The Archdiocese of Bombay appears to attempt to exercise a liberal influence on the forthcoming 2015 Synod on the Family
The following is a Notification from the Bishop of Dharmapuri, Most Rev. Lawrence Pius Dorairaj:
TO ALL MEMBERS of the CONFERENCE OF CATHOLIC BISHOPS OF INDIA 26th February, 2015
Your Eminence/ Grace/Excellency,
Greetings from CCBI Commission for Family!
We have received reactions/feedback that the questionnaire from the Vatican sent to you earlier is complex and many experienced difficulty in answering the same. You also have expressed concerns during the Plenary Assembly in Bangalore. Therefore, after much deliberation and discussion we have prepared for you a new simplified questionnaire which incorporates almost all the aspects/themes of the Lineamenta
and the original questionnaire.
The CCBI Commission for Family has developed a modus operandi to answer the call of Pope Francis by providing responses to the questionnaire sent from Rome. With your cooperation we aspire to reach as many faithful as possible (100,000 responses to the questionnaire) by 25th March 2015. I have enclosed the simplified questionnaire for your perusal. Your cooperation is solicited. […]
The national level committee consists of following persons:
Name – Email id – Mobile no.
1. Bishop Lawrence Pius, Chairman, CCBI Commission for Family email@example.com 09442590888
2. Fr. Milton Gonsalves, Ex. Secretary firstname.lastname@example.org 09422669854
3. Fr. Arul Raj, Bangalore email@example.com 09900517523
4. Fr. Cajetan Menezes, Mumbai, Snehalaya,
5. Alan Doulton, Pune, firstname.lastname@example.org 09822008389
You may please contact members for any clarification and in turn they would also be in touch with you to find out if any support is required.
Once again I appeal to you to treat matter with utmost urgency in order to partake meaningfully in the Synodal process. The responses can be sent to Fr. Milton Gonsalves, CCBI Family Commission Secretary. His email Id: email@example.com, mobile: 09422669854.
Thanking you in anticipation
Yours fraternally in Jesus Christ,
+ Lawrence Pius, D.D.,
Bishop of Dharmapuri and Chairman, CCBI Commission for Family
The following is an article published in the
Family Link, the Bulletin of the Archdiocesan Family Commission of Bombay, Volume 13, no. 2, December 2014, pages 5 & 6:
Law of graduality: living with the imperfect
By Thomas Reese S.J., October 31, 2014
During the Synod of Bishops on the family, the bishops in Rome struggled to find a way that the church could be a loving mother while still being a clear teacher — something all parents can relate to. If when the kids come home for Thanksgiving, they are met by a nagging parent, they will not return for Christmas.
No child wants to be greeted at the door with questions like, “Is that a nose ring?” “You got a tattoo?” “Who are you sleeping with now?” “When are you getting married?” or “When am I going to get a grandchild? No, what they want when they come home for Thanksgiving is a hug, a welcome. “I am so happy you are here! I love you!”
The bishops realized that a very large percentage of the faithful are either in irregular unions (cohabitation, divorced and remarried, gay relationships) and/ or are practicing birth control. How to pastorally deal with these people was one of the central questions at the synod.
The bishops made clear that they were not going to change church teaching on these matters, but they realized that threatening hellfire and brimstone was not working. In fact, it was driving people away from the church. Numerous bishops admitted that terms like “living in sin,” “intrinsically disordered” and “contraceptive mentality” were alienating.
On the other hand, overemphasizing the loving mother, they feared, would give the impression that these were minor issues that could be ignored. People would conclude that all sexual unions are equal, and there is no reason to be married in the church.
One solution to this quandary was the “law of graduality,” proposed by some bishops. For many bishops, this was a whole new concept, even though it had been around for a while. In A History of Catholic Moral Theology in the Twentieth Century, Jesuit Fr. James Keenan reports that after Humanae Vitae, confessors were hearing from penitents who accepted the encyclical teaching but strove unsuccessfully to observe it.
These people were confessing, with great frequency, but still asking: were they sinners each and every time they practiced birth control even though they tried to adhere to the church’s teaching without excuse? In particular, they wanted to know were they to absent themselves from Communion, even though it could help them grow in the moral life?
In response to these queries,
confessors recommended the practice known as the law of graduality. “Through this law,” Keenan writes, “confessors encouraged the laity to understand that gradually they would make the law a reality in their lives and that in the meantime the sacraments could accompany them along the journey.”
Keenan notes that Pope John Paul II referred to the law of graduality favourably in Familiaris Consortio (1981), although he differentiated it from “the gradualization of the law, that is, moderating the universality and/ or force of the law itself. “The law is clearly expressed, but “it was for the laity to gradually adhere to it,” Keenan explains.
The law of graduality was a pastoral response to concrete people, not a softening of the law. “Pope John Paul had argued that using birth control was always in itself wrong,” Keenan writes, “and that failure to acknowledge the truth of the teaching would ‘gradualize’, that is, ‘relativize’, the church’s law.”
Not all moral theologians saw this solution as a convincing remedy. Keenan cites Jesuit Fr. Josef Fuchs, who argued that “if the demands of the couple’s marriage meant that they ‘had’ to practice birth control, then the morally right act would be to use birth control.” For Fuchs, there was no need for them to go to confession in the first place.
Still, the law of graduality is not as huge a change as progressives hope or as conservatives fear. There is no change in teaching, but in how individuals are pastorally cared for. But many, if not most, of the bishops at the synod were unfamiliar with the law of graduality, and they knew if they were confused, then so would be their priests and people. As a result, reference to the law was dropped from the final document. Don’t be surprised if the same idea returns October 2015 and gets a better reception.
Where the law of graduality becomes pastorally critical is on the question of Communion. The traditional approach has been to say that people practicing birth control or in irregular unions are in mortal sin and destined for hell. As a result, they cannot receive Communion.
Rather than seeing sins as going into two boxes (mortal and venial), most moralists would see actions on a continuum of lesser to greater evil. In addition, a person might be imperfect in one area of his or her life and better in other areas. Thus, a divorced and remarried couple might be exemplary in their faithfulness to one another, their care for their children, and their contribution to the community.
Under these circumstances, could not a confessor tell a person in a less-than-perfect relationship that they may go to Communion as long as they are struggling to live the best possible life that they can? As Pope Francis has said, Communion is not a reward for the perfect, but medicine for the sick.
At the end of the synod, Pope Francis reported that zealous traditionalists were tempted to “hostile inflexibility,” while progressive do-gooders were tempted to treat symptoms rather than causes. Finding the happy middle ground of compassion and truth is what the bishops will be looking for between now and next October.
Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese is a senior analyst for NCR and author of Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church.
The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) is a journal that publishes the writings of dissenters, progressives and liberals.
It defends for gay rights, women’s ordination, New Age, etc. (The eminent Fr. John Zuhlsdorf describes it as the “Fishwrap”, the “National Schismatic Reporter”, etc. on his blog.)
Fr. Thomas Reese is a liberal priest who denies the unicity of Jesus. He was removed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from the Jesuit-run America
magazine where he was editor.
More on this Fr. Thomas Reese:
Fr. Tom Reese, a senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Centre at Georgetown University, told reporters he thought the decree [against the ordination of women –Michael] was meant to send a warning to the growing number of Catholics who favour admitting women to the priesthood. “I think the reason they’re doing this is that they’ve realised there is more and more support among Catholics for ordaining women, and they want to make clear that this is a no-no,” Fr. Reese said.
May 30, 2008
America magazine had become so scandalous a few years back the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had to put pressure on the owners to remove its former editor, Fr. Thomas Reese. Under Reese’s tenure, essays were published that explored the moral arguments in favor of approving the use of condoms for HIV/AIDS, criticizing the 2000 document Dominus Iesus (on religious pluralism), an article about homosexual priests and even a guest essay written by Rep. David Obey (Democrat-Wisconsin) and challenging the idea of refusing Communion to Catholic politicians who do not vote in accordance with the teachings of the Faith.
Source: http://womenofgrace.com/newage/?p=162#more-162 July 26, 2010
c. I find Fr Reese’s attitude to be downright alarming. I can’t imagine what he or any bishop thinks we can do as a Church to “welcome” LGBT persons or “remarried” persons any more than we already do. He seems thrilled about the “discussion” and free-wheeling debate. Frankly, I’m horrified that anyone believes that we have anything of particular substance to debate related to LGBT or “remarried” persons. Either a homosexual act is gravely (mortally) sinful, or it isn’t. Either the gay lifestyle places someone in the circumstance of bringing someone near to the occasion of sin, or it doesn’t. Same for “remarried” persons. Either it is an act of grave sin to live in an intended state of adultery, or it isn’t. Either it is a sinful act to receive the Eucharist while living in this state, or it is not.
I don’t begin to understand how we help anyone to escape the torment of their lives by lying to them about the sins they’ve committed and/or intend to commit. I can’t understand how you can truly demonstrate compassion for a person whilst patently ignoring the objective reality of the person’s sinful behavior.
We aren’t intended to be a church of happy, fluffy teddy bears at all costs. Hell is literally too serious of a threat for that. If we’re afraid of hurting someone’s feelings or tormenting them with the fullness of revealed Truth, we must remember where the torment truly comes from.
Comment during the 2014 Synod on the Family at
October 26, 2014
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: […]
e. The new pope was installed on April 24  and on May 6  came the announcement that Father Thomas Reese, S. J., the editor of America magazine, had been forced to resign… The reaction on the Catholic left was outrage… Commonweal, The National Catholic Reporter, and America make up the media vanguard of the Catholic left… The editorial content of America consistently challenges the Church’s teaching on issues like condoms, homosexuality and, most important of all, salvation through Jesus Christ.
For example, the September 2000 issue of America contained articles critical of the document Dominus Iesus published that year by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. The writers took issue with the Congregation’s insistence that Catholics should believe that salvation is given only through Jesus Christ and His Church. – Jesuit Resignation Blamed on Benedict XVI, Deal W Hudson, The Window, June 3, 2005.
What is this “Law of Graduality”?
a. The second general Congregation of the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, held on October 6:
Furthermore, it was underlined that even imperfect situations must be considered with respect: for instance, de facto unions in which couples live together with fidelity and love present elements of sanctification and truth. It is therefore essential to look first and foremost at the positive elements, so that the Synod may infuse with courage and hope even imperfect forms of family, so that their value may be recognised, according to the principle of graduality. It is necessary to truly love families in difficulty.
Source: https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2014/10/07/0721/03022.html, October 7, 2014
b. Cardinal Burke: Synod’s mid-term report “lacks a solid foundation in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterium”
October 14, 2014
The Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura says that a statement from Pope Francis “is long overdue”…
In the mid-term report the Synod Fathers speak of how it’s the task of the Church to recognize those seeds of the Word that have spread beyond its visible and sacramental boundaries. They appeal to the “law of graduality,” as a reflection of the way God reached out to humanity and led His people forward step by step.
c. “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 St. 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.
A reader’s comment:
The synod is using an apostate way of talking.
Which makes this, The First Synod of the Great Apostasy.
Graduality My Donkey!
d. Extraordinary Synod on Family is, thanks be to God, over.
Posted on 20 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
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”.
e. 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….”
f. What’s the liberals’ next move?
Posted on 16 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
Burke’s interview with Catholic World Report HERE. 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.
g. Family synod midterm report: Welcome gays, non-marital unions
By Francis X. Rocca, October 13, 2014
Cardinal Erdo of Hungary said other bishops [the liberal Cardinal Walter Kasper and Co. –Michael] at the assembly favored a “greater opening” to such second unions, “on a case-by-case basis, according to a law of graduality, that takes into consideration the distinction between state of sin, state of grace and the attenuating circumstances.”
As a historical example of the “law of graduality,” which he said accounts for the “various levels through which God communicates the grace of the covenant to humanity,” the cardinal quoted Jesus’ words in the Gospel of St. Matthew (19:8) acknowledging that, “because of the hardness of your hearts, Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.”
Critics of Cardinal Kasper’s proposal commonly cite the Gospel’s following verse, in which Jesus states that “whoever divorces his wife (unless the marriage is unlawful) and marries another commits adultery.”
h. Forty-One Bishops Oppose New Vatican Document
October 14, 2014
Vatican — Opposition increases in Rome as gays celebrate, traditional Catholics fret, bishops complain, and no one seems to be able to explain exactly what the document released Monday means for the Catholic Church…
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.
i. The Synod of Confusion
By George Neumayr, October 15, 2014
How does diluting Church teaching strengthen the family? […]
As in many of the document’s passages, this one claims to uphold “doctrine” while undermining it. The official and constant teaching of the Church has been to love the sinner but not the sin. It has never been one of “accepting and valuing” sin or an inclination to sin.
The Church exists to promote holiness, not the “positive aspects” of sin. All that odd emphasis in the document will inspire is more sin. Nobody reading this document will conclude that “irregular” unions pose any serious spiritual hazard. The document’s fancy phrase, the “law of graduality,” appears to cast repetitive mortal sin as part of the trajectory of virtue. This isn’t a very convincing claim. The law of graduality in practice is more likely to produce stagnation in sin. Having been told that sinful relationships contain “elements” of goodness, many people in them will see no reason to give them up. And it is not clear, given the weak defense of official Church teaching in the document, why they should find gradually working toward orthodoxy and holiness desirable. What’s the point of striving to conform to a morality that Church leaders seem to regard as embarrassing and impossible? Who is going to follow such an uncertain trumpet?
The document is riddled with ambiguities and contradictory comments that will make people wonder if the Church actually believes her own teachings anymore. Readers are left to guess whether the Church truly opposes divorce and remarriage, contraception, premarital sex, and homosexual behavior. This vagueness, offered up as a “pastoral” solution, is presented as a fresh and exciting evangelical approach. But to anyone familiar with the modern Catholic Church the strategy looks very stale and ineffective.
j. The Synod and the Media: Culpable Naïveté or Shrewd Calculation?
By Russell Shaw, October 20, 2014 EXTRACT
The disastrous mid-term Relatio seeded confusion, conflict, and lingering bitterness at every level of the Church. […]
The draft invokes the principle of “graduality”—meaning, roughly, that people usually proceed toward conversion step-by-step instead of by one huge leap. But if what cohabiting couples, Catholics in second marriages whose first marriages haven’t been annulled, and people in same-sex unions are doing isn’t especially wrong, why should they undertake—even gradually—to stop doing it and seek conversion? And if it really is wrong, why shouldn’t cardinals, archbishops, and bishops—official teachers of the Christian message, that is—say so?
In healing the sick, Jesus seems to have made it his practice to tell them: sin no more.
IN REBUTTAL OF THOSE WHO HARP ON “MERCY” BUT REFUSE TO RECOGNIZE THE “TRUTH” ABOUT SIN
“Mercy” was one of liberal Cardinal Walter Kasper’s favourite themes at the Synod.
“Get ready for you who defend marriage to be accused of being cruel, of hating mercy”
Extracts from the blogs of Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, (all bold and fonts in red in the extracts are his emphases):
a. Card. Burke – off the leash – in Ireland
Posted on 18 November 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
In the UK’s best Catholic weekly, the Catholic Herald, read about what Card Burke said about some of the burning questions for the Church today.
Warning that Satan was sowing confusion and error about matrimony, the cardinal patron of the Knights of Malta said, “Even within the church there are those who would obscure the truth of the indissolubility of marriage in the name of mercy.”
b. Bp. Athanasius Schneider on the recent Synod’s final document: “radical neo-pagan ideology”
Posted on 5 November 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
By admitting the “divorced and remarried” to Holy Communion those bishops establish a new tradition on their own volition and transgressing thereby the commandment of God, as Christ once rebuked the Pharisees and Scribes (cf. Math 15: 3). [It is ironic that the liberals who want to depart from tradition and the norms of Christ’s words in Scripture, accuse those who defend tradition as being “Pharisees”. It is ironic that “rigid” and “ideologue” is now code for “defender of the Church’s teaching”.] And what is still aggravating, is the fact that such bishops try to legitimize their infidelity to Christ’s word by means of arguments such as “pastoral need”, “mercy”, “openness to the Holy Spirit”.
c. What is their problem?
Posted on 1 November 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
Tom Ryan of the Fishwrap (aka National Schismatic Reporter) has a piece about how people are ignoring Card. Kasper’s book.
I am forced to wonder: do people who are perpetually whining about the lack of mercy ever bother to go to confession?
Could it be that they don’t have a sense of how mercy is exercised in the Church is because they don’t go to confession?
If they make proposals about Communion for the civilly remarried and probably people in homosexual unions, they probably don’t believe what the Church believes about the Eucharist.
But if they are constantly banging on about a lack of mercy in the Church, I wonder if they have any contact with Christ in the Sacrament of Penance.
Is that part of their problem?
While it could be said that Pope Francis is the “Pope of Mercy”, it can also be said that he is the “Pope of the Confessional”.
d. 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.
– The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [Italian 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?]
e. What’s the liberals’ next move?
Posted on 16 October 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
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.
“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
g. 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 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?”
h. 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; to read much more on what “mercy” really means, read the entire post on the above blog as well as the two following -Michael
i. Pope Francis AGAIN: “Who am I to judge?”
Posted on 18 March 2014 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
j. Archbp. Müller (CDF) on Communion for divorced/remarried. Liberals’ panic to follow.
Posted on 22 October 2013 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf
My conclusion is that the Bombay Archdiocese’s Family Commission magazine Family Link published Fr. Thomas Reese’s article with the intention of influencing the minds and morality of Catholics with erroneous ideas propagated by the liberal lobby at the Synod on the Family which is due to re-convene this October.
If otherwise, the priests and bishops responsible for the publication of this magazine and/or those who are currently sending out the CCBI Questionnaire to the faithful would have responded to the following three letters that this ministry wrote to them and given us a satisfactory explanation or an apology.
Fr. Cajetan Menezes, who is named by the Chairman of the CCBI Family Commission as one of the five individuals on the national level preparatory committee for the forthcoming Synod was one of the delegates to the October 2014 Synod in Rome, is also the Director of the
Family Apostolate of the Bombay Archdiocese
Archdiocesan Family Commission, Archdiocese of Bombay, Snehalaya Family Service Centre, Victoria School Campus,
Mahim, Mumbai – 400 016. Tel. 91-22-24468218 / 24448218. (10 am – 1 pm & 4 – 7 pm) Website: www.snehalaya.in
1. To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: “Law of graduality: living with the imperfect” by Fr. Thomas Reese SJ.
Date: Tue, 17 Mar 2015 17:05:27 +0530
Dear Fr. Cajetan Menezes, Director, Snehalaya, Mumbai,
We are informed that in the Family Link, the bulletin of the Archdiocesan Family Commission, Mumbai, Vol. 13, no. 2 of December 2014, you have published an article titled “Law of graduality: living with the imperfect” by Fr. Thomas Reese SJ.
I am certain that you must be aware that Fr. Reese is a dissenting theologian who has had a run-in with Rome on a few occasions and he is in the “progressive” camp on the issues that have been and are to be taken up at the Synods on the Family (October 2014 and October 2015).
Since you are on the national level committee of five persons that has been constituted by the CCBI to gather information, feedback and responses to the Synod-related, Questionnaire from the faithful and religious, we were wondering if you had realized the consequences of the mal-influence that Fr. Reese’s article could have on individuals especially since his arguments in favour of the “Law of graduality” are not compatible with Catholic orthodoxy?
Since Family Link is the journal of the Bombay Archdiocesan Family Commission, does the inclusion of the article in its December issue mean that the Archdiocese of Bombay concurs with the liberal views of Fr. Reese?
I would like to hear your views on the matter.
Bishop Agnelo Gracias as the publisher of Family Link is morally responsible for the publishing of the article.
Subject: Fw: “Law of graduality: living with the imperfect” by Fr. Thomas Reese SJ. Date: Sun, 22 Mar 2015 15:11:56 +0530
Dear Bishop Agnelo,
Fr. Cajetan Menezes has not deigned to respond to the clarification sought by me in my communication of 5 days ago, see below.
From my enquiries, I understand that you are the publisher of Family Link and
Fr. Menezes heads the Family Link team.
I hope that you will clarify both, Family Link’s and the Bombay Archdiocese’s stand on the matter.
To: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Subject: MY THIRD LETTER, SECOND REMINDER PLEASE: “Law of graduality: living with the imperfect” by Fr. Thomas Reese SJ. Date: Fri, 27 Mar 2015 16:06:29 +0530
Dear Bishop Agnelo and Fr. Cajetan Menezes,
Even before the 2014 Synod commenced, Fr. Thomas Reese was unhappy with inclusion of lay Catholics who are advocates of natural family planning. In the guise of “reform”, he wanted a “shake … up” of the Church’s traditional stand on morality to emerge from the Synod and is plainly disappointed because he doesn’t expect it to happen. From this article in the NCR, one can clearly understand which camp Fr. Reese is in:
The makeup of the Synod of Bishops on the Family is disappointing
September 10, 2014
[…] The list of those attending the Synod of Bishops on the family is a disappointment to those hoping for reform of the Curia and for those who hope that the laity will be heard at the synod.
The appointment of 25 curial officials to the synod on the family is a sign that Pope Francis still does not understand what real reform of the Roman Curia requires. It makes me fear that when all is said and done, he may close or merge some offices, rearrange some responsibilities, but not really shake things up. […]
Many of the observers are employees of the Catholic Church or heads of Catholic organizations, including natural family planning organizations.
For example, one couple from the United States is Jeffrey Heinzen, director of natural family planning in the diocese of La Crosse, Wis., and Alice Heinzen, member of the Natural Family Planning Advisory Board of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The other U.S. couple is Steve and Claudia Schultz, members of the International Catholic Engaged Encounter.
We will have to wait and see whether the auditors will represent to the bishops the views of lay Catholics, but it is hard to argue that they are representative of Catholics at large. Certainly any who think natural family planning is the church’s great gift to the laity will not. And those who are church employees could fear losing their jobs if they spoke the truth.
By their publishing the article of Fr. Thomas Reese, I am obliged to conclude that the Archdiocese of Bombay has a liberal agenda in respect of the deliberations to be held at the October 2015 Synod and I sincerely hope and pray that this priest Fr. Cajetan Menezes will not be delegated this time around to be representative of the voice of Indian Catholics.
Another story concerning Fr. Cajetan Menezes:
Subject: FW: YOUR EMINENCE HAS THE SEAL OF CONFESSION BEEN BROKEN?
Date: Mon, 23 Mar 2015 16:39:17 +0000 From: firstname.lastname@example.org
YOUR EMINENCE CARDINAL OSWALD GRACIAS,
I AM FORWARDING YOU AN ARTICLE THAT APPEARED IN THE MUMBAI MIRROR, COULD YOU ADVISE ME IF THE SEAL OF CONFESSION HAS BEEN BROKEN.
IF IT WAS BROKEN WILL YOU TRANSFER THE CONCERNED PRIEST IMMEDIATELY, SO IT SETS AN EXAMPLE TO OTHER PRIESTS THAT THE ARCHDIOCESE BELIEVES IN NO NONSENSE AND THAT YOU ARE IN CONTROL OF THE ARCHDIOCESE.
To: Cardinal Ivan Dias email@example.com, etc. Date: Mon, 23 Mar 2015 16:35:48 +0000
Subject: YOUR EMINENCE HAS THE SEAL OF CONFESSION BEEN BROKEN?
Has the seal of the confessional been broken?
Posted on March 21, 2015
by The Voice Of Bombay’s Catholic Laity
Most boys saw pornography first in class V – Mumbai Mirror –
And most schoolgirls saw porn first in class VII. The survey covered 16 of the city’s parishes and 7 colleges.
The Snehalaya Family Service Centre of the Archdiocese of Bombay under its director Fr. Cajetan Menezes conducted a survey of the porn viewing habits of two groups of people in 16 of the city’s parishes and seven of its colleges said the Mumbai Mirror of 20th March, 2015*.
Does the Cardinal approve of such a survey being made public and thus exposing the young Catholic boys and girls to suspicion and stalking from people of other communities? Our community has been made vulnerable for personal gain and media attention!
Has not Fr. Cajetan Menezes acted ultra vires and thus abused his powers as a priest and made use of a church institution to seek out information that are meant for the confessional and made it public in the secular media?
How many years has he completed in Snehalaya FSC and why has he been encouraged for so long in this position? Will the Bishops act against such abuse?
Many have called up to say that they can no longer trust the priests now to keep things secret: how did Nisha D’Costa as quoted by the Mumbai Mirror, come to know that faithful are seeking forgiveness in confession? “According to her (i.e. Nisha D’Costa), the exercise was prompted by, among other reasons, increasing instances of the faithful seeking forgiveness in the confessional for having watched porn on mobile phones or computers” – quote from Mumbai Mirror
The buck may stop at you Cardinal Oswald Gracias, because in your recent statement on the rape, in the 1.36th minute you spoke about giving women equal opportunities in position of responsibility: “Could it be that under the garb of research you are allowing women to sit in the confessionals or could this be the beginning of the abuse”
Fr. Conrad Saldanha has already pointed out about how an attempt was made to break the seal of confession.
It is high time action is taken on such serious issues otherwise people will lose faith.
A. M. Sodder
*Most boys saw pornography first in class V
By Jyoti Shelar, Mumbai Mirror, March 20, 2015
LINEAMENTA-THE VOCATION AND MISSION OF THE FAMILY IN THE CHURCH AND CONTEMPORARY WORLD-SYNOD OF BISHOPS
SEPTEMBER 9, 2014
SYNOD OF BISHOPS 26 JUNE 2014
THE SYNOD ON THE FAMILY-QUESTIONNAIRE
5 NOVEMBER 2013
THE EXTRAORDINARY SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON THE FAMILY AT THE VATICAN
2 AUGUST 2014
THE SYNOD ON THE FAMILY-THE MID-WAY REPORT
14 OCTOBER 2014
THE SYNOD ON THE FAMILY-THE CONCERNS OF THIS MINISTRY STAND VINDICATED
15 OCTOBER 2014
SYNOD ON THE FAMILY 01-FR JOHN ZUHLSDORF
30 NOVEMBER 2014
CCBI QUESTIONNAIRE FOR THE OCTOBER 2015 SYNOD ON THE FAMILY
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