress mercy over and against rules.  Then they will play the fear card.  They will shout that the sky is falling when it comes to practice of the faith by the rank and file. “People are leaving the Church!”, they will cry.  In short, they will be sly and manipulative.]

Leaving aside some important (but not urgent) ecclesiological questions about the ultimate future of the Synod of Bishops, the assembly convoked for October 2014 will not be legislative in nature and it will not make policies; instead the synod will be tasked with discussing, in an informed manner, natural and Christian marriage from pastoral and canonical perspectives. That sort of discussion requires study (general impressions and opinions about marriage are no longer adequate bases from which to respond to the crisis in marriage), and real study is hard work. [But the Synod could be a rally point for the agenda of the Kasperites.]

May I suggest (or re-suggest as the case may be) three marriage-related topics that need significant advance prepping if they are to be competently treated by the Synodal Fathers.

1. Canonical Form for Marriage. The requirement that Catholics wed before clergy has always been an imposition on the natural and sacramental reality of marriage, and the societal conditions that supported its imposition a few centuries ago have all but disappeared today. [Have they?] Instead of defending marriage, the requirement of form now permits tens of thousands of Catholics annually to walk away from marital unions that we demand all others honor, deprives Catholics in such unions the graces specific to Matrimony, and relegates such unions to the status of concubinage.



Further, the pastoral need to blunt the ecclesial consequences for disregarding canonical form has led to the elaboration and/or invocation of several juridically dubious “work-arounds” in such areas as jurisdiction, dispensation, and sanation. The question is: does the requirement of canonical form do more harm than good to the Church’s proclamation of marriage today?

2. The Annulment Process. In the popular mind (including many bishops’), the annulment process is a pastoral mechanism that “works” when it allows Catholics in failed marriages the chance to marry someone else. Correcting this massive misunderstanding about the vital juridic nature of the annulment process is of the utmost importance. [Do I hear an “Amen!”?] Beyond that, however, the annulment process, being established and administered by human beings, is in need of reform especially regarding: (a) appreciating the canonical impact of widespread societal and familial dysfunction on young persons attempting to enter marriage as Christ and his Church proclaim it; (b) the actual or perceived disconnect between the interpretation accorded norms on consent as given in Rome versus that in many other tribunals around the world; (c) the real burdens and benefits associated with mandatory appeal; and (d) the feasibility of allowing third instance tribunals to function in nations that actually need them.

3. Same-sex unions vs. ‘same-sex marriage’. If there is a philosophically, juridically, and pastorally defensible distinction between same-sex unions and ‘same-sex marriage’, the time to articulate that distinction is now. Earlier ecclesiastical documents on this issue, striving (correctly!) to avoid any semblance of support for the idea of ‘same-sex marriage’, rejected same-sex unions in terms that admit of no toleration in the secular arena and indeed, if taken literally, demand sacrifices by Catholics that the Church should, in any age, be loathe to impose. [?] Besides this important clarification of categories, the practical issues occasioned by having faithful in same-sex unions or ‘marriages’ (chiefly in regard to their admission to the sacraments and participation in Catholic public affairs) need systematic elucidation. [Does this take scandal into adequate consideration?]



Final thoughts over at Ed Peters’ place.


3 out of 90 responses

1. “In short, they will be sly and manipulative” doesn’t sound like the Holy Spirit will be guiding their work. Somehow, I pray they won’t resort to those two descriptors for this serious matter.

2. “I think the valve was closed and the steam is building for the fall meeting.”

This is pretty chilling. What I’m really wondering about is why the instrumentum laboris for the Synod is taking so long to be released. I’ve been anxiously awaiting it, and originally read it would be out “around Easter”, then in May, and here we are still waiting. I wonder what’s going on?

3. The points Ed Peters raises may or may not be worthwhile, but surely the most critical issue facing the Church vis-a-vis marriage is cohabitation and Catholics being totally unaware of its spiritual dangers and treating the sacrament of marriage as something optional, this is the REAL issue. In fact it is clear to me that most Catholics have lost the sense of the sacred not only when it comes to marriage but also in relation to every other sacrament. It has also not been lost one how this loss of te sense of sin goes hand in hand with a loss of the sense of the sacred in our liturgy.


XXIV. Card. Müller’s book-length interview: refutes Communion for divorced and civilly remarried

Posted on 29 July 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

You will want to look at what Sandro Magister posted today.  HERE

Müller: “These Theories Are Radically Mistaken”

The prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith refutes the ideas of those who want to permit second marriages with the first spouse still alive. He is backed up by Cardinal Sebastián, who also disagrees with Cardinal Kasper. But whose side is Pope Francis on?

ROME, July 29, 2014 – In a book-length interview recently released simultaneously in Italy, Spain, and the United States, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, revisits and develops what he had already reiterated last fall in an article in “L’Osservatore Romano” that made a sensation:

Divorced and Remarried. Müller Writes, Francis Dictates (23.10.2013)

In that article, Müller dwelt above all on the question of communion for the divorced and remarried, reiterating the reasons for the prohibition.

Already at the time, in fact, even at the higher levels of the hierarchy there were some who maintained the need for the Church to remove this ban.

And at the consistory in February of this year this change was upheld by the one whom Pope Francis had charged with introducing the discussion, Cardinal Walter Kasper:

Kasper Changes the Paradigm, Bergoglio Applauds (1.3.2014)

In the following months, Kasper’s ideas prompted particularly vigorous public reactions from cardinals Carlo Caffarra, Velasio De Paolis, Walter Brandmüller, and Thomas Collins.


But now it is again the prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith who is intervening forcefully in defense of the traditional doctrine.

The interview was conducted last June by Carlos Granados, director of the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos in Madrid. It was reviewed by the cardinal and has as its backdrop the upcoming synod of bishops, dedicated to the theme of the family.

In the preface another cardinal, former Pamplona archbishop Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, writes:

“The main problem present in the Church with regard to the family is not the small number of the divorced and remarried who would like to receive Eucharistic communion. Our most serious problem is the great number of baptized who marry civilly and of sacramentally married spouses who do not live marriage or the marital life in harmony with Christian life and the teachings of the Church, which would have them be living icons of Christ’s love for his Church present and working in the world.”

Cardinal Sebastián received the scarlet from Pope Francis, who has great esteem for him. But he certainly cannot be numbered among the supporters of Kasper’s theses.

In the interview Cardinal Müller also criticizes those who back themselves up with some of the statements of Pope Francis, bending them in support of a “pastoral” change on marriage.

He says, for example:

“The image of the field hospital is very beautiful. Nonetheless we cannot manipulate the pope by reducing the whole reality of the Church to this image. The Church in itself is not a hospital: the Church is also the house of the Father.”

And again:

“A simple ‘adaptation’ of the reality of marriage to the expectations of the world does not bear any fruit, but rather turns out to be counterproductive: the Church cannot respond to the challenges of the modern world with a pragmatic adaptation. In opposing an easy pragmatic adaptation, we are called to choose the prophetic audacity of martyrdom. With this we can bear witness to the Gospel of the holiness of marriage. A lukewarm prophet, through an adjustment to the spirit of the time, would be seeking his own salvation, not the salvation that only God can give.”

The following is an extract of the passages from the interview dedicated to the question of communion for the divorced and remarried, in which Müller also refutes another mantra associated with Pope Francis, that of “mercy”:



Go there to read the whole thing.

Dear readers, there are some things that we sinners get ourselves into which have no easy fixes.  Some things, as a matter of fact, can’t be fixed at all.  We have to accept the consequences of our actions and then get on as best we can, even suffering and asking for grace to bear the burden.  Some people have heavy crosses indeed.  God is with them.  He works with them. We must be willing to bear crosses and ask God’s help and mercy, sometimes for the remainder of our earthly lives.  I have a doctor friend who once has a dissatisfied patient lament, “Do I have to take these pills forever?”  “No,” came the answer, “Just until you die.”  This is how it goes for some people.


6 out of 17 responses

Even though a lot of Bishops seem to be coming out against communion for the divorced and remarried, I still worry about this upcoming Synod, knowing how in the past the progressives have been able to manipulate things their way even when in a minority – it happened at the 2nd Vatican Council, the NCCB when they pushed through communion in the hand, and so on. I pray that the Holy Spirit continues to protect the Church from falling into error.

2. This interview strikes me as a pre-emptive strike by Muller who is likely battling hard against his fellow German, Cardinal Kasper. Pope Francis publicly praised Kasper’s in February of this year when he described Kasper’s paper and reflection for the Synod on the family as “a work of profound theology” and “a serene theological reflection” He Francis was so overwhelmed by this paper that he indicated that he re-read it! Muller clearly doesn’t buy into this profound theological serenity and it would not be unrealistic to opine that he, Muller, may consider the work to be doctrinally calamitous if not close to a heresy. Francis has an unequivocal theological regard and admiration for Kasper, who has proved many times with his writings and public utterances, that he is most certainly NOT doctrinally orthodox. [Many times? Cite five. That would be a service to all.] So where does that square the circle with Francis? – Dundonianski

3. “Francis has an unequivocal theological regard and admiration for Kasper, who has proved many times with his writings and public utterances, that he is most certainly NOT doctrinally orthodox. [Many times? Cite five. That would be a service to all.] ”

To Dundonianski & Fr. Z., I will start the ball rolling:

1. He defended the “Two covenants” theory of salvation and asserted that the Church has no mission to the Jews who “do not need to become Christians to be saved.” In the course of his arguments he claimed that the New Testament was anti-Semitic and the books of Hebrews and Ephesians which teach the obsolescence of the Mosaic Covenant should be dropped from the Canon of Scripture or disregarded in this respect. These events took place around the time that the USCCB’s document “Reflections on Covenant and Mission” was causing such controversy – 2003 or 2004 IIRC.

2. He was one of the main proponents of the primacy of particularity over universality in the governance of the Church in his efforts to establish de facto independence of national bishops’ conferences from Rome. The CDF under former Cardinal Ratzinger had to weigh in to the debate:

3. Together with Cardinal Lehmann, he was the main protagonist of the German Bishops granting counseling certificates to pregnant women so that they could avail themselves of abortions. They defied the Vatican for years in continuing this monstrous policy against the directly expressed commands of St John Paul II.

There are other instances when he has questioned defined dogmas of the faith, but I do not have the source material to hand. If anybody else would like to spend some time on Google, I am sure they would come up with some interesting info? There is also an interesting story about how he and Lehmann extracted red hats from St JPII, but as the cardinal who related it is never likely to go on public record before he dies, that would only count as hearsay and not amount to public writings or utterances of Kasper. –Deacon Augustine

4. No wonder the wolves in the Vatican are trying so hard to make sure Muller stays out of the Synod. The decks are being stacked.

And with regards to more of Pope Francis’ heretical statements. We can add the recent one from his ‘private’ (yet publicly published) speech to the Caserta Protestants.

“The Holy Spirit creates “diversity” in the Church.”
-The context of this was to Protestants declaring that their separated and schismatic ‘churches’ are due to the active will of the Holy Spirit who does not see this as ‘division’, but ‘diversity.’ A “reconciled diversity” in Francis’ own words.

Further context:
“We are in the age of globalization, and we wonder what globalization is and what the unity of the Church would be: perhaps a sphere, where all points are equidistant from the center, all are equal? No! This is uniformity. And the Holy Spirit does not create uniformity! What figure can we find? We think of the polyhedron: the polyhedron is a unity, but with all different parts; each one has its peculiarity, its charism.”
5. Francis is referring to the relationship between the Catholics and the Protestants who are his audience. The context is NOT about regular ‘diversity’ within Catholicism (Novus Ordo vs. Traditional Latin Mass / Franciscans vs. Jesuits / Priests vs. nuns.) He is referring to Catholics vs. Protestants & Schismatics.

“This is unity in diversity. It is on this path that we, Christians, do what we call with the theological name of ECUMENISM. We try to have this diversity become more harmonized by the Holy Spirit and become unity.”

But, the problem as always is that Pope Francis’ ambiguous statements have to be explained away by others.

How many Catholics have access to these explanations? -Michael
6. Francis is talking about Ecumenism! We only engage in ecumenism with those separated from the Church, not those within. The context Francis is referring to is that relationship between Catholics and Schismatics/Protestants! And Francis says this ‘diversity’ is really a ‘unity’ that the Holy Spirit desires and created!!!!

Francis then goes on to suggest that everyone in the world is the “Flesh of Christ!” Which he derives as a meaning of the Incarnation stretching far beyond the words of St. John and what we understand the Incarnation to be! This Francis uses as another example of unity between Catholics and non-Catholics.

Even more scandalous, Francis blasts those Catholics and martyrs of the past who he accuses of furthering disunity by not accepting the ‘diversity’ of the Protestants and heretics and who sought to curb this ‘diversity’ from happening!!! He compares these faithful Catholics who stood by the Church as racists who wanted to retain some sort of demented purity, compared to Joseph’s brothers who wanted to kill Joseph out of jealousy!!!

“And these laws were sanctioned by the baptized! Some of those who made these laws and some of those who persecuted, denounced their Pentecostal brothers because they were “enthusiasts,” almost “madmen ” who ruined the race, some were Catholics … I am the Pastor of Catholics: I ask forgiveness for this! I ask forgiveness or those Catholic brothers and sisters who did not understand and who were tempted by the devil and did the same thing that Joseph’s brothers did. I ask the Lord to He give us the grace to admit and forgive … Thank you!”


XXV. Meltdown Countdown: Fishwrap on the Synod

Posted on 30 July 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The Synod on the Family will start in October.   Already the dissidents at the National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap) are whining.   They have twigged to the fact that they are not going to get what they want.

Today there is an editorial which shows that they are starting to panic.


Editorial: Obstacles riddle synod on the family’s path

Editor’s note: The 50-page instrumentum laboris, or working document, that was released June 26 and will guide the discussion during the October Synod of Bishops on the family was dry and impersonal, lifeless almost, and that confounded us at NCR.
From personal experience [You see… it’s all about “experience”.] and from listening to colleagues, readers and friends, we have experienced marriage and family life as life-giving and joyous. Marriage and family life is not without its challenges and struggles; [and, since I’m not married dare I guess, “experiences”?] it offers ample lessons in humility and forgiveness, but that, too, at the best of times can be nurturing. [Just what does that mean? Lessons are “nurturing”?] 





If the writers of the instrumentum laboris, which is now supposed to be being studied in dioceses throughout the world, had begun with the fundamental experience of people who have lived in marriages and raised families, we wondered, how different would it have been? [And just imagine the difference had the experience been intermediate or even advanced!]


Accordingly, the instrumentum laboris for the upcoming extraordinary session (a second, ordinary session dealing with the same subject will be held in October 2015) bears some remarkable observations and questions on such topics as natural law and divorced and remarried Catholics.  [When dissidents start mentioning “natural law”, you know that they are soon going to say that deviant sex is just fine, or maybe even a “nurturing experience”.]

It is imperative, however, to first understand [to first split an infinitive] the culture in which the synod mentality is rooted. [Do you pick up the scare word? If you said “mentality”, you got it right!] As diverse as the issues and personalities involved in meetings of bishops from around the world, a common thread binds all of these gatherings. They have been, without exception, organized by, participated in and interpreted for the world by a tiny representation of humanity, celibate and exclusively male, [as opposed to… partially male? hermaphroditic?] whose careers [Oooo! Pope Francis would like them!] have been largely dedicated to maintaining the status quo [Oooo! BAAAD.  We want change!] in a very exclusive fraternity. [C’mon.  “Very”? It’s either exclusive or it ain’t.]

The disparity between those who will be doing the talking and deciding and those who will be talked about — the instrumentum is concerned primarily with married men and women, as well as homosexual persons [DING! You knew it was coming.]— is, in this instance, particularly glaring.



They are lowering expectations, I guess.   But wait!  There’s more:


Finally, [not really – There’s another “Finally,” several paragraphs later.] how effective might a synod be in its consideration of marriage and the family when, again, the celibate men of the institution insist on rules regarding contraception that much of the community has consistently rejected for more than 50 years?  [Decoded: The majority opinion (of the so-well-informed) should determine the Church’s doctrine.]

A section of the document abounds in the church’s soaring rhetoric about marriage, analogizing it to the Trinitarian love of God and Christ’s relationship with his church. Marriage is called “the great mystery” and a fundamental “community of love.”

But when discussing sex, the deepest human expression of enduring love between two people, humans are reduced to the level of baboons, their only legitimate purpose for engaging in sex the production of more little humans. Love and procreation are reduced to biological necessity. And if that is not the primary intent of every sexual act, then the marriage is fundamentally flawed in the church’s eyes. [You can sense what this is driving at, right?]

The working paper for the synod claims the reason the teaching is rejected is because of lousy catechesis. Lots of married people would tell the synod it’s because of even worse theology and anthropology. [So much for Catholic Doctrine!] The men making the rules really don’t understand the profound joy and endless implications of conjugal love in an enduring, committed relationship. They don’t understand, in any ongoing, experiential way, that fundamental “community of love.” [Get it?] It is about far more than producing offspring. Responsible parenthood involves so much more than making certain that each instance of sexual expression could result in another child. [See it?]

Nor does the paper address at all what marriage could mean for those unable to conceive, or those who marry beyond their childbearing years. And dare we mention the reality that keeps pressing on us with a logic that seems to be accepted more and more by segments of the community — homosexuals in a committed, loving relationship?  [DING!  There it is!  You knew it was coming, didn’t you.  Decoded: If a whole bunch of Catholics want to stick what they have anywhere they want then, hey!, the Church had better change its bad theology and lousy anthropology.]



I see that the Catholic League also picked up on this whine. Here is what they say:


What accounts for them acting out? They are alternating between rage and depression. They thought Pope Francis would usher in their dream—the Protestantization of the Catholic Church—but instead they have come to the conclusion that they will not get their way this fall. But only a baboon would have thought they were going to win in the first place.


5 out of 55 responses


1. Why don’t these people just walk on down the street to the nearest Protestant church compatible with their beliefs and put an end to the scandal of internal division? Is it:

1) just too stubborn to leave
2) they think they are doing us a favor in leading us to heresy
3) they would no longer be the progressive and “prophetic” darlings of the liberal media, just more average everyday Protestants?

I think it’s a combination of all three.

Perhaps the Pope could arrange a swap meet with the leaders of the major Protestant denominations every 5 years or so. We swap them our liberals, and they give us their conservatives. At least there might be internal peace in each group then.

2. Thank you, Fr. Z. Your comments gave me the best laugh of my day. [My work here is done.] Every time I click on a link from Pewsitter that leads me to the Fishwrap, I am struck by how scary and out of touch with reality these people are.

The hatred for the Church that I see in those comments is incredible. Why on earth are these people still Catholic?!

4. This Synod was a bad idea from the start.

It was a profoundly unsound decision, both managerially and theologically. It will bring further trouble on the Church, whatever the outcome.

Just as Vatican II was used as a vehicle for a resurgence of the suppressed Modernist heresy in the Church, this Synod will be used by the liberal/Relativist elements to justify their predetermined position, regardless of the outcome.

At best there will, in practise, be a further widespread rejection of Church teaching by many laity and priests, which the Church will not have the energy or the will to counter. This will result in further confusion desertion and collapse in Mass attendance, and indeed in Catholicism.
At worst, it will produce a clear schismatic separation from the Church, as at the protestant Reformation.

On reflection perhaps the latter would be the best outcome after all.
The whole Vat II and post-Vat II, has been so badly, so incompetently, mishandled by successive popes and bishops, that maybe as Pope Benedict XVI suggested we might be better just accepting a smaller Church for some time, and start again.

5. I will be glad when this Synod is over. The best that can happen is that the bishops reaffirm Church teaching resulting in wailing and gnashing of teeth by the Fishwrap and their ilk. The worst that can happen … I don’t want to think about that. While we have a working document that seems orthodox in its approach, we have been through this before as at Vatican II where the working documents were laid aside and a minority of progressives were able to impose their radical ideas. Fifty years on, we are only just starting to get back on track and there is still much to be done to repair the damage that was done. I just pray that the Holy Spirit protects the Church from going off the rails in October.


XXVI. Wm. Oddie on the upcoming Synod: no change in doctrine

Posted on 5 August 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

At the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald, William Oddie has his say about Card. Kasper, his odd notions about Communion for the divorced and remarried, the upcoming Synod and Pope Francis.

Read the whole thing HERE, but I can bring you in in medias res:


So why am I so sure that the Pope does support Cardinal Müller’s insistence that there will be no change in the teachings of the Church, despite his warm words about Kasper’s speech? [Remember?  Tolerated but not accepted?] For a start, Kasper’s speech is such that you could find it interesting, even to be commended as an intellectual exercise, without agreeing with a word of it. It’s tentative, speculative; I didn’t exactly find it “serene” (incidentally, I seriously wonder if the Holy Father wasn’t teasing Cardinal Kasper when he said that “It is pleasant to read serene theology”; he’s known for his sense of humour) and if Pope Francis had actually agreed with it, wouldn’t he have used rather different wording?

In an interesting opinion piece in the New York Times on Kasper’s proposal, which is roughly that a second “marriage” might be tolerated but not accepted, Ross Douthat comments that “whatever individuals and pastors decide to take upon their own consciences, declaring the reception of Communion licit for the remarried-but-not-annulled in any systematic way seems impossible without real changes — each with its own potential doctrinal ripples — to one or more of three theologically-important Catholic ideas: The understanding that people in grave sin should not generally receive the Eucharist, the understanding that adultery is always a grave sin, and/or the understanding that a valid sacramental marriage is indissoluble.

If he actually did effect some change of the kind being fondly touted by liberal Catholics, Pope Francis would be either dissolving important Church teachings into incoherence, or else changing them in a way that mainstream Catholics firmly believe that the Pope, any pope, cannot do[Yep.]

Anyway, I confidently predict that there will be no change and that the Holy Father is NOT preparing the way for one. It’s a matter of his entire attitude to the Church’s doctrinal tradition. Not once has he cast any doubt on his support for what the Church teaches. [As I have been saying.] I draw your attention to one of his little sermons, preached at his daily Mass in the chapel of the Casa Santa Marta in January, and reported on this site but otherwise unnoticed, in which he made it quite clear that fidelity to Church teaching is a fundamental part of belonging to the Church and that we cannot, in his words, use Church doctrine “as we please.”




He defined the three “pillars” of belonging as “humility,” “fidelity” and “special service.” He said that fidelity was the “second pillar: “Fidelity to the Church, fidelity to its teaching; fidelity to the Creed; fidelity to the doctrine, safeguarding this doctrine. Humility and fidelity. We receive the message of the Gospel as a gift and we need to transmit it as a gift, but not as a something of ours: it is a gift that we received.”


Read the rest there.  There is a great Chesterton quote.


6 out of 11 responses

1. On the other hand, the LMS chairman (an interesting video from whom on ad orientem worship Father posted the other day) suggested in a recent blog post that Francis may be “testing the waters”–seeing what kind of reaction the proposal gets. If that is correct, then scalding and public criticism is very much in order. And if Oddie is correct, then scalding and public criticism will do no harm. Either way, it seems to me that we should be forcefully and publicly teaching orthodoxy and making the argument that it cannot be changed.

(As to whether Oddie is correct, FWIW, I continue to believe, as I have said here before, that what walks like a duck, swims like a duck, quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck is much more likely to be a duck than a cunningly-disguised lion.)

2. The upcoming synod has me very concerned. If Kasper’s view is accepted, it will create such a dichotomy between doctrine and practice that anything would be acceptable from this point on. We might as well, give communion to those in fornication, or homosexual unions. We might as well facilitate homosexual unions and just say that we don’t agree with the doctrine but we will facilitate the “wedding”.

One of my questions is: if Kasper’s view is accepted, how would this affect the doctrine of the Church? I know the Church is infallible so it cannot err on faith and morals, but this would seem to be a threat to the Church’s credibility on that matter. Thoughts?

3. The Pope cannot change established doctrine on Communion, adultery, and indissolubility of marriage. He does not have the authority to do so. Were that to happen either openly, or in some indirect way devolved to individual bishops, the Church would split into profound schism. The faction maintaining Catholic doctrine would continue to be the Catholic Church and the other would not.

That seems to be a problematic view because if the Pope is on the wrong side, then that means the Catholic Church would no longer be in communion with the Pope, which is a contradiction. Plus, that seems to be what the Orthodox argue. They say the Pope has erred so the Catholic Church is not the one in union with the Pope.

5. I don’t know if it is a problem, but it is certainly a nightmare which is now in the minds of an increasing number of loyal, intelligent, educated, orthodox catholics, clergy and lay who a couple of years ago would have fallen off their chairs laughing if any one had suggested that.

By the way this matter, surprisingly, has been looked into by many writers I have recently found out. I think the technical answer is that the in such a case the Pope would no longer be in union with the Church, which cannot err.

Recommend the paper by Michael Davies “A Heretical Pope?”, and that by Fr Georges de Nantes, “the Question of Papal heresy Schism and Scandal”. Apparently there have been up to five popes accused of heresy.

6. Here are some more details about the forthcoming book-length interview with Cardinal Mueller:
Cardinal Mueller’s book-long interview emphasizes indissolubility of the marriage


XXVII. Did Pope Francis predict his own death?

Posted on 19 August 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

During the presser on the airplane returning from Korea, the Pope spoke of the role, rather the “institution” of Pope Emeritus.  He also spoke of his own death.

Keep in mind that some time ago I predicted that Pope Francis, now 77, would resign when he reaches 80 years old.  And before any of you go running around declaring that I want him to resign, please note that I simply think that that is what he will do.

I, frankly, am not pleased about this Pope Emeritus thing.  I greatly respect Benedict XVI.  I think I understand why he abdicated, but I can’t say I am happy about it, for various reasons I need not go into here.

Let’s have look at some things the Holy Father Pope Francis said on the airplane.  HERE 

First, the Pope Emeritus stuff.  It’s a little disjointed, but you can get what he is driving at:


German journalist from KNA:

What type of relationship is there between you and Benedict XVI? Is there a habitual exchange of opinions and ideas? Is there a common project after this encyclical?

Pope Francis:

We see each other. Before leaving I went to see him. He, two weeks prior, had sent me an interesting text and he asked me an opinion. We have a normal relationship because I go back to this idea and maybe a theologian doesn’t like it. But, I think that the pope emeritus is not an exception. After so many centuries, he’s [Benedict’s] the first emeritus and let’s think that if i am aged and don’t have the strength, but it was a beautiful gesture of nobility and also humility and courage. But, I think that 70 years ago also the bishops emeritus were an exception. They didn’t exist. Today, the bishops emeritus are an institution[NB] I think that the pope emeritus is already an institution. Why?



Our lives are getting longer and at a certain age there is not the capacity to govern well, because the body tires and health perhaps is good but there is the capacity to carry forward all of the problems like those in the governance of the church. I think that Pope Benedict made this gesture of popes emeritus. I repeat that maybe some theologian would say this isn’t just, but i think like this. The centuries will tell if it’s like this or not, we’ll see, but if you can to say to me, ‘but do you think that one day if you don’t feel like it, will you go on?’ But, I would do the same. I would do the same. I will pray, but I would do the same. He opened a door that is institutional not exceptional.



Pretty clear.

On the other hand, when answering a question about how he handles his popularity…

French journalist Anais Martin, French Radio:


In Rio, when the crowd yelled “Francesco, Francesco!” you responded “Cristo, Cristo!” Today, how do you manage this immense popularity? How do you live it?

Pope Francis:

I don’t know how to tell you. I live it thanking the Lord that his people are happy. I really do that, hoping the best for the people of God. I live it as generosity towards the people. On the inside, I try to think of my sins and my errors not to flatter myself because I know it won’t last long. Two or three years and then (makes a sound and gesture) up to the house of the Father.



I have the sense that His Holiness doesn’t think he will be Pope after another 3 years or so, that he will either have died or he will be in bad enough shape that he will resign.

0 out of 23 responses


XXVIII. The popular pontificate of Pope Francis: two views

Posted on 27 August 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Auctores scinduntur… authors are divided on the pontificate of Pope Francis. […]

I wonder what you readers are experiencing in your parishes.

Is Mass attendance up?  Are there things you could within reason attribute to a Francis bump?


3 out of 65 responses

1. Attendance numbers at Mass are roughly the same.

A few overt changes:
** Rainbows draped the Altar during Easter for those “marginalized by the Church because they have a different lifestyle.”
** Holy Water fonts are dry.
** The confessional is slated for removal.
** Confiteor hasn’t been used at Mass in about a year.
** Those who are ill and close to death don’t receive the Sacrament of the Sick.
** The faithful no longer receive a Catholic funeral.
** The priest no longer purifies the vessels. Sometimes no one at all purifies them!!!

All of these changes and more have fallen in place over the last year and a half.

2. The priests I know in the Chicago area have expressed concerns about lower Mass attendance. Our parish as well. Still waiting for the numbers for the entire diocese, should be interesting to see. I saw an article today that claimed Mass attendance in Italy is ‘surging;’ I would be surprised that it is, it does not seem to be the case in the USA. –Fr. W

3. I see no change in my parish (I am the pastor). I find that the Catholics in the pews do not know what’s going on in the Church. How do I know this? In my homilies I reference articles I read at, National Catholic Register, etc., many people occasionally show some surprise at what I tell them about the Church and the world.
I don’t believe they can tell you much about the Holy Father beyond the basics. They don’t read papal encyclical, or motu proprio. I am sure if you asked them who wrote, “The Joy of the Gospel” they would not know.
So why should he be an influencing factor in the growth of the faith.
-Fr. Ant


XXIX. Card. Cañizares Llovera, Prefect of CDW, transferred to Valencia EXTRACT

Posted on 28 August 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Antonio Card. Cañizares Llovera, has been transferred to Spain at the new Archbishop of Valencia.

He will fill the vacancy left with the transfer of Archbishop Carlos Osoro Sierra to Madrid.

Thus, rumors that have been going around have been confirmed.

What we don’t know yet is who will replace Card. Cañizares Llovera at CDW.  Cañizares Llovera was known to be in line with the vision of Benedict XVI.  At one point his nickname was “Ratzingerino”.  His term at CDW was a bit of a mixed bag.  




I suspect that his successor won’t be so closely aligned with Benedict.  But who knows?  Francis could surprise us all.  I would not weep to see Card. Burke go to Divine Worship, though I wouldn’t put money on it.

What we also don’t know is whether or not this signals that other rumors going about will turn out to be true.  In the case of a couple rumors, I really hope not.


2 out of 26 responses

1. If Francis is moderately indifferent to liturgy as Jesuits are said to be, then of 3 points on a spectrum of conservative, moderate, and liberal, we have only a 1 in 3 chance of getting a new prefect to our liking. […] It is one thing to have an ordinary who puts a stop to the most egregious wrongs, but quite another to have one that actively seeks to redress past entrenched wrongs.

2. Let us pray that Archbishop Piero Marini isn’t named the new prefect of the CDW…

Cardinal Robert Sarah was appointed Prefect by Pope Francis in November 2014. -Michael


XXX. Déjà vu from Card. Kasper and Jesuit-run Amerika Magazine

Posted on 11 September 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Jesuit-run Amerika Magazine* has run more from Card. Kasper in support the divorced and civilly remarried receiving Holy Communion.  This is the “tolerate but not accepted” solution, which, through “mercy”, would see these people as a sort of second-class Catholic who, after they are sorry for what they have done, can be tolerated at the Communion rail, even though we don’t accept their adulterous state. *That’s another Fr. Z-ism; it’s the infamous liberal America magazine

I’m not sure how many times Amerika has served as Card. Kasper’s agent in this, but it’s a few by now.  This new piece has the date of 15 September, but, at the bottom, we read that it is base on what they published last May.  No kidding.  First Pete and now Repeat.

The tune hasn’t changed much.  This is part of the “mercy” campaign I predicted would get into full-swing as we got closer to the Synod on the Family in October.  And, just you watch, people who uphold the Church’s doctrine and discipline, will be accused of conducting a war on mercy.  Those who say we must use the lens “mercy” so as to re-read what the Lord taught and what the Church has always affirmed will be accused of being “ideological”.  Just watch.

In any event, let’s glance at a few snips from Card. Kasper’s latest Pre-Synod Repetition.  Jumping in media res:


“[T]he church must proclaim the mercy of God; it must concretely provide people with God’s mercy in the form of the sacrament of reconciliation; and it must allow God’s mercy to appear and be realized in its entire life, its concrete structures and even in its laws.


This is code language.  Words like “structure” bring to mind, what?  For example, class struggle.

His Eminence then seems to ramble for a bit about the rich North and the poor South.  In a nutshell, we of the North (bad and unmerciful) must treat the South (poor and therefore good) with mercy.  We are, therefore, supposed to make some changes and be “merciful”.  In material terms that means give them money through changing all sorts of structures. However, Kasper gets back at it in the next section.  I am sure you can predict it: Just like we of the cold and merciless North must make changes to aid the materially poor of the South, then we of the merciless law-and-doctrine-defending-spiritual “North” (where it’s cold, I guess) must make changes to laws, and I suppose to doctrine, to “structures”, so as to show spiritual mercy to the spiritual “South”, that is, the divorced and remarried.

Simple.  Get it?

Thus, the Cardinal:


“The question many ask is: What does this mean for the church itself and its behavior not only toward those who are poor in a material sense but toward people within the church who feel neglected, put aside, marginalized and excommunicated—if not in a strict canonical sense, then in a de facto sense—because they are not allowed to take part in the table of the Lord? Often one asks: What about people who are divorced and remarried?

So the breakdown of church discipline can in no way appeal for support to Jesus and the New Testament. But because church discipline is in keeping with the meaning of the Gospel, it must also be interpreted and applied according to the sense and spirit of the Gospel. For this reason, Paul makes it clear that the punishment of expulsion is meant to force the sinner to reflect on his or her conduct and to repent. If the sinner regrets his or her actions and repents, the community should let gentleness again prevail (2 Cor 2:5-11). Punishment is the last resort and, as such, is temporally limited. It is the drastic and final means used by mercy.


Here is the problem with this.

In order to receive Holy Communion, we must be properly disposed.  If, after divorcing and not obtaining a declaration of nullity (thus, you are still considered married), you have entered into a civil marriage, you have committed a mortal sin. You are living in the state of sin if you are having relations reserved to marriage.  The word “adultery” is not reserved only to what the guy who cheats on his wife.  That’s what people tend to picture when they hear the word “adultery”.  When Christians hear “adultery”, they think of the way the adulteress was almost stoned by those legalist meanies whom Jesus put to shame with His mercy.  But “adultery” includes more than sneaking around.  Keep that firmly in mind.  



Jesus told the adulteress to amend her life (πορεου κα μηκτι μρτανε). The civil marriage (after divorce without decree of nullity) is also an “adulterous” relationship, even though there is no sneaking around, even though it looks very respectable, and even if the couple is working really hard at it.  Bottom line: if you – anyone – are not willing to change your situation, if you – anyone – are not willing to “amend your life”, you remain not disposed to receive Communion.   The sin could be X or Y, but the consequence is the same: you aren’t properly disposed to receive Communion.

The inability to receive Communion is a consequence of not being in the state of grace.  It is NOT a punishment.

That’s the key, but let’s see just a bit more from the Cardinal (as if we haven’t seen it before):


Such an understanding of church discipline as the bitter but necessary medicine of mercy conforms to a tradition that understood Jesus Christ, in light of his miraculous healings, as doctor, healer and savior; a tradition in which the pastor, in particular the confessor, is understood not only as a judge, but primarily as a doctor of the soul. This therapeutic understanding of church law and discipline leads us to the fundamental issue of how to interpret and explain church law. That is a broad field that we cannot treat here in a comprehensive way, but only from the perspective of the relation of church law to mercy. [Jesus told the adulterous woman, to “sin no more”.  Jesus did not approve of the woman at the well having … how many husbands was it?]

Law and Spirit
So, canon law is not against the Gospel, but the Gospel is against a legalistic understanding of canon law. Canon law should be interpreted and applied in the light of mercy because mercy opens our eyes to the concrete situation of the other. Mercy shows that the individual is not only a case that can subsumed under a general rule. On the contrary, it is essential for Christian anthropology that before God we are not a “plural”; every person and every situation is singular. So we have to find solutions that are just and equitable at the same time. If we do not, then—as the Romans put it—summa ius
[ummm… ius is neuter, not feminine.  summum ius, right? lex is feminine and ius (jus) is neuter.  But I suppose, in mercy, we can just make ius be feminine.  I’ll tolerate that in this article, though I won’t accept it.] (highest justice) can become summa iniuria (highest injustice).



He goes on to talk about, again, oikonomia.  YES, he does it again.  He has not yet received the memo: oikonomia is not a solution.  As a propaedeutic for how oikonomia does NOT work to solve this situation click HERE.

This is more of the same thing we have heard and read from the Cardinal for the umpteenth time.  And Amerika, once again, has a new editorial in support of this.  Déjà vu.

I suspect that the Cardinal and the editors of Amerika, just as their former editor, Thomas Reese, SJ (now with the Fishwrap – he had a meltdown about this yesterday), have seen the list of the participants in the October Synod of Bishops and they know that they have lost. Their notions can’t garner the 2/3 vote that would be needed to make such proposals to Pope Francis.


6 out of 31 responses

1. Card. Napier has also reaffirmed his support of the traditional teaching and said that the Synod will not satisfy the secular media’s desire for big changes, particularly with regards to communion for the divorced/remarried.

2. I find it interesting that this topic of ‘the family” is going to be discussed at two Synods – an Extraordinary Synod in October 2014 and at the Ordinary Synod in October 2015. Is this a usual practice? According to the USCCB website, this is only the third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops held since Vatican II.

3. I would be amazed if the Kasper proposal garnered the support of even 25% of the synod participants. Cardinal Kasper is trying to guide a sail boat into a tropical storm, which, of course, is just as it should be. The Holy Father’s selections for the synod would indicate his willingness to entertain a full and robust debate on the matter, but that list includes some of the brightest and surest defenders of the Church’s teaching, like Cardinals Caffarra and Sebastian Aguilar, as well as Cardinal Scola of Milan. I feel very comfortable with those three cardinals, as well as the likes of Cardinals Pell and Burke, standing for the teaching of the Church.

4. The Catholic liberals/progressives/modernists feel they have the wind at their backs. Maybe they don’t, but they seem to think they do and they’re acting as if they do. Regardless, they are pushing at every fissure within the Church and, if just one cracks, the whole wall holding them back could easily follow. Their strategy isn’t just limited to this topic either. Just the other day, Thomas Reese wrote an editorial in Amerika about his hopes for the new head of CDW. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty, much like what we continue to read from Cardinal Kasper and Amerika on communion for divorced and remarried.

The approval for the use of contraception, under certain circumstances, voted during the Lambeth Conference of 1930 did not come out of the blue; there had been years of internal discussion about the subject until the objectors were worn down. So too, many may be hoping, that approval of the reception of Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried will be discussed and discussed until the opposition is worn down or, like female altar servers and communion in the hand, Rome may be presented with a fait accompli and weakly cave in.

I have to say that all of the things going on in the Church have caused me to start re-reading The Jesuits, by Malachi Martin. It’s been since 1987, when it was published, but I wonder if even he (a former Jesuit) could have envisioned what has happening.


XXXI. Fishwrap: Approve of “gay” sex or risk a shrinking, irrelevant Church.

Posted on 16 September 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

I think we are going to see the National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap) lurch even farther to the left, even deeper into angry dissent now that they have to cope with and distinguish themselves with Crux.

I suspect Crux will wind up doing a better job of what Fishwrap has been doing.

Here is an example of angry edginess from Fishwrap.  This ought bring in those readers!

Brian Cahill has a peevish piece in which he makes the claim that …

The Catholic church is on track to become a shrinking cult

Oh no!  What will save us from this dire fate?  Fishwrap has an answer!

Let’s have a look.


Taking a break from his crusade against civil gay marriage, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone is establishing an Oratory of St. Philip Neri at Star of the Sea Parish in the city.  [So, the theme has been introduced.]


But the Holy Spirit works in all sorts of strange and wonderful ways, and any effort to attract young adults — to keep them from leaving the church, should be praised, especially given the wholesale exodus of young Catholics over recent years. The Pew Research Center’s Religion and Public Life Project reports that four out of five Catholics who have left the church and haven’t joined another church did so before the age of 24.

One can point to an increasingly secular, materialistic culture as a factor in this exodus. But a closer look suggests that young Catholics are increasingly turned off by the attitudes and actions of some American bishops — the failure to address the child abuse scandal, the harsh opposition to civil gay marriage, the cluelessness of church teaching on contraception, and the refusal to consider women priests.

More recently, Catholic high school students, who can spot dishonesty and hypocrisy a mile away, are reacting with disillusion and disgust at how the church is treating some teachers in Catholic schools.

Bishop Michael Barber of Oakland, Calif., is attempting to coerce Catholic identity with a mandated morality pledge.


Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr upheld the firing of an assistant principal who expressed support for civil gay marriage on his blog.


Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon fired a teacher at a Catholic high school from her job when the diocese read the obituary of her mother’s death and discovered the teacher was a lesbian. How many thoughtful Catholic high school students will stick around in a church that is capable of that kind of behavior?

St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt sent one of his priests to speak at a mandatory high school assembly just before Minnesota was to vote on an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment.


If our church is left in the hands of these bishops, [Those mean dumb meanies!] we are on track to become a shrinking, increasingly irrelevant cult [Fishwrap’s future] — not a source of appeal for thoughtful Catholic high school students.


Yep.  That’s a great idea!  Let’s adjust the Church’s Magisterium to the view of high school students!  We need a Magisterium of Sophomores!

Bottom line: The Pope should declare that every gender-distinction in the Bible and the Magisterium has been wrong all along and Bishops should stop teaching about sexual morality.  We really must start saying that sticking what you have into any place you want is fine, especially when it comes to same-sex sex.   Hey!  Even better…. why not just approve it!  That would make us even more relevant, and hip, right?  I can see the beginning of the Dogmatic Constitution from Vatican III: Quae olim dedecora esse dixit Ecclesia, nunc …. 


2 out of 33 responses

1. First time I have seen “Crux.” Seems to be tastefully designed, left-of-center-but-not-crazy, and where John L. Allen, Jr. landed after his departure from NCR. I see it is “A Boston Globe Media website.” Allen appears to be second in command, with Teresa M. Hanafin as general editor. Hanafin apparently has nearly 30 years experience as a journalist, so this is likely a personal project rather than something designed to catapult her into the limelight. I’m not entirely sure we need yet another US Catholic news agency, and America and Commonweal seem to have the left-of-center-but-not-crazy angle covered pretty well. But, hey, if it’ll draw a few readers away from the left-of-center-and-indeed-crazy NCR, I won’t complain.

2. Why is the Fishwrap warning the Church about these consequences? Isn’t a shrinking, irrelevant Church what they campaign for?


XXXII. The possible demotion of Card. Burke. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

Posted on 16 September 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf



Now that the cat is out of the bag, I’ll post this. I do not like the fact that Sandro Magister posted in this way, however.  I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now.  The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod.  Or at all.

It’s not good news.  At the time of this writing, it is still – officially – a rumor.  I believe it, however. I have been trying to get myself into a mental and spiritual place to see it for what it is and, more importantly, for what it is not, and to plot my own reaction and subsequent course.

Vatican Insider has posted that His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke will soon be demoted by Pope Francis from being Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura to the Patron of the Knights of Malta.

The move is not lateral.  That position is usually entrusted to older Cardinals.  The present Cardinal Patron is Card. Sardi, who is now 80.  Before him was Pio Card. Laghi.  The reassignment would be a demotion, for the Patron of the Knights is not nearly the equivalent of Prefect of a Roman dicastery.

I didn’t think that Card. Burke would be moved to Chicago, though I had a little fun with that idea. I thought he might be moved laterally to the Congregation for Causes of Saints to replace Card. Amato, who is over 75.  More on Saints, below.

There are a few points to make here, before the trads blow arteries and quite simply die and before liberals and dissidents, who suffer from Burke Derangement Syndrome, start their Lord of the Flies Dance.

First, it is possible that the three Roman tribunals (Penitentiary, Signatura, Rota), might be collapsed into a single dicastery for justice. I don’t know how that would work. I think it would be a really bad idea, but they didn’t ask me. If that is the case, the Signatura and the Penitentiary will not both need a Cardinal.

Second, according to a couple sources I have heard from, there is talk of collapsing the Congregation for Causes of Saints back into Divine Worship where, historically, it once belonged. Once upon a time the powerful Sacred Congregation of Rites had the brief for beatification and canonization. That would eliminate another cardinalatial chair in the Curia.

Furthermore, there is talk of collapsing minor curial offices, Councils and the like, into a Congregation for Laity. That could eliminate several other Cardinals in the Curia.

If you eliminate a position that has required a Cardinal, and that Cardinal is not 75 or 80, that is, ready for retirement, the Pope has to do something with him.  Burke is only 66.  What can the Pope do if there are no longer enough cardinalatial slots in the curia because he plans on eliminating them?  Well, you can send His Eminence off to be the bishop of some important see in his own country, right?  What if the Pope can’t do that because the Cardinal’s own countrymen have been drenching the same Cardinal in contumely?  Not enough curial chairs, not a good option back home?  Don’t forget that the Archbishop Secretaries of eliminated offices have to go somewhere too!  They might need those dioceses back in their native places.

So, what? You put the Cardinal in the best possible cardinalatial role you can find.  Some Cardinals who hit 75 and are at the end of service in a Congregation, are still useful.  They reside in Rome.  They can be on other Congregations until they are 80.  They could head up some office such as, once upon a time, the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei”.  That’s been put under the CDF.  There are still, for example, Archpriests at the Major Basilicas.  But, there’s already an American at St. Paul’s outside-the-walls: Card. Harvey, 64, also from Wisconsin, just like Card. Burke. Two American sexagenarian Cardinals from Wisconsin as Archpriests of Papal Basilicas at the same time? Not likely. I suspect that if Francis eliminates a few offices, such as Cor Unum or Justice and Peace or the like which have men who are still of service age, one of them will go, say, to be Archpriest at St. Mary Major, where the present man, Card. Abril y Castelló, is about to turn 79. An Italian could wind up as the Delegate for the Basilica of St. Francis where Card. Nicora, 77, is now.

It is fair to imagine that Pope Francis – certainly at the instigation of a few close advisers – is purging the Curia of his predecessor’s influence.

It is also fair to imagine that Francis is pairing down the number of Cardinals and offices in the Curia.  It could be more about that than about Burke himself.  It could be a purge of Cardinals and not just of Burke.

It could be about both.  After all, Cardinals Piacenza and Cañizares were moved.

What I am wondering about is what might happen at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Will Card. Müller be moved out of the Curia to Berlin?

We could know more when and if Francis appoints Burke’s successor at an existing, unreformed Signatura.

NB: with the removal of Burke from the Signatura, there will be zero US Cardinals in the Roman Curia.  Is it likely that that is what Pope Francis wants?  No American Cardinals in the Roman Curia?  That’s a pretty big and influential country to snub.

QUAERITUR: Is Francis opening up a slot into which he would move another American Cardinal from these USA?  An American (or other) Cardinal into a key position for any reform of the tribunals who may agree with Card. Kasper’s views or be on side if it comes to trimming down the annulment process?

And then there is this.

This news has been leaked a couple weeks before the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops which will tackle, inter alia, the question of Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.  However, Card. Burke will surely be a participant in the Synod.  Moreover, days before the Synod begins, a book will be released in five languages – in English, Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church, by Ignatius Press HERE – UK link HERE – in which Card. Burke has an essay (along with those of four other Cardinals) in defense of the Church’s traditional teaching and discipline.  Card. Burke has been a leading figure in the holding position against the really bad ideas of Walter Card. Kasper, the “tolerate but don’t accept” position that the liberals and dissidents are swooning over.  You will have noticed – or maybe not, for how many people read it, after all – that at Amerika Magazine, its 24/7 Kasperism.

“But Father! But Father!” some of you are asking, “How could something like this take place?  Why would this take place?” Others are saying “Hah hah Fr. Z!  You hate Vatican II! Next we’re coming for you!”





In addition to the scenario of cutting back the curia I outlined, above, I think that Card. Burke’s enemies, both in these USA and in Rome – at least occasionally, got the upper hand when advising Pope Francis.  It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.

This is millennial, clerical blood sport.

Sacerdos sacerdoti lupissimus.

No surprises here.  The sun rises at dawn.  Dog bites man.

Is there an upside to this?  Sure there is!

If this happens – and it is still not official yet – Card. Burke will not have so much on his plate. He is still young enough to have a good store of energy.  This move, if true, would mean that he would not be tethered to a desk full of nearly as much paperwork.  He will have more time to write.  He will have more opportunities to raise his voice and express his views.  He is already pretty forthright as a Prefect.  When he is off the leash, he will still act with the Romanitas and the gravitas of a Cardinal, but I’ll bet he’ll be even more vocal.

Another upside?  He will probably retain his membership in the Congregations to which he belongs.  Those appointments change from time to time.  We shall see.

Remember, this is not official until it is formally announced.  However, it seems likely.

I know Card. Burke a little.  I know him well enough to know that he is a man of deep spiritual resources.  He will be fine.  Do, however, say a prayer for him regularly.  Every Cardinal needs prayers!  Imagine how the Enemy targets Cardinals, especially real defenders of tradition.  It’s a terrifying prospect.

And then there’s this.  This is the part I direct at YOU, dear readers.

Many of you will be tempted to have a spittle-flecked nutty of sorrow and panic about this, directly proportioned to the spittle-flecked nutty of giddiness and schadenfreude that the catholic Left are about to throw.

Many of you will be tempted to run in circles squawking about Francis the Disaster, the cross between a Jesuit and South American Dictator.  At the same time the catholic Left will be running in the opposite direction squawking about Francis The Unjudgmental, the first Pope ever to smile or to kiss a baby, the most wonderfullest fluffiest Pope ehvurrr. He’s the only Pope ever to think about mercy!  In doing this, the Left will also manifest their trademark venom. Remember what foaming paroxysms they had when Burke was not reappointed as a member of the Congregation of Bishops?  When he was moved from St. Louis to Rome?  “Demotion!”, they cried. (Benedict moved him to Rome, by the way, not Francis, and it was a promotion.) So too with the Right!  Francis says something that is – admittedly – strange or impenetrable and trads freak out.

We have to breathe deeply and try to see this for what it is and what it isn’t.  And to continue the respiratory metaphor, some of us – I include myself – are going to have to hold our noses and swallow this bitter dose as if it had all the asafoetida that Dr. Maturin was accustomed to add to his draughts.  [That’s a Patrick O’Brian reference.]

Every pontificate has its good days and its bad days.  Which it ain’t always beer and skittles, is it, as Preserved Killick would put it?  [That’s another.]

There are many factors to consider in this move, consideration of which should take us beyond a simple and facile assumption that this is part of a Franciscan Night of the Long Knives.


5 out of 125 responses

1. It all seems like the parable of the Grand Inquisitor:

The Church is obscuring the truth to a degree that the default position is ignorance, so that all may be saved by it.

How fitting, from the Russian point of view, that our Pope is a Jesuit!

2. His Eminence is still a cardinal of the holy Roman Church. He realizes that this comes with the territory of being a Catholic priest; namely, we are not entitled to position and titles in the Church. We are called, we serve, and we leave–at the good pleasure of our superiors. Winds of change and fortune sweep through the Church like storms in the U.S. Midwest. True power is in a churchman’s life and witness. Traditionalists who are not shallow and superficial will not abandon the Cardinal simply because he is less politically connected. And as Fr. Z points out, if this happens, Burke will be free to write, travel, speak, give retreats, and officiate at many ordinations to the priesthood! –Fr. Sotelo

3. I have an intuition this is for the second of the reasons you’ve outlined, but not the first. Why? He, in all likelihood, is still consulting BXVI; as such, the former is less likely to do something the latter strongly disapproves.

4. If this is true, I am having a very very hard time thinking anything charitable or kind about our current Pope and our Emeritus Pope (for resigning and allowing the new regime to take hold), the Curia or most of the Vatican right now.



This greatest of the Church’s princes cannot be treated like this, he is holy, he is kind, he has the smell of the sheep, e.g. of all the curial Cardinals in Rome he was the ONLY one to march with pro lifers, he defends the Church’s teachings at great personal cost. Why promote a man of this calibre to a position of leadership? By all means lets keep in authority those who do the exact opposite of this great man and I can think of a lot of princes right now, but I won’t name them.
God have mercy on us all! God have mercy on me for my anger and please let me see what your purpose is in all this, because I am in darkness with regards to YOUR church.

5. May I have my German Shepherd back, please?


XXXIII. Synods and Sausage: having a Church isn’t for the squeamish

Posted on 18 September 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The opening of the Synod on the Family draws closer. Books in various languages are to be released in which marriage and Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried are studied, with a special eye on the proposals of Card. Kasper. Catholic media and blogs speculate that Pope Francis is irritated, maybe even angry, with those who are criticizing Card. Kasper’s proposals. Perhaps he is even exiling or punishing people.  Sides are polarizing.  People are having discussions.  Hands are wringing.

Can’t we all just get along?

A few thoughts.

First, this is what “synodality” looks like. It’s messy.

Bishops and theologians have at it. They propose. They counter-propose. They raise their voices.

Shall we forget our Church’s history? Look back to the ancient Church and the fiery synods of those days.

Anyone out there remember Vatican II?  It was in all the papers.

If people, especially liberals, want a more synod-like approach to how we do things in the Church, this is what they are going to get.

By the way, it doesn’t work very well for the ecclesial communities and churches that have it. But hey! Don’t complain about getting what you have asked for.

The liberal MSM is getting into it too.  For example, Nicole Winfield of AP has a bit today about the soon-to-be-released Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church (the “five Cardinals” book that dismantles Card. Kasper’s notions – HERE).  Here’s a look at some of it:



Conservatives, [Let’s stipulate that “conservatives” are the bad guys standing in the way of “mercy” and move on.] including the five cardinal authors, have vehemently [“vehemently”?  Read the book before characterizing its tone.] opposed Kasper’s suggestion as contrary to Christ’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage. Their debate — unusually raw and public for such “princes of the church” [Huh?  Where’s the “raw” in “We don’t agree.”] — has crystalized the growing discomfort among conservatives to some of Francis’ words and deeds, and sets the stage for what is likely to be a heated discussion starting Oct. 5

[A “heated” discussion in a “synod”?  What a thought!   This underscores a problem of perspective among those who lean to the Left.  Synods are apparently supposed to be like meetings of the Korean Supreme People’s Assembly in which participants clap mechanically for the predetermined (read: liberal) position.]


Francis has asserted church doctrine on the matter but has called for a merciful, pastoral approach: He reportedly told an Argentine woman earlier this year that she was free to receive Communion even though her husband’s first marriage was never annulled. Knowing the issue is divisive, though, he has convened the whole church to debate the issue as part of a broad discussion on family issues over the next two years.  [Here, she got it right.  The Pope called for discussion of the issue.  Even during the airplane presser on the way home from WYD in Rio, the Pope called for the questions to be studied.  And now “conservatives” are being “vehement” and the discussion is “raw” when some cardinals and scholars do exactly what the Pope asked for?]


It is rare for cardinals to publicly and pointedly accuse another cardinal of being flat-out wrong, and rarer still for a cardinal to question the pope, as Burke has done. [Woah! Is that what Card. Burke did?] Regarding the purported phone call to the Argentine woman, Burke told the EWTN Catholic channel: “I wouldn’t for a moment impute that Pope Francis intended to give a signal about church doctrine by calling someone on the phone. This is just absurd.” [It is blatantly false and manifestly unfair to state, as Winfield did here, that Card. Burke “questioned” the Pope.  And let’s be clear.  Who knows what the Pope really said in that phone conversation, reported second-hand on Facebook. Furthermore, the Church’s doctrine is not established in phone calls to couples living in irregular marriages.]



We are not used to seeing how the Church’s sausage is made.  It is messy.  Hands get dirty.  Lots of things go into it which, considered individually, aren’t very appealing.  Having a Church isn’t for the squeamish.


Can’t we all just get along?  Sure we can!  That doesn’t mean we can’t have heated arguments about matters that are central to our lives as Catholics.  We can and must discuss the truth in charity.

Unless, of course, the era of Caritas in veritate … charity in truth… is over.


4 out of 20 responses

1. Is this Card Kasper saying that the Pope agrees with him?

“None of my brother cardinals has ever spoken with me,” the cardinal (Kasper) said. “I, on the other hand, have spoken twice with the Holy Father. I arranged everything with him. He was in agreement. What can a cardinal do but stand with the pope? I am not the target, the target is another.”
Asked if the target was Pope Francis, the cardinal replied: “Probably yes.”

[HA HA HA HA HA! Noooo…. the target is Card. Kasper. And he knows it. That’s why he is whining and hiding behind the Holy Father’s skirts. I have seen the book, which was sent to me by the publisher. What Kasper said is untrue.]

2. I’m also utterly confused over the mainstream media’s prism of this pope and, more generally, the Church. The people who take the Church’s teachings seriously know that AP or MSNBC or Fox News are not reliable sources of catechesis and therefore shouldn’t be approached as such. We all love to lament how MISLEADING or CONFUSING the faith is construed in the media, but this isn’t the 1960s and your average Catholic is generally not especially concerned with what comes from synods or even the pope’s own mouth. They’re going to do whatever they want whether the Church’s allows them to or not. So I would suggest simply avoiding the secular’s media’s absurd contortions of doctrine and the upcoming synod. There is a lot of Catholic media that will probably get hooked, too.

At the end of the day, watch for the Apostolic Exhortation. That is what concerns us as Catholics. And I don’t see a way that that exhortation could teach anything other than the truth of the indissolubility of marriage, even if the annulment process is compromised in the process, the Church simply cannot throw her hands up and throw Pauline sacramental and penitential theology out of the window.

3. By the way, Fr. Z., do you still stand by your earlier prediction for the outcome of the synod?

4. Suppose the Synod were to uphold the Church’s Gospel-dictated theology and teaching on marriage, Communion, and sin. Do we think that those liberal bishops who have already advertised their wish for (or indifference to) an easy tolerance of remarried couples at Communion would then go back with bowed heads to their dioceses and sternly lay it on the line?
Their strong inclination would be to find ways round any orthodox synodal decision, particularly if its language were open to creative interpretation. Or at the very least to quietly allow and encourage their priests to create local ‘exceptions’. And if some bishops stray in this way, who could and would bring them back into line, in this current fuzzy-logic who-am-I-to-judge atmosphere whipped up by the public media?
What that would do is turn the Church into an Anglican-style a la carte menu.


XXXIV. Card. Kasper accused other Cardinals of attacking the Pope

Posted on 18 September 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Card. Kasper, the proponent of the “tolerated by not accepted” solution, has been reacting all over the Italian secular press today.  He is “surprised” at the appearance of the “Five Cardinals” Book™.

His Eminence is flummoxed that he should be taken to task for what he has publicly proposed.

In English you can read at CNS:

“None of my brother cardinals has ever spoken with me,” the cardinal (Kasper) said. “I, on the other hand, have spoken twice with the Holy Father. I arranged everything with him. He was in agreement. What can a cardinal do but stand with the pope? I am not the target, the target is another.”
Asked if the target was Pope Francis, the cardinal replied: “Probably yes.”

This is untrue.

I have seen the book. It was sent to me by the publisher. What Kasper said is untrue. The only way in which His Holiness is mentioned in the book is favorably. The Pope is praised.

Noooo… the target is Card. Kasper. And he knows it. That’s why he is hiding behind the Holy Father’s skirts.

Specifically, the Pope is praised for his talk to the International Theological Commission when he reminded them that sensus fidelium had nothing to do with opinion polls. Francis is cited in the book, when he reiterated in April 2014 to the bishops from South Africa, Botswana and Swaziland that marriage is between one man and one woman and it is indissoluble. Francis in that same address praised St. John Paul’s Familiaris consortio as the basis for marriage instruction in these African countries.

The “Five Cardinals” Book™, if it is anti-Kasper at all, can only be described as anti-Kasper Lite.

If you want something weighs in more heavily, in a way directed far more pointedly at Card. Kasper by name, try the other new book coming out from Ignatius on marriage, divorce and Communion called The Gospel of the Family: Going Beyond Cardinal Kasper’s Proposal in the Debate on Marriage, Civil Re-Marriage and Communion in the Church by J. J. Pérez-Soba and S. Kampowski with a foreword by Card. Pell.

I am reading this book now.

Here, for your edification, is a quote from Pell’s foreword:

This book is important for many reasons. A courteous, informed, and rigorous discussion, indeed debate, is needed especially for the coming months to defend the Christian and Catholic tradition of monogamous, indissoluble marriage — focusing on the central elements of the challenges facing marriage and the family, rather than being distracted into a counterproductive and futile search for short-term consolations.



The health of an organization can be gauged by observing the amount of time and energy devoted to the discussion of various topics. Healthy communities do not spend most of their energies on peripheral issues, and unfortunately the number of divorced and remarried Catholics who feel they should be allowed to receive Holy Communion is very small indeed.

The pressures for this change are centered mainly in some European churches, where churchgoing is low and an increasing number of divorcees are choosing not to remarry. The issue is seen by both friends and foes of the Catholic tradition as a symbol — a prize in the clash between what remains of Christendom in Europe and an aggressive neo-paganism. Every opponent of Christianity wants the Church to capitulate on this issue.

Both sides in this discussion appeal to Christian criteria, and everyone is dismayed by the amount of suffering caused to spouses and children by marriage breakups. What help can and should the Catholic Church offer?

Some see the primary task of the Church as providing lifeboats for those who have been shipwrecked by divorce. [Kasper uses this image… “naufragio… zattera”]

And lifeboats should be available for all, especially for those tragic innocent parties. But which way should the lifeboats be headed? Toward the rocks or the marshes, or to a safe port, which can only be reached with difficulty? Others see an even more important task for the Church in providing leadership and good maps to diminish the number of shipwrecks. Both tasks are necessary, but how are they best achieved?

The Christian understanding of mercy is central when we are talking about marriage and sexuality, forgiveness and Holy Communion, so not surprisingly, in this excellent volume the essential links between mercy and fidelity, between truth and grace in our Gospel teaching, are spelled out clearly and convincingly.

Mercy is different from most forms of tolerance, which is one of the more praiseworthy aspects of our pluralist societies. Some forms of tolerance define sin out of existence, but adult freedoms and inevitable differences need not be founded on a thoroughgoing relativism.

The indissolubility of marriage is one of the rich truths of divine revelation.


Order the book and the read the rest!  Right now its 24% off.

If Card. Kasper needs a copy, I hope he’ll use my link!


5 out of 38 responses

1. Kasper is irked that none of his brother cardinals consulted with him before publishing this book; with how many of those brother cardinals did Kasper consult before giving his speech?

2. “tolerated by not accepted” -That’s a very insulting thing to say to someone, especially when it comes to something as serious as someone’s eternal salvation. You tolerate a screaming baby on an airplane, you even accept that sort of discomfort for a short time (and say a little prayer for the suffering parents).

This matter, divorce/remarriage/communion, on the other hand, isn’t something that should be tolerated, nor accepted. We shouldn’t tolerate anyone going to Hell, (even though some choose that route sad to say…) and we should be working against people going to Hell.

How much do you have to hate someone to think of them in those terms if Eternal Salvation is in the balance? “We’re going to tolerate you walking into this blazing inferno, but we’re not going to accept it.” (That in and of itself doesn’t make any sense…!)

How many souls do you think are in Hell Right Now that are waiting patiently for their pastors, who let them walk willingly into the dark fires, to die so that they can tear them to pieces for all eternity?

I’m left wondering if people who espouse the views along the lines of “tolerated by not accepted” really do believe in Hell (Or Heaven, or Purgatory, or Mary, or even Jesus for that matter…)

3. I pray otherwise, but one does feel a major schism will develop after the Synod? Or perhaps more accurately stated, a deepening of the schism that has grown over the last several decades. Doctrine may not change, but as for praxis….? Let’s face it, if the liturgy of the Holy Mass can be changed radically in such a way that it does not remotely resemble the Mass Immemorial, then can anything be considered unchangeable? May Our Blessed Virgin pray for the Pope and for the Cardinals who will participate in this Synod. St. Michael, defend us in our battle against the assaults of Satan. 



4. I think it’s possible that Card. Kasper has misunderstood the Pope or vice versa. Something doesn’t ad up here when you consider what the Pope has said earlier. Card. Kasper is acting like a little boy in a sandbox. Sigh. I’m so tired of all this. Maybe Card. Burke could tell Card. Kasper to behave himself? Please?

5. If I may be so bold to suggest that Cardinal Kasper is acting like someone who has been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. And then, when you are finally caught, excuses and diversionary tactics abound.

Summary: Cardinal Walter Kasper is a liar and has been “caught red-handed” in his deception. This episode of downright lying is repeated in the saga of the racist remarks he makes against the African bishops who were Synod delegates, LXVI, LXXX.


XXXV. Wherein Fr. Z rants

Posted on 22 September 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

First, the moderation queue is ON.

Before you reach to my rant (below), there is a must read piece at the blog of Prof. Ed Peters, canoniste extraordinaire, about the two groups who are tugging on the annulment process issue.  Peters doesn’t have a combox over there (perhaps wisely), so there can be some discussion here.  Since his piece is longish, I post only a bit.  Read the whole thing THERE.  Sample:


The annulment argument: a quick guide to the two sides

There are basically two groups agitating for annulment reform, one saying that there are too many annulments, the other saying that there are too few. Let me suggest that the first group is mistaken if it thinks the annulment problem lies in the annulment process (i. e, Book VII of the 1983 Code and Dignitas connubii) and that the second group seeks not so much reform of the annulment process as its effective abolishment.

The first group (those holding that there are too many annulments), can scarcely suggest any procedural reforms (short of requiring tribunals to stamp DENIED on every annulment petition) for nothing about current canon and special law makes declaring marriage nullity easy. Under current ecclesiastical law, nullity must be proven, on specific grounds, based on sworn declarations and testimony, over the arguments of an independent officer, and confirmed on appeal. There are, that I can see, no gaps in the process through which marriage cases may slip quietly but wrongly into nullity. Not even the oft-reviled Canon 1095 (the “psychological” canon upon which most annulments around the world are based) can be written off as a mere legislative novelty for it articulates (as best positive law can) jurisprudence developed by the Roman Rota itself over the last 60 or 70 years.

No, the objections of the first group to the number of annulments being declared is, I suggest, not to the annulment process but to the people running that process. Tribunal officers are, it is alleged, too naive, too heterodox, or just too lazy to reach sound decisions on nullity petitions; they treat annulments as tickets to a second chance at happiness owed to people who care enough to fill out the forms. How exactly members of this first group can reach their conclusion without extended experience in tribunal work and without adverting to the cascade of evidence that five decades of social collapse in the West and a concomitant collapse of catechetical and canonical work in the Church is wreaking exactly the disastrous effects on real people trying to enter real marriages that the Church has always warned about, escapes me. Nevertheless that is essentially their claim: the process needs no major reform, processors do.



He goes one to talk about the second group, those who think there are too few annulments.

Also, allow me to add that it is a pleasure to read Peters’ clear and sparkling prose. Fr. Z Kudos.

Here is one more bit, which I found interesting in light of another story I read on the interwebs today.  Thus, Peters:


No, what the second group really wants, I think, is to eliminate the annulment process precisely as a juridic process. Their proposal comes in different guises: let the couple make the determination about whether they are married (you know, because divorced couples are so good at agreeing on things), or let their pastor decide for them or their (presumably Catholic) marriage counselor, and so on. Inescapably, though, such a proposal requires this: dropping the canonical presumption that when people wed they marry validly, so we don’t need a canonical process to determine whether that presumption withstands objective scrutiny; alternatively if more brazenly, dropping the idea that Jesus meant everything he said about marriage, divorce, fornication, and adultery (and, I might add, about sharing in his Body and Blood), so that the annulment issue disappears overnight.


Okay, here’s the rant you came for.

We are seeing in our own day something of the same dynamics that led to the massive revolt of dissent raised against the Church’s teachings after Paul VI issued Humanae vitae.

The synods (this year’s and next year’s) will NOT suggest sweeping changes of doctrine.  The Pope will not and cannot change Christ‘s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage.




However, there is being created, by dissenters and their helpers in the MSM, an expectation of changes.  Don’t be fooled. The long term objective isn’t just Communion for the civilly remarried.  It is about unhitching sex acts from marriage.  Therefore, the underlying debate is about sex outside of marriage and about homosexual acts.

Because the real goal is also about homosexual acts, liberals and dissenters will be very much on side with those who want Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.

So, the expectation for great changes will be whipped up over the next couple years.  There is now even a commission being set up to study the juridical process for annulments, just as there was a commission set up before Humanae vitae to study contraception.  Then, when the Holy Father doesn’t make the sweeping and radical changes the dissenters have come to slaver over, they will revolt, as they did against Paul VI.  It might be good to review our recent history.

Just as disappointed priests and bishops quietly told couples to do whatever they wanted in the matter of contraception, so too disappointed priests and bishops will quietly tell the civilly remarried to do whatever they want in the matter of Communion.

And they will stop submitting cases to tribunals.

Since the whole concept of scandal has been pretty much destroyed in the rank and file of Holy Church, because culture has become the realm of brutes and the groin, who will be shocked, scandalized?


SCHOLIUM: What is “scandal”? CCC 2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. The person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense. 2285 Scandal takes on a particular gravity by reason of the authority of those who cause it or the weakness of those who are scandalized. It prompted our Lord to utter this curse: “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened round his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”85 Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others. Jesus reproaches the scribes and Pharisees on this account: he likens them to wolves in sheep’s clothing. 2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.


Scandal? Yah, right. Because people go to Communion (read: getting their parking ticket validated)?  After decades of shallow catechesis and Communion in the hand, mobs of people will be concerned about sacrilege or the harm people are doing to their own souls and the faith of others?  Who will even care when people known to be civilly remarried after divorce without annulment, or anything else, troop up in the Communion line to commit their acts of public sacrilege?  Who will give a damn?

I read today at Sandro Magister’s place that Card. Scola, one of the Cardinals who will defend the Church’s teaching on indissolubility of marriage, is talking about solutions to streamline the process of determining validity of marriage bonds.   Have a look and read more extensively there:


They are four proposals made in full continuity with the traditional doctrine and practice on marriage, but not devoid of innovative elements. Which concern:

– spiritual communion, or “of desire”;
– recourse to the sacrament of reconciliation even without absolution;
– sexual continence while remaining in the civil union;
– the verification of the validity or invalidity of a marriage not only by the diocesan tribunals or the Rota, but also with a more streamlined non-judicial canonical procedure under the supervision of the local bishop. 
[non-judicial, non-juridical]

This last new procedure is proposed by Cardinal Scola in detailed form. It can be expected to find an attentive audience at the synod.


You can see how this would play out in the real world, right?  The bishop is going to look at these cases?  Noooooo.  His Excellency will delegate to priests in parishes, who will in turn delegate to a team of lay people, probably themselves divorced and remarried (because they’ve “been there”).  Sound about right?

Look, friends.  All of these juridical or non-juridical solutions and arguments will inevitably play themselves out.  The problem is what impression are people developing in the meantime?

The impression left, in the battle on the level of rhetoric, is that marriage isn’t really for life, that is, until death breaks the bond.  Sure the Church teaches in its dusty books that no one reads that marriage is “indissoluble” (after Common Core ravages our schools even more how many people will even be able to spell that, much less know what that means).

It may be that couples in their marriage prep in parishes will even be instructed by diligent priests who truly want to do a good job according to the mind of the Church.   I’ll stipulate.  But is that enough?  As Father talks eloquently and reverently about the permanent nature of the bond until death, young Sawyer and Dakota (male and female, we hope, though their names don’t help us much), look at each other.  They both think, “Well… at least until it stops being fun.”

And who would blame them?

Friends, this debate isn’t only about juridical solutions and processes.  It is about other, over-arching issues and the long-term perceptions and expectations that are being created.

New Evangelization?




4 out of 96 responses

1. I, for one, am just glad that the conversation seems to be moving towards considering ill-advised procedures and giving bad impressions, rather than considering outright apostasy.

2. I’ve always suspected that some “progressives” view the upcoming synodal process as a way of crafting a framework for the “tolerance” of primarily same-sex unions, much in the way that “tolerance” is being suggested for the unions of the divorced and remarried. And the arguments for sacramental inclusion of the divorced and remarried can absolutely be extended to homosexual couples almost seamlessly. Cardinal Kasper doesn’t say that and I wouldn’t impugn him with that view. But I have to believe that for many this is not about the battle for Communion for the divorced and remarried but rather part of the long-war to at last upend the Church’s theological corpus on human sexuality.

Leaving aside my own concerns about accommodating contemporary sexual neuralgia and the Church’s perpetual obligation to prophetically speak light into darkness, there is a problem even more basic than that. Related tangentially to Cardinal George’s recent column, there is increasingly almost no wiggle room, no gray area, when it comes to the tension between the culture and the deposit of faith. If Church leaders try to accommodate contemporary sexual values, they will very quickly find themselves in a place of heresy.

But I have no idea what can be done when some of the strongest defenders of Church teaching are no longer close to center stage and when the voices of accomodationism seem to grow louder and stronger and maybe even more numerous. I turn to sanctification and a lot of prayer—that Christ might have mercy on us and DO something.

3. A few comments:

1. My opinion hasn’t changed since JPII tried to crack down on easy annulments: Although it is good to re-assert the indissolubility of marriage, the contemporary problem of divorced, remarried Catholics cannot be solved merely by mandate. It is a cultural problem and, IMHO, is a consequence that the cult has been damaged by the liturgical mess.

2. I have said here before that whatever the final outcome of both Synods (including the document from the Pope), it will re-state the principal that those in second marriages without annulments are not to be admitted to Communion. What will follow is an exhortation to a pastoral application based on Mercy.

3. I would like to add one other consequence. IMHO, those, like Cardinals Maradiaga and Kasper, who want a revision have something else in mind: They want the matter turned over to the national episcopal conferences. Like the liturgical revolution, this is a movement to reduce papal authority.

4. Fr Z wrote, “We are seeing in our own day something of the same dynamics that led to the massive revolt of dissent raised against the Church’s teachings after Paul VI issued Humanae vitae.”

I’d actually go further. Every single modern problem in the Church today has to do with the Humanae Vitae revolt, whether it’s obeying Church doctrine (let your conscience decide if you obey Church teaching), or penances of Fridays (what practical value does fasting have, after all, it’s not as if you need to fast in marriage), weak doctrines taught by weak priests and bishops (we don’t want to have the same backlash), the abuse scandal (since we’re disregarding some church teaching on sexual morality, why not others), the gay lobby and extramarital sex (since we’re disregarding some church teaching on sexual morality, why not others?), Cafeteria Catholicism, widespread liturgical abuse (since the Church is too prudish on sexual morality, they’re probably prudish about liturgy, besides it’s not as if you actually have to listen to the Church if you want to worship God), lack of reverence, lack of vocations and collapse of the Catholic family, and the disconnect between what the Church truly is because as St Paul points out in Ephesians 5 the marriage and the connection between Christ and his Church are intimately tied together. If one weakens, the other will as well (or at least appear to).

Pope Pius X was incorrect that modernism was “the synthesis of all heresies”. Modernism might cover some heresies, but the rejection of Humanae Vitae includes the logic of modernism and leads to heresies never dreamed of by the promoters of modernism.

I pray for the Synod, in particular in light of Ephesians 5 and all the effects of the Humanae Vitae revolt.


XXXVI. BOOK: Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church

Posted on 23 September 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

There are all sorts of rumors out there about how The Book™ is being received in Rome as the days tick off to the opening of the Extraordinary Synod.

The book I am talking about is, of course, the new Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church which contains five essays of cardinals, of the archbishop secretary of the Vatican congregation for the Oriental Churches, and of three scholars on the ideas supported by Walter Card. Kasper in the opening discourse of the consistory in February 2014.

Also available now in the UK! HERE

Be careful with rumors that are circulating right now about this book. The rumors mean nothing, until we see the results in the Synod.

Now Catholic World Report has an interview with the editor Fr. Dodaro and one of the contributors, Dr. John Rist.  You should read it.  I liked this bit:



CWR: Dr. Rist, your chapter focuses on the matter of divorce and remarriage in the early Church. What are some of the key assertions made by Cardinal Kasper about the practices of early Christians? What are some of the problems with his arguments?


Dr. Rist: Cardinal Kasper suggested that the position of the Church Fathers on divorce and remarriage during the lifetime of the other spouse was a open question. This is quite misleading; although there is evidence that a few bishops tolerated that situation, the overwhelming view of the Fathers (well summed up by Origen) is that such an attitude is totally contrary to Scripture.

If you think about this, and compare it for example with the arguments against women priests, you will recognize that in the latter case the evidence—that Jesus’ Apostles were only male—enables people to infer that he would only ever want male priests. In the case of marriage we are dealing, as the Fathers recognized, with the actual words of Jesus himself, so that unless you want to argue that what we have in the Gospel are not really the words of Jesus at all, but some construct of the early Church, the evidence is clear that Origen’s comment is entirely justified, as the vast majority of the Fathers realized.

CWR: Historically, what key differences are there between how the Western and Eastern churches have interpreted and applied the words of Jesus’ about divorce and remarriage? Does the Eastern Orthodox practice of today offer solutions or alternatives for the Catholic Church? Why or why not?

Dr. Rist: As regards Eastern practice, it seems that, contrary to the view of some of their own clearer thinkers (like Theodore the Studite) they allowed themselves to misread patristic texts, largely under lay (i.e. Imperial) pressure. In this sense they did something like what Henry VIII insisted on doing in England, tolerating second, and even third remarriages, after some sort of penance for the failure of the first one.

If the Catholic church follows this line, the future of its teaching on sex and marriage will become increasingly Anglican.



This book is a response, in part, to what Pope Francis invited.  Some people want to think that this book is against Pope Francis.  Nope.  Wait until you read it.  Just because all manner of rumor peddlers are trying the make Card. Kasper into Pope Francis’s surrogate in the Synod, that doesn’t mean that the book or its authors are playing that game.

I think the book is a game changer.


3 out of 18 responses

Cardinal Burke speaks about the media hijacking the Synod on the Family:
“I don’t think you have to be brilliant to see that the media has, for months, been trying to hijack this Synod,” said Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect for the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura – the office which, among other things, handles annulment cases in the Church.

In particular, he told CNA in a recent interview, the media has been presenting Pope Francis as being in favor of allowing Holy Communion to be distributed to those who are divorced and remarried, and other such propositions, even though this is not the case.

The danger, Cardinal Burke continued, is that “the media has created a situation in which people expect that there are going to be these major changes which would, in fact, constitute a change in Church teaching, which is impossible.”

“That’s why it’s very important for those who are in charge to be very clear,” he said.

2. Even Vincent Cardinal Nichols is skeptical of Cardinal Kasper’s serene theology – in his own way:

3. And Card. Schönborn is another liberal Cardinal that has disagreed with Kasper.


XXXVII. Card. Burke: “It simply makes no sense to talk about mercy which doesn’t respect truth.”

Posted on 23 September 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke, still Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, has been interviewed by Catholic World Report. HERE

The first part reminded me of one of the very last things Pope Benedict said in public.  During an audience just before he abdicated, Benedict described how the mass media created a shadow Council and interposed a distorted interpretive lens.

Now Card. Burke.  I’ll just post a few bits that popped out at me?


Vatican City, Sep 23, 2014 / 04:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Next month’s Synod on the Family has undergone an attempted hijacking by some media sources, which are fueling expectations that impossible changes will be made to Church doctrine, said the head of the Church’s highest court.

“I don’t think you have to be brilliant to see that the media has, for months, been trying to hijack this Synod,”


In particular, he told CNA in a recent interview, the media has been presenting Pope Francis as being in favor of allowing Holy Communion to be distributed to those who are divorced and remarried, and other such propositions, even though this is not the case.

The danger, Cardinal Burke continued, is that “the media has created a situation in which people expect that there are going to be these major changes which would, in fact, constitute a change in Church teaching, which is impossible.”




The Church’s teaching on the matter, the cardinal said, is merciful, “because it respects the truth that the person is indeed bound by a prior union which the person, for whatever reason, is no longer living.”

“The Church holds the person to the truth of that marriage,” Cardinal Burke continued, “while at the same time, being compassionate, understanding the situation of the person, welcoming them into the parish community in ways that are appropriate, and trying to help them to lead as holy a life as they can, but without betraying the truth about their marriage.”

This, he said, is mercy.

“It simply makes no sense to talk about mercy which doesn’t respect truth. How can that be merciful?”


“It’s very important at this time,” the prelate continued, “to show the splendor of the truth of the Church’s teaching about marriage, which is foundational, obviously, for society, and for the Church itself.”

“If we don’t get it correct about marriage, there’s very little else that we’re going to be clear about.” [Do I hear an “Amen!”?  This is what I have been saying for years. If we are not clear in our own minds and hearts about our Faith, if we don’t know our Faith, we can’t articulate anything of interest in the public square.  Why should anyone listen to us if we are incoherent?]


“Bishops who regularly visits us at the Apostolic Signatura say that many couples today who are divorced, they don’t care anymore about the question of nullity,” he said. “They simply make a decision to live with another person, if that’s in fact what they are doing.”[My fear is that the way the question is being handled now will exacerbate this problem.]


For those seeking to claim nullity of their marriage, he said, “the Church has to have an apt process to arrive at the truth about that claim,” whereby it can be established whether or not a marriage has been null. “But to simply have people come before what’s called an administrative process, or a so-called ‘pastoral process,'” one in which “people simply tell their story to a priest,” who then makes the decision with regard to their reception of the Sacraments – “how does that respect the truth of our Lord’s teaching about marriage?”

“The marriage nullity process is the fruit of centuries of development, and by various expert canonists, one of the great ones being Pope Benedict XIV,” [Lambertini] the cardinal said. “For us now simply to say we don’t need that anymore is the height of pride and therefore foolishness.”


As current prelate of the Apostolic Signatura, Cardinal Burke’s role at the synod will particularly pertain to the marriage nullity process, specifically in light of the suggestion to streamline the process of annulments, making it faster and easier.

“I wouldn’t be at all opposed to any changes,” he said, “except that a certain amount of complexity is required by the complexity of a claim that a marriage is null. And you cannot simply deal with these kinds of questions by some kind of easy and light-hearted process.”



You can read the whole thing over there.


5 out of 26 responses

I have to agree with Cardinal Burke, either that, or I am just a bit naive. It seemed sensible to me that this upcoming Synod on the Family was called in order to build up the family – not tear it down. Yet all we hear from the press is about annulment and Communion for those who are divorced and remarried. Yes, those ARE problems that need to be dealt with, but isn’t the purpose of this synod supposed to be about finding ways to make sure that annulments and divorce don’t happen in the first place? Priorities?!?

2. It seems that Card. Burke is ready to lose everything and remain faithful to the truth. This attitude shows that he has no problem with being kicked off the Roman Curia…
Is it possible to lose also the red biretta?
In all cases Card. Burke has no fear of anything. He really trusts in Jesus Christ.

Two Men (One a Cardinal/One the Pope Emeritus) who stand out for the teachings of the Church — Cardinal Burke and Pope Benedict. God Bless Them!

Lest we all forget, this is not a synod on marriage; this is a Synod on the Family. This whole marriage row started when Cardinal Kasper threw out the idea that the Church take the same stance as the Orthodox Church in relation to second, third, fourth… marriages. The authors of this book are only responding to the errors in Cardinal Kasper’s idea. There are going to be many points discussed, and most of them are going to cause a lot of heated debate. I’m sure there was the same kind of debate in the run up to the Second Vatican Council (I wouldn’t know since I wasn’t around then).

5. Doesn’t the fact that he is still giving interviews now (and essentially sticking to his guns on interpreting information on the synod on the family in a way that will not be changing any church teaching) seem to indicate that he may not be in danger of losing his post? It seems if he was going to be losing his post, the Holy Father may have asked him to remain silent on the issue at hand and let the synod handle it.




XXXVIII. “Bitter clash”? In your dreams, liberals.

Posted on 25 September 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

At the liberal US Catholic I saw a piece from the RNS, rarely anything but left-leaning, there is a completely irresponsible claim about the book on marriage about which I have written several times.

Here is the offending quote.


VATICAN CITY (RNS) Pope Francis has appointed a special commission to look at ways to make it easier for Roman Catholics to dissolve their marriages in the eyes of the church.

The goal of the 11-member commission announced Saturday (Sept. 20) is to reform the process, “with the objective of simplifying its procedure, making it more streamlined.”

The weekend announcement came as a bitter clash emerged among cardinals over the church’s approach to marriage, divorce and remarriage.  [“bitter clash”?  BITTER?  Does the writer know anything about this issue?]

According to church law, Catholics can obtain annulments if they can show their marriage was not valid. But if they opt out of the annulment process, divorce in civil court and then remarry, the church may refuse them Communion.

Five cardinals are publishing a new book reinforcing the sanctity of marriage next week, only days before the world’s bishops gather in Rome for a conference on the subject. The synod will consider issues including divorce, cohabitation, domestic violence and gay unions.



Just try to find anything in the “five cardinal” book that is bitter.  Just try to find something in the issue of Communio that is bitter.  Just try to find something bitter in the new book with the foreword by Card. Pell.

There is nothing “bitter” about the debate going on, unless it is in that bitter whining from the side that is having its proverbial lunch eaten by the side who are faithfully – and courteously – defending the indissolubility of marriage and present praxis.

Pope Francis asked for discussion, study, debate.  He is getting exactly what he asked for.  If people want to throw down, as Card. Kasper did in the consistory and has consistently done since then, they had better expect a proportional response.


4 out of 13 responses

1. “The synod will consider issues including divorce, cohabitation, domestic violence and gay unions.”

So the synod is considering the issue of gay unions? Did I miss something or is the author as confused about this as she is about “bitter clashes”?

2. Maybe the clash isn’t so bitter at all:
“Spanish Bishop: Pope Said He Won’t Change Communion Rule”


Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba, Spain says that, during an ad limina visit earlier this year, Pope Francis said that there will no be change on communion for the divorced and remarried. He claims that the Holy Father said, “the Pope cannot change” what Jesus Christ has instituted. Check out the news story at Catholic World Report:

4. There’s an interesting article over at Rorate Caeli about a coup by German prelates at the Synod.

One statement by Cardinal Marx stands out and is self-revealing:

“Cardinal Marx’s words then, are rather pleasing to the movement, provided that they are not only on paper: “Only a rapid, captivating, human-centered reform can contribute to fill the abyss that separates the traditional doctrine of the Church from the reality of faithful Catholics regarding sexual morality.”

“Human-centered” reform? I guess God is left out of the picture, let human-centeredness reign and fill the abyss between God’s teachings (Traditional Doctrine of the Church) and “faithful?” Catholics.

Boy! Do we need to double/triple our prayers!


XXXIX. Card. Kasper gives YET ANOTHER interview to America Magazine and an Argentinean daily

Posted on 30 September 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Walter Card. Kasper, author of a proposal for the civilly remarried to receive Communion – and thus to create an under-class of Catholics, “tolerated but not accepted” Catholics, has given an interview – yet another – to Amerika, which has been an open and biased cheerleader for Card. Kasper’s notions, and La Nación, a major daily in Argentina.  (No, I’m sure it’s just a coincidence that he chose a paper that the Pope is likely to follow.)


Q. There is much interest in this synod, especially regarding how it will deal with the question of whether there will be some opening towards Catholics who are divorced and remarried.

A. [KASPER] Yes, this interest in church questions is a positive thing and we should be grateful for it.




But the problem is that some media reduce everything at the synod to the question of Communion for the divorced and remarried people. The agenda of the synod is much, much broader and concerns the pastoral challenges of family life today. The problem of divorced and remarried is one problem, but not the only one. Some media give the impression that there will be a breakthrough and start a campaign for it. [Like… Amerika?  Which has been Card. Kasper’s official English Stratocaster?] I too hope there will be a responsible opening, but it’s an open question, to be decided by the synod. We should be prudent with such fixations otherwise, if this doesn’t happen, the reaction will be great disillusion.  [And who can say that that isn’t among the objectives of the Left?]

Q. Some cardinals and bishops seem to be afraid of this possibility and reject it even before the synod meets. Why do you think there is so much fear of a development in the church’s discipline?

A. I think they fear a domino effect, if you change one point all would collapse. That’s their fear. This is all linked to ideology, an ideological understanding of the Gospel that the Gospel is like a penal code.  [?!?  No, that’s not nasty.  Keep reading.]

But the Gospel is, as the Pope said in ‘The Joy of the Gospel’ (Evangelii Gaudium), quoting Thomas Aquinas, the Gospel is the gift of the Holy Spirit which is in the soul of faithful and becomes operating in love. That’s a different understanding. It is not a museum. It is a living reality in the church and we have to walk with the whole people of God and see what the needs of the people are. Then we have to make a discernment in the light of the Gospel, which is not a code of doctrines and commandments. [So, Gospel = joy. Doctrines and commandments = …?]

Then, of course, there is also a lack of theological hermeneutics because we cannot simply take one phrase of the Gospel of Jesus [Which we know mostly from the Gospels of MML&J.] and from that deduce everything. [We can’t take just one phrase… even if it’s crystal clear and the words of the Lord Himself?] You need a hermeneutic to see the whole of the Gospel and of Jesus’ message and then differentiate between what is doctrine and what is discipline. Discipline can change. So I think we have here a theological fundamentalism which is not Catholic.  [I think he just suggested that defense of the non-admission of civilly remarried Catholics to Communion, based on a phrase – never mind that it is the Lord speaking – is “theological fundamentalism”.  Am I wrong?]

Q. So you mean you cannot change doctrine but you can the discipline?

A. Doctrine, in so far as it is official binding doctrine, cannot change. So nobody denies the indissolubility of marriage. I do not, nor do I know any bishop who denies it. But discipline can be changed. Discipline wants to apply a doctrine to concrete situations, which are contingent and can change. So also discipline can change and has already changed often as we see in church history. [What is the message in this?  Okay, we teach that marriage is indissoluble.  Now that we have admitted that, you who are living in civil re-marriage can just pretend that the doctrine of indissolubility doesn’t apply to you because, if it did, you would feel bad.  Is that it, or did I get that wrong?]

Q. What did you feel when you learned that this book of the five cardinals was being published which attacks what you said?

A. Well first of all everybody is free to express his opinion. [Or…maybe not! We all know that this isn’t entirely true in the Church.] That is not a problem for me. The Pope wanted an open debate, and I think that is something new because up to now often there was not such an open debate. Now Pope Francis is open for it and I think that’s healthy and it helps the church very much.

Q. There seems to be fear among some of the cardinals and bishops because as the Pope said we have this moral construction which can collapse like a pack of cards.

A. Yes, it’s an ideology, it’s not the Gospel.  [?!? Read that again.  It’s an “ideology”.]

Q. There’s also a fear of the open discussion at the synod.

A. Yes, because they fear all will collapse. But first of all we live in an open pluralistic society and it’s good for the church to have an open discussion as we had at the Second Vatican Council. It’s good for the image of the church too, because a closed church is not a healthy church and not inviting for the people of the day. On the other hand when we discuss marriage and family we have to listen to people who are living this reality. There’s a ‘sensus fidelium’ (‘sense of the faithful’). [The problem is that for there to be a “sensus fidelium”, the sensus is of the fidelium… the faithful.  “The faithful” aren’t just the rank and file, just lay people.  They are also the clergy.  Also, they must be “faithful”, which doesn’t mean simply that they have some opinion or other, more or less well-formed.  Moreover, in no way can “sensus fidelium” be a matter of polling or majority opinion.] It cannot be decided only from above, from the church hierarchy, [nor can the hierarchy be excluded!] and especially you cannot just quote old texts of the last century, [Like that outdated Catechism of the Catholic Church or the even older Familiaris consortio.] you have to look at the situation today, [and then again, and again and again… tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow…] and then you make a discernment of the spirits and come to concrete results. I think this is the approach of Pope Francis, whereas many others start from doctrine and then use a mere deductive method. [I think he just contrasted “discernment” and “deduction”. Is that what you read?]


Q. In a sense the synod is like a replay of the Second Vatican Council.

A. Yes, I think it is a very similar situation. Immediately before the Second Vatican Council there were Roman theologians who had prepared all the texts and expected the bishops would come and applaud and in two or three weeks it would all be over. But it didn’t happen in this way, and I think it will also not happen this time.

Q. In an Italian daily, Il Mattino, you are reported as saying that you think the real target of these attacks is the Pope not yourself.

A. Maybe it was a bit imprudent of me to say it. But many people are saying this; you can hear it on the street every day. I myself do not want to judge the motives of other people. [Watch this!] It is obvious that there are people who are not in full agreement with the present pope, [See what he did there?  The people who are defending the Church’s doctrine and discipline are against the Pope. See?] but this kind of thing is not totally new, it happened also at the Second Vatican Council. Then there were people against the ‘aggiornamento’ of John XXIII and Paul VI, though perhaps not in this organized way. Even Cardinal Ottaviani, the Prefect of the Holy Office at that time, was against the intentions of the majority of the Council. [That was a dig at the present Prefect Card. Müller, head of the CDF, he being in the role of Card. Ottaviani and Francis in the role of John XXIII or Paul VI.]

Q. Many analysts think it’s not a coincidence that this book comes now precisely on October 1. There has been resistance to Francis from the beginning, but this seems a more organized kind of resistance.

A. Yes, it is a problem. I do not remember such a situation where in such an organized way five cardinals write such a book. [What this!] It’s the way that it’s done in politics but it should not be done in the church. It’s how politicians act, but I think we should not behave in this way in the church.  [Look in the mirror, Your Eminence.  You yourself put out a book.  Card. Kasper has been incessantly giving interviews.  That’s what politicians do, even as they give stump speeches.  Moreover, it was affirmed, above, that Pope Francis wanted discussion.  Card. Kasper said that himself.  It is precisely through books and articles, rather than through interviews with secular newspapers that true, working theologians discuss and debate.  Let’s review: “The Pope wanted an open debate.”  Card. Kasper now has the experience of open debate as desired by Pope Francis.  His arguments are on display for the world to see.  The other books that are coming, the “Five Cardinals” book, the “Pell intro” book, the scholarly articles in Communio, present their responses and counter arguments.]

Q. In recent weeks the Pope said we must read the signs of the times. He wants the synod to do this.

A. Yes, to read the signs of the times was fundamental for the Second Vatican Council. I cannot imagine that the majority of the synod will be opposed to the Pope on this point.

[But wait!  There’s more.  Now the press… the media we were warned about, above, as creating expectations and conflicts that can lead to disillusionment, takes up the Cardinal’s water bucket…] 

Q. In recent weeks too Pope Francis, in his homilies, has spoken again and again about mercy, and insisted that pastors must be close to their people, and avoid having a closed mind… it seemed as if he was referring to people like the five cardinals and supporting you on the question of mercy.

A. I think there is often a misunderstanding on what mercy is all about. Some are thinking that mercy is cheap grace, and ‘light’ Christianity. But it is not that, I think mercy is a very demanding virtue; it is not a cheap thing. It does not take away the commandments of the Lord; that would be absurd. But as it is the fundamental virtue according to St Thomas Aquinas, mercy is a hermeneutical key for interpreting the commandments.  [What just happened?  Did he do anything to dispel the leading suggestion of the questioner? That the cardinals who are responding to Kasper are, in the Pope’s eyes “closed minded”?  Indeed, he did not.  Also, note the use of “hermeneutic” again.  See what he did?  Earlier, Kasper says that his opponents are fundamentalists, who have an “ideology”, which is about the worst thing you can have, sort of like ecclesiastical Ebola.  Card. Kasper, on the other hand, has a “hermeneutic”, by which he interprets the Gospel of Jesus (with or without phrases from Matthew and those other guys).  Then he invokes St. Thomas Aquinas.  I suspect that Aquinas would find the proposal that those who are living in an adulterous relationship are properly disposed to receive Communion simply absurd.]

Q. Some were surprised that the Pope appointed a number of very conservative participants to the synod?

A. I think he did this because he didn’t want to be criticized by selecting only those who are in favor of one position. He wants an open discussion; he wants the other group too to have their voice. He wants to be fair. He does not want to exclude anybody, but to include everybody and have all participate in the discussion. He wants to hear everyone, and everyone should have a voice. And I think this is very positive.  [Is this a different person responding now?]



Q. His understanding is that God speaks through the people and their real situations. [? Okaaaay… and… ?]

A. Of course. That’s the theological conception in the last book of the New Testament: Listen to what the Spirit is saying to the Churches! In the synod there should be a listening and prayerful atmosphere.

Q. Coming back to the question of communion for the divorced and remarried. Is the communion the prize for the perfect one or is it something to help the sinner?

A. We are all sinners. Nobody is really worthy to receive Holy Communion. [Nobody is worthy….  And, therefore, we shouldn’t worry about grace and mortal sin?]Communion has a healing effect. Especially people living in difficult situations need the help of grace, and need the sacraments. [John 8:11.   Ooops.  That’s just one phrase.  Here’s another 1 Cor 11:27-29.]

Q. So in terms of the sacraments, do you think that at the end of the day the decision should be up to the individual or the couple?

A. No, the sacraments aren’t only private events but public celebrations of the whole Church. The admission to the Eucharist goes through baptism and, after sin, through the sacrament of penance, that is, confession and absolution. [Which requires – from the conscious, at least – for validity a firm purpose of amendment.]Absolution is an official act of the Church, a juridical act. [Watch this…] Therefore divorced and remarried people should find a good priest confessor [do you have the players in mind so far?] who accompanies them for some time [… doing what, exactly?  Hearing their confessions, as a confessor?  Just talking to them?] and if this second, civil marriage, is solid [“solid” in what sense? “Solid” over and against a valid previous union?  Is the Cardinal suggesting that the civil marriage approved by the state now bequeaths to us some spiritual, theological data to consider?  That the civil marriage says something about the validity of the first (actual) marriage?  That the civil marriage says something about … what… spiritual character of the second “marriage”?] then the path of new orientation can end with a confession and absolution. [And the couple is still living together… right?  With or without sexual relations?] Absolution means admission to Holy Communion. I do not start immediately with the question of admission to communion but with a penitential path. This does not mean to impose special acts of penance because normally these persons are suffering a lot; a divorce is not such an easy thing. It’s suffering. In this situation they need the help of grace through the sacraments and if they have an earnest desire and do what they can do in their difficult situation the Church should find ways to help them in a sacramental way.[This, friends, is dangerous ground indeed.]

Q. This then is a development of pastoral practice.

A. Yes, it is pastoral practice ending in a sacramental practice. [Oh no, it’s only pastoral, it’s not doctrinal.  And so what will this mean to all the people who are preparing to marry in the Church?  They will hear Father explain that marriage is for life, indissoluble.  They will then look at each and, knowing that the divorced and remarried go to Communion all the time, that this talk about indissolubility and “for life” is a shame, will just smile and nod their heads.] The Church by its nature is a sacramental reality. It’s not just pastoral counseling, it’s a sacrament and the sacrament has its own value. To say, “I absolve you” is different from giving good human counsels. It is saying: God says Yes to you and accepts you anew; you have a new chance.



There is a lot more of this stuff.  Go look at it yourselves.

By now it is clear that I don’t agree with His Eminence.

As a former Lutheran, my antennae are red hot.  This reminds me of what Luther would respond when challenged.  Luther, and lots of catholic liberals today, will appeal to a “Gospel” which is somehow over and against, beyond the Church.  They create another “magisterium” which contrasts with the Church’s institutional Magisterium.  They are “prophetic” and “of the people” which is the true locus of the Holy Spirit, whereas others are hierarchical institutional, hide-bound, book-bound, facing only the past, ideological and fearful.

I’m turning on the moderation queue.


5 out of 46 responses

1. “Cardinal Burke rebuts ‘outrageous’ claim that Cardinal Kasper speaks for Pope”

2. If we follow His Eminence’s line of thought, does this mean that once one has committed a baby-generating act, one can regret same, get rid of the child and return easily to the sacraments?

I find it strange how he can take a truth (i.e., not taking a single line out of Holy Writ) and twist it to mean that there is no clear teaching of Scripture, only a general sense. Surely this is like the self-refuting statement “Everything’s relative!”

3. “Q. Some were surprised that the Pope appointed a number of very conservative participants to the synod?
A. I think he did this because he didn’t want to be criticized by selecting only those who are in favor of one position. He wants an open discussion; he wants the other group too to have their voice.




He wants to be fair. He does not want to exclude anybody, but to include everybody and have all participate in the discussion. He wants to hear everyone, and everyone should have a voice. And I think this is very positive. [Is this a different person responding now?]”

No, same person. A person who speaks of “positions” and “openness” and “voices” and “fairness” and “inclusion;” but not Truth, and the Will of God, and the Glory of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.

I truly dread what may come out of the synod if Our Lady does not intervene.

4. I think there is only one thing on which I agree with Kasper and that is the importance of reading the signs of the times. One of those signs is that there is at least one demoniac in the College of Cardinals who is willing to give a pass to the guy who ditches his wife and kids, as long as the new relationship lasts for about 6 months or so. The synod should open with an exorcism.

Again he grossly misunderstands God’s mercy. God’s mercy is not conditioned, but it is conditional. The conditionality of mercy demands repentance – “Go and sin no more.” What Kasper speaks of is sentimental indulgence, not mercy.

What is most disturbing, however, is the way that he twists fidelity to Christ’s teaching as being “ideological”. This is straight out of Satan’s playbook. He surely bows the knee to the father of lies. -Deacon Augustine

5. I think that if the internet–and certain bloggers!–were around in 1962-1965, and after, the “post-Conciliar” period would not have been as destructive of Traditional doctrine and praxis. -[You may be right.]


XL. VIDEOS: Card. Burke & Card. Kasper – compare & contrast. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

Posted on 2 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Catholic News Service issued excerpts from a video interview with His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke. (655 views as I post)

Card. Kasper also has one.  (905 views as I post)

Compare and contrast. (Watch the imagery.)

My first impression?

In the one case, we find an appeal to feelings and even sentimentality.  In the other case, we have an appeal to the words of the Lord and the consistent teaching of the Church.

Allow me to muse for a while, and not necessary in strict regard to the two videos, above, but rather to the whole trajectory of the present debates about Communion for the civilly remarried.

Keep in mind that when the debate engages, one side can deploy – responsibly or not – a word field including “love, mercy, compassion, tolerance, pastoral” and the other must refer to “history, law, truth, justice, responsibility”.  That latter word field… probably will not be able to carry the day.  The side with the second word field will have a hard time winning the argument (in the eyes and ears of the less than educated or the less than faithful).  Furthermore, the previous side can always then confuse the issue with accusations of “ideology” (because the case is clear and arguable) and “fundamentalism” (because there are appeals to precise verses of Scripture and documents of the Magisterium.  In this debate, the new words for “fidelity to doctrine” are “ideology” or “fundamentalism”.

Do not be distracted by that.

In no way is it fundamentalism or ideology to take the Gospel seriously, to take the Magisterium seriously.


7 out of 62 responses

I would like to reserve judgment until all the facts are in, but if Cardinal Kasper believes that a person cannot “survive” while maintaining continence, what are we honestly to imagine he makes of his own vow of celibacy? Either he doesn’t take it seriously or he must consider himself a higher sort of being than those randy lay people in the pews who just can’t control themselves.

2. I am very pleased you posted this video comparison, Fr. Z! I saw it earlier today when CNS released it. It really shows how Cardinal Kasper’s views are not in accord with Catholic doctrine and Christ’s teaching regarding marriage.

3. Two things come to mind:

First – Cardinal Kasper wants to use mercy as an excuse to allow others to sin gravely. But Truth is merciful and seeks to lead away from sin and then to absolve after sin is rejected and confessed.

Second – CNS seems complicit in a real propaganda here. Cardinal Burke (serious) speaks with the images of (big, bad) hierarchy and Rome in the background. Cardinal Kasper (smiling) with scenes of happy families eating, and of a presumably battered woman. Not even the teeniest attempt at impartial journalism here folks. My gosh it was so obvious it’s almost embarrassing. This could be used as a textbook example of propaganda in the local high-school journalism class.

4. The conspiracy theorist in me is starting to think even Cardinal Kasper doesn’t believe what he’s saying. My theory is that Pope Francis asked Cardinal Kasper to make the best possible case for second marriages, etc., so that everyone could see how it just does not hold water and we could put the question to rest. Kind of a Dumbledore-Snape type of scheme.

New Advent’s headlines for these two videos sums up just how impossible it is to square Cardinal Kasper’s arguments with the crystal clear words of Jesus in the Gospels:

The link to Cardinal Burke’s video says, “Cardinal Burke: ‘Whoever divorces his wife, and marries another, commits adultery.'”

The link to Cardinal Kasper’s video says, “Cardinal Kasper: ‘Whoever divorces his wife, and marries another, should know that such a sexual relationship has its positive values.'”

5. The image manipulation (Burke is all old prelates and Swiss guards, Kasper is all sweet people having lunch and strolling on beaches) was blatant. Did CNS really think no one would notice?? –Dr. Edward Peters, Canon Lawyer




6. So, according to Cardinal Kasper, St John the Baptist should not have ‘insulted’ and ‘offended’ Herod, and if he had only been a little bit kinder and willing to see the ‘positive values’ of Herod’s ‘marriage’ and had been more ‘encouraging’ and willing to recognise Herod’s ‘mature conscience’ he could have kept his head on his shoulders….

This rewriting of the Gospel by a Cardinal is scandalous.

7. A shorter link to Cardinal Burke’s video:

I am afraid that there is no objective basis for the hope expressed by Cardinal Burke that Cardinal Kasper’s “solution” (the Henry VIII solution) will be rejected. Well, at the synod, maybe.

The vast majority of bishops in the U.S., and the U.K., and all over Western Europe, are solidly in favor of giving Communion to people in situations of manifest grave sin. The official policy of the USCCB (in “Catholics in Public Life”) for ten years has been that a bishop may “legitimately” commit this specific mortal sin. When a voting majority of a national hierarchy have descended to this level of moral imbecility, what reason for hope is left for the Church in that nation?

The Henry VIII solution MAY be rejected in the glare of a synod in Rome. But the same bishops who, ten years ago, proclaimed a right for themselves to commit mortal sin will surely continue simply to exercise that right without fanfare when the synod is over. And they will continue to exercise it not only in the case of high-profile pro-abortionists, but in the case of no-profile second-marriage couples. As they are already doing. –Fr Vincent Fitzpatrick


XLI. Liberals and the exercise of authority

Posted on 4 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

When liberals, dissidents, progressivists, whatever, sense that things are not going their way, they rise up against the exercise of authority by the hierarchy.  “The institutional church is repressing the prophetic spirit-filled people!” they cry.

When liberals (see above) sense that things are going their way, they rise up and demand that the hierarchy exercise their authority.  “It’s time to sweep away the rigidity of institutions through a spirit-filled exercise of power to do what we want!” they cry.

I saw at Fishwrap that the perennial Sr. Joan Chittister has resurfaced with another spirit-filled prophetic column about yet another coalition of liberal change groups.   She is into groups of groups, I think.  Remember how she waxed eloquent about the Council of Elders after her Triumph in Tahir?  Come to think of it, it has been a while since Sr. Joan has given us a column.  I wonder if she has been in Iraq, negotiating for human rights with ISIS.   I digress.  Sr. Joan was chuffed about the group of groups that has gone to Rome to lobby the Pope and the Synod for “Change!”   Here is a sample:


The joy lies in the fact that they are a sign that the church is taking the church in hand.

The disappointment lies in the fact that anyone could even think of having such a synod on such a subject and not invite them to be part of it in the first place. [It’s called the Synod of BISHOPS for a reason.]


Yes, I’d like to be sitting in the midst of them right now, but not to see the city — much as Rome affects me deeply no matter how many times I see it.

I don’t want to be with them simply to enjoy the pomp and circumstance, the street-side pizza, and the softness of the Roman nights, though I love all of those things.


This group, Catholic Church Reform, is there breathing one spirit, calling with one voice for the single issue that unites us all: the commitment of all facets of the church for the revival of the spirit of renewal in the church. Not just from the people up, but from the top down.



But wait!  There’s more.  Over at Crux there is a piece about the group of groups mentioned by Sr. Joan… which officially gives them far more attention than they merit, but let’s play the game anyway.  A snip that reveals their thinking (any resemblance to a bag full of cats is coincidental):


One recurrent theme in the meeting was a surprising note for many Catholic liberals, who over the years have called for tighter limits on papal authority. Now, however, they want Francis to be bold.

John Buggy from Australia, one of the founders of this group, said he’d like to get a message to the pontiff.

“I’d ask him not to wait for the bishops to catch up because he’s going to be long and truly dead before that happens,” Buggy said. “You’re the pope. Be the pope and tell them what to do.”  [Use your power to do what we want, but when you want us to do what the Church has always wanted for us then… power… not so much, thanks anyway.]

If presented with the same opportunity, Reed would express her disappointment over the misrepresentation of the broad spectrum of Catholic opinion in the synod. According to her, the vast majority of the people disagree with the Church’s teaching on contraception, homosexuality, divorce, withholding Eucharist from the divorced, but none of those have been invited.

“There’s not a single reform mind that’s been invited to the Synod,” she said.  [Given what they think “reform” is, I suppose we can reaffirm our belief that the Holy Spirit is involved after all.]


Liberals will accuse faithful Catholics of, for example, “politicizing” the Eucharist if we insist that we should apply can. 915 (which exists for a reason).  



Recently, Card. Kasper accused some of those who have dismantled his own proposals of acting like “politicians”. That was during one of His Eminence’s many interviews with the press, including the secular press.  On the other hand, they think nothing of sending what can only be called pressure groups to Rome to function exactly as a political lobbyist.

So, keep your ears tuned and eyes open as you read the coverage of the Synod.


2 out of 17 responses

1. I am wondering much about what one website says of Card. Kasper: that the Pope has been backing him in the publicizing of his views on these issues, and that if enough bishops at the synod would only support him, the Pope will come out in support of giving Holy Communion to divorced and civil-remarried persons.

2. Great analysis, thanks.

You hit on something I’ve been noticing, but which I haven’t seen much discussion of: the sudden shift, on the part of progressives, from what they call a “collegial” ecclesiology. Remember? Way, way, back in the year…2010! our liberal friends were bemoaning the imposition “from above” of the improved English translation. Oh, why can’t Rome “trust” the local church? They pointed to bishops who “bravely” pushed back.

No more of that! Now the progressives are all riding the Ultramontane Express, in first class berths! They want the pope to oust bishops here and there, whenever the bishop doesn’t toe the line.

Meanwhile, beyond the politicization in all this, real questions of theology remain. Didn’t progressives used to care about ecumenism? All this pope-calling-all-shots stuff doesn’t go over very well in ecumenical talks, I’m thinking.

At this rate, will the N”C”R soon gain a strange new respect for Blessed Pius IX? –Fr. Martin Fox


XLII. ACTION ITEM: Help “The Tablet” with their SURVEY about the Synod!

Posted on 4 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The Tablet (aka The Bitter Pill aka RU486) is running a survey about the Extraordinary Synod of Bishop which is just starting up.

What do you say we give them a hand?  I am sure that they would want your voices to be heard, don’t you think?


Wait until you see some of the survey’s choice options.

This is their blurb:


HAVE YOUR SAY [Okay!  We will!]
Take part in our survey on the bishops’ synod on the family

03 October 2014 15:11

Bishops from around the world are meeting in Rome from 5 to 19 October to discuss issues affecting the family.

A year ago the Vatican sent out a detailed questionnaire in which thousands of Catholics gave their views on issues such as marriage, divorce, single parenthood, gay relationships and contraception. Already in recent weeks, cardinals have openly argued over a proposal to reform the ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Communion, but many other issues will be up for discussion.

What would you like to see from the synod? Take part in our survey. It will take around five minutes. We will be reporting on respondents’ views in our news coverage of the synod. Click HERE to start.


This is an ACTION ITEM!   Help them out.

But wait!  There’s more!


If you wanted to… I’m not saying’ you have to, or anything… but if you wanted you, you could comment on your favorite Q&A here.   I mean, think about how helpful some of those survey suggestions are!


6 out of 46 responses

Not difficult to see the bias in the questions…

I agree with Mike above, their bias is obvious.

Silly me: I thought the teachings of the faith were timeless.

There’s no good answer on some of the questions because they clearly have an agenda.

I held my nose and answered. Now praying for Our Lady’s intercession for extra showers of grace for perseverance upon the faithful of a land whose hierarchs encourage this kind of garbage.

Wow. I haven’t seen such a biased poll since…just, wow.


XLIII. Card. Kasper: Christ’s adultery language is offensive! Fr. Dodaro: No, it’s Christ’s tough love. POLL

Posted on 5 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Meanwhile, as the Synod is about to rev up.   This from CNA:


Cardinal Kasper: Adultery language is offensive, insulting




Rome, Italy, Oct 3, 2014 / 08:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- In recent interviews, German Cardinal Walter Kasper suggested that while Church doctrine cannot change, it can be adapted and interpreted in different ways, and language can be softened when it is deemed offensive. [?  Is this part of the whole “we must never call X for what it is!” campaign?]


He urged against using the language of adultery, generally drawn from the words of Jesus that one who divorces his wife and marriages another commits adultery. [You mean as in Luke 16:18?  Mark 10:11?  Matthew 5:52?  Matthew 19:9?   There is a good, but hard, section on this point in the “Five Cardinals Book” I keep harping on. HERE]

Cardinal Kasper said that “to tell them that’s adultery, permanent adultery, I think they would feel insulted and offended.”  [Oh!  Okay.  Let’s call it anything but what the Lord called it.  How about a dynamic equivalent version such as … “croquet”?]

“Such a sexual relationship within a couple has also its positive values, it’s not only its negative values,” he said, rejecting the idea “that every sexual act is sinful” in such situations. [I guess it all depends on your level of conscience formation.  Right?  If people who have had nothing but what they see in TV sitcoms about relationships, and therefore have zero concept of sin, and they cannot therefore intend the sin, who knows what they are doing subjectively.  But that is a pretty low bar.  It would be hard to believe, however, that a Cardinal of Holy Church is suggesting otherwise.]

The most important thing, the cardinal said, is to accompany individuals where they are at, realizing that we are fallen beings and none of us loves God and neighbor fully as we are called to.

“I can encourage them to do according to their conscience when it is a very mature conscience,” he added.  [But wouldn’t that rule out the scenario I described?]



Curiouser and curiouser.

Meanwhile, also at CNA:


Taking Gospel seriously on marriage is not ‘rigid’ – it’s love [Bingo!]

Rome, Italy, Oct 4, 2014 / 05:58 am (CNA/EWTN News) The editor of a high-profile book on marriage [The “Five Cardinals Book” I keep harping about.] said that adhering to Christ’s Gospel teachings on divorce is not harsh and mean-spirited, but rather a form of tough love aimed at the salvation of souls. [You mean to say that the Lord is not being mean and offensive after all?]

Mercy and truth and justice have to accord with one another,” said Fr. Robert Dodaro OSA, president of Rome’s Patristic Institute, the “Augustinianum,” as well as a specialist in patristics and a consultor to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith.


“We would like to see the Church more active in welcoming, embracing, involving divorced and civilly remarried Catholics into the full life of the Church,” he explained. [Everyone! PAY ATTENTION!] “Where we disagree with Cardinal Kasper is on one point, but it is an important one. The question of admission to the sacraments of penance and Holy Communion.” [One point. This is KEY!]

As a solution to the problematic situation, Cardinal Kasper has proposed “oikonomia” – a notion prevalent in Eastern Orthodox Churches. The cardinal has suggested that the Catholic Church follow the Orthodox example of “tolerating, but not accepting second marriages,” Fr. Dodaro explained. “We oppose that suggestion.”

As the book points out, the Orthodox Church does not have a unified view on the subject.

“There is no single Orthodox position on divorce, on second marriages, on admission to the sacraments; there is no one position that characterizes the views of all of the various Orthodox Churches,” Fr. Dodaro explained.

“I have not heard any senior Orthodox prelates applauding the Catholic Church for wanting to adopt or even to look more closely at their practice, so I do not know how much our doing so would contribute to ecumenical dialogue,” he added. [As you can see, the debate about this issue reaches to more than just the relationship of a couple to the Communion rail!]

Ultimately, the priest discarded “oikonomia” as a valid solution: “We believe that it violates the principle of indissolubility of marriage, because the individuals in question are already married, or at least one of them is. [PAY ATTENTION!  This is a key phrase.  Remember this one:] Not just in the eyes of the Church, but in the eyes of Christ. We cannot understand how Cardinal Kasper does not see that.”

Fr. Dodaro suggested that the teaching of the indissolubility of marriage would be in danger, especially in marriage preparation, should Cardinal Kasper’s proposal be accepted.

“So the priest says to a young couple in marriage preparation that the marriage is ‘until death does us part.’




They would reply: ‘Yes, Father, yes, Father, we get that.’ Then after the class, when they leave the rectory, they will say: ‘Ok, mom and dad are divorced and remarried and they go to Communion every Sunday, so what’s the big deal?‘”

A change in the discipline of the Church would introduce confusion about the nature of sin and repentance, he said.

“Let’s be clear, we are all sinners, we are not singling out the civilly remarried because they sin. We all sin. Catholics who sin can go to confession and be absolved because they repent of their sin and resolve not to sin again. However, Cardinal Kasper’s proposal would allow civilly remarried Catholics to receive sacramental absolution without resolving to cease having sexual relations, while in the eyes of Christ[NOT just in the eyes of the Church but in the eyes of Christ!] they are still married to their original spouses. That is what makes the sacrament of penance impossible for them,” explains Fr. Dodaro.

Cardinal Kasper recently warned against a “rigid” view and stated in an interview that the Gospel is not a “code of penal law,” a phrasing that caught Fr. Dodaro’s attention.  [That’s the tactic.  Hear it? Brand those who defend the Church’s teaching as being “legalistic”, “ideological”, “rigid”, “against mercy”.]

“I agree with the Cardinal that the Gospel is not a code of penal law. But it is a code of divine law and we have to make a distinction between human laws, the laws that the Church makes up, and laws that are divine.”

“When Jesus unveiled his teaching on marriage in the Gospels, he triggered incredulity on the part of his disciples. He told them that Moses had permitted divorce because of the hardness of their hearts, adding, ‘but I say to you, in the beginning it was not so.’ This is found in Matthew 19. And then Jesus refers the disciples to Genesis 2:24, where the original divine teaching concerning marriage is found. So if Jesus quotes the Scriptures in order to correct a faulty, permissive divorce practice, then is He a fundamentalist? Is Jesus rigid?”  [This is the theologian equivalent of tearing the ball out of the other guy’s arms and then running over him on the way down the field in the other direction.]

“How seriously do we take the Gospels? What is left of the Gospel when we start striking out things that Jesus said because we do not want to give them a ‘fundamentalist’ interpretation, we do not want to be rigid?”  [And then getting back the onside kick.]

Mercy is another key word in the debate. Fr. Dodaro cautioned that “we have to be careful not to confuse mercy with sentimentalism or romanticism. Love is tough love sometimes.

“So we find mercy by submitting ourselves to the will of Christ, each one of us starting with himself as a sinner, each one of us is called to conversion, each one of us has stuff to figure out in his life.”

[I interrupt this article to ask… so far, considering everything that you have read about the thoughts of Card. Kasper, and I assume that you have been doing your homework… which position to you passes your Catholic sense, your Catholic “smell test” as it were.  Card. Kasper’s? Fr. Dodaro’s?]

Commenting on the book that is being released to explain and defend Church teaching on marriage, Fr. Dodaro rejected claims that it was intended as a personal attack.

“I am a university professor, I write articles, I publish books and sometimes other people write articles and books saying: Dodaro is wrong about something. This is a normal part of academic life,” he said.

“I do not see the book as polemical in the sense of being angry or of trying to ‘gang up’ on the Cardinal, as some journalists have suggested.”  [I’ve read it.  It isn’t in the least mean-spirited.]

Rather, he said, the book tries to argue objectively and with well-founded arguments, and the dialogue that has arisen is fruitful.

As a famous university professor, Cardinal Kasper should be used to an academic debate: does his solution fit in terms of the Catholic Tradition and teaching? Is it doctrinally acceptable? Or would it imply a radical change in teaching? That is the nature of the debate.

Fr. Dodaro holds out hope for the upcoming gathering of bishops in Rome: “The themes of marriage and family concern all Catholics, and I think part of what Pope Francis wants to do is to emphasize the positive role of joy in Christian life.”


Food for thought there, folks.

I would read Fr. Dodaro’s remark again, but over at CNA where you don’t have my notes.


Anyone can vote, but you have to be registered and approved to comment.

Pick your answer and give your reasons.

Top of Form

Given what you have read about the “Communion for divorced, civilly remarried” debate, whose arguments seem to be right? Whose arguments pass your Catholic “smell test”?






 Card. Kasper

 Fr. Dodaro

 I still don’t understand enough to make a choice.

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The moderation queue is ON.


5 out of 34 responses

1. I hear this more and more: “individuals where they are at” = “if they’re happy with their choices, then it’s O K”. I’m a convert. Sister Mary Leon met me where I was at. Then she proceeded to teach me about how to improve. And a lot of it involved knocking off some of the things I was doing.

And it’s one thing for some clown like me who just clogs up a pew on Sunday to be shy about teaching the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But; it’s a different matter for a prince of the Church to say “quit calling sinners sinful”. I’d have thought that fraternal correction was part of his job description.

And I don’t understand why, in 2014 some folk still want to debate matters that seem to have been settled with black letter law in, oh, the year 30 or so.

2. It’s obvious that Card Kasper’s proposal makes no sense, and I don’t think anyone with any intellectual honesty could argue otherwise. I think the problem though is that Kasper (and Francis?) simply doesn’t care.

We “conservatives” can win all the logical and theological arguments we want, but I think we’re winning the wrong battles because the “liberals” just don’t care about these things. For instance, you don’t hear Kasper using logical or theological arguments to try to counter Burke/Pell/Muller etc, he simply changes the subject by saying “you can’t reduce the Gospel down to rigid rules” and leaves it at that.

My fear is that Francis is the same way, and that even if he’s faced with an air tight logical argument against Kasper, he might just ignore it.

3. Fr. Dodaro wins hands down. Cardinal Kasper doesn’t seem to “get” the true nature of marriage, as well as the true nature of the Blessed Sacrament, as well as the true nature of the Sacrament of Penance/ Reconciliation. In addition, he’s just like the rest of the libs, i.e., when losing the argument, their best/only defense is crying “Bully.”

4. I wonder what the fine Cardinal (Kasper, that is) thinks about those married Catholics who work through tough spots and become stronger. Are they too rigid? Should they have thrown in the towel and found a new mate?

Maybe if his predecessors had been less worried about reinventing the Mass and weakening our faith more parents would have stayed together and children would have had better examples at home.

Come Holy Spirit and these Cardinal straight, please…

5. Cardinal Kasper’s mode of argument is highly offensive. As Father Z has pointed out, it’s typical of the way liberals argue. It’s based on emotion and not the intellect. When their position is weak and indefensible, they attack others like, namecall and most importantly, feign victimhood.

I ask readers to consider that German intellects are in the news for floating the trial balloon that incest should be legal. This breakdown of any semblance of rational, civilized behavior, first, strikes of the corrupt “enlightened /liberal” Weimar Republic that led to Nazi Germany. Secondly it is indicative of a complete failure of the Catholic Church in Germany to properly form the consciences of the people there.

Kasper is on full display as the poster child for the modern paganization of Germany. The Pope should immediately put an end to Kasper’s interviews and public teaching and re-catechize him. He’s crossing the line of being an anathema. Pray for his conversion and a minimization in the collateral damage and the number of souls damned by his error.


XLIV. Lack of transparency during the Synod. A problem?

Posted on 5 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

I am soooo glad that I’ll arrive in Rome with my pilgrimage group after the Synod is over.  I really wouldn’t like to be covering at all from a “press” point of view.

For instance, I noticed at Fishwrap this info tidbit in a piece about the Synod and the spiffy way it is being run by Card. Baldisseri.

Vatican: Synod will be ‘original and innovative,’ but with limited public information


Okay that’s just the headline. But are you already thinking, “Original and innovative? What could go wrong?”

Let’s move on.


Baldisseri, the secretary general of the Vatican’s office for the synod, spoke Wednesday at an event at LUMSA University, a private university in Rome located just east of the Vatican.

The event, one of many hosted in early October by diverse interest groups hoping to have impact on the synod discussions, focused on presenting viewpoints of accomplished women of faith from around the globe regarding struggles stemming from changes in family life.

But it will likely be largely unknown what impact, if any, those groups — or even the petitions of Catholics around the world — will have on the bishops gathered in synod. 



[Up until this point we’ve been reading blah blah. Now watch!] The Vatican press office announced Monday that no texts from the synod discussions would be released. And unlike in previous synods, no printed summaries of the daily discussions are to be issued, either. [Hmmmm.]

Instead, the press office will host daily briefings with Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, who will be present during the synod meetings and is expected to brief reporters in Italian on general themes discussed each day[On “general themes”?  Oooo!  That’s be helpful!   “Today the Synod on the Family discussed matters relating to and of interest for the family, from the point of view of the Church in modern times.”] He is to be assisted in those briefings by three priests and one woman who will summarize the events from inside the synod room* in English, Spanish, French and German.



Fishwrappers are probably worked up that they won’t know anything about the impact made by the suggestions of the liberals and dissidents in these lobby groups which are probably hounding the synod participants.

On the other hand, why would they adopt this new method for the Synod?  We are all supposed to accompany the Synod in prayer.  Is this a matter of “Shut up and pray!”?
“Never mind what the Synod participants are saying (about you) behind closed doors!”

Someone who is suspicious might ask (as some are asking in email): Are the interventions (speeches) to be made by the Synod participants secret?  Is there any accountability issue involved here?  Is there any worry that somehow, if the texts of the participants’ interventions are not made public, they might somehow be “disappeared” or edited one way or another for “correctness”?


4 out of 34 responses

1. I think the less influence the world can have on this Synod the better. As faithful we must pray for the leadership of the Church, may they be guided by the Holy Ghost and come out after the Synod like Peter came out after Pentecost and get the Church back on track. I pray for a strong clear message from our leaders and not the muttled, weak, twisted, double speak we are so accustom to these days. Is that to much to ask for?

2. I listened/watched the Pope give his speech live on EWTN Saturday. The comments you posted and the rest of his speech could be interpreted by either side of the “communion-for-the-divorced-and-remarried” as being supportive of their position. It’s more of the ambiguous language used at and by the Second Vatican Council.

3. Why are orthodox Catholics anxious about the synod?? I’d like to see the answer to that.

4. I can’t read people’s minds. My guess is the anxiety is because the pope has discouraged a more polemical papacy and encouraged liberals to speak their minds.


XLV. Over the top interview with Card. Kasper on the eve of the Synod

Posted on 5 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Yet another interview with Card. Kasper is available for your … what… edification?

His Eminence gave an interview to Il Quotidiano.  My translation:


“We will reach a wide consensus. I am not Nostradamus, but I believe, I hope that the line of mercy about access to the sacraments for the divorced remarried can be approved next year by a majority of bishops in the assembly”.  [Sounds like a candidate for office on the eve of the election, no?  And note the point of “mercy”, which by now is a manipulation word. Who’s against mercy, right?] On the eve of the Synod on the Family, a preparatory meeting in view of the ordinary, deliberative meeting of 2015, the tensions between progressivists and conservatives are more and more inflamed. Especially under attack is Cardinal Walter Kasper, who carries the liberal flag. Favorable toward admitting the remarried to Communion after a period of penance, [… blah blah removed…]

Q: Cardinal, they say that you are attacking the indissolubility of marriage.

KASPER: This is a complete falsehood, doctrine isn’t being touched.  [“la dottrina non si tocca”] In play here is ecclesiastical discipline, or the application of principles. It is on this point that there is need for a reform in order to meet those to have wounded hearts.  [When you change discipline, there are unintended (or intended?) consequences.  Isn’t the Catholic practice of, say Friday abstinence, these days bring many spiritual fruits to the Church and isn’t it enriching our Catholic identity before the watching world?  … No?]

Q: How is this even of the Synod going for you, which finds you between protagonists after the direct nomination of the Pope?

KASPER: I am quite calm, dialectic has never been lacking even in Vatican II. At the end of this synodal road I foresee, and with some compromise, as often happened in the Council, that the thesis of mercy will pass. [The “thesis of mercy” v. … what?  The “thesis of cruelty, legalism, ideology”.]

Q: Until now, however, the voices raised have been nearly completely raises against Communion for the divorced remarried.



KASPER: Muller, De Paolis and Burke have the right to express themselves, Francis wants there to be a serious debate. That said, they are not alone.  [“They are not alone….” Ooooo!]

Q: Is Muller’s strong opposition an attack on the Pope?

KASPER: I don’t know if it is a conspiracy (congiura). Even at Vatican II the Prefect of the Holy Office, Ottaviani, was not in agreement with the Pontiff, John XXIII. So, let us avoid exaggeration and focus only on the divorced remarried. [Apples and oranges.  Ottaviani wrote to the Holy Father about his concerns.  Also, there is a qualitative difference between a mere Synod, and an extraordinary one at that, and the work of an Ecumenical Council.]

Q: Moving to couples living together. Are these a sign of the times or not?

KASPER: They are, [and why is that?  Is it, in part at least, because the Church’s teaching and practice have become muddled?] and for that reason the Church must announced the beauty of the Gospel also to those who are not married.

Q: Does that include homosexual unions?

KASPER: They are not families, [Activists and Fishwrap are going to love that one!] but, if lived with seriousness and fidelity, they have their own value. [What does that mean?]


Okay…. let’s play this out, off the interview page for a moment.


Q: Multiple wives?

A: We need to learn from our Muslim brothers. The more the merrier. God permitted the Hebrew Bible patriarchs to have many wives at the same time. Why not now?

Q: What about removing the Church Tax so that everyone in Germany can approach the Church without paying for sacraments?

A: Non si tocca!


My concern, partly validated here, is that, after this extraordinary Synod does little or nothing, we are going to have a whole year of liberal grinding in the press and pulpits, thus raising expectations of huge changes.  And then, when Francis doesn’t do what they want, the revolt really breaks out into the open.

You will say that liberals are already in revolt against the Church’s teachings and disciplines.  Sure.  However, when their hopes are dashed they will break whatever tethers still remain.

And let us not forget that the Synod can do nothing but talk.   They can vote on anything, say, that French croissants are better than Roman cornetti.   In the end, they can recommend things to the Pope.  The Pope decides.


4 out of 42 responses

1. I only wished the Cardinal was consistent and applied the “mercy” principle to policy decisions that legitimately called for mercy. In this case, he chose to safely side with the highly popular practice of divorce and remarriage – and when he saw that the path was clear, he practically ran, tripping over himself to announce his position and become Mr. Popular by the media.

However, in other cases, like for example the Franciscans of the Immaculate or the SSPX – no such proposals of mercy, no safe haven, no quarter proposed for them.

2. It is very clear that if the discipline were changed to admit divorce and remarried people to the Communion Rail, it would also require or imply a change in doctrine about the indissolubility of marriage, the worthy reception of Holy Communion, etc. Christ clearly stated that divorced and remarried people are living in a state of adultery, which means a state of mortal sin. Is divorce and remarriage no longer adultery and mortal sin? Is receiving the Eucharist while in the state of mortal sin no longer a sacrilege?

Finally, I cringed watching that Kasper video the other day where he said that we can no longer tell people they are living in a state of adultery, as if the whole idea is now outmoded. I’m afraid Cardinal Kasper has become a wolf in sheep’s clothing as he is openly contradicting the clear teachings of Christ Who said that if a divorced person takes another wife, he becomes an adulterer. Cardinal Kasper needs our serious prayers for he is putting his soul and many other souls in jeopardy with the spread of these errors. This may sound harsh, but it’s the truth.

3. Can someone explain to me why Kasper was ever made a Cardinal?

This is the stuff historic schism is made from. Should Kasper’s teachings be the next and natural extension of the liberals’ interpretation of VCII, it does not bode well for the Church. It will make Rome look like they should have never instigated the English Reformation and that Henry VIII was correct all along. The formation of the Anglican church was caused by one big misunderstanding of the supremacy of mercy extended to those unrepentant souls engaged in mortal sin such as King Henry VIII over the very words of Jesus Christ. Perhaps King Henry VIII’s excommunication should be revoked posthumously. Maybe Cardinal Kasper can initiate the revocation so that King Henry can ultimately be made into a Catholic saint.

Regarding Kasper’s new theology, can he be so heartless and without mercy as to condemn sex within the 3rd civil marriage, 8th civil marriage, given that he’s on record saying that “not all sex outside of legitimate marriage is wrong”?

This is very disheartening.

How can this man possibly have ANY forum with such heterodoxy?


XLVI. The Synod and transparency

Posted on 5 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf



During Synods past, the interventions (speeches, addresses) of participants were made public, either in the Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano or also online.  Yes, weighing through then was pretty boring, but we knew what was being said and who said it.

For this Synod the interventions will not be made public.

I saw this from Lifesite about the reason of the Cardinal who runs the Synod of Bishops, His Eminence Lorenzo Baldisseri, when a journalist pressed him a little.


The first press conference of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family took place this morning with Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, running through the agenda of the Extraordinary Synod.

The Cardinal noted there would be 191 speakers with only four minutes each to make their remarks.  The list of speakers includes 61 cardinals, one cardinal patriarch, 7 patriarchs, one major archbishop, 67 metropolitan archbishops, 47 bishops, one auxiliary bishop, 1 priest and 6 religious.

Speakers were asked to submit their remarks prior to the Synod. However, none of the texts are to be made public.  When the press conferences take place, while some of what was said will be transmitted, the public will not learn who said what.

There were several complaints from journalists about the new rule, which many said demonstrates a lack of transparency.  Frustrated by repeated pointed questions about the matter, Cardinal Baldisseri replied to another reporter who pushed on the matter, “You should come up here if you know everything, maybe you should be a Synod Father.





5 out of 37 responses

1. So in an age when it’s never been easier to distribute information; when every tin-foil-hat-wearer that wants to publish is doing so; when every nitwit with a laptop can broadcast from his bedroom for hours on end; when the Church has been hammered with bad publicity for years over the hierarchy covering things up; when the topic under discussion is some esoteric angels-on-a-pin matter, but family and all that entails; when it’s not even an active floor debate, but just a series of presentations and prepared remarks – the Synod Fathers decide to close the doors.

I just don’t understand everything I know.

2. I am actually okay with this. “Transparency” is too much associated with democracy, and Holy Mother Church is not a democracy… Deo gratias!

Remember in one of his final papal addresses, His Holiness Benedict XVI, the Pope Emeritus, spoke about the “real council” and the “council of the media” in reference to Vatican II. We already know the secular media is all over this synod, and will jump at any opportunity to do what they do best: spin something minor that a bishop might say into a “change in doctrine and practice”. I say keep the doors of the synod closed and let me know when the post-synodal apostolic exhortation is promulgated… preferably, in Latin!

3. This is the age of the internet. Somebody always breaks the silence. Look at past conclaves. There will be no secrets.

4. What a pity we won’t know who said what. I think this is a big mistake and will lead to people trying to guess, perhaps wrongly, the origin of any quotes which may emerge.

It will also re-enforce in the minds of non-Catholics that the Church acts secretly, and in this case they will be right.

5. The last consistory of Cardinals was also supposed in to be held in camera, and then this was immediately breached by Kasper releasing his address to the press. If it had not been for Cardinals Ruini and Caffara speaking out about the huge opposition which Kasper received, we would have been left with the idea that his was the direction in which the whole college of Cardinals was travelling.

I, for one, do not like this novel concept of a closed-door synod. It gives too much license to the enemies of the Church among the bishops to spin their own message and manipulate the outcome of the synod. If we cannot trust people like Kasper and Baldisseri to hold the clear teaching of Christ from the Scriptures and Holy Tradition, how can we trust them to represent the views of the synod truthfully either? These people are relativists who do not believe in Truth, they see truth claims as being “ideological”, they believe in an amorphous “spirit of the Gospel” rather than the inerrant Word of God which has already been spoken to us by the Holy Spirit. They believe the Holy Spirit is some ephemeral will-o-the-wisp who says one thing at one time to one people, then changes the Will of Almighty God to suit the peoples of another time. They do not believe in a perfect, omnipotent, omniscient God who has bequeathed us His Truth through His Son and His Church in a deposit of faith which comes to us from the Apostles. They believe the Church is a cosmopolitan debating society where every heresy is open for discussion because it has the same status as the true faith – it is one opinion among many competing truth-claims. They are the epitome of the modernists condemned by Pope St Pius X in Pascendi Dominici Gregis – they are heretics who never knew the Lord.

I do not trust men who do not believe in Truth – I want to know their every move. –Deacon Augustine


XLVII. INTERVIEW: Card. Burke our challenges and “authentic pastoral care”

Posted on 6 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf




His Eminence Raymond Card. Burke was interviewed by Vatican Radio about the “Five Cardinals Book” and about the Synod.

Compare and contrast with Card. Kasper’s recent interviews?  Night and day!  This is on an entirely different level.


Cardinal Burke: Christ’s truth is at the heart of marriage

(Vatican Radio) “Remaining in the truth of Christ” [both the theme and the book title] is at the heart of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, said Cardinal Raymond Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. With the Synod beginning this week, Cardinal Burke sat down with Vatican Radio to talk about his perspectives on the Synod, on issues ranging from outreach to those marginalized in difficult marriage situations, as well as the necessity to proclaim the beautiful truth of marriage instituted by God the Father at creation, taught by Christ, and upheld by the Church.

Cardinal Burke was also one of several contributors to a book, entitled Remaining in the Truth of Christ, intended to help the Synod and the Pope as they work to renew the Church’s commitment to the pastoral care of families.

Listen to the interview:

 Card. Burke on Synod [11:23] Play in Popup | Download (1929)

Read the full transcription of Cardinal Burke’s interview below: [With my patented treatment.]

Q: Your Eminence, you recently authored a chapter in a book about the indissolubility of marriage, entitled Remaining in the Truth of Christ.  What motivated the book and what is its underlying premise? BURKE: At the extraordinary consistory of Cardinals, which was held on Feb 20 and 21 of this year, Cardinal Walter Kasper gave a lengthy discourse on marriage and the family in which he invited a dialogue about what he had stated in his discourse. A group of us decided to ponder more deeply a number of questions which he raised in his presentation and to respond to them in a systematic way. And thank God, with the help of the general editor, Father Robert Dodaro of the Augustinianum, we were able to put this together as a service to the Synod and above all to the Holy Father in his desire to present once again the beauty of the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family.  [The Book is a service, not an attack.  Card. Kasper suggested that this was a “conspiracy” and an attack on the Pope.]

Q: Going into the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, what would you identify as three of the biggest challenges to the Catholic family today?

[His Eminence begins to lay out a series of challenges.] One of the biggest challenges is the defective catechesis in the Roman Catholic Church—I can speak from my experience in the United States—for the past 40 to 50 years.[Do I hear an “Amen!”?] Children and young people are not well catechized with regard to marriage. Coupled with that is the recent entrance of a so-called “gender theory” that alienates human sexuality from its essentially conjugal meaning. [This is well-done.  As a matter of fact, I think that the homosexual lobby within the Church is among the most vociferous in clamoring for Communion for the civilly remarried precisely because they want to detach sexual acts from procreation.  Thus, anything that weakens that original and putatively valid marriage bond is heading in their direction.] This is now being brought into schools along with the advancement of the homosexual agenda. This is a big challenge for families. It is only in the family that the true sense of who we are as man and woman is taught effectively both by the example of the father and mother, but also in catechesis to amplify that and assist the parents in the fuller teaching of the faith. So this is one major difficulty.

Obviously too, we are dealing with a culture, at least in the West, which is totally secularized and therefore denatured. When God is no longer taken into account, and His plan for creation is no longer considered… Instead, we have the pretense to decide for ourselves the meaning of our own lives and the meaning and destiny of our world, the family suffers first and foremost. The family today has to be especially alert to the subtle influences of the secularized culture, what St. John Paul II once called the Godless culture, especially its insinuation into the lives of the members of the family and the family itself, through the mass media and above all through the Internet and the horrible reality of pornography on the Internet, which is causing so much damage to families. The second big challenge to families is secular society itself and the challenge to Christian families today to be countercultural.

third challenge is the whole question of marriage itself and the effective presentation of the Church’s teaching about marriage, which in fact is also known by reason. Marriage is part of our human nature and therefore it is taught by natural law. Faith illumines reason and helps to see the truth in all its richness. So, we need to help especially young people when they are at the age where one is preparing for marriage to see marriage itself as a beautiful call, a way to eternal salvation—not only to their happiness now on earth—and to assist them in every way we can. I think if we have a good catechesis for children and for young people it will be easier to reach them with the message of the Church, the message of reason and faith with regard to marriage as they come into their young adult years.

Q: How can we renew our pastoral care for people who are divorced and those who are divorced and remarried?




What we must do for those who are in irregular unions is to show the care to each and every one of them the same care we are called to share with every member of the Church, especially those who are in the most need. There is no question that those who are living in irregular unions have a very particular need of the Church’s care. I think the important thing for us is to show them how, even in their particular situation, they can convert themselves more and more to Christ and conform themselves more to Him. It is not easy; it is one of the more particularly challenging situations in which a Christian can find him or herself, but nevertheless there is grace to respond in a way that is true to the teaching of Christ and therefore liberating.

[NB] It would be a big mistake to approach the situation simply from the point of view of trying to figure out how to admit persons in irregular unions to the sacraments. This is a contradiction in itself and would truly miss the point of the authentic pastoral care that these couples need. The Church has a long history of trying to help couples who, for one reason or another, are not able to leave an irregular union to live chastely and to live justly as they can in that situation.

Q: The Synod has attracted a great deal of media attention. How do you think the media reporting has impacted the Synod and people’s perception of it?

Certainly one good thing is that people are very much aware that there will be a Synod on the family! That message has gotten out. The sad part is that the message has been colored by the media with expectations which are unrealistic and actually not true to the nature of the Synod and, even in a more serious way, not true to the doctrine of the faith.  [The false expectations are what scare me, not what the Synod will actually propose to the Holy Father.]

I have experienced myself in talking with the faithful and with bishops and priests that there has been built up this expectation that the Church is now going to change Her teaching with regard to the indissolubility of marriage and permit now second and third marriages and that for those in irregular unions there will be access to the sacraments. These kinds of expectations are unreal. They are not true to the work of the Synod in the first place and, in a more profound sense, not true to what Christ himself has taught us, the truth that human nature itself teaches us. Therefore, that part is very sad. It has been going on now for several months, which is not a good situation. The Church’s teaching needs to be made clear now and her fidelity to Christ needs to be very clear in the Synod. Just like the title of the book to which I contributed, Remaining in the Truth of Christ, which is taken from St. John Paul II’s post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio. That is what the Synod is all about: remaining in the truth of Christ.  [I believe it was Card. Baldisseri, head of the Synod of Bishop who, in an interview of his own suggested that Familiaris consortio was already outdated.]

Q: What would you like to see come out of the Extraordinary Synod?

I’m hoping that it will take up again the great papal Magisterium, which is a gift to us, beginning with Casti connubi of Pope Pius XI, the teaching of Pope Pius XII, then in more recent times, the prophetic and heroic teaching of Humanae vitae of Pope Paul VI, soon to be beatified at the end of this Synod, as well as the teaching of Familiaris Consortio of St John Paul II. Fundamentally, what I hope will emerge from the Synod is this beautiful truth about the human person, who has written into his nature the call to union and communion between man and one woman, which is faithful, which is indissoluble, and which by its very nature is procreative; it participates in the creation of new human life in the image and likeness of God, what the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World referred to as the “crown” of marital love, the gift of offspring.

Whatever the Synod’s particular emphases are—marriage preparation, teaching on natural family planning, all the particular questions—(I hope what) would emerge over all is the splendor of the truth about marriage as God created us from the beginning.

Report and Interview by Andrew Summerson


Food for thought for every parish priest in here.


4 out of 76 responses

It’s so good to hear from Card. Burke. He’s so rational that it’s stunning in these times of shifting sands.

I think, no matter how miserable things look now, that he will someday be Pope. Leaving that aside, I heard this morning that BXVI has gone on retreat for the entire synod

Maybe the precise reason BXVI is ON retreat is to pray for the Synod. 

3. First, I still can’t shake the feeling that there’s so much more to Benedict’s abdication than we are told. Who’s planning what, whether it’s some secret master plan, who all the players are, I have no idea, but I really think if we knew the truth it would rock the whole world.

Second, I’ve said this often, but imagine if Cardinal Burke (or someone like him) had been elected pope after Benedict. Imagine what his pontificate might’ve been like. Now imagine Burke (or someone like him) being elected after Francis. How different, and how much more difficult, his task would be.

4. Holy Spirit, may Cardinal Burke please be our next Pope. Amen.



XLVIII. Couple tells Pope about welcoming homosexual “couples” in parishes. Fr. Z muses

Posted on 7 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

You can expect that those who support Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried will find eager allies in those who support the homosexualist agenda.  The former are willing (or want) to detach the sexual act from marriage.  The latter want to detach the sexual act from procreation.

Thus, Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter) is all over a story from CNS reporting that:


A married couple told Pope Francis and the Synod of Bishops on the family that Catholic parishes should welcome same-sex couples, following the example of parents who invite their son and his male partner to their home for Christmas.


I don’t want to shift any blame onto the couple who spoke at the Synod, of course. It is the sensationalizing of the reportage that is troublesome.

That said, I wonder just how it is that parishes should welcome homosexual “couples”.  What would that look like?  What do we mean by “couples”?  Civilly married “couples”?

Here’s the deal.

Part of the problem of homosexual “couples” (and perhaps also civilly remarried couples) involves the corruption of friendship.

Say a man and woman are in an irregular situation.  One, a Catholic, is divorced from the previous spouse.  No decree of nullity.  Civil marriage follows to another Catholic.  They cannot receive Communion as is.  However, it could be possible for them to receive Communion (provided that they avoid scandal) were they willing to live in a “Josephite” marriage or a “brother and sister” situation.   As you can imagine, it could happen that once in a while they might slip, as it were.  In that case, they go to confession and start again, resolved to do better.

Say a man and a man, who are great friends, determine to live together, share expenses, take care of each other when ill, etc. They are heterosexual and they don’t have any attraction to each other.  They are simply great friends, like Capt. Aubrey and Dr. Maturin, Capt. Kirk and Mr. Spock, Mr. Holmes and Dr. Watson, Porthos, Athos and Aramis… okay, that’s three.   Jesus and the Apostles.   No problems here.

Say a man and a man, who are great friends, determine to live together, share expenses, take care of each other when ill, etc. They, however, are homosexuals and they do have an attraction to each other.  However, they have determined to live chastely, because they know that homosexual acts are sinful.  As you can imagine, it might happen that they slip once in a while.  They go to confession – like any other sinners do – and they renew their resolve to live chastely.   That is not very different from the situation in which the divorced and remarried couple find themselves in.

You might bring up the point that they have placed themselves in an occasion of sin, because the proximity of the other person is too tempting.  This would apply to the man and woman living like “brother and sister” and to the homosexuals.

I respond in two ways.  First, human beings are not brute animals which have no control over their appetites.  Second, say they have separate dwellings.  There is nothing to stop them from getting into the car at any time of the day or night. Separation in separate dwellings isn’t a guarantee of anything, in this highly mobile world we live in.

Yes, there are some less thoughtful reactionaries who will jump all over this like a trampoline, because they hold that, if you are attracted to another person, you should avoid even seeing that person.  Sure, that is one approach.  I don’t recall that it’s in the Bible. It isn’t de fide.  It is one way to counsel a person, depending on the circumstances.

That said, those who want divorced and civilly remarried couples to receive Communion without any commitment to living chastely, while continuing to have marital relations whenever, are, in effect, separating the sexual act from its proper locus, valid marriage.  Homosexualists, homosexual activists, will find this goal parallel to their own.  If they can disconnect the sexual act from its primary end, procreation, they score a victory.


4 out of 69 responses

1. What does it mean to “welcome” a same -sex “couple” into a parish? There is a distinction between welcoming two individuals (or two friends who come together) and welcoming a “couple”? I would say it’s a matter of welcoming the persons, but not welcoming their “coupleness”, acknowledging any goodness that might exist in their friendship, but not acknowledging the legitimacy of a romantic/sexual dimension in the relationship.

Parents of a child with same sex attraction may, after careful discernment, choose to welcome their child’s same-sex “partner”, as a friend, to visit at Christmas, but set parameters that acknowledge the person and the friendship, but not the romantic/sexual dimension of the relationship. For example, as difficult as such a conversation might be, the parents may insist that there be no public display of affection and that if the “friend” will be spending the night, he will stay in a separate room.

There is a local parish at which there is a pair of young men who kiss on the lips at the Sign of Peace. That is not the kind of welcome that same-sex “couples” should be given; it causes scandal and, contrary to the inevitable charges of “homophobia,” very naturally disturbs many. Those young men should be pulled aside by the pastor for a conversation not unlike that of the parents I’ve described might have had: welcome the persons, acknowledge the friendship, but not acknowledge the “couple” as a couple, and ask them to refrain from “couple-like” behavior. Of course, a pastor ought to also do the best he can to explain the wisdom and beauty of the Church’s position with compelling reason and even joy. Then it is up to the two persons to decide if they want to be there enough to be willing to abide by “house rules.” To take the moral dimension out of it, what considerate Gentile guest would eat ham in front of the family in a Kosher Jewish home?

(The parallels to the divorced and remarried are challenging here. Similar principles should apply, and if they don’t, the same-sex pair really does have grounds to say that it’s not fair. )



2. Fr Z’s analysis is right on, particularly about same-sex-attracted friends living together (note I didn’t say couple). One of the key things SSA’d individuals need to live chastely is real friendship and the right kind of intimacy that flows from it. Of course that can come from heterosexuals, but we all understand how it can be easier to share your struggles with those in the same boat. It’s case by case. Fr Martin Fox

Perhaps St Augustine’s life could be the model. When he was living with a woman, St Monica would not allow him in her home, but she would meet with him elsewhere.

So perhaps the best strategy would be to welcome her son for Christmas but not his “buddy”.

4. If the Church didn’t have so many homosexually sympathetic men in the priesthood, would we be having this synod discussion of moving the goal line from where Christ put it to a relative place where everyone can score? I’m thinking the next synod should be on homosexuality.


XLIX. As the Synod Turns

Posted on 7 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Any one who looks at Catholic stuff on these interwebs today (and for the near future) is going to be inundated with Synod stuff.

We have to be wary.

Do you remember that, just before Benedict XVI abdicated, during an audience he talked about the Council of the Fathers v. the Council of the Media?

This is what we are seeing develop around this Synod.

There is a Synod and there is a Synod of the Media.

A great example of this is found today at CRUX.

My first observation is that, when you look at CRUX’s main page the great burning question that all Catholics are focused on is “gay” marriage.  There is a disproportionate focus on this issue, just as there is a disproportionate representation of “gays” in TV sitcoms, etc.  Surely this comes from a desire not just to report news but to advance an agenda.  I circled stories on the main page that have to do with “gay” matters.  Given the percentage of Catholics who actually want there to be same-sex unions, for any reason … well… you decide what’s going on here.

You can conduct the same exercise over at Fishwrap (aka The National Schismatic Reporter).  It’ll probably be a higher percentage yet, given that outlet’s leanings.

To their credit, CRUX has an op-ed piece by Mark Brumley of Ignatius Press which is worth a moment or two.  He explodes the canard that conservatives are against change and he clearly states that we have to embrace also the hard sayings of the Lord, the difficult teachings.  “Pastoral” doesn’t mean selling out.

On the other hand, at CRUX we see a “Synod of the Media” piece by John Allen (who now works for the Boston Globe for CRUX). Allen enthusiastically relates that married couples are stealing the show at the Synod (which is all of 36 hours old). Highlighted are the comments of a couple who assert that the Church should be open to same-sex couples.  There are no other explanations of what that is supposed to look like other than the analogy offered: just as a parents of a son in some kind of same-sex relationship should welcome that “couple” into their home at Christmas time, so too the Church should welcome same-sex couples.  There is a lot of ambiguity here.  Say parents do allow their son and his … whatever he is called… to their home for, say, Christmas dinner.  Do they then give that “couple” a bedroom in their home for the night or longer?  Similarly, Holy Church already welcomes every sort of couple of Catholics.  As a matter of fact Holy Church obliges every sort of Catholic to come to Church and participate in Sunday Mass.  Remember the obligation thing?  What Holy Church does not do is say to people in mortal sin that they can receive Communion.  The language of “welcome” in these scenarios, namely, the Church should “be welcoming” is a red herring.  OF COURSE the Church is welcoming to sinners.  THAT’S WHAT SHE’S FOR, for the love of all that’s holy.

Moreover, Allen also expostulates about how the way annulments are handled in these USA could be a model for the rest of the world.  What he is referring to is the high percentage of cases that receive decrees of nullity, without consideration of whether those tribunals were exercising due diligence or not.  This was considered a serious problem during the pontificates of St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI.  Is it suddenly not a problem anymore just because there is, right now, an almost lemmings-to-the-cliff rush in favor of some “streamlined” annulment process?

The Synod of the Media, folks.

But wait!  There’s more.

Mr. Allen also reports that Card. Kasper has received an “endorsement” from fellow German Card. Marx of Munich, who is also a member of the fabled “Gang of Eight”.  Well, that’s a huge surprise, isn’t it!  Germans bishops support Kasperite thesis!  Sun to rise at dawn!

First of all, the fact that the German bishops, with Marx, might back Kasper’s notions during the Synod means very little, in terms of the Synod.  The Germans have their representation.  I think it’s at about the same level as that of the Church in, say, Croatia.

Also, could there be behind this German push for Communion for the civilly remarried a desire to defend Germany’s Church Tax?

In the UK’s best Catholic week, The Catholic Herald, there is in the print edition (you can subscribe HERE) a letter to the editor by Fr. Francis Coveney, which raises a good point:







Over at Lifesite News, there is an entry which touches on the fact that the German Church is losing members like fleeing rodents from a less than stable barque.


The issue [Communion for those in irregular situations] has been a high priority for the German Catholic bishops for whom much of the Church’s funding comes from the Church Tax, in which citizens identify themselves as affiliated with a particular church and the government pays a portion of their income tax to support it. The Catholic Church’s refusal to budge on Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics has cut into Catholic revenues as thousands of Catholics in “irregular” situations have switched their affiliation on tax forms.

In 2012, the German bishops’ conference issued a statement that Catholics who did not pay the Church Tax would be refused the sacraments. German citizens are required to give an affiliation on their tax forms, and the bishops declared that changing the affiliation to one of the Protestant Churches is tantamount to a declaration of apostasy. In 2011, the Catholic Church in Germany received 5 billion euros (approximately $6.84 billion U.S.) from the government.

The bishops have repeatedly complained of the loss of membership and blame the Church’s refusal to change teachings such as that on divorce, the reservation of priestly ordination to men and clerical celibacy. [… “but for Wales?”] The German media, however, has pointed to the clerical sex abuse scandals as a major motivator for the refusal of Catholics to continue paying the tax levy. In 2011, 126,488 Catholics asked to be removed from registers.

Kasper, long a theological opponent of the former Cardinal Ratzinger, has espoused a change in the practice for years. In 2005, Cardinal Kasper refused to accept the decision of a synod of bishops on the question, [Wait just a doggone minute here!  I thought “synodality” was the bestest and most wonderfulest way ehvurrrr to work out problems in the Church.] saying “It is a question that exists, and we have to reflect on it in order to be able to respond… Every bishop in every Western country recognizes that this is a grave problem.” Of the Synod’s conclusion that the practice of withholding Communion could not be changed, Kasper said it “is not the final result.”  [I guess there are Synods and then there are Synods.]

In 1993, as Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Kasper released a pastoral letter along with Karl Lehman, then-Bishop of Mainz that allowed divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion after “serious examination” of their conscience. [And the CDF shot that down right away.]


There’s a lot more to say, but that’s enough for now.

Bottom line: Keep your eyes open and your ears tuned to the problem of the Synod of the Synod v. the Synod of the Media.



8 out of 36 responses

1. With all of the trouble within the sacrament of Matrimony, it is inconceivable that the first point raised by a married couple should be that of advocating rights for homosexuals or any other group.

Oh, how I miss Papa Benedict.

3. Yes. Strange information coming out of the Synod, but interesting news on Lifesite about a request to drop words like “disordered”, “living in sin”, and “contraceptive mentality” from the Catechism. If this is the case, and I take all of this with a grain of salt, it is an attempt by someone (we won’t know who) to soften the church’s language and thus its stance towards those in irregular relationships. If any of this is true, which I don’t doubt, there is a concerted effort at delivering some really soft-serve Catholicism.

4. Wow. I guess I have missed the vast reporting that Card. Kaspar is in support of the tax and of not giving sacraments to those who eschew the tax (sarcasm).
So it appears this is all mainly motivated by money. What a big surprise.
I enjoyed the letter to the editor written by Fr. Coveney. I hope the US print picks it up.
I am NOT surprised that Kaspar disdained the theology of our dear Holy Father Benedict XVI.
And how illuminating to see that tax revenues and monies received are much more important than what The Lord said about marriage to these priests. God have mercy.

5. I certainly understand the need to be wary of various media outlets reporting on the synod. Unfortunately, the official dispatches coming from the Vatican Information Service on the synod discussions are in and of themselves greatly disturbing. I find it hard to imagine any Catholic who takes their faith seriously would not find them so.

6. Anyone doubt that Card. Kasper is a dyed-in-the-wool leftist, these remarks are typical of the left and how they work.

[i] In 2005, Cardinal Kasper refused to accept the decision of a synod of bishops on the question,
saying “It is a question that exists, and we have to reflect on it in order to be able to respond… Every bishop in every Western country recognizes that this is a grave problem.”

Of the Synod’s conclusion that the practice of withholding Communion could not be changed, Kasper said it “is not the final result.” [/i]

That is proof enough of his far leftist bent. Only and until they get what they want they never give up, and afterwards? No more discussion, ever.

7. Here is an eye-opener, linked from Mark Shea’s blog:

Kasper, German Bishops, and the Church Tax, by Amy Welborn.

8. In 1993, as Bishop of Rottenburg-Stuttgart, Kasper released a pastoral letter along with Karl Lehman, then-Bishop of Mainz that allowed divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion after “serious examination” of their conscience. [And the CDF shot that down right away.]

The consistent lightning response of Rome (in the past) to suggestions of Communion for the divorced-and-remarried makes Rome’s nearly non-existent response to the near-universal practice of Communion for pro-aborts all the more scandalous. Hundreds of photographs of pro-abortion politicians receiving Communion have been sent to Rome. Dozens of theologically and canonically despicable statements on the subject have been made by Cardinals Wuerl, Dolan, O’Malley, and many others. Rome has yawned. After the American bishops approved a policy in 2004 that flew in the face of Pope Benedict’s letter to the bishops (the one that Cardinal McCarrick concealed, and lied about) Rome declared that “Catholics in Public Life” was consistent with what the Pope had said!


L. Concrete suggestions for the Synod of Bishops

Posted on 7 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The issue of Communion for those in irregular marriages, and for other sinners as well, is not to be quickly solved.  Rushing to amend the annulment process seems to me a bad idea.

However, there are a couple things that Bishops, with the Pope, could do to make it easier for people who should not be going to Communion, not to go.

First, in the places where the practice is used, could we get rid of row by row Communion?

Some people will feel psychological pressure to go with everyone else.  They watch the rows getting closer and closer, all the while debating, “Should I sit here or stay in the aisle and wonder about what people are wondering about me?  Why I am not going forward?”

Second, lengthen the Eucharistic fast before Communion to 3 hours instead of the ridiculous 1 hour.

Were we to have a longer Eucharistic fast, people could assume that you, mortal sinner that you probably are, may have had a stack of flapjacks before coming to church, rather than all those other things that people might wonder about.

Let’s make it easier for people not to commit sacrilege.

No more row by row!

Three hours!


4 out of 38 responses

1. Absolutely! Three hours is quite reasonable, and aside from giving cover to mortal sinners, it makes the early masses more popular…

2. Excellent thought Fr! Everybody going up to Holy Communion is scandalous or are they all in a state of grace? I doubt that most catholics know what a state of grace is because the church doesn’t teach the truth anymore. All it teaches is a fuzzy, woolly, cuddly soft kind of-Jesus loves you and we are all saved-religion which is dogma free and guilt free!




3.I think the practice of row-by-row probably pressures many ignorant but well meaning non-Catholics into coming up for communion because, well, it seems like that’s just what everyone’s doing.

4. I think priests should follow this example from Fr. Finigan as well. Regularly, and not just at special events:

At weddings, funerals, first Communions and Confirmations, many priests will try to give some guidance on who may present themselves for Holy Communion. A while back, I made a passing remark that I found to be surprisingly effective. After explaining that it is practising Catholics, living in accord with the teaching of the Church and attending Sunday Mass every week who go to Communion, I added that there are always plenty of people who, for various reasons, cannot receive Communion and so there is no need to be embarrassed about remaining in the bench. My hunch was correct: at those public occasions, if you do not explain that there are required dispositions for Holy Communion, people will come up simply to be polite, in case it might be rude not to. Such is the result of our failing to educate the faithful on the proper dispositions for Holy Communion.



LI. Good question: When you change language, do you change belief?

Posted on 8 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The short answer is “yes”.

We know that when you change liturgical texts, you change the belief of the people.  It takes a while, but it happens.  You know the adage “lex orandi lex credendi“.

So, Edward Pentin has a piece today at the National Catholic Register:



Much stress is being put on the fact that a change of doctrine is not up for discussion. But concerns remain that, even if that is the case, changing how the Church is presented will make it appear to have been altered.

The issue of language is a case in point: synod participants heard today of a wish to tone down the use of terms such as “living in sin”, “contraceptive mentality” and “intrinsically disordered”. The suggestion appeared to have been warmly received.

But such a change risks making it seem that the Church no longer believes, at least as strongly as she once did, the truths she is compelled to teach. It’s a concern that’s yet to be raised at the synod. Or maybe it has been. [Since the Synod is so closed, it would be hard to find out.]


Words have meanings.  When you start playing around with words, you risk changing the concepts.

That said, in all seriousness, are there better ways to say:

“living in sin”


“intrinsically disordered”


We have to stipulate that language you use in a scholarly article is not the same as you use in a sermon or in a coffee shop.

If there are better ways to express these things, without vastly long circumlocutions or vague euphemisms, I’d like to know what they are so that I can use them.


4 out of 38 responses

“Intrinsically disordered” sounds like my desk here at work. I don’t know that if you went around my large suburban parish you’d find more than a handful of people who’d be able to tell you what it meant in regards to matrimonial conditions.

“Living in Sin” is probably a safe bet because it is something that EVERYONE knows what it means. And while it does impart a value judgement, after all it is in fact sin, it isn’t something that sounds overly harsh to me. Although it doesn’t quite communicate exactly WHAT sin they are living in.

“Adultery” is another one of those terms that you may have a hard time getting agreement from the general public, even the general Catholic public. I think that for many it is a term that means you are married and are sleeping with someone not your spouse or you are sleeping with someone else’s spouse. I honestly thought that was the limits of the definition myself until I was well into my 30′s. Many people wouldn’t associate, for instance, two unmarried people sleeping together as committing adultery.

As you said words have meaning. The failure to communicate clearly what adultery is leaves people confused. Failure to communicate what sin is leaves people confused. Leaving people confused opens them up to the possibility of horrible consequences when it comes to the “last four things”.

“Intrinsically Disordered” probably still has some life to it but it’s secular term, subject to change.
“Adultery” is an essential word to have–timeless–as is “Fornication”.
“Living in Sin” sounds dated, and jargonish as well as being imprecise and subject to ambiguity. One really doesn’t need to be actually living at the same address as another to be “living in sin”. Use the words “adultery” and “fornication” in phrases in it’s place. They do not water down the teaching, and they may be less likely to produce a snigger.

Phrases like “Living together in an adulterous relationship,” or “Maintaining an adulterous connection with”, and “In an ongoing habit of fornication with,” I think would suffice.

Pentin is absolutely right. Words and their meaning are so important. The Church, and all of us, have a duty to make the implications of actions freely carried out, quite clear, without ambiguity.



Living in sin, for instance is a term which would more accurately be expressed as living in mortal sin.
Adultery involves having a sexual relationship with someone who already is in a valid marriage. It is therefore mortally sinful. If it is an ongoing relationship, as opposed to a one night stand, it is an inherently mortally sinful life choice.

Yes language should be changed to make it clear and understandable to all, so that the Church’s teaching is clear, so that people can choose to be Catholic or not to be Catholic.

I’ve known people who were “living in sin” who openly admitted that they were “living in sin” but with a wink and a nudge, as if it were a situation to have a giggle over. However truthful, “living in sin” lost its bite once it became a punch line. Social scientists call it “non-marital cohabitation”, but that doesn’t really capture the state of the couple’s immortal souls. “Non-marital cohabitation” also refers to the living situation of those who may be “intrinsically disordered.”

“Adultery” is good old-fashioned word that still works because people don’t like to use it. Those who may be engaging in adultery won’t use the word to describe what they are doing (“married dating” is preferred). Other people may notice that if someone is “stepping out” of the marital boundary, but generally other people can’t bring themselves to say, “Oh, he’s committing adultery.” God was pretty clear that “thou shalt not” and for that reason alone should be retained.

“Intrinsically disordered” is accurate but in a clinical way that disguises the situation. There are other words inspired by the Old Testament that could be used, but it is likely people will find them much more objectionable than “intrinsically disordered.” So, stet.


LII. Thoughts about the Synod and simplifying the “annulment” process

Posted on 8 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

At the National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap) Jesuit Thomas Reese is going out to the edge of the cliff:

-Simplified annulment process coming from synod-

This is part of the “lemmings to the cliff” dynamic being stirred by the Synod of the Media.

If you follow news about the Synod (“opinion” pieces), doesn’t it seem that many assume automatically that dumbing down the process for review of marriage cases simply has to be done or OMG!! the sky is going quite simply to fall?  We can’t be a Church of “mercy” unless we jettison all – or at least a lot – of this legalistic mumbo-jumbo and finally become the compassionate Church we have never ever been!

It’s a foregone conclusion.


If, however, the Synod of the Synod recommends a streamlined annulment process to the Pope, it remains to be seen what that would look like. How to do that without undermining also the Church’s teaching on marriage?

Paul VI, in his 1966 Apostolic Constitution on Fast and Abstinence Paenitemini didn’t fundamentally change the Church’s teaching on fasting, abstinence, doing penance, etc. He changed the laws concerning the practice of those things which the Church teaches we must do.

The result today is – and I don’t think I am exaggerating – that hardly any Catholics practice any meaningful fasting, abstinence, penance or mortifications of any kind.

Thus there has been lost to all of us, the Church as a whole, tremendous, incalculably valuable spiritual benefits.

Let’s now talk about changing juridical practice concerning marriage cases and declarations of nullity.

That won’t change what people believe?

When changes were made to Holy Mass in the 60′s (and with illicit experimentation and abuses far into the 70′s and 80′s) many people had the impression that, “If Mass can change, anything can change… including doctrine!”

Decades of bad translations and Communion in the hand, while standing… they haven’t affected people’s belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, have they?

All manner of expectations are being raised by the eager, oh so eager, Synod of the Media.

I’ve been quizzing canonists I trust for their opinions on what could be done that wouldn’t make the serious discernment process, aimed at arriving at truth and justice, into a something that unintentionally signals that the Church’s practice is a sham and that doctrine can change.  More on that another time.

Meanwhile, if American diocesan tribunals are a model that some (of the most eager for CHANGE) think should be followed (precisely because they were though to be annulment mills), then why did His Holiness not appoint a single American to the commission charged with overhauling the process?


4 out of 39 responses

1. Maybe changes to the annulment process is what Card Ouellet is referring to here:
Cardinal Ouellet: expect pastoral, not doctrinal changes

2. What possible benefit can it be to anybody to make it “simple” to annul a Holy Sacrament? The reason that it isn’t simple to declare a marriage null, is that it was never meant to be – we are dealing with something sacred, not profane. –Deacon Augustine

Why the pope didn’t appoint any Americans? Does he know any American canonists (besides Burke?) -Dr. Edward Peters, Canon Lawyer

4. In 1982 in Loyola House, Guelph, Ontario, the late Fr John English SJ told us that he was dealing with individuals whose marriages had been declared null and void but who knew in their heart and soul that their marriages were genuine. These were persons whose spouses had taken the ‘annulment’ route and where, clearly, shortcuts had been taken or laws interpreted very loosely. –Fr. Sean Coyle




LIII. St. John Paul: “the Church does not agree to call good evil and evil good”

Posted on 9 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

From St. John Paul’s 1984 Post-Synodal Exhortation Reconciliatio et paenitentia:


34. I consider it my duty to mention at this point, if very briefly, a pastoral case that the synod dealt with-insofar as it was able to do so-and which it also considered in one of the propositions. I am referring to certain situations, not infrequent today, affecting Christians who wish to continue their sacramental religious practice, but who are prevented from doing so by their personal condition, which is not in harmony with the commitments freely undertaken before God and the church. These are situations which seem particularly delicate and almost inextricable[This certainly describes the civilly remarried.]

Numerous interventions during the synod, expressing the general thought of the fathers, emphasized the coexistence and mutual influence of two equally important principles in relation to these cases. The first principle is that of compassion and mercy, whereby the church, as the continuer in history of Christ’s presence and work, not wishing the death of the sinner but that the sinner should be converted and live, and careful not to break the bruised reed or to quench the dimly burning wick, ever seeks to offer, as far as possible, the path of return to God and of reconciliation with him. The other principle is that of truth and consistency, whereby the church does not agree to call good evil and evil good. Basing herself on these two complementary principles[See that? They are “complementary” and not “conflicting”.] the church can only invite her children who find themselves in these painful situations to approach the divine mercy by other ways, not [NOT] however through the sacraments of penance and the eucharist until such time as they have attained the required dispositions.

On this matter, which also deeply torments our pastoral hearts, it seemed my precise duty to say clear words in the apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, as regards the case of the divorced and remarried, and likewise the case of Christians living together in an irregular union.


For all those who are not at the present moment in the objective conditions required by the sacrament of penance, the church’s manifestations of maternal kindness, the support of acts of piety apart from sacramental ones, a sincere effort to maintain contact with the Lordattendance at Mass [still obligatory] and the frequent repetition of acts of faith, hope, charity and sorrow made as perfectly as possible can prepare the way for full reconciliation at the hour that providence alone knows.


And thus both compassion and truth are held out as complementary by St. John Paul II.

Are we ready to set this aside as no longer applicable today?  No longer relevant?


2 out of 20 responses

This quote from St. Pius X (courtesy of Rorate Caeli):

These rebels profess and repeat, in subtle formulas, monstrous errors on the evolution of dogma, on the return to the pure Gospel—that is, as they say, a Gospel purified of theological explication, Council definitions, and the maxims of the moral life—and on the emancipation of the Church. This they do in their new fashion: they do not engage in revolt, lest they should be ejected, and yet they do not submit either, so that they do not have to abandon their convictions. In their calls for the Church to adapt to modern conditions, in everything they speak and write, preaching a charity without faith, they are very indulgent towards believers, but in reality they are opening up for everyone the path to eternal ruin. April 17, 1907

2. Some years ago, Cardinal Burke spoke of his “discovery of Canon 915.”

He said that, before this “discovery,” if he had been asked, he would have said that Canon 915 “was part of marriage law.” Of course, it is not. And this confession was from the pre-eminent canonist in the world.

Another way to make the same point is that every word St. John Paul wrote in the passage Fr. Z. quoted, applies to ALL persons in situations of publicly-known grave sin. The DUTY of the Church’s ministers to deny Communion to ALL manifest grave sinners is PRECISELY, ABSOLUTELY the same, whether the sin is adultery, fornication, Mafia membership, or support for abortion. The SPECIES of the manifest grave sin is of ABSOLUTELY no relevance.

And yet, with the exception of about a dozen bishops, the entire hierarchies of the U.S., the U.K, and the E.U. are all claiming that Canon 915 (and the moral norm it merely codifies) refers ONLY to sexual sins.

It is difficult to know how to express what a simple, utterly rudimentary moral issue this is. The current situation in the Church is like a religious-science-fiction nightmare, in which virtually every bishop in the Catholic Church is revealed not to have graduated from the Fourth Grade. –Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick


LIV. Fr. Murray answers Card. Kasper, et alii: “Why is the Church not as merciful as God?”

Posted on 9 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Over at The Catholic Thing Fr. Gerald E. Murray has a good essay about denial of Holy Communion: it isn’t “punishment”. With a few edits…




Denial of Communion Awakens Conscience

By Fr. Gerald E. Murray

Cardinal Walter Kasper published another article in the run-up to the Extraordinary Synod on the Family advancing his proposal that the discipline of the Church forbidding the admittance of divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to the reception of Holy Communion needs to be cast aside.

The theme he develops is God’s mercy. He states: “Many ask: If God is always merciful, why is the Church not the same? Or, why does the Church not seem to be as merciful as God?” [We must deny that premise.] And he continues: “The worst reproach that can be leveled against the Church – which in fact, often applies to it – is that it does not practice what it proclaims to others. Indeed, many people experience the Church as rigid and lacking in mercy.”


But Christian mercy does not consist in validating someone’s complaint of victimhood because the Church, in her discipline, is calling that person to repentance and fidelity to his word, given solemnly before God when he exchanged his marriage vows. [“But Father!  But Father!  Are you saying that people are responsible for the really big choices they make?  You must hate Vatican II!] The prohibition of the reception of Holy Communion by someone living with a person to whom he is not validly married is in fact a charitable act that upholds the Church’s doctrine concerning the reverence we owe to Christ present in the Holy Eucharist, and thus prevents the sacrilegious reception of Holy Communion and the attendant scandal that would commonly be given by such an act. [Get that?  1) It’s charity, not punishment. 2) It prevents sacrilege. 3) It prevents scandal.]

Reception of the Holy Eucharist is here wrongly conceived of as a necessary public sign of fully belonging to the Church, hence its denial is treated as akin to an act of exclusion of that person from the Church. [Good point!] But those in invalid marriages are still in the Church; their persistence in a state of sin, however, means that they are not qualified to receive the Bread of Life. [Get that?  I like the sober point about people thinking that Communion is “necessary”.  Frequent Communion didn’t come into vogue until the 20th c.  The Church’s law prescribes confession and Communion once a year.]

Their own public choice to enter into an adulterous union is the reason why they have excluded themselves from the sacrament of the Church’s unity, which they continue to wound in a serious way by their persistence in such a union. (It’s telling that in the early sessions of the synod, some are already calling for abandoning the term “adultery” as too harsh.) [HERE]The denial of Communion may awaken the conscience. The Gospel call to repent and be converted means ending adulterous behavior by separating, or where that’s not possible or very difficult, by living as brother and sister. In case of doubt about the validity of a Catholic marriage, an ecclesiastical tribunal must decide if a case can be made for nullity.

Cardinal Kasper goes on to restate his proposed solution: “If a person after divorce enters into a civil second marriage but then repents of his failure to fulfill what he promised before God, his partner and the Church in the first marriage, and carries out as well as possible his new duties and does what he can for the Christian education of his children and has a serious desire for the sacraments, which he needs for strength in his difficult situation, can we after a time of new orientation and stabilization deny absolution and forgiveness?”

Yes, not only can we deny absolution, we must deny absolution until that person ceases to live in an adulterous union. Absolution cannot be given to someone who will not make a firm purpose of amendment to desist from his sins. [NB] Cardinal Kasper here characterizes the civilly remarried person as someone whose repentance is limited to ending the first marriage. That is not the only thing he needs to repent of. In fact, if he were not at fault in the break-up of his marriage, he cannot repent of what he did not cause.

What must be repented of is ongoing adulterous behavior with a person to whom he not in fact married in the eyes of the Church. [Ehem… in the eyes of Christ.] His “serious desire for the sacraments, which he needs for strength in his difficult situation,” requires him to turn away from all serious sin and make a good confession. Absent the integral confession of his sins and a firm purpose of amendment, he should not be given absolution.

If he nevertheless approached the altar to receive the Holy Eucharist without having been absolved, that reception would provide no true “strength in a difficult situation” (apart, perhaps, from some chimerical psychological reassurance), [including how reception might allow me to feel self-validated, especially because I am aware of determining my own status without regard for 2000 years of Christian tradition and clear law and teaching] but would rather be an offense against the holiness of the Eucharist and a true scandal, leading others to doubt the teaching of the Church on the indissolubility of marriage and the necessary dispositions for worthily receiving Holy Communion. [The concept of scandal is fading, but it is still real.  If, for example, what some Catholics read in the “Synod of the Media” (esp. liberal outlets) leads them to go to Communion even though they should not, then scandal has been committed by those writers and outlets.]



Those who have made the fateful decision to enter into an invalid second marriage need our prayers, and our encouragement to reform their lives in accord with the demands Christ Himself has placed upon us. Cardinal Kasper’s proposal is a direct contradiction of the Church’s understanding of those demands.

As such, it is a true distraction from the discussion the Synod needs to have about how to help divorced and remarried Catholics to encounter Christ once again – and lovingly embrace the demands of His Gospel.

The Rev. Gerald E. Murray, J.C.D. is pastor of Holy Family Church, New York, NY, and a canon lawyer.


Be sure to check the original page and comments.

Fr. K kudos to Fr. Murray.


6 out of 26 responses

What a great column by Fr. Murray. Fully Catholic.
He doesn’t have a future in the hierarchy, he is way too judgemental. JMJ have mercy on us.

2. Fr. Murray gets it. The denial of Holy Communion to those in this situation is to allow for a period of contemplation and reflection on the committed sin (adultery in this case, but any mortal sin in reality). I liken it to being in the desert, and my desire to be in full communion with the Lord should lead me to fix my situation to be with Him.

3. When speaking about God’s mercy, Cardinal Kasper needs to remember that the existence of Hell is a necessary part of God’s mercy.

As a side note, relating to reception of Holy Communion being a sign of membership in the Church, I think that the Eastern Catholics/Orthodox can teach us something. After mass, bless bread ( is distributed to all, including non-Orthodox as an expression of friendship and love. This might be a solution for people in irregular marriages as a way of showing friendship, and also as a way to tighten up the reception of Holy Communion for only people who are not in the state of mortal sin.

As an added benefit, in many parishes people who cannot receive communion go up to receive a blessing. Yes it’s been ruled against, but it’s an extremely common practice nonetheless that I don’t see going away since it is a way for people who cannot receive the sacraments to still feel they are part of the Church. With the distribution of Blessed Bread, there could also be a time for blessings to happen, so that it would be easier to get priests to not give blessings during the communion line.

4. Wow! That was impressive. Does this mean Fr. Murray is going to be transferred to South Africa, too?

5. It was impressive and… you know, it just might get Fr. Murray transferred! Especially if people leave comments like this which contribute nothing to the conversion other than to stir up controversy and reopen wounds. Sure, it might mean just that. It could mean that liberals can again point to Fr. Z’s blog and say “See? Look how they hate Card. Dolan over there in Fr. Z’s combox. That’s what he’s all about. Those trads are all the same.” That’s oughta endear both Fr. Murray and me to the powers that be so… thanks a million for your contribution. -Fr Z

6. Because my head has been hurting, I decided to write down these propositions culled from, or implied by, the actions and statements of Cardinals Wuerl, Dolan, and O’Malley, and by the USCCB.

1) Denial of Communion is a “penalty.” [If this falsehood were true, then a bishop would have the authority to choose whether or not to “apply” the “penalty.” But Denial of Communion is not a penalty, and the moral law and divine law absolutely demand that it be done in those situations delineated in Canon 915.]

2) Canon 915 does not exist. Only Canon 916 exists. A Communicant should not approach for Communion if he is conscious of mortal sin, but if he decides to do so, even if his grave sin is notorious, the minister of Communion is entirely free of any obligation. Any other approach would have to involve “mind-reading.” (Wuerl)

3) Only a person who has been formally excommunicated can, or should, be denied Communion. “I will never deny Communion to anyone who has not been formally excommunicated.” (Wuerl)

4) Only those whose public sins against the Sixth Commandment involve violations of the Church’s marriage law can, or should, be denied Communion. Masses may be advertised in such a way, and celebrated in places decorated with such banners and in such a manner, that a clear “welcome” to Communion is extended to those who publicly profess a right to commit non-marital sins against the Sixth Commandment. I.e., “Gay Masses” and “Gay Pride Masses” are to be permitted. A priest who denies Communion to a person who publicly professes that he or she practices such sins is to be punished.

5) If a Communicant is involved in political life, or occupies a public office, the norm expressed in Canon 915 may be disregarded. “The bishops must not appear to be singling out one political party.” (O’Malley) Communion must not be “used as a political weapon.” (Wuerl) “We need to find out whether [Canon 915] was intended to bring politicians to heel.” (Wuerl)
“The question has been raised as to whether the denial of Holy Communion to some Catholics in political life is necessary because of their public support for abortion on demand. Given the wide range of circumstances involved in arriving at a prudential judgment on a matter of this seriousness, we recognize that such decisions rest with the individual bishop in accord with the established canonical and pastoral principles. Bishops can legitimately make different judgments on the most prudent course of pastoral action.”–USCCB, Catholics in Political Life, 2004. [Italics added.]
The promotion of abortion and other abominable crimes through political speech and political actions may be ignored. Bishops have the power to grant themselves the right to disregard grave obligations, and to commit mortal sin.

6) Disregarding the norm expressed in Canon 915 has no bearing on the Church’s “doctrine” regarding marriage and the Eucharist. The “doctrine” should be verbally affirmed, but the doctrine has no logical, “practical,” or “pastoral” consequences. (Wuerl)

7) Obeying Canon 915 is “the canonical approach.” Disobeying Canon 915 is “a pastoral approach.” (Wuerl) –Fr. Vincent Fitzpatrick



LV. “The Church, while it strives to emphasise mercy, cannot do so by encouraging sin.”

Posted on 10 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

I was alerted to a piece in The Spectator by Louise Mensch, a divorced a remarried Catholic who knows that, in her present situation, to receive Holy Communion would be a mortal sin.

It is a pleasant change of pace to read something by someone who isn’t sugar coating her situation or trying to twist doctrine (and us readers) through emotional manipulation.


Louise Mensch: I’m a divorced Catholic. And I’m sure it would be a mortal sin for me to take Communion

Accept liberal arguments for the convenience of people like me, and you threaten the foundations of the Church

I am a divorced and remarried Catholic. I attend Mass every week. When my children want me to take them up to Holy Communion, I walk along behind them and cross my arms over my breast. My youngest is particularly keen on going up for a blessing, although he wants to know when he can get ‘the bread’. I say, ‘When you understand why it isn’t “the bread”.’ [Well done.]

It has never occurred to me to present myself for Communion when I have not sought — for various reasons that I won’t discuss here — to have my first marriage annulled. I know I am not a good Catholic, and I am living a life that the Church considers to be adulterous. Yet I am in good spirits, as I hope in God’s mercy. But I do not presume upon it. My Catechism says that is a further mortal sin, as would be the unworthy reception of Holy Communion.

People in my state are explicitly encouraged, in the Catechism, to attend church, and to make a spiritual communion, as I do each week. [But apparently we have to spend a lot of time on this issue.] I have the hope that one day I will be in a state of grace and able to receive Holy Communion again. I hope that, despite my ongoing sin, God nonetheless hides me in the shadow of his wings; that Mary, hope of sinners, has her cloak of mercy cast about me. I am a poor Catholic but I am also a believing Catholic. Yet there is a faction within the Church that evidently considers ‘believing Catholic’ to be a hopelessly old-fashioned clique that they must get shot of, alongside lace mantillas and kneeling at the Communion rail.

Holy Communion, for most of the bishops of England and Wales, appears to have become Protestant by default. [OUCH!] Instead of the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist — a presence we should tremble to receive at the best of times —Communion is now a sign, a symbol, a mere shared meal, an ‘expression of community’. [Sadly, I think she’s right.  And that’s not only in England.]

Next week [this was published a week ago] an Extraordinary Synod of Catholic bishops, summoned by Pope Francis, will meet to discuss the family. Catholic reformers are full of hope that, under his guidance, the bishops will liberalise the Church’s teaching on divorced and remarried Catholics. The liberal Tablet magazine devoted a cover story to the subject. It filled me with dismay. The article began by quoting Cardinal Walter Kasper, the leading liberal cardinal: ‘The church’s blanket ban on divorced and remarried Catholics receiving Communion…’

Where to start? The Church does not ban anybody from receiving Communion other than non-Catholics (and there may be exceptions) and those too young to understand what they are receiving. Rather, nobody may receive God in the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin. Even before I remarried, and I use the term in a legal sense, since I cannot sacramentally remarry, I did not always present myself for Communion. Often I would be in a state of serious sin and had not found the time or organised myself enough to go to confession. The fact is that nobody in a state of serious sin — whatever that sin may be, in this case, adultery — is able to receive Christ worthily. To receive him unworthily is to commit a further mortal sin.

The Tablet article was called ‘The Case for Mercy’ and, reading it, I felt like pleading for us suckers who actually believe the basics: sin, confession, absolution, the Real Presence and the like. [Yes, we are soooo behind the curve, aren’t we?] What Cardinal Kasper appears to want to do is to tempt a generation of people into weekly mortal sin. How is that merciful? How is that helping? Is it impossible for liberal theologians to combine their reforming fervour with actual logic?[Do I hear an “Amen!”?] Allow a divorced and remarried person to receive Holy Communion and you are saying one of two things: either that it is not adulterous to have sex outside the marital bond, or that one may harmlessly receive the Most Holy Eucharist while in an ongoing state of mortal sin — a sin one firmly intends to commit again as soon as convenient.

There is no way that either of those things can be true, and the Church’s teaching be true. If sin doesn’t matter, what was the point of the Crucifixion? Why did Christ not stop with a ‘community meal’ on Maundy Thursday and skip that whole bothersome deal the next morning?

There are ways that those civilly divorced and remarried can be admitted to Holy Communion. Make it easier for them to obtain a declaration of nullity. Here is an area where the Church could be more sympathetic, could grant dispensations and exemptions in matters of process. The power of ‘radical sanation’ — granted for various reasons — to make a marriage whole could also be administered more often.




That power does actually exist. Where the Church can legitimately change is in matters of tradition and practice — but not doctrine or dogma. Here, we sinners are protected from the human failings of individual priests and bishops by the infallibility of the Church. Some traditionalists protested when altar girls were permitted; [Yes, that was wrong then and it is still wrong now.] I remember asking in one forum if the Bishop had the right to do this (yes), then if it had been done to say it was wrong was — equally as much as in the other direction — to say the Church was wrong. [Well… I think that was a mistake, but it is apples and oranges when it comes to altar girls and Communion for the remarried.]

Theologically, the Church is like a giant tower in Jenga; pull out one brick and you topple all the others. We cannot admit that sex outside marriage isn’t adulterous, nor can we say that mortally sinful people can receive Holy Communion. But we can look harder at the powers given to the Church to declare and discern when somebody is in a state of sin or where, for genuinely merciful reasons, a union can be made whole, by powers already granted to our bishops by the Holy Spirit.[Who knows.  We also have to avoid the suggestion that the Church is changing doctrine.  Some people are bound to get it wrong and there is nothing we can do about that.  We need to avoid wide-spread confusion.]

Nothing will ever persuade me to receive Holy Communion in a state of grievous sin, unless for a serious reason. I once did so, when I discovered that a Protestant at my sister’s wedding had approached the priest, taken the Host and put it into his pocket. The poor priest hesitated but the man had walked away. He was foreign and hadn’t understood. I went to find him at the reception and he said ‘I didn’t want to interrupt the line’. I asked if I could have the Host from his pocket, I made a quick act of adoration and contrition and I ate it, despite being at that time not fit to receive. It seemed the lesser of two evils, and certainly that was my intent. I believe that under the circumstances, it was valid to consume the Host (although I am not sure).  [I think she did the right thing in that case.] One day I hope to do so again. But I understand that the Church, while it strives to emphasise mercy, cannot do so by encouraging sin. Communion is not, as the Tablet journalist I Twitter-debated this with said, just ‘for the saints’, that is true. But nor is it, as he put it, ‘a help for the journey.’ It is the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. However unfashionable that may be, it remains true.

This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated 4 October 2014


5 out of 33 responses

1. God bless this courageous woman!

We need a few Catherine of Sienas today! She had no fear of telling clergy of all ranks to knock it off and do what is right.

2. My wife and I will pray a Rosary for this woman and skip a meal, she is obedient to God in one sense and desires to be in her post marital life. Her suffering is apparent after reading this post, although difficult. I hope she can fix her current state with much discernment and prayer and confessions her state can be reconciled.

I saw an interview with the excellent Cardinal Burke on EWTN. It is the closest I have ever seen to a faithful orthodox Cardinal offering criticism of a Pope and speaking out in opposition to Pope Francis.

I am not one for melodrama, but I can see a schism approaching if the Pope is determined to push through a change in admission of the divorced and remarried to communion.

Vaticanista John Thavis has reported that six additional prelates have been appointed by the Pope to assist with writing the revised relatio for the Synod of Bishops, to be released Monday.

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture.
Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C.
Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and one of the pope’s top theological advisors.
Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Mexico, president of CELAM, the Latin American bishops’ council.
Archbishop Peter Kang U-Il of South Korea.
Father Adolfo Nicolás Pachón of Spain, superior general of the Jesuit order.

4. I think we have to admit that it all really comes down to sex. Contemporary man (and woman) clearly prizes sex over everything else, and nothing should be allowed to stand in the way of our having sex however we want. Not holiness, not purity, not fidelity, and not even God’s laws should interfere with our sexual desires. That is where we are, and it appalls me to see so many in the Church hierarchy endorsing that worldly view.

5. One of my earliest experiences as a priest was a parking lot encounter with a woman in tears, leaving Sunday Mass early. She was distraught because the more senior priest, who had just finished preaching at the Mass he was celebrating, had scolded those who refrained from Holy Communion, “regardless of their excuses.” He had said true faith meant receiving Communion, no matter such things as remarriage after divorce. The woman, divorced and remarried, despaired: She felt she had no hope of mercy receiving Communion, no hope of mercy for refraining from Communion. The experience sheds a different light on “mercy.”


LVI. “Does it apply to murderers and pedophiles?”

Posted on 10 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf





There is a good post at Fr. Hunwicke’s place pertaining to the admittance of the civilly remarried to Holy Communion. With my emphases:


One gathers … as we grandly say in England … that brilliant ways are being mooted in Synodo for squaring the circle: formally maintaining Catholic sexual morality while letting people off the hook of having to try, with the help of grace, to adhere it. (There was a time when English Protestants claimed that ‘Subtle Jesuits’ could “prove that Black was White”.) One of these Brilliant Ways is Graduality or Gradualism.

Another is the old Liberal Protestant trick of talking about morality as an ideal rather than as a casuistic.

Another, that we must be more polite about people in certain situations and not call them Hurtful Names.

The Hunwicke test for diagnosing clever but shoddy dodges is threefold:
(1) Can you square it with the Sermon on the Mount and the ethical teaching of S Paul?
(2) Can you square it with the Lord’s parables and teaching about ‘we do not know the Day or the Hour’?
(3) Does it apply to murderers and pedophiles?



Check his blog often.


5 out of 13 responses

1. “If it feels good do it.” “It’s between me and God.” “I was born this way.” “Who are you to judge me?” “I have a right to be happy.” “I’m personally opposed, but I can’t force my morality on someone else.” “Times are different.” “Stay out of my bedroom.”

Any of these arguments used in defense of murder and pedophilia sound ridiculous (but are still used by NAMBLA and Planned Parenthood).

The synod is using an apostate way of talking.

Which makes this, The First Synod of the Great Apostasy.
Graduality My Donkey!

3. Well, in all honesty, there is a problem here, as one could also hold that the current practice, if one follows the rules, could be considered to fail this test on at least the 2nd and 3rd counts.

The point being that a murderer could enter the confessional, confess and receive absolution, and walk up to the Eucharist the next minute – and strictly speaking, if he was given absolution, he’d be justified in doing so.

A person, born and bred a protestant, leading a saintly life except for the one day when he placed chewing gum on the seat of his least favorite teacher at NoBrainsHere high school, married, divorced, married a fine woman and converted to the true Church, doesn’t have that luxury. He can walk into the confessional, but cannot walk out of it and present himself for communion. He has no immediate way to make his spiritual affairs in order.

If – quod Deus advertat – the Church would collapse at the recessional hymn, the foundation finally giving out after being attacked by the discordant tones of guitar music for decades, killing all present, the second person would likely have more trepidation about what would follow.

Now I know there’s a perfectly valid argument to be made for this situation based on the intent to reform one’s behavior: a murderer can resolve not to murder anymore, a paedophile can resolve to stay clear of children (although one would still much prefer having him behind bars…), but a married person cannot, on his own, reach that same intent. Not only would it be extremely hard to form such an intent in a person who is, on all other accounts, happily married, but even resolving to end the second marriage or to henceforth live like brother and sister is not something that can be decided on one’s own. Either decision would require the consent of the spouse, who’d have rights in that as well. And then I’ve not even arrived yet at the argument of those who would consider a second marriage scandalous and would like to see some visible renunciation of that ‘public’ state of sin, which adds even more difficulties.

In sum, the point I want to make is twofold:
These ‘smell tests’ can backfire. You don’t even need a Jesuit for that.
5. There are valid issues to be discussed at the Synod, as it clearly is worrisome that the far more grievous sinner can avail himself of the Church’s sacraments and be sure of the Lord’s forgiveness much more easily and quickly than the person who made the mistake of marrying after divorce perhaps – as in the example above might be – not even believing that marriage is insoluble when he entered his first one. That doesn’t mean that remarrieds should be admitted to Communion, nor that the Synod isn’t in severe danger of being hijacked, as such debates often are. But it does mean we have lots of food for thought. And that it would be a great grace and blessing if somehow, a way could be found to ensure people can attend to the state of their soul on short notice. It might be needed.


LVII. VIDEO: Card. Burke’s clear, articulate, blunt answers about divorce, remarriage, Card. Kasper

Posted on 10 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

His Eminence Raymond L. Burke gave an interview to Raymond Arroyo of EWTN.
You don’t want to miss this. Arroyo does not lob softballs. He starts out with a question about Pope Francis praise of Card. Kasper!

This is refreshing and it gets better and better as it goes along.

It is about, in part, the “Five Cardinals Book”. VIDEO 28:55


5 out of 49 responses

1. Raymond Arroyo, whom I’ve never liked watching, did an amazing job with this interview. As for Cardinal Burke, I really don’t have adequate words to express my admiration for his courage and clarity.

2. I pray daily for Cardinal Burke, that the Holy Spirit may guide the next conclave to elect the good cardinal to the Chair of Peter as the future Pius XIII.

I’m praying more fervently for His Eminence after watching this interview. His Eminence is truly a loyal (and obedient) son of Our Lord and of the Holy Mother Church.

3. What an absolute treasure this man is, and how much he must suffering to see the unholy forces unleashed around him. May God bless guide and help and protect this great man.

4. The vitriol & bile being spewed at His Eminence Cardinal Burke in the Fishwrap comboxes is proof that he is a true Son of the Church.

5. For the first time ever I just went over to NCR look at what they were saying about Burke. You are correct. Hatred and bile clearly diabolical in origin is all that’s there. That’s it. But, just as leftists are in the secular world, why would you expect their behavior to be any different just because they claim to be Catholic and walk around with ashes on their foreheads once a year? Those people are exactly the same leftists that are battled every day as they try and destroy our country and civilization with their self loathing and their hatred of humanity.

The Truth of the Inspired Word will set you free. Surfing into that den (NCR) for merely two minutes makes me thank God that there are objective truths. If there weren’t, we’d all be like NCR’s combox commentators.

I need a shower and a confession after that near occasion of sin… don’t do that again!


LVIII. Synod’s “Relatio” drafting committee. Notice anything odd?

Posted on 12 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Pope Francis made an interesting move.  He added a few prelates to the group assigned to write the final Relatio (summary and suggestions to be submitted to the Pope).

At this point in the Synod, after all the little speeches, the members break into smaller groups, usually by language, to draft their proposed contributions in few of a final document to be drafted by a sub-committee.

The papal appointees to the drafting group are:

-Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture.

-Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, D.C.

-Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina and one of the pope’s top theological advisors.

-Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Mexico, president of CELAM, the Latin American bishops’ council.

-Archbishop Peter Kang U-Il of South Korea.

-Father Adolfo Nicolás Pachón of Spain, superior general of the Jesuit order.

No Africans.

Some people will say that the committee is comprised of members who lean one way or another.   That isn’t what surprised me.

No Africans are on the drafting committee, and yet is it clear that the state of the family in Africa is considered pretty important.

I guess it isn’t as important as the state of the family in the wealthy West and Northern Hemisphere.

Isn’t that interesting?


1 out of 34 responses

– Not that surprised, African Clerics tend in my experience to be so gung-ho for orthodoxy (especially in matter of Faith and Morals) that if the Holy Father let one of them loose on the documents he would have something that might actually be unambigious in Catholic teaching.

As an amateur Political Scientist do find it very amusing that the Pope who speaks lots about collegiality appoints without warning these liberal clerics the moment the synod fathers elect Conservative ball bashers to write the document. Could this be the Holy Father’s Waterloo?


LIX. Play by Play: Card. Burke’s video interview recap!

Posted on 12 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Ed Peters, canonist extraordinaire, has a useful recap of Card. Burke’s video interview with Raymond Arroyo of EWTN.   Peters points to the minute and second mark of certain of the Cardinal’s comments and then adds his own helpful commentary.

This is the video interview that has sent a few of the catholic Left to swoon upon their feinting couches, others to beat the air vainly as so many windmills, others to erupt in spittle-flecked nutties.


Some notes on Card. Burke’s EWTN interview
by Dr. Edward Peters

There are too many important passages in Raymond Card. Burke’s recent 29 minute interview with EWTN to quote and comment upon here. 




The entire interview should be seen by those wanting to understand better what is happening in and around the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. Even so, a few parts warrant underscoring.

At approx. 11:45, Burke talks about helping couples in irregular unions (Catholics civilly remarried after divorce) to “lead a chaste life”. Burke is referring to the brother-sister relationship long recognized by moralists and canonists as a viable way for such couples to stay together (say, for the sake of children), cease taking for themselves the prerogatives of the married, and access holy Communion.

At approx. 12:45, I wish Burke had been allowed to respond to Card. Kasper’s astounding claim that sacramental Confession is possible for someone who does not express firm purpose of amendment. Instead the discussion went down another interesting path. Oh well. [Ditto.  I caught that too.]

At approx. 15:58, Burke rejects with the bluntness it deserved Kasper’s claim that the annulment process itself is nothing more than Catholic divorce. The 1944 address of Pius XII mentioned by Burke is available in English at Canon Law Digest III: 612-622 or in Italian here.

At approx. 17:08, Burke makes a subtle but vital point that is of divine law that the Church ha[s] a process for assessing (among other things) the validity of marriage. It must be understood that, whatever else it is, marriage is, by Christ’s decision, a relationship rooted in contract (though this contract is raised to the level of sacrament between the baptized, c. 1055) and therefore the ecclesial society needs a legal process to assess the binding character of those contracts apparently entered into by its members. While the Church can, and does, make use of both judicial and administrative procedures to attain justice (annulment cases being among those matters treated judicially, c. 1671), the notion of hearing marriage nullity cases “administratively” has become code for deciding such cases “pastorally” or “mercifully” or in some way or another that is not “legal” in nature[Exactly!] Burke’s comment is an urgent call not to abandon the idea that some legal process be employed to satisfy certain aspects of divine law.

At approx. 18:50, Burke makes an important observation on the “complexity” of the annulment process, namely, that the process is, for the most part, only as a complex as are the situations that the process is meant to assess. If life (including its legal aspects) were simple, then living life (and settling its legal questions) would also be simple. He makes the same point at approx. 19:30, calling for more people to be trained in canon law.

At approx. 21:10, Burke concedes the oddity of the pope’s naming a commission to revise tribunal procedures before it was even settled that tribunal procedures needed to be revised, [Yes.  That was strange, to say the least.] let alone agreed in regard to the manner in which they should be revised. For my part I too was surprised to learn that such a commission had been appointed so quickly, and then struck by, among other things, how few of the members seem to have extensive first instance experience or come from nations wherein tribunals function on significant scales. [As in, for example, these USA, where tribunals are being cleaned up?]

At approx. 21:20, Burke says he would make very few and very small changes to the current annulment process. “Very few” because, as I and others have argued, the tribunal process already is a bare-bones legal process, that is, almost nothing that tribunals do is not directly required by natural law for the achievement of justice. Things like citation of parties, use of witnesses, settled grounds for investigation, moral certitude of decision, and so on—to eliminate any of these aspects of an annulment case would be to deprive the process of something required by natural law itself for justice. “Very small” because Burke strongly supports, among other things, maintaining mandatory second instance review of affirmative sentences (c. 1682). Now, this is one of the few points on which reasonable Catholic minds can differ with Burke (and still make sense while doing so). [That could be an interesting debate.  But that would require clear thinking and terms.]

All informed discussants recognize that mandatory review of trial court sentences is not required by divine law for the attainment of justice, so in that regard it is a matter left to human genius for decision. Precisely because it is a matter for human determination, I am comfortable leaving the continuation or abandonment of mandatory second instance to the wisdom of ecclesiastical authority. Personally, I prefer its abrogation—but I grant that my experience in tribunal work colors my view: I served in tribunals where qualified first instance judges took their duties seriously [ehem… not all tribunals are equal] and (I’d like to think as a result thereof) second instance courts rarely failed to ratify first instance decisions. Too, perhaps one incentive to the good work being done in first instance is knowing that second instance is going to examine it. Removing mandatory review is a risky way to test that hypothesis.

In any event, Burke in his office regularly sees tribunal cases from around the world: he might therefore appreciate second instance as being a much more important practical, if admittedly optional, check on faulty first instance processes or decisions and, as a prudential matter, favor retention of second instance on those grounds. If that’s the case, well, let’s just say that Burke’s prudential judgment on such things is worth considerably more than mine.

At approx. 22:30, I wish the discussion on the “nature of the Synod” had turned first to the incredibly bad ecclesiology that allows such nonsense as “Synod 2014 is like a new Vatican Council II” even to be uttered. [Yes.  That was ridiculous.] How does such nonsense get said at all?


Compare Canons 336-341 on ecumenical councils (subjects of “supreme and full power over the universal Church”) with Canons 342-348 on synod (groups of bishops that foster unity and advise). Good grief.

At approx. 26:20, Burke makes the kind of comment that resonates with every good lawyer: when asked how he felt about being removed from the Congregation of Bishops, Burke replies that No one has a right to be on such a body. Brilliant, go right to the heart of the law (cc. 331, 360-361, and ap. con. Pastor bonus) and defend the pope’s authority over his own dicastery[But WAIT!  I thought the Synod of the Media had already decided that everyone who defends traditional practice is actually attacking the Pope!] Whether Burke’s is a voice that Pope Francis wants to hear is entirely the pope’s call to make. Opinions may differ on the wisdom of such a removal, but it is not for this group or that, for the media, or for any one else to impose their preferences in such matters on the pope. [The Pope can remove a Cardinal from a Congregation if he doesn’t think that he can work easily with him. If a Pope doesn’t like the aftershave which Lou Card. Gehrig habitually wears, that could be reason enough.]

Burke the lawyer upholds that papal authority.


When I posted about the video interview it had 589 views. VIDEO 28:54


2 out of 23 responses

1. My goodness, why isn’t this man Pope?

2. Mike, in support of your statement how often I have wondered the same thing… Cardinal Burke is one of the Orthodox Cardinals in the Vatican, or so it seems, we prayed for his election to Supreme Pontiff last year, but the Holy Spirit knows what’s best… still I am will you, I have had the Honor of meeting His Eminence where Pope Benedict was still on the Chair of St. Peter… Humble man? Wow, one cannot describe how sincere and Holy a Priest Card. Burke is… to finish here I am with you… HE WOULD MAKE A WONDERFUL POPE!


LX. Be wary of news reports about what the Synod is up to

Posted on 13 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

We must be wary about the “Synod of the Media”.
There is a Synod of Bishops that takes place and there is the way the MSM and also Catholic (especial catholic) media spins the Synod.
As the bishops split up in to smaller groups, there comes a status report called the Relatio post disceptationem (Latin disceptatio is “a dispute, disputation, debate, discussion, disquisition”).

The Relatio p. d. is getting mixed reviews.  Liberals are experiences frissons of glee, which doesn’t usually bode well for truth.

Nicole Winfield of AP has this piece about the newly released mid-point report, after the first week of everyone yakking in the Synod hall.

Note some of the language in this piece.  Nota bene, this is written for a low-information audience, but the language is still pretty misleading.


Bishops [which?] clearly took into account the views of Pope Francis, [of course they would – he’s the Pope] whose “Who am I to judge?” comment about gays signaled a new tone of welcome for the church. [Is there a clear connection between what the bishops considered and what Francis said on the airplane?  Not really.]Their report also reflected the views of ordinary Catholics who, in responses to Vatican questionnaires in the run-up to the synod, rejected church teaching on birth control and homosexuality as outdated and irrelevant. [They did, did they?]

The bishops [which?] said gays had “gifts and qualities” to offer and asked rhetorically if the church was ready to provide them a welcoming place, “accepting and valuing their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony.”


Maybe some bishops do hold that.  Others don’t.  But here we have a vague “bishops”, implying greater unanimity than there is. Be careful in your reading of news about the Synod.

For example, if the Synod makes a statement about the “gifts and qualities” of homosexuals, keep in mind that homosexuals do NOT have “gifts and qualities” for the Church simply because they are homosexuals.

Of course homosexuals have “gifts and talents!”  But they have them as human beings, not as homosexuals.  They must not be turned into some subset that can then claim rights as homosexuals.  They are no better or worse than any other human being and each of them have the obligation to respect nature and God’s law.

Homosexuals are not special.

Catholics do not object to homosexuals participating in the life of the Church.  We object to the suggestion that homosexual acts are normal, acceptable, good, proper… take your pick.  They aren’t.  They are objective sinful and gravely disordered.  The people with the inclinations toward them are obliged to struggle against them just ever other person on earth is obliged to struggle against inclinations, to battle against and resist the world, the flesh and the devil.

Vatican Radio‘s coverage is a little more careful, distinguishing between the “Synod Fathers” and “the report”.  But not much.

That said, am I happy with what we are hearing come forth from the Synod?  No.  Then again, we are hardly getting a good picture, are we? The spectacularly bad decision to close off information from the public has only exacerbated the pre-Synod confusion.



5 out of 78 responses

1. When the bishops “asked rhetorically if the church was ready to provide them a welcoming place, ‘accepting and valuing their sexual orientation without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony'”, the rhetorical question of Romans 6:1 came to mind: “What shall we say, then? shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?”

The problem is not how the media is reporting things. The problem isn’t poor translations.
The problem is the liberals and the modernists are on the march at the synod.
And because of the way things have been reported, it doesn’t really matter what the final product says. Liberals, bishops included, will simply go with the “spirit of the synod”.

3. And remember, it’s only been one week! We have another week to go. And then we have to wait a year for the Ordinary Synod and the Pope to write his Apostolic Exhortation. I pray – but am not hopeful – that the A.E. will use clear and precise language NOT the ambiguous statements used in the V2 documents that BOTH sides used to justify their positions. If the language in the A.E. is too loose, the liberal priests and bishops will use it to their advantage. It should be clear and precise in what is permitted with regard to faith and morals and religious practice and what is not.

4. With all due respect, some of the report from the synod is just harmful to the faithful. The suggestions that we can value homosexuality is simply evil. There is nothing to value about an intrinsically evil act. We can value the sinner, but not the sin, but they are suggesting we should value the sin when they say “accepting and valuing their sexual orientation.” I am not a prophet but I am almost certain there will be a major schism in the Church in two years once the final word comes from the Holy Father, regardless of which side he falls on. The schism will be between the hermeneutic of continuity and the hermeneutic of discontinuity, between those that want to be Catholics in light of all of Catholic history, and those who want to call themselves “catholics” rejecting anything before Vatican II, and some of what has come after Vatican II. The good news is that the massive amount of apostates will have left the Church and we will finally be freed from the dead weight we have been carrying for so long. We can also take comfort in the fact that though the mystical body of Christ is being crucified at this time, she will be resurrected after the crucifixion, like her Lord.

I suspect I am like many who are at best discouraged and at worst on the edge of despair. I have been telling myself that we need to cling ever more tightly to the Lord and remember that the Truth has often been in the minority. I am thinking especially of St. Athanasius and those scary decades. I also remind myself to beware the sin of Denethor (Lord Of The Rings) and to do my duty regardless. We are always in it for the long haul and Christ has triumphed, is triumphing, and will triumph…though that is darn hard to see at times like this.


LXI. Synods are messy. The media quarantine isn’t helping

Posted on 13 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

One of the reasons why the “Synod of the Media” has been so successful in spinning the Synod is because of the media gag that the head of the Synod of Bishops, Lorenzo Card. Baldisseri, imposed.  For this extraordinary meeting of the Synod, the interventions, or speeches, of the participants weren’t made public through the Vatican website or L’Osservatore Romano. So much for being in the “information age”.

Some people have observed to me that they found this move “inexplicable”, “unimaginable”, etc.

No.  It is not inexplicable.  When you want to control the message so that you can advance a particular agenda, you try to control the public flow of facts.  Rather, you control which facts become public and which don’t.

In any event, I saw a preview of a fuller interview to come out tomorrow in Il Foglio with Card. Burke.  He isn’t pleased that only one side of what’s going on in the Synod is being reported.


Q: What are you seeing beyond the media cordon which surrounds the Synod?

BURKE: There is emerging of worrisome trend because some are advancing the possibility of adopting a practice that distances itself from the truth of the Faith. Even if it ought to be evident that one cannot go in this direction, many are encouraging, for example, dangerous openings open-minded ideas on the question of communion being given to the divorced and remarried. I don’t see how it’s possible to reconcile the irreformable concept of the indissolubility of marriage with the possibility of admitting to communion those who live in an irregular situation. This places directly into discussion that which our Lord said when he taught that whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery.


I don’t know how the briefing was conceived but it seems to me that something isn’t working well if the information is being manipulated in a way so as to underscore only one proposal instead of reporting faithfully the various positions that have been brought up. This bothers me a great deal because a significant number of bishops do not accept the ideas of openings [“aperture”] but few know this. They speak only about the necessity that the Church open itself to petitions from the world brought up in February by Cardinal Kasper.


The whole interview comes out tomorrow.

So, a media quarantine is placed around the Synod and the interventions, or speeches.

Suddenly, as the large sessions and cease and the small groups, which draft proposals for a larger document to be given to the Pope start to meet, suddenly there emerges a mid-point report, the relatio post disceptationem.  The unofficial translation is HERE.



14 OCTOBER 2014


Meanwhile, Radio Vaticana reported that the President of the Polish Bishop’s Conference has rejected the Relatio post disceptationem. I found a link HERE.

Sorry, I had to rely on Google for this version . Some words didn’t come through, but I’ll bet there are Polish speakers out there who can help:


Archbishop Gadecki: Document synod of bishops for many unacceptable

In an interview with Vatican Radio chairman of the Polish Episcopate did not hesitate to say that this document departs from the teaching of John Paul II, and even that can be seen in the traces [antyma??e?skiej] ideology. According to Archbishop Gadecki, this text also highlights the lack of a clear vision for the synodal assembly.



Hey… that old teaching of St. John Paul II? That’s obsolete by now. Familiaris consortio is… what… already 33 years old?

This Synod isn’t looking orderly and peaceful.

But … Synods are not smooth and orderly. Synods are messy.

If you want a smooth and orderly Synod, then take a cue from the old Supreme Soviet meetings, where every clapped at the same time at the same lines.

But first impose a media cordon.

Ironically, my own media cordon is now imposed. The moderation queue is ON.


2 out of 41 responses

1. Let’s recall that after the Synod of 359, St Jerome commented that “the whole world awoke to find itself Arian.” And the world had to wait far too long for that to be fixed. May our wait be much shorter!

2. Look too at all the Saints who rose up and combated Arianism in the name of Holy Church! May that many more strive forward today. Perhaps someday our host bloggist will be honored among them?!


LXII. “The truly bizarre document that the Vatican released Monday”

Posted on 14 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Have you been following the reports of Robert Royal about the Synod of Bishops?
Here’s today’s:

Synod Day 8 – A Bizarre Document and Process Print
I have been in Rome, by my rough count, 100 times during my adult life. Some visits had to do with secular matters of culture or politics, most with questions related to the Catholic Church. But I think I can say without the slightest doubt that yesterday was the strangest day I’ve ever passed in the Eternal City.
[This is what I have heard too.  I’ll head over next week, after the close of the Synod, and will get more of the mood.  It is sure to linger.]

By now, almost everyone interested in Catholic matters knows about what can only be called the truly bizarre document that the Vatican released Monday: the relatio summing up the first week of work by the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. I was at the press conference after the release and it, too, was a very strange thing indeed. More on that below. But before you despair – I can tell you that there were some questions from utterly astonished old Vatican reporters in that room and journalists walking around in shock outside for hours after – things are both bad and maybe also not so entirely bad as they might first seem.

First, the bad. For reasons that may only be know to certain figures involved – or to the God who searches the human heart – a document coming from the Vatican now has passages like these:

50. Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community: are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities? Often they wish to encounter a Church that offers them a welcoming home. Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony? [Homosexuals do NOT have “gifts and qualities” for the Church simply because they are homosexuals. They have gifts because they are human beings, not because they want to have sex with people of the same sex.  I made this point yesterday.]
51. The question of homosexuality leads to a serious reflection on how to elaborate realistic paths of affective growth and human and evangelical maturity integrating the sexual dimension: it appears therefore as an important educative challenge. The Church furthermore affirms that unions between people of the same sex cannot be considered on the same footing as matrimony between man and woman. Nor is it acceptable that pressure be brought to bear on pastors or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations inspired by gender ideology.



52. Without denying the moral problems connected to homosexual unions it has to be noted that there are cases in which mutual aid to the point of sacrifice constitutes a precious support in the life of the partners. Furthermore, the Church pays special attention to the children who live with couples of the same sex, emphasizing that the needs and rights of the little ones must always be given priority.  [?!?]

If you find your head spinning at the language italicized above, you aren’t the only one. Several of the journalists in the room put very carefully worded questions to the four members of the press conference panel, trying to elicit clarifications. I’m sorry to say that with the exception of Cardinal Erdö, every one of them engaged in a level of spin unworthy of a Church that seeks to proclaim the truth about the Good News of our redemption by Jesus Christ.

I won’t mention the names of respondents out of respect for the nakedness of our fathers. But let me suggest some of the dynamic in the room. One female reporter for RAI Radio, the Italian state-run broadcast services, asked pointedly in response to the last section above about the rights of children, whether they don’t have a right to be raised by a male father and a female mother (an argument that in Europe, especially in France, has been very prominent)? The reply from an exalted cleric was to enter a thicket of platitudes about parental rights to educate a child, which no one objects to or has ever objected to, insofar as they were intelligible. But the fundamental question of having a real mother and a real father went entirely untouched – by a prince of the Church talking about a burning current question.

Similarly, an American journalist [Michael Voris!] raised a question about the absurd phrase in section 50: “Homosexuals have gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” In one way, of course, this is true, since all people have gifts and qualities. The journalist wanted to know, however, whether the Synod fathers were saying that homosexuals have gifts to offer precisely because of their homosexuality? That seemed to be implied.

Sadly, more inconsequential commentary followed. [From Bruno Forte… who, under this Pope, will probably be the next Prefect of CDF if Müller is exiled.] The Synod has been talking a great deal about its respect for the intelligence of the Catholic laity. [Is that why they put a media quarantine around the Synod?] But no Catholic layperson of any intelligence left the press conference yesterday thinking that this subject – and several others – was anything other than more confused than ever and perhaps inclining towards things gay activists have been seeking that cannot be squared with the Gospel.

You can find in the three sections quoted above some nods towards Catholic teaching, of course, but the rest of the summary – which a reliable source close to the process confirmed to me reflected what the bishops actually discussed, even as they “took for granted” Catholic teaching – reads like some hapless running after the small number of people who are pursuing a disordered sex life [The tail isn’t wagging the dog.  The tip of the tail is.] who might still have some vestigial interest in the Church. John Allen has brilliantly formulated this as “lifestyle ecumenism,” a sequel to the ecclesial ecumenism of Vatican II.

There were also more questions, of course, about Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, and how that might be squared with Jesus’ own words. And again, there were words, many words spoken that continued to try the impossible task to square the circle. No statement that has come out of the Vatican – including the scholarly gyrations of Cardinal Kasper – has come close to making this work. And Cardinal Erdö boldly, for this panel, said certain questions present an either/or: either you give Communion or you don’t.

But here’s a slight counterweight to these otherwise alarming developments.

I spoke over dinner yesterday evening with someone involved in the whole process. That person must remain anonymous, of course, and his opinions may or may not be dispositive. But it may just be that the bishops themselves have been surprised by this document[The release seems to have been carried out in a very strange way.  Also, the media cordon has prevented differing sides from being reported with any serious weight.] A Synod relatio usually is issued only at the end of the event, and is presented to the pope as the working results of the group he’s asked to advise him. The process is clearly different this time out. There’s still almost an entire week ahead, with small language groups meeting the next few days and the whole group of participants coming together again only on Thursday.

But even if those behind the scenes assure us that the bishops are aware of how they are being misperceived [Ooohhh… I doubt that.] and that the final document or the overall process or something somehow is different than what it seems (and I have to say that the person who told me this has my full confidence) the Church has now dug itself into a deep hole. And why, pray tell, issue such a poorly crafted, deeply flawed, and basically misleading text?

The relatio concludes:

58. The reflections put forward, the fruit of the Synodal dialog that took place in great freedom [Is that so?] and a spirit of reciprocal listening, are intended to raise questions and indicate perspectives that will have to be matured and made clearer by the reflection of the local Churches in the year that separates us from the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of bishops planned for October 2015. These are not decisions that have been made nor simply points of view.



All the same the collegial path of the bishops and the involvement of all God’s people under the guidance of the Holy Spirit will lead us to find roads of truth and mercy for all. This is the wish that from the beginning of our work Pope Francis has extended to us, inviting us to the courage of the faith and the humble and honest welcome of the truth in charity.

Nice sentiments, but the only thing the world takes away from this – people back home tell me National Public Radio and other outlets are really going to town – is that the Church is cozying up to gays[The Synod of the MEDIA is what worries me.] That the tone and perhaps the teaching seem to be changing. That divorced and remarried Catholics will soon be able to receive Communion by a process no one can actually explain without sounding like he’s babbling. But it will happen.

The reality may prove to be something different, but that’s the message the Synod has now sent, whether it intended to or not. We’ll see before too long whether that message now can ever be fixed.


We will have some rocky days ahead, my friends.


3 out of 95 responses

1. According to Rorate Caeli ( Cardinal Erdö could not answer questions about the homosexual references. To the reporter who posed a question he said: “Ask him! I didn’t write this, the author must know what he meant!”

You say that under this Pope, Bruno Forte (Msgr Forte) may be next to head the CDF?

Based on Rorate Caeli and what you say: whose manipulations are these?

2. Could it be that there are forces inside the Synod who wish to force the Pope’s hand concerning gays? The damage has been done, and if paragraph 50 (the paragraph concerning the pastoral treatment of gays) is revised or removed in the final draft, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth from the usual sources. There will be accusations of treachery and moral cowardice directed at Pope Francis for caving to the pressures of the hateful cabal of right wing, fundamentalist Bishops. The press and different activist groups will now begin to apply pressure on the Synod and the Pope that will only get worse with time.

3. In the past, I have waited for, with much hope and excitement, these documents.
I have zero excitement for this one.
They have said nothing that addresses the struggles of those who are married and are trying to remain faithful.
Nothing. It has been suggested but NOTHING is being said to us, faithful couples, who are desperately in need of help because of the ravages of porn, etc, on the family.
This is how we have been freaking treated in the past. If a couple is struggling, well, that’s too bad. They are there to assist divorced couples. Remarried couples.
I don’t want to read this when it comes out. I don’t care what they have to say anymore. If that is a sin, God forgive me.

4. Again I will reference National “Catholic” Reporter when they proclaim that this “relatio” document is the fruit of the Vatican II Spirit.

That is the demon at the heart of this document.

5. I really feel as if the Pope has dropped a bomb on the Church. Yes, there’s the coterie of “progressive” bishops, but he put all of this into place and, judging by the things that he has said over the last couple of years – which I have always tried to assure myself didn’t really mean what they sounded like the meant and were a product of his faulty Italian, etc. – this is exactly hat he wanted.

The damage is done, the media has proclaimed the new Forte doctrine, the faithful are scandalized, the legal position of the Church in response to civil pressure is vastly weakened, and there’s no putting it together again or even restoring the admittedly fragile situation that existed before.

6. What this Synod has demonstrated to me is that there are still bishops and Cardinals operating within the Church who hold the fallacious “spirit of Vatican 2″ ideology . . . the so called “church of nice.”

7. Reading paragraph 50 and the MSM chortlings, one might wonder how much influence New Ways Ministry exercises over the relatio authors’ points of view. One might also wonder how the members and spiritual advisors of the Courage Apostolate, and other ministries that have advocated the Church’s legacy counsels of chastity, are feeling right about now.

8. Is it more harmful for Pope Benedict to stay silent or to say something? It is an honest question that I’ve been pondering. Something has to be done, but I don’t know what.

9. We may not have a St. Nicholas in the synod, but we sure do have a St. Athanasius! His name is Cardinal Burke.

10. Glad you linked to this. It is one of Robert Royal’s best.
–Canon Lawyer Edward Peters


LXIII. It’s time to get onto a war footing.

Posted on 14 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

After looking at my email and some comments in the queue I am compelled to say…
Be sober and watch: because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, goeth about seeking whom he may devour.
1 Peter 5:8
Everyone… CALM DOWN.
There is a serious Satanic attack going on within the Church right now.  The sharpening division itself is a sign of the same.

That said, think of your spiritual weapons.



You can fast and offer mortifications.

You can say the Rosary.   Is there a more powerful prayer than a Rosary sincerely recited?


Now more than ever we need reverent celebrations of Holy Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

Fathers, start preaching about confession, the Rosary, and – for the love of all that’s holy – start learning the Extraordinary Form.

It’s time to get onto a war footing.


LXIV. Did no one know that when the MSM got hold of the ‘Relatio’, people were going to go bananas?

Posted on 14 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

We continue to watch the spin and the spinning of the spin after yesterday’s Synod… what can we call it? … debacle.  Yes, debacle.  The release of the Relatio post disceptationem, an unprecedented mid-point summary document, was a debacle.   It has provoked “wonder”, which is old Church code for “shock, scandal provoking confusion”.

It was telling that, during yesterday’s presser, for the presentation of the Relatio, the chair of the Synod, Card. Erdö, tossed a question about the now infamous homosexuality paragraphs over to Archbishop Bruno Forte (whom some suggest might wind up as Prefect of a Franciscan CDF… if it isn’t Archbishop Fernandez), saying: “the one who wrote the passage ought to know what it means”.

The Holy See Press Office spun the Relatio this way:


Declaration of the Director of the Holy See Press Office on behalf of the General Secretariat of the Synod

The General Secretariat of the Synod, in response to reactions and discussions following the publication of the Relatio post disceptationem, and the fact that often a value has been attributed to the document that does not correspond to its nature, [Is that so?] reiterates that it is a working document, which summarises the interventions and debate of the first week, and is now being offered for discussion by the members of the Synod gathered in the Small Groups, in accordance with the Regulations of the Synod.
The work of the Small Groups will be presented to the Assembly in the General Congregation next Thursday morning.


A good example of spin – and the massive damage inflicted by the release of the Relatio – is found at CNN, which has a few slanted points:


Under conservative assault, Vatican backtracks on gay comments

Rome (CNN) — Under furious assault from conservative Catholics[Furious assault?] the Vatican backtracked Tuesday on its surprisingly positive assessment of gays and same-sex relationships.
In a report Monday, the Vatican had said that gays and lesbians have “gifts to offer” the Christian community and acknowledged that same-sex couples can give “precious support” to one other.
The statement, an interim report from a closely watched meeting of Catholic clergy here, was widely praised by liberals. It is believed to be the first time the Vatican has said anything positive about gay relationships. 
[And yet it isn’t supposed to be an official document, a final document.  It’s just a working document.  Right?]


And that, even with its ominous language about conservatives and their furious assaults, is somewhat more responsible than what you will see at some other outlets, especially the even more openly pro-homosexual sites.

Again, my great worry is not so much what the Synod is talking about, but the expectations that are being raised because of gaffs, errors, bad decisions, weird language and, it must be said, the machinations of some within the Church.

So, let’s accept that the Relatio is just a “working document”.  Fine.

Did nobody in the Synod office or in the Press Office know that when the MSM got hold of it, people were going to go bananas?

Of course they knew that chaos would occur and that certain paragraphs would be read with strong reactions.  Of course they did.

Therefore, someone wanted the chaos.  Someone wanted those now infamous paragraphs to hit the press and then be spun into all sorts of false conclusions and false expectation.  They wanted to bump the needle, move the paradigm in a certain direction.  This seems like a classic exercise in creeping incrementalism.  They know that they are not going to get their way, or get everything that they want…this time.  But they toss things out, create the chaos, and then, even as they back away from it and do some clean up, they have managed to moved the paradigm a degree or two toward their goal.  That’s how they work.

Conservatives, by the way, don’t do this well.  They tend not to work together well and they tend to want everything right away.  It would be great were faithful Catholics able to work together better.  Meanwhile, the catholic Left is having a conga line dance, with noisemakers and little hats.



Anyway, a bright spot today occurred during the presser.  Card. Napier of South Africa said that he was surprised that the Relatio was released and that he clearly disagreed with some elements in the document.  He also is worried about the false expectations that are being created.


The moderation queue ON.

Meanwhile, TIME magazine – predictably – and purposely – misrepresented the facts.  HERE


The Bishops Are Catching Up To Pope Francis on Gay Rights [How many things are wrong with that. First, “the bishops” aren’t doing anything. Second, what has Francis really said?  Third, “Gays” don’t have rights, other than basic human rights.]

Mercy must be the way forward for the Catholic Church.  [Which means, I think, you can stick anything where ever you want and eventually people will be forced to call it “good”.]

Stunning news came from Rome today where the bishops [some few bishops] gathered for Pope Francis’s Synod on the Family issued a report suggesting that the Church should create a more inclusive space for gay Catholics to participate in the life of the Church.  [They already have it.]

In the [unofficial draft] document, the bishops [no… the writer of the draft] said without reservation [is that so?] that gay Catholics have “gifts and qualities to offer to the Christian community.” From that, they ask: “are we capable of welcoming these people, guaranteeing to them a fraternal space in our communities?”

This is a stunning language change from the Catholic Church on the question of homosexuality. [Is it? Really?  Did the document say that it’s okay to have homosexual sex?] Since the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared in 1975 that “homosexual acts [ACTS!] are intrinsically disordered” Rome has been clear on where it stands on the issue of homosexuality and same-sex unions. As recently as January 2013, Pope Benedict — while affirming the dignity of the LGBT community — suggested that gay marriage threatens the world’s “justice and peace.” [And he was right, as we are seeing today more and more.]

The Church’s shift on LGBT issues began shortly after Pope Francis’s election in March 2013. In July of last year, Francis famously said, “[i]f someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” [Hang on!  That comment had a context. HERE]

But today’s document produced by the [tiny number of] bishops [in reality, the one’s who wrote it… it wasn’t a collaboration that all the bishop members of the Synod voted to approve] shows that Pope Francis’s personal vision [HUH?  No.] is slowly becoming the vision of the universal Church. [This babble is the personal vision of the writer.  Enough of this rubbish.]



This is the sort of trash that people are going to read about this Synod.


8 out of 77 responses

1. I have a friend, a very good priest, who says that there will be no return to the True Catholic Faith until all of us believers have been stripped naked, scourged, publicly humiliated and then crucified. His vision of the future of the archdiocese of Boston is Cardinal Sean standing in a field of rubble with a few followers, saying Mass on the hood of a car.

I’d say this Vatican document is a good start.

2. “Therefore, someone wanted the chaos. Someone wanted those now infamous paragraphs to hit the press and then be spun into all sorts of false conclusions and false expectation.”

Someone wanted to make a mess…

3. There are some diamonds in the rough in the document, for sure. However, the amount of vague and misleading language is just rampant. Not to mention basic misunderstandings of sacramental theology (section 48), putting polygamy and arranged marriage in the same species (section 7) and it just goes on and on. This isn’t an official document, but it’s going to do just as much damage to your average poorly informed Catholic through its dissemination. Welcome to Humanae Vitae: Part II. What comes out officially in the end will be fine, but to many it won’t matter.

4. Conservatives, by the way, don’t do this well. They tend not to work together well and they tend to want everything right away. It would be great were faithful Catholics able to work together better.” 
Ain’t it the truth!

5. And many of them seem not to realize how they weaken all of us by keeping us divided. It’s really selfish. It’s why we lose. –Fr. Z

6. It’s even on our measly local news – ‘Pope softens attitudes toward gays.’ Catholic Church ready to embrace homosexuals.’ The most wonderfullest, fluffiest, cuddliest, Pope ehvuuuuur.

Thank you for your words of wisdom Father Z. Helps to keep us clinging to sanity and hope.

7. The Synod has spoken. Let’s hear what the Pope has to say

8. That’s the thing… the Synod has NOT spoken yet. This was a blip. –Fr. Z


LXV. Is the leadership of the Synod dealing from a stacked deck?

Posted on 15 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf



Italian journalist Marco Tosatti, who writes for the Italian daily La Stampa, hit it directly on the head today.  He points to some facts. You decide.  HERE in Italian.  My translation:


Un Sinodo un po’ taroccato? A Synod a bit “phoney”. [Italian “taroccato” is hard to get into English with the right nuance. It can mean “counterfeited” or “falsified”. But the origin of the word has to do with a deck of cards, card games. “Taroccato” carries the sense of dealing with a “stacked deck”, having an “ace up your sleeve”. The implication is that the Synod’s outcome is predetermined through cheating.  One might, for example, try to imagine how the 6000 word Relatio post disceptationem was so swiftly produced, in tolerably good translations, in several languages seemingly by magic, overnight. Is it possible that some of the sections were written in advance? (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! -MICHAEL). Now back to Tosatti…]

When the [Synod’s] supervisor, a Cardinal of holy Roman Church, disowns more or less explicitly his paternity of a report that bears his signature, there’s a problem.

When the same Cardinal, in referring to a passage of the text, certainly more interesting and abounding with problems, having been asked for an explanation, tosses the response to an Archbishop [synodal] secretary added (by the Pope) to the Synod because he is the author, there’s a problem.

When many bishops and cardinals, from Poland, Africa and Australia, complain that the report, as it is written and presented to the press, does not, according to them, reflect what was said in the Synod hall, and that it adds things that were never said, there’s a problem.

When the text is called “unacceptable” by Cardinals and Bishops, “irredeemable” by another, and when it is said by the Circuli Minores [subcommittees] that “we are working to review the test, strikeout some phrases and so forth, but that it is a sick text [un testo malato] and it isn’t known how many of its proposals can be accepted, there’s a problem.

When there are bishops – and there are more than one – who are saying that they don’t want to come to future Synods if they are conducted like this, because they are turned into a farce, there’s a problem.

When the South African Cardinal Napier confirmed on Twitter, namely in the public way, that [Tosatti quotes in Italian but I think Napier would have written in English] “mentre è possibile che alcuni elementi stiano cercando di adeguarsi all’opinione del mondo, la maggioranza vuole restare fermamente con la verità … while it is possible that some factions are trying to adapt to the opinion of the world, the majority when to remain firmly with the truth” [which sounds much like the title of the “Five Cardinals Book“]; namely, he asserts exactly the contrary of the proposals that some journalists, for various reasons, are trying to confirm, there’s a problem.

When in the choice of the leadership of the Synod an entire continent, in which there is taking place the greatest growth of Christianity and of Catholicism in terms of the faithful (as opposed to Europe and North American, or Latin America where evangelicals are gobbling up millions of ex-Catholics), and, thus, Africa is forgotten, there’s a problem. [I made this point the other day.]



There’s more, but that is enough to frame the synodal situation well.

Here is an example of coverage from a writer and organization that leans to the Left in their reporting on the Church, Nicole Winfield and AP.  HERE  The interesting stuff is in the second part.  Watch what happens.  Winfield calls Card. Burke a hardliner – there’s a surprise – but then admits that “he has a point”.  Then she goes on to make his point for him.   Even the MSM can’t easily spin what is going on too far out of orbit:


Hard-line American Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s supreme court, told Catholic World Report that the document contained positions “which many synod Fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept.”

He accused the Vatican press operation of releasing “manipulated” information about the synod debate that didn’t reflect the “consistent [in Italian, consistente, “large, substantial”] number of bishops” who opposed such a tone.

To some extent, he had a point. [!]

The Vatican has greatly reduced independent access to information about the closed-door proceedings, withholding bishops’ individual speeches from public view, much to the dismay of Burke and other conservatives [Interesting way to describe the situation.  So: liberals are okay with the lack of transparency.] who want their side known. The only information released has been summaries of the day’s debate by the Vatican spokesman, whose briefings have reflected a general a tone of opening and welcome.

[Watch!] The briefings made scant reference to gays at all, and yet the provisional report gave significant ink to the issue. The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said while he only recalled one major speech about gays out of 265, it was likely that bishops’ written remarks covered the material and were reflected in the document. [Surrrrrre.]

The big question looming is how the battle over the final document will shake out.


The bishops themselves elected a host of known conservatives to lead the working groups hammering out details of the final report. In an apparent bid to counter their influence, Francis appointed six progressives to draft the final document. [So, Francis opposed himself to the bishops?]



Whatever is going on at the Synod, it’s messy.

It seems as if it is messy in part because of attempts to orchestrate the outcome.

Meanwhile, no substantive response has been given to the arguments presented in the “Five Cardinals Book”.  Why is that?

Sure, by now, most of the Synod participants have seen The Book.  It is out in Italian, German, Spanish, French and English. The English version, so I am told, wasn’t in print yet, when the Synod began, so pre-publication copies were run up for distribution to participants.  Surely they have made an impact.  I suspect that in the days ahead, we will hear from participants about the impact of The Book.  It would take a bit to read and absorb.  That should be coming into play right about now, as the subcommittees are meeting.


6 out of 60 responses

1. Card Kasper says he thinks the growing majority (and the Pope) are with him.

2. Thank you for presenting those interesting articles! I was thinking about Cardinal Burke, and one of the reasons I believe even liberal journalists have to concede his points is that he is unmistakably someone of great solemnity – not speaking frivolously – and honesty, even at times when it is inconvenient.

When I look at the Pope’s appointees, all I see is “pensamiento débil” (literally, “weak thought,” meaning a relativistic, “culturally adapted” view), and an absolutely yipping-dog-like desire for media attention and approval.

Hmm…where in recent history have we seen this type of sleight of hand? Vatican II of course. It worked for the liberals then and it might work again. Of course, the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, but the confusion that is being caused deliberately will cost many souls. That is the real tragedy here. We know that the Church will never officially teach error. However, many souls will be lost because of this document.

The REAL question at this point, I think, is: is it the Pope himself the one who has stacked the deck?

‘Attempts being made to orchestrate the outcome’ of the synod?! Say it isn’t so!

Very turbulent times to be a Catholic. I was but only 5-7 years old when Vatican II took place – old enough to remember what the Pre-Vatican II Church was like. I share with a lot of you the angst, apprehension and unease of what is going on (or appears to be going on, at least) right now. When something is not “right” that innate sense kicks in that buzzes in your head. And mine is buzzing overtime. I’m a plain speaking type of guy, not the most educated or nuanced, but IMHO, there is something about this Synod that definitely smells like day old fish. Fortunately, I have found that the way to find peace and balance right now is in the Rosary.


LXVI. Card. Kasper’s observations about Africa – UPDATE: Interview REMOVED!

Posted on 15 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

UPDATE 16 Oct 1700 GMT:

Card. Kasper’s interview at ZENIT has, as if by magic, disappeared.


Card. Kasper denied giving the interview, but Pentin had openly recorded it and it was on the record!


Pentin posted it.

Card. Kasper has been at the epicenter of the controversies surrounding the ongoing Extraordinary Synod.  He set the ball rolling in a speech to a consistory of Cardinals in which he made now infamous proposals.  For example, he suggested allowing the civilly remarried access to Communion under a “tolerated but not accepted” model.

Now Card. Kasper has been interviewed by ZENIT.  He made curious comments that have me scratching my head.

First, some background.  As I observed the other day, Pope Francis appointed some additional members to the committee to draft the Relatio the Synod will turn in.  None of them were from Africa.  Today, Marco Tosatti made the same observation. HERE (LXV).
That seems… odd, since Africa is exploding with Christians.  However, the fact is that African Catholics are far more doctrinally conservative than their counterparts in the 1st world.

Perhaps their contributions would have … muddied? … the desired results.

Anyway, today Card. Kasper speaks again.  Here is the relevant section:


It has been said that [Pope Francis] added five special rapporteurs on Friday to help the general rapporteur, Cardinal Peter Erdö. Is that because he’s trying to push things through according to his wishes?

I do not see this going on in the Pope’s head. But I think the majority of these five people are open people who want to go on with this. The problem, as well, is that there are different problems of different continents and different cultures. Africa is totally different from the West. Also Asian and Muslim countries, they’re very different, especially about gays. You can’t speak about this with Africans and people of Muslim countries. It’s not possible. It’s a taboo. For us, we say we ought not to discriminate, we don’t want to discriminate in certain respects.



But are African participants listened to in this regard?

No, the majority of them [who hold these views won’t speak about them].

They’re not listened to?

In Africa of course [their views are listened to], where it’s a taboo.

What has changed for you, regarding the methodology of this synod?

I think in the end there must be a general line in the Church, general criteria, but then the questions of Africa we cannot solve. There must be space also for the local bishops’ conferences to solve their problems but I’d say with Africa it’s impossible [for us to solve]. [NB] But they should not tell us too much what we have to do. [?!?]



Here is the inverse argument.

Kasper’s view reminds me of when Augustine tried to convince Donatists that the Church wasn’t just in Africa.  The Donatists thought they were the only Church and anyone in contact with Catholic bishops was tainted.

I respond that the Catholic Church in Africa is older than the Church in Germany.  Not only that, the Church doesn’t subsist only along the Rhine.

The only things missing from what Kasper said here are the words “tribal” and “primitive”.

If I recall correctly, Anglicans tried this too, at their Synods.  They needed to exclude Africans who weren’t going along with their groovy new ideas.  How that’s working out for the Anglicans now?

UPDATE 16 Oct 1548 GMT:

From a priest friend:


A few years ago Cardinal Kasper compared London to a Third World country.  HERE

And he did not mean it as a compliment.

He refused to apologize – and then flew back to Rome claiming to be ill.


11 out of 77 responses

1. Ah, yes, “a Church for the poor” – Africans excluded!

That’s like spreading the Gospel but excluding the words of Christ.

Or teaching Mercy — excluding Justice and Truth!

2. Totally weird. What is Cardinal Kasper’s obsession with “gays” all about? I notice he’s not even mentioning his first stalking horse, “mercy” for the divorced and remarried. Was this whole thing about legitimizing homosexuality?

3. If some of these bishops were really concerned about the people and their need for Christ and His mercy, they would tell them the truth about their sins and call them to repentance. For many, this isn’t about the needs of the people or mercy, this is just about the Church embracing/endorsing the very sins in which they wish to promote.

4. Liberal like Cardinal Kasper will couch their meaning in long-winded doublespeak like this. The sickest part is how they pretend to be generally open-minded and inclusive. Really they are as close-minded and discriminatory as they accuse conservatives of being. What he means is “Africans don’t think like me, so I don’t want to hear what they have to say and I don’t want them to have a voice in the Catholic Church.”

5. Those are some of the most vile and disgusting words I’ve ever heard a Catholic prelate speak. I have seen this happen as a former Anglican. These are dire times. If the pope sides with Kasper there will be another Reformation.

6. I feel like you could reasonably preface just about anything Cardinal Kasper has said over the past few months with “if any man should say:” and follow it with “let him be anathema” and be square with the deposit of the faith.

7. Liberal European Catholic bishop doesn’t like uppity Africans who follow Biblical teachings.

Remember when the president of Senegal upbraided Obama when Obama made a speech telling the Senegalese to respect LGBT rights?

Kasper didn’t want those people in his Synod.

8. I am sorry, but how is this guy a Cardinal of the Catholic Church? This is shockingly awful.

Remember, Cardinal Kaspar doesn’t care too much for the poor; he wants them barred from the Communion rail in Germany for not paying their church tax. (Under the ridiculous claim that they are apostate)

The homosexual agenda is the most powerful lobby in the world. They will never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever give up. They have the supernatural help of entities that are extremely intelligent, cunning, and who never sleep. How else can their conquering of every single secular and religious institution (except the Catholic Church) in less than 50 years be explained? If the princes of the Church were smart enough to realize the Angelic help they have at their disposal to combat this stuff…

This was always going to come down to letting the gays have their way OR ELSE. How many priests have been “disciplined” for not allowing straight people in irregular situations receive Communion versus … How many priests have been sent to Siberia (or it’s clerical equivalent) for not allowing gays in admitted SS relationships to receive? Or have just spoken out publicly against it even? The angels are crucial. We should send our guardian Angels to assist at the Synod.

9. I would respond that:

1. The homosexualists have conquered a great deal in the Catholic Church. I see much of this in my own diocese and now we are seeing it play out in Rome under the light of the Sun. In my opinion, at least, the language in the Relatio could have never come from a Vatican that is unaffected by the homosexualists. It is we who must remember, and indeed wholly rely upon, the Angelic help available to those who adhere to the Truth against the enemies within the Church.



2. I know of one priest, at least, that has been disciplined for refusing communion to a “committed homosexual” by Card. Wuerl. This priest was publicly renounced by the Cardinal as well as was driven from the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.

10. Perhaps a smaller, more faithful Church will arise from the ashes . . . under Pope Benedict XVI.

11. Sodomy is seen as moral sickness in Africa, and I’ve read that Protestants and Muslims have made evangelical inroads there by labeling Catholicism the “gay church.” So surely the more the Synod appears to endorse homosexual behavior, the more the Church in Africa will suffer.

It’s worth remembering that it’s poor black people who are disproportionately being impacted by Kasper’s desire to suck up to the wealthy white Western divorcees and sodomites. A church for the poor, indeed.


LXVII. ¡Hagan lío! Synod Bishops revolt against leadership and get their way – UPDATE!

Posted on 16 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf



Apparently the bishops at the Synod are tired of being manipulated.

They created a little lío of their own.

In full view of the Pope, they rose up pretty much as a body and rebelled against the way Card. Baldisseri, who seems to be the chief architect of what may have been a pre-determined agenda, has been handling them.

I am reading Marco Tosatti‘s piece at La Stampa.

My translation:


Synod, more censorship, protests

The General Secretary of the Synod [Card. Baldisseri] announced the decision not to publish the reports of the Circuli Minores [subcommittees by language groups, tasked with contributing elements to the final report]. The announcement provoked the protest of Card. Erdö [the president or chairman for this Synod],
and numerous other Synodal Fathers. The Pope, silent and very serious. At last, Fr. Lombardi announced that the reports of the commissions would be made public.


Erdö took the floor, implicitly distancing himself from the report that bore his name, and saying that if that “disceptatio” had been made public, then the others of the Circulo Minores ought to be made public.

His speech was followed by an avalanche from many others along the same line, underscored by thunderous applause.

The Secretary of the Synod, Card. Balidisseri, was watching the Pope, as if in search of advice and lights, and the Pope remained silent and very serious.

Silent also were the Under-secretaries of the Synod, Fabene, Forte, Schönborn and Maradiaga. [What a list.]

Kasper wasn’t there.

Finally, Fr. Lombardi announced that the reports of the Commission would be made public.


This is a big deal because the bishops didn’t simply roll over and let the appointees running the Synod run them over.

This Synod has been characterized by an unusual amount of information control.  There has been little transparency about the workings of the Synod.  Instead, the outside world was “informed” about what was being discussed through summaries. Sure, the leadership of the Synod said that the participants could talk to the press on their own, but that’s not the same thing as knowing what went on the Synod hall.   Then, what one might be able to imagine was a pre-positioned midpoint report was sprung on everyone, with weird and disturbing paragraphs that didn’t seem to reflect the workings of the Synod over all. That caused Card. Erdö, who had signed it, openly during a presser to give up Archbishop Forte as the perp.

Then Card. Baldisseri determines that the reports of the subcommittees wouldn’t be published.  That was a bridge too far.

This in full view of the Pope, who seems not to have shown his hand, but also who seems not to have been pleased at what was going on.

Meanwhile, Nicole Winfield of AP, who seems never to tire of calling Card. Burke a “hardliner” or something like, has a piece about the origin of the language in the infamous midpoint Relatio about homosexuals:


Erdö has already named the official who wrote the section on gays, Monsignor [Archbishop] Bruno Forte, appointed by Pope Francis as the special secretary to the synod. Forte is an Italian theologian known for pushing the pastoral envelope [that’s one way to put it] on dealing with people in “irregular” unions while staying true to Catholic doctrine. [Oh?]

Technically speaking, Forte and all the members of the drafting committee had access to far more material than the bishops themselves since they had the lengthy written speeches each synod “father” submitted prior to the meeting. Those written speeches factored into the draft reporteven if the bishops didn’t utter them during the four minutes each was allowed to speak. [Or see them at any point.  This was another procedural point that some expressed concern about before the Synod.  Everyone was to submit their speeches to Card. Baldisseri ahead of time.  Who knows what happened to them then?]



In fact, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said he recalled only one speech out of about 265 about gays during the debate.

So it’s not surprising that bishops didn’t recognize everything in the draft report since these written submissions weren’t made public or distributed to the bishops themselves, and the oral presentations only reflected a summary or particular point that a bishop wanted to make. But at the same time, there is no real way to know which bishop or bishops had proposed such ground-breaking language or whether it was more a reflection of Forte’s view[The controversial language was “ground-breaking” but Card. Burke is a “hardliner”.  Just so we’re clear.]


Left-leaning Religion News Service has also taken up the standard liberal line (big surprise).  They also never tire of calling Card. Burke a “hard-liner”, through they use a hyphen.  Perhaps liberal outlets are comparing notes.  I was amused at the beginning of a piece by RNS’ Josephine Mckenna:


After two days of fighting between happy liberals and angry conservatives, the Vatican dispatched a leading moderate from the US Church to tell both sides to temper their expectations about impending changes in Church doctrine.


The problem is that the speakers at the presser were scheduled a few days in advance.

Notice how Left-leaning outlets always describe “conservatives” as “angry” or “hardliners”. They are clearly meanies. “Liberals”, on the other hand, are happy!

Meanwhile, ¡Hagan lío!

Little known fact…

Did you know that Card. Baldisseri, before he was elevated to the College of Cardinals, was first the Titular Archbishop of Diocletiana?

Who else has been the Titular Archbishop of Diocletiana?

Adolph Gottfried Volusius † (22 Jun 1676 Appointed – 17 Mar 1679 Died)

Jan Kazimierz Opalinski, O. Cist. † (8 Jan 1680 Appointed – 17 Nov 1681 Confirmed, Bishop of Chelmno (Culma, Kulm))

Maximilien Bormann † (6 Apr 1682 Appointed – 1687 Died)

Cristoforo Arduino Terzi, O.F.M. † (10 Jul 1945 Appointed – 11 Jul 1971 Died)

Annibale Bugnini, C.M. † (6 Jan 1972 Appointed – 3 Jul 1982 Died)

Pietro Rossano † (7 Dec 1982 Appointed – 15 Jun 1991 Died)

Lorenzo Baldisseri (15 Jan 1992 Appointed – 22 Feb 2014 Appointed, Cardinal-Deacon of Sant’Anselmo all’Aventino)

Wojciech Zaluski (15 Jul 2014 Appointed – )

What is interesting about this Synod is the role of the media and social media.

Had the social media existed at the time of the Second Vatican Council, it would never have been possible to ram through the radical liturgical “reforms” of the 60′s and 70′s.

UPDATE 16 Oct: 1454 GMT

Apparently, Card. Pell was the first one to rise up against Card. Baldisseri. When Baldisseri made the announcement, Card. Pell took the floor and said that the reports had to be published and that they were tired of the manipulation.

From that point, the bishops also rose up. When Baldisseri repeated his position, he was effectively shouted down.

At that point, Card. Baldisseri turned to the Pope and got the nod to publish.

UPDATE 16 Oct: 1530 GMT:

The reports of the Circuli Minores are available on the Vatican website.  HERE

Card. Burke’s would be in Anglicus A.  Sample:


For example, where the Relatio appeared to be suggesting that sex outside of marriage may be permissible, or that cohabitation may be permissible, we have attempted to show why such lifestyles do not lead to human fulfillment. At the same time, we want to acknowledge that there are seeds of truth and goodness found in the persons involved, and through dedicated pastoral care these can be appreciated and developed. We believe that if we imply that certain life-styles are acceptable, then concerned and worried parents could very easily say “Why are we trying so hard to encourage our sons and daughters to live the Gospel and embrace Church teaching?”


6 out of 75 responses

1. Father, I’ve said this for years about the Internet, social media and Vatican II. Our poor parents and grandparents knew little or nothing of what was happening only that all of it was good. When things started to go awry, I can recall me poor mother (anniversary of her death today) saying, “Well, Father says it’s Vatican II“. Poor Father Carroll, a holy priest for sure, was told to do it and all prayed, paid and obeyed while the perpetrators preyed!

What is even more interesting is that we see in the skullduggery and manipulation by these few how the Vatican II Fathers were also misled. God helps us.

2. God bless the Bishops and Cardinals who have had enough! What any of us would give to be a fly on those walls? This will make an excellent film if the right Catholic production company takes it on. This is high drama.

3. In my dreams … Pope Francis has read and carefully digested the contents of the letter that Pope Benedict XVI left sealed for him on the papal desk … but he has to come up with a solution. Aha!, he thinks, call a synod and act like all the dissenters are going to get their way. That will smoke them out! And it works! The Kaspers and the rest all come out charging.


Then, at the end, everyone knows the truth about who is and who is not faithful to the Church! Those who are true are invited to stay, those who are not are invited to repent.
>sigh< the alarm rings and I wake up wondering if it was just another dream, just like any other dream.

4. “The controversial language was ‘ground-breaking’ but Card. Burke is a ‘hardliner’.” It’s necessary to have a hard line against breaking the ground when the ground in question is a levee keeping out the floodwaters.

5. As Pope Francis has taught us through his actions, being collegial does not mean playing nice. It is encouraging to see the bishops show a little back bone — but also not surprising, since no one likes to be taken for a fool. The interim report was a disaster not only for the cause of the Church’s teachings. It obviously was also a political disaster for the Kasper crowd, which is supported by Pope Francis. As an Argentinean commented here shortly after the last conclave, Bergoglio is a very cunning politician. But even the masters make mistakes.

Obviously there is a long way to go and many fights to come. Let us pray that the faithful bishops continue to show resolve.

6. All this makes one wonder about what goes on in the secret conclave to elect a pope!


LXVIII. The Robber Synod!

Posted on 16 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Given today’s events in the hall of the Synod, when the bishops rose up as a body to fight against the obvious manipulation carried on by the leadership of the Synod (Cardinal Baldisseri).   The Synod was being stolen from the Synod Fathers.  HERE

I have come up with a new nickname for this Synod.

Latrocinium… the Robber Synod.  HERE

Latrocinium, “band of robbers”, comes from an expression in Pope Leo’s letter to Empress Pulcheria where he described a synod as being non iudicium sed latrocinium.
In a nutshell, the Emperor Theodosius II called a meeting in 449 at Ephesus to consider the condemnation of Eutyches at the Synod of Constantinople in 448. Its decisions were reversed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

None out of 9 responses


LXIX. What’s the liberals’ next move?

Posted on 16 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Now that the Revolt has taken place by the members of the Synod against the leadership’s manipulations, this is what is going to happen.

Watch what the liberal MSM and the catholic liberal media do in their coverage of today’s revolt in the Synod.

They will not publish “process” stories.   That is, they won’t cover what actually occurred in the Synod Hall, the rising of the bishops against Card. Baldisseri.

Instead the catholic Left will return to their template story of “hardline” conservatives who want to slam doors in the faces of homosexuals and other marginalized sexually-labelled persons:


“The angry conservative hard-liners mounted a furious attack of rage against the refreshing hope-filled message of welcome, compassion and mercy toward the suffering sexual minorities who have wept in their sorrow for centuries.

Thoughtful Vatican observers noted the influence of ideological lobbyists who may have exerted a menacing influence of intimidation over the participants. There was such a fresh message of hope and change from Pope Francis”, said one deeply-placed Vatican official in the Synod of Bishops.  “Wait till next year!”


It writes itself.

UPDATE 16 Oct 2230 GMT:

What do we find at Crux?

First, in a piece by Inés San Martín, the “Vatican correspondent” HERE, we find:


In yet another unexpected turn in the Synod of Bishops, the bishops decided today to make all the discussions of the past week public, and those internal reports offer an x-ray of a divided summit on the family.

In a Vatican briefing today, Italian layman Francesco Miano, one of the synod participants, described the main fault line as running between truth and mercy— with one camp insisting on clarity about Church teaching, and another outreach to constituencies that don’t fully live it, including gays, the divorced, and people living together outside of marriage.



So, it’s truth v. mercy.  Except, without truth, there is no true mercy.  Not in Christian terms.

On the other hand, later in the same piece:


Another English group led by American Cardinal Raymond Burke, [The Snidley Whiplash of the Synod] however, closed the door to the argument, denying the admission to the sacraments of divorced and re-married people, but included a “very positive and much–needed appreciation of union with Christ through other means.”


As for same-sex couples, the recommendations in general suggest a merciful and welcoming approach while maintaining a clear distinction between a gay union and a marriage[?]


Soooo… maybe the lines aren’t so sharply drawn as the newsies describe after all?

Then, what to make of this piece by Crux’s John Allen, who jumped from the Fishwrap to the Boston Globe?  HERE


Will conservatives turn on Pope Francis? [Hmmm…. Sound familiar? Sure. But he has the players wrong.]


Here it is in a nutshell: Is a tipping point drawing close, when conservatives who have been inclined to give Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt will, instead, turn on him?


On Monday night, American Cardinal Raymond Burke openly faulted Francis for allowing Kasper to sow confusion about Church teaching on marriage by touting his proposal to admit divorced and remarried Catholics to Communion, and basically suggested the pope owes the world an apology[?!?]

A clear affirmation of Catholic doctrine by the pope, Burke said, is “long overdue.”

Both Livieres and Burke have had their wings clipped by Pope Francis, so some of their grumbling may be personal. Both also represent the fairly hardline edge of the Church’s conservative wing.



Whoa. John. Nasty.

First, is it true what Allen said about Card. Burke? That Burke suggested that the Pope owes the world an apology? Allen cites Burke’s interview with Catholic World ReportHERE Let’s see a longer section so we can have context:


Cardinal Burke: While the document in question (Relatio post disceptationem) purports to report only the discussion which took place among the Synod Fathers, it, in fact, advances positions which many Synod Fathers do not accept and, I would say, as faithful shepherds of the flock cannot accept. Clearly, the response to the document in the discussion which immediately followed its presentation manifested that a great number of the Synod Fathers found it objectionable.

The document lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium. In a matter on which the Church has a very rich and clear teaching, it gives the impression of inventing a totally new, what one Synod Father called “revolutionary,” teaching on marriage and the family. It invokes repeatedly and in a confused manner principles which are not defined, for example, the law of graduality.

CWR: How important is it, do you think, that Pope Francis make a statement soon in order to address the growing sense—among many in the media and in the pews—that the Church is on the cusp of changing her teaching on various essential points regarding marriage, “remarriage,” reception of Communion, and even the place of “unions” among homosexuals?

Cardinal Burke: In my judgment, such a statement is long overdue[So far so good.  He thinks a statement is overdue.  That means he thinks that the Pope should issue a statement, as described above: to address “a growing sense”, etc.] The debate on these questions has been going forward now for almost nine months, especially in the secular media but also through the speeches and interviews of Cardinal Walter Kasper and others who support his position.

The faithful and their good shepherds are looking to the Vicar of Christ for the confirmation of the Catholic faith and practice regarding marriage which is the first cell of the life of the Church.  [Okay.  That’s okay too.  There was never a time when the faithful did not look to the Pope in time of uncertainty for guidance, and when they did not wish for swift guidance.]


THAT’s a suggestion that the Pope should “apologize”?  Really?

Read the rest of his piece, wherein conservatives are painted now as the “dissenters”.  Ironically, in that view, “dissenter” will become code for “defender of Church doctrine” and “ideology” will be code for “the Magisterium”.

Allen does make a couple good points.  He gets this:


[S]ome conservatives may stop defending Francis, trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, and become locked into a cycle of suspicion and dissent about virtually everything that he says and does.

If that happens – and, to some extent, the process is already underway – it will hardly be a novelty. Both of the foregoing options were common practice among liberal Catholics during the John Paul II and Benedict XVI years, so the only difference now is that the shoe is on the other foot.

Yet there will be a price to pay.

What people generally think of as “conservative” Catholics are often among the Church’s most dedicated members, among other things serving as major financial donors. Already, one head of a conservative think tank in Rome this week said he’d gotten a call from one of his benefactors saying that if things keep going the way they are, he was going to stop ponying up.

More broadly, Catholics typically labeled as “conservative” are often people who carry water for the Church at all levels, from the local to the universal. If that pool of human capital begins to dry up, it could make it more difficult for Francis to advance his agenda.





I am smiling a bit as I write this.

Perhaps this is the perfect moment for Pope Francis to give the SSPX everything they want and then celebrate a Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form.

It will be the liberals who truly turn on Francis when he seriously disappoints them.  He is not going to give them what they want.  While we of a more traditional and conservative stripe can be frustrated and confused by many of the things that Francis says and does, in the end we don’t turn on Popes.  We love our Popes, even when we don’t like them everyday.   On the other, liberal side … that’s another matter.  When they turn, they turn mean.

Of course I could be wrong.  Maybe it won’t be one or the other side, the libs or the trads, who turn on His Holiness of Our Lord.  It could be that both will turn on Francis.  I guess that’s a possible outcome, but I don’t think that that is how it will go.


3 out of 15 responses

1. If I were a member of the “liberal” clique of bishops, the way ahead would be clear. Something like,

Right now fellow lib bishops, in this “Family Synod” we have established the idea that nice Catholics are nice and accommodating to “Gays”, oh, and to adulterers too of course , mustn’t forget them. Also that orthodox Catholics are nasty people who are nasty to “Gays”, oh and yes, and to adulterers of course, that’s important to get across. Right, so, well done chaps, first stage accomplished and the pattern is set.

Now we can go back to our dioceses and openly and quickly get on with being accommodating to “gays” and valuing their contribution etc., etc., and oh yes, and the adulterers too they also have so much to offer.

And by session 2 in a year’s time, the pattern will be established, we should have the bit between our teeth.

OK, any questions? Right, see you next year!

2. Thanks for this excellent coverage, Father.

Just one little point: is it necessary to use the political terms ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’? Isn’t that conceding too much to our enemies? Wouldn’t orthodox and heretic, or Catholic and modernist, be more accurate terms?

3. The liberals will never turn on Francis. The time for that to happen was after the first six months of his papacy. They’ve committed too strongly to him now. They’ll explain away every setback as a sign of conservative interference hamstringing the Holy Father. And then after his death, they’ll invoke Pope Francis as a cudgel to use against the next pope.


LXX. Reports of Circuli Minores now available on Vatican website

Posted on 16 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The reports of the Circuli Minores are available on the Vatican website.  HERE

Card. Burke’s would be in Anglicus A.  Sample:

For example, where the Relatio appeared to be suggesting that sex outside of marriage may be permissible, or that cohabitation may be permissible, we have attempted to show why such lifestyles do not lead to human fulfillment. At the same time, we want to acknowledge that there are seeds of truth and goodness found in the persons involved, and through dedicated pastoral care these can be appreciated and developed. We believe that if we imply that certain life-styles are acceptable, then concerned and worried parents could very easily say “Why are we trying so hard to encourage our sons and daughters to live the Gospel and embrace Church teaching?”




We had serious questions about the presentation of the principle of GRADUALITY. We wished to show in our amendments that we are not speaking of the GRADUALITY of DOCTRINE of faith and morals, but rather the gradual moral growth of the individual in his or her actions.


I suggest that you scan them yourselves.  Don’t be at the mercy of Crux and Fishwrap: “What the Synod meant to say, is….”


4 out of 35 responses

1. Wow! Reading the comments that were in English, I can see why the Bishops were upset. It almost seems like the authors of the Relatio and the Bishops were at two separate events.

2. I hope they’re adding something about sin, the universal call to holiness that Vatican II stressed, and the call to chastity, so important for Christian moral life. Based on the relatio, it would seem that all of those are out the window.

3. It appears that the liberals, following Cardinal Kasper, will now have to bash the African bishops led by Cardinal Napier, as their criticisms of the Relatio are much sharper even than those of Cardinal Burke’s group.

4. I was very encouraged that the English groups (especially group B) all mentioned painting a positive picture of marriage and encouraging faithful Catholics to be even more faithful and to support us in our vocation. Good stuff.

It seems as though a majority of bishops would recommend rejecting the Relatio if it is not severely modified. I’m still worried, however, about a Humanae Vitae moment. You know, the one where the Pope goes against the recommendation of his advisors when preparing his own pronouncement . . .




LXXI. VIDEO: Card. Pell speaks on a ‘secular agenda’, the Relatio, the “stalking horse”

Posted on 16 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

His Eminence George Card. Pell about the Relatio and the debate over releasing it.

He calls Communion for divorced and remarried a “stalking horse” and homosexuality. He speaks about the first form of the Relatio. This is great stuff.

Pause, pray, catch your breath.



6 out of 48 responses

A good priest friend of mine told me today that he believes
this synod will make men like Cardinals Pell, Burke, Napier, and Sarah papabile in the future.

2. Card. Pell said it well: the Relatio lacks any Reference to Scripture, Tradition, or the vast theological patrimony of the Church since its inception. Because it can’t.

3. As an aside, I still can’t fathom how disturbing it would be to be a Cardinal like Burke or Pell or some of the African Fathers and have my Western brothers vehemently and unapologetically speak heresy and deny Christ and Catholic tradition.

4. Well, in the end, everybody gets what they wanted. The faithful pew sitters get a Catholic document, and the absentee Catholics, Protestants and worldlings get confirmation via the news that the Church has changed her teachings regarding sexual sins. My mother, a non-Catholic announced this to me. This could have the effect of washing away any remaining guilt, and why I still think His Holiness needs to make a clear statement to the media that sexual sin destroys one’s relationship with Christ, to set the record straight, (but oddly I don’t see that happening).

5. What a heroic leader Cardinal Pell is. What a heroic leader Cardinal Burke is. What a heroic leader Cardinal Napier is.

And all of those blessed Bishops unnamed who stood up and SPOKE CHRIST’S TRUTH TO WORLDY MEN like Card. Baldisseri and Kasper et al.

And now Kasper has been caught in a public lie.

St. John, Jesus’ best friend, has taught us why Baldisseri and Kasper have tried to stifle and suffocate open discourse at the Synod: “And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil.”

6. Excellent! I doubt that the Pope meant to do this, but he has revivified orthodoxy: people suddenly realize how wonderful it is and how attractive it has been for 2000 years and how crazy we are to think of abandoning it. And there’s obviously a sudden, collective realization that the people entrusted with defending orthodoxy have actually got to do something and not just think it’s automatic in the Church.

This pope is very authoritarian and I think he has intimidated many people, even very high ranking ones, because he is obviously not shy about simply removing the opposition and sending them off to the Antipodes or, alternatively, putting someone in authority over them who is diametrically opposed to their positions, even though such positions are perfectly legitimate. But there’s strength in numbers, and he obviously realized today that he had lost this particular battle and would have to acquiesce to the very riled up majority.

I don’t know what the next step is going to be, and to a great extent, it’s true that the damage is already done, at least in the eyes of the public. I’m sure the Pope and the other progressives will try again, but he obviously can’t get rid of this many cardinals, so at least they will also probably remain strong enough to oppose him.


LXXII. Card Sarah of Africa on Synod

Posted on 17 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Even as it had been decided that the Synod will end today, CNA has a piece about the view of His Eminence Card. Sarah. HERE


African cardinal: Pressure groups behind push to change Church

Vatican City, Oct 16, 2014 / 04:21 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Inaccurate media reports about Church teaching on homosexuality published after the synod’s midterm relatio are an attempt to pressure the Church to change its perennial teaching, a cardinal who is also a synod father has affirmed.

Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, emphasized to CNA Oct. 16 that “what has been published by the media about homosexual unions is an attempt to push the Church (to change) her doctrine.”

“The Church has never judged homosexual persons, but homosexual behavior and homosexual unions are grave deviations of sexuality,” the cardinal, who is from the west African nation of Guinea, added.

Among the criticisms of the synod’s midterm report was the absence of some important statements, a point raised especially by some of the bishops from Africa.

Cardinal Sarah affirmed, however, that “some very important topics are reported in the relatio,” as for example “the Church’s refusal to promote policies linked to gender (theory) in exchange for financial aid.” [Like a… Church Tax?]

“This has been explicitly said in Cardinal Erdö’s relatio, and it is a relevant issue for developing countries as well as for the western countries,” the cardinal stressed.



Cardinal Sarah denounced the “government and some international organizations attempting to suppress the notion of the natural family, based on the man-woman relation; and the Church cannot be silent.”

The relatio read that it is not “acceptable that the pastor’s outlook be pressured or that international bodies make financial aid dependent on the introduction of regulations based on gender ideology.”

Cardinal Sarah said, “There is no Christian family without a glance to Jesus, who incarnated in a family with a father and a mother.”

This is the reason why, he added, “the reference to Christ is needed, in order to avoid that the Christian vision is reduced to an ideology, and that we are obliged to take stances in contrast with the Magisterium, the history of the Church, and, above all, with the truth of the Gospel.”

The lack of any reference to the Gospel of the Family has been highlighted with concern by all the small groups that discussed the midterm relatio during this week.

Likewise, the small groups have highlighted the need to rewrite the section “Providing for homosexual persons.”


Read the rest there.

Hard to imagine why Card. Kasper didn’t want input from Africans. Not.


1 out of 20 responses

1. Fr. Dodaro, editor of the book “Remaining in the Truth of Christ”, was interviewed on EWTN last night, October 16. Here is the video and it’s well worth watching.


LXXIII. What Card. Burke really said to BuzzFeed

Posted on 17 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Card. Burke to BuzzFeed:

BuzzFeed News: I should ask you about the reports that you’re being removed from the Signatura. What message is that sending? Do you think you are being removed in part because of how outspoken you have been on these issues?
Cardinal Burke: The difficulty — I know about all the reports, obviously. I’ve not received an official transfer yet. Obviously, these matters depend on official acts. I mean, I can be told that I’m going to be transferred to a new position but until I have a letter of transfer in my hand it’s difficult for me to speak about it. I’m not free to comment on why I think this may be going to happen.
BFN: Have you been told that you will be transferred?
CB: Yes.
BFN: You’re obviously a very well-respected person. That must be disappointing.
CB: Well, I have to say, the area in which I work is an area for which I’m prepared and I’ve tried to give very good service. I very much have enjoyed and have been happy to give this service, so it is a disappointment to leave it.
On the other hand, in the church as priests, we always have to be ready to accept whatever assignment we’re given. And so I trust that by accepting this assignment, I trust that God will bless me, and that’s what’s in the end most important. And even though I would have liked to have continued to work in the Apostolic Signatura, I’ll give myself to whatever is the new work that I’m assigned to…
BFN: And that is as the chancellor to the Order of Malta, is that right?
CB: It’s called the patron of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, that’s right.


Interview with Cardinal Raymond Burke: The Full Transcript

At the request of many readers, BuzzFeed News has published a full transcript of its interview with Cardinal Burke in which he confirms his removal from the Catholic Church’s highest court.
Posted on Oct. 18, 2014, at 12:30 p.m.

BuzzFeed News reporter J. Lester Feder spoke with Cardinal Raymond Burke Friday morning via Skype to discuss the Extraordinary Synod on the Family and address rumors that he was being removed as the head of the Vatican’s highest court of canon law.

Cardinal Burke: Hello, this is Cardinal Burke.
BuzzFeed News: Apologies, it seems we got disconnected. I was just asking if it’s okay if I record our conversation.
CB: Yes, it’s fine. That’s fine.
BFN: I know you don’t have a lot of time, so why don’t we just dive in. I’ve seen your comments suggesting that [the Extraordinary Synod on the Family] was being manipulated. Can you say a little bit more about that, and who is doing the manipulating?
CB: Since the presentation of Cardinal Kasper in February to the extraordinary consistory of cardinals, there’s been a consistent repetition of [Kasper’s] position that is trying to weaken the church’s teaching and practice with regard to the indissolubility of marriage.



This has just been consistent, casting the synod — which was to be on the family, directed in a positive way on family life — suggesting that the main purpose of the synod would be to permit those who are in irregular unions to receive the sacraments of penance and holy communion, which is not possible. If someone is bound to a prior marriage which has not been declared null, and is living as husband or wife with someone else. That’s a public state of sin and therefore the person cannot receive holy communion or go to the sacrament of penance until the matter is resolved.
But that’s been — all along this keeps coming back, and I see more clearly than ever that that’s how the synod is. And certainly the media has picked up on this — very much so.
BFN: To the question of how that’s being done, presumably the pope was the one who asked Cardinal Kasper to frame the synod. Are you saying that [the pope] is the one who is manipulating these proceedings?
CB: The pope has never said openly what his position is on the matter and people conjecture that because of the fact that he asked Cardinal Kasper — who was well known to have these views for many, many years — to speak to the cardinals and has permitted Cardinal Kasper to publish his presentation in five different languages and to travel around advancing his position on the matter, and then even recently to publicly claim that he’s speaking for the pope and there’s no correction of this.
I can’t speak for the pope and I can’t say what his position is on this, but the lack of clarity about the matter has certainly done a lot of harm.
BFN: Would it be inappropriate for the pope to do that? To structure the conversation in such a way that it is consistent with his thinking?
CB: According to my understanding of the church’s teaching and discipline, no it wouldn’t be correct.

BFN: I did a story a while back reporting on a conversation that sources relayed to me between an LGBT activist and Cardinal Müller. In that conversation, the activist apparently asked Müller about the possibility of the church possibly accepting some forms of civil unions, based on some of the comments that the pope had made and some of the positions he was understood to have taken while he was the president of the bishops conference of Argentina. Müller reportedly responded that [that decision] wasn’t up to the pope, it was up to “us,” referring to the curia. In that thinking about how these kinds of church teachings are made, can you explain to an outsider what the relationship is between this kind of conversation and the pope’s personal thinking?
CB: Well I suppose the simplest way to put it is that all of us who serve the church are at the service of the truth: the truth that Christ teaches us in the church. And the pope more than anyone else, as the pastor of the universal church, is bound to serve the truth. And so the cardinal is quite correct that the pope is not free to change the church’s teachings with regard to the immorality of homosexual acts or the insolubility of marriage or any other truth of the faith. On the contrary, his work is to teach these truths and to insist on the discipline which reflects the truths in practice.
BFN: It sounds like there’s a tension, what we’re seeing play out in this [synod]. It sounds like you’re saying there are some people who deliberately want to change teaching. Like the people who are supportive of some of the positions that were articulated in the Relatio are saying that they’re trying to balance the pastoral need to find space for people who are living outside what the church teaches is the appropriate lifestyle, to find a way pastorally to incorporate them into the community and to bring them more in line.
You’ve used very strong words about homosexuality; in a recent interview you say again that homosexual acts are always wrong and evil. Is there any middle ground, any way to make space for LGBT people inside the church while also adhering to church teaching?
CB: Well the church doesn’t exclude anyone who’s of good will, even if the person is suffering from same-sex attraction or even acting on that attraction. But at the same time out of her love for the person who’s involved in sinful acts, she calls the person to conversion, in a loving way, but obviously, like a father or mother in a family, in a firm way for the person’s own good.
There never can be in the Catholic Church a difference between doctrine and practice. In other words, you can’t have a doctrine that teaches one thing and a practice which does something differently. If people don’t accept the church’s teaching on these matters than they’re not thinking with the church and they need to examine themselves on that and correct their thinking or leave the church if they absolutely can’t accept what the church teaches. They’re certainly not free to change the teaching of the church to suit their own ideas.
BFN: But as I read the Relatio — and again I’m reading this as a layperson — it seems like what they’re saying is [trying to establish] a welcoming tone. While not changing the teaching, they’re also trying to not make the primary point of contact be a fight over these lifestyle choices. While holding up that the ideal remains matrimony, they’re not going to be pushed out and harassed by virtue of not being in that arrangement.
CB: The point is that for the church, moral teaching is never a matter of ideals. They’re understood to be real commands that we’re meant to put into practice. All of us are sinners and we have to undergo a daily conversion to live according to the moral truth, but it remains for us always compelling. It’s not just an ideal that we hold out there, that, “It would be nice if it were this way, but I can’t do it.”


No, we’re called to conform ourselves to those truths.
That’s the difficulty with the Relatio, which is not well expressed, and does not have a good foundation neither in the sacred scriptures nor in the church’s perennial teachings, and also uses language which can be very confusing.
One of the confusions is that it confuses the person with the sinful acts. In other words, it tries to say that if the church teaches that these acts are sinful that somehow they are turning on the people and driving them away from the church. Well, if the individuals involved are sincere and want to live the truth of moral law, the church is always ready to help. Even if someone sins repeatedly, the church always stands ready to help them begin again. But the truth of the moral law remains and it is compelling. It’s for now, it’s for me, it’s not something out there, some ideal out there that would be nice to realize but it doesn’t compel me.
BFN: I should ask you about the reports that you’re being removed from the Signatura. What message is that sending? Do you think you are being removed in part because of how outspoken you have been on these issues?

Cardinal Burke: The difficulty — I know about all the reports, obviously. I’ve not received an official transfer yet. Obviously, these matters depend on official acts. I mean, I can be told that i’m going to be transferred to a new position but until I have a letter of transfer in my hand it’s difficult for me to speak about it. I’m not free to comment on why I think this may be going to happen.
BFN: Have you been told that you will be transferred?
CB: Yes.
BFN: You’re obviously a very well respected person. That must be disappointing.
CB: Well, I have to say, the area in which I work is an area for which I’m prepared and I’ve tried to give very good service. I very much have enjoyed and have been happy to give this service, so it is a disappointment to leave it. On the other hand, in the church as priests, we always have to be ready to accept whatever assignment we’re given. And so I trust that by accepting this assignment, I trust that God will bless me, and that’s what’s in the end most important. And even though I would have liked to have continued to work in the Apostolic Signatura, I’ll give myself to whatever is the new work that I’m assigned to…
BFN: And that is as the chancellor to the order of Malta, is that right?
CB: It’s called the patron of the sovereign military order of Malta, that’s right.
BFN: So where are we now? As I understand it, the final draft of the Relatio is expected later today and it will be voted on tomorrow, is that right?
CB: It’s scheduled to be read to us tomorrow morning and then there’s to be discussion and the final vote is tomorrow afternoon.
BFN: I’m curious about the revisions that happened yesterday in the English version of the [Relatio] and none of the others. I don’t know if you can shed any light on that…
CB: I only know the revisions that were suggested by the small group to which I belonged, I haven’t seen the other ones, they were all delivered yesterday and were studied yesterday afternoon and today for the revision of the text. From the reports which were published, the summary reports, I believe that there was a rather thorough revision.
BFN: On this final stretch, you have very well respected doctrinal experts like Cardinal Wuerl on [the Relatio] writing committee. Do you have confidence in them going forward?
CB: I trust that they will produce a worthy document. I must say I was shocked by what I heard on Monday morning, which was presented by a very reputable cardinal, the Cardinal-Archbishop of Budapest. So you can imagine I’m a little shaken by that, my trust is a little bit shaken, but I am hoping that we won’t have a repeat of that.
BFN: All right, sir, I very much appreciate you making the time, I know you haven’t spoken with a lot of secular outlets, so I am really honored that you’d be willing to do that for us.
CB: You’re welcome. Goodbye, and God bless you.
This interview has been edited for clarity and to protect the identity of a source.


4 out of 42 responses

1. I saw that they had managed to create a truly inflammatory headline from the Cardinal’s rather mild and factual remarks, and I think that’s doing a great disservice to him and will probably make his life even harder. They took a comment to the effect that the Pope’s continued silence when asked for clarification “harms the Church,” and changed it into “Burke says Pope is harming the Church.” That was not what Burke said, and it was irresponsible and damaging to recast it that way. Just shows that journalists of all stripes can manipulate interviews to support their agenda, I guess.

“the Pope’s continuing silence upon being questioned harms the Church” implies “the Pope by continuing to be silent upon being questioned is harming the Church” implies “the Pope is harming the Church”. It’s not incorrect, and we can’t blame a journalist for doing his job which may be write headlines in a provocative (but not incorrect) way (and explain the details afterwards).

On the other hand, we really need to get away from the image that disagreeing with the Pope is not being Catholic. As I repeatedly said, I guess (half-humourously) that Pope Francis, by his constant preaching, opinion-giving etc., is teaching us the important lesson that he is, when not infallible, fallible. And in fact at the end of his pontificate we’ll all have gotten that message, it would be a good thing indeed.


3. It seems there are two possibilities, to read Sandro Magister, Pope Francis is part of the modernist cabal, putting known modernists into important leadership position and in positions close to him through the course of his pontificate (now, he has also put some solid folks in good positions, too, or maybe one, Cardinal Pell at least); or Pope Francis is engaging in the old adage, “Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

4. I’ve never been as concerned about the direction of the Church as I am now. I’m greatly disturbed by how Pope Francis is handling this whole discussion. I pray constantly that I’m able to maintain confidence in him.
I teach high school theology and my students are all excited over media reports that the Holy Father is supportive of gay rights. This will never be erased from their minds no matter how hard we work at correcting the damage.
The bottom line is that this entire synod is a disaster and seemingly doing much more harm than good.
God bless Cardinals Burke and Pell for their strength and courage! My prayer is that we will be surprised by the Holy Spirit and see great good come out of this synod


LXXIV. Views on the Synod right now

Posted on 18 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Another day, another Synod post.  Yes, it’ll be over soon.  For a while.  Then it will fire back up in full fury before next year’s Synod.

Today the bishops are working on the final Relatio.  They will use electronic voting during their session.  What could go wrong?

Meanwhile, let me throw a few items at you, in no particular order, for your consideration.  Some differing perspectives.   Listen for the premises.

From Corriere della Sera, my translation:


An imprudent move. This is what the publication of the report following the first week of the Synod was considered: the one that had the openings toward the divorced and remarried and homosexuals. When the Pope saw the texts in L’Osservatore Romano [the Vatican daily] and Avvenire [the Italian Bishops Conference’s daily… yes, they have one], the Pope immediately expressed his concern about the impact they would have. A well-founded fear. The impression sent to the bishops and cardinals was that it was not a document to be studied and discussed, but a preview of the outcome of the meeting.



The Pope saw the texts in L’Osservatore Romano and Avvenire?   Really?  That’s stretches credulity beyond the breaking point.

A friend of mine in Rome sent me his take on this piece in Corriere, which I share with a little editing:


They [the MSM] are scrambling to blame Baldisseri etc. to preserve His Holiness. And yet the article is not by Vecchi, a vaticanista, but by Massimo Franco, a political analyst of Corriere and a bunch of other liberal organs and institutions, but was for years with Avvenire.

He has published books on the Church and has been pushing the image of Francis finally ending the chasm between the Church and the world. But normally he writes about intricate Italian parliamentary politics and international affairs. If he decided or they asked him to write something about this instead of the run of the mill vaticanista it is because they sense a BIG problem and needed someone who could make phone calls and not just speculate and spin the obvious.

Now, something in the tone of the article makes me wonder if this isn’t also a warning shot, signalling that maybe The Bishop of Rome is not fully in charge and may not be able to steer the Church in the “right” direction after all.

Could this, and not some affirmation of Catholic doctrine, be the possible beginning of the media forsaking him? I don’t know, probably not. But they are wondering. Now they’re seeing that episodes like [The Five Cardinals Book] or Muller voicing opposition to Kasper were not just desperate cries of a kook fringe but in fact representative of a more widespread than expected discomfort with the current state of affairs and the undignified mobster style of running the Curia, of which the Robber Synod was the catalyst.

I am reminded of when the media and church intellectuals revolted against Paul VI and started to return to their evergreen tune: that the problem is not so much of who is the Pope but the institution of the papacy in itself.



We’ll see. Servi inutiles sumus, but this article proves the good guys scored big the other day and that, with the help of Our Lady, we can succeed more than we believe.

Provocative food for thought.

Meanwhile, there is a statement, in English, from the Synod Fathers at the Vatican website.  Some of it is pretty good. HERE

An excerpt:


First, the ordinary Germans are correct. The Catholic Church is Germany’s second-largest employer with 690,000 employees. (That’s 7 times the size of Mercedes Benz, folks.)



Bishops take home between $10,000 and $15,000 per MONTH, and they don’t pay for their residence, their cars or their upkeep. You can read all about it here, but suffice to say that the German Catholic Church has been a gravy train for clerics for the last 60 years.

Second, the gravy train is about to come to an end. Fully 140,000 Germans leave the Church every year. Plus, a demographic cliff looms, and the Germans — world masters at corporate planning — can see the end coming very clearly. Estimates vary, but basically in 15-20 years the well will run dry. The old people will die. The young people won’t pay.

Third, the Germans are playing to a German audience. The German Bishops care about what the German media wants. In turn, the German media wants eyeballs — plus they want to see the Church completely de-fanged for the usual ideological reasons.

Fourth, there’s the embarrassment factor. Also — and this is really a very minor point — it is a bit uncomfortable when nosy foreigners and the occasional naive media pundit asks why the richest Church in the world is such an utter failure. If and when this is admitted, it must never be attributed to the thoroughly modern German approach to Catholicism, but should be blamed on Rome at all costs.


Meanwhile, there’s this approach. VIDEO

The moderation queue is definitely ON!

UPDATE: Beverley DeSoto of Regina Magazine has a take on the German views of the Synod.  HERE


4 out of 56 responses

1. It sounds as if what’s happening with the pope is the same thing that happened with JXXIII and PVI: The renewal of the Church got away from both of them.

IMHO, the pope originally saw this as a opportunity to promote the encouragement of a more pastoral approach to individual cases vs. a merely cold-blooded application of the law. But some of those whom he established as authority figures in the Synod are interested in undermining doctrine and, perhaps more importantly, in draining power of the papacy, funneling it to regional/national bishops conferences.

2. It seemed like the perfect storm. Benedict resigned after several cardinals compiled a tome of curial infighting and incompetence. The new pope comes in with a mandate to clean house and his closest collaborators use it as a cover to sack whoever they want (Piacenza, Burke, etc.) and create a reign of terror in the Curia and elsewhere (Braz de Aviz vs. the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate, etc.). This is all backfiring very quickly now.

As a loyal son of the Church, I still hold out hope that Pope Francis is not a maniacal mastermind trying to destroy the Curia and the doctrine of the Church; however, it’s clear that his collaborators are less than forthright and a revolt is brewing. The revolt at the Synod may be just the tip of the iceberg. Are we about to have two popes emeriti in that little monastery at the Vatican? Blessed Mother help us!

3. Imo, Cardinal Dolan is running with the hounds and hunting with the hares. He’s in the liberal camp – not one mention of Jesus Christ – everything he says is “man centered”. He talks about homosexuals as if they are a separate species of human beings that need to be welcomed as homosexuals rather than as human beings. At the same time, CD is backing those who demand a rewrite and saying how wonderful Cardinal Burke is because who knows who will be in power down the road?

4. I have no fear that Pope Francis will change anything. He can’t because The Holy Spirit will not allow it.
I was talking with a protestant friend (ex-Catholic alter boy) yesterday. He kept on saying that the Church will change just like all of the other Christian denominations have on these issues but I told him this whole thing is cool because in then end it just proves that the Catholic Church is the One True Church. We will see that the Popes can’t teach error and change Truth. I also mentioned to him that a main reason that I came back to the Church was for the very reason of pope infallibility. When I learned about Pope Paul VI and Humane Vitae and that he didn’t go with the flow and change Church doctrine. If any pope was going to bow down to the pressures around him to change Church teaching on contraception and sexuality it should have been him. By him not doing so just confirmed to me that the papacy is governed by The Holy Spirit and not by man. I also feel because of his stance against his own feels and going along with the Holy Spirit is why he is a Saint and deserves to be recognized as one. It is going to be a great say for the Church, this Sunday.


LXXV. Hell’s Bible’s editorial on the Synod

Posted on 18 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

At Hell’s Bible (the New York Times –Michael)
we find an editorial:


Pope Francis Walks the Talk
Vatican Signals on Gays and Remarriage Are a Hopeful Beginning

A half-century after the historic changes of the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis is showing his intent to drive a comparably ambitious agenda for the Roman Catholic Church in the 21st century.

The current synod of bishops in Rome, called by Francis to encourage reform and modernization[ahhh… that’s why he called it!] set a ringing tone of compassion this week with an opening call for a more welcoming attitude toward gay people, unmarried couples, divorced Catholics who remarry, and children in these unions.  [See my earlier post about what the MSM was going to do next.  HERE  Did I call it?]


The bishops’ report on their first week of private discussions did not immediately change church doctrine.  [Not immediately… but there’s hope!  As long as Francis the Hopeful, the most wonderfullest Pope evhur, the first Pope ever to smile or kiss a baby can fend off those hate-filled, close-minded mouth-breathing conservatives!] But it signaled the pope’s determination to have the church look anew at the realities of the modern world, [How revolutionary.  John Paul and Benedict never considered the modern world as it is.  Nope.  Never. What was that phrase, again? “Dictatorship of Relativism”?] including what the bishops [No!  Archbishop Forte, not “the bishops”] were moved to call the “positive aspects of civil unions and cohabitation” — a formulation unthinkable in an era when the church denounced such Catholics as “living in sin.” [But doesn’t now.  So, you would think that now the NYT is a fan of the Church.  Right?]

The synod’s summary language about gays and lesbians was even more remarkable.



Moderation is ON.


4 out of 21 responses

1. Food for thought.

The secular culture is such that young people who hold views akin to the National Catholic Reporter or Nuns on the Bus will NOT be joining the Catholic Church. Or they will leave her if they are baptized Catholics.

Holy Mother Church, to this crowd, stands for all that is ugly, intolerant, repressive.

Meanwhile, those within the Church who work & campaign to change her teachings, the die-hards like Cardinal Kasper will, one day, kick off.

Can they replace themselves with younger, zealous priests (future bishops & cardinals) to carry their flags? No.

Being Catholic or converting to Catholicism will be considered the ultimate signal of being a hateful, bigoted person.

The very group “within the Church” today, who hold the ideas Cardinal Kasper and others are trying to push for, will, in the very near future, not tolerate “Catholics” among their ranks.

These “Catholics” will be forced by the secular culture itself to choose between it and the Church.

The Church will not change her doctrine. Whatever comes out from the Holy Father & the synod in a year will not be what the MSM {mainstream media} & others have agitated for.

News reports may give a false impression. People may be confused. But even if that happens, and drags out for years, and the world at large thinks the Church has “gone soft” on certain issues, Cardinal Kasper, the Nuns on the Bus, etc., still will not find keepers of their flame.

In the end, the secular culture will demand the Church give complete, radical acceptance to all of its secular doctrines in order for the Church to receive its blessing. That secular culture will not, in 10-20 years time, have any forbearance with people like Cardinal Kasper who want to keep one foot in each door.

2. My impression is that the NCR and the MSM may have it essentially right. In that the “interim report” (apparently prepared before the Synod began) and the way the Synod was run–with notes back and forth between the pope and the presiding officer appointed by him–likely did indeed portray papal intent accurately.

3. Synod 2014: the Spirit of Vatican II defeated by the Spirit of Vatican I
Synod 2015: the rematch

4. I just returned from Rome yesterday, and if it wasn’t for the American outlets: Fr. Z, Church Militant, Cardinal Newman and The Catholic Register, there would be no English information on the Synod there. Two of our diocesan secular representatives, who were on the pilgrimage with us, happened to have a personal audience with Cardinal Burke. They told him that American Catholics are very concerned about the potential of schism between the progressives and conservatives and prayed that he would be on the side of orthodoxy and voice the concerns of Catholics who do not wish to be a touchy-feely church based on a perverted definition of “inclusiveness.” Cardinal Burke assured them that he would be on the line blocking any change(s) in Catholic Orthodoxy.

I am quite concerned about the initial position statement of the Synod and so was Cardinal Burke. I would suggest that, if you can, send support to the good Cardinal. If Fr. Z could give everyone his public email, that would be a first step.


LXXVI. Pope Francis’ final address to the Synod as it closes

Posted on 18 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Pope Francis addressed the Synod participants at the end of the Synod.  I’ll out the blah blah:


(Vatican Radio) At the conclusion of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, Pope Francis addressed the assembled Fathers, thanking them for their efforts and encouraging them to continue to journey.

Below, please find Vatican Radio’s provisional translation of Pope Francis’ address to the Synod Fathers: 


I can happily say that – with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality [Q: How are they different?] – we have truly lived the experience of “Synod,” a path of solidarity, a “journey together.”

And it has been “a journey” – and like every journey there were moments of running fast, as if wanting to conquer time and reach the goal as soon as possible; other moments of fatigue, as if wanting to say “enough”; other moments of enthusiasm and ardour.




There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people. Moments of consolation and grace and comfort hearing the testimonies of the families who have participated in the Synod and have shared with us the beauty and the joy of their married life. A journey where the stronger feel compelled to help the less strong, where the more experienced are led to serve others, even through confrontations. And since it is a journey of human beings, with the consolations there were also moments of desolation, of tensions and temptations, of which a few possibilities could be mentioned: [Not that we want to dwell on them…]

– One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.  [“traditionalist” “intellectualisti“.  Really?] 

– The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [it. buonismo] [This also means a “going along to get along”, not to make waves.], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals. [Because liberals are “do-gooders” and the traditionalists … aren’t?]

– The temptation to transform stones into bread to break the long, heavy, and painful fast (cf. Lk 4:1-4); and also to transform the bread into a stone and cast it against the sinners, the weak, and the sick (cf Jn 8:7), that is, to transform it into unbearable burdens (Lk 11:46).

– The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfil the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.

– The temptation to neglect the “depositum fidei” [the deposit of faith], not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; [I am not sure I get that part.  How can you both “neglect” the depositum fidei and then think you are its “owner”.] or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing! They call them “byzantinisms,” I think, these things… [?  I didn’t get that part, either.  Who neglects reality?]

Dear brothers and sisters, the temptations must not frighten or disconcert us, or even discourage us, because no disciple is greater than his master; so if Jesus Himself was tempted – and even called Beelzebul (cf. Mt 12:24) – His disciples should not expect better treatment.

Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard – with joy and appreciation – speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage: and of parresia. And I have felt that what was set before our eyes was the good of the Church, of families, and the “supreme law,” the “good of souls” (cf. Can. 1752). And this always – we have said it here, in the Hall – without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Canon 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et Spes, 48).

And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.

The Church is our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord.

Many commentators, or people who talk, have imagined that they see a disputatious Church where one part is against the other, doubting even the Holy Spirit, the true promoter and guarantor of the unity and harmony of the Church – the Holy Spirit who throughout history has always guided the barque, through her Ministers, even when the sea was rough and choppy, and the ministers unfaithful and sinners.




And, as I have dared to tell you, [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquility, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.  [I don’t think the mere presence of the Pope that guarantees anything.  The Pope also has to act and speak.  No?]

We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of  their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.  [Interesting!]

His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained, with words I cite verbatim: “The Church is called and commits herself to exercise this kind of authority which is service and exercises it not in her own name, but in the name of Jesus Christ… through the Pastors of the Church, in fact: it is he who guides, protects and corrects them, because he loves them deeply. [Because he loves them, he corrects them.] But the Lord Jesus, the supreme Shepherd of our souls, has willed that the Apostolic College, today the Bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter… to participate in his mission of taking care of God’s People, of educating them in the faith and of guiding, inspiring and sustaining the Christian community, or, as the Council puts it, ‘to see to it… that each member of the faithful shall be led in the Holy Spirit to the full development of his own vocation in accordance with Gospel preaching, and to sincere and active charity’ and to exercise that liberty with which Christ has set us free (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 6)… and it is through us,” Pope Benedict continues, “that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them. St Augustine, in his Commentary on the Gospel of St John, says: ‘let it therefore be a commitment of love to feed the flock of the Lord’ (cf. 123, 5); this is the supreme rule of conduct for the ministers of God, an unconditional love, like that of the Good Shepherd, full of joy, given to all, attentive to those close to us and solicitous for those who are distant (cf. St Augustine, Discourse [Sermon] 340, 1; Discourse 46, 15), gentle towards the weakest, the little ones, the simple, the sinners, to manifest the infinite mercy of God with the reassuring words of hope (cf. ibid., Epistle, 95, 1).”

So, the Church is Christ’s – she is His bride – and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant – the “servant of the servants of God”; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being – by the will of Christ Himself – the “supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful” (Can. 749) and despite enjoying “supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church” (cf. Canon 331-334).

Dear brothers and sisters, now we still have one year to mature, with true spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and to find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.

One year to work on the “Synodal Relatio” which is the faithful and clear summaryof everything that has been said and discussed in this hall and in the small groups. It is presented to the Episcopal Conferences as “lineamenta” [guidelines].

May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!

[The hymn Te Deum was sung and Benediction given.]

Thank you, and rest well, eh?


3 out of 3 responses:

1. Pope Francis’ address at the conclusion of the Synod October 18, 2014


2. Synod on the Family 2014 Post Mortem

Synod’s Final Report Shows Nuance
on Divorce, Homosexuality October 19, 2014

Pope Francis Shows His Cards by Joe Heschmeyer

This Is Not Pope Francis’s
Finest Hour

by Damian Thompson

Report Lacks Bishops’ Unity on Big Topics – Edward Pentin



The Tyranny of “Mercy” – Michael Matheson Miller, The CWR

Fr. Z Fisk’s New York Times Editorial on the Synod – Fr. Z’s Blog

Rejected Paragraphs on Communion for Divorced, Gays – Rorate Cæli


PopeWatch: Hounds and Foxes By Donald R. McClarey,
October 20, 2014

Selected comment:

I miss the precision and logic of Benedict


LXXVII. Wherein Card. Burke is compared to Archbp. Lefebvre

Posted on 19 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Just in case you were wondering what sort of people were on the other side of the issue, this is a Twitter exchange between the Jesuit James Martin and Massimo Faggioli, a liberal academic in St. Paul:



Card. Burke is compared to the late Archbp. Marcel Lefebvre. They invoke “schism”.


Will they next say that St. John Paul II was a Lefebvrite?

St. John Paul issued Familiaris consortio and the Catechism of the Catholic Church and everything that Card. Burke has said can be found in both.

For a liberal, Lefebvre is the equivalent of the bogeyman, Hannibal at the gates, the monster under the bed.

If “ideologue” is now liberal code for “faithful”, I suppose that “schismatic” is now their code for “believer in the Magisterium”.

I hope that these guys have a fainting couch.


13 out of 58 responses

1. Fr Martin is yet another example of why the Jesuits in the West are going down the drain. They are out of touch, still living in the 1970′s.

2. Burke cannot be likened to a schismatic since he has not broken communion with the church nor has he called upon others to do so. If anyone can be likened to a schismatic it would be those who wish to break with the 2000 year old faith and practice of the Church. Just saying.

3. I’m amazed by something……
The left postures (or attempts to position itself) as the intellectuals in any discussion.

WHY are they so Afraid of H.E. Cardinal Burke? The constant ad hominem attacks against Cardinal Burke only lead credence to the notion they KNOW they cannot win the argument and therefore are engaging in the tactic of last resort…

It would be entertaining to watch if it wasn’t so serious.
Wow do we need to pray for our Church.

4. It’s all LGBT all the time over at Fr. Martin’s twitter feed.

5. The one thing this Synod did that is positive (maybe) is open our eyes and the eyes of the world to the reality in our church. Some of that truth would be horrifying, should we not have the promise of Christ about the gates of Hell.



6. Fr Martin wrote a piece on the Synod in which he said this: “those topics—LGBT issues and the reception of Communion for divorce and remarried Catholics—will be discussed at the next session of the Synod. Second, that the church will know that these votes, both of which he himself (Pope) has addressed, were close. This may give encouragement to those in favor of more openness on these issues to rally support and fight more vigorously next time.”

7. We’ve reached an unhappy milestone on the road to the Chastisement when dissent from heterodoxy becomes “schism.” Our Lady, Help of Christians, pray for us!

8. This was not the only place I had seen someone make the ludicrous assertion that Cardinal Burke was going the way of Archbishop Lefebvre.

9. The Synod has been quite a rebuke for the liberal wing of the church, which ends up being quite an astonishing fact when you consider that said liberal wing is led by the Pope. This site has speculated whether Pope Francis would follow in the footsteps of his predecessor and resign…I would say the outcome of the Synod makes that far more likely. And I would further speculate that, in “demoting” Cardinal Burke, the Holy Father may well have fingered the most likely candidate for his successor.

Remember, despite virtually all the cardinals in the 2013 conclave being elevated by a Pope considered a theological, if not liturgical, Conservative … we ended up with Francis. The pendulum seems likely to swing in the other direction next time.

10. Martin is a [I’ll cut this out. – Fr. Z. People, THINK before posting. Remember… this is not the Fishwrap’s combox.] . He’ll hide behind the security of his twitter feed and gleefully take pot shots at Burke to the delight of his followers. But ask him point-blank if he agrees with eternal Church teaching that homosexual behavior is a grave sin, and he’ll cower and slink off while mumbling some non sequitur about “we’re all sinners!”

He reminds me of McBrien* at Notre Dame. He digs the Roman collar because his unorthodox and wishy-washy views bring him internet high-fives and adulation from the fawning media. Actually preaching divine eternal truth would decimate his flock of twitter followers. *Fr. Richard McBrien, SJ, liberal -Michael

11. Now the concern of Pope Francis is double:
How to dismiss Card. Burke from the Apostolic Signatura without making this to look as a sanction for his stance during the Synod, at the tip of the opposition to the modernist agenda?
How to keep Card. Kasper who exposed himself as a liar, a racist, an imprudent speaker and a manipulator during the Synod, in his closest circle after the Pope himself had praised him as the number one theologian?

12. Father Martin, on his popular Facebook page is a very strong advocate for LGBTQ recognition in the Church.

13. One of the things that disturbs me most about Pope Francis is that he’s the one who is dividing the Church into two camps, reading his condescending, holier-than-thou address at the ending of the synod was truly alarming. He really does see the Church as being divided into the evil “legalists,” whom he even openly referred to as the “traditionalists” (and, also, oddly enough, as the intellectuals) and then the good people, the progressives, who may sometimes go a little too far in their zeal but are inspired by “the spirit” (of what?) and are motivated by nothing but the best impulses.

Cardinal Burke has clearly become the symbol of all that the Pope doesn’t like, and now it’s going to be open season on Burke. Naturally, all motivated by the best impulses of the really good people.


LXXVIII. Video interview with Fr. Robert Dodaro, OSA

Posted on 19 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

{Also at
Marriage & Communion, Fr. Robert Dodaro with Raymond Arroyo October 16, 2014 VIDEO 15:15

Fr. Robert Dodaro, president of the Patristic Institute (Augustinianum) in Rome and editor of Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage & Communion in the Catholic Church, a book that rebuts Cardinal Walter Kasper’s recent proposals to harmonize “fidelity and mercy” in the Church’s pastoral approach to divorced and remarried Catholics and the Sacrament of Holy Communion.}


Remaining in the Truth of Christ: Marriage and Communion in the Catholic Church

Paperback – October 7, 2014


Enough said.

This is the guy who did this!

This book was the game changer.




2 out of 41 responses

1. Excellent. –Dr. Edward Peters, Canon Lawyer

2. The Church is blessed in Fr. Dodaro. As do Cardinals Burke, Müller, and Pell, he delivers truth in charity.


LXXIX. Extraordinary Synod on Family is, thanks be to God, over.

Posted on 20 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

The Extraordinary Synod on the family is, thanks be to God, over.

The bishops will meet again next year at the same time in the Ordinary Synod on the same topic: the Family.

Let me start with the pessimistic take, first.

In sum, I think this Synod caused defeats for all sides.

It was a big defeat for liberals/progressivists because they didn’t get what they wanted. The liberals in the Synod weren’t able to ram through their agenda. In the end, they overplayed their hands and the conservative/Magisterium defenders rose up and said “No more!” It was also a defeat, but less so, for the defenders of the Magisterium because, frankly, some of the things which were hotly debated at the Synod, shouldn’t have been debated at all. Thus, liberals got their way a little bit: they managed to get their points on the agenda.

Also, the Catholic people everywhere were defeated: great confusion has been sown about matters such as Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried and the “welcome” we are supposed to show as a Church to homosexuals. I am already hearing from priests that people as saying things like, “I’m remarried but Francis says I can go to Communion”. That’s ridiculous, but, as I said, there is confusion. Some people will have the notion that we now “welcome” (whatever that means) homosexuals because they are homosexual rather than because they are human beings. That’s ridiculous, but, as I said, there is confusion.

The Synod was positive in the sense that in the end enough bishops rose up to put a halt to the lemming rush – nay, rather – walking together towards the cliff.  But we shouldn’t be aiming at the cliff at all.

Who knows if it will be possible to halt this thing during next year’s Synod. Some of the key players, who stopped the liberal surge and manipulation in the Synod, probably won’t be involved next year. I doubt Card. Burke will be there. He was there this time in his role as head of a dicastery of the Roman Curia. So were Card. Pell and Card. Mueller.  Who knows who will receive special appointments as participants. If this Synod couldn’t be manipulated, and clearly a manipulation was attempted through the control of information and texts, next year’s could be controlled by stacking the deck, changing the slate of participants to favor one side.

However, one factor that will remain is “The Five Cardinals Book”. This important book will have been read and absorbed well by next October. In the face of the books explanations, many of the liberal issues simply fall apart.

A few more points, in no special order.

First, there was controversy about how we are to “welcome” (accogliere) “gays” (I hate that word now). What on earth does “welcome gays” mean? What does it mean for the divorced and civilly remarried? This “welcome” strikes me as incredibly superficial. It reflects sentiments, not real thought.

Does “welcome” for gays and remarried mean just avoiding any words that might be imagined by some to be off-putting? Does it mean admittance to Holy Communion? I think it does, ultimately. If that is the case, then I think we just have to say “game over”. Think about it. What does Communion become, through the open admission of those who are objectively and often openly in the state of mortal sin? Communion becomes that white thing someone puts in your hand to make you feel “welcome”, like you “belong”. Then you sing the song and go on your way. You don’t have to think about how you live, or what you are doing with you receive the Eucharist. 1 Corinthians is a dead letter. Why bother going at all? One you have obtained the victory of self-affirmation, of deciding for yourself about Communion without any regard for the Church’s perennial teaching, why even bother with Mass?

The talk about “graduality” was interesting, but again there is confusion about the term.  We do not approve sin. Sin is not good.  We are pleased when people move away from sin toward virtue.  We are happy when people sin less, but we are not happy with the sins they still commit.  Moreover, this is a way of helping individuals stop sinning and come to live a good Christian life, it is not a program for whole groups of people.  This is something to be applied in the internal forum rather than in vague phrases of “welcoming”.

Also, and perhaps I am wrong about this, but I think not… it seems to me that in the words “traditionalist” and “intellectualist” the Magisterium of John Paul II was undermined. It seems now that if you believe in the Catechism of the Catholic Church or Familiaris consortio, you are a “traditionalist” and “intellectualist”.
Under attack during the Synod, by liberals, was the Magisterium of John Paul II, especially as found in Familiaris consortio and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I would like to point out that everything Card. Burke wrote in his contribution to the Five Cardinals Book, is supported by the CCC or Familiaris consortio. Hey! FC is 33 years old! That’s outdated by now, right?  So, the term “dissenter” will be applied to people who defend doctrine.

Weird, no?  It is as if we are now walking about with a Salvador Dali landscape.

I sound pessimistic, I know.  I, therefore, rush to add that we can all be grateful for the participants in the Synod who, fed up, held their hands up, got to their feet, and said “No!”

A week ago, we had no idea what was going to happen.  One camp thought their scheme was going to work like a charm.  They aren’t so confident now, I think.

I am also reminded of the pessimist and the optimist who are discussing the state of things.  The pessimist says, “Things can’t possibly get any worse!”  The optimist replies, “Oh yes they can!”



Putting on my optimist hat now, I turn my gaze to Sunday 4 October 2015, which should be the date that the next Synod begins.  In the Novus Ordo calendar it will be the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year B.

What is the Gospel reading for that day?  I knew you would ask.

Mark 10:2-16

Just to refresh your memory:


The Pharisees approached Jesus and asked,
“Is it lawful for a husband to divorce his wife?”
They were testing him.
He said to them in reply, “What did Moses command you?”
They replied,
“Moses permitted a husband to write a bill of divorce
and dismiss her.”
But Jesus told them,
“Because of the hardness of your hearts
he wrote you this commandment.
But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two shall become one flesh.
So they are no longer two but one flesh.
Therefore what God has joined together,
no human being must separate.”
In the house the disciples again questioned Jesus about this.
He said to them,
Whoever divorces his wife and marries another
commits adultery against her;
and if she divorces her husband and marries another,
she commits adultery.”


Yes, that is the reading for the corresponding Sunday for next year’s opening of the Synod of Bishops.

We have a year now, during which the debates are going to continue.

For a whole year, as you listen to the rhetoric about mercy v. law, pastoral v. intellectual, compassion v. doctrine, everyone will remember what Gospel they should have for the Synod of 2015.

Meanwhile, friends, do not let up.  Let’s use those provisions of Summorum Pontificum and pray and take on mortifications for the sake of Holy Church in these troubling times.

The moderation queue is ON.  Also, I have a really long flight coming up, without internet.


3 out of 56 responses

1. One of the biggest problems of the synod is how many people believe now that the Church is a democracy and that a simple vote can change Holy Scripture, Tradition, and natural law.

The Vatican should not be publicizing how individual bishops vote on these things.

Finally, why is there even need for a synod? We know the teachings on marriage and homosexuality. It is very clear from Holy Scripture. Faithful bishops should just refuse to go next year and boycott it.

2. It never bothers me that refutations of errors are always much longer than the errors themselves. Thomas More faced the same problem in his controversial writings. He complained about a heretic making so many errors in one page that More was forced to write ten pages in correction.
–Dr. Edward Peters, Canon Lawyer

3. A few observations after the end of the Synod.

1. Why are so many liberal Bishops and Cardinals obsessed about homosexuality? The secular media is obsessed with homosexuality and now it seems that the Church has become obsessed with it. Which part of Romans 1 do they not understand?

2. As a single person who cannot find a wife and who prays unceasingly for one, could the Synod Fathers not encourage us who struggle with being single and who yearn for a family? Could they not encourage us who seek to live chaste lives in the midst of a world which shouts out that there is something wrong with you if you are not having sexual relations?

3. I have always sought to give Pope Francis the benefit of the doubt. After his election, I read his writings before he became Pope. I have read his addresses and homilies as Pope. But in recent months, I have read little of his writings and find myself simply ignoring him. It is too exhausting to try and work out what he means or did not mean. Especially after these weeks, I no longer trust the Pope. I pray for the Pope every day. I hope I am wrong in my feeling that I cannot trust him. I hope I am wrong when I think that the Cardinals elected the wrong man.

4. It is difficult not to come to the conclusion after the Synod that many Bishops and Cardinals simply do not hold to the Catholic Faith.



5. I wept last week over the situation in the Church and this drives me more and more to praying for the Pope and Christ’s Church. Christ is the conqueror of sin and death. We need to stay united with Him, keeping our eyes fixed on Him and pray, pray, pray for our clergy.


LXXX. Card. Kasper invokes journalist war against another Cardinal?

Posted on 20 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Card. Kasper looks around for people to blame for his own enormous gaffe.  But the ending is a little … dunno… threatening?

From CWR. Go there for links and other stuff.


The controversy about statements made last week about African bishops and their contributions to the Synod on the Family by the Roman Curial prelate Cardinal Walter Kasper continues. Most recently BILD-Zeitung [a German tabloid newspaper] took up the topic last Friday and headlined its story: “Racism Blooper?” BILD also quoted a German bishop who opined, “Insulting, lying and falsely accusing is not prescribed by the Catechism.” There was criticism about Cardinal Kasper’s remarks over the weekend, as Cardinal Raymond Burke called the remarks “profoundly sad and scandalous” in an interview with CWR.

Cardinal Kasper has now offered a qualified apology for his statements and expressed his esteem for the Church in Africa. Kasper had previously denied he’d made the remarks attributed to him by journalist Edward Pentin, then stated that he had been recorded speaking to journalists without his knowledge. Kasper himself has now confirmed to that he had had a conversation with three journalists. In Kasper’s opinion, though, it was not an interview; there has to be an agreement for an interview as such. Then the Cardinal made it clear:

“If one of my remarks about Africans was perceived as demeaning or insulting, then I am honestly sorry. That was and is not my intention, and not my view at all. No one will deny that Africa’s culture is different from Europe’s in many respects. But I have been in Africa too often not to esteem African culture highly.” [Translated for CWR by Michael J. Miller]

Cardinal Kasper was quoted by Pentin as describing the problems of the African Church as “impossible” for the synod to solve, while saying that the African bishops “should not tell us too much what we have to do.” The publication of Kasper’s comments to Pentin, his disavowal of them, and the subsequent release of the full audio of the interview were the source of much controversy late last week as the bishops concluded the two-week Synod on the Family. Some speculated that the appointment of Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of South Africa to the committee responsible for drafting the synod’s final document was a response to Kasper’s remarks.

Another comment made by Cardinal Kasper in speaking with is quite breathtaking: he talked again about a “deliberate dirty trick” to denounce him. “The fact that Catholic media (and unfortunately a cardinal in person) should participate in it, in order to tear down another position morally, is shameful,” Kasper opined. When asked as a follow-up question who that cardinal was, Kasper unfortunately gave no answer. The retired Curial Cardinal announced, however, that “other journalists” are going to take action against such “undignified machinations”.


Is that so?  Is there going to be an attack by Kasper’s journalist sympathizers against Card. Burke?

Moderation queue is ON.

I am getting onto an international flight, so you have lots of time to really think through your comments.


3 out of 44 responses

1. It is possible for Cardinal Kasper to have been confused. Pentin identified himself as being for the National Catholic Register, then he gave the interview to Zenit. He could very well be telling the truth when he said he gave no interview to Zenit, but then he denied making the comments, which he did make. Kasper’s tone throughout this whole process has been whining and condescending. Out of power during Benedict’s papacy, he is now basking in the recovery of it, practically having the ear of the pope. He has used that to more or less close down any real free debate whenever he can. The sad truth is he is really a 2nd rate theologian at best, who always makes errors and bad distinctions, especially with respect to theology of the Orthodox.
I wonder if he thinks that Pentin’s interview was orchestrated by Muller or Burke. Either way, my prediction is that he is going to convince the Pope to put his protégé Archbishop Forte in as head of the CDF and get their ducks in a row for next year to ram this through again.

2. The truth is all I care about. Pentin legitimately interviewed Kasper. Kasper tried to hang Pentin by calling Pentin a liar with his insinuation that Pentin made it up. This forces Pentin to release the audio; thus, demonstrating Kasper to be the liar who would destroy another man’s reputation and perhaps ability to earn a living. As we are taught in an examination of conscience, this is 1. bearing false witness and 2. violating “thou shall not kill.” We are taught that assassinating a man’s name violates this commandment against killing.

While we are all sinners, has Kasper asked for forgiveness for doing this? He’s a powerful man with the ability to destroy a career and man in a heartbeat. He ALMOST got away with it. Like a hit and run driver, he deserves severe punishment to teach the rich and powerful they cannot be unjust towards people lesser than themselves and who really have no means to defend themselves.




Further, Zenit deserves chastisement for pulling the interview when it was all proven to be true. Apparently they didn’t like the heat even though it was the truth and the truth shall set you free. It was also a public presenting of the truth because Kasper was engaged in an activity which would have directly impacted the authority of African Bishops, i.e. changing church doctrine or the application of church doctrine in a region he knows very well doesn’t countenance his western, liberal tendencies towards accepting homosexuality as something with good components.

We are demanded as Catholics to protect the weak and defenseless. Pentin merely presented the truth. It wasn’t pretty. Kasper tried to destroy him. That’s not cool. Nor is it Catholic.

3. I read somewhere that had Benedict XVI waited a few more weeks to resign, Cardinal Kasper would have turned 80 years of age, and would not have been able to vote in the conclave. I am sure that Benedict XVI was well aware of this fact. Also, St. Pope JPII made Kasper a cardinal…despite the long running ‘feud’ between Kasper and Ratzinger.
My observations:
What these two holy Popes did with respect to Kasper- i.e. give him access to ‘power’ – seems utter madness…yet as I thought about it, I realized that Jesus too, picked Judas to be his apostle, knowing full well what Judas was about. Therefore, I will trust there is some divine method here…in what does seem to be utter madness to me.
The second observation is that the ‘machinations’ in the Synod astounded and depressed me…the manipulations performed by Archbishop Bruno Forte … I find it hard to believe that Pope Francis was not aware, and did not have a hand in these machinations. I mean, after the Synod Fathers chose the moderators, i.e. Cardinal Burke, et al., Pope Francis then put ‘his men’ in to write the ‘Relatio’. Furthermore, the way it was published, without the Synod Fathers having looked at it! Impossible to believe that Pope Francis did not have a hand in this. And I can bet Cardinal Baldisseri thought that the Synod Fathers would not make a scene when he announced that their group reports would not be published. Thank you Cardinal Pell! Thank you Cardinal Burke! Thank you Cardinal Napier! Thank you all the Synod Fathers who supported Cardinal Pell’s demand that the manipulations stop!

Finally, the reason I wrote the observation is that I cannot help but make a comparison between the Holy Fathers, Benedict, St. JPII – and Pope Francis. There is no way that I would associate ‘scheming’ and ‘machinations’ with the former two. Unfortunately, until the Synod I would not have associated scheming and ‘machinations’ with Pope Francis. Cardinal Kasper
yes- but not Pope Francis, who, as soon as he was elected, I referred to him as ‘Papa’ Francis. No longer. That has changed- I am extremely sad to say. I can no longer call ‘Papa’ someone whom I do not trust.

I will use the time between now and the next Synod to pray the rosary – for the Synod Fathers and for Pope Francis. I hope I will have the grace to pray it daily – and also the prayer to St. Michael. These are hard times for Catholics who want to be faithful to the Magisterium.


LXXXI. Pope Francis, Pope

Posted on 21 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

I have been, frankly, both exhausted and a bit disgusted after the last Synod and I have been trying to have a little RnR. That doesn’t make for a lot of posting of edgy stuff.

So, here’s a little meat to chew on.

That closing address Pope Francis made to the Synod… interesting, no?  Forget about the part wherein he does a little, what can you call it, name-calling?  About “intellectuals” and “do-gooders”?  No.  What caught my eye is that middle section.

For the last year and a half, His Holiness has been downplaying his image as “Pope”.  He signs his name “Francis” without the other rigamarole which indicated the year of his pontificate.  He is simply been “Francis… Bishop of Rome” rather than “Supreme Pontiff”.

But in the middle part of the closing address for the Extraordinary Synod, it was all Pope all the time.


And, as I have dared to tell you, [as] I told you from the beginning of the Synod, it was necessary to live through all this with tranquility, and with interior peace, so that the Synod would take place cum Petro and sub Petro (with Peter and under Peter), and the presence of the Pope is the guarantee of it all.

We will speak a little bit about the Pope, now, in relation to the Bishops [laughing]. So, the duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock – to nourish the flock – that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome – with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears – the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them.


So, Francis is more Pope now than before.

I think that, in the wake of the Synod, we may see some exercises of papal power.

How shall they manifest?   I’d like to see Pope Francis summarily reconciled the SSPX.  How about a Pontifical Mass in the Extraordinary Form?  How about … use of the fanon and ferula?  He would wear the items that the Roman Pontiff normally wears in the exercise of his duties.   And these things would now enhance, rather than detract from, his pastoral duties.

Finally, I think that His Holiness is starting to feel – in an intense new way – what it really means to be the Vicar of Christ, the Successor of Peter. His role is, in a special, way to affirm the brethren and to uphold the regula fidei … No. Matter. What.




4 out of 52 responses

1. I got the impression from the speech that Pope Francis may have learned something from the synod. He basically told the bishops that both the conservatives and the liberals failed to engage in the discussion that they had been called to have. Maybe it’s just my over-optimism, but I got the idea that he had realized that that was, at least in part, a result of his lack of clear leadership around the synod. He allowed Kasper and Co. to turn it into a free-for-all in the name of “openness,” which inevitably prompted other bishops to go into smack down mode, and so they didn’t get anywhere.

2. I just don’t understand how Pope Francis could give that address without a big grin. Well, he grinned at least once towards the end, but I thought the bit about contrasting the ‘two sides’ was a bit rich, considering he has given his backing to Cardinal Kasper and his ‘profound and serene theology … done on one’s knees’. Plus the homily he gave at Mass during the synod, in which he referred to those who were rigid and closing the doors of heaven, that sort of thing. The link is here:
He can’t then very well claim to be impartial at the end of it all. His role as Pope is to strengthen the brethren, not sit back and watch them bicker!

3. The closing address was pure damage control. In football parlance, he almost lost the locker room during the synod.

4. I’m not sure having this Pope become even more authoritarian is a good thing. I’m in Paris at the moment, and last night I was at the Fraternite de Jerusalem for Vespers and Mass at St Gervaise. Abp Durocher, head of the Francophone Bishops’ Conference of Canada, was passing through on his way back from the Synod, and celebrated and of course delivered his thoughts on the Synod. It was mostly platitudes about “mercy,” a quote from the “great Cardinal Danneels” (you know, the one who destroyed the Church in Belgium) about how only God can be perfect in both justice and mercy, a ramble about how pure justice conflicted with what “our dear Francis” called the “Spirit of Jesus,” and how God was full of surprises and new things. Not at all comforting, particularly since he appears to be a real supporter of Pope Francis’ “new Spirit of Jesus,” whatever that is.

Hoping that my French had misled me, I was even more alarmed when I got back to the hotel and read up on Abp. Durocher, particularly an interview he just gave a day or two ago, where he said that the real reason the bishops rejected the language on homosexuality (which not enough of a majority voted to approve, but which appeared in the final text anyway, at the Pope’s orders) was because they didn’t feel that it went far enough. And the “Spirit of Jesus” (with initial cap) appeared again.

Maybe the Pope is going to undergo a profound change because of his office and become a defender of orthodoxy, but I’m not entirely certain of this and I think it is also good to prepare for the alternative. I guess about all one can do, of course, is to pray and keep reading and building up one’s intellectual ammunition to defend orthodoxy in life matters as well as in theological considerations.

Oh – another thing Durocher said: the Synod was designed to do for the family what Vatican II had done for the Liturgy and ecumenism. Now if that isn’t comforting… -Traductora


LXXXII. Michael Voris, Card. Burke… corrections

Posted on 23 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Get this from Michael Voris:
YouTube VIDEO 5:25

Michael stood up. Good for him.

UPDATE 24 Oct:

It has been interesting reading the reactions to what Mr. Voris did.

I wonder if some people, especially over at The Olympian Middle, aren’t mired in the fault of papalotry.

Just thinking aloud.


9 out of 51 responses

1. Interesting. Voris’ sentiments do him great credit. However – criticising the Pope, though certainly compatible with not being in union with him, is neither nor proof of not being in union with him: a Catholic who criticises the Pope is not a contradiction in terms. Nor is criticising the Pope inconsistent with great holiness – St Paul (for instance) can hardly be called unholy, or Christian in name only.

One can see why a Catholic media outlet might be both chary of criticising the Pope, and very nervous of giving scandal. Even so, it is not clear why the rest of us ought not to criticise Popes.

2. There’s no reason why reasonable criticisms can’t be made of Popes, including by Catholic journalists, just because some people make unreasonable ones. Indeed, it is not difficult to imagine scenarios in which Popes should be criticised.

3. It is a tragedy that Cardinal Burke is now being hung out to dry by those who should be standing with him. In St Athanasius’ day, it was precisely the laity who stood by him in the face of an overwhelmingly corrupt Arian clergy.

4. A bit cognitively dissonant to me, since on the one hand Cardinal Burke declared publicly that the Pope was harming the Church by not speaking up, and on the other hand Voris felt he himself was harming the Church by the mere appearance of expressing the same thing. Does Voris really believe his opinion is that much more influential than Cardinal Burke’s? Or is he implicitly criticizing Cardinal Burke for saying what he said?

5. I saw the following posted by Michael Voris’ apostolate ChurchMilitant.TV at their Facebook page in response to similar comments: “Cardinal Burke had the right and duty to speak on behalf of the flock, who were scandalized by the pope’s silence in the midst of so much confusion. What Cardinal Burke said specifically is that the pope’s silence “had certainly done a lot of harm.” And he was right. We are grateful for his courageous witness to the Faith. God bless.” – ChurchMilitant.TV

6. I do not think that Voris needed to apologize. ..



7. There is nothing wrong with constructive criticism and argument. There is a lot wrong with ad hominem criticism. There are many in the blogosphere who make ad hominem attacks on Pope Francis and that is a sin.

8. I saw the video that was taken down. It was factual. True, Michel Voris reported it in a breathless – Stop the Presses! – manner which was a bit over the top – perhaps he should have apologized for that; on the other hand, what he reported was accurate. I couldn’t help wondering if pressure was being applied to him from some quarters to remove the video and apologize for its (accurate) comments.

9. Catholicism is starting to get really confusing to me. I have no idea why MV went to confession (NEITHER DO I !!!!!!!! –Michael) I certainly hope we are not agreeing that it is a sin to criticize the Pope for acting imprudently.


LXXXIII. Salt and Light attacks Card. Burke: sticking to the ideal instead of ministering to people

Posted on October 23, 2014 bFr. John Zuhlsdorf

Salt and Light Television video featuring Alicia Ambrosio – Vatican Values 18:41

Life Site has a piece about Salt and Light network’s verbal attack on Card. Burke. HERE

As you may know, Fr. Thomas Rosica, who did some work for the Holy See Press Office during the Synod of Bishops, heads up Salt and Light.


Salt and Light TV slams Cardinal Burke as being in an ‘Ivory Tower’

Lauding the Vatican’s Synod on the Family as “huge” change, a producer from Canada’s Catholic TV network Salt and Light, headed by CEO Fr. Thomas Rosica, has criticized outspoken champion of orthodoxy Cardinal Raymond Burke, suggesting that he is in an “ivory tower” and “sticking to the ideal” instead of ministering to people — such as homosexuals and the divorced — caught up in the “messiness of life.”

“There’s finally [?] a realization that maybe the way we’ve been approaching things doesn’t help, or it’s not taking into account that that’s an ideal and real life is messy and we have to be able to deal with the mess, not the black and white,” said Alicia Ambrosio, producer and host of Vatican Connections on Salt and Light Television, to the host of TV Ontario’s The Agenda program last Friday evening, Oct. 17. (Click here to watch the video)

In responding to questions about the highly criticized synod midterm report, Ambrosio gave no indication that it was deemed totally unacceptable to the majority of the synod bishops. In fact, she talked about it as though the document was still credible and its points worthy of consideration. The interview was undertaken sometime Friday since there were references during the discussion to events on Thursday at the synod and therefore Ambrosio had to be well aware of the furor over the midterm report which began Oct. 13.

Ambrosio said that while there will be no doctrinal change in the Church’s teaching regarding homosexuality and divorce, there already is what she called a “change in tone.”[But by all means talk about Card. Burke that way.]

“A change in — you know what — maybe we don’t have to tell people they’re wrong. Maybe we can work with them and find a way to welcome them into our community, even though they might not be perfect in our eyes. So, that’s going to be huge.” [And what does “welcome” look like?  I think the only thing that is going to matter to them is whether or not they can receive Holy Communion, which has become a sign of “belonging” or “welcome”, instead of the Sacrament It is.]

When asked by the host to comment on Pope Francis, Ambrosio called him “realistic” because “he’s the only — not the only — but one of the few popes we’ve had in recent times who has actually worked in the trenches, so to speak.” [Good grief.  And how does she know that?]

Ambrosio said it is cardinals like Burke who have set themselves against the “direction” the pope is trying to move the Church.

“It’s kind of like what you see in politics as well, with left and right. No matter what the other side says, this side is going to freak out. [?] Cardinal Burke comes from a stream that doesn’t believe we should be even having this conversation. [His position can be summed as] ‘this is the truth, this is what should be happening, if you’re not meeting up to the truth, if you’re not living up to this ideal, you’re wrong. And there should be no conversation about how to bend to welcome people in, because then you’re bending on the truth.'”

“So, it’s a mindset. Discussions I’ve had with other journalists and other Catholics – we’re really wondering what’s going to happen to Cardinal Burke and others of his ilk after the Synod, because if this conversation goes down a road that they can’t accept, then what?” she said.

Ambrosio criticized Burke for being “unrealistic.”

“It’s really living with the belief that, ‘this is what we teach, this is the truth. Stick with it, otherwise you’re out. And we shouldn’t be discussing what that truth is because then we’re changing what we are completely.'”

“Just like I could say that Pope Francis is realistic as opposed to progressive, [Ahhhh… that’s what Francis is.] I think statements like Cardinal Burke’s are coming from a place of more of being in an ivory tower, you know, living with the ideal,” she said.


The phrase “ivory tower” is typically used pejoratively to indicate intellectuals caught up in rather useless lofty pursuits that makes them disconnected from the practical concerns of everyday life.

Ambrosio also disparaged the previous papacies of Benedict XVI and Saint John Paul II, suggesting that they were out of touch with the faithful.

“The lay people finally [?] feel like their voice is being heard. Their lives are being reflected in what this pope is saying. And that’s huge. So, we’re getting that change from the top down, and from the bottom up. Because now, to be credible to the lay people — to be credible to the faithful — it’s not just about being really holy, and being really prayerful, and giving a good sermon, it’s about walking the walk.”

When asked about what the Synod means for homosexuals being accepted as homosexuals in Catholic parishes, Ambrosio replied: “It means that on the ground level, in the parish, it’s suddenly not going to be acceptable to other faithful, it’s not going to be acceptable to exclude someone who has a sincere thirst for God and who has a sincere desire to practice their faith, but is either in a same-sex relationship or is divorced and remarried. It’s not going to be acceptable to exclude that person anymore. And that’s huge.” [They have a thirst for God!  Who cares if they reject the Sixth Commandment of the Decalogue!]

Ambrosio agreed with the host near the end of the show that “acceptance” was the first step towards full inclusion of homosexuality within the Catholic Church, but immediately back-pedaled, saying that while Church teaching cannot change on divorce or homosexuality, nevertheless, “we are going to see the parish doors open and these people will find a place to live their faith.”

LifeSiteNews asked Ambrosio if it should be sinners who need to change — rather than the Church changing her tone — so that they can live according to God’s ideals as revealed through the Church, but did not receive a response by press time.


7 out of 114 responses

1. Well, Cardinal Kasper said journalists were going to take their revenge, or words to that effect, no? –Canon lawyer Dr. Edward Peters

2. The problem is whatever side one is on, this Synod has sown confusion with the Church and maybe more problematic – confusion outside the church.

The argument of unity being found in the Church has pretty much been dealt a significant blow. All those who converted from Episcopalism because of changes taking place in the church in recent decades are in a deja vu situation.

No one knows what the final report will be next year and how much of it will be implemented by the Pope. Will he formally allow divorced and remarried to receive communion, will a new blessing of civil unions ceremony be established in the church. Those would be big changes and what follows?

A 60ish nun told me after Mass today that she wished she was 30 years younger as she sees female deacons coming and ultimately female priests on the horizon.

Whether she is right or not, everything is in a flux right now.

The SPPX and other such expect to get an influx of disgruntled Catholics but I don’ see that. The Pope is protected by the Spirit or not. It does not come and go.

The out-migration to the extent it occurs will be to the Orthodox Church IMO. It has been going on steadily for a while. The ironic thing being there is far more unity in the Orthodox Church, think their liturgy, than in the Catholic Church now. It begs the question – is the Pope a guarantee of unity which the Orthodox don’t accept and which their unity over a thousand years belies.

3. I didn’t hear anything about sin, conversion, Jesus, freedom from sin in that article. I suffer from SSA and I don’t see any hope in Alicia Ambrosio’s words. Before my conversion life was bleak and I had thoughts of suicide, but God called me back. I went to Mass and I then felt even worse. I knew I had to go to confession. After confession I felt the weight lifted off my back and I made changes to my life. I keep trying to live a holy life and through God’s grace I’ve made some progress. Yes we do need to welcome sinners into our church but there needs to be a message of conversion, a message of hope for new life not just a message of welcome and your present lifestyle is fine. We are the church of the field hospital as Pope Francis has said but the patient needs to realize they are sick before they will take the medicine.

4. Cardinal Kasper’s minions are all ready out and on the prowl!!! St. Michael, protect us.
Pope Francis’ regular references to “the God of surprises” and his calls for Catholics to be open to new ways of the Holy Spirit in one of his recent homilies compared to Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1992 statement in a document, “laws which prohibit homosexuals from adopting children, from jobs as teachers or coaches, from military recruitment, and which deny equivalent family status to homosexual unions, do not constitute discrimination.” One is clear one is very opaque, I prefer clear teaching. The surprising thing to me is Pope Francis using Peters vision of the bed sheet filled with foods to explain his “epiphany.” This scares the living daylights out of me, where does our Holy Father plan to go with this?

What is utterly amazing to me after the incredible financial damage homosexuals/pederasts in the clergy have cost the Church that now we are to be accepting and inviting to this group that does not wish to repent of their sin? Doesn’t the Gospel teach to teach all that Christ taught and for those that do not accept His teachings to knock the dust from our sandals and move on, it doesn’t say to bring those that do not accept His teachings along. This is very confusing coming from our Supreme Pontiff. I fear this is going to get much worse before it gets better. We need to pray for Pope Francis without ceasing. What a mess!

5. Fr Rosica created the term “Taliban Catholic” regarding pro-life Catholics, and has never looked back. I have a copy of an email exchange between him and a very reasonable, intelligent, and serious Catholic, and it is nothing but scandalous in his regard.


I gave up on Fr. Rosica and his “Salt and Light” organization years ago.

Christ never accepted or tolerated sinful behavior. He demanded repentance.

And I think Life Site News should revisit the vote count regarding the paragraph dealing with communion for the divorced and remarried in the Relatio. The MAJORITY voted FOR giving them communion. They just didn’t reach the two-thirds super majority necessary for passage . . . thanks be to God.

Life Site said this in above article, “In responding to questions about the highly criticized synod midterm report, Ambrosio gave no indication that it was deemed totally unacceptable to the majority of the synod bishops.”

Fr Rosica was so obviously a part of the synod stitch up and manipulation, that I am not surprised that his TV network is going after Cardinal Burke. The homo-heresy looks like it is the main fault line along which schism in the Church is growing and Cardinal Pell spotted this before making his intervention. The Kasper coterie strike back, but let us hope there will be enough orthodox fathers at the synod of 2015 to defeat them. –Deacon Augustine


LXXXIV. What Archbp. Chaput really said about the Synod